Chapter 43 – Happy Birthday Cole

01-18-18_7-46-09 PM.pngWhen Ben woke up, instead of getting up, he turned over and looked at the picture of Grace he kept on his bedside table. Today was going to be hard. It was Cole’s first birthday, another first without her.

Ben’s mother planned Cole’s birthday party to make it easier for Ben. It wouldn’t be large, because everyone else lived too far away. But Nick, Rachael, Emma & Casey were coming. He had missed them terribly in the 6 months he had been back in Willow Creek and was looking forward to seeing them. Nick said Sofia might stop by too.

When Cole came toddling into his room Ben knew he had laid there too long. He normally got up well before Cole did.

C&b2.png“Daddy…Hold you,” cried the little boy and held out his chubby little arms.

C&b1.pngBen pulled Cole up into the bed and snuggled him. “Hey buddy. Give your Daddy some birthday hugs! Or maybe some birthday tickles!” he growled as he began to tickle his son eliciting screams, giggles and cries for more.

C&b.pngWhen Cole finally tired of the game, Ben hugged him close. “You hungry buddy?” he asked.

“Hun-gy,” repeated Cole.

01-17-18_10-36-18 PM.pngWhile the two of them ate breakfast together, Ben couldn’t help but reflect over the past year. He knew he couldn’t have done this without the help of his family. Sadly, in spite of how helpful his mother had been in the three weeks she and Leroy stayed with him after Grace died, it had done little to bridge their gap. When his mom hugged him as they were leaving, it had felt awkward and forced.

Call.pngHowever, when he called for help almost 5 months later, they had welcomed him home with open arms. Never judging. Just giving him space, which somehow made it easier to swallow his pride and accept their assistance. He remembered what Leroy said after Grace died, that he wasn’t ready for their help. Now, it seemed, he was.

He hadn’t been with anyone since Grace. He didn’t think he ever would be, didn’t want to be. And, he was okay with that. Cole was his life now. Emma needn’t have worried about him going back to one night stands. That was a thing of the past.

The only downside to living in Willow Creek was he still had to hide Audrey and her offspring. The ‘deal’ they offered him was to be the supplier in Willow Creek. He had desperately wanted to get out of supplying the dealers, but he remembered the slashed teddy bear, trashed apartment and the feel of cold steel jabbed in his side, so he agreed. He had argued there was no way to move the plants undetected to Willow Creek, but the assholes had arranged for their transport in the dead of night.

mem3So far things were going well, just a different set of thugs. He had a good routine down and the drops were going smoothly. Plus, it was keeping him from having to take Leroy up on his job offer, allowing him to look after Cole, which was all that kept him sane. He told his parents Grace had a life insurance policy he had collected so they wouldn’t question how he got his money. The words had tasted foul coming out of his mouth.

mem2Ben actually had a backyard, albeit small, so he planted a garden as a cover for the need to buy gardening supplies. It had proved to be therapeutic for him.

mem1Being outdoors with his son playing in the backyard while he tended the garden or worked out on the treadmill calmed him.

01-17-18_10-47-50 PM.pngWhen Cole started squealing and playing in his food, it jarred Ben back to the present and he remembered again it was his little boy’s first birthday and the anniversary of Grace’s death. Sadly, those two dates, only a week apart, would be forever intertwined.  Ben took a deep cleansing breath to steel himself to face the day. Time to get Cole bathed and ready to go.

01-17-18_10-48-54 PMBen waited one minute too long. Cole was throwing his uneaten food over the side of the high chair, delighting in the way it splattered on the floor.  “No, no! Cole! Don’t throw your food,” groaned Ben, fussing at the little boy.

01-17-18_10-50-25 PM.pngCole looked up at him like he might cry, his little bottom lip quivering.  For an instant, Ben thought he had seen a ghost. It was Grace staring back at him with those giant blue eyes. Cole looked so much like his mother, it took his breath away.

01-17-18_10-52-03 PM.pngThen, Cole smiled, showing his little baby teeth and the spell was broken. Ben could breathe again. He felt bad for fussing at the little boy on his birthday and smiled back at him. “It’s okay Buddy, Daddy’s not mad. It’s your birthday!”

