Chapter 2: Love is in the Air
*******The Next Day*******
Logan was loading up his SUV with bags and their surfboards. His mother's former agent, Gary Gibson, had a house in Malibu that was right by the beach off of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Gary had been feeling nostalgic when the anniversary of his mom's film career had come around last week and had called up Logan. Logan had always liked Gary because Gary had hated his dad. His mom had often turned down roles to accommodate his dad's schedule. Gary also knew Aaron Echolls would never have allowed his wife to have her career eclipse his. When Logan had mentioned his recent engagement and impending fatherhood, Gary had insisted Logan make use of his Malibu beach house.
Alicia pulled up. Logan went to meet her.
"Hey! You didn't have to bring Richie. Veronica was going to pick him up. She didn't want to leave without seeing him," Logan remarked.
"Oh, it's fine. I don't mind," Alicia said as she opened up the backseat to get the baby. "You can grab his bag, though."
"No problem," Logan said. He reached in the car and grabbed the diaper bag and followed Alicia to the front door.
Veronica greeted Alicia eagerly, happy that Richie was back home. "How was he? Did he cry?" she asked as Alicia passed off the baby carrier. Veronica sat the carrier on the end table and reached in to get Richie out.
"He was perfectly fine. A complete angel. He slept through the night," Alicia said with a fond smile.
Richie opened his blue eyes and waved his little hands at Veronica, who interpreted that as facial recognition.
"See, he did miss me!" Veronica exclaimed, picking him up and smothering him with kisses.
Alicia and Logan smiled at her. "Your dad and I loved watching him, so tell Trina anytime," Alicia said. "Darrel was disappointed that he doesn't do much yet, but I assured him that would change."
They laughed and said goodbye to Alicia as she left to go to work.
"Logan, how can we leave him for so long?" Veronica asked, hugging Richie close.
"Snookums, we've talked about this. We need this time alone. You know it. Things have been intense the past two months. We've had no alone time since our road trip in June. We're only going to be gone until Sunday," Logan reminded her.
Veronica knew he was right, but she had this irrational reluctance to be gone from Richie for so long. "What's wrong with me? Why is it hard to leave him? I know he's not my son, but sometimes I feel like he is," she admitted for the first time. "I can't imagine how irrational I'm going to be when our own child is born. I'll never get anything done!"
Logan laughed. He reached for Richie. His little puff of red hair made him the most adorable baby Logan had ever seen. He understood Veronica's feelings; he loved his nephew more than he loved just about anyone. The instant feeling of love was amazing. It was an incredible, powerful feeling. Babies were so easy to love. They were without prejudice, without hate, without malice. They simply had needs and doing the simplest things fulfilled those needs. Logan always felt so good about himself whenever he took care of his namesake. "Well, he is an incredible baby. We can drive back early Sunday and spend the day with him before classes start back," Logan offered.
Trina came into the living room yawning. "'Morning. Is Richie okay?" she asked.
"Alicia said he was an angel," Veronica said proudly.
Trina reached for him, and Logan gave him to her. "He's a good baby," she said as she kissed him hello.
"We're ready to leave," Logan shared.
"Did Mac talk to you?" Trina asked.
"About what?" Logan asked.
"About me starting back to work part-time next week. I figured I could just take Richie with me when I go in. We can put a crib in my office," Trina said. "Dick thought it would be great."
"Of course, he did. He wants to be able to play whenever he can," Veronica said with an eye roll.
"I thought you had to wait six weeks?" Logan wondered.
"That's the norm, but I don't have a physically strenuous job, so it's okay," Trina said.
"If you think you can handle it, it's fine with me," Logan said. He turned to Veronica. "Are you ready? The cars loaded up."
"I suppose," she said, not excited.
"I'll try not to take it personally," Logan said dryly as he grabbed her hand.
"Call us if you need us or if Richie gets sick or if you get sick or.."
