Kate woke to the sounds and smells of breakfast being cooked. She wrapped up in a flannel shirt of Eric’s she had liberated earlier in the year. It hung on her, but was warm and comfortable. Walking into the kitchen, she found Eric at the stove and Jamie sitting at the table watching intently.
“Bambi libber an unyuns,” said Jamie before Eric could even turn to greet Kate.
“Liver and onions eh? That sounds good.”
“Good morning sleepy-head.” Eric reached over to kiss Kate.
Kate stood up on tip-toes and met Eric mid-kiss. “Morning.” The kiss smelled of fried onions.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Sore and still tired. That was not fair last night,”
“No, what wasn’t fair was staying up when you said you’d go to sleep,” he said as he turned the liver and onions in the pan.
“I was going. Just not as soon as you wanted me to,” she started in self defense of her actions.
“Next time, go to sleep when I ask, and I won’t have to put you to sleep. From the look of you, you could use another few hours of sleep.”
“I have work to do, so don’t you dare.”
“Don’t worry. I know you have work to do. However, I will at least ask you to take it easy this week.”
“I can try, but no guarantees. Why?”
“I just have this feeling that you will have a busy week.”
“Great. Is breakfast ready? It smells wonderful.”
“Yes, it is. Jamie, get some plates.”
“Okay Daddy.” Jamie bounced off the stool and climbed a second one to get out four plates. “Mark! Bambi’s ready!”
“I’m not eating that!” Mark hollered from the dining room.
“You are! You are! You Arrrrrre!”
“Enough you two!” said Eric in a loud voice. “Mark, if you aren’t having liver and onions, get some cereal. And no complaints later in the day if you are hungry.”
“Alright.” Mark came in and got a bowl for cereal.
Kate just shook her head. That boy was still the oddest creature on the planet at times. She held the plates while Eric portioned out the liver and onions. She couldn’t wait much longer as it smelled so good. “I’m surprised that you didn’t eat this last night.”She savored the first bite.
“I almost did eat it last night. I figured if I did though that I’d have a mutiny on my hands.”
Kate smiled at him and ate her breakfast.
Eric and Zach had fixed the bumper and gotten a used tire to replace the flat. Friday they had to go do the big monthly shopping trip and as usual, everything took twice as long. The weekend came and went before Kate even had a chance to think. Kate realized that part of the problem was that her heart just wasn’t in it. Still tired from the car wreak she tried to compensate by shuffling responsibilities. All it really did was get less stuff done and leave her just as tired.
As if to complicate things more, work at the shelter was becoming extremely hectic. Suzanne had called her in early on Monday. When Kate got there, she found a bus load of kids from Oklahoma and two families all trying to find a place to stay. It took three hours to find a mechanic to fix the transmission on the school bus. One of the families had a medical emergency and the last was a family of six very small children and an exhausted mother. Kate felt that she no sooner got one crisis fixed than three more popped up. Wednesday saw the arrival of both the father of the family with all the little kids and the grandparents. The ensuing argument over who was picking them up was finally settled by James and three sheriff’s deputies. The father went to jail for the night and the grandparents took everyone home.
Kate sat in her office on Saturday and tried to get all of the paperwork in order. It was stacked up in piles all over her desk. She had two folders in her hands trying to figure out where she was going to put them for the moment when Suzanne stuck her head in the door.
“Hello Suzanne. What can I do for you?”
“Umm, could you work tomorrow? The paperwork is up to my eyeballs and I can’t do intakes as well as get all of the paperwork into the computer.”
Kate thought for a second. “Yeah. Jody won’t be in until Wednesday at the earliest, so I guess so.” Jody was a temp in Suzanne’s office that might eventually work out. She was just a bit scattered when it came to schedules.
“Thank you dear! I’ll buy you lunch.” Suzanne called over her shoulder as she walked back towards her office.
Kate put down the folders and called Eric. He picked up on the second ring. “Hello Eric, I’m fine. Can you pick up the kids for me today? Yeah, busy doesn’t even begin to cover it. I have paperwork up to my eyeballs and Suzanne wants me to work tomorrow. No, I’ll be okay. Thanks for getting the kids. See you this evening when I get home. Bye!” she hung up the phone and went back to sorting her folders.
The double books necessitated by the state intervention drove her nuts some days. Eric had streamlined it a bit, but it still meant hours of computer data entry. She managed to arrange the folders on her desk so that she could evaluate, edit and enter the information in about twenty minutes per folder. There had been fourteen folders to start with and she was down to three. Kate looked over at the clock and realized it was nearly 8:30pm. Another hours worth of work to do, and she decided she must be tired as she could swear she smelled barbecue sauce. She looked at the folders and almost put them in the drawer for the morning. Instead, she opened the next one and started to enter the data.
“Hey! You do exist!” came Eric’s voice from the doorway.
Kate jumped and almost tossed the folder. “Gods! You startled me!”
“Well, when you didn’t come home, I decided to bring you something to eat.” He held out a take out box from Deke’s.
“Oh my, I wasn’t imagining things when I thought I smelled barbecue sauce.”
“No, you weren’t. And if you want, I’ll enter data while you eat.” He gestured for the two of them to trade places.
“Deal!” Kate said as she took the box. Inside were two pickles, barbecue sauce, a shredded pork sandwich and some chips. “A feast! Thank you Eric. I was just beginning to despair that I had another hour to go before I could get home.”
“Well, you eat and I’ll type. I’m a bit faster at data entry, so maybe we can get out of here in thirty minutes instead of an hour.” He sat down at the computer and began to tap away at the keyboard in rapid strokes.
Kate sank into the other office chair and ate her sandwich. She added extra sauce and practically inhaled it. “This is so good. Thanks for the extra pickle.”
“Don’t thank me. That waitress remembered you snatching my pickle and gave you an extra one.”
Kate just smiled and continued eating her dinner.
Twenty-five minutes later they were out the door and on their way home. Jerry, the new night desk guard saw them out and locked the door. They got home to a sleeping household. Not even the dogs barked as they came in. Kate and Eric took a quick shower and then snuggled into the bed.
“What are you going to do tomorrow?” They had discussed her plans in the shower.
“I have some computers to repair, and then I think I’ll curl up on the couch and watch a movie with the kids for a bit until you get home.”
“Sounds good. Wish I could be home with you.”
“So do I. You haven’t had ten minutes to yourself all week. From what you say, next week won’t be much better.”
“No, it won’t Eric. This time of year is just crazy. You remember how it was when you got here.”
“Yes, I do. Hard to believe it was a year ago.”
“So much has happened.”
“Yes. Some of it wonderful and some of it enough to give you nightmares.”
“I’ll agree with you there. Oh. Before I forget. I asked for Monday and Tuesday off.”
“Oh? Because you’re working tomorrow?”
“That, and it’s Beltaine!” A smile played over her face.
“Gods! I’d almost forgotten. Have I told you I love you lately?”
“I think you just did.” Kate turned and kissed him. “I love you too.”
The two of them snuggled up again and were soon fast asleep.