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Realistic or Modern Anchored by Love (Draft Four... lol)

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Nick
I knew the minute Amelia referred to me as detective that this conversation was not going to be one shared between friends. She was about to tell me something major and it in fact was. My heart ached for her as her friend, knowing she and Jayden deserved none of this, but also I was going to get to the bottom of this and throw Perales’s ass in jail even if it was the last thing I did. This was the last thing I wanted to hear but I would do anything to make sure Amelia and Jayden we’re finally left alone. Looking at Amelia, I nodded firmly, admiring how strong the woman sitting on the bed was.

“Alright. I’ll take care of this. I should head back to the station and do some digging then," With all the new information reeling in my head, I already began to think of the leads I had and how I was going to question Perales the minute I returned to the main station. I was trying to think of anything else that the mob might do to get back at Amelia and Jayden, and when the thought of Little Bel came to mind, I panicked but tried to press it down so not to worry the woman in front of me. "Is Bel with Isabel?" I asked, nodding in acknowledgement when she said yes. Alright. I'll have to call her in a sec.

"I'm going to head out now. Do you want me to let Elise back in? I know she won’t leave your side until Jayden’s out of his operation.”

Isabel
I knew my fiance was right. If this was mob related, I was going to have to take care of Bel because the mob was a lot like the cartels. They stop at nothing when one of their own is killed. The thought didn't help my already racing heart and though I already has my own gun, I was going to do exactly as Dawson said. I wished he was here more than ever. I was hoping nothing would happen but I couldn't let my guard down. This isn't the first time you've had to do something like this. Just now you're keeping Bel safe. That sent a shiver down my back.

"I wish you were here," I cried out to Dawson, biting my lip as the deep sob finally came out. Dammit. I need to calm myself down. "I really do. I can't do this, Dawson. I can't-" It was then my phone started beeping. I looked at the screen and quickly saw Amelia's name pop up. Answer it. "Amelia's calling. I'll keep you updated. I love you."

After hanging up with Dawson, my mood didn't get any better. With what Elise was telling me, my stomach dropped. That was it. It was the mob. Jayden was shot, twice and was now currently in the OR getting the worst of the two removed. Elise removed the other one back at the hotel. Nick is talking with Amelia right now. Everything was a disaster and now I had my niece, who I prayed no one was coming after. I took a deep breath and thanked Elise for letting me know everything.

"Can you have Amelia call me back when she gets the chance?" I asked her and after hanging up that phone call, I got a text from Nick.

"Is Bel with you?" He sent and I took a sharp intake of breath.

"Yes. I'll handle everything here. Dawson told me someone might come after her and to call the police so I'm telling you. I'm sending Mateo with his grandma in the morning and then I can hold down the fort here." I replied quickly, taking another deep breath. My nerves were finally calm. I knew what I had to do now. Keep the kids safe. You just have to keep the kids safe.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
By now the nurse returned to finish the exam she forced me into I was getting impatient, now that I knew the baby was healthy I wanted to be near Jayden. Smiling when Elise let herself back in before I could reply to Nick, I kept the grin on my face. "I'm trusting you, Nick, go get the bastard who wants my husband dead."

Nick
Leaving Amelia, I was completely irate now that the pieces if what occurred tonight were falling into place easier than I was trained for. When Isabel texted me back, I shook my head in a frustrated sigh. This was bigger than Isabel, this was the mob and for Dawson to tell her she could handle it. made it seem like Isabel was protecting our niece from a group of bullies rather than a group of merciless cold-blooded killers who didn't care that Bel was just a baby.

"You can't protect her by yourself. I'm sending around the clock security until we know she's safe. We might take her into protective custody."


Little Bel
"Aunt Isabel, I want my daddy," The toddler whispered, after sneaking out of Mateo's room, clutching the blanket and stuffed German Shepard she named after Liberty that she never left home without. After the plane incident, the little girl just wanted to go home and be in her own bed curled against her father, as she spent almost every night since he was the one to put her to bed before he went to work, and today, she didn't get that. The thought of missing him, made her begin to cry, rubbing her eyes with her fists. "When is daddy coming back?"
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
You can't protect her by yourself.

That stung more than it should have. A normal person would've agreed with Nick, would've quickly relented and submitted to everything he had to say but I wasn't one of them. I never liked for someone to tell me what I could and couldn't do, especially when I knew I could, in fact, handle the task at hand which was protecting my niece. I've had worse occur to me in the span of being a photojournalist, this mob didn't scare me but I also knew what was best for my niece and it wasn't letting her Uncle Nick put her in protective custody. She would freak without someone she knew with her. She was also two years old, a toddler. I could feel my blood boiling.

"I CAN protect her by myself and I plan on it. You can send around the clock security, I don't care, but you WILL NOT send our niece into protective custody. Do you want her to freak? She's TWO, Nicholas."

After angrily sending a response to the officer attempting to boss me around, I was about to text Shelly and ask her to pick up Mateo in the morning when I heard my mini me whisper out to me. I pushed all the swirling emotions of anger, worry and irritation aside, ensuring my niece didn't pick up on any of it. I needed to relax and keep my cool so she didn't become worried.

"Bel," I said sweetly, going over to her and kneeling in in front of her, quickly pulling her into a tight hug. Considering the events that occurred today, this embrace was more for me than my mini me. "Your daddy will be back for ya soon, okay? He wasn't feeling good so your mommy took him to the doctor but he's all better."

Liar. I hated lying to the toddler but the less she knew, the better. Ignorance is bliss.

"C'mon, do you want to watch Lilo & Stitch with me?" I asked her, carrying her over to the couch when she nodded, still clutching her blanket and stuffed German Shephard close against her chest. I just held her, ignoring the buzzing of my phone while I attempted to soothe her back to sleep and it worked. A few minutes in of watching the movie and me running my hands through her hair, her body became limp and relaxed against me. I kissed the top of her head before I laid her down on the couch and smiled when my older Maltipoo, Apollo, came over to snuggle up against one of his best friends.

Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my phone from the coffee table before sticking it in my back pocket and walking to the home office Dawson and I shared, but was mostly mine, and punched in the code to the safe, pulling out the gun Dawson had there, making sure the safety was on, then grabbing the holster he bought me and hooked it in my waistband, following the gun. I needed to keep my guard up at all times. After that, I shut the safe, walked back to the living room and sat at the island with my laptop, busying myself since I couldn't sleep. It was then I opened my texts and read the ones from Nick and Dawson. I still hadn't heard from Amelia but I knew I'd hear something from her soon.
 
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Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Nick
Scoffing at Isabel's reply. You're making it impossible to do my job for our friends, Isabel. You're not the one who watched Jayden have no regard for himself, to protect everyone else, and now the most dangerous group is after his family and you're acting like this is a game you can win. Trust me, please.

"I would rather be safe than sorry if anything happened to either one of you. We've all been through enough tonight. You can come with her if you want, please, Isabel."


Amelia
Changing out of the hospital gown and back into my tight-fitting dress, I carried my heels and myself to the waiting room, where I waited anxiously waited for any news on Jayden, Elise still beside me, I sighed, shaking my head. "Elise, you can go home, I don't want to keep you here. You spend enough time here as it is. Thanks for calling Isabel, by the way," I commented looking of into nothingness, getting lost in my thoughts about the night and what could happen to Jayden. It was true, that when I decided to commit myself to Jayden, I accepted the reality that every time he walked out of our door, there was more of a chance he wouldn't come home compared to the conventional man, but secretly I considered him invincible and never thought he would one day succumb to the evil that lingered in the streets.

In a moment of weakness, I blurted out something in my frustration with the situation I was afraid I would regret.

"He's so stupid for going undercover, it wasn't worth any of this, but I could never tell him how angry it made me when he decided that because it made me a bad wife for limiting him in his career when he never asked the same of me. I don't know how you do it, Elise. Sometimes I think, he's better off without me because I think some things they have to go though, just aren't worth it."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I read over Nick's text, releasing a deep sigh as I began to reconsider what I said at first. I knew it was because of how quick Nick was to say I was incapable of doing something. It hurt my pride but I didn't need my pride biting me in the ass and end up being the reason Bel was hurt. I was at a loss on what to do. Fuck, I know you're right, Nick but I just can't do it. I can't bring myself to say yes. God this is frustrating. I want to keep Bel safe but is she really safe with me? Nick's right. I can't keep her safe.

That was all it took for me to take back everything I said.

"I have to get Mateo to his grandmother in Fort Worth. If protective care is really what you think is best then fine, we'll do it but I'm going with her." After sending the text, I felt so weak and small. I wish Dawson was here.

Opening the text thread with my fiance, I fought back tears. Shit, stop being soft.

"I told Nick I have Bel. We agreed protective care is the best thing for her but I'm not letting her go alone. Mateo's going with your mom and I'll be with Bel. I'll talk to you when it's safe."

After sending the text, I walked to the liquor bar and poured some amber liquid into a glass, downing it like it was a shot. It's about Bel. Get your shit together and stay strong for Amelia and Jayden. You know is what he would want.

"Let me know when we're going." I said to Nick, setting my phone down while I poured another glass of whiskey, downing it like a shot again. I needed it. Ugh, I hate how much whiskey is my crutch.


Elise
I decided that I wasn't going to leave Amelia's side considering everything we just experienced at the ballroom and where we ended up. I knew Jayden would make it but I also knew Amelia was in her head, beyond worried about the off chance that he wouldn't. I knew what this felt like, what all of it felt like. I was, like Amelia, a cop's wife so in her moment of weakness when she began to tell me Jayden was stupid and how going undercover wasn't worth any of this, my heart felt for her. I had been in her spot before, different circumstances but same emotions and thoughts. I knew in that moment I had to comfort her.

"Pardon my frankness but you are straight up stupid if you think Jayden would be better off without you. He married you for a reason, Amelia and you know it wasn't because of his situation at the time with the mob. You know without a doubt it's because he loves you more than anything in the world and wants to give it to you," I started off, now reaching over and taking Amelia's hand in my own. "Do you honestly think I handle Nick being in this career well? Honey, I do that in public but it's one of the hardest pills for me to swallow. Being a cop's wife is a lot of give and take, even if you feel like you can't take. You have every right to tell your husband no to taking a position or asking him to take a step back. This isn't something just anyone can handle, but you're strong enough. So if you're angry at him for taking this on, tell him. He needs to know. I tell Nick every time he pisses me off when he makes a decision without asking me because their career doesn't affect just them. It affects us, their wives, their family too. He might be angry with you in the moment, trust me, but he loves you enough to take what you say into consideration. It's a tough life we live, but that's part of marrying someone who works public service. You took on a career dedicated to the public as well. You know what it's like. You just got to have a thick skin but be vulnerable and open with him always. Oh, and stand your ground when absolutely needed." I laughed then, hoping my last statement brought some form of smile to her face.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
Letting go of the smallest of giggles, I nodded at Elise's advice, patting her hands in my own. "You're right, but my career isn't what it used to be. Granted, I don't regret a thing, but it kinda went to the back burner once his cover was blown. I went on this euphoric path of giving him everything he ever wanted, a marriage and a baby because I knew he wanted those things, more than anything and after almost losing him to that trail, his happiness was the only thing that truly mattered to me, and I've never admitted his to anyone, but sometimes, when he goes days without seeing me or our daughter for more than 20 minutes and she favors him over me, I wish I would have confronted him in the beginning but I was so naive and in love with him/ I feel like I was the only one who had to give up something that mattered. Once he was acquitted, he got to walk right back into his job and he got his marriage and his daughter if I didn't love him as much as I do, I would hate him for taking that away from me. Sometimes, I just miss who I was before he persistently pursued me," I whispered in a laugh at the thought. "But tonight was humbling, it reminded me to not be resentful because I really don't know when I'll lose him, everything else is worth reconsidering. But I don't know how many more times I can sit and hope he'll make it so you have my word I'll be mean to him from now on when it matters," I insisted, leaning into my friend. before all Jayden's friends in blue began to file into the waiting room, each of them, greeting me with a respectful nod and relief that I was okay. Hugging each one of them, I welcomed them to wait for word on their brother's condition.