Trina cut Veronica off with a laugh. "We'll be fine. Take your computer, and I'll Skype you Friday. You can see Richie," Trina offered.
Logan gave his sister a grateful look; she grinned in understanding. Veronica was happy and ran to grab her computer. "Thanks, sis. She's having a hard time letting go," Logan said.
"I can only imagine how she'll react when your baby arrives!" Trina exclaimed.
Logan grinned at the thought. She was going to be an amazing mom—a real tigress. He couldn't wait!
******Jason and Daisy******
Daisy woke up the next morning with Jason's arms wrapped around. She was surprised to discover he was such a snuggler. The last time she'd had sex with him there had been no sleeping and definitely no snuggling. She turned in his arms to examine him. He was such a beautiful man. Sometimes, his natural male beauty and flawless features struck her. His chest was sculpted and covered with a thick amount of chest hair. She loved it. Daisy had never been with a man with so much chest hair, and she hadn't realize how utterly sexy she'd find it. Their first time together had been so frenzied and rushed that she'd never taken time to notice the details. She reached over and ran her hand lightly across his chest.
Her movement woke him. He gave her a sleepy smile. "Good morning," he said. He leaned close and kissed her lightly.
She smiled. "Good morning. I was just admiring this fine specimen of a man I found in my bed," she said with a twinkle in her eye.
"And I'm sure he's eagerly admiring you," he replied, finding her tousled hair utterly adorable. She was as beautiful in the morning, unadorned, as she was when she was perfectly coiffed.
"I'm a mess," she said, trying to smooth her wayward curls.
"I think you look sexy. If we were in my bed, we could slip into my shower," Jason said, giving her a very interested look.
She got hot thinking about it. "I've never showered with a man before," she revealed.
Jason sat up. "Really? You haven't?" he asked in surprise.
"I'm nineteen, not twenty-nine! Contrary to what your sister thinks, I'm not a floozy! I'm sure there's lots of things I've not done yet," she said with a naughty expression on her face.
Jason felt himself grow hard as various lascivious thoughts came to his mind. "Well, I'm sure there's a few I haven't done either. We can experiment together," he said as he leaned over and kissed her. "And my sister doesn't know everything."
"Do you have plans for today?" she asked.
"Can't I make love to you all day?" he asked with a leer.
She laughed. "Well, the dorms aren't really the best place for that. Maybe I can stay with you at your place tonight," she suggested a bit tentatively. She wasn't sure yet what to expect from this new change in their relationship.
"That sounds like a plan! I'll take you to dinner," Jason said.
Daisy was really happy. Finally, she felt like she was part of a couple. "But before you leave," she said as she maneuvered until she was straddling him. The sheet fell and her naked breasts were revealed.
"You have the most beautiful breasts I've ever seen!" Jason said in appreciation.
"So they inspire you? Are you up for some morning exercise?" she asked suggestively.
She could, of course, easily feel how up for it he was. She gave a low chuckle as she bent down to kiss him, her hair falling in his face.
"You hair's blocking my view!" he complained with a grin.
Daisy laughed and reached over to the bedside nightstand and grabbed a hair tie. She pulled her hair back so that Jason could have his unobstructed view of his favorite sight.
"Where were we?" she asked coyly, leaning back over him.
"About here," he said as he made her gasp when his mouth closed around her nipple.
Daisy loved a man who knew what he wanted.
*****Eli and Jazmin*****
Eli woke up with the sun much higher in the sky than it normally was when he woke on Thursday mornings. Not having to go to his 8 o'clock class was nice. It was rare that he got to sleep in on a weekday. He didn't have to be at work until two; he had some surveillance work to do. Eli had come to understand why Veronica didn't mind it so much when she was working those late nights back in high school. It was a perfect time to catch up on his assigned reading. Taking a college class wasn't nearly as bad as he thought it'd be. In fact, he may give in to Jason's nagging and take another class in the spring.
