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

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I followed Dawson to the room mainly because I was no way in hell going to let Dawson get out of this that easy. I was so irritated, angry and hurt that he didn't trust me enough with one of his deepest secrets but following him into the room wasn't supposed to backfire as much as it did. Everything he said wasn't supposed to hurt as much as it did. I was a stickler for the truth, it was just something I always leaned to growing up. After being hurt as many times as I was with people I believed were close to me, I always wanted people to just be straight up with me like I was with them. I guess I never took into consideration that some people keep secrets to protect those they cared about, not because they were being secretive. I felt defeated then, biting the inside of my cheeks to fight back tears.

"Yeah, you're right. I didn't tell you," I said weakly, shaking my head as I wrapped my arms around me, thinking about what exactly happened at the border. No no no, stop it. You're fine. "Just, I'm sorry for bringing any of this up. I'll drop it." The look of relief on his face made me want to hurl. I hated that. Hated how relieved he was that I would stop pressing him on the matter. "But I am who I am, Dawson. I'm big on the truth, in fact I need it and I'm not sorry that's the case. I'm not sorry that I just want to know all of you but how could I when I haven't even been open myself?"

Breathe. My eyes were shut. I felt like I was suffocating. I needed to get out. It seemed this battle I decided to fight was now biting me in the ass.

"I was held at gunpoint by five cartel members, Dawson. Five who had prior kidnapped me and took me to a hidden warehouse where I was tied up and held at gunpoint where I pleaded for my life while they laughed in my face about how weak I looked after acting so tough. So you're right, we all have secrets we want to keep to ourselves but some are just too big to stay in the dark forever." I knew he was going to think I just told him to get what I wanted out of him, but that wasn't the case. His words sliced right through me and he was right. I depended on the truth so much that it was becoming so toxic but when you are in a career built on nothing but truth, I guess you just want it out of everyone and have to be cautious with those who aren't being straight forward because you never know what their hidden agenda is. "I should’ve told you sooner, I just didn’t know how. I need some space."


With that, I left the house, got into my Fiat and drove myself to my favorite overlook of the city, a bridge only lit by one single light pole. I parked my car near the warehouse there, got out and stood on the bridge, just watching as the cars drove by and the cold air made my face feel numb. This is what I needed after starting an argument bigger than I could chew. Idiot.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
Letting Isabel storm out of the house, I groaned in frusteration. As much as I loved her for her drive and compassion for others, I really hated it when it reared its ugly head toward me.

It won't last. I remidned myself pulling a beer from the fridge and popping the cap before I fell into the couch, turning on the tv and putting on National Geographic to warch a shark documentary, completely zoning out, realizing I couldn't even rememeber the last tim I had a day to myself.

This isn't too bad.

I was nearly asleep toward the end of the show when I heard the door open and slam. Assuming it was Isabel, I sighed, but when it was Jayden by himself I shot up.

"You look pissed," I commented before he shook his head, noticing Amelia wasn't with him, I put two and two together.

"Welcome to the dog house. We have beer Are you keeping secrets too?"
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
Plopping down on the couch beside my best friend, I let out a frustrated sigh before rubbing my face with my hands, groaning as I recalled everything that went down between Amelia and I before she walked away from me and I left to come back here. Thankfully, I knew Isabel was on her way to rescue Amelia from the cold, and I also knew the two were going to grab some lunch since we were all childless. Today was supposed to be a good day for all of us but yet somehow Dawson and I ended up in the dog house together.

"Keeping secrets? Not I but I could use a beer," I said while shaking my head. "We got in an argument because she said she's not ready to be looking for a house so quick after everything happened and that I was smothering her. It's not like I want us to be here forever, and she said she doesn't want that either, but she said it was too soon to be doing this. I just don't understand where the frustration came from after we both agreed to going out today. Women dude."

I grabbed the beer Dawson offered me and thanked him, sighing again for the countless time. "What are you in the dog house for?"


Isabel
"Drop a pin. I'm on my way."

I couldn't tell you how long I just stood on the bridge watching all the cars drive by underneath me while I admired the view. When Amelia sent an anchor emoji, I was quick to run back to my car and drive to wherever she was, picking her up so she wasn't in the cold and so that we could grab a bite to eat because I was starving. Considering we were both supposed to be with our significant others, it seemed both men decided to be stupid today but it was times like this I was glad I had Amelia. As long as I had her, I didn't need anyone else.

When I pulled up beside Amelia sitting at a bench, I smiled at her and rolled down the window.

"Get in, Bitch. We're treating ourselves today." When she got in, I drove us to one of our favorite restaurants: Saint Rocco's New York Italian. "So, what did he do today?"

