Together As One - Chapter 4

*Vanessa's POV*

"Marie, I can't!... No I'm sorry, I can't," I tell my secretary. "Tell him I'm busy... Marie, didn't I tell you two weeks ago to block this weekend off?.... I don't get many weekends off with Mark to spend with the children.... I dunno. Tell Frank to schedule a meeting for next week. I can't this weekend... okay, okay. Thanks. You too. Bye."

Shaking my head, I toss my phone into the passenger seat next to me and concentrate on the road.
When I pull into the driveway, Mark's out with Craig and Carly, playing in the garden. Craig looks up and points at my car and then starts waving at me.

As I get out, he runs up to me and wraps his arms around my legs.
"Hey Sweetheart. How are you? Playing with Daddy?"
He nods, "Yes. I'm fine. And I'm winning! Daddy's so slow at running!"
"Hey! That's not fair! Daddy's carrying Carly." Mark says walking up to us. He winks at me..
"Still. You run with your legs." Craig says, sticking out his tongue at Carly.
"Oh! Mom we made something for you and Dad!" Carly exclaims as Mark lets her down. "Come on let's go get it!" She takes Craig's hand and they run into the house.
"How are you?" Mark asks, pulling me into a hug.
"I missed you." I say, leaning into his chest.
"I did too." He kisses my forehead and then looks at me, searching my face. "What's going on?"

I roll my eyes,"It's Frank Muller! I told Marie to block off this weekend two weeks ago. And now that guy is insisting for a meeting for tomorrow!"
"Are you going?" Mark asks, watching me.
I shake my head, "No. He can get another appointment with me next week."
"You sure Ven? Isn't he an important client?"
I shrug, "There's a time for everything. I'm not giving up my weekend."
"Okay. If you're sure. Come on." He takes my laptop bag and shoulders it, before leading me into the house.

When I enter, Craig and Carly coming running up to me holding a card. I squat down to their level and take it from them. Mark sets down my bag and squats down next to me. I Love you Mommy and Daddy.

I smile reading Craig's handwriting. It's written in a red crayon and the message looks like it's dancing sown the page. He probably got that from me. I can't write straight to save my life. I open it as Mark rests his chin on my shoulder, his breath tickling my ear as he reads what written inside. Carly's handwriting fills the page.

You are the best mommy and daddy in the whole big wide world!
I smile, looking at both of their names at the bottom. Craig's in a red crayon, Carly a purple.
"You guys made this?" Mark asks, disbelief clear in his voice.
"Yes." Craig nods.
"Look." Carly stands in front of us, "Look. He wrote here... and I wrote here."

"Really?" Mark asks again. "Are you sure you guys did this? You didn't have any help?"
"Yes." Carly's eyebrows knit together as she frowns, nodding continuously, trying to convince us. "Even Tina saw us and she helped with the letters. Which one should come first..." She says, referring to their live-in nanny/maid.
"Yeah. And that's my finger writing." Craig puts in.
I'm about to say something when Mark interrupts me.
"Sorry. It's just too good for me to believe you two did it! It's like professional work." He stands up and I swallow a smile, getting what he's doing.

Glancing at my kids, I see Craig's eyes wide and Carly close to tears.
"Mark! Look what you did! Come here baby." I hold my arms out and both of them slide into my arms. I hug them, holding them close and kiss the top of their heads.
"Mommy. You like it right?" Craig looks up at me with his gray eyes and I see so much of Mark in him.
"Of course, I do darling. Why wouldn't I?"
"Because Daddy didn't like it!!" Carly cries and breaks down.

I glare at Mark over their heads and he winks at me before swooping down and lifting Carly up.
"Princess! I never said I didn't like it!"
"Yes, you did! You said you didn't believe that we made it!" She turns away from him.
"Car-car." Mark calls her using his nickname for her." I said that you know why? Because I love it and it's so good that I'm proud of you and Craig. Even I couldn't do it and I'm so old!"

She slowly looks up, wiping her tears, "Really?"
"Really, really." He kisses her nose." Are you still upset with Daddy?"
She looks up at him for a second before shaking her head, "No."
He smiles, "Good. Because I love you too Car-car."
She smiles, "Me too."

