Prologue: Memories and Musings
Dinner had been wonderful. Joyce couldn’t remember seeing a spread like this short of a major family holiday. And the food had been marvelous. She’d called her nephew spur of the moment when she found out that she had to travel to New York City to examine a new shipment for her store. The lot had been damaged in transit, and the insurance company wanted her opinion of how bad it was. Scott had asked her to stay out in Westchester at the private school where he taught, and offered to run her back and forth and even show her the city. And now, after a meal that was fit for royalty, she mused about how well her orphaned nephew had done in his life. Joyce hadn’t told Scott that she and Hank were getting divorced yet. The shipment she’d come to inspect was for her new shop, in Sunnydale. She’d write him about it when it was all over. Keep this visit happy, after all he had a good job, and a second family that seemed to truly care for him. The professor seemed to regard him almost as his own son, and that lovely African lady (Ororo?), she carried herself like a Goddess, but Joyce could tell how much she loved the people around her. And then there was Jean. A knock came at the bedroom door.“Joyce,” came a soft voice from behind the wood, “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t need anything.”Speak of the devil, Joyce thought.“Actually, Jean,” she answered, “I would like to talk to you for a few minutes, if you don’t mind.”The redhead poked her head through the door, smiling. “I assume this is the ‘You’d better be good to my favorite nephew’ talk?” she asked.“What can I say,” Joyce responded with a smile of her own, “I’m protective of my family.”
Joyce Summers shook herself from the memories of a few years earlier. Looking down at the letter in her hand, she wondered briefly if her nephew remembered having two cousins, or only one. The whole mind boggling fact of Dawn’s existence was a constant source of confusion. Everyone remembered her, Joyce even remembered giving her birth. But none of that was real. Even though Joyce could go upstairs to Dawn’s room, and the Statue of Liberty that Scott had sent back for her would be sitting on the dresser, it never really happened.
Joyce stood, taking the letter she had just finished and folding it neatly before putting it into an envelope. Dawn was real. Now. And that’s the only thing that mattered to Joyce Summers, forty-three year old divorced mother of two (one, no dammit, two), owner of the best Antique and Art shop in Sunnydale, California (oh, be honest Joycey, the ONLY Antique and Art shop in good old Sunnydale). She was protective of her family, and Dawn was family.
She put the name on the envelope before she realized that she had left the address book upstairs in her bedside table. She set the envelope down on the table in the hallway, planning to address it later. Right now, she just wanted to rest for a little while. She ran her hand through the sandy hair with it’s very few strands of grey, the surgery had been harder on her than she would have liked. She was just tired far too much of the time.
She was standing in front of the sofa when it hit. A sharp pain in her head, not far from the scar left by the operation. As she fell backwards onto the couch, one thought went through her mind.
“…who’ll take care of my babies?”