Who? What? Where? Oh my god, It's an update! You can't argue that it's not long enough though...
Yeah, okay, it's taken me… how many months? FIVE? SIX? I wasn't counting but wow it's been a while. I was pushed into updating by my very awesome friend HicksyPixie13because we're having a review competition :D whoever gets the most reviews, story alerts author alerts and favourites wins, so please please please help me win this!
To the person who requested more fun from the kids: Your wish has been granted :D x
I loved her. There was no doubt about it anymore. As I dropped her and her children off at their house that evening, I realised that a large part of me didn't want to go home. Obviously I knew that I would have to, and I needed to go home to my kids, but I didn't want to say goodbye to Esme.
You're being ridiculous, I told myself. You'll be seeing her again tomorrow morning, you're going to spend your entire Saturday with her. My heart lifted at that thought. All day…
All day to spend with her, laugh with her, just to be with her, to kiss her. An entire day to bask in her presence and make her happy, I wouldn't waste a single second of it.
"Would you like a coffee or anything?" She asked timidly, breaking me back into the present. We were stood at the bottom of her staircase, arms around each other, having just put her three beautiful children to bed. I was reminded once more of my own children; poor Jasper had become rather distressed when I'd left for the third time that night, this time with someone else's children. I'd been tempted to bring him out with me, but Carmen had assured me that she'd get him into bed by the time I was home, and I promised to read him and Rosalie a story before they went to sleep. It was late already, and they needed their sleep for the day ahead, but a promise was a promise.
"No, thank you, I need to get back."
She nodded, staring intently at her feet. "Of course." I used a finger to gently coax her chin up so I could look into her eyes.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning. What time would you like me to pick you up?"
"As soon as possible," she giggled.
"Then that it shall be," I replied. "Is ten-thirty okay? That way we get the entire day together."
She pulled me closer, squeezing me gently for a second before releasing me entirely, though somewhat reluctantly. "Perfect. Now go read a bedtime story to your kids. They need their daddy."
I sighed, badly faking annoyance. "Okay, I'll go, if I have to."
Shaking her head, she pushed me out of the front door slowly, each step coupled with a soft gesture; caressing my hand, my arm, my neck, then as I steadied myself on the doorstep, a quick, sneaky kiss before she stepped back.
"I'll see you in the morning," I murmured. There. That isn't goodbye.
I didn't turn my back on her as I walked away, instead I used my common sense and memory to guide me through her front garden and out to my car, where I gave one last wave before climbing in. She waved back until I had driven off, when she closed her door behind her.
In the darkness of my car, I could retreat into my own world. I don't remember any details of what I thought about in that time, only that my beautiful Esme did not leave my mind for a second, not until I opened my front door.
My first move was to go into their bedroom, but they were only just getting their pyjama's on, so I went to change into a t-shirt and jogging bottoms. By the time I went back into their room for story time, Carmen had just gotten the kids into bed.
"Story, Daddy?" Jasper asked sleepily.
"Sure, buddy. You pick a story each, then you've gotta go straight to sleep, ok?"
They both nodded, picking up their favourite books from their bookcases.
"Mine first, Daddy," Rose insisted. I nodded my consent as I pulled all three of us into her bed. Carmen wished us all goodnight and left with Eleazar. Even though they were in their mid-sixties, they were still very much in love. I hope I'll be like that someday, coming home at the end of the day to a warm and loving pair of arms, where even after 40 years together, nothing has changed between us other than falling a little bit more in love after being apart for the day.
As I started the story, my children held every ounce of my attention. They were my life, my soul, my family, and nothing could change that. I spoke in a soft voice, watching as my breath disturbed the hair on top of their heads as I read. They both in turn leaned deeper into my chest, and eventually fell asleep before we were even half way through the first book.
As gently as I could, I lifted Jasper into my arms, slid to the edge of the bad and replaced the quilt over Rosalie, before placing Jasper into his bed and tucking him in. after putting the books back onto their shelf, I left my sleeping angels to retire to my bedroom.