After we ate lunch, I was planning on treating us because we deserved it. I would take us to get a fresh set, maybe some shopping because I was a big retail therapy person and I did need to buy some stuff from the house anyways. Just things to keep us busy and away from the men.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
Laughing at Jayden as I handed him the beer and plopped back into the couch, muting the tv, my laugh only I intensified

“Jay, she’s pregnant. It doesn’t have to make sense, dude and it only gets worse. Good luck, man.”

Sighing when Jayden asked what I did, I finished off my own beer and placed the empty bottle on the coffee table.

“She’s pissed because I won’t tell her all the details about the accident and all the nasty things between Josie and I. She’s so used to getting whatever she wants out of anyone, but she doesn’t need to know about that shitty relationship and what it costed me. I just wish she would let it go. So she stormed out, and by now, I know better than to chase after her.”


Amelia
Holding back my laugh from the bench, I jumped up and opening the car door, I was still tearing up from pure frustration.

***

Folding my napkin into my lap, I scoffed when Isabel asked me what Jayden did.

“He’s just moving so fast. A week ago my husband was in a gun fight and I was bracing myself for having to bury my husband after we just found out that we’re having another baby, to losing everything we’ve worked for and he wants me to up and buy a house today and move in like nothing happened. We haven’t even talked about it, Isabel. It’s stressing me out, so I just walked away.”
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
"I think she's just upset that I'm moving too fast but like, I don't really want to dwell on what happened, ya know? Like I get we haven't talked about it yet but I will soon." Whenever I can find it in me to open up about everything that happened. The truth was I wasn't ready to address anything that happened because I didn't want to go back in time and relive it in my head, but I knew this trait of mine annoyed Amelia and I could understand why. This wasn't the first time she and I got into an argument over me not opening up about something that happened.

Shrugging, I shook my head at my best friend, chuckling when I learned why his fiancee was so upset with him.

"God you fucked up bad this time," When he looked at me, I laughed before taking a swig of my beer. "You should know by now that nothing can stay hidden from women like the ones we married, Covington and you should also know blaming it on them always getting the truth out is just like adding fuel to the fire. I hate to break it to ya, but good luck getting Isabel to just drop something like that. To her it's a big thing." I shrugged again, taking another sip of my beer. "But I mean, it's not like she's told you about the border anyways so she can't get upset that you kept the shitty relationship with Josie a secret from her."

We both really fucked up this time. Eh, it'll pass.


Isabel
My eyes rolled so far in the back of my head when I learned why Amelia left Jayden in the middle of their house hunting. I knew Amelia wasn't ready to just up and buy a house, and I wasn't going to push her out of mine. Considering Jayden was shot just days ago and now trying to get my best friend to buy a house also annoyed me. He needed to take it slow. Everything that happened wasn't something that could just be blown over. Shaking my head, I folded my napkin in my lap while I looked through the menu.

"Men are trash, Melia. I will stand by that even though we have some in our lives," I began, instantly thinking of Dawson and becoming irritated with how smug he looked when I said I would drop the topic. "They're stupid and don't know how to women like us but quite frankly this is what they signed up for and Jayden really does need to cool it with this moving out shit. Y'all lost everything and I know he doesn't want to stay at my house longer than y'all need to but fuck, it's not like y'all are imposing or Dawson and I are telling y'all to get the hell out." Men are stupid.

"Why is he being so pushy? Is he even okay mentally considering everything that's happened? Has he even given himself a chance to breathe?" I scoffed then. I was going to have to talk to Jayden later. "Ya know what sucks though? Secrets. They're the fucking worst and you would think considering Dawson knows my past and how I feel about them, he wouldn't have any but no, let's just have my fiancee learn that Josie cheated on him when he was in a coma, along with taking four. million. dollars. from him at the annual Christmas dinner. No big deal, right? It's in the past and he just wants me to let it go. How the hell am I supposed to just let that go? Especially when the bitch was sitting across from me when everything was revealed? God, I hate men." I need a drink. So that's what I did when our waiter came. I ordered a sangria because I needed it.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Dawson
"Well, Jayden, the difference is Isabel remembers what happened at the border. I can't remember anything from before the accident, I don't even remember it. I only know what everyone tells me. All I know is she thought I was passed dead and cashed out the year's winnings but whoever Josie was with then. he died in a car accident shortly after. But anyway, my mom and dad wanted to keep it quiet to the media that their star rider, only son lost his memory completely from a riding accident, because of the backlash it would cause for them as parents and for their business. It would crush them so I played along and Isabel taking interest in Brett for a story and then following me on the naval tour, I never expected for us to end up together and I couldn't tell her from the start, because I was naturally suspicious of her motives given the last name. It was plausible at the time, and I contemplated telling her on multiple occasions, but I didn't want her to take my suspicions the wrong way once we were more serious, and no offense, but I saw what the media did to Amelia, turning her into a target for what you did, and I can't put Isabel through that. It would completely ruin everything she's built for herself if anyone found out she knew anything and then sold the idea that she hid our family secret on tour to the media. She would never be able to do anything meaningful. So the truth, isn't always the best option."

