Author's Note: I know, a little late for Easter Sunday, but here it is anyway. Enjoy.
Hey, Josiah? Its me, JD! the youngest member of Team 7 called as he entered the unusually quiet rec center. Having successfully searched the web for an article the profiler had mentioned the previous day, JD decided to stop by and deliver it on his way to meet Buck and the other men at the Saloon for a relaxing Saturday night get-together. They all planned to spend the night out at the ranch, since the next day was Easter Sunday; and they would be enjoying the holiday meal together.
Hi, JD. Josiahs not here. He called a little while ago and said he was stuck at one of those never ending community action meetings. Asked me to keep an eye on these two whirlwinds for him, replied Tina, another volunteer for the center. She was familiar with the dark-haired agent standing in the doorway, as the youth had offered a helping hand on several occasions with different community functions.
As JD took a moment to call up the name of the petite, blond woman speaking, he observed how tired she seemed. And there was something else. She almost looked a little sad. Behind her, he also noticed, were two children, a boy and a girl, looking on curiously at the agent.
Hi, Tina. Just thought Id stop by and leave this for Josiah, the young man explained, as he handed Tina a stack of pages detailing the application process for a possible grant to benefit the center.
After looking over the papers briefly, Tina commented, Wow! This would be great. Every day we have more kids here needing afterschool and weekend care. This would really help out some of the parents, like Sam and Treenas mom, Cheryl.
At the mention of their mothers name, both the children lit up with shy smiles. Yeah, Mom really works hard, and it costs a lot for Sam and I to go to the regular daycare. I dont know where wed go if we couldnt come here, like tonight. Mom had to go in later today than usual and wont be here until way after dark. We didnt even have a chance to color Easter eggs, or any of that stuff, Treena explained, here smile wavering as she saw the sad expression take root on the man in front of her.
Now, Treena, sweetie, I know your Mom would love to do all the things you like to do at Easter. I wish I could be home with my little ones too. But she loves you guys so, so much that she takes all the overtime she can get to make sure you and Sam have everything you need, Tina explained to the little girl, gently stroking her braided, ebony hair that had been lovingly tied back with pastel ribbons.
We know that Miss Tina. Mamma loves us a bunch. I just hate it that we miss doing so many special things with her, thats all, Sam spoke, quickly defending his sisters statements.
The whole time the children and Tina spoke, JD listened with a heavy heart. He knew exactly what these kids were going through. Raised by a single mother himself, he remembered many a holiday that went by with his mother away working and himself spending a lonely day either in daycare, or in worse cases, in their apartment, behind the locked door with instructions not to answer the phone or the doorbell, lest someone find out that he was being left unattended. Feeling for both Tina, as she missed her own children, and for Sam and Treena, the resourceful young man quickly thought of a solution to both situations.
Tina, hows about I stay here with Sam and Treena, and you head on home. I didnt have any plans, so I am free the rest of the evening. Would that be ok with you guys? JD asked, as he put on his most endearing smile.
Sure. We can watch videos, or color. We wont be any trouble for Mr. JD, Ms. Tina, Sam agreed, speaking for both he and his sister.
We dont mind, Ms. Tina. I bet your kids would really love for you to be home, Treena offered, chewing on her lower lip as she tried to hide her own longing for her mothers presence.
I cant ask you to do this, JD. You must have plans on such a nice Saturday night, a handsome fella like you, Tina stated.
No, really. I was going to spend the night watching TV, JD fibbed, his face still pink, having colored in embarrassment at the volunteers comment.
Well, if your sure Tina said, smiling as she thought of how surprised her kids would be when you came home early to help them decorate for the holiday.
Im sure. Now hit the road, JD ordered, already ushering Tina towards the door.
Ok, Im going. The list of emergency numbers is in the file box on the counter. Look under Anderson for Cheryls work number if you need her. The keys to the van are on the hook, she explained pointing to the key holder by the doorframe. Thanks so much for doing this, Tina said, as she placed a quick kiss on the younger mans cheek. Sam, Treena. Be good, and do as Mr. JD says. Have a Happy Easter, and say hi to your Mom for me. Turning around, Tina gathered the two children in her arms for a tight hug. Such sweet kids. I hope they get to spend some time with Cheryl tomorrow. They miss her so much, the mother of two angels of her own thought as she left the rec center, eager to get home to her little ones.
Ok, guys. Heres the plan. How would you like to color some Easter Eggs for your Mom? I bet she would love to have them for the table tomorrow. What do ya say? JD asked the brother and sister. Judging by huge grins adoring each of the kids faces, he had a pretty good idea what the answer would be.
That would be really great, Mr. JD. Mamma loves pretty things. And we didnt have time today to color any eggs or make decorations, Sam exclaimed.
Mr. JD. We dont have any eggs, or colors, or nothing. How are we gonna do anything? The always practical Treena inquired, doubt evident in her expression.
Well, Miss Treena, were just gonna have to go to the store, fight the last minute shoppers, like ourselves, and get some emergency supplies. Come on kids, lets go! JD explained.
An hour later, having been to three different stores, the trio returned to the center. Each carried a bag filled with all the necessities of a successful Easter decorating party. Eggs, coloring kits, crayons, colored paper, and a couple of thick, white towels to cover the work table. The center had a small kitchen, so the first step of the process, boiling the eggs, presented no problem. As the eggs boiled the trio sat down to watch cartoons and enjoy a snack of graham crackers and milk. As they sat together on a faded yellow sofa, JD, Sam, and Treena were the picture of contentment.
