Chapter 6 & 7 (Love Conquers All)

6

After the risky surgery with Abbigail, Joliet was still worried. The pregnancy had been unexpected, and certainly high risk. She was well past her prime for birthing pups, as evident with the delivery. Joliet shook her head as she cleaned up, trying to clear her mind. It was lucky that both she and Cheyenne had backgrounds in veterinary medicine for situations like this.

Once everything was cleared and Joliet was sure that Abbigail was settled, she decided it was time to make her rounds in the rescue. Joliet called out to Cheyenne, “Chey, I’m going to make the rounds and check on all the animals and staff. Call if you need anything!” Joliet faintly heard Chey’s distinct laughter followed by a male’s, then heard Chey’s response. “Got it!”

Joliet first began her rounds by checking on the rest of the dogs in the dog palace which was one of the first buildings ever built on the rescue. Once she was satisfied that everyone was cared for properly, and she stopped to say hello to the corgi/husky mix Jack, she decided to head out. The rescue was laid out unlike most others, which made it unique. Next door to the dog palace was the cat cabana. Not far from the dog and cat facilities were the horse pastures, and aviary. The rescue even had an area designated for small animals (rodents/rabbits/etc). There was also a lot of area designated for trails, and dog pens. Because of the layout, Joliet headed to the cat cabana and checked on them before heading off to the rest of the rescue.

Once finished with the cat cabana, Joliet set off on a leisurely pace around the 1200-acre rescue, deciding to take her time to make the rounds today. The ordeal with Abbigail momentarily took her mind off of her past and her writing, but now those thoughts were back. It had been so long since thoughts of that person had brought such feelings about that it shocked her to be feeling such a way now. She considered bringing it up with her husband, but thought better of it.

Shaking her head to clear it again, Joliet continued on her rounds. She checked on the horse pastures, aviary, and small animal habitats. Satisfied with how all of the animals and staff were, Joliet still wasn’t ready to be confined back to her office. She didn’t want to confront the possibility of the unknown box being from her past. She looked towards the trails. “Ah, what the hell.”

Joliet took out her phone and shot a quick text to Cheyenne’s phone so someone would know where she was. “Heading to the lake. Taking the trail. Can’t face office yet.” With that, Joliet took off at a small jog towards one of the trails that was marked as ‘lake trail’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

Once arriving at the trail, Joliet looked back towards the main administrative building of the rescue. She shuddered visibly, thinking about the box and her past. She knew it was silly, but things still haunted her. She set off at a brisk pace down the trail, hoping a nice dip in the lake would cleanse her spirit.

Upon reaching the end of the trail, Joliet paused. It never failed to amaze her how beautiful this part of the landscape was. The lake had a small, but magnificent waterfall that someone had put lights behind. It was breathtakingly beautiful here at night. Stripping down to her underwear, Joliet prepared for a dip in the water when she heard a noise behind her.

“Are you stripping down for me, or am I just lucky enough to be here at the right time?” Freaked out, Joliet whipped around. “How…why are you here?” The man, who’d been hiding in the shadows stepped out. “Well, I knew you used to come here often. But, I also tapped Cheyenne’s phone to spy on you.” Joliet’s face lost all color, “Why not just tap my phone? Why hers?” “Oh, it would be too easy to just tap yours. I had to make it fun.” Joliet had heard enough at that point. She grabbed her clothes back up, and took off at a run towards the rescue.

Reaching the end of the trail, Joliet braved looking back. He hadn’t tried to follow her. “Strange…” she muttered a loud. Joliet dressed quickly and ran back to her office, calling Brice. “Hello Ms. Joliet” “Yeah…Hi Brice. Can you tell Cheyenne to meet me at my house please?” “Uhm…sure. Yes ma’am.” “Thank you”. With that, she hung up the phone and put a note on her door claiming she wasn’t feeling well and was going home early. She grabbed her things and ran out the door and to her car, making the trip home.

