Wow!!! I didn't know if this day would come, but, alas it has... a sequel to A Smile Like Yours! Don't worry, I'm not finished with Fight Your Way Out, not by a long shot. In fact, I started this story to kind of alternate between a happy place and sad place, if you know what I mean. So when I'm inspired to write happy, I'll come here, and when I want sad, I'll write that story. I think everyone wins. I really, really hope you guys enjoy!
Oh yeah, I'm starting each chapter with a set of lyrics, or a quote, or something similiar to that. It's something I've kind of wanted to do for a while, so I'm excited to get the chance. Plus, it will give you guys an idea of what the chapter's going to be like, so...enjoy!!
Well baby I surrender
To the strawberry ice cream
Never ever end of all this love
Well I didn't mean to do it
But there's no escaping your love
"Accidentally in Love"- The Counting Crows
"You can't do that!" Sophie looked accusingly up at Amber, her dark eyes narrowing at the blonde woman, "That's cheating, Amber." She pursed her lips together, letting her eyes rake over the crowded board beneath them. Her fingers pointed out to the board. "Look! Your little horse guy landed on Park Place, and I own it, so you have to pay me!" She held out her hand, staring blankly at Amber, who scoffed slightly.
"Sophie!" Amber cried suddenly, turning to Corny for help, but he averted his eyes and began to whistle nonchalantly, "You already got all my money when I landed on Pennsylvania Avenue!" She let her lips twitch into a pout, "You can't just let me slide by this time?"
Amber let her slender fingers rest on the game token that she'd chosen, and Sophie shook her head.
"Nope, sorry. Pay up."
"Sophie," Corny chided her softly, his eyes meeting his daughter's, "Let's cut her some slack, okay?"
Truth be told, they'd been playing for over an hour and the only one of all of them that seemed to care about the outcome was the dark-haired little girl that sat staring at them incredulously.
"But, Daddy, that's cheating!" She glanced at Amber, "It's not fair to cheat!"
He frowned, and watched Amber roll her eyes from the corner of his eye.
"You're right," he nodded coolly, "it's not fair to cheat, but it's also not fair to be so mean to Amber. She's done a lot for you, you know. Maybe it would be nice just to help her out this time, okay?"
Sophie's jaw went slack, and she crossed her arms over her chest for a moment before sighing loudly and rolling her eyes.
"Gee, Daddy, it's just a game." She shook her head, her long brown hair swishing against her slender shoulders, "It's not like it's real life or something."
"You're one to talk, Little Miss Spastic," Amber teased her suddenly, and Corny shot them both a glare. "I just want to pass by in peace without being charged for breathing your precious air."
"Well, you can't!" Sophie climbed to her feet suddenly, cocking her head at Amber.
"Well maybe I won't play anymore games with you then," Amber shot back, suddenly defensive, "How do you feel about that?"
"Girls." Corny said the word loudly, firmly, and both of them turned to look at him. He tilted his head, arching an eyebrow at Sophie. "Soph, relax. It's just a game, remember?" He threw her words back at her, and her posture slumped suddenly. She slid back onto the floor and pushed the dice back across the board and into their general direction.
"Fine. You don't have to pay, Amber. It's your turn, Daddy."
She sat with her arms folded across her chest as Corny rolled the dice and let them drop onto the board. He took the tiny steel top hat between his fingers and lifted it to his face, making eye contact with it.
"Hello there, Sir Top Hat." He spoke with a badly mocked British accent, and placed the piece on the board, "Where are we headed today? St James Place?" He slid his token onto the dark purple spot, and looked up. Both Sophie and Amber were watching him dumbly, their mouths slightly agape.
Amber shook her head slowly and scooted away from him.
"Jesus, Corny." She tried to keep the corners of her lips from slipping into a smirk, and failed suddenly, letting a soft chuckle escape from deep within her, "You have serious problems."
Sophie giggled slightly across the table from them, and grinned.
"Daddy, really. That's so unbecoming." She shook her head, her dark eyes narrowed.
He looked at her strangely, and then glanced toward Amber.
"Unbecoming, huh? Where did you learn that word, Sophie?" His daughter always had a cornucopia of new vocabulary words to throw at him.
Sophie shrugged nonchalantly, "I don't know, at school."
"I'm sure," he nodded, glancing at Amber, who looked away guiltily.
"Listen, Soph…what do you say we wrap this game up for right now? Maybe we'll play something different in a little bit?" He maintained eye contact with the seven-year-old, and she finally nodded.
