Hello again, everybody! Back once more for another peek into the future. Huge thanks to rms33 for bidding in the Fandom Gives Back auction over the summer. She wanted to see a little farther down the road, a teenage Max, and this is what I came up with. Thanks so much for giving me the chance to write this, bb! If you guys like it, thank her!

And of course I can't leave without thanking Beans827 & Shug for stepping in to beta again.

A little homework before we jump in. Think of your favorite band. Think of the lead singer. Got it? Good. Remember it for later, I like to keep things vague... nothing yanks me out of a story like a reference to a band/singer I can't stand, LOL! Now, let's see where these kids ended up, shall we?


The tires squealed as the car came to a sudden halt. I'd thrown my arms forward to grasp the dash, and for a few moments, the sound of me trying to catch my breath was all that could be heard.

I looked over to see a sheepish looking Max and held my hand out.


He scrunched his face up and huffed as he pulled the keys from the ignition and dropped them into my open palm. He'd only had his permit for a little over a month, but things weren't looking too hopeful. I didn't know what prompted me to allow him to drive today—Bella and I had been taking him out to large, empty parking lots or rarely traveled back roads to let him get a feel for driving. Clearly, he wasn't ready for real traffic.

"Can I drive home?" he asked as we both started walking toward the back entrance to the arena.

I shot him a withering look, and he shrugged as if he'd already forgotten the near death experience that was the drive here. I nodded at the security guard stationed by the doors as we walked past. Inside, there were people everywhere: some who worked for us, some who worked for the bands that were playing, and some I had no idea where they came from.

Max took off on his own almost immediately. Growing up in these places, he knew everyone and they knew him. He didn't need his lanyard most of the time to have free reign at these events.

"How did it go?" Bella asked as soon as I opened the door to the room that served as our home away from home on days like this—an office that looked more like a studio apartment. She'd warned me that letting Max drive probably wasn't the best idea when I'd called her before we left the house, and judging by the grin she was trying to hide, she knew she was right.

I didn't say anything, sure that the look on my face was enough. She laughed and stood on her tiptoes to kiss my cheek, using that position to hide her face.

"Are you okay? Need to lie down? Maybe some deep breathing exercises?"

"Are you making fun of me?" I asked, wrapping an arm around her and holding her to my side.

"Not at all." She pressed her lips into a tight line, but her shoulders still shook with laughter.

I lowered my voice, knowing there were little ears somewhere in the room. "Better watch it."

She gasped when I grabbed her ass and muttered 'tease' just before pushing me away.

"Okay, I have to run and check on some things. I won't be long. If you need me, you know where to find me." She kissed me quickly and darted out of the room; I could hear her being inundated with questions the moment she walked out the door.

"Hi, Daddy." The words were sighed, and I couldn't help but chuckle.

"When are you going to give up the hat, Milo?"

We'd gone with a magician theme for his fourth birthday, and months later, he still wore the top hat everywhere he went. He ignored my question and pushed his glasses higher on his face, his fingers pressing directly against the lenses. I could see the day's fingerprints from where I stood, so I reached out to take them and clean them off.

"I can't find my rabbit." Again, his words were punctuated with a sigh, as if he was put out by this development.

I exhaled onto the lenses of his glasses to fog them up before taking the hem of my shirt to them. After holding them up to the light to make sure I didn't miss any spots, I placed them back onto his face.

"No, I haven't seen him. Did you bring him?"

"He put the rabbit in his backpack before we left the house this morning," Sophie called out from her spot on the couch, sprawled out, reading a book.

"Well, hello to you too," I teased, shaking my head when she simply flipped the page and waved in my general direction.

"Daddy, my rabbit?" Milo asked, tugging at my pant leg.

"Yeah, rabbit, okay."

Milo ran over to bug Sophie—who pretended to be annoyed before she let him sit beside her—and I searched everywhere I could think for that rabbit. We were in for a meltdown tonight if he went missing. It was actually Sophie's, but when Milo started this magician phase, he insisted he needed one and 'borrowed' it so often that she eventually just gave it to him. He hasn't gone anywhere without it since.

His backpack was empty so I started searching every corner of the room. Pillows and cushions were tossed from the couch, loveseat, and chair then immediately replaced. Each cupboard was opened, then closed. Every possible—and even the impossible—hiding spot was checked and double-checked. I was on my hands and knees looking under the furniture when the door opened and Bella walked back in. Her head tilted to the side as she slowly closed the door.

"Why are you down there?" she asked and I could hear the amusement in her voice.

