A/N: Sorry for posting this so late; back at work today and ended up working late so only just had chance to post. Anyway here's the epilogue; enjoy!
"Mummy! Daddy! Wake up!" An excited three year old shouted as she ran into her parents' room and climbed into their bed.
"Stop shouting, Lils." Lily Branning ignored her father's answer.
"But Daddy, it's Christmas!" Lily forced herself onto her father's bare back, lying across him to see his face. Joey raised his arm to pull her over him so she was in the middle of her parents.
Lily rolled her chocolate brown orbs, a trait she had picked up from her mother. "Daddy, Father Christmas should have been."
Lauren laughed hearing her daughter's dramatic reply; Lily was such a Daddy's little girl.
"But I'm not sure you've been a good enough little girl for Father Christmas to come."
Lily pulled a sad face as tears filled her eyes. This time it was her mother who rolled her brown eyes hearing the small sniffle. Opening her eyes, she reached out for her little girl and pulled her close, kissing her head.
"Ignore Daddy. You've been a very, very good girl this year." Lauren glared at Joey who pulled an innocent face at her. "It's Daddy who has been naughty this year."
"Really, Mummy?" Her little eyes lit back up with excitement as Lauren wiped away her tears.
"Really. And I think for being mean, Daddy should go make Mummy a coffee and you your breakfast."
"Go on, Daddy." Joey looked at his daughter, shocked while Lauren laughed; Lily had started pushing her father out the bed. Shaking his head, Joey grabbed his t-shirt as Lily snuggled back up to her mother, waiting for her to get out of bed.
Lauren carried Lily into the kitchen/living room; Lily's eyes lighting up at the sight of all the presents under their Christmas tree. Joey was still busy making breakfast as Lauren remembered all they had been through in the last three and a half years after Lily had been born.
As they left the hospital, three days after Lily had been born, Lauren felt sick. She was being trusted entirely on her own with another human being. What if she couldn't figure out what was wrong when she cried? What if she hurt her?
"You ok?" Joey asked. He had noticed ever since they left the hospital she had been very quiet and kept her gaze firmly on their newborn daughter, Lily Branning. Max glanced back in his rear view mirror hearing Joey's question to his daughter.
"Hmm." Was all they got in response.
"Hey, look at me." Joey tilted her head so she was facing him, her arm still gently resting on Lily's tummy, Lily's tiny fingers wrapped partially around Lauren's little finger as she slept. "What's wrong?" He tried again.
"What if I am an awful Mum, Joey? I'm not exactly experienced. I don't have any idea on how to look after a baby; when Oscar was born I didn't have the patience for him." She admitted, ashamed of herself.
"Lauren, you'll be, in fact already are, an incredible Mum. I mean you've even got a head start being a girl yourself; I haven't got a clue about girl things apart from knowing bits from having a little sister and knowing how to chat girls up to get what I wanted previously." Max and Tanya smiled at the conversation taking place between the two younger Brannings in the back of the car, both remembering having had a similar conversation when Lauren was born.
"A bit of advice from experience; no matter how prepared and ready you think you are to raise a baby, you never are ready. Babies tend to do the exact opposite of what you plan for and you learn as you go. Deal with the moment. It never really gets any easier being a parent; even now it still throws new challenges up you never could have predicted. But the important thing to remember is to just remember and cherish every minute; all the happy memories you will share. Just know you will never have to go through anything alone; we'll be here to support you, BOTH of you, and our gorgeous granddaughter, whenever," Tanya looked back and smiled at the two. "Although, I still feel too young to be a grandmother."
"You're a sexy grandmother." Max commented making Lauren gag, a sick feeling reappearing at her Dad's reply.
"Lauren," Tanya started looking at her daughter who was sitting on the middle seat in the back, "you'll be fine. I promise. I mean you were amazing with Oscar when he was born, despite you not necessarily realising it." Lauren shrugged, remembering a little how she was with her brother. "And, Joey, trust me, little girls are so much easier to understand and not much different to boys."
"Yeah, until you start adding boys into that mix." Max added.
"If any guy even thinks of going near my daughter, he's dead." Joey said making Lauren scoff.
"Now you understand where I come from." Lauren and Tanya rolled their eyes at the two male Brannings that they were both crazily in love with, respectively.
Sighing, Lauren closed her eyes and rested her head on Joey's shoulder, but not without looking over Lily once more. Maybe she could do this, this whole parenting thing. How hard could it be really?
