Author's Note: Thank you to Tonnie, Susan and Lenni George who struggled through this story with me. Readers, please, leave me a review or PM and let me know what you thought of this story. As ever, I do not own Criminal Minds.
"She was SITTING in your lap, David!" JJ ground out as she slammed through their back door at the cabin.
"Jennifer, would you just listen to me for a minute, damn it!" David exploded behind her.
"I've been forced to listen to you for the last thirty minutes. I was trapped in the car with you, remember? And, quite frankly, I don't want to hear you try to defend yourself anymore! When I walked into that restaurant, that little tramp was in your lap with her arms around your neck and you were laughing with her! Do you have ANY idea how that looked?" JJ screeched.
"Jennifer, I've know Tina for ten years," David began, running an impatient hand through his dark hair.
"I don't care if you've known her for ten years or ten goddamn minutes! If you want to be with me, that behavior ends!" JJ said, pressing an unconscious hand to her stomach.
"You're being ridiculous!" David snapped.
"Really? Were you ever romantic with her, David?" JJ asked in a deathly calm voice.
"Ten years ago, JJ. TEN YEARS!" David yelled.
"Mmmm, so if I were to say, be waiting for you for dinner and Will LaMontagne were to stroll in and pull my smiling, giggling body into his lap when you walked in, by your definition of acceptable behavior, that would be just fine, correct?"
"I'd kill him," David blurted.
"Exactly! At least, you're honest about that. But, you're also a hypocrite. And, I, unlike you, would never have allowed something like that to happen anyway!" JJ spat back at him.
"It's different, Jennifer!" yelled David.
"No, damn you, it's not. And, I'd advise you to figure out which is more important to you, Rossi. Me or all these old friends of the female persuasion because I'm really getting sick of falling all over them every time we leave the house!"
"Is that a threat, Jennifer?" David asked coldly.
"Take it any way you want it, David," JJ said, glaring at him with determined eyes.
"I can't talk to you if you're going to be unreasonable," David muttered.
"Unreasonable? Unreasonable!" JJ sputtered.
"Knock, knock!" they both heard from the back door. "I come at bad time, yes?" they heard Mama Rossi say, standing outside the screen door.
"Absolutely not," JJ said, turning flashing eyes back to her future husband. "Mama, I'd say you've come at a perfect time. Come in! Let's just see what your mother has to say, Rossi."
Pulling open the screen door, Mama Rossi walked into the kitchen. Looking from her son's set stubborn face to what she prayed was still her future daughter-in-law, Mama asked, "What have you done now, son?"
"Why exactly do you always assume that it's me that has done something, Mama?" David asked shortly.
"Is that a tone, David?" Mama said, slapping her heavy black purse to the kitchen table.
"I apologize, Mama," David said quickly. "I'm just a little angry at the moment."
"You're angry?" JJ asked incredulously. "I'm sorry was it me that was cuddled in another man's lap, Dave?" she asked angrily.
Turning burning eyes on her son, Mama asked more forcefully, "I ask again, David. What have you done this time?"
Smiling at him from her location behind Mama Rossi's shoulder, JJ said sweetly, "Yes, honey, tell your mother all about our non-existent dinner?"
"David?" Mama Rossi asked, narrowing her eye at him. "Do I need to find rolling pin?"
"Right here, Mama!" JJ said, pulling open a kitchen drawer and slapping it into Mama Rossi's waiting hand. Whispering, JJ added, "If you need the cast iron skillet, just sing out!"
"Very funny, ladies," David snorted.
"I give you one last chance, David. What have you done to the angel behind me?" Mama asked, pressing her lips together.
"Mama, have you happened to notice my shirt," David said, spreading his suit coat. "This is what you're angel does when she's angry! Dumps a bottle of wine on her fiancee!"
"Ask him why, Mama," JJ directed, glaring at the man who'd stolen her heart.
"Why, David? Jennifer not do THAT for no reason. I sure about this," Mama Rossi informed him tartly, crossing her arms across her chest.
"Tell her, David! Or I will!" JJ threatened.
"Jennifer," David warned.
"You not talk to her now, son. You talk to Mama!" Mama Rossi said, rapping the rolling pin on the counter in warning.
"There was a misunderstanding at the restaurant, Mama. That's ALL!" David said with a threatening look at Jennifer.