"Why are you so far away?" he asked Jazmin who was standing and looking out his bedroom window. She was dressed in one of his t-shirts.
"I was just thinking," she said. She walked back to his bed and sat down.
Eli could tell she was still down. "About what?" he asked.
She shrugged, not really wanting to talk.
He sat up and moved until he was sitting next to her on the bed. He put his arm around her. "Are you still upset over that thing with Veronica?" he asked.
"I'm not really upset. It just makes me kind of sad. Veronica's the best friend I've ever had, but I know I'm not hers. That never bothered me before. But it bothers me to think I now rank below Daisy," she said sadly.
"Well, I don't think V ranks her friends. She doesn't take any friendship lightly because after Lilly died she realized she only had one real friend. And Meg, Lily's mother, wasn't really strong enough to withstand the mob that Logan led against her. When she's your friend, it means something. Her loyalty and friendship is something you can always count on. All her friends get an equal part of her. That's what makes her such a good friend to have," Eli told her. "Besides, I thought I was your best friend."
Jazmin couldn't help but smile at him. He was so sweet. She ran a hand down his unshaven face. "You are the best boyfriend a girl could have," she told him.
"Well, I suppose I can deal with that," he said, leaning in to kiss her. "I love you, mi hermosa chica dulce."
"I love you," Jazmin said, feeling better. "You always know what to say."
"I don't like you being sad. Your smile is too nice to hide," he said.
She laughed. "Now you're putting it on too thick, but I appreciate it," she said. She gave him a quick kiss. "I'm going to jump in the shower then fix us some breakfast."
Eli's eyes lit up. "Maybe one of those Italian breakfast skewers?" Eli suggested eagerly.
"If you have any sausage, I can try," she said.
An hour later, they were finishing up breakfast when a very happy looking Jason walked in. "Hey, smells great! Did you save any for me?" he asked, heading to the stove.
"Some," Eli said. "You look awfully satisfied with yourself. And you never came home last night. Did Daisy finally put you out of your misery?"
Jason just grinned and Eli laughed. Jazmin rolled her eyes. "I'm trying to eat. You're making me lose my appetite," Jazmin said with a grimace.
"Don't be like that, Sis," Jason said. He grabbed a plate and filled it. Then he went to the fridge and poured some orange juice.
When he sat down, Jazmin asked, "Why her? I just don't get it."
"Well, besides the obvious, she's unpredictable, bold, and clever. Very, very clever. I love clever women! And she's complicated. You know how easily most women bore me. With Daisy, I'm never bored. She's the most exciting woman I've ever met," Jason shared.
Jazmin knew he meant it. She could understand what he was saying. "I don't think she's the kind of girl that's ever really satisfied. If you like her too much, I worry that you'll be hurt. No woman has ever hurt you before. I really don't like the idea of that," she said flatly.
"He's a big boy. He can handle it," Eli said with a smirk.
"I don't think you've ever had your heart broken or you wouldn't say that!" Jazmin said, frowning.
"Jazzie, don't worry so much. Eli's right. I can handle it. Daisy's not going to break my heart. I'm not in love with her. It's too soon for that. But I could love her. I've never liked a girl so much. She's amazing, and you'd see that if you'd quit being so hostile and critical toward her," Jason said with disapproval.
"I think your sister likes being the only woman in your life," Eli teased.
"Hey, that's not true! I don't mind if he dates!" Jazmin insisted, disgruntled.
"You seem to mind if I have a girlfriend, though, don't you?" Jason pointed out. "And quit saying that it's because it's Daisy. That may be part of it, but I think Eli has a point. It's always been just you and me. I know it's not easy for you to see me get close to another woman. But you must know this would happen some day. And I hope you know that no matter whom I love, I will always love you and watch out for you. You will always be important to me and no one can replace you. Does your loving Eli make me less important to you?"
