April 18, 1992 – 4 years old
"You looked like the girls kept you busy during the hunt," Laura observed, taking note of his still slightly damp shirt. Remington looked in either direction, then carefully pulled his black SUV into the busy Saturday afternoon traffic.
"Mmmm, yes," he agreed. "And I suspect I have our eldest to blame for that." Her brows raised in surprise, as she slanted her eyes to peer at their two oldest children in the backseat, their heads pressed together as they diligently assessed their 'take' at the Easter Egg hunt.
"Sophie?" She didn't both to conceal her shock.
"Mmmmm," he hummed again. "After the fourth or fifth egg, Livvie was prepared to call it quits. I've no idea what Sophie said to her, but afterwards they were like two children possessed, determined to ferret out each and every egg not already claimed by another child."
"Which explains their baskets," she assessed.
"Mommy?" Olivia piped up from the backseat.
"Yes, Livvie?" Livvie looked at her older sister, who nodded her head in encouragement.
"Can we buyed bubbles and chalk?"
"Please. You forgot to say please," Sophie reminded her in sotto voice.
"Please?" Livvie added.
"No today, Livvie Bee. We already have bubbles and chalk at home, and the Easter Bunny," Laura added an excited note to her tone, "Is coming tonight, remember?"
"But it's for Emma Jean!" Livvie protested.
"Emma Jean?" Remington asked, turning to look at Laura before returning his eyes to the road.
"Emma Jean, from class?" she hinted. He raised his brows and shook his head. No idea. "The short one," she added.
"Laura, it's a pre-school class. They're all short." She puffed out a breath.
"Long blonde hair, blue eyes," she prompted.
"Well, now you've narrowed it down to a half-dozen children in the class," he commented, then with another lift of his brows and a peek at her, added, "Even after eliminating the boy whose hair is as long as Livvie's."
"Her mother is the short one, perpetually with a golden tan, and large…" she let him fill in the remainder for himself. A wide grin lit his face, as he pictured the stacked, petite blonde in his mind.
"Ah, yes, Emma Jean." The wolfish grin earned him an eye roll, before she returned her attention to their daughter.
"Does Emma Jean have a birthday you forgot to tell us about?" Laura asked Livvie.
"No." Livvie shook her head in concert with her response.
"Emma Jean's Mommy said the Easter Bunny might not be able to find their new house," Sophie explained, helpfully.
"They had to move because of the vorice," Livvie elaborated.
"Davors, Livvie, not vorice," Sophie corrected.
"Da-vore-us," Laura sounded out, correcting both.
"Emma Jean's sad," Livvie continued.
"We don't like it when Emma Jean's sad," Sophie pitched in.
"So we made her a basket," Livvie announced, holding up a singular basket into which the girls had combined all their Easter Egg Hunt finds: Candy filled eggs, loose candy, the stuffed bunny Sophie had received in exchange for her golden ticket, and coloring book and crayon's Livvie had won with her ticket filled the wicker basket.
"But we need bubbles and chalk," Sophie added.
"Emma Jean loves bubbles and chalk," Livvie furthered.
Remington and Laura exchanged glances.
"Do you know where Emma Jean lives?" he asked.
"No, I don't," she admitted, fingering her throat. "But I can call their teacher at home and find out." He glanced at his watch while she dug into through her purse, pulling out her address book.
"If you wouldn't mind taking the girls to buy the bubbles and chalk, Holt and I could make a quick trip through the market to pick up the necessities for an Easter dinner," he suggested. "A fair size ham shouldn't take but a few hours to cook." Laura reached for his hand and squeezed it.
"I'll call Mildred when we get home."
"What do you have in mind?" he asked.
"I was thinking Rusty might like to take add a stop tomorrow morning…"
That night, Remington waited while Olivia crawled up the length of her bed, and slipped under the covers, then tucked her in afterwards. The girls had opted to sleep in Livvie's room that night, and in the nearby bed, Sophie was already tucked in with Prince Charming curled up near her head, purring contentedly.
"Emma Jean liked her basket!" Livvie proclaimed.
"Mmm, that she did," her father agreed.
Emma Jean had been thrilled when the girls, along with parents and brother, had arrived on her front door step with the basket.
"We wonned it!" Olivia had pronounced.
Emma Jean's mother had been embarrassed, at first. The small bungalow in Rancho Park was a world away from their sprawling mansion in Bel Air. Through a silent look at one another, Remington and Laura had found they were on the same wavelength. By the time the family had departed, Emma Jean had her Easter basket in hand and Laura and Remington had managed a brief, quiet conversation with the little girl's mother. Tomorrow morning the Easter Bunny, thanks to Rusty, would make an appearance at Emma Jean's home right after he hopped his way across the terrace of the Steele's home, and on Monday the foundation's attorney – Jacoby Elliot – would be in touch with her, his services provided by the foundation pro bono. Emma Jean's father, it turned out, had abandoned the family eight months previously, emptying all but the family's checking account before skipping town. In a last, desperate attempt to survive, Emma Jean's mother had leased the family home to a movie producer, and any funds in excess of the mortgage now paid for Emma Jean's tuition, the rent on the bungalow, and the payment on the family car.
Unbeknownst to the two little girls lying snug in their beds in their beautiful home, their small act of kindness had had far reaching effects.
"We're very proud of both of you for thinking of Emma Jean," Laura praised.
"She don't like me and Sophie to be sad either," Livvie rationalized. Sophie nodded her vigorous agreement from her bed.
"She doesn't like," Laura automatically corrected.
"Now, Little Ladies Steele…" the girls giggled in unison at the name, as was par for the course when Remington referred them as such "…It's time to close those lovely eyes and go to sleep so a large, furry animal might invade our home." More giggles arose from the girls at that.
Laura and Remington bestowed bedtime kisses on each of the girls and wished them a goodnight, then left the bedroom, leaving the door cracked open just a wee bit.
Remington captured Laura by the waist and spun her around when she turned in the direction of the stairs. A smile gracing her lips, she slipped her arms around his neck and, tilting her head back, lifted her brows at him in question.
"It's times like these, Laura, that I think we might be doing a decent job at this parenting thing."
"Enjoy the feeling while it lasts, Mr. Steele," she patted a hand against his chest, "Because in a few short years, there will be days when we wonder if we did anything right at all."
She couldn't help laughing at the stricken look on his face, before she slipped out of his embrace and went downstairs to prepare for Easter morning.