Lucy smiled with excitement as she drove up the winding driveway leading to 6848 Oakridge Road. She had been here many times before, but this time was different. This time she was going to meet Roy’s children, all four of them, Anna, Austin, Joey, and Darla.
Lucy and Roy had been dating for a little over six months, but he had been very careful not to introduce her to his children. At first, Lucy had been a little hurt by his hesitancy, but he had told her, “I’ve never introduced them to anyone I’ve dated. Maybe I’ve been a little too protective, but the divorce was hard on them. Even though it's been 3 years, I didn't want them to meet somebody new, just to have her disappear when we broke up," he continues, "but I'm certain that I'd like you to be part of our lives for a long time. If you'd like to be part of my life and theirs, I think it’s time you and my kids to meet one another.”
“I’d like that, all of that, Roy. Very much. “Lucy was touched and eager to meet the children that Roy loved and talked about so often.
Lucy could barely contain her feelings of nervousness and apprehension as she drove up to the house at 6848 Oakridge Road. “What will they be like? “Will I like them? Will they like me? What will I do if they don’t like me? What will Roy do? Oh! They have to like me; they just have to!”
Roy had told her so much about them. When he spoke about his children, a certain look came across his face: a look of pride, a look that was also desolate. It was a look that spoke volumes. Lucy recalled his telling her about how much he missed them, and that his “every other weekend” visits just weren’t enough.
“I think that’s when I knew that there was something truly special about him,” Lucy thought,” Any man that can love his children so much, and take such good care of them; emotionally, physically, and financially, is a good man. The kind of man I could probably make a life with.”
Lucy walked down the broken sidewalk that led to the front door.
Knock, knock. She rapped on the wooden door and waited. It opened, just a crack.
“Hi there, are you Miss Lucy? My Daddy told us you’d be coming. Are you my Daddy’s new girlfriend?” A beautiful six-year-old girl with big brown eyes and very curly brown hair asked excitedly, as she opened the door wider.
“Yes, I’m Miss Lucy. And as to your second question, I am a girl and I am your Daddy’s special friend, so you just might be right about me being his girl -friend, too. I guess we’ll just have to see.”
“Hi, Luce. “ Roy gave her a warm hug. “We’ve been waiting for you. I see you’ve already met Darla. Anna and the boys are outside trying to catch crickets for Killer.” Roy smiled, and Lucy’s heart melted at the site of his ruggedly handsome face.
“Killer?” she asked tentatively, a quizzical and concerned look appeared on her face. Lucy looked around cautiously, expecting to see a huge Rottweiler or Pitt Bull, ready to attack her, or even worse, chew her leg off.
“Oh! No worries. Killer is an aquarium upstairs. He’s our Tokay Gecko. The kids named him that because the first time we saw him at the pet store, he tried to bite Darla. The other kids named him Killer and just had to have him. Go figure, huh?” The laughter in his voice reflected the look of amusement that crossed his face.
“I hate that stupid lizard,” Darla stomped her foot and scowled at her Daddy. “I’m glad Mom said he has to stay here, and we can’t take him back to her house.”
The back door slammed with a loud thud and three very dirty children rushed into the room. One of them was holding up a small wire cage.
“Look, we got seven of them! Killer is going to be so happy!” a young boy with a shock of curly dark hair help up the cage of crickets. “Oh,” he stammered, “You must be Miss Lucy. Sorry about that. I’m Austin and this is my little brother Joey. Oh, yeah…this is Anna, she’s my sister. It looks like you already met Darla, she’s my sister too.” He held out a grubby little hand and smiled.
“Yep, I’m Miss Lucy. And now I’ve met all of you, all of the Emerson clan.” She enthusiastically shook Austin’s dirty little hand without a moment’s hesitation. She watched as all four of the Emerson children smiled. Their Dad smiled, too.
Lucy spent the evening eating Domino’s Pizza and playing Pictionary with the kids and Roy. There was lots of laughter, especially when Roy’s turn came around. He seemed to be a terrible artist; drawing little comic figures with big bulging eyes, no matter what his topic card said. Lucy knew that he had done this on purpose, to make the children laugh, and she was touched by his consideration.
“The weekend with this family has gotten off to great start.” Lucy thought, as she tucked herself into the warm cozy bed in the guest room. She fell asleep almost immediately.
She woke up the next morning in terrible pain. The left side of her face was swollen, and her left rear molar was aching. The ache was excruciating, and Lucy knew that she’d have to do something about it immediately. She hurried downstairs to find Roy standing at the kitchen stove, making pancakes.
“Good morning,” Lucy smiled through the pain, then turned her attention to the man standing in the kitchen with a spatula in his hand. “Roy, I’ll have to see a dentist or something. ASAP. I have a broken tooth. I must have broken it eating pizza last night. This thing is killing me. Do you know anyone that will see me on the weekend?”
Roy thought for just a minute. “Come on, I’ll call my friend Jared. He’s a dentist, and he owes me a favor. He’ll be glad to help if I can get a hold of him.” Roy went to make the call.
“What’s wrong, Miss Lucy?” Joey asked, very apprehensive.
“Are you sick, Miss Lucy?” Darla chimed in.
Lucy called the children closer and began to explain. “Last year, I was in a pretty bad car accident. I’m ok now, but when it happened, I went into cardiac arrest. The policeman and the ambulance people messed up several of my teeth when they tried to intubate me. I had all my teeth fixed, but I think I rebroke one of them. It hurts, but I’m sure we’ll get it taken care of real soon. Your Dad is calling a dentist right now.”
