Carlos woke up to the sound of laughter coming from the guest room and wondered who it was. Turning to the other side of the bed where Joanne slept, he found her missing. Suddenly he remembered; there were three little ones staying in his apartment. Throwing back the bed covers, he got up and hurried to the bathroom to get ready for the day. He had promised Joanne he would take care of breakfast while she took care of dinner.
When he got out of the bathroom wrapped only in a towel, little Gracie was sitting on his bed hugging her teddy bear.
“Well, well, look who we’ve got here,” Carlos smiled at her. “Good morning, little girl,” he said with his deep baritone voice and wiggled his eyebrow.
Grace giggled and said, “Good morning, Uncle Carlos. Breakfast is ready. We are having pancakes.”
“Breakfast is ready?”
“Uh-huh,” she nodded.
“Give me one minute,” he held up one finger then went to his walk-in wardrobe to change into a dark blue polo t-shirt and a pair of worn-out jeans. Soon he had Grace sitting on his shoulder as they made their way to the kitchen.
True enough, the table was laid and there was already a plate full of pancakes in different shapes. There were also toasts, scrambled eggs and three glasses of milk. Joanne saw them and immediately shouted, “Nick! Tony! Come and eat!”
Letting Grace down, Carlos raised his eyebrows at her and asked, “Did you have to shout?”
“Sure, or it wouldn’t be fun at all.” She shrugged and turned to make coffee for both of them. Carlos shook his head and wondered if his wife was just being playful or if she had caught the parenting bug. The two boys came running into the kitchen and immediately took their places at the table. Grace was nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s Grace?” Joanne asked. Then even before any one of them could reply, she shouted, “Grace, come and eat!” Carlos rolled his eyes and shook his head again. Soon the brown-haired girl appeared at the kitchen entrance. “Ah, there you are! Where did you go?”
“I went to put teddy on the bed,” she replied softly.
Carlos walked over and picked her up. “What’s wrong, sweetheart? You don’t look too happy. Tell Uncle Carlos.”
Grace buried her face in the crook of his neck and sobbed, “I want my mommy and daddy.” That took both adults by surprise. She had been fine the day before and had slept through the night so none of them was prepared for this.
“Grace, you don’t like being with Aunty Joanne?” There was disappointment in Joanne’s voice as she stroked the little girl’s hair.
“Yes, but I want my mommy and daddy, too.” Grace sobbed harder and hugged Carlos’ neck harder.
“She’s just homesick,” Carlos whispered to his wife. “Come Grace, let’s have breakfast and then we’ll go play in the park. After that we will come back and play some more with the toys we bought yesterday. How’s that?” Grace nodded but still sobbed.
Joanne took over from Carlos and led Grace to the bathroom to clean her face, “Don’t cry, Gracie. You have me and Uncle Carlos for today and tomorrow. We will love you like your mommy and daddy. Can you smile for Aunty Joanne?” Grace looked up with her tear-stained face and smiled as best as she could but a little hiccup escaped from her lips and that made them both laugh.
Everyone finally settled down for breakfast and soon the room was filled with laughter as Carlos entertained them with his talking eyebrows. All the kids tried wriggling their eyebrows like him and it was so funny that Joanne quickly whipped out her camera phone and shot a video of them. Later that day, she uploaded it onto her computer and sent it to the other Divos, and then she sent a text to them to inform them to watch the video clip.
As promised, the kids were taken to the park where they played baseball with Carlos as coach. By the time they were ready to head back to the apartment, Carlos was almost breathless having to run and fetch the ball for the children. He was ready to drop dead in his bed but Joanne wouldn’t let him. Instead, he helped her to bathe the children before they all settled down to play with their toys. Lily and Angel joined them later when Sebastien sent them over after their lessons
It was another satisfying day for Joanne as she thoroughly enjoyed her time with the children. Even Nick was behaving very well, after she threatened him with the naughty corner when he refused to share his toys with the girls. Tony was reluctant to share his toys initially but at the mention of time-out, he quickly handed over his toys to Grace. There was a little squabble at the dining table too but it was quickly sorted out by a few stern words from Uncle Carlos.
Thinking about how he had handled the kids, she mused aloud, “He’s going to make a great daddy. Wait till I drop the bomb on him.” Smiling to herself, she got out of the bathroom.
