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You will pay for this, bitch! 9 ñòðàíèöà
Brooks took my hand and squeezed it. “They’d be proud of you.”
“I know they’re watching over us. In my heart, I know they gave us B. Her being born on the same date they left me can’t just be a coincidence.”
“It’s fate,” I heard Danica say as her and Walt approached us. “It has to be.”
It took both Brooks and myself a while before we could look Danica in the eye. Branch was more forgiving, claiming he just wanted the family to get along for his upcoming wedding.
Walt was the one who convinced us to bury it in the past. Nothing we could do would ever bring my parents back, and Danica would have to live with what she and my dad did for the rest of her life. For me, I thought of Walt. If he was able to forgive her and still love her anyway, I should have been able to as well. After all, my parents loved her, even if that love was misconstrued to becoming something sexual between friends. It wasn’t my business.
We all had skeletons in our closets and it wasn’t right to judge.
Brooks had other issues with his mother, mostly because she hid the truth from me for so long. Just like when we were kids, he was still protecting me.
Branch came up behind us and put his arms on mine and Brooks’ shoulders. “I think it’s time we go back to the house and have sour beef and dumplings. The past two years Mom refused to make them, because you weren’t there, Katy. We had some craptastic chicken instead.”
“In my defense, it was an award winning recipe,” Danica added.
Brooks changed the subject before his mom could get offended. He looked at me and grabbed both of my hands pulling me toward him. "I need to go get B's cake and pick up a surprise. Are you good with riding Mel back to house in our car? Branch is going to drive me." He was up to something and I knew that he knew I was on to him. Since it was B's birthday, and the first official birthday for the family to celebrate it, they were going all out.
Danica had ordered a cake from a fancy treats shops in the heart of the city and they’d decorated the entire back yard in balloons, including some floating in the pool. B hadn’t seen it yet, but I knew she’d be so thrilled.
Brooks and I had made progress with our relationship in the two months that followed Bobby’s death. Since the day that Danica had made her confession, my eyes were finally open and I was able to look forward instead of behind.
It took us a month to speak to Danica directly. We needed time to sort out our feelings, and with my entire church congregation shunning me, it was difficult for me to have even more to worry about.
Brooks received bad news after failing his medical testing. Due to the injury that he obtained overseas, he couldn’t pass the simple tests that required him to use his injured hand.
Although he was saddened, he never took it out on us. Instead he started looking for other job opportunities, knowing that he’d be released from the military.
I think it was hard for him, albeit since we were together, and he had B, he was too preoccupied to let it show.
His commanding officer had us over for dinner the last night he had to report for duty, and that was the end of it.
Since we weren’t hard up for money, I’d suggested that he take some time off to make up for what we’d lost. Every day was a blessing being with them together. We went to parks, took day trips and finally started visiting the family again.
It was expected that our visit back would be on the anniversary of my parent’s death. With all of the new knowledge so fresh in our minds, we were all trying to let it go, even Branch. I don’t know why, but he’d taken the news the hardest.
Brooks told him one night, and that following weekend he and Melissa had come to visit us. As reluctant as I was about it, them being with us for that weekend changed everything.
We renewed our friendships and even Brooks enjoyed being around his brother. For the first time I truly felt like I could be friends with Branch.
Melissa asked me to be her maid of honor.
I’m not going to lie and say that it wasn’t a shocker, but given the fact that we were all going to be a family, it just made sense to accept.
Me committing to their union also helped to rebuild our broken relationships. She’d made it a point to make sure I knew that her and Branch never even talked about being together until after I was gone. He was her crying shoulder and she was his. When I thought about all the pain I’d caused him, it made me happy knowing he wasn’t alone.
Our weekend together was another reminder of how precious life and family were to us. I’d spent so much time running away to realize what I’d always had.
I’m not really sure how the twins made peace with their mother, and it wasn’t my place to judge or have an opinion. I was happy if they were.
Since their visit, Mel and I had been talking about wedding plans at least a few days a week. They’d picked out a beautiful location to exchange their vows. It was located near Towson in Maryland, which was a short drive from their parent’s house. The historic building was classified as a castle on a quaint piece of property. Even I was surprised with how excited I was for them. It said a lot about how happy I was with Brooks and our family.
“Earth to Kat.” I looked up to see Brooks standing in front of me. “Do I get a kiss goodbye, or are you going to stand there in your weird trance?
I felt embarrassed. “Sorry.”