Lauren took her coffee from Joey as he handed Lily her toast.
"Yes, Lily?" Joey sat next to Lauren, still feeling as happy as he had done when they first got together.
"Can I open my presents now?" She looked up through her dark lashes and flashed him her sweetest smile.
"Mummy, do you think we should let her?"
"I think she has waited long enough and since she asked so nicely." Lily grinned as she took a bite of her toast.
"Daddy, will you help me please?" Joey hated how much of a pushover he was for his daughter but seeing her little smile was all it took for his heart to soar and get sucked in. Her sweet innocent voice also made it so hard to say no to, which wasn't always a good thing.
"Right then, where shall we start?" Lily sat herself in her father's lap as he moved to the floor as they started on the mass amounts of presents she had gotten from all their friends and family.
The young couple still lived on the square as both wanted to stay close to family; Joey's Mum occasionally had made the effort to come visit but they didn't take much notice anymore of her lack of visits. Joey still worked at the car lot with Max in the day, only four days a week and R&R of a weekend; Sharron had made him a manager there but they rotated with Sharon doing the week while Joey handled weekends to allow them both time with their families. He did the occasional week night if they had a big event on to help out. Max always made sure Joey finished early, at first, so he could spend time with Lauren and Lily before he used to have to head to R&R when he still worked the bar. It was also why Max still refused to let Joey work more than four days a week as he had missed out on a lot of his own kids' lives that he didn't want his granddaughter to have the same relationship with her dad.
"Mummy, look what Auntie Abi got me!" Lauren smiled at the little girl's new doll. Even at three and a half now, Lily was still like just a small dot; she had all throughout her short life so far been small for her age but she was such a confident but that she could hold her own with anyone.
"Wow, aren't you lucky."
Joey sensed Lauren seemed reflective and gave her a concerned look to which she just shrugged.
"Daddy, why don't you and Mummy open your presents too?" Lily asked, looking at her father.
"I think we need to get Mummy down here." Lily nodded in agreement and stood up.
"Come on, Mummy." The brown haired girl tugged on her mother's arm trying to get her to move.
"Fine, fine." Lauren settled down next to Joey, wrapping her arms around Joey as Lily started rifling through the other presents to dish out. The family of three continued opened presents, each being content together; their own little family.
Lauren glanced at her phone as it beeped. Joey had taken Lily for a walk while Lauren got dressed and sorted to go over to her parents for lunch. The message was from Whitney asking if she wanted to meet up for a drink later tonight. She sighed, remembering the last time she drank.
"You should go." Joey encouraged as he hugged an eighteen month old Lily. Whitney, Alice and Poppy had asked her to go out tonight but Lauren was hesitant to go. She hadn't been out much since she had Lily and Joey thought she could do with a night off; the last time was two months ago for his birthday when he went behind her back and asked her parents to watch Lily for the night. Plus he wasn't working tonight so he could watch Lily.
"I don't know."
"Lauren, it won't make you a bad Mother if you have one night out. I'll be here for Lily and I think I've got this whole Dad thing figured out now." Lauren looked at twenty five year old Joey; he really did love being a Dad. He had hardly changed in the last year and a half while now at twenty, just shy of her twenty first birthday, she felt her life had done a complete three sixty.
Sighing, she looked at Joey reluctantly, "Just promise if you have any problems, you'll call me." Joey nodded as she text Whitney telling her she would meet her in an hour.
"You sure you will be ok?"
"Yes, Lauren. We will be fine." Joey repeated for what felt like the hundredth time. He turned on the sofa and felt his eyes widen as he took her in. "You look amazing, Babe."
"Thank you." She pulled on her black signature leather jacket over her short black dress.
"I'm rethinking; maybe you shouldn't go out after all." Joey pulled her closer to him as he sat on the arm of the chair, Lauren now positioned between his legs. "Do you know how sexy you look right now? If not, I'm telling you, this look," he eyed her up and down as she felt herself blush slightly, "it's making me incredibly hot right now." He smugly told her, his voice filled with lust, as he ran his hand up and down her thigh.
She felt his lips on her neck as he worked his way down her body. "Joey." She laughed, trying to push his hands off her, although that was the exact opposite of what her body was craving for now. "Stop."
"I can't." He mumbled.
She rolled her eyes and managed to pull his face back up to hers to stop the distraction. "I better go or Whit will think I stood her up." Joey was about to protest as Lily started calling out for Joey. "I think your daughter requires your attention. I'll see you later. I love you."
