This is a sequel to "Fifty Shades of Parenting". If you are new to this fanfic, please read that one first. This picks up exactly two years after "Fifty Shades of Parenting".
Disclaimer: I do not own Fifty Shades of Grey or any of the characters in this story.
Friday evenings used to be spent at home with my husband. We would put the kids to bed right after dinner and then we would have our play time. As we got older, our kids got older, and our Friday night routines changed along with their ages. Our kids would have later bedtimes, they would have their play dates and their activities, and then as teenagers they would have dates and school dances. I still have my baby, my Natalie. She is two and a half. Teddy and Phoebe aren't babies anymore. Teddy will soon be finishing his freshman year of college, and Phoebe her junior year of high school. It's times like now when I am on my own that I wonder where the time has gone. It only feels like yesterday when Christian and I read books to our babies before putting them to bed. It only feels like yesterday when we kissed their tears and bruises away. I wish time could stand still, or slow down, so that I could enjoy it more.
"Mrs Grey" I hear Collins call my name and I snap out of my reverie. "We're here."
I am so glad to see my little sister. It's been a while since the last time she's visited. She and Ethan have been living in Los Angeles for the last sixteen years with their kids, but they came up here to visit for a few days. Mia always makes a point to visit around my birthday. My niece Elizabeth is seven, my nephew Christopher is five, and my other niece Sophia is just a few months older than Natalie. They've made great lives for themselves in LA. Ethan is a director on the daytime soap opera General Hospital, while Mia owns a boutique where she designs all of the clothes. They were very eager and excited to move to California after they were married, but I really wish they'd settled down closer. For now I am enjoying the company, a play date actually, for our daughters. It turns out they like the same things, Disney princesses. Natalie has every single princess doll and a castle for them filled with toy furniture. They are both playing with the dolls while Mia and I are sitting with them on the floor next to them.
Mia has not been herself these past few days. She is usually the firecracker of the family, always so outgoing and perky. She and Ethan and the kids have been staying with our parents and they plan on driving back to Los Angeles tomorrow night. I'm glad she decided to bring Sophia here tonight. It gives me an opportunity to get her to talk. I was always the one that she came to for advice. Not Elliot, not our father, me. I never quite understood why. I would scold her if she messed up, made sure she understood the error of her ways, but I would also help her out of any mess she'd managed to get herself into. I've always had a soft spot for my little sister, probably since the day my parents brought her home.
"They play well together" she says to me as she runs her hand through Sophia's strawberry blond curly hair.
"Yes they do. I'm just worried about Natalie being tired. She missed her nap today." I'm so angry that my daughter didn't take a nap today. Ana didn't take her to work and I wasn't here to enforce it. We had Natalie stay home with Gail today and she couldn't get her to take a nap. I look up at Mia and she is looking fondly at our girls. I can tell something is up, and I can't put this off any longer. I need to ask her.
"Mia, how are you, really? You seem a bit off." She looks at me for a second and then immediately breaks eye contact. Yes, something is definitely not right.
"Christian…." she shakes her head, and for a moment I don't think she is going to tell me. She has to tell me. I'm her brother for Christ sake. She has to know that I won't let this go.
"Mia, tell me" I demand when she doesn't say another word, but I keep my voice light.
She looks at me sadly. "I want to come home"
My jaw drops. I certainly wasn't expecting this. Why does she look so sad?
I am exhausted after having to travel to Portland for meetings today. Collins had driven me to and from several appointments I had down there, and now I am at my last appointment, which is in downtown Seattle. I am sitting in the exam room waiting for Dr Greene to return. Usually my appointments are faster than this. I put on the gown, have my pap smear and mammogram, get dressed then I leave. But Dr Greene had asked me to stick around for a bit. She wouldn't tell me why. And now I'm starting to worry. What if she has bad news for me? My imagination beings to run wild with the possibility that something could be wrong with me. Did she go to call Christian?
She comes back into the room. I must look so confused. She is smiling. Why is she smiling? Is this how she delivers bad news to patients?
I look at my sister and see sadness in her eyes. I have to know everything. What's happened to her to get her so upset? Is it her marriage? Is it one of her kids?
"Mia… is everything okay? Ethan? The kids?"
She nods and I can see a tear fall from her eye. "Yes Christian, oh god yes, I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you." She reaches over and puts her hand on top of mine to prove a point. Our moment is interrupted when Natalie throws a fit. She's trying to take a toy away from Sophia. I intervene and get her to stand in front of me.
"Natalie, are you playing nice with Sophie?" I ask her. My hands are holding her arms so she doesn't pull away from me.
"Sophie took my Ariel"
"Baby, right now you are playing with Belle, so you need to let Sophie play with Ariel."
"But I don't want to" she whines and gives me the pouty lip. I look over at Mia and she has to cover her mouth to hide her giggles.
