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Babies, Poop, and Gossipy-Goop

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Bethany Daly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:25 am    Post subject: Babies, Poop, and Gossipy-Goop Reply with quote

"You know, you'd better not poop like this on your Gramma," Bethany warned her youngest, born only a month or so before. The baby girl blew bubbles as she kicked around having her diaper changed. "She might never forgive me if I tell her your name and you spew toxic waste on her."

"Knock, knock!" called a familiar voice from the general vicinity of the back door. It was Gramma, of course, popping over on her daily trip to visit her newest grandchild - and to check on her daughter, too. Miranda didn't bother to wait for an answer, but slipped inside, shrugging off her jacket and she pushed the door closed behind her. The door was open, after all, and Beth was expecting her.

"Look who it is!" Resplendent in her pajamas - because who's going to get dressed if they don't have to with a newborn in the house? - Beth lifted the baby girl up onto her shoulder, turning to grin at her mother. "Hi, Mom."

"Hello, sweetheart," Miranda said, tossing her jacket on a chair before moving over to greet her daughter with a kiss to her cheek. "And hello to you, my littlest angel," she greeted the newborn, one finger tickling the baby's chubby chin.

One flailing hand waved toward Miranda as the baby blew more bubbles, a little more awake than she usually was at this time. Beth chuckled. "Here," she said, handing her youngest into Miranda's arms. "I know you're dying for a cuddle."

"You know me too well," Miranda replied with a grin. She'd been just about to snatch her youngest grandchild from Beth's arms when she'd offered. "How is my little darling today?" she asked as she took the baby in her arms, though it was unclear whether she was expecting an answer from the newborn or her mother.

"Well, you'll be pleased to hear she finally has a name," Beth told her, shuffling toward the kitchen to put the kettle on. Rufus' tastes had sunk so deeply into his wife and eldest daughter that tea was the first thought when it was time to be social these days. "We finally agreed on one this morning."

"Oh, good!" Miranda said, as she followed Beth into the kitchen, cradling the newborn in her arms. "I was starting to wonder if we were just going to name her Angel or Darling," she teased, a playful gleam in her eyes.

"Oh, no, it's something much better." Beth threw her mother a warm, slightly mysterious smile as she set the kettle to boiling. "We were trying to decide what went best with the name we set our hearts on, and we found it today. So the little lady in your arms will forever be Miranda Rose - Rosie, to avoid confusion."

Beth's announcement was met with complete silence, a look of utter shock on Miranda's face. For once in her life, it seemed, she was so taken off guard to be rendered completely speechless.

Beth met her mother's shocked gaze with a warm smile, absolutely certain now that their choice had been the right one. After all, Evelyn was named for Anna, Jason's mother, and Brody had been named for Jason's father. It was only fair, wasn't it?

"You are naming her for me?" Miranda said at last, blinking back tears, clearly touched by the idea. As if it wasn't enough that Shen Lei had insisted on giving her daughter Miranda's name, now Beth was doing the same. "Really?"

"Is it really such a surprise?" Beth asked gently. "If she'd been a boy, there would have been a Rufus in there somewhere. You went through hell to bring me up all on your own - what kind of daughter would I be if I didn't honor that? I can't think of anyone who deserves it more than you, Mom."

The tears that Miranda had been blinking back welled up afresh in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks, so touched she was by her daughter's tribute. "We only did what we had to do to keep you safe," she explained, not for the first time, and clearly including Beth's father in that statement.

"And if you hadn't, I wouldn't have the family I have now," Beth reminded her, moving over to wrap an arm around her mother's waist fondly. "I wouldn't have an adorable little sister, or a husband, or insane toddlers. Or a baby girl who is going to the the absolute apple of her Gramma's eye."

"Well," Miranda started, a gleam in her eyes that wasn't just tears, "I can't argue with that. She is certainly precious," she said, turning to look back at the precious bundle she held in her arms with a tear-filled smile on her face. But then, weren't all children precious?

"But she's going to be Rosie to the family, to avoid any confusion," Beth assured her, kissing Miranda's cheek fondly. "And I'm supposed to be making tea." As she turned away, little Rosie burbled up at her grandmother, far more awake and aware than she had been just a week ago.

"Of course," Miranda readily agreed before tilting her head downward with a sly smile, her voice a soft whisper, "But to me, you'll always be my little Miri. Just don't let anyone call you Randi," she added, as she brushed her nose against the baby girl's, only to have Rosie catch a hank of her hair.

Bethany glanced over to find her mother captured by the hair, chuckling at the sight. "I thought you were supposed to be all worldly wise and never caught out by grabby baby hands?" she teased affectionately, reaching over to free Miranda from the baby's grip.

"Everyone has their moments of weakness," Miranda replied, sighing with relief once her hair was free from the baby's grip. At least, she hadn't shrieked in pain. "You realize we're going to have two Ro's now," she pointed out, as well as two Mirandas.

Beth blinked. "That ... never even occurred to me," she admitted, rubbing her forehead. "We must be more tired than we thought." She rolled her eyes, setting a pair of cups down on the table together with a packet of cakes Gabi had dropped off on her way to work that morning.

"It will make things a lot easier when we're calling them for dinner," Miranda added with a grin. "Don't worry so much, Beth. It will be fine," she assured her daughter, looking far more amused by the coincidence than anything else.

"Well, at least the twins are happy with a little sister," was Beth's next comment as she sipped her tea. "Brody was a little touch and go, but Rosie's already smiling when she's gassy, and he got the first one of those, so he's ride or die for her now."

Miranda moved to take a seat so she could sip her tea, while she held her newest grandchild. "I'm sure he'll be an awesome big brother to both his sisters," she pointed out, her thoughts turning toward that of her own brother a moment with a small frown.

Beth tilted her head curiously at the frown that showed itself. "Who's got you worried now?" she asked, her tiredness making her even more blunt than usual. "Did Gordon say something stupid again?"

"I was just wondering if Gordon and Jessica will ever get married," she said, though it hardly mattered, so long as they were happy. "It's been a while since we had a wedding," she added with another frown. Technically, it had only been a few months, but Miranda was a hopeless romantic who craved weddings the way some people craved coffee.