"Ha! I, for one, didn't misunderstand a damn thing!" JJ retorted.
"She was an old friend, JJ," David said, beginning to wonder how the hell he was going to dig himself out of the hole he was in…especially when it was two against one.
"She was an old LOVER, David," JJ yelled.
"Ah, so that's it, you found him with another flavor of the week from his past, yes?" Mama asked, giving JJ a sympathetic look.
"In his LAP, Mama!" JJ replied, staring at David. "I'm sorry, Mama! I just can't look at him anymore right now. I'm going upstairs to take a bath."
Fire in her eyes, Mama Rossi nodded and patted JJ on the cheek. "You go calm down, bambina. You need rest," she said with a pointed look at JJ's stomach. "I take care of this, yes?"
"Yes, Mama," JJ whispered. And with a final tear filled glare in David's direction, JJ walked from the room.
Mama waited until she heard JJ's footsteps on the staris before she turned to face her son. With a gaze that held the promise of death if he gave the wrong answer, Mama asked in a cold firm tone, "Are you trying to lose the only woman that ever truly loved you for you, son?"
"Of course not, Mama," David said, hanging his head, "but I haven't done anything wrong!"
"Basta!" Mama said, slapping her hand against the kitchen counter. "You touch another! You wrong!"
"Mama,…" David tried to speak.
"I say enough! You finally have good thing here, David. Very good thing! You ruin it with your stupidity. The angel not share you with others. Her pride as great as yours," Mama said, slapping her son on the arm with the rolling pin. "You not ruin this! The angel had something important to tell you tonight! You ruin!"
"What, Mama?" David asked, picking up on the urgent tone in his mother's voice.
With narrowed eyes, Mama said, "You show her disrespect this eve, yes? Admit it, David!"
"I didn't mean to, Mama, but I suppose I did," David offered quietly.
"Make right, David," Mama ordered. "Or you regret."
"I know, Mama," David returned softly.
"Go to her now, David! She has something she need say. I can not tell you. But it important, my son," Mama said ominously.
"You're scaring me, Mama. And, we both know I don't handle fear well," David said meeting his mother's dark eyes.
"It is not bad, David. It good, but it must come from her. Now go! I see myself out," Mama said, watching her only son.
She smiled as she watched him leave the room. Oh yes, she thought, this woman was a match for her David.
David Rossi wasn't usually a stupid man. He prided himself on his intelligence actually. But, he had to admit, he'd made several stupid mistakes tonight. Several. From the moment that Tina Legamo had plopped herself into his lap at the restaurant and he'd looked up to see his future wife's stunned, hurt face, he'd known he was in the wrong. He'd been telling the truth when he'd said that he'd had no feelings at all for Tina. Hell, he hadn't had any feelings for her when he'd slept with her ten years ago. But no amount of telling Jennifer that on the way home had convinced her. He should have pushed Tina out of his lap. He should have done any number of things that he could now see in hindsight. But instead, he'd gone on the defensive the moment JJ had started approaching the table.
He'd introduced Tina as an old friend. Of course, JJ could see right through that. She always could. And, Tina hadn't helped matters when she'd leaned over and kissed his cheek, purring, "Very old close personal friends." That's when the wine had flown. All over both of them. JJ had stormed out at that point. After offering a hasty apology to a livid ex-flame, Rossi had quickly ran after Jennifer. He'd caught up with her as she was trying to hail a cab. Ignoring his fumbled explanations, she'd simply tried to gain a cab with that much more vigor. Seeing the futility of his effort, he'd physically picked her up and stalked to his car, kicking and screaming. More of which had commenced on the thirty minute drive home. Her screaming and him trying to justify himself, knowing the whole time that she was right. But, hell, surrender had never been something he was good at. But now, he knew, surrender was necessary. Or he was going to lose the best thing that had ever happened in his long life. And, he hadn't needed his mother to tell him that. He'd known by the look in her eyes.
He heard her sobbing before he even got to the master bathroom's door and his heart clenched. He'd caused this. And, now, he had to figure out a way to undo it.
As he slowly opened the bathroom door, he was pelted in quick succession with three sizeable sopping wet bath sponges. He took one hit in the chest, one in the leg, and the last full in the face. His woman had aim. That was a certainty.