The next morning, I pulled up outside Esme's house two minutes before ten-thirty, but by the time the kids and I had reached the door, we were right on time. Esme opened the door almost instantly, looking just as perfect as she had the night before.
"Good morning," I said brightly, grinning at her automatically. She returned my grin just as happily, but someone inside desperately called for their mummy, and she dashed inside before she had the chance to say anything.
"No, Emmett! Get down!" she almost shouted. Pulling my kids along behind me, I rushed in after her, and saw her run through the back door and attempted to grasp Emmett's ankle as he reached a branch halfway up the tree in the garden. She turned to me, shooting a panicked look at me. "I can't get him down!"
As I jogged past her, I squeezed her hand briefly, a quick reassurance. The tree was huge; it took up most of one corner of the garden, with branches stretching out from the very bottom, and stretched nearly up to the top of the house. Emmett was sat a good eight feet up , and I saw his little face quiver as he realised that he couldn't get down.
"Mummy, I'm stuck!" he cried, tightening his grip intensely. I could see the fear in him; he was shaking, his eyes squeezed shut, and he clenched his stomach muscles as the terror gripped him.
"Em?" I said warily, though my voice remained as calm as was possible. One of his eyes opened slightly. "I'm gonna get you down, okay? But you have to trust me, and do exactly what I say. Can you do that for me?" He nodded, shuffling forward a little on the branch. "Stay where you are, buddy, try not to move; I'll come and get you."
Esme gripped my arm tightly from behind. "Don't hurt yourself," she warned. "Be careful, just get him down."
I gave her a weak smile. "Don't worry, I've climbed plenty of trees in my time."
I didn't have to climb very far into the tree to reach him, but I did wonder how he managed to get so high in the first place. The thought slipped from my mind as I came face to face with a tearful little monkey boy.
I leaned across from my foot-hold on the branch to grasp Emmett under his arms, but it was too far to pull him over to me without losing my balance.
"Hold on to me, put your arms around me when I get close enough," I instructed him. "Don't worry, I've got you."
He shook his head defiantly. "Too high," he whimpered.
"Em, you have to trust me, or we'll both be stuck up here forever, and I'm hungry." He forced out a tiny, brief smile. "Look at me, buddy." Reluctantly, he peered up at me with his large hazel eyes, which I noted were exactly the same shade as Esme's. "I've got you. You're safe with me, buddy. Lean across to me, and I'll get you down from here. I've got you, you're not going to fall."
Slowly, he reached across to grab my shirt collar, I beamed at the fact that he'd listened to me, and he trusted me, even if he was clinging onto me like he had to the branch beneath him. I shifted his weight across my body, finding a place to hold him to my body whilst still maintaining as much use of my hands as possible. Eventually I settled for hugging him to me with one arm underneath him, and used my other hand to hold me to the tree as I made my slow, shaky descent to the ground.
As soon as both of my feet were firmly on solid ground, Esme had us both wrapped in her arms. She smothered Emmett with kisses, and gave him a full body check to see if he was hurt anywhere, but he didn't have a scratch on him. I'd known this, and I could have saved poor Emmett the embarrassment of being mothered in front of his siblings and friends, but I knew how important it was to her to know that all of her children were safe, since I felt exactly the same about my kids, and for Esme's, too. When she was fully reassured, she took him from my arms and stood him on the floor.
"Don't you ever do that to me again," she scolded lightly. He simply rolled his eyes and walked off inside the house, shortly followed by the other kids. After they were out of earshot, Esme turned to me, hugging me tight and murmuring into my chest. "Thank you so much. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been here! Well, panicked, probably."
She was still shaking, whether it was from the slight chill of the breeze or the terrible thought of losing her son, I wasn't sure, but I rubbed her back soothingly in an attempt to comfort her.
"It's okay, I was here, he's fine. Everyone is fine, and that's all that matters right now, okay?"
She nodded quickly, wiping tears from her eyes. "I know, I know. I just… I can't help it. The thought of losing him…" I comforted her as much as I could while she recovered.
