Annabelle's obsession is my obsession, so I may have gone a bit overboard on that…hahah.
5 years on.
(Annie – 9yrs 6mnths, Carter – 6yrs 4mnths.)
"I hope you're brushing your teeth!" I called into the bathroom where my children where supposedly getting ready for bed.
Funnily enough I had my suspicions, so I dropped the ironing onto my bed and went down the tiny set of stairs into the kids' area. It's like an add-on to the house with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a play room where Annie and Carter can do whatever they like (within reason). We moved into this house a couple of years ago. The apartment Edward and I first lived in was amazing and we still own it, but as the kids grew up and things got a bit crowded, we found something bigger – the house we're in now.
Arriving in the bathroom, I noticed Carter standing on his stool, hogging the sink brushing his tiny teeth vigorously and Annie was pruning her bronze curls in the mirror whilst cleaning hers. I had to pry Carter away from his toothbrush after brushing for a near ten minutes.
"Mommy?" He held my hand as we walked to his room. "Is it Santa time yet?"
"Very nearly…you see the time?" I pulled back my sleeve which revealed my watch, "it's almost eight o'clock, and so it's almost bed time. Do you remember what Daddy said about Santa?"
"Um…he only comes if you've been a good boy and asleep."
Like all six year olds, Carter's room is full of random Super Hero toys, board games spread out with pieces missing and goodness knows what else. His walls had been painted like a jungle with monkeys hanging from vines and even the odd pair of spooky eyes glowing from a hole in a tree trunk.
"Exactly," I cleared all the toys that littered his bed before helping him get tucked in, "and so once you, me, Annie and Daddy fall asleep, Santa comes with his reindeer and leaves us special gifts. But only if you've been good…"
"I have, I have! I even helped you buy the veggies for 'morrow!"
"You did; that's correct. Well in that case I think we'll have a nice surprise in the morning…"
"Is Daddy coming back soon, Mommy? 'Cause I want it to be Christmas nooow!"
"I'm sure he won't be too much longer – just has to finish some things off with Jane and then it'll be Christmas time!"
Okay, so maybe I wasn't telling the complete truth…yes, Edward did meet Jane, but that was a couple of hours ago and he literally spent five minutes with her. But now, he's off collecting our last Christmas surprise for the children. Funnily enough, he's going to return once they're asleep…
"Good boy. I need to go and tuck Annie in now, but you head off to sleep and I'll see you in the morning and we'll see whether Santa has been, yeah?"
"Night night, Sweetheart. Love you."
We share one more hug and a kiss on the cheek before I'm off to check on the next kiddo. Annie was already sitting up in her bed with a sketch pad open on her lap, drawing yet another portrait. Getting a closer look I saw that she was drawing the gleaming yellow cat eyes from the poster of the stage show 'Cats'. Around the two eyes she had the outline of other characters from the show. I swear, I've never met anyone with a bigger passion for musical stage shows than Annie. She is so creative – clearly inheriting Edward's genes on that one – I mean, she draws, dances, sings and plays the piano; we haven't even made her do any of this stuff. You wouldn't think she was nine years old if you met her.
Annie dropped her pencil and looked up at me with a titled head. "There's a cat in 'Cats' that reminds me of you. It's called Grizabella."
She scoots over so I can sit beside her knees. "Is that right? I hope it's as gorgeous as me…" I wink with a playful grin.
"No cat is prettier than you, Mommy."
I've taught her well…
"What about the rest of us? Are their cats for them?"
She pursed her lips and thought for a minute. "Er…I'd say Pip is…probably Mungojerrie because he steals things (like Pip with my toys!) and can be pretty mischievous. And then Dad could be…oh! Gus! Gus is an old cat, but he was famous – just like Daddy! Even though Daddy still is…anyway, I know who Jane is – Macavity! The villain and master criminal..."
We both break out laughing. None of us like Jane, and after almost fifteen years working with her, Edward's finally realised he needs to look for someone else. So that was what his little meeting was about earlier – a start to let her down slowly.