"I love you, too." Joey kissed her one last time before following her to the door. Just as he closed the door behind her, Lily appeared with her blanket in the hall way.
"Dada." Joey picked his daughter up.
"Did you have a bad dream?" She nodded, tucking her head into his neck. "Hmm how about we go read a story in bed?" He felt her head nod against his shoulder and carried her back to her room.
Lauren didn't really know how she had gotten into this state but she had. As soon as she had her first drink, her first since finding out she was pregnant (the few times previously she refused to drink still as she was still breastfeeding), it was as though her body had reignited its craving and she couldn't stop. Plus, Joey wanted her to have fun. She stumbled into their apartment, trying to be quiet buy failing.
"Lauren?" The lights flickered on and she shushed him. "Are you drunk?"
"Joseph, I'm not drunk." Joey closed his eyes; she was completely wasted.
"Yes, you are, Lauren." He walked towards her just as she dropped to the floor, talking and laughing to herself. "Come on."
He picked her up and carried her to bed before she could do anymore damage to herself. It didn't take long for her to pass out. He slipped her high heels off and pulled the blanket over her. He checked on Lily hoping Lauren hadn't woken her when she got back, thankfully their daughter seemed to inherent her Mother's trait of being a deep sleeper. Climbing back into bed, he sighed and rolled over, hoping to try and get some sleep as in the morning when she woke up, who knew what state Lauren would be in.
"I need some paracetamol." Joey directed his gaze from his daughter in his arms, who was holding a child's sippy cup filled with milk, to his girlfriend.
"How much did you drink last night? You were in a right state when you got in, Lauren."
Lauren groaned as she struggled to remember. It had really been a heavy session. "Enough. You were the one who told me to go and have fun; be a normal twenty year old. So I did."
"Yeah but difference is, Lauren, I thought you would be a bit more responsible. I thought we'd moved past the excessive drinking stage." Lauren refused to talk anymore about it, remaining quiet. Joey shook his head frustrated. "Look, are you going to be ok with Lily or shall I ask Alice to help out? Hopefully she's in a better state than you." Joey asked, seeing how bad Lauren's hang-over was.
"I can look after my own daughter." Lauren was offended at what he was suggesting. "I'm not that drunk still."
"Fine. I won't be able to pop back for lunch today as I'm going with your Dad to some car auction." He informed her, handing Lily over to her Mum.
"Fine." Joey placed a kiss on Lily's forehead, Lauren turning her head in the opposite direction when he went to kiss her. She was still offended by what he had said. He placed two tablets in front of her along with a black coffee before grabbing his jacket and walking out.
It had probably only been an hour since Joey left and Lauren, for the first time, was really struggling. How did she let herself get so out of control? Lily wasn't helping her out today either; normally she was close to a perfect child, never really crying or needing constant attention, just content knowing one of her parents were around. But today she just wouldn't settle. Her tiny girl wouldn't even try to speak to say what was wrong like normal.
"Come on, sweetheart. It's ok, Mummy's got you." The constant crying did not mix well with a hangover at all as she cuddled her to her chest. "What's wrong? You're not hungry, don't need changing, you're not on your own so what's wrong?" Lauren knew she most likely wouldn't get a reply but didn't know what else to try at this point. Nothing was working.
Sitting down, she rocked Lily a fraction and rubbed her back. A few minutes later, Lauren realised her cries had softened to just a sniffle. Maybe she was tired. "How about we have a sleep, eh?" Lauren thought maybe if she could have a rest too, she might then be able to figure out what was wrong if, or when, Lily started crying again. Within a few minutes of cuddling her close, she looked down and saw Lily had calmed down and fallen asleep against her. Lauren blinked as she felt her heavy eyes too trying to close. A few minutes surely couldn't hurt...
An hour later, Lauren awoke to more crying. However, the strange thing was Lily was no longer on her lap in the same room.
"Lily?" Lauren quickly stood up to look for her daughter. Her eyes widened in horror at the sight, seeing a cut and blood dripping down Lily's face. Rushing over, she picked her little girl up, trying to soothe the eighteen month olds cries. Grabbing her phone, she dialled 999 panicking. "Lily, what did you do?"
"I fall over, Mama. Table." She pointed to her toy kitchen set which had a table on. Lauren grabbed a cloth to apply pressure to the bleeding wound, a small lump being felt underneath it. "Ow."
