The library looked even better after the second remodeling. It would almost have been possible to see the fire as a blessing if it weren't for the increased premiums on their homeowners insurance. Shego used it for an office, the twins for homework, and Kim and the little redhead thought that the most wonderful place in the world for story time was one of the wing chairs in front of the fireplace.
Jane snuggled up on Kim's lap as Mommy put down If I Ran the Circus and opened McElligot's Pool.
Kim barely started reading before the three year old asked again, “Mommy, why are they being punished?”
“It's because Mommy is mean,” Shego interrupted.
“Hush, you,” Kim warned the pale woman. “Do you think I like being the parent who has to administer discipline? My job takes me out of the country so often that you spend more time with the girls. I get home and I just want to relax with my family, but instead I have to handle punishments.”
“I'll be glad to take on the job,” Shego offered.
“Please, Mommy?” Kasy, seated on a folding chair in one corner of the room, seconded.
Sheki, seated on a chair in another corner of the library, kept her mouth shut. If anyone talked everyone's timeout started over again.
“Time!” Kim called as she started the stopwatch over. “You know why that's a bad idea, don't you?” she asked Shego.
The pale woman reluctantly nodded her head.
Kim got three pages read before Shego broke in to story time, “It seems to me you're being a little harsh on the girls. The books suggest a minute a year is an appropriate timeout.”
“Listen to her, Mommy,” Kasy pleaded.
“Time” Kim called and started the stopwatch again. “The child rearing books never covered this kind of behavior. Besides, I don't know when you ever went by the book. And, for the record, if certain people had managed to remain quiet this timeout would have been over ten minutes ago.”
“I go by the book whenever it agrees with me,” Shego pointed out.
Kasy laughed, and Kim decided to forgive the latest violation of rules.
Instead of restarting the timer Kim kissed the little red head and went back to reading. She managed almost five pages without interruption.
“It wasn't my fault,” Kasy repeated yet again. “Sheki made a bad toss.”
“I caught it perfectly when Sheki threw the eggs to me,” Shego insisted. “You got the exact same toss.”
“Quiet, both of you!” Kim interrupted. “Now turn around and face your corners.”
Shego, on her own folding chair in another corner of the room, knew she should stay quiet, but she wanted the girls to learn a valuable lesson. Next time she offered them money and chocolate to take the blame and keep her out of trouble one of them would take the bribe. She was their ally if she remained outside the prison walls, throw her inside stir and it was every woman for herself.
“Fumble-fingers,” Shego mumbled just loud enough for Kasy to hear.
“Mommy! Eemah called me names!”
“Shego! You are not too big to put across my knee.”
Kasy and Jane giggled appreciatively. Sheki leaned her head against the wall and prayed silently, “Please, God, are normal parents so much to ask for?”
“Promises, promises,” Shego smirked.
Kim blushed, “Come on, Jego, let's get back to the story.”
“You know I hate it when you use that nickname,” Shego protested.
“Henry does have a limited imagination when it comes to nicknames, doesn't he? Didn't it occur to you that, 'Doh! I know you hate that name?' Be good now and I won't use it again today. By the way, Sheki, you've been quiet for half an hour, you are out of timeout.”
The dark-haired girl raised her arms in triumph, “YES! Thank you, mommy.”
“Now, dear,” Kim told her, “Do you want to go to the kitchen and start supper or read to Jane and let me start supper?”
The dark haired girl thought for a moment, she had her little sister in her hair and Kasy's almost every night, and Mommy didn't get to spend as much time as she wanted with Jane. In addition Sheki panicked at the thought of Mommy's cooking. It had, over the years, expanded beyond microwave popcorn, but not very far. “I'll start supper,” Sheki sighed. “How about mushroom-Swiss omelets with a tomato-avocado salad in pita?”
“With tahina dressing?”
“That sounds wonderful,” Kim assured her. “I'm so glad you and Kasy can cook.”
“Do I get any credit for that?” Shego demanded.
“Time,” Kim called.
“Oh, wait,” Kim called to Sheki before the girl could leave the room. “We don't have any eggs, or pita.”
“So, what should I do?”
“I guess we go out to eat if Eemah and Kasy ever get out of timeout,” Kim sighed. “I heard of a new pho place down in Lowerton. Maybe we can find a grocery store that doesn't know you when we're done.”