Author's Note: Thank you thank you thank you for all the awesome reviews. You all keep me writing. Thanks to Mari (& all the Benny love), the-fraulein, Aerial 312, Alana, Meg, Christina13, and Jennie – and everybody else who's reading or reviewed. You are all so fantastic and I'm so glad you like this. The story's going to start winding down soon (but not too soon) since I can't seem to keep up with it, so expect some very action-packed chapters coming up in the future.
ps, Don't worry – there'll be more Benny/Mimi, along with some development on both Maureen and Roger's families.
"I can't wait to meet April."
"She's pretty cool," Roger reassured his mother over the phone as he sat comfortably on the couch.
"'Pretty cool?'" she laughed. "That's all?"
"You know what I mean."
"I just hope she didn't hear you say that."
Roger shrugged. "When do you think you'll be here?"
"In about an hour and a half," she told him. "We'll leave soon. I hope traffic won't be too bad."
Ms. Davis paused. "I'm bringing my new boyfriend. I hope that's okay."
Roger was taken aback. "No, that's cool. Since when do you have a new boyfriend?"
"Oh, just a little while. You'll like him. He's a lot like you in some ways."
"I like him already," he laughed.
"Good. Sweetie, I'm going to go and get ready to leave. I'll see you soon, okay?"
Roger hung up the phone and tossed it beside him on the couch and glanced over at April who was leaning over the counter reading the day's newspaper. A month ago, they had a big fight and Roger was sure that they were both leaning towards divorce. They hadn't, having worked through their issues, but Roger found himself walking on pins and needles around April, and he knew she felt the same way.
"They're leaving soon," he told April. "My mom has a gentleman friend."
She laughed. "What?"
"A boyfriend. It's weird. People her age don't date."
April shrugged and closed the newspaper, folding it up.
"She's never really dated since she had me. She tried to when she was like, eighteen, nineteen, you know? But she hasn't really had a real boyfriend since my dad…and that was like, twenty five years ago. We've never been through this kind of thing."
She nodded, not really paying attention. "Do you think they'll mind if we order in?"
"Nah," he shook his head. "My mom knows we're not big on cooking."
"She's going to think I don't know how to take care of you," she frowned.
"No she won't," Roger sighed, standing up from the couch. He strolled into the kitchen and stood beside his wife. "She'll love you."
She remained silent, studying the newspaper that lay on the counter in front of her. Roger hesitantly wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled April in for a hug.
"She will. I promise."
Maureen pushed a French fry through the blob of ketchup on her plate and popped it in her mouth. She glanced up at Joanne who sat on the other side of the table in the small diner where they had agreed to meet that day for lunch.
"I still can't believe you and Mark are getting married!" Joanne exclaimed. "I'm so happy for you."
Maureen gave a quiet smile and stared down into her nearly empty plate.
"That ring is so beautiful," she continued, "And a beach wedding will be just lovely. I hope the weather agrees with you so you won't have to move it inside. He's Jewish, right? Do you think you'll have a traditional Jewish ceremony, or try and have a mixed wedding? What's the resort called, again?"
"And it's on Long Island, right?"
"You're going to have to send out invitation soon, aren't you? Have you picked any out?"
She shook her head.
"Can I help?"
"Are you excited?"
Maureen shrugged and nodded again. "I guess."
"You guess?" Joanne laughed. "What do you mean, you guess?"
Maureen sighed and looked up at her friend. "Do you ever miss… us?"
Joanne cocked her head at Maureen and frowned. "Is that what this is about?"
"Just answer the question."
"No, I don't," Joanne answered honestly.
Maureen was shocked. "You don't?"
"Well why not?!" Maureen asked, surprised.
"Do you not remember our relationship, Maureen? It wasn't exactly a walk in the park."
"So? It was just the weird circumstances. It could be different."
Shaking her head, Joanne replied, "No it couldn't, Maureen."
"How do you know?"
"We're too different. We can barely be friends without fighting."
Maureen gasped melodramatically. "We aren't fighting!"
Her friend stared at her as if she had just grown an extra head, but continued anyway. "I love you Maureen, but not like that anymore. You're with Mark now."
"But what if I wasn't—"
"You're with Mark," Joanne repeated, cutting her off. "And up until today, you've talked about him like he was the greatest person alive. I don't know what made you all of the sudden change your mind, but change it back. Don't start stressing out about this, it's just cold feet."
"How would you know?" Maureen asked haughtily, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting. "Maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do."
Joanne sighed. "Yes I do, and you love Mark. You're just afraid of commitment."
"Says who?" Maureen asked, though it was said more as a standoffish comment.
"Maureen, you love him and you know it. Have you talked to him about this?"
She continued to pout. "No, he'll think I don't want to marry him anymore."
"So you obviously don't want him to think otherwise," Joanne pointed out. "You're nervous. It's understandable."
"I am not. I don't get nervous; I just want to keep my options open."
"Shut up," Joanne laughed. "Just admit it – you're nervous."
"Maureen," she prompted.
"God!" she exclaimed. "Well sorry! I'm twenty three. Twenty three! Most people my age aren't dating exclusively let alone getting married, okay? So sue me!"
Joanne chuckled. "You're nervous, I knew it!"
"Of course you would know, Ms. Ivy League lawyer. Shove it Joanne, stop laughing. It's not funny. I mean, I'll never be single again! I'll never sleep with anybody else, or be able to flirt with anybody else—"
"Shut up! I haven't cheated on him once since we got back together. You know that? Not once! You think you're so smart, but you're not helping! What do I do?!"
"Marry him," Joanne suggested the obvious answer.
