Five years later...
“Tom, I’m so glad you made it!”
I throw my arms around him after opening the door.
“Of course, I’d make it,” he says, giving me a good squeeze. “I didn’t miss one Thanksgiving while I was in service. Why would I miss one now that I’m retired?”
I pull away, giving him a good look. He still has a scar on his cheek but he looks better than when I last saw him. He seems to have gained a bit of weight, too.
“Retirement suits you.”
“And marriage suits you.” He smiles at me then looks around. “So, this is your place, huh?”
“It was John’s then Clay’s, but yeah, I guess it’s my place now.”
For this year, Clay and I decided we’d be the ones to host Thanksgiving dinner since we’re a bigger family now and I have a bigger place.
“It’s lovely,” Tom says.
“So, where’s everyone?”
I lead him through the house. “Mom is in the kitchen, of course.”
“You know, she was a bit apprehensive about spending Thanksgiving in someone else’s house but would you believe that when she saw my kitchen, all those apprehensions vanished? It actually seems like she never wants to leave.”
Tom chuckles. “I can believe that.”
“Rose is there helping her,” I add.
“So, she’s Mom’s helper now, huh?”
“Yup. She’s taken my place and she loves it. She loves being in the kitchen, which is why she and Mom are best friends now.”
“Rose actually has this idea about putting up a blog about food and cooking and she wants to share Mom’s recipes on it. Mom is thrilled, of course.”
And frankly, so am I. I’m glad that Rose and her grandmother are getting along so well. And to think I was so afraid Mom would never even accept her.
“As for the rest, Dad, Dan, Rachel and their twins are somewhere out there exploring and Clay and David are upstairs. I believe Clay is giving David a bath.”
“I see.” Tom rubs his chin. “Everyone seems busy.”
“Pretty much. Please make yourself at home.” I stretch out my arms. “I’ll just go to the kitchen and make sure everything is on track for dinner.”
“That was another wonderful dinner,” my Dad says, rubbing his belly after the meal. “The best dinner of the year.”
“I dare say it’s the best we ever had,” my Mom says as she dabs the corners of her mouth with a table napkin. “After all, Andrea’s kitchen is superb.”
“It’s Hariett’s kitchen, actually,” I tell her. “And nope, sorry, Mom, but you can’t live in it and you can’t bring it home.”
My Mom frowns while a few of the people at the table chuckle.
“Boy, you sure weren’t kidding when you said you had a big house,” Rachel says as she finishes her pie, one of the twins in her other arm. “I knew you were rich but this drives it home.”
“Oh, please.” I wave a hand to dismiss her remark. “This was all just as a gift.”
Rachel frowns. “Now, you’re making me even more envious.”
“Don’t be,” I tell her. “You’re welcome here anytime. All of you are.” I look around the table before my gaze rests on Clay. “Right, sweetheart?”
“Damn right,” he says, raising his glass of wine.
“Good answer, son,” my Dad commends.
I smile. I thought it would take longer for my family to fully accept Clay but it seems they already have.
“But you just said I can’t live in your kitchen,” my Mom says, giving another frown.
“But you can borrow it every now and then,” I tell her. “Besides, if you lived in the kitchen, who would take care of Dad?”
Mom looks at him. “Nah, he can take care of himself.”
Rachel and Tom laugh.
“You bet I can,” my Dad agrees. “And if your Mom lives in the kitchen, I’ll live there in that pool house.”
I grin. Shortly after David was born, Clay had a pool installed and a pool house built beside it. It has since become one of my favorite parts of the property.
“Well, it seems like your house has been taken over,” Tom remarks.
“Thirty-eight years of marriage and all it takes is a big house to tear them apart,” Rachel kids.
“Now that I think of it, I like our house better,” my Mom says.
“Mom, I want more pie,” David says beside me.
I quickly get him another slice of pie then rub his head.
Sometimes, I can’t believe how much he’s grown. Why, it seems like only yesterday, I was giving birth at the hospital, screaming at the top of my lungs and clutching Clay’s arm. I can still remember that first moment when I held him in my arms. I was tired as hell and he still had a bit of blood on him but I didn’t care. I held him in my arms and I felt like everything in the world was right, that everything in my life had fallen into place.
Now, he’s four and he’s got loads of energy and a huge appetite.
“I can just imagine how much he’ll be eating when he’s a teenager,” I say.
“He’ll be raiding the fridge like Tom used to do,” Rachel says.
“I was hungry,” Tom reasons with furrowed eyebrows.
Rachel grins. “I sure am glad I have two girls.”
The twins, Monica and Maureen, are now a few months over two years old and they’re both beautiful, just like my sister, who’s finally happy after getting her marriage sorted out.
“Try saying that when they’re older and you have to buy them so many things,” my Mom says. “Or when they’re in high school and boys start swarming around them.”
“Oh, I’ll make sure they stay away,” Dan says.
