Author's Note: Just a little one-shot for BravoExpressions birthday. Thanks for all the wonderful stories you've given us. Have a wonderful birthday!
AN ICE CREAM TALE
Mary sighed as she watched her four-year-old daughter eat a scoop of chocolate ice cream with sprinkles as they sat outside at an ice cream shop. It was hard to believe that was getting so big already. Wasn't it just yesterday that she was watching over this tiny infant in the hospital as she struggled for life?
"Is Daddy coming yet?" Norah asked her, pausing in her ice cream consumption.
Mary glanced at her watch. "Soon."
Norah sighed. Patience, like her mother, was not Norah's strong suit, especially when it came to her father, who had spent the last few days out of town. She took a bite of ice cream, squirming while Mary ran her fingers through Norah's golden brown hair.
The movement caused Mary to notice her wedding ring. It was a simple design; three gold braids intertwined into a single ring. It represented the three of them or so the sap told her when he showed her the design a week before their wedding. Mary rolled her eyes and walked away, but had to excuse herself to the bathroom to wipe her eyes. One look from him when she emerged, however, and she knew she hadn't fooled him for a second.
"How about now?" Norah asked, drawing Mary from her thoughts.
"Not yet," Mary replied, sitting back in her chair. She ran her hands over swollen stomach, feeling the baby boy within kick back. A baby. That was another change in her life that she never imagined having, especially not intentionally. Sometimes, it was hard to believe she was the same woman that nearly gave her daughter up for adoption.
Idly, she wondered if her husband was going to get her a new wedding ring with four braids. It was just the sort of vomit inducing thing he would do. Not that she would ever admit it to him, but it was just the sort of thing that made her love him even more.
Theirs was a love that had taken a lifetime to grow. That's what he told her the night she finally told him that she was in love with him. He had taken her in his arms and kissed her senseless. Mary had never been so grateful for Brandi's interference as she was that night. Brandi had insisted on taking Norah that night so that Norah and her cousin could bond.
Mary glanced up to see the object of her speculation walking towards. "Hey, Bug. Turnaround."
"Daddy!" Norah squealed. She jumped up so fast her chair fell over, much to the amusement of the tables around them. Norah jumped into Marshall's waiting arms. He scooped her up, showering her with kisses as her giggles permeated the air.
"Hello, Love," Marshall told Mary, leaning down to kiss her softly.
Mary huffed, even as placed a hand on the back of his neck to keep him close. "Took you long enough to get here."
Marshall grabbed her hand and kissed it, sitting down in Norah's vacated seat. He shifted Norah onto his lap. "We had a runner."
"Please tell me that you tripped him," Mary shot back.
"I handled the situation to a satisfactory conclusion," he answered.
Mary rolled her eyes. "You're an idiot."
He grinned, widely. "That's my girl." He released Mary's hand to wrap his arms around Norah. "So, I received an interesting call on my way here. It appears that Mark is going to be in town next week. I invited him to stay with us."
"My dad's coming?" Norah bounced, clapping her hands. "I can show him my pictures for the baby!"
"You didn't think you should ask me before inviting my ex into our home?" Mary growled.
"Now, Mare," he placated, "if I had talk to you about it first, you would have come up a dozen reasons why he shouldn't stay. Instead, Norah gets to spend a week with all access to her dad and we get a free baby-sitter."
Mary nodded. "Smart man. Must have been why I married you."
Norah turned in Marshall's lap so that she faced him. "Is my dad going to sleep in my room?"
"I think he'll feel more comfortable in the den, Bug," he replied, tapping her nose.
"Oh, look!" Norah shouted suddenly. "It's Grandma Jinx and Aunt Brandi and Alanna! Can I go see them, Mommy? Please?"
Mary nodded and watched as Norah took off running towards the group. She turned back to Marshall. "Have I mentioned how much it creeps me out that you and Mark are friends?"
"Only every time Mark and I talk," he replied. Marshall leaned forward to place his hand on her stomach, smiling when he felt his son respond. "How are feeling?"
"Tired, fat, cranky," Mary told him, but with no real annoyance behind it.
Marshall kissed her stomach before returning fully to his seat. "Not too much longer and we can both have your body back."
Mary glared at him. "I like how you think you're getting anywhere near this body again."
"Come on, Love," he chuckled, standing up. He pulled her up with him. "Let's go get our kid before your mother ropes us into her afternoon plans."
"I love you," Mary told him, suddenly. "And I missed you."
Marshall smiled, kissing her forehead. "I love you, too."