The Elliptical Threads Project
Jan.26th not in Pasadena
The flight over to London on BA would be a long one 10 hours. First stop London then on to Geneva. At least they were in First Class Penny thought. Leonard was next to her, she was leaning her head on his shoulder. He was reading on his tablet. It wasn’t work but a paper on an ongoing laser experiment in the Netherlands. Penny tried to sleep closing her eyes but she was too nervous. She had never been a great flyer. She knew Leonard didn’t care to fly either but he’d made this flight a few times this last year. Frankly he might have been about half in the bag. He’d had 2 scotches in the first class lounge before they got aboard and 2 more since they got in the air.
Penny thought about having a drink she’d stopped drinking last week. She had been patiently waiting but it never came. Leonard really should have noticed. They had been making love everyday now for 30 days. Penny was late, she could have taken a test but she decided to wait it out. Sometimes she had a long space between cycles. But she was 3 weeks late now. She was excited but scared at the same time. This had happened fast. She reached for Leonard’s hand intertwining her fingers with his. He looked over and smiled. She stared into his eyes, nope not in the bag. It had been over 3 hours for four drinks. She continued to hold his hand and use his shoulder as her pillow.
It had been three weeks since Liisa birthday. They had left the apartment and went back home on Sunday afternoon. Leonard had timed the drive so he could figure out when to leave for work the next morning when Caltech went back into session. Lisel’s room was painted, wallpapered and had mustard colored carpet that would match the shades. The furniture would arrive that Wednesday. Leonard had got up on Monday at 7:00 and showered. She had made coffee and got him a bagel toasted feeling very domestic. At 7:45 he had grabbed his bag and patted both dogs on the head. He had wrapped her in a tight embrace and kissed her passionately before leaving. She was sure she must have had a huge smile on her face for the 20 minutes while she ate her muffin and drank coffee. She couldn’t remember a time when it had been her that been kissed goodbye in the morning.
The flight attendant brought her back to the present. She had asked Leonard if he needed anything and had said no. He squeezed her hand put his mouth to her ear, “Do you want something honey?” Penny just shook her head on his shoulder.
Penny thought about the last three weeks. She had a few things on the calendar but nothing that took more than 4 or 5 hours. She almost always started later than he did and was generally home before him. He got home most days around 6:30 and they made dinner together. Played with dogs then went about their evening. Sometimes they did things together, sometimes apart but almost always in a wonderful sync. He had taken to walking on the treadmill when she worked out in the evenings. On the weekends they either stayed in, had Howard and Bernadette over, or went out for the day. They would try to go somewhere neither of them had been. This wasn’t hard to do in Southern California. They would end up going to some small place for dinner. Sometimes dinner was wonderful, sometimes not, mostly about average.
They would end up at the house or the apartment in each other’s arms that night and into the next morning. She thought she would miss him sometimes during the week. Look over and expect to see him. He’d made the couch by the fireplace his spot even after they took the tree down. She’d gotten him an end table and lamp for the left side of the couch. They would both sit with the fireplace on reading, talking or just holding hands. He did work there and at the kitchen counter. Sometimes once Chelsea in the afternoon had left she would find herself looking over to see what he was doing then miss him when he wasn’t there but she knew he would be home soon.
Chelsea was working out great it was like having a baby sister or niece. She was going to stay at the house while they were gone and work from there. She would also be there while Howard’s people put in the new Tish. She could trust her to take care of most things. Though Penny wouldn’t let her do things for Leonard, she wanted to do those things personally. Taking and picking up the dry cleaning yes, but little personal things like getting him a glass of wine or something to eat she wanted to do. Chelsea understood and she thought even found it cute. Penny was amused, give it six month then I’ll probably let her. Not that Leonard ever asked for anything. He was usually the one asking her if he could get her something. Was that because he was a father or because he’d been alone for a while? The first option made her happy but the second sad.
Penny had found herself anticipating when he would want things. Not all the time but she could tell late into the evening Leonard was ready for a scotch, after work a cup of tea to fight off falling asleep on the couch. When Penny watched the couple of reality shows she followed he would watch with her. She could tell he was bored but he insisted he’d needed to know what she was talking about when something happened. Then he had a faculty mixer that he had to attend. It was supposed to be a fairly casual affair but jackets and slacks the order of the day. She had worn a little black and purple dress, fashionably short, with high heels. Before he’d gotten home she’d had her makeup girl and hairdresser come by and do her makeup and hair. When he got home she looked “stunning” were his words. He actually changed into a black Italian suit and they made quite the couple. They were the attraction at the mixer. Penny took pictures with everyone as long as she was on Leonard’s arm. They had fallen into some really special routines. But those would change and they’d have new ones when they got Lisel in two days.
She was so excited about Lisel seeing her new room, and meeting the dogs and Schrodinger. The room was finished, white sleigh bed. Matching dressers and make up table, all of them Lisel’s size. She had a play table desk with slide, arts and craft supplies, and its own lights.
She had a little table with four chairs for tea parties. On the wall her name was in white letters just like at the apartment. Leonard had all her old toys brought over and she had picked new ones to keep in Pasadena. Leonard had also brought almost all his clothes over, just leaving a few items and Penny adding some of hers to leave there. Just like it was a beach house not a 4th floor apartment off Colorado Boulevard.
How many personal items Leonard had brought surprised her at first. His small jewelry box, the blue blanket, the tea cup he always used, and the one picture frame with the comic books. She’d asked him about it and he’s said that even after Liisa and he were married he traveled very light. That anything like, pictures, papers, letters where on Tish and he could get to them from anywhere. All of Liisa things were in Geneva so Lisel could have them someday. Everything else he said he got when he moved back to Pasadena. He’s left the urn at the apartment until a few days before they left then brought it home. Penny had put it on her mantel above the fireplace, Leonard had approved. Penny wondered when they would have their first fight they’d been together for almost 6 weeks. She couldn’t even remember actually being annoyed at him yet. It’ll come one of these days she was sure. She was also sure she would probably start it.
She yawned and slipped into sleep without even realizing it.
Leonard knew Penny was asleep on his shoulder. He tried to be very still and motioned for a blanket from the flight attendant. She brought one over and put it over Penny for Leonard so she wouldn’t wake up. “When’s dinner?” Leonard asked she replied in about 2 more hours but she could get him something. Leonard shook his head no he just wanted time for Penny to nap. They’d taken off at 4:00PM they should get into Geneva after stopping in London at about 1:00PM the next day. Then they were off to the hotel for the afternoon to get some sleep and then a romantic dinner. Something he’d planned on their first Valentine’s Day but had not been able to pull off. Then the next day they would get Lisel. He couldn’t wait to hold her and look into her face. He also couldn’t wait for her to meet Penny. He was hoping they would bond right away but could see that it might take a little while. From what Horst had told him she was very excited about having a new mother.
Penny was certainly ready to be one. She worked hours with Chelsea to get Lisel room just right. Penny had asked him about her favorite colors, animals, cartoon characters and stories. She had bought real books for her to read and placed them in bookshelves at both the house and the apartment. Howard was going to have a screen like the apartment installed in her room’s ceiling when he had Tish’s sensors put in. Putting in a TISHH system in Pennies house was certainly going to require more work than the apartment. Howard had assured him it would be done before they got back and tied back to the apartment. So Tish would live in both places. Howard had even set her up so she would tell children’s stories and play all sorts of kid’s games. Leonard thought Howard had been working on those feature for a long time. He felt sorry for him. Leonard was sure Howard had dreamed them up thinking he would have his own children. Leonard reached over and pulled the blanket a little snugger on Penny’s shoulder. He watched her sleep all the time. She was in her words “adorable” when she slept. Her face had a natural smile so even in slumber she looked like she had a tiny grin. Her lips looked so soft which they were. He was very tempted to kiss her.
Their last 5 weeks together was like a whole new life to Leonard. He had went back to work hesitantly he didn’t want Penny to miss him like she had at the beginning but it was better when she was home. They had a comfort level they had never had before. Both of them had worked hard 12 years ago on being a couple but with everyone else around and work demands they could never get to this place. Leonard was starting to sense her moods now. He’d never been able to do that unless she’d been mad and then a blind man could pick that one up. But right now he knew she wanted to tell him something but for some reason was holding back. But he could be patient.
He thought about their time together and the things he wanted them to do together as a couple and as a family. He was considering all this when the dinner service started. He did lean over and kiss her lips this time. Her eyes fluttered open she kissed him back. It took her a moment to get fully awake. “What’s up?”
Leonard kissed her again, “Dinner service is starting.” Penny leaned back into his shoulder, “how much longer to London?'”
Leonard lifted her head and put his arm around her. Her head was resting against his chest. “About 7 hours. After dinner they’ll layout the first class seating so they are small beds and we can sleep for 4 hours or so. Penny sat up, “Can I sleep with you?”
“I don’t see why not”
Penny looked over and gave him that crooked mischievous smile “Let’s get to eating then so I can bed down with my man” The mischievous smile had turned into a sexy suggestive one. Leonard laughed it off but the smile was still there. He thought she was serious for a moment to long, and then she cracked up laughing.
Prequel to chapter 27
Raj was packing his bags quickly. He couldn’t stand it any longer the constant bickering and caterwauling between his wife, his mother, his sisters and now his mistress was giving him grief. He was leaving early for Paris. He would visit the City of Light and let his romantic nature of old run free. The flight was leaving in the morning an email letting all the women know he was being called early to the conference in Paris would go out after his plane took off. No reason to take any chances now. Just escape.
Note: Chapter 26 was mostly an aside to the audience to answer questions and is inconsequential in the master so only the last paragraph remains.
Penny woke up with her right arm wrapped around Leonard from behind. Her hand on his chest cuddled into his back. It took her a moment to realize they were still on the plane. Penny had flown cross country many times but never in this degree of luxury and never overnight. The seats had been laid down and the cabin lights dimmed several hours earlier. They were in a double so the bed was slightly larger than a standard twin. She squeezed Leonard a little harder he reached up and held her hand a moment then turned toward her. She had to scoot back and they were lying face to face. He kissed her softly and ran his hand down the back of her head. “Did you sleep well honey?”
She cuddled into him, “Yeah I think so, seems that’s what I’ve done the most of on this flight.”
Leonard held her tight, “It’s a big time change, that’s why we’re going to the hotel and get a nap when we get in, then some nice dinner plans. We’ll sleep in tomorrow then we can go get Lisel and visit with her grandparents. You need some time to decompress after flying east all day.”
She snuggled in more and sleep returned.
Leonard wished there was more room so he could watch her sleep. He hadn’t really slept much himself. It did feel good to laydown though and have Penny next to him. He knew Lisel was going to love Penny. They both had a very empathic nature and he was sure they would bond quickly. Horst and Lena would be accepting he knew. They were the kind of people that were generous and open to new people. That’s how he’d met Liisa.
Gaining a Son before Losing a Daughter
Horst sat at his desk drinking his morning tea in CERN’s main building. It was early Monday morning and actually looked as if the weather would be warmer today. Leonard and Penny were to arrive this afternoon but he wouldn’t see them until tomorrow. Horst was excited to see Leonard again and meet Penny. She must be very special for both Leonard and his daughter to care for her so. He had really missed Leonard.
Leonard had been at CERN for over a year when he came to Horst’s attention. There was a story going on about this American physicist that worked more hours than the rest of his team. He would be in the Lab for days, sleeping on the couch in his small office when he needed to. Every month he would take 4 or 5 days of leave and disappear. He would returned refreshed and with different bottles of wine for some of his closer colleagues. Then back into that grind again. Days and nights getting experiments ready for the next collider run. His personal patents for laser development were now over ten with CERN earning 10% of any license fees. He was being productive in the extreme. Horst had made a point of trying to meet him at staff social functions but Leonard never came. In the end Horst just went to Leonard’s office. He’d found Leonard sitting at his desk staring at the digital white board to the right. There had been several bottles of wine sitting on his desk. Leonard was totally absorbed in the board. Horst had said hello twice before Leonard turned toward him. Horst had been expecting a surly scientist that he had just interrupted. Leonard had turned and smiled saying hello in German then:
“What can I do for you?”
“I just thought I would introduce myself, I’m Horst Grunwald deputy director of operations at CERN,” Leonard rose and extended his hand which Horst took in his receiving a warm handshake.”
Horst liked Leonard’s attitude and demeanor at once. He was dressed in slacks and button down shirt. His black glasses framing his face which he tilted his head back to look through.
“What are you working so intently on?”
Leonard blushed slightly, “I’ve been working on using molecular lasers to increase the rate at which certain isotopes decay. I have a grasp of the theory but predicting a model and designing a prototype experiment for it is proving more difficult.”
Horst was impressed with this young man. Studying the board for a moment he was also impressed even more with the physics involved.
“Dr. Hoftstader your work here so far has been exceptional. I am concerned that you may be over working yourself though. I haven’t seen you at any of the recreational events or social gatherings.”
Leonard seemed a touch concerned for a moment. “I’m sorry Dr. Grunwald, was there an event I was required at?”
Horst considered Leonard for a moment. He was obviously very talented, but something must be broken in him. Lena would figure it out.
“Yes there is Dr. Hoftstader. Friday night you will attend an informal dinner at my home with my wife and me. Please be there at 7:00PM you can bring the wine. I’m sure it will be pork roast because it’s Friday.” Horst smiled as he said this.
Leonard returned the smile, “Of course I’ll be there Dr. Grunwald.”
That had been the beginning Horst thought. It had taken some time for Horst and Lena to get Leonard to open up and relax but that was the start. Lena had recognized that though Leonard was rather introverted he was also very sensitive and aware. She knew there was something in his past that had drove him further behind his barriers. He had not always been quite so anti-social. It had seemed to Lena that Leonard had shed all of his attachments to life other than his work and a few other interests. He had friends at CERN but did not socialize with them outside of work. He was capable of traveling and had extensively it seemed, meeting new people but not forming any attachments. Lena finally found her answer when the three of them spent the weekend together at their Chalet up the lake.
It had been a lovely evening the wine, beer, schnapps and scotch had flowed pretty heavily. But Lena didn’t drink so though Horst and Leonard were laughing at someone at CERN she decided now would be a good time. Lena asked the question she’d asked before but had gotten pat answers.
“Leonard what’s the real reason you left Caltech and sunny California for dreary and cold Oxford?”
The answer had not surprised her, “I lost the person I loved the most, it just hurt too much to stay”
That was all he had said but both Horst and Lena knew who they wanted Leonard to meet.
Horst looked at the picture frame hoping it would have Liisa there. It did a picture of Lena and Liisa when she was 10. Liisa had lost what she considered the love of her life also in her first year of university. Sig and Liisa had dated the last year of primary school before college. They were going to the same university but Sig was travelling for a term in Spain to intern in literature. It had been a car accident that none of them still quite understood. Sig and another student had both been killed.
Liisa had dropped out of university and spent the first term at home. She had cried and wrote for weeks. Then she volunteered with some prompting from Lena at the local school. She found her calling a love of children and teaching. Though her poetry was still dark and she hadn’t dated anyone since Sig she decided she would return to school. She graduated on time having made up work over the summer terms. Her first position was at a private school in Lausanne on the lake about hour north of Geneva. She loved her work, wrote and had tried dating again but had failed to find anyone she cared for. She did visit them every few weeks for dinner at their old home. It was there that Lena made sure that Leonard came to dinner the next time she was down.
Liisa had suspected that her mother was matchmaking when she heard they would have a guest for dinner. Liisa later told her mother that she and Leonard had an instant connection. Lena had watched them at dinner and already knew. Leonard though quiet at first had talked directly to Liisa most of dinner. Lena thought her and Horst could have got up from the table and not been missed. It was Horst who suggested after dinner the two of them go out for a sorbet. They had and that was when it started for his friend and daughter.
Horst knew that Liisa had never told Leonard about Sig. Liisa had asked him and Lena not to, Leonard had enough heartbreak no need to add hers to it she had said. Horst remembered how happy they had been together and how wrenching Liisa illness and end had been for them all. Horst smiled all except Lisel too young to remember thankfully. Then he frowned, her mother a picture on a tablet, an urn filled with ashes.
Monday Jan 27 Geneva
The Lake Effect
Penny had the window seat again on the flight from London. The layover in London had only been an hour but she loved flying into Heathrow and seeing the city. She had told Leonard she would like to go back. Leonard had suggested that they could go home via London if she liked. He hadn’t booked a flight home yet. They could take the train back with Sheldon and Amy. Maybe the Wolowitz’s could come too. They came in over Lake Geneva she had expected a lot of snow but it was just very green, The foot hills had a smattering of white but the lower elevations were all clear. The sun was shining on the lake it was remarkably beautiful. Leonard was leaning over looking over her shoulder.
“Beautiful isn’t it. You’re actually looking at the French side of the lake at the moment. In fact French is the primary language spoken in Geneva. Though it is an international city most people speak at least French, German and English.”
Penny smiled, “How big is the lake?”
It’s about 45 miles long, 9 miles at the widest point. The French-Swiss border runs right down the middle of the lake. Geneva is at the southern end where the Rhone River starts into France.”
Penny shook her head still smiling, “It’s going to be nice to have my own personal tour guide.”
She looked over and saw Leonard blush. “Let me know if I get pedantic?”
Penny leaned over and kissed him, “Don’t I always? Just keep telling me things about where we are. I’m so excited to be in Europe I want to know everything.” She was excited about the whole trip, seeing Europe, getting Lisel, marrying Leonard. Had she ever thought things like this would happen she would have dreamed about them? Then it could have been “a dream come true”.
The pilot came on the speaker letting them know they were landing soon. Leonard sat back in his seat holding Penny’s hand as she continued staring out the window.
City of Quiet Lights
Raj got out of the cab in front of his hotel in Paris. He was exhausted he had flown from Mumbai to Istanbul then on to Paris. He had cleared customs and finally got to his hotel it was only around 2:00PM but he was on Mumbai time where it would be 9:30PM. He went to check in. The lady behind the counter was very lovely Raj thought. He started to speak and a small shudder went through him. “Reservation for Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali PhD”, Raj intoned after the shudder.
She looked at her screen and frowned, “Oh here it is, but you Credit Card declined this morning Dr. Koothrappali.” Raj reached for his wallet. It was a good thing his mother didn’t know about his other cards. He shuddered again, “Here this one should work, Giselle”, he read off her name tag.
She took his card seemed satisfied then gave him his room key. He was on the top floor which was the sixth. A view room just as he had ordered. Raj took the elevator up to the sixth floor and got in his room. It was on the small side with its own bath, a double bed and chair. It did have a balcony that he immediately opened and walked out upon. The sun was shining on Paris.
He was so excited, tears in his eyes, “Oh my Cow, I’m finally in the City of Light, I am so happy.” He said aloud then he began to cry.
The Tunnel Effect
Leonard led the way through the airport to baggage claim. Penny was actually feeling pretty good though it felt like it should be later in the day. Locally it was only around 2:00 PM but her internal clock still said it was 12:00AM. She had slipped into the bathroom before reaching the baggage claim area to make sure she looked good if the photographers showed up even though Leonard had told her not to worry.
When they reached baggage claim there was what she assumed was a uniformed policeman and man dressed in black with a sign with Leonard’s full title on it, “What’s with the policeman Leonard?”
Leonard was holding her hand and gave it a squeeze, “Oops, I forgot about that little incident you may have to bail me out.”
She started to fall for it then remembered who she was walking with. “Yeah big gangsta, come on give”
But they were to them now, Leonard let go of her hand and shook both men’s hand and was speaking to them in French. He turned and introduced Penny in English. “This is Miss Penelope Jenson the actress.” They both nodded at Penny, the uniformed man said “Welcome to Switzerland Mademoiselle Jenson”. Leonard pointed out their bags to the man in black and he retrieved them. He leaned over to Penny. “We are going through the VIP customs. Jean here is the customs officer who will be processing us. Klaus is our driver.”
Jean motioned for them to follow him to a security door closely followed by Klaus. Jean used his badge and opened the door to a room with several counters. There was a window that looked out on the main customs area. Jean processed both of their passports, Penny explaining that Jenson was her stage name and then scanned their luggage. He asked Leonard several question regarding the urn in his bag in French. Then he shook hands with them both and opened the door at the opposite end of the room. “I hope you enjoy your visit”. Now Klaus led the way with the bags. Penny clung to Leonard’s arm. The Hallway they were in had several groups of people moving in both directions, “Leonard where are we going, and who are these people?”
“Mostly diplomats and other VIP visitors arriving or leaving I assume. This is my first trip into this part of the airport. Because of the UN presence and the Red Cross they have lot of people that prefer a private entrance and exit at the airport. So this goes to a private entrance or garage I suppose. I told you not to worry about the paparazzi. We’ll just be another black Mercedes leaving from the airport.”
Penny was impressed, they should have this at LAX she thought, “So how did we get this kind of treatment?”
Leonard just grinned, “If we ever get up to Zurich remind me to introduce you to my banker and lawyer. They took care of it all, including making the reservations for dinner and the hotel. From what I gathered we are in for quite a suite at Grand Hotel Kempenski”
They came to the end of what Penny realized was a tunnel into a heated parking garage.
The Grand Hotel Kempenski was a very modern mirrored glass building fronting onto Lake Geneva. Klaus drove them into the private underground garage and delivered them to VIP entrance. Two bellmen and short man in a suit awaited them as he pulled to a stop. The bellman opened the car door and held Penny’s hand in his white gloved hand and helped her out. Leonard exited the car right behind her. The short man stepped forward in perfect English, “Ms. Jenson and Dr. Hoftstader welcome to the Kempenski. I’m the VIP manager Peter Rebiere I’m here to take you up to your suite.”
Leonard thanked Klaus and shook Peter’s hand. He walked next to her his hand reaching for hers. She felt their fingers interlock as they followed the manager to the elevator. The elevator had no button but the door had gold lettering that said Suite Bel Horizon. Penny noticed there were other elevators marked with different suite names. Peter turned to them and handed them two small cards, “Just walk up to the elevator and it will be called to the floor. This is the private elevator to your suite. It stops here, the lobby and your suite.”
Leonard looked over at Penny and stepped forward. There was a ring and the door opened. They followed Peter into the car, he pressed the S button and the door closed and it started up. Penny got a good look at Peter. He actually made Leonard look tall. She thought that 5 foot might be a little high. He was very thin, a slightly sallow complexion, a pencil thin moustache and black tight cropped hair. His suit was a beautiful charcoal pinstripe, with a K lapel pin.
The elevator opened on the foyer of a lovely modern suite. It was on the top floor, with wonderful views in each direction. Penny glanced about, two bedrooms, patios and large dining and living room designed for 10 it was bigger than the apartment twice over.
Peter gave them a quick tour. The interior design was done by some famous French designer, orange, red and tan being the color palette. There were 4 TV’s built into the walls. The bathroom had a huge Jacuzzi tub that could probably hold 6. The beds in both bedrooms were large all the furnishing and fixtures brushed stainless steel. Peter ended the tour back at the elevator as the bellmen brought the bags in and Leonard motioned to the master bedroom. Peter handed Leonard a card, “Klaus will be your driver all week, if you need anything please call this number.”
Peter bowed his head toward them both and joined the bellmen in elevator.
The door closed and Penny turned and put her hands around Leonard’s neck. She gave him a long kiss as he pulled her very close. They both pulled apart and Leonard started to laugh, “I get the feeling that Peter has done that a few times.” He was still holding her close.
Penny turned toward the bedroom pulling Leonard behind her by the hand. “Come along honey we need to have sex in Switzerland. What does Bel Horizon mean?”
“Just look out the windows and you tell me?”
Through the windows which were basically glass walls Penny could see the Alps and the huge massive mountain that is Mount Blanc, “Oh beautiful horizon right.” Leonard smiled, “oui mon Penny belle”. She looked back and blushed then continued to lead the way.
Upon the coffee table in the bedroom was a vase with two dozen red roses, a bottle of Champagne and a box of chocolates she hadn’t notice on the brief tour. Penny looked at Leonard.
“That’s what you would have seen in our much smaller room on Valentine’s fourteen years ago if you hadn’t got the flu.”
Penny started tearing up remembering. Their first Valentine’s Day ruined because she’d gotten sick, and then having to take care of herself and Sheldon. She turned to Leonard and slid her hands up his chest then back down grabbing his belt as he put his hands on her lower back, “let’s just make believe today’s Valentine’s Day then.”
Faux Valentine’s Day
Penny lay on the window side of the bed. Leonard asleep beside her with his hand draped over her, her hand upon his. The sun was going down over the Alps bathing the room in soft orange light. It really was a beautiful view she thought. She was still tired but had slept for a couple of hours. The roses were now on the bedside table next to the lamp. The champagne and chocolates still sat on the coffee table untouched. It felt like Valentine’s Day would have felt like all those years ago. She squeezed Leonard’s hand he stirred but didn’t wake. She knew they had dinner plans but she could just stay here for the rest of the evening and it would suit her fine. But Leonard had something special planned at a restaurant called Le Florist or something like that.
She slid out from under Leonard’s arm covered him up and headed for the bathroom. She started the shower and looked at her cosmetic bag. It was in there should she go ahead and check and if it was positive what then? Better to know she thought and got out the pregnancy test. She read the instructions and went to the toilet. She followed the instructions and put it on the counter next to the sink and got in the shower. She didn’t want to stand there waiting. As she showered she thought of when to tell Leonard if it was positive at dinner tonight, after getting Lisel or after the wedding. He’d probably figure it out before the wedding. She stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in one of the big fluffy towels and wrapped her hair in another. She looked at the counter, the test was gone. She walked back into the bedroom to find Leonard sitting up in the bed half under the comforter. The huge grin on his face was answer enough to the test results. She smiled and crawled back under the covers into his arms.
