by Maggie O'Malley
When Sara was growing up, her "magic crayons" helped her escape the pain. Now as an adult and the world famous Art Angel, can they help her to find the life she's always dreamed of?
Two days later, flight plans were rearranged and two musketeers were aboard Air Canada flights to rendezvous with the third and her family in Vancouver. Sara arrived first and was greeted by happy tears and hugs from Jenna, a big Canadian bear hug from Rick, and kisses, hugs and squeals of "Auntie Sara, Auntie Sara!" by her little niece Becky. Sara held the little one close and then finished ruining her make up when Becky presented her with a crayon coloring of an angel that she'd made special just for her. Sara praised her junior crayon cherub and told it was the best Art Angel picture she'd ever seen and in her eyes it was.
Jenna and Rick heaped heavy praise on Sara, telling her how wonderful she looked, hardly the same young woman they'd met at Trafalgar Square. Sara still didn't take compliments well, blushing and pooh- pooing their kind words, but then adding that none of it would ever have been possible without them. More hugs and tears ensued before Rick pointed out they might want to save a few for Prue as her flight was arriving in less than an hour. The foursome then finally headed over toward Prue's gate with Becky insisting upon holding Auntie Sara's hand for the walk over.
They waited impatiently as the travelers from Prue's flight cleared customs and then a petite brunette pixie with shoulder-length brown hair, beautiful brown eyes and the kind of smile that lights up a room, came walking toward them. Jenna and Sara's eyes filled with tears and Becky's went wide as her smile matched her aunties. The little one declared herself Prue's official welcoming committee, and quickly closed the distance between her and Prue, running with her arms wide open and squealing, "Auntie Prue, Auntie Prue!"
The cute Kiwi kneeled down and then happily scooped up the wiggling, giggling bundle and hugged her tightly. As Sara had been before, Prue was rewarded with tiny toddler kisses and warm hugs from her little niece. Prue accepted them gratefully and rocked the happy child in her arms. She carried her over to meet the rest of the family she had grown to love so much.
Sara looked at her special friend through misting eyes. She was even more beautiful than the picture she had shared with her. There was a love and magic in Prue's smile that matched what flowed from her writing hand. The bond she'd shared with her through cyberspace didn't lose anything in the conversion to reality. She couldn't wait to finally to give Prue a proper huggle.
Prue looked into her welcoming party's eyes, and the woman whose muse had gave her the words to write countless best sellers, suddenly deserted her. She was speechless, but at a time like this, words only get in the way of hugs, so the five-some joined in a single and silent loving hugfest that spoke volumes.
After tissues if not tears were fully exhausted, they headed out toward Rick and Jenna's car with Prue and Sara each getting one of Becky's hands on the way. Prue and Sara sat in the back with Becky while Rick drove and they chatted on the way to "God's country". It took some thirty minutes to get there, but the drive was nearly as good as the destination as both Prue and Sara marveled over the breathtaking greenery.
Once they pulled into the drive leading to Rick and Jenna's home, they clearly understood why it was referred to as God's country. When Prue and Sara stepped out, a beautiful two-story cabin nestled among tall trees greeted them. Tall mountains rose to blue skies in the distance and the fresh crisp air lightly scented with pine welcomed them to the promised land.
Once inside, Sara and Prue found the house to be truly befitting of the surrounding real estate. It was as beautiful and as warm and cozy as those who lived there. Jenna had dinner already prepared and just waiting to be warmed up when they got home. It was a fabulous stew with homemade biscuits followed by a Jenna specialty, pineapple upside down cake.
The afternoon and a good part of the evening were spent sitting round the fireplace talking, crying, laughing and hugging with Becky lap jumping back and forth between aunties. When the little princess finally became sleeping beauty she had four people to tuck her in that night.
With Rick and Jenna having a mid-morning flight to Dallas the next day, and Prue and Sara suffering jet lag, everyone decided to call it a night early. Jenna had two lovely guests rooms prepared for Prue and Sara, and Prue was almost asleep as soon as she hit the pillow. Sara though was a bit more restless, and tossed and turned for a while before tiptoeing across the hall to see if Prue was still awake.
When Prue heard Sara's voice outside her door she knew something was amiss and invited her in immediately. Sara came in head down and shuffling from foot to foot like a nervous child. When Prue asked what was troubling her, she sighed and said she was having a bit of an anxiety attack. She attributed it to the long trip and the emotional stress of the day's events. She said it was nothing, but "nothing" doesn't make a person go pale and tremble. Prue smiled lovingly at her friend, who looked far more like a frightened love-starved waif, then the beautiful young woman the world knew as the Art Angel. Reaching out she took Sara's trembling hand and pulled her in for a cuddle. Sara clung to her like a limpet and Prue began rocking her and humming a little tune, the very same one she had used to help put Becky to sleep just a few hours earlier. The magic was as good now as it was before, and in no time at all Sara was half way to dream land. Prue eased her back into the bed, kissing her on the forehead and then pulling the duvet over both of them. A few minutes later Prue was following Sara's trail to dreamland.