Pushing myself to my feet, I answered, "Missing rabbit."

Without saying a word, she walked over to the couch and lifted the top hat off of Milo's head. Turning it so that I could see inside, she said, "This one?"

I could feel my shoulders drop and looked at Milo. "Really?"

He covered his mouth with both hands, his eyes shrinking to slits as he giggled, and everyone else quickly joined in.

"You knew?" I asked Sophie.

She shook her head, but couldn't stop laughing. "No, I swear! I was reading. I didn't see him put it in there."

I dusted nonexistent dirt from my knees. "Uh huh."

I was long forgotten when Milo turned to Sophie and said, "Let's read a good book."

"Hey, Mr. Bossy, this is a good book. You're just too little to appreciate it," she teased but wasted no time closing hers and reaching for one of his from the end table.

I couldn't help but smile as she started to read to him, voicing each character distinctively.

"How are things going?" I asked once Bella and I stepped away.

"So effortless it's scary," she said as she wrapped her arms around my waist and leaned into me. No doubt she'd been on her feet most of the day running around and had to be exhausted. We were both in a position where we could finally step back, and though the plan was to do exactly that, she hadn't started to wean herself off of these hectic schedules yet.

I had opted not to renew my contract and in a couple weeks would no longer be working in radio. Even though Bella was planning on stepping back from the day to day duties at her job, I'd be working with her on some of the bigger projects lined up.

A few years ago, she had managed to buy the company right around the time we found out Milo was on the way. It was insanely chaotic—or maybe just plain insane—and we'd spent many nights debating what to do. It was a huge step in the best of circumstances, but with a baby on the way, it didn't seem like it would be possible.

Corporate had been losing money for years, and their first fix was to sell off their smaller markets. It was a band-aid at best. After a couple years of failed attempts at staying afloat, they had needed to do something drastic, and piece by piece, live entertainment went up for sale.

For weeks, we'd discussed our options. Financially, we had a good start. We still hadn't dipped into any of Bella's settlement as both of us made more than enough to support our family while continuing to save even more. We hadn't allowed our expenses to grow with our incomes, neither of us seeing the need for pricy upgrades.

After discussing our options with each other, accountants, financial planners, and attorneys, we started looking more seriously into the purchase. Bella was eligible for a number of grants since the new company would be owned by a woman. We also had a handful of venture capitalists eager to invest. And not surprisingly—at least to me—the staff whole-heartedly supported Bella, giving her the peace of mind that the transition would be made easier since she'd still be surrounded by the same people who helped her make sure this market was one of corporate's few real successes.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we couldn't pass it up, regardless of bad timing.

After many sleepless nights, mountains of paperwork, and approval of the sale, Bella finally owned the company that she'd poured her heart into for most of her adult life.

She didn't make any major changes for the first couple years. The change in ownership was drastic enough, and she wanted to make sure everything was stable before adding anything new. About a year after the sale, she and I started talking about ways to expand. At first, it was just the two of us tossing ideas around in the evening when the kids were in bed and things had quieted down. After a few months, she started discussing things with Angela. It took about a year to go from hypotheticals to active efforts, but as soon as she started to take a look at plans, Bella was unstoppable.

She bought up a few small venues to add to the list she already owned, but her big project was the venue we currently found ourselves in. We'd searched for the perfect property to build and found a plot of land just outside of the city that was convenient for an outdoor venue. Not wanting her hard work to be limited to summer use, Bella insisted it be an indoor/outdoor venue. The stage could open from both sides so that during the summer, it faced a large seating area and even larger lawn that could fit over fifteen thousand people. During the harsher months, the stage had another set of doors that opened to an inside venue that seated five thousand.

This place was the last major expansion project before Bella had decided to focus her efforts elsewhere.

"So, good news," she said, grinning so widely that her eyes crinkled.

"What's that?"

"I just managed to sign six bands in one shot for this summer."

"How'd you manage that?"

Though we could still hear Sophie and Milo on the other side of the room, not to mention the sounds of people working just outside the door, it felt like a private moment as we were tucked away in the corner of the room. I couldn't stop myself from kissing her lightly.

"You're distracting me," she chastised, but the smile on her on face was playful.

"I'm adoring you," I said and shrugged.

She laughed, "Smooth."

"So, tell me," I said, urging her to continue.

"Huh? Oh! Yeah, we're getting six bands for the festival from William Morris at a pretty hefty discount after a little negotiating. They also have a couple up and coming bands they're going to give us for next to nothing just for the exposure. We can use them as filler earlier in the evenings or at the smaller clubs."