I kiss Craig's cheek, holding him close, "And I love you. You do know that right Prince Charming?"
He nods, turning around and hugging me, "Yes."
"Good boy."
"Hey! What's all this mother-son love? I don't get a hug?"
Craig shoots me a smile and then goes over to his father.
I look up to see Tina in the kitchen doorway.
"Hey. Have the kids been good?"
"Yes. They've been busy planning your weekend." She smiles at them, "And what did it begin with?"

"Tina said that Mom would be tired so Carly and me think that you and mom should have a nap. Like the one I have in school. But longer. So mom is not tired no more." Craig tells Mark.
He glances at me smiling, "I think that's a good idea. Don't you Ness?"
I nod, "Yup. I am tired."
Carly claps her hands, "Good. Now go sleep. We will come wake you up later!"

When I come out of our washroom, changed into something comfortable, Mark's changed into some joggers, still in the same shirt as before. He looks up from the TV when I get close to the bed.
When I sit down next to him, he reaches out and pulls me into his lap.
"Why are you so mean to my sweethearts?"
He chuckles, "Their expressions were so cute!"

"You're mean Mark."
He kisses my cheek," I know. And you love me for it."

*Lily's POV*

"How's Lucy?" Andrew asks me as I sit down opposite him in the living room.
I glance at curiously, "Fine. Why?"
He shrugs," she hasn't come over in a while."
"Well, yeah.." I glance down at my drink.

Lucy's been my best friend since we were tiny. And it's breaking my heart to see her so upset and hurt. She's so much better without Nick. But she isn't back to herself. And I want her to be happy again, to see her laughing carelessly.

I look up at my brother, who's watching a football match.
I know he's secretly been crushing on Lucy since... forever. I just haven't been able to make him admit it.

"So any new girls in your office?" I ask, settling down in my seat.
He glances at me like as if I'm crazy. "No. Why?"
I shrug, "Just asking. One of them might be a potential girlfriend for you." He raises an eyebrow, before turning back to the TV.
Well that went well. I watch him for a minute before giving up.
If it's meant to be, then it'll happen.

*Lucy's POV*

"Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!"
"Yes, yes, yes?" I ask, chuckling at her hyperness.
"Guess what?!"
"There's a party tomorrow night! And the both of us are going!"
"We are?" I ask, my smile faltering. I don't like parties.
"Yup. So, do you need to go shopping?"
"Nope. Don't worry. And you don't either."
She groans, "Way to kill the fun. Luce."
"Hmmm... I know right?"

"Where are you?"
"On my way to Mark's."
"Lucky duck. Give the kids my love yeah?"
"Sure lily. Why don't you come over?" I ask, pulling into Mark's driveway.
"Nah. You guys have fun. I'll see you tomorrow. Will you come pick me up?"
"Yeah. Sure."
"Love you Luce."
I laugh, "Yeah, me too. Take care."

Getting out of my car, I grab my gifts for Craig and Carly and head over to the front door. When I ring the doorbell, I hear the both of them running down the hallway, screaming my name.

"Aunty Lucy!" Carly wraps herself around my legs while her brother holds the frontdoor open.

"Hey princess." I kiss her forehead and ruffle Craig's hair as I pass him, "Hey charming."
He smiles, "Hi."
Looking up, I see Vanessa standing by the staircase, smiling.
"Hey Ven."

"Hi sweetheart. How are you?" She pulls me into a hug and I hold on a second longer.

Vanessa's always been like a big sister to me. Always there. She's helped me so much over the years. If anything's ever wrong, she's the first person I turn to. First girl that is.
"I'm fine. How about you?" I pull back and she scans my face.

"I'm good. The kids have been waiting since they came home from school."
Chuckling, I glance at them. "Look what I've got you?" I hold up the bag and the both of them pounce on it.

Vanessa shakes her head, "Where are your manners? I've definitely thought you better. And Lucy you spoil them too much!"
I watch them as they dig into the bag, "They're my niece and nephew Nessa."
She smiles, "Mark's upstairs. He said that you should spend time with them first." She nods towards the kids. "You've had dinner?"
"Yup. No worries."

Throwing me a smile, she glances at her kids, "Okay you two. Say thank you to your aunty. And you can play for an hour okay? After that Tina's going to get you ready for bed. Alright?"