Sighing, I stood up went for the kitchen. I needed something stronger than a weak brew. Going into the cabinet I pulled out the Whiskey bottle and poured a full glass before downing half of it without uttering another word.


Amelia
"He's just too prideful and needs to get out of the situation ASAP but, I've already been through this once, and I did everything to please him without a second thought, I tried to be the best wife, but this time, I just want to take the time and breathe. Because if he keeps going rapid fire, my resentment for his career is going to incinerate our whole relationship and that's the last thing either one of us need right now. I have no idea how he's feeling, like I said, he refuses to talk about it so I don't push it." Groaning, I listen to Isabel, sucking my teeth when she finished. "Four million? Sounds fishy to me. Why would they pay her four million dollars if she cheated on him? That doesn't make any sense, Bel. Sounds more like a bribe to me I know before you and Dawson were a thing they were a pretty quiet family about their personal lives, multiple media outlets tried to figure out if something was up, but they never could find anything, that's why I was so upset with you when you told me you ended up together on the tour. i always had a weird feeling about them and I didn't want you to get dragged it if something was going on."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
"Well shit, Dawson. Seems like you're in a rough spot," I said to my best friend, knowing it was no help whatsoever, especially with the scowl he gave me after I said it. "So how are you planning to work this out with her? You know the two of them will come back here just as pissed as before and you're going to have to do a lot of kissing ass to get her to let it go. Maybe I can talk to her for ya?" Although I don't even know what I would say.

Isabel and Amelia were nothing like every other women out in the world. They were both very headstrong, very stubborn and very defensive. Whenever either of us got in an argument, they would either be dropped instantly or dragged on for a week or more if they felt like it. We were at their mercy, that was something I always had to remind myself of, but I was slightly irked that Amelia and I couldn't even hold a full conversation about it. Well, that's my fault. I did snap and not give her any time to talk. Well, I knew I was going to have some making up to do.


Isabel
Amelia was right, it did sound fishy. I had no idea what the hell went down with Josie and Dawson but knowing Josie somehow cashed out on four million dollars worried me, even more when Amelia revealed to me that the Covington's were very pretty quiet in regards to their personal life, and I didn't blame them considering how big their last name is in the media world. I knew from first hand what it meant to get that in. That's why the naval story of Dawson was so massive to the Dallas media market, along with Brett's riding profile. I managed to get in and spill the tea about the Covington's and the realization made me queasy. No wonder he doesn't want to tell me anything. Does he think I'll go and sell it? No, no, no. Dawson would never think that. Right?

"Well, I know they are very private but can ya blame them? Any negative light would ruin them," I said softly, releasing a deep sigh. I couldn't let this go. I just couldn't. I needed to know the truth.

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.

I grabbed my sangria and down the rest of it as the conversation with Dawson this morning replayed in my head. I def started an argument bigger than I could chew.

"I'm over men. They're not going to ruin our day today so we're going to eat lunch, enjoy ourselves, go get a fresh set and then do some retail therapy because a girl needs it."
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
"Any negative light would ruin anyone, best friend. I'm not blaming them either, after Jayden's cover was blown I would do anything to protect our family from public scrutiny and humiliation, but their last name isn't a get out of jail free pass if they're keeping something that could be a detriment to anyone, family or not, it's wrong," I reminded her gently. "I just think if they didn't have anything to hide, why do they always go out of their way to avoid the media when they have so much influence on this community? Wouldn't you want people to know who you were and what you were about if you had control of one of the biggest sports in Texas?"

After that I didn't pursue the speculations about the Covingtons any further, I already got into an argument with Jay I wasn't trying to start one with Isabel too.

"It's just something to think about," sipping my water I nodded at her plans for the day.

"I don't even want to go home to them, I'm tempted to book a room downtown out of spite so they can simmer in their stupidity for awhile. I'm sure Jayden thinks this will all blow over by tomorrow and this is not something I want him to get away with so easily. I should use his credit card too."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I chuckled at Amelia's statement about not even wanting to go back to the house where the men were currently simmering in what I liked to call their toxic masculinity. How both Jayden and Dawson were being were the pinnacle of men attitude and I was going to lose my mind over it. You just told Amelia we were going to enjoy ourselves. Let it go for now. I liked the thought of booking a room downtown with my best friend though, especially since the kids were still with their grandparents. I also liked the idea of her using Jayden's credit card because I had the same idea.