When Jenna made her middle of the night check on Becky she also checked on her guests and was surprised to see Sara's bed empty, but thinking perhaps she was in the bathroom, she then peeked in on Prue. She smiled lovingly as the moonlight bathed a snuggling Sara in Prue's arms. Jenna backed away quietly, knowing she would never forget that beautiful sight, but slightly disappointed that she didn't have a camera in her robe pocket.
The next morning Prue and Sara awoke to the smell of pancakes on the griddle and fresh maple syrup. Sara stretched and sleepy smiled up at Prue before the realization of having fallen asleep in Prue's bed made her blush with embarrassment. Prue noticed the rosy glow in Sara's cheeks and promptly popped her with a pillow, saying last one down for pancakes does the dishes. Sara perked up immediately, firing a goose down volley of her own before both girls were giggling and scampering toward the kitchen.
The race ended in a tie so Prue agreed to wash while Sara would dry. Breakfast was every bit as delicious as dinner, and Becky amazed by both her aunties being a bottomless pit for mummy's pancakes. Once tummies were full, Prue and Sara shooed Jenna out of her kitchen so they could take care of the dishes while she had a little mummy time with Becky before her and Rick and Jenna headed out.
Sara and Prue watched from the kitchen as Jenna rocked Becky in her arms telling her to be a good girl for her aunties and that when she and Daddy returned she'd need a lot of help from her with Becky's new baby sister. Becky promised solemnly that she would TRY to be good, but when you're five, sometimes trying is about as close as it gets. She also told Jenna she was all ready to help her take care of Cathleen, because big sisters are supposed to look out for their little ones. It was a beautiful mummy/daughter moment and touched both Prue and Sara deeply. Sara glanced over and saw the tears in Prue's eyes and knew they came from a heart that ached to have a Becky of her own. Sara's heart ached too but not so much to have a Becky as it was to BE a Becky. Save for the night she left home, she hadn't known a loving mother's touch since she was five and the little girl within her still cried for a lap to sit on and arms to hold her.
Rick returned after packing the car to steal Becky away for a house- wide airplane ride that had the girls, big and little, laughing and giggling the whole time. Finally Becky's airplane ride had to end so her parent's could begin. Jenna and Rick thanked Prue and Sara for staying with Becky and that they'd be back in three days with a new niece for them to spoil. After the third time Jenna went over the emergency numbers, Ricky unceremoniously hoisted her over his shoulder and carried her out to car. She still managed to wave and blow kisses until he loaded her in the car. Prue held Becky as she continued to wave at her parent's car until it disappeared into the trees.
For the next three days Princess Becky held court, and Sara and Prue were her more than willing subjects. Her little majesty had the court art angel to color with all day long and the royal storyteller to give her bedtime stories fit for a princess. All three took turns in the
kitchen with Prue making her famous spaghetti, Sara her extra cheesy macaroni and cheese, and Becky topping them both by making the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches either woman had ever tested. Tea parties, Disney movies, hide and seek, and "chase the naked toddler cause it's bath time", kept all three girls on the go.
Prue loved playing mother hen and made up her mind that when she got back to New Zealand, her hubby were going to get one of their own chicks one way or the other. Sara was having the time of her life too. Being with Becky really brought out the child within the woman and she enjoyed the play every bit as much as her niece. It didn't take Prue's empathic skills for her to sense how happy Sara was sprawled out on Becky's bed coloring with her, or sipping imaginary tea while asking the bear on the right if she took one lump or two. It wasn't just an adult trying to humor and entertain a child, it was two little princesses' having a royal blast. Sara even napped when Becky did, and Prue found herself tucking both girls in with a kiss and a lullaby.
Jenna and Rick phoned half a dozen times over the three days to check in, send hugs and to tell them all what a beautiful baby Cathleen was. The last phone call was by far the best as they said all the papers were signed and they'd be home with Cathleen the next day.
Prue, Sara, and Becky were watching the Little Mermaid when they heard Rick and Jenna's car pulling in. Becky squealed, "Mummy and Daddy home!" and then scampered out the door to meet her parent's car. Sara and Prue followed the bouncing toddler, giving her first hugs on her parents before they moved in to get hugs and see the new bundle of joy.
Cathleen Elizabeth was a beautiful baby and the family resemblance was uncanny. She had strawberry blonde locks the color of Becky's and emerald green eyes to match both mother and sister. When the little one smiled, it was Rick's gentle smile she flashed. Everyone took turns holding Cathleen and fawning over her. Even Becky, with a little help from Mummy got to hold her baby sister. Cathleen stared up at her big sister while Becky chatted away telling her all the games they were going to play and then in a moment that brought tears to all their eyes, Cathleen reached out and took Becky's hand for the first time. The bond that was forged there told all that whenever little sister reached out for big sister's hand, big sister would be there to take it and never let go.