Drawing your Dreams
Lisel was in her room coloring when Lena looked in to check on her. Lena looked over her shoulder at the drawing. It was stick people with large heads, a little girl with yellow hair holding hands with a taller yellow haired figure. There were smaller figures of two dogs and a cat. Lena smiled, “I see you, Mama Penny and her pets. What are you doing in the picture?”
Lisel looked up and smiled at her grandmother, “Walking the dogs and the kitty in the park.”
Lena smiled widened, “Normally people don’t walk their cats Lisel.”
Lisel furled her brow in thought for a moment, “I’m going to try to anyway, but the dogs will be there with us.”
“I’m sure they will Lisel, where’s your papa?”
Lisel smiled at Lena, “He’s taking the picture of us”
Lena rubbed her granddaughter’s back and rose to leave but Lisel had a question, “Grandmama will Mama Penny get sick like my mama?”
Lena stood very still considering how to answer her heart was in her throat. When she did answer her voice broke slightly, “No Lisel Mama Penny will never get sick like your mama. She will be there for you always like your father.”
Lena said a silent prayer for this to be true no child should have to lose two mothers. She would not even let the possibility enter Lisel’s mind.
Penny held Leonard very close, the towel wrapped around her between them. He nuzzled her neck and ears, “How long have you suspected?” Penny smiled into his chest, “About two weeks I’ve been patient though in case I was just late. I take it from your grin that you’re pleased?”
Leonard nodded, “Very pleased. Wow I need to be more careful every green eyed blonde girl I sleep with gets pregnant. Maybe I should try a nice brunette or redhead next time?”
Penny ran her hand down Leonard’s chest, “Do you remember how Sheldon’s sister made him be good?”
Leonard sat up ever so slightly, “Got the message, Nebraska on the boys would not be good. No brunettes or red heads got it.” He slumped back down into the bed as she moved her hand back up his chest she was grinning slyly.
“I can’t believe how lucky we got. We weren’t even trying just not preventing it from happening and it happened.”
“Leonard you say that as if you think it was fate?”
“Not fate exactly but maybe natural law. If you let a system that’s been prevented from growing suddenly grow it may grow at exponential rate. Really rather”
“Pedantic Leonard, let’s just call it fate okay?”
He pulled her closer, “Fate it is. Now we should be getting ready for dinner.”
Leonard got up and headed for the shower. Penny started to follow and then lay back down and looked out the window. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, something in her had really clicked she was wondering if she could wait for tomorrow to see Lisel now. How would she feel about a little brother or sister? Why do I cry when I’m happy?
Leonard had appeared dressed in grey slacks and white collared shirt from the bathroom when she finally roused herself and got ready for dinner. She had on a light pink dress that came to a couple of inches above her knees. It was silk and interwoven with light green and lavender threads. She found the slightly off colored pumps that were the perfect match and did her makeup and hair.
She walked out and did a small twirl for Leonard. He smiled and nodded his approval, “you look wonderful are you getting hungry?”
Penny actually was getting hungry she walked toward him as he held her dark blue overcoat for her, “I am actually, what’s the place we’re going to again?”
Leonard helped her on with her coat and grabbed his own black wool tweed jacket, “It’s called Le Floris which means The Flourishing. Kind of appropriate with our news tonight don’t you think.”
Penny nodded as they walked toward the elevator and Leonard continued, “It’s on the lake and is a Michelin 2 star restaurant. If it was summer you would sit out on the terrace overlooking the lake and mountains. This time of year we’ll have a nice window seat but it’s spectacular in the summer. It’s the last place I ate before moving back to Pasadena so I could remember the food. You’re going to love it.”
The elevator door opened as soon they got close to it, Penny went in and Leonard followed pushing the garage level button and they were off.
Horst and Lena sat on the couch. Horst was sipping hot cocoa that was laced with schnapps. He looked at the spot on the mantel where Liisa’s ashes would go. Though he was happy she was coming home he was much sadder that Lisel was leaving. Leonard had invited them to come to California more than once in the last year to visit or to stay if they were inclined. He was 62 years old and could retire at any time. He looked over at Lena. They had always wanted more children but were never blessed with another. Liisa had been enough at the time. Had they known they would have found a way to have another or adopt. Lena was reading a novel next to him, she looked up when he looked over at her, “Horst don’t start missing her until she’s gone.” She then went back to her novel.
Horst smiled it was always good to have someone who knows you so well they can read your moods. Horst got up anyway and checked in on Lisel who was sound asleep with her bunny clasped to her chest. The glow of the nightlight on her face made her appear angelic. He walked to his office and sat down using his tablet to pull up images of Pasadena and southern California. It looked beautiful but he didn’t think Lena would go. She had all her children from school and volunteer work to keep here occupied. Horst had CERN and his life’s work. Horst opened the drawer and took out Liisa’s letter. I just need to hear her voice in my head one more time.
Penny was sitting at the desk just off the living room of the suite. Dinner had been as Leonard promised it would be, extraordinary and scrumptious. The chef had come out to greet them when they arrived. He was a friend of Leonard’s banker and he got a picture with the couple. Then they started their meal. It was prepared especially for them, the exact menu that would be served on Valentine’s Day that year. It was a 7 course tasting menu with each small course matched to a wine by the Sommelier. It was smoked salmon spring roll and Sauvignon Blanc, then a seared scallop and Chardonnay, then shrimp with a Viognier. The meat courses were duck, rabbit and lamb with Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah. Leonard knew what all the wines French names were but let her know the grape varietal for each so she could relate them to American wines she knew. The dessert was a type of bread pudding, sweat and wonderful paired with a tart sherry. Each course was very small but by the dessert you were full. The chef had come back out and talked to Leonard about the dinner in French and kissed her hand when he went back to the kitchen.
It was now close to 11:00. Penny should have been tired but wasn’t and knew the time change was keeping her up. Leonard was sitting on the couch in the living room checking his email. Penny opened the desk drawer, inside was beautiful stationary and envelopes. She took some paper and an envelope out. She set them before her and took up the pen and started to make a list.
“Don’t forget learn and patience, Leonard said over her shoulder. You will learn so many things you have forgotten even when they are young. They will teach you to have patience.” He had been looking over her shoulder for a few moments.
“Thank you, anything else?” She wrote down “Learn” and “Patience”.
“Only to be happy, if you are happy your child will be happy. Liisa told me that.”
Penny wrote down “Be Happy”. She then folded the letter and placed it in the envelope and wrote on the front. “Things to Remember Always” and dated it.
She took the letter, stood and slid her arms around Leonard’s neck. She kissed him softly, and then whispered in his ear. “A shame I left the red and brunette wigs at home or I could make you dreams come true too.” Leonard whispered back, “You already have and I prefer blondes.”
Raj woke to a very cold room. The radiator in the corner was putting out no heat. Coming from Mumbai where the coldest it ever got was maybe 65 degrees Paris in January rarely gets over 45. He put on his sweater out of his bag, it was raining but he could see blue sky in the distance. Though he was still cold he was suddenly excited. It was so quiet. There was no one scrambling around the house, no yelling or children crying. No one screaming Rajesh do this, Rajesh why didn’t you do that. It was like a dream come true.
He got his tourist map of Paris out with the places he wanted to visit:
Arc De Triomphe
Ile Saint Louis
The Louvre Museum
Pont Neuf and the Seine
His first stop though would be a store to get a warmer coat he felt like he was back at the North Pole. He got himself ready and as he passed the door he touched the radiator. It was cold and had writing on it in French. He really needed to get a new smart phone so he could translate things. He’d left his phones in Mumbai so they couldn’t track him. What would they do? Then Raj’s blood ran cold they would send someone to find him in Paris. There was only one choice, Priya. “Oh my cow”, Raj let slip from his mouth.
Penny sat in her pajamas at the dining room table in the suite sipping the very strong coffee. The room service breakfast was spread across the table. Leonard had ordered a light breakfast for them both, fruit, croissants, preserves and coffee. They had awakened together a little after 9:30. The jet lag was clearing it felt like morning to Penny instead of after midnight that it was in California. The sun was streaming in through the windows, the eastern mountain faces gleaming grey and white in the distance. They lay spooning until close to 10:00, murmurs, kisses, and touches no talking. When her stomach growled Leonard had suggested breakfast and reached for the phone. He ordered in French switching to English to explain what he was ordering to Penny. She had just nodded and pulled him back close when he hung up her back to him spooning again.
Penny took Leonard’s left hand and pulled it onto her tummy covering it with her own, “Good morning daddy.”
Leonard pulled her close and she thought she could feel a tear on her shoulder. She took her hand off his and reached behind her to his head. He kissed her shoulder and relaxed. They stayed there until the elevator bell rang. Leonard got up and grabbed one of the thick white robes that came with the room. She heard him talking in French and was back in a few moments.
“Breakfast is on the table mademoiselle”, he said on his way to the bathroom.
Now she was waiting for him. The coffee was strong she took another sip and picked up a croissant and started tearing it into pieces. Leonard finally appeared still in his robe and set down on the other side of her letting his hand run across her shoulders on the way. She shuddered slightly his touch was very gentle, sexy and arousing. She gave him a sideways glance. He gave her the grin, put his hand out and they headed back to bed.
They were to meet Horst at his apartment at 2:30 he was taking the rest of the day off. Penny sat beside Leonard in the back of the Mercedes as Klaus drove them across town to Horst and Lena’s apartment. Leonard looked at her, she seemed nervous and clung tightly to his left hand. He reached over and touched her face. She turned to look at him, “Don’t be nervous Penny, you’re sweet, smart and adorable they will all love you. Do you get this way before an audience?”
Penny shook her head, “Not anymore but I used to, it gets easy as you realize you’re there to entertain them not seek their approval. Today I feel like I’m seeking their approval.”
Leonard shook his head, “I would feel the same way if I was you but there is only one person’s approval you really need. He already not only approves but loves you. Therefore his daughter and extended family will love and approve of you.”
Leonard gave Penny his best smile and most of the anxiety melted off her face. She kissed him just as they pulled up to the curb in front of the apartment building. Unexpectedly they had a greeting party. Horst, Lena and Lisel were waiting on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building. Lisel was almost jumping off the ground. Lena and Horst both had huge smiles as each of them held one of Lisel’s hands.
Klaus never had a chance to open the car door, Leonard had it open and was getting out when Lisel ran into his arms. He sat back into the car, “Papa, Papa, you’re here at last.” She was hugging him her eyes closed. Leonard eyes were closed also as he held his daughter close. He opened them to both Horst and Lena smiling back at him. Lisel finally started lessening her grip so he turned toward Penny. Before he could introduce her Lisel had leapt into Penny’s arms, “Mama Penny, I’m so happy you came with Papa.” She was hugging Penny now who had her eyes closed. She opened them with tears welling up looking at Leonard. Leonard smiled big again, “Told ya.”
Life Combined Helixes
Leonard had introduced Penny to Horst and Lena while he held Lisel. Horst led the way walking with and welcoming Penny with Lena smiling as she looked on. Horst had her arm in his hands, “We are so happy to finally meet you. Leonard wrote us some wonderful emails the last few weeks. Lisel’s room looks lovely and she will be so happy to have pets.” Lena touched Penny’s arm and spoke to Horst in German. Horst blushed, “She said I should shut up long enough for you to answer. Leonard followed along carrying his daughter up the stairs to the apartment. She was nuzzled into his neck, “Papa you smell like Mama Penny.” Leonard just smiled.
Once they were inside Horst got them settled on to the couch and chairs in the living room. Lisel was in her father’s lap, Penny beside them on the couch. Horst was in the side chair, Lena sat on the arm. It reminded Leonard of where Penny always sat when he lived with Sheldon all those years ago. They started chatting about the flight and the hotel with Horst translating for Lena. Horst looked at Leonard and spoke in German, “And the Urn?” Leonard answered in English, “In its case in the car, shall we go get it and leave our lady’s to chat.” Penny looked anxious for a moment, until Lisel crawled into her lap.
Leonard touched Lisel’s cheek and she turned toward him, “Little one, Grandmother doesn’t know English and Penny doesn’t know German so you will have to help them chat.”
Lisel looked at her father for a moment, “Ja Papa”, she then turned to Penny, “that means yes Mama Penny.”
Penny smiled, “Tell your grandmother her apartment is lovely.”
Lisel talked to Lena in German and she responded and stood. Lisel looked at Penny, “Grandmama wants to show you around.” Penny stood and followed Lena.
The tour went quickly with Lisel showing off her room. Penny was intrigued with the pictures in Horst’s office of the collider and the apparently matching desk to Leonard’s coffee table. When they returned to the living room Horst was putting the urn on the mantel. Leonard was closing the protective case it had traveled in from California then handed it to Horst. They both smiled at each other then took their seats again. Horst smiled a large smile at Penny.
Penny suddenly knew Leonard had told him she was pregnant. She blushed slightly and looked over at Leonard. He just smiled back very sweetly. Horst looked at Lisel and spoke in German and she leaped up and went toward her room. Horst looked back at Penny, “She’s getting a picture she has drawn for you. Congratulations.”
He then spoke to Lena whose hand went to her mouth. She immediately was beside Penny on the couch with her arm around her speaking German that Leonard translated as she said it.
“Wonderful oh how wonderful for you two and for Lisel.”
Lena had tears in her eyes when Lisel returned with her drawing. She showed the drawing to Leonard and Penny, “Here we are Mama Penny walking the dogs and the kitty in the park. And Daddy is taking our picture.” Just at Penny was about to say something Lena spoke to Lisel who looked very surprised, got up and ran toward her room. Just as Leonard started to speak she was back with her crayons and was working on the drawing. Leonard leaned in and said softly to Penny, “Lena told her that the picture needed the brother or sister that you and I will be having”
Lisel was done and she looked up at Penny and showed the addition. Next to blonde child that was her was another smaller one they were holding hands. The smaller one also had blonde hair. Lisel spoke, “There is my new little brother or sister Mama Penny.”
Leonard reached over and touched his daughter hair and she turned toward him, “Little one instead of call Penny mama, why don’t you call her Mommy and you can save mama for Mama Liisa.”
Lisel understood at once, and crawled up into Penny’s lap, “Mommy when will my brother and sister get here?”
Penny fought to hold back tears, Lena was crying. Both Leonard and Horst were smiling, “Just after summer Lisel, when you will be starting Kindergarten.”
Lisel hugged Penny, “Can we get another kitty so we can each have one?”
Lena just rolled her eye’s smiling, Leonard and Horst laughed. Penny looked very serious for a moment, “Okay Schrodinger 3”
Lena and Leonard were with Lisel in her room finishing up packing her toys and clothes. They had all talked until dinner. Lena had made a German style of meatloaf it was served with a fried egg on the top and was delicious. There was also warm potato salad that was very tangy. Horst had asked Penny to come into his office. She sat in the comfortable chair beside his desk while he sat down behind it. Horst reached into his desk and produced three letters. Penny was little confused she was expecting only one. Horst must have seen this and smiled. “These are the letters I have for you Penny. One is from Liisa I believe she would have preferred you to read it after your wedding but that is up to you. The second letter is her letter to Lisel it should be where ever she is for the time when it’s needed. The last letter is from Lena and me. We decided to carry on Liisa’s tradition. It is our remembrance of her for when we are no longer there to tell it. That way Lisel will always have it. I entrust these to you and of course Leonard.”
Horst slid the letters across the desk to her. The envelopes were all addressed Liisa’s envelopes older and typed. Horst and Lena’s hand written and newer. Penny picked them up very seriously. Horst was not so serious. “It’s not a meant to be a burden Penny, we have the copies put away so don’t fear losing them. Only yours is a one of a kind. Think of them as a legacy from Liisa’s heart to yours and Lisel’s.”
Penny smiled at Horst she could feel herself becoming at ease even as she made him relax. She looked around his office, “You built the collider?”
Horst chuckled, “Me and about 10000 other scientists, engineers and construction workers. I have been here since we broke ground. I helped with the collider and the buildings and other structures. My doctorate is in High Energy Physics but I have a master degree in architecture. I never knew I would get to use both”
“Horst will you tell me more about Leonard when he was here?”
Horst was silent for a long minute just staring at the pictures.
“This place was built for people like Leonard. The ones that seek the physical experimentation to prove others theory’s and sometimes even their own. Leonard did both. Before he met Liisa though he was incomplete and lost in his personal life. He craved to see the world around him but did it alone. Did he tell you he’s been in almost every country in the Western Europe?”
Horst smiled as Penny shook her head, “He wouldn’t have our Leonard is very modest. Did he tell you he holds 14 patents in different laser technologies and techniques? He is very quiet about his accomplishments. Perhaps it’s because he had bigger ambitions about his life. I can tell you I’ve never seen or heard him ever be cruel to anyone. He does have a rather wicked sense of humor though.”
Penny smiled, “He can find ways to get a person’s goat in a teasing way. I’ve always known Leonard was a genius. I always wondered why he would settle for me.”
Horst frowned shaking his head, “Leonard’s not a genius Penny. He is gifted in many ways and has an incredible work ethic and stamina. He has had moments of genius. His friend Dr. Cooper is a genius. Geniuses get caught in their intellect and thoughts. I’ve known many geniuses most are just two steps away from a breakdown. If they have large egos they can be condescending and selfish to the point of cruelty. If they are introverted they can actually become catatonic and self-destructive. Leonard is none of those things. His ego revolves around his personal life and feelings. His Mother though is most certainly a genius and not in a good way.”
Penny smiled at that last remark but Horst wasn’t done. “Penny Leonard loves you and I know him better than most. Leonard as long as I’ve known him will give in to settle an argument. He’ll quit pursuing something when it is not possible. But Leonard never settles. He has wanted to be with you for a very long time. If anything he would be worried about you settling for him. You two are very alike in a many ways and don’t even realize it.”
The sound of small running feet were heard in the hall and Lisel came scrambling into the room. “There you are, we are ready to go mommy.”
Each time she said mommy Penny would choke up. She’d get used to it she knew but she would always love hearing it. Penny stood up, “all right then tell your father we’ll be right there.”
Penny gave Horst a hug as he came around the desk. “Thank you I needed to hear that.”
Horst looked her in the eyes, “You must care for two of my most beloved people. I trust you will”
Penny nodded and looked up to see Leonard with a suit case. Lisel was holding her white rabbit and a stuffed puppy. “Is that all she’s bringing?”
Leonard laughed, “There are 4 boxes in her room which will go air freight to the house. This is just clothes, crayons, paper and a doll.”
Penny hugged Lena, and then Lisel hugged both her grandparents. Leonard Hugged Lena and shook Horst’s hand. “We’ll see you in Paris in four days. I’ll email you the reservation numbers.”
Lisel held Penny’s hand as they went down the stairs. Penny held the stuffed puppy and Lisel the rabbit. Leonard brought up the rear with the bag. Klaus pulled up as they came out and had the door open for the Hoftstader family.
Sheldon was busy packing his bag. Each item folded and crossed off the list on his tablet. Amy had decided to pack her and Tyler’s in the morning before they took the Eurostar train to Paris. Leonard’s lawyer in Zurich had emailed the hotel reservation to Amy earlier. Sheldon could have cared less he left things like that and all other financial matters up to Amy. He finished his packing by placing his laptop and 30 carefully chosen comic books in his shoulder bag
Sheldon moved into the living room of their rather spacious home and took his place on the couch. Amy and Tyler had gone to get some last minute items from the store for the trip. Sheldon started talking to himself as was his bent.
“Amy certainly had been different during this pregnancy.”
He thought back to when she was pregnant with Tyler. They had both kept extensive notes on the entire process. From the fertilization of the eggs and implantation to the birth it was very well documented. They had data on her weight gain, physical changes. There was even data on the frequency and quantity of urination and breast size increase, though Sheldon would have to trust Amy’s recording ability on that data. Once Tyler was born Amy became much more distracted. Sheldon had kept track of his sons growth and intellectual capacity ever since.
This new pregnancy had been Amy’s idea at first. It was simple enough they still had embryos stored from the first attempt. He started trying to collect data but Amy had been reluctant. Her explanation was very cogent. This baby would be different it could weigh more or less. Her body had changed during the first pregnancy. She lost almost all the weight but still carried a few extra pounds. She was insistent that there were too many differentials between them to be comparable. Sheldon still continued to record data surreptitiously.
This time he would look at her psychological changes. He already knew she was moodier and less methodical in her planning than before. She had been growing much more haphazard since Tyler was born. She had told him that children demand spontaneity but he was skeptical. It was true that Tyler would want to play at any given moment then be hungry or crying the next but Sheldon still considered it a phase.
None the less Sheldon felt that Amy though not sad really was not happy. He had sent an email to Leonard wondering if Penny could go jewelry shopping with him in Paris so he could get her something. Leonard had written back that if the time allowed she’d love to. But that Penny had suggested that he should send her flowers in the meantime. Sheldon considered this an outdated social convention and wrote them this back. The email he received back was definitely from Penny and not Leonard. “I’ll take care of it Moonpie just act like they’re from you, pay me when you see me.” There she went again calling him Moonpie. But since Memaw had passed away it gave him a warm feeling too.
The flowers had arrived yesterday afternoon and Amy had been thrilled. She had hugged him and he allowed her to kiss him. The rest of the evening she had been in a better mood. Sheldon would have to thank Penny when he saw her. He had missed her all these years in some odd way. She was always someone he felt he could trust, even when he couldn’t. Such an odd juxtaposition of concepts was why you should never trust your feelings. He heard the door to the kitchen open and Tyler and Amy come in. She came around the corner and saw the flowers on the dining room table where she’d put them. Amy then turned and gave Sheldon her happy smile. Sheldon gave his smile back thinking, Penny may be just a Nebraska farm girl but I’m glad she’s my friend.
To Walk Along the Seine
Raj had taken the stairs down beside the Pont Neuf Bridge and was walking along the river. He started at the wharf thinking later he might take an evening river cruise. He had strolled along through the centuries old trees. The Louvre was there hulking and beautiful. He walked along lost in every romantic movie that he had ever seen filmed here. Then there we all the thrillers and espionage movies filmed here also.
He just strolled and dreamt about those old movies his hands in the pockets of his new warm overcoat. He almost jumped when the arm slid through his and held on tightly. “Hello Rajesh, I kind of thought you’d end up here.”
Raj kept his cool he didn’t have to look over to see it was Priya. “I knew they would send you I just thought I would have more time.”
He continued walking, her tightly attached to his arm. To anyone else they would look like a nice Indian couple on a romantic getaway. Priya was very gentle but firm, “You know you have to go back Rajesh? But I too have grown very tired of my life in Mumbai perhaps we could spend a few days here and see the sights. I’ll just tell Mommy I haven’t found you yet.”
Rajesh played the stoic male to his sister. “I suppose we could do that.” Inside he was at least relieved if not jubilant to have a few days more in Paris.”
Raj and Priya continued to walk, “We really should go back Friday.” Priya said
Raj stopped and turned to look at her. “I can’t go back until at least Sunday. I’m going to Leonard and Penny’s wedding on Saturday”
Raj looked at his sister’s state of shock, “My Cow woman don’t you read your email.”
If Penny had been there she would have told Priya “Shut your mouth sweetie before a bug flies in.”
The Moniker Dilemma
Penny was back at the writing desk in the suite sitting in front of a piece of paper, it was a just before 9:00PM. She had put Lisel to bed and told her a bedtime story that she had improvised with all the voices and sound effects around 8:00. Lisel had finally nodded off grasping her white bunny rabbit about 8:20. She had turned around to see Leonard standing in the door grinning at her.
She had got up and gave him a hug and they had both watched Lisel sleep for a few minutes. Leonard had said he needed to go to the lobby to get some mail and now here she was alone. She’d checked on Lisel several times before starting her current task.
The paper had Names written at the top then for some reason the word never followed by:
No Star Wars
No Star Trek
No Comic Books
She started writing again this time with the Maybe:
She was sitting there pondering the names when the elevator rang and Leonard walked in carrying a large document envelope. He had that serious look on his face he got when he worked. “What’s up sweetie?”
Leonard walked to the table and pulled a chair over to the desk. He started to sit down and saw her list. He smirked “I’m glad we got the Don’t even think about it list out of the way.”
“Here’s a couple to add to your maybe list. How about Matisse, Lara, and Larissa for a girl, Lewis, Shay, and Webb for a boy?” Leonard smiled very smugly.
Penny felt her mouth hanging open a little, “Wow where did you come up with those?”
Leonard chucked and started to open the large envelope. “I looked on the net.”
“Oh you cheated but I like them, I’ll add them to the list. I really like Matisse it’s so pretty, wasn’t that a painter?”
Leonard just nodded as he dug a pile of legal documents out of the envelope. There were small yellow and red tags sticking out in several places. There were documents and a letter with instructions in German. The documents were in English.
“What’s all this?”
Leonard was serious but still smiling, “It’s the pre-nup all brides wish they got.”
She started to protest but he stopped her, “It’s not a pre-nup Penny marriage isn’t mentioned anywhere in the documents. It’s a right of survivorship, ownership and a power of attorney. These documents give you control over the two existing trusts. If something should happen to me you will have control over both trusts. My trust forever and Lisel’s until she turns 25.”
He really was in a serious mode now. Penny had not seen him quite this serious, “Leonard is there anything I should.”
He stopped her, “I’m healthy and hope to stay that way. But I don’t want there to ever be a question. California’s laws are a minefield and we’re actually getting married in a foreign country. These papers leave no question of who is in control under Swiss law. The ownership only takes place should I die. If I’m incapacitated you have the power of attorney to make decisions including anything regarding my healthcare.”
Penny was a little taken back. The business Penny started to assert itself but she stopped it. If Leonard was doing this it was for her and the children. “Okay where do I sign?”
Leonard visibly relaxed, “You sign the yellow ones and I sign the red ones in front of the notary tomorrow. They have one in the hotel we’ll call them tomorrow morning.”
She reached over and squeezed his hand. “You’ve been worried about this haven’t you?”