"I know. I would have been exactly the same; it's natural to be protective over your kids, especially when they're climbing trees."
She smiled up at me, and I returned it, glad to see her happy once again. "Come on," I said quietly, kissing her forehead briefly and tugging her slowly back into the house. "I think we've been delayed enough, we should get going."
Inside, Jasper and Rosalie were being introduced to all of the soft toys which were situated around the living room.
"An' this is Scruffy!" Emmett exclaimed, happily throwing the stuffed dog at Jasper, who was sitting awestruck at the sheer amount of energy that Emmett seemed to have. I had to admit, I had no idea where he got it from, considering the quiet natures of his siblings.
"Are you ready to go, kids?" I asked hesitantly.
After a chorus of excited confirmations, we all headed out to the car, with me carrying and fitting three extra car seats. It wasn't long until I'd strapped the last child in, and was jumping into the driver's seat. Esme was already seated beside me, and I shot her a wide grin as I started the engine. She grinned back, her eyes sparkling with happiness, her shake up from earlier apparently now completely forgotten.
As soon as we were moving, I rested my arm on the centre console, palm facing upwards in invitation. She accepted without hesitation, grasping my hand in hers. Thrilled with this, I lifted her hand to my mouth and kissed each finger individually, whilst still keeping both eyes on the road ahead.
"Daddy," started Rosalie. "Is Esme your girlfriend?"
My face went bright red, straight away. I could feel my blush burning up in my cheeks, as I tried my hardest to hide my growing grin. I wanted to say yes so badly, but I wasn't sure if that was what Esme wanted.
"Rosie," I finally chocked out, not bothering to hide my grin after a quick glance at Esme told me that she too was blushing and trying not to giggle. "You, ah, well…"
"Yes, Rosalie," Esme cut in, her tone suggesting that she was about to throw me in the deep-end to my daughter. "I'm your daddy's girlfriend." Yep, I was right.
"So he's your boyfriend?"
"Uhuh." She grinned sheepishly. "He's my boyfriend."
"Have you kissed?" Alice asked.
I gave a quick nod and a smile to Esme, a go ahead signal.
There was a collective "Eeeew" around the back seats of the car, followed by a fit of giggles.
"Kiss her now, daddy!" Rosalie squealed as we pulled up at some traffic lights.
I laughed, leaning across to place a kiss on Esme's cheek, and then raised an eyebrow at Rose. She shook her head, still grinning madly. "On the lips!"
This was what I'd been hoping for. I was glad that Esme and I wouldn't have to hide our relationship from our kids. I mean, sure this was only our fourth date, but there was no turning back now. I'd already convinced myself that I was falling in love with her.
I gave a hopeless shrug to Esme, rolling my eyes, and then she leaned in to press her lips to mine in a sweet, innocent kiss, but even though it lasted no longer than a second, it certainly got my heart racing.
As the lights turned green, I settled back into my seat, watching the kids in my rear-view mirror. Edward and Emmett were sat with Jasper on the back seat, firing at things that they could see out the window and at each other with what I assumed must have been Edward's or Emmett's toy guns, because I knew for a fact that Jasper didn't have any. Well, he didn't until now.
Rose and Alice were still watching me intently, trying to decipher why I was grinning, I supposed. When I realised that they had seen me looking at them through the mirror, I stuck my tongue out at them, making them and Esme giggle relentlessly.
When we were nearing the play centre, I noticed a sign on the side of the building, declaring today only, parents play for free! A glance to my left told me that Esme had noticed this as well, and a synchronised sneaky waggle of our eyebrows told me that we were going to have some fun today.
The centre was filled with screaming kids; it had such a positive atmosphere, which our kids picked up on quickly. Both Rose and Jasper grabbed my hands, but they were laughing and smiling at the room. Together we walked toward the main desk, where we paid for all of us to go into the ball pit.
