We're coming to the end of this epic but there's more in the sequels...
GofL - Chapter 109. SWIMMING WITH SHARKS
Mom came through again! She came up with a BRILLIANT idea for my birthday. We're going to the Aquarium. Not just to see all of the marine creatures, although we'll probably do that too, but we're going to Swim With The Sharks!
I didn't even know you could do that, but the Adventure Aquarium in Camden has
scuba and snorkeling adventures. I'm too young for the scuba ones, and anyway
you have to be scuba certified, but we'll be snorkeling with real snorkel gear
But I could only ask four other kids to come along, so I chose Emily, Gretchen,
Nelson and Audra.
The drive there takes us about an hour. It's got to be one of the longest hours
of my life. I just can't wait! My friends are meeting us there with their
parents. We arrive and check in, then report to the Information Desk in the
lobby. We're going to wait until after the swim to see the rest of the Aquarium.
A member of the staff takes the five of us and two of the parents to the
dressing area, while the rest of the parents go to the 'Shark Shack' so they
can watch. The two parents who are swimming with us are my dad and Nelson's.
We put on our own swimsuits and strapped water sandals, and then the wetsuits
they give us.
I love to swim, but I've never done anything like this. The minute we hit the
water it feels different. The instructor shows us how to put on the snorkel
gear and how to use it, tells us some safety policies and what we should expect
to see, and then it's time to go under.
We snorkel along the perimeter of the Shark Realm, and come within chomping
distance of the Nurse sharks, Sandbar sharks and Sand Tiger sharks. Our guide
explains about all the different types so we can pick them out as we see them.
We're also able to hand-feed the rays in the Ray Lagoon! This is so cool!
The two-and-a-half hours go by so fast! But then we get out of the water and
change back into our street clothes before going out to meet our parents and
tour the Aquarium. Our guide gives us some digital photographs of our adventure, as well as a T-shirt.
"I'm wearing this to school on Monday" I say. My friends agree.
"That was totally OUTRAGEOUS!" Gretchen says, to no one's surprise.
"I can't wait until I'm old enough to do a scuba session" Nelson says.
"Did you see the baby shark?" Emily asks, and we all nod.
But we haven't had our fill of sharks, so we head to the forty foot shark
tunnel and see some more of those hungry eyes and teeth.
Next we head to the Jules Verne Gallery where they keep some of the deep ocean
water creatures, including ghostly jellyfish, giant spider crabs and even a
giant Pacific octopus. Fascinating!
At Seal Shores we see the seals perform, both from on top of the water and under it. We watch the trainers put them through their tricks and then feed them. They are so funny to watch, and I think they know it.
By now everyone is hungry (not just Uncle Greg) so we go to the Feeding Frenzy
Cafe for supper. Hamburgers and hot dogs, of course, but also desserts and
Dippin Dots. They even have a birthday cake for me in the shape of a whale!
This has got to be the best birthday I've ever had! Both Gretchen and Emily had
their birthdays at G&G this year, and those were fun, of course. They were able
to have a lot more friends, too. But my birthday was extra special because we
did something really different and exciting. I've got the best mom in the whole
Gift of Love - Chapter 110. THE NEWEST GAMERS
"Can't we go to G&G?" Gretchen begs late Sunday afternoon.
"It's a school night" I remind her.
"Em's gonna be there with her mom and Uncle Arthur and Scott."
"Scott, huh?" I tease.
She turns a little pink. "Please?" She looks at me with those bright blue eyes
just like her father's. How can I refuse?
Greg comes in with the little one snuggled against his left shoulder.
"Gretchen wants to go to G&G" I inform him.
"We haven't gone since school started" she insists.
"Gee, a whole week!" Greg rolls his eyes.
"Well..." Gretchen must have been practicing the pouty face.
"Em's gonna be there" I explain to my husband. "And Scott."
The eyebrows go up, then he consults with Alex. "Whaddya think, little buddy?"
The baby smiles, touches his father's cheek. He's beginning to hold his head up
by himself. "I guess your brother likes the idea" Greg tells Gretchen.
I think our family bus knows the way since it's such a frequent destination. When we arrive, not only are the Palmer-Billings family there, but the rest of our friends and Gretchen's too.