He kissed me goodbye, but it wasn’t exactly appropriate. Brooks grabbed the back of my head and stuck his tongue in my mouth.
Branch started making gagging sounds. “Can we go before I puke?”
I pulled away from Brooks and wiped off my wet lips, while he laughed and walked toward his brother.
I watched as he crouched down and called B over. She went running into his chest. “Daddy, I go.”
“Daddy’s got get you a surprise. Go home with Mama and I’ll see you there. Okay?”
B stuck out her bottom lip. “No. I go with Daddy.”
He kissed her on the head and stood up, looking toward me for help. I walked over and coaxed her away by promising to stop for a treat, which meant chicken nuggets.
After we’d finally made it home, and gotten my child her treat that she barely ate, I stood around the kitchen with Walt, Mel and Danica.
“So, what’s this surprise? I know you all must know it?” In the back of my mind I swore he was going to propose, but unlike Branch, Brooks knew I wanted to wear my mother’s rings. Plus, I wasn’t ready to drive to the courthouse, just yet, while the ink was still wet on Bobby’s death certificate. My heart still ached for him, because aside from all the bad, was someone that offered me hope when I felt like I had nothing.
It wasn’t like Brooks and I were in a hurry. We both knew it was going to happen eventually. Being married to him was going to be wonderful, albeit I knew that even without the certificate we were already committed to being together for the long haul.
Mel giggled. “Just wait and see.”
“It is something shiny?” I had to keep guessing until they broke down and told me.
Mel put her finger up to her chin like she was thinking. “I suppose some parts are very shiny.”
“Is it big?”
Danica laughed and answered. “It’s huge.”
So I was getting something huge and shiny. How could it not be a ring? “Will I like it?”
“You may pass out,” Walt replied.
Had Brooks really gone out and got me a huge diamond ring? I’d love it because it was from him, but it made no sense. Sure, he’d saved almost all of his money for his entire time he was in the military. His credit was perfect and he’d have the means to purchase something extravagant without breaking the bank.
“I know what it is.”
They all laughed.
“Katy, just let him show it you before you say something about it. Even if you do know what it is, or think you do, just be surprised for Brooks. This means a lot to him.” Mel was so serious when she said it. I wasn’t sure how to take it.
“I’d never act ungrateful if that’s what you’re implying.”
She shook her head. “Just wait. They’ll be back soon. Branch just sent me a message.”
I sat down at the counter waiting for my surprise to arrive. B was taking a nap and Danica didn’t need help with the food prep, so I was left to sit there with my roaming imagination of how everything was going to play out.
Brooks was sentimental, so he’d want to propose on a special day. This day was the most important day of my life. I’d lost my parents and then had our daughter. There would never be a day filled with so much meaning.
Exactly seventeen minutes later I heard the guys coming in the door. I couldn’t help but notice the way Brooks’ arms flexed while he was carrying the cake. I got butterflies imagining us being alone later. He sat it down and I noticed Branch had a big smile on his face. He tapped me on the shoulder. “Katy, Katy, Katy. You’re about to shit your shorts.”
Danica threw a dish rag toward him and he caught it. “Cut it out. You aren’t kids anymore. Let your brother have his moment for once.”
I turned my chair and saw him approaching me. Thinking he’d get down on his knee, I started breathing heavily and preparing myself for the big reveal. Instead, he stood there and extended his hand for me to take it. “Come with me.”
I was so confused. “Where are we going?”
“Close your eyes.”
I did as he said and felt the blindfold going on my head. He made it tight, so I couldn’t see what he was doing. Then he began leading me outside. I could hear the family following him and giggling. “Seriously, what are you doing? Why can’t you show me inside?”
He kept pulling me along with both hands, so I couldn’t lift off the blindfold. From the amount of steps we took I realized that we were almost to the street. “I have some surprises for you. The first one is that I wanted to tell you that I got a job. It’s a good one, Kat. I won’t ever have to travel and I’ll be home for dinner every night.”
It was wonderful news. I smiled and went to take off the blindfold, but he put his hand on either side of my face and turned me to face something instead. “The next surprise you may not like, but I want you to hear me out before you say anything. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on it, but if you don’t like it, for any reason, I won’t get angry. Branch said he’d take it off of our hands.”
“Is it a car? Did you buy me a new car?”
He spun me around, so I had no idea what direction we were facing. Then we began walking again. Abruptly we stopped and I felt him loosening the blindfold. I was standing in front of a door, but it wasn’t their door. I recognized it immediately and turned to look into the eyes of Brooks.
