10: United Front
The phone ringing caused Gus to groan miserably. Rolling over, she reached for the annoying device while trying to remain asleep. Unfortunately, once she had the phone, she knew that she needed to answer it, so staying asleep was not an option.
"Hello?" Gus yawned.
"Is this the bitch?"
Gus immediately hung up, not wanting to deal with Marion and her crazy obsession anymore. Turning onto her side, she spooned Jayce. Jayce wiggled against her.
"Who was it?" Jayce asked.
"Wrong number," Gus mumbled and let sleep overtake her again.
The phone rang a couple more times and Gus answered again, hanging up each time. Marion Newton needed mental help, she was certain of that. Obsession did not seem to describe what was wrong with her now. Gus had already blocked the numbers that she knew were Marion's, but now the woman seemed to be calling from pay phones or friends' phones. Gus was going to go to the police to have it documented … again. She had already filed complaints about Marion and taken out orders of protection. The woman was not even supposed to contact them anymore in any sort of way. She kept a folder on Marion and she was starting think that she was going to have to rent out a storage unit if the woman kept on being as crazy as she was. Jail time was starting to look like a real option, too.
The Tucker household went through their normal weekday routine. Gus stepped out of the house ready for work, hugging and kissing each of her family members farewell. She held onto Jayce a little longer than usual.
"Baby, you okay?" Jayce asked in a quiet tone with concern in her voice.
"Promise me if your mother calls, you'll just hang up," Gus implored.
"Promise me!" Gus begged.
"I promise if she calls, I'll just hang up and I'll call you if I need to," Jayce vowed.
Gus breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you, Jay."
The couple released each other and Gus kissed her wife once more before she walked to her car. Before she got in, a neighbor who often jogged by their house in the morning came by. He waved to them both as usual and they waved back. But, then, he paused, which was odd. It seemed like he was going to say something, but he decided to keep on going. Gus looked at Jayce, who did the same to her wife. Gus shrugged and got into her car.
Jayce returned inside of the house. She put the baby down into his chair and then went to fetch her laptop. She started working while Octavia watched morning cartoons. Everything was quiet and normal and then the phone rang.
Jayce almost gasped, but managed to hold it in. Her heartbeat sped up, though, and there was nothing that she could do about that. She answered the phone quickly because she knew that if she did not, Octavia would go for it. The last thing she wanted was for her daughter to accidentally be cursed out by her very irrational mother.
"Hello?" Jayce said, voice cracking through that one word.
"Who the fuck are you to hang up on me!"
Jayce quickly disconnected the call. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself and placed the phone down. She was about to go back to work, but Octavia had questions.
"Was that Papa, Mommy? If Papa calls, I wanna talk. Papa promised to take me to work and I wanna know when," Octavia explained.
"Oh, princess, your papa said she would take you to work next week. That's a long time from now," Jayce pointed out. She wished that Gus would stop making future plans with Octavia beyond the child's comprehension. Octavia did not know when "next week" was. She just knew it was a long time from now.
"No, Papa said it was soon. Really soon," Octavia replied with an anxious look in her eyes.
Jayce groaned and palmed her face. She was going whack Gus when she saw her spouse, especially since she suspected Gus got Octavia riled up on purpose. If Octavia were keyed up about something, it would distract Jayce from being overwhelmed if, say, her mother should call.
"It's soon in adult time," Jayce explained, which Octavia accepted.
"Adult time weird," the child commented with a pout.
"Yes, I know it is, but you'll understand it better when you get older."
Octavia nodded and then turned her attention back to the television. Jayce went back to work and then the phone rang again. Jayce's blood ran cold as she answered and then quickly hung up again. Taking a few deep breaths to keep calm, she silently prayed that her morning was not shaping up as it seemed it was.
Jayce and the children entered the house after a spontaneous trip to the park; Octavia had insisted on it and it was a good way for Jayce to escape the constant ringing of the house phone. Lunch was made for Octavia and then she was down for the count, needing her afternoon nap. Jayce then fed Gus-Gus and put him down for his nap, too. Once she was certain both of the children were asleep, she was grabbed the phone and dialed.