“I plan on doing the same with Rose.” Clay places his arm around Rose. “I’m not going to let any jerks break her heart.”
“Dad, I can take care of myself.” Rose pushes his arm away.
She’s eleven now and she’s started calling Clay Dad instead of Daddy. Plus, she looks like a young lady now. I’m really proud of what she’s become. I just hope she can enjoy her teenage years and pick up a few, important lessons without getting into a lot of trouble.
“So it begins,” I say.
“What about you, Tom?” my Dad asks. “Do you plan on getting married and having kids now that you’re not shooting guns all the time?”
“I’m considering it,” Tom answers, placing his elbow on the back of his chair. “I haven’t found anyone yet but I’m hoping I will soon.”
“I know you will,” I tell him, hoping with all my heart that he can have a happy family of his own soon just like Rachel and I have.
“Don’t forget to invite us to your wedding,” Rachel tells him.
I frown. “You’re never going to let that go, are you?”
“Oh, let’s not look back on the mistakes of the past,” my Mom says. “It’s Thanksgiving. We should just be thankful for this moment, for the lessons we’ve learned and the people they’ve help us become.”
I raise my glass. “Hear, hear.”
Mom’s right. Why dwell on the bad things that happened in the past when there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for?
“Thank you for convincing Mom and Dad to come here,” I tell Rachel as I help her wash the dishes after dinner. “I’m really glad we were all able to spend Thanksgiving here.”
“Well, I wanted to see where you lived,” Rachel says. “And like you said, our house has become too small now that you and I have kids.”
I smile as I soap a glass. “It’s surreal, isn’t it? It seems like only yesterday, you and I were riding our bikes and playing in the yard and now, we have our kids of our own.”
“I know.” She hands me another glass to scrub. “Playtime is over.”
“How have you been, really?” I ask. “I mean I’m sure the twins must be a handful. I know David already is a handful. How much more if he had a twin?”
“Yeah.” Rachel nods. “I’m surprised I’m still sane. Some days, I just want to let them cry all they want and do whatever they want and just sit on the couch, watch TV and eat pizza and drink beer. But I’m a mother. You can’t just leave your kids alone.”
“I know. I never knew how tough being a mother was until I had to take care of Rose and then I had David,” I say, reaching for something else to scrub. “But at least, we have our husbands to help us.”
Rachel rolls her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
“Well, they don’t really help us. I mean they don’t change the diapers as often as we’d like them to or do the dishes or pick up the toys but at least, they’re there for us at the end of each day and that helps, doesn’t it?”
“I’m glad things worked out between you and Dan.”
“Me, too. And now that we have Maureen and Monica, we’ve grown even closer together.”
I smile “Nothing brings a couple closer like a child, doesn’t it?”
Rachel pauses. “Are you ever going to tell David that Rose isn’t his real sister?”
“Someday,” I answer. “But I’m not dreading it. I know they love each other like a real brother and sister. I’m confident that will never change.”
“I’m glad you are. I’m worried that Monica and Maureen might fight over boys and hate each other.”
“Oh, stop it. Sisters fight. You know they do.”
She glances at me. “Don’t I know it?”
“But at the end of the day, they’re sisters. They’ll have each other’s backs.”
She puts an arm over me. “You’re right. They’ll be fine.”
“Plus, they’re twins,” I tell her. “They have a special bond.”
“You’re right. I’m sure they’ll be best friends even when they have kids and all.”
Just then, Dan walks into the kitchen.
“Honey, sorry but I need your help with the twins,” he says. “They don’t want to go to sleep.”
“When do they want to sleep?” Rachel rolls her eyes.
“Go,” I tell her. “I’ll finish this up.”
Rachel washes her hands and wipes them before going to her husband, taking a twin from him.
“When Daddy says it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed,” she says. “No excuses. No…”
Her voice trails off as she leaves the room.
I smile as I continue washing the dishes. I’m really glad she’s okay.
And speaking of bedtime, I wonder if David has already gone to sleep.
He’s sleeping soundly.
Standing above his fire truck bed, I smile as I watch David sleep, putting his blanket, which he has kicked off, over him.
I love watching him sleep. It just gives me a sense of peace, an assurance that everything is alright. It takes away all my exhaustion and all my fears.
“Good night, my love,” I whisper as I kiss the top of his head.
He doesn’t stir. Probably, he’s already dreaming of putting out fires or finding treasure.
I tiptoe out of his room, closing the door gently, and then I go look for Clay. I find him in the kitchen, finishing the bottle of wine.
“Is everything alright?” he asks me.
“Yup,” I tell him. “Kids are asleep. Mom and Dad are asleep. I think everyone is asleep in their rooms. It’s been a long day, after all.”
“It has,” he agrees. “But it’s not over yet.”
He sets down his glass and places his hands on my arms, leaning forward to kiss me. I place my hands on his waist and kiss him back.