01-17-18_10-28-07 PM.png“Birfday!” mimicked Cole. Ben laughed and pulled himself together. He lifted Cole from the high chair to stop any further messes. “We need to get you a bath so we can go to Gigi’s house.”

“Papa! Kota!” squealed Cole.

01-18-18_8-56-11 PM.png“Yes, Papa and Aunt Dakota will be there too,” said Ben smiling. Cole loved Leroy and Dakota. He knew if they were seeing Gigi, Ben’s Mom, that he would also see Papa Leroy and Aunt Dakota.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

01-18-18_9-12-22 PM.pngBen and Cole arrived at his Mom’s house. Ben took a deep breath and went inside.

01-18-18_9-17-31 PM.png“Gigi!” squealed Cole when they walked in the door. He toddled towards Kaitlin as fast as his little legs would take him. She scooped up her youngest grandchild and smothered him with kisses much to his delight.

01-18-18_9-38-24 PMLeroy walked over and joined them. “Hi Ben. He’s such a good baby. You really have done a good job with him.”

01-18-18_9-42-08 PMBen laughed remembering the morning escapades. “You can say that because you didn’t see me trying to feed and bathe him this morning!”

A flicker of sadness went across Leroy’s face before he covered it up with a laugh. “Come in here and sit down. I want to talk to you for a minute.”

01-18-18_10-55-37 PMThey sat down on the couch in the living room. Kaitlin took Cole to see Ben’s sisters in the playroom giving them privacy. “I wanted to talk you again about that job offer,” said Leroy, “It still stands. I spoke to Kate and she is willing to watch Cole. We won’t be ready for a couple of months but you can start anytime you are ready. I’m going to need some help with landscaping the public areas as well as designing the Community Center. I wanted to give you the option before I offered it to someone else. You would be in charge of the design and production working closely with me and the sub-contractors.”

01-18-18_10-53-27 PMBen didn’t know what to say. It actually sounded like something he would really enjoy. “Why me?”

01-18-18_10-55-59 PM.png“Because your mother tells me you are excellent and I have seen you work with your hands. The garden at your house, it’s well done and lush. You’re very good at everything I need.”

01-19-18_6-30-03 PM.pngThe doorbell rang interrupting their conversation. Leroy stood up still smiling. “You think about it and tell me later. Looks like your friends are here. I’ll help your mom in the kitchen.”

01-19-18_7-36-10 PM.pngBen opened the door and was engulfed in hugs by his friends. He had missed them more than he realized.

01-19-18_8-10-12 PMAfter hugs and kisses, Rachael and Emma took off to find Cole leaving him with Nick and Casey.  They followed Ben into the same room he and Leroy had been in.  “How are things going,” asked Nick.

“Good. In fact, Leroy just offered me a dream job. My folks and sisters have practically adopted Cole. I live in a real house with a yard. Things are – quiet – and simple. Drama free.”

01-19-18_8-09-40 PM“No ladies knocking down the door?” asked Casey.

Nick rolled his eyes at Casey. “What an asinine thing to say,” he said then directed his attention to Ben. “So, Ben, are you going to work for Leroy? It seems like a great opportunity and you can grow productive things.”

Casey didn’t know about Ben’s grow room closet, he didn’t think, but Ben knew exactly what Nick was driving at. If only it were that easy, thought Ben.  “I haven’t decided, it will be an adjustment. It will mean leaving Cole with Mom all day. We haven’t been separated since….”

01-19-18_8-17-51 PM.pngNick’s face said it all. He was furious that Ben still grew weed and wanted him to take the job. He was seriously think about taking the job, but he couldn’t stop growing even though he wanted to.

01-19-18_8-25-31 PM.pngThe doorbell rang again and this time it was Nick’s sister, Sofia, and her boyfriend.

01-19-18_8-28-20 PM.pngSofia immediately hugged Ben. “Oh Ben, it’s so good to see you. How are you doing?” she asked, concern evident in her voice.