"Hey, sweetheart, how's your day going?" Gus asked, answering Jayce's call.
"Baby, she keeps calling and I keep hanging up, but she keeps calling!" Jayce sniffled, doing her best to hold in tears, but it was so difficult.
"Jay, calm down. If it gets really bad, just call the police. She shouldn't be calling us in the first place. Okay?"
"I know, I know. It's still so frustrating! The courts already told her to leave us alone and she keeps on going. I really don't want to be the one to send my mother to jail or something. And, why the hell is she calling so much now? Why today?" Jayce begged.
"I don't know, baby. Ignore her. I'll handle it," Gus promised in a gentle tone.
"I know you will, but it's just so annoying. Why can't she just leave us alone?"
"Because she's out of her mind. I think losing to two lesbians, especially you, has driven her over the edge. For your whole life, she was able to control you and torment you and then you finally broke free and took Octie with you. I really think that drove her insane."
Jayce nodded. "Not to mention, her precious son practically sold us Octie."
"There is that."
"Although I like to think that Q was having a lucid moment and realized what was best for her."
"I'm sure that was the case, but, of course, your mother doesn't see it that way. Don't let her get to you, sweetheart."
"I'm trying. I'm really trying. It's just the sound of her voice and her shrieks remind me of when I was younger and I just want to crawl into a ball sometimes, as if that'll make her go away," Jayce explained with a whimper.
"Do you want me to call Trevor and tell him to come sit with you? Octie would like Travis' company I bet," Gus proposed.
"No. I don't want to have to explain to him why I need a babysitter … not that I need a babysitter at all! I can handle it," Jayce asserted.
"Baby, there is no shame in being shaken up by your mother. She's tormented you for your entire life. She's pretty much your equivalent to the boogie-man, except she's real. The monster in your closet is very, very real. It's understandable that she still has the ability to make you uncomfortable, even though you logically know she can't do anything to you."
Jayce sighed and tucked her feet underneath her. "I hate this feeling. I hate her butting in. Sometimes I feel like … I feel like … I hate her …" she admitted and it was a tough thing to say, but she truly felt like she hated her own mother. How horrible is that! I would die if Octie or Gus-Gus grew up and hated me!
"Marion has done nothing in this life to gain your trust or your love, but everything in her power to gain your contempt. Don't feel guilty about it. Use it to push her further out of your life."
"I know I should …" Jayce whimpered.
"It'll do you some good. If you finally let go, she won't have this power to make you crazy."
"I know, I know. I really do."
Gus sighed. "Baby, I need to go."
"Oh, right. Go create, sweetheart. Love you."
"Love you too."
The call was disconnected and it was Jayce's turn to sigh. She put the phone down and curled into herself. Lost in her thoughts on what to do with her mother, she was surprised when familiar, strong arms wrapped around her.
"Gus? When did you come in?" Jayce asked, wondering if she had daydreamed through hours in the day. Glancing over at the baby and seeing that he was still asleep, only confused her further.
"I just did. When I hung up with you, I left work and came home. You sounded like you needed somebody," Gus explained with a small smile.
"I always need you."
Gus smiled even more. "I always need you too. I want you to know I also reported your mother yet again, so this is just something else that will make sure she can never have our little princess. Okay?"
Jayce nodded because reporting her mother was the right thing to do. Of course, she did not have the courage to do it, but Gus was there and always took care of things. She gave her wife a very sweet, compassionate smile as she recalled that Gus always handled things that she found too difficult.
"I know she'll never get her. She's already done so much that no one in their right mind would give Octavia to her, but I think it's like you said. For me, Marion Newton is a living, breathing boogieman. I need to get over her. I need to stop being afraid of her. Nothing she can do can touch me. She might as well be as fictional as the boogieman," Jayce declared.
