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

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
"Yes, everything is done," I reassured with a smile, returning the kiss. it was the biggest panic, but I managed. Getting up from the bed, I ignored the slight dizziness that never seemed to leave me this pregnancy. "You need to not rip your stitches today," I whispered calmly, helping him with his shirt, opening his pain meds and placing them in his hand before handing off the glass of water on his nightstand.

Putting my hair up in a messy bun, I ignored Jayden's question not wanting to admit that it would just be his side this year since my sister just had her third baby and I couldn't leave this year. But we all understood, and I promised to make it up to them when I could take the time to go home after everything was sorted out, and when Jayden's mom and Grandma asked to take over on dinner, I let them have it.

Taking Jayden's hand, we followed our daughter's excited screams into the living room where the two toddlers began to rip into whatever they could get their hands on. My excitement reached it's climax when Isabel handed off coffee. "I love you!" I replied, not surprised when I heard the shutter of a camera a few seconds later.

"You should open this first," I said handing Isabel a giant box. It's from all of us."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
When Amelia and Jayden made their way into the living room, I smiled at the two before handing off a cup of coffee to Amelia and one to Jayden, laughing softly at the screams of Mateo and Bel while they ripped apart the wrapping paper from all of their gifts. The two were too excited to begin their Christmas festivities and watching them be so innocent always brought a smile to my face, even now while I sat at the couch and sipped on my Mexican hot chocolate with 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' playing softly from the bluetooth speaker in the living room. It really is the best time of year.

Christmas was, and always would be, my favorite holiday and season of all. Mainly thought it to be because I was a winter baby, being born on the first day of winter and shortest day of the year, but I actually loved the meaning of Christmas. I loved having those I loved nearby, watching them become excited with whatever I spent the entire year prior saving up to buy them. I loved the cozy feeling, decorating and hosting. I guess you could call me a bit of a Christmas cliche but it was true.

After I soaked in the moment for a bit, I grabbed the camera from the table beside the couch and began to snap some pictures, ones that would serve as memories for the rest of our lives and for Mateo and Bel's lives. When Amelia told me I should open my gift first, I blinked but eyed her wearily, not sure what she could have possibly bought me this year, and considering the circumstance, I was hoping it wasn't anything expensive. Here goes nothing.

Setting the giant box down in front of me, I pulled off the red bow from the front before I began to tear away the wrapping paper like the kids were doing moments before. I wasn't surprised to find another layer of paper underneath the one I just shed so I laughed infectiously and shook my head, looking up at Amelia.

"I hate you," I teased while I tore off the next layer, thankful there wasn't another under it but when I saw what it was, I gasped then shook my head.

"What is it, Mama?" Mateo asked while he walked over and examined the box himself, wondering why his mother was so touched.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia​
Considering how bad Isabel wanted what all five of us got her, I was going to make her work for it. She has only been talking about this new camera body and the last set of lenses she didn’t have since it came out. Knowing she wouldn’t cave and invest in it for herself, Jayden, Dawson and I collaborated for this Christmas gift. Shelly and Charles hit in in one of their closets until Dawson went to pick it up.

When she didn’t say anything and Dawson tried to grab her attention I couldn’t hold back my laugh.

“I think we broke her,” I teased.

“What do you think, amor? It is better than the one I broke and you wouldn’t let me replace? Revenge is sweet.”
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I was completely speechless as the box before me held the new Canon camera body I had been dying to get my hands on, along with all the new lenses, more particularly another glass lens to replace my worn out one. They bought me everything I couldn't bring myself to invest in, mainly because of the big price tag, but I didn't know what to say because my heart was so full that Amelia and Jayden, along with my husband, all pitched in to get me this. Amelia was right, they did break me.

With tears now in my eyes, I looked back up at my fiance while he teased me, then Amelia and Jayden. I felt two bodies quickly snuggle against my sides and I knew it had to be Bel and Mateo.

"Don't cry, Auntie Isabel. It looks so cool!" I heard Bel say innocently in an attempt to get me to stop crying and my son rapidly nodded in agreement. "It's Christmas, Momma! No crying!"

I laughed then, a laughter that filled the whole room infectiously and I was quick to hug the two toddlers tightly before wipping away my tears while shaking my head at my fiance and dear friends.

"I will fight you, Dawson Covington," I began in a retort back to his 'Revenge is sweet' statement. "You are all something else. Thank you. I really mean that."