Leonard nodded, “I need to know that no matter what you, Lisel and the baby will be taken care of.”
Penny leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek. She looked at the list again and smiled. She started writing the names she liked:
Matisse Liisa Hoftstader
Nathanial Shay Hoftstader
“What do you think?” She had a wonderful grin on her face. Leonard looked at the names serious for a moment. “Nathan and Mattie, I can go with that.”
She reached over and ran her hand down his thigh, “Does Lisel always sleep through the night?”
Leonard leaned in to kiss her running his hand across her tummy, “Always has.”
It was the early grey light of morning filtering through his west facing window that was waking him. Raj rolled on his left side wrapping his arm around her. He started to spoon her when the elbow blasted into his rib. “Rajesh quit that.” came in the sleepy voice of his sister. Raj instantly rolled back on his right side. Priya sat up and looked over at him, “You are quite insufferable, you really are.” Priya was up with her robe on over her pajamas. She went into the small bathroom and closed the door.
Raj flopped back onto his back. She had insisted that she was not leaving his side until they were back on the plane to Mumbai on Sunday morning. She said that she was not going to let him make a break for it. Raj felt trapped but at least he was warm. Priya who could speak French had followed the instructions on the radiator to open the steam valve last night. Overall they had a pretty good evening. As the two closest siblings in their large family they were very close as children. Last night they had taken a dinner cruise on the Seine. The City of Light had slid by them as they enjoyed dinner and a bottle of wine. She had only sneered at him when he had steak.
Priya had asked Raj repeatedly about Leonard and Penny’s wedding. He really did have no answers for her. He would check his email tomorrow and move to the hotel they were staying at. The wedding party would leave from there to attend the wedding. Raj had asked Priya if she was jealous. She had laughed him off even though he could see she was having regrets. Priya had been married for several years to an Australian lawyer. The family would have ostracized her over it but he was a very wealthy lawyer with many business connections in India. So of course that made it better, he thought sarcastically. The divorce had almost killed his mother.
Raj got out of bed he had no robe so he grabbed his new long coat to put on over his t-shirt and boxers and stepped out on the balcony. At least he was still in Paris. He and Priya were going to the Louvre today then the Eiffel Tower. Still Raj felt trapped. He looked out over the city bathed in misty morning light and wondered where it had gone wrong this time. He wondered what happened to the cute deaf girl he had dated in Pasadena. Then he got a pang of regret about missing his children and started to cry. Priya had emerged from the bath and was toweling her hair dry, watching her brother weep with tears in her eyes.
Penny had awakened with her face snuggled into Leonard’s chest. He was awake, she could tell by how lightly his hand lay on her thigh. The room was starting to be bathed in indirect light. She knew if she rolled over she would see the sunlight shining on the Alps. Penny snuggled in and kissed his chest. He just murmured and kissed the top of her head.
“How’s the view this morning honey?” she asked snuggling a little harder into his chest.
He sat up slightly and looked down at her, “Very lovely as always”.
She knew he was talking about her and not the Alps. Penny could feel herself blush. Then she looked up at him and smiled. Penny felt a weight on her feet. “Good Morning Little Lisel” Leonard said softly.
Lisel climbed up and they made room between them. She snuggled in with her rabbit and puppy dog facing Penny. Leonard kissed her on the head as Penny kissed her cheek.
“Guten Morgen Mommy and Papa“, her little voice said. Leonard ran his hands over her hair, “English now little one, German later.” Lisel nodded and smiled at Penny, “I could teach you to speak German mommy Penny?” Penny smile back at her, “Okay let’s do that you can tell me what things say, I hear you are quite the reader.”
Lisel just nodded then sat up looking out the window, “What are we doing today?”
Leonard got up on his elbow, “After breakfast you’re taking a bath in the largest bathtub you’ve ever seen. I thought we would take mommy sightseeing in Geneva. We could go to the fountain, and the square at Place du Bourg-de-Four. We could all have lunch and ice cream there. Then we can go shopping, I believe there is a very nice toy store for you and a shoe store or two for mommy.
Penny smiled she’d done her research. Geneva was one of the best high end shopping cities in the world. She giggled slightly thinking that after signing the papers after breakfast she would tease Leonard about taking his wealth out for a test drive.
Penny started to get up and stretch then she felt the little arms around her. She swept up Lisel in her arms, “Let’s go fill this big tub up and take our bath while daddy orders us breakfast.”
Howard and Bernadette walked through the terminal together each with a rolling carryon bag. Bernadette hoped Howard would behave. Ever since he had went into space he was the aviation expert/Astronaut. She also decided she was going to brain him if she caught him looking at the legs on the short skirted flight attendants one more time. A few minutes ago he had actually turned around to check out a tall blonde as she walked away.
Bernadette usually had a good handle on her husband but when they traveled he was always a handful. Maybe it was because they normally had the cushion of work between them being together all day. She really wasn’t sure but she knew they always fought when they were on vacation. He did it again, red head at five o’clock his head was on a swivel.
Bernadette stopped and waited for Howard to notice. It took him about 5 more steps before he pulled up and looked behind him. He must have known he was in trouble because he had a look of contrition on his face as he walked back. Bernadette smiled at him, reached up and put her hand on his cheek. Then she proceeded to stomp on his foot with her heel. Howard grabbed his foot and hopped around holding in a scream.
He finally stopped hopping and stared at her with that hurt puppy dog look. Bernadette figured there was only one thing to do. She would have to tell him now instead of in Paris. She walked over to him and stood very close, “Howie you’re walking with your wife, looking at other women makes me look bad so do it when I’m not around or you’ll lose a toe. I need your undivided attention in Paris Howie we’re going to try one more time.”
Howard’s face had lit up, “Really, that’s great.”
She shushed him and started walking again. She’d gone off birth control 3 weeks ago it was worth one more try just for Howard’s sake.
Three Ring Circles, (No Elephants were injured while writing this chapter)
Amy followed Sheldon out onto the platform to board the Eurostar. She waddled along behind him. He was holding Tyler. It was funny that Sheldon had touch phobias with everyone else but he loved to carry his 2 year old son. The baby was due at the end of February or the first week of March but Tyler had been 3 weeks early. She was a little nervous about traveling and the train ride. They had already taken the train from Cambridge to London’s King’s Cross Station which took over an hour. They then took a taxi from there with their bags to St. Pancras Station and the Eurostar.
Sheldon turned and waited for Amy, both he and Tyler had huge grins on their faces. Amy tried to smile at them but her back hurt and her feet were swollen. They boarded the train and had found their seats. Sheldon had reserved 4 seats 2 seats facing each other across a table. They settled in with Amy sitting on one side and Sheldon and Tyler on the other. Amy looked at her boy’s that’s what she liked to think of them as. She smiled at them both, “So are we ready for our next little train ride?”
Sheldon smirked at her “Amy this train is going to go to Paris at over 200 miles per hour except when it goes into the Chunnel when it will only go 60 miles per hours. We will get to Paris in about 2 hours it’s just not a train ride.”
Amy shook her head, “I can’t wait to see my bestie. It’s been too long almost 11 years since we last saw her. Leonard’s lawyer sent us the reservations at the Plaza Athenee we have a two room suite. It has a balcony that looks out on the Eiffel Tower and looked really nice on the net.”
The train was starting to move Sheldon and Tyler both were excited and looking out the window.
“That sounds nice Amy how far is it from the station?”
Amy knew he was really ignoring her she shook her head. She reached over and took Sheldon’s hand he flinched for second then clasp it back. They had come a long way over the years. She got to hold hands, a kiss a least once a day though mostly on the cheek and snuggling at least 3 times a week on the couch. He was a wonderful father to Tyler. He never lost patience with him. Sheldon talked to him about everything as if he was the one with the eidetic memory. Tyler though was just a regular little two year old Amy knew. He showed no exceptional abilities that Amy had seen. She loved how affectionate he was. The daughter she was carrying might be gifted but that had ceased to be a desire on Amy’s part. She just wanted a little girl. Amy settled back into the seat and closed her eyes as the train picked up speed.
Leonard sat patiently on the couch in the boutique waiting for his girls to show off the clothes they were trying on. It was actually a cute little place that was aimed at mothers and daughters. They had clothes that matched, not the same mind you but that matched in colors and style. Penny had taken Lisel and at least half a dozen outfits to the changing room.
Leonard checked his email on his phone. He was mumbling to himself, “Flowers will be ready, everyone confirmed their reservations, compartment and tickets for the TGV to Paris.” Leonard actually spoke out loud, “Okay the Chapelle de la Saint-Gérard in Chambourcy is ours for the day. Oh what the”
“The what is ours for the day honey?”
Leonard looked up at his girls. They were in color coordinated outfits but opposite. Lisel had on a light pink skirt with white stockings and blue blouse that matched her leather flats. Penny had on a shorter matching blue skirt, light pink top and pink high heels.
“Wow you guys look amazing, so cute” he said to Lisel. He gave Penny a leer, “Very cute.”
Penny returned the leer with a pursed lips and raised eyebrows, “Now what were you saying?”
Leonard stumbled for moment he saw from her face she’d noticed, “Oh we got the Chapel booked for the wedding. The Chapel of Saint Gerard in an old Chateau west of Paris. Everyone is on their way and got their reservation numbers. There is one thing though I just got an email from Howard with a forward from Raj. Priya is coming with him and something about no choice.”
Leonard looked up to see her reaction. He really did wish sometimes he still had his glasses to hide behind. He was suddenly very fearful, she had the grin. The wolfish grin and it was aimed at him.
She suddenly put on her best smiled and laughed, “You should have seen your face Leonard. I’ve been waiting for that look again since we’ve been together. The “Oh shioot what have I done” look. I’d enjoy seeing Priya again, especially in the church watching me marry you. Amy will see it as throwing the ultimate poo at her.” She had changed to shoot in mid word remembering Lisel was beside her.
She turned and offered Lisel her hand, “Come on let’s try on the next one, your daddy needs to clean himself anyway”, Lisel looked back at Leonard looking for the dirt.
Raj and Priya had found a small café up from the hotel for breakfast. Raj earlier that day had borrowed her phone and checked his email. Reservation information was there for the hotel. He had sent a quick note to Howard that Priya was coming also so no one would be surprised. The waiter was rude but brought them coffee and a tray of pastries.
Raj was looking at the map of Paris, “We should get our bags and change to the hotel Leonard has booked for us. It’s near the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. We can go from there and do our site-seeing.”
Priya continued drinking her coffee, “Rajesh why don’t you want to go home to your wife and children?” Raj looked at her for moment the Indian male in him resenting the question but his feelings got the better of him.
“It’s not my wife or my children. It’s the life I’m living is not the one I would have chosen. I was an astrophysicist at Caltech working on string theory with the now Nobel Prize winning Sheldon Cooper. Even though he could be condescending and an ass bag I was part of something bigger. I left so I could find love but lost my life. I miss Pasadena and Caltech and my old life.”
Priya looked over her coffee at him, “Then why don’t you try to get it back instead of running away. Do you know how much your wife wants to get out from under our Mommy’s thumb? She and the children could go with you Rajesh and you could try to have that life again in California. This time you wouldn’t be so lonely.”
Raj just shook his head, “How is that possible? How would I go about it?”
Priya put her coffee cup down and patted his hand. “Why don’t you talk to Leonard or I can. He is the chair of the Physics department after all.”
Raj wondered if he could do it. He was not close to Leonard or Penny in the end. But if Priya asked then he wouldn’t have to beg. He would beg if he had to but not right away.
“Priya can you talk to Leonard and then I’ll talk to him about it?”
Priya smiled very sweetly, “Of course Rajesh, but there is one other thing, the mistress stays in India.”
Ice Cream at the fountain
Leonard handed the rest of the packages to Klaus and walked to catch up with Lisel and Penny. Lunch was a nice light bite in a small café off the Square and then down to the waterfront for a little more shopping. Penny had spent quite a bit of time in the lingerie store mentioning the wedding night quietly to him. Lisel and Leonard had browsed in the bookstore and checked out the kiosks.
Now with the purchases safely on their way to the car Leonard was leading them to one of his favorite spots. Lisel knew where they were going and was getting excited. Penny came to the corner with Lisel and stopped. Leonard caught up to them and took her other hand. “I see you’ve found the Jet d’eau Geneva’s little fountain.”
Leonard looked at the huge plum of water rocketing into the air. “It goes over 400 feet in the air and travels at 200 miles an hour when it leaves the jet. At night it’s lit with lights and lasers. We can come back for dinner down here tonight and watch if you like.” Lisel looked up at Penny, “It’s wunderbar at night mommy.”
Penny touched her chin then the tip of her nose, “Wonderful right? Sure we can come back and have dinner here tonight. Daddy you have any ideas?”
Leonard got his phone out to make the reservation but started them moving again, “I don’t know about you girls but I need some ice cream.”
He led the way to the small café a couple of doors down, it had seats that looked out on the fountain and street. Leonard opened the door for Penny and Lisel then followed them in. The man behind the counter was large and bald. “Monsieur Hoftstader votre dos”
Leonard walked forward and took the extended hand. “Henri this is my family. My fiancé Penny and my daughter Lisel. Girls this is my friend Henri Clark.”
Henri put his hand out to Penny and touched Lisel head with the other, “It’s nice to meet you both.” Penny looked shocked for second. There had been no French accent it was pure New Jersey.
Henry laughed, “I love when that happens. I’m originally from Princeton. It surprises Americans here to no end when they come in for a scoop. Let’s go with Henry instead of Henri”
Henry turned to Leonard again, “So I see you’re back again, just visiting?”
“I came to pick up Lisel from her grandparents then we’re off to get married in Paris”
Henry nodded, “Well congratulations. I bet you want the usual. Ladies we have chocolate and vanilla ice cream, mango, strawberry and peach sorbet. What would you like?’
Leonard had just nodded to the “usual”. Penny and Lisel said chocolate almost at the same time. Leonard was laughing and pointed to the seats looking out over the fountain. Henry brought out the ice cream in small bowls. Three chocolates with one scoop each. Henry patted Leonard on the back as more customers came in.
Penny leaned over, “So how did Henry end up in Geneva?”
Leonard looked around to see Henry was back behind the counter waiting on some young girls.
“Henry was at CERN, Theoretical Physicist, there were days when he could make Sheldon look slow. We worked together for three years and then one day he just broke. The last day he ever worked or even thought about physics as far as I know. He bought this place and has been here ever since. He doesn’t even talk about working at CERN or even working with me. Real clean break from one reality to another most just explode.”
Penny just stared at Leonard.
Leonard shrugged his shoulders, “It happens.”
Amy walked into the suite with her mouth hanging open. It was so beautiful with its classical French furnishings. It had beautiful couches, desks, side boards and chairs. The bedrooms had huge beds, chandeliers, decorative crown moldings all done in a bright white. This was old school romantic. Leonard may not have a top mind but he knew class she thought. Sheldon and Tyler had both went right to the balcony. She stepped out behind them. There was a small table and 4 chairs the back drop was the Eiffel Tower above the trees.
She was suddenly glad she had come. The room alone was worth the trip. The boys of course had loved the train ride. It had been remarkably quick to get to Paris. The taxi ride from the station was quite a bit more tedious. She walked back in the room as the bell hops brought the bags in. She had them all brought to the master bedroom then tipped them.
Amy headed for the couch and sat herself down carefully. She couldn’t wait to see Penny and Bernadette. Penny was due in tomorrow, Bernadette later today. She had missed her friends so much. There had been no one like them all these years. She hoped she could talk to Leonard about them coming back to Caltech. Maybe Leonard could get Sheldon restarted again. Amy started to tear up thinking about the old days. She missed home. She picked up the house phone beside the couch and dialed the desk.
She asked the operator to leave a message for Bernadette when she got in to call her. Then she ordered lunch for her and the boys from room service. When she had asked about the cost she was told everything for their visit was already covered. Leonard Hoftstader was moving up higher in her mind every moment. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, sleep came instantly.
A New Paradigm
Raj and Priya walked into the suite. They both were stunned by the difference in their lodgings. The foyer was bigger than the entire room at Raj’s hotel. Priya walked through the suite running her hand over the fabric of the couch. Looking in the bedroom and then heading for the balcony.
Raj just stood and marveled at the luxurious surroundings. Leonard was putting them up in a level beyond first class. He followed Priya onto the balcony. She was sitting at the table looking at the view. A frown was on her face. “What’s wrong sister?” Priya looked at Raj then back at the view. “I realize I may have made a huge error many years ago. Do you think Leonard knew how beautiful this was when he reserved the room?”
Raj thought about it for a moment, “He was always a very careful guy Priya. If this was where he wanted us to stay he knew it. Don’t feel bad his heart was always with Penny even when he was with you. In the end it would never have worked out even if Mommy and Daddy had accepted him.”
Priya looked at Raj. He had expected tears but he saw anger. “Why wouldn’t it have worked out?”
Raj shook his head he realized how much he loved his sister in that moment. She was always so together and rigid but right then she was vulnerable. “Penny was the love of Leonard life, we all knew it. If Penny had been the kind person to break you two up she could have just crooked her finger and Leonard would have went back. I feel good they are together again. You deserve more Priya. I tried to tell you then. You should think about leaving Mumbai just as much as me. That person is out there, just don’t try to change them.”
Priya turned back to Raj, tears in her eyes. “I think I might rather come to Paris, we have an office here you know. Maybe here?”
Priya’s phone buzzed, she reached in her purse. “You have an email it appears.”
Raj took the phone and opened his email. “It’s from Leonard.” He started reading it, “I was wrong it’s from Penny using Leonard’s email and it’s to you.” He handed it back to her.
Both Leonard and I are happy you can be there for our wedding. You are most welcome and we look forward to seeing you and Raj
There was a knock on the suite door. Raj moved to answer it Priya following behind him. He answered the door and a bellman was standing there with a vase of red roses. Raj signed for them and gave him a very small tip. He turned to his sister who was behind him. “They’re for you.”
Priya took the flowers and put them on the side board. She looked at them carefully it was two dozen red roses. She opened the card Raj reading over her shoulder.
“We are glad you’re here, no hard feelings. We are looking forward to seeing you at the wedding and the dinner tomorrow.
Penny, Leonard and Lisel.”
Priya looked behind her at Raj, “Who’s Lisel?”
Leonard and Penny emerged from the elevator, Leonard holding a sleeping Lisel in his arms.
He thought how wonderful dinner had been. They had gone to a small French bistro with a wonderful view of the fountain. Penny and Lisel had to be reminded that food was on the table and to eat. The view of the changing lights and lasers hitting the water and bouncing outward was mesmerizing. Lisel had fallen asleep in the car on the ride home.
Leonard carried her to her bedroom. Penny pulled back the covers and he lay her gently down. He put her ever present bunny in her arms, tucked her in and kissed her forehead. He took Penny’s hand and led her to the living room. There was enough room and seats for five couples but the view of Geneva out the window at night was lovely. They settled on the couch Leonard taking her hand in his. “What a wonderful day I’m not sure how it could have gone any better.”
Penny snuggled into his shoulder, her hand on his chest. “It really was how I imagined it” she said. “Our family out for the day together it was wonderful. I ‘m not sure what to say Leonard I haven’t ever felt this way.”
Leonard kissed her head and looked out at the city. “I know what you mean. This is the first time it’s ever been not just me and Lisel. When you’re a single dad people just kind of look at you wondering where your wife is. They even asked sometimes if you are divorced or where is your daughter’s mother today. But being out there as a family today really made me realize what I’ve missed.”
Penny hugged him tighter. Leonard reflected on just how right the family felt together. Lisel had really never experienced having a mom there. The female touch with her was so evident. Leonard would take her clothes shopping and it would be a task to be accomplished. Penny had made it a game for her. They were playing dress up and Lisel had loved it. Leonard had even got a kick after Penny had asked him what her budget was for the day now that she was wealthy. He had just laughed and told her to try to keep it under 10k. She had frowned at him then laughed.
Penny rubbed her hand on his chest then looked up at him. She was about to speak when he kissed her. The kiss was a long one passionate and soft. When their lips parted he looked at her. “You were saying” Penny looked flustered, “I forgot what I was going to say”
Leonard smiled and tried to withhold a chuckle. He’d have to remember to do that in the future when he needed to. She did recover very quickly though, “I was going to say how special our daughter is Leonard. She is so smart. She read signs and things for me all day. It’s hard to believe she’s only 4, well getting closer to 5. I fall more in love with her every second I’m around her, just like I do when I’m with her father.”
She smiled up at him again. Leonard smiled and rubbed his nose to hers.
“She is very special. I believe she will do great things. But I could be biased in that regard.”
Penny shook her head, “No your right, she has a kind and gentle personality with an intelligence that is obvious. I think your right our daughter is capable of great things.”
Leonard thought over her words. “Penny you know we did all of the paper work for you and our family to be taken care of financially this morning but there is one more thing. Once where married and back home I’d like you to legally adopt Lisel. Then no matter what you will be her legal mother.”
Penny pushed back from him with tears on her cheeks. “Of course honey, I promised myself and Liisa I would always take care of her.” She was looking into his eyes, very proud and assertive.
“When did you make that promise to Liisa?”
Penny snuggled back into his shoulder, “Before we ever left California”
Leonard held her tight reflecting on how lucky he had been to find this woman again. He also thought how fortunate he was that all the years apart had not damaged her as much as it had damaged him. Then he realized he had been healed of so much of the damage. It was now just then, a memory nothing more. Sometimes a bitter and painful memory but it could not touch them now.
Touching Down and Out
Howard and Bernadette were at the hotel at last. They both were exhausted after the long flight and time change. Though it was late in the afternoon in Paris it felt like two in the morning to them both.
They loved their suite it was so lovely. They had just sat down on the couch and were looking about the place when the phone rang. Howard picked it up talked for minute then hung up. “Amy is apparently right next door and left you a message for when you got in to call her.”
Bernadette would have loved to see Amy but she was so tired. “I’ll call her what’s the suite number?” Howard shrugged. Bernadette called the front desk and asked for the Cooper’s suite. Amy answered on the second ring. “Hey Amy its Bernie, were here but absolutely bushed. What’s up?”
Bernadette hung up and looked at Howard. “Breakfast with the Coopers tomorrow around 9:00 sound good?” Howard nodded his head and put his hand out. Bernadette could tell he had other things on his mind. She grabbed his hand and let him pull her up. “Come on Howie let’s try to make a baby”
Leonard was lying on his back with Penny lying on his right shoulder facing toward the window. Her warm derrière pressed against his thigh, her right hand holding his. “I’m going to miss this view Leonard. What time does the train leave tomorrow?”
“About 10:00AM we’ll be in Paris by lunch. The new high speed train cut about 2 hours off the trip. I saw you sent flowers to Priya today and your email, very gracious of you.”
Penny squeezed his hand and continued to stare at the city. “I wouldn’t be so gracious if I wasn’t the one getting married. I do realize one of the only reasons I didn’t like Priya was because she had you. I will tell you though she was never right for you.”
Leonard kissed the back of her head. “Why was she never right for me?”
Penny let go of his hand and rolled toward him and kissed him, her hand running down his chest and her knee sliding across his thigh between his legs. “What was the question?”
Leonard stumbled, “I’ve forgotten actually.”
Three Couples Kinda
Three couples and one small child were sitting at the table in the main dining room of the Hotel Athenee. There were five PhDs, one lawyer and a 2 year old. The waiters wondered about the grouping. These waiters unlike others at the street cafes frequented by tourists where extremely cheerful and friendly. What they did know this about the group was they were staying in three of the 4 best suites in the hotel. Only the best suite remained empty and its occupants were arriving today. The group had ordered various items for breakfast. The tall man and the young boy that was obviously his son were having Oatmeal. The boy’s mother was having eggs, toast and potatoes. The very thin short man and his petite blond haired wife were sharing a fruit platter and croissants. The Indian couple who appeared to have had a tiff this morning was drinking coffee. She was having soft boiled eggs and toast points. He was having steak and eggs. She had clearly been displeased.
They were seated around the round table with the mother next to the little blond lady. Then the very thin short man and beside him the Indian gentleman. The Indian woman was between her husband and the tall man. The young boy was in a high chair between the tall man and the boy’s mother. All of the waiters spoke English and were listening in.
“Bernie how did Penny finally get back with Leonard, tell me what happened.”
Bernie put her juice down and looked at the mother, “Amy it was like something out of a romance novel. She read the interview he’d given that said he was living back in the apartment and that he still loved her. She got in her car at the studio and came right over.”
Amy took another bite of her food and a sip of coffee. “She just went over and jumped him, that’s my Bestie.”
Bernie smirked, “No she told me they didn’t sleep together until Christmas a couple of days later. But she told me it was magic, like they’d never been apart for 12 years. They still both loved each other though they are both very different now”
“How are they different?” Amy was chewing on her toast and dipping it in her egg yolks.
“Well take Leonard for example. He’s very sophisticated now. He dresses very well, knows fine food and wine. He has his little daughter Lisel who he dotes on. He’s told Howie and me all about different places in Europe. Then Penny has a beautiful home with two dogs and a screwy little cat. She has to hide her identity in public. She is even more self-assured than she ever was. She is a star Amy but still the same old Penny at home. They are both different but the same.”
Amy shook her head and continued eating. “I guess I’ll get to see for myself at dinner tonight or we could wait for them to get here in the lobby.”
The waiters noticed the Indian woman was listening intently to this conversation. Her husband though was busy talking to the short thin man, “Howard how is Leonard affording all this?”
Howard took a bite of his croissant talking while he chewed, “Oh he’s loaded Raj. He ended up with loads of money coming in from patents he produced at CERN and Oxford. The man’s wine cellar is worth more than my car. He’s still the same old Leonard though a good heart through and through.”
“Do you think he might find a spot for an old friend at Caltech? I’d really like to come back to Pasadena.”