"I was going to use the card with mine and Dawson's account for some retail therapy so I say we book a room downtown and live our best lives while they simmer and struggle on how the hell to fix this," I ordered another glass of Sangria then, along with my pasta of choice for the day: Chicken Parm.

I enjoyed lunch with Amelia, along with getting a fresh new set that made me feel like a bad bitch. I was trying to boost myself up today so I went with a red set and now we were headed to the Galeria where I was planning to enjoy the splurge. I could use a new pair of Louboutins. Dawson was going to kill me later, but quite frankly, I didn't care.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Two days later...
Amelia
After my disagreement with Jayden, I spent most of my time in the last two days in the newsroom despite him still recovering from his injuries. My work was the one thing that was able to keep me completely distracted from my personal life. I didn't know what it was but as soon as I walked through the newsroom doors, I left everything else behind and let whatever project I was working on consume my thoughts. It was my emotional release, and I knew it came off as me being a workaholic, but creating stories to tell other people's truth was my deepest passion.

Today I was transcribing interviews and writing a a firefighter's wife story, I had been following Captain James Kenda and his wife with my camera and reporter's notebook for a week and a half and now it was time to put the story together. I hated doing nothing but feature writing but because I wanted back into the game, I took whatever the DMN offered me as a starting point. One thing i knew for sure, breaking news coverage was more my thing. The adrenaline rush was something I missed.

For now though, it worked, considering I still had to break it to my editor I was expecting. That was becoming a more difficult secret to keep though, because the nausea was hitting me later in the game, and if I smelled any kind of chicken I got sick.

Reaching for my water in between interviews and chugged it through the straw, rolling my eyes when I saw Jayden was calling me from my desktop. Sighing, I declined the call and texted him.

"I'm working, do you need something?"
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
I knew Amelia going to work these past two days was a way for her to get away from me considering we hadn't talked about our latest argument. After reflecting back on it, I realized I was a dick for not letting her get a single word in but not only that. I was also an asshole for thinking we could just start all over so quickly without even talking about what happened with Amelia. We lost everything and I didn't even ask my wife what she felt, how she was mentally or anything of the matter. I was just thinking about getting us back on our feet without giving us time to grieve. Stupid.

Grabbing my phone, I tried to call Amelia so I could ask her if she wanted to grab dinner with me tonight. When she sent my call straight to voicemail, I groaned, shaking my head. She's still mad and I don't blame her. Reading her text reaffirmed my statement of her still being upset.

"Sorry, I just wanted to see if you'd meet me for dinner tonight. I want to talk things out."

I sent the text and released another sigh before I got up from the couch and went to get Mateo and Bel from their room, needing to get out of the stuffy building for a bit so I decided I would take them to lunch. They were more than excited and up for it.


Isabel
I let it go. Yeah, that's right, I dropped the argument with my fiancee because I knew he was never going to budge and tell me what I wanted to know. Knowing that, I decided to take matters into my own hands and re-evaluate the situation one night while I sat out on my patio. I wanted so desperately to know what exactly happened, especially because Amelia was right. Cashing out on four million dollars was fishy and the more thought I gave it, the more it sounded like a bribe. God, I hope not. So with that in mind, I set on finding out what I could myself and it was more than a struggle considering how private my in-laws were but I was not new to the game of investigating. I just had to make sure Dawson never found out I was doing this.

Typing away on my laptop at work, I looked further into Dawson's accident, reading articles written and how little information was given in regards to my Cowboy and what his condition was at the hospital. All the articles simply stated he was in critical, life-threatening condition, which he was, but nothing was ever said after that. He just magically recovered from something as brutal as he went through and nothing more. Got out, went into recovery, decided to pursue the Navy and nothing else ever came out of it. Bullshit.

"Anes," I heard one of my fellow editors say which brought me out of my hyper-fixated daze of investigating my own fiance. Looking up, I smiled at Earl before I shut my laptop.

"What's up?"

"Are you up for an assignment?"

"Anything that'll get me out of this office? Always."

With that, I put my laptop back in my purse and grabbed my equipment, walking with Earl to his office where he briefed me on what the assignment was. It wasn't anything that I was excited to do, just something to fill in the magazine. It was another story about another prestigious CEO in the DFW area and as I was becoming used to now and days, I was just the photographer. It was like my time in college where most of the stories I worked on weren't my own. I missed doing everything myself but I still couldn't bring myself to pursue anything more from the coverage I was known for. So I leave this office building just to go to another office building. Peachy. I texted Amelia as I walked to my car, looking at the time.

"Got an assignment out of the building for once. Headed to do some studio photography of a CEO. Are you tight on deadline today or can I steal you away for a quick lunch after the shoot?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
Before I could even turn back to what I was doing, Jayden texted back. Unable to hold back my annoyed laugh, I replied. "Ask me again in a few hours, I have a lot to get done today. Make sure Bel goes to bed at a decent time tonight she needs to get on back on a schedule."