This is why it's worth it. I thought before I picked up my phone. "I'm going to call Isabel, I'll be right back," I whispered to Elise before I grabbed my white coat and slipped back into my heels to walk outside, not surprised when two uniformed officers followed me out. Not paying them any attention I clicked Isabel's name in my phone and waited impatiently in the cold for her to answer.

Please, I need to hear your voice.


Letting go of a breath when I heard her answer, I tried not to gasp.

"Best friend."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I was still leaning against the liquor bar, trying my hardest to calm the voices that were now consuming me. It consisted mostly of telling myself that I was incapable of keeping my niece safe but deep down I knew that was wrong. I knew I could I just didn't have it in me to argue with Nick or anyone for that matter. I was being utterly soft right now and it was beyond frustrating. I needed to talk to someone. Amelia or Dawson. Just someone who would ground me even if I wasn't going to tell them what was on my mind because it wasn't the time for that.

When I heard my phone annoyingly buzzing, I groaned, figuring that it was Nick telling me who was coming to pick up Bel and I in the morning. I figured that's when we would leave together considering I needed to get my son with his grandparents first. Plus, both toddlers were dead asleep and I wasn't going to wake them up in the middle of the night and scare the crap out of them. Not at all. Seeing Amelia's contact pop up instead, however, I gasped and quickly answered, my voice breathless.

"Amelia," I said in response, finding back a cry. "How are you? How's Jayden? Do you know anything yet?" I rambled, biting my lip to stop myself from bombarding her. "Sorry. Just, how are you?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
In reaction to being overly elated to hear Isabel's voice after the night I had, I shed a few tears but made no mention of it. I wished she was next to me, but I needed her to stay with the kids. Wiping the tears away with my hand, I took a deep breath. "It's okay, I'm, doing the best I can given the situation. I'm sorry you had to find out that way," I replied pacing the entrance of the hospital. "A lot is going on right now, but I'll fill you in later." Jayden's still in the OR. No one's telling me anything, but I expect it to take a few hours." Looking over at the two officers who stood nearby, I quickly diverted eye contact with them out of my own paranoia. "Isabel, I don't know if this is asking too much. but I know Nick is going to ask me to put Bel in protective custody and I'm not going to let him. Can you keep her for me, please? I just don't know who to trust right now and after tonight, I have no way of knowing who has good intentions in keeping her safe, please. I'm sorry to have to ask, but I'm not going to traumatize her for the rest of her life based on a decision her father made, that stays between us. Just do whatever you have to do, and whatever they tell you, I gave no one permission to take her from you. Just keep her on the normal routine and call me when she wakes up so I can talk to her. I sent your presents with her, so she should have fun telling you what's in them before you open them," I said with a laugh at the thought, wiping away more tears. "I hope you like them and I'm sorry we ruined your birthday but we'll make it up to you, What did you tell her for now?"
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I knew damn well everything Amelia was facing alone at the hospital had to be beyond hard and I don't know how I would've handled everything if our roles were reversed. What I did know was that I wished I could be right there beside her every step of the way but I knew being with Bel was where I belonged. I needed to keep her safe and I knew that was true when Amelia explained to me that she didn't want my mini me to go into protective care. Taking a deep breath, I released it slowly, telling myself that I knew I was right from the beginning in at first telling Nick no but I had already agreed to it. You can change your mind. Fuck it. "Let me know when you know something about Jayden, okay? I'm glad you and the baby are safe. I know Jayden would've lost it if that wasn't the case," I said gently, not even wanting to think about Amelia having another miscarriage. "It's funny that you mention Nick though because you're right, he does want Bel in protective custody. At first I was adamant in saying no but then I relented but I will do everything you ask of me so I'll go back to my original plan. She'll stay here at my house with me. I'm sending Mateo with Shelly in the morning and I'm strapped now," I laughed at that. "I got the gun from the safe like Dawson said. Anyways, the answer is yes, I'll keep her. She'll call you first thing in the morning when she wakes up and I'm sure her helping me with my presents will be a great distraction. She's really been missing Jayden ever since Mateo threw a plane in her eye— I'm sorry about that by the way— but I just told her that Jayden got sick and you took him to the doctor when she woke up earlier crying for him. I'll hold down the fort here. You focus on Jayden, okay?" I might have to fight Nick about this but oh well. He should know better than to try and tell me what to do.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia​
“I’ll focus on kicking his ass when he wakes up,” I joked as part of my coping. “I love you, so much, I would say I owe you everything but I already do. Are you sure you’re okay with keeping her?” I asked not surprised when Isabel insisted. “Okay, I’ll stop asking. I don’t think I packed anything other than pajamas for her, I’m stupid and should have been prepared. Maybe she left something there?” Again, I wasn’t at all surprised when Isabel lectured me for worrying about the little things. “Okay, okay, I love you both so much. I’ll let you know about Jayden as soon as I know something. When she asks for him again, play the video I’ll send you. Don’t let her out of your sight, please. Sleep well,” I said in farewell, before I hung up the phone and ran back inside to the warmth of the waiting room. Scrolling through my phone, I found the video of Jayden singing “My Girl” to get her to go to sleep as he did most nights when they were home. Out of routine it became their song. Playing it for myself, st the sound of his voice I started to ugly cry, leaning into Elise when I did.