“Well maybe but have you ever talked to him about what happened between you and Penny? Leonard is a real up front kind of guy, even more than he used to be.”
Raj just nodded his head up and down and took another bite of his steak.
The tall man was helping the child eat. He had already finished his oatmeal so he was feeding the small boy a spoonful at a time ignoring the rest of the conversation. Raj looked over at his old colleague and friend. “What are you working on these days Sheldon?” Amy got a stricken look on her face and looked over at her husband. Sheldon looked up with that little grin on his face “Nothing actually.” He went back to feeding his son. Both Howard and Raj just stared at him with their mouths open.
Penny was staring out the window of the compartment as the city came into view. She touched Lisel who was beside her. “Look honey it’s Paris” Lisel looked up from her book at the city. “It’s a very big place mommy, look at the big tower.” Penny moved Lisel up onto her lap putting her chin on Lisel’s head as they looked out. “It’s called the Eiffel Tower honey, I’m sure daddy knows all about it.” Leonard looked up from the other seat and started to tell them the history of the structure. Penny listened for second or two and just smiled at him.
They had both awoke early that morning to make love one more time before leaving Geneva. They knew they’d be back but the moment was too important to pass up. They had breakfast in the suite, packed up and been delivered to the station by Klaus 30 minutes before the train left. Leonard had shook Klaus’s hand and talked to him in German for several minutes before all their luggage was loaded up by the attendant. Klaus had waved at Penny and Lisel then was back in the car and gone.
The train was a new MagLev its ride very smooth and fast. Leonard said it had no wheels and hovered above the track. Penny hadn’t ridden on many trains in her life but this was the quietest she had ever been on. Leonard told them both that he would show them how it worked when they got back home to California. The scenery as they traveled into the Alps had been beautiful. Leonard had watched with them until they were into the fields of France.
Penny was looking out the window with Lisel again as they went by a familiar site to Penny. It was different but even from a distance she could tell what it was. “Is that Disney Paris Leonard?”
Leonard again looked out the window, “Yes it is we could go if you like.” Penny shook her head, “Lisel’s first Disneyland should be the original”. Penny wondered why Lisel had not spoken up. She looked down and saw that Lisel had fallen asleep. Penny shifted her so her head was on a pillow in her lap and her feet out on the seat. She stroked her hair and watched the city get closer by the second.
Click Clack Click Click Click
The train pulled into Gare De Lyon Station in Paris. Penny woke Lisel very gently. She sat up and looked out the window. “So many people mommy, where are they all going?” Penny just smiled, “Each person is on a journey just like us, some to see friends and family, others to work or vacation.” Lisel looked some more. “Do you think anyone else is here to get married?”
Penny hugged her, “I’m sure there is honey”
Penny suddenly saw the group of press photographers and TV crews down the platform. She had to fight not going into her serious bitch mode. Leonard had caught the look on her face though. She looked over at him, “The press is here.” Leonard looked stunned. She couldn’t understand they had been very careful about having things booked under the trust from Switzerland. All of their friends knew to be discrete about whose wedding they were going to. She was racking her brain when the press outside started going crazy. They were snapping pictures and jockeying for positions, but not toward their train but the one on the opposite track. Penny, Leonard and Lisel watched as a man and women exited the train. They were heavily clothed and with the press in the way impossible to tell who they were. The press followed and hounded them down the platform.
Penny let out an audible sigh of relief. Leonard was still watching them leave his mouth agape. “I guess some real celebrities showed up”, Penny said with a laugh. Leonard looked over very serious, “I feel so bad for them to get swarmed like that, wonder who they were? Don’t think the press hasn’t been sniffing around for you either. My lawyer emailed last week that they had even received a few calls this week from both the European and American entertainment media.”
“What did they do?” Penny was actually very relaxed now. She had started to get her and Lisel’s stuff into her large shoulder bag. “They referred them back to Josh in the states like you suggested.” Penny got Lisel’s coat on and then her own.
“Well let’s get going then.” Penny started for the compartment door holding Lisel’s hand as Leonard slid into his coat and grabbed his bag. They left the train onto the platform. Leonard had stopped and spoke with the conductor in French for a moment and then was at their side. The platform was noisy with the rush of people and the hum of trains as they slide into or out of the station. The station itself was beautiful, a very old piece of architecture with a lot of modern upgrades. Lisel was staring about in wonder, as her parents walked her toward the baggage area.
When they arrived there was a man holding a sign with the name Hoftstader on it. Leonard walked up with the girls and said “Bonjour”. Leonard proceeded to talk to the man for several seconds, a man behind with a trolley waited patiently. They waited for the luggage that Leonard pointed out and the other man loaded on the trolley. Leonard leaned over to Penny, “This is our driver Charles, and he speaks English also. We have a car waiting upstairs. Oh and the people on the platform were Prince Harry and his new wife. So you’ve been upstaged by Royalty.”
Penny nodded at Charles she was still holding Lisel’s hand or she would have offered it to him. She smiled instead which Charles returned blushing slightly. They followed him to a large Mercedes limousine and were soon speeding toward their hotel.
Sisterhood of a Sort
The doormen at the Hotel Athenee glanced back at the two women sitting just inside the door in the lobby. They’d been there for at least an hour, obviously waiting for someone’s arrival. The Mercedes pulled up to the entrance. The first doorman immediately opening the door to the car and the other opened the door to the hotel. The first doorman let out a small breath when the beautiful blonde lady took his hand and exited the car. She turned around and took her daughters hand to help her out. The gentleman was smaller in stature than the doorman, he smiled and said thank you before following the lady and girl.
The doorman holding the door felt more than saw the two women who had been inside rush by.
“Bestie you’re here.” Amy was hugging Penny tightly. Leonard had reached over and took Lisel’s hand so Penny could return the hug. Bernadette touched Penny’s hand and leaned over to kiss Leonard on the cheek. She then squatted down and gave Lisel’s a big hug. “How have you been sweetie did you have a good Christmas?”
Lisel was smiling a huge grin at her, “Oh yes Aunt Bernie it was wonderful, is Uncle Howard here?” Bernadette looked over to Leonard and smiled. “He’s here honey visiting with some old friends of his and your father.” Bernadette finally noticed the two outfits that Lisel and Penny had on matched. Lisel had on a white skirt with blue stockings and a lighter blue top you could see under her coat. Penny’s skirt was the same blue color as Lisel’s stockings, her top white. There shoes were the same color of blue leather though Lisel’s were flats and Pennies a low heel. Penny and Amy finally separated. Bernadette smiled at Penny, “Well look at you two you’re just so cute in your outfits.” Lisel spoke up right away, “Mommy and I got them in Geneva while daddy was getting dirty.” Bernadette looked questioningly at Leonard, Penny laughed and Leonard gave her a rueful look. Penny put her arms around both her friends, “Let’s go get checked in and we can start catching up.”
Penny walked into their new suite it was lovely and opulent. She was actually fonder of the modern suite in Geneva but this one was certainly charming and romantic. The view from the balcony was very lovely with the Eiffel Tower framed by the trees. She wished she was there in the summer. Lisel was in her room with Leonard who was helping her to unpack and get settled.
Amy and Bernadette would be by in about another hour for some girl time. She was surprised when there was a knock at the door. She was walking back in but Leonard had beaten her there. He opened the door and seemed slightly shocked, “Priya how nice to see you, come in.”
Penny walked over to say hi and of course keep her eye on Priya. Priya gave Leonard a hug and a peck on the cheek. Then walked over to Penny and exchanged a very light hug with her also. “I just wanted to say congratulations to you both. I know you will make each other happy. I would like to talk to you Leonard if I could about Rajesh.”
Penny smiled her best fake smile, but it was a dazzler. “Actually I’m going to check on Lisel you guys go right ahead.” Penny went to the bedroom but left the door open and found Lisel laying on the bed with a guide book for Paris. Penny took up the unpacking where Leonard had left off with her ears peeled for the conversation in the living room.
Leonard led Priya over to the couch. She was dressed in dark slacks and a bright white shirt that set her chocolate colored skin and dark hair off very well. She didn’t show too many signs of age Leonard thought. She was a little rounder perhaps, five or ten pounds maybe. Leonard set on the chair next to the couch and smiled at her. “What’s this about Raj?”
Priya gave Leonard a smile she always had a nice smile Leonard thought. Priya was very calm she always was, “What do you know about Rajesh’s life now Leonard?” Leonard cocked his head to one side, “Hardly anything really, I haven’t talked to him or exchanged email with him in years. But the same is true of everyone really. I’ve been back in touch with Howard and Bernadette since I came back to the states. We really never talked about Raj. I’ve had some interaction with Sheldon over the years but that’s really about it.”
Priya crossed her legs and smiled again at Leonard, “Rajesh went back to India to marry. He did find a wife and they have three lovely children. He teaches at Mumbai University and helps Mommy run the businesses but he is deeply unhappy Leonard. He wants desperately to come back to Caltech with his family.” Priya reached out and touched Leonard’s knee, “He wants to come home.” Leonard patted her hand thus removing it from his knee. He sat back and acted as if he were deep in thought, “He’ll need to talk to me about it Priya and then do the official application for the visa and for his family. I can swing the academic portion of things and make sure we have a foreign professor spot open for him that will insure his visa is approved. You’re a lawyer you can help him and his family get all the paper work filled out.”
Priya reached over to touch his face but he caught her hand about half way gently and stood. She followed him to the door, “Tell Raj to come talk to me tomorrow Priya, I’ll see you at dinner.”
She gave Leonard another hug and a thank you as he shut the door. Leonard stood there for a few moments, waiting. Penny came into the room she had the wolfish smile on her face again. “I like how you caught her hand when she was going to touch your face. It might have got a little ugly if that had happened.” Leonard was smiling now, Penny’s face softened to the smile he liked. He walked over to her for a kiss she did put her hand on his cheek as she kissed him. Leonard held her for a few seconds looking into her eyes. “You know I’ll never cheat on you darling.” He didn’t use darling very often, only when he really wanted to make a point.
Penny kissed him again, “We’ll see in 8 months when I’m as big as a house and waddling what you say then.”
Leonard pulled her close and put his lips to her ear. ”Then darling I’ll massage your swollen feet, rub lotion on your tummy and tell you you’re beautiful everyday will that help?”
The knock on the door actually startled Leonard. Wow Raj wasn’t wasting any time was he. Leonard walked over to the door. He opened it to see Amy Farrah-Fowler-Cooper before him. “Amy come in, Penny it’s Amy.” Penny walked over smiling brightly, “What couldn’t wait for another hour to see me?” Amy had on her most reserved look. “Though it would have been difficult to wait Bestie I’m really here to talk to Leonard about Sheldon.” Penny looked very surprised, “Okay I’ll just go in the other room with Lisel.” Amy shook her head. “No that’s alright you know Sheldon as well as anyone maybe you can help too.”
Penny sat next to Amy on the couch while Leonard got back into the chair he had sat across from Priya in. Penny took Amy’s hand in hers, “So what’s up with Moonpie?” Before Amy could answer Leonard had answered for her. “He’s broken Penny just like Henry Clark is broken, isn’t that it Amy?” Amy shook her head, “He hasn’t so much as written a formula on the white board in almost a year.” Penny was shocked and looked at Leonard, “You knew?” Leonard had a sad look on his face. “No I didn’t know for sure but I suspected something like this must be going on. Sheldon used to publish like clockwork every quarter. Even when he would just rehash some of his other work he published. He hasn’t published in over a year.”
Penny put her arm around Amy, “What happened?” Amy wasn’t teary but acted very tired. “It happened just before Christmas the year before last. Sheldon was angry that he couldn’t work over the holiday at the university. They were remodeling and were going to close his building for the week. It really threw him off his routine as usual. He was working at his desk at home and then he just stopped. I mean really stopped, he didn’t speak, or move for three days. The doctor put him to bed and was getting ready to hospitalize him. I was just getting ready to fly his mother out and call you Leonard when he snapped out of it. He just looked up and smiled said he was hungry and got out of bed. It was like three days were three seconds. He was catatonic Leonard, his brains waves were at a very low level I checked. Since then his brain activity has pretty much been back to his old normal. But he hasn’t even considered a physics problem even when I prompt him.”
Leonard sat back and stared at the chandelier over the dining table. He looked over at Penny and Amy. Penny was holding onto Amy and looking at him. Her look was very much what was he going to do about it. He really didn’t have a clue. “Amy have you asked him why he’s not working on physics anymore?” Amy was teary eyed now as she pulled back from Penny and looked at Leonard. “He just said there is nothing left for him to figure out. He just spends time working on his model train and playing with Tyler. He still does all his other things, comic books, Sci-fi and the like. He just doesn’t work Physics.”
Leonard felt suddenly very sad and old. “What do you think we should do?” Amy sat up straight and looked at him. “I think he should come home to Caltech Leonard. Even if he’s not working you would have a Nobel Laureate on the faculty. I’m hoping if perhaps he was there that he would find his way back.” Leonard sagged into his chair and stared at the wall. It seems like everyone wants to come home today. He started to let his mind wander into the problem. Amy was right getting Sheldon on the faculty even if he didn’t contribute would be easy enough.
He was really letting it out now letting his mind get around the problems and possible solutions. A hypothesis began to form he had two variables he could put together. Now he just needed a problem to be solved. Working a little bit backward but the problem was really two fold. How to help two of his oldest friends reconnect to the theoretical physics world? One needed to regain his life and passion, the other needed just to regain his sanity.
Leonard sat up and looked at the couch. Penny had a huge grin on her face, “I told you he’d got something. My genius soon to be husband.” Leonard just smiled at her. He looked at Amy. “Have you ever heard of the Ecliptic Alignment of CMB Anisotropy?” Amy looked deep in thought then shook her head. “It’s the prefect problem for an astrophysicist and theorist to work on together. I really need to talk to Raj but he’ll go along. We need to appeal to Sheldon’s competitive nature as well as his well-known ability to be condescending. That should do it, and were flying his mother to Cambridge to spend some time with him. I’ll talk to her first.”
Leonard reached over and patted Amy on the knee. “Caltech is going to do some Cosmology research. I just need to write the grant request. You should plan on being there in the fall Amy.”
Amy looked over at Penny, “I think Leonard was just trying to comfort me when he touched my knee bestie, though he always has liked my legs.” Penny just smiled the goofy smile and Leonard smirked and shook his head. Penny got up and offered Amy her hand, “Come on Amy it’s time to meet Bernadette in the bar for some girl time.” Penny started for the door, turned and gave Leonard some serious raised eyebrow leering. “See you in a while honey.” The door closed behind them and Leonard got up to spend some time with Lisel.
Leonard lay with his head on Penny’s still flat tummy. He kept thinking he should hear something but knew it was far too soon for that. Penny had gotten up after their love making and put on some soft baby blue and pink pajama bottoms and a pink camisole. Leonard had on just his boxers and socks. He sat back up and lay on his back so she could melt into his left arm and shoulder like always. Dinner had been enjoyed by all. They laughed and renewed old jokes and grudges for that matter. Raj could actually talk with women around even before he had a few drinks. Priya had seemed to have a good time as well. Though like the old days she was slightly more reserved than the rest. Howard and Bernadette had been the first to call it a night. The rest had left for their rooms shortly after. Everyone was supposed to go off on their own tomorrow for sightseeing then dinner at the hotel again.
Leonard ran his right hand up and down Penny’s side from just beside her breast to her bottom. She giggled for moment, “Are you trying to start something again here Leonard.” Leonard grinned at the ceiling. “Maybe, how was your girl time today?”
Penny shook her head, “Can you keep it all secret?” Leonard chuckled, “Of course I can, you’ve always been the one with the keeping secrets issue.” Penny was silent like she wasn’t going to tell him. Then she jumped in, “Okay so here’s the scoop, Howard and Bernie are trying to get pregnant one more time. That’s probably why they left a little early from dinner tonight. Amy and Sheldon have actually had sex, though apparently Sheldon has an issue achieving orgasm unless he does it himself, so both of their pregnancies have been by in vitro. They do have an agreement to do it at least once a week. She said that Sheldon always keeps his agreements.”
Leonard leaned over and kissed her forehead and continued to run his hand down her side spending more time on her breast and bottom each stoke. “So what did you share about us or more specifically me?” Penny giggled a little, “Only the usual that you were great in bed and yes you were very wealthy. Oh I did mention I was hopelessly in love with you and Lisel for that matter.”
Leonard rolled slightly on his left side and began to kiss her in earnest. His hands no longer sliding but firmly grasping her bottom as he pulled her to him.
Penny and Leonard had woken together to the sound of piano music coming from the living room. There was a baby grand Piano between the dining room and living area. Penny seemed confused but Leonard just smiled. “Wait for it.” The music changed from a soft melody to a more upbeat jazz then back to a soft melody. Penny gasped at Leonard, “Lisel?” He just nodded and continued to listen. “She has an affinity for hearing music and being able to play it back. She mixes them up though wait until you hear chop sticks and ragtime.” The music stopped and Lisel came into their bedroom. She crawled up on the bed and right into Penny’s arms. “Good morning mommy and daddy did you like my song.” Leonard kissed her head, “It was lovely honey, you’re up early.”
Lisel snuggled in between them, “I was hungry and then I went by the piano and played a song. I’m still hungry though.” Leonard started to reach for the bedside phone to order breakfast as Penny scooped up Lisel and looked out the window. It was a clear day with sunshine and hardly any clouds. It was going to be chilly in the shade but fabulous. Leonard came over and put his hand on the small of Penny’s back. She turned and he kissed her gently, “Good morning, breakfast is on the way, along with coffee and juice.”
They all went to the dining room table and sat down. Leonard picked up his phone and checked his email. “Looks like Raj would like to have a quiet cup of coffee this morning in about an hour in the bar.” Penny smiled and touched his hand, “Are you sure it’s not Priya just pretending to be Raj?” Leonard gave her that quirky grin and said sarcastically, “Do you really think so? If it is it could make a difference in my drink order now couldn’t it.” Penny’s smile widened and she said one word, “Nebraska.”
Raj was sitting at a table with coffee when Leonard arrived. Raj offered his hand and Leonard took it, wrapped his other around it and shook it. “Raj my old friend it is good to see you. I talked to Priya yesterday she tells me you’re interested in coming back to Pasadena and Caltech?”
Raj looked nervous now, he stuttered for a second, “I would Leonard. I’d like to come back with my family and start my life there again. I know we weren’t very close the last few years but let me explain.”
Leonard stopped him there. “Raj it’s the past. I do know you never slept with Penny if that’s what you’re getting at. I knew then when she called you “Quick Draw”. But Raj the work I have in mind for you is serious research. I’ll need you to have a real moral center if you come back. Your research partner is going to be very challenging. There can be no running away, no back peddling in both your professional and personal life. You have to promise me that personally Raj.”
Raj looked uncomfortable and put his hand across the table. Leonard shook it and then held it he looked into the astrophysicist’s brown eyes. He saw just a touch of fear there. Well that would get worse when he heard the rest. “You’re going to be doing research on the Ecliptic Alignment of CMB Anisotropy problem. I’ll write the grant proposal and because of your research partner it will sail right through. Now onto your first task, getting that research partner to be interested, you two have always worked well together but with some friction.”
Raj’s mouth was hanging open, “No not him, not again.”
Leonard let go of his hand smiling what for Leonard would be called his wicked smile. “Yes you and Sheldon Cooper PhD the Nobel Laureate and this is how you’ll convince him tonight after dinner.”
Penny walked into the suite first holding the door open for Leonard who carried the now sleeping Lisel. It had been a long day starting with a walk along the Seine then lunch at Les Deux Magot overlooking Boulevard St. Germain. Leonard then had the car take them to Montmarte Hill. Penny thought how lovely and picturesque it had been like going back in time really. They had ended up at Bois de Vincennes which had the zoo, botanical gardens and a castle. Their 4 year old had been a trooper up until the castle, and then she was getting a little cranky. Leonard had been carrying her on and off all day. She finally insisted he pick her up and promptly fell asleep with her head on his shoulder.
Penny closed the door and went ahead of Leonard to pull back the covers on Lisel’s bed. Leonard laid her gently down on the bed with her head on the pillow and started working her coat off. Penny removed her shoes and socks then covered Lisel with the sheet and blanket after placing her rabbit next to her. They turned off the light but left the door open and both headed for their own bedroom to get changed. They both chose soft clothes to relax in for a few hours before dinner. Penny put on her Nebraska shorts and one of Leonard’s dress shirts. Leonard had on black silk sweats and a white t-shirt.
Leonard held Penny’s hand as they sat on the couch they were both checking messages.
“Horst and Lena are all checked in Penny, they’ll meet us for the pre-wedding dinner tonight.”
Penny showed Leonard a picture on her phone, “Howard and Bernadette made it to Pont Neuf and took a lunch cruise on the Seine”, anything from Priya and Raj?
Leonard looked up, “Nope, but I did get a reply from the president of Caltech that says if I can get Sheldon Cooper to come back I can bring several Indian professors in if I would like. Kind of thought it might go that way.”
“Do they know he’s not doing physics anymore?” Penny mused as she continued going through her emails.
Leonard smiled over at her, “Doesn’t matter as long as he has that Nobel medal he can go to work almost anywhere and never actually work. It’s a huge fundraiser for any university as well as the prestige factor.”
Penny showed Leonard a picture of the dogs in the pool Chelsea had sent, “Do you think your plan will work tonight?” Leonard sat back and looked at her, “It’s really going to depend on how turned off Sheldon really is. We’ll actually know tonight, it will either trigger him or he won’t care. In which case I’ll have to think of something else, hitting him on the head with a coconut it worked in the cartoons.”
Penny laughed and leaned over to kiss him and making out seemed be the next natural thing to do. She rolled on top of him pinning him down and proceeded to passionately kiss him. Perhaps he was too involved kissing Penny or maybe he was just in a very contented place. But Leonard didn’t feel the disturbance in the force.
The Return of the Sith (Sorry George)
The woman before the desk clerk was rather drawn and tight lipped. Her greying hair worn in a very tight gathered fashion. She was dressed in a blue women’s business suit with a longish skirt and high black heels. She drew another exasperated breath then again said, “The reservation?”
The clerk found it a deluxe room a single on the third floor. He asked for her passport and processed her credit card then handed both back to her with the key card. She looked him up and down. “Which room is Dr. Leonard Hoftstader PhD in young man?” He looked back at the computer, “I’m sorry Madame no one by that name is registered here.”
She huffed, “Then how about Dr. Sheldon Cooper PhD and family?” The clerk again consulted the computer. “They are in 503 Madame.”
“Well thank you.” The woman said quite sarcastically then waved at the bellhop to lead the way with her bag.
Challenging Data Constructs
Dinner had been quite wonderful Leonard thought as he sat at the large table holding Penny’s hand in his lap. One reason he had chosen the Athenee was the three star restaurant with its large wine cellar and world renowned cuisine. He was waiting for the game to begin. He got everyone’s attention. “The wedding will be at 1:00PM tomorrow everyone. Cars to take everyone to the Chateau will be here at 11:30AM. It’s about a 45 minute drive. After the ceremony the cars will bring everyone back here. Lisel will go with Horst and Lena. Penny and I have another stop to make then we’ll meet right back here for the reception dinner 7:00pm. The drivers will take you anywhere you’d like to go we have the cars for the day one for each couple. Sheldon can I see you, Howard and Raj for a moment.”
Leonard led his three old friends into the lounge. They took a table in the corner and each ordered a beverage, Sheldon ordered a virgin banana daiquiri, Raj and Howard cocktails, Leonard a double Laphroaig scotch. Howard raised his glass, “To Leonard and Penny”
They all raised their glasses and then had a drink. Leonard looked over at Raj and raised his glass, “To my newest research team co-leader and long lost astrophysicist Raj.” “Here, Here” added Howard. Sheldon got that condescending smile on his face, “Going to search for more planetoids in the Kuiper Belt again?”
Leonard smiled both inwardly and outward, Howard jumped in, “Oh no Sheldon, Raj will be co-leading the Ecliptic Alignment of CMB Anisotropy research team. One of the last great cosmology questions in Physics.” Howard turned to Raj, “So are you going with the Hagerman approach or Reitman evaluation?”
Raj answered immediately, “I think Reitman is the way to go his theory may not have held water 10 years ago but was far superior to Hagerman. It will be interesting to use the modern field theory to reexamine it.”
Sheldon snorted, “Excuse me Reitman was a second rate astrologist compared to Hagerman, what’s your sign. Hurumph. How could you be so misguided, you obviously have to start with Hagerman and use the new unified field equations to determine the new quantum constants. It should only be a matter of time to come up with quantum calculations to have someone like Leonard here create an experiment to test it. If it fails then go back to Reitman and do the same thing though you’ll probably only find Virgo rising in Taurus.”
Sheldon looked over at Leonard, “Are you sure Raj is the right person to co-lead this, you should have a top theorist as his co-investigator.”
Leonard was careful not to smile, “I was thinking about you Sheldon. You’ve worked with Raj before and I know Amy would like to come back t0 Caltech.”
Sheldon didn’t miss a beat, “I’m in.”
Raj just “happened” to have some scratch paper and a pencil in his pocket and the two started to talk about the physics. Sheldon was scratching equations and diagrams on the paper. Leonard nodded at Raj who returned it. Howard and Leonard bumped fists behind Sheldon’s back. Leonard started to get up to go tell Amy the good news when standing in the door of the lounge he saw Penny with a older lady. Penny had a distraught grin on her face. Leonard turned toward Sheldon. Through clenched teeth, “Sheldon why is my mother here.”
Sheldon did not look up from his calculations, “Because she’s your mother Leonard. Don’t worry she can ride with Amy, Tyler and I.