"GET OUT!" she shouted, looking for another missile.
Blowing out a deep breath, Rossi strode quickly forward before she could find any more ammunition. "Nope, this time I talk and you listen, Jennifer," he replied, reaching down to pull her beautifully pink body out of the sunken tub.
"Stop it! Don't you touch me after holding that bitch in your lap, David Rossi! Just get the hell out of here," she yelled tearfully, slapping at his shoulders as he lifted her from the tub.
"You know what? Fine!" he said, dropping her gently back into the warm water. "I'm wet anyway. Might as well get wetter," he said pleasantly, stripping off his shirt quickly.
"What the HELL do you think you're doing?" JJ asked angrily, watching as he toed off his shoes and shucked his pants.
"I'm joining you and we're going to have a heart to heart while I wash your back," he said reasonably, stepping into the big tub behind her.
"Get out of my bath!" she said angrily shifting away from him.
Grabbing the washrag from the shelf of the tub, David wrapped one strong arm around her tiny waist and pulled her toward him. "Don't fight, Jennifer," he said when she began to struggle again. "You'll lose this one, honey. I'm bigger, stronger and a hell of a lot more determined right now. I've just had it pointed out to me with a bright glaring light and a great big rolling pin what exactly I stand to lose here. And I didn't care for the vision my mother painted for me."
"I don't care! You're an ass! Not only an ass - a condescending ass!! One that thinks he can do no wrong!" JJ yelled, trying to jerk from his restraining arm.
Laying his head against her stiff back, he nodded. "Yes, baby, I am. It's a bad habit. The good news is that you're more than up to the task of breaking me of my nasty little habit."
"Say the words, Rossi! Say them now!" JJ ordered tightly.
Closing his eyes against the pain in her voice, David said clearly, "I was wrong."
"Damn right, you were," JJ snapped back. "I can't do this anymore, David. Tripping over all these women you've got history with…finding them in your lap."
"Jennifer, you knew I was no saint when you met me," David reminded her quietly.
"But you enjoy it…the flirting…seeing them again. Do you have any idea how hurtful that is? How threatened I feel?" JJ asked, biting back a sob.
Sliding the soapy washcloth over her back slowly, he whispered, "You know you have nothing to worry about."
Jerking away from his touch, she said over her shoulder, "Well, that's just it, David. I DON'T know that!"
"Honey, what more can I do? I've told you that I love you…that I'm in love with you. I've asked you to marry me. You've accepted. I want to spend the rest of my life being loved and loving you, baby. What more can I say or do?" David asked, dropping the washcloth to slide his hand beneath her heavy blond hair to cup her neck.
"You've said all this to other women before me, David. And what happened to my predecessors?" asked JJ bitterly.
"Jennifer, this is different. We're different. From anything I've ever had in my life," David said, pulling her tense body back to rest against him.
"Define different, Rossi," JJ ordered. "Tell me exactly how I am different from the others because at this particular moment I don't feel any different. I feel like I'm the latest in a long and winding line of David Rossi's conquests. And, that is NOT a position I want to be in, now or ever…especially not now," she whispered.
"JJ, I've learned a lot over the years. I thought I knew all the answers, but evidently, I've still got some learning to do. And, honey, I trust that your are gonna set me on a steep learning curve," Rossi replied, nuzzling her neck.
"This isn't a joke to me, David! This is my life," she said, stiffening more against his body. "And, I'm honestly not sure that I have either the strength or the energy to try and teach an old dog a new trick."
"Jennifer, why tonight? What the hell happened, besides the obvious, to put you over the edge tonight, honey?" David asked, surrounding her securely in his arms. "There's more to this than seeing that woman sitting on my lap."
Allowing her head to fall back against his shoulder, JJ closed her eyes and knew it was time to tell the truth. "You're right, David, there is."
"Jennifer, whatever it is, we'll handle it together," David whispered against her ear.
"This isn't how I envisioned having this conversation," JJ muttered.
"Sometimes adjustments have to be made," David said patiently. "Spill, Jennifer Rose Jareau."
Looking at the facet in front of her, JJ took the plunge. "I'm pregnant, David."
Startled, David looked down at the blonde head in front of him. "You're what?" he asked in shock.
"Pregnant. Expecting. Increasing. With child. YOUR child," she articulated.
"Are you kidding me?" David whispered.