Jayden, you have to be okay. We need you.
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
The following morning...
Jayden
I woke up a start, startled by the nightmare I was faced with while I was asleep. I was back at the ballroom in the Statler, back with Amelia in her stunning red dress with cutouts that made me weak in the knees. We were enjoying ourselves, I was promoted, everything was going great until the end when I was shot. Shot because I was trying to keep Amelia safe. Shot because they were trying to kill my wife. Shot because I killed one of them own. Groaning, the pain setting in reminded me that it wasn't a dream. It happened. I was shot twice in the abdomen and I lost so much blood but Amelia was safe. She had to be. I knew she was.

Looking around the room, my eyes fell on the stunning dirty blonde woman sitting in the recliner beside my bed. I knew instantly who it was with her petite figure and that red dress. She hadn't left the hospital since it happened and I instantly felt like a shitty husband. I used myself as a human shield, as I always would when it came to protecting my family, but I couldn't even begin to fathom the amount of stress and worry I put her through. I'm the reason all of this is happening. I should've never went undercover.

The more I stared at Amelia sleeping, the more I knew this wasn't fair to her. None of what I did was and I needed to fix everything someway, somehow. I put Amelia and my family through way too much.

I lost myself in my thoughts until I felt a warm hand touch my cheek. Looking into the green eyes that always pierced my soul, I smiled weakly at Amelia, my whole body still aching. She's as stunning as ever. My wife.

"Hi Amelia," I whispered softly, quickly reaching up to wipe away her tears. "Hey, hey don't cry. It's okay. I'm okay," I rested my forehead against hers then. "I love you. I'm so sorry. This is all my fault."

I didn't know what else to say. I wasn't even fully away what happened. I obviously had to have been operated on and have the bullets removed. Maybe a blood transfusion too? What physically happened to me wasn't really important. The important thing was the event itself. what happened. Were all the shooters shot down? Was Perales in custody? Who was working the case? Were there any other injuries?

Is Bel safe?

I jerked at the thought of my daughter being caught in the crossfire of stupid decisions on my behalf. Just the thought of her being hurt made the vision in my eyes turn red. I needed to ensure she was okay. I needed details of everything. I didn't want to be left in the dark.

"Where's Bel? Is she still with Isabel? She's not in protective custody, is she?" I didn't want my daughter in it. Not after knowing a dirty cop was the one who called in the mob and started everything. I loved my men but right now, I needed her with someone neutral that we could trust.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
It was a long night, but waking up to see Jayden was awake and responsive made it worth it. Being unable to help the tears when our eyes met after I kept thinking they never would again, I leaned into Jayden when he wasted no time in reassuring me. Kissing his cheek, I grabbed his arm gently when I felt him tense up. "Hey, it's okay, breathe, Nick is frustrated with me but Bel is with Isabel. She's safe. She's going to call when she waked up, she has been asking for you all night, apparently. But we just told her you weren't feeling well, that's all she knows. We're all okay," I reassured him before I kissed him gently, stepping to the side when the doctor and chief walked into the room. Taking my spot back in the recliner, I texted Isabel.

"He awake."

Stepping out the room, I called Nick to see if he had any updates on the case I handed him and to ask if he could go check the house and the dogs as well as bring me some other clothes because I didn't want to leave Jayden's side when I was still fearful there was a target on Jayden's back. When Nick agreed, I thanked him and stepped back in quietly not wanting to disturb Jayden's conversation with his superior.
 
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Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I was currently running on no sleep. Considering the circumstances, my mind was endlessly racing and sleeping wasn't a priority. All I could focus on was keeping Bel and Mateo safe for now. The kids were still sound asleep, which was shocking to me since Mateo was usually an early riser with his father. While I made my usual morning coffee, I looked through my Slack notifications, looking at what was going on at work. I took note of some things I needed to take care of when everything smoothed back out but when I saw several messages wishing me a happy birthday, I chuckled, shaking my head. I had forgotten today was the twenty first of December but again, this was just another thing not super important on my radar. I thanked everyone for the wishes before Amelia texted me, to which I responded.

"I knew he would. I love y'all. The kids are still sleeping. Is Nick still being an ass?" Of course he is.

After Amelia fought tooth and nail with the now detective about her daughter not going into protective custody, I knew he was being rather blunt with the both of us, but I also noted it was just because he was trying to do his job and nail the sonofabitch who did this. He was frustrated and when Nick was frustrated, he had a tendency to take it out on others. Sounds familiar.

As I finished making my iced mocha, I heard feet running against the floors before arms wrapped around my legs. I chuckled knowing instantly it was my son.

"Buenos Dias, Osito," I said with a gentle laugh, squatting down to hug him tightly. "Are you hungry? I'll start breakfast. Can you clean up your room for me? You're going with Grandma Shelly today!" I said it in a cheery voice, knowing if I said it any other way my son would've refused. He, like his cousin, wanted no one else other than his father. It was rude for Amelia and I to be the ones doing everything but the kids fathers got all the praise and attention. Just part of being a mom.


When he ran off, I finished off my mocha and took a big sip of it, needing the caffeine to face the day. After that, I started making Mateo his favorite: blueberry pancakes. It was then I received a text from Nick.

"Morning. Security at the house just switched out. Also, Happy Birthday, Isabel."

Groaning I set my phone aside before letting out a sigh. I hated that I even had to compromise about house security but it is what it is.


Nick
After sending the text to Isabel, I got into my undercover challenger and then headed to Jayden and Amelia's house to do as Amelia asked and check up on the dogs along with grabbing her some clothes to change into considering she was still in the dress from last night. When I rolled up in front of it, I felt a little uneasy but I wasn't entirely sure why. It wasn't until I got to the porch and opened the door that I knew why. Fucking hell.