Opening the box to my new toy, I quickly began to make all the touches needed so I could use it today as a test run before my next assignment— Whenever that would be. Putting on the lens, I turned the camera on and already saw a difference through the viewfinder. Some might call me crazy, but I was beyond ready to see how crisp and clean these photos came out and how fun it'll be retouching them up on Photoshop. Hello Anes, your gifts to everyone.

"Oh right!" I said aloud in reply to myself, setting the new camera down before I walked over to the tree and grabbed three boxes, one for Amelia and one for Jayden. "Feliz Navidad!"

For Amelia, I was rather excited to give her this one. While Nick was scrummaging through the mess of what was once the Acciolli house, he was able to snag his hands on a bracelet I knew Amelia was missing and would have cried over if the mob took. Lucky for me, I was going to regift said bracelet. It was the first major purchase I ever made for her, one back in our high school days when I didn't even really know her tastes or style. I just bought it in the spur of the moment back then but now I had taken it to James Avery, got it cleaned, bought a new leather band for it and put the red and orange twist one in a picture frame. It sat on the bottom with Amelia's favorite picture of us back in college when I went to visit her in St. Augustine at the alligator farm on top. I was one for all the sentimental touches.


Shopping for Jayden was harder than I expected, but with some help from my lovely fiance who knew his best friend well, we opted to pitch in and get the man Dawson I had two gifts but both weren't feasible to give him right now. So, courtesy of my small but good enough knowledge of music, I was able to pick out a guitar for the officer I thought he would enjoy. A Fender Acoustic guitar.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
I never knew what Isabel was going to get me, she was pretty good at keeping it a secret and I was never really suspicious about it. Every year, she surprised me and made me cry. In high school and college, I used to hate when she would say I deserved better. (Facts), when in reality, her gifts were always my favorite because she knew me the best, but never flaunted the fact that she did.

Unwrapping the gift, nervously, I immediately gasped when I realized what she had done, and unlike every year before I was unable to hold back my tears.

Hormones.

It was my turn to be speechless. Catching my breath when Isabel looked over to me. "How did you get this?" I asked astonished. I thought it was lost forever. With shaking hands, I put the bracelet around my wrist where it spent every day in college as a reminder that Isabel was always with me, even when we weren't together, and when it wasn't on my wrist, I often wore it as an anklet.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
Smiling at my best friend, I was quick to get up and walk over to her, taking her into a tight hug while she cried it out. I knew was trying to hold the tears back but thanks to my future niece or nephew, I knew the hormones refused to let her.

"I may have had some help from Nick," I said as we pulled away, wiping away her tears while I admired how the new leather band looked with her anchor. "I think I like this band better but, since the original one has character, I made sure to give it a home in the picture frame." There couldn't have been a better gift to give Amelia this Christmas considering everything she went through, even if it was in a way regifting. I was just really glad she loved it as much as she did.

After I comforted my best friend, I turned to look at her husband. He hadn't opened his present yet and I was too excited for him to.

"Jayden! Open your gift," I said in a teasing manner as if I was offended that he hadn't yet. I watched as he did and when all the paper was gone and a guitar was revealed, I giggled when Bel saw what it was and gasped just like her father. God, they're so alike.

"Daddy, it's a guitar!" My niece exclaimed after helping her father unwrap his present which only made me giggle some more. I was glad she was excited.


Jayden
I wasn't going to even deny the fact that I was in my own head a lot today, a little more so whenever everyone was focused on what Isabel bought Amelia for Christmas. I didn't even really see what it was until Isabel told me to open my gift. Shaking my head as if shaking away all the bad thoughts, I nodded at Isabel's request and began to pull away the wrapping paper, smiling when my daughter came to help me. When the signature Fender came into view, I gasped when Bel did and shook my head again, not being able to believe what I was now holding. No freaking way.

Isabel and Dawson bought me an acoustic Fender, one of the best brands around when it came to guitars. I hadn't touched one in years, but I still prided myself on the fact that I still knew how to play.

"Take it out!" My daughter exclaimed and I chuckled then, doing as she asked when everyone else chimed in and agreed. Once it was out of the bag, I set it on the leg, grabbing the pick that was tapped to the box. I wasn't surprised to see it had the DPD shield on it. There's the Isabel touch. I strummed it, tuning it instantly when I heard some notes were off, content when I strummed all of the chords again for them to sound perfect.