Closing out of his thread before he could read it, I turned back to what I was doing. circling my fingers around the keyboard to think of what to write next. All of my photos were edited and put together in the exact sequence I wanted to tell the tory, all I had to do was write this 1,600-word article. It wasn't due until tomorrow morning for online, but I would easily finish it and turn it in by tonight.

This is cub reporter work.

Shaking my head,
I shook the thought in a frustrated sigh continuing to type away with my liked songs playlist playing in my ears, hearing the ding from my laptop again,, I cursed under my breath thinking it was Jayden continuing to suck up to me but when I saw Isabel's name flash across the screen I paid the message attention, responding with no hesitation unlike how i had with my husband.

"Ooooo have funnnn, I can come out of my cave, being a feature writer isn't that hard. Can we go get BBQ? I'm craving it."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
I sighed when I read Amelia's response to my question, shaking my head before I decided to respond with a simple okay and nothing more. I opened mine and Dawson's thread where I asked my best friend for any advice on what to do next although I knew he probably didn't have any. I was paying for what I did and I knew it had to be done. I couldn't force Amelia to talk to me as long as she was trying to make me work for it so I opted to just leave it for now and focus on Isabel and Mateo, going to enjoy the day with them before anyone else came home.

Isabel
I just pulled out of the parking lot and headed to the next office building I would be in with all my equipment in the backseat when Amelia responded to my text. When I read it, I was thankful she agreed because I could really use an escape for now. Ever since I told Dawson what happened at the border, it had been on my mind lately and I was positive it had to do with me wanting to go back or me just missing being on assignment like that.

"BBQ sounds good. Let me know what restaurant? Just got to the office. It'll be about thirty minutes."

I quickly ran inside, snapped the pics I needed and when I was wrapping up, I rolled my eyes at the CEOs attempt at flirting. Disgusting. I made sure to flash the massive ring Dawson gave me and he backed off instantly. After everything was packed, I went back out to my car and put everything in, sighing when my stomach growled.

"I'm out. Heading there now."

After I sent the text, I began to drive towards Pecan Lodge, anticipating the well needed food and possibly a drink.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
Closing my laptop, I threw it in my over-sized purse, grabbing my blue winter coat with black buttons, running to my car in my black-heeled boots that matched my black pants that were beginning to be too small and were held together by a hair tie. Throwing my credentials in the passenger seat, I texted Isabel back, letting her know I was on my way. I knew I was over dressed for the scene, but I didn't have the time to change. Parking next to Isabel, I ran inside, waving to her from a distance when I saw her.

After we got our food and sat down together, I eyed her, before she asked what was on my mind.

"This BBQ and and Jayden said he wants to talk tonight at dinner, but honestly, I think he's said enough. I know we have to get past this and move on, but I haven't even gotten two words in and I don't want to be talked over again. I don't know what's gotten into him after he took those bullets, but he's been on a short fuse. It's almost intolerable. I just don't want another fight."

Leaving it at that, I dug into the food, before passing off my laptop to Isabel.

"Hey, editor, can you look over this for me? It's almost finished, but no one has looked it over yet."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
I myself was rather over dressed for the scene, especially when I realized I was headed into Deep Ellum but my stomach and I quite frankly didn't care. All I could think about was getting some food and seeing Amelia before I went back into the office and did some more editor work. I missed being out in the world but I enjoyed being a mentor to those who worked for me. I was trying to be for them what was hard for me to find when I entered this field.

I shook my head at Amelia when she informed me that Jayden was trying to talk everything out with her over lunch, along with my best friend becoming defensive and telling me she didn't want to because Jayden never let her say a word. I could understand the frustration but if anything was to be solved, they would have to talk it out eventually. I'll kick his ass. Maybe then he'll let her speak.

"I think y'all do need to talk it out but whenever you're ready. However, just be sure you don't drag this out so much that y'all start drifting."

Not pressing the matter anymore, I also began to dig into the food, humming in contentment. Every time we came here, I always got the Pitmaster, a sandwich with three meats, sauce and slaw along with some mac and cheese. This meal alone could fill me up for days and I was okay with not eating anything else until tomorrow.

"Ooo, I'm honored to be the first editor to read over it," I teased, taking her laptop and setting it on my lap while I looked over the story she was working on. I loved the angle she chose. Amelia always had a knack for getting angles most never thought of and when it all pieced together, they were always more than good. "Ahhh, I miss doing pieces like this."

I marked over some things in red colored font, left some suggestions but also left notes of something I really liked. Her photos were also pretty dang good.