Lauren went into automatic mode as she spoke to the emergency services who said they were sending out a paramedic team who would be there in a few minutes. Lauren's guilt was creeping up on her. She was a bad mother. If she wasn't, she would not have got drunk last night and needed a sleep, therefore allowing her to focus all attention fully on her daughter.
Lauren had called her Mum who went with her with the paramedics to the hospital to check over Lily again and put a few butterfly stitches on. The blood had made the cut look a lot worse that it was but the paramedics reassured Lauren she did the right thing. They hadn't been able to speak to Joey or Max but Lauren insisted no messages were left yet as they would only panic.
Tanya could see how badly Lauren was beating herself up. "It's not your fault."
"Yes it is, Mum. I was stupid and now my baby's hurt because of me." Lauren was sat in the room with Lily and her Mum as they cleaned the cut up. They were almost finished messing with Lily who had been so good and patient as the Doctors messed with her; the only thing she wanted was her Mum so as long as she was sitting on Lauren's lap she was happy for the Doctor to examine her. It only made Lauren feel even guiltier though.
"Lauren, kids always find ways of getting themselves in trouble and having accidents despite how hard you try to stop them."
"Yeah but most parents aren't still drunk and hung-over." Tanya decided to drop it and went to try Max again; unbeknownst to Lauren, she had left a message for Max and Joey last time she tried.
Lauren, meanwhile, had made a decision. "I promise, Lily, I'll never do anything again which could result in you getting hurt again. I promise you I'll never touch another drink again because I love you so much. You mean more to me and make me feel even better than a drink ever could." Lauren knew Lily didn't really understand but it was important for her to say. She knew it had to be that way because despite all her efforts, once she had that one drink, she couldn't control the urge for another and if truthful, it scared her to not have that control. But although it might be tough at times, she knew she could give it up for good this time; this time she wasn't just giving up for herself or because someone told her/forced her to. No, she was giving it up for the most important person in her life now, her daughter.
Unknown to Lauren, Joey was stood in the doorway, proud. Proud because he knew this wasn't Lauren's fault, it was just an accident, but Lauren was finally ready to take action and be strong enough to fight her addiction to alcohol for their daughter. And he'd be right by her side helping her every step of the way if she needed.
Sure there were still moments where she felt temptation creep up on her but she was stronger; if she ever felt weak, she just remembered what had happened and that always stopped the temptation. It had now been over 18 months since she had last had a drink and she was proud of herself for that.
Picking up her phone, she started to reply. She knew Whitney was only implying a soft drink probably with their friends.
Sorry, Whit, Joey and I want to spend the day with Lils. Maybe another night. L x
Hitting send, she tossed her phone back into the bag she had made up for Lily; her parents were having the whole family over today so she needed to make sure she had stuff sorted for Lily. Despite how much time had passed, both she and Joey knew their family still struggled to fully accept their relationship but not Lily; Lily they saw as being innocent in this whole mess and nobody could resist her charms.
"Hey, Mummy, are you ready to go? A little girl is getting very tired?" Lily shook her head from her position in her father's arms, her head too settled to move from his chest.
"No I'm not, Daddy!" Just as she finished objecting, a small yawn escaped her mouth.
"Come on then, let's go to Nanna and Granddad's house before we get told off for being late."Lily loved her Grandparents, her Granddad Max secretly her favourite.
Max had been smitten with his Granddaughter from the moment he had first held her in his arms.
"Will Auntie Abi and Alice be there?" She asked climbing down from her Dad's arms to hold her Mom's hand for the short walk across the square.
"Yep." Lauren answered as she put her coat on. Joey locked the flat while carrying their family's presents in the other hand.
"And will Granddad play with me?"
"I'm sure he will if you ask him nicely later."
The mother daughter pair reached the steps of the elder girl's parents house in minutes with the younger scrambling a head a few steps to knock the door, her attention on the flashing Rudolph decoration on the step. Lauren still had her key to the house but hadn't got it out and plus, Lily was too excited about knocking the door; she didn't want to upset her.
"I still hate that reindeer." Joey whispered to Lauren from behind as she smiled back.
"You mean the one I had to wait in ALL DAY for only for your to smash it's poor nose in?" She teased as Joey leaned his head on her shoulder.
"I told you, someone needed to teach that reindeer not to be so smug." She shook her head and laughed, Joey's arm sneaking around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Joey's heart filled with love hearing her laugh; he loved her so much that he couldn't imagine his life without her; well without either of his girls.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS, NANNA!" The two were brought back to reality by their daughter's loud voice.