Love Conquers All – Chap. 4 & 5

4

 

Walking out of her small study, Joliet glanced up at the clock in the hall, 8:15. “Shit, I’m going to be late for work,” she muttered. Joliet ran up the stairs to the master bedroom and threw on her favorite pair of clothing for work, a nice pair of jeans and a blouse. It appeared professional, but she didn’t mind getting it dirty if she needed to be hands on with the animals.

Owning your own animal rescue had its perks, but you were still responsible for a ton of people and their livelihoods. She set her own hours so that she was able to be home most mornings with the kids, but lately the time seemed to be getting away from her. Knowing that the kids didn’t have to be at school until nine, Joliet scrambled to find all of the necessary items she needed for the rescue.

Joliet sprinted down the stairs with shoes in hands, which was a pair of boots, and yelled to a loud to whoever remained in the house while putting the boots on, “I’m leaving for the rescue in five! Y’all better be on the way to school in ten, if you’re not already, and remember to drop Kayden off as well!” Silence. Did that mean they were all gone already? No, wait. A noise. Joliet definitely just heard a noise. Emmett’s voice. “Got it mom! Sis and Dad are gone, but I’ll take Kay.” She smiled despite being rushed, hearing the nicknames Emmett gave his siblings, “Thanks honey! Love you. Gotta run. I’m already late today!” “Have a good day mom. Love you too.”

~~~

            Joliet drove to the rescue in a hurry, without really speeding, just five miles over (maybe six or seven). The rescue was about fifteen or twenty minutes from where the house was, and that depended on traffic. Joliet was lucky today because traffic was apparently on her side. Arriving at the rescue, she parked in the spot that was designated for her.

Once inside she greeted staff that were there already, and went to her office to check any new messages. Sitting on her desk was a box addressed to the rescue with no return address. Joliet paused momentarily and then called her best friend to come to her office (who also happened to work at the rescue). Cheyenne came right away, thinking that she was finally going to be let go because of the close connection she had with Joliet. She knew other employees frowned upon it, even though Joliet didn’t show her special attention in meetings.

Joliet nodded towards the box on her desk. “What do you make of that?” Cheyenne walked over to the box and looked at it, “Well, it’s addressed to the rescue, but there’s no return address. Where’d it come from?” Joliet shrugged, “I have no idea, but I have a bad feeling about it.” Cheyenne knew something was up with Joliet, “Hey Jo, did you get to the part of your story about him? Is that why you’re in a funk, and you’re acting a bit paranoid?” Joliet’s head shot up, but her face betrayed her. Walking over to the office door and closing it, she nodded. “I started to write that part, and write about all that happened…and I had to stop. I didn’t want to dredge it all back up. Open old wounds, you know? I don’t want to bring that ghost back into this place.” Cheyenne looked at her best friend then and finally understood what she’d been thinking this whole time. “You think the box is from him, don’t you? You think he’s finally found you? Jo…that’s not possible.” Joliet looked so withdrawn, “Anything is possible Chey.”

 

 

 

 

 

5

Joliet and Cheyenne continued to talk for another thirty minutes about the box, and what should be done with it until they were interrupted by a knock on the door. One of the employees stood on the other side of the door with a panicked look on his face, and both ladies in the room exchanged looks saying simultaneously, “crap”.
Cheyenne ran over and opened the door, and the young man practically fell through the entryway. “H..Hello. My name is Brice, and I was sent to fetch you Ms. Joliet and Ms. Cheyenne because there is a dog in labor, but she’s in distress.” Joliet and Cheyenne both nodded, and momentarily forgetting the box, followed Brice down to the dog palace. “Which dog is it?” Cheyenne always kept on top of keeping all of the animals organized, and with their proper caretakers (one of the reason she was qualified to be at the rescue). Joliet was so lost in her own mind that she almost missed Brice say “Uhm, I think they said her name is Abbigail.” “Abbi? She’s the one in labor?” Joliet exclaimed and then took off in a jog.