"You mean he still hasn't proposed to her?" Beth asked, aghast but also deeply amused. "And them living in sin together as well. How shocking." She grinned at her mother. "I'm sure someone will produce a wedding for you sometime soon, Mom. Hell, maybe you should get in good with Lucas and Fliss before they start actually planning theirs."

"Not as far as I know," Miranda admitted, with a dramatic sigh. "It's not like they're going to give me any nieces or nephews anyway." Then again, there was Fliss and Lucas, and even if they weren't blood relatives, everyone at Maple Grove was familiar. She grinned at the reminder of that. "Have they set a date yet?" she asked eagerly.

"Not yet, but they're young and in lurve," Beth pointed out. "Get Johnny on your side, and he'll let them set a date sooner than Fliss' thirtieth birthday."
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Bethany Daly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Johnny isn't threatening to pull a gun on them, is he?" Miranda asked, speaking figuratively, of course. Johnny Storm wasn't the type to make threats, especially to those he loved, and even if he did, he certainly didn't need a gun to do so.

Beth snorted with laughter, shaking her head. "According to Liv, Johnny is still kind of in shock that his little girl is engaged to be married at all," she told her mother. "And Liv is very carefully avoiding talking to him about the fact that Fliss is definitely not a virgin anymore."

Miranda winced. "Yeah, I can see that, but she has to grow up sometime. How old is Fliss now?" she asked curiously, before taking a sip of her tea, the newborn cradled in the crook of her other arm.

"Ah, nineteen, I think," Beth mused thoughtfully. "And settling really well into her psychology classes. Maybe we should get them married before she graduates in a couple of years time."

"No rush. They're young," Miranda said, not wanting them to rush into things before they were truly ready. Gordon on the other hand ... "I need to really work on Gordy," she said. "I don't know what he's so afraid of. Jessica's divorce has been final for months."

"Maybe you're looking at it the wrong way," her daughter suggested. "Maybe you should be thinking about talking to Lucas and Matt. I mean, Gordon's kind of old-fashioned, right? He's gonna want their approval before he really makes it official."

Miranda's expression suddenly brightened, a mischievous gleam in her eyes. "Or I could ask Gordon if he wants Lucas and Fliss beating him to it," she suggested, though that was a bit evil, even for her.

"Or you could do that, yup." Bethany laughed into her cup, sighing as Rosie began to fuss. "Seriously, little miss? I changed you, like, a half an hour ago. Is this food related?"

"When did she eat last?" Miranda asked, curiously. She hadn't caught any smells that might signal the baby needed a diaper change and she didn't seem wet.

Bethany checked the time on the microwave. "About three and half hours ago," she mused. "But she's not taking more than about two ounces at a time today, so she is probably hungry. Gramma wanna feed the baby?"

"I would love to!" Miranda replied with an enthusiastic grin. "I thought you'd never ask." Now that Rowan was a toddler, she missed the simple pleasures that came with taking care of a newborn - though no one missed 2 am feedings or poopy diaper changes.

"It's a loaded question when it's aimed at you," Beth laughed, rising to her feet to snag a bottle from the fridge and put it into the heater to warm up. "Fair warning, she takes in a huge amount of air no matter how careful you are. She's a gassy baby."

"As long as her diaper isn't loaded," Miranda teased, with a smirk. "I'll consider myself warned," she said, taking another sip of her tea before she resettled the newborn in her arms in a more comfortable position in readiness for feeding. "This isn't my first rodeo, you know."

"I know." Beth grinned as she leaned against the counter, waiting for the timer on the warmer to beep. "I can't help it. Call it temporary paranoia brought on by lack of sleep."

"It's okay. I understand," Miranda told her, understanding how protective a mother could be about her child, no matter who was handling her. "I won't be offended if you prefer to do the honors," she assured her, though she might be a little disappointed.

"Like I would ever not trust you with my children, Mommy," Beth drawled, smiling as she lifted the bottle out of the warmer, shaking it dry before testing it. A couple of cloths were draped over the appropriate places before she handed over the bottle.

Miranda chuckled. "Best not let Jason hear you call me that," she warned with a grin, as she took the bottle from her daughter and offered it to the little one's eagerly awaiting mouth. "There you go. All better now?" she asked the newborn quietly.

In her arms, Rosie's fussing died away as the teat was inserted between her lips, tiny hands rising to hold onto the bottle as she chewed on it and coincidentally drank at the same time. Beth rolled her eyes with a fond smile. "You know, I think she's going to be a picky eater."

"Just like you were," Miranda remarked with a grin, glancing at her daughter before refocusing on the baby in her arms. Where babies were concerned, Miranda made it look easy, though there had been a time long ago when she'd been terrified of them. "Easy, there. You have plenty of time. It's not going anywhere," she told the baby in a quiet, soothing voice.

Thumping down into her chair at the table again, Beth grinned at the pair of them. "You're so adorable with tiny babies," she commented, still in awe of her mother's natural ability with young children. "Hey, is there anything special we should be doing with the new kid up at the big house? What's her name ... Dee?"

"Which new kid?" Miranda asked, curiously before realizing who her daughter was talking about. "Oh! You mean Beatrice? Jon and Vicki are fostering her right now. If everything works out, she'll officially become a Granger in the very near future."

"They're really going ahead with it?" Beth looked impressed. "Wow, that's amazing. So I guess she's really settled in with them, huh? How's Emily taking having a big sister?"

"Oh, Emily is thrilled!" Miranda told her. "She adores Bea, and vice versa. I really think it's going to work out well for all of them." It was just like Beth and Miranda to spend some time gossiping - er, discussing - the latest family news together.

"I'm glad. Vicki was all kinds of nervous that first week or so." Beth grinned at the memory; she was pretty sure her mother had been on the recieving end of any number of panicky phone calls asking for advice on how you handle children who are old enough to talk back and scared to do it.

"It will take time for them to adjust, but I think they'll be fine," Miranda said. "They have a lot of love to give, and they thought it would be nice to give some love to a child who doesn't have a family of their own."