Carlos finished the last story for the night and saw that all three little had already dozed off in the king-sized bed in the bedroom down the hallway. Covering them up properly, he switched off the lamp on the bedside table. As he turned to leave, he saw Joanne standing at the door quietly observing him. She was wrapped in a robe and she smiled as he approached her. Hand in hand, they walked to their room.
“Tell me, do you enjoy being with the kids?” she whispered in his ears.
“Yes, but I must confess I thought it would be terrible,” he grinned.
“So, are you ready for fatherhood?” she asked as she ran her hands up and down his chest, then around his shoulders and finally wrapped them behind his neck.
“Sure. I was ready a long time ago,” he pulled her towards him by the waist to join them at the hips, their lips touching but not kissing. She smiled and pulled something out of the pocket of her robe. “What’s this?” he asked.
“Parenthood,” she replied with a grin.
He stared at it for a moment before raising his right eyebrow, “It says plus.”
“Um-hm,” she nodded and licked at his lips.
“Don’t do that. I can’t think straight when you do that,” he said in all seriousness, knitting his brows together. “So is this good news?” he finally asked.
“You ordered a baby and the stork will deliver it maybe eight months later, so do you think it’s good news?”
Smiling till the lines at the sides of his eyes crinkled, he whispered, “Are you sure?”
“Then can we still make love like we always do?” he asked with his sexy stage voice.
“Oh yes, but no acrobatic stunts,” she replied amid giggles.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.” He carried her to the bed, gently easing the robe off her body and laying her down. “Remember, we have children sleeping next door,” he warned.
“Maybe we shouldn’t,” she began, but when she saw his eyes darkened, she added in a whisper, “Oh, ok, I’ll be quiet.”
But just when she was all excited and ready to welcome him, he suddenly sat straight up and exclaimed, “Wait a minute, you’re pregnant!”
“And you were thinking?” Joanne replied incredulously.
“And we haven’t even told our parents about it!” Carlos was almost shouting in excitement.
Then he quickly got up and just as he was reaching over to pick up the phone from the bedside table, Joanne snatched it away from him and hissed, “Oh no you don’t!”
“Why not? They’ll be very happy for us,” he looked at her, confused.
Sighing, she said, “It’s late, and I haven’t gotten any confirmation yet. Let me see the doctor first, ok? Then if everything is confirmed, you can tell the whole world if you want.”
“But it said plus, which means si, you are pregnant,” he pointed to the pregnancy test kit lying on the floor.
“Carlito, if you want to sit and argue about whether we should tell our parents first, you can forget about touching me tonight. I’m going to sleep now. Good night.” With that, she pulled the bed cover over her and turned away from him, pretending to sleep.
Staring at the phone lying on the bed and looking longingly at his wife, he sighed as he picked up the phone and put it back on the table. Gently, he got in under the cover and pulled her towards him and placed light kisses on her shoulder and back.
“We’ll tell our parents later when you’ve seen the doctor. Now, can we get back to what we were doing?”
“You’ll have to convince me you really want to do that,” she said in a muffled voice as she buried her face deeper into the pillow, trying not to laugh at her husband’s silliness. So he spent the next few minutes convincing her how much he wanted her. They managed to keep it quiet as they shared an intimate moment in each other’s arms.
It was another day in Disneyland, a day before they left for New York. David, Claire and Amelia had taken most of the kiddy rides with the little girl, and both adults had taken turns to ride on some adult rides too. All three had lots of fun and Amelia could be heard laughing and screaming most of the time.
Taking a break from standing in queues and spinning in rides, they shopped around in the departmental store selling Disney merchandise. Claire left Amelia with David as she wandered off to a section selling souvenirs.
As they wandered down the aisles of colorful plush toys, Amelia stood and watched as two slightly older girls pestered their mother for Winnie the Pooh plush toys. When they each got their 12-inch toys, the girls turned and saw Amelia staring admiringly at them and one of them stuck out her tongue at her. The other showed off her new toy before they both quickly followed their mother to the check-out counter.
David noticed the antics of the two girls and observed little Amie. The sad look on her face tore at his heart so he brought her to the collection of soft toys and said, “Pick one, Amie.”