"God, this is beautiful. Thank y'all," I said gently, knowing Isabel had to have had some help from Dawson. As everyone pushed me to play a Christmas song, Isabel paused the music from her phone while I thought of which one to play. I decided to sing 'Blue Christmas', figuring it was the one that would sound best on the guitar and when I began to sing, everyone else chimed in. As they sung along, I looked around the room, taking in the scene and engraining it to memory after the week I had. I was always going to love the Covington-Acciolli Christmas brunches.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
That was the first smile I saw on Jayden's face in a week and when I saw it, I wanted to jump up and kiss him but refrained. Watching our daughter gently climb her way into Jayden's lap I took in the scene, applauding the two when it was over. I decided that would exchange [resents with Jayden later after dinner with his family. They were personal and I didn't want to put him on the spot. Watching the kids run back to their individual mounds of presents, I winked at Jayden Originally, we wanted to wait to reveal our news to our daughter and the rest of the family, but again, given the week, I thought Christmas was a perfect day to tell everyone. I was only a week out from my second trimester, and overall, I felt okay. I wasn't afraid to share the news now.

Nodding at Jayden, I grinned again when I watched him get up from his seat on the couch and enlisted Dawson's help to lift one of the largest presents under the tree and carry it over to our daughter, Jayden and I sitting next to her on the floor while she giggled ecstatically.

"Hold on, my love," I said pulling my daughter into my lap before she could rip into her gift to uncover the mystery. "This is from mommy and daddy, so can we get kisses?" Accepting the love and thank you's from my baby before she even knew what her present was, I looked on happily when Jayden let her go and she shredded the paper in seconds to unveil an elaborate three-story dollhouse. It was a replica of a modern but homey house, each room decorated perfectly, a nursery included. Letting Jayden go through each of the room's with her, my heart leaped when he picked up the dolls that resembled each of us, Liberty included, asking Bel who each one was, and asking her where she wanted each one to go.

"How about this one?" He asked showing her the baby.

Laughing at Bel's confusion, she shrugged, going through each of the other dolls again saying who they were to ensure she had all of us, just staring at Jayden she was at a loss for what her dad was trying to help her understand.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
I chuckled when my daughter didn't seem to catch what I was trying to explain to her with her brand new doll house and all the dolls which resembled us. She was so innocent sometimes it hurt but I was going to remember this forever. How she looked up at Amelia and I with her head to the side, utterly confused before she just shrugged it off and continued to play with the ones she already named off. Taking her back into my lap, I shook my head at her when she looked back at me confused again.

"Bel," I said gently, holding up the little baby back up as she furrowed her brow. "Do you know who this is?" When she shook her head, I chuckled again. "Well of course you don't because you haven't met your baby sister or brother yet." That caught my toddlers attention and her head whipped from me to her mother back to me then the baby.

"Baby sister or brother? I'm going to be a big sister?" I nodded to her question and smiled as she jumped up quickly and squealed before looking to her Aunt Isabel who was capturing the entire moment with her camera. "Auntie Isabel, I'm going to be a sister!"

"I know, Mini Me. Are you excited?" Isabel asked the toddler who nodded rapidly before going to her mother and hugging her tightly.

"I'm going to be a sister!"


Isabel
I giggled as I watched Little Bel finally put two and two together with the help of her father through the viewfinder of my new camera. I wanted to capture all the good moments of today and I would say I was doing a damn good job at it. With Bel now excitedly jumping around along with my son, I smiled at the married couple who stayed sitting next to each other. Looking over at my fiance, I laughed as he himself looked stunned.

"Todo bien, Amor?" I asked him, laughing when he nodded and asked Amelia if she was pregnant, unable to believe it. When Amelia said yes, I laughed when Dawson asked if I knew. "Of course I knew. I was the first one to find out."

After both piles of unwrapped gifts were demolished, and the living room was full of paper everywhere, I set my camera down for now and began picking up, knowing Mateo and Bel would keep each other entertained all day up until Mateo, Dawson and I headed to the ranch. After I cleaned up and threw the trash bag full of paper away, I walked back inside and sat at the island, watching everything unfold. The morning was perfect and I could only hope tonight was as well.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Later that afternoon...
Dawson
After an eventful Christmas morning and traditional brunch with our friends, now it was a hectic dash to get the three of us ready to go to the ranch for the equally as traditional family dinner. However, tearing Mateo from all his new toys was near impossible. Deciding to not give in to that fight right away, I got myself ready first to save time. Dressing in the usual jeans and boots, I dressed it up for the occasion with a plain black button-down.