"That, and it's cute," Beth added with another grin. "Jon's completely wrapped around four female fingers, and he only really acknowledges two of them!"

Miranda laughed, knowing exactly which females her daughter was referring to. "I assume you mean Vicki and Mataya," she said with a grin. "Give Emily and Bea time, and they'll have him there, too." If they didn't already.

"Oh, I don't know ... Maddy might end up giving all of them a run for their money," Beth pointed out in amusement. As Jon's twins got older, the big house got louder.

"It's probably a good thing Humphrey is getting hard of hearing," Miranda said, chuckling as she returned her attention to the little one in her arms. "Time for a burpy!" she warned, before gently prying the bottle from the baby's mouth and hands. "She has quite a grip!"

"She loves holding onto things," Beth agreed, watching as Rosie's hands reached out to grasp at anything now her bottle was out of reach. "Lucky learned that the hard way."

"So did I," Miranda reminded her. "Maybe you should put my hair in a ponytail before she grabs it again," she suggested as she transferred the baby to her shoulder, one hand gently rubbing her back to encourage a burp or two.

"That is probably a good idea." Beth rose to her feet, nabbing a hair tie from the counter. She swept her mother's hair out of Rosie's reach just in time, combing her fingers through the familiar weight before splitting it into three to create a braid. "Hey, did you hear? Gabi got caught buying sexy lingerie by Elle and Piper a few days ago."
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Bethany Daly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Got caught?" Miranda echoed, brows arching upwards in surprise. "What is so scandalous about that? She and George are married, after all," she reminded her daughter with a grin. And if her niece wanted to seduce her husband, there was nothing wrong with that.

"This is Gabi we're talking about," Beth reminded her in amusement. "She may have had twins and got married, but as soon as anyone mentions anything below the neck in a suggestive way, you could cook dinner for six on her forehead."

Miranda laughed at Beth's description of her cousin's bashfulness. "She and George are made for each other," she said. George was, after all, a man from an earlier time period when sex was still a taboo subject.

"They are kind of adorable, aren't they?" Beth grinned, tying off the braid in her mother's hair. She bent down, kissing Miranda's temple fondly. "Those boys would probably love a little brother, though."

"George doesn't seem to mind that they aren't his," Miranda said. Though George was not the twins' birth father, he seemed to love them just as much as if they were. She couldn't help but chuckle at Beth's remark. "But would they love a little sister?"

Beth rolled her eyes, dropping down into a chair once again. "Maybe when they're older, they would," she mused. "But those two are definitely little boys."

"A tomboy, then," Miranda suggested with a gleam in her eyes. She adored boys, but was obviously a little biased toward girls and hoped Gabi would one day know what it was like to have a daughter of her own.

Her daughter chuckled as she sipped her tea once again. "Gabi kinda deserves a proper girlie girl, though, don't you think?" she grinned. "Seeing as she was the only girl herself."

"It is a little ironic, isn't it?" Miranda said, as if that thought had only just occurred to her. Gabi had been the younger sister of two older brothers - both twins, albeit not identical like Gabi's boys.

"Knowing her luck, it'll be twins again when they manage it, though," Beth added with a wider grin. "One of each, want to place a wager on it?"

"You're on! But if it's going to be twins, I'm putting my money on identical girls," Miranda replied, finally eliciting a quiet burp from the little one on her shoulder. "Well, it's about time!" she said, laughing as she carefully returned the newborn to her arms and offered her the rest of the bottle.

"If I win, I want to take Ro to the Wonderplex and get her totally mashed on sugar and adrenaline," Beth warned her mother cheerfully, tilting her head automatically as her smile softened for the baby girl in Miranda's arms. "What do you want if you win?"

Miranda rolled her eyes at her daughter's terms. "Hmm, good question. I would suggest you taking Ro for a few days so I can spend a romantic weekend with your father, but you have your hands full already."

"At the earliest, you'd win in, what, seven months' time?" Beth pointed out. "By which point, Rosie'll be more coherent and sleeping through the night."

"Hmm, that's true," Miranda mused aloud. "It sounds like no matter what the terms, we both win," she added with a grin. "So, I guess you have a bet."

"You're on." Bethany grinned happily, leaning back in her chair. "So did Dad end up going on Jason's whirlwind tour of the Christmas lights with the kids, or is he finishing up the wrapping at home?"

"Knowing your father, he probably got talked into helping Jason. Besides, they need to spend more time together, don't you think?" Miranda asked, still worried about whether her husband and son-in-law would ever truly bond.

"They're getting there, Mom," Beth assured her. "Can't deny it's better since Jase talked Dad into going on his early morning runs with him, can you?"

Miranda chuckled again. "It would be even better if your father didn't complain about it so much," she remarked with a smirk. It wasn't so much that Rufus wasn't in good shape already so much as he liked to sleep in now and then.

"Maybe he should stop reading past midnight every other night, then," was Beth's sage response, her wide mouth parting in a warm grin. Her eyes flickered down to Rosie, who had given up drinking, and was now just chewing on the teat while milk dribbled down her cheeks.

"Try and tell him that," Miranda countered, knowing her husband well enough to know that was never going to happen. "The books he reads would put most people to sleep," she said, her gaze following Beth's to the half-drowsing baby girl. "Oh, for goodness' sake," she said with a sigh.

"Sorry." Beth reached out to take the bottle from her mother, checking the level. "Well, she had more than I was expecting. Fussy little monster that you are, princess."

"She's just a wee thing, love," Miranda pointed out, snagging the cloth from her shoulder to dab at the milk that had dribbled down the baby's cheeks. "She's healthy enough. Her little tummy just gets full too fast."

"I know. And it's an improvement on last week." It was just frustrating. The twins had gobbled down everything offered to them in the first month before slowing down; their little sister seemed to be approaching things from the other direction.

"Sweetheart, if you need any help, I am a phone call away. I don't mind really," Miranda reminded her daughter. She had raised a daughter all on her own and knew how hard it could be to do it without much help. Beth had all the help she needed, so long as she wanted it.