Noting the time, I had Annie put away her drawings and lie down. "Mommy? See the next time Daddy goes to New York can we go too and see another show?"
Last year he was doing a special charity concert in Madison, so I surprised Flick and Pip by taken them to see The Lion King on Broadway. It entertained Annie, what with her love for anything on stage, and Carter loves The Lion King original movie, so it worked out perfectly.
"I'll have to ask Daddy and see what he says, okay? But if you could see any show, which one would it be?"
"Uh…well I have seen rather a lot…" No kidding… "But I think I'd like to see…Mamma Mia, because I haven't seen that one before and I like the music."
I'm not scared about a show being too grown up for her because she's seen things like Phantom of the Opera and Chicago for crying out loud! After promising that I would ask Edward, we said our goodnights and I left Annie listening to a musical soundtrack of some kind on her iPod.
Later that evening, I curled up in my bed waiting for sleep to over-take me, but Edward literally jumped onto the mattress, jolting me out of my slumber. "Is everything all set up?"
He pecked my cheek tenderly. "Yes indeed. I can't wait to see their face; Flick couldn't have found out about 'Cats' at a better time."
Seven o'clock, on the dot, I woke up to hearing two separate alarms going off simultaneously and then little feet sprinting down the hallway towards our room. Carter barged in first, quickly followed by Annie.
"Mommy! Daddy! Santa's been! C'mon, let's go! Santa's been!"
Edward, who's not much of a morning person, groaned and rolled over onto his right side. "We'll do it tomorrow, okay?" Carter clambered onto the bed and started shaking him awake. "Eurgh, Pip, not so rough in the morning, bud."
"But Daddy you need to wake up! C'mon, Santa has been, Daddy!"
"Alright, alright! Have you both got something to write your present list on?"
"No…" They both said in unison.
"Have you been to the toilet and are you wearing your robes?"
"Then you need to get and do all of that before we can go downstairs."
In a flash they vanished out of the room, racing each other to see who could do everything first.
"Merry Christmas, love."
"Merry Christmas." I replied, meeting him for a morning/Christmas kiss.
"I love you," he whispered.
"And I love you."
"Good, just had to double check." Edward stretched out his arms and back before standing up. He spoke whilst stretching, so it came out in a groan.
"We've been together for ten years, Ed'. I don't think you have to 'double check' anymore."
"Then I just like to hear you say it."
Overall, it's fair to say that the kids had been well and truly spoiled. They received games, DVDs, clothes, toys from all various members of the family. Edward and I had decided together that there wasn't anything either of us 'needed' or 'wanted', and seeing our children so happy is all we really need. So we swapped little things like the boxset of a TV show Edward loved and new appliances for the kitchen, and that was it. I found once I got older that it's the meaning behind Christmas and spending time with loved ones that means the most, not what's hidden under wrapping paper.
But in saying that, I am very excited for our surprise. Edward had Annie go behind the tree and bring out the two gift bags that were hidden there. She then read out the gift cards.
"This one says 'To Annabelle, Love Santa' and this one says 'To Carter, Love Santa'!"
Pip gasped and ran over to his sister, grabbing his gift bag in eagerness. "Mommy, it's from Santa!"
"I see that! He must have known that you two have been very good this year and deserve something extra special."
Both were shaking, overly keen to get stuck in, but Edward had planned out which present to open first.
I mean…Santa had planned out…
"Pip, can you open that little round one, and Flick you can open the long, thin one."
They ripped away the paper to reveal a tiny, plastic ball with a bell inside and a long velvet stick with feathers hanging off one end. Carter seemed very disappointed with his ball but you need to remember he is only six, and if a six year old didn't ask for plastic ball with a bell in it, they're not going to be so happy to receive it. Annie, on the other hand, was a little curious, but didn't seem to catch onto our surprise.