Nancy and Marty had told us all at the Aquarium that they'd decided to get
married. I was so happy for them. I think my husband approved, too, but I never
expected him to say so. It's the main topic of conversation, that and how they
are settling into the house. I've never seen Nancy, Marty or Audra so happy.
But while we eat there's another topic that we discuss, Davidson's upcoming
trial. It'll be starting this week, and Arthur and I will both be testifying. I
know I'm nervous about bringing the whole experience up again. At least I've
recovered completely now, but I still have the occasional nightmare. Thank
goodness I have Greg to cling to when I do. He can be very comforting when he
We finish eating, and the 'kids' head to the game room. For a change I go along
with them and even bring Alex. I'm not as into the games as my own G&G, but I
do like watching them play. Seeing Alex's eyes and face in reaction to the
bright lights and sounds of the room, I can imagine he'll love the games too.
Greg, Gretchen, Tommy, Audra, Emily and Scott head directly to two machines on
the left side of the room. These must be the popular Surfin' Safari games. I
can see how popular by the large numbers of other kids waiting their turns to
play. When Alex and I reach them, Greg smiles at the look on the baby's face.
"Look, there's Mr. Conway" Em says.
"Your new teacher?" Gretchen asks.
"Yeah, isn't he adorable?" her friend replies, and Audra giggles. All they've
been talking about lately is 'Mr. Conway this' and 'Mr. Conway that'.
"All the girls think so" Audra says with a grin. Gretchen and Tommy study the
curly-haired man dressed in worn jeans and a T-shirt with athletic shoes that
cost a month's salary. I know, because Greg has some just like them. He's
playing a game not too far away.
"I had him for sixth grade" Scott says. "The girls in my class had crushes on
Then I catch sight of someone we all know, Clair's sister. She sees us and
starts over, but as she's passing Mr. Conway, she has to move to the side as a
child comes running by, and Tori brushes against the teacher. He loses his
concentration as he turns toward her and his game ends.
"Oh, I am sooo sorry!" she cries.
He glances back at the game. "That's all right. I wasn't doing too well anyway." He's got an English accent. I'm sure Greg could tell us exactly where he's from, but will probably tease him by pretending to think he's Australian or something.
"I was just going over to see my niece and her friends" Tori says, indicating
Mr. Conway looks over and obviously recognizes some of the children. "I know
some of that lot" he says. They approach us together as Tori is introducing
herself to him "Tori Kelton" she says, holding out one elegant hand.
The man smiles and takes it. "Evan Conway." When they reach us she says "Hi,
Emily is first to reply. "Hi Aunt Tori, Mr. Conway."
"Emily" he says. "And Audra. Scott, what's it been? Two or three years, right?"
"Yes" the teen replies. "I just started high school. Um, this is Dr. House and
his wife Dr. Cameron with little Alex" Scott introduces the adults first. "And
this is their daughter Gretchen and Tommy Wilson."
He nods in greeting. "Do you come here often?"
"All the time" Tommy says.
"At least once a week" Emily adds.
"It's a great place. One of my friends told me about it, so I thought I'd give
it a try" the teacher tells us.
"You've gotta try Surfin' Safari!" Scott suggests. "But maybe some time when
it's not so crowded."
He seems like a pleasant man, someone the kids all like. And the way Tori is
looking at him, I have a feeling we'll be seeing lots more of Mr. Evan Conway.
GofL - Chapter 111. TELL IT TO THE JUDGE - AGAIN
I leave Allison in the witness room and enter the courtroom alone. The ADA we'd
met before (Carter was it? No, Carver), is seated at one table up front, and
Dr. Dastardly's attorney at the other. I'm just in time to see the judge enter.
It's not the same judge as at the pretrial hearing. It's a younger man, he!!
everyone's a younger man than me these days.
A guard brings in Dr. Douche. He looks a bit haggard. Now why does that make me
smile? He takes a seat next to his lawyer and we begin. Court is called to order, then it's Carver's turn to give his opening remarks. I don't pay much attention to what he's saying, heard it all before. Instead I study the jury.