01-19-18_8-37-11 PM.pngDamn, she’s grown into a gorgeous woman, thought Ben. He kissed her on the cheek before releasing her. “I’m Good. God Sofia, it’s so good to see you. You look wonderful!”

“Excuse me!” said the older guy that walked in with her.

Sofia backed away, looking embarrassed. “Ben, this is my boyfriend Jesse Buckner. Jesse, this is Ben.” She smiled warmly at Ben. “He was my very best friend growing up.”

01-19-18_8-49-18 PM.pngBen smiled back at Sofia and laughed. “Yeah, we were fishing buddies almost every weekend.” Then he turned his attention to Jesse and offered to shake his hand.

01-19-18_8-51-08 PM.pngInstead of shaking Ben’s hand, Jesse quickly pulled his hand back. “Yes. I remember you,” he said, the disgust apparent in his tone. “You dated my sister and dumped her after you got what you wanted.”

01-19-18_9-00-28 PMHe turned and looked at Sofia angrily, “How could you possibly be friends with him? I thought you were a better judge of character. He’s nothing but a womanizer. Keep your slimy hands away from my girl.”

Sofia’s eyes got wide at his comment. She tugged on Jesse’s arm while pushing Ben away. “Jesse, why don’t we go find Cole and give him his present.”

Ben wanted to punch the asshole. Not for what he said about him, but for how he was talking down to Sofia. She didn’t deserve to be treated with such disdain. “You need to apologize to Sofia. She didn’t do anything wrong!” said Ben trying to get in his space.

“And he’s still a jerk!” spat out Jesse. He grabbed Sofia by the arm. “Come on Sofia, we are getting outta here. This ass can’t tell me what to do.”

01-19-18_9-06-12 PM.png“And you can’t tell her what to do either!” ground out Ben, “Let go of her!”

Nick grabbed Ben and held him back.  “Calm down. Let them leave,” said Nick at the same time Sofia pushed Ben back towards her brother.

“We are leaving, aren’t we Sofia? I can’t stand to look at you another minute. Keep away from her. Do you understand?” spat out Jesse. He pulled on Sofia’s arm and roughly guided her towards the door.

01-19-18_9-22-22 PM.pngBen reached out to her. “Sofia, you don’t have to do what he says.”

Sofia turned to look at Ben. “It’s okay Ben,” she said softly. Then she mumbled to Jesse, “I’m sorry Jesse, I didn’t know,” and let Jesse lead her out the door.

Nick released Ben once the door closed. “You okay man?” he asked.

Ben was furious that Nick just stood there. “Are you going to just let him treat your sister like that?”

01-19-18_9-30-26 PM.png“Ben, he just went protective. It was his baby sister. Sofia and Jesse have been together for a couple of years now. She started dating him at the end of her senior year. He’s fine. He was just upset that Sofia and you have history.”

“Yeah!” said Casey, “Ben jumped my ass about Em and I didn’t even do anything!”

“Shut up Casey!” they both said simultaneously and kept on talking.  “Nick, it doesn’t make it okay for him to talk to her like that,” said Ben trying to calm down.

01-19-18_9-37-06 PM.png“Ben, unfortunately, you have a reputation back in Twinbrook. I’m sorry, but it’s true. His sister just happened to be one of the girls you went out with and dumped. Forget about it. It’s over. Come on, let’s go sing Happy Birthday to your son.”

Go to Chapter 44>>>>>>

Go Back to Chapter 42

43 thoughts on “Chapter 43 – Happy Birthday Cole

  1. Pingback: Chapter 42 – Willow Creek | New Beginnings

  2. I really like how this chapter transitioned is into Ben’s new situation! Overall I’m really proud of how he’s been doing…. but gah! No more drugs! 😭 (I know it’s hard to get out once you’re in. But still…)

    Cole is so precious, and I loved seeing Sofia again (she’s gorgeous! 😍)! Too bad she’s taken though… loved the drama between Ben and her new bf! Guess it was inevitable for Ben’s reputation to catch up with him one way or another…

    Great chapter!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    • A lot to squeeze in! Ben is better away from San Myshuno. Having new surroundings and real backyard has helped. He feels like he is moving forward. His family has just been there, and not pushed so he is able to begin to reconnect at his own pace.