Cheyenne watched her best friend jog off, and momentarily considered following, but felt the need to explain to the confused newbie next to her. “Abbigail was the first dog rescued here. She’s been here for four years now. Hence, why Jo took off in a jog. She treats Abbi as a baby.” Brice thanked her for explaining the situation. “I just started yesterday, and today this happens. Is this common?” Cheyenne chuckled, “Pretty much. It’s chaos, but you learn to love it. Welcome to Infinity Paws Rescue.”

During the discussion about Abbigail, Cheyenne and Brice managed to catch up to Joliet, who was already with Abbigail. “Chey, we need to scrub in and help her. There’s at least two puppies in there.” Cheyenne merely nodded and the two girls headed over to a station meant for situations like this. While doing this, Brice stood around wondering what he should do until he heard Cheyenne’s voice. “Hey Brice, can you sanitize that workbench for us, and carefully lift Abbi up?” “Sure thing!”

As Brice got to work sanitizing and the girls finished scrubbing in, the room was filled with little other noise other than Abbigail’s labored breathing. Brice gingerly picked the German Shephard/Lab mix up and laid her on the workbench, and then stepped back as the two girls moved in. “Hey Brice, can you come pet her head and keep her calm for us?” Joliet asked. “Sure thing.” While Brice was petting Abbigail, Joliet and Cheyenne worked to help her deliver the last of her litter without surgery, but when that didn’t work, they had to resort to plan b. Joliet wasn’t thrilled about this plan, but if they waited any longer they could lose Abbi and whatever puppies were left.

Joliet and Cheyenne prepared Abbi with the help of Brice, and positioned her so her stomach was up. After they made sure she was sedated, and on oxygen, the girls began the delicate cesarean surgery to try to save multiple lives. Five minutes passed before Joliet was able to pull the first puppy from the womb, and she passed it to Cheyenne. Cheyenne wrapped the pup in a warm towel and suctioned the nose/mouth region to try to revive it and handed it to Brice. “Rub the pup until you hear a noise, please.” During the time this was going on, Joliet had managed to pull another pup from the womb which she handed to Cheyenne. Cheyenne repeated the same procedure as before. Making sure Abbigail was not carrying any more pups and none were stuck in the birth canal, Joliet finished the procedure amongst the cries of small pups.

Chapter 2 & 3

2

Now I mentioned that this was only the beginning of a sad chain of events and it was just that. About a month or two after Granny’s death, our family cat, Shadow, started getting very weak and sick. I was the first one to notice that her stomach was bloated and she didn’t act like she felt good. One day while my brother and I were at school, my mom took her to the vet. She either had fluid in her stomach or she had cancer. This news was heartbreaking to me. So, instead of making her suffer we decided it would be best euthanize her. The night before we did she slept on my bed and I thought she was ready to go on her own; I wanted her to go on her own. I kept telling her it was okay and that Granny would be waiting for her, but she just refused to let go. I stayed up all night with her and in the morning I carried her into the vet’s office and I laid her down on the table. The vet came in then and she was very nice. She told us all about what we could do with her body, we could keep it and bury her or they’d cremate her. We couldn’t keep her because we had nowhere to bury her, so we had to let them cremate her. She gave us time alone to say goodbye and I don’t think I’d cried that much since Granny’s funeral. The rest of the day we all stayed home and grieved.