Pushing the door open, I placed my have above my gun, coming in contact with a once prestine house to one that was utteraly trashed with glass on the floor, pictures broken, tables flipped. The house was broken into and it didn't take a genius to know who it was. I became beyond living then but knowing they could have gotten a hold of Bel if she was here was sickening. It was in that moment I was grateful that Isabel had the kids. As I overlooked everything, I took note of the fact that no dog greeted me and I became worried.

"Liberty! Roo!" I called out, hearing a bark in response that I knew had to be coming from the German Shephard. Right after that, I heard a whimper in the kitchen. They put Liberty in a room. Smart but fuck, Roo. I ran for Roo first, seeing her laying in a pool of her own blood with her breaths shallow. She was holding on but I knew there wasn't a chance she could make it. I bit my lip before I sat down next to her and pet her fur. "Hey girl. Hey, it's me, Nick. You were a brave one, ya hear? It's okay. Amelia will be okay girl. It'll all be okay." It was like after my reassurance, the pup understood and shortly after she closed her eyes and took her last breath. I closed mine then and cursed. I was going to kill these fuckers for taking everything from Amelia.

I went up the stairs and let Liberty out of the room, watching as she came to me and sat attentively, pawing at her muzzle. "What's wrong girl?" I asked her again before she barked and led me back down the stairs and to the back door where there was jean fabric left behind and lots of blood. She really attacked the shit out of them. Good girl.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
After two weeks away from Isabel and Mateo, I was ready to be home with them. After keeping a pretty big secret for two months, I was ready to come clean and Isabel's birthday was the perfect opportunity. Of course, because this was planned in advance I made my coverup story of being stuck up north after the shows as a way to avoid Isabel's always lingering suspicion when she sensesd something was up. As far as I knew, she hadn't suspected a thing and she especially didn't suspect I was coming home today after a long night of traveling back to our home in Dallas with our two newest family members. I hoped. given the turn of events, last night that bringing them home to Mateo and Isabel wouldn't cause more stress than Isabel was already under. It was too late now though, pulling into the driveway I could only hope for the best.

Chuckling at the puppies yips, I waited until the two labs calmed down before I face-timed her. Suspecting she was preoccupied with Bel and Mateo, the fact that it took her longer to answer wasn't unusual.

However, when she did, I greeted her with the largest grin.

"Hi amor, Happy Birthday, how are we feeling on this brisk morning?" Letting her reply I nodded in understanding, my devilish grin only grew. "Can you go outside and bring the kids with you, I have a couple of surprises I thought you might like. You'll have to tell me if you like them though."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I was a bit confused when Dawson asked for me and the kids to go outside because of a couple of surprises that he thought I might like. It made my stomach feel queasy and I quickly became uneasy, mainly because of the fact that I hated the unknown. I agreed, however, telling him we would go out in just a second after I got the kids to put on their jackets since I knew it was freezing outside. Once that was taken care of, I walked back to the kitchen to grab my phone and smiled at the man on the screen who was waiting for us to go look at the surprises.

"What did you do, Dawson Covington?" I asked him as I walked with the toddlers to the front door, my heart soaring when I heard what Mateo exclaimed.

"Daddy's home!"

It was life a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders with those simple two words and I couldn't help the giggle that came from inside before I hung up the FaceTime call and opened the door, keeping a close eye on Bel while she ran out with her cousin in pursuit of her uncle.


"Daddy!" "Uncle Dawson!" The two were more than thrilled to have Dawson with us and I knew it was because both of them were very much attached to their fathers right now, and I knew while my niece's was currently in the hospital away from her, she was glad to at least have Dawson. I let the kids run and hug my fiance before I made my way over, but before I could, I heard excited yips coming from the inside of Dawson's truck. Blinking, I opened the door and gasped, finding two beautiful Labrador puppies, one chocolate and one yellow, in the passenger seat who quickly ran and tried to gain my attention. Dawson brought home two dogs, both my favorite kind of breed, but I was slightly irked with his timing. Really, Dawson?

"Aunt Isabel, are those puppies?" I heard Bel ask as she hugged my leg and I nodded. "Yeah my love, let's take them inside and introduce them to their new home, okay? Can you help me with that?" When she eagerly nodded, I laughed softly before taking both dogs in my arms and watched as Mateo and Bel ran back toward the door where they were met with Apollo, my old-timer pup, who did not look pleased to see two very outgoing and energetic pups in my arms. When Dawson came over, I let him shut the door after I moved away from it and shook my head, leaning against the door before tiptoeing upward to give him a loving kiss. Despite the slight annoyance at first, I loved him for his gesture and I knew I was going to fall in love with these puppies. I was also grateful to have him home considering the circumstances and thankful Bel had another distraction for today.

"Te amo. I'm so glad you're home," I whispered to my pilot, tears streaming down my face as the tight walls I put up yesterday slowly crumbled. "Just so you know, Mr. Observant-Navy-Man, the two Challengers are undercover cars. Nick insisted that he have his men stand guard for the next few days while we have Bel, it's around the clock security. I'm just glad he didn't take Bel into protective custody."

"Mom, hurry up!" I heard my son yell and I laughed before I shook my head and nodded. "C'mon, let's get these puppers inside with the kids then we can talk more."

Once we were all back inside, I set the labs down and watched as they quickly examined their home and followed the kids who were now giving them what they called the "Puppy Tour". Their innocence was too precious and I soaked it in. I didn't want them to grow up. Shedding my jacket off and laying it on the couch, I walked to the kitchen where I finished up breakfast. Today, I wanted to stay comfy so I just stuck to wearing a black pair of jeans with a red sweater that had my left shoulder exposed. It was also tucked on my right side for easier access to the handgun still strapped to my waist if needed. When I felt Dawson's arms engulf me from behind, I let my body relax and sink against him.