Tanya was ambushed by two little arms wrapping around her legs. She was taken aback by how quick it happened. Bending down, she picked up her Granddaughter and allowed her parents through the door.
"Merry Christmas, Mum."
"Merry Christmas, you two. Go on through. Your Dad is in the kitchen and Abi's in the front with Alice." Tanya informed them as she closed the front door, Lily still in her arms.
Lauren walked into the front room, dumping her stuff and acknowledging her sister and Alice. She then left the room to go find her Dad but Joey didn't follow.
"Lily, why don't you go and find Mummy and Granddad?" The three others in the room noticed he obviously needed to say something but couldn't in front of Lily." His little girl nodded and ran to the kitchen to find her Mum, Joey closing the door behind her.
"Granddad!" Max caught his granddaughter in his arms as she flung herself at him.
He smiled at the death grip hug she gave him. Yes, he wasn't keen on his daughter hooking up with his nephew but there was no doubt in his mind how much he loved his granddaughter. And because of that, he learned to accept how happy Joey made his daughter and granddaughter.
"So did Santa bring you what you wanted?" Max asked as the small brown eyes looked at him, excitement shining through.
"Yeah because I was a really, really good girl! Daddy said I wasn't though but Mummy said to not listen to him. Santa had ALL the milk and cookies I left out for him so he must have liked them and been hungry!" Max laughed. Oh how he remembered Lauren being this small and full of Christmas excitement.
"Mummy's right; your Daddy doesn't know what he's talking about."
The doorbell rang again. Lauren moved noting her Mum had failed to appear while Lily stayed with Max.
"Are you going to be my little helper today?" Max asked Lily.
"Can I, Granddad?" Her eyes widened in excitement.
"Of course you can. We've got lots of people coming round so I need some help."
She nodded. "Is it 'cause you are getting old? Daddy says you are."
Her innocence amazed Max. "No I'm not getting old, you cheeky monkey." He started tickling her as she squealed with laughter.
He knew this year was going to be a good Christmas.
Alice and Abi kept looking at Lauren and whispering which confused the hell out of her. Last time she checked, she didn't have anything on her face and she didn't think her outfit looked that bad; she was wearing her black skinny jeans with a cream see through top with a black vest top underneath and her black leather jackets and low heeled ankle boots. She was determined not to let it bother her too much turning to look for Joey only to find him missing from where he stood a few minutes ago.
"Mummy!" Lauren felt two arms grip onto her neck from behind. She turned to find Lily kneeling on the empty chair next to her.
"Hello." Lily moved and sat on her Mum's lap. "What's up?"
"I lost you."
"Well I didn't go far." Lily snuggled closer to her. "Aww, does someone need a cuddle?" Lily nodded as Lauren placed a kiss on her forehead.
Before she got pregnant, Lauren never saw herself as maternal. Even when Oscar was born, yes she loved him but she always thought she could never see herself as a Mum. However, becoming a mother changed all that. Cuddles became one of her favourite things, getting so much out of something so simple, giving her a more incredible and long lasting feeling that alcohol ever could, the same as when she would find herself just watching Lily sleep; the serene look on her content face as she rested. If you were to ask her now, she would tell you being a Mum was the most rewarding thing she had ever experienced and if she had the opportunity to go back in time, she wouldn't change a thing.
Well so much for an uneventful Branning Christmas, Max thought, reeling from what Joey had just told him.
"Do you really think you're ready to handle that?" Max questioned as he rubbed his forehead.
"Yeah I do. I love them both so much; they are the best things in my life. I never want to lose them." Joey's honest words told Max all he needed to know and he knew he couldn't say no.
"Well, I guess if you think it's what you're ready for, I'll back you." Max hesitated before adding, "I'll back you one hundred per cent and give you my blessing."
This time it was Joey who was taken aback. "Really?"
Max smiled, nodding. "Yes, Joe, really. Joey, I know we've had our differences but you are a good guy. You look after my daughter and granddaughter so much so that I trust their lives with you one hundred per cent. You keep them safe and you make them happy and I know it's vice versa. I couldn't ask for anymore than that." Max offered Joey his hand to shake, which the younger Branning willingly shook. "Besides, if I have to get stuck with a son-in-law, may as well be someone I know and like and already practically see as my own son anyway. But I still stand by my promise, if you hurt either of them, you are a dead man."
Joey felt overwhelmed by what Max had just told him. "I promise I'd never hurt them. Thank you."