"No, of course not," Jazmin replied. She looked at Eli, who was looking at her with patient understanding. She sighed in defeat. "Okay. I get it. You're right. Daisy does have some good qualities. I know that. She's very loyal and independent. And strong enough to stand up to Veronica."
"That says a lot right there," Eli said grinning. "V hated her, too. The fact that they're friends now should tell you something. Veronica doesn't let go of a grudge easily. Daisy has a lot going on behind that pretty face of hers."
"Yes, she hides behind a tough exterior, but there's much more to her I can assure you," Jason said.
"I hope you're right," Jazmin said. "I'll be nice. I promise."
Jason finished drinking his juice. He got up. "You're the best sister ever. I love you. And if Eli ever hurts you, I will beat him bloody just for you!" he said.
"You'll try!" Eli replied.
Jason laughed and kissed his sister on the cheek before putting his plate in the sink. "Gotta take a shower. Oh, Daisy's coming over tonight, so if you two can not be here that'd be great!" he said with a grin.
"Oh, I think we can help you get lucky!" Eli said with a chuckle.
"Gross! Not a picture I need in my head, thank you!" Jazmin exclaimed with a grimace. She got up to clear the table.
"Hey, I'll clean up. You cooked. I clean. Them's the rules," Eli said.
"I really love your grandma. She raised you right!" Jazmin said, kissing him.
"The woman was a saint alright!" Jason teased.
"Go take your shower!" Eli ordered, throwing a kitchen towel at him.
Jason laughed and turned to do that.
******A few hours later******
Mac, Dick, Parker, and Duncan were spending the afternoon taking Lily to the fall carnival. Dick was every bit as excited as Lily. It was her first carnival.
"So what do you want to do first, Lily-pad?" Dick asked. "Do you want your big strong Uncle Dick to win you a toy or your puny dad to try?"
"My daddy's not poony!" Lily said loyally, not knowing what that meant but recognizing an insult when she heard it.
"It's okay, honey. Uncle Dick is trying to overcompensate, so he always insults other guys. He doesn't mean anything about it," Duncan said.
Dick laughed. "Overcompensate? You're funny! Tell him, Mac. Tell him that I don't need to overcompensate. Tell him how satisfied you are! I can still hear you screaming my name from last night. Tell him!" Dick ordered, causing Mac's mouth to fall open in shock and her face to turn bright red.
"Dick!" Parker admonished, covering Lily's ears.
"Dick, I can't believe you!" Mac exclaimed and she stomped off, too mortified to discuss it further in front of Duncan and Parker.
Dick ran after her while Duncan snickered.
Parker shook her head. "I don't get them sometimes. Mac is so different from Dick. How is it that they work so well?" Parker wondered.
"Is Dickie in twouble?" Lily asked, looking up at her Dad.
"Yep. Dick doesn't know when to shut his big mouth sometimes, but we love him anyway," Duncan said with a grin.
"I do. He's the best!" Lily said excitedly. "He always plays with me and makes me laugh. He's so silly!"
"That he is," Parker agreed.
"So why don't we try the Tilt O'Whirl first?" Duncan suggested. "Don't want to go on it after we eat!"
"Good idea. And it's not too wild for Lily," Parker said, smiling. This was the first time she had went on an outing with Duncan and his daughter. She had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, she liked the fact that Duncan wanted to share his daughter with her. But on the other hand, she wasn't sure she was ready for that because she and Duncan were just now beginning to date. She really liked him, but sometimes it felt like it was too soon to be with another guy. Duncan was so patient with her, though. He hadn't pushed, but he had let her set the pace. She smiled at him as he held out his hand to help her step into the ride.
Elsewhere at the carnival were Dick and Mac. "I'm sorry, Mackie! Don't be mad!" Dick was saying for the third time. Mac had ignored the first two apology attempts.
