As they descended the stairs together, Lindsay couldn't help but look up

As they descended the stairs together, Lindsay couldn't help but look up. She had been 'admiring' one of their pictures. More like staring at it for how long to see if eventually, Marissa's face would turn into hers. She guessed wedding pictures were magically unchangeable, because she never had this problem before. But now, upon seeing them, there was no twisting the truth. There they where, a married couple, with a baby on the way. She couldn't help but notice the small but visible signs of affection going back and forth between them. And their eyes. Ugh. How she had hated their little staring sessions. It didn't really help playing the attention seeking girlfriend either. She had learned that just fine. But now, she had been given a second chance. Better not screw it up…

Marissa would try to act civil for the sake of her own peace of mind. She remembered why Lindsay was there now, standing there looking a bit, dare she say it, up to mischief. Her pregnancy nausea started bubbling up, but if there was one thing she would control it was her own dignity. Squeezing Ryan's larger hand, she momentarily convinced herself that she could do this for two reasons. One, she had started living her life again and she would not let some random stranger from the past screw things up. Two, she was stronger than what she had been during their high school days, she had found the inner strength in herself and the flame was burning strong in her heart.

Ryan was nervous. Although he knew his ex's visit was work related it didn't stop matters from getting awkward. He had never doubted his instincts, so now there were only two things he could do. The first being protecting Marissa and their growing family, and the second thing showing Lindsay were he stood in the grand scheme of things. As for Trey being involved in this ever entangling web, he was trying to keep him way off his mind.

Staircase now behind them, the couple was now mere meters from their "opponent".

"Hey Lindsay", Marissa put on a polite but brief smile.

Lindsay snapped out of her daze and responded in a similar fashion; "Hello Marissa."

Ryan stayed in the background, or at least made the effort to do so. With Lindsay's eyes on him it was kind of hard to stay focused. And he meant that in a non romantic way, rather in a 'please stop staring at me woman' kind of way.

Marissa struggled to maintain their beginning conversation. "Uhm, sorry for keeping you, I guess I can just sign the papers right away just to get it over with." She meant this in a win win situation for the both of them. Surely this must be uncomfortable for her former step sister too.

"Uhh," Lindsay stuttered. "Sure, let me just get my briefcase. I must've left it in the car in my rush to get here." But there was no rush, she had been planning this. Her plan had officially been put into action.

"Of course," Marissa agreed.

With Lindsay out of the house for a minute, Ryan's wife allowed herself to relax. "Oh my God" she breathed. "This is the last thing we need. I'm sorry for not telling you about me working with her." Leaning her head on her husband's shoulder, she looked up at his big blue orbs apologetically.

Smiling, Ryan's voice was laced with affection as he gently held her chin. "Hey, this is not your fault. And I could never stop loving you anyway."

Marissa sighed in relief and bridged the small gap between them with a kiss. As if interrupting their private moment on purpose, the door violently cracked open. The sound following was that of papers being shuffled together, and then finally Lindsay appeared. Immediately the enamoured pair had broken apart on instinct.

With the taste of Ryan still lingering on her lips, Marissa decided this was her chance to quickly be left alone by this woman. At least for the time being, she mentally added in. "So, Lindsay" she began. "I gather you have the necessary documents?" She thought keeping a polite tone would help the situation go along.

Taken aback by the formalness in Ryan's spouse's voice, Lindsay quickly recovered. "Well yes, that's correct." Holding out the dramatic pile of papers which she silently knew weren't necessary, she pointed them in her direction. "Here you go."

First thinking it was some kind of joke from Lindsay's side, Marissa looked amused for a very brief moment, silently thinking what the hell this bitch wanted. "You're kidding, right?" The polite tone was vanishing at quite the speed, being replaced by a more frank one.

Struggling to keep a straight face after seeing Marissa's reaction, Lindsay tried her best to act casual. "Of course not. This is what Mrs. Parker wanted signed." Inside her head an orchestra of violent violins and angry drums were playing. Game plan.

Furrowing her eyebrows in suspicion, Marissa cautiously picked her words. "Well, I didn't expect there to be so many papers. She stretched her arms out and involuntarily accepted the enormous pile of white paper sheets.

Ryan, having witnessed their interaction from a safe distance, now jumped right in, having grown frustrated at his ex' antics. "Surely this isn't necessary."

Lindsay held back a sarcastic laugh at what Ryan had just uttered. "As I just said, of course it is. I'm just the messenger of my boss's wishes," she tried to win back her innocence.

"Right..." Ryan wasn't a little bit less sceptic but wanted this ordeal to be over with so he settled on 'agreeing'.

Smiling happily, Lindsay followed her game plan. "But gosh, it's been what, almost 10 years since I last saw you? I think we have some serious catching up to do, buddy.

Ryan cringed at her last word. Only Seth called him that, and hearing it from his ex, who obviously is fan of the Atwood look or name, was just plain creepy. "Sure."

Marissa sighed in frustration, wanting nothing more to just creep back in bed with her husband for some delicious hours of sleep. Was it just her jealousy creeping in, or was Lindsay trying to flirt with her husband? God, what a contrasting day. Turning towards their home office, she turned her back on the odd duo.