~~~

Joliet wiped more tears away from her eyes. Why was it so hard to write about this when it happened so long ago? She knew why, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Yes, they’re less painful, but they’re always there and always waiting to be let loose again. She sighed and continued typing.

~~~

Nothing happened the rest of 2009, but in January of 2010 my cousin Michael passed away unexpectedly. We saw him in Wal-Mart one day and two days later, we got a phone call saying he was gone. It was unbelievable. He’d had an underlying heart condition that no one knew about. It shocked everyone that this loveable and caring and all around great guy was suddenly gone.
Everything that happened just seemed so depressing and unreal at the time. I didn’t realize ‘til much later that I had sunken into a deep depression and I’d been finding ways to hurt myself to “control” the pain. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. But, enough about the bad things that happened during my teen years, I want to tell you about the wonderful thing that happened to me in 2008.

~~~

Joliet was startled by a loud noise coming from one of the bedrooms down the hall. Her oldest, and only daughter, Annabelle was now awake and blaring some of her favorite music. Joliet got up from her study and walked down the hall to Annabelle’s room and opened the door quietly. Her daughter was up cleaning her room and dancing while she was doing it. The child had OCD almost as bad as she did. Annabelle turned down her stereo, “Mornin’ Mom. Did I wake you?” “Oh, umm, no. I was just writing and heard your music and thought I’d pop in to tell you good morning.” “Oh, well, okay then. I’m going to finish cleaning and then I’ll go eat something, okay?” “That sounds good baby girl. Don’t forget to say hi to your dad and little brother or brothers if Emmett ever wakes up.” Joliet then walked over to Annabelle and kissed her forehead. “I can’t believe you’re going to be going to college soon.” Annabelle smiled, “I know, I know Mom. Now, go back to writing.” Joliet walked out and closed the door behind her, but instead of going back to her study, she walked to Emmett’s room and knocked on the door. No answer. He was sixteen and thought he could sleep ‘til noon. Instead of waking him and causing an argument, she just went back to her study and sat at her desk where she continued typing.

~~~

The one wonderful thing that I can tell you helped my get through my teenage years comes in the form of a person. Sometime during the end of May, I was on the internet using my cell phone and I found some random site. Once I’d created a profile, I started talking to some people in chat rooms. As is the case with most chat sites, some of the people were pure jerks, but then a name popped up that asked “Does anyone like Rascal Flatts? If you do I.M. me”. The post caught my attention, so I messaged him and that’s where it all starts. He was a city boy from San Antonio, Texas who loved country music. We talked for what seemed like hours that night. I think we stayed up ‘til 4 or 5 in the morning. We instantly clicked and from then on we talked every day. On June 3rd, 2008 he asked me to be his girlfriend and I immediately said yes. Little did I know how much he’d come to mean to me. 

The young man that I now called my boyfriend was Michael Edmund. He was the sweetest and most caring person I’d met in my life. He always knew when something was wrong and he always knew just what to say to make me smile. About a week after we’d gotten together, we told each other “I love you” and we meant it. I knew from then on that if I ever dated after him, it wouldn’t be as magical. Some of you may say that it was only teenage love, but I can tell you right now that it wasn’t. During the first few months of our relationship we had “month anniversaries” and we got to know each other. He knew more about me than any other human had ever known before. I trusted him, which was hard for me to do after my dad.

~~~

Joliet looked up from the screen and glanced at the clock. It was now almost 7:30 and she decided it was time for a break. She could stay here and write all day, but she had plenty of time before it needed to be done. She saved the file and password protected it before exiting her study and going to Emmett’s room. Hearing guitar music coming through the door was a sure sign that her oldest son was now awake. Joliet knocked on the door and waited until he opened the door. “Mornin’ Mom. Did’ya need something?” “Nope, just came to ask if you wanted anything for breakfast. I’m going downstairs now to cook for your brother and sister, if she’s still here.” She was worried he’d say no, like all the other mornings, but he surprisingly said otherwise. “Sure Mom. I’ll be down in a few, and I think Belle’s still here.” Seeing the surprise on her face, he leaned over and kissed her cheek causing her to smile. “Okay, well, I’ll go start on breakfast then.”

3

After being thoroughly shocked by her son’s attitude this morning, Joliet made her way downstairs to start breakfast for the kids. She glanced in the living room and saw that Annabelle had gotten caught in a tickle war. She smiled and called out, “I’m making breakfast for y’all. I’m glad you’re working up an appetite.” Amongst the laughter, she heard an “Okay Mom”. She chuckled and continued on towards the kitchen. Joliet paused at the refrigerator and glanced inside; good, she had pancake mix. All of the kids loved her pancakes. She pulled the box of Aunt Jemima’s out of the fridge along with the carton of eggs. Pancakes and scrambled eggs would give the children plenty of energy for the day. While she cooked their breakfast, she fixed herself a glass of cool iced tea. Once everything was done cooking, she fixed each of the plates, and she put whipped cream smiley faces on each stack of pancakes. After setting the plates down at the table, she noticed for the first time how quiet it was. She glanced back into the living room and what she saw made her smile; her husband and their children were praying together. She watched and when she heard the soft “Amen”, she walked in and laid a kiss on her husband’s cheek. “Breakfast is served kids.” As they made their way to the kitchen, she sat down on her husband’s lap to rest for awhile. He just put his arms around her and held her close, knowing she needed the rest.

