Evening found them around the dinner table. Matt was still rather weighed down by the emotions of the day. Tom and Susie sat watching him agonizing over whatever was on his mind.
Tom looked over at his young friend. “Got something on your mind?”
Matt nodded and looked at Tom. “Can the girls stay here until I speak with aunt Shasta?”
Susie smiled. “Of course, Matthew. You know that they are always welcomed here.”
Tom rose from his chair, strode over to the armoire and grabbed the keys to his car. “Go get in the car. We’re going to go get your sisters.”
Matt got up and rushed out of the room. Susie looked at her husband and smiled. “I think we just laid his mind to rest, Thomas.”
Tom smiled and nodded. “I think so too. I didn’t tell him that Shasta has already agreed to taking he girls. She wanted to tell him herself.”
Susie blew him a kiss. “You did the right thing, Love. Now go. Before he gets too worried and decides on a cab.”
She watched as her husband rushed to join their young friend. She thought of those two little girls and how they would finally be where they would be loved. Where they would not have to live in fear. What Tom was doing was the right thing.
An hour later, Tom pulled the car up in front of the apartment building next to where Natalia had been staying. “We’re here.”
Matt looked at his friend. “Will you go get the girls while I go pack them a few things?”
Tom smiled. “Sure, kid. Go do what you need to. I will go get the squirts.”
Matt left the car and disappeared inside his mother’s apartment. He ran up the stairs and disappeared into the room that belonged to his mother. He needed a couple suitcases. He rummaged through the closet until he found what he was looking for. Grabbing them, he went into the room his sisters shared.
Ten bedrooms in the apartment, and she had the girls sharing the same room. He shook his head. Oh, well. They would be used to sharing one if they had to do the same at Aunt Shasta’s house.
he hurriedly stuck Rain’s clothes in the largest suitcase along with her shoes. He found a diaper bag and stuffed it with what diapers he could find. At least those that were clean. Into the smaller suitcase, he stuffed what clothes Star had.
He found it odd that the girls had very few toys. Mama had not spent much on either, that was for sure. No books. No toys. Nothing to amuse themselves with. What had she been thinking?
Or had it been her doing? Had Kim sold their toys out of spite? If so, what had he bought with his ill-gotten gains? Or had he denied her the freedom to provide for them?
Whatever the case, they would now find themselves both loved and provided for. he would make sure that he would help Shasta take care of them. He would help her make sure they had everything they needed and the love they deserved.
He made his way downstairs and out to the car with the baggage. Rain looked up at him. “Mattoo, Where we doin’?”
He smiled down at her. “I am taking you somewhere safe.”
She put on a little pout. “But I want to stay wiff you.”
He bent down and took her in his arms. “Not right now, munchkin. I promise, though, I will come and get you when I can take you in. And I will always come and visit.”
She was still pouting. “Otay.”
It hurt to see her pouting and unable to understand what was going on. He wished that he could take her, but knew that he couldn’t. Not yet. He was doing what was best for her.
He was doing what was best for both. He knew that. But it didn’t make it hurt any less. He had grown attached to the little ones.
And they were attached to him. To them, he was Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy all in one person.He bought them ice cream and candy. He bought them toys.
He suddenly realized all the toys he’d bought the girls were nowhere to be found. He now knew that Kim had sold them. The little jerk had stooped lower than any other man would dare think. It was sad. Stealing from children.
He returned to reality to a sad sight. Star was crying. Rain was unhappy as well, but not crying. They knew they wouldn’t get to see Matt for a while. They knew they were going away.
It hurt Matt because he couldn’t find the right way to let them know that this was not because of something they had done. He couldn’t come up with a way to let them know that they had not done anything wrong. Or that this was for their own good. He swallowed the lump slowly rising in his throat.
He looked back at Rain. “Would you like some ice cream?”
She nodded. “Yes, Mattoo.”
He smiled at her. “Alright, Munchkin.” He turned to Tom. “Let’s find the nearest ice cream place.”
Tom nodded. “You have them spoiled, you know.”
Matt smiled sadly. “I know. But they’re worth it.”
Tom looked at him. “They are, aren’t they?”
Matt nodded. “Yes. And they will be happy where they are going.”