So these scenes were originally supposed to be in the epilogue but it was long and so I'd left them out. But they've been eating me up, I want my readers to read them, so here you are... After this the story is done, sorry no sequel... I don't like doing sequels and I want to leave Jacob and Chloe where they are.
Thanks for all of your wonderful support! The reason the story's gone as far as it has is because each and every one of your comments have inspired and motivated me to continue writing.
I'll reply to the comments soon, promise!
5 Years Later....
"Taylor, pass it to me!" Jacob calls, running past me.
I start following him, glancing across the field at Taylor, who's kicking the ball.
"Yeah, Tay, kick it to your Dad." I reply, blocking Jacob.
Seeing that his Dad's not going to be an easy target, he kicks the ball towards his Uncle Ray. Ray starts kicking it towards the goal but Rose sneaks up on him, and kicks it away towards Amelia.
"Oye! Matt, heads up!" Jacob calls as Amelia kicks it towards the net. Matt looks up just as it sails over his head and into the net. The boys groan as we girls cheer.
"Wohooooo!!" Rosalyn high fives her aunt.
Ray, Amelia, Taylor, Rosalyn, Alice, Matt, Jacob and I are having a game of football. Matt is down in Brampton on a business trip, and Alice is home from college for the summer. Just as Matt kicks the ball into the field, there's a baby's cry, and Jacob and I both swivel around towards the bench where his mom's sitting with the stroller.
We glance at each other before breaking into a run as two years old Caitlen is pulled out of the stroller and set on her feet. Jacob reaches her first and lifts his baby girl up, spinning her slowly around. Her cries stop immediately and she giggles.
Laughing, he puts her on his shoulders and walks up to me.
"Hi Mommy!" He grins and I roll my eyes.
"Hey Princess. Did you have a good nap?" I pull her off his shoulders and hold her in my arms, kissing her nose.
Caitlen was born three years after Taylor. She's Jacob's treasure because even though she's got his eyes, she resembles me a lot. And it's hard to believe that a man who was terrified to hold his first child now feeds, changes, bathes and clothes Caitlen. He's nuts about her.
He glares at me. "Don't just take her away from me. We all know you're jealous but please chillax a bit."
I raise my eyebrows as he pulls her out of my arms and winks at me before walking down the field. And very possessive as well.
"Do you want to play football, Caitlen?" He asks, setting her down in front of the ball. She lifts it up slowly and throws it. It doesn't go further than a few feet away from her but everyone starts clapping.
I think it's time we start planning for the fourth child. I laugh softly, watching my husband. Every time I jokingly bring the topic up, he changes it. I think he's had enough of deliveries. He wasn't any better the second time around in the operating room.
Seeing the commotion, Leah looks up from where she's coloring.
Leah is a spit and image of Ray. Blond hair, hazel eyes, high cheekbones. She's three years old and the apple of my eye. I love her to bits and she in turn loves her Aunt Chloe. She's always at Little Miracles on Sunday with her father and Rosalyn.
"That was a good game." Jacob says, pulling on his shirt.
I nod, shooting him a smile before opening the lemonade bottle and gulping half of it down.
"It was a fantastic game! We whipped your butt!"
He shrugs. "So you won one game?"
I raise an eyebrow. "Is that a challenge Jacob Skyes?"
He grins. "Could be. But not to be reiterated today."
"Chicken." I murmur and he laughs.
"I'm anything but and you know it." He takes the lemonade bottle from my hand and pulls me close. "I'm surprised you could concentrate on the game at all."
I roll my eyes. "You sleep shirtless every night. It's gotten old by now."
He looks surprised. "Well, I'm glad to know it didn't bother you. I have to admit though, your shorts are the reason you won. They distracted me senseless."
I laugh, "Ah, just admit we girls are better than you."
"Would I get a kiss if I did?"
I shrug, "Maybe."
"Hm, sounds promising." When I chuckle he smiles. "You girls are better than us." He puckers his lips out. "Come on, kiss me."
I give him a quick peck and slip out of his arms.
"You didn't mean what you said."
He laughs, following me towards his Mom.
I raise an eyebrow, turning around towards him and he smiles, his eyes filled with love, his face softening. "You look beautiful."
"Thank you." I smile.