"Look at you getting these amazing shots and producing a story with this angle," I teased. "I like it. You're on the right path but I left some suggestions. Transitions are smooth but I expected that. You're not a subtitle whore like me." I laughed then, shaking my head before handing over the laptop. "How's the DMN been to you? Do I have to fight any of my old colleagues?" When Amelia asked me what was wrong, I shook my head and sighed. "I miss being on assignment." I shrugged then.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
Shrugging my shoulders when Isabel asked about the DMN. "It's better than nothing?" I replied, trying to sound grateful for where I was now after being in marketing for so long. "It's not where I want to be forever, but I could never go back to where I was, you know that." Looking back on it, I resented past me for being so unhappy with where she was, high up in the AP, being so dissatisfied with climbing with ladder at one company for so long that I contemplated leaving Jayden to start a new adventure. Now, I would give anything to be back on that beat and editing everyone else's pieces.

"Wanna trade places?" I teased, enjoying the rest of our lunch. Before we departed, I told Isabel I would go to dinner with Jayden and without hesitation, said she would watch her niece. Nodding in gratitude, we parted ways again.


***
As planned I turned in firefighter piece in the early evening. Sighing in relief, I pulled away from my desk and rubbed my eyes, which were irritated from staring at a screen for too long.

Taking a deep breath, I let down my hair from its tight bun picking up my phone to text Jayden, my favorite picture of us staring back at me in my tiny cubicle. It was a picture of us from Nick and Elise's wedding two years ago. Jayden was dressed in his dress blues at his friend's request, and I in a long lavender colored gown; his hand over mine on my belly, only a month away from delivering our daughter. He was kissing my forehead and the smile on my face was enormous, laughing with my eyes squinted shut at his display of affection. It reminded me of all the things we overcame as a couple up until that point and despite it all, we were madly in love and excited for everything the future had in store. Sometimes I wished I could go back to that moment and soak it up again. Despite my feeling miserable and being insecure of my body then, Jayden always had a way of making me feel as beautiful as the first time he laid eyes on me.

This is stupid. Forgive the man, he loves you more than his own life. He just wants the best four you and the family you're building together.

Instead of texting him, I pressed the button to call. I knew he wouldn't expect it.

Please answer.

When he picked up the phone I smiled, still looking at the picture on my desk.

"Hey," I greeted him sweetly. "I just finished up here, did you still want to go out tonight? Isabel said she would watch Bel for us. I just have to text her before you leave."
 
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Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
I was back at the house with Little Bel and Mateo, keeping them entertained by watching movies inside a pillow and blanket fort the three of us built. I made us popcorn, bought them candy and an icee and we were watching Mateo's favorite movie now, one that Isabel knew word for word: Coco. While Bel and Mateo began singing along to 'Un Poco Loco', I heard my phone ring and I was shocked to see Amelia's picture pop up, one of her holding Bel when our daughter was super sick last year. I snapped the pic the moment I got home, not wanting to lose the memory ever. She reminded me each and every day why I loved her and she was the best mom to our toddler. I couldn't ask for more and despite our arguments, I knew I still loved her with my entire being and would do anything for her.

Answering, I said a simple hello, waiting to hear what she had to say and even then I wasn't expecting for her to be much softer and asking if I still wanted to meet her for dinner.

"I'd like to if you're okay with it. How does Savor sound?" When she agreed, I nodded. "Alright, I'll see ya there then."

"Hi, Mommy!" I heard Bel say before she took the phone from me. "I miss you so much! Are you and daddy going out tonight?" I assumed Amelia said yes because our daughter sighed then. "Awe, okay. I wanted you to see the fort daddy helped Mateo and I build! We're watching Coco!" I chuckled as Isabel talked her mom's ear off before they hung up after we said our "I love you's". I left the kids in the fort then and walked up to the guest room Amelia and I were currently residing in to get ready for our dinner.


***
I was beyond nervous for tonight with Amelia, terrified that it wouldn't go well and that we would just end up in another fight which I was going to try my hardest to avoid. When I arrived to Savor, the best Gastropub in Dallas for it's setting and view, I got our table and waited for her to arrive. I saw her the minute she did thanks to the all glass windows surrounding me. My hands became clammy and started sweating. Breathe bro.

When she came over, I stood up and took her into a hug, kissing her gently before sitting down across from her with a gentle smile.

"Hi love," I said gently. "How was work?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
I had never been to Savor before, and I was still full from my lunch with Isabel, but this was more about the conversation. It was a quiet meeting place without my baby climbing all over me.

I miss her. I'll take her her to breakfast and we'll go to the children's museum before I go into the office tomorrow to pick up another assignment at the budget meeting.

Right now, I was out sole income, so I couldn't afford to pass anything up. These were the thoughts that consumed me as I made the drive from work Savor. Parking the rental I had been driving since mine was robbed and trashed, I ran inside away from the cold. As Jayden waved me over, I walked toward him.