"Okay kids, stick together," I warned. "Don't go outside of this room and come to us if you need anything. We'll be sat over by the window." I pointed over to a seat by the window, from which point we would be able to see inside the large soft play area. "Now go have fun."
Leaving their shoes with us, the kids ran off together. I noted how they were all holding hands and smiled, reaching to do the same with Esme.
"I love how all the kids get along so well," she sighed, bumping her head onto my shoulder as we walked.
"I know; it's better than we could have hoped. They're becoming really great friends, and so fast." Further proof that we were meant to be together.
"Yeah. Have you eaten lunch?"
I shook my head no. "I was thinking that we should treat the kids and eat here today."
Esme faked a shocked jaw-drop, smacking me on the arm from across the table where we were now sitting. "That's very un doctor-like, Mr Cullen."
I chuckled softly. "I know. But even the best doctor knows that the occasional burger is welcome."
"So that would be you, then?"
I laughed louder. "You've never even seen me in the hospital!"
"So what's your point? You're bound to be a good doctor. My theory is that if your doctoring skills are as good as your parenting skills, you could treat me or my kids any day." She smiled sweetly, squeezing my hand.
"Thank you. I really appreciate that."
About half an hour passed before the kids came running up to us, complaining of hunger.
"Daddy?" Jasper said sweetly, tugging gently on my hand. "Please can we eat here? Just this once? I'll be good, I promises." He grinned cheekily, swaying his shoulders and wriggling his body in just the way that he knows makes him irresistibly cute. Of course his actions are wasted since we had already decided to eat here.
"Sure thing, bud. What do you guys want?" I asked everyone, standing up to go and order.
The kids all wanted chicken nuggets, which made my job easier. "And what can I get for you?" I said to Esme with a smile.
"Oh, I'll have a cheeseburger meal please," she smiled. "With a coke. Tell me how much my lot is when you get back, okay? I'll get the kids sat down and cleaned up."
I nodded, not wanting to argue with her about payment. Of course I planned on paying for it all.
There was a small queue in the food court, but it passed quickly and soon a young girl in her twenties had called me over. I placed my order as fast as I could; a little worried about Esme handling the five kids by herself. I knew that she would be perfectly capable but I didn't want to put too much pressure on her.
"That'll be twelve pounds thirty six, please?" the girl asked sweetly. She hesitated for a moment as if she was hesitating to ask me something else. I raised an eyebrow at her, silently questioning her, letting her know that I'm aware of her hesitation. "And… wouldyoulikemynumber?" The last part of her sentence blurred together into one word, and I held back a laugh. I knew it must have been hard for her to ask that.
"I'm sorry, I can't do that." I smiled weakly at her, giving her my sympathy with my rejection. "Didn't the large order of chicken nuggets give you a clue?" I joked. "Sorry." I slid my card into the pin machine without another word.
"Daddy!" I could hear Jasper shouting somewhere behind me. It sounded just like any other child of that age, but father's instincts told me it was my Jasper. I spun around, and sure enough, he was pelting toward me at an alarming rate. He hit my legs with a force strong enough to catch me off-balance, but the desk helps me to stand upright. He still clung to my legs though, and I had to bend down to his level and hug him before he even considered letting go.
"Hey, what's up, Jazzy? Where's Esme?" I stood up with him in my arms and glanced across the room to see her standing at the table, trying to keep the kids in their seats whilst simultaneously looking for Jasper in between the tables. I didn't look back to the desk until her eyes met mine, and she saw that Jasper was safely in my arms. I could see the relief on her face, and the worry creep back on until I shook my head at her, smiling in confusion. I waved at her in a way that encouraged Jasper to do the same. When she smiled at him, waving back, I laughed, and we each turned back to our stations.
"What's up, Jazz? Are you okay?"
He nodded. "I wants a cheesesburger, not nuggets."
Sighing, I turned to the girl on the desk. "Can I change that order? One less chicken nuggets, and an extra cheeseburger?"
Jasper hid his face in my neck as our order was changed and she piled up the boxes on a tray. "Sorry, daddy," he murmured. I pulled his head back from my neck so I could look him in the eyes. He looked like he was about to cry, though I couldn't figure out why.