Limited Optional Parameters
Leonard stood up straight and reached over for his scotch for another drink but it was empty. He put the glass back on the table and turned to walk toward Penny and Beverly. He didn’t bother smiling if anything just a quick grin, “Hello mother so nice that you could come.” Beverly snorted slightly and looked at Leonard over her glasses. “If Sheldon hadn’t emailed the plans I wouldn’t have.” She turned toward Penny, “Leonard neglected to invite me to his first wedding also, but when I heard he was marrying you I decided to come. I’d told him to take good care of you before but he must have forgotten.”
Leonard stepped over to Penny and took her hand. Penny could feel how tense he was almost shaking. He had been such a rock since they’d been together but this was like the old Leonard. His self-assurance having ebbed she knew he was feeling vulnerable. Penny did the only thing she could think, she leaned over and kissed him. Not a peck but long slow wet I love you kind of kiss she thought. It seemed to work somewhat he leaned into her and stopped shaking. She held him for a moment and whispered into his ear, “We can do this.”
When she pulled back Leonard looked into her eyes. She liked what she saw the self-assured worldly man she was about to marry.
Leonard looked from Penny to his mother, “Since this is the second marriage for both us we felt we would invite just our friends and not family.” Penny was impressed he said it nicely but forcefully. Penny decided that a double team was appropriate, “We’re both glad you made it Beverly, aren’t we Leonard? Now you can meet your granddaughter Lisel she in the dining room.” Penny had never even looked at Leonard. She took Beverly by the arm and led her toward the dining room. Penny looked over her shoulder at Leonard and made drinking motions with her hand. Leonard smiled at his wife to be. He walked to the bar and ordered another scotch and two tequila shooters for his mother.
Leonard walked toward the table. Penny was standing behind Beverly and looking at him pointing at her. He came over and saw that Lisel had thrown her arms around Beverly and was holding her tightly. Beverly’s face actually looked like it had melted. She wasn’t smiling but all the stiffness had gone out of her face. Lisel pulled back and kissed Beverly on the cheek. “I’ve been waiting to meet you grandmamma. I’ve seen your picture and daddy has told me you would come see me sometime. I’m so happy you’re here come meet my other grandparents.”
Lisel had taken her hand and rather insistently proceeded to pull Beverly up. Beverly looked at Penny as she stood and mouthed, “She’s adorable”, and let herself be led around the table to Lena and Horst.
Leonard put the two shots on the table he and Penny each grabbed one to throw it down. Penny looked at Leonard and put hers back on the table, “Not good for the baby, I little wine with dinner perhaps but not Tequila. “ Beverly was visiting with Lena, Horst and Lisel. The guys were all still in the bar. Amy was nowhere to be seen. Priya was sitting with Tyler on her lap, he was fast asleep. Penny patted Leonard’s hand as he nursed his scotch and got up and sat next to Priya. “Hi, how’d you end up with a sleeping two year old?” Priya smiled and stroked his head, “I have 6 nieces and 4 nephews he just kind of gravitated my way. Amy asked if I could watch him for a minute while she checked on Sheldon. I take it that’s Leonard mother?”
Penny smiled still looking at the grandparents and Lisel, “The dragon lady herself, she doesn’t look it but she can get in your head and have you in tears in seconds.” Priya nodded and reached for her wine which was slightly out of reach with Tyler on her lap. Penny got it and handed it to her. Priya took a sip and Penny touched her arm. “I’m really glad you’re here Priya even if it was just to take care of Raj. It’s all set he’s going to get to come back to Caltech with his family in the fall.”
Priya looked at Penny and smiled. Penny could see it was a smile that was both happy and sad. “You should think about coming back to Southern California too Priya. I remember you liked it there. Think about it.” Priya smiled at her, very genuine and sincere, “Thank you Penny I will think about it. Oh here comes Amy.”
Amy Cooper was making a striding waddle as she crossed the floor toward the table. Penny stood to meet her. Leonard was watching Lisel talking to Beverly with a sort of smirk on his face. Amy came as close as her extended tummy would allow, leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Leonard was startled then turned, stood and got her seated next to him.
“Well, what are they doing in there?” Leonard asked even though he could tell from her face that Amy was very happy. She really had no control over herself that way. “They are arguing over theories and formulas. It’s wonderful.”
Leonard took a sip of scotch and smiled back. He looked over to see Penny staring at him, head tilted questioningly. He gave her the thumbs up and she smiled then started talking to Priya again,
“I guess I’ll give them about 10 more minutes then move them back in here.” Leonard looked around, “What happened to Bernadette and Howard?” Then it hit him that they we’re working on the baby. Leonard smiled and wished them well. Amy had got up and was sitting with Priya and Penny. Leonard was alone for a moment, maybe the first time all day really. He could just be feeling his liquor but he was actually kind of happy his mother was here. Maybe Lisel was the accomplishment she had always been looking for out of him. He thought about that for a moment then realized if that was true she was just wrong. Lisel was above all things herself he just gave her love and encouragement. Leonard was looking at the lovely dining room they were in when he felt two arms wrap around him from behind. Penny leaned over and kissed his cheek, “Whatcha thinking Dr. Hoftstader?” Leonard covered her hands with his left hand, “I was wondering why we’re not in bed having sex right now on our last night single.” Penny sat down next to him and gave him the crooked little grin, “You mean with each other right?” He leaned over and kissed her softly and held it for a few more seconds. Leonard stood up laughing softly, “I have to go collect my bickering physicists from the bar, hold that thought and I’ll let you know.”
Leonard was sitting on the couch in the suite wrapped in his robe. Penny was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. Lisel was asleep in her bed it had been a late night for a 4 year old after a long day. It was 9:30. Leonard had the lights dimmed and he sat thinking maybe he should have another scotch but thought better of it. It had been a satisfying evening in many ways, stark terror and fright in others. But Penny had been right and he knew that at this point he should neither seek nor need his mother’s approval. She had come over and sat by Leonard and Penny after visiting with Lena and Horst. She had wanted to know everything about Lisel.
He had been fairly circumspect about it all. Obviously she was a gifted child, but what were her gifts Leonard had told her that would be decided by Lisel. He would not try to pressure her as he had been. His mother almost seemed appalled when he said perhaps she would be a great poet or painter. The hard sciences were fine but Lisel would decide what her calling was. Penny had gasp when he suggested that maybe she would be a child actor and then go onto stardom. Her mother was in the business after all.
Leonard chuckled to himself. He had probably thrown that in just to dig at both Penny and Beverly. He did know that Lisel would never know a loveless Christmas and that every one of Lisel’s birthdays would be celebrated and honored. That she would have friends and a place for them to spend time together. There would be trips to Disneyland and the beach. All the things missing from his childhood would be there. She would also learn to live in both Europe and America. She would be what she wanted to be.
Hi mother had accepted this though he thought grudgingly. It had been the first time he’d ever had that kind of conversation with Beverly. He liked that better than mother or mom, she’d really always been Beverly not the other and he was just now realizing it. With Penny sitting beside him holding his hand he’d just been himself with her. Adult to adult for once in his life he was actually glad she had come. He’s been avoiding her for years and for what? Because he had sought her approval, or that she thought he did. Either way that was over, he was a father now and soon to be a husband for a second time. The second half-life was all that mattered.
Sheldon and Raj had actually settled into working together when he had gone back to the bar to get them. They had already decided on the direction the research would take. He was satisfied they would work on it long distance until the fall when they were back at Caltech. He also knew that they might never find the answer, but that’s the way it was with some problems. The work was all that mattered sometimes it led to other answers and other questions.
He also realized that none of tonight, this week, this month would have been possible without Penny. She wasn’t his muse. She was his fire and passion. If he had her in his life anything was possible. There would be trials and unforeseen problems in their life. She had been right when she realized they would do the hard things together.
Penny roused him from his thoughts suddenly standing in front of him in her pink short robe. “You look like you were solving physics problems instead of Sheldon?”
Leonard looked up into her face, “Nope I’m not sure I can solve any problem without you there holding my hand.” He put out his hand. Penny opened her robe and let it slide down her shoulder. She had a very sexy black lace teddy on. “I couldn’t decide between this one and another that I got for our wedding night so I got both. Should I try the other one on and let you decide?” She reached out and took Leonard’s hand and molded herself into him on the couch.
He ran his hand along her thigh, “no I think this will do for tonight and we’ll save the other for tomorrow when your Mrs. Hoftstader”
Penny buried her face in his neck, “Perfect answer Leonard, perfect answer.”
Penny and Leonard stepped out of the car at the chateau. Lisel was last out holding her rabbit Rascal and wide eyed at the huge half castle half stone house before them. The house had white washed stone walls, attached to an even older tower structure that still had slit windows and crenellations around its top conical roof. The French flag flew from the top of the tower. The house itself was a four story affair if Leonard had to guess it should contain about 150 rooms. He looked over at Penny who actually had a ghastly look on her face. “This is not particularly small and intimate Leonard.” He reached over and took her hand, “We’re not getting married in the Chateau Penny but we’ll get ready there. My friend Daphne will be here already.” Leonard gently turned Penny away from the house to the grounds leading away from the tower.
The grounds were immaculate green grass and formal hedges leading down to a large lake. On the edge of the lake was a yellow marble structure. It was oval shaped with a domed roof of the same marble and a striking white cross at its apex. Paths led down to it from several directions all a very fine cobblestone. Penny smiled, “Oh that is lovely, much better. How old is it?” Lisel’s hand found Penny’s other hand. “Somewhere about 300 years I’ve been told, we’re the first people to be married here in about 50 years.” Leonard replied, a wide grin spreading across his face.
They started walking toward the chapel, “Well it’s definitely better than “The Little White Wedding Chapel” in Vegas, but do they have Elvis?” Penny cracked herself up, Leonard was laughing also though Lisel looked confused. “Who’s Elvis?” Leonard ran a hand over her head, “No one important to us today darling.”
They got to the chapel and saw that it was a true oval setting perpendicular to the lake with doors inset on the lake side at the narrowest point of the oval one on each side. Leonard opened the door for his girls and they ventured inside. It was lit by candles as well as by an oval skylight in the ceiling. The oval was perhaps 45 feet at its longest point and 30 feet wide inside. Around the inside walls were stone benches facing inward. Enough to seat about 20 people comfortably. Offset from the center toward the far end of the oval shaped chapel was a small altar. It was not in itself ornately made but simple and of the same marble that the chapel and benches were made from. It was set in such a way that it was bathed in a circle of sunlight probably for the entire afternoon. The chapel had been decorated with orchids and rose garlands on the walls and altar. It was overwhelming austere yet lovely. The door opened behind them and a slight woman in her late 50’s entered. Leonard turned to her, “It’s lovely Daphne you were right the pictures could not do it justice. Penny this is Daphne Chenonceau this is her family’s estate and Daphne you remember Lisel from when she was a baby.”
Daphne took Penny’s hand gently in hers and patted it with the other, “It’s so nice to finally meet you Penny. Liisa and I used to watch your TV show on the internet. It was one of our favorites.” Penny smiled at Daphne but before she could speak Daphne had moved onto Lisel. She squatted down to her height and gave her a hug. “Hello Little Lisel, I’m Daphne and your mother Liisa was one of my finest friends. You weren’t even talking yet the last time I held you. I was there when you were born.” Lisel looked at her for a moment then smiled, “Hello Daphne”
Daphne stood and looked around the Chapel. “This was the celebratory chapel for the Chateau, weddings, christenings, confirmations and blessings were performed here. My mother was married here she was the last one before you two. The way this will work is that you will stand with your back to the altar standing in the sunlight facing the door as your friends and family enters. The judge in his robes will be behind the altar and behind you. When everyone is seated he will come around and stand in front of you and the ceremony will be performed with you facing your guests. That is the tradition of this chapel and my family.”
Penny smiled at Daphne, then looked at Leonard, “You were right intimate, subtle and yet terribly romantic. “ Daphne smiled back at her then over at Leonard, “The only change from what we talked about is that my Uncle Robert is ill so we have another judge who will perform the wedding. He’s about your age Leonard I think you will like him.” Daphne reached out and took Lisel’s hand and started leading her to the door. “Let’s get you all up to the house so you can start getting ready. Penny your hair dresser and make up girl came in last night but they are ready to go this morning.”
Penny turned toward Leonard taking his hand, “You brought Sheila and Mindy over to do my hair and makeup?”
Leonard just smiled rather modestly, “They are your friends. I worked it with Josh after we came over to Geneva. They still think you’re doing a photo shoot but they get a week in Paris when their done.” Penny leaned over and kissed his neck and cheek, “Thank you honey that was very sweet and now I can really look my best and have my friends at the wedding.”
They walked hand in hand behind Daphne and Lisel who by now was asking questions.
“Is this your house Daphne, it’s very large and beautiful?”
“It’s my family home Lisel but I live in Geneva and work were your grandfather does most of the year. I’m a mathematician like your grandmother though I could never teach as she does.”
They neared the house as a young man came through the door and tipped his hat to Daphne, “Good morning Baroness”
Daphne smiled back, “Good Morning Jean-Paul”
Lisel looked up at Daphne, “What’s a Baroness?” Daphne smiled at Lisel, “That’s just what we call the oldest lady that lives in this house, ready to see it?”
Lisel just nodded and they entered the 18th century abode.
Daphne had given them a brief tour of the ground floor but time was short. They had left the Hotel at 9:30 it was now 11:00. They needed to be in the chapel before 12:30. Because all the guests were coming at the same time they would greet them there. If it had been one of Daphne’s families wedding then the Baron would walk the bride into the church. But Penny and Leonard wanted to be standing there with Lisel greeting there few guests and taking their vows. Daphne showed them to a suite of rooms. There were two bedrooms connected by a central parlor. Each bedroom had its own bath. The entire suite was actually decorated with very modern furnishings both comfortable and stylish.
Leonard kissed Penny as she turned with Lisel and headed for the room where Sheila and Mindy waited. Leonard ventured into his bedroom and looked about. His garment bag was hanging in the bathroom. There was a well-stocked bar but he decided to abstain. He knew Penny would take the entire time getting ready. Leonard figured the time it would take him to get dressed and ready would be about 10 minutes. He actually was feeling rather lonely. Maybe that was why you had a best man at a wedding, he thought, to keep you out of the bar before the ceremony and to play cards with. Leonard sat down in the soft chair by the bed, pulled his phone out and started playing Tetris.
There was a knock at his door. Leonard didn’t rise but just paused his game and told them to come in. Penny stuck her head around the door he could see she was wrapped in a towel, “I thought you might be lonely over here want to come help Lisel and I get ready. You can watch Mindy and Sheila in action and help Lisel get dressed. Leonard rose and started for the door, “Not worried about bad luck or anything?
Penny almost laughed, “We could call Sheldon to calculate the odds.”
Leonard did laugh, “No the research questioner would be too grueling for either of us. We better just wing it.” Leonard followed what he now realized was a scantily clad Penny next door. She had on white lace panties and was holding the towel over her breasts. Leonard considered the rest of the day to come, “So far so good” he said as he watched her go through the door.
Leonard sat on a small sofa with Lisel helping get her shoes on. She stood and showed her dress off to him that she had gotten for Christmas. The pink and white dress with small kittens embroidered on the hem and neckline. With the matching shoes and white stockings she looked darling. Leonard looked over toward the makeup table where Sheila and Mindy were putting the finishing touches on Penny. She was still wrapped in the towel and smiled at him in the mirror. Mindy came over and got Lisel so she could do her hair. Penny turned in the chair and gave him a dazzling smile. “It time for your to get dressed Leonard, I just need to put on my gown and shoes then I’ll be ready.”
Leonard smiled back and headed back to his bedroom to get dressed. He was wearing a black Italian tuxedo. The shirt was bright white with a Nehru collar and sapphire button at his throat, his Uncle Floyd’s gold cuff links at his wrists. It took less than the estimated 10 minutes to get ready. His hair combed, checking for no food in his teeth. Leonard walked back to the parlor. He checked his phone it was 12:35 everyone would be arriving shortly. The door to Penny’s bedroom opened. Leonard waited patiently as first Mindy and Sheila made their way out. Both were dressed in short black dresses. Then Lisel appeared melting Leonard’s heart. Still in the Christmas dress with tiny white flowers woven into her hair.
Penny at last came through the door. Her dress was a brilliant white lace off the shoulder with long sleeves. Weaved into the dress from the neckline to the waist were small sequined and sapphire snowflakes. Leonard stood and she smiled at him. Her hair was pulled behind her head and hung in long ringlets down her shoulders and back. Weaved into it were small white and blue flowers. She must have been wearing flats under the long dress because Leonard was just slightly taller than her. She had a bouquet of yellow and blue flowers in her hand. Around her neck was the golden filet chain Leonard had given her for Christmas.
Leonard let “Wow”, escape his lips. Leonard was without words for several seconds a very unusual problem for the normally verbose professor. When he did speak he chose carefully. “Beautiful and stunning are not enough Penny, magnificent comes to mind.”
Penny walked over and took Leonard’s offered arm and switched her bouquet into that hand and let Lisel take hers.
Penny, Leonard and Lisel stood before the altar facing the doors Penny on the left, Leonard on the right with Lisel between them. Judge Edgard Durante had been there to meet them and be introduced by Daphne when they got to the chapel. He was Leonard age or slightly younger. Dark hair and eyes and Penny thought a very attractive man. He had explained to them that the entire ceremony except the last announcement could be in English. Daphne placed them in front of the altar and got down to talk to Lisel again. “You will stay here with you father until he touches your shoulder. Then walk over and sit with your grandparents they’ll be right there“, she pointed at the closest bench to Lisel’s right. She stood back up and touched Leonard cheek softlythen Penny’s. “When I shut the doors touch Lisel and point her toward Horst and Lena. Then Edgard will move around to stand in front of you and start the ceremony. Penny and Leonard both nodded.
Penny felt a little nervous, no rehearsal, no table reading, just stand up here and do it. She smirked and looked at Leonard, “My wedding is improv.” Leonard smiled back at her, “You wanted intimate and casual, but romantic and special. How’d I do so far?” She relaxed and smiled at him. She reached over and handed him her ring which he put in his left pocket. Penny was about to suggest the other pocket when the doors were opened and their guests started to file in. Horst and Lena were first, then Howard and Bernadette, Raj and Priya, Mindy and Sheila. The last in was Sheldon carrying Tyler following behind Beverly and Amy. Everyone smiled and some waved. Leonard, Lisel and Penny waved and smiled back. Once everyone was seated Daphne closed the doors. Before Leonard could touch Lisel she had started toward her grandparents and sat between them. Leonard and Penny moved toward each other and Judge Durante came around the altar and faced the gathering.
“I am Judge Edgard Durante of the magistrate’s court of Paris. I will officiate at this ceremony. By law I must ask if anyone knows a reason these two adults should not be married.”
“Very well then let us begin.” Judge Durante turned back to Leonard and Penny, “Please join hands.”
Penny placed her bouquet on the altar behind them and took Leonard’s hand in hers. She was shaking but Leonard was rock steady. She looked into his face, he had on The Smile and his eyes were soft and gentle yet strong and supportive. The vows went quickly. The traditional French version said by Edgard that they repeated:
“I, Leonard, take you, Penny, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; till death separates us.
I, Penny, take you, Leonard, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; till death separates us.
Leonard will you take Penny to be your legally wedded wife?
Penny will you take Leonard to be your legally wedded husband?
It is traditional for a marriage to be sealed with a token from husband to wife do you have such a token Leonard?
I do this ring.”
Penny watched Leonard reach into his right pocket, knowing the ring was in his left. She moved her eyes toward his left. Leonard was very solemn still smiling he produced a ring from his right pocket. Penny had to keep from gasping. The ring was gold with two beautiful interlaced diamond snowflakes in platinum upon the gold. Leonard took her hand and slid it on her left ring finger. Penny could feel tears sliding down her face.
“I must announce the following line in French by Law, En vertu des lois de la France je prononce maintenant votre mari et la femme. In English Under the laws of France I now pronounce you husband and wife. Please kiss your bride.”
Penny was pretty sure it was Howard doing the woot, wooting when they kissed but she couldn’t be sure. Penny felt tears on her lips and then Leonard’s lips were upon hers, softly and with a gentleness that made her cry harder. He pulled her into his arms and hugged her. Then together they turned and faced their applauding friends and family.
I’m going to add this for some friends of mine it’s always been a favorite of mine as well:
It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.
It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
~ Lisel Mueller ~
(Alive Together: New and Selected Poems)
Mr. and Mrs. Hoftstader
The limousine driver looked in his rear view mirror at the couple in the back. Mr. and Mrs Hoftstader sat very close together. They were holding hands smiling and talking softly to each other. The occasional kiss was exchanged as the car sped toward the U.S. Embassy both had smiles on their faces.
The women wore a short white lace dress her hair and makeup immaculate. She would occasionally stare at the wedding ring on her finger. She would then turn and kiss her husband again. She must have done it already about 4 times since they had left the chateau. The man was dressed in black slacks a black shirt with tiny red pin strips. A grey tweed waist coat and black dress jacket.
The driver knew his job, get the newlywed couple to the embassy by 6:00 PM. He remembered his wedding some 30 odd years ago. He still loved his wife every moment of his day. It was when he came home from work at night that things were in doubt. He really should be a comedian he thought and pushed further down on the gas pedal.
Leonard felt the car pick up speed slightly and looked up. The traffic was light and they should make it with about 45 minutes to spare. The wedding had made him almost cry. He kept thinking how it had been such a long road to something they both wanted. The end of it was by far worth the journey but the journey itself had been hard for them both.
After the ceremony was over and they faced their friends and family an instant reception line had formed. Penny had waved for Lisel to come stand with them. Starting with the judge and then all the guests each came up and kissed or hugged them both. Sheldon had actually first hugged Penny then actually hugged Leonard as well. Beverly had given Penny a warm hug and an even managed to give Leonard a near hug. Once everyone had paid their respects to the couple Daphne had herded everyone outside except Lisel, Penny and Leonard. The next twenty minutes were spent before a photographer taking pictures of the couple in the Chapel. Then Penny had insisted on several group photos outside with the entire group.
Leonard and Penny had then wished them all goodbye. They would all meet up for dinner at the hotel. The banquet room was reserved and ready. Lisel was kissed and sent back with Horst and Lena for the night. Leonard and Penny had returned to the bedrooms and changed into their current clothes. Sheila and Mindy has stayed to redo Penny’s hair and touch up her makeup. Then they were on their way to their rooms at the Athenee as well. Daphne had walked up to the happy couple as their bags were put in the car. “Leonard and Penny it was a lovely ceremony you do the Chapel and my family a great honor.”
Penny had given Daphne a gentle hug, “Thank you for taking us through this and providing the lovely chapel and rooms. I can’t tell you how special it was.” Daphne took Penny’s hand and looked into her face, “Take care of Lisel as if she were your own.”
Penny gave Daphne what she knew was her best smile, “She is my own already there is no other way”
Daphne had nodded and they had gotten in the car.
A Tighter Hold
The limousine pulled up not to the front of the embassy but a side entrance. Penny looked out and knew they had a problem. The press was there in force. At least 20 paparazzi and even a couple of TV camera crews were camped out at the entrance. Penny looked over to Leonard who grimaced. “That’s how you get a secret out to the world tell the State Department to keep it.” Penny took Leonard’s hand in hers, “Should we just rush by them?”
Leonard shook his head, “First get your passport out to show the Marines.” They both got their passports and nodded to the driver who went to open the door. Before he did two French policeman stepped forward from the reporters and pushed them back. Their driver opened the door and Penny led the way. Leonard holding tightly to her hand and the packet of papers he was carrying in his other hand. Penny watched as the marines opened the gates and the policeman pushed back harder against the photographers. The clicking of the cameras was everywhere.
Penny felt like it took minutes but within seconds she had showed her passport and was behind the gates Leonard still clutching her hand. Two of the press tried to follow and found themselves on the ground when they tried to get past the Marines. The Marines then stepped behind the gate and closed it between them and press. Penny was jittery, “I’ve never seen them like that, very aggressive.” Leonard looked a little rattled also. They started toward the consular building and were met by a young lady half way to it.
“Dr. and Mrs. Hoftstader I presume we’ve been waiting for you. I’m Virginia Robertson the assistant charge d affaire at the embassy let me take you to the notary. I see the police presence we requested was required. I’ll call to get a couple of more officers for when you leave.”
Virginia led them into the consulate to the office of the notary. The notary was a young man about the same age as the charge d affaire somewhere just under 30. He introduced himself as Thomas Corning and took Leonard’s packet from his hand. Thomas under the watchfulness of Virginia took out the papers and reviewed them. Leonard handed his and Penny’s passport to him. Thomas recorded and put a seal on each document. He then filled out his notary book and put it before them. “You both need to sign with the same name as is on your passport.”
Penny signed first and then Leonard. Thomas looked up and smiled at them both. Virginia offered her hand, “Congratulations your marriage is now official both in France and in the United States of America.” They both shook her hand and she smiled at Leonard, “Do you mind me asking how you overcame the residency requirement for your marriage?”
Penny actually was surprised, “What residency requirement?”
Virginia looked at her carefully, “To be married in France one of you must be a resident for 40 days before you can be married in a civil ceremony.”
Leonard just smiled, “I own a small place on the Rhone outside Geneva. I have residency going back awhile. The lawyers took care of the rest I’m sure. That and I had a Baroness helping me with the local aspects.”
Virginia smiled and nodded, “It’s very difficult to get married in France for foreigners it really quite a shame.” She looked down at her phone for a moment, “The sergeant says it’s a good time for you two to leave. The police have pushed back the press and he will personally walk you to the car. He’s a big fan by the way, we all are.”
Penny blushed slightly, “Thank you so much for helping us.”
