The chatter was a friendly sound to their ears, the smells were enticing. Christine reached out and ran her fingers down one of the many trunks covering the inner wall. She looked at Eve with questioning eyes and then spoke. “Eve? Where are we? I don’t think we’re in D.C. anymore.” She grabbed Ron’s hand and squeezed. “Honey?”
“Eve, good to see you.” Donna had a pencil stuck through her hair and wore her normal costume. “And you brought your friends, how nice.”
She led them to Eve’s table and asked if they wanted some hot scones. “They’ll be ready soon. I’ll get you started with your coffee.”
Ron hadn’t said a word. He looked around the room, and then repeated the exercise. He’d never seen anything like it before. The concrete walls, the carved out arched entrances to smaller parts of the café. He felt more secure than he’d felt in a long time. A warm sensation filled his body.
Donna returned with their coffee, but stood at the end of the table without setting the mugs down. “Eve, this just isn’t going to work.”
“What do you mean?” Fear struck through her. They’d fought so hard to get where they were. She wouldn’t turn them back, not now!
“Honey, your friends will want to sit with you and there’s not enough room at this table.” She pointed to a large round table with wrap-around booths. “Do you mind?”
Relief came over Eve, a deep sigh released, helping her body to calm down. ”Of course not. Come on, let’s move. I’ll answer what questions I can before Claire and Rachel get here.” She laughed at Ron’s expression. “I’ll tell you everything, Ron. No holding back.”
Eve followed Donna to their new table, but stopped. She told the others to sit. “I’ll be right back, I need to get a newspaper.”
“Oh let me get that for you, Eve.” Donna winked.
“What is this place, Eve?” Ron couldn’t think of anything else to ask.
“Here you go, Honey.” Donna laid the paper on the table.
Pushing it toward Ron, Eve said. “Read the headlines, Ron. Read the date of its publication.”
He picked up the printed paper, and squinted.
Christine fumbled in her purse and pulled out some glasses. “Put these on, Ron.”
“Thanks, Honey.” He unfolded the glasses and hung them over his ears. He raised the publication up to his face, his hands stretching its folded paper so it was taut.
Eve watched. His fingers curled into the paper, crunching its edges as he read.
Looking up, he shook his head. “This isn’t funny. Why are you doing this? We made you part of our family and now this?”
“What is it, Ron?”
Eve reached out and took his hands in hers. Her voice cracked as she spoke, but she proceeded to tell them about the coffee house.
The front door opened and Eve’s friends entered. They saw her and went right to their table. “Eve, who are these people?”
“This is Ron and Christine, my family, so to speak.” The pride in her voice said more than her words. “I’ve been explaining to them what I learned last night. Forgive them, they’re in shock.” Christine had a strange expression and Ron had no words.
“Please sit. Ron, Christine. This is Rachel Ross, a news reporter with her own show on TV, and this is Claire Winslow. I should say, Senator Claire Winslow. And according to my calculations, we are having this coffee a little over a day before our history begins.”
Donna came with more coffee and a plate of hot scones. “Nice to see you ladies again.” She turned to leave, but Eve stopped her.
“Oh, Donna? Please make sure that I get the bill tonight.” She smiled at Ron and Christine before adding, “First time is free.”
Ron was finally over his shock and had many questions. Claire and Rachel took turns answering them. And then they had questions about his world.
“Oh my God!” Christine threw her hand to her mouth and looked at Eve. “Honey, you didn’t see the broadcast today, did you?”
Ron put his hand on his wife’s and took the lead. “Eve,” he looked at the others. “The west coast is gone. Nuclear bombs, they said.” His lips quivered and he looked down at his and Christine’s hands. Then he looked straight into Eve’s eyes. “Jonathan was on one of those news shows today when a bomb went off. The building and everyone inside was destroyed.”
“My boys, were they on the set?” She threw her body against the table and stretched her hands toward his. She grabbed at air, her fingers convulsing at the thought of losing her boys.
“No, Eve!” Christine gave her a quick response. “No, Honey. They haven’t been on the television since that one time.”
Rachel interrupted, “Who is Jonathan?”
“My snake of a husband. That’s who he is.” She took a few deep breaths and held her head high. Her voice became strong with her next words. “Ron, I want the two of you to leave with Claire and Rachel tonight.”
Claire’s hands went up and she began clapping. “This is such great news. Rachel and I are staying at a hotel for a while. I’ll get you a room next to ours.”
“We don’t know what will happen if they walk out that door, do we?” Rachel put her head back, and looked around the room for Donna. “What do you think? Will she actually tell us something? Ron, Christine, she’s a strange one. We don’t know how, but she’s known about this time thing from the beginning. But did she move things along and let us know? Nothing, we had to figure out everything without her.”
Ron sounded confused when he replied, “Speak English, Ladies. What’s the problem with our leaving this place?”
Claire laughed, “Ron, if you go outside that door, we don’t know if you’ll be you, a man in his 60s, or if you will be as you were thirty years ago.”
Ron turned to Christine and threw his arms around her. “My God, Honey. Are you willing to chance such a terrible thing?”
Christine’s eyes filled with tears, “This is the happiest day of my life.” She stopped. “Jesus, Ron. Eve might be a little girl. Are you ready to be a dad?”
“Oh, no. Not me. I have to go back and find my boys. This one is all about you guys.”
Ron motioned Christine to scoot over so he could escape the confines of the booth. When he was standing, he looked tall looming over the table. “Eve, here is your first lecture from you dear ol’ dad. You are not going back there. It’s suicide. Your boys’ minds have been twisted, their beliefs about you are not good ones. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you don’t even know if they’re still alive. Hell, we don’t know how long it will be before they bomb the rest of the country. No, I forbid it.”
Christine smiled with admiration at her husband. “Ladies, Ron and I never were able to have kids, but you know? He sounds like a natural. Eve? He’s right. We can’t let you go back there, you will be killed if you go back.”
Eve knew they were right, but how could she leave her boys? If she were to find them, would they turn her in as Trenton had? “I don’t know. What about my baby? Will I remember? If I go through that door, will I be a kid with memories of a forty something woman? A woman who had a baby growing inside her? Damn, that’s just crazy.”
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