"I really am glad you're home. Do I think this timing of having puppies was good? Not at all but they're just too damn adorable."
 
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Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
"Hey, that's not fair! I picked them out for ya two months ago and I was already on the way home with em' when ya called," I teased poking her side. "Have you heard anything about Jayden? Are they alright? What happened?" I whispered not wanting our niece to hear. Grinning as the two toddlers chased the two tiny puppies through the house. Seeing how gone Isabel was when she tried explaining the situation to me, I reached for the gun on her waist, taking it from the holster.

"Go be with your best friend, I got the kids. The pretty boys in the Challengers got nothing on me. Just keep me updated if you hear anything. I'll call Brett to take over tonight so we can go out for our traditional dinner plans. Go," I whispered, kissing her forehead, nodding when she looked to me for final approval. "Te amo."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
A gesture that was so simple made me weak in the knees and I was reminded as to why I loved the Cowboy Naval Pilot standing with me in the kitchen. He knew I needed to be with Amelia, knew that I needed to see her despite today being his first time home in the span of two weeks. He knew how much Amelia meant to me and knowing he was going to stay behind and watch the kids was able to relax me. If I trusted anyone else with them it would be fiance and his cousin Brett.

"Are you sure?" I asked before I made the attempt to grab my purse and leave so I could go be with Amelia. When he gave me the final approval, I cupped his face and kissed him lovingly, pulling away and resting my forehead against his briefly. "I love you so much."

Hearing my phone ring, I sighed softly before I reached over to the island and grabbed it, noting that it was Nick calling. I groaned at the thought of his men reporting to him that someone they didn't know, aka Dawson, was here at my house. I didn't want to deal with Nick chewing me out, nor did I want Bel to hear us talking to each other, so I excused myself from my fiance and walked out to the backyard porch, taking the call.

"Hey Nick, what's up?"

"Isabel, I hate to be the bearer of bad news on your birthday but I came by Jayden and Amelia's house to check on the dogs and get Amelia a change of clothes. They were here last night, Bel. Liberty bit the shit out of one of them which will help me get a lead as to who the hell it was but Roo wasn't as lucky as her friend."

Fuck.

"With that being said, the entire house is trashed and I was wondering if you possibly had any of Amelia's clothes at your house that I can take to her."

"I do but I can take them to her. Dawson just got home and we're going to switch. Bel's safe here so don't worry about her. You focus on nail this fucker, alright?" I was thankful he didn't try to argue and say that Dawson wasn't capable of keeping Bel safe like he told me last night. After we hung up the phone, I went back inside and smiled weakly at Dawson when he caught my eyes, feeling utterly drained and defeated. I went to the guest room and grabbed Amelia some of her leggings that she left here and one of her baggy sweater to go with it before also grabbing some dry shampoo, makeup wipes, disposable toothbrush and one of my scrunchie and extra hair brush.

Once I had everything for her in a bag, I grabbed my purse and went back to the living room, grabbing my coat to throw on and headed to the foyer where Dawson walked me out.

"I'll keep you updated. Have fun with the kids and puppies."


30 Minutes Later...
Jayden
"Sounds good, Chief. Thank you."

When the Chief left my room, I released a sigh, becoming irritated that I could do nothing to bring down the mob that did this but was reassured that the entire department was on the case and Nick was leading it. There was one thing every officer hated and it was one of their own being shot. I was also a bit relieved to know there was around the clock security at Isabel's just in case anything did happen and the assholes went after Bel. After a run down of the doctor also explaining what happened to me and how the operation was a success, I was thankful both shot wounds were nothing entirely major. I need to stop being a human shield. I knew that wasn't possible. After seeing my own Uncle die, I vowed to never let it happen to someone else.

Smiling at Amelia, I motioned her over and moved to the side, wrapping her in my arms when she laid on the bed with me. Having her at my side was more than comforting. She eased the pain and helped my thoughts fall silent for awhile. They were beating me up the minute shots were heard at the ballroom, constantly nagging at me and telling me everything was my fault, and I believed it. If I never went undercover, Amelia and Bel wouldn't have been caught in the crossfire like this. They deserve so much more.

"I love you, Amelia," I whispered to my wife, kissing her head while her scent flooded my nostrils. Apples and cinnamon, just like always. Her. We stayed silent, not saying a word but after minutes of it passed, I looked down at her. "Call Nick and ask for an escort home. Go change, take a shower if you want, just breath and relax. You deserve it. I'll be alright." When she denied the offer and told me she already asked Nick to bring her a change of clothes and check on the house, he was who I was expecting to walk into the room moments after, not Isabel.

"Hey y'all," the photojournalist said in her usual cheery tone, acting as if nothing major just happened or that her niece could possibly be in danger. Bel.

"Where's Bel?" I asked a little too quickly and harshly. I saw the flinch from Isabel and I immediately regretted snapping. I could see the exhaustion setting in her face. Smooth bro. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped."

"It's alright, Acciolli. It takes a lot more than that to bring me down. I'm a little offended you think I would leave Bel in harms way. Dawson came home this morning so we switched. He knew this is where I needed to be right now."

"I really appreciate everything y'all are doing for us, Anes." She chuckled then.

"I'd do anything for you and your family, Jay. You know that."

"Is Nick being a hard ass?"

"He was at first but he's getting better. He um, actually told me something that I need to tell y'all." I saw her set the bags down before sitting in the chair across the room, hunching over and fidgeting with her fingers. Say it.

"The mob was at your house last night. They trashed everything according to Nick and we assume they were looking for Bel. Liberty bit the shit out of one of them so Nick is going to do what he can with what she left for him and nail the fuckers but Amelia," She looked straight at her best friend then. "Roo didn't-" She choked on the words. She couldn't finish and she didn't have to. Roo's dead.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
The moment of peace between Jayden and I after the chief left was the first moment of calm I had since everything took a turn for the worst. It didn't last though. Lifting my head from Jayden's shoulder, I smiled happily when I saw Isabel enter the room, it quickly turned to a slight glare when Jayden accused Isabel of putting our daughter in danger by being here.

