Ben tucked in his little girl and thought about how different she was than Cole. He had been a quiet and sweet little boy at her age. Amelia, on the other hand, had earned the nickname Princess Ami. She was a very demanding little girl. He was glad she was his second child because now he had Sofia to help with her. Still, he couldn’t love the little girl more, occasional temper tantrum and all.
Then he peeked in on Cole and he was busy with his homework. Cole had turned out to be a self-motivated and sweet kid who loved his animals. He wished everything could stay just like this forever. However, Sofia’s need to talk meant things might change. While he was checking on his kids, he tried to mentally prepare himself for whatever it was that she needed to talk about.
He walked back into the living room and sat down next to Sofia. He decided to just put it out there. “Sofia, if your pregnant again, I will deal with it.”
Sofia laughed. “Oh. No baby. I’m not,” she said between chuckles. The she frowned, “Are you sad? Did you want another baby?”
“Uh – Princess Ami?” came out of his mouth before he could stop it. Damn. Wrong answer. Ben knew there was no winning in this discussion and just started rambling. “No, I mean…I would… if that’s what you want. I told you that already. It’s just, our family feels complete. I have a son and a daughter. Plus, with Cole’s zoo, I don’t think there is room in this house for more kids. But if you want…we can….”
“Ben. Stop,” said Sofia giving him a soft smile. “It’s okay. If I found myself pregnant again, I would be happy, but that’s not what this is about. But it does have to do with being a mother.”
“You want to adopt?”
Sofia gave him an exasperated look. “Ben stop trying to guess and let me talk. This is hard enough. And ironically, adoption is what I was thinking about. You see, you just said it. Your family is complete. You have a son and a daughter. I have a daughter. I want to have a son too.”
Ben was confused. “But you do. Cole considers you his mother. He even calls you Mom.”
“That’s just it. I am his Stepmother, not his mother. I want to be his mother, in all ways. I couldn’t do it before. Even though I think Lillie May would have given her us her blessing…” Sofia paused and took a deep breath and continued, her voice thick with emotion. “It would have felt like I was taking the last of her family from her and I couldn’t do that. But now that she’s gone…. it’s only you that I have to ask. How do you feel about me adopting Cole?”
She totally caught him by surprise. And, damn, this was harder than her being pregnant in some ways. He didn’t know how he felt. He was surprised he had to think about it.
Sofia’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears at his silence. “I understand if you say no,” she said softly. “It probably feels like you are dishonoring Grace. But you know how much I love that little boy.” Sofia sniffed back her tears and smiled. “Well, not so little anymore. He knows I’m not his birth mother, and as he gets older, I just want him to know that it doesn’t matter to me. In my heart, he is already as much my child as Amelia, but if I adopted him, they can truly be brother and sister. And I can truly be his mother.”
As he listened to what Sofia was saying, he knew it would be the right thing to do for Cole. He was certainly old enough to understand. He was no stranger to the bird and bees. Ben had ‘the talk’ with him when he started seeing animals procreate just a year ago.
Then he remembered how sad Cole had been when his great grandmother died. He asked him why people had to die, no doubt thinking about his real mother.
Ben reflected on his own childhood, being in a blended, chaotic family, never feeling a part of it. He never wanted Cole to feel like he didn’t truly belong like he had. Sofia was right. In a way, it did feel like dishonoring Grace, but the way his wife put it made it okay. It was right thing to do for his son. And therein is exactly the issue, he thought. Cole was his son. Not their son. This would make him theirs in all ways. As he thought about what Grace would have wanted, he knew she would want this. She loved their son fiercely and she would have wanted Cole to have two loving parents. Not that he didn’t have that already, but making it official was right. He had his decision.
He took a breath and looked into Sofia’s chocolate eyes, still twinkling with tears. She had her bottom lip firmly pulled between her teeth waiting for his answer. “Pia, sweetheart,” he said, choking back his own tears now, “We can start the process as soon as you want. I want you to adopt Cole and make him yours. No, make him ours.”
The floodgates opened and the tears fell as Sofia hugged Ben tightly. “Thank you. Can we do it on his 11th birthday, if that’s okay with you.”
How did I get so lucky? he thought as he pulled her into his lap. “Every time I think there is no way I could love you more, you do something like this and I do.”
“I love you too,” said Sofia rubbing her hands across the stubble on his cheek.
Ben kissed her and their kiss quickly turned passionate. Ben could never get enough of Sofia.
“Mom! Dad! Gross!” said Cole making a face.
Damn! thought Ben as he and Sofia reluctantly broke their kiss. When Sofia made a move to get out of his lap, he held her there and whispered in her ear, “Tiramisu.” She let out a little giggle and shushed him.
Ben turned his attention to Cole. “Hey, whatcha need sport?” he asked.