      Sadly, Ben’s reputation precedes him especially if your baby sister was a ‘love ‘em ‘n leave ‘em’ victim. Sofia is pretty! It’s a good thing Nick got there first and was able to diffuse the situation. Ben got the hot headed trait from his father. 🙄

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh man… I KNEW the thugs were not gonna let him off the hook like that..! What is the poor guy gonna do now? 😥
    Jesse seems like a real jerk… it wouldn’t surprise me if I learned he’s been the abusive sort – physically or emotionally. I hope Sofia realizes this soon enough. And speaking of Sofia, she’s drop dead gorgeous!! 😍 Nothing compared to the tomboyish clumsy girl we met on the 1st chapter! I can see Ben’s well hidden feelings for her resurfacing, and I can’t wait! 😉 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • And here come the ships! Jesse was just angry that she liked Ben! Wouldn’t you be? 😇 Ben and Sofia have a history and really like each other so it’s a shame their reunion was short lived. They still live in Twinbrook which is a good 4 hour drive away but only came up because, well Ben, but also because her brother was going to be there too.

      Jesse is a little older than Sofia, a couple of years older than Ben and Nick too. They started seeing each other her senior year in high school when she started growing out of her skinny tomboy looks and developed a bit more.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Ben’s new surroundings! I think this will be good for both him and Cole. And what a cutie Cole is! He does look a lot like Grace. Gosh I still miss her.

    Those goons have an answer for everything, don’t they? They’ve really got their claws deep into Ben and it’s going to be harder and harder to get rid of them. I should be angry with him, but I’m scared instead and I do feel bad that he ended up so deep in this predicament. I’m really afraid that in a town like this, the police might have an easier time detecting what it is Ben does.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The new surroundings have been good for Ben. It’s helping him slowly heal. Cole does look like his mother and I miss her too.😢.

      I hope Ben can eventually figure out a way to stop being a supplier. It’s so risky and now that Cole is walking and investigating his surroundings, he’s gonna need to be sure to keep that door locked up tight!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, the building can begin!

    I’m a little shocked that I actually agree with some of Ben’s opinions right now – especially re: Sofia. Still, that’s how this sort of thing happens – we normalize behavior that eventually ends up in Sofia having to run away like Ben’s mom did. Poor her.

    Also, an idea for how to get out of the drug trade: torch his house. Burn it to the ground. It would be even better if he had a corpse so that he could fake his death, but otherwise if he could rig something to have faulty wiring… (I’m kidding. Mostly).

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think Jesse’s behavior definitely hit a nerve with Ben where it didn’t so much with Nick. Nick has known Jesse a lot longer and hasn’t really seen him act like this. Nor had he ever experienced abusive behavior like Ben has. This was Ben’s first introduction to Jesse. So maybe Jesse just overreacted a little and it fed into Ben’s insecurities. I hope she doesn’t have the same experiences his mother did and Nick was blind to it. He would feel really bad. 🙁

      Haha! Great idea to get out of dealing! He would be on the run for awhile, unless maybe he went into witness protection! Maybe if he gets desperate….

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I looked into Cole’s bright blue eyes my heart just melted. ❤ ❤ ❤
    I'm glad to see that Ben is working on having a better relationship with his mom. I know that it won't happen overnight, but he is making positive steps in the right direction.
    Usually it is Ben that I want to smack some sense into, but this time both Jesse and Casey needed a good wack upside the head!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cole is adorable. ❤️❤️❤️ Ben is trying very hard. He is still uncomfortable around his mom, but he stays pleasant. Yes. Positive steps.

      Lol about Jesse and Casey. Poor Casey, he’s just trying to be a part of their group and fails miserably. They should have told him to go help Emma in the kitchen! 😂 Jesse was just an ass. Yes, slap him please.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Chapter 44 – Stories | New Beginnings

  8. This chapter reminded me of the one thing my mother always said was important. Once it was lost, it was hard to every change it – your reputation. She said in ten years from now you will come back to your high school anniversary and you will still look at the students-now adults the same way you did back then. There goes the school jock, there goes that sl*t. So watch how you conduct yourself, and leave people with a good lasting memory of you. Did Jesse handle it the right mature way? Absolutely not and I feel so very bad for Sophie. For now she will have to choose between them. Unless something dramatic happens to change Jesse’s mind, Ben will always be that womanizing a-hole.