"Mateo, come on! You have to get dressed to go see grandma and grandpa," when he protested holding up his new toy planes and trucks I shook my head. "There's more toys for you at grandma and grandpa. Let's go, Cousin Bentley is already there with Brett and Savannah," I replied snapping my fingers for him to hurry, smirking in satisfaction when he ran off to his room and Isabel followed after to dress him, because Lord knew if our son picked his own clothes none of it would meet his mother's standards to go out in public.

***
After rounding Mateo, Isabel and after Mateo's many protests, Piper and Molly. and making the drive to the ranch, our family finally pulled into the driveway. We were ten minutes late, but mom agreed to hold off on dinner until we got there.

Helping Mateo and the puppies out of the truck after Isabel, I scolded my son as he tried to run off. "Inside, Little Bear, we'll play later. Everyone's hungry and they're waiting for us. Go say hi to grandma and tell her thank you for waiting for you, I'm sure grandpa is getting grumpy."

 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
Getting ready to make the quick turn around and head to the Covington dinner was more than trying, thanks to my wonderful son Mateo and his many fits and protests. Not only did he want to leave with his toys, he also wanted to take the puppies which was a task in and of itself. So, for the whole hour before departure, I was packing Mateo a bag for change of clothes I knew we would need, getting the leashes and putting on the harnesses to the puppies. Once Dawson convinced my son to get dressed and ready I was following him into his room, picking out a pair of his own Levi's with his little boots and a red, black and white plaid flannel. I threw on his black beanie and his heavier coat on top, sighing in content before I ran back to my room to do some final touches to my outfit, like throwing on my own boots and covering a small bruise on my shoulder with some concealer and foundation. After that, I felt more comfortable in the jeans and emerald wrap sweater I bought for this and with everyone finally ready, we packed up the truck and made the forty-five minute drive where I watched the clock intensely, groaning when I realized we were going to be late. Peachy.

When we arrived, I got out of the truck, helping Dawson with whatever he needed while Mateo ran inside excitedly. I could feel my entire body tense and I knew it was because I was prepping myself for side comments about how long everyone had to wait but I knew Shelly would pip everyone down instantly. There's no reason to worry. It'll be okay. I took Dawson's hand then, all my worries fading instantly as we walked inside together. As long as I have you, Cowboy, everything will be alright.

Walking in, I smiled brightly at all the familiar faces, saying a quick general hello before we all sat at the table, me next to Brett and Dawson to my left while Mateo sat next to his cousin Bentley to the right if Savannah and left of Charles. We finally made it and I could finally breathe. Everything was going to be alright and my relaxed moment was short lived as I looked up and saw Sarah sitting next to Shelly, as to be expected, but then the only woman who made my blood turn cold and boil at the same time. Josie.

Taking in a deep breath, I closed my eyes when Charles told everyone we were going to pray. I prayed then too, praying to God everything at this dinner went well and to give me the strength to just be myself and civil. I need it. After we prayed, everyone began to dig in and my stomach growled at the sight of everything. I was starving.

"Everything looks amazing as always, Shelly," I said with a beaming smile to my future mother-in-law. "How was everyone's morning?"Respira. It'll all be okay.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Shelly
Watching my grandson from the window, I laughed at his attempt to run off for the pasture before his father directed him toward the house. Shaking my head, I picked up the basket of rolls and brought it to the table.

"They're here," I announced cheerfully before Mateo stormed through the door screaming hellos as he usually did. Rubbing his back when he hugged my legs, I picked him up, kissing his cheeks.

"Hi, Little Bear, I missed ya!" Accepting his second hug when he thanked me for waiting for him in his little voice, I nodded. "You're welcome, honey. What do you got?" I asked pointing to a plane I assumed he opened this morning. When he explained what it was, my eyes went wide at his bursting excitement. "Wow! That's so cool! Not at the table though, okay?"

When Mateo eagerly agreed to put it away after he told me how he accidentally hurt his cousin, and in his innocent rambling he announced that his cousin was a sister now.