Gus nodded. "This is quite true. I think you should look at her like that. I also think that we should start calling her by name."
"It rings false when we call her your mother. Nothing that woman has ever done toward you has been motherly. Marion has been a bitch to you for your whole life. From now on, her name is Marion if she is to be addressed at all. Although, you might want to try what I call her when you're not around."
Jayce smirked slightly. "Do I even want to know?"
"When I'm just pissed, I call her 'the bitch.' How original I know. But, most of the time I just refer to her as 'cujo.' Wanna try that? Wanna try calling Marion 'cujo'?" Gus asked, rocking her wife slightly.
Jayce laughed. "I can't believe you."
"I swear to you, I do. You could call my office right now. They'll tell you how I was complaining that Cujo called this morning and wrecked my sleep. They think our neighborhood is full of rabid dogs with cell phones or something."
Jayce laughed again and moved until she was comfortably pressed against her spouse. She then settled against Gus. The couple sighed together.
"You're going to stay for the rest of the day?" Jayce asked.
"Do you want me to?" Gus countered.
"Of course, I want you to. If I could, I'd never let you leave the house. But, for the matter at hand, I think you could go back to work. I've been handling it better than I have in the past. I wasn't even crying when you came in," the dark-eyed woman remarked with a smile.
"You are right about that, precious. You certainly weren't crying, which is a good thing. I'll stay until the kids get up. How's that?"
Jayce stepped outside with the kids. Octavia leaped off of the porch, wanting to ride her tricycle. Jayce looked over to the house next door, expecting to see Trevor and Travis come out. Travis was the only one, though. He charged over to their yard, waving at Jayce. He then went to Octavia and they proceeded to do what they do.
Jayce glanced over at the house again, wondering where Trevor was. He did not come out, so she focused back on the children. Octavia and Travis were on the sidewalk with the tricycle. Gus-Gus was busying himself by standing up and trying to walk. He mostly just fell back onto Jayce.
"You are just going to hurt yourself, Lil Caesar. Your papa would be very upset if she came home and found you with a scar," Jayce commented.
Gus-Gus' response was to blow a raspberry at his mother. She laughed, which seemed to spur him on. He rambled in his own way, sans words of course. Jayce pretended to admonish him for not being able to say something that at least resembled the English language.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jayce noticed someone step out of Trevor's home, but it was not Trevor. A regular looking fellow in a blue bowling shirt exited the house, followed by Trevor. The guy glanced over at them as he walked to him car. Trevor was frowning and shaking his head. He stood on the sidewalk until the car pulled off. He then made his way to Jayce's house.
"Something wrong?" Jayce asked because Trevor's expression was still tense.
"Something is wrong and weird. That guy knocked on the door like right before we were going to come over and he started asking a bunch of questions about you, Gus, and the kids," Trevor answered in a baffled tone.
"What? Me, Gus, and the kids?" Jayce's eyebrows curled up and her eyes begged for more information.
"Like I said, it was weird. He claimed he was like your cousin or something and he wanted to surprise you with something, so he was asking all of these questions. I didn't like it. I didn't tell him anything, but it was still creepy."
Jayce nodded. "Maybe I should call the police. I mean, I've never seen that guy in my entire life, so he's not related to me in the slightest. Something is going on here."
"I assumed as much. I didn't know what to do, though. Like I said, it was weird."
"Yeah, so you keep saying. What did he ask you?"
"He wanted to know if Gus worked a lot and wasn't home often, if she could afford to take care of all of you, if the kids were ever cared for right or left alone a lot, and stuff that just didn't seem really relevant to any surprise he could have been planning. It was a lot of prying if you ask me and I didn't want any parts of it. I only gossip with other housewives, thank you very much," Trevor remarked.
Jayce laughed. "I'm nervous now. Why the hell is this guy interested in me and my family? Why is he questioning you about us?"
"I dunno. Like I said, he claimed he was trying to surprise you. You're not in any kind of trouble, right?" Trevor asked with concern.