This was Bella's newest project and what would be our main focus once I started working with her. The city had a rich music culture, and we'd decided to do what we could to highlight that while making sure this market stayed successful. We'd begun reaching out to club owners last summer, and although some refused to work with the competition, there were many of the small business owners that recognized how valuable it could be for everyone to band together.

We'd set up an independent organization to host a three day music festival in July with the hopes that it would be successful enough to repeat annually. We planned to mix local bands with national acts, dozens of concerts each night at various venues stretching for blocks in downtown Seattle. Some of the side streets would be blocked off for vendors to sell food, drinks, and souvenirs, with one central street set up with an outdoor stage for even more concerts. A twenty dollar wristband would give people unlimited access to all of the clubs taking part in the events.

Bella's connections would guarantee us a full roster, not to mention the promise of innumerable agents, managers, and label reps already planning to be in attendance. For the local, unsigned bands, this was their opportunity to be seen, and many of them had already made plans to perform at different venues each day to increase their exposure.

"That's great news," I said and leaned to kiss her just as her phone started to ring.

She grumbled and looked at the number before giving me an apologetic look and walking away to take the call. A quick look at my watch told me that it was getting late, and if we planned to eat, we had to get over to catering before they ran out or closed up.

"You guys hungry?" I asked as I walked over to Sophie and Milo.

"I want b'sketti," Milo said.

"It's spa-ghe-tti," Sophie enunciated. "Try it. Spa…"

"Spa…" Milo repeated.




"Ti!" Milo finished.

"Okay, try it together. Spaghetti," Sophie said.


I laughed out loud and picked him up, tossing him over my shoulder and motioned for Sophie to follow. I looked over at Bella who mouthed 'be right there' before returning to her call.

"Daddy, let me down!" The words were barely understandable through Milo's laughs. I peeked over my should as we headed down the hall to see him hanging onto his hat with both hands so that it wouldn't fall from his head while he was suspended upside down.

I'd also looked back just in time to see Sophie sneak up and tug the hat right out of his hands.

"Haha, got it!"

"Hey!" he yelled. "Give it back!"

"Come and get it," she taunted, waving it just out of reach.

I set him on the ground and instructed, "Go get her."

Sophie screamed and took off, Milo's feet slapping behind her.

"Don't go too far!" I called out. After a pause, I added, "And stay out of everybody's way!"

Sophie slowed down and let Milo catch her, pretending to put up a fight and falling to the ground so that he'd think he had managed to tackle her. A few people walked by, laughing at the scene, but I apologized anyway.

The doors to the venue hadn't opened yet, but when we took a shortcut across the stage to head over to where catering had set up, I couldn't help but laugh at the excited chatter immediately followed by audible disappointment from the few people granted early entrance that we weren't any of the performers they were hoping to catch a glimpse of.

And then I noticed the reason Max had taken off so quickly. There on the opposite side of the stage, he was talking to a girl, pointing things out and giving her what looked to be the grand tour, no doubt trying to impress her. Ah, the elusive Hayley. Max clammed up every time her name came up in conversation, and he refused to discuss her. He was always so confident and outgoing that the embarrassment was rather entertaining. Seemed someone had a crush.

He was so distracted by her that he didn't see or hear us coming—unbelievable as that was, considering how much noise Milo made no matter what he was doing. It wasn't until I walked right up behind him and patted his shoulder that he jumped and turned around.

"Be sure to get something to eat." I wanted to laugh at the relief on his face that I didn't have anything to say to embarrass him.

"We will," he said, and I nodded, guiding Milo and Sophie forward before they could fully humiliate their big brother as I was sure they wanted to do.

"Is that your dad?" I heard Hayley say.

"Yeah," Max responded.

"You don't really look like him," she said, her tone curious.

Their voices were fading, but I could hear Max's casual response. "Eh, I look like my mom."

It didn't come up often; we'd been a family for so long that lack of shared DNA between me and him was a non-issue. But still, occasionally he'd catch me off-guard with comments like that, and I couldn't help but smile. I knew he wasn't trying to hide the fact that I wasn't his biological father. It was simply a natural response for him. There was no need for him to differentiate.

We'd never hidden anything from him. As he got older, Bella made sure he knew that if he had questions he could come to her. He knew that Bella had saved a few pictures if he was curious. But he never asked. Some kids would take that kind of abandonment personally, but not him. A couple years ago when the topic came up again and Bella made the offer once more, he asked if he was supposed to care. Both of us were taken aback by his response. There was nothing venomous or angry in his words, just simple curiosity.

