Good Evening all,
Please enjoy the fourth and final chapter of 'A New Start'. Sorry it has taken a few days to post; work has been disgustingly busy of late.
A New Start Chapter 4
Grace was in the kitchen in panties and a singlet flicking through the newspaper with a coffee in her hand when Josh got up the next morning.
"Hey" she smiled, looking up. "There's coffee on the bench?"
He grinned, wearing his jeans from the night before but without a shirt, pecking her on the lips as he moved to grab a cup. "Thought you might have done a runner on me?"
She shook her head "Narh. But I did get up so you could make a quiet escape if that's what you want…"
"I wouldn't do that to ya."
"It'd be ok" she reassured him. "It's messier than it used to be."
Josh laughed "You're not married this time Gracie."
"Oh...yeah" she laughed. "Um...there's fruit, yogurt, cereal…toast?"
"What time are you getting Justin?" he checked.
"How's a greasy bacon and egg roll from Smitty's sound?"
Grace grinned. "Ingenious. I'll go pull some clothes on."
"Damn" he laughed as she got up. "You've still got it Gracie," he called out after her as she walked back to her room. She giggled, shaking her arse at him before disappearing into the bedroom.
Grace came back out a few minutes later in jeans and a loose fitting top, her hair brushed out, still relatively straight from the night before, having taken a couple of minutes to remove the makeup that had stayed on overnight. "All set" she smiled grabbing her bag.
Josh had pulled a shirt on, having put the mugs of coffee into the sink. "C'mon then."
Ten minutes later they pulled up outside a small takeaway store that they used to frequent in the early hours a nightshift, Josh ordering two of the rolls and another two large coffees, the two wandering to the park across the road to eat. Grace lifting herself up to sit on the table with Josh climbing up beside her.
"Good?" he asked.
Grace nodded, chewing quickly as she was caught with a mouthful. "Amazing. My head feels better already." They ate in silence for a couple more minutes before Grace turned back to him, "We're OK right?"
"Yep" he bit into his roll again.
"That was convincing" she laughed nervously.
"Gracie" he took her free hand. "We're always going to be OK."
She smiled at him "I hope so. I didn't want things to be awkward."
"I just shouted you breakfast" he teased, "I thought that was a gesture of affection?"
"Is that right?" she laughed.
"I'm not saying I'm ready to play happy families right away…but I've thought about it, a lot Grace. Not just last night but ever since you got back… I think we proved last night that what we had is still there. Gracie, I still love ya. And I reckon any kid of yours is going to be irresistible as well."
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" she double checked, surprised.
"That I want to give this a go? Properly this time? Yes."
"It'll be different…I have different priorities now. I get very little 'me' time, even less 'us' time" she tried to explain.
"So we'll be watching movies on the lounge instead of at the theatre. We'll be building sandcastles on the beach instead of skinny dipping. We never did all that anyway. Grace, I can handle this if you can. I want to be with you."
She took a minute to get her thoughts together before giving him a small nod.
"Is that a yes?" he asked, squeezing her hand.
"It's a yes" she grinned, turning to kiss him.
Josh kissed her back, grinning when they broke apart. "I feel like a bloody teenager."
"I feel dizzy… but that could still be the wine" she laughed. "I thought I'd lost you forever when I moved…and when I came back I didn't expect you to ever talk to me again. But last night…that was amazing Josh."
"Best birthday ever" he grinned, wiping some sauce off her nose. "Speaking of which…I now have two football tickets. Would you like to go to the game with me next weekend? Bring Justin. Kids are allowed on laps aren't they?"
"I'd love to" she smiled. "I better get you a better present if I'm going to take half of it."
"Trust me Grace, you gave me the best present you could give me last night."
Both Grace and Josh cooled things off a bit over the next week, TR being bombarded with nuisance calls that kept the whole unit busy but uninspired, the two riding separately for much of the week.
"So…tomorrow night?" Grace turned to grin at Josh when they were stopped at traffic lights on Thursday afternoon, only the second time they'd worked together all week. "You still taking me to the game to watch your team lose?"
"Oh that's right. You support the enemy, don't you?"
She nodded firmly. "Born and bred."
"Maybe I should change my mind about taking you?"
"Scared sergeant?" she grinned. "Maybe we should put a wager on it?"
"You want to bet on our first date?" he raised his eyebrows.
"Oh is that what it's called?"
"It's what I'm calling it."
"Shame…" she trailed off, biting her lip playfully as she turned left at the lights.
