“Yeah,” Hailey says, “just bonding.” She smiles and then walks to Jensen, hugging him and kissing his neck while she talks to him.
“Can we come over this weekend?” I ask him, looking up at him as he looks down at me.
“The girls have already packed their bags, and they’re already in the car.” He smiles. “Go get your bag ready.”
“Okay,” I tell him. On the way to my room, I see Henry sitting in the living room talking to Joanne. I walk to them.
“Hey,” I say to them, and they both smile at me. “I can’t …” I say with tears and a smile. “I can’t thank you enough.” I shake my head. “What you guys did for me and for the girls, I can never repay you,” I tell them.
Joanne gets up first and comes to me, grabbing my face in her hands. “Honey, you already paid us back tenfold,” she says with her own tears. “You gave us back our boy,” she tells me. “You made his eyes shine again. You made him smile again.”
Henry now stands. “So consider us even.” He kisses my cheek. “Sweetheart,” he says, “he waited a long time for this. No matter how much I hate Eric, in the end, he gave us both gifts. We get you three, and you made my boy come back to me. Frankly, I think we owe you.” He smiles, and I hug him, trying not to sob against his chest but failing miserably. “Enough tears,” he says. “Go get your bags packed.”
“Okay.” I shake my head at them, walking up the stairs to my room and packing my bag for the weekend.
I’m tossing clothes into a bag when the phone rings. I pick it up. “Hello,” I say into the phone.
“Sam, it’s Elliot,” he says softly.
I stop packing and sit on my bed. “What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Nothing, I was calling to check on you and the girls.” I try not to pfft out.
“We’re fine,” I tell him. “We’ve been hanging on for a while now. But you wouldn’t know that,” I tell him.
“I know, I know,” he starts. “Instead of doing what was right, I followed what my father said, and it was wrong,” he breathes out. “I want to make up for it.”
“Can I maybe come over for dinner or take them to the park tomorrow?”
“We’re leaving,” I tell him, “for the weekend. But after that, I’m moving.”
“What?” he says shocked.
“I can’t stay here; for the past two months, I’ve been a recluse in the house. I can’t stay here.”
“What about the girls?” he asks me.
“They want to go also,” I tell him, “especially after this whole mess. They are happy to go.”
“You don’t have to do that. We won’t bother you or the girls.”
“It’s too late for that,” I tell him. “The damage is done.”
“Can I come over when you get back and see the girls?”
I close my eyes, then tip my head back. “Yes.” I give in. “I’ll call you when we get back.”
“Okay,” he says softly and disconnects. I toss the phone on the bed and get up to get my clothes. I don’t even bother changing what I’m wearing. I walk down the steps and see that everyone is gone.
“Where is everyone?” I ask them, and Blake comes to me.
“Crystal, Hailey, and the guys went back home.” He smiles at me. “My parents went home but made me promise we’d go over for breakfast tomorrow morning.”
“That sounds like a plan.” I smile at him.
I walk out of the house, locking the door, and not once do I look back. “I’m ready,” I tell him when I close the door.
He grabs my hand in his, driving us out of town toward his house. He doesn’t even make it a secret that we are sharing a room. He asks the girls to pick which room they want, and the girls squeal when they go in the room. So I follow them. In each room, he has added a television and a desk. Along with pink lamps, some rugs, and coloring books for Daisy, but a journal for Lizzie. “Who did all this?” I look at him.
“I just wanted them to feel at home and have their own space,” he says, and if I didn’t love him before, I love him now.
I don’t say anything to him. I just go to him and wrap my arms around his waist, looking at the girls while they find all the new things to keep them busy.
Dinner is quiet and just the four of us. The stress of the past week has finally caught up to us, and we all fall asleep early.
“I bought a new tent.” It is the first thing my mother says when we walk into the house the next day for breakfast. “And we bought a blow-up bed, so we can sleep in there,” she tells the girls, dragging them outside to look in the tent.