"None I can think of. I don't know what's going on."
"If something is going on, just me know what I can do to help."
"I will let you know if you can help, but right now, I don't know what's going on," she pointed out again. She was not sure what to think of some stranger asking around about her and her family to her neighbor. It did cause a quiver in her gut, though.
Gus pulled into the driveway and was ambushed by Octavia and Travis, both wanting to greet her. She smiled and they gave her hugs. She lifted them up while making her way to the front porch where Jayce was trying to get Gus-Gus to say "mama" from what the businesswoman could tell.
"How long have you been holding him inches from your face and just saying 'mama' over and over again?" Gus asked curiously.
"It feels like years! He just keeps looking at me like I'm an idiot. I feel like in his head he's going, 'who is this mama you speak of?' I don't think he's ever going to say anything," Jayce sighed.
"It's just our luck that he's been speaking this whole time, but it's probably Italian," Gus joked. "Where's your friend?"
"Trevor went to do some work, so it's just been me and the little bits for an hour. I figured we'd stay out here until you got home. It's been getting a little chilly," Jayce said.
Gus nodded in agreement and carried the children inside while Jayce followed behind her. Travis and Octavia were deposited on the couch and cartoons were put on the television. Jayce put Gus-Gus down, hoping that he would practice on trying to walk again. If he would not talk, walking would be greatly celebrated.
"Gus, can I speak with you in the kitchen?" Jayce requested.
"Sure. Something up, sweetheart?" Gus asked, following her wife into the kitchen.
"Gus, Trevor said some guy pretending to be my cousin was asking about us and our family. It's been bugging me all day. I don't get why someone would do something like that, but then I thought about how my …" Jayce trailed off and grunted before correcting herself. "Marion has been calling nonstop. She was screaming about having evidence on us before."
Gus nodded. "You think she's taking a little fishing expedition to find stuff on us."
Gus waved it off. "She can dig all she wants, but what's she going to find? That we're two of the most boring people on Earth? So boring that our own son doesn't even want to talk to us?"
A chuckle escaped Jayce. "He doesn't want to talk because you're going to kick him. But, seriously, what if she does get something?"
"What can she possibly get, baby? Do either of us molest our children?"
"Then her quest is over right there since she's so obsessed with us touching them. But, even if it wasn't that, what else could she get us on? Neglect? If our kids got anymore spoiled, Octie would have a freaking driver to bring her from the living room to her bedroom. Abuse? We're too chicken to even follow through with time-outs sometime. Remember that one time we tried to send Octavia to bed with no dessert? I haven't felt that guilty since I got you fired!" Gus threw her hands up.
There were more giggles. "Thankfully Octie isn't bad. If Gus-Gus is a trouble-maker, you are going to have to sharpen your papa discipline skills."
Gus smiled. "Don't worry. I'll have it under control. I'm kicking him out, anyway."
"You're so awful."
"I know. Do you feel better?"
"I do. I am just nervous about Marion having someone asking around about us, especially our neighbors. God, Gus, this neighborhood could get our kids taken away!" Jayce realized and she started hyperventilating.
Gus acted quickly, taking the smaller woman into her arms. She slowly massaged the small of Jayce's back, which helped her calm down. She whispered loving, soothing words to her shaken spouse.
"We shouldn't have moved! The old neighborhood, everyone loved us and would've chased this guy away with pitchforks!" Jayce muttered.
"Baby, calm down. Nothing is going to happen. Just calm down. Remember, you're not giving Cujo power over you anymore. You freaking out means she has control," Gus reminded her spouse.
"Right, right." Jayce took several deep breaths and settled against Gus' firm form.
"We're going to be fine. She hasn't been able to touch us and she won't be able to touch us. I'm going to get on the phone with our lawyer right now and stop anything that Marion might even think she's going to do, okay?"
"Good. Now, let me go hang out with my kids. I bet I could get Gus-Gus to say 'papa' before you get him to say 'mama,'" Gus teased.
