11

Alien Attraction

I’ve been having a pretty easy pregnancy this time, with no morning sickness or back pain. The only thing I’ve been missing is being able to spend more time with Kamani. He made an extra effort to see me today, coming over before the start of his shift at the diner. Since it’s a weekend, the kiddos are home. Although, selfishly, I’d love for Kamani to spend all his time with me, he wants to get to know my kids, too. The maternal part of me preens, knowing he’ll make a wonderful father.

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After talking with Nicholas and me, Kamani gets up to talk with Natalie.

“So, Mom tells me you work at the diner as a cook.”

“Yes, I do. Do you like to cook, Natalie?”

“Yeah. I’m not as good as Mom, but I can make some basic stuff, like pancakes.”

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“We make a lot of pancakes at the diner. Do you know what the secret is to making them light and fluffy?”

“No. What is it?”

“The trick is to not over-stir the batter. It’s OK to have lumps. That’s what makes them light and fluffy.”

“Huh. No kidding?”

“I kid you not.”

“I like you, Kamani. You’re all right in my book.”

“I like you, too, Natalie.”

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After Natalie walks away, Oliver comes up to Kamani.

“Hey, little man. How’s it going?”

“Good. You have big muscles. Can I have big muscles when I grow up?”

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I nearly snorted hearing what Oliver asks Kamani. He may need to work on his subtlety as he gets older.

“You sure can, Oliver. You just need to eat right and spend some time in the gym doing weight training. You’re young now, and your body’s still growing, so it’s too soon for muscles. When you become a teenager is a great time to start working out.”

“That’s cool. I can do that.”

“That’s my man.”

Listening to their conversation is bittersweet. I’m glad that Oliver looks up to Kamani as a role model but sad that Oliver won’t have that kind of relationship with his own father. I worry that Jasper’s inherently evil nature would taint his relationship with Oliver and Owen. That was the reason we’d moved to Hidden Springs.

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All too soon, Kamani has to leave for work. I wish he could stay longer, but I appreciate his stopping by prior to his shift since he works long days.

The kiddos had enjoyed sharing their birthday celebrations last time, so later that day, we celebrated each child’s birthday. We usually go in birth order, but the boys insisted Natalie go first once again. We all cheer for her as she blows out her candles.

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As a young adult, Natalie became a Loner. She’s also Perceptive, Frugal, a Bookworm and she Loves the Outdoors. Natalie wants to be a Pervasive Private Eye.

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Next up is Nicholas, the firstborn triplet. Amidst cheers and horns tooting, he blows out his candles.

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As a young adult, Nicholas became Unlucky. He’s also Brave, Absent-Minded, a Heavy Sleeper and a Couch Potato. With his unique combination of traits, Nicholas wants to become a Blog Artist, which he can do from the comfort of his couch.

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We still manage to cheer just as hard as Noah, the last of the triplets, blows out his candles.

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As a young adult, Noah became a Schmoozer. He’s also Evil, Easily Impressed, a Virtuoso and he Loves the Outdoors. With his innate gift for music, Noah wants to be a Hit Movie Composer.

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When I went into the kitchen to get a knife to cut the cakes, I rubbed my tummy where I’d just felt the baby kick. He or she was pretty active today. I’m anxious to meet you too, little one.

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I join Nicholas and Noah on the couch to watch TV. Glancing at my expansive tummy, Noah says, “Mom, it looks like you’re about ready to pop. Something tells me I’m gonna have a baby brother or sister soon.”

“Thanks for pointing that out, Noah,” I respond with a smirk. “You’re right. It should be any day now. First, though, we have two more birthdays to celebrate. Break’s over. Let’s head back in the dining room.”

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It’s time for little Owen to become a big boy. So, as he makes a wish and blows out his candles, we cheer for him.

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As a teenager, Owen discovered he Loves the Cold. He is also Good, a Virtuoso and he Can’t Stand Art.

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Finally, we celebrate Oliver’s birthday, cheering our hearts out as he blows out his candles.

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As a teenager, Oliver became a Snob. My son, the vampire, is also Brave, a bit Insane and Hydrophobic. And he looks so much like Jasper now, it’s uncanny.

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Owen introduces himself to my unborn child(ren) by talking to my tummy and making funny faces at it. We both have a good chuckle over that.

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It had been an exhausting day, so I hit the sack early. I was awoken in the middle of the night with contractions, and my water broke.

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I quickly call Kamani, get dressed and drive myself to the hospital. He arrives only a few minutes after me. Kamani is by my side, supporting me, throughout labor and delivery.

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After hours of labor, I give birth to a baby girl. We name her Paige, and she is a Genius and a bit Eccentric. Paige is a mix of both Kamani and me, with my skin tone, Kamani’s dark hair and eyes and what looks like a mix of our facial features.

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We were both thrilled, and Kamani was a little shocked, when the doctor told me I still had one more baby to deliver. Already emotional from seeing his baby girl, Kamani’s eyes welled up with tears when he first saw our son, who so clearly took after him. We settled on the Paxton for his name.

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Aside from having my blonde hair, Paxton is definitely his father’s son. He’s such a handsome little guy. Paxton was born Evil and Easily Impressed.