I sigh as Caitlen starts crying and crack the egg in the frying pan. Dropping the shells in the bin, I wipe my hands on the napkin and hurry into the lounge. Lifting her up from the crib, I rock her gently but she doesn't go back to sleep.
"Morning sunshine. Let's go get your nappie changed huh?"
After a diaper change, she's up and filling the kitchen with noise.
"Rosalyn!" I call up the stairs.
Hearing a faint 'coming' I head back to the kitchen. Caitlen's on her high chair, smacking a spoon against an empty bowl as I slide the fried egg onto Jacob's plate along with his toast. Taking out the warmed milk bowls from the microwave oven, I place it on the table along with sugar and Taylor and Rose's cereal.
Jam and butter. Pulling the fridge open, I get both out and set them down near Jacob's plate. "Rose!"
"I'm here!" She drops her school bag onto the floor and slides in her place.
She's grown up so much. Now ten years old, she's tall for her age, thanks to all the classes I've put her in. In so many ways she's still the little girl, I adopted but in many others, she's growing up and it's not something I enjoy seeing. I still want my little girl.
"Did you wake your brother up?"
"I did. Twice. He isn't waking up."
I wash the strawberries in the sink and then place the bowl in the center of the table.
"Okay, I'll go. Watch Caitlen for me."
"Where's her food?" Rose asks, making funny faces at her baby sister.
"Haven't made it yet. Where's your father?" I ask, feeling an arm comes around my waist just as I turn around.
Jacob leans in and presses his lips to mine. "Relax gorgeous. I'm ready. You go upstairs and get Taylor ready for school and you get ready for work. I'll handle breakfast."
"It's the least you can do after not letting me out of bed." I narrow my eyes.
He chuckles, his eyes shining. "It was worth it."
Leaning up, I kiss his cheek and then slip out of his arms. Upstairs, Taylor's hanging off his bed and I gently shake him awake. He sleepily follows me into the washroom, rubbing his eyes and I wash his face and brush his teeth. Getting him into his clothes isn't hard as he's woken up by the time I've chosen what he's going to wear.
"What's for breakfast?"
"What do you want champ?" I ask, kissing his forehead and standing up.
"Can I have your pancakes?"
"How about you come to the bakery after soccer practice? I'll have a plate kept especially for you."
"With strawberries and cream?"
"All the kicks."
"Yes!" He punches the air and follows me into my bedroom. "Can I choose your clothes?"
I laugh, "Sure. But hurry alright? You need to have breakfast."
I watch as he drags a stool over to my wardrobe and looks through my shirts. Shaking my head, I walk into the washroom to take a shower.
Three minutes later, I hurry out.
On the bed is a yellow and white spaghetti strap dress. Laughing, I pull it on along with the yellow sandals he's left out. Tying my hair back into a pony, I slip on my watch and grab my purse, phone and keys before hurrying out.
The kitchen's in a chaos but everything seems under control. Dressed in a suit, Jacob's feeding Caitlen and Taylor's shoveling his cereal into his mouth, one spoon after the next. Rosalyn's not in the room and I look around.
"Slow done Tay. Where's your sister?"
He shrugs and Jacob looks up, "Went up to fix her hair. Have some breakfast."
Taylor looks up. "You wore it!"
"Of course." I smile at him. "My Prince left it out for me, didn't he? Why wouldn't I wear it?"
He grins, happy and turns back to his breakfast. Pulling open the refrigerator, I pull out a small tub of flavored yogurt and perch on a stool, watching Jacob feed Caitlen. He's finished his breakfast and is drinking coffee. Spooning the last of her Cerelac into the spoon, he holds it to her lips but she just stares up at him.
"Come on darling. Last bite. Say 'Aaaah'."
I smile watching as she stays the same way, stubborn.
"She's stubborn, just like you." Jacob says, looking up.
How did he read my mind?
"Hey! I'm not stubborn."
"Course not." Caitlen opens her mouth and he pushes the spoon in before standing up.
Rosalyn walks into the kitchen and hands me a brush. Putting down my breakfast, I braid her hair and then stand up.
"Come on. Let's go."
"Who's taking them to school?"
"Me." I reach for my car keys. "I've got catering tonight. You'll have to pick Taylor up along with Rose after his soccer practice. Drop him off at the bakery."