"I know, Mom, but I feel like I take you away from Ro and Dad a lot," Beth admitted ruefully. "With the twins, you had me on the phone every day; this time around, I'm just across the lawn."

"Beth, you are my daughter," Miranda told her, though she didn't think the younger woman needed the reminder. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for you, and babies don't stay little forever."

"You're not wrong." As Beth inched over, wrapping an arm about her mother's shoulders in a gentle hug, Rosie let out an enormous burp entirely of her own accord. At the same time, her rear end vibrated, too.

It was hard to remain serious when the baby in her arms was passing gas from both orifices at the same time. Miranda burst out laughing, carefully handing the baby back to her mother. "Well, that's one way to change the subject. Your turn, Mommy."

"Gee, thanks." Despite the drawling sarcasm, Beth was grinning as she raised Rosie's backside to her face to sniff. "Nope, just a fart. Did you just fart on your Gramma, you unspeakably adorable muffin? Did you?" Rosie burbled in answer, wrapping her little fingers into the collar of Beth's t-shirt as she was settled on her mama's shoulder.

"That would definitely be a yes," Miranda replied for her with a grin of her own. She sighed as she propped her cheek against her hand to regard her daughter and grand-daughter. "Do you ever wish you had a sibling?" she asked. "I don't mean Rowan. I mean when you were growing up."

Beth smiled, letting Rosie settle against her shoulder as they talked. "Sometimes?" she answered, though she seemed less than confident of it. "I had it good, though. I had you."

"You had only me," Miranda said with a frown, though the past was the past, and there was no changing it now - at least, not without the possibility of some serious ramifications. "And of course, your friends," she added, as she had never denied Beth that.
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Bethany Daly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Mom, you never stifled me or kept me from enjoying my life," Beth reminded her. "Okay, so maybe I was a little lonely sometimes, but - like you said - I had a lot of friends, and I maintain, I had you. And Andy, eventually."

Miranda rolled her eyes again coupled with a quiet chuckle. "Oh, yes! I'm sure the cat made a huge difference in your life," she said, with a hint of sarcasm. "He was hardly a replacement for a father." Or a brother, for that matter.

"Mom, don't worry about it so much, okay?" Beth squeezed her mother's hand fondly. "I didn't suffer, and my kids are so blessed to have you in their lives. So don't sweat it, okay?"

"I'm not. I just wonder sometimes," Miranda replied, a soft adoring smile for her daughter. "No regrets. I promise," she said, drawing an X across her chest, even if it was a bit of a lie. If there was one thing she regretted, it was the loss of Rufus in their lives for so many years, but they were trying hard to make up for lost time.

Beth smiled her own adoring smile. They were incredibly close, even for a mother and daughter, a product of so many years when it had been just the two of them. But even with husbands and children crowding in, they still had room for each other. "Love you, Mommy."

"I love you, too, sweetheart," Miranda was quick to reply, mirroring the adoring smile on her daughter's face. She leaned closer to touch a kiss to Beth's cheek, before turning her head to regard the newest addition to the family again. "She's beautiful, you know. As beautiful as you were when you were born."

Beth's grin was sardonic. "Really? Because Dad's pretty adamant I looked like a grumpier Winston Churchill after thirteen hours of labor." She chuckled, though her smile faded a little, knowing that her birth had been a bittersweet day for her mother.

"Don't believe everything your father tells you. He's just teasing. To be honest, he thought you were the most precious thing he'd ever seen. It was the first time I ever saw your father cry," Miranda told her with a wistful smile of her own.

There was silence for a long moment before Beth roused herself. "You know, Evy's pretty jealous of having another girl in the family," she commented to her mother. "I think I'm gonna need to spoil her for an afternoon pretty soon."

"She'll get over it eventually. With luck, they might even become best friends," Miranda pointed out, though she couldn't predict the future. "Are you asking me to babysit Rosie or help you spoil Evy?" she asked, assuming her daughter was trying to drop a hint of some kind or other.

"Spoil Evy," was Beth's prompt response. "Rosie gets a lot of attention right now, and she's not coping too well with it. The last thing we want is a kind of turf war between them."

"Okay, what are you proposing?" Miranda asked, looking as serious as one could about the prospect of spoiling her grand-daughter, which she probably did a pretty good job of doing already.

"I was thinking ... we could give her a princess day." Beth grinned at how serious Miranda had become. "I mean, I know you can pull strings and get a dress that fits and is just right, and I bet I could sweet-talk a make-up artist into making her over. What do you think?"

"Well, I do happen to personally know a certain costume designer," Miranda said, with a dimpled grin. She just happened to be that costume designer with access to a bevy of costumes, including those that were child-size.

"Really? I never would have guessed." Beth snorted with laughter, easing Rosie down into the crook of her arm as the baby girl sighed, beginning to drift off to sleep again.

"I know, right?" Miranda said, grinning at her daughter. "I can even go one better. How about I make her a costume of her own, complete with crown and wand?"

"Well, now you've thought of it, I'm not going to change your mind!" Beth laughed, gently jostling the newborn in her grasp. "Brody's doing better, but I think that's more to do with the fact that he gets on so well with lucky."

"They'll be fine, Beth. Try not to worry," Miranda assured her, reaching over to pat her daughter's hand. "Look at Jon and Vicki - they have four little rug rats and they all get along fine." Most of the time, anyway.

"Well, how could they not be fine? They have a whole family looking out for them!" Beth rolled her eyes as she smiled, trying to reassure her mother with that expression. She glanced down at the now sleeping Rosie. "You want her back now she's not actively farting?"

"As do you!" Miranda reminded her. It hadn't been all that long since Beth and Jason had moved their family from New York to Rhy'Din, and it would take some time to get used to all the people that called Maple Grove home. She smiled at her daughter's question. "I would never say no to that. Farts or no farts."

With practised movements, Beth handed the baby into her grandmother's arms with the minimum of fuss, settling back into her seat with a soft, happy sigh. "We're still doing pizza night tonight," she said, tucking one foot up onto the chair. "Des and Piper are bringing their trio over, too. You still good to join us?"