God, I'm so over these pants.

Returning the kiss, I held the embrace taking in his scent (That Izzzy never picked so I can't describe I'm going with "Clean Man"). I was tired and not feeling so well so I wanted our quarrel to end. Pulling away I undid my jacket and hung it over my chair.

"It could be a little more exciting, but it's not miserable. I finished earlier than I thought I would so I guess I'm not too rusty." Placing the napkin in my lap, I ordered the usual simple water without a lemon, smiling at Jayden while he picked his drink.

"How are you feeling? How's the battle wound holding up? You're not over doing it, are you?" I asked, raising an eyebrow in pure suspicion. Jayden was still supposed to be resting and taking his pain medicine, but something told me, because of everything else going on, he was neglecting to take care of himself.
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
I chuckled when Amelia made the comment of how she guessed she wasn't too rusty after all. I knew for a fact she wasn't at all rusty, and I also knew she was going to do amazing things now that she was back in the game, granted not where she used to be but I was to blame for that. The more I thought about what happened, the more I realized that I should have asked Amelia from the beginning if she was okay with me going undercover. I shouldn't have just thrown myself in like I did.

After Amelia ordered her water, I ordered just a coke. I wanted to drink but figured it wasn't the best idea considering the conversation I wanted to have with my wife.


"You would never get rusty, Amelia," I said with a chuckle, grinning when she asked me if I was over doing it. "I'm feeling good. The pain is much more manageable and the wound seems to be healing. I don't think I'm over doing it. I've been at the house for the most part except for today. I took the kids to lunch and as Bel told you, we did a movie day after in the comfort a pillow fort." I thanked the waitress when she brought over our drinks before stepping away again as we looked through the menu. I wasn't entirely hungry but I would probably order just a simple appetizer.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
I was never one to beat around the bush long. I always preferred to handle things directly, so after I ordered my "park picnic" salad without the chicken, I went head first into why we were here.

"So, I know you would rather avoid this, but we need to talk about where we are. I'm sorry for snapping the other day. I understand you just want us to get out of our unfavorable situation as soon as possible, and I understand that completely. You want what's best for us and our family, but Jayden, I didn't even have time to process that our whole lives were turned upside down again before you expected me to turn around and start rebuilding. I know you think I am a super woman, but I am human. I made a commitment to you and your career, I know that every time you walk out that door there is a possibility you won't come home and I might have to raise our kids on my own, and that sacrifice is worth it to be because of all the good you do. If I didn't think so, I would have never went far with you, but my faith in you is worth the risk, love. But this is twice now that I have had to face the reality that there was a possibility I could have lost you, and both times, it was right in front of me, your one weakness. As much as my sacrifice is worth it, when the ugly part of your job rears its ugly head, that's not something i can just move past after it happens, Jayden. I married you, we have kids together, you think I want to have to explain to them one day that their father was murdered for doing what he was trained to do? You think that I like to think about being on my own, or letting someone else in, not getting to spend the rest of my life with you? It hurts, Jayden, a lot. If I lost you, a piece of me would go with you, and I would never be the same. I'm not asking you to take blame for what has happened to us, because it's not your fault, doing whatever you can to put people like that away forever, is what you're supposed to do and you can't live in fear that something will happen to us when you intervene. All I'm asking for is time to comprehend and cope with this mess, please."

"Also, when we were pregnant with Bel, I got to savor none of that, I lived in constant fear that you would never get to meet our daughter and that broke my heart. I was always stressed about what could happen, and because of that it wasn't a happy thing to fo through. I was in constant pain and always sick, we didn't even throw anything to celebrate our first baby because I was focused on making sure you had everything you needed, and I don't regret that, but I felt like I was robbed of the only experience I would have in becoming someone's mother, and that was a hard pill to swallow. I hated all of it, I never felt it was worth it until she was laid in my arms. So when i found out I was given a second chance, I got excited that this time would be different, but so far, it hasn't been. All I want is to get excited and get everything ready to bring our new baby home to, please don't take that from me."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Jayden
Oh Amelia. She was never one to beat around the bush. She was always as straight forward and direct and ever. After ordering the turkey sandwich for myself, I sipped on my Coke while I listened to my wife sitting across from me, taking everything she had to say in and ultimately feeling like a shitty husband in the end. I'm rude as hell. She hasn't been able to process what the hell went down and it was wrong of me to just make her act like it never happened because it obviously did. I'm stressing her out and that's one thing I never wanted to do.