"You know, you suck at giving advice," Maureen commented, taking a sip of her water.
She shrugged. "You do love him. You're just nervous. You tell me all the cute little things he does for you all the time – he brings you flowers, he takes you out for lunch, treats you like a goddess. He's everything you want. Hell, he's everything I want… Just, in a man."
Maureen stifled a laugh.
"Seriously," Joanne continued, leaning in and looking Maureen in the eye. "Don't think about what might have been, because it won't help. You can't change the past, Maureen. I mean, I wonder what life would have been like if I'd stayed with you too, and I think it would have been a lot more stressful. I think we're just better off as friends. You're with Mark now, and he's perfect for you. You two will be really happy together, I promise."
"You sure?" Maureen asked, slightly skeptic.
She nodded. "I'm sure. Lately, you're the happiest you've been ever since I met you, and it's because of Mark. When you're around me, you talk about him all the time. If that's not love, I really don't know what is."
Giving a small smile, Maureen nodded. "I guess."
"You're lucky to have him. Don't mess up what you have with Mark because of the past. Just live in the moment."
"You're so lame," she laughed, shaking her head. "Oh God…"
Joanne sighed. "You ask for help, I give you help. Don't make fun of my advice. It was damn good advice."
"Yeah," Maureen agreed, still laughing. "Thanks." She popped another French fry in her mouth and made a face at Joanne.
Maureen dropped her keys onto the table across from the door after entering her apartment. She took off her coat and hooked it over the doorknob to the closet on her left, calling out,
Walking up the few stairs to the living room, she smiled when she saw Mark come out from his study.
"Hey," he smiled, opening his arms.
"Hey baby," Maureen smiled, accepting his hug and wrapping her arms tightly around him. "I love you."
"Love you too," he replied, picking her up a few inches off the ground as she kissed him. He carried her over to the couch and set her down, sitting down next to her. She proceeded to swing her legs over his lap and rest her head against his shoulder. Snaking his arms protectively around her, Mark kissed the side of Maureen's head gently and shut his eyes, resting his head against hers.
Mark smiled. "How was lunch?"
"Great," she replied, "Really good. I should take you to the diner we went to. It was so yummy."
Mark nodded in agreement. "How's Joanne?"
"She's good, said she'll be my maid of honour. You know why?"
"Why?" Mark asked, furrowing his eyebrows.
Maureen stuck out her left hand and wiggled her fingers in front of Mark's face, "Because we're getting married!"
He laughed and buried his face in her shoulder.
"In three months," she continued. "Are you excited?"
"Very," he nodded, "Can't wait. It's going to be awesome."
She laughed and nodded, snuggling in closer to him.
"Guess who called me?"
"Cindy," Mark laughed, shaking his head. "She wants to know if we can sit for her next Wednesday. Apparently Michael's cousin is getting married and she doesn't want to take the kids with them."
Maureen giggled. "Did you say yes?"
"Yeah," he sighed. "She's my sister. She'd probably tell on me if I said no, anyway."
"It's so weird," Maureen commented, linking her and Mark's hands together. "Usually I hate kids, but I love them."
"They're cute. I don't think I'd ever want that many, though."
She nodded. "Three's a lot. Just one for me."
"Would you want a boy or a girl?" Maureen asked, shutting her eyes as Mark began stroking her hair.
"I don't know," he replied. He continued carelessly, already have thinking this through before, "Maybe a little girl. We'd drive her to ballet lessons and take her to the zoo…"
Maureen nodded in agreement and smiled. "I want a baby girl, too."
"Then we're on the same page," he laughed.
"Yeah," she sighed dreamily. Finally.
"I wonder what he's like," Roger mused aloud. April stole a sideways glance at him as they both sat on the high stools at the counter in the kitchen.
"You'll find out soon enough," she shrugged.
"But like, is he older than her? Younger? I don't know anything about this guy. You think she'd tell me these kinds of things."
April frowned stubbornly. "You didn't tell her about me until we were married."
He looked over at her and furrowed his eyebrows. "That's not true. Don't start this. They're going to be here soon."
She nodded appeasingly and rolled her eyes, studying her fingernails.
They sat in an awkward silence for what seemed like an eternity until a knock came at the front door. Roger shot up from the barstools at the counter to answer it.
"That'll be them," he told April. She stood up and straightened her skirt and ran her hands over her hair, which was neatly tied into a ponytail in the back of her head.
"Do I look okay?" she asked.
Roger threw a glance over his shoulder and nodded. "You look fine."
She nodded and followed him to the door as he opened it up. On the other side stood a tall brunette woman. She was shorter than Roger, but not by much. Her dark brown hair was no longer than her shoulders, and tucked behind both her ears. She wore a light blue dress and a smile.
"Hi, mom," he smiled, hugging her loosely. "How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine. And this must be April?" she asked, peeking past Roger into the apartment. He opened the door wider and Ms. Davis and her boyfriend came into the apartment.
April stuck out her hand for a handshake. "Hi."
"It's so good to meet you," Ms. Davis smiled, hugging her instead. "I've heard a lot about you."
"Only good I hope," she laughed nervously.
She nodded. "Roger," she sighed, taking his hand. "This is my boyfriend, Sam."
"Hey," Roger greeted him. He was tall, too, but still not as tall as Roger. He had dirty blonde hair with a few grey strands peeking through. He was about the same size as Roger, and found he had the same green eyes. Roger laughed to himself while shaking his hand.
"Good to meet you," he smiled.
"Roger…" Ms. Davis began, refusing to meet his gaze. He didn't understand her shift in emotion. Now she suddenly seemed nervous.
"Sam is your dad."