"I have ballet practice. The show's tomorrow." Rosalyn adds, pulling on her backpack. "Did you buy the tickets?"
"Yeah, I did darling. For Granny, Ray and Amelia and Daddy and me." Turning to Jacob, I continue, "So you'll have to drop Rose off straight from school. Stop by the bakery, I'll have some lunch ready." Both Jacob and I turn and look at Caitlen making a mess of herself in her chair.
"I'll take her with me."
"You've got work."
Jacob shakes his head. "Mom's busy and I can handle an afternoon."
"Okay." I grab Caitlen's bag and start ushering the kids out as Jacob pulls on his laptop bag and gets Caitlen.
"Bye Dad." Taylor waves at him before sliding into my minivan.
Rosalyn leans up and kisses his cheek. "Bye Daddy."
"Bye Princess. I'll pick you up alright?"
"Yeah, okay." He kisses her forehead before walking around the car and strapping Caitlen down in her car seat. "Bye precious. Give Daddy a kissie." Caitlen presses her wet mouth to his cheek and he smiles, kissing her nose. Standing up, he smiles at me and I reach up and press my lips to his.
A sigh escapes his lips as I pulls back and smiling, I slip into the driver's seat. As I gun the engine, Jacob slips into his Mercedes in front of us. With a honk of the horn, we leave him on the driveway and make our way to school.
Rose and Taylor grab their bags and get off while I get Caitlen. They run off when they see their friends and, I take my baby girl to the nursery. Dropping her off there, I chat with her teacher for a few moments before heading to my car.
Claire's in the front when I walk through the doors of Little Miracles. She smiles and gestures at something. Turning around, I see a tall, lean figure watching me.
"Darren?" I gasp, staring at him.
When he smiles, I sigh, relieved. At least something hasn't changed. He walks up to me and pulls me into a hug. "When did you get here?"
"This morning. Showered and came straight here."
I run my fingers through his long brown hair. There are locks falling on his forehead, curling around his ears and a little down his collar.
"You look so different. In just six months."
He chuckles, "I need a haircut. It's still me."
I smile. "Yeah, it is." Searching his eyes, I bite my lip. "I'm sorry about Alice."
He shrugs, looking away. "I knew it was going to happen. College is... trying."
"And how are you?"
His smile is forced and my heart breaks, watching him. "Some days are better than others."
Taking his hand, I squeeze it. "Well, your dreams come true."
His grin is contagious and smiling, I lead him back to the kitchen.
"When are you coming?"
"When's the opening?"
"In two weeks."
"I'll be there."
Darren had taken business in college, taken culinary classes at the best culinary schools in the country, many of which Jacob had needed to step in for his influence in order for Dare to be accepted at the beginning, but once his skills sharpened and he started winning contests, schools were fighting to have him. Graduating college in three years, he'd spent another two at a prestigious culinary school in Victoria where he'd met a successful entrepreneur looking for new talent to invest in. Meeting Darren, he'd made an offer.
He would finance everything for Darren's restaurant but for the first two years, a high percentage of the profits would go to the investor. After that, if it was successful, he'd step back and hand everything over to Darren. I guess he just wanted to make Darren commit so that he wouldn't back out when the going got tough. Jacob had handled all the legal paperwork and had agreed. Nothing seemed out of ordinary and after eight long months, Darren's diner was set to open in two weeks.
"So what's the name? Decided yet?" I ask as he grabs an apron and pulls it on. Smiling, I do the same and we both walk over to a counter.
"Yup I have."
"And? What is it?"
He shrugs, smiling. "It's a surprise." His eyes are shining as he looks at me. "I'm sure you'll love it."
"Of course I will!"
"Where's Tarek?" He asks, glancing around.
Tarek's dream was to have a restaurant of his own but I don't know what happened. His dream changed I guess. He said he was too attached to Little Miracles and didn't want to leave. There was an opportunity for him, a competitor bakery was closing down and he could have bought it but he refused. Jacob and I tried everything to persuade him to buy it but he was adamant to leave Little Miracles. So he's stayed in his position.
Last month, his sister visited with her baby daughter and best friend from Lebanon. There was an apparent spark between Tarek and Leah, his sister's friend, but he denied it. When his sister left at the end of her vacation and Leah stayed back, things started to heat up.
"He's in Lebanon with his girlfriend. Visiting her parents."