"No, you can't. He likes me more. I'm not planning to throw him out and I'm the one with the milk!" Jayce remarked.
Gus made a face at her spouse before slipping out of the kitchen and going upstairs. She returned downstairs showered and changed. Wasting no time, she joined the kids in the living room and scooped her baby boy up into her arms. Gus-Gus cuddled into as he often did.
"So, guys, what're we watching?" Gus asked and then she made a face at the baby, earning a giggle from him.
"Ninja Cats and Samurai Rabbits," Travis answered, not turning from the TV.
"That's the show with all of the crazy lights and karate?" Gus recalled.
"Yup," Octavia replied.
"Me and Gus-Gus are going to go read Horton Hears a Who. Call me when this is over," Gus said.
"Wait! We like Horton too!" Octavia reminded her papa, pointing to herself and Travis.
"A lot!" the boy added.
Gus chuckled; Horton got them away from the television every time. Octavia and Travis grabbed the books and she started the story. Whenever she got to words that they knew, she let them take over. They were distracted when the bell rang. Jayce stepped out of the kitchen to get the door. Helena was there.
"I hear you're hoarding my son over here," Helena remarked.
"Miss Gus is reading Horton to us, Mom," Travis informed his mother, leaning back in the living room in order to see his mother.
"Oh, that is nice," Helena muttered, sounding a little surprised. "Speaking of Gus, I need to speak to you and Jayce for a moment."
The couple exchanged a look. "I didn't do it!" Gus declared with a grin.
Helena shook her head. "Seriously, I need to speak with you both for a moment."
Gus turned her attention back to the kids. "Octie, you and Travis watch your brother for a while and try to read as much of the book to him as you can."
Octavia nodded while Travis was in awe that they were being given such responsibility as Gus put the baby down. She then climbed to her feet and the three women stepped into the kitchen. Gus stood close to Jayce and held onto her hand, having a feeling that Helena was not the bearer of good news.
"Today, while I was at my office a man came into see me and started asking about the two of you. He wanted to know about your family and what kind of people you were. I thought that was odd in and of itself and then when I told Trevor, he said the same thing happened to him. What's going on?" Helena inquired.
Jayce pressed herself closer to Gus while the businesswoman groaned. "A woman that won't quit is what's going on."
"What do you mean?" Helena asked. "Whatever mess you two might be involved in, I can't afford to have it following me to work or harassing my husband at home."
Gus waved her off, understanding Helena's somewhat bitchy attitude. "Agreed. It will be handled ASAP. I assure you we're not involved anything that could be harmful to you or your family."
"Then what the hell is going on?" Helena demanded.
"It's my fault," Jayce said.
"It is not your fault! You don't have any control over Marion being completely insane," Gus pointed out.
"Who is Marion?" Helena asked.
"Octavia's grandmother. She wasn't particularly happy that Octavia ended up with us. She's been harassing us ever since. She's actually been torturing Jayce for her entire life," Gus replied.
Helena nodded and rubbed her chin in thought. "That explains his odd interest in how you two were as parents. He seemed to want to know how you abuse Octie, not if you do it."
"Bastard," Gus growled. "You know what, I'm ending this right now," she proclaimed, pulling out her cell phone. She released Jayce and marched off deeper into the house.
"Jayce, if there's anything I can do to help, please, just tell me. I know we got off on the wrong foot, but a blind man would be able to see that you two are great parents and I don't want Octie to be hurt," Helena said.
"I don't know if there's anything you can do right now. My moth—Marion—is just fishing for things now. She doesn't have anything to use against us, so she's trying to find stuff," Jayce explained. "She might resort to making things up or paying people to make things up. She's done it before."
"Your own mother?" Helena asked, obviously catching Jayce's slip.
"She never loved me and it only got worse when I came out as a lesbian. She's made it her life's mission to destroy me," Jayce sighed.
