It was the early hours of the morning. Stephanie tried to remain still as she lay tangled in the sheets and her lips were slightly curled in amusement as she heard the hushed, whispered voices at the bottom of the bed.
"Uh oh. Mommy's still asleep."
"Oh well. I guess I'll just have to eat the breakfast you made then. It would be a shame for all your hard work to go to waste."
She heard her daughter gasp out loud in dismay.
"No Daddy. You can't. It's a surprise for Mommy, 'member?"
"I remember short stuff. Tell you what. We'll wake her up then you can give her it."
"But won't Mommy get mad at us?"
"No because I happen to know that mommies aren't allowed to get mad on their birthdays. So go on. Wake her up."
She heard something get placed down on the dresser and she braced herself for what she knew was about to happen. She tried not to laugh as she felt the mattress begin to shake around her and she listened to her daughter giggle as she bounced up and down.
"Wake up Mommy! Wake up!"
Stephanie pretended to keep her eyes closed and she waited for her chance as her arm shot out to grab her daughter's ankle. Her heart felt full as she heard the loud squeal of laughter as she felt her baby girl fall down onto the bed. The mattress dipped low underneath her weight. Stephanie opened her eyes and was instantly met with a pair of wide hazel pools, eyes practically identical to her husband's. Her lips curved up gently as she felt her daughter's perfect arms reach out and wrap around her neck as her small, full mouth brushed a kiss over her cheek.
"Happy Birthday Mommy!"
"Aw, thank you Ellie." she replied as she tenderly pushed back the wayward curls that had fallen over her daughter's face.
"I made you a surprise. Do you want to see it?"
"I'd love to see it sweetheart."
As Ellie rolled off the bed, Stephanie pushed herself up the pillows and rested back against them. As she looked around the spacious room, she wondered where Paul had disappeared to. However, her attention soon turned back to her daughter who was standing at the side of the bed with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. Although Ellie looked the spitting image of her father with her hazel eyes and thick, blonde hair, she definitely took after her mother when it came to a number of her personality traits.
"It's gone Mommy and Daddy's taken it."
Stephanie smiled to herself realising what she meant. Of course, that would explain Paul's disappearance and she continued to watch with amusement as Ellie shouted out into the hallway.
"I know you've got it Daddy. Stop being a meanie and bring it back."
Ellie turned back round to face her mother, her cheeks flushed red with her exertions.
"Mommy, Daddy should get in trouble for taking things that aren't his."
Stephanie bit back her smile as she nodded her head at her daughter.
"You're right sweetie."
She deliberately raised her voice so Paul could hear her wherever he was hiding. "Daddy should get punished for what he's done to you."
A few seconds later, her husband's head had popped round the doorway and he grinned devilishly in Stephanie's direction making her heart flip in her chest.
"What kind of punishment are we talking about here?"
But before she could reply, Ellie walked to stand in front of him with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Where did you put the surprise Daddy?"
Paul rubbed his beard as he pretended to think and scrunched up his nose as he looked back down at her.
"Gee, I can't remember exactly."
Ellie snorted at him. "You're lying."
She turned round to look at Stephanie with her eyes big and wide.
"Mommy, Daddy's lying. I get into trouble if I tell a lie."
Stephanie tried to keep a straight face as she nodded her head in agreement, ignoring the amused smirk on her husband's face.
"I know sweetie."
"Does that mean he doesn't get to watch any television? I don't get to watch it when I've been bad."
Paul pouted his lips and batted his eyes as he knelt down in front of his daughter.
"I don't know. Maybe a hug might help me remember where your surprise is."
Ellie immediately wrapped her arms around his neck. She let out a scream and giggled as Paul lifted her up and spun her round to hold her by the ankles. Her hair flopped towards his feet as he walked towards the bed, lowering her carefully so she could see underneath.
"Do you see anything under there?"
"It's there Daddy. I can see it."
Paul spun her back round and threw her on the bed. He sat down and smiled at her as she giggled.
"Do you think you can get it by yourself?"
Ellie nodded her head vigorously. "Of course I can."
Paul smiled as she got off the bed and scrambled underneath. He turned round to face his wife and he started to crawl up the bed towards her, his brown eyes twinkling mischievously at her.
Stephanie smiled at him. "So? Am I going to get my birthday kiss now?"
Paul grinned and moved a bit closer until their noses were touching. "Oh I think I could most definitely manage that."
He gently pressed his lips against hers and began to kiss her slowly and softly.
"Ewwww!! You guys are kissing again."
He broke away and smiled at his daughter who was standing just in front of them, her nose wrinkled with her disgust.
"You got to kiss Mommy earlier." he told her. "It's my turn now."
"But you always take ages when you kiss her and I want to give her my surprise."
Paul laughed and pushed himself up off the bed. "Well Mommy had better close her eyes then."
Ellie grinned as she turned to her mother. "Yeah Mommy, close your eyes. And no peeking."
Stephanie smiled and she closed her eyes. She felt something heavy being placed down on her lap.
"You can open them now."
Stephanie opened her eyes and saw the breakfast tray in front of her. There was croissants and jam, a bowl of fresh fruit pieces, a glass of orange juice and a small vase with a single red rose. She looked over at her daughter and gave her a huge smile.
"This is beautiful sweetheart. It all looks so amazing."
Ellie gave her a grin. She looked very proud as she stood at the side of the bed. "Daddy helped me make it all by myself."