"He's coming back right?"
I nod. "Yup. Definitely. And she's coming with him."
"About time he got himself a girl."
I laugh, "Yeah. And you should see her. She's gorgeous."
Darren raises an eyebrow. "How old is she?"
"Older than you so you needn't bother."
"That's not old."
"Never said it was. But that's two years older than you."
"Ah, I'm not interested anyway." He shoots me a grin, "I've always got you."
Taking a program, Jacob and I both make our way to our seats. Mom and Dad are already seated in the row behind us along with Jacob's mom.
"Where are Ray and Amelia? Rose will be crushed if they don't come." Jacob asks.
"Who don't come?" A voice from his left says.
He turns around and grins. "Her favorite Uncle of course."
Ray grins, settling down in his seat, Amelia on his other side.
"She's playing the lead." I murmur, slipping my hand into his.
Jacob smiles, "I know. She told me all about it last night when I was putting her to bed. Although I don't know her lines. She refused to tell me."
"I'm sorry I was late."
He shrugs. "Chloe, it doesn't matter. I know you're going to be home late when you've got a catering gig. It's understandable."
"But the kids..."
"Taylor was the only problem. He won't sleep until you've kissed him good night."
"Aw," I bite my lip, looking at my husband.
"Yeah, I had to convince him to go to bed."
"How did you do that?"
"Promised him a movie Saturday night."
I laugh, "You bribed him?"
He shrugs, "He was up till eleven. He had school today."
Shaking my head, I turn towards the stage as the lights turn down.
"They're starting!" I whisper, excited. Jacob squeezes my hand, sitting up straight. He holds up the camera, ready to record every word and moment of his little girl.
The play is beautiful. The dancers are really talented for such a young group of boys and girls and there are many tears from the audience as the curtain closes.
Ray's on his feet, whistling as we all stand up and applaud the cast and crew as they walk across the stage for the last time.
I glance at Jacob to see him fighting tears. I slip my hand in his and squeeze it and he turns to me, smiling.
"You were amazing!" Jacob says, crouching down in front of his daughter, a proud smile on his face.
"Did you see the part where I had to leap across the stage?" She asks, looking at us, her face glowing.
I nod. "Yeah! It was fantastic! Must have been difficult to do."
She nods, "It was. Did you like it?"
"I loved it darling."
"And I've got it all on video. We can go home and watch it."
"But you just saw it."
"So? I could watch it everyday for the rest of my life and not get tired."
She smiles, "I'm so proud of you." I kiss Rose's forehead, "you're a big girl now."
"I keep telling you but you don't believe me!"
I chuckle, "We'll definitely believe you from now on."
"Not me!" Jacob lifts her up and she squeals, hanging onto his shoulders.
"You'll always be my little baby."
"Was that you Rosalyn on stage? I thought it was a grown up girl!" Dad says, approaching us along with my Mom and Janet.
"Ask him for the exact address." Jacob says, sitting down beside me.
"And who he's got for media coverage."
I look up from feeding Caitlen. "What are you up to now Skyes?"
He chuckles, "I'm just thinking about inviting a few special guests.. That's it!"
I nod, smiling. "Don't overdo it though. You know how independent he is."
"Yeah, don't worry love. It's next Saturday right? That's great because I've got a huge conference lunch on Monday in Victoria."
"So you're going to leave me and the kids alone? They're going to have the time of their life!"
We'd gone to Victoria a few months back and the children had so much fun in their father's penthouse. With the private swimming pool and large terrace, it was their little heaven and they'd refused to come back to Brampton.
He shakes his head, smiling. "The kids aren't coming with us. They'll stay with Mom. Just you and me."
I smile, happy. "Great! We've not had that for so long."
He nods, looking over at Taylor as he drives his car into the lounge, hitting everything in sight and runs out into the hallway again. "I know. You're coming to the conference as well. You've been specially requested."
I laugh, looking up from wiping Caitlen's mouth. "By whom?"
"My boss' wife."
I chuckle, "I'd love to come!"
I gasp, looking up at the sign as Jacob parks the car.
"Yeah?" He doesn't look up from his phone and I reach for his arm, eyes still on the name.
He glances through the windshield and turns to me, smiling. He starts to get out and unbuckling my belt, I follow him.