Smiling happily, she asked, “Can I have that one, Uncle David?” as she pointed to a toy sitting high up on the shelf. David took toy off the top shelf effortlessly with his tall frame, grinning as he handed it to her.
“Here you go. Gosh, it looks just as big and tall as you are, Amelia. Sure you can carry it?” David asked as the little girl hugged her new 22-inch Winnie the Pooh toy. She nodded with a huge smile on her face. Taking her hand, he led her to the check-out counter where they met Claire.
“What’s this?” Claire asked as she pointed to the toy.
“My gift to Amelia,” David replied.
“Oh no, you don’t! Put it back, Amelia,” she instructed the little girl. Amelia hugged the toy closer to her and stood behind David. “You’re not going to spoil her, David. I can’t afford stuff like this.”
“I can’t be spoiling her with just one toy, Claire. Besides, she’s been a good girl and she deserves it.”
“No. Put it back, Amelia, now!” Claire ordered, raising her voice slightly. The little girl’s lips quivered as she looked up pleadingly at David. His heart constricted at the pitiful look on her face. How could he deny her a simple pleasure as getting a new toy? Feeling miffed at Claire as he thought she was over-reacting, he took the toy from Amelia and gently nudged her closer to her mother.
“Go with mommy while I pay for this,” he said softly with an encouraging smile.
“Claire, can’t I buy a toy for myself?”
Knowing she was fighting a lost cause, Claire stormed off with the little girl in tow. David sighed. He knew there’d be a storm brewing after this and knew he had to get things sorted between them if they were to have a future together.
Amelia suddenly broke free from mommy and ran back to David, hugging his leg as Claire came after her. Seeing that it was going to be an ugly scene if she insisted on dragging her daughter away, she decided to leave her be and left the store to wait outside.
As they stood in line waiting to make payment, they saw the two girls who taunted Amelia earlier. They gawked at the huge toy that was now back in Amelia’s arms and she grinned happily at her Uncle David. His heart swelled with pride knowing he was able to make her feel happy.
Finally they paid for their purchase and walked out the store to see mommy standing with her arms folded across her chest. Without a word, she turned and headed in the direction of the hotel, leaving David and Amelia trailing behind her. David looked down at the little girl and poked his tongue out sheepishly to indicate they were in big trouble. Amelia looked worriedly at him until he smiled and whispered, “It’s ok.”
Back in the hotel lift lobby, David handed Amelia back to her mother and told them to go up to their room while he attended to some matters. Claire looked at him questioningly but without a word, she pressed the lift button. When they were out of sight, he headed to the florist and picked out twelve stalks of the most beautiful red roses and told the lady to wrap them up nicely with baby breaths. As the florist was doing that, he browsed around the store and came upon a teddy bear with a lone tear on it’s face wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I’m sorry’.
As he paid for both the flowers and the teddy, an idea struck him. Removing his camera phone from his pocket, he passed it to the store lady and asked her to take a picture of him holding the bouquet and the bear. That done, he sent the picture to Claire with a message, “My lovely Claire, I won’t come back till you forgive me. Love, David.” He grinned and waited. The store lady waited too, but she pretended to be busy with another flower arrangement.
The phone beeped and both of them almost jumped. Quickly, he read the message, “Come back and apologize properly. Claire x.” A grin crept onto his face.
“Forgiven?” the lady asked behind the bouquet she was working on.
“Not yet, but soon,” his grin widened and he thanked her before leaving the store.
He stood outside the door to the suite and composed himself before slotting the keycard in the reader. Opening the door slowly, he stepped inside. Looking around and seeing no one in the living room, he walked quietly towards Amelia’s room. She was sleeping soundly with her new toy tucked up beside her. Closing the door quietly, he made his way into the room he shared with Claire.
Waving the teddy in front of him like a white flag, he entered the room to see Claire sitting quietly by the balcony. She watched as he walked over with the flowers in one hand and the teddy in the other. Kneeling down in front of her, he put both items down on her lap and held her head as he kissed her.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered against her lips.
“Then why did you do it?” she asked quietly.
“I just wanted Amelia to be happy. You should see her face when the girls taunted her with their toys.”
“So you tried to make her proud by giving her the biggest toy you could find?”
“I didn’t pick it. Anyway, I don’t think this little episode is going to spoil her rotten.”