Stephanie held out her arms and smiled. "Can I give you a hug to say thank you?"
Her daughter threw herself into her arms and Stephanie hugged her tightly as she breathed in her clean smell.
"Thank you so much. I love it."
"You're welcome Mommy."
Ellie turned to look over at Paul.
"Daddy, can I go and see if Jake is awake yet?"
Paul nodded and smiled. "Sure. But don't pick him up okay?"
Ellie nodded as she ran out into the hallway. As he turned towards the bed, he saw Stephanie sitting looking at the tray in front of her. Paul walked across and sat down beside her.
"So, are you going to eat that or are you going to just look at it all day?"
Stephanie sighed and as she looked up towards him, he saw the sadness in her eyes. The same sadness he saw every time she was reminded that Ellie wasn't a baby anymore.
"Oh Paul, our little girl is growing up so fast. Before we know it she'll be dating and going to college and moving away…."
Paul reached for her hand as her voice trailed away and his fingers toyed with hers as he squeezed them reassuringly. "I think we've a while to go before any of that happens. She's still only five years old, Steph! And anyway, what makes you think she's going to be allowed to date?"
Stephanie chuckled as his nose crinkled with his disapproval and she shook her head at him. Paul was very protective of his little girl. God help any guy who ever ended up showing an interest in her.
"Listen, I'm going to go and get the kids ready. Why don't you eat your breakfast that your daughter lovingly prepared and I'll run you a bath."
Stephanie smiled as she cupped Paul's face with her hand. "Can I have bubbles too seeing as it's my birthday?"
"I guess so. But you can't stay in there for hours. We've got your party to go to remember."
Stephanie scrunched up her nose and grimaced at the reminder. Her parents had decided to throw her a birthday meal at their house which apparently included birthday cake and presents from everyone and that included her husband.
Paul laughed. "Now, now Steph, that's not nice. Anyway, you're only saying that because you can't open your presents until then."
Stephanie stuck out her tongue at him as he stood up from the bed. He leant over and kissed her before walking out the door. However, a few seconds later his head popped back through.
She looked up and smiled at him.
"Happy Birthday baby."
Paul flipped his wife a wink and blew her a kiss before he turned and walked down the hallway, his fingers raking through his long blonde hair as he pushed it back from his face. As he left the bathroom after taking filling the tub, he smiled as he heard the incriminating giggles coming from the direction of the nursery and that smile immediately widened when he saw the picture in front of him.
Ellie had somehow managed to climb in the cot beside Jake who was sitting in front of her mesmerised as she stacked up the small plastic coloured blocks in front of him. He watched with amusement as Jake's small chubby hand shot out and knocked the blocks all across the mattress. His daughter sighed and shook her head.
"Now that wasn't very nice was it Jake?"
"Yeah well it's not nice to break his cot either." he warned her. "So get your cute little butt out of there Ellie. You know you're not allowed in there."
Paul saw his daughter pull a face as she got to her feet. She leant against the wooden bars and held out her hands towards him.
"Lift me up Daddy. Please."
He lightly chuckled to himself as he walked across towards her and lifting her in his arms, he hoisted her up into the air. He heard her giggle as he held her above his head.
"Put me down."
"Only if you promise not to go in there again. You're far too big."
"Okay." she sighed dramatically.
Paul brought her down to the floor and smiled.
"So, are you excited about the party?"
Ellie's face erupted into an excited, beaming smile. "Yeah! I love going to parties. Can I wear my pink dress with the sparkles?"
"Of course you can. Why don't you go and find it and I'll be through in a minute."
He shook his head as he watched her run like the wind out the door. As he turned back round, he saw Jake standing holding the bars of his cot and looking at him with his big baby blue eyes.
"Hey little man."
Paul reached into the cot and picked him up placing a kiss on the top of his head. Jake's fingers instantly clutched his hair as he started to tug at it.
"You know you're pretty strong for a little guy."
As he adjusted him in his arm, he used his free hand to separate his son from his hair.
"So, are you hungry, huh? Do you want some breakfast?"
Jake started to garble. "Num, num, num."
Paul smiled. "Clever boy. See, you know what's important don't you?"
As he walked along the hallway, he met Stephanie coming out of the bedroom.
She smiled and reached up to kiss her son, brushing her fingers through his soft dark strands.
"Hey Jake. Has Daddy run my bath yet?"
Paul chuckled and shook his head. "He's ten months old Steph. He can't answer that."
Stephanie slapped his arm. "Smart ass. So, what are you two up to anyway?"
"We're just away to get Jake some breakfast. So why don't you take that pretty little ass of yours to the bathroom before your water gets cold and I'll go and feed our son."
She smiled and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. You're the best husband a girl could ask for, you know."
Paul smirked arrogantly. "Well, maybe you could show your appreciation for my caring ways later on tonight."
Stephanie shook her head in amusement and turned to walk towards the bathroom. She stopped halfway and watched Paul heading towards the stairs.
She smiled as he turned back round with their son.
"You've got yourself a date."
Paul grinned before turning back round and heading down the stairs. Stephanie stood for a minute and smiled before making her way to the bathroom, her chest already fluttering with anticipation at the thought of spending some alone time with her husband. Paul Levesque was the most incredible man in the world and she was definitely the luckiest woman. It was just so amazing that her life was so fulfilled.