Over a cream colored sign, written in chocolate brown over Darren's diner is the name..
I hold my arm out to Jacob, still staring at the sign.
Laughing, he takes my hand and squeezes it. "It's real love."
"I can't believe this."
The door opens and Darren walks out, smiling.
"I'm so glad you made it early!"
"I can't believe you! No wonder so much secrecy over the name!"
He grins. "Do you like it? I couldn't think of anything better!"
"I love it! I'm so flattered. You obviously didn't think hard enough!"
He shakes his head. "You're the inspiration and drive behind all the Chloe. I couldn't think of anything better."
"Aw, Dare." I pull him into a hug, holding him tight. "I can't tell you how much it means to me."
He smiles, pulling back. "I can imagine. Now are you going to just stand here or are you going to come inside?"
Grinning, I pull Jacob along with me as Darren leads us into his restaurant.
"Jaaaaacoob!" I sing walking around the penthouse, looking for him.
"Chloooooee!" He replies, "In the kitchen."
I walk into the kitchen to see him eating the cold salad I made yesterday straight gout of the bowl.
"I should have known. Always in the kitchen."
He chuckles, sticking the fork in his mouth. "Yeah, you should have."
"You should have told me you were hungry I'd have made something."
He shakes his head. "There's no need. This is delicious."
"How's this?" I ask, standing in front of him.
Jacob grins, chewing on a bread stick. "Do a little twirl."
I raise an eyebrow. "My dress is short."
He shrugs, "Not my problem. Come on, twirl."
Sighing, I do a quick spin and stand in front of him. Jacob sets the bowl down and looks down at me.
"Don't spin at any point during the party."
"I told you."
He chuckles, "You did."
"You dirty old man."
He shrugs, "The man part is correct. The dress is amazing."
I grin. "I bought it with Amelia last week."
"Can I ask you something?"
I nod, looking up at him. "Yeah. Sure."
"Remember the first time we came here? You were upset with me and it was driving me mad. I wanted you to be happy with me, wanted you to enjoy the visit and you know. It was the beginning of our relationship."
"Yeah..." I bite my lip, watching his eyes.
Where's he going with this?
"That feeling when you smiled and forgave me was..." He shakes his head slowly, "unbelievable. I'm just wondering how it's increasing you know? We've been married almost six years and you've not once failed to entice that helpless feeling I get when I look at you. Did you cast a spell over me?"
I laugh softly even as his words make me blush. "No, I didn't. And I have no idea."
He brushes his fingers across my cheeks. "Whatever it is, I hope it never fades. I love it."
"There's a short presentation then lunch. Nothing much." Jacob says, leading me into the open tent the party's taking place in.
I nod, looking around and spotting a few familiar faces, Jacob's friends. "I'm not worried."
He laughs, "I didn't worry about that for a moment."
"There's someone I want you to meet." Jacob takes my hand and leads me away from the snacks table.
"Who is it?" I pop the canapé into my mouth, following him.
"Someone I'm positive you know."
I shoot him curious look. Who on Earth is he talking about?
He stops me near the drinks table, behind a man.
I watch as the man turns around, holding a champagne glass. I gasp, the air rushing out of my lungs as I see his face. Thank God, Jacob's holding my shoulders otherwise I think I would have fainted.
"Call me Jamie."
"Jamie, meet my wife, Chloe." Jacob smiles, walking around me to stand between us. "Chloe, this is-"
"Jamie Oliver, I know." I breathe.
The man chuckles and I shake my head, holding out my hand.
"It's a pleasure. I'm such a big fan."
Jamie Oliver is like a food god. He's especially known for his Italian cuisine.
To . Die. For.
He laughs, shaking my hand. "The pleasure's all mine. To meet such a young, beautiful owner of such a fantastic bakery."
I gasp, looking between both the men. "You've been to Little Miracles?"
He nods, "Your husband took me there himself."
I stare at Jacob. "What?"
He chuckles, looking pleased. "Before we left for here, Jamie made a stop and I took him to Little Miracles."
"It's unbelievable what you've achieved as a young woman. It requires a lot of skill not only to cook but to be able to manage and run a business successfully." Jamie says, smiling.
"But, my staff never..." I trail away looking between both men.
Jacob grins, "They were sworn to secrecy."