"Well, that's exciting!" I replied before I put him down, looking over to my son and daughter-in-law as they walked in with two puppies, shaking my head.

"He wouldn't leave without them!" Dawson exclaimed before he took the yellow one from his fiancee and put them outside.

"They're so tiny!" Bently chimed in while we all took our seats after I hugged Dawson and Isabel in hello. Helping Mateo with his jacket, I sat him in his seat and showed him how to clasp his hands. Afterward, I watch Savannah help him with his plate before looking over to Isabel with a nod and a smile.

"Thanks, sweetie, Josie and Sarah helped."

"What did they make so I make sure I don't eat it," Dawson teased, filling his plate up with his holiday favorite, the ribs his dad was always in charge of.

"Dawson!"

"How do you know I didn't barbeque?" Sarah challenged.

"Because, I know better, Dad doesn't even let me near a smoker."

"That's right," my husband chimed in with a chuckle.

When Isabel asked about our morning, I just shrugged, "Just been cooking, I little bear told me y'all had an exciting morning and that his cousin is going to be a sister."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
While my fiance filled his plate with the ribs Charles was always in charge of making, I looked through my options of what to eat and though I walked in starving, my stomach was now uneasy. While I tried my hardest to be myself and hide all the thoughts consuming me, I was being suffocated inside so now food was unappealing but I knew better than to not eat anything so I reached for some of the green bean casserole, mac and cheese, the put some of the chicken Charles also barbecued for the occasion, my nostrils getting a whiff of the seasoning and sauce he put on them.

"Oh did he now?" I asked Shelly, not surprised that Mateo had told her or everyone else that his cousin was now going to be a sister. I couldn't be upset, I knew he was just too excited. I giggled then to ease the tension. "Well Mateo is right, Amelia is pregnant. She just started her second trimester and everything is looking up for her and the baby so we're super excited for her."

"That's always good to hear, Bel." Charles said and I nodded in agreement. It was no secret to my in-laws how hard it was for Amelia and Jayden to have Little Isabel.

"Mama!" I heard my son call out from where he was sitting, knowing how he said it meant he was going to start speaking Spanish, and as much as I didn't want his other side of the family to feel excluded but I obliged.

"Si, Osito?" Yes, Little Bear?

"Quien es esa mujer sentado al lado de tia?" Who is that woman sitting next to Auntie?

I had to hold in my scowl and nervous laugh then, not entirely sure what to say to my son.

"Ella es su tia's mejor amiga, Osito, y es una amiga de la familia de tu padre."

"Oh, okay. Es ella amable?" Is she friendly?

"Si, Mateo. Ella es amable. Todo esta bien, carino."

"Okay, Mama."

After I finished that conversation of rapid fire Spanish with my son, I took another bite of the food I plated when I noticed most were looking between Mateo and I. This wasn't the first time we spoke Spanish to each other but I suppose it was the first time we did it in front of the entire Covington clan during dinner.

"He's getting better at speaking Spanish, Isabel. You've done a good job with him," I heard Shelly say to break the tension and I was instantly grateful.

"Thanks Shelly. It was a process but I'm impressed with how quickly he's picked it up. Now if I could only get your son to do the same." I teased, giggling as I looked over at my fiance. I was a proud mama in that department. Unlike my son, I never grew up speaking Spanish because no one taught me so it was a lot of teaching myself through the years and being in Mexico that really solidified my own Spanish. It was crazy how now that I knew it, my mom only ever spoke it to me and Mateo now. It never made sense to me why she just didn't teach me but such is life.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Josie
Turning my head to the toddler, like everyone else, I watched the two have a conversation. Picking up my fork, I picked up part of my salad, smiling when everyone laughed at Isabel's comment about Dawson having to learn Spanish.

"He never had a reason to until now," I replied with a playful wink toward Dawson. We broke eye contact when Mateo was waiting for his dad's attention to ask for one of his ribs.

"Eat what's on your plate first, por favor."

"Show off," Brett replied in a smirk while Dawson shrugged his shoulders biting into the rib and tearing it off the bone.

"Maybe just a little."

"But I want that, Daddy!"

Dawson rolled his eyes.

"You are my son," he mumbled before picking a small rib, beginning to tear it off the bone when Mateo broke into another outburst.