"I never think about it," he'd said. "It never occurred to me to care. He's never been a part of my life, and I have a dad… I'm just not really interested. It's his loss, not mine."

Bella's hugs and tears embarrassed him, and after one last reminder that the offer was there if he ever changed his mind, it never came up again.

I wouldn't deny that it was a bit of a relief. I'd never begrudge him that information, but I wasn't too proud to say it would sting a little if he'd wanted to go off in search of that asshole.

We finally made it to the room set up for catering, and I steered the kids toward the line. Sophie took a plate, and I grabbed one for Milo.

"Okay, what do you want?"

Milo didn't answer, and when I turned to see why, he was staring up at the person behind us in line. The look on his face was contemplative.

"Do you work here?" he asked.

"Well, I guess I do tonight," the man answered as he laughed. With another glance, I realized it was the lead singer for tonight's headlining band.

Before I could redirect Milo's attention, he continued on. "My mommy owns this place. Is she your boss?"

Again, he laughed. "If she signs the checks, then I suppose she is."

"Sorry about that," I said, trying not to laugh.

"Milo," Sophie whisper-yelled, embarrassed, but it didn't faze him.

"Do you sing songs?" Milo asked.

"Yes, I do."

"Do you know 'The Wheels on the Bus?'"

"Oh, I think I might remember that one."

Milo nodded his head once. "You should sing it. It's a good song."

"Okay, enough talking… let's get something for you to eat before I get in trouble for not feeding you." I pushed Milo to stand in front of me, blocking him from continuing his conversation. By the time we made it to one of the few tables made available since most took their food to go, Bella was walking in looking a bit morose.

"What's the matter? Is something wrong?" I asked, getting up to go to her.

She fell into my arms and hid her face in my chest. "Have you seen Max?" she asked, her words muffled.

"Yes, out by the stage about ten minutes ago."

She sniffled and nodded.

"Baby, what's wrong?" I couldn't make sense of her.

She sniffled again and looked up at me. "I feel so old!"

I held her closer, as much for comfort as to hide the fact that I was laughing at her. She wasn't bothered by birthdays and getting older; it was the kids' benchmarks that set her off… especially Max's. As hard as she took him starting junior high and high school, I was afraid to see how she would handle sending him off to college in a couple years.

I saw Max enter the room from over Bella's head so I whispered a warning into her ear. She straightened up and took a deep breath before finally laughing it off.

"Look at him," she said, turning around and leaning her back against my chest. "This is it, isn't it? First girlfriend."

I chuckled into her hair. "I don't think they're quite there yet."

She huffed. "It's just a matter of time."

We sat back down so that we wouldn't be caught watching them, but that didn't stop either of us from casting occasional glances in Max's direction. I expected him to stay as far away from the rest of us as possible, so it shocked me when two chairs scraped the floor at our table.

The girl blushed when everyone's heads turned in her direction and forced a shy, quiet, "Hi."

Max was usually so outgoing and self-assured that it was almost unsettling to see him so nervous. "Um, this is Hayley."

Though Bella was just coming off of her mini-breakdown, she didn't allow that to seep through and gave the girl a genuine welcome, immediately engaging her in conversation and asking if she was having a good time so far.

Before anyone could truly relax, though, Milo fully embraced his 'annoying little brother' role and embarrassed both Max and Hayley.

"Max, is she your giiiiiirlfriend?" The question was made all the more embarrassing by the way he drew out the word.

"Shut up," Max ground out through his teeth, which only made Milo laugh.

Sophie hid her giggles behind her napkin, and Bella wiped at the marinara decorating Milo's mouth, telling him, "That's enough. Leave him alone."

"So, are you excited for the concert?" I asked before an awkward silence took over.

Hayley glanced around, no doubt spying some of the musicians coming in and out of the room. "Yeah, I can't wait."

"Hey, Mom," Max interrupted, "can we watch from the side of the stage?"

Bella looked over at me quickly, and I shrugged. He usually preferred to watch from the seats, to be a part of the crowd, not to mention better acoustics. I supposed he must be trying to impress this girl with a rare, up-close view of the bands that only he could offer her.

"As long as you stay out of everybody's way," Bella said.

"It's pretty cool," Max said, turning to Hayley. "You get to see all the stuff going on behind the scenes, and when you look out at the crowd, you see exactly what the singers see. All those people… singing and cheering."

Hayley beamed, clearly excited and hanging onto Max's every word.