Irritated, JJ looked over her shoulder at the man that was allegedly going to become her husband. "Tell me, David, does this look like the face of someone who's joking?"
Shaking his head, David asked, "You aren't happy?"
"Happy? I'm having a baby with a man who seems to enjoy playing Santa Claus with redheaded bimbos from his past! So, no, David, at this moment, I'm less than pleased. I WAS happy when I walked into the restaurant. Hell, I felt like I was holding onto a handful of balloons, sailing into that place. Then SOMEBODY put a pin to my freaking balloon, David! Can you guess who that somebody was?" she accused.
"I'm sorry, honey. You'll never know how sorry," Dave told her, fighting back an ecstatic shout of joy. He was finally, after all these years, going to become a father.
"Bite me!" JJ spat. "And, don't look so frigging happy. I'm still pissed! Massively pissed!" she said, smacking the water and splashing him with it.
"I know, honey. But, a baby! A tiny little you!" David said, covering her still flat belly with a warm hand.
"Or you," she said, making a revolted face.
"Now, that's uncalled for. I have my good qualities," David replied gently.
"Funny, right now, I'm hard pressed to think of any!" JJ retorted.
"I'm sure my mother could list some of my more sterling qualities to you," he said combing his fingers through her hair.
"Your mother is firmly on my side in this. She seems to think you may end up costing her a grandchild," JJ replied, trying not to sigh with pleasure at the feel of his fingers against her scalp.
"Wait, my mother knows about the baby?" David asked, "I'll be damned," he muttered, "THAT'S what my sainted mother meant."
"Of course, your mother knows…I had to talk to someone to get an idea of how you'd react," JJ explained, shrugging her shoulders.
"I hope you realize I'm taking this news just fine. Better than fine! I'm over the moon, sweetheart. Other than you, it's the best thing I've ever been given."
"Hold your horses there, big fella. I'm not convinced of anything. Over the last month, David, it seems to me that your commitment to me and us is wavering. I've run headlong into more of your past in the past two weeks than I have in the eight months we've been together," she fumed.
"Listen to me, honey. Because I've never been more serious or committed about anything in my life. Those good qualities that you find lacking…let me tell you a few of them. Jennifer, I'm willing to learn from my mistakes. I acted like a horse's ass tonight. It won't happen again. I can't guarantee we'll never run into someone I have a past with, but I can assure you my reaction will be vastly different from now on. I'm stubborn as hell when I want something, honey. That's another of my good qualities, whether you see it or not. I want you. I need you. So be aware that no matter how fast or how far you run, I'm gonna catch you. I am completely devoted to you. Only ever you. Before I met you, I was marking time with those other women. It was never serious. It never went to my heart. Not the way you have. I love you. I love him or her. And, if I have to spend the rest of my life proving it to you then that's what I'll do. I can't lose you. Either of you," he told her quietly.
"Do you mean that?" JJ asked quietly.
"More than I've ever meant anything I've ever said before, Jennifer," David rumbled quietly, ashamed of what he'd put the tiny woman in front of him through…terrified he was going to lose her through his own blind stupidity.
"Are you saying this because of the baby? Because if you are, it'll never work anyway. People can't make a marriage work for the sake of a child. My parents tried that and it was a constant war zone. I won't let our child live that way," JJ whispered.
"I asked you to marry me before either one of us ever thought about a baby. I won't lie to you and say that I'm not thrilled. I am. I'm getting older, honey. I'd like to have a few good years left to roughhouse with him or her, but I love you for you. I loved you more than my life before I found out and I love you the same way now," David tried to assure her.
Closing her eyes, JJ laid her head back against his naked chest. "I'm hormonal. I admit that. But, I don't like seeing you with other women. I never have. I know you have a past. But, can you at least try to keep it from repeatedly slapping me in the face?" JJ asked tiredly.
"I can do better than that. Nothing like what happened tonight will EVER happen again, JJ. I promise, it won't. Have I ever broken a promise I've made to you?" he asked.
"No. Never," JJ answered.
"I won't start now," he assured her.
"I love you," she whispered.
"And, I love you. Honey, I'm sorry. I'll do a better job at making you feel like you're the only one. I guess I took it forgranted that you knew it…felt it. Nothing is more important to me than your happiness. Nothing," David said, squeezing her to him.