"I don't put out on first dates!"
Josh laughed "I'll just have to see what I can do about changing your mind then."
"I could make an exception…if you were to pick me up."
"Deal!" he grinned. "You're a hard woman Grace Reid."
"Hard…but totally worth it" she batted her eyelashes dramatically, snapping back to work as they were called out.
Graces front door was opened by a young girl in her early twenties the following afternoon when Josh arrived. She grinned at him looking him up and down before speaking. "You must be Josh….Gracie's right…you're hot."
"NESSA!" Grace yelled down the hallway. "Way to be subtle" she laughed, coming out of her room hopping as she tried to put a boot onto her left foot. "Josh, this is Nessa my Nanny. She doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut." She leant in to kiss him briefly before steadying herself on his shoulder as she pulled her shoe on properly.
"Not my fault you're gaga over him" Nessa grinned.
Josh looked slightly overwhelmed before laughing. "It's nice to meet ya Nessa. Gracie's said a few things about you too."
"All amazing, I'm sure" she laughed. "If you're dressed I might head off?" Nessa checked with Grace who nodded.
"Sure, have a good weekend. Thanks for sticking me in it."
"Anytime, Bye Justin," she waved at the little boy who had walked into the lounge room to see what all the noise was about.
Josh nodded slightly towards him as Nessa left, Grace giving Joshs hand a squeeze before going over to pick Justin up.
"Justin, this is my friend Josh. He's taking us to the football tonight. Say hello."
"I play footy" he smiled shyly, cuddling into Graces side.
"With your Mum?" Josh checked. "Do you win?"
He nodded, his little arms wrapping around his mother's neck.
"He cheats. Like you" Grace laughed at Josh putting him down. "Go and get your shoes and we'll go" she told him, turning back to Josh as he ran off to get them. Wearing jeans and her teams jersey Grace kissed Josh properly this time. "Thank you for doing this. Don't be nervous. He's not that hard to impress. He's three."
"Easy for you to say. I know nothing about kids…do they like beer?"
She laughed "No. They don't, but Mum does. It'll be fine Josh. He'll see how happy I am around you and he'll relax."
Josh nodded as Justin came running back into the room with his shoes, smiling as he watched Grace sit down in front of him putting them on before hoisting him back onto her hip and grabbing an oversized handbag and the pram, balancing everything like a professional. "Let me help?" he offered.
"You can lock up" she laughed tossing him the keys. "Thanks."
Once they were settled in the stadium Grace relaxed, Justin sitting in Graces lap happily watching the mascots on the field.
"Hey Justin…What do we do when we score?" Grace asked, winking at Josh.
Justin looked at her blankly for a moment before Grace threw her hands up. He giggled, throwing his into the air as well and yelling "Woohooooooo" he grinned proudly.
Josh laughed "That's right. And what do we do when Mummy's team scores?" he asked.
Justin looked at Grace confused, looking back at Josh when his mother shrugged.
Josh turned his thumbs down "Booooooooo" he groaned.
The toddler laughed copying Josh's actions.
"Good boy. Oh we're going to have some fun tonight" Josh grinned at Grace. "I believe I just converted your son."
Justin was in giggles for most of the game, getting confused and half the time screaming for Josh's team the other half for Grace, booing whenever he was instructed and just generally reacting to whatever noise was going on around him.
"My son's a traitor" Grace sighed dramatically as they walked out after the game in which her team had lost, Justin already half asleep in the stroller.
Josh grinned, "Your son is fun!"
"My son's going to sleep through the night he is that tired. We might be lucky."
"I thought they only woke at night as babies."
Grace laughed. "We're pretty good most nights now. It's the monsters we worry about these days."
"So no scary stories before bed?"
"That's your choice. I'll make you get up to him."
"Right. No scary stories," he confirmed with a laugh.
"It's funny seeing you as a Mum" Josh smiled, pulling her into his arms as she sat down on the lounge later that night after putting Justin to bed. "I mean…I've known for a while…but this is the first time I've seen you doing Mum things. You have a kid Grace. A mini you. Who depends on you for food and safety and everything…"
She turned to him, "Are you freaking out on me?"
"Not at all. It's just different. I haven't had much to do with kids."
"You were good with him tonight. He liked you."
"I actually had fun. I had these images of him screaming all night, or throwing a tantrum everytime I touched his Mum."