“Jared is going to meet us at his office in about 30 minutes. I called Carolyn from next door, and she is on her way here now. She’ll watch the kids while we’re gone.” Roy said, picking up his car keys. I felt a great sense of relieve. I knew Roy was going to take care of everything.
Just them, Carolyn walked in. “Hey, Carolyn. Thanks for coming on such short notice. We should be back relatively soon.” He turned to the children, “You guys behave now. We’ll be back soon.”
Jared was waiting for then when the couple reached his office. He shook Roy’s hand vigorously, “It’s good to see you, man. Sorry for the circumstances.” It was obvious to Lucy that the two were good friends.
After an hour or so in the dental chair, Lucy had a new crown and the pain was gone, completely gone, and she felt 100% better. “Oh my gosh, this feels so much better” she stated, her voice a bit muffled as she licked her back teeth. “Send me a bill, Jared. And thanks a million. You were a life saver.”
"This one’s on the house. Glad to help you guys out. Hey Roy, I’ll see you Tuesday night at Rotary Club.”
“Sure thing, and thanks again, Jared. We really appreciate it.”
Roy and Lucy left the office and hurried home.
“Carolyn, what would I do without such good friends. I really appreciate you watching the kids. It was an emergency and I didn’t know who else to call.”
Carolyn smiled as she picked up her sweater and walked over to the door, “No problem, Roy. Glad to help out.” She turned toward the living room, “ Bye kids, see you later, and Roy, I was glad to help out in a pinch.”
Lucy sat down in a big comfy recliner and Roy took a seat on the couch. The kids were on the floor. Darla and Joey were playing a game of Clue and the older children had their faces buried in their tablets. Roy turned on the television and was still channel surfing when the phone rang. He looked at the Caller ID. “It’s Carla, I’ll take this in the other room,” Roy motioned to Lucy and nodded toward the kids, thankful that they weren’t paying attention.
Lucy frowned. “What could his ex-wife possibly want? Is she just checking on the kids, or does she know about me?” her brow was furrowed and her lips were tight.
“Hey Carla, what’s up?” Roy greeted her casually as he sat down at the kitchen table.
“You idiot,” Carla was practically screaming at him. “What kind of woman do you have around my children, Roy? What's the matter with you? Have you taken to going out with criminals?”
“What are you talking about, Carla? Criminal? What criminal?” Roy was confused.
Carla shrieked into the phone. “I’ll tell you what criminal….A drunk that had her teeth knocked out by the police while she was being arrested. You think I don't know what's going on? Darla called me and told me all about Miss Lucy." She went on, yelling loudly about what an ass he was.
Roy began to laugh hysterically, “Hang on Carla. Calm down. I think we have a little miscommunication problem here. I think I can explain this whole situation."
Lucy couldn’t hear what he was saying, no matter how hard she tried to listen, but after about 10 minutes, she heard him hang up the phone. He walked back into the living room, a strange look on his face. Lucy couldn’t decide if he was angry or amused, and that made her a little bit nervous.
“Darla, honey. Come here, I have to ask you something.” Roy motioned to his youngest daughter with a moving, crooked finger. The child came over and stood right in front of him.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?
” Nothing’s wrong, sweetheart. But I have a question for you. Did you call your mother today?”
“Yes, Daddy. I called her while you were gone with Miss Lucy.”
“What did you tell your mother?”
“She asked me if everything was alright.”
“And what did you tell her then?”
Darla squirmed just a bit,” Daddy, I told her the truth. I told her that Miss Carolyn was watching us because you had taken your new girlfriend, Miss Lucy, to the dentist. I told Mommy that Miss Lucy had a toothache because she got her teeth knocked out by the police when she got arrested.”
Roy began to roar with laughter, Lucy joined in. “Oh my gosh,” she chuckled, “This is hilarious!”
“What’s so funny?” Darla demanded, quite upset by the whole experience.
“Honey, you misunderstood what happened to Miss Lucy.” Roy began to explain about Lucy’s car accident, the serious nature of her injuries, and how the policeman had knocked out some of her teeth while trying to help her breath through a tube. He explained that the problem with her heart stopping was called cardiac arrest... and that it had nothing to do with the police or being arrested.
Anna, Austin, and Joey were listening, and they began to laugh. Roy and Lucy were cackling. Darla put her arms around her Daddy, reaching only up just past his knees. “I guess I didn’t understand and when I told Mommy about all this, she really got mad at you. She was yelling about it. Daddy, I’m so sorry, I got you in trouble.”
“No problem, baby,” Roy hugged Darla and kissed the top of her curl-covered head. He smiled over at Lucy, laughing.
“I’m sorry, Luce. I know this has been a ridiculous, mixed up mess, and I apologize. Think you can handle these crazy contused kids and an ex-wife who jumps to conclusions? Oh…. And me……especially me. Think you can handle all this? His smile was playful, but his voice was deeply sincere.
“Hey, I’ve got this. “Lucy paused and a huge smile spread across her face. “After living through being arrested and having my teeth knocked out, by the police you guys are a piece of cake.” Lucy was surprised at her own sarcasm and she giggled aloud.
she looked over at Roy, sitting quietly on the couch. She looked at the kids, playing their games on the floor. One thought kept running through her mind, "This is what its like to be in love, really and truly in love."