I smiled as Nora, Loralee, and Luc laughed in the living room. Shortly after arriving at Camille and Shirley’s, Joshua had run outside to play. At eleven, he often liked to think he was too grown up to play with younger kids.
Tonight we were celebrating Luc officially joining the family; just a couple of days ago all the paperwork had been finalized. But I couldn’t quite focus on the joyous occasion.
“Can I get you a drink?”
I pulled myself out of my thoughts and looked over at Camille. “Oh, no, thanks.” I’d reached that age where drinking just made me sleepy. “Luc is a great kid. You’re lucky to have him.”
She smiled broadly. “We really are. He’s a perfect fit. Would you excuse me? I need to check on dinner.” I watched her go back into the kitchen and almost couldn’t believe this was the same woman Shirley had met sixteen years ago. How things change.
I slipped out of the living room where Carter and Shirley were talking and snuck past the kitchen where I could hear Camille humming to herself. I took refuge in her office at the end of the hall. Things definitely did change a lot. I’d gone from unmarried, to married and a mother, to divorced with two children, to seeing a man half my age in sixteen years.
“Hads?” Shirley came into the room, shutting the door behind her. “I noticed you slip away.”
I huffed softly. “I could’ve been going to the bathroom.”
“You looked like you had something on your mind.” She dropped down onto the couch next to me. “What’s going on?”
“Who says I have anything on my mind? I just wanted a little quiet.”
She poked my side warningly. “I have ways of making you talk.”
I rolled my eyes but couldn’t keep a smile off my face. “You’re such a child.” I sighed softly. I never could keep anything from my sister. “Carter has started talking about moving in together.”
“Watcher, really? That’s fantastic!”
I bit my lower lip. “I mean, yes, it is. It’s great that we’re both equally serious about this relationship, but…”
“But what? It’s about time you two moved in together. Really, Hads, you’re already robbing the cradle – you might as well actually take him out of his parents house.”
I shoved her. “That is not funny.”
She chortled and nudged me back. “That was hilarious and you know it. But really, what’s the problem here? You’re not still afraid he’s going to leave you or something?”
I shook my head. “No. Part of me is still afraid, but that’s just me being skittish. It’s just…I’m afraid that things are going to change now. Between Carter and me.”
“I don’t know, exactly.”
Shirley rolled her eyes. “Well, there’s your answer. You’re just worrying for the sake of worrying at this point. You’ve been fretting yourself over this relationship for so long, you don’t know how to accept that it’s perfect. So quit it already and move him in! He’s probably got almost all of his things there anyway.”
It was true; he did. Almost all of his clothing had disappeared from his parent’s house and magically reappeared in my dresser. Shirley was right, of course. I was working myself up over absolutely nothing. At this point, it would be a mere formality for Carter to move in; he virtually lived there already. “Why do you have to be right all the time?”
She laughed and got to her feet. “I promise, I’m not. You’re just not around to see it. Let’s get out there and enjoy the party. Camille and I were thinking we could do a little dancing upstairs.”
I smiled and left the room with her. “That sounds like a good plan.”
The next day after Carter finished getting ready for work, I stopped him before he could leave. “Before you go, I wanted to give you something.” I pressed the key I’d slipped off of his keyring into his hands.”
He looked down at it curiously. “This is the house key.”
I smiled. “I know, I’m giving it to you.”
“You gave it to me over a year ago.”
I leaned up and kissed him. “Then, I gave you the key to my house. Today, I’m giving you the key to our house.”
“You mean – ?” He beamed and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me off of my toes. “I love you, Haddie.” As he kissed me deeply and hugged me so hard I knew I’d be able to feel him hours after he left for work, I knew I had made the right decision.