Miranda couldn't help beaming with pride as Beth handed her back her tiny grand-daughter. "Of course, I am, but are you really feeling up to it?" she asked, though her eyes were fixed on the little bundle in her arms.

"Pizza night," Beth repeated. "Everything ordered in, and the dishwasher gets a work out on cutlery and glasses. It's very doable." She grinned at her mother fondly. "Besides, I want to."

"Well, far be it for me to miss pizza night," Miranda grinned back. "Besides that's means I don't have to cook either." Which was always a bonus. "And Ro adores her cousins."

"Her cousins adore Ro!" Beth laughed. "I've never seen another little girl so universally adored by everyone around her, it's almost obscene how popular my little sister is. She must have got it from you."

Miranda laughed. "I don't think so. She probably got it from her father. He has such a warm and fuzzy personality, don't you think?" she teased, bumping her daughter's arm, a small smirk on her face.

Beth snickered softly, reaching over to stroke her fingertip down Rosie's nose. "Nope, my money's still on you," she informed her mother cheerfully. "Shall I put another pot on?"

"Why not? I wouldn't want to fall asleep in the middle of pizza," Miranda said, smiling as Beth stroked the newborn's nose. "I'm so happy you're here, Beth," she told her daughter,
"I know it's been hard on Jason, but you both belong among family."

Rising to put the kettle on, Beth smiled faintly. "I thought it would be harder for him," she admitted in a thoughtful tone. "But I really do think he did all his grieving for Anna years ago. He was ready to say to goodbye when she finally left us, and he's the one who said we should move here after her funeral. He seems more at peace these days."

"I know he misses Anna, but everyone he loves is here. Des is here, you're here, I'm here. The hard part is finding his place here. Finding his nitch, but if we can do it, so can he," Miranda pointed out.

"He's almost there," Beth promised her. "He's been convincing Caroline and Humphrey that not having dogs on the security force is a serious oversight."

Miranda arched a brow. "Is it though?" she asked curiously, having no real knowledge or expertise about such things, other than for what Rufus told her.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I guess the night shifts at the warehouses would do better with dogs, maybe?" Beth suggested, shrugging. "I don't know. He just wants to make sure that he and Lucky stay a team. They went through a lot to form that bond of theirs."

"I'm sure he knows what he's talking about," Miranda assured her. "I just have no idea. What do Caroline and Humphrey have to say about it?" she asked, shifting the baby in her arms to find a more comfortable position before her arm fell asleep.

"Well, the problem is that Jason wants to work and be paid, whereas Humph keeps offering to pay him a salary just to walk Lucky around the estate twice a day," Beth told her mother, trying not to laugh. "They just keep going over the same conversation every time they talk about it."

"Hmm," Miranda murmured thoughtfully. Humphrey was a generous man where his family was concerned, but she understood Jason's need to feel useful, beyond that of being a husband and father. "Maybe Humphrey should give him a job. Like Head of Security or something."

"That'd ... that'd actually be a really good idea," Beth mused, pouring hot water into the teapot carefully. "Jase knows a lot about security and discipline. He could do wonders with GG security."

"GG security or Maple Grove, specifically?" Miranda asked, once again not knowing a lot about how all of that worked. Rhy'Din wasn't New York, and things worked differently here. "He could join the Watch, but would he really want to?"

"I think, given the choice, he might pick the estate," Beth said thoughfully, bringing the tea pot over to the table. She eased down into her seat comfortably. "Too much crap happens in the city for him to ever want to voluntarily join the Watch."

"Agreed," Miranda replied, regarding the Watch. "I think he'd be happier with the estate than the company, too. He's not part of GrangerGuild. He has more at stake here. His whole family is here, and it would keep him close to home," she reasoned.

"It would. And besides ... I think he really likes how green and open it is here." Beth smiled faintly. "I get it. We've lived in a pretty dense city all our lives, and suddenly we're here, and we have greenery everywhere, and trees and nature, but everyone we love is within walking distance. It's pretty amazing."

"I wonder if he'd like doing something else with Lucky, too. Maybe taking him to visit schools and hospitals. Of course, that's probably not something he'd earn a living doing, but he might enjoy it," Miranda suggested further.

"Schools might be a good idea." Beth paused, pouring the tea. "Lucky's not a support animal, though, so hospitals might be pushing it a little."

"True. I wonder if he could do Search and Rescue," Miranda mused further. "Though I'm not sure if there's much call for that here."

"There's no reason he couldn't train Lucky to do it, though," Beth mused. "It'd give them something to work on, and you never know when it might come in handy."

"That's true," Miranda said, though it was entirely up to Jason. "I suppose we should try not to plan his life for him," she added with a grin, though they were only trying to help. She understood how hard it could be to figure out where you fit in, especially in Rhy'Din.

"He's got options." Beth grinned, sliding the cup over to Miranda. "And what is the illustrious Miranda Granger-Bennett doing with herself in the new year to come?"

Miranda shrugged. "Oh, same old, same old, I think. I'm really happy at the theater, though it's probably time I train a few apprentices," she replied, reaching over to stir a little sugar and cream into her tea, her new granddaughter still cradled in one arm.

"I bet you could find a few people eager to learn," Beth assured her easily. "I'm really glad you're still so happy there, Mom. Gotta admit, I didn't think you would be when you started out."

"Really? Why not?" Miranda asked, obviously surprised by her daughter's confession. Though she was in her fifties, she didn't look like it, and had yet to consider retirement.

"Well, it's just that you create a piece, and it's seen on stage for just one production, and then it's gone," Beth pointed out. "It's a bit of a departure from what you were doing before."

"Is it though?" Miranda said, smiling at the irony of her daughter's statement. "How many times do you think a bride wears her gown?" she pointed out, though Miranda had only been in the business of designing bridal gowns for a short while.

"You know what I mean," Beth clarified with a laugh. "At least the wedding dress gets seen up close by everyone who bothers to go and say hello to the bride in person. Maybe you should get Mataya to hire out some space in a museum and put together an exhibit of your best costumes."