Ryan looked behind him to see Marissa disappearing down the hall. He could literally feel her presence fading from the room, and it gave him the chills. Craving nothing but his wife's company, he briefly closed his eyes, bracing himself for the next hour.

And sure was he right, because he hadn't sooner turned around before he found an ecstatic Lindsay clapping her hands together like a little child who had ruined the enemy's sand castle on the beach. "Good, now, I want to know all the details."

"Details about what?" Ryan had no idea what this woman was on, but it had to be something.

"Hmm," Lindsay put a finger to her lips and proceeded. "About the wedding, how you two sneaks got together after I left for Chicago with my mother." She added the last part with fake laughter, as if his and Marissa's love for each other was just a joke.

The next hour went on at a snail's pace. The redhead seemed to want these things: A tour of the house (yes, including the master bedroom), acceptance to greedily shuffle through their photo albums and the wedding tape. It was crazy, because Ryan could swear she was acting like a detective. If that was the case, Ryan had a bad feeling about showing his persistent former girlfriend this intimate stuff.

After about 45 minutes, to Ryan's joy and relief, his wife appeared in their living room where the two was situated. Slipping her hands around his waist, she saucily whispered in his ear. "Having fun?"

Ryan turned in her embrace and kissed her hard on the lips, sure that Lindsay was too obsessed about the current album to notice. "You have no idea what you just escaped."

She revelled on how soothing Ryan's thumbs were on her hips, as they drew soft patterns on her skin. With her arms circled around his neck, she buried her head in his chest. "I've missed this." That was her gentle words that made Ryan's heart burst with love for her.

Feeling content, Ryan kissed her hair as he held her as the most fragile piece of glass. "I love you," he murmured in her scented hair. Marissa raised her head at this and looked him in the eye. "You make me so happy," she revealed, a smile playing on her lips.

A photo album sharply snapped shut and so did their moment.

"A-hem," Lindsay fake coughed.

Marissa was determined to not let Lindsay of all people ruin her mood. She had enough going on with her hormones already. In a state of balance, Marissa calmly ended this little visit of hers. "Oh yes, the papers – they are in the foyer." She left it off there, hoping Lindsay would take the hint. But she held her ground. Marissa couldn't figure out if it was because she was a mindless idiot or merely playing one. Tough choice.

Not giving up, Ryan's better half spoke again. "Should we go there to collect them?" Bam. Formalness was back. Neither Ryan or her could manage Lindsay on more personal levels yet. The exact opposite of Ms. Gardner, Mr. And Mrs. Atwood understood each other perfectly without speaking.

Eventually the redhead took the major hint and went in the desired direction.

"All papers have been signed and I made copies in case anything should happen, seeing as they are rather important documents." They all stood in the foyer now, Marissa with a feeling of victory, Ryan that one of relief and Lindsay of annoyance. Why the hell didn't they have any dirty little secrets? Oh, crappy days. Anyhow, she would use what she could yet from present time. After all, there is no time like the present, right?

"Thank you." She cleared her throat, suddenly feeling small. "I guess I better go."

Ryan laughed a bitter laugh. "We don't mean to kick you out, Lindsay, but seeing as Marissa is pregnant, she needs all the rest and quiet she can get. Thanks for stopping by." And with that the door slammed in Lindsay Gardner's face.

Marissa was tired, there was no beating around the bush on that one. As soon as Lindsay was out of their face, figuratively speaking, Ryan peered over at her. "Baby, let's get you into bed."

She led out a joyful laugh, playing his game. "Baby, you're doing it again."

Scooping her up in her arms, he kissed her deeply. "So," he mumbled between isses, "do you".

"Ryan Atwood," Marissa pulled back. "Get me down before I break your back. I weigh like a hundred pounds with this baby of yours in my tummy." She tried fighting his strong arms, but she was fighting a lost battle.

"Marissa, hold still before you hurt yourself and the baby." He looked at her seriously and she gave in.

"Alright, but if you hadn't gotten me pregnant I would so be able to fight you."

His eyes sparkled amusedly. "A-huh" he winked at her, teasing her.

"Shut up, you know I'm usually more fit than I am now."

"I know you are, but I will love your body no matter what. And right now you are the beautiful woman I married, carrying our child." He proceeded smothering her with kisses all over her face.

"Ryan stop," Marissa giggled, you know how ticklish I am. "Her limps got into a frenzy and Ryan saw no other way than to lower her onto the stairs where they were standing.

Continuing to kiss, no properly this time, Marissa managed to get out a few words in between. "I'm like" ... "Like"... "the curviest woman on earth" she pulled back. "And I mean that in a negative way. "

Ryan gazed upon her, his eyes growing darker. Inching his face closer to hers, he murmured. "But I love your curves." Running his hands over her breasts and hips, Ryan made his point clear.

"But I'm fat," Marissa complained, ruining the mood.

Ryan laughed. He smiled down at her, giving her his signature half smile. "You're pregnant, not fat. It's perfectly normal to go up in weight, but if you ask me it's in the right places," he said, his voice growing darker towards the end.

"You fool," Marissa breathed, being captivated by his intense eyes and unable to say anything further.

"A fool in love yes, but not a fool for falling in love with you." He winked at her once again.

She burst out laughing. "Atwood, where do you get these things..."