"I'm sorry, Amelia," I began gently, taking another sip of my Coke. "I've been a dick lately, huh? I never thought to just take a second and breathe considering everything we've been through in the past week. If we're being completely honest, I feel horrible. It's because of my career, my decision to go undercover that all of this has happened and I want nothing in life to ever happen to you or Bel so I'm sorry for having a short fuse after everything. I just want to try and be the best man I can be for both my girls, ya know? And god, I've almost left this world twice. That's also a lot to take in and if I could have prevented you from being there both times, I would have. It's just, how do I word this? I thought moving on as quickly as possible was what I needed to do for me and I know now that I've been selfish in that department. I never want to add to your stress, nor be one of the stressors, so whatever I can do to help you actually enjoy this second pregnancy, I'll do it. I just want you and Bel to be happy and sometimes that comes off in such an asshole manner because I don't think things through but I love y'all. You know that right?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
"Of course I know that, it's just difficult sometimes to remember the bigger purpose in all of this. But I'm sorry for not being completely considerate of you and your side of things and I forgive you. Can we call a truce now?" I asked wrinkling my noise playfully reaching for his hand from across the table before our food was brought out to us. I didn't know if Jayden was trying to impress me by bringing me here but I knew as soon as the waitress sent the salad in front of me, I knew it more extravagant than my tastes, but I ate it anyway, not wanting to make a scene. I was just content with that fact that I Jayden and I made amends and there would no longer be an awkward tension between us. Once again, I was looking forward to our future.
 
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Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
1 week later...
Isabel
Considering what the past two weeks have been like, I figured Amelia could use some time out with the kids. I made sure she didn't have anything to do Saturday, along with making sure mine was free as well, then bought us tickets to take the kids to the aquarium. Jayden was still supposed to be taking it easy and Dawson was out of town for another show so today was going to be a mom and kid day.

"Mateo, Bel! Let's get dressed!" I called out to my son and niece, opening the door to their room where they sat in the middle playing with some of Mateo's toys. "We're going to go out today so let's get ready, okay mis amores?" After I got them up and at it, I went to the guest room where Amelia currently was. "Hey ma'am, get up. We're going out with the babies today. The aquarium. Vamos."

Laughing when Amelia refused, I sat in the spot next to her and bounced on the mattress. "Get uppp. C'mon, sis. We're going to with the kids. They're already getting ready and we have to make sure they look presentable. I figure we needed a mommy and kid day out."
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Amelia
"You're acting like such a Hispanic right now," I groaned throwing back the comforter and slowly sitting up, too afraid that if i moved to fast my nausea would torment me for the rest of the day. As much as I wanted to curl into the bed and sleep today, I knew I needed to spend time with my daughter. My worst fear about becoming her mother was that I never wanted her to feel neglected. I had no idea where Jayden was but I was too out of it to be curious.

Thinking about it for a second, I cocked my head toward Isabel. "You let them try to dress themselves. That's going to be a disaster when neither one of them want to change out of whatever masterpiece they think they came up with. Nice one," I teased with an exasperated yawn.

"Coffee," I mumbled as usual before going through the closet to find clothes to wear. Today was a leggings day for sure. If I had to spend another day in jeans that didn;t fit I was going to scream.

Yikes hormones. Calm down.

Throwing on the black leggings and caramel colored sweater, I put my hair up in the usual mom bun and finished off the look with black Toms. Reaching for the foundation and concealer, I wasn't surprised when I heard abrupt banging and slamming.

"Isabel May! That better not be you. Come here," I asserted while I quickly layered my skin with the makeup brush, shaking my head when my daughter burst through the room tattling on Mateo.

"No ma'am, We don't tattle, you know better. Go help Mateo clean up the mess and do what your aunt asked you or we aren't going anywhere fun today." When she nodded I relenting in my disciplining demeanor and hugging her against my legs.

"I love you."
 

Izzzy

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel
Amelia was unfortunately correct when she teased me about letting the kids dress themselves at first. When I walked into my sons room, I was quick to snap my fingers and ask him to sit on his bed while I picked out something better. There was no way I would let Mateo walk out dressed in a bright orange sweater I should’ve gotten rid of ages ago, his favorite red pants and navy blue tennis shoes. He looked so crazy but an adorable kind of crazy.

“Mateo, you are not wearing that.” I said sternly.

“But why, Mama?”

“Because none of it matches, Corazón. Let’s get you into something that does, okay?”

“No!” Mateo whined as he crossed his arms against his chest.

“Ay dios, Mateo por favor. Let’s just make some small changes.”

“No, no, no!”

“Mateo, ya, enough. If you don’t change we are not going to the aquarium, you understand?”

“Si, Mamá.”

Sighing from relief, I quickly changed him into something more suitable for the outgoing. A burgundy sweater, some khaki pants and black Converse. After that, I let him run off to play before I walked out to the kitchen and shook my head at my best friend.

“I should’ve never let him dress himself,” I said as I began making myself an iced mocha. “How’s the baby today? Will you last this outing?”
 

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