Looking up at JD with large, expressive brown eyes, Treena asked, Mr. JD, whyd you stay here with Sam and me? Im sure you have friends you coulda done something with, right? Instead of being stuck with two kids like us.
Treena, I am not stuck here, I choose to stay. I cant think of anything more fun that I could be doing instead of being here, watching Scooby Doo, and making pretty Easter things. I know what its like to miss your mom when she has to work and not be with you. I thought I could help the time pass a little faster for you guys, JD explained.
Your mamma has to work a lot too, Mr. JD? Do you still live with her? Sam asked, clearly skeptical of someone as old as JD still living at home.
No, Sam. I dont live with Mom anymore. She passed away a little while ago, but she used to work an awful lot when I was growing up, JD said, surprised at how much it still hurt to speak of his mothers absence.
I bet you miss your mamma an awful lot, Mr. JD. I miss my mamma sometimes, too, the little boy whispered. Scrubbing at his eyes with small fists, he couldnt keep a few tears from trickling down his cheeks. He looked away, embarrassed to cry in front of his sister, and JD.
Its ok, Sam. Dont be embarrassed. I cry for my Mom sometimes too, JD comforted, pulling the boy onto his lap, and rubbing his back, as he fought his own tears.
Mr. JD, the eggs are boiling over! Treena exclaimed, quickly breaking the solemn mood.
Oh, Lord! Let me get those. Head over to the table, you guys, and get ready to color, the young man instructed. As he carefully removed the eggs from the water, he overheard soft voices from across the room.
Wow, look at all this stuff! Moms gonna love the eggs, and the pretty decoration were gonna make for her Sam. Treena declared, eyes twinkling with excitement. She was glad that her mother would have something cheerful to look at tomorrow, since she had been working so hard lately.
Yeah, Im gonna make mine purple and orange. You think shell like it? Sam asked, eager to please.
Shes gonna love it, Sam. Because it was made with love. Thats what Mom used to say to me, JD thought with a smile, as he brought the eggs over for coloring.
As the clock struck 9PM, JD heard the door open. Looking up, he saw an attractive woman, dressed in a waitressing outfit, approaching the table. As she took in the colored eggs, and various other decorations, a wide smile warmed her features.
Mamma, youre here! Look at all the pretty things we made. Mr. JD said youd really like them, Sam exclaimed squeezing his slim mother in a tight hug.
Yeah, Mom, Mr. JD took us to the store and got us Easter stuff. He helped us color the eggs and make placemats for the table. He said he and his Mom used to make them too, Treena explained.
Mr. JD? Im Cheryl Anderson. Are you new here? she inquired, glad to see her children so happy, but wary of the stranger before her.
You could say that, Ms. Anderson. Im Agent JD Dunne. I work with Josiah. He had to be away this evening, and Tina was going to watch the kids. I had the evening free, so I offered to help them make some things for the holiday while Tina went home to do the same with her kids, JD stated, understanding the mother being uncomfortable with the idea of a complete stranger watching her children. I hope you dont mind me watching them. They are such great kids.
No. I dont mind. You just cant be too careful now and days, Cheryl explained. She sat down at the table, weariness evident as she leaned back in the chair, stretching a bit.
We just had some pizza a little while ago. Would you like some for dinner, Ms. Anderson? JD asked, wondering if the mother had even taken a break to grab a bite to eat. He remembered his own mother skipping breaks and meals so she could get back home to him quicker.
Hmm Pizza sounds pretty good about now. Thank you, Cheryl replied taking a large slice of pepperoni and cheese pizza out of the box.
Over the next half an hour JD, Cheryl, and the kids talked about the different activities of the day, and shared their memories of Easters past. Just as the Andersons were about to leave for home, the door once again swung open.
Immediately placing himself in front of Cheryl and the kids, wondering who would be coming in at such a late hour, JD breathed a sigh of relief as members of Team 7 came herding through the door. Hey, kid. What ya been up too? Thought you were meeting us at the Saloon? We got kinda worried, until Josiah here came in and told us you were here, Buck drawled, raising an eyebrow as he took in the scene before him.
Oh, man! I completely forgot to call you guys. Im sorry if ya worried, but something real important came up, JD stated, winking at Sam and Treena.
Mr. JD! You lied to us! Sam exclaimed. You said you was going to be home, watching TV, if ya wasnt here with us. You did have plans, didnt you?
Well, Sam, maybe I did lie, just a little, about what I was going to do tonight. But I didnt lie just now, when I said something real important came up. It was real important to me that you and Treena have fun tonight, and make some pretty things for Easter. And Im not the least bit sorry I stayed. Are you?
Running up to JD and wrapping his short arms around him, Sam whispered, No, Im not sorry ya stayed. We wouldnt have had any of this stuff if it werent for you.
Looking down, Cheryl felt the heat of embarrassment coloring her cheeks. JD, Im so sorry about your evening. You should have been with your friends.
As the older members of Team 7 looked on with pride, JD walked over to Cheryl and lifted her face up to meet his. Dont ever be sorry for being a good mother. You work hard to keep these kids with you. You show them everyday how much you love them. I can go out with the guys any day, but how often am I blessed with such great kids to pass my time with? JD admonished, knowing firsthand how hard Cheryl worked to provide for her family.
Damn! When did that boy get so smart? Buck asked, smiling as he looked over at Chris and the others.
I dont know, Buck, but I bet his mammas sitting up there in heaven proud as hell at the son she left behind, Chris stated, more than just a little proud himself at what a fine young man he was privileged to call friend.
Note: Happy Easter to everyone, especially those of us, with husbands, and without, who enjoy the special moments, whether coloring eggs, or just snuggling up watching cartoons with our own little angels.