He smiled and opened it for me to walk in. I looked back to see the family standing there waiting for my response.
The house was empty, but it was exactly how I remembered it. The previous owners hadn’t changed anything.
Beautiful memories of my parents came flashing back, especially when he took me into the kitchen and up the stairs. “Where are we going? Did you ask the realtor if you could see this place? I don’t understand.”
He kept pulling me along. “We’re almost there. Keep walking.”
We got to what used to be my bedroom. The door was closed and he turned to face me and smiled before opening it.
This room was different. Butterflies were painted on all of the walls and in wooden block letters the name Brooklyn was spelled out. It was full of furniture, including a beautiful fluffy rug that matched the walls and a princess bed that any little girl would love to have. He put his arms on my shoulders.
“Kat, my job is here and so is our family. You don’t have to run anymore, so I thought if it’s okay with you, our daughter could grow up in the house that your parents built to raise you in. We can take old memories and make new ones with our own children. I know I took a huge leap, but I know you and I-”
I didn’t let him finish talking. His gift was better than any ring or proposal. My lips were on his and I was overwhelmed by so many emotions.
He finally pulled away and looked right at me. “So, it’s okay that I already bought it?”
I nodded. “Yes, it’s very okay. It’s the most beautiful present, aside from B, of course.”
He shrugged and laughed. “Of course.”
I looked around the room and walked up to the pink four-poster canopy bed. “It’s beautiful.”
“This room was all Mom and Dad. They hired someone to come in and make it perfect. Do you think she’ll like it?”
“She won’t want to ever go home.” Then I realized that we now had two houses.”
He saw the realization on my face. “We can talk about it later.”
I shook my head. “No. We’ll sell it. I don’t even care how much I get for it. There’s not another house in the world that could mean what this one does to me. I don’t even know what to say right now.” I walked down the hall and he followed me, stopping when I was in the middle of what used to be my parent’s room. It was so empty, but I could see what everyone else couldn’t. I could see their bed and my mom in her nightgown, with a book in her hand. I could see my dad with the stubble on his face, teasing her until she looked at him. I closed my eyes and pictured a miniature version of myself climbing in between them and feeling like I was in the safest place on earth.
Brooks wrapped his arms around me and tucked his head inside of my neck. “I think they’re happy we’re here, Kat. They’re watching us, you know. I think they always have been.” He spun me around so we were facing each other. “I never told anyone this, but there were so many times that I could have died, that I should have died. I swear someone was keeping me safe while I was out there. Now I know for sure that it was them. I think they brought us back together.”
His words were beautiful and I knew he meant them. I wrapped my arms around him and pressed our lips together. As we pulled away I was smiling and crying all at the same time. “Thank you for waiting your whole life for me.”
He wiped my tears with his thumbs. “Maybe in our next life you won’t make me wait so long,” he teased.
“Let’s enjoy this one first.”
The room filled with people, even a little girl in a wrinkled dress. As I turned to look at them, Brooks dropped down to his knee. “There’s just one more thing, Kat.” He held a velvet box in his hand and opened it.
There it was.
My mother’s engagement ring from my father. I put my hands over my face, unable to respond to everything he was offering me.
“I’d very much like it if you had my name. What do you say, Kat? You think you might want to be my wife?”
I dropped to my knees and let him put the ring on my finger. The perfect fit only reminded me how it was always meant to be mine. I placed small kisses over his face, tasting the tears that were now falling down his cheeks. “Yes,” I whispered. “Of course.”
B came up and wanted to be in on our hug, as well as the rest of the family that stood there silently, waiting for us to have our private moment together. It was so beautiful and Brooks had been right. They’d been with us all along, watching us making mistakes and finally finding our way back into each other’s arms.
February 14th 2014
“Mama, I want to get my dress on now.” B was holding her little white dress about three inches from my face. Since my eyes were still trying to adjust from being woken up, I backed up more on the bed and looked at the clock. When I noticed that it read five, and glanced at the window that proved it was in fact still dark outside, I threw my hands over my face as I spoke.
“B, it’s not time to wake up yet, sweetie. How about you hop in bed with me for a while, at least until the sun comes up?”
When the bed didn’t move I sat up and looked for her. Still standing in the same place, B was steady staring at me.
“I want Daddy.” She put her hands on her hips, allowing the dress to touch the hardwood floor.
“Honey, Daddy is next door, remember?”
“I want to go there!”
