2 years later . . . . . Cole 32, Avery 36, Twins 7
For the last two years, they had managed without a Nanny fairly well. Cole took the kids to school everyday and picked them up in the afternoon. If he couldn’t go home, he simply brought them back to the clinic. They were usually well behaved, and sat quietly in his office doing homework or playing on their tablet.
Today was one of the rare days when the whole family was home early enough to have dinner together. The kids were sitting at the dining room table doing their homework.
Cole and Avery went to the living room to relax and Cole poured them a glass of wine. He handed Avery hers and sat down next to her. “Here you go,” he said, “Guess who I saw today.”
“Thanks,” she said and shaking her head, “No idea. Who?”
Avery caught her breath. “She’s living in Willow Creek? She just better keep away!”
Cole laughed. “She’s not. She’s back in San Myshuno. And she’s doing really well. She had someone with her she wanted me to meet.”
“Really? A husband I hope,” said Avery.
Cole laughed. “Are you jealous?” he teased.
Avery narrowed her eyes. “Maybe. A little. So what did the little psycho want?”
“Avery….she’s not crazy. As it turns out, she had a baby in high school and gave it up for adoption.”
“Ha, maybe we shoulda taken a page outta her book!”
“Avery! God, that’s awful!” said Cole, suddenly angry.
“Calm down,” said Avery rolling her eyes, “I’m only joking. So she looked you up to tell you this? She ever hear of cell phones?”
Cole sighed. “She wanted me to meet her daughter. When her daughter turned 13 she asked her adoptive parents if she could meet her birth mother.
“Angie, that’s her name, she played with some of the animals while Yasmine and I talked. I had no idea Yasmine had a daughter, but giving her up destroyed her. Every year on her birthday, she was triggered so bad she couldn’t function.
“After we broke up, Yasmine had a really hard time, so when an opportunity in Germany came up, she jumped on it. While she was there, she went into therapy. The therapist I recommended, Phoenix Rosebrook, had also moved back to Germany and was practicing. She said when she was looking for a therapist, she recognized his name. Such a small world!
“Anyway, while she was there, after months of therapy, she met someone and is now married and very happy. They are expecting a baby in 6 months. She said seeking me out was the final closure she needed. She felt she needed to tell me the truth about what really destroyed our relationship.”
“Cole, I don’t need to hear about Yasmine’s long lost daughter,” said Avery seemingly bored with the conversation.
“I’m sorry. I just didn’t want you to find out she had been to the office and think I was cheating on you. And her visit also got me to thinking…”
“Uh oh,” said Avery with a short laugh.
“Hey, I have good ideas. Sometimes….” he said laughing.
“We aren’t adopting a baby, Cole. So what is this good idea?” she asked and put the glass to her lips to take a drink.
“Adoption wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but, I do want to have another baby.”
Avery almost choked on her wine. “Are you insane? These two just got somewhat manageable and you want me to do that shit all over again?”
“The odds of twins are so low Avery,” he said trying to ease her into it. “It would probably only be one, and if it is two, at least we know what to expect this time.”
“My point exactly! You seem to forget the sleepless nights, the spit up, teething, poopy diapers, temper tantrums. And YOU don’t have to be pregnant and give birth! Do I need to go on?”
“Avery…..it wasn’t only those things… It’s just . . . I thought if we are going to have another baby, we really need to do it now.”
Avery glared at him. “No. What don’t you understand about that word. No way in hell am I having another kid, so get that little fantasy out of your head. Not happening. Seriously bad idea. Stop thinking Cole!” Avery stood up to leave the room and downed the rest of her drink.
“Avery, baby….please don’t ….” he begged.
“NO!!!” she ground out as she put her empty glass down on the table, then stormed off to their bedroom.
Cole snuck a peak at the twins to see if they heard. They were still okay, sitting at the dining table doing homework, so he went to the bedroom to talk to his wife.
She had locked the door so he knocked softly. “Avery, let me in,” he said just loud enough for her to alone to hear, “Please. Before the kids hear.”
“Go away,” came the teary reply.
Fuck! What’s Avery’s deal? he wondered. He never dreamed she would react so violently. Things had been pretty good lately. “Avery,” he called out again, more forcefully.
“Daddy, we’re done,” came his daughter’s sweet voice from behind him.
He quickly turned around to hide the argument from his daughter. “Awesome. Ryan’s done too?” he asked, forcing a smile for Reagan.
“Uh huh!” she said smiling. “Can we play video games now? Please Daddy, please?”
“Sure sweetie. But only 45 minutes, then bed time.”