"Hey, why are you sorry buddy? You didn't do anything wrong!"
His tiny face screwed up in confusion. I wiped a strand of hair from his eyes. "You's not mad?"
"Of course not," I grinned in my childish way that was reserved only for making the twins giggle. "Why would I be mad?"
"I runned away! I made you change our food!" I could see that his eyes were watering again, as his bottom lip started to tremble. I hugged him close, pressing my lips to his forehead.
"It's okay, Jazzy, I'm not mad! You shouldn't have ran away from the table, I'm sure you worried Esme, but it's okay, I'm not mad."
"Really?" He sniffed.
"Really." I kissed the top of his head once more, and then the food was ready. "Are you gonna help daddy carry the food back to the table?" He nodded quickly, wiping his tears away. I placed him on the floor and handed him three of the kids' juice bottles.
Together we walked back to the table, Jasper a few steps ahead of me but he kept glancing back at me to make sure I was still behind him. I knew that he didn't like crowds, and running to find me must have been scary for him, so I could understand why he was suddenly unsure of himself. Whenever he looked back at me I grinned reassuringly, letting him know that he was safe.
"Jasper, you's okay!" Rosalie exclaimed happily as we reached the table. Jasper simply smiled, placing the bottles on the table and climbing into his seat between Rose and me.
"I been helping," he told her. "I carried three bottles all the way here."
"You could have told me where you were going, Jasper," Esme scolded lightly. I raised my eyebrows at Jasper, who stared back at me innocently, fearing what he knew was coming: stern daddy.
"You didn't say where you were going? Jasper, what did I say about running off in public?"
"You said don't," he muttered. "Not without telling you where I'm going, and not without you or Rose."
I placed the tray on the table, bent down by the side of Jaspers chair so I was at his eye level, and hardened my tone of voice. "Jasper, you know what you did wrong, right?" He nodded, staring at his feet. "And what do you say now?" He said nothing. "Jasper?"
"You said you weren't mad," he said in a shaky voice.
"That's because I thought that you'd have done the sensible thing and told Esme where you were going, and asked someone to come with you. You made Esme worry. Now what do you say?"
"Sorry daddy!" he cried, falling forward into my arms. I hugged him tightly, holding him still as he got though his tiny sobs. "Sorry, sorry, sorry!"
"It's okay, buddy," I told him softly. "Thank you for apologising, I forgive you. Just promise never to do that again."
"Thank you. Now what do you say to Esme?"
"Sorry!" he whined, sticking out his bottom lip.
"That's okay, Jasper," she said softly.
Sniffling, he rested his head in the crook of my shoulder. "Daddy… Can we eats now?"
I nodded, sitting Jasper back on his seat and taking mine between Rosalie and Esme. "Everybody dig in," I offered. I held back though, whispering the same prayer in my head as I always did before I too started to eat. I often didn't even think about saying grace, as it had now become such a reflex that it didn't even occur to me to teach my kids to do it. I probably should, I mused. Dad wouldn't forgive me if I didn't.
"You always do that," Esme murmured quietly.
My eyes snapped to hers. "Do what?"
"You pause before you eat. Are you religious?"
I shook my head. "I was raised a Christian, but I think there's a difference between what I've been told and what is real. On the same level though, old habits die hard, and my job is a lot easier to deal with if I have at least some hope, albeit possibly false hope, that there's a reason why every day I see innocent people dying." The words rolled easily off my tongue. I'd had plenty of time to think about it, and many a reason to wonder if there was a greater force looking down on us.
I didn't expect Esme to completely understand my reasoning, not yet, but she seemed to accept that I wasn't prepared to discuss it at any length for the time being, though I had no doubt that we would eventually discuss it in great detail.
