Secrets Kept, Lies Told

Secrets Kept, Lies Told
By Sarah
Chapter 7

    Denise never felt so happy.  She hugged Alexa, her Alexa, for a long time.  Her baby was finally back, and all grown up.  Her baby was back in her arms.  Denise pulled away from Alexa and held her at arm's length. "Alexa, my baby look at you, you're all grown up," she said, wiping away her
    Alexa smiled through her tears.  "Momma just like I remember the picture" She paused, wiping away her tears.  "You were standing in front of a building, a house, and you were smiling.  Whenever I saw that picture, your smile always cheered me up, and no matter how unhappy I was, your smile stuck in my head and it always made me happy."
    Denise smiled and led Alexa to the bed, seating her next to her.  "Now, start from the beginning, from wherever you can, the earliest you know," Denise said, brushing Alexa's hair out of her face.
    Alexa wiped away her tears and started her story and the only thing Denise could think was that she was so lucky to have her daughter back.
    'My baby, my baby is back and she isn't going anywhere.'

    "So?"  Nick asked as AJ sat down.
    "So?  So what?"  AJ asked.
    "Who is she?"  Kevin asked, hitting Nick's arm lightly.
    "She... she's my sister," AJ said, suddenly realizing what that meant.  He wasn't an only child, he had a sister, a younger sister, but a sister nonetheless.
    "She is?!"  Howie asked, surprised.
    AJ nodded.  "Yeah, I don't know all the details, but apparently, she must've gotten kidnapped or something when she was younger, I found her in a homeless shelter in the church."
    "She was at the church?  She lives there?"  Brian asked.
    AJ nodded.  "She did live there, but now she's going to live with us. She'll go on tour with us for a while, then when we come back here, she'll live with either Mom, or me, or by herself, whichever she prefers.  It was so sad though, guys, there were so many homeless children, I didn't know it was such a problem around here," he said, settling in his chair.
    Kevin nodded.  "It is, you don't really notice it though because they look like regular everyday people, but there are more homeless people around here than you realize."
    AJ nodded.  "Yeah, but there were so many of them. I even saw a little two year old sitting on the floor, playing.  It was hard to believe that he was homeless, and some of those kids there don't even have parents, they're just there because they have no other place to go.  Guys, imagine if we had nothing, no homes, no families, no careers, and they have it ten times worse than that.  It was unbelievable."
    "Believe it, AJ, its part of life.  We only wish we could do something about it," Nick said.
    "You're wrong, we can do something about it.  Can't we donate money to the shelter?"  Brian asked,
    "I don't see why not, but do you have the money to spare?  I mean, I know we're basically rich, but we can't exactly spare all that much," Howie said.
    "Bullshit we can't spare it," AJ said.  "I'll put forward a few thousand, what about the rest of you?"
    The guys all looked at him, surprised.  "Umm, I'll put forward a few grand, sure," Brian said.
    "Ditto," Nick said.
    "Count me in," Kevin said.
    They all looked at Howie.  "Ok, ok, count me in too."
    "You know what, though?  Maybe we don't have to put forward all of our own money," Brian said suddenly.
    "What do you mean?"  Kevin asked.
    "Uh-oh, Frick's getting that look on his face again," Nick said.
    "Shut-up!  I mean, why don't we sponsor a fund-raiser?  All the money can go to the shelter and the people will get their money's worth when we perform for them," Brian explained.
    "I knew this was going to be bad," Nick said, putting his head in his hands.
    "No, that's really not a bad idea," Kevin said, sticking up for his cousin.
    "But when are we going to do this?  When do we have time?"  Nick asked.
    "We'll make time," AJ insisted.  "Even if we have to give up one of our free days, we're going to do it."
    "Ok, ok, slow down, AJ," Howie said.
    "We'll plan it for when we come back to Orlando, we don't have any time free while we're here now," Kevin said.
    "Ok, deal?"  AJ asked.
    "Deal," came the unanimous reply.

    "And that brings me to here," Alexa finished.  "I never thought this day would come," she said, starting to cry again.
    "Me neither," Denise said, wiping away her own tears.  "I thought I'd lost you forever.  I still remember the day you were born.  It was in the middle of a heat wave, one of the worst in years.  Right after you were born, I knew exactly what to name you.  Alexandra Denise McLean.  My baby, I missed you so much.  I woke up the day after I got home from the hospital with you, and you weren't in your crib next to AJ's.  I nearly died, I didn't think I would ever see you again.  I was heartbroken, simply put, and I always dreamed about the day that I'd find you again, but I never knew it would happen."
    "Oh, Momma, I never thought I'd be so happy.  I dreamed night after night of finally finding you, but never did I think it would finally happen," Alexa said, grabbing another tissue.
    Denise smiled and watched her daughter.  She reached over and gave Alexa a hug.  "Now that I've heard your story, I think its time I tell you and AJ what happened," she said.  She stood up and walked to the door on the left, to the adjoining room.  She knocked on the door and opened it, sticking her head in.  "AJ?"  She asked.
    AJ looked up from a paper on the floor.  "Yeah?"
    "Could you come in here please?"  Denise said, gesturing for him to come.  He nodded and stood up, following her out to the main room.  Denise gestured for him to sit on the bed next to Alexa and closed the door behind him.  "Ok, now, I think its time you both heard the truth, the whole truth."  She sighed and sat down in a chair in front of them.  "Two years after you were born, AJ, your father and I started having problems.  We couldn't agree on anything and always fought.  One morning, I woke up and he was gone, no note, no phone call, no message, nothing.  He had left me, and I was a month and a half pregnant.  I hadn't told him I was pregnant, after I lost the twins, I wasn't getting my hopes up too high.  I had you Alexa, and what a beautiful baby you were, and I was happy that there weren't any complications.  I was officially divorced from your father then, and I didn't feel the need to tell him I had you.  The day after I got home from the hospital, however, I woke up and you were gone.  I called the police and they searched for weeks on end.  They asked your father and he said he knew nothing, he didn't even know I'd given birth.  I thought you were gone forever, but I didn't think you were dead.  I could feel that you weren't, just that you were missing.  I raised AJ to believe that he was an only child, knowing it would be easier on him.  But
now, you both have to know, you two are brother and sister, biological brother and sister, and you two are the most precious gifts in my life," Denise finished, feeling the tears come back in her eyes.
    Both AJ and Alexa started to cry and Denise opened her arms to her children.  They both walked over and gave Denise a hug, crying together.  But crying as a family.
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