She turned and ran, calling out to her brother, “Ryan! Daddy said okay! I told you!”
Cole took a deep breath and knocked on the door again. This time he heard the latch unlock and breathed a sigh of relief. But he was still pissed.
He checked the time before venturing inside. Avery was sitting on the bed, in the dark, fuming, but no longer crying. He sat down next to her to her.
“I can’t do it Cole, and frankly, I’m shocked you even suggested it,” she said, her words hard and unyielding.
“Why Avery?” he asked. When they got married she said she wanted kids. And he really wanted another child.
“Cole….how can you be so damn clueless to even ask me such a question? I’m clearly not mother material. I don’t understand all that shit that goes with motherhood. I mean, I love them I guess, but they are your children.”
“They love you very much,” said Cole softly, “Reagan idolizes you and wants to be just like you. She puts on your heels and walks around in them pretending to talk to people about color schemes.”
“Big. Fucking. Deal,” she spat out angrily, “Cole, I finally got my life back under control, and I am not letting you rip the rug out from under me again.”
Before Cole could form a thought about what she said, Ryan suddenly burst into the room, clearly upset, on the verge of tears. “Daddy!” he cried.
Cole immediately knelt down and Ryan went straight into his open arms.
“See….” said Avery, shooting a look at Ryan then him, “Your children.”
“Hey? What’s wrong buddy?” asked Cole, ignoring his wife’s comment.
“Reagan’s cheating!” complained Ryan.
“I am not!” chimed in his sister, who had followed her brother into the bedroom. “Just because you don’t know how to run and jump at the same time!” she said with her little hands on her hips. Cole had to choke back his laughter at her theatrics.
“Okay…..truce!” he said, and stood up, “Now, Reagan, maybe, you could teach Ryan the secret to running and jumping at the same time. And Ryan, maybe you could ask how, instead of just thinking she’s cheating. If you don’t ask you might not ever know.”
Both children pouted at being scolded, even a little bit, by their father. “Yes sir,” came the response from both children.
“Okay. Now, since you used up your game time arguing, go brush your teeth and get to bed. I’ll be there in a minute to tuck you in.”
Reagan looked at her mother then at Cole. “Can Mommy tuck me in. She looks sad.”
Cole heard Avery catch her breath. “Not tonight sweetie,” she said quickly, “Maybe tomorrow, okay?”
Reagan’s little shoulders slumped. “Okay. Goodnight Mommy,” she said.
Ryan grinned and said, “Race you to the bathroom! Last one in is a rotten egg!” Then they both took off running towards the bathroom, their earlier feud forgotten, Phil hot on their heels.
As soon as the kids were out of earshot Cole turned to Avery. “What the hell? Not tonight? She wanted to make you feel better and you shut it down? Why do you do that?”
“Because I’m too emotional and upset right now. And what if she asks me what’s wrong? I don’t have the right words to say.”
“How about I love you Reagan!” shouted Cole.
“You know it’s not that easy for me. I just screw it up and feel awkward. You do a much better job with them,” shot back Avery.
Cole was so frustrated. “Avery, you don’t even try.”
“That’s not fair Cole. I do try!”
“How? By working later and later every day. Avoiding helping with homework, not tucking Reagan in when she specifically asks for you? How the hell is that trying?”
“And how is having a another kid going to make any of that better? God….I thought you understood. Obviously I am nothing but one big disappointment to you. Just get out!”
“I need to check on the kids we have. We aren’t finished here.”
“Yes. We are!” said Avery to Cole’s back.
As he walked out of the room, he heard the lock click. Fuck! he thought, guess I’m sleeping on the couch.
Cole’s mention of another baby had backfired horribly. Avery had withdrawn from him and the kids even further in the last couple of months, and he wasn’t sure how to fix it. She was pleasant enough when she was home, but somehow that pleasantry felt forced. And that was the other problem, when she was home. She was working weekends now. It was like work was an escape from the reality of life with him and the kids.
Additionally, their sex life, which had been good, was now almost non existent. Whenever Cole would try to be intimate, she feigned exhaustion.
Today, Cole had a late meeting with his accountant, which he couldn’t reschedule, so Avery had reluctantly agreed to pick the kids up from school. He was encouraged that she agreed and hoped to find her spending time with them when he got home.
“Hey guys, Daddy’s home!” he called out when he finally walked inside.
“We’re in the dining room Daddy!” called back Ryan.
He walked into the dining room and his seven year old twins had been making what appeared to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All of the fixings were strewn across the table where they now sat eating their concoctions along with a glass of milk.
“Hi Daddy! Look. Reagan made dinner!” he said proudly when he saw his father.