Mac knew that Dick hadn't meant to mortify her. It wasn't his fault that he had not one private bone in his body. And she also knew that guys were naturally competitive—Dick more than most. However, if she didn't keep Dick reigned in, he'd never learn self-control. "Dick, why would you think it'd be okay to reveal something so personal in front of Duncan? Parker's my roommate, her I could handle. But Duncan? He and I are friends, but not that kind of friends!" Mac said, frustrated and still embarrassed.
Dick grabbed her hand. "I'm sorry," he said. He gave her his best puppy-dog sad eyes, knowing she was mostly powerless to resist his woebegone expression.
She sighed in defeat. "It's okay. Somehow I feel it won't be the most embarrassing thing you'll ever say," she said in resignation.
Dick grinned happily, relieved she wasn't mad anymore. He pulled her in for a hug. Then he kissed her neck. "I'll try to be more discreet, sweetcakes. I promise!" he vowed.
Mac smiled. "I'd appreciate it. Because if you don't, I can promise you that it will be a looong time before you get to satisfy me again!" she informed him sternly.
Dick winced at the threat. "I get it. I'll be good!" he promised.
She put her arms around his neck and gave him a light kiss. "I know you will," she said with the confidence that came from knowing and understanding your man better than anyone else on the planet.
"Let's go find our friends," Mac said. They walked through the carnival holding hands. Mac laughed as Dick told her about the last time he was here with Beaver. Finally, Dick could talk about his brother without a dark cloud coming over them both. It was a good thing to witness.
It only took Logan and Veronica a few hours to get to Malibu. After they explored the two story beach house, they took a swim in the pool. They were lounging by the pool side reading the books they had brought when Veronica's stomach growled loudly.
Logan grinned. "Someone's hungry," Logan observed, closing his book.
"Little Eli's hungry," Veronica said, rubbing her stomach.
Logan groaned. "I thought we agreed you were having a girl!" Logan said.
Veronica just grinned. "Well, we're not going to know for sure for a few more months!" she said. "Besides, if we have a boy, Richie will have a best friend!"
Logan did enjoy the picture she was painting. "You know I like the idea of that. Jazmin and her brother are so tight because they've always had each other. I'd like that for our child. Plus, it would be much better than having twins!" he said.
"You're right. Twins would be nuts! I can't really even imagine us trying to raise twins! After we were done with school, maybe. But one right now will be enough work!" she said.
"You know the baby's due around finals next semester. What if you go into labor in the middle of your finals? What if you have the baby right before finals and you can't finish?" Logan said, suddenly worried.
Veronica laughed. "Okay, Dick! Let's not be a drama-queen! I thought we were leaving him behind in Neptune!" she joked. "However, we'll be married. Pregnancy is a natural thing. I'm sure I can get a make-up. You did when you were shot and in the hospital. I'll just take four classes next semester. I can make up the credits in the fall."
Logan frowned. "Your senior year will be hard enough," he pointed out.
"Logan, most college students don't graduate in four years. We're not on anyone's timetable but our own. It'll work out," she said confidently. He nodded.
"So do you want me to order something to be delivered or go out?" Logan asked.
"Why don't we go out tomorrow night? I'd like to stay in and relax. There's this awesome hot tub upstairs on the deck that I thought we could try out later," she said, giving him a saucy grin.
"Sounds like a plan!" he agreed. "I'll go look through the take-out menus I saw in the kitchen."
"I'll go hop in the shower," Veronica said. "Order Chinese!"
Logan smiled as he watched he walk inside wearing her red two piece. There was a slight roundness to her stomach, but it probably wouldn't be apparent to anyone else. However, he knew her body as well as he knew her own. Knowing that something they created together was even now growing inside her filled him with such wonder. He was going to be a dad. How cool was that?
*****Back at the Carnival*****
Duncan and Parker were on the Ferris wheel while Dick was winning Lily prizes below.
"I'm glad you came," Duncan said when they stopped halfway up.
Parker smiled. "Yeah, this is fun. It's been a while since I've been to one of these. Having a child with you seems to make it more fun," she said.