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The triplets are graduating from high school today. Even though I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep with the babies’ birth last night, there was no way I was missing graduation. Come to think of it, “Where’s Oliver? I know we couldn’t all fit in the car, but why wasn’t he in the taxi with you guys?”

“Mom,” said Nicholas, “he was sound asleep when we left, so I let him sleep in.”

“Why would you do that? He should’ve been here for your graduation. He’s going to have some explaining to do when we get back.”

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Mom, but Oliver was abducted by aliens last night.”

I looked up after giving Paige her bottle and said, “What on earth are you talking about?”

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“Don’t freak out, Mom. Oliver’s OK, just a little shaken up. I heard a whirring sound and looked out the front door just in time to see Oliver being beamed up into an alien spaceship.”

“You have got to be kidding me. This is some kind of joke, right?”

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Hearing our conversation, Natalie says, “Nick’s telling the truth, Mom. I saw the spaceship land in front of our house when Oliver came back, and then it disappeared. The alien was running down the street, and I tried chasing it, but he was too fast. So, I turned around and helped Oliver up to his room. He said he had an upset stomach but was otherwise OK. He went right to sleep. The poor guy was exhausted.”

“Oh, my poor boy. He must’ve been so scared.”

“Look, Mom,” says Nick, “Go easy on Oliver, OK? He may not want to talk about it.”

“I’ll give him some space. If he talks to any of you, please let me know, OK? You don’t have to share the details, but I need to know he’s all right.” They all agree.

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Before we leave City Hall, I want one good picture of the triplets together in their caps and gowns. All three graduated with high honors. Natalie was voted Most Likely to Never Leave the House. Noah was voted Most Likely to be a Rock Star, and Nicholas was voted Most Likely to Save the World.

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Later that evening, I realize I need to get Paxton and Paige on some sort of schedule so they sleep when I do. Being born in the middle of the night makes it tricky in the beginning. So, even though Paxton wants to sleep longer, I wake him up and take him out of his crib. I did the same with Paige.

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I set them both down on the floor and let them play with their new toys. It’s always fun watching the faces toddlers make when they first figure out how toys work. Paige’s eyes fly open wide in wonder when she hits her first note on the xylophone. And Paxton is concentrating hard to figure out which peg belongs in which hole, beaming with pride when he succeeds.

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No time like the present to get them started potty training. Nicholas gives me a hand watching Paige to be sure she stays put until she’s done. When they both finish, I let them play with their toys while I go downstairs to warm up their bottles.

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Nicholas is in the living room talking to Noah when I hear Noah say, “Where’s Oliver going?”

In a chilling voice, Nicholas says, “No way. Not again!”

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“Nicholas, what’s wrong?” I shout, rushing out of the kitchen and through the dining room. I get to the door just in time to see Oliver being beamed into an alien spaceship, just like the kids told me had happened once before. I’m in shock. I want to run to him, but I can’t move.

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Nicholas pulls me into his arms and says, “Don’t go out there, Mom. They might get you, too. The babies need you.”

“But, Oliver’s my baby, too, and he’s out there all alone again, scared out of his wits.”

“I know, Mom. I know. But he’ll be OK. I just know it. He was last time, and there’s no reason why this will be any different. Just breathe, OK? He’ll be home in a little while.”

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Paige and Paxton are crying upstairs because they’re both hungry. Natalie comes in the kitchen and offers her help. We both go upstairs and feed the babies. When their tummies are full, they’re happy again, and I hug them against my chest as tears roll down my cheeks. Pull yourself together, woman. You’ve got a houseful of kids depending on you.

I go downstairs and overhear Nicholas talking. “Noah, I wonder if our living here has anything to do with the alien spaceship taking Oliver. Once may be a freaky coincidence, but twice in one week? Man, what are the odds?”

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Suddenly I hear the whirring noise, and this time I recognize it as Oliver’s captor. The ship lands and deposits Oliver on the sidewalk, disappearing into space immediately afterward. My boy’s home!

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I rush to the door, relieved to see Oliver. When I open it, I see him covering his face, and it looks like he’s crying but trying to pull himself together.

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A moment later, a composed Oliver climbs the stairs. When he reaches the entryway, I hug him fiercely. “Oh, Oliver, thank goodness you’re home. Are you all right?”

“I’ll be OK, Mom, but I’m really tired. I just want to go to bed and pretend this never happened.”

“OK, son, whatever you need. I love you.”

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As I watch Oliver head up to his room, I hear Nicholas and Noah continue their conversation. “I think you may be onto something there, Nick. Maybe the aliens sense they have kindred spirits in this house. I still don’t get why it’s Oliver they want. He’s a vampire. You’d think they’d be more attracted to Owen since he’d be easier prey.”

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“Man, I forget how evil you are sometimes, thinking of our little brothers as prey. Nice. Real nice.”

“What? I’m just saying it would be the logical thing to do, that’s all.”

“Anyway, I think the sooner we move out on our own, the better. Maybe then the aliens will leave Oliver the hell alone.”

“Maybe so. It is time, though. I’m with you on that. We need to start looking for our own place.”

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