"I do know that. I just…that woman…and the baby…" JJ trailed off.
"I know, babe. I know. No more misunderstandings, I swear," he whispered against her ear. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to take my wife to bed and celebrate," he said, standing behind her.
Allowing him to help her out of the water and wrap her in a warm towel, JJ whispered, "You're really happy about this."
"God, yes!" he exploded, pulling her to him for a long kiss.
When the need for air overcame them, JJ said softly murmuring, "Me, too. Now, Agent Rossi," Wrapping her arms around his neck she huskily said, "I believe you mentioned something about a celebration."
His lady had wanted an omelet and an omelet she would get, David thought as he beat the eggs in a bowl with renewed vigor. The love of his life had forgiven him for his stupid decisions and thoughtless actions the previous night. Thank God for major miracles. And, now, he was determined that she would know just exactly how important she was to him from here forward. And, if that involved him cooking every morning from now until eternity, then that's what he'd happily do. He'd even managed to convince her to finally set a wedding date. Though he thought two weeks was much too long, he'd not argued when she'd named the date. All he wanted in the world was to be able to tell people she was the last Mrs. Rossi.
The only near argument they'd had since getting out of the tub last night was when this morning she'd asked him if two weeks was long enough to have his attorney draw up a prenuptial agreement. He'd almost lost his temper again. True, with his last two wives, he had demanded those papers be signed before making the trip down the aisle. But this time, as he'd calmly told her an hour ago, it was forever. There would be no divorcing, no leaving the marriage for any reason. This time was forever. The only way out was in a pine box that he had no intention of entering any time soon. She'd argued, saying that she had no problem signing a legal document preserving his fortune. He'd told her to shut up - they were handling this one his way. She'd muttered that he was an idiot and moved on to the next item on her list of wedding plans. Smiling, David knew he was a lucky man to finally find his ideal woman.
Hearing a familiar knock on the screen door, David looked up to find his mother staring back at him.
"Mama, come in," he invited. "Can I make you some breakfast."
"Cut the crap. Where is bambina?" Mama asked, looking around.
"Upstairs. She'll be down soon," David informed her.
"You done with stupidity, yes?" Mama asked warily.
"More than done, Mama. I assure you," David nodded, looking at his mother solemnly.
"You not screw this up, David. You be sorry if you do. She may forgive this time. Next time - I not so sure," Mama said, wagging a finger in his direction.
"There won't be a next time, Mama. I can promise you that," David assured his mother.
Mama gave a satisfied snort. "Did the bambina tell you anything special last night? Other than what prize idiot you are," Mama asked, pushing her son away from the stove and taking over, muttering that the eggs would be runny the way he was doing it.
Moving aside to let his mother work, David smiled. "Oh, you mean that little announcement about my impending fatherhood?" Leveling his mother with a steely gaze, he muttered, "You could have warned me, Mama…I would never have yelled at her on the way home if I'd known."
"You should not yell at her anyway! She right!!" Mama glared.
"You're right, Mama. I just mean, that in her condition, I want her under as little stress as possible," Dave explained.
Leveling her son with her patented disgusted parent expression, she replied, "Then you stop the flirting with the other girls. Letting them sit in lap, David? I would kill your father for such a slight!"
"It was a mistake, Mama. I didn't pull the woman down to me. She plopped herself there. But I did handle it all wrong and it will never happen again. Jennifer will never feel threatened again, I swear it," David said quietly.
Nodding once sharply, Mama returned, "You father now. Must set example for son or daughter. I demand this, David."
"Understood, Mama," David nodded.
Walking slowly into the kitchen, JJ overheard part of the exchange. "Are you giving him hell, Mama?" JJ smiled, walking over to stand beside her future husband.
"Yes. He deserve. Do not take up for him, Angel. He make his bed with me and now he lie in it," Mama replied resolutely.
"Well, here's something to make you feel better and might restore your faith in him. He convinced me to move up the wedding. Two weeks from today, I'll be Jennifer Rossi - in plenty of time for your grandchild, just as you requested."
Face wreathed in smiles, Mama looked quickly at David. "You forgiven. This time. You not screw up again. Next time, I use iron skillet on that hard head."
Looking between the only two women he loved, David smiled. No, life would never be boring again. And he had found his forever.