Joliet must have dozed off because she didn’t remember hearing the kids leave, but she was laying on the couch, covered in a throw blanket. She stretched and then went to the kitchen where she heard some noise. Her handsome husband was washing the dishes and putting them away before he had to go to work. He hadn’t heard her come in, so she snuck up behind him and put her arms around his waist. He turned and kissed her nose playfully, “Almost done here, then I need to get ready for work.” Joliet sighed; she’d have the house to herself again today. “Okay, I’ll be in my study if you need me.” Before she left though, he grabbed her waist and pulled her close, giving her a long, slow kiss. “I love you.” Joliet smiled, “I love you too. Now get busy or you’ll be late for work.” She started to walk out of the kitchen, but when she made it to the door she turned around and watched him for awhile. After watching him for five minutes or so, Joliet left and went upstairs to her study. She booted up the laptop, opened her story, and began typing.

~~~

How one country backwoods girl could find an angel is beyond me. I’ve told him many times what an angel he is to me and every time he always says “Only to you baby girl.” Always. It was one of those special things I loved about him from the beginning. Our relationship was perfect at first, no, it was amazing. I was in a daze for the first few months of our relationship I’m sure.

Alas, no long-distance relationship is perfect. It was all my imagination. Every relationship for that matter goes through their ups and downs…long distance just makes it that much harder. The fights started happening as they do in most relationships. It was nothing major, you know? Just minor disagreements that blew up into something more. Upon getting together, we never realized just how stubborn we both were. We butt heads…A LOT.

~~~

Joliet grimaced remembering this small detail in her life. She hated it, but knew that it was a part of her history too. Beginning to get a small migraine, she saved the file and closed the computer without a care to continue writing any longer. Michael Edmund was nothing but a memory to her now, and she didn’t feel like dredging up those painful memories on this particular morning, when her life seemed so normal.

Prologue and Chapter 1

Prologue

“She’d fallen in love with him the first day she’d talked to him…”

How funny to think back now and realize the fact.  My name is Joliet.  I’m a small-town North Carolina sweetheart.  Little did I know that at the age of thirteen, almost fourteen, my life would change forever.  I met this amazing young man on a chat site one night, much by accident.  Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let me start over…

 My name is Joliet Ruby.  I was born and raised in good ‘ole North Carolina.  Since I was a young girl, I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian.  I grew up much like many small-town kids do, with more “parents” and “grandparents” than you could hope to imagine.  My family’s always had problems, but whose family doesn’t?  My parents are divorced, and my father has been remarried too many times to count.  I remember as a little girl playing with my dad and little brother, yet those happy times also include sad times.  When my parents argued, when my dad left taking my brother for awhile…this may sound bad, but I had a happy childhood.

My childhood was indeed happy, however I can’t say the same about my early teenage years.  So much happened during that time it’s almost hard to comprehend.  One day I came home from school only to have a ‘talk’ with my Momma; I couldn’t stay home alone anymore.  Why?  My father was Bipolar and she was scared he’d try to do something.  Needless to say I was shocked.  How could MY dad have a mental illness that had no cure?!  I stayed at my Granny’s house from then on when my mom wasn’t home. 

I looked up Bipolar whenever I got the chance, and I helped take care of my Granny.  You see, not only was my father sick, my Granny had been sick for a long time and wasn’t getting any better.  She had diabetes and it was slowly killing her.  She’d already had a liver transplant because of it and now she needed a kidney transplant.  Watching her get weaker each day took a major toll on me; she was like my second mother.