"Or maybe we could donate them somewhere," Miranda added with a thoughtful frown and a sigh as she tried to put her feelings into words. "The thing is, I've spent most of my life designing clothes for the fashion industry on Earth. I've worked hard at it all my life, while trying to raise you, and I don't want to do that anymore. I'm having fun at the theater, Beth. I'm not doing it for the money. I could quit tomorrow and focus on my family, but I really enjoy what I do. It doesn't feel like work anymore. Do you know what I mean?"

"I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, Mom," Beth insisted hurriedly. "So long as you're enjoying yourself, you should keep going as long as you want. I'm just saying ... I wouldn't have been able to predict it. Okay?"

"Don't worry, okay?" Miranda was quick to assure her daughter, reaching over to pat her hand, a reassuring smile on her face. "I love my job and my life. I'm happy, I promise. As soon as I'm not, you'll be the first one to know, but I should probably start thinking about retirement."

Beth's smile widened to an enormous grin as she turned her hand, squeezing her mother's fingers fondly. "Train your replacement, and sign on as a consultant for the rest of your life," she suggested. "You'll never retire."

Miranda mirrored that grin, an almost playful gleam in her eyes. "I do have someone in mind," she teased. She didn't bother to argue with her daughter. As much as she loved her family, it was unlikely she'd ever retire completely, so long as she was enjoying what she was doing.

"Oh, do you, now?" Beth leaned forward, her eyes sparkling with curiosity. "Who? Anyone I know? Oooh, is it someone from that stint you did as a lecturer at the design college?"

Miranda laughed. "No! It's someone who's shown a lot of promise. I think she's even surprised herself," she said, though she didn't mention any names just yet, her eyes bright with amusement at her daughter's reaction.

"Ah, so definitely a she, then." Beth tapped her fingers against her cup as she considered her options. "Someone you're working with already? Or someone you'll have to headhunt?"

"No, it's someone I'm already working with. Care to guess?" Miranda asked with a laugh, practically daring her daughter to do just that.

A look of mild horror crossed Beth's face briefly. "It's not that awful Justin guy, is it?" To be fair to him, Beth had met Justin during a particularly harried dress rehearsal, and he had not been kindly disposed to anyone who wasn't a member of the makeup and costuming departments that day.

Miranda laughed. "No! Think female," she said, giving her daughter a small hint. If she gave her too many hints, it would be obvious, but one wouldn't hurt.

"Yeah, that breaks it down," Beth drawled laughingly, resting her chin on her hand as she considered her mother's colleagues at the theater. "Is she ... married and a mommy?"

"Mmm, yes," Miranda said after a moment's consideration, though that was really going to narrow the choices down.

Beth beamed cheerfully. "How the hell are you going to convince her she could run an entire costuming department?" she asked, not even needing to confirm the name. "She deflates if someone asks her whether she got enough sleep last night."
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I'm not. I'm going to ask her to shadow me and learn from me first," Miranda replied, looking just a little defensive. "You don't think I'd just toss it in her lap and walk away without preparing her for it, do you?"

"No, of course not." Beth chuckled, shaking her head. "I should have known you'd give yourself a challenge. Self-confidence does not come easy to that girl."

"Self-confidence is not something you're born with, Beth. It's something that's learned. It'll be good for her. Anyway, I wouldn't ask her, if I didn't think she could do it," Miranda pointed out.

"So her designs must have been improving, right?" Beth couldn't help prodding for more insider knowledge now. "I take it she's not still trying to put every woman in long skirts on stage anymore?"

Miranda chuckled again. "No, she's definitely adapting. It just takes time. She's from a different place and time, one that's much more restrictive than Rhy'Din. She definitely has the talent."

"You're going to have so much fun building her up," her daughter predicted. "You should invite her and her husband over for dinner sometime, really buy into the mentor/mentee thing."

"Would you like me to adopt her?" Miranda asked, with a teasing gleam in her eyes. Though the woman in question was a little too old to be adopted, there was nothing stopping Miranda from taking her under her wing, not only on a professional level, but a maternal one.

"Wouldn't you have to fight the women on that farm she lives on for the privilege?" Beth countered teasingly. Not so much Marin Evans, perhaps, but Jodie St.John would definitely come out fighting if someone tried to steal the Taylors and their twins out from under her eye.

"What they don't know what hurt them," Miranda replied with a smug grin. Besides, there was nothing saying she couldn't mother her at work, while the women on the farm mothered her at home.

"Oh, sneak attack, I like it." Beth chuckled, leaning back to stretch slowly. She glanced at the clock on the wall. "Would it be horrifically cheeky of me to go and take a shower before the men and children return in search of pizza?"

"Take advantage of the time while you have it," Miranda advised her daughter. "Go ahead. I've got things covered here," she said, indicating the newborn who was napping in her arms.

"She's gonna need changing pretty soon," Beth warned her, rising to her feet. She paused, bending to kiss Miranda's hair. "It's so nice having you so close again, Mom. I missed this."

"I did, too, sweetheart," Miranda replied, a soft smile on her face for her daughter's kiss and her statement. "Just tell me if I'm butting in, okay? I don't want to drive you or Jason away."

"You're fine," Beth promised her with a smile. "Since when have I ever left you in the dark about too much Mommy time?" She winked at her mother fondly.

"There's a first time for everything," Miranda replied. Though she was relieved by her daughter's remark, it was really Jason that worried her. What if she was too nosy? Too bossy? Too controlling?

If Miranda ever did cross that line, she could be certain that Jason would mention it to his wife, and that wife would definitely mention it to her. "Somehow, I don't think you're even half as insensitive to the people around you as you keep painting yourself, Mom."

"I'm just so happy you're here, but I don't want to smother you," Miranda replied, with a small frown. She rarely mentioned these things, but they did worry her sometimes.

"You won't. If anything, Dad won't let you." Beth grinned at her mother. "Okay, I'm going to shower and get dressed, and you're not going to tell Jase I've been in my pajamas all day when he wanders in with the kids."