"Seriously, Jayce, you need help, you ask us. I'm not going to have my son's best friend taken away from very outstanding parents," Helena vowed.
"Thank you for that."
"I mean it," Helena said. "Trevor too. He told me to restate what he told you this afternoon. I believe he told me to say that he has your back. He even volunteered to put feelers out through the neighborhood to find out if this guy talked to anyone else and what they might have said if he did."
Jayce smiled, happy that there were people rallying around them. She was going to be in for a bigger shock later on. A few days after the questions started for Trevor and Helena, other neighbors approached Jayce, saying a man was questioning them about the Tuckers. Jayce was surprised that even though many of her neighbors did not agree with her lifestyle, they refused to badmouth her as a mother to some outsider. They also refused to badmouth Gus. Some of them even called the police. Jayce could not believe it. Apparently, the neighbors were not the hurtful as she had assumed them to be.
Jayce was cuddled on the couch with Gus after a particularly stressful week. Gus massaged her back all the way down to her calf. She had almost offered to mix Jayce a drink to get her to relax, but Jayce was still breastfeeding … and might never stop if Gus-Gus had his way.
"I thought for sure this neighborhood would jump at the chance to crucify us," Jayce muttered.
"I thought so too, but I think I should have known better. I mean, any neighborhood that has Trevor, Glenn, and Ryan in it can't be all bad. Besides, even if they did lie, they wouldn't be able to lie in court," Gus pointed out.
"This is true. Speaking of court, will this make it to a courtroom?"
"No, but that bitch might. I had recordings of her calling from when I answered the phone and those went on her record. At this point, our lawyer is trying to make it so if that woman so much as breathes in our direction she'll go to jail. She thought she was being slick with this phone call bullshit, but that stops now. We're pushing for some jail time and she's up to ears in fines and misdemeanors."
"Jail time?" Jayce echoed in disbelief. "Marion might actually go to jail?"
"Yeah, it's possible. Of course, it wouldn't be too long. She's definitely going to be tied up in court for a while."
Jayce nodded. "And the guy asking around about us?"
"We can't do much about the guy she hired unless he starts trying to talk to us and bother us, then we can get him for harassment and stalking, which our neighbors are also looking to do on my suggestion. They don't want any trouble and they don't like this guy lurking around."
"So, you really do have this under control," Jayce said with a smile, leaning over to give her spouse a small kiss.
"I'm going to take care of my family, baby. I'm sorry I let this get this out of control. I thought threatening her and keeping tabs was enough, but obviously not. Never again. From now on, the second you tell me you think that bitch is doing something to you or calling the house, or just anything, I'm on it and she's in jail. I'm never letting it get to this point again."
Jayce smiled. It was not really at "a point" and Gus was already on it. It was phone calls, threats, and a PI asking about them, but Gus was determined to make them go away. And she knew that Gus would. Gus would do everything in her power to keep them safe.
"I love you," Jay whispered before leaning in for a proper kiss.
"I love you too," Gus replied as they broke for air.
Gus smiled before going in for another kiss. After speaking with their lawyer, she knew that Marion Newton had nothing to stand on and nothing to bring to court without tempting the judge to her in jail. And now, Marion had to deal with her own problems rather than creating new ones for Jayce and their family. Gus doubted that it would teach Marion a lesson, but it would keep her occupied for a while.
Gus needed to stay on top of things, though to make sure that her wife had peace of mind. Jayce being able to live a happy life with her and their children was one of the most important jobs that Gus had and she took it very seriously. So, never again would she allow Marion a chance to cause as much as a hiccup in Jayce's life. Never again.
"How about we take this upstairs and I show you how much I love you?" Jayce proposed.
"I thought you'd never ask," Gus grinned. The couple disappeared upstairs. They checked on their sleeping children before ending up in their own bedroom. For a moment, they both just appreciated the present and thought on the bright future ahead of them before focusing on how much they loved each other.
I hope you guys enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading. I'm returning to my padded cell. Hopefully, you'll be back for another story.