Max nodded knowing he had done the right thing, putting to bed all his personal issues finally with Joey.
Everyone was not only stuffed but exhausted as well. Carol, Bianca and the kids had all left after eating and talking for a few hours as too had Jack Sharon and Denny. Nobody wanted to move now.
Joey was sat on the floor with Lauren sitting between his legs, her head resting back on his chest while Lily sat next to them colouring her book in quietly. She was tired but refused to give in yet. Jay and Abi were curled up as were Max and Tanya, Cora outside having a smoke while Alice and Oscar were too sat on the floor watching the Christmas movie on TV while playing one of Oscar's new games.
As the movie finished, Lily turned to her father, "Daddy, are you going to give Mummy her last present now?"
Lauren looked at Lily confused before looking at Joey who was looking at Lily. Turning forward confused, she saw Alice and Abi exchange a look as did her parents. What the hell was going on? She had had suspicions earlier that something was going on but now she knew for certain something was up and her whole family was keeping secrets from her.
"Is someone going to fill me in on what's going on here?" She heard Joey sigh as Lily giggled and got up to run over to her Auntie Alice.
"Think your daughter's dropped you in it there, Joe." Max said amused.
"Yeah, thanks for pointing that out." Joey reply was sarcastic as Lily just grinned at her nervous father and confused Mum.
"Joey, what's going on?"
Taking a deep breath, he moved so he was now in front of Lauren on both his knees for now. "Ok, I didn't exactly plan on doing this here, right now but I guess there is no time like the present to do this." He adjusted his position to being on just one knee as Lauren's eyes widened in shock, anticipating what was about to happen. She watched as he took her hands in his own. "Lauren, we've been through so much together in these last four years but at the end of it we've grown so much stronger. You make everything in my life so much better. You've given me a beautiful daughter who I see grown more and more like her Mum every day. I've fallen well and truly head over heels in love with you and I never want to spend a single day without you again. Lauren Branning, I know you have an allergy to weddings, "she laughed as he continued, "will you marry me?" Despite her anticipation, she still felt her mouth drop open in surprise as Joey pulled a box from his pocket containing a small diamond and white gold band ring out. She could feel her eyes filling with tears and her mouth as dry as a bone. She was utterly speechless.
"Say yes, Mummy!" Lily interrupted as Alice tried to shush her niece and the others in the room laughed.
Not being able to speak, she nodded making Joey's grin reach from ear to ear as he slipped the diamond ring onto her left ring finger just before she attacked him with her mouth, not caring about the others who cheered. Lily ran back and hugged both her parents as she squeezed between them.
"Do you like your ring, Mummy? I helped Daddy, Auntie Alice and Auntie Whit choose it." She proudly added as Joey looked at her.
"I love it. You all did a very good job indeed." She kissed Lily's head as she looked at Joey again.
"Do you think you'll be able to get over your wedding allergies?" Lauren grinned remembering how she claimed to be allergic to weddings whilst her parents planned their second wedding.
"It'll be really, really hard but I think I might just about manage it; for one day." Joey shook his head at her, his eyes shining with love.
Finally breaking their family moment, they were congratulated by the rest of their family, Joey and Lauren knowing just how significant it was in how far their relationship had come that they were accepted.
Later that evening, the young family headed home, Joey carrying a very tired and sleepy Lily with one arm, his other hand entwined with his fiancée's.
"Why don't you go relax, I'll settle Lils then come find you." Joey suggested as they walked through the front door.
They heard a small voice pipe up. "No bed yet, Daddy."
"Yes, missy." Joey said feeling Lily shake her head under his chin.
"I'll make you a deal." Lauren started, interrupting the father/daughter mini debate. "You get ready for bed and you can sit with us for just a little bit." Lily nodded. "She'll be asleep within ten." Lauren added quietly to Joey who knew she was right.
It wasn't long before she joined Lauren on the sofa; Lily, in her monkey pyjamas, climbed up and lifted her Mum's arm up so she could cuddle close, Joey joining his two girls moments later. As predicted, it didn't even take ten minutes for Lily to fall asleep.
"Thank you." Joey turned his attention to Lauren.
Lauren played with the ring on her finger as she spoke, "For everything. Today was perfect. I love you."
"I love you too." Joey leaned over Lily and kissed Lauren as the young family settled down looking forward to their futures together as a family.
A/N: So what did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts one last time. Thanks again for all the reviews! Hopefully I'll be posting a new Joey/Lauren story in the not too distant future.
Luc :) x