“How would you know? You’ll be in and out of her life, and you’ll be wanting to pamper her every time you see her. That’s going to do more damage than good.”
“I don’t intend to be in and out of her life or yours, Claire. I want to be there for both of you all the time, permanently. I know you’re afraid I’d spoil her and you’ll have a hard time taking care of her, but you’re not alone now. I’ll be a good father figure to her, just give me a chance to prove it.”
When she saw the sincerity in his eyes, she softened up, “I’m sorry, David. I should’ve trusted you more but I guess what her father did just make me worry about making the wrong choices again.”
“I understand that, Claire. But you must remember not every man is like your ex. Come, let me show you what I’m really like,” he gave a devilish grin as he helped her off the chair. The bouquet was left on the chair as she took the teddy with her. He took it from her and placed it on the bedside table, facing the wall. “Don’t peek,” he wagged a finger at teddy.
Claire laughed a little before allowing David to undress her. After tiring each other out, they slept for an hour before Amelia woke them up by climbing into their bed with her big Winnie, declaring that she was hungry.
The kids had gone home after spending two nights with Carlos and Joanne. The couple was pleased with themselves for having survived the boot camp with the kids, playing all sorts of kids’ games with them and keeping them in line. Finally, they had the apartment all to themselves again and time for doing some important things like getting the pregnancy confirmed. Carlos was dying to tell everyone he was going to be a father and it was all he could do to keep his mouth shut when Urs and Sebastien came to pick up their children.
After half an hour of grilling the doctor for information about Joanne’s pregnancy, Carlos left the gynaecologist’s office with a huge satisfied grin on his face. Joanne trailed behind him feeling slightly embarrassed. She couldn’t believe her husband would ask so many silly questions regarding the pregnancy, including ‘Why can’t you be sure exactly when the baby is due?” “Why can’t you tell if it’s a boy or girl now?” “How do you know it’s five weeks and not two months?” “Maybe she had the date mixed up?” More than once she had wanted to crawl under the carpet out of embarrassment as he was practically harassing the doctor for answers.
“Why are you walking so slowly? Are you tired? Do you need a rest?” he asked when he realized she was walking five paces behind him.
“No, I’m not tired. I just don’t think I want to be associated with you right now,” she replied dryly. At the look of puzzlement on his face, she muttered, “Never mind” and increased her pace to catch up with him.
They spent the next two hours shopping for baby stuff despite Joanne’s protest that it was still early days yet. Carlos couldn’t wait to start decorating the nursery and insisted that they start early before the group began promoting the album and doing the tour. In the end, they bought some bedding stuff for the baby cot that they had ordered. That was all Joanne would allow him to buy. She wanted to wait till they found out the gender of the baby before getting the rest of the baby items.
The moment they stepped into their apartment, Carlos was on the phone and waited impatiently for someone to answer his call.
“Mama, I have good news for you. Joanne is five weeks pregnant but don’t ask me if it’s a boy or a girl because the doctor couldn’t tell right now. Maybe next trip,” he rattled off in rapid Spanish.
Joanne could hear some ramblings coming through the phone from the other end as she stood next to Carlos and she presumed Mama was elated with the news.
“Yes, yes, five weeks, though I wish it’s five months. Then we will have the baby before we start touring…No, we can’t postpone the tour. It would be unfair to the other guys since we all worked so hard to come up with the schedules…Yes, I’ll send her home to you when the time is near but she will be traveling with me in the early stages…Yes, the doctor said it’s ok to do that…”
Just before he hung up the phone, Joanne couldn’t stop smiling when she heard him say, “Yes Mama, I know she loves me…(sigh) Yes it was my fault…No, I will not make her cry again. Everything is fine now, don’t you worry. I love you too, Mama.” He heaved a sigh when the conversation finally ended.
“This is worse than being interrogated by Sam or the kids,” he joked. Then handing over the phone to Joanne, he said, “Your turn to tell your parents.”
Joanne took a deep breath before calling her parents who lived in the States. Hanging up the phone half an hour later, she told Carlos, “I’m exhausted. If I had known there would be so many questions to answer I would have sent them an email and switched off my phone. They’re just as bad as you were with the doctor.”
“Me? Bad? How come?”