1

Joliet glanced up from her computer screen.  In this century it made sense to type instead of write, but oh how she missed the feel of the pen touching the paper.  She blinked, clearing her thoughts and looked at the clock.  It was three in the morning.  Noticing for the first time how tired she was, Joliet saved the file.  After closing down the laptop and hiding it, she exited her study and slowly made her way down the hall.  She stopped to check on her sleeping children and found them out like a light.  She smiled to herself knowing in her heart these children were her blessings.  Joliet continued down the hall and quietly entered her room.  Slipping gently into the bed, she was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

The next morning she was up before anyone else in the house.  She glanced at the clock; 5 a.m.  She’s only been asleep for two hours.  She suddenly felt the need to write so she quickly and quietly eased herself out of bed and made her way down to the study.  Carefully, she removed her laptop from its hiding place.  While waiting for it to boot up, Joliet glanced out the window.  She’d been blessed in this life; she was sure of it.  The laptop caught her attention with a minor “ding” to signal the need for a password.  Joliet punched in the password and waited until the home screen was up before clicking on the icon that read “Story”.  After reading what she’d written so far, she started typing, adding more to the story.

~~~

My Granny was the one person that I could talk to about anything; she was the one who use to cuddle with my cousin and I and read us bedtime stories, complete with the different voices.  I didn’t realize then that memories like that would mean so much to me in the near future.  My Granny had to go to dialysis three times a week because her kidneys weren’t working correctly.  Every day she had dialysis, I was scared for her.  It sucked the life out of her.  We started saying ‘Good’ days were the ones without dialysis.  It was pure torture just to watch what it did to her; I can’t even begin to imagine what it felt like to BE her in that situation.

The beginning of a few sad years came on July 31st, 2009.  My mom got a call really late at night/early in the morning from my Granny.  Rule #1 in our house: Late night calls or early morning calls are bad news.  Little did we know how bad this call actually was.  This call is one that tore my whole world apart as it did for the rest of my family; my Granny had had a massive heart attack.  After she’d been taken to the hospital, they put her on a vent and everything.  Later when everyone got to the hospital, excluding me, they were taking her in for more tests.  I regret not going that day because that was the last time anyone heard her voice ever again.  When she saw everyone she said, “Oh, hey..”. 

My Granny passed away on August 1st, 2009.  Together as a family we decided to take her off of the ventilator and everything; she didn’t want it anyway.  At her funeral, we played “Go Rest High On The Mountain” by Vince Gill and to this day I still can’t listen to it without crying. 

~~~

Joliet wiped tears away from her eyes and felt a hand on her shoulder.  Her husband and true love stood there, “I thought I might find you here.  Are you okay baby girl?”  Quickly saving and closing the file, she look up at him.  “How long have you been standing there?”  “Not long.”  Joliet looked at the clock; 5:30 A.M.  She must have woken him when she got out of bed.  “Want some breakfast?”, she said with a forced smile.  Looking at him, she already knew the answer even before he said the words.  “Sure baby.”  He then held out his hand to her just as he always did, but instead of letting her start walking to the kitchen he pulled her close and hugged her tight.  “I love you.”  Joliet’s throat closed up with emotion because he always knew just what to say, he’d always known just what to say.  They stood hugging for a few minutes until he finally let her go and took her hand once again.  Hand in hand, they walked down the stairs and to the kitchen where Joliet was shocked.  He’d already cooked breakfast for the two of them and it was her favorite.  She looked at him and he just shrugged, “I got up when you did, but figured you needed time alone so I decided to cook us something.”  Instead of answering, she walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek.  “Thank you baby.  It looks delicious.”

They sat down at the table and enjoyed a nice breakfast together in a comfortable silence.  Once they’d both finished eating, they put the dishes in the sink and went to watch television.  By this time, their youngest child, Kayden, was wide awake and bounding down the stairs with more energy than anyone should have at this time in the morning.  Joliet smiled at her husband and went to meet their son at the bottom of the stairs.  When he saw his mother, Kayden, who was eight at the time, jumped into her arms and gave her a big hug.  “Good mornin’ mommy”  “Good morning sweetie,” she said as she carried him into the living room.  She set him down on the floor and he immediately went to his father, “Morning Daddy!”  Joliet sat down on the couch and watched the two of them talk and play for what seemed like hours.  It was 6:30 before Kayden realized his favorite show was on.  He stopped playing with his dad and curled up to watch TV.  Watching the two of them curled up together made Joliet smile and she quietly slipped away to her study to write some more.