The rest of day was spent getting Cathleen settled into the nursery and giving Becky three days worth of catching up on cuddles. Prue and Sara pushed for all the details of Rick and Jenna's excursion to Dallas, but save for meeting Kim, picking up Cathleen and finding an electronics store called Fry's that had a miserable time. No sooner than they'd stepped off the plane, Jenna came down with a terrible sinus condition. She'd never had allergies before in Canada but she sneezed and wheezed the entire time in Dallas. By the end of the first night she had a sinus headache of migraine proportions. Yet, no sooner than they'd left Texas airspace the headache stopped and her sinuses cleared. As far as she could figure, she must be allergic to Texas, so as far as she was concerned she hoped she never set foot in the Lone Star state again.
The next seven days were fun and hug-filled blurs. Jenna shared childcare duties with Prue and Sara knowing how much it meant to both of them and how long it would be before either would get the chance again. Prue could barely keep her hands off Cathleen, while Sara continued to be Becky's playmate, making sure her niece didn't feel slighted by all the attention her little sister was getting.
Jenna continued to do her best to push Sara and Prue into the next dress size by her delicious dinners and decadent desserts. The three musketeers found some quality time to soak in the hot tub and share stories. Rick took Sara and Prue on a proper hike through God's country and when they returned neither doubted that this was the place where the big guy's mail was delivered. In two words, it was "breathtakingly beautiful." He also serenaded the ladies with some spirited guitar play that had Becky and Sara dancing a jig, while Prue and Jenna were lighting up the room with camera flashes.
All to soon, Sara and Prue were packing up for their flight to New Zealand and sniffling at the tearful goodbyes about to come. Jenna pulled her two sisters into the kitchen and then produced a pair of tiny gift-wrapped boxes. Handing one to each, she smiled through welling tears and said it was just a little something special for two very special people. Sara and Prue hugged Jenna saying she shouldn't have before each opening their gifts. Pink wrapping gave way to jewelry boxes and when the girls opened them, each pulled out a beautiful gold chain with a charm on it.
Prue's eyes went wide before misting, as there on the gold chain was a brooch with two little bugs, closely resembling ladybugs, hugging each other. Prue recognized them immediately as "Hugglebugs", an exact replica of her little nanite creations that were the star of one of her latest literary smashes, "The Hugglebugs Tales". Prue hugged Jenna tightly, tears leaking from her eyes, as she thanked her.
Sara's hand trembled as there cupped within it was a tiny two-tone golden angel. The body of the angel was white gold, while her wings were pink gold. One of her hands was over her heart while the other clutched a tiny crayon. The Art Angel closed her hand on her golden twin and then held it against her heart. Like Prue's charm, it was a specially made token of love from Jenna, and for Sara it was the most precious thing she'd ever been given. Sara wrapped her arms around Jenna as Prue had earlier and hugged her tightly.
When Sara broke the embrace she looked over at Prue and winked. Prue winked back and then turned the tables on Jenna by producing a small gift-wrapped box of her own and saying it was from her and Sara. Jenna rolled her eyes as she'd been bested at her own game and carefully opened her surprise. Amazingly, like Prue and Sara before her, she pulled out a gold necklace with a charm on it. Jenna's charm was a white gold heart shaped locket. When she opened it, her eyes went wide and then filled with tears, as looking back at her were pictures of Becky and Cathleen. Jenna looked at Prue and Sara and opened her arms, signaling she needed a group hug. The trio held each other tightly until Jenna reluctantly broke the union. Wiping her eyes she looked at Prue and Sara, "How in the world did you DO this? I haven't had time to get a single photo of Cathleen developed yet."
Prue winked at Sara, her co-conspirator, and then turned to Jenna and answered her in a single word, "Walgreen's".
Jenna gave her a puzzled glance and then Sara gave her the rest of the story. "When we went into Vancouver for that little shopping expedition, Prue slipped over to the chemist while we were looking at clothes and had them make the locket snaps at their one-hour photo department."
Prue smiled and nodded, "The picture of Becky was a copy of one you'd emailed me. The one of Cathleen was taken from a roll I shot this week."
Jenna laughed, "I can't believe we all ended up with gold chains and charms."
Sara giggled, "Well we are the three musketeers."
In unison they gave the rally cry, "All for one and one for all!" and then met in another group hug before it was finally time to say goodbye. Jenna decided to stay home with Becky and Cathleen rather than to drag them through a trek to the airport. Rick happily agreed to play chauffeur for the two lovely ladies and began loading their bags into the car. Last hugs and kisses were gotten all around before Prue and Sara reluctantly headed for the car. Sara's hand reached over to take Prue's as the pair watched Jenna, Becky and Cathleen slowly disappear behind them. Three hours later they were leaving "God's country" and heading to the Goddess' summer home in New Zealand for Sara's surgical appointment with womanhood.
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