Amber let her shoulders sag and leaned back against the couch, crossing her ankles and letting her eyelids close. She groaned, pushing her back against the firm cushion of the couch and crossing her arms behind her head. She giggled softly as she felt Corny's arms moving around her waist, pulling her closer to him.
"Come here, my little Baltic Avenue princess," he snuggled against her neck, and she swatted at him playfully, "You know I'd give you Boardwalk if I could, baby." His lips tickled the base of her neck, and she pushed against him, her cheeks flushing pink.
"I love this little dog," Sophie interrupted their reverie cheerfully, dancing the tiny token around the board, "he's so cute, that's why I chose him!" She glanced curiously at the pieces that Corny had Amber had occupied only moments before. "Why did you pick your pieces, guys?"
"Because I'm so amazingly handsome, and this top hat complements my coat tails," Corny explained, smiling kindly at the child.
"Daddy, don't be arrogant," she chided him softly, and the smile faded from his face. She turned to Amber.
"What about you, Amber?"
She studied the horse and rider in her hand, and then clutched it in her fingers. Because I like being on top, she wanted to say, but smirked instead.
"I like horses," she lied innocently, and Sophie nodded acceptingly.
Sophie let her eyes sweep the board, silently reading the names of the streets aloud.
"What's Baltic Avenue?" She wondered curiously, "Is that like Baltimore?"
"Yeah," Amber spoke up suddenly, "You know that part of the city that we always have to lock the doors when we drive through? That's Baltic Avenue."
Sophie's eyes grew wide. "Really?"
"Amber," Corny chided her, "Stop. Don't give that little girl another reason to think she knows everything." He joked the words, smiling softly at her and patting his lap. "Come sit with us, baby."
Sophie moved toward them and slid into the space on the couch between them, the three of them propping their feet up on the coffee table. She slumped against Corny, her fingers reaching out to trace Amber's left hand softly, admiring the diamond ring on her finger.
"It's so pretty," she cooed quietly, "I hope when I get married my husband gives me a diamond ring like this." She turned Amber's hand over, watching the diamond sparkle in the light.
"It's an engagement ring, sweetie, not a wedding ring." Corny reminded her quickly, and Amber narrowed her blue eyes at him. He smiled sweetly at her, and glanced down at Sophie. "And, by the time you get married, diamonds won't be around anymore."
She looked up at him, confused.
"Daddy, I read that diamonds last for millions and millions of years."
"Exactly," he grinned down at her, and she scowled for a moment before smiling up at Amber again.
"Let's talk about the wedding some more," Sophie suggested cheerfully, snuggling against Amber's side. Amber let her arm drape casually around the little girl, into a position that she had become quite accustomed to over the last two years. Before she and Corny had become so involved, and before Sophie had come into her life, Amber had hated children. The way they talked, and looked, and smelled, and dressed. But somehow, Sophie was different than the rest of those children. She carried herself like an adult, presumably because she'd been forced to care for herself more than half of her life.
"And I'm going to be the flower girl?" She asked from her place at Amber's side, nodding into her ribs.
"Yeah," Amber replied softly, "And you can wear a white dress, just like mine, and sprinkle rose petals down the aisle."
"That sounds fun," Sophie replied gently, though she'd been made aware of her flower-girl duties at least hundreds of times by now. "I'll look just like a princess."
"Yeah," Amber sighed against her, though it would be no different from any other day. Corny had treated her like a princess since the day Brenda had pushed her out to him on that studio floor more than two years ago. He worshipped the ground that little girl walked on; so much, in fact, that Amber often had to take charge when Sophie misbehaved, because more often than not, Corny would fall victim to her crooked smile and perfect dimples.
They sat in the silence of the darkened room for a while longer, the three of them resting against each other, and when Sophie began to snore softly between them, Corny chuckled and gathered her into his arms.
"I'll put her to bed," he excused himself and Amber stretched, pulling her feet up beneath her and yawning gently. She closed her eyes and rested against the couch, not making a move to stand up. She knew she had two choices; she could either return to that empty apartment, or stay here again, like she'd been doing for the past few weeks. She knew she could just as easily make her way to the bed that, more often than not, they shared down the hall, the bed that others frowned upon them for sharing because they weren't legally husband and wife yet. Still, she preferred to wait here for him, so that he could take her hand as they moved into his bedroom, he could watch her undress as she slipped into the nightgown that she always kept in the bottom of his dresser drawer, just in case.
She felt his warm arms around her suddenly, his mouth against the base of her neck. His fingers worked on the buttons of her dress, and his lips were against her ear suddenly.
"Baby," he breathed against her, "You think I've earned the right to see your community chest now?"