"You're so lucky that you get to see so many concerts. My parents hardly ever let me go to any."

Max shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. It's just the family business. Someday I'll take over."

Bella cleared her throat and looked over at me for a moment before turning to Max with one eyebrow raised. I could tell she was just as amused as I was.

"What?" Max asked nonchalantly.

"You think I'm handing the company over to you?" The grin tugging at her lips showed she was teasing him for his assumption.

Max shrugged. "Sure, why not? I'll go to college, and when I graduate you can retire."

I choked back a laugh, then choked for real, pounding at my chest until I stopped coughing.

"I think I still have a long way to go before I retire, kid," Bella said.

"C'mon," he said. "Dad's already retiring. You two can go travel the world or something."

"Hey!" I said. It was my turn to be offended. "I'm not retiring. I'm just in the middle of a career change."

"Same difference," he mumbled.

A wicked look crossed Bella's face, and she didn't take her eyes off of Max though she was speaking to the girl next to him. "So, Hayley… did Max ever tell you about the time when he was little and—"

Her words were immediately cut off as Max launched himself from his seat and ran around the table to cover Bella's mouth. Laughter erupted all around, and the banter continued until everyone had finished.

It was getting closer to show time so we all headed out. Max and Hayley took off toward the stage, while the rest of us headed back to the office, taking the long way back.

I groaned when Sophie tried to jump on my back. Either she was getting too big or I was getting too old. Perhaps a combination of both, but being the sucker I was, I stopped and let her hop on. Bella was ahead of us with Milo, swinging their joined hands as she listened attentively as he rambled on and on.

He pulled her inside once we got back to the office. "Mommy, you color with me, okay?"

"You're going to have to show me how to color inside the lines. I'm not sure I remember," she said as she turned to me.

"Go get your earplugs," I instructed Sophie when her feet hit the floor, then directed my attention to Bella. "You staying here?"

"Mmhmm." She wrapped her arms around my waist and rested her chin on my chest to look up at me. My fingers found their way to her hair and began lightly massaging the back of her head, causing her eyes to droop and a contented sigh to escape her lips. "That feels good."

I leaned in to kiss her lightly once, then twice, and was just going in for a third when I heard, "Yuck."

It seemed parents kissing would always be 'gross.' I huffed in disappointment before quickly stealing my third and stepping back. "All right, let's go."

"Have fun!" Bella called after us.

I took Sophie to the opposite side of the stage from where Max and Hayley had gone. It wasn't much privacy considering we were directly across and could see every move they made, but it was the best we could do. We stayed through the opening act, heading back to the office for a quick drink and to sit a few minutes before the headliner came on. We made it back with plenty of time to spare since Sophie couldn't sit still and was afraid we'd miss it.

None of the kids were easily starstruck having grown up around live music, but even they had a few people they got excited for. Sophie sang along, clapped, and cheered, and while I enjoyed the band, seeing her having so much fun was enough for me. During one song, we goofed around, dancing as I took her hand and spun her around, making her laugh. She was growing up so fast—they all were—but she was so mature for her age. According to Renee and Charlie, Bella had been the exact same way. She was always so serious, stuck in a book or carrying conversations like a little adult that it made me appreciate these moments even more.

After the last encore, we headed back to find Bella so that we could head home for the night. She was sitting on the couch talking business with Aro with Milo's arms wrapped around her neck and his head on her shoulder fast asleep. She still amazed me how she managed to mesh all parts of her life together so seamlessly—not many people could talk contracts with a drooling toddler glued to them.

"I didn't know you were going to be here tonight," I said, shaking his hand.

"Got pulled into a hundred different directions and hadn't had a chance to make myself known until a little while ago. How have you been? I hear you'll be joining forces with your better half soon."

If he hadn't been older than Charlie I might've been concerned by how much Aro adored my wife. I couldn't help but like the guy—he'd always treated my family like his own extended family and was one of the loudest industry champions for Bella taking over the company.

"Yeah, I'll try not to slow her down too much," I teased.

"Oh, shush," she said, shifting Milo to rest higher on her shoulder.

"You coming in this summer?" I asked him.

His hand slapped my shoulder before holding on. "Are you kidding? I'm making sure you guys have at least one of my people booked each night so I have an excuse to stick around the whole weekend. Hopefully pick up some new talent while I'm there."

Max walked in and Aro turned his attention to him. A look at my watch let me know I needed to get everyone moving soon.

After extended goodbyes, Max and Sophie shuffled out to the car, and I carried Milo. Bella had a few things to check on before she could leave but would follow behind as soon as she could get away.