"My lips are sealed," Miranda said, making a zipping motion across her lips with her fingers. Her daughter's secret was safe with her, at least for now. Besides, she doubted Jason would care whether Beth had stayed in her pjs all day, so long as the new addition to the family was well cared for.

In her arms, Rosie gurgled, waking up with a start to blink slowly focusing eyes up at her grandmother while her mother took the opportunity to run for the bathroom and get cleaned up. The baby girl offered up a beautiful gassy grin to Miranda.

"Well, hullo there, beautiful. Did you have a nice nap?" Miranda asked the little bundle in her arms. "What kind of trouble do you think we can get into while your mama takes a shower?"

The kind of trouble that involved dirty diapers and blowout, unfortunately. Rosie was one of those amazingly talented small people who could find the escape route for her diabolical poop at a moment's notice.

But never fear when Miranda is here! Though Grandma groaned and wrinkled her nose at the stench, she had her newest granddaughter cleaned up and changed before Beth was out of the shower and even knew what had happened.

And just in time to hear a familiar voice approaching the house, booming in his favorite grandfatherly way, "Fee fi fo fum, I'm going to catch you and tickle your mum!" This was accompanied by the shrill cackle of a familiar small girl squealing with laughter.

"Just in time for Grandpa!" Miranda told the newborn, as she picked her up and settled her against her shoulder before going to the door to greet her husband and youngest daughter. "No tickling today, unless you want me to drop your granddaughter!" she warned as she pulled the door open.

"One of my granddaughters," Rufus corrected her, snatching Ro up off the ground and onto his hip as she cackled cheerfully. Behind him, Jason was wrangling the twins and Lucky with what looked like better success than his father-in-law was having with Rowan. He grinned, leaning down to kiss Miranda. "What did you do to Beth, drug her and put her back to bed?"

"I'm only holding the one!" Miranda corrected her husband, grinning as she returned his kiss before letting the group into the house. "No, she's around. Just taking a potty break. She'll be out in a minute," she fibbed, mostly because it seemed Beth wanted her to.

"Gramma!" Evie's delighted voice called out from the porch as she and her brother navigated the steps upward under their father's eyes, abandoning Brody's hand to rush past Rufus and hug Miranda's leg tightly. A moment later, Miranda had the matched set.

"Goodness!" Miranda exclaimed, as one then the other twin clutched her leg. "Now, children ... I am holding your baby sister, and you wouldn't want me to drop her, would you?" she asked the pair, lifting one hand from the bundle against her shoulder to pat their heads, one at a time.

"Yes," came Evie's answer, muffled against Miranda's thigh, followed by Brody's more open, "No!"

Rufus snorted with laughter, reaching out to snag baby Rosie from his wife's arm to share her with Ro for a few minutes before the doting father got his coat off and needed to reconnect with the baby.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Now, Evie, you don't mean that, do you?" Miranda asked, a grateful glance at Rufus for taking the newborn off her hands so she could crouch down in front of the twins. Meanwhile, Jason closed the door as the group moved inside and took care of hanging up the coats.

Evie glowered at Rosie for a moment before Miranda crouched down, throwing her arms around her grandmother's neck and hugging close. "Horribibble baby," she muttered. Brody, on the other hand, looked shocked at his sister's comment on their baby sister.

Miranda hugged both children close, now that she was no longer juggling the baby. "You say that now, but someday you and Rosie are going to be best friends," she assured her grand-daughter with a kiss. "You don't feel that way about Rowan, do you?"

Evie didn't have anything to say on that subject, but her brother was something of a tattle-tale, and he did know his twin. "Daddy doesn' hug Wo-wo always," he confided in Miranda firmly.

"Ah, so this is about Daddy, is it?" Miranda said, looking from one twin to the other. "You know, babies need a lot of taking care of when they're little, but they don't do very much except eat and sleep and poop. You Daddy and Mommy have to take care of her because she's too little to take care of herself. Have they asked you to help yet?"

"I fee' Lucky," Brody offered helpfully, though his attitude toward the new baby didn't seem to be the one that needed adjusting.

Evie was still throttling Miranda in a tight hug, scowling against her grandmother's neck. "Evvybobby loves the baby," she complained resentfully.

Miranda could tell it was Evie who needed reassuring, not Brody, but that was understandable considering how the little girl had some competition for her parents' - and especially her father's - attention. "Of course they do, but that doesn't mean they don't love you, too, Evie. You're always going to be special because you're the oldest," she told the little girl gently.

Evie frowned, sighing heavily. "M' not pretty like baby," she pointed out. "An', an' m' not borin'."

From the living room came the sound of Ro and Rufus discovering Beth. Brody perked up hopefully at the prospect of seeing his mommy soon.

Miranda echoed that sigh. "Oh, Evie," she said, glancing briefly in the direction of the living room. "Go on and say hello to your mother, Brody. We'll be along in a minute."

"M'kay." Hesitating for just a moment, Brody hugged his twin sister tight and kissed her cheek loudly before toddling off toward the living room.

Evie sighed again, still pouting.

Miranda smiled at the obvious affection the little boy had for his sister. Why couldn't the little girl see for herself how much she was loved? Moving to her feet, she offered a hand to the little girl. "Come on. I want to show you something," she told her, moving in the direction of the master bedroom.

Clinging to her grandmother's hand, Evie toddled along at Miranda's side. She wasn't crying - that, at least, was a blessing. The discomfort of having a baby sister was just that - discomfort. It hadn't yet become a pain that might not heal.

Though the master bedroom was Beth and Jason's private haven, it wasn't the kind of bedroom that was forbidden to the children. In fact, it was anything but, and it wasn't unusual to find the children curled up in bed with their parents on occasion, especially during storms or after one of the twins had woken with a nightmare. Miranda went to a drawer where she knew Beth kept her photos and pulled something out before leading Evie to a chair to settle her on her lap, along with an album full of family photos.

"Now, do you remember when this picture was taken?" she asked, as she pointed out a photo of Beth and Jason, with newborn twins in their arms.