“They asked almost the same questions as you did at the doctor’s, and they aren’t even first time parents!” she replied with a shake of her head.
“I’m glad I’m not the only idiot,” he replied and immediately got a whack on the arm.
Knowing that David would be back from the States in another few more days, they decided to wait till the whole Divo clan got together again to announce their happy news. That was to save them the trouble of having to answer the same questions more than once.
Joanne was truly exhausted by evening time and Carlos ordered her to bed almost immediately after dinner, offering to do the dishes on his own. When he got into bed that night, he snuggled up next to her and watched as she slept, thanking his lucky star that he had been given a second chance with the woman he loved most.
On the flight to New York, David sat thinking about the past few days in Disneyland. He was glad for the trip as Claire seemed more open to the idea of following him, though she wanted slightly more time to consider. As long as she never uttered the word ‘no’ it was fine with him. He was prepared to wait though it was tearing him up inside knowing soon they would be apart again.
He knew she was afraid of being totally dependent on him like she was dependent on her ex-husband when they were married. That dependency had left her feeling helpless when she found out about his infidelity. It took her a long while to pluck up the courage to demand a divorce and take charge of her life again.
He turned to see both mother and daughter taking a nap in their seats, the giant-sized Winnie the Pooh finally wrestled from Amelia’s arms and stuffed up in the luggage compartment above their seats. As he watched, his mind drifted back to Sandra.
Vaguely, he remembered their last flight together, flying back to LA after the tour to prepare for their wedding. Everything was left to the wedding planner, except their wedding outfits. As he drifted off to sleep, he remembered their conversation on the phone when she made her way to the studio for their photo shoot. That was their last proper conversation, just before she turned a corner to cross the street. He could envision clearly what happened next as his mind replayed what he was told: a car had rammed onto the curb at the turn and hit a few pedestrians, one of them Sandra. He heard her scream and was jotted awake by a tap on his shoulder.
“David, are you alright?” Claire stared into his eyes as she looked at him with concern.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he replied hoarsely, looking dazed.
“You were shaking your head and saying something. Did you have a bad dream?” she whispered, not wanting to wake Amelia.
He stared at her for a moment before hugging her tightly, “I’m sorry if I frightened you.”
He was still shaking as he held her. She tried to soothe him by stroking his back and whispered in his ears. “It’s all right. Whatever it was, it’s over now.” Somehow she knew what he was dreaming about and her heart ached for him.
“Don’t leave me, Claire. I don’t think I can take it if I lose you and Amelia. Promise me,” he said in an emotion so raw that she felt it rip at her heart.
“I promise. We’ll make this work for us,” she said before kissing him.
“Mommy, are we there yet?” Amelia had woken up.
Grateful for the interruption for it brought him back to reality, David turned to her and said, “We’re almost there, sweetheart.”
As they made their way pass the arrival hall, Claire waved and shouted to her dad who was standing on his own waiting for them to arrive. Father and daughter shared a hug.
“Dad, do you remember David Miller?” Claire turned to David and held his hand.
“Sure do. Nice to see you again, David,” Thomas Morgan said as the men shook hands.
“Grandpa, what about me?” Amelia pouted as no one seemed to pay her any attention, especially her beloved grandfather.
Thomas laughed and hugged his granddaughter, “Awww, princess isn’t happy. Sorry about that, Amelia. What’s that you’re holding? Seems mighty big for you.”
“This is my new toy, Winnie the Pooh. Uncle David bought it for me,” she happily announced, looking up at David with a big smile before holding his hand. Thomas was now made aware that he was no longer the favorite man in his granddaughter’s life but he was glad just the same for he could sense the young man was nothing like his ex-son-in-law.
“Well, you must all be hungry. Let’s get moving or grandma will be mad if dinner turns cold. She spent the whole afternoon preparing it.”
Along the way the two men chatted amiably as Thomas drove and David sat next to him, and Claire and Amelia sat in the back seat. Thomas was impressed with what David had told him about his job and it was obvious to David that Claire had never mentioned about him to her parents. He couldn’t understand why and when he caught her reflection in the side mirror, he gave her a puzzled look. All she did was smiled back at him.
“I hope I’m not intruding on your family reunion, Thomas.” They were now on first name basis since Thomas insisted. It was David’s subtle way of letting Claire know he wasn’t very happy with her decision to keep him from her parents.
