Author's note: I'm a little surprised that I really finished this, but it was fun to write. Thank you to everyone who read it. It does have sequel potential and I do have a couple of ideas about that if I decide to go there, and anyone is welcome to send me ideas. I hope you all enjoyed!
Danny Hamilton looked into his sons' bedroom and watched him sitting dejectedly on his bed. He sighed, hating his son being sad for even a second, but this was the way it had to be until his wife returned – she was due back any second anyway.
Danny had a love for life that was contagious, and that was the reason why all his neighbors loved him. And what was there to not love about life? By all accounts, he had a wonderful, stable, middle class life with his wife and two children. He worked at the local recreation center even though he was never much of a sports player, but his tall and muscular body did make him look the part of someone who knew his way around a gym. The job was low stress and had flexible hours, allowing him to always be home when the kids were there, while his wife ran her own small clothing store. Even without the stress, he had spotted his first white hair that morning. That was his first clue that he had really reached his forties. But the thin hair was still hardly noticeable against the rest of his short dark hair. He strolled around the kitchen wearing a plain white tee shirt and jeans, eagerly waiting for his wife to come back from work.
He had met her back in college at UCLA. She was feeling uncharacteristically awkward during orientation, that being her first day ever on campus in a school where she had no friends. She was walking through a patch of grass, her eyes looking down at the schedule in her hand, when she walked right into Danny and fell to the ground. Danny helped her up as she threw insults in his direction, trying to make any onlookers think that her falling down was his fault; but the beautiful petite woman caught his eye nonetheless. He played along and offered to make it up to her by taking her out to lunch and whalah… love! They were inseparable all through college and were married the week after she graduated… At least that was the story that they told everyone. It was a cute story; and much more family friendly than the real one – the one involving a white robe and black panties.
"Honey, I'm home," a woman's voice happily called out upon opening the front door.
Danny's trademark smile grew larger as he greeted his wife with a kiss. "Welcome back, gorgeous. I hope work didn't tire you out too much." He snickered at thinking about his plans for the evening… as long as he could make sure to let her take it easy on their son.
Sarah Hamilton put her purse down on the table next to the door. She wore a light pink one-piece sleeveless outfit that only covered most of her bust and stopped just below her knees. The store had been a little bit busier that day, and not just with the typical female clientele. They weren't coming in for her shinning personality either. Danny still liked to tease her about her knack for rubbing people the wrong way. If they only knew how she used to be… He knew she had grown by leaps and bounds from the self-centered, spoiled schemer she was when they had first met. But some things were the same from back then. She was back to wearing long, dirty blonde hair; and even though she was right on the brink of forty, she still made heads turn when she walked by. Sarah knew her outfit had drawn her some extra shoppers today, but it was the heat of summer – what else was she going to wear? And if it got her some extra business, so be it.
"Work was fine, but I missed those dazzling smiles of yours and David's," she smiled, but was disappointed that all she got was a single peck on the lips. "One more, one more," she insisted, leaning her head up. Danny obliged, kissing her again.
"Did Holly call here while I was gone?" Sarah asked.
Danny tilted his head at her. "No, you didn't!" he said disbelievingly. "Can you go a day without calling her?"
Sarah breathed out loudly and defensively opened her mouth wide in shock. "She's my little girl, Danny; my baby girl. And it's her first summer away at sleep-away camp – away from me, and I just like hearing her voice, that's all. So fine, maybe I tried calling her during my lunch break again, but I couldn't reach her."
Danny laughed at his wife. He knew her heart was in the right place. She loved her two precious children with everything she had, and she was determined to make sure they always felt like she loved them. She knew what it was like to be ignored as a child – they both did – and she wanted nothing more than to never let her children feel that same emptiness that she grew up with. It was just that sometimes she couldn't help but try too hard and smother them a little bit. "She's thirteen already, Sarah. She's a big girl and I'm sure she's doing just fine."
"Well, where's my favorite little guy?" she asked, inquiring about David. David was their ten year old son. He was spending his summer days at day camp and his nights mostly either playing video games, playing his friends at video games, or thinking up new ideas for video games. He had his fathers' defined cheeks and his mothers' cute little nose. His eyes were brown and deep, just like both his parents; those things were going to melt a lot of hearts one day. He also inherited his parents' knack for getting into trouble, no matter how well-meaning he was.