"I will catch up with the two of you a bit later. There are some men that are waiting for me." Jamie hesitates, smiling. "I'll be heading back to Brampton on Friday."
I glance at Jacob who immediately turns to Jamie seeing my expression. "Give me a call if you've got time. We'd love to have you over for dinner."
"Yes." I nod, "Don't hesitate."
He grins. "I'll keep it in mind. It was great meeting you, Chloe."
I watch as he disappears in the crowd and turn to Jacob.
He smiles, "I'm glad you enjoyed the surprise."
I shake my head, staring up at him. "Jamie Oliver. I cannot believe you Jacob Skyes. But how?"
He shrugs, lifting a glass of champagne from the table and handing it to me and then getting one for himself. Taking my arm, he leads me to the side.
"When I saw he was on the guest list, I offered to invite him personally. He was happy to have received a call instead of an impersonal email, and agreed to drive down from Ottawa. I took him to Little Miracles last week when you spent the day at home. He was just meant to have a bite but he spent nearly two hours there, chatting with your staff and trying things out. Canceled some meeting." Jacob chuckles, shaking his head. "You should have seen Tarek. He was frozen to his spot for quite a while."
"I cannot believe they never said a word!"
He shrugs, "Jamie insisted no one mention it to you when he heard I was bringing you to the conference."
"Just when I think you'll run out of ways to surprise me, you do it again."
"It was nothing."
"Nothing? Nothing?! Jacob, it's Jamie Oliver!"
"And I know he isn't nothing. In the food world especially and most importantly to you. You, Chloe, who loves Italian cuisine."
"Do you think he'd come again to the bakery? I'd love to personally hear his comments and maybe he could give us some tips and all." My head's already racing with ideas.
He could give a small cooking class. To my staff and me.
That would be amazing!
And it could provide so many opportunities for improvement.
Jacob smiles, his thumb rubbing against my cheek. "I'm sure he'd love to."
"Yes, my love?"
He smiles, leaning in and kissing my cheek. "Anything for you."
5 years later..
Hearing someone comes running down, I stand up with Ryan in my arms and quietly walk out of the lounge.
Rosalyn's coming downstairs, wiping tears away. Jacob comes up behind me and I hold up a hand, telling him to be quiet.
We both watch as Rose grabs her car keys and slips on her shoes, sniffling. A moment later, the front door closes and we hear her car start up.
"What was that?"
"I'm betting it's about her boyfriend."
I turn to Jacob, glancing down at my six-month old baby boy.
It had taken a lot of convincing for Jacob to relent for another child. But he'd told me that he was stopping here. I needed to relax, having children every few years, I had about a year after their nappie stage until the next one came along.
I secretly think he just wants those quiet nights back.
Nah, I'm kidding.
He loves his children with everything he's got.
"So what should we do?"
"We? Nothing. You handsome have to go and talk to her."
"But.. But why me?" He asks, clearly getting nervous.
Four children later and there are still many things that are new to us.
"Because I have to take care of the children. Caitlen will wake up any moment and Taylor's not going to stay quiet for much longer."
"I could take care of them."
I shake my head, walking into the kitchen. "Jacob, I could tell her about all the crappy boyfriends I had before you. That would help. But what would help even more was if her father, the one man that will never let her down, was to try to make her understand the concept of love. Now go before you lose her."
Groaning like his ten-year old son, Jacob kisses my cheek and walks out. I can already see him trying to map out his speech.
I sit down at the breakfast table, rocking the sleeping Ryan gently.
I've always wanted at least one child's name to be similar to Ray's. When Ryan was born, I'd racked my brain for a name. Jacob and I had played around with a couple of girl names when I was pregnant with Caitlen, but Jacob didn't like the name Rachel, not much.
Rachel, nickname Ray. Taylor's a mixture of his Dad and me, Caitlen looks more like me. Then there's Rosalyn. Sixteen year old Rosalyn. I cannot believe it's been ten years since we adopted her. She's grown up so much. Almost Jacob's height, her hair's as beautiful as it was, straight nose, full lips and the always present blush on her cheeks.
Jacob still has that look of adoration when he's looking at her. The only difference is that now there's a hint of worry. His little girl's all grown up, almost ready to leave for college and he isn't ready to let go.
