Six months later, once things had settled down a bit, Frank was thrown for a loop by a question that Leo posed to him - and it changed everything. "Uncle Frank?" she asked.
"Do you have feelings for Karen?"
He choked and it took him a few minutes to recover and calm down. "What?" he asked her.
Leo rolled her eyes. "Do you have feelings for Karen?" she emphasized?
"What makes you say that?" And were his palms sweating? Why were his palms sweating? Fuck.
She stared at him. "Uh, it's obvious. You two spend a lot of time together, and I see the way you look at her during our weekly dinners."
Frank squinted. "Did your dad put up to this?"
"Leo?" he pressed.
"I heard Mom and Dad talking about it the other night but I have eyes and ears," she told him, amused. Leo wondered if he truly didn't know he was clearly head over heels in love with Karen or just in denial.
He started sputtering. "You've got it all wrong, sweetheart. Karen's family."
Undeterred and disbelieving, Leo only shook her head. "Whatever you say, Uncle Frank." She then hugged him before bolting up the stairs.
Frank, still panicking after Leo's interrogation, headed to the kitchen and found Sarah and David whispering amongst themselves. "What's going on?" Sarah questioned upon noticing the look on his face.
"You look like you're freaking the fuck out," an amused David told him.
"Your kid has some crazy ideas. She thinks I have feelings for Karen." He laughed to try to play it off as a joke but none of them bought it.
"Uh, Frank?" David scratched his head.
"You compared her to Sarah all those months ago. Remember?"
"That wasn't what I meant!" he shot back.
"Then what was it supposed to mean?" Sarah asked in confusion.
"It just means that Karen's important to me - she's family. That's all," Frank insisted, hoping they bought it.
"That's not all. Frank, just think about it," David encouraged.
"And we're here if you need us," chimed in Sarah, grinning at him. She loved Karen, and hoped everything worked out for her and Frank - they belonged together.
"Whatever. I'm going home." Frank waved goodbye to them both and headed back home, his mind whirring.
Frank couldn't sleep that night because his mind wouldn't shut off. He tossed and turned, thinking about Karen. Were Leo, David, and Sarah right? They couldn't be. When he finally gave up on sleep around four in the morning, he sat down on the couch and stared into space. He dropped his empty coffee cup on the ground (which shattered) when it finally clicked in his brain. "Holy shit. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck," he muttered to himself - he iwas/i in love with Karen. When and how had that happened? In hindsight, it wasn't much of a surprise but he was still terrified. He couldn't lose her. But he desperately wanted to be with her, which shocked him. He should be running and let her live her life. But that was something she'd be against and Frank needed to be honest with her. So that's why he got up from the couch at the crack of dawn and headed to Karen's apartment.
"Hey, Frank! What are you doing here so early? Is something wrong?" she questioned after noticing the look on his face.
"It depends on your perspective," he answered as he stepped in.
"Okay then…" She didn't know how to respond to that and sat down at her table.
He sat down next to her and tried to quell his shaking hands. "Karen, how do you feel about me?"
"What do you mean?" Karen had a feeling about where this was conversation was heading and it both excited and terrified her. Were they finally putting a name to whatever this was between them? She really hoped so.
"Do you have … romantic feelings for me?" Frank pressed.
Her pulse quickened. "Why do you ask?" Damn it, what the fuck was wrong with her? Why was she doing this?
"Because Leo is an inquisitive kid and dropped a bombshell on me. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about what she said," he explained to her.
Fuck it. "I'm in love with you, Frank. I've known for a while," Karen admitted.
His face lit up. "Really?"
"I love you too, Karen. I never expected to fall in love again after Maria died - it's scaring the shit out of me - but I can't lie to you. You're my family - you've become everything to me."
Karen teared up and then leaned forward to kiss him. "Wow," she murmured after they pulled apart.
"Wow," he echoed.
"I have to go to work today but we definitely need to pick up exactly where we left off when I'm done." Karen was definitely eager to spend more time with him but she was working on a big story and couldn't call off work.
"I can't wait," he told her. He kissed her again and the two made out against the door for a few minutes before she reluctantly headed to work.
Frank then headed to David and Sarah's house (both were thrilled to find out he had taken initiative) and waited for Leo to get off school so he could confront her. "Uncle Frank!" she squealed.
"Hey, Leo. You happy with yourself?" he teased.
She bit her lip. "What do you mean?"
"Our little talk last night. I went and saw Karen this morning. We're in love with each other."
Leo's scream was deafening and their eyes all rang as she launched herself at Frank. "I'm so happy!" she told him.
"Well, thanks for meddling, sweetheart. You probably shouldn't do that anymore but at least it worked out this time." He hugged her and then set her back down on the floor.
Leo's whole body vibrated with excitement and she pressed him about what exactly had gone down. Frank didn't give details but it was enough to satisfy her before she had to start on her homework.
Frank ate dinner with them then returned to Karen's apartment. She opened the door and they immediately started kissing. "I could get used to this," she murmured.
They sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. They fought over which movie to watch but figured something out quickly, and he wrapped an arm around her. The fact that they wouldn't be here if Leo hadn't decided to interfere wasn't lost on them and they opted to buy her a (small) present for her efforts. And double date nights with David and Sarah actually turned out to be fun.