They both nod. I don't even think they're listening when Nessa says their maid'll put them to bed.
"I'll be up yeah? Come up when your done with them. Or do you want me to play with you?"
I laugh," No go, go. Have fun with you hubby."
She smiles," thanks Lucy."

*Vanessa's POV*

I sit down on my bed. Mark's sitting on the other side, leaning over his laptop screen.
"Lucy's downstairs with the kids."
He looks up, "Really? How is she?"
I shrug, leaning back into the pillows. "She looks fine."
"Come here." He pats the place beside him. I glance at him to see his laptop on the side table by the bed. I crawl over to his side and he wraps an arm around me.
"How are you? Still feeling sick?"
I shake my head," No. I feel much better."
He kisses my head, "You going to go to work tomorrow?"
"I don't think so."

He takes my other hand in his, playing with my fingers.
"Remember that time you were pissed off because you had to take Lucy out with me when you wanted to take me out to dinner?"

He chuckles, "Yeah. How could I forget?" We're both quiet for a while until Mark sighs, "I'm trying to take this summer off. School will be closed for the kids. And you're going to be free. We'll all go somewhere."

I lean back into Mark, closing my eyes. It's been more than two years since we've gone anywhere for the summer as a family. I took the kids by myself last year on a road trip with Justin and his family. Mark had important business meetings all summer and hardly spent any time with us.

It's funny how when we were young, we'd wait to 'grow up' so that we could do whatever we want and spend more time together any everything. But the truth is that we spend even less time together. If it weren't for Craig and Carly, I'd wish I could go back in time any day to spend every minute of the day with Mark.

"I love you Mark."
He presses his lips to my hair, "I love you too."
"Don't make any promises that you're not sure of."

He sighs, "Nessa. I want it as much as you." He makes me turn around and face him, "Nessie." He tilts my chin up so that he's looking into my eyes, "You don't know how much I want to spend the summer with you. With the kids. Just me and my family."
"I know. I do too. With you."

He kisses my forehead. "There's still more than six months left. I know. But I'm trying to organize everything so that it works out in the end."
I nod, smiling, "Okay."

Leaning in, I bury my face in his shirt and he runs his fingers through my hair, holding me close.
When there's a knock at the door, I pull away and unwillingly crawl out of his arms. He stretches and shoots me a smile as I head over to the door.
"Do I stay or is it a brother-sister thing?"
He shakes his head, "Stay."

I open the door and Lucy's leaning against the door frame.
"You're sure I'm not disturbing you guys?" She asks for the hundredth times as she sits by Mark.
I shake my head, "No. We were just talking. You're family Luce."
She smiles, "How are you Mark?"
"I'm fine. You? How's college?"
She leans back against Mark, who wraps an arm around her waist, "It's good. I'm fine. Stop worrying."
He chuckles, "Who said I am?"

I glance at my watch as I wait in the kitchen. Mark should be down any minute.
"Mommy!" Carly runs into the room, holding up a paper. "Look at what I did."

I take it from her to see her drawing, "It's so pretty! Let's hang it up on the fridge, yeah?"
She nods and chooses a magnet and hands it to me. I place it on the fridge with all of her and Craig's other drawings. When she's run back up to her room, I hear Mark's voice as he comes downstairs.

"What the hell do you want me to do? Just leave them and come?" He asks, annoyance clear in his voice. As he enters the kitchen he shoots me an apologetic look.
"No. Please don't tell me."
"Give me twenty minutes."
He shuts his phone and slowly looks up at me.
"I am so sorry Ven! Something's come up in the office. I really need to be there. We'll talk later yeah?"
I swallow the lump in my throat, blinking back my tears.
He lets out a relived sigh, "Thanks sweetheart. I'll be home soon, I promise."

I walk him to the door, trying to hide my disappointment as best as I can. He gives me a kiss before disappearing out the door. Swallowing the knot in my throat, I head upstairs to spend some time with my children.

*Mark's POV*

As I drive towards the office, I am way beyond pissed. The last thing I wanted to do was leave Vanessa today. Especially when she wanted to talk. I clench my jaw as a car cuts through my path. As Vanessa's face flits across my mind, again, her expression hurt and upset, I pull over to the side of the road. Pulling out my phone, I dial Peter's number.
"Hey Peter. I'm so sorry to bother you, but listen. Do you think you could...."