Not that I am, but I know Rose. I know my daughter, that she'll always be near. It was never a secret that she was adopted. She knew from the beginning and last year for a class, she and I researched into her family. She was the daughter of a wealthy doctor and her mom was a dancer. That explained her passion for dancing, it was in her blood.
Just as I predicted, Taylor comes calling my name at the top of his lungs five minutes later.
"Sssh! Your brother's sleeping!" I whisper.
"Sorry!" He whispers loudly. "I'm hungry Mom."
Laying Ryan in the crib, I turn to him.
"What would you like?"
I wonder how Jacob's holding up.
I follow Rosalyn's car from a distance. I knew this was coming. Never liked her stupid boyfriend in the first place. You know, Chloe could have done this.
Parking the car, I walk into the park.
I've lost sight of Rosalyn but I know just where to find her.
Walking down the path, I cut across to the lake and see her sitting on the bank, watching the geese. I used to bring her here all the time when she was small.
Where have the years gone? Taking in a breath, I walk down to her and sit down beside her.
"You know, sitting here with you, reminds me of the little girl you were. Always full of life, dancing and singing." Turning my head, I look at her staring out at the water. "There are times I want that little girl back with all my heart, but then I wouldn't have the beautiful young lady sitting next to me."
"Dad." Sighing, she turns to me and I smile.
"I'm serious, sweetheart. I love you with all of my heart and watching you grow up has been fantastic. I know there's still a long way to go. You're going to make mistakes and learn new things. There's a ton of things you still need to experience, darling. I guess trading in my baby girl for a young woman, I need to learn how to let go."
"It sounds like I'm a sweater you're returning to the store since it doesn't fit." She smiles, looking up at me.
I laugh softly, "What's wrong, love?"
Her expression changes and she turns away.
"Brad's been cheating on me."
Son of a bitch.
Gritting my teeth, I fight to maintain my normal voice.
"How long have you known?"
She shrugs, "My friends have been telling me but I never saw any hint of it. And then all the signs started appearing and.. Yeah."
"I never liked him." I murmur before speaking up. "Sweetheart, do you want me to go beat him up?"
She turns and looks at me, obviously not expecting that response, but I watch as she thinks about it.
"No, it's alright."
Rosalyn chuckles, "Would you have done it if I said yes?"
"Maybe not beat him up. But you know your father, he's really good at subtly getting revenge. I would have made him miserable for messing with my baby girl."
"So I've heard."
"Rose, he wasn't good enough for you."
"Why didn't you say something before?"
"Because baby girl, you wouldn't have listened."
"Yes, I would have."
"No, wouldn't love."
"Dad, I always listen to you."
"I know. I know you do. And you would have listened to what I'd have said. But then like any normal person you'd have tried to make me see his good side, and in that make yourself think that he's pretty damn good. That would have led you to believe he was perfect even when deep inside you'd know he isn't." I hesitate, watching her closely. "And as difficult as it is for me to watch you get hurt and make mistakes, I have to do just that. Watch and be there to help you pick yourself up again. Because if I kept holding you back from making mistakes every time then one day when I'm not around, you'd find yourself in a situation where you don't know what to do. And it may be too late then to learn. Right?"
She nods, glancing down at the grass between us. "You're right." She looks up at me, biting her lip. "So what do I learn from this? Not to trust guys?"
Hm, good question.
"Uh.. Yeah that's one way of looking at it. Another could be to trust your friends more. There's always a little truth in what you hear. And maybe next time date a guy you know. And if he asks you out and you don't know him, become friends first. Be friends with his friends. You can know a lot about a guy through who he hangs out with. That way when you two do start going out, you won't be out of your depth."
"Okay. Thanks Daddy."
"You're welcome darling." Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, I pull her into my side. Rosalyn lays her head down on my shoulder and we sit quietly watching the geese swim around. "You know, almost everyone has a horrible love life until they find the right one. I can assure you that every girl and guy has at least had one disastrous relationship."
"Really?" She looks up at me and I nod.
"Yeah. Even your Mom and I. You can ask her about her high school and college, and even after that, the relationships she been in. Before her, my life sucked, not only my love life."
"Yes, you were the workaholic." Rose says, pulling back.
I chuckle, "Yeah, I was. Imagine if I'd met her a few years later, she wouldn't have been able to stand me. I'd have probably become some freak by then if she hadn't brought life into... my life."