"I know what you mean. Showing Lily things for the first time is the best feeling in the world. You're great with her," Duncan observed.
"She's a sweetheart," Parker said.
"She's the most important thing in my life, but I want you to know that I have room for you," Duncan told her.
"Thanks. I'm glad we did this today, but I don't think we should do too many things with your daughter until you and I are in a different place. You know what I mean?" Parker said, feeling a bit awkward. But it was important to her that Lily not be hurt if things didn't work out with her and Duncan.
"The fact that you're so sensitive to her needs in one of the many reasons I'm so crazy about you," Duncan said, letting her see in his expression how much he liked her.
His admiration made her feel warm inside. He always made her feel so good. Piz had left her feeling raw and insecure, but the more time she spent with Duncan, the better she felt. Some days she went all day without thinking of Piz. Duncan leaned in to kiss her. It was a sweet and romantic kiss. She really did like him a lot. However, at night when she went to bed, it was Piz's face that still flashed in her mind. Until his image was gone, she didn't think she could give Duncan what he wanted. What he deserved.
"I'm not over Piz yet," she said, not wanting to or even meaning to. But she found herself admitting it anyway.
Duncan tucked her hair behind her ear. "I like the fact that you don't just move on so easily. I'm not going to push you. I will wait for you as long as it takes," Duncan said sincerely.
Parker found his patience so endearing. "You're so amazing. Why would you wait? I'm not sure I understand why," Parker said in wonder.
"Because I think you're worth waiting for, and I know we could be amazing together," Duncan said with confidence.
As the Ferris wheel moved higher and higher and then back down, Parker kept her gaze locked with Duncan's, her hand in his.
Down below, Mac and Dick were done with their game and were watching the Ferris Wheel that held their friends. Dick pointed out Duncan for Lily, who waved.
"Daddy didn't wave!" Lily complained.
Mac and Dick exchanged looks. How do you tell a toddler that Daddy had eyes for another girl?
"They're going kind of fast, sweetie. He probably didn't see you," Mac said easily.
"I think Daddy's in love," Dick whispered to Mac.
Mac looked up and watched the wheel come back down. This time Parker saw them and waved. Lilly jumped up and down excitedly waving.
"I'm not sure Parker's ready for that," Mac said.
"Don't tell me she's still stuck on that Pissaster!" Dick said with an eye roll. "How could she still be? He's been gone for months!"
"He has but they've only been broken up for two," Mac reminded him. "She really loved him. Logan and Veronica were broken up much longer than that but never quit loving each other. And they both dated other people."
"True. But Duncan's so much better than Piz!" Dick said loyally. "I don't get girls sometime."
"Girls feel things deeply. If we broke up, it'd take me a long time before I'd want to date another guy," Mac said.
Dick frowned unhappily at the thought. "We're never going to break up, so there's no need to imagine that!" he said fervently.
Mac smiled and squeezed his hand. "I hope not. I love you," she said.
"Damn straight!" Dick said with a wide grin.
Lily's eyes got big. "You said a bad word!" she exclaimed. She looked at Mac expectantly. When Mac scolded Dick, Lily grinned pleased. "You're not supposed to say bad words, Dick!"
"I'm sorry! Do you still love me?" Dick asked, crouching down so Lily could see him better.
She nodded. "Mackie, I think we might have to break up after all 'cause another woman has stolen my heart!" Dick exclaimed dramatically. He planted a loud smacking kiss on Lily's cheek causing her to giggle. He picked her up and spun in a circle. Lily flung her hands up so she could feel the twirl.
Duncan and Parker had got off the ride and came behind Mac watching Dick with Lily. "He's really great with her," Parker observed.
"He really is," Mac said watching him with love in her eyes. He was a big kid at heart, but it was more than that. He loved life and seemed to ring every drop of life and joy out of every moment of every day. How could she not adore a man like that? One day he'd make a wonderful father. For the first time, she could really picture it. And it was a beautiful picture.