I need her. I've needed her the whole time but she couldn't be here. Just let me have this, please. I'm trying to be strong for you.

i was pleased when Jayden quickly realized his mistake and apologized. My moment of peace ended here. As soon as Isabel confessed she had news for us, My gut told me, given the series of events, things were only getting worse, but when Isabel told me the news, I fell apart internally.

My first baby, is gone.

Hanging my head at the news, I bit my lip and nodded slowly in acceptance or maybe denial. I wasn't sure. I couldn't fathom that Roo was gone. Up until this point, we had been through everything together. Roo was my companion after Isabel and I had our rift as friends when her and Dawson came come from a tour and I just returned from Guatemala. She caught the attention of Jayden when he was first pursuing me, and quickly the two bonded, she was a part of the family we made. We brought Bel home to her and grew up with her "Roo Roo" by her side. Roo was so gentle and friendly to anyone who we let in, and the thought of her no longer being with us after being taken in a way she didn't deserve, was heartbreaking.

Getting up from Jayden's bed, I walked out of the room without a word, not wanting to express my despair to my husband. Feeling Isabel's presence run after me, I tried to resist her embrace, knowing she hated this kind of affection, but when she tried to comfort me, I finally let go of my sobs.

"They took everything," I whispered against her in between my sobs.
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
When Amelia left the room, I gave her husband a weak smile while I stood up to go after her. Before I walked out, I gave his arm a reassuring squeeze then ran to my best friend and pulled her into a tight embrace when I caught up to her, despite the fact that this kind of affection wasn't my thing. I know she tried to push me away because she knew this but when she finally gave in, I released a breath of relief and just held her, not letting go and just letting her say whatever was on her mind. What she whispered literally broke my heart though. None of this is far. Why, universe. Why?

"I know, Best Friend. I know," I whispered to her softly, continuing to hold her while she cried it out. "I'm so sorry this happened, Amor. I really am." I was at a loss on what to say. Amelia lost Roo, a pupper who was such a monumental part of Amelia's life. She was there for it all, mine and Amelia's fall out, Jayden's first persual of my best friend, Bel's birth and her childhood, all of it. She was part of the Acciolli family and she was given such an unfair fate. I wanted to kill the men who hurt her but I knew right now, being here with Amelia is where I needed to be. "I brought you a sweater and some leggings to change into when your ready. I also brought some things to freshen up that I thought you would appreciate. I'm yours for the day so I'm here for whatever you need."
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
Composing myself, I let go of Isabel, wiping my tears away as fast as they fell. Shaking my head aggressively at her offer to stay.

"You're crazy, I'm not going to let you spend your birthday in a hospital. Dawson just got home too. I'll be okay, I promise, and I don't need Bel getting suspicious. I'm not bringing her here. She doesn't need to see Jayden like that, she's too smart and will ask too many questions. Jayden's parents are coming to see him since they're already here and I told them they could take Bel for the night. Security will follow them so don't worry about it, just enjoy your night with your husband," I replied genuinely hugging Isabel while I knew I could get away with it.

"Stay for now though?"
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
"You ready, Cowboy?" I called out to my fiance as I made the final touches to my red lipstick while sitting at my vanity in our bedroom. Turning around to look at him when I heard him walk in, I smiled gently at him. He always looked so handsome when he cleaned up but lately I've been missing seeing him in uniform or his Levi's and boots like the first time I met him. I bit my lip as I remembered that day, climbing the fence, broken camera and all when he caught me day dreaming. "Sorry. I was just thinking about how much I miss seeing ya in your Levi's and boots," I said with a giggle.

Bending over, I grabbed my black thigh high boots I had set aside and began to slip them up, zipping them on the side and adjusting them. After I had both on, I stood up and smiled at my fiance, twirling to give him a full look.

"Do I look okay?" I asked, knowing he wasn't used to me not being "extra" when we went out on dates but considering how exhausted I was, and everything I went through in the past twenty-four hours, being five star wasn't entirely on my radar. I also opted to dress for the blistering cold outside, which was again rare, but I couldn't handle trying to be anything more than what I was actually feeling so I just put on a black turtleneck sweater, a burgundy skirt and my black thigh high boots.

Wrapping my arms around his neck when he made his way over, I smiled up at him as I savored the moment, leaning against the table of my vanity. I stared into those hazel eyes that made my stomach feel fuzzy with butterflies. I ran my fingers through his hair, basically soaking in the man before me since he was gone for two weeks. God, I missed you.

"I seriously love you," I whispered. "Con todo mi corazon."
 
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Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
WARNING; MATURE CONTENT DON'T COME FOR ME.
Dawson
"You, thinking about me in those clothes? Crazy." I teased, wrinkling my nose as I advanced toward her, placing a hand on her waist, pulling her against me as she flattered me with her vulnerable lovey side. It was rare but truthfully set off a part of me I knew she was asking for.

I can do that. Cupping her face, I kissed her, smirking when we pulled away, her hands naturally finding their way to cradling my neck.

"Hmmm, so you're telling me, I only have to leave you for a few weeks to get you excited? If only I put two and two together sooner," I whispered in her ear as I moved her shiny black curls gently out of the way so I could leave teasing kisses down her neck.

This better not be a tease, damnit, temptress.