Grace smiled cuddling in closer to him. "He's three Josh. He doesn't care. If I'm happy with you touching me…which funnily enough, I am, he's ok with it too. Wait ten years, then see how he feels with a man touching me. 'Ew gross, Mum's having sex' " she mocked laughing.
"You really see us together in ten years?" he asked, tucking her hair behind her ears affectionately, kissing the top of her hair softly.
"Is it too soon?" she asked nervously.
"Nup. I love ya Gracie. I always have. If, in ten years' time, I wake up and you're lying beside me I'd be a very happy man."
"I never stopped loving you" she whispered, reaching a hand out, tracing his lips with her index finger. "Ever."
"Mummy?" Josh woke up to the small voice standing in the doorway, confused for a moment before working out where he was, very grateful that the two had dressed before falling asleep, sitting up to greet Justin.
"Mummy's still asleep mate. Do you remember me?"
He nodded grinning. "You're Josh!"
"Yeah that's right. How about some breakfast?" He got up carefully, letting Grace sleep a bit longer. "I'm starving."
Justin nodded, "Why are you in Mummy's bed?"
"I was tired and Mummy said I could stay" he tried, hoping that Justin would accept that as a valid answer.
Justin thought about it for a moment and then nodded "OK."
Josh grinned, relieved. "What do you have for breakfast?"
"Ummm" Josh looked in the cupboard "Cornflakes?" he tried, holding out the box.
Justin nodded eagerly. "Yes!"
Josh poured them both bowls, Justin ending up with a bowl almost as full as what his own was. Justin grinning as he dug in, barely a quarter of the way through when Grace got up.
"Well good morning" she laughed kissing Justin on the forehead before going over to kiss Josh briefly on the lips. "That's a big bowl of cornflakes Mister. Didn't you tell Josh that was too much?"
"No." Justin shook his head. "Josh has more."
Grace laughed sitting on Josh's knee, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "Josh is lots bigger than you."
"I'm big!" he protested, shovelling another spoonful into his mouth as if to prove a point.
"Sorry" Josh apologised. "He said he was hungry."
"Don't be sorry. It's funny. He'll stop before he makes himself sick."
"I told ya I'm not great with kids."
"No, you did good." She laughed as he wrapped his arms around her waist, "He's only eating it so he can be like you, you know that right?"
"Are you saying I impressed?"
"I'm saying you did," she laughed.
"That was easy. Kids are easy."
Grace rolled her eyes. "You watch it or I'll call you to deal with a tantrum."
He kissed her neck, "I've dealt with yours for a long time."
"Bit different. You can't calm him down quite the same way."
Josh spent most of Saturday with Grace and Justin, Justin hanging off Josh's every word, trying hard to be independent and be a 'big boy' in front of Josh. Grace spent most of the day trying not to laugh at her son showing off, sitting back between Josh's legs on the stairs leading down to her backyard as Justin busied himself on the swing set.
Josh instantly wrapped his arms around her, his hands resting lightly on her abs. "You reckon you'd have another one day when we're married?"
Grace jumped, her head snapping around to look at him. "When we're married?" she repeated in shock.
"Yeah. Not tomorrow or anything, but one day. What do ya think?"
"Are you proposing to me?" she laughed in shock.
"Sorta?" she laughed. "No. No way. You can't 'sorta' propose Josh."
"Alright, fine. Gracie, will you marry me?" he asked more seriously.
Graces jaw dropped, "You're not mucking around…"
Josh shook his head, "I love ya. You love me. That hasn't changed in four years."
"It's too soon Josh. We've only just started seeing each other again. You've only just met Justin. I can't just drop everything and have fun like we used to, I have responsibilities. I have bad habits. I can be damn annoying," she babbled in shock.
He laughed, shaking his head. "You're being bloody annoying now," he told her, kissing her softly. "Look, you don't have to answer now…just…that's where I'm thinking, that's all. Have a think about it. The offers on the table, you can get back to me."
She nodded, looking up as Justin called out for them as he flipped over on the monkey bars. "Josh, look at me! Josh!"
"Be careful Justin" she warned, sitting forward as Josh got up.
"He's 100% your son Gracie," Josh laughed, going over to make sure he didn't slip off. "That's pretty brave Justin. Reckon you could teach me some tricks?"
Grace stood up and went inside to start on dinner, the smile still plastered on her face. She couldn't give Josh the answer he wanted to hear that day, but she knew in time she'd know just what to say.
Well, what did you think? I know I kind of left it up in the air, but this way there is room there for a sequel if there is demand for it.