“Don’t be silly. Claire said she would be coming home with a friend so we’ve prepared a guest room for your stay.” Soon, they pulled up in front of an old but neat-looking house in a quiet neighborhood. As the men removed the luggage from the car boot, Claire and Amelia were already running towards the door where Jenny Morgan was waiting. Hugs and kisses were exchanged before Mrs Morgan noticed who the friend was.
“I should have known it’s you, young man,” she said warmly and gave David a hug.
“Yes it’s me, ma’ma,” David grinned his boyish grin.
“I wish Claire could have told us more about you instead of surprising us like this. I just hope the bed in the guest room is big enough for you,” Mrs Morgan said as she took in his tall frame.
“It’s alright, Mrs Morgan,” David laughed, “I can always sleep diagonally.” That made them all laugh except for Amelia who stood and waited patiently.
Dinner was a simple fare but the atmosphere was cozy. The Morgans were a loving bunch of people who treated David like a family member and he was on first name basis with both parents now. The talk was easy-going and as David explained to the older folks what Il Divo had done so far and the countries it had visited, they seemed well and truly impressed.
“Claire, why hadn’t you mentioned anything about this to us?” mom wanted to know.
“Well,” Claire stammered as David looked expectantly at her, “I just wasn’t sure how to tell you about it. I mean, wouldn’t it worry you if I had said ‘Hey mom, I’m dating a pop star’? So I thought I’d wait till we meet again to tell you all about David and Il Divo.”
Her parents nodded understandingly and so did David. So, she wanted to tell them in person, not over the phone. I can live with that, he thought with relief. Reaching for her hand underneath the table, he gave it a light squeeze and smiled at her. Jenny and Thomas gave each other a knowing smile.
After dinner, David and Thomas sat in the living room with a beer each and chatted about football, politics and the American entertainment scene. Soon Amelia felt sleepy and wanted to go to bed. Claire was still busy helping her mother in the kitchen so David offered to take the girl up to bed.
“She knows where her bedroom is, don’t you, princess?” Grandpa asked.
Amelia nodded and kissed grandpa goodnight before running off to the kitchen to kiss grandma and mommy too. By now Winnie had become too heavy for her so she asked Uncle David to carry it for her as they made their way up the second floor to her bedroom.
In the room, David helped her with her nightly routine; made sure she brushed her teeth properly, helped her into her pyjamas and even said a little prayer with her. Tucked up in bed with Winnie, he read a story from her story book until she fell asleep.
Claire and her mom stood at the door and watched as he gently kissed the little girl’s head and switched off the lamp on the bedside table. Jenny put her arm around her daughter and hugged her close. Finally her daughter had found someone she truly deserved and it was all she could do to keep her tears from forming in her eyes.
Seeing that David had noticed their presence, Jenny explained, “I thought I’d show you your room, David, and see if there’s anything else you might need.” So David followed both mother and daughter to the room further down the hallway, just next to Amelia’s room. Claire’s room, as he had found out, was on the other side of Amelia’s room, at the other end. Both husband and wife’s room was downstairs as they didn’t like climbing the stairs, especially since Jenny had problems with her knees.
When they entered David’s room, it was obvious he wasn’t going to fit in very comfortably in the bed as it had just a normal single sized bed, not even super single. Jenny looked at the bed and then at David, “Oh dear, I don’t think even sleeping diagonally would help.” David laughed.
“This used to be my youngest brother’s room until he moved out when he started University,” Claire explained and joked, “As you can see, we’re not from the land of giants.”
Before he could finish, Jenny said, “No, it’s not alright. Maybe you should sleep in Claire’s room instead. She has a double bed. You could swap rooms.”
“Mom, I’m not giving up my bed for this dingy bed. David can sleep with me,” Claire looked at her mother and dared her to say more.
“Oh, why didn’t I think of that?” mom looked flustered. Somehow she kept thinking her daughter’s relationship with this young man had only just started and felt it appropriate for them to sleep in separate rooms. She should have asked about it when they were doing the dishes but she didn’t feel comfortable prying so deep into Claire’s love life. “Well, with the sleeping arrangement settled, I’ll just leave you two alone. Have a good night’s sleep and we’ll see you at breakfast.” With that, she headed down the stairs.
