I worried my lower lip nervously as I got ready. It had been a week since Nathan and Theresa were born and tonight Phil and Elaine, Carter’s parents, were coming over for dinner. They hadn’t seen the twins since we were at the hospital. And they’d only been over to the house a couple of times. I couldn’t help but feel nervous.
Carter came up behind me and kissed me on the cheek. “I can see you worrying, Haddie. Stop it.”
“You know me too well.” I turned and slid my arms around his waist. “I can’t help it. I’m always nervous around your parents.” Elaine and I got along quite well, actually, but I’d always felt that Phil wasn’t too keen on me.
“Well, you shouldn’t be. You know they love you.”
“’They’ may be a strong word.”
He leaned down and kissed me. “Pop is just old-fashioned. It’s not that he disapproves, it’s that he’s kind of weirded out. He’d probably have the same reaction if I were gay.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Are you saying he thinks it would be as bad for you to be gay as it is to be with me?”
“I think that came out wrong. What I meant was that he doesn’t quite know what to make of you. He can’t figure out how we have so much in common.” Carter kissed me again. “He definitely doesn’t dislike you.”
I stroked his cheek, smiling gently up at him. “I was teasing. At least Elaine and I do get along.”
“Perhaps the first time in recorded history where a mother got along with her son’s girlfriend.”
I snorted softly. “Maybe. I’m going to go check on the twins before they get here. Would you go make sure Josh and Nora are dressed? Oh, and make sure the door to the basement is locked.” The renovations on the basement were still on-going, and Joshua liked little more than to go down there and meddle in the construction. I was positive that he’d have Alison down there making mischief if we didn’t lock the door and hide the key tonight.
He smiled and stepped out of the room. “On it.”
I listened to him start talking to Joshua as I went downstairs. For the evening, we’d taken the twins’ bassinets downstairs to spare Phil and Elaine from crowding into our bedroom in order to ooh and aah over the babies. I smiled and picked up Nathan, cuddling him close. “Hello sweet boy.” The doorbell rang then, so I kissed his downy little head and settled him back into his bassinet.
I went to the door and smiled at the trio on the other side. “Hi. Come in, please, come in. Alison, Joshua should be finished getting ready. He’s upstairs.” She didn’t need any further encouragement before running off up the stairs. I really hoped they didn’t get any romantic ideas when they got older. To say that would be unfortunate would be a definite understatement.
Elaine smiled and pulled me into a hug. “Hadley, how are you? You look so good! Is Carter pampering you?”
I laughed and guided the couple into the living room. “He hardly lets me do anything, you don’t need to worry.” My nervousness had eased, but it returned somewhat when I looked over at Phil. “How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. Just fine. I’m glad you’re doing well.”
Elaine made her way over to Theresa and picked her up, cradling her in her arms. “Oh, she’s such a doll. They both are. They’re such beautiful babies.” She sniffed a little and looked down at the baby in her arms. Her eyes shined a little. “I’d thought that I wouldn’t have any grandbabies from Carter, you know.”
I smiled weakly, knowing exactly why she had thought Carter would never have any children of his own. “They were quite a surprise, but a happy one, of course.”
Elaine nodded. “Oh, Alison was, too. Phil and I thought we were all done and then oops! One anniversary where we stayed too long at the bar and – “
“Elaine!” Phil huffed, looking rather red.
She just grinned and passed him the baby. “Look at how precious your granddaughter is.”
His face softened as he cuddled my daughter. “She is precious. I’m going to like being a grandpa.” He murmured off-handedly, “It’s a shame you two aren’t married, though.” He jumped and blinked over at Elaine when she elbowed him. “What?”
My smile tightened. Old-fashioned, indeed. I knew that he hadn’t truly meant anything by the comment, but it stuck in my mind nonetheless.
“Mom! Pop!” Carter grinned as he came down the stairs. He went over to Elaine and hugged her, kissing her cheek.
While the three of them talked, I went into the kitchen to finish up dinner. While I cooked and then all through dinner, I couldn’t stop thinking about that comment of Phil’s.
Carter took a deep breath as we walked through the park. “It feels good to get out. We’ve hardly left the house in weeks.”
I smiled up at him. “Raising one baby is hard – raising two is next to impossible.”
“I shudder to imagine how things will be when they start walking. I don’t know how you managed it before. I know it was just one each time, but there seems to be a never-ending flood of diapers or crying or feeding. I don’t think they’re ever actually sleeping – I think that’s us hallucinating as a coping mechanism.”
I laughed and slapped his arm lightly. “You’re exaggerating. It was much easier back then. I was younger and I only had one to take care of when I had Joshua. And when Nora came along I was a little more experienced. And I had Houston around to help with Joshua. Those early years were good – and he was always good with the kids. The parent thing was never his problem.” I squeezed Carter’s hand. “Besides, you’re doing amazingly. You haven’t ripped your hair out yet or committed yourself to an asylum, so I think you’re going to make it.”
He smiled and pulled me under his arm, kissing the top of my head. “I hope so. I’m surprised you suggested getting Mom and Pop to babysit. You’ve been so resistant to letting the twins out of your sight.”
“We needed to get out of the house for a while.” And there was something I needed to do. My stomach was in knots and I hadn’t eaten today because I thought I might vomit if I had. But I was going to do it.
I drew Carter over to a bench that looked over the playground. “I remember one day, I was sitting here and watching Joshua play. I felt so terribly lost and alone then. So heartbroken. And then a beautiful voice asked if he could sit here.” I smiled at him, remembering the first time I ever saw him. It was sometimes hard to believe that was almost six years ago. “I didn’t know how a man like you could want or love me. And I didn’t know how to let myself love you. It wasn’t you that I needed to trust – I knew you were genuine and kind and faithful from the moment I met you. It was myself that I needed to restore my faith in. You helped me to do that. You made my world shine brightly again. You gave me the strength to forgive and move on and to find a life the likes of which I never dreamed of.” I smiled through teary eyes. “I guess what I’m trying to say, Carter, is that I love you with every bit of myself and I would like you to make an honest man out of you.”
He laughed in a soft, choked sound, like he was fighting back some tears of his own. “Haddie, I love you so much. Mark a date on the calendar.”
I smiled so broadly my face hurt. “Is that a yes? You’ll marry me?”
He pulled me into his arms and swept me into a kiss. “That’s a yes.”
A/N: ❤ Aaaaah! Yay!