"No!! I don't want you to take it off! Daddy please!" The toddler screamed tears starting to fall down his face.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I bit back the smart remark I wanted to say when Josie made it ever so clear that my fiance never had a reason to learn Spanish until now, giving him a playful wink that irritated the shit out of me in which my fiance never looked away from her until Mateo caught his attention. I wasn't going to let the woman know she got to me, I was just going to brush it off so all I could do was smile at her before nodding in agreement, trying to focus my attention on anything other than the bitch sitting across from me.

"Mateo, ya," I called out to my son who looked at me then his father and nodded. "No llores. You're dad is just trying to make sure you get all the meat off the rib, okay?"

"But I want to be like daddy and eat it off the bone!" How could I argue with that? My son always looked up to Dawson so I looked at my fiance gently and nodded. "Okay, Osito. Let daddy find you another small one to eat but I want you to eat both of them now, okay? No food goes to waste."

"Okay, Mama!"

Releasing a mental sigh, I took note of the fact that I was completely exhausted, both mentally and emotionally. I was desperately trying my hardest to make it through this dinner for the sake of my son and fiance. Plus, it wasn't like I disliked any of Dawson's family that was present. I loved all of them and I knew they all loved me, it was just Josie. Don't let one person control your life.

"Bel, you might want to smile a bit," I heard Brett whisper against my ear and I was quick to sit up and do just thank, giving him a small thank you. I hadn't realized the expression on my face was unplesasant but I was always one to wear my emotions on my sleeve, or well, my face.

"So how has work been, Isabel? Sarah tells me you're an editor now. That's like the best of the best, isn't it?"

I tried not to roll my eyes then. I knew damn well Josie didn't give a rats ass about my work. She just wanted to make it seem like we got along so if I did snap, which I was trying so hard not to do, I would look like the bad guy. Not gonna happen.

"I am far from being the best of the best but yes, I am an editor now. Doesn't really make me any better than my photographers and videographers who work for me. They continue to amaze me with the work they produce and I'm so glad I'm able to help them boost start their careers and help them better improve their skills."

"Oh, so do you not go on assignments anymore?"

Yikes, sensitive ass topic, asshole. My smile never faltered thought as I nodded, ate some more mac and cheese before I replied.

"Not really, no. If anything, I just pick up some local event assignments or smaller stories to stick in the game but nothing like what I used to do before." Someone please make this dinner go by faster.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Josie
"Well that's good then since you have a family now. Now you can be around Mateo all the time while Dawson is away." Watching Dawson find another rib and pass it to Savannah to give to Mateo before he turned back to his own, watching his son closely. Mateo giggled when he picked up the rib with one hand and bit into the rib of the side before Shelly stepped in and made him hold it right and bite into the middle.

"That made me nervous, y'all are brave for giving it to him like that."

"He's a Covington, he has to learn sometime," Charles replied, his plate already having a pile of bones on it. "Is it good, Mateo? Better than Daddy's?' Charles asked with a smirk, awaiting his grandson's reply, laughing at his nods. "I know, just wanted to hear ya say it."

"Hey Sarah, can you tell your bestie to stay out of how I parent my son?" Dawson asked nonchalantly, his elbows still resting on the table and avoiding eye contact with me.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Sarah
I should've known the minute I agreed to bring Josie to Christmas dinner that everything was going to downhill, I just hoped my best friend would've been smart and held back any remarks that may upset my brother or his fiance. Isabel was a nice girl, I wished Josie would see that, but I wasn't prepared at all for the mess that happened.

"Josie is just statin' her opinion and I didn't know that was a crime, Dawson," I said but instantly knew it was the wrong thing to say.

"While that may be true, Sarah, Mateo is mine and Dawson's son and I would just appreciate it if Josie didn't tell us how to parent him. If I didn't think Mateo could eat a rib off the bone, I wouldn't have given it to him." Isabel replied sharply and I let out a sigh.

"I'm sorry, Isabel, I'm sure Josie didn't mean it to irritate you." Isabel laughed then and shook her head. I could see the irritation setting in her face so I didn't know what to say anymore. I just let the silence fell hoping Josie didn't say another word.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
"That's enough," I heard my mom say. shaking my head, I threw down the rib I didn't even get to finish eating. "Bently, can you go with Mateo to the kitchen, please? I'll come get you when you can come back."