"Mummy, I no likes it," Alice announced, pulling on her mother's sleeve. I glanced to Rosalie; she was wearing a look of great confusion, her mouth around but not biting her second chicken nugget. I could see the cogs turning in her head; simple child psychology told me that the next words out of her mouth would likely be to agree with Alice, her friend from whom she sought approval, even if it meant leaving a rare meal of "tasty" unhealthy junk food. I raised an eyebrow at her, silently asking if she was going to give in to the peer pressure, not that she had any idea what that was.
"Daddy…" she started slowly. "I likes it. Is that okays?"
"Of course it is darling. You eat up."
She looked to her brother, who was happily munching down his burger.
"Alice, baby, are you sure? Because if I go buy you something new, you can't change it again."
"I'm sure. It's yucky." She poked one to make her point, making her brothers giggle.
"Mummy!" Emmett exclaimed. "My nuggets are yucky too!" He prodded one roughly, and it shot along the table and landed in my lap.
"Emmett! Don't be silly, and don't play with your food." Esme scolded him, but he looked at her and giggled. Edward was just about to poke one of his, but one stern look from his mother and he picked it up and ate it instead. Wise move.
"Yucky! Yucky! Yucky!" Emmett suddenly burst out, laughing madly. All of the other kids started laughing too, and I could see Esme was beginning to lose her control.
I sneakily put my hand on her knee, so only she knew that it was there. When her eyes met mine, I silently encouraged her. Taking care of one awkward toddler was enough, I had my hands full with two, but three seemed impossible to me, I didn't know how she'd managed it on her own for so long.
"Emmett!" She stressed. I squeezed her knee in encouragement. "I'm warning you, behave, or you won't be going back into the play area and we will go home, and you will have ruined the day for everyone else. Do you want that?" He shook his head. "Good. Now calm down and eat sensibly."
Emmett pouted, but went back to eating the few nuggets he had left. I took another bite out of my burger, chewed and swallowed, and then turned my attention back to Esme.
"I don't know how you do it," I said quietly, nodding to the kids who were chatting away to each other while they ate. "How do you manage three kids on your own?"
She smirked as she swallowed. "Sometimes I ask myself the same question. It's not that difficult, though," she said defensively, "most of the time. Of course they run me ragged but it's just part of being a parent, isn't it?"
I nodded. "I know what you mean. I'd do anything for my kids. I'd probably do anything for every child in the world if it was asked of me."
"And nothing can stop you being a parent, once you are one."
Silence fell for a while as we finished our meal, and once again the kids ran off to play. I took all of our rubbish to a bin and then returned to sit beside Esme. This time we turned to face the play area, watching our children run around together. Our children. I smiled at that thought, imagining what it would be like if they were all our children.
Eventually we decided that it was about time for us to leave, so we stood to try and call the kids to come out. From where we were, I could see Rosalie and Alice on the top level, jumping between two large rolling soft columns, but we had to get closer to peer through the string net walls in search of the boys.
"Jasper," Esme called out, poking her fingers through one of the holes and wiggling them. "Come over here, Jasper."
It was only when he was a few feet away that I spotted his mop of blonde hair jumping toward us amongst the sea of squealing children in the ball pool.
"Hey Jazz," I smiled. "Where's Edward and Emmett?"
"Hey daddy," he grinned. "They's up there, we's playing hide 'n' seek! Shh!" He glanced around, but suddenly ducked down so only his head poked up atop the multi-coloured balls. "Em's there, he see'd me!"
Sure enough, Emmett was standing on an island in the middle of the ball pool, looking straight at us.
"Jasper!" he shouted above the noise of the other children. "I saw you! You's with Mummy and your Daddy!" Just then, Edward clambered up onto the island beside him, and Emmett pointed out where we were. Edward's face fell when he saw us, and he jumped down from the podium and desperately tried to run away through the balls, which seemed far more difficult than you'd assume.
"Jazz, can you go tell everyone to come out now? We need to go home."
Jasper turned to face us, but stayed down, almost completely buried. "Don't wanna," he whined. "Can't make me."
"We can come back another day, Jazz, but we've got to go home now."
He poked his head out a little higher. "With Em and Eddie?"
