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I m p r i s o n e d

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Chapter 24

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Back at the apartment, Ike locked himself in his room. Taylor and Natalie had come back to our place. Ezra and Tay sat on the piano bench and Taylor showed Ezra how to press one key at a time instead of 3. Like any little kid, he ignored him and banged away on the keys. I smiled. They looked so happy, and Taylor was such a good dad. I wondered why the judge hadn't thought Ike could raise a child on the road, when Taylor had done it easy as pie. It also occured to me that the judge had given us no chance to show evidence of Heather's heroine addiction; she hadn't even believed Natalie about the abuse. I knew Ike had taken pictures in Heather's house of the needles. There was one picture of three needles lying in Caitlyn's room. That picture stuck in my mind, and actually kept me up at night sometimes. But why hadn't Ike used the pictures? I guess he didn't have a choice, seeing as the judge had cut us all off and ended court without warning. I wished we'd had a different judge. It probably wouldn't have mattered, but I was just so mad. I couldn't believe someone would deny Ike rights to his child. He was always reliable. And when I say always, I mean always. Trying to imagine how Ike felt that day was incredibly difficult, because it had never happened to me, but I still had some idea of how he felt. I just wished he would talk to someone. Natalie plopped down next to me on the couch where I was sitting.
"Well," she said, sighing, "What now?" I shook my head.
"I don't know...I think we'll just be lucky if he doesn't kill himself or something." I couldn't believe all this was happening.
"Nah, that's not like Ike. We were pretty worried about you, though, when that thing happened with Kate." Nat replied. I gave her a mean look.
"What's that supposed to mean, that I'm more prone to suicide or something?" I said, and jumped up out of my seat, offended.
"No, no! Zac, I just mean what happened with you was a little more serious...I'm sorry, I should have said that differently." Nat assured me. I sat back down, looking at her. Something in my gut told me to just drop it; I had too much on my mind already. How could this happen? We had done so good in court! Atleast I had thought. Just when things were finally starting to turn around, everything had to crash and burn again. I could have killed somebody I was so mad. Well, ok, maybe I wasn't quite that mad. I jumped up when the phone started to ring. Nat laughed and I punched her playfully as I picked up the phone.
"Hello?"
"Is this Ike?" It was Heather. What the hell did she want?
"No, it's not."
"Is he around?"
"He's busy.
"Oh...well this is Heather."
"No shit."
"Look don't be all mad at me for this! Who is this, anyway, Zac?"
"Maybe."
"Zac, good god, you can't believe everything Ike says just because he is your fucking brother! Come on!"
"Yeah, whatever. What the hell are you calling for?"
"I have a job interview in 20 minutes...do you think Ike could watch Caitlyn for a few hours? They could get to know eachother..."
"Since when does a fucking job interview last a few hours?"
"Zac, that's none of your business! I'm bringing her over to see her father. I'll be there in 5 minutes."
"Oh, you mean she's going to go to your fiance`'s house?"
"Chaz has nothing to do with this! Look, it's not my fault he's the only man around that's like a father to her! I'm bringing her over!"
I slammed down the phone and flopped on the couch again. Nat and Taylor sat in silence, watching me.
"Uncle Zacky said a bad word! Bad word, bad word!" Ezra screamed, giggling to himself. I shook my head.
"Was that...?" Tay said under his breath. I nodded.
"Yes, it was. The SheDevil is bringing over my niece." I got up and walked to Ike's door, knocking softly.
"Ike..." I started, "Listen...Caitlyn's coming over for a while...Heather's got a job interview and all and -" Ike swung the door open. When he walked out into the light, I could see the tear stains on his cheeks.
"My daughter, Caitlyn?" he asked. His voice was scratchy from crying.
"No, the other Caitlyn." I snapped. As soon as I said it I regretted it. Ike went back into his room, leaving the door open this time. I walked in and sat next to him on his bed.
"I'm sorry, man..." I whispered.
"No, it's not that...just...come get me when she gets here." he declared. I nodded, walking out.
"Yeah, I know, I was thinking that too, that's so weird..." Natalie was saying as I came into the living room.
"What's weird?" I wanted to know. They both looked at me.
"Did you notice that they called Heather Ms. Howard? Ike said they got married, so shouldn't she be Mrs. Hanson until they get an enollment?" Tay explained. I thought about it for a second.
"Hmm, it never crossed my mind. But now that you mention it...I don't know, maybe she didn't take his last name or something. Alot of people do that." I suggested. Nat tilted her head.
"Alot of people?" she asked.
"Ok, some then!" I corrected, smiling. But that smile quickly faded when I heard a knock on the door. Making my way over there, I saw it was Heather, holding Caitlyn in her arms. When I opened the door, she quickly handed Caitlyn over to me and set down three or four bags on the ground.
"That should be all she needs. I'll be back to get her at about 5 tonight." she explained.
"5? That's 4 hours from now!" I complained. She gave me a nasty look.
"See you then," she said, whipping around and leaving me with Ike's 2 1/2 year old daughter in my arms. She pulled on my hair, twisting and turning it, a fascinated look on her face.
"Hair!" she gasped, giggling. Ezra spotted her when I walked back into the living room.
"Hi!" Ezra greeted, running across the room and tugging on my leg. "Let her down, let her down! Play, play!" I looked at the little girl that I was still holding.
"Hi Caitlyn," I cooed, "I'm your Uncle Zac." The girl smiled shyly.
"Sack! Sack, sack, sack!" she screamed.
"Close enough," I laughed, setting her down on the floor. "Ike, she's here!" The doorknob on Ike's door twisted and slowly opened. Out walked Ike, looking as good as new. He had even changed clothes. Slowly, he made his way over to where Caitlyn stood with her finger in her mouth, looking around. Bending down, Ike sat for a moment just staring into her eyes.
"Hi, Caitlyn," he whispered, "Do you know who I am?"
"Sack! Sack!" she yelled. Everyone laughed. The kids even joined in, even though they had no idea why we were laughing.
"I'm your daddy," Ike told her.
"Daddy?" Caitlyn seemed confused, which wasn't a surprise. Heather had raised her to think that Chaz, or whatever his name was, was her real dad.
"Yeah," Ike nodded, "Daddy."
"Daddy!" Caitlyn squealed. It reminded me of something that would be in a Hallmark commercial. She threw her arms around Ike, laughing and squealing with joy. Ike smiled as wide as the Mississippi River, tears of happiness rolling down his face.
"Iggy back ride! Iggy back ride!" Caitlyn begged. Ike laughed again.
"Ok, one piggy back ride coming up!" he offered. He bent down and Caitlyn climbed up onto his back. Ike swirled around the room as Caitlyn giggled uncontrollably.
"My turn! My turn!" Ezra begged. I bent down and let him climb onto my own back, then joined Ike in swirling around the room. For that moment in time, all was right in the world, and I found myself wishing we could stay this way forever.

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