After both boys left, I glared toward my sister. "It is wrong for your friend to state her opinion doesn't matter at this table anymore and you're BRAVE for bringing her around here after what she did. You knew it was a bad idea and that's why you said nothing because if you had, I wouldn't be here. So I would appreciate it if she kept her mouth shut."

"Don't be so harsh, Dawson," Sarah replied in defense.

"Harsh? Your "friend" left your brother for dead and got into another relationship while he was clinging to his life because she's money-hungry!"

"Amen!" I heard Dad say, chuckling when I heard it, hanging my head I tried to gain composure before I spoke again. Picking up my plate from the table, I picked up my napkin and silverware. "Since there's only room for one of us at the table, I'll be the bigger person again, and leave. Your friend is lucky it's Christmas, otherwise, I wouldn't be so nice, just don't show up again."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
Your "friend" left your brother for dead and got into another relationship while he was clinging to his life. Josie cheated on Dawson. She cheated when he was recovering from his riding incident. Holy shit.

My heart broke the minute when what was kept in the dark came out to the light, at least for me. I knew about Dawson's riding incident, how he was in a coma and now I knew Josie's bitch ass cheated on the only man who held my heart the way he did. I was so irritated with the new revelation. Not only about Josie but about the fact that Dawson hadn't mentioned this ever to me. Now wasn't a time to bring it up though. I didn't know what to do but I knew I had to stay calm.

Looking up, I watched as my fiance stood up and grabbed his plate, making his way to leave because he wasn't about to be sitting here with the likes of Josie. I didn't want to either but when I looked over at Josie, rage filled my blood.

"Y-you cheated on him?" I couldn't comprehend why anyone would do this to a man like Dawson but Josie was, and always would be, money hungry. "You're unbelievable, Josie." You too, Dawson.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Josie
Staring into my lap the entire time the chaos ensued between the Covingtons and Isabel, I scoffed when Dawson left and Isabel grew the courage to try and insult me. Biting my lip, I looked up at Isabel with rage-filled eyes.

"What does it matter to you, Isabel. You got him out of it, so why are you so offended?" I asked before I stood up and threw my napkin on the table. running out of the house through the front door with Sarah's hands on my shoulders the entire time.


Brett
As silence filled the table after Josie's dramatic ass exit, I placed my hand on top of Isabel's as a sign of comfort and reassurance.

"I never liked her."

"That makes two of us son, good riddance to her," my Uncle Charles said with an authoritative nod turning back to his plate while Shelly went to retrieve Dawson and the boys.

"Young love made Dawson stupid."

"You don't have to remind me, dad, I paid the price for it, Dawson scowled, putting his plate back on the table and taking his seat, sighing heavily.

"Four million and the girl still won't leave ya be."

"Dad, can we not talk about this right now? Or ever? It's Christmas."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
It never occurred to me how much everyone sitting at this table despised Josie but it was mainly because I didn't even know she cheated on my fiance while he was in a coma. It was a lot to process on a night where I was already mentally and emotionally exhausted but I took it in strides as best I could. It didn't help, however, as Charles continued on, indulge my curiosity further by making the remark that Josie was given four million and she still would leave Dawson alone. I felt dizzy at that one.

Four.. million... dollars? Holy shit.

I squeezed Brett's hand in my own then, needing to be brought to reality as I took it all in and sat in silence. Letting go, I thanked him again quietly before I got my shit together and proceeded to enjoy the dinner now that Dawson was back and everyone continued eating with Josie gone. I couldn't bite my tongue, however.

"Is there anything else that happened, Charles?" I asked my father-in-law, not caring in the moment that Dawson gave me a glare of annoyance. I know what that will lead to later. I would be lying if I said I didn't shiver. "She just cheated on my fiance and then took four million dollars from him? What the heck kind of bullshit is that?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
"Isabel enough!" I exclaimed slamming the table again. "Just eat."

"Dawson, your son is right here, calm down before you do something you regret, "my mother reminded me. As much as I hated to admit it right now, she was right. My son didn't need to see his parents argue, My whole life I never saw my parents argue, and I was leading a bad example. Turning to Isabel I sighed in defeat and offered an apologetic smile.