Virginia started walking them out. When they reached the gate there were now 6 policemen holding the photographers and press back. The Marine sergeant was standing at attention in front of the gate waiting for them. Two other marines stood behind him facing outward blocking the view inside. Leonard and Penny walked up to the sergeant. Penny leaned in closer to him and kissed him on the cheek. He stood stone still, “Thank you sergeant.” A very slight grin was on marines face. He turned and walked them to the car no one came close.
Greetings and Goodbyes
Leonard and Penny entered the suite to a lovely bouquet of roses on the table and a bottle of Cristal Champagne chilling in an ice bucket. Penny looked at Leonard and smiled. “I’m only responsible for the Champagne the roses must be from someone else.” Leonard smiled back.
Penny took the card from the flowers and read it, a tear trickled down her face and she handed it to Leonard. “It’s from mom and dad, I told them they could come but I knew they wouldn’t. They wish us happiness.” Leonard read the card and put it on the table. He wrapped his arms around Penny. “Why wouldn’t they come when you told them?”
Penny wasn’t crying she kissed his cheek, “I knew Paris would be a bit much for them Leonard. Even LA is too big. But Europe was just a little much to ask of simple folks from Nebraska. Dad might have come but mom never would have. He wouldn’t come alone.” Leonard stepped back from her, “Let’s bring the family to them then, we can go home through Omaha if you’d like?”
Penny smiled, “Let me think about it. Leonard I have one more thing to do today. I need to read Liisa letter.” Leonard raised his eyebrows slightly, “You want some privacy?”
Penny put her hand on his cheek, “No I want you right here next to me.”
“I’ll open the Champagne then.”
Penny went into the bedroom and retrieved her letter. She returned to a pop as Leonard opened the champagne and poured it in two flutes. He met her on the couch and set hers on the coffee table. Penny set next to him and looked at the envelope then broke the seal and removed a sheet of writing paper and some very thin folded papers as well. She looked at the thin folded paper which was some kind of pattern. She picked up the letter and read:
Your reading this so Leonard has found you again. My father would only give you this if you two were together. I would be so happy for you and my dear Leonard. If my letter is in your hands then so are my Little Lisel and our Leonard. I say “our” because we have shared his heart though you wouldn’t know until he finds you again.
I loved someone like Leonard loved you. A love that set my heart on fire, that when it was gone I thought I could never find it again. I couldn’t. I loved Leonard he is gentle yet strong, caring and willing to sacrifice his happiness for his loved ones. Though I love and care for him still I knew he had that same love for you. This love is a fire and a passion that consumes you that you only find once. We filled the loss that each of us had with our own more gentle love and I treasure it. I hoped he would find his first love again even though I would never be able to. Care for his heart and your own. Protect him from himself when he will give too much. He has stayed by me to what will be a bitter end for him I know. I don’t give him to you but return him to his heart’s desire. He does come with that which is dearest to my heart, Lisel.
I hope she will grow up to be the gentle and caring person her father is. I also hope the best part of me carries on in her. If Leonard is with you he has decided you will be the right person for Lisel. Even as much as he still cares for you Lisel would come first for him, I know that so I have no fear you shall care for her as your own.
Enclosed is the pattern my Aunt used to make her bunny. The same bunny she made me when I was a child. Little stuffed bunnies don’t last forever. I had three as a child my Aunt making me a new one each time. This pattern is for you to have a new one made for Lisel when the time comes. She will need it for her children and you may use it for yours and Leonard’s. It gives me great peace to pass it on to the next Mrs. Hoftstader.
I’ll leave you with this:
A Clear Voice
Speak to your heart. Use a clear voice.
No sobs as you walk on shattered dreams and pain.
Your heart follows your love. It has no other choice.
It may keep you whole and sane.
So use a clear voice and love shall remain.
This is my last prose I’m afraid, morphine awaits me and me it. Should it ease me to ease him I shall be grateful.
Penny sat back on the couch she expected to be crying after reading Liisa’s letter. She was surprised how peaceful she was. She did feel regret at having never met her. Penny decided she would need to read more of Liisa’s work when she got home. She looked over at Leonard he was studying her while sipping his champagne. “Would you like to read it?” She smiled to show she was happy.
Leonard shook his head slowly, “Maybe some other time, I like how I feel right now. I’m married to the love of my life. I’m in Paris drinking fine champagne about to go see all my friends. Let’s just call me good. What’s the pattern of?”
Penny picked up the pattern and laid it out. It was well used and old. “This is the pattern for Lisel’s bunny Rascal. Liisa say’s they never last forever and we’ll need to make another someday. I think I’ll have one made for our baby too.” Penny was a little teary eyed after saying that. She carefully folded the pattern and letter and put them back in the envelope. Leonard lifted his right arm and she slid over into his shoulder. She snuggled in close and he wrapped his arm around her holding her tight. “How are you feeling Mrs. Hoftstader?”
“Wonderful Mr. Hoftstader, absolutely perfectly wonderful”
Leonard smiled and chuckled, “It’s actually still Dr. Hoftstader, the Dr. trumps the Mr.”
“Pedantic Dr. Hoftstader very very pedantic.”
Irrational but Well Rounded
Sheldon sat at the far end of the table in the banquet room. He was thinking about how really interesting Leonard and Penny’s wedding had been. His and Amy’s had been in the judge’s chamber in Pasadena before they came to Cambridge. His mother, sister and Amy’s mother the only ones in attendance as planned. They had gone out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Sheldon had splurged and had two desserts that night. He patted his much rounder stomach that he now had. He wasn’t fat he knew, his BMI being exactly at the high end for his height. He just wondered if he could have done their whole wedding better. He thought better of it and moved on to doing calculations in his head on stellar noise he’d been talking to Raj about earlier.
Amy was watching Sheldon who was across from her closely, first he looked whimsical then he had suddenly got a more serious look. She knew that look he was working something out clicking away in his head. He did this at social functions quite often. She reached over touching Tyler’s head in the high chair next to her. He had been eating small cooked carrots with his hands and now his face and hands were orange. She dipped a napkin in her water and proceeded to clean him up. She looked down toward Leonard and Penny who sat side by side in the middle of the table. Penny was talking to Horst who was on her right grinning at his response to whatever she had just said to him. Leonard was turned toward his left talking to Howard over the top of Lisel who was beside him. Amy smiled at her bestie who saw and smiled back giving her a little wave. Their wedding had been lovely, a little over the top for location perhaps but Penny had been beautiful. Tyler started to fuss beside her she turned and got him out of the high chair and put him in her lap.
Raj watched his sister who was at the end of the table talking to Edgard Durante the judge who had married Leonard and Penny. They we talking in French, his sister seemed very enamored of the dark haired and dark eyed judge. Leonard had invited him to the reception after Priya had started talking to him after the wedding. Raj felt his Indian protectiveness kicking in regarding what was proper and not. Then he realized he was no one to tell Priya how she should act. Perhaps this was the one.
Bernadette sat beside Howie listening to him talk with Leonard about the next version of the TISHH system. Howie was talking about it controlling cleaning devices and aiming solar arrays. Leonard had that look he would get when Howie had gone over the top but was listening patiently asking the occasional question. Bernadette wondered if she was pregnant yet. They had certainly been trying hard at it in a romantic way. She and Howie had spent the afternoon at the Louvre barely seeing any of it but walking hand in hand the whole time. When they had got back to the hotel there was time for a quickie before dinner so they continued to indulge. She hoped for Howie’s sake this time it would take. He wanted children so badly, if it didn’t work out this time they would have to seriously look at adopting.
Lena watched what she liked to think of as her daughter-in-law talking to her husband. She did catch a lot of the conversation even though it was in English. Horst was talking about Lisel’s first few years. She looked at Penny, she really was a beautiful woman but other things shined through also. She was charming of course, held herself well but some underlying quality shown in her face. It was compassion Lena thought and kindness. The same underlying things she had always seen in Leonard. That’s how they’re alike thought Lena, that’s the connection between them compassion and kindness. I bet they don’t even know it, they just know they’re connected.
Leonard was watching Howard talk to his left, his right hand holding Penny’s under the table. Howard at last finished his explanation of some new idea for Tish. Leonard nodded and looked down at Lisel who was eating ice cream from a dish. He leaned over and kissed her head, she looked up and smiled at her father and went back to the vanilla with chocolate sauce. Leonard turned and caught site of his mother who was beside Sheldon looking at him. He gave her his best smile. Beverly gave him a small grin back then turned her attention to Sheldon beside her. Leonard looked over to his wife she was just turning toward him after talking to Horst. She leaned over and kissed him lightly. She whispered in his ear, “Maybe we should think about going up to the room honey?” He nodded. Leonard cleared his throat several times so everyone’s attention turned toward him and he stood.
“Everyone I want to thank you for coming all the way to Paris for our wedding. “ He looked over at Priya and Edgard, “You are all welcome to stay here and enjoy the hotel’s wonderful hospitality as long as you’d like.” He looked down to see Lisel looking at him and he winked at her. “Lisel here will be staying with her grandparents tonight. Penny and I will see all of you in the morning. But I really do think it’s time for my wife and I to have a quiet evening alone together. Good night”
Beverly watched Leonard take Penny’s hand as she stood up and they headed for the door. Behind her she heard Sheldon talking to Amy, “Quiet evening my patootie, those two have the loudest sex on record. Even the downstairs neighbor would comment on it.” Beverly smiled and thought to herself, “I guess his penis turned out all right after all.”
Plans and Nightgowns
Leonard and Penny got into the room and fell into each other’s arms sharing a very passionate kiss. This was their first long kiss of the day there had been so many today but not like this kiss. Penny’s arms were wrapped around his neck, his arms around her waist. They were holding each other tightly their bodies crushed together passion ruling the moment. There was no other preparation or primping. They made very passionate love for the first time as a married couple on the couch and coffee table. Their clothes flung around the living room of the suite.
When they were spent Leonard picked her up and carried her to the bedroom sliding Penny and himself under the covers. They cuddled for a very long time facing each other kissing, touching and hugging. Penny knew he was becoming aroused again you couldn’t lay that close together without noticing. “Would you like me to go put my nightie on honey?” Leonard was nuzzling and kissing her neck now his hands wandering over her. “Maybe later you’re not going anywhere!”
The second time was slower more relaxed more like they usually were. It did last much longer though and they had both been breathing hard when they finished. This time Leonard lay on his back with Penny’s on her side facing him with her head resting on his left shoulder. Penny kissed his chest, “Leonard what are we doing tomorrow?”
Leonard kissed the top of her head, smelling her hair. “We make travel plans tomorrow. Do we want to go home via London then Omaha? Or is there somewhere else you want to see or go here, Venice or Mykonos perhaps?”
Penny thought it over for several seconds, “Leonard I want to go home, I want to take Lisel home to see her room and see the dogs and Schrodinger. I want to take Lisel to the apartment and walk around the park. We can come back over in the spring but I really feel like going home.”
Leonard held her tightly to him, “I’ll take care of it we’ll start home tomorrow.”
Leonard ran his hand down her side, “I had the same thought myself today, home.”
February 2nd 2:00AM Paris office of Jet Prime charters.
The computer screen on the scheduler’s desk had been left on again. A new message was in the lower corner. “Gulfstream VII deluxe CDG to BUR depart 2:00pm GMT. LLH Bank und Treuhand AG, confirmed. Aircraft confirmed from LHR to CDG by 12:30PM GMT
Edgard Durante’s Apartment Les Halles
Priya cuddled up to Edgard under the covers. He had been a wonderful lover and fine conversationalist. He was divorced with no children and until quite recently a lawyer in private practice in Leon. The move here to get away from his ex-wife and her family had cost Edgard his partnership in the law firm. She really might be able to get used to this man. At least Raj would get a decent night’s sleep tonight with no wall of pillows in bed between them. Priya settled in and closed her eyes. She really is going to have to think about Paris or Pasadena but right now Paris was winning hands down.
Impatience and Comfort
Leonard slid back into bed beside Penny she was laying on her side facing him. He very gently slid his arm above her pillow. She moved over put her head on his arm and her hand went to his side. “What were you doing up sweetie, I woke up when you got up and I’ve been waiting for you.” Penny had spoken softly into his chest. She had fell back asleep but part of her was waiting for him to return so she could sleep were she was now.
“Just booking a plane for the ride home tomorrow, we leave at 2:00. We should be in Burbank by 2:00 PM we just need to get Chelsea to set up the car.”
Penny snuggled in a little further then something clicked in her brain. “What airline flies into Burbank from Paris?”
Leonard rolled toward her slightly getting comfortable. “No airlines do but the private jet were flying on tomorrow will land where ever we want it to. You sounded like you really wanted to get home. This is the quickest way. Direct flight you me and Lisel should cut about an hour or more off the commercial time.”
Penny smiled to herself, “How much did it cost us?”
Leonard was silent.
Penny was fully awake now, “come on how much?”
Leonard ran his hand through her hair, “It’ll be close to 75K for a ten hour flight then I’m sure there will be some premium cost attached for service and the flight attendant. Say closer to 80.”
Penny shook her head slightly, “That’s a lot I could have waited a day.”
“Like I said just a tool, you and Lisel are worth every dime to get us home.”
Penny was amazed as always by the way his mind worked. She knew he would never spend that to fly himself home. That was unless he needed to get to me or Lisel then price would have been no consideration. “Thank you honey, it’s all set then?”
“Yep, I love you Penny.”
“Thank you”, she waited for 5 long seconds, “I adore and love you too”
Penny closed her eyes she was warm in his arms both physically and emotionally. Sleep returned almost at once.
Leonard woke up as Penny slipped out of bed. It was still fairly early he knew, the winter light just creeping through the window. He would enjoy getting back to the California sunshine. He thought that it would be fun to bring Penny back this summer to see Paris at its peak. He had been here several times in the summer and the spring. He wanted to take her to Ile Saint Louis and the Place de Concord. Then all the places he knew so well. The little café here, the odd bar there that he had explored on his own years ago. He had imagined her there with him then. Now it was possible to do that.
Penny came back and slid in beside him. “I ordered us croissants and coffee. I didn’t think you were awake yet you were up late.” Leonard pulled her close kissing her forehead. “We were both up as I recall. I just couldn’t sleep last night until I got the flight home set up. I was just laying here thinking we should come back to Paris in the summer. Lisel can spend a week or two with Horst and Lena. I can take you to all the places I imagined you at.”
Penny laughed, “Imagined me?”
Leonard was quiet for a moment or two. “Before I met Liisa I would take a week and go to some new place every 4 weeks or so. I would always imagine taking you or being there with you. The canals of Venice, the beach at Mykonos, watching the sunset in Portugal or the sunrise in Florence, you were with me in each of those places and more. I even talked to you sometimes, I missed you so much Penny. Now that we’re together I want to go back with you to those places so you can hear me whisper to you this time.”
Penny put her hand on his cheek and pulled him to her and kissed him she didn’t stop kissing him until the knock on the suite door came. She broke the kiss and looked into his eyes, “I can’t wait I want see every spot and hear every word.” She slid out of his arms and headed toward the door.
Penny brought the breakfast tray with the coffee pot and croissants and set it on the coffee table in the bedroom. She was blushing. “I think we may be the scandal of the room service folks today. I let in the young man and told him to put the tray on the coffee table and he had to move my bra and panties over to set it down. I’m sure that will be around the kitchen soon enough.”
A smiling Leonard got up and put his robe on and joined her on the small settee behind the coffee table. He was still contemplating the different places he wanted to take Penny when his phone buzzed on the night stand. A few mild oaths as he crossed the room to get it he read the text to Penny.
“Table reserved for breakfast in 1 hour, Amy”
Penny stood up grabbed a roll and her coffee and started heading for the bathroom. Leonard sat back down on the small couch. He really had wanted to spend a little more time lounging around here with Penny. He looked up to see Penny standing in front of the bathroom door coffee and half eaten croissant in hand. “You know two people can shower faster than one.”
Leonard grabbed his coffee and started for the bathroom. He thought he should text Amy back about how the Hoftstaders were definitely going to be late.
Off to the Mouse
Penny and Leonard were a half hour late already and Sheldon was getting rather anxious. He had made big plans for today. The most important day of this whole trip beside the train ride was here and now they were running late. Finally Leonard and Penny came through the doors to the restaurant saw their friends at the table and walked over.
Amy stood and gave Penny a hug, “How’s Mrs. Hoftstader this morning? Where’s Lisel?”
Penny smiled at Amy and looked over at Tyler sitting on Sheldon’s lap, “She’s having breakfast with her grandparents in their room. They want to spend as much time as they can with her their train leaves at 12:30. Hey Moonpie you’re looking a little stressed what’s up”
Sheldon started to say only his Memaw called him Moonpie but he suddenly choked up for a second. Penny was suddenly setting by him very gently touching his arm, “I know your Memaw is gone Sheldon your mom sent me a card in New York. I guess I’m the only one that calls you Moonpie now.” Sheldon felt better about it, Penny was right for a change, “You can call me Moonpie Penny” he said softly. Then his voice became more strident, “You and Leonard are late and it’s throwing my whole schedule off. We need to leave in just a few minutes.”
Amy spoke up, “Sheldon don’t worry the park doesn’t even open for another hour.”
Leonard had walked up now after saying good morning to Howard and Bernadette who were also late. “What park are you going to Sheldon?”
“Disney Paris of course, and we really should be leaving.”
Leonard walked over to Amy and she rose and gave him an odd sort of hug as was her bent. “Well we’re flying out a 2:00PM and going back home, Amy don’t let Sheldon have the churros before the rides or he throws up.” Penny still sitting beside Sheldon nodded knowingly, “Have fun Sheldon see you at home soon”, before he could move or object Penny had pecked him on the cheek. Sheldon for a change didn’t feel instantly revolted by someone kissing him. But then again Penny had always had that effect on him. He immediately thought better of it as he walked to the door carrying Tyler in one arm reaching into his pocket for hand sanitizer with the other.
Amy stood and gave her bestie a hug and waved at Howard and Bernadette and followed her husband out the door.
Farewell with Arms
Leonard followed Penny to seats beside Howard and Bernadette. Raj was nowhere to be seen yet. Leonard looked at Bernadette, she was positively glowing. “Bernie are you sure you’re not pregnant already your just glowing?” Bernadette just smiled that big smile of hers, “We’re not checking until we get home. So you two are leaving today. Howie and I are going to stay the rest the week though we may have to change rooms.”
Penny looked over at Leonard he was smiling at Bernadette, He reached over and touched her hand, “The suite is yours and Howards until you’re ready to come home. I told you this trip was on me.” Howard grinned, “Thanks buddy we’ll use it well, maybe have them remodel it on the Hoftstader tab.”
Leonard just smirked Penny and Bernadette both shook their heads. Everyone saw Raj enter the restaurant and was wondering where Priya was. Leonard waved at Raj and as he got close, “Where’s that lovely sister of yours?” He felt Penny’s nails digging into his thigh. Mission accomplished he thought smiling at her.
“I’m pretty sure she is studying the French Legal system today. She texted me she would be back for dinner tonight, maybe.” Raj looked a little pained but overall he looked comfortable with the situation. Bernadette reached over and touched his hand, “That’s okay you can come with me and Howie today. It’ll be like the old days were going to hit all the sites today including the Coco Channel Museum.”
Raj’s smiled became wide even as Howard grimaced, “That would be wonderful I loved her biography, she was so exceptional.” Same old Raj thought Leonard. Leonard reached over and offered his hand to Raj. “You’ve got all my contact info and who to contact at Caltech to start the visa process. Let me know if something comes up, we’re flying out at 2:00”
Raj started to tear up and he shook Leonard’s hand, “Thank you again Leonard I’m going to be a real physicist again.” Leonard just smiled and stood along with Penny. Penny gave Raj a peck on the cheek. They both gave Howard and Bernadette a hug then waved their goodbyes.
No Time Change, Just Time
Leonard took a sip of his scotch and looked across the aisle to the bed on the other side. Penny and Lisel were sleeping soundly. Leonard was looking at, to him, the most perfect sight he could think of. Both loves of his life were lying on their sides sleeping soundly facing him. Lisel little face right below Penny’s both peaceful and happy.
He checked his phone they had been in the air about 3 hours about 6 hours to go according to the pilot unless they got a head wind. They actually would land about the same time they had taken off. Because Paris was 9 hours later than Burbank and a nine hour flight gaining time as they went west. Though it would feel like 11:00 pm to them when they got in. That’s why they called it jet lag he supposed. Chelsea had texted him that the car would be at the airport waiting for them when they got in. They would go through customs at the civilian aviation terminal and be home 20 minutes later.
Leonard looked around at the interior of the Jet. It was immensely comfortable compared to a commercial airliner. It would seat 25 people comfortably or be configured as it was now for a single family. There were 4 seats that turned in to twin beds, Swivel and reclining seats some around tables. Several flat screens for watching any media they desired were set into the bulkheads. The flight attendant had 6 different entrees should they get hungry some specifically for children. She also had appetizers, desserts and snacks. Leonard had been impressed by the small but very well stocked wine selection. The 25 year old scotch he was sipping was pretty special also. The most remarkable thing though was how much quieter it was than commercial. You could converse normally and sit back and think.
He could get use to traveling this way he thought, especially when his girls were with him. He couldn’t even contemplate going anywhere without them at the moment. It might be just Penny and himself occasionally but never without Penny or Lisel. He really couldn’t imagine himself being the lone traveler again. Leonard thought that through and took the last sip of his scotch and looked back at his girls. Penny’s eyes where open staring at him. She had that soft smile on her face that she would get when he would choose her over some nerdy thing the guys were doing. He put his glass down and leaned over to her and kissed her
“Hi love I thought you were sleeping?”
Penny reached up and touched his face, “I was watching you thinking, what were you thinking about?”
Leonard gave her his best smile, “I was thinking I never want to travel again without at least one of my girls ever again.”
Penny just nodded, there’s That Smile again, “You’ll never have to, there’s room behind me for one more. You know I don’t sleep well without you.
The flight attendant watched from the galley as the man slipped off his shoes and climbed in behind his wife and daughter. She smiled and set down in the first seat beside the galley.
Penny woke up feeling Lisel move, she was awake so Penny stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. “Did you sleep well sweetie?” Lisel nodded her head then lifted it up to look around, “Mommy I’m hungry can we get something to eat.” Penny helped Lisel sit up and then sat beside her. She looked back at Leonard who was also awake and looking at them both with a grin on his face. Penny reached back and took his hand. “Did you get any sleep honey?”
“A few hours I think let me check my phone” he checked his phone and looked at the Paris time, “We’ve been lying down about 3 hours so yeah we got some sleep. We should have around three hours left in the flight.” Lisel crawled over and gave Leonard a hug as Penny smiled and looked on. The flight attendant was setting up the forward table for them. Suddenly Lisel was giving her a hug now. Penny and Lisel gave each other a peck on the lips at the same time then Penny picked her up as she stood. Leonard rolled out of the bed and into the aisle behind them.
A late dinner according to their internal clocks was served by the flight attendant. Leonard and Penny both had vegetarian linguini pasta with feta cheese and olive oil. Lisel had meatloaf, fresh carrots and penne pasta in a marinara. Leonard had a bottle of white wine opened though Penny only had a sip. Leonard had understood, nodded at her and smiled. It was time to really start thinking about the baby to come. Penny needed to decide on an OB when she got home her current gynecologist didn’t deliver babies but was sure she would have a recommendation. Then of course they would need to decide on how to remodel the house for the baby’s room. Furnishings, bedding, and.” Penny stopped; wow that was moving a little quick there. Maybe I should just start with an appointment with my doctor and see where we go from there. She noticed Leonard had been watching her. “Where were you Penny you were in the zone there for minute or two” Penny smiled brightly at him, “Just doing my Leonard imitation how’d it come out, did I get the over thinking look right?” Leonard smirked at her “Not really you looked more like Sheldon there for a minute.”
Penny just missed kicking him under the table and laughed though she’d hit her foot on the seat and it hurt. A laughing ouch came out instead. Leonard went from laughing at her to concerned, “Did you hurt yourself, are you okay?” Penny felt his hand on her bare foot and calf and feigned injury. Leonard gently rubbed her foot and calf his touch was so soft, maybe he really should have been a medical doctor. “Is that better Penny? Penny kept a serious look on her face and put her foot back on the floor, lifted her other one and put it in his lap, smiled, “great can you do this one now it’s the one I hit on the seat.” Leonard smirked and rubbed it too, then Lisel’s feet also while both of his girls laughed at him.
Customs at the civil aviation terminal had been a breeze. No waiting, no lines they were used to a lot of private flights coming into Burbank from overseas. The driver had been waiting and took their trolley full of bags to the car while the family followed. The drive to the house had only taken about 20 minutes. Chelsea was waiting by the front door as they got out.
“Okay it just happened and I haven’t got a chance to clean it up yet.” She said almost in tears.
Penny walked up to her and gave her a hug, “What happened sweetie?”
“Schrodinger got a roll of toilet paper I had just got out for the bathroom and shredded it all over the living room. I just wanted the house to be perfect when you got home, damn cat.” Penny started laughing, “He does have a thing for toilet paper and paper towels. Chelsea this is Lisel our daughter. Lisel this is Chelsea she works for me and your daddy.”
Lisel stepped forward and looked up at Chelsea, “Hallo it’s nice to meet you. I’ll help clean up after the kitty.”
They went through the door to be rushed by two very happy pit bulls. Penny scooped up Lisel so she wouldn’t be run over but ended up being knocked down by Einstein herself. She sat on her bottom holding Lisel and let them do their worst for a moment, covering both of them with slobbering dog kisses. “Leonard a little help here!” Leonard was laughing too hard to actually say a command. Chelsea finally raised a finger, “settle, sit, sit!” Both dogs obeyed though they were obviously still very excited. Penny set Lisel on her feet and looked at her, “Okay honey just like I showed you.” Lisel held up her index finger and looked as sternly as a four year old can at both dogs, “Lay down.” Einstein and Leaky both lay down and continued looking at Lisel. Leonard went to help Penny up, “Now you decide to help” she shot his way, “good job Lisel honey. Now you can go pet them”
Lisel went over to the two big dogs and started to pet them. They licked her hands and smelled her getting to know their new friend. Penny and Leonard just stood back and watched. Chelsea had moved to the sitting area in the great room and was picking up Schrodinger’s mess. Lisel saw and went to help her. Penny leaned on Leonard’s shoulder and rubbed her hand on his back. Leonard kissed her on the cheek. ”Welcome home Mrs Hoftstader.”