"Yeah, buddy, everyone."
After considering the deal for another moment, he jumped up, sending the plastic balls flying in al directions. "'Kay dad, I go gets them."
Before I could say anything else, he'd darted off, wading through as if he was running in treacle.
"So, we're bringing them back soon?" Esme smiled at me, taking the hand I offered to her.
"I think it would be best that we do," I grinned back. "I can't believe how fast they've become friends."
Esme nodded. "I think it's good that they care about each other. I know Alice and Rose like having girls their own age to play with for once."
"It's the same for Jasper. He loves playing with Rosalie, but there are only so many tea parties a boy can stand. "
We both laughed easily, still holding hands as we waited for our children to emerge one by one and begrudgingly put on their shoes. The day had ended so soon; surely there was a way I could make this last longer?
We all made to go make to the car, but Alice was lagging behind, and refused to go through the door. I saw Esme sigh, and I too knew that a tantrum was brewing.
"Come on, Ali," Esme called in a light tone, "let's go home."
Alice crossed her arms, firmly staring her mother in the eyes. "No."
"Alice," she warned, but the small girl was one stop ahead of her: she started the waterworks. Her bottom lip began to tremble, and soon tears were streaming from her eyes.
"Don't wanna go, mummy," she cried. "Pease, pease no go home!"
I knew the tears were mostly crocodile tears, but looking at the tiny crying child in front of me, it was difficult to stop myself running forward to stop her tears. Of course, Esme showed no signs of such a struggle.
"Come on," she hummed, and took her daughter's tiny hand in hers. Alice continued to wail, her sobs became more profound with every breath as her cheeks grew more and more flushed. Her feet dragged on the floor until she began to curl her legs into her body so that Esme was forced to stop. I lightly squeezed Jasper and Rose's hands, and they both looked up at me, confused. Edward and Emmett were also looking to me for an explanation. Clearly this wasn't a common thing for Alice. I looked back to Esme, who was now conversing with Alice in whispers. When she turned to face me, her face was flushed red with embarrassment. "Could you get the kids into the car please," she smiled sheepishly, "and we'll join you in a minute?"
I nodded quickly and turned away, gesturing for them all to follow me. It didn't take long to get the kids into their car seats, and soon I was sat back in the driver's seat, watching them in the rear-view mirror.
"Hey, kids, how would you feel about a sleep-over tonight?" I asked them nonchalantly. I don't know where the question came from, and asking them before Esme probably wasn't the best idea I'd ever had, but it was certainly a great way to get a good idea rolling.
"What, like all us sleeps at our house?" Jasper asked, grinning.
I returned his grin with equal enthusiasm. "Yeah, would you like that?"
They all nodded with a chorus of approvals, and I made a mental note to ask Esme about it.
It wasn't long before Esme and Alice joined us again. After strapping Alice into her car seat, Esme joined me in the front seat, and I immediately took her hand. She smiled gratefully, but said nothing.
"Home?" I asked.
"Please," she murmured, her face falling to a half smile. I raised the hand that held hers to gently stroke her face, causing her to smile fully once more.
"If you don't want this day to end so soon, I have an idea," I whispered. She hummed in a curious response. "How about I take you home, you pack a bag for you and the kids, then I pick you up and we have a big sleep-over in the living room."
Her smile spread to a grin. "Really?"
"Would I have offered it as a suggestion if I wasn't serious?"
She rolled her eyes. "Probably not."
I chuckled lightly. "So you're up for it?"
"Oh yes," she replied. "This day isn't over yet."
This isn't exactly where I wanted to end this chapter, but bloody hell was it a long one. The next chapter is the last one! I know, it's sad. I don't have a clue when it'll be up, but I'm having a week off school next week for post-op recovery so I'll probably get quite a lot of writing done then so it might be up before Christmas. The competition with HicksyPixie13 ends on the 10th of December so PLEASE REVIEW SO I CAN WIN! I know I left you for so long, but prove to me that you're still reading? :/ xx