I love Clay’s kisses. If watching David sleep gives me peace, Clay’s kisses never fail to make me feel better, always less lonely, less worried.
And they always make my heart skip a beat.
As our tongues mingle, my heart begins to pound, heat creeping up my spine and flowing through my veins.
Ah, yes. Clay’s kisses do that, too.
He pushes me against the edge of the table as he kisses me harder, one hand moving to the back of my nape and the other caressing my thigh.
I break the kiss. “Wait. Don’t tell me we’re doing it here.”
“Why not?” He gives me a mischievous look. “You said everyone’s asleep in their rooms.”
Yes, I did say that. Still…
“Don’t tell me you’ve lost your sense of adventure, Mrs. Maxwell?” he teases. “Or do you not want me as much as you used to?”
“Nonsense.” I place my arms around him. “I’ll always want you.”
“Good.” He hoists me up on the edge of the table. “Because I’ll never get enough of you.”
He kisses me again, his fingers running through my hair. He pauses for a moment to take off his sweater and his shirt in one go, and then he’s at it again, kissing me and making my body tremble with desire, my senses going wild.
I start taking off my clothes, too, first my sweater then my shirt. Then I lie back on the table so that he can pull my pants off.
“Ah,” he says, eyes gleaming as he looks at me. “Now, this is a feast.”
“Are you going to gobble me all up now?” I ask.
And he kisses me all over – my mouth, that patch of skin behind my ear, my neck, my shoulders, the valley between my breasts, my breasts over the cups of my bra, my belly, my thighs, my knees. Then he goes back to my belly, kissing it reverently before staring at it.
I suddenly feel conscious. “You don’t have to stare. I know my tummy’s bigger now.”
“That’s not why I’m staring at it,” Clay says. “I’m staring at your belly because I was remembering when you were pregnant with David.”
I frown. “Don’t. I was ugly then, and a mess.”
“You were beautiful.” He strokes my cheek. “You’re always beautiful.”
He kisses my mouth again. Then he takes off my bra and cups my breasts, making me moan and shiver. He kisses my breasts, too, which never fails to make me gasp, heat swirling under my skin, and then he takes off my panties and kisses me there.
“Clay,” I cry out softly as the pleasure threatens to overwhelm me, my knees shaking and my body melting.
I don’t know why but each time he does this, he drives me crazy, my thoughts becoming a blur as my body becomes one hot mess.
With each flick of his wicked tongue, I feel my orgasm inching closer. I fight it for as long as I can but when his tongue moves faster, I come undone, surrendering to the pleasure that crashes over me like a huge wave, knocking the breath from my lungs.
I can’t believe I just had an orgasm on the dinner table.
And it’s not over yet.
As Clay undresses beside the table, I jump off, kneeling in front of him. I wrap my fingers around his thick cock, licking the tip.
Clay grips my shoulders. “Andrea.”
“You can’t have all the tasty treats, you know,” I tell him, taking him inside my mouth.
His fingers become entangled with my hair even as my nose becomes buried in his. I move my tongue and then my head, going back and forth to provide the delicious friction his body needs, delighting in the moans that escape from his lips.
I’ve only discovered this recently but I know that I love giving my husband pleasure.
I don’t want him to have all of it, though, so I stop after a few moments, getting on my feet.
He turns me around, bending me over the table and entering me with one thrust.
I moan, loving the feel of him inside me.
He plants kisses on my back before he starts moving and I rake my nails across the table, trying to hold on to something so as not to be swept away, my body rocking along with the table with each of his thrusts. I can feel the heat gathering inside me again. I can feel the excitement slowly but steadily building.
He turns me around, pushing me on top of the table before entering me again, pounding into me. I throw my head back, closing my eyes as my vision starts to blur.
When he comes, I come with him, clinging to him as my mouth opens in a silent scream. Then I lie still, breathless, exhausted.
But completely satisfied.
Clay plants a kiss on my forehead. “Now, that was a satisfying treat.”
“Better than the turkey?” I ask.
“Because I feel like I’ve just been stuffed,” I tell him. “And now, I don’t think I can move.”
He puts on his boxers. “In that case, I’ll just have to carry you to bed.”
And he does exactly that, taking me in his arms and carrying me up the stairs to our bedroom, where he sets me down on the bed, panting after.
I laugh. “I told you I’m heavier now.”
“Not as heavy as you were when I carried you inside the hospital,” he reminds.
Right. He did carry me back then, just when I was about to give birth.
I reach up to cup his face. “Thank you.”
“For always being there for me,” I tell him.
“I told you I was going to take care of you.” He kisses my hand. “You gave me a second chance and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
“I gave us a second chance.” I press his hand to my cheek. “And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
It’s true. I’m glad I decided to let go of the past, of the pain. I’m glad I opened my heart to Clay again, to the only man I ever really loved. He’s my first love and my last.
And this second chance is the only one we need to make things work.