"I'm sorry for raising my voice, I love you. Can we talk about this later, please?"
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I flinched when Dawson raised his voice at me, telling me it was enough and for me to just eat. I quickly looked away from my father-in-law and just stared down at the food on my plate, not feeling entirely hungry any longer. My stomach was in knots and I was slowly starting to feel sick but I pushed it aside and just gave Dawson a weak smile back for the sake of our son. He didn't need to see Dawson and I fighting. Like Dawson, I never saw my parents argue and I wanted that to be the same for Mateo.

"Of course. Lo siento," With that, dinner carried on and I interacted when needed, my mind in a completely different headspace. I didn't touch much of my food after that, just ate little bites here and there and quickly offered to help Shelly clean up with Mateo went out to play in the pasture with Bentley. I knew he was going to be excited for his gift so I pushed aside the storm of emotions inside and went out with Shelly to be there and capture the moment, giggling with how excited Mateo was to ride his new pony.

"Daddy, daddy! Can we go for a ride?" When Dawson obliged, Shelly nudged me and reminded me about Dawson's gift.

"Wait just a second you two. Can I give your daddy his present first?" When my son nodded excitedly, I took Dawson's hand and lead him back to the barn where the family kept their saddles. I was hoping this wasn't a stupid gift to be giving him. "I hope you like this. Your mom and dad helped me out."

With Charles's help, we pulled out the new saddle from where it was hiding, the Covington ranch emblem engraved onto one side with the Navy Seal on the other with his tag number below it. They were just of the small touches I made to make this more sentimental and personal.

"Now y'all go and enjoy your ride." I wanted Mateo to enjoy his time with his dad and for Dawson to enjoy himself too because I knew the minute Dawson and I were alone, all hell would break loose.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
The next morning...
Dawson
With Mateo at my parents after begging to stay the night with Bently and Amelia and Jayden out house hunting, this was the first moment Isabel and I had to ourselves since the outburst at Christmas dinner. I wasn't going to be the one to address the matter, because quite frankly, I didn't see the point in bringing up past wounds when they already healed, but Isabel, I knew didn't see it that way. Some things were just too painful to bring back from the past, but as painful as they were at the time, they lead me to the family I had now.

All hopes of the subject being dropped were diminished when Isabel remained quiet for most of the morning, and occasionally shot a glare in my direction at breakfast with our friends. It wasn't until I wished them the best of luck on their search and was elbow deep in soapy dishwater that I finally relented and sighed heavily when Isabel glared at me again.

"Seriously Isabel? Is this how you're going to act today? We have guests. Can we just drop it?"
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
Was I being ridiculous for continuing to hold a grudge over the fact that my fiance didn't tell me about what Josie did to him? Possibly. It was just annoying to me that I didn't know a damn thing about what happened then. It took forever to get him to open up about his accident in general, so finding out that he didn't mention a big part in what happened there just rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted to know about it, despite it being his past. He knew every detail of mine. Maybe you're just being sensitive.

Whatever the case, I was still overall annoyed and wanted to talk about it with him so when our dear friends left to go house hunting, I sat in the living room watching tv before I heard him release a heavy sigh. I glared at him then, releasing a sigh of my own and rolling my eyes when he asked to just drop it. How easy for you.

"Our guests aren't here right now so I don't understand why we can't just have a civilized conversation over what happened like grown adults. Rather than talking to me about it, you'd rather just drop it which is such an easy way out for you that annoys the hell out of me. I didn't know any of this, Dawson! None of it and to hear about it the way I did was just a lot to process. I just wish you'd tell me about it. You're being closed off all over again like when I asked you to tell me about the riding incident." I just want to know everything. Why is that so hard for you?
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
"You're being ridiculous," I muttered, turning back to the dishes while she continued to try and pry at me to get what she wanted. "Why can't you just trust me? If I felt you needed to know everything, you would but you're so hell-bent on the truth that you just can't let it go! The truth isn't always, healing, Isabel, and you're so used to getting it out of people that it's a travesty when you don't. Your world won't come to an end, if not every truth is laid at your feet. Not everything is about you and what you want." I exclaimed before I set down the dishes in the dish drainer and ran back to our bedroom to calm down, not surprised when Isabel followed after me in her own rage, huffing when she wouldn't stop.

Finally, I just couldn't take it anymore.

"I never asked you what happened at the border, never once, asked you why you came home, and I know it wasn't on your own terms. We both have secrets that we don't want to talk about. So please, let it go. It was in the past and that's where I want to leave it. It won't make you feel good."
 

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