    Cole is such a sweetie and oh my what a bunch of good genetics in that whole household at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that your mom said that. Thanks for sharing. It is so very true!

      Jesse absolutely didn’t handle it well and he totally expects Sofia to choose him over Ben’s friendship. I am sure he won’t change his mind and Ben is losing a friend.

      And Cole…❤️❤️❤️. He is so adorable. Great genetics for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha ha…Sofia! Jesse has a right to worry. Thankfully, Sofia’s bf is an absolute prick! Hahahaaa! 😂🤣😆

    Ben! Save her!

    I laughed at Casey…he’s hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Casey….what can I say. He just wants to be a part of the conversation…

      I knew you would want to see Ben and Sofia! Jesse was a prick for sure.


  10. I Think ben will ahve to deal with not just one person he hurt in the past…hopefully they will see he grew up? I was think that Ben would be with Sofia, buuuuut, I’m not so sure now…Things seems to be better family-wise, I hope it continues that way…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sofia’s boyfriend is a control freak. I can see the signs of possible abuse in this short chapter. Ben still has a temper and is still growing cannibus in Willow creek. I think it was only in San Myshuno that it was illegal? Not illegal in Willow creek?
    So now he got a good job offer and has someone to be caregiver (his mom) while he works. his Friends are pressuring him to do the right decision…..
    Will he?
    I am going to have to read the chapters and find out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right….her boyfriend is a bit over controlling. It is still illegal that’s why they let him go there so he could continue to grow for them. But yes. His mom will be a great caregiver and his sisters will be good for the baby too. He will be surrounded by love so he should thrive.


  12. He told his parents Grace had a life insurance policy he had collected so they wouldn’t question how he got his money. The words had tasted foul coming out of his mouth.
    Yeah…they better! That was dirty.

    Sofia, what in the world??

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Awww baby Cole is just the cutest~ I was not expecting a jump in time like that, but it was nice seeing Ben’s new life in Willow Creek… well, most of it – I knew those dealers wouldn’t just let him out like that *facepalm* now he’s really in deep because if he can’t use leaving as an excuse, what can he say? He’s pretty much in it for good unless the police bust down on whomever he’s dealing to. On the other hand, Jesse had a good reason for getting angry, but at the same time he doesn’t seem like a good guy as evident in the way he was talking to Sofia. Speaking of which, she’s blossomed into a lovely lady. I recall once upon a time she was in the header for this site so I’m assuming it’s only a matter of time before she re-enters Ben’s life as a constant, and I’m looking forward to it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right. He’s pretty much stuck with his grow room. Jesse got super jealous, and really mad about his gf being friends with an ass. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Sofia is gorgeous and Cole is adorable. I cried because he makes me think of Grace.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Little Cole is growing into a cutie! 😍 His mama Grace’s mini-me for sure! I’ve only seen Sofia seldomly but I’ve always thought she was a nice girl. And I can say this for sure, I don’t like her boyfriend Jesse. 😡 He’s an asshole and whatever his sister did with Ben is none of his business. I don’t know who his sister is but people make their own choices. I’m honestly hoping that fizzles out. Ben is right, he has no right to talk to her that way.😑

    Anyways enough of my venting, once again great chapter, Audrey. I’m really getting immersed in your story, not to mention it helps Inspire with my own SimLit. 😁🌱

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh! Cole is adorable! Such a sweetie. And we only saw Sofia a few times but she is a sweet girl. Jesse, an asshole,for sure! Things are heating up. He shouldn’t talk to her that way for sure.

      I’m very glad you are enjoying it and I love reliving Ben’s adventures. I love Ben! And all his issues. He loves Cole and would do anything for him. Your kind words make my day! Im glad I inspire you! That’s awesome! ❤️ ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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