Rosalyn turns around and watches me. She hasn't really heard the whole story of how Chloe and I met, just bits and pieces. Guess she's ready. "I guess it's like you meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you, and then you meet one person and your life is changed forever. That's what it was like when I saw Chloe. I was just sitting at the bar, having a drink after a long tiring day at work and your mother dances into my line of sight. All smiles, looking so beautiful. I watched her dance for a couple of songs until she made her way to me. The only thing I could get out of my mouth was, 'Can I get you a drink?'" I shake my head, remembering that night nearly twelve years ago.
"You were nervous?" Rose asks, surprised.
"Yeah! Of course I was. She just declined and my heart sank when she went straight to Ray on the dance floor. She'd said they were best friends but what did I know. And then the next morning, I woke up late. Probably the first time I'd woken up so late in years and I missed the breakfast at my hotel. So I was walking down the street and guess what I pass?"
"Yup." I smile. "Little Miracles. I walk inside and the most gorgeous sight greets me."
"Mom smiling at you?"
I laugh, "No, Mom standing behind the till. She'd just walked in from the kitchen and she took my order. She recognized me and I was somewhat relieved, she looked happy to see me. Can you believe she told me she worked there?"
"How did you find out that she owned the place?"
I shrug, "Your uncle walked in like he owned the place and they started talking. He just picked a muffin up and walked out, and I watched her after that. The staff kept going and asking her things and so I just put two and two together."
"Wow. So did you ask her out?"
"Um..." I run a hand through my hair. "Your father's brave alright? Your Mom is the only person in the world who makes him nervous."
Rosalyn laughs, "So she asked you out?"
I shake my head. "No, I asked her out. But like a month later."
"Yeah, she crashed into my car a week after the second encounter. Not crashed exactly."
"Yeah, the little scratch on your Mercedes."
"Yeah, that one. She promised me a free meal and I went to collect it about three weeks later."
When Rose's eyebrows shoot up, I raise a finger. "I went earlier but she was at your Nana's." When my daughter smiles, I continue. "She didn't let me pay for the meal and, I promised I'd call her and ask her out. I did a few days later and took her to an Italian diner."
"So how was it? Your first date? Did you guys kiss?"
"It was great." My thoughts go back to that day. "We got to know each other, she was surprised I was observant. And no, we didn't kiss. I kissed her cheek before I left."
Seeing her disappointment, I laugh. "We didn't kiss till like the third date. And it wasn't even a date," I surprised her by turning up at her place, "And it was an accident."
"Accident? How?" Rose leans in closer, her gray eyes sparkling.
"She tripped and was going to fall over so I caught her," seeing her expression of awe, I bite back a grin. I'm feeling like quite the man here seeing my daughter so enchanted with my wooing of her Mom. "And... we kissed."
"I cannot believe I'm talking to you about this. It was magical. I know you're dying to ask. There weren't any sparks like the ones in stories but there was definitely something. You could say I was hooked once I'd had a taste."
"Okay. Too much detail." She sits back, glancing away.
"Anyway, my point is love isn't something wrapped in a bow and molded into perfection by the world's standards. Yes, it's fairytale-like, but for everyone it's different. We're going to have ups and downs until we find our way but we've got to learn from them. And it'll all be worth it one day."
"And your father and I are proof enough for you." Rosalyn and I turn around to see Chloe standing behind us with Ryan in her arms. Caitlen's standing beside her and Taylor runs up behind them.
"When did you guys get here?" I ask, standing up.
Chloe smiles, "On time." I watch as she walks down the hill and joins us, sitting beside Rosalyn, Ryan in her lap. Sitting down beside my wife, I pull Caitlen into my lap and Taylor sits in front of us. "So, what happened after our first kiss?" Chloe looks up at me and I smile, looking at my beautiful wife.
"I fell in love."
She laughs, "Don't spoil the ending!"
I reach for her hand, linking my fingers through hers tightly. "It hasn't ended yet." Lifting her hand, I kiss the back of it, holding her gaze.
Start of Something New - High School Musical
Everyday - High School Musical 2
Not a Love Song - Ross Lynch
Insomnia - Craig David
Until You - Shayne Ward (This was the song playing when Chloe first met Jacob at the club.)
Until You - Epilogue 2A small surprise...
By Sammer A