“I see,” said Cole, “looks good.”
“Fran taught us how to make PB&J,” explained Reagan in her grown up voice, “she said it was a good source of protein. I made one for you too.”
Cole held his laughter. How did he get so lucky to get the best kids in the whole world. Or did every parent think that about their children? “Thank you. So, where’s Mommy?” he asked, as he sat down. Maybe she had gone to change or something, and they were making dinner together. It made him smile.
“Oh,” said Ryan, suddenly looking sad, “Mommy called and said she was going to be extra late, to tell you not to wait up, and to eat without her.”
“Wait. How did you get home?” he asked, barely maintaining control.
“We walked,” said Reagan weakly, “We were like the last ones.”
“Yeah. And I protected us! We held hands the whole way home!” added Ryan proudly, “I know the way good, because that’s the way we take Phil for a walk.”
“Are we in trouble?” asked Reagan close to tears.
“No. Of course not,” said Cole, “I’m proud of you. Next time though, call me or grandma, okay?”
“Daddy? Are you and mommy getting a divorce?” asked Ryan sadly.
“What?” asked Cole shocked.
“Well, she’s never here anymore,” explained Reagan, no longer using her grown up voice, just her own voice, the voice of a worried seven year old, “Justin’s parents got a divorce and now he has two of everything. But I don’t want two of everything Daddy, I just want Mommy.”
Are we headed in that direction? wondered Cole, especially if the kids are picking up on it. He was furious with Avery right now. Reagan was right, she was rarely home anymore. “Mommy works super hard,” he said, “and sometimes has to stay late at work. No divorce, okay kiddos? Now let’s eat.”
After he got the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen, Cole opened a bottle of wine and waited for Avery to get home. She finally walked in at nine o’clock.
“Well, well. Perfect timing, almost,” said Cole, startling her, “Kids all fed and tucked in, except, damn, hubby’s still awake. Now you might have to fuck him before you can go to sleep.”
“Have you been drinking?” asked Avery glaring at him.
“Maybe a little. I wouldn’t have, if my wife had been home at a decent hour. What the fuck Avery? And since when is it okay to allow two seven-year-olds to walk home alone and stay home alone for hours?”
Avery’s face went from anger to remorse in a split second. “Oh shit…..oh Cole….are they okay?” she asked with genuine concern. Then her tone quickly changed to sarcasm. “Oh, of course they are, or you would have called. Listen Cole, I’m sorry. I forgot, okay? I never have to get them. And….I was prepping for the dinner meeting with an investor. I called to say I would be late and Ryan answered. I’m sorry, I simply forgot.”
“Exactly. YOU never get them. Do you know what they asked me today? If we were getting a divorce. Because you are never home anymore! So, tell me, are we?”
Avery’s expression softened and she became apologetic again. “No Cole. No, no. Don’t say that! Work is really crazy. These new buyers are much more demanding and time consuming than the startup home buyers. It’s just a lot more to do.”
It seemed like Avery really had truly forgotten, and his anger faded slightly. But her work schedule had to change. She needed to be home more, he needed her and so did their children. “Look, I’m going to tell Dad he needs to hire some help,” he said flatly and softening his tone he continued, “We need you here Avery. We don’t need the money.”
Avery’s brow furrowed in frustration. “But don’t you see Cole? It’s our company. I can’t not do what needs to be done.”
“Then get help. You can’t continue to keep these ridiculous hours. I run a clinic and still manage to be home. Yes, sometimes I get called in for emergencies. But you are working every single day and lots of late nights. Like tonight. If you won’t talk to Dad, I will.”
Avery looked panicked. “NO! Stay out of it Cole. I mean it. I’ll talk to Ben…you just focus on the clinic.”
God, she’s stubborn, thought Cole. “Fine. But please, promise me you will. Baby, we need you. Not just me, but all of us.”
“I will,” she said and smiled weakly. She took a little breath and let it out looking at him tenderly before speaking again. “Cole, I’m really sorry about today and actually, I’m very happy that my ‘hubby’ is still awake and needs some wifely attention.”
Cole laughed and his anger faded. “Come here wife,” he said and pulled her into his lap. It felt so good to have her in his arms. It had been too long since they had made love and he felt himself growing hard in anticipation. “I love you,” he whispered and kissed her. “We just have to work together.”
“I know, I love you too. It’s just been really hard,” she said, and sighed as he continued to kiss her neck.
“It is now,” he groaned, and rolled her onto her back, laying on top of her. He pressed himself into her belly so she would know exactly what he meant.
“Ohhhh, I hear makeup sex is the best,” she murmured and captured his lips.