"Tell me again how much you love me."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
OOC: AHAHAHAHA *closes door*
December 25
Merry Christmas

Isabel
Despite the horrific event that occurred on the day before my birthday, we were all trying to make the best out of it, even more so now that Jayden was out of the hospital and able to walk around. As always, the Acciolli's and my family would be celebrating our usual Christmas brunch, as we did every year before we went to our other respective families for the other half of the day. My friends had to do no traveling to the house, however, because they were currently living with us until they got back on their feet. Dawson and I didn't even hesitate to offer our extra guest bedroom to them and Mateo and Bel shared Mateo's room. Though I was excited to see Amelia's side of the family, I knew it was going to have to wait for tomorrow because this time I promised Dawson we would go to the Covington Christmas dinner. Being around my fiance's family was something I needed to start doing more frequently and unapologetically. I didn't want to be the reason Mateo never grew up around them nor my love get to see them.

Groaning at the feeling of my bed sinking, I refused to wake up but my son made it very difficult. I could feel him jumping on the bed, attempting to get me up and at them but like I've said before, he was an early riser like his father. I was not one of them.

"Mateo, ya," I mumbled, groaning again when he persisted and eventually threw himself on me.

"Pero Mama, it's Christmas! Daddy's already started making pancakes and we have to open our presents! Pleaseeeeee, levantate." How could I possibly argue with that?


"Okay okay, ay voy." When he cheered and ran out of the room, I walked over to the master bathroom to attempt to wake up by splashing cold water on my face. As my vision slightly came into focus after putting on my glasses, I looked at my reflection and noted everything I would have to do to my appearance before dinner tonight. For now though, I threw on an oversized sweater and some leggings with my hair up in a tight bun.

Walking down the stairs, I said my hellos to Apollo and the two newest members of the family, Molly and Piper. They were growing on me each day that passed and I knew I loved them so much already. When I made my way into the kitchen, I gave Dawson a quick kiss before I started to make my mocha, watching Mateo as he ran with the dogs to his room to retrieve something. As my espresso brewed, I leaned against the counter and shook my head as I watched the man twice my size cooking breakfast for our son.

"Feliz Navidad, Amor," I said sweetly. "Is there anything I can help you with?" When he assured me there wasn't, I nodded. "Okay. Amelia and them are still asleep but I'm sure they'll be up soon. Do you think I should start making brunch after we eat?"
 
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Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
The last week of our life was an intense emotional rollercoaster that truthfully, I was still trying to process, but today, I held myself to the promise that I would make the most of the day for my daughter. It was Christmas, and despite being displaced and having to reinvest in all our important life necessities, I had to remind myself they were all just things and could easily be replaced. I just took the destruction too personally because the cars, the house, and our things were all a symbol to me of how hard we work and how far we have come as a family. I never wanted our daughter what it was like to grow up with anything less than we had, but I was also grateful to still be laying next to my husband and that Isabel and Dawson were kind enough to open their home to us while we started looking for a new one.

Waking before Jayden, I watched him sleep peacefully not wanting to disturb him since we was having trouble falling to sleep due to the pain from his injuries that were still healing. Strategically stretching away from him, I yawned, before I heard little feet run down the hallway and toward the door to our room.

Here she comes.

Holding out my arms to Bel when she opened the door, I picked her up and squeezed her tight against me, kissing her cheeks. Grinning when she exclaimed at excitedly that Santa found her at Aunt Isabel's.

"I told you he would, princess, accepting her second hug, but holding her back when she tried to catapult onto her father to wake him.

"We still have to be gentle, please," I whispered moving her hair out of her face before she crawled out of my arms and kissed Jayden's cheek to wake him, shaking his arm softly.

My heart. She's so sweet.

"Daddy, wake up," she whispered into his ear, "Santa came! Let's go," Tugging his arm again. "I'll help you."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
The past week was more than chaotic and the emotional beyond compare. After my first day in the hospital, I was exhausted in every sense of the word: Emotionally, physically and mentally. I felt like a failure to my family, doing what I had a tendency to do and take the blame for everything bad that happened to us in the last week. The shooting, our house being completely ruined, all of our important life necessities, all of them stolen or ruined because of the mob. It was hard for me to help Amelia repurchase what we really needed for now, but I was more than thankful to our wonderful Covington friends for allowing us to stay with them until I was able to do what I could to bring my family back on our feet again. If anything, despite feeling like utter shit, I had to be the rock for them. I had to be strong and reassure them that everything was going to be okay. I still had my wife and kids, that's all a man like myself could ask for.

Groaning quietly at someone's attempt to wake up, I shifted in the bed and shook my head, not wanting to wake up considering how hard it was for me to fall asleep last night. At first, I thought it was Amelia but when I heard my daughter's voice whispering to me that Santa came, I knew I had to get up despite my lack of sleep. Today's was going to be a good day for my family, I would be sure of it.

Opening my eyes to peak at Bel, I chuckled before I nodded. "Okay, Squirt. I'll get up," I said softly, slowly sitting up and smiling when Bel didn't leave my side. Ever since I was released, she was trying her hardest to be extra cautious and gentle with me even though I knew she probably wanted to jump on me, and would have if her mother wasn't in the room. Standing, I walked over to Amelia and kissed her happily in good morning.

Mateo had called out to Bel, excitedly wanting his cousin up already and followed by Mateo's yelling came Isabel's scolding, telling her son that Amelia and I were still asleep and that Bel would be over in a bit. My daughter ran out then, going straight to her cousin while leaving Amelia and I behind in the dust. Chuckling again, I shook my head.

"Merry Christmas, Vix. I'd say our daughter is rather excited this morning. We put out all the gifts last night, right?" While the kids went to sleep, the adults of the house did our best to bring out the gifts and surrounded the heavily decorated Christmas tree with them for the kids to find. I knew this morning was going to be a good one, despite everything we were still going to partake in the usual Acciolli-Covington Christmas brunch then spend the evening with mine and Amelia's family, who Isabel agreed could come over to the house tonight considering her and her family would be out at the ranch. I'm so grateful to have Dawson and Isabel in times like this. "When is your family coming over? I know that y'all have a lot of cooking and baking to do."
 

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