The other packages revealed blankets, toy mice, food bowls and it wasn't until Carter pulled out some food and Annie found the litter pellets that they realised what was happening. Well…kind of…
"We getting a puppy?!" Carter shouted.
"No! We're getting a cat, Pip!" Annie jumped up, and searched under the tree again, trying to seek out what she assumed she'll find.
"Flick, Pip, come with me."
They ran out of the room after Edward and I followed on behind them. We lead them through the house and into a back dining room that is hardly used. Parked in the middle of the room was a reasonable sized metal crate with a plastic litter tray and a comfy bed. Curled up in the bed was a tiny, fluffy Tabby kitten. He had big pointy ears, bright blue eyes, and ginger and black markings and stripes coiled around his body.
We made sure Annie and Carter knew not to run over screaming in the kittens face and carefully, carefully Edward leaned into the crate and brought it out, holding him gently to his chest.
"Now, you need to listen carefully, you two." We all sat, crossed legged, around Edward and the new addition. "This is your kitten, and so you both need to look after him; you need to feed him, potty train him, play with him and make sure he's happy and healthy. Mommy and I will help you with some things, but he's your responsibility."
They nodded their heads and took turns holding the kitten, getting used to how to stroke him and hold him etc.
"What's his name?" Asked Annie.
"You can name him whatever you like, but you and Carter both need to agree on it, okay?"
"We should call him Pip!"
"But that's your name, Carter."
"Then he can share my name."
Flick gasped, took a better look at the kitten suddenly and then grinned, "He looks like Rum Tum Tugger from 'Cats'! We should call him Rum Tum…or Tugger."
"I like Tugger!" Pip piped up.
"I think that's settled then. Make sure you keep him safe when your cousins come over shortly."
Remind me why I decided to hold the Christmas meal here? I can't seem to remember.
Just before three o'clock that afternoon the doorbell rang, announcing the Whitlocks' arrival. Alice and Jasper came in with their three sons; six year old Noah and the nearly-four year old twins, Ayden and Eli. The kids ran off with Carter who was too eager to introduce them to Tugger. Jasper sat with Edward and Alice came to help me prepare the meal. I've never made a meal for fifteen before, and don't plan to ever again.
Bella's Conscience: I only have two hands, bitches!
Ten minutes later and Rosalie and Emmett arrived with their brood. Daniel, who's just turned eight and a half; Lily, who's almost seven; Julia who's nearly five and baby Zoe who arrived only two short months ago. Once again the kids went one way, Emmett joined the guys and Rose joined us. Next year, I don't care if we have the bigger house, someone else can take over turkey-stuffing duty.
There was a little disagreement with Flick when it came to sitting down for the meal. She wanted Tugger to stay on her lap, but I said he needed to go into his crate for now and have his own lunch. Hearing that it was feeding time made things a little easier, although I don't think Carter will want to do the feeding much – he couldn't stand the smell.
When Jasper announced that he'll say Grace, the Whitlock boys clapped their hands together and bowed their heads without being asked twice. The other kids, however, were a little more hesitant.
It was lovely to see everyone as the years roll on. Ten years ago it was Alice, Rose and I living in a tiny house and with boyfriends we'd see every other day or so. Now we all have the jobs we love, married and have nine children in total. Call me biased, but I'll always think mine and Edward's story is the best: stupid little one-night-stand, two different lives and living on the opposite sides of America, yet somehow it worked and we're now married, living in a beautiful house with two beautiful children.
Oh, and a kitten.
Most people go to a concert and come back with a t-shirt.
I came back with something a little bigger.
I'll be posting a picture of the resemblance between Rum Tum Tugger and their kitten on Twitter (RosieRathbone) if you have any problems, just let me now.
I want to thank you all so much for following this story and being patient when I didn't update etc. I will really miss your comments and writing about Flick and Pip, but we've come to the end of this story and I couldn't see it ending any better.
Please spare a few seconds and leave a little review. Tell me what you loved most about this story, or who? Personally my favourite is Carter/Pip ;)