Nestled into her grandmother's lap, Evie studied the photograph closely. "S'Mommy an' Daddy," she pointed out. "An' me an' Brody." But it was obvious that she only knew this because she had been told.

"See how little you and Brody are in this photo?" Miranda asked, the little girl nestled on her lap. "You couldn't do anything for yourself. Your parents had to do everything for you."

The little girl seemed to consider this for a long moment. "So ... so if I stop doin' stuff, Mommy and Daddy will hug me lots again?"

Miranda laughed a little. "No, sweetheart. That's not what I mean. What I mean is that you were too little to do anything for yourself, just like Rosie is." She flipped the page to another set of photos, more of the little family as they slowly grew accustomed to each other. "You know your mommy never had a brother or a sister growing up. She never had anyone to play with, except her friends. I know you might not think so now, but you're a very lucky girl to have a brother and a sister in your life."

"I like Brody," Evie defended herself, wanting to make this very clear. She didn't mind sharing anything or anyone with her twin brother, because she'd never known a time when she hadn't shared everything and everyone with him.

"I know you do, and he likes you, but it's not the same as having a sister. I never had a little sister, but I always wished I had. Having a little sister is like having your very own best friend that lives right there in your own house. But having a little sister is a big responsibility, too, because when she gets a little older, she's going to look up to you. She's going to need you to help her learn about the world," Miranda explained, hoping that would appeal to the little girl.

"Like ... like Mommy and Wo?" They did have a strange little dynamic in their family, but it didn't mean the children weren't aware of who was what to them. Ro was Beth's little sister as far as the twins were concerned.

"Sort of," Miranda replied, thoughtfully. "But more like Emily and Maddy or Lyneth and Amelia," she said, as there was too much of an age difference between Beth and Rowan to make her point.

Evie suddenly let out a wicked giggle. "Lynnie says Mia has a stinky butt!" she crowed cheerfully.

Miranda laughed and leaned in to whisper, almost conspiratorially, "So does Rosie," she said, pressing a finger to her lips as if it was their little secret. So did all babies, but Evie didn't have to know that just yet.

"She does," Evie agreed fervently."An' it's all loud, too. An' then she giggles, an' it's funny, 'cos she got a stinky giggly butt!"

"So did you, once upon a time," Miranda said, tapping an affectionate finger against the toddler's nose. "But you know how Maddie follows Emily around and how Lynnie makes Mia laugh? That's going to be you and Rosie someday."

"Weelly?" Evie didn't look convinced, but there was a flicker of hope in her eyes. It would be nice to have a little sister who was like Lynnie and Emily's little sisters.
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Bethany Daly
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Mmhm," Miranda murmured in reply. "But only if you're nice to her and be a good big sister. And if you help Mommy and Daddy with her, she'll come to know you better and to love and trust you the way Maddie and Mia do Emily and Lyneth. Being a big sister is a big responsibility, but if you want Rosie to grow up to love you, then you have to love her first. Understand?"

Evie nodded slowly, her expression fierce with thought. She had clearly thought that little sisters just were that way, and it didn't matter how little time she spent around her own little sister. "I still want Daddy cuddles."

"Of course you do, and you'll still get lots of those, especially when Rosie is sleeping. Babies do a lot of sleeping, but taking care of babies is a lot of work, so Mommy and Daddy are going to be tired for a while, and they're going to need your help," Miranda told her.

"But m'too little to he'p," Evie objected, lifting her hands as though demonstrating just how little they were. "An' Brody doesn' fee' Lucky, he jus' sits next to her when she's eatin'."

"But that is helping, Evie," Miranda pointed out. "You're little, so you help in little ways. If Mommy or Daddy asks you to do something, you do it. That's how you help. Maybe you can help burp Rosie or sing her a song to help her fall asleep. There are all kinds of things you can do to help. You'll see," Miranda assured her gently.

"An' Rosie'll like me?" The little girl's eyes were painfully hopeful now, as she finally produced the real reason she was reluctant to get close to her baby sister. After all, wouldn't it be awful if the baby didn't like her?

"Trust me," Miranda said, closing the photo album and setting it aside so that she could give her grand-daughter a hug. "If you're nice to her and help her and be a good big sister to her, she'll more than like you. She'll love you." She touched an affectionate kiss to Evie's cheek. "Now, I thought I heard someone say something about pizza. I think we should go pester your father about that. What do you think?"

Perking up, Evie nodded happily, twisting to hug herself tight into Miranda's arms for a long moment. "Love 'oo, Gramma."

"I love you, too, sweetheart. Forever and ever!" Miranda said, hugging her back, for as long as the little girl wanted. There had been a time when she'd been lonely, raising a daughter on her own, but those days were over.

As grandmother and granddaughter hugged, the woman who connected them by blood made herself known in a yell from the living room. "Anyone who wants a say in what goes on the pizza needs to appear pretty soon!"

Miranda laughed upon hearing that summons. "I think that means us," she told her granddaughter. She gave her one final hug before setting her on her feet. "Last one there's a rotten egg!" she challenged, already knowing the little girl was going to beat her there.

With a squeal of laughter, Evie bounced on her toes, grabbing Miranda's hand to drag her bodily into the living room and join the rest of the family. And what now of Miranda's worries about being too close to her daughter's growing brood? Without her right there, Evie would certainly have been in a mood for the whole evening. Thanks to Gramma, the familiarly cheeky smile was back as the little girl scrambled into Jason's lap to look at the menu, a sight that earned Miranda a swift, grateful hug from Beth before they got down to building a couple of pizzas for everyone to share.

Like most fathers, Jason hadn't even noticed anything had been wrong, welcoming Evie onto his lap with the ease of a man who was accustomed to showering his children with affection, no matter how tired he might be. Miranda smiled and winked as Beth hugged her, and sighed contentedly as she looked over the small brood she called family. As she moved over to stand beside Rufus, she understood that this was the reward for all their years of loneliness. She took his hand in hers - that of the only man she'd ever loved - and smiled up at him, thanking him without words for the daughter he had given her and the family they now shared.

They had earned their soft epilogue, however they chose to enjoy it. It really was about time.
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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