I have a slide
The infamous Schrodinger made his appearance as soon as the last of the toilet paper was cleaned up, suddenly appearing on top of the couch. Lisel’s eyes grew wide and she did a skipping run over to the cat. Leonard thought she might scare him but Schrodinger didn’t move. She stopped before she touched him, “Hallo Schrodinger kitty you’ve been very bad” she said very seriously. She then reached over and started stroking his head and back. Penny had moved up right behind her. “You can pick him up honey, he likes to be held.” Lisel gently picked up the cat. Leonard thought he could hear Schrodinger purring from ten feet away. Penny sat with Lisel on the couch and they both lovingly petted the feline. Leonard felt a wet tongue lick his right hand. He looked over and started to rub Einstein’s ears and head when Leaky jumped up from the other side. Trapped he just let them give him affection for several seconds and they calmed down.
Leonard started carrying the bags to rooms, first Pennies three to her wardrobe then his single bag to their bedroom. He started to get his shaving kit out when he heard Lisel high pitched scream. Leonard bolted for the door then as he entered the hallway he understood. Lisel was standing in the door to her room, Penny and Chelsea behind her. She turned toward her father, “Daddy, Daddy I have a slide in my room.” Leonard relaxed and took a deep breath, then another. He hadn’t needed an inhaler in years but he could have used one then. He walked to the door as Lisel walked in. The voice startled him. The screen was down from the ceiling and on it was a blonde woman’s head and face, computer generated but very life like. “Hi Lisel my name’s Tish.”
Lisel looked over at the screen and clapped, “Hallo Tish”
Penny looked over at Leonard who shrugged and stood close to her. “Howard said he’d made certain enhancements for kids.” He looked at the woman on the screen again, he was sure of it now. There were differences but it looked remarkably like Liisa looked when they were first married. Penny smiled “It looks like Liisa doesn’t it?” Leonard looked very hard at the image again. “It does and it doesn’t. It kind of looks like a mix of Bernadette, Liisa and you, Howard would’ve needed thousands of facial images to put it together.”
Penny looked again, “Your right it is a mix. I like the new Tish.”
Lisel was looking around the room, touching her toys from the apartment with her free hand. Leonard thought it was Rascal until he saw the white bunny in Penny’s hands. He looked at Lisel again and realized it was Schrodinger she was carrying.
Evening at home
Lisel had finally let the cat go when Penny suggested he might be hungry. Then together Penny and Lisel opened the boxes from Geneva and put her things away. Penny helped her explore her room and get things just how she wanted them. Penny got Lisel and herself into their pajamas and asked Tish to put the latest Disney movie on. They lay down on the Lisel’s bed and started to watch. Lisel was asleep in minutes. Though it was only 6:00 PM she was still mostly on Paris time. Penny got up and tucked Lisel in then headed out of the room. “Tish low lighting but enough for her to see if she wakes up, when Lisel wakes up let me know.” Penny left the door to the room slightly ajar and went to find Leonard. He was in his spot on the couch in front of the fireplace. A cup of tea rather than scotch in his hand, Leonard was staring at the fire. Another cup of tea was on the coffee table. Penny picked up the tea and curled up with her feet under her on the couch and leaned into him. She smelt the tea, “umm peppermint very appropriate for my mood, and still hot.”
Leonard took a sip as Penny snuggled into his shoulder, “I had Tish tell me when Lisel got to sleep so I could make you some. I thought for a moment you might both fall asleep, are you hungry?” Penny sipped more tea and shook her head no. “Are you going to go into the office tomorrow honey?”
Leonard took another sip of tea, “No I need a day to get my clock straightened out.”
Penny sat up and put her tea on the coffee table. She leaned back into Leonard and closed her eyes. “I’ve got to make a doctor’s appointment then I’m spending the day with Lisel, maybe the three of us can go to the apartment in the afternoon then into old town.”
“That sounds good. Tish put some soft music on please.”
Leonard listened to the mix of jazz and instrumental blues. Penny had fallen asleep shortly after the music came on. It was just after 7:00PM. Leonard had really wanted to stay up until 9:00 to reset his clock but the best laid plans he thought. He slid his hands under Penny’s legs and tilted her head into his chest. With some effort and making sure he didn’t grunt he picked her up as he stood. “Tish turn off the fireplace please.” Leonard started down the hall to the bedroom asking Tish for low lighting. He laid Penny gently on the left side of the bed and brushed the hair from her face. Leonard next went to bath and closed the door. He decided to shave the stubble off his face, and then finished his nightly routine. In his boxers he slid in next to Penny who rolled over and was facing him. When he slid his arm under her head her hand slide up his chest and in the soft light she opened her eyes. They sparkled in the low light green and lovely. “Honeymoon’s not over Mr. Dr. Hoftstader”, she slowly kissed his neck then his lips.
Tish turned off the lights in the living room, and then checked to make sure the doors and windows were locked. She had constantly been monitoring Lisel as Penny had asked. She was still sleeping. The dogs were lying in the hallway though both were awake. The cat was lying near to Lisel’s head, vibrating Tish noticed. How odd.
Gnats come a Buzzing
Penny was awoken by a buzz in her ear. She swatted around at it then settled back in only to have it return. She waved once more by her head then heard Tish, “Penny you wanted to be notified when Lisel was awake. She is waking up now.” Penny set up and pushed the hair out her of face. She stood up and grabbed her robe from the chair. The clock on the night stand said 5:45AM. Lisel had slept almost twelve hours Penny thought. That should help her get over any jet lag. Penny looked over at Leonard who was still sleeping soundly. The dogs were both in the hallway the lights low but not off. They were both awake and staring at Penny as she walked toward Lisel’s room. She patted both of their heads as she went by and into her daughter’s bedroom.
Lisel was sitting up in the bed stretching and looking around when Penny sat on the bed next to her. Penny wrapped her arms around Lisel and pulled her close, “Good morning baby, how’d you sleep?” Lisel yawned, “Good but why is it still dark?” “We came a long way yesterday and went to bed very early. It will be light soon, should we have Tish turn up the lights?” Lisel nodded. Penny looked at her, “Why don’t you ask her, say her name then what you want then say please. Lisel looked surprised but tried, “Tish can you turn the lights on please.” The room lights came up to a comfortable level but not too bright. Lisel clapped and giggled. “What else can Tish do mommy?”
Penny wished Leonard was up to answer that one. She did know that this version of Tish had a lot more features. Including some child safety ones, Lisel could not open an outside door by herself. Only an adult trusted by the system could open the door. There were overrides for emergencies but it would keep her safe. The system could follow Lisel from room to room and interact with her if she was scared or unsure. It could also play games with her either word games or on the screen, or even video games as if it were another player. Penny thought it might be rather difficult to play hide and seek with Tish. Lisel was a bit more practical though. “Tish I’m hungry can you get me something to eat?” Tish didn’t answer. Lisel looked puzzled then added “Please”. Tish answered at once, “Only humans are allowed to feed other humans Lisel. I can tell you what we have in the pantry and can see there are some nice apples and bananas in the bowl on the counter.” Lisel grinned “Thank you Tish, mommy can I have a banana?” Penny stood smiling and offered her hand which Lisel took and they started for the kitchen. Tish turned on the lights as they went from one room to the next always a little ahead of them. Penny thought about having Tish wake Leonard and then wondered why he wasn’t awake already. “Tish why didn’t Leonard wake up when you woke me?” Tish answered “You only requested I wake you up, the sound I played should be too high for most middle age men to hear.” Penny thought that over for a second, “Tish is there a sound that will wake Leonard and not me?”
“Yes a very low frequency can’t be heard by most women but is audible to most men.” Penny got Lisel a banana, peeled it and broke it into several pieces. Lisel had climbed up on the breakfast bar stool and was waiting. Penny gave Lisel the banana and got her a glass of milk and started making coffee. She got two muffins from the bread box and sat down next to Lisel. “Should we get your father up?” Lisel nodded while eating a piece of banana. Penny looked up, not sure why she did that when she talked to Tish, “Tish would you wake Leonard up and let him know the coffee’s ready.” Penny just shook her head and thought wow what a great alarm clock we have.
The Day in Old Town
Leonard sat in the sun outside of Dots Cupcakes in old Pasadena. In front of him sat 2 more uneaten but delicious filled decorative cupcakes. Just what Dots was known for. Lisel had finished hers that had little animals on them already. Though the cupcakes were wonderful they were a touch messy for a four year old and Penny had taken Lisel in to the restroom to wash her hands and face. Leonard thought through their first family day back home.
The Hoftstader family had started their new life together very serenely that morning. Leonard had woke up feeling more than hearing a low thrum that went away as soon as he sat up. Tish had then informed him that the coffee was ready. Leonard had looked at the 6:00 AM on the clock and laid back down a moment. He had put his robe on. Then walked into the kitchen where Penny handed him coffee. He kissed Lisel on the top of the head, and then leaned forward to kiss Penny. She was finding something very humorous. “How’d you sleep sweetie?” Leonard started to explain that he’d slept fine until these really weird sensations this morning. Then Penny had started laughing and told him about how Tish woke them up.
Leonard sat down and drank his coffee while sharing a muffin with Penny. Lisel finished her banana and milk then went in search of the cat. The dogs were fed and were camped out in the kitchen waiting for their walk. It was still very early so Penny and Leonard took another cup of coffee and sat in front of the fireplace in their robes. Lisel found Schrodinger in her bed and was playing in her room.
Penny had snuggled into Leonard shoulder as usual. “It feels really wonderful Leonard. You and Lisel have changed the whole way my home feels. I should say our home.”
Leonard reached for one more cupcake thinking how deeply satisfying life could be sometimes. The fulfillment of family was pretty new to him. He’d had Lisel of course but never a wife and child at the same time without the agony of cancer and treatment. It did make him wish he and Liisa could have had some of this. He really wished she could have had it. He twisted the wedding ring around his finger. He wasn’t sad really, he was too happy in this place but he regretted that Liisa had never had this happiness. He knew it was guilt. Survivor’s guilt they called in the books.
He went back to the morning again. Once the sun was up and it was warmer they had taken the dogs for a walk/run together. It was Penny doing the running with one dog then returning to Leonard and Lisel who were walking to switch and take the other. They had settled down when they got home. Penny listening to Lisel read while Leonard went through his Monday emails. The funniest but also the one he dreaded dealing with had come from Leslie Winkle.
I cannot believe that as chairman of this department that you are bringing that dumbass Sheldon Cooper back. I doubted your intellect when you started dating Blondie again now I doubt your sanity. Leonard you have lost your mind or what little you had. I told Siebert you were wrong for this job. I should have insisted on taking it myself.
Leslie Winkle PhD
Well there it was he knew what her issue was with him. She had wanted the department chair when Dr. Siebert had offered it to him. A lot of small little things now fit into place. The way she pushed for a conflict with him. She had always enjoyed antagonizing her fellow male colleagues but she had taken it to a new level since he’d been back. Daring him to chastise her he supposed, relishing the conflict.
Leonard shook his head and finished the cupcake. They still had to go by the apartment. It was getting close to 3:00 and he knew Lisel was getting tired. They had started with a lovely lunch at Plate 38 one of the few finer Bistro’s open on a Monday. Then had walked and shopped the next few hours. Penny hitting every shoe store for both her and Lisel. Then an hour in the Kids Stop shop trying on clothes. He looked forward to the walk through the park back to the apartment.
Penny appeared with Lisel holding her hand. “Let’s go papa Hoftstader”. They started to walk down the street hand in hand to the park.
Flight or Fleas
They got to the apartment building from the park but not without a casualty. Lisel was fast asleep in Leonard’s arms as they left the park. Camped out in front of the apartment were at least 10 photographers waiting for the newlyweds. Leonard made sure Lisel face was firmly planted in his shoulder as they walked rather than ran through the throng. They were almost to the door when a photographer reached for Lisel to try to get a picture of her face. Leonard spun Lisel away from him and shoved him with his other hand. The paparazzi almost fell but recovered. The rest got the photo that was sure to be on every blog and tabloid the next day. Something not many people had ever seen a very angry Leonard Hoftstader PhD.
Penny had stepped between Leonard and the man he pushed. She stood very still smiling for them all to see. She was daring one of them to touch her. That would have crossed the line. Leonard was at the door when she turned on her heel and went through followed by Leonard still holding Lisel.
The apartment door closed behind Penny who turned and leaned against it. Leonard hadn’t said a word but took Lisel to her room and laid her down. He came back up the hall and Penny saw something she had not seen in years. Leonard was extremely angry. She’d only seen it once or twice. She knew he wasn’t mad at her he wasn’t even looking at her. He was pacing in front of the couch looking at the floor. His jaw clenched and brow furled. He slowly started to relax. She knew he was calm when his hands went into his pockets as he paced.
Penny finally decided it was time and walked over and offered a hug which he returned. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Penny whispered in his ear, “It’s going to be alright honey.”
He pulled back and looked in her eyes. She didn’t see anger but resolve. “Your damn right it’s going to be all right.” He scared her just a bit, “What are you thinking of doing Leonard?”
He looked at her with a rather wicked grin then looked into her face he must have seen she was scared. He softened his glare, “I’m thinking about it right now but something massive, just massive.
It’s a stretch
Leonard finally walked over to his desk. Penny watched him go, she felt heartsick for him. She knew Leonard really didn’t like blowing his cool. Being photographed doing it wasn’t going to help matters. Penny walked to the kitchen and poured Leonard a large scotch. She took a tiny sip how he could drink this stuff she’d never know it smelt like dirty socks to her. Penny walked over and put the glass down next to him. He was sitting still with his hands hovering over the keyboard. “Any ideas yet?”
He gave her a sharp glance, then softened it, “No not yet, but I want those people off the front door of my building. I own the building dammit I could get them cited for trespassing. But then they’d find out I owned the building. They’d have a big day with that news and who knows where it might lead.”
Penny walked over to the couch and sat in Sheldon’s spot and turned back to look at him. “Leonard honey you did the right thing down there. You have nothing to be upset about. Those guys know the rules. Take all the pictures you want but don’t get close or touch someone. If he had touched her then we’d have him arrested. You may need to let this go honey.”
She patted the couch next to her and waited. He took a few more moments then picked up his scotch and sat beside her. Penny lifted his left arm and slid into his shoulder. She could feel him relax and smiled though he couldn’t see it. He then raised his head, “I know what will help were not going to get ambushed here again. I’ll have a camera put up front that’s hooked into Tish. I can look on my phone before we get here to see if there are many of them out front.” He furled his brow for a moment or two more. “The building owner is also going to make a few modifications per a tenant’s request. This building is going to get a back door out to the parking lot up from the basement and I’ll have the lot fenced in.”
Leonard turned to look at her. Penny smiled at him, “That should help, reserve a couple of spots by the door for the Hoftstader’s. Is that going to be massive enough?” She said the last line teasingly. He looked at her and laughed, “That’s what I get for quoting Clint Eastwood.” Leonard laughed and Penny cuddled into him, he was back.
Lisel woke up close to 5:00PM and came down the hall to find her parents playing chess. Her father’s pieces were in total disarray. Mommy was sitting back grinning while she waited for him to move. Her new mommy looked over and saw her, “Hi pumpkin come here, we’re about to beat your father one more time at chess.” Lisel came over and looked down at the board, then at her father, “Give up daddy.” She then crawled up onto Penny’s lap. Leonard looked over at her and grimaced before laying his king over. Leonard put his arms out and Lisel came over to him and gave him a hug and kiss. “Did Grandpapa play chess with you Lisel?” She just nodded and then looked around the apartment. “Hallo Tish”
“Hello Lisel, it’s good to see you.” Lisel smiled and wondered if this was the same Tish as at home. “Tish what is Schrodinger doing?” Tish took a second before answering, “Schrodinger is sleeping on the couch by the fireplace.”
Lisel smiled lazy cat.
Leonard watched his daughter and wondered if she would also annihilate him at chess soon. He decided to put the board away instead of finding out. Penny was sitting back on the couch with a very satisfied smirk watching him. “We should be heading back home soon honey”
Leonard gave a shudder at the thought of running through the press with Lisel. He really wanted some way of keeping her from it. Penny was still watching when he looked up. “Leonard let’s do this, you go out and get the car and pull it around. Then Lisel and I will act like were on the red carpet and walk to the car. I think you’ll be surprised how easy it will be.”
Leonard was dubious to say the least. Penny had already called Josh to warn him about the earlier scuffle. If anything he thought it would be worse. They got their coats and purchases for the day together and headed downstairs. Leonard looked out the front door there were still several Paparazzi on the sidewalk off to the side of the entrance path. There were also three rather large men wearing wind breakers that said security on the back. They were letting no one near the building door or sidewalk. Leonard walked out and the nearest security guard turned and smiled at him. Leonard was taken back a moment. The guy was huge and reminded him of Penny’s old boyfriend Kurt. He was a young guy well over six feet and twice as wide as Leonard at the shoulders. “Dr. Hoftstader I take it. My names Bret and I’m taking care of you folks tonight. Can we bring the car around for you?”
Leonard handed him the keys and described Penny’s Mercedes which they had driven in today. “Just relax sir we’ll get the car and you can wait inside until we come to get you.” Leonard walked back in the lobby to find Penny showing Lisel she could open the mailbox with her credit card. She turned to see him and blushed then smiled at him. “I’ve got into places that were hard to leave before. You were in total war mode so I had Josh take care of it when we talked. Believe me needing security is something massive.” She blushed again and looked down. Leonard closed his mouth and walked over to her and took her hand, “Have you seen these guys, they are something massive. The one guy makes Kurt look puny.”
Penny was laughing when the Bret stuck his head in the door, “We’re ready when you are folks most of them have left already anyway. The car was at the curb with the front and back door open. “You first sir,” Bret said. Leonard walked by him smiled all the way around the car and got in the driver’s side. He looked back and saw Penny and Lisel walking out. Penny had Lisel’s right hand in her left. Towering over them but right behind was Bret stoned face as he followed them out. Penny got in the front after helping Lisel in the back. Bret leaned in and very gently for such a big guy Leonard thought put Lisel’s seat belt on. He looked up at Leonard and smiled, “Have a good night folks.” and quickly closed the door.
Home and Dry well sorta
They had got home and Leonard went to cook dinner. Penny was glad he didn’t take offense to her handling the situation. Leonard was smart like that. He knew when to let professionals handle a problem. He just didn’t know that the professional security people even existed. Leonard said he was making a pasta primavera for dinner and started cutting up the vegetables. Penny had offered to help but Leonard had waved her off, “Take Lisel and show her the pool and let the dogs swim.”
Penny took her and Lisel’s shoes and socks off so they could wade into the beach entrance. The dogs were swimming and barking as they stepped in, Penny crouched down next to Lisel.
“Honey until you’re much older and you’ve learned to swim you can’t be by the pool without me or daddy okay.” Lisel nodded and they walked up to their knees in the water. The dogs started to come out of the pool and before she could warn Lisel they started shaking. They both were soaked instantly. Penny was laughing though Lisel was crying. Penny picked her up and held her. “It’s okay honey that’s how dogs get the water off themselves.” Lisel had stopped crying but she was mad at the dogs. “Bad dogs to get me and mommy wet, bad dogs.” She said shaking her finger at them.
Penny kept from laughing and put on her fake serious face, “That’s it honey you tell them.”
Penny left the dogs outside to dry and walked back in carrying Lisel. They were both soaked so she started heading for Lisel’s bedroom. Leonard looked up from the counter and laughed. “Stood to close to the dogs did we.” They both ignored him and went down the hall.
Leonard finished the pasta in a light white cream sauce and made up the three plates for himself and his girls. They came out of the hallway with Lisel leading the way yellow pajamas with little ducklings sewn into the fabric. Leonard smiled at his baby girl then Penny came out. She hadn’t gone to the wardrobe and was in her short pink pajama shorts and his black superman t-shirt. He had no idea it would look this good on her. It was always a little tight on him but a rare t-shirt. On Penny it was incredibly sexy it formed to her breasts and hips perfectly. Leonard stopped and stared if she had not put on the pajama bottoms and just stayed with panties he would have been doomed. Penny gave him a very suggestive smile and sat down at the counter for dinner. Leonard closed his mouth and for the nth time today realized just how lucky he really was.
Lisel had started to fade and get sleepy about 7:30. She had hung in there to get all the way to 8:00 PM when she was suddenly asleep. Leonard carried Lisel to her bed and tucked her in and had Tish dim the lights. He kissed her forehead and went back out to join Penny on the couch. He sat down next to her and she stood to look at him. The pink pajama bottoms were gone just the black panties she must have had on underneath and the black t-shirt. She got on the couch next to him and put her head on his chest. Leonard’s hand slid over her smooth thigh. “You must have been reading my mind again, I thought of just this look when you came out in my shirt.” Penny rubbed her hand lower onto his tummy and leaned up to kiss him. “I wasn’t reading your mind honey. I just know you if I’d have had time I be wearing the red pair that’s your favorite.” Her hand slid lower and he knew they were not getting off the couch any time soon.
Hire a Thug
Penny lay next to Leonard on the couch. She had covered them with a throw but neither had gotten in their pajamas as was the norm for them after making love. He was behind her with his nose in her hair. His hand was placed protectively over her tummy and the new baby within. She covered his hand with hers. “Are you going in tomorrow honey? Lisel and I could come and meet you for lunch?”
Leonard nuzzled her neck for a second, “That sounds nice I don’t get a lot of lunch dates. Do you have the number of those security people?”
Penny turned her head toward him though she still couldn’t see him. “Oh I don’t think we’ll have a problem on campus. That would be trespass.”
Leonard chuckled, “It not for them, I have a meeting with Leslie Winkle in the morning I thought I might need protection.”
Penny smiled, “A condom or a club?”
“I don’t know I could introduce her to the guard and maybe they’d hit it off and need the condom or I can just have him beat her to death with the club. Either way seems like I could use both. Are you ready for bed now?”
Penny really loved laying here it was still before 11:00 but the bed sounded good too. “We could see what the t-shirt looks like with the red panties.
“Something Massive” is from the movie The Eiger Sanction” I climbed mountains once now I just like to look at them.
Butter and Salt?
Leslie Winkle was hunkered down hard at work. She carefully hung a paper bag before the target in her lab. She went to the other end of the test bench and switched in the capacitor and adjusted the power on the cavity magnetron to the right setting. She checked the aim then stepped behind the shield and turned on the system. There was the familiar popping sound she expected. The bag started to expand the folds in the side stretching, vapor started to come from the top and the popping started to diminish. She turned off the system and walked over to the bag. She removed it from the target and started eating her popcorn.
It always impressed her that with this equipment she could make her popcorn in half the time she could in the microwave in her apartment. Leslie sat down at the desk in the lab her tablet in front of her flashing a meeting that she was late for. Leonard Hoftstader could just wait a little while longer she decided and continued to eat her popcorn. She was pretty satisfied with herself. That email had finally forced a meeting with Leonard. Leslie actually liked Leonard as much as she liked anyone. She knew she was smarter than he was, he knew it too.
Leslie had read all his papers and research at CERN. She saw the occasional brilliance he showed in his work. It was the quantity she found amazing. Leonard had the redeeming quality in his career she did not possess. He wasn’t lazy like she was. She had never had his drive and the ability to work something to its end. What the hell was he doing being a department chair. He belonged in the lab he was wasting his few talents, persistence and patience.
Leonard sat behind his desk and read one more time through the list of Leslie’s published work. The quantity was lower than he would have expected from an experimental physicist. In fact she was exactly on the low end of average he thought. He’d known Leslie a long time, dated her for a while, well kind of dated her. Okay he slept with her a few times. They had tried to have a relationship once but Sheldon being Sheldon had taken care of that. Leslie was a very controlling person he knew. She would not hesitate to use leverage against an enemy, for that matter even a friend or lover. Leslie always struck Leonard as being asymmetrical as if there was some small piece missing in her personality. She was social but generally caustic. Her sense of humor was good but she could just be a sociopath playing along. He didn’t think she was mentally ill.
Leonard also knew she was a genius with a mind on par with Sheldon’s. This meant personality wise she was probably just as fragile he’d just never seen that side of her. He wished Lena was here and could speak better English. She would figure it out. She had a way with people just like her daughter. Leonard checked the time. Leslie was 45 minutes late for their 10:00 AM meeting. One more brick in a wall he didn’t want to build. Before him on the desk was a printed version of her email. The last six months of complaints made by people against her and a letter revoking her tenure and dismissing her from the university signed by the Caltech president. It just required his signature to be official. The president had left the decision up to him.
Leonard had started to go through the complaints one more time when his secretary opened his door. Leonard stood and steeled himself. “Your wife and daughter are here Dr. Hoftstader.” She opened the door wider and Lisel ran in, he got down and gave her a hug. As Leonard picked her up a smiling Penny came through the door. She was dressed casually in black jeans, a pink top, purple hoody and black leather shoes. Lisel had on the cute jeans with little butterflies Penny had bought yesterday and a white shirt with a large matching butterfly on it. “You guys are early I expected you at noon?”
Penny grinned at Lisel, “Miss Lisel asked if she could visit her friends at the Caltech daycare before we went to lunch. I thought it was a great idea but I’m not on the list to drop her off or pick her up. You have to go and put me on the list.”