The usual mix of sexes (seven men and five women) and races, the jury listens
attentively to what's being said. They look pretty open-minded, but a few of
the women purse their lips when Carver briefly describes the attack.
The defense attorney speaks next, droning on about how Davidson was persecuted
by everyone at the hospital. The jury looks skeptical. Good.
At last, they call the first witness, my wife. I know she was nervous this
morning, but I also knew she'd be a good witness. Not maudlin, not begging for
sympathy, just calmly describing the events and their results.
The ADA begins his questions. "For the record, Dr. Cameron, state your name and
"Allison Cameron-House, I'm an Immunologist, working in the Infectious Disease
department at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital" she says confidently and
"And do you know the defendent, Russell Davidson?"
"Yes. Dr. Davidson worked with me there until early this year" Allison states.
"Please tell the court what happened on July 7 of this year."
"I was working in the lab, running blood tests on a patient to identify the
infection that was responding very slowly to broad spectrum antibiotics" she
says. She'd told the story before, but I don't think it got any easier with
repetition. "I was studying slides in an electron microscope."
"Couldn't the analyzers give you all the data you needed?"
"I learned long ago that there are things the analysis machines can miss" Allie
says, looking at me with a smile. "It often helps to actually look at the
"I didn't hear Davidson enter. I was so intent on what I was doing that I didn't realize he was there until he started shouting at me."
"What did he say?"
"He said 'You ruined my life' and 'You all conspired against me'. I told him he
ruined his own life, he was a good doctor but that wasn't enough for him." She
looks at Davidson. She'd often told me that she thought it was a shame that
the man let his ego get in the way of his career.
"And how did he respond to that?"
"He picked up a vial from the counter and threw it at me. I felt it hit my
forehead, and then my vision started to blur. Then he pushed me. I was easily
thrown off balance at the time, so I fell."
"Why were you off-balance?" the ADA asks.
"It was probably the basketball-shaped protrusion of my very pregnant stomach"
she says with a wry grin. The jury gets the point of course. The defense
attorney looks like he's going to object, but decides to save his objections for more controversial matters.
We're getting to the more critical parts of her testimony. Allie purses her lips and says "I hit my head on a corner of the counter as I went down. I was stunned and I couldn't see well, but I tried to get up again. He...he knelt down, I think, and I felt his hands close around my throat." She stops. "That's the last thing I remember."
"Thank you, Dr. Cameron." Carver sits down. The hardest part is about to start.
I distract myself trying to think of Dastardly Davidson's attorney's name, but
I can feel myself tense as I watch.
"Dr. Cameron, or do you go by Dr. House?" he asks.
"Dr. House is my husband" she replies. "I use Dr. Cameron professionally, since
that's less confusing."
"You state that you worked with my client earlier this year" the lawyer says.
Doesn't he realize he might be making it worse for his client if he gets into
the reasons DD no longer worked at PPTH?
"How long have you worked at the hospital?" he asks.
"About a year" she replies.
"Isn't it true that you did everything in your power to have Dr. Davidson
dismissed from his job there?"
"No, it's not true" she states. She realizes he's trying to attack her with
words just as Davidson did with his hands, but he doesn't know who he's dealing
"Isn't it true that you stole his research on the Brazilian flu to gain acclaim
"Dr. Davidson was dismissed because he was attempting to steal my research" she
replies calmly. "I don't know what he's told you, but the records speak clearly, and they show that his research was faulty. There was no reason for me to even consider his results."
He's smart enough to know now that he won't be able to rattle her. So he tries
a new tactic. "Dr. Cameron, you stated that you were clumsy at the time. Isn't
it possible that you fell on your own, trying to attack my client?"
"Why would I do that?" she asks with a shrug. "He attacked me, plain and simple. He tried to blind me, to choke me, to hurt me in any way he could."
I guess he knows a lost cause when he sees one, because he says "No further
questions, your honor."
Allison leaves the witness stand and comes to sit next to me. It's only then
that I realize she's trembling. I don't often do it in public, but I wrap my
arms around her and whisper into her hair "You done good girl!"
The Judge calls a brief recess. When we return, the ADA would be calling
Arthur Billings to continue the story of the attack.