*Lucy's POV*

I run my hand through my hair, glancing around. Lily disappeared with her boyfriend fifteen minutes ago. Actually, she'd dragged me to the dance floor with her, but I'd backed out after a few songs. So that left me alone. Glancing around, I decide to head out and step out of the front door. The cool night air is refreshing. I lean against the porch railing, looking out at a few couples walking in the garden.

"Too crowded inside, isn't it?"
Recognizing the voice, I turn to my right and see Andrew leaning against the railing beside me. I take in his black leather jacket and black jeans. My heart speeds up and I try to ignore it.

"Yeah. What are you doing here?"
He glances at me, making a face," I don't like these type of parties. I was forced to come with one of my friends even after I said no."
I chuckle, tearing my eyes away from him," I don't like them either."
He smiles, "Yeah I figured."
"I don't see you around our place much." Andrew says much later. We're both one of the steps leading into the garden, drinks in our hands. "You used to come so often before."
"Yeah. I did didn't I?"
"Yeah?" I turn towards him, to see him sitting closer to me than I thought he was. Much closer.

He stares at me for a moment and before I know what he's doing, before it registers in my brain, he's leaning in and pressing his lips to mine.

It's like there are sparks on his lips that get transferred to me and run through my body, making me suddenly feel energized. I kiss him back, loving the way his lips are soft yet firm. Loving the way he isn't controlling the kiss but just leaving it to progress. Loving the taste of him.

It's when his arms wind around me that I snap back to reality. Just as what I've done starts to dawn on me, I back away from him.
"Ohmigosh. What did I do?" I whisper.

"Lucy?" His voice is painfully uncertain. It's killing me to step away, watch the hurt and uncertainty on his face. All I've wanted all my life is for Andrew to like me back. But not now. Not after Nick.
"I..I can't do this."
"Lucy? Do what?"

"I'm so sorry Andrew!" Turning around, I quickly make my way towards the driveway. I can hear Andrew following behind, calling my name. But I pick up my pace and hurry to my car. As I pull away I watch him standing by the sidewalk, his hand in his hair, watching me. And that's when I think my heart truly breaks.

I ring the doorbell and wait. Minutes later, it's pulled open and Vanessa stares at me, her mouth open in surprise.
"Where are the kids?" I ask, walking in. "In bed. What..? How..? Mark?"
Smiling, I wrap my arms around her and pull her close, "I'm sorry Nessie. I...I couldn't leave after seeing how upset you were." Taking her hand I lead her to the living room,"Now let's talk. It's just you and me."

"But what about..?"
"Peter said he'll handle it."
She looks at me, a smile lighting up her beautiful face.
"So what was it that you wanted to tell me?" I ask, sitting down on the sofa.
She stands in front of me, a small smile on her face.
"Umm.. Mark?"

"I... I had an appointment today." I frown, concerned but before I can say anything she continues," with my doctor and.." As she runs her tongue over her lower lip, I take in a breath, worried. What's going on? But seeing her smile, I calm down. "I'm five weeks pregnant."

I stare at her for a second before jumping up, "What'd you say?"
She smiles, "I'm pregnant. Approximately 34 days in."
She gasps as I lift her up and twirl her around. Her arms wind around my neck and I glance down at her. It's the same feeling I had when we both found out she was pregnant with Craig, then again Carly. I can't explain the feeling any more than I could the first time.
I just feel so happy. And excited.

"Why didn't you tell me you were going to the doctor?" I ask, sitting back down on the sofa, still holding her in my arms.
"I didn't want to raise your hopes up. I wasn't sure."
Smiling, I move a lock of her hair, "Vanessa?"
"I think I just fell more in love with you."
She laughs, "I keep doing that everyday."

"Why didn't you tell me it was something so important. You know you and the kids always come first."
She nods, "Yeah I know. And I wanted to tell you, but..."

Shaking my head, I drop it down so that it's in level with her. "Is it another C? Or are we naming him or her with a different letter this time?"

She chuckles, "You know what I was thinking? I'm going to leave it up to you this time."
"My pleasure." Closing the distance between us, I kiss her lips.
Published: 2/13/2012
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