Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 5
“Svetlana! You look pretty!” Ashlynn crowed. The girl barreled at Svetlana, wrapping her little arms around one of Svetlana’s skirt-covered legs.
Svetlana patted Ashlynn’s back. “Thank you, dear. You look pretty, too.” And she did. The frilly purple and lavender dress, while not Ashlynn’s favorite, practically screamed “I’m a cute little girl. How could you not love me?” Although Svetlana lacked Ashlynn’s and her mother’s psionic abilities, she was sure that the girl had chosen the dress deliberately.
Svetlana had also carefully selected her outfit for dinner. She’d picked a muted periwinkle peasant blouse and a deeper blue long skirt, both embellished with embroidery. The flowing fabric flattered her stocky frame and complimented her pale complexion. To tip her feminine look to the maternal, Svetlana had pinned her graying blond hair into a bun. She wanted Dr. Myers’ first impression of her to be motherly and non-threatening. Emotions at the dinner table were likely to run high, and she didn’t want to bear the brunt of any of them.
Jacob’s fussing preceded Dr. Harris’ entrance into the living room. Her burgundy nursing dress was loose-fitting enough to be comfortable (and hide her baby weight), and the color complimented her dark skin and hair. Little Jacob squirmed and whimpered in her arms. Dr. Harris gave Svetlana and Ashlynn a sincere, if nervous, smile. “You both look lovely.”
Ashlynn scampered to her mother and brother, lavender frills bouncing. “I wanna hold him, Mummy. He’s not hungry. I can tell.”
“Right you are, moppet,” Dr. Harris grinned, kneeling to Ashlynn’s level. Before handing the baby to his sister, Dr. Harris glanced up at Svetlana. She stepped forward, ready to intervene if necessary, as Ashlynn cradled Jacob in her barely long-enough arms. The girl grinned at Jacob, who quieted. “Well done, Lynnie,” Dr. Harris said, straightening. “Mind your brother while I get Sh– Dr. Myers?”
Ashlynn frowned, and the baby resumed fussing. “Why doesn’t he walk here like Daddy does?”
Dr. Harris pressed her lips into a thin line before answering. “It’s complicated, Ashlynn.”
“You say that a lot.”
“Ashlynn,” Svetlana warned. Ashlynn frowned up at her petulantly, then turned back to her mother.
Dr. Harris scolded, “That’s quite enough, young lady. You’ll be polite and respectful to Dr. Myers, won’t you?”
Ashlynn frowned at her brother, smoothing the dark wisps of his hair with one hand. “Yes, Mummy.” Her eyes abruptly met Dr. Harris’. Svetlana knew they held a silent conversation she wasn’t privy to. She’d long ago stopped wondering what they “said” to each other.
Dr. Harris strode into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, “Be back momentarily.” Svetlana nodded agreement.
After waiting for about a minute, Svetlana guessed that “momentarily” meant “in a little while.” She took a seat on the couch, inviting Ashlynn to sit beside her with Jacob. They cooed at the now-cheerful baby boy as they waited.
When Ashlynn’s and Jacob’s heads turned toward the kitchen, Svetlana presumed that Dr. Harris and Dr. Myers had arrived. Another minute passed before Dr. Harris lead Dr. Myers into the living room. Myers carried a black leather briefcase. Svetlana stood to greet them, indicating for Ashlynn to do the same.
Svetlana had seen Myers from afar at some of the Triptych holiday parties. She didn’t remember much about him other than his position as the head of Genetics and rumors that he’d killed and resurrected a man at the gym. The resurrected part of the rumor bothered Svetlana more than the alleged murder. Was Myers a witch? Some sort of healer? Svetlana didn’t mind being a mundane in the midst of Triptych’s psychics and witches, but she preferred to know who–and what–she was dealing with. Perhaps Ashlynn would tell her once she found out. Given enough time, the precocious little girl certainly would.
Whatever Dr. Myers was, his appearance was ordinary. He appeared to be about thirty, with close-cropped dark hair, fair skin, and a tall, thin build. His gray pants and white long-sleeved shirt were standard business attire. Dr. Myers and Dr. Harris would make an attractive couple if they relaxed and stood closer together. At the moment they looked more like teenagers meeting the proverbial parents, which was all the more ironic considering that she and likely Ashlynn had heard the pair’s vigorous… copulating from Dr. Harris’ bedroom. The walls at the Alpha facility were thick, but not soundproof.
“Ashlynn, Svetlana,” Dr. Harris began with a plastered-on smile, “I’d like you to meet Dr. Myers. Jacob’s father.”
Svetlana blinked. He’s Jacob’s father? She’d had no idea. Why had Dr. Harris gotten involved with her son’s birth father?
Dr. Myers gave Svetlana and Ashlynn a strained smile. “Hello, Ashlynn, Svetlana. It’s good to meet you.” Then his eyes fixed on Jacob and his expression softened. The sight was reassuring; he cared about his son, at least a little.
“Likewise, Dr. Myers,” Svetlana returned.
Ashlynn hugged Jacob closer. “He’s my baby brother. The Little Prince.” Her possessive statement made the adults squirm.
To Svetlana’s surprise, Dr. Myers grinned. “That’s a good name for him. Are you the Little Princess?”
Ashlynn studied Dr. Myers for a long moment. “Yes. But you can call me Ashlynn.”
Dr. Myers, Dr. Harris, and Svetlana laughed, and the tension in the room halved. Myers glanced around, then strode to the console table behind the sofa, placing his briefcase on it. He exchanged a look with Dr. Harris, then popped open the briefcase. “Okay, Ashlynn. You can call me Shane.” From the briefcase he produced a somewhat squished white teddy bear wearing a pink ballerina outfit. He self-consciously straightened the stuffed animal’s tutu. “You can call this little guy whatever you want.”
Ashlynn frowned at Dr. Myers. “She’s a girl!”
Dr. Myers blinked as Svetlana and Dr. Harris chuckled. “Uh, yeah. I guess she is.”
Ashlynn looked up at Svetlana. “Would you take Jakey, please?”
“Of course.” Svetlana lifted the infant from his sister’s arms, careful to support his head. Meanwhile Ashlynn toddled over to Dr. Myers and reached for the teddy bear.
“What do you say, Ashlynn?” Dr. Harris prompted.
Ashlynn took the stuffed ballerina, held it at arm’s length, and nodded. She looked up at the much taller Dr. Myers. “Thank you, Shane. I’ll put her in my room next to Yertle. She’ll like Yertle. Oh, and her name is Miss Prima Ballerina.” Then she trotted across the room and disappeared into the hallway.
Dr. Myers and Dr. Harris exchanged another look. Both visibly relaxed. Svetlana quipped, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Dr. Harris grinned, followed by Dr. Myers. “It wasn’t,” he agreed. His gaze moved to his son. “May I?” Svetlana nodded and handed the child over. Dr. Myers held his son easily, unlike many new fathers. Perhaps Jacob would be one of the few Triptych children raised by their birth parents. Having spent much of her life in Triptych facilities, the gifted ones seemed to need their parents the most.
Ashlynn galloped back into the room empty-handed. “Can we eat now? I’m hungry!”
Dr. Harris laughed. “Your wish is my command, Little Princess.”