"He's in his room," Danny answered. "We're waiting on your verdict, my dear. But I vote to go easy. David! Your mother and I need to talk to you!"
David quickly emerged from his room, putting on a pouting show for his mother to gain her sympathy. He was a smart kid and knew exactly how weak his mother was for her children. Still, while getting dad to do what he wanted was easy, his mother did have her moments when he went too far.
"Please don't ground me, mom," he pleaded. "Ben's sleepover party is tonight and I really want to go."
"What exactly did you do?" Sarah asked him, bending down to be at eye level with her son. David turned his eyes downwards and began nervously brushing his right foot back and forth on the floor.
"Mrs. Wright called earlier," Danny answered for his son. "Not happy."
"What else is knew from that…" Sarah countered without thinking, catching herself before letting out the b word in front of her son. Mrs. Wright was one of the many people Sarah had met in this town that she routinely disagreed with.
"She said that her daughter came home crying today because David kissed her."
"So the little squirt got some action," Sarah smirked. "What's the big deal? I mean, look at the gorgeous face on this guy," she pointed to David.
"She was crying," Danny went on, stressing the beginning of his sentence to let her know he was serious. "Because she felt taken advantage of. David, why don't you tell her what happened?"
David kept his eyes on the floor. "David?" his father repeated. "If you want any chance of going to that party, it goes through your mother, so please tell her what happened."
"I kissed Jenny because Tom and Billy said I was too chicken. They bet me five dollars I couldn't do it, so I did. I didn't want to look like a chicken in front of all my friends, mom!"
"You kissed her for money?" Sarah asked rhetorically, letting it process. "David, I… What would you do if someone took advantage of your sister like that? I don't think you would be too happy about it. I know you want to look cool in front of your friends but that's not the way to do it. You made that girl feel like she means less than some stupid five dollar bet. Girls don't like feeling used and worthless like that."
"I know, mom. I'll apologize to her tomorrow and I really am sorry. Please don't ground me."
"Why don't you give your mother and I a minute, buddy?" Danny told his son from behind Sarah. He winked at him letting him know that he had his back.
Sarah sighed as she watched David head back into his room. "Using women for money," Sarah pointed out, shaking her head in disappointment but twitching her nose to hide a slight smile. "Like father like son?"
Danny laughed. "If he's anything like his father, he just needs to find the right one. Come on, he's just being a kid. It's not that big a deal." He pulled his wife up against him, leaving her face inches away from his. "Besides, I want to party tonight. You do know what tonight is?" He leaned his head forward to whisper in her ear. "It's July 15th. Today is our fifteenth anniversary, Greenlee, and I want to celebrate."
She pushed on his chest with her hand and looked back to make sure David wasn't eavesdropping on them. "We just celebrated our eighteenth anniversary a couple of months ago, Danny," she corrected him, placing extra stress on his changed name.
"But I know you don't want my plans to go for naught, baby," he replied pulling her closer again.
"A romantic dinner?" Sarah asked, starting to lose her resolve just like she always did when he held her close to him.
"If we ever get to it," Danny grinned.
"What then? Did you want to hit the beach? It's been a lot of years, Danny. You sure you still want to show off your wife in a swimsuit?"
"Oh please, like you don't still put those twenty-somethings to shame," he chuckled. "No, I was thinking someplace a little bit closer, but we could use some privacy. So maybe we can let David go to his party and we'll deal with this tomorrow." He kissed her lips and then turned her around and started kissing her neck, brushing her long hair out of the way first.
"That's so not fair," Sarah moaned with pleasure. "You know I can't think straight when you do that."
"That a yes?" he asked, moving his mouth up to nibble on her earlobe.
She nodded through her heavy breathing and turned around to kiss her husband. After a couple moments of passionate kissing, she backed off and wiped away the sweat that had just formed on her forehead from reasons other than the hot weather. "David!"
David ran out as soon as he heard her call. He was energized at hearing the excitement in her voice, knowing that if she was going to punish him, she would have sounded much less enthusiastic. She kept her eyes locked on Danny's handsome face and rested her hands on his muscular chest.
"Whoa," David exclaimed uncomfortably as he saw his parents in each other's arms. "You have that weird look on your faces again. It freaks me out."