"Natalie, you need to be a nice girl and share your toys with Sophie, or I'll need to put you to bed. Understand?" She continues to pout. I suppose she is old enough to learn not to do that, but tonight is probably not the best time to start that lesson. I decide to let that go for now, but I need for her to answer me. "Natalie?"
"Okay" she says with the pout still on her face. I have her sit down so that she can go back to playing. I turn my attention back to Mia and try to continue our conversation.
"So, uh, what's going on? Why do you want to come home?"
"I miss my family. I've been gone for so long. I've been raising my kids somewhere else. And I've missed out on seeing my nieces and nephews grow up. Kate and Elliot had a son last year and I didn't get to visit until he was six months old."
"We've all been very busy, Mia. We all understand that." I try to ease her conscience, but it doesn't work. "Have you talked to Ethan about this?"
"Not yet." I watch her wipe a tear from her eye. Mia rarely ever cries. This has to be weighing on her pretty heavily if it's making her cry. "He loves his job. He's so happy with what he does. I can't bring myself to crush his dreams."
"He loves you too, Mia. You need to talk to him. Who knows? Maybe he'll surprise you."
"What if Ana came to you one day and said she wanted to move to Tennessee to be near her mother?"
Tennessee? I didn't see that coming. What would I do? "I would… suggest having Carla and Scott move to Seattle. But our situations are different, Mia. Both you and Ethan have family here."
"But, our jobs are in Los Angeles."
"So get new jobs." She laughs at that, but I didn't mean for it to be funny. "No, I'm serious. You should be able to open a boutique here, and maybe Ethan can find something else he wants to do." She seems to be in a better mood after letting this out, even though she hasn't really resolved anything. "Mia, please talk to Ethan. He needs to know that you want to move back here."
She nods, which only tells me that she will think about it. We are interrupted again because the girls are fussing about something. I intervene again and this time Natalie screams at Sophia. "No, no, ahhhhhhhh!"
I stand and pick Natalie up, and Mia also stands. "Don't leave" I tell her as I turn and walk out of the room with Natalie in my arms. She is crying as I carry her up the steps, rubbing her back and trying to soothe her. I don't like the way she behaved, but I can't blame her. She is so tired. This is what happens when a two year old misses her nap. She can't control her anger and her emotions. I lay her on her bed and change her diaper. She kicks at me and throws her arms around as I do it. I don't like it, and I warn her a few times to stop. "Natalie" I scold her when I grab one of her legs. "If you kick me again I'm going to swat your bottom." This usually gets her attention, but right now she is so tired. She stops kicking her legs but she is still throwing a fit and hitting her arms against the bed. I decide not to swat her. I'm already putting her to bed early as punishment for not playing nice with her cousin. After I dress her in her pajamas I put her to bed and calmly explain to her why she is being punished.
"Baby, you need to go to sleep now. You were not a good girl when Sophie was here. I'll see you in the morning." Even though this breaks my heart, I kiss her forehead and leave the room. No bedtime story, no bedtime snuggling, no bedtime song, I just put her to bed and leave the room. I know that she will continue to cry, but I know I need to stick to my guns when it comes to punishing her. This worked with Teddy and Phoebe when they misbehaved as toddlers, so I'm hoping it will work with Natalie too.
I arrive home to find Christian showing Mia and Sophie out. I'm sad that Mia will be leaving to go back to Los Angeles tomorrow. It feels like she just got here, and she rarely gets to visit. I spend a few minutes talking to her before she has to go back to Carrick and Grace's to put Sophie and her other kids to bed. We exchange hugs and suddenly she is out the door. Who knows when we'll get to see her again? I turn to my husband and try to gauge his reaction. His baby sister is leaving again. I know he must be sad about it, but he doesn't look sad. He looks at me with those lovely gray eyes of his, giving nothing away.
"Where's Natalie?" I finally ask him when I lose the staring contest that we had started the moment I looked at him. And his expression quickly changes.
"I had to put her to bed. She was having trouble sharing her toys."
My poor baby. Christian and I have talked about the things that we need to start teaching our baby girl, and sharing is one of them. I walk up to him and put my arms around his neck, kissing him. "I'm sorry she gave you trouble."
"It's okay" he kisses my nose. "There's something else."
I stop and look up at him with serious eyes. "What?"
"Phoebe…. asked me if she could go on a road trip with Trevor this summer."
"Well, you told her no, right?" I start to panic.
"Of course I told her no." He looks offended that I momentarily doubted him. "I don't want her on some road trip at her age with some boy she's only been seeing for four months. Do you honestly think I would say yes to that?"
"Of course not, what was I thinking?"
"I don't know, what were you thinking?"
Oh crap, he had to ask me that. Since the moment I walked through the front door I was able to put off what I am about to tell him. I'm not sure how he's going to react to the news that I have for him. I'm not scared of him. I know he won't leave me or hurt me. I just don't want him to be unhappy. I start to bite my lip.
"I'm pregnant!" There. It is out of my mouth before I have a chance to stop myself. I look at him and see the shock in his face.