“Are you sure your parents won’t mind? Your mom seems a little uncomfortable,” David asked when he was sure mom was out of earshot.
“Don’t worry. She always forgets that I’m a grown woman and not her little Miss Giggler anymore,” Claire replied with a roll of her eyes.
“Yeah, not her Miss Giggler anymore, but mine,” he said as he took her in his arms and gave her a kiss that told her it was time for bed, but not necessary sleep.
On their way to Claire’s room, they checked into Amelia’s to make sure she was peacefully sleeping. Alone again, they held each other in an embrace and kissed till they were breathless. Then picking her up, he walked towards the bed and lay her down. But as he got in beside her, the bed creaked loudly.
“Oops! How old is this bed?” he asked with a frown.
“I slept in it since I was in high school, with one of my sisters,” she replied sheepishly.
“Do you think the floor boards will hold our weight? Or will they creak like your bed?”
“This is an old house, David. Mom and Dad had been living here since they were married and they didn’t see the need to move, renovate or rebuild this house.”
Sighing, he muttered under his breath, “Should have booked a hotel room.”
She heard him and whacked his arm, “David Miller, shame on you. Is this all you could think of?”
“You mean you’re not thinking what I’m thinking?” he retorted.
After a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I think the floor boards won’t be that noisy. Let’s move the mattress down there.”
So they set to work moving the mattress with bed sheets and all on the floor. Satisfied, they went into the adjoining bathroom and did their routine before finally lying down on the mattress.
Chuckling to himself, he said, “I never had to work so hard to get a woman into bed with me. You’re the first.”
She giggled, “And I feel so honored, Mr Miller.”
The next morning they woke up to the sound of Amelia laughing downstairs. They hurried through their morning rituals and went downstairs. Breakfast was already laid out on the table so they sat down to eat after greeting Claire’s parents and Amelia. Mrs Morgan had arranged with Mrs Smith to view her house at ten o’clock so they hurried through their breakfast as they were only ten minutes away from time.
Mrs Smith lived opposite from the Morgans, three houses away. She had moved into the house five years ago after her son had torn down the old building and rebuilt it when he bought it from the first owner. Now she wanted to move to Canada where her daughter lived. It was a decent looking house with a neat lawn. David was especially pleased that it wasn’t as old as the Morgans’ house and told Claire in a whisper. She gave him a look that told him to behave, though she tried to cover her smile.
The house had three bedrooms upstairs and a big library downstairs as Mrs Smith used to be a teacher and she loved to read. All the rooms had its own bathroom. The kitchen downstairs was spacious and adequately furnished, and there was another bathroom near the back of the house. The living room looked cozy with sunlight filtering in from the window. And David was glad that the flooring upstairs was concrete like the other parts of the house.
Claire was very happy with the design but was a little concerned with the asking price. She looked at each of the rooms and ideas formed at the back of her mind about what she could do with those rooms, but she kept her thoughts to herself. David observed her and knew she liked it, but when he asked her, all she did was said she needed to think it over. Thanking the owner, they left and went back to the Morgans’.
“Well, what do you think, Claire?” her father asked. He didn’t join in the viewing as he had to look after Amelia, who pestered him into playing the piano for her.
“It looks ok,” she replied.
“What do you mean it looks ok? It looks more than ok to me,” David interjected. “Now, don’t tell me you don’t like it because I can see that you do. What are you worried about? The price? It’s not a problem.”
“David, I know you can afford even bigger houses but I’m buying one for myself and Amelia. I need to work within my budget.”
Seeing Claire was getting upset, Mrs Morgan told the couple to go upstairs to discuss further. “Go on, you need to talk it over,” she urged.
“Mom, this has nothing to do with David. It’s my decision and I can decide for myself,” Claire was close to losing her temper. She didn’t like the feeling that David was trying to run her life; she had too much of that with her ex-husband who even though was seldom at home, did try to control her to a great extent. Turning around, she stomped upstairs.
David looked at her retreating form and cursed himself for being too rash. He should have known better than to try to tell her what to do. After trying so many times to convince her to move to London with him, he knew she could be very stubborn where her future and that of Amelia’s was concerned. Apologizing to her parents, he ran up the stairs to their shared room, eager to make amends.