A/N: I realized something today – I’m ready to start on gen two! So why piece-meal these chapters out with just one a day??? I don’t want to wait seven more days for gen two!
I walked up the stairs to Hadley’s house and rang the bell. Once upon a time, lunches with my sister had been a weekly (often more than that) event. But they had gotten fewer and further between over the years. Something natural, I supposed, as our lives got fuller and busier.
Hadley opened the door, a bright smile on her face. “Hi, Shirley!” She pulled me into a hug.
I hugged her back, wondering what had her so exceptionally cheerful today. “Hey, Hads. Have the babies driven you crazy yet?”
She laughed and started to guide me upstairs. Evidently, she was perfectly aware of my ulterior motives in coming over today. “No, but they are trying to deprive me of sleep.”
We went into the master bedroom, and I immediately scooped Nathan into my arms. “Have I mentioned lately how glad I am that Camille and I got a ready-made model?” I adored my niece and nephew, but it was much better to be an aunt.
Hads snorted softly and sat down on the edge of the bed. “You love babies.”
“I do,” I conceded, settling Nathan back in his crib and turning to face Hadley, “but I like them best when they aren’t mine. Then I get to leave when they start being smelly instead of cute.” I winked and picked up Theresa, kissing her nose. “You and Carter really make pretty babies.”
She smiled. “We do.”
I grinned over at her. “But there was never any question about that, was there? Carter’s too pretty.” Even I could tell Hadley had really bagged herself a looker.
She huffed a laugh. “You’re terrible. Right, but terrible.” She stood up and started for the door. “Come on, let’s eat. You can cuddle them some more after.”
Reluctantly, I settled Theresa into her crib and walked into the hall. Instead of going downstairs, though, Hadley pulled me over to the sofa in her art nook. “Uh, Hads?” I said questioningly, motioning to the stairs.
“I’m getting married!” She blurted, grinning so broadly the corners of her mouth nearly touched her ears.
“What?!” I hugged her hard, shaking her. “Oh, my Watcher! He asked you?”
She pulled back and shook her head impishly. “I asked him.”
“Look at you, modern woman.” I took her hands and squeezed tightly. “I am so happy for you. It’s about time you two tied the knot. You’ve only been madly in love forever.”
She smiled – it seemed to be the only expression she had anymore. “I hadn’t really thought about it until Phil – Carter’s father – made a comment. Then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I realized I really did want to be married to Carter.”
I squeezed her hands again, probably cutting off circulation to her fingers. For a long time, I had been so worried about Hadley. First that she wouldn’t find happiness again after Houston. Then that she would throw the happiness she did find away. Now, I knew that she would be okay. “This is so wonderful – amazing. When do you think you want to have the ceremony – are you having one?” Everything had been small and simple when she got married to Houston. Would she want something different this time?
She nodded. “I do want a real wedding this time. I think it would be nice to have a summer wedding or maybe early autumn. But I don’t want to really get too focused on planning everything until after April. I want to throw a big party for Joshua since he’s turning thirteen this year. Plus I don’t want anything extravagant.”
“Watcher, I can’t believe he’s almost thirteen.” I shook my head. “I remember when he was born. It seems like he should still be in Kindergarten.”
Hadley smiled wistfully. “I know. He and Nora are growing up so fast. It won’t be long before he’s moving out. It seems like a lot of years still, but it won’t feel like it.”
Would Loralee move out? I know that Camille had a dream that her family would live in the house for generations to come, but would Loralee or Luc want that? “Have you told them yet?” I asked, bringing the conversation back to something brighter.
She shook her head. “Not yet. I wanted you to be the first one to know.”
“Oh, Hads.” I couldn’t help but feel touched.
She sniffed a little and hugged me again. “So, don’t go telling the kids when you get home. I don’t know if I’ll tell Josh and Nora tonight, and I don’t want them hearing about it at school.”
“You know,” I said softly, “sometimes I wake up and still expect to be in my room here. I can’t believe everything that’s happened. Everything is so different now.”
“I know,” Hadley said as she started for the stairs. “Life is a funny thing.”
We finally went downstairs and had lunch, sitting at the new table Hadley and Carter had gotten a while ago.
I thought back to times when the two of us had sat around that old table my parents had gotten at a thrift store. It had been there that I’d pointed out to Hadley that she might be pregnant with Joshua. And now he would be thirteen in a handful of months. Things were so different and yet, I thought as I looked around at the mostly-unchanged kitchen, not so different. There was a saying for that.