Leonard grimaced, daycare was across campus. “I’ll take her over and get it all set. Sorry she just hasn’t been to daycare since last year.”
Penny sat in the chair on the left side of Leonard’s large desk, “I’ll just wait here.”
Leonard just gave an apologetic smile and went through the door with Lisel still in his arms.
Place and Time
Leonard had only been gone a few moments when his secretary opened the door.
“Can I get you some coffee or tea Mrs. Hoftstader?”
“Tea would be wonderful Mrs. Perry” Penny smiled at the older lady and at being referred to as Mrs Hoftstader it really was better than Ms. Jenson.
“I’ll be right back then”
She left the door ajar and was gone.
Penny looked around Leonard’s office more closely. She had only been there one time at the last faculty mixer and then for just a minute. Leonard had a large desk that was a very light cherry wood, behind it a matching credenza and bookshelf. His chair was black as were the two comfortable arm chairs in front at angles to his desk. On the wall next to the door was a long black couch that matched the chairs. Next to it along the right hand wall a conference table that would seat six. The carpet the same light beige as the outer office, there were no plants or decoration of any kind except on the wall opposite the table. On the wall were Leonard’s diplomas from Princeton and a framed photograph of 5 people at a banquet table. She got up walked over to it and remembered. It was a dinner at Caltech her and all the guys from the first time she had been dating Leonard.
When Leslie came through the door she wasn’t startled. She just thought Mrs Perry had returned with her tea. She smiled at her and went into actress mode. “Hi Leslie” Penny walked over and offered her hand. Leslie took and shook it lightly. Penny took the initiative and went and sat back in the left hand chair again. “Leonard will be back in a few minutes we had a daycare issue. Come over, sit and catch me up.”
Leslie looked ill at ease for moment but came and sat down anyway.
Penny gave her a comforting smile and look. She leaned forward conspiratorially and spoke softly. “Leslie you know that Leonard is still very fond of you. He says you are one of the smartest people he’s ever met. That says a lot considering some of the people he’s met.”
Leslie tried to smirk but it didn’t come out that way more of a tired grin. “I guess I’ve been an ass to him since he got back. I wanted them to offer me the chair. I don’t think I would have taken it but I wanted to be asked.” Leslie leaned back and this time managed the smirk. “Now they’re bringing Cooper back with his damn Medal the dumb ass. I guess I’m just bitter that’s all. I wish I could say I’ve worked really hard and not been recognized but I haven’t. That’s why I probably would have turned the chair down, too much boring work.”
Penny reached over and patted her arm, “That’s how Leonard feels about it too sometimes. I know he misses doing experimental stuff. But he made some choices about being in Lisel’s and now my life that he felt were more important to him. I respect his decision.”
Leslie shook her head, “Now that he’s married to you I’m sure he won’t even be the chair much longer. He needs to be in a lab Penny doing the research and experiments. If I had Leonard’s drive I’d have a Nobel as well as Cooper.”
Penny tried to be gracious and understanding but she was starting to lose her patience. A deep breath and countdown from five, “Leslie you’re what forty year’s old? I’d say it’s time you got in the driver’s seat and put your foot down. I’m coming to the end of my career as I’ve known it. Leonard may well decide to step down next year but he’ll wait until he has the grants set up for Raj and Sheldon. Just be honest with him and tell him what it is you need. If it’s reasonable he’ll find a way. Like I said I know he’s still fond of you and considered you his friend.”
Leslie looked taken by surprise. Then looked at the door as Leonard entered, “Hi Leslie you were late sorry I had to step out. Honey she’s in daycare you’re all signed up to pick her up. You also need to go by administration and sign some papers over there for the health plan. Ask for Lauren. Leonard was moving this whole time and was now behind his desk. “What are our lunch plans with Lisel?” Penny smiled her best smile at him and got the Smile in return, “Picnic in the park, it’s all in the car.”
“Sounds great, see you in about an hour” Penny stood and walked behind his desk and kissed him lightly on the cheek. “See you later Leslie” Penny walked out shutting the door softly behind her.
The sun was out and it was a warm day for February in Pasadena. Leonard, Penny and Lisel weren’t the only ones sitting on the grass to have a picnic. Several other people had done the same. Some with baskets like Penny, some with just their lunch in a to-go box or bag. Penny had laid it out old style, a blanket to sit on, and a small modern picnic basket. She had sandwiches, ice tea and milk for Lisel and some cookies and chips for munching on.
Penny watched Leonard eat, he’d been pretty upbeat when they had went back by his office to get him. Leslie had left just before they entered. She had given Penny a warm smile.
Leonard laid his head in Penny’s lap just like an old movie. “Okay I got to know what you and Leslie talked about.” Penny looked down at him and smiled. “Just girl talk really she just needed someone other than old male physicists to talk to. Why what happened.”
Leonard grinned, “I was prepared to fire her today, well as close as you can come to it in the academic community. I was prepared to revoke her tenure and bring her before a peer committee. She would have got canned for sure.” He leaned up on his elbow and looked out over the park. “She actually apologized for her email and confided in me she wants to go to CERN and work on getting her own Nobel Prize. I agreed of course she is brilliant. Between Horst and I we should be able to swing it.
Leonard lay his head back down and Penny stroked his hair. “She needs a change of place Leonard. She’ll be challenged there in more ways than one. I hope she does it.”
Leonard just smiled and shook his head. He knew tomorrow Penny had work and Lisel would come into Caltech with him for daycare. He wondered what all his friends were up to.
Amy felt the first contraction as she was getting ready for bed. A moment of worry went through her. She still had 5 or 6 weeks before she was due. The math said she was about 35 or 36 weeks. A baby born before 37 was considered premature. She had false labor with Tyler so she didn’t panic. She laid down next to Sheldon who was already in vampire mode and sleeping soundly. The next contraction was harder than the first. Amy still didn’t panic even though it had been only a few minutes. She tried deep breathing and doing complex molecular problems in her head. She felt calmer and started to relax when the third contraction hit and she felt the baby move.
“Sheldon, Sheldon wake up the baby’s coming.” Amy had said it loudly and Sheldon sat straight up in bed. He looked over with a panicked look in his eyes. Amy grabbed her phone off the night stand. She dialed 999 the emergency number. “Sheldon get Tyler up and some clothes for him I’m calling for an ambulance.” Amy let the operator know she was going into premature labor and was satisfied the ambulance was coming. She got up and threw some clothes in her bag that she had just brought back from Paris and waited phone in hand.
Leonard was sitting at his desk when his phone rang. Penny was calling. “Hey you, are you done at the studio already?”
“Leonard I just got a text from Amy she’s on her way to the hospital. She’s in labor Leonard and it’s early.” Leonard could hear the edge in her voice. He was doing the same math Amy had done earlier but with more inexact dates.
“She has to be 7 or 8 weeks early that’s really not good. Do we know which hospital?”
He could hear tears in Penny’s voice now, “No she just said she was on the way there. What should we do honey?”
Leonard went through the options quickly, there weren’t many. “We wait and see. We’re 9 hours away at best assuming we could even arrange a plane that quick. By the time we got there they will have stopped the labor or she’ll have the baby. I’ll call Howard and Bernie there only an hour by air.”
Penny sounded a little better, “I just texted Bernadette they’re going to see if they can get there right away. Raj is going too.”
Leonard knew the answer now. “Okay we’ll all go. Let me work out the flight arrangements. I’ll get Lisel from daycare and let you know what airport and when. You can meet us there and we’ll go.”
Penny sounded very calm now, “I can send Chelsea to our house to pack us a bag.”
Leonard again paused for moment, “Okay but if I get something worked out quickly we may just meet at the airport in Burbank. We can get anything we need in the UK.”
“Okay, Chelsea will stay with the dogs. Leonard I love you”
“I love you too,”
Leonard hung up and got right back on the phone. He was going to end up being a premier customer for these private aviation folks. He was having second thoughts about going. They really couldn’t do anything but provide emotional support. Then he thought about Lisel’s birth and the impending birth of his and Penny’s baby. That was all it took. He texted Penny, “We need our passports from the house anything else is a bonus.”
Little Girl Cooper
Penny looked across the table at Leonard who was sitting stoically looking out the planes small window. They had 5 more hours of flight time into Cambridge. All they knew was that Amy was at Cambridge University Hospital and that Howard, Bernadette and Raj had made it to London and should be in Cambridge any time now. She knew Leonard was thinking, staring without seeing. She reached over and touched his arm and he looked up and smiled at her. Lisel was asleep for her afternoon nap on the laydown seats across the aisle from them. “What are you thinking about honey?” His smiled turned to a serious look.
“All the possible issues a baby has being born prematurely. I looked it up when Liisa was pregnant with Lisel. They wanted to induce her at 37 weeks so they could start treatment. Liisa refused and took it to 40.”
“Tell me” Penny was now a little panicked again.
“It really depends on how premature but neurological issues are a big worry everything from learning disabilities to Cerebral Palsy or blindness. Then a whole slew of pulmonary issues from needing to be on a ventilator to pneumonia and infection. Hematology issues with an underdeveloped liver and heart. A bunch of possible gastro problems. Really a lot of things could be or go wrong.”
Penny was stunned and it must have shown because Leonard got up and sat in the seat beside her. He wrapped his arm around her. “We won’t know anything until she’s born. We’ll be there for them no matter what.”
Penny put her hands on her tummy, she whispered to the baby growing in her to stay right there, don’t get impatient. Leonard put his hand on hers. “Try not to worry it’s generally a very low risk with someone as healthy as you are. We’ll try to mitigate all the risk factors we can. Do you want to know the odds?”
Penny nodded her head. Leonard looked at her, “It’s about 12% in the United States, less in Europe but they have a lower birthrate.”
Penny leaned on his shoulder that’s an 88% chance that it won’t happen but the 12% was in her head. Her phone buzzing took her mind off it. It was a text from Bernadette. She read it to Leonard.
“She had it, 2650 grams 43cm long. Want to do some math for me physicist?”
Leonard smiled, “That’s 5lbs 13 1/2 ounces and about 17 inches. Babies at full term can be that size. That’s good news. Asked if she’s breathing on her own and if they have an APGAR score.”
Penny typed away on her phone. It buzzed again several seconds later. “She says in the incubator but no ventilator, APGAR is 6 to 7. Amy’s fine and oh that’s so sweet.”
Leonard looked over at her, “What’s so sweet?”
“She named her Maria Mary Cooper after Sheldon’s Memaw and mother”
Leonard smiled and leaned back in the seat, Penny put her head on his chest. That was the most horrible six or so hours she had ever experienced. Penny closed her eyes and wished she could sleep. Leonard put his hand on her head and stroked her hair. Maybe she could now.
Welcome to Maria Cooper
Amy sat up in the hospital bed and looked over at the incubator beside it. Maria was inside very still but breathing easily on her own. She was a touch yellow that’s why her APGAR score was below 7. The lights and the incubator would help. She should be able to go home with her in a couple of days. She felt the bandage on her tummy where they’d done the caesarian when her water had broken but she would just not dilate any further. Sheldon, Tyler and their friends had just left to go get some food. She wanted to hold the baby but it would have to wait. The door to her room opened a bit and a familiar face stared around it.
“Bestie what are you doing here?”
Penny came in and over to the bed. She took Amy’s hand and smiled at her then looked over to the incubator. “How’s she doing?”
Amy looked over also, “She just fine Bestie, her bilirubin is a little high but that happens in full term babies also. She’s a little small but the doctors and I think she’s going to be fine. You didn’t have to come. How did you get here so fast?”
Penny gave her the slightly annoyed look, “Didn’t have to come? When one of my best friends goes into premature labor you come. Did you text anybody else?”
Amy shook her head no, “Well then you know why I came because you texted me.” She squeezed Amy’s hand. “We got here so fast because Leonard chartered a jet the same way we got home the other day. I really could get used to traveling that way. Can you hold the baby yet?”
“Only if you gown up, do you want to?”
Penny got a huge grin, “God yes”
Leonard was waiting outside with Lisel for Penny to come out when the nurse went in. Penny came out and went into the next room with the nurse. When she returned she was in a white one piece suit with blue booties over her shoes and her hair inside a blue shower cap looking hat. The nurse was also gowned and they went back into Amy’s room. After a few moments the nurse looked out the door and waved Leonard over.
“You can look through the window around the corner luv, I’ll open the blinds”
Leonard went around the corner with Lisel and picked her up before the large window that had the blinds closed. When they went up he could see his Penny and the nurse in a room separated from Amy’s by a glass door. Penny was sitting in the rocking chair holding a small baby in her gloved hands a mask across her face. Leonard could still see from her eyes that she had her best smile on.
Lisel looked on and waved, “Welcome to the world Maria”.
Sheldon has a girl
Penny sat down across from Sheldon in the hospital cafeteria. Tyler was sitting on his father’s lap sleeping and sucking his thumb through his blanket.
“Hi Moonpie hear you have a little girl” Penny gave Sheldon a quirky smile. It was a shame Moonpie didn’t have the old effect but she was glad he liked the term of endearment. Sheldon gave her that little smile of his. “She beautiful isn’t she. I wish she had a little more mass though.”
Penny cocked her head and continued to smile, “I’ve never heard you call anything beautiful outside of physics before Sheldon.”
Sheldon just looked at her, “Babies are like the universe Penny, complex and wonderful but much smaller and fragile. They fascinate me in the same way.”
Penny just nodded at him as Leonard and Lisel sat down next to her. Lisel laid over into Penny’s lap and Penny slowly stoked her head. Leonard looked at Sheldon and seriously asked, “How you holding up Sheldon?”
Sheldon gave him a rather condescending look, “Fine I wasn’t the one having the baby. Really Leonard sometimes you ask the most inane questions.” Leonard rolled his eyes at Penny who giggled at him. Howard and Bernadette came up and sat down next to Sheldon. Leonard looked around, “Where’s Raj got off to?”
Bernadette shook her head, “He’s next in line to feed the baby in an hour or so and didn’t want to miss his spot. He said Penny took his spot to hold her so he’s waiting with Amy.”
Penny started laughing, “I keep forgetting what an odd guy Raj is. I wonder what he was like when his own children were born.”
Howard piped in, “He cried for a solid hour when he saw Maria. He must have started having a menstrual cycle when he had his own. I’ve missed him too. We’ve spent the last three days together in Paris.”
Penny looked over at Bernadette and sarcastically said, “The three of you in Paris, that sounds romantic.”
“It’s really been wonderful Penny. Raj apparently has been planning to come to Paris for a long time. He’s had all sorts of places we should go and see. Howie and I still have our alone time in the evening but Raj knows about every romantic thing you should be doing in Paris. He’s talking about him, his wife and us going to Rome next year. He said it’s also terribly romantic”
Penny looked over at Leonard who nodded his head agreeing, “It’s a very romantic place, much older than Paris but the art and architecture is incredible. Just don’t drive when you’re there trust me.”
Sheldon looked down at Tyler, he was starting to stir. He softly stroked his head and looked over at Penny. “Penny do you think Tyler will find it hard not being the baby anymore?”
Penny reached over and touched Tyler’s head then Sheldon’s arm. “You and Amy will help him through that Shelly it’ll be fine.” Lisel was asleep in Penny’s lap, she was exhausted and Leonard was yawning.
“Honey maybe we should go get some sleep, do we have a place to stay?”
Leonard gave her a lazy smile, “Suite at the Crown Plaza is waiting for us even if it is only early afternoon. Let’s go get some rest.”
Sleep or not
The suite was a nice one Penny thought. It was the furnishings that really struck her. It was dark old wood large and heavy like Leonard had in the apartment. She saw where the style of 4A was coming from now British comfort. When they had got there she had gotten Lisel into the pajamas Chelsea had packed. She put everything from the one bag she had Chelsea get from the house away. There was another pair of pants, shirt and under garments for Leonard that should match the jacket he had on this morning. Chelsea had packed pajamas for her and Lisel as well as two outfits for Lisel. Penny’s clothes were in a separate bag that she started putting away. Leonard watched smirking as she brought out six pair of shoes, four tops and another pair of jeans.
“Wow Chelsea went all out for you”
Penny smiled back, “Not really I went by wardrobe at the studio and they loaned me a few things. I hope the shoes all fit.”
Leonard just continued to smirk, “Very resourceful Mrs. Hoftstader”
There was a knock at the suite door which Leonard went to answer. He returned with several bags.
“Here are our toiletries I asked the hotel to get”, he headed into bathroom. Penny peeked around the corner and saw that he was already shaving. That man could grow a beard in three days she thought. She drew the blinds closed and got into her pajamas. Pink shorts and a light pink camisole top and crawled into bed next to Lisel. She watched Leonard come in. He changed into some fresh Luke Skywalker boxers and pulled on a pair of socks. He turned off the bedside light and crawled in next to her spooning her from behind and laying his left hand on her tummy.
She wiggled into him, “Thanks for getting us here honey, I love you”
Leonard kissed her head, “Love you too”
The Hoftstader family finally all got to sleep.
Amy watched as Sheldon held Maria. They had lifted the gown restrictions that morning though she was still going back in the incubator between feedings. Amy didn’t know if her milk would come in or not. She was always moved by how gentle Sheldon was with children. Amy really shouldn’t be surprised he was a very gentle person in most things he did.
This morning Amy was thinking about the move back to Pasadena. They would need to make a trip back soon to look for a house. Arrangements would have to be made to pack and ship all of Sheldon’s things. There were comic books, collectibles, trains, flags, costumes, and papers that he would obsess over. The detailed packing instructions and drawings would drive her and whoever she hired to do the work bat crap crazy as Sheldon would say. Leonard, Penny and Lisel hadn’t been back yet but she knew they would be pretty disoriented from the time change. Raj had spent the night along with Sheldon and Tyler, Raj in the chair and her boys on the couch in her room. Howard and Bernadette had gone to the Double Tree and hadn’t returned yet but it was early.
Amy smiled to herself. Just a few weeks ago she had been feeling very alone in her life. No real friends around just Sheldon and Tyler. She had been coping with it fine but now that they were all back in her life again she really didn’t want that to end. She decided the move back to Pasadena was going to come sooner rather than later.
Leonard, Penny and Lisel had been up and down several times during the night. They had eaten in the room and entertained themselves and got back to sleep just after midnight. They slept past 9:00AM and Leonard had to keep reminding himself it was now Friday. They had basically lost a day in time. Penny was on the phone talking to Amy while Lisel was coloring in a book Chelsea had put in the bag with crayons. Leonard had been busy answering emails from the day before on his tablet. Penny hung up and gave Leonard a lovely smile.
“They took Maria out of quarantine and her APGAR is up to 9. They are keeping her in the incubator between feedings but she should be able to go home with Amy tomorrow. “
Leonard felt himself grinning, “That’s great we’ll head over in a few minutes but I’d like to make one stop on the way for a little while.”
Penny gave him a raised eyebrow look. Leonard responded, “There are many wonderful things to see in Cambridge but you can’t miss one thing. The Kings College Chapel it’s on the way to the hospital and though you could spend hours looking around I just want you and Lisel to have a peek. Think Harry Potter meets Camelot.”
Penny looked intrigued now, “Okay let’s go then”
Penny got out of the cab with Lisel right behind her. Leonard got out the other side and came to stand beside them. It was chilly outside but bearable. Before Penny was the Chapel. Imposing would be the word she was looking for. The limestone towers at each corner of the long narrow rectangular building soared into the sky. Huge stained glass windows above the entrance loomed over them. Penny looked at Leonard, “Okay professor just give me the short version.”
Leonard started talking as they walked toward the imposing structure.
“They started building it in 1444 and it didn’t get finished until 1536 the roof went up in 1515 and they started using it. It took 4 kings and 2 wars before they completed it. “
Leonard paid the entrance fee and they stepped into the chapel. It was the ceiling and the stained glass that struck Penny at first. The sheer size of interior and the 12 tall stained glass windows down each side was incredible. The ceiling with its fan shaped vaults of stone so ornate and baroque. They walked down the large aisles toward the altar. “How big is it Leonard?” She looked over at him and saw him looking at his phone. “It says its 289 feet long 40 feet wide and the ceiling is 80 feet above us.”
Penny saw a painting placed above the altar as they got closer it was beautiful with robed men staring at the baby held out by its mother. Two cherub angels hung above them watching over the child. Before she could ask Leonard spoke, “It’s the Adoration of the Magi by Rubens. It’s incredible isn’t it?” Penny felt tears in her eyes as she turned and looked down at Lisel who had been very quietly taking it all in.
“Your right Leonard you certainly couldn’t come to Cambridge without coming here. Did you come here when you were at Oxford?”
They started walking back down the aisle admiring the stained glass and sculptures.
“I gave some guest lectures here and at the University of Cambridge. This place made me want to explore the rest of Europe.” He reached over and took Penny’s hand, “We’ll visit the other places together like I told you I need to see them with you there with me.”
Penny stepped closer and leaned her head his shoulder, Lisel holding her other hand as they walked toward the door.
Confluence of Sharing
Leonard watched Lisel as she held the baby with Penny’s help. He took the picture with his phone. Lisel was beaming at Penny who had a serious look on her face. This one’s a keeper he thought and forwarded it to Tish. Amy had been up and walking with Sheldon’s assistance but was back in her bed now. Sheldon and Tyler, Raj and the Wolowitz’s had left to go to get something to eat in the cafeteria. The Hoftstaders now had free access to the latest Cooper offspring.
Penny took the baby back from Lisel and stood and held it rocking from one foot to another.
“See how you naturally rock back and forth like that Penny. Women do that by instinct, men have to learn it. They generally have the rhythm wrong at first it takes a bit of trial and error for us.”
She smiled sweetly at her husband, “Already knew that one honey but thanks for the pedantic aside there. You want to hold her for a while.”
Leonard stepped forward and took the tiny baby in his arms. The head cradled in the crook of his elbow. It brought back memories good and bad. He concentrated on the good but Penny must have noticed something. Or perhaps it was just her knowing in advance that some past memory would get triggered. She put her arm around him and kissed his cheek. “I can hardly wait to see you hold ours.” She whispered in his ear. Leonard smiled and looked at the very small fingers clutching at the edge of the swaddling. The perfect little miniature fingers and nails. The flat little nose and wispy black hair on her head everything together made her adorable.
Leonard took Maria back over to Amy who accepted her gently onto her lap. “So what’s the plan for you two? When are you heading back to the fun and the sun state?”
Penny looked over at Leonard, “I suppose tomorrow or the next day at most or we’ll have to go shopping in London. Do you need any help at the house with Maria and Tyler?”
Amy shook her head, “We have the nanny and housekeeper prepared for me coming home. They’ll both be there all weekend. I’d invite you to stay with us but our spare bedroom has been converted into model train heaven. I’ve decided as soon as this little one can travel we’ll have to go out to Pasadena and look for a house.”
Leonard smiled at her, “You can stay in the apartment while you’re there. I’m sure Sheldon will find some issues with the way it is now but it’s very comfortable.”
Amy reached out to Penny who took her hand, “Bestie I can’t say how happy I am that you came to be here. It so nice to have my friends back again it’s been too long.”
Penny started to cry, “I know exactly how you feel. From the moment I saw Leonard’s face again to seeing you all in Paris I felt like I was whole again. Here were all my favorite people I thought I’d lost forever back in my life. It seemed like a miracle of the first order and it still does”
Amy patted her hand and Lisel took her other one, “don’t cry mommy were going to have a baby too”
Leonard sat in the very comfortable seat on the private jet with his feet up. He was staring at the white expanse of polar ice below as they flew on the polar route back to California. He sipped on the hot tea he was drinking and thought back to being down there with the guys all those years before. The little habitat they had shared had been spartan in many ways but as comfortable as it could be in others. It seemed humorous now but had been crushing in reality at the time. The best part of that memory was coming home. They way Penny had thrown herself at him when she opened her door. That had been the real start of it all. If there had been a turning point moment in their lives maybe that was it.
Leonard looked at Penny and Lisel sleeping on the couch opposite him. Tears started to well up in his eyes. The two people he loved the most peacefully resting together next to each other. It had been a long road from that snowy hell hole 15 years ago. They had been together then apart, together again. Then really apart both trying and never really succeeding in moving on never forgetting or forgotten. Leonard knew how the next few months would go. They’d enjoy the spring weather and live a normal life. There would be time with Howard and Bernadette, then Raj and his family and the Coopers when they came. Lisel would be turning 5 and going to kindergarten in the fall. Penny would be pregnant all summer, a very healthy pregnant he knew. They would be having a new baby sometime in late September. The fall term will have started and the new research project with Raj and Sheldon would be off the ground. That’s the point at which Leonard would have to make a decision. He saw it as a crux of an argument he’d been having with himself. Do I stay at Caltech and keep my hand in the physics world and be a part time father and husband or hang it up and retire from academia. The timing was important as he really did want to do the right things for his friends and for Caltech.
He turned back to the window and the vast expanse of white beneath him. He felt her hand and arm slid behind his neck before the soft lips on his cheek. Penny slid into the seat beside him curling her legs up beneath her. Leonard turned toward her and the kiss was extended from his cheek to his lips. It was passionate and soft but rather urgent as well. He pulled her as close to him as he could to continue kissing her. She finally pulled back and looked into his eyes.
“I saw you looking at Lisel and me sleeping, you had tears in your eyes. What’s up?” He kissed her again and ran his hand through her hair down to her lower back. “I was just thinking about the two people I love the most. Then about what a long road to get back to you.” Penny gave him her slightly crooked but sexiest smile. She looked out the window, “Where are we?”
Leonard looked out then just watched her, “Just about over the magnetic North Pole.”
She looked at him funny and smiled again, “You were thinking about the snowflake.”
He gave her his best smile back, “Actually when I gave it you and that kiss. Oh and this one”
The flight attendant who had been on the Paris flight as well smiled and went in the galley to give them some privacy.
The end of part II of Elliptical Threads, Link to Part III