Sarah cleared her throat and looked down at her only son. "David, you can go to Ben's party. But we are going to have a long talk about this tomorrow, okay? So don't think you're completely off the hook."
David's face brightened up. "Really? Thank you!" He burst for the door to leave to Ben's – an easy trip since Ben lived only two houses down.
"Wait a minute," Sarah called. "You go only once I get a hug." David's shoulders sunk a little as he headed back for his mother. He loved her, not that he was comfortable saying those words explicitly, but did she always have to be so touchy-feely? "I love you," she told him, hugging him tight. "You too," David answered, trying to stealthily pull himself free to leave for Ben's house.
Sarah watched him run out the door and walked over to the window to watch and make sure that he got to the house alright. Leo came up behind her and put his arms around her, resting his chin on the top of her head. "You worry too much, Greenlee," Leo told her.
"I just love him so much, Leo," she told him. "Him and Holly both. Is that so terrible?"
"What? Loving too much? Of course not. But sooner or later you're going to have to realize that leaving them alone for a little while or letting them walk two houses without you watching doesn't mean that they don't know how much you love them. They are the two luckiest kids in the world to have you and all the love you have to give them as their mother."
Greenlee turned around to her husband and cupped his chin lovingly. "Thanks Leo. I know I try too hard sometimes, but too much attention is better than none, right? We both know that all too well."
"We do," he agreed, reaching over and closing the window shade. "So are you ready to give the other man in your life too much attention?" He rubbed his hands up her arms and over her shoulders, admiring the smooth feel of her skin. Even after all these years together, he only found her more and more attractive.
"I'm so ready," Greenlee purred, placing her hands on the back of Leo's neck and pulling his face down to hers. They stood connected, engulfed in passion for a couple blissful minutes, enjoying the taste of each other. Leo slowly and regretfully backed his head away, his heart never wanting to take his lips off of hers but his head telling him that he wasn't done yet. He extended his hand to her with a slight bow of the head. She accepted it and let him lead her towards their bedroom. He slowly opened the door and let her enter first, enjoying watching her as her jaw dropped and her hand rushed up over her heart. Rose pedals surrounded the room. A bright red banner hung over the bedpost: "I love you. Happy anniversary," it read. A brown box with a note attached sat on the middle of the bed. Greenlee looked at Leo in anticipation and he let her know it was okay to take it. Leo joyfully leaned on the door and watched her jump happily for the box; there was still no greater pleasure in the world to him then being able to put a smile on that beautiful face. She sat on the bed and peeled the note off of the box and read it to herself:
"Happy anniversary, baby. These last fifteen years have been the best of my life. I keep thinking I've reached the peak of happiness but then I spend another year with you and I'm proven wrong. Every year; every month; every week; every day; every minute; every second with you brings me to new levels of joy that I never imagined I could experience. I told you I could live anywhere with you, because as long as I'm with you I'm home. So no matter where we are, here's to fifteen more, and fifteen more after that, and fifteen more after that to infinity. I love you more than life itself. – Your loving husband."
"Leo," she said his name softly and appreciatively at his written words. They had touched her soul. He walked up and sat next to her on the bed. Greenlee caressed his cheek affectionately, thinking what she could possibly tell him that could match that.
"Don't worry about it," Leo read her like an open book. "You don't have to say anything; it's all written in your eyes."
"Still… thank you. Thank you, Leo, for giving me a hundred percent of you every single day and for giving me my two precious children. I'm so incredibly happy right now and that's all thanks to you." Greenlee kissed him on the cheek. "God I love you. Thank you for being my life, Leo."
"My pleasure. But now that I gave you my letter for you, it's time you open your gift for me."
"What do you mean for you?" Greenlee asked looking back towards the box. She picked it up and shook it slightly, finding it to be very light. "Your clue is at the bottom," Leo pointed out. She turned it over and saw a message in black marker written there in Leo's handwriting: "Imported from Paris." Greenlee's eyes lit up, now realizing what Leo meant that the gift was also for him. She grabbed the box and kissed Leo. "I love you," he told her. "Happy anniversary." "I love you too," Greenlee smiled. She hurried towards the bathroom to change into her new gift. Stopping at the door, she turned back to Leo and struck a seductive pose: "Give me a minute and I'll show you just how much."