I sat all the way up in bed and looked across the room at my wedding dress that was hanging up. As much as I thought it wasn’t necessary, Brooks was adamant about sticking to traditions. He’s spent the night at his parents with strict orders not to see me until we were standing at the arbor that he and his father built in the back yard.
Since moving back to my childhood house, and selling the one in South Carolina, we’d taken down the small fence that once separated the yards. Brooklyn liked being able to run from our house to her grandmother’s every morning.
“Mama, please. I want my Daddy.”
“B, it’s night time.”
She started crying, whining and flailing her arms around, as if her whole existence depended on seeing her father at that very moment. I rolled my eyes, realizing that she’d probably go back to sleep if she were with him. After grabbing my cell phone off of the bedside table, I dialed his number. He answered on the first ring, sounding extremely alert.
“Hey, babe. Don’t you dare beg me to come over there. You know the rules.”
“I’m calling on behalf of your daughter. She’s up and insisting on being with you.”
“I’m in the kitchen. If you promise to stay in bed, I’ll come get her.”
“I hate that you wake up before the sun rises.”
He laughed on the other end of the phone. I could hear the sound of his parent’s door as it opened and shut. “Do you miss me yet?”
I looked over at B, who was still waiting for a reply as to when she could go be with Brooks. “He’s coming.”
She ran for the door, dragging the dress behind her. I hadn’t noticed it before, but she’d already put on her dress shoes and they loudly clanked against the hard floor as she moved.
“She’s on her way down to you.”
I heard the back door open and close and then heard his voice, both on the phone and muffled from downstairs. “Stay put until you hear me leave.”
“The answer is yes.”
“To which question?”
“Both. I will stay put, but also that I missed you. I hate knowing you’re that close and I can’t see you. How much harm can one kiss do?”
“I don’t want to find out. In a few hours you’ll be my wife, and then you can spend forever kissing me. Just so you know, I’ll expect morning breath kisses, coffee kisses, and every other kind of kiss that you find gross. Now’s the time to back out, Kat. When you say forever today, you better mean it.”
I laughed, knowing he was joking. There was nothing in my life that I’d been more sure of than wanting to be his wife. “I’m ready to take the plunge. How about we just call the official right now, get him over here, and have them marry us so we can go back to bed for the rest of the day?”
“You didn’t sleep either?”
I shrugged, even though he couldn’t see me. When I heard heavier feet walking up the stairs I got excited. His voice didn’t startle me as I noticed the line had gone dead and he was talking from outside of the bedroom. “I couldn’t get comfortable.”
“Me either. Listen, its a couple more hours. Get all dolled up for me and meet me out back. I can’t wait to see you, Kat. You’re going to look so perfect.”
“I’m going to look fat. You better say a prayer that this dress still fits me. I haven’t tried it on for two weeks, and I swear I’ve gained ten more pounds.”
“Being four months pregnant will do that, but just to be clear, you’re not fat. You’re beautiful.” His statement gave me butterflies. “Imagine if you would have gotten pregnant over the summer. Then you’d be huge,” he teased.
I laughed and let my head drop back down on my pillow. “Are you just going to stand at the door all morning torturing me?”
He tapped twice before he spoke. “I came up to tell you that I love you. I’ll see you in bit.”
I heard him going back down the stairs before waiting for my reply. I suppose Brooks didn’t need to hear it back. He’d always known it, even when I couldn’t admit to myself.
Once I heard the kitchen door shut, I cuddled up with Brooks’ pillows and felt comfortable. Before I fell asleep I thought about my future with Brooks and our children. It was hard not to smile, even if it was for my own benefit. I had more than I could dream of and through the enduring pain that I’d put myself and the people around me through, somehow we’d found our way back to each other.
Sure, I had regrets, especially the ones concerning Bobby. Even at his worst, I hated that he was gone.
One thing that offered me peace was finding an old life insurance policy and leaving it all to his parents, including his business. They still weren’t speaking to me, and I didn’t expect them to ever be able to, but at least they knew that I wasn’t heartless.
On his headstone I’d added “Loving Father” and even donated a bench in his name courtesy of the church that had basically shunned me.
People could hate and judge me forever, but it would never bring Bobby back. Indirectly I knew his death was my fault. I’d accepted that I couldn’t change what had happened, but I could strive to be a better mother and wife. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears as I thought about him.
Then my mind went to Brooks.
I was overwhelmed by fulfillment.
Being with him wasn’t about having a heated affair, or betraying my friends and family. It was about accepting that he would be the only man to ever have my heart.
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