“I wanted to see if I could watch TV for a little while before bed. There’s a show about training animals I want to watch.”
“Not tonight,” replied Ben, “We can record it and you can watch it tomorrow.”
“Okay,” said Cole frowning.
“Get to bed,” instructed Sofia, “I’ll be in in a minute to tuck you in.”
As soon as he turned and went up the stairs, Ben began to nuzzle Sofia’s neck, “Now, where were we?”
Sofia giggled, “That tickles,”
“Damn I’m losing my touch. That was supposed to turn you on.”
Sofia kissed him deeply before replying. “You are, you sexy hunk of man. But OUR son needs his mother to tuck him in. Meet you in the bedroom in 10 minutes for that tiramisu?”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sofia kissed Cole on the cheek. “Goodnight. I love you. Sleep tight.”
“I love you too,” said Cole automatically.
As she turned and started to leave, he sat up and called out to her. “Mom. You don’t have to tuck me in. I’m not a little kid anymore.”
She turned around and he was looking up at her with his father’s blue eyes, or were they his mother’s? It was hard to tell. Regardless, it warmed her heart. “But I like doing it?” she said, more as a question hoping for permission to continue. He was right, he wasn’t a baby anymore. He was growing up so fast, no longer the innocent little boy that had wanted to marry her. Two more years and he would be a teenager.
“Ummm. Mom?” asked Cole frowning, now sitting on the edge of his bed.
Evidently he had some things on his mind so Sofia sat down with him. “What is it sweetie?“
“Are you and Daddy going to make another baby?”
Whoa. Where did that come from? She hoped he hadn’t been eavesdropping. Then she thought about the kittens. Maybe that was why he was asking. Sofia had to bite back her smile. “Do you want another brother or sister?”
“You and Daddy are always kissing. I thought you were going to make a baby,” said Cole wiping his face so tears wouldn’t fall.
Sofia smiled softly. He was obviously upset. “No sweetheart. We just love each other very much. When you love someone, you want to be close to them and kissing is one way to be close. Making a baby is very special way to show someone that you love them too.”
“Then why aren’t you going to make another baby with Daddy?”
“We have you and Amelia. We don’t need any more children.”
“But you and Daddy didn’t make me….did Daddy love my real mother?”
Sofia took a deep breath. Where is this going? “Of course he did. And she loved you too, and Daddy, very much. Now, why don’t you lay back down and get some sleep?” She hoped that would put an end to the discussion. She wasn’t comfortable talking about his feelings for his mother without Ben there.
Cole laid back on the bed. “I wish you and Daddy made me. Then I would have your genes. And my real mother wouldn’t have died. I hope she is in Heaven with Miss Lillie.”
Her genes? thought Sofia. In Heaven? He could have only have gotten this from Doc. Her heart went out to him. Still, she wondered what suddenly brought all of this up. She reached down and gently brushed the hair off his forehead. “Oh, Cole, of course she is. And you know, I love you the same as if we did, right?”
“Yeah. I guess,” he said and pulled the covers over himself, effectively ending the discussion. “Night Mom.”
“Night sweetheart,” she said and turned to leave for the second time. She jumped when she saw Ben standing in the doorway.
They walked out together and Sofia softly closed the door behind them. “How long were you standing there?” she whispered.
“Long enough,” he said as they walked towards their bedroom. “You are so good at answering those questions. How fitting that he should be questioning his parentage at the same time you want to adopt him. You are so intuitive when it comes to what our children need.”
They sat on the edge of their bed, continuing the conversation. “I honestly had no idea he was even thinking about that,” said Sofia, “Maybe the kittens made him think. He’s almost eleven. He is more in tune with biology and sex than most other kids his age, no doubt courtesy of Doc Lewis, and well, probably Noah. It’s no wonder he is starting to ask questions. And, we are openly affectionate, which is a good thing.” Sofia laughed softly, “I used to think kissing made you pregnant…so…”
Ben started laughing. “God, you were a nerd!” His smile left his face. “But you were so right about Cole. You should adopt him. It would make him feel more secure of his place in our family.”
Ben didn’t say anything and had a faraway look in his eye. Sofia wondered if he was thinking back to when he was 10-years-old. His childhood had been so different from what Cole has experienced. Her heart went out to the broken little boy that Ben had been. She reached up and caressed his face much like she had just done with Cole to erase his frown.
As he looked at her, a smirk replaced his frown and she couldn’t help her own grin in anticipation. “Now, Nerd,” he said seductively, “I want to show you how babies are really made.”
“Hey,” she said feigning hurt feelings, “you forgot Hot and Sexy.”
Ben pulled her into his lap. “Always. Hot. And. Sexy,” he said, punctuating each word with a kiss.