Milo didn't budge when I got him into the house, into his pajamas, and then into bed. I set his glasses on his nightstand to find in the morning before kissing his forehead. Sophie was already in her room under the covers when I walked past.

"Night, Daddy," she mumbled, so tired she was ready to drop off at any second.

I sat on the edge of her bed and brushed her hair out of her face. "Did you have fun tonight?"

She yawned and nodded, "Uh huh."

I leaned down to kiss her temple. "Good night, I love you."

"Love you, too," she slurred.

I was pretty sure she was already out before I'd made it across the room.

Max was sitting in the living room when I finally made it back downstairs. The way he fidgeted let me know he waited around for a reason.

"So, Hayley, huh?" I asked, opening the door for him to speak.

"Um, yeah," he hedged.

"She seems nice," I said.

"She is," he said quietly. "She's shy, though. She, um… well, I was wondering… can I ask you something?"

"What do you want to ask?"

He stopped fidgeting, and when he spoke, he rattled the words out as quickly as possible. "Well, I was wondering how you managed to convince Mom to give you a shot. Aunt Ali always jokes about how Mom was a hermit, never went out with anybody… I was just wondering how you did it."

I chuckled and rubbed at my jaw as I thought about how to answer him. "It wasn't exactly the same situation. She wasn't shy… she just wanted interested in dating."

"Okay, fine… it was different. But how did you get her to open up to you out of anybody she could've gone out with?"

"I was her friend first."

Max rolled his eyes and laughed. "Yeah, sure."

"No, really. Obviously I was hoping for more, but I didn't jump right in and ask her out. I got to know her… and you. Everything else fell into place. The 'friend' thing works," I said, "no bullshit."

I remained quiet as he thought about what I'd said. He finally sighed. "Okay, one more question."


"If she agrees, will you drive me and her to the movies next weekend?" I laughed out loud, and he rushed to explain. "I just don't want Mom to get all weepy and emotional."

I laughed louder, and he added, "Don't tell her I said that."

"Yes, I'll drive you," I said and chuckled as he sighed.

"Thanks," he said and stood up. "I'm just going to head to bed… good night."

"Good night."

I leaned back into the couch cushions as he ran up the steps and into his room. I was still there when Bella came home a short while later. She curled up next to me, and for a while, neither of us said a word.

"Any problems over there tonight?" I asked.

"Huh uh." She stretched and moved in closer to me. "Everything ran perfectly. They're still breaking down the stage, but no one needed me for anything."

I rubbed my hand up and down her arm. "Good."

"How about here? Everything go okay getting everyone to bed?" she asked.

"They were all exhausted. I didn't have to do much."

It was quiet for a while again before Bella spoke. "I still can't believe Max has his first… whatever she is right now."

I laughed at her inability to define Max's not yet first girlfriend.

"Still having a hard time with that?" I asked.

"No… yes… not with her, she was sweet. It's just the concept, the idea that he's ready for that. You know, besides the little two week 'relationships' that kids have just so they have someone to call their boyfriend or girlfriend. I don't think I'm ready to handle first dates and things like that."

"Better work on that, he asked me to drive them to the movies," I said, trying not to laugh.

She sat up straight, and I turned to look at her. She looked almost lost, which made me sit up straight to mirror her.

"Already? I'm not ready for the follow up! It's too soon for the follow up!"

I furrowed my brow. "The follow up?"

She huffed. "Yes, the follow up. You know, the talk that comes after 'the talk?' The one where you rehash everything since the kid is now thinking in specifics instead of generalities? The follow up!"

I laughed loudly this time and pulled her to me, tucking her back into my side. "You're a tough girl. You can handle it," I teased.

Her arm swung out to lightly hit my chest, and her bottom lip poked out. I just wanted to kiss that pout off of her, so I leaned over to cover her mouth with mine.

"I have a few specifics I'd like to discuss with you," I said.

"I know you're trying to distract me and change the subject," she said.

"Is it working?" I asked, moving to trail kisses along her jaw and up to her ear.

She grabbed onto my shirt with both hands and stood up from the couch, bringing me with her. "Yes, so let's go."

I loved specifics.

Thanks again to rms33... I hope you enjoyed it and apologize for the wait!

This is pretty much the end of the road, the last thing I had planned for this story. I won't say never, but as of right now I have nothing on the horizon for this story. It just may be done done this time. Thanks to all of you for hanging on for the ride! Gonna go take Milo out for ice cream now... I kinda want to hang out with that kid. ;-)