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Realistic or Modern Anchored for Love

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
After that night, I let Bel talk with Isabel at least once a week, I wasn’t going to take her aunt away from her again. She was a child and she didn’t deserve that even if I myself wasn’t ready to face Isabel. The silence from me was enough for her to know I was still hesitant. I was only afraid to let her back in because I didn’t want to face her judgement of the changes I made to myself as a coping mechanism, but mostly because I didn’t want to lose her again. There was no telling what would happen between us now that our lives were completely different. But there was exceptions to every circumstance.


After I brought Isabel back into our daughter’s life and into Lincoln’s, a spark in Jayden return. I noticed he looked at me with a loving sense of hope. He was hoping Amelia, the one he fell in love with was returning. He was beginning to love me again. There was a silent forgiveness between us. In every hug and kiss he brought me into, he was telling me he was glad to see an old part of me being revived. It made him happy. We looked happy to the rest of the world, but there was still so much for me to work through to get to where he wanted me to be. I was still uncertain I could ever be that person again.


I was livid when I saw Amelia prance into Jayden’s office for the first time in years. The smile on her face was genuine, which made me sick, how could she be that happy after everything she unknowingly put her husband through? She didn’t deserve him. Jayden was a Saint for putting up with her for as long as she did.


She hates being called selfish, but she embodies the meaning of the word. She didn’t see the many nights her husband spent in his office when he thought he was alone with his head buried in his hands, in frustration that his wife wasn’t his wife anymore. It ate at Jayden’s core so much I saw the need to intervene after I watched it go on for weeks. At first it was casual conversation, I gave him the chance to vent, but it was through his venting to me that I realized the kind of man he was. He was the kind of man every woman wanted and it irked me the woman that had him was so neglectful of his kindness and love for her. I hoped through our chats, he would develop the same feelings I found myself having for him. I cared for Jayden, so much so I was starting to believe that I did love him. But Amelia ruined it all that day. Walking straight through without even acknowledging me at the front desk, she carried something in a lunch box. When she walked Jayden’s office, he got up right away to greet her and kissed her. The sight made my blood boil because I could tell it was genuine. It wasn’t fair. She didn’t deserve that after everything she put him through. As I watched the two laugh and enjoy the homemade lunch she brought him, my hands clenched the ends of my desk. I saw the way he looked at her, like she was his sun that kept his life going. Every choice he made was for her. I watched as he reached for her hand and held it. I wanted to be his sun and I wanted Amelia to think I was because then maybe he would be mine then.



When I saw the accusations against my husband i finished the bottle of tequila and when he came home to me to try and defend himself I turned away from him in disgust. I knew I wasn’t who he wanted but I thought over the past few weeks we were finally becoming what he wanted us to be. I thought we were becoming what I needed to feel again. Then Gabi, his assistant, who was a blonde bombshell and had ambitions with her life cane out to the public and told the world about her and Jayden’s affair. I couldn’t handle it. In a moment of weakness, I texted Isabel and told her that I needed her. I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. In actuality, I wasn’t when I did it but I didn’t regret it either. I was hurt because I really thought Jayden was the last person who wouldn’t hurt me with his betrayal but as always, I was wrong.


Looking to my husband with blurry tears eyes I thought of all I could say. “If you didn’t want me all you had to do was tell me.”
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
When I heard the news about an affair that didn’t even happen, my entire world began to break. Amelia and I were making such wonderful progress. She was finally letting herself be happy and I was finally starting to get my wife back. Everything was going so well until Gabi ruined it all. This affair that she released to the public didn’t happen but it was her word against my own, and frankly no one was going to believe me. The press was eating up this story and if I tried to give my side, they would make it seem like I am only trying to cover for myself. I wish someone out there would believe me when I say this affair only happened in Gabi’s head.

The moment I found out, I fired Gabi. She no longer belonged in this office when she stated a lie and potentially may ruin my marriage. I needed to make it back home, to my wife, and I worked quick to do so. I cleared my entire day, ran to my Range Rover, drove home as quick as possible before I finally arrived at the massive house. My heart was racing, my pulse quickening by the second. I could hear the intense ringing of my pulse in my ears and with every step I took towards the door, my entire body began to feel heavy. In this moment, because of an over-obsessed child, there was a posibility I would lose my wife.

When I found Amelia sitting on the floor with the usual tequila bottle, I knew no matter what I say would fix this. I decided to speak however, hoping she would hear me out but I knew better. Hearing my wife say I didn’t want her was what broke me and I couldn’t stop myself from sinking to the floor beside her as I bite my lip and took her hand in my own. “Amelia, I love you and only you. Please understand that I would never do this to you. I didn’t do this, my love. You’re the only woman I love and I promise nothing happened between Gabi and I.” I knew no matter what I said, she wouldn’t listen nor believe me. It was too late to fix anything and knowing this broke me. We hadn’t said a word to each other since that day but I knew she had Isabel now. Isabel would help take care of Amelia.


When I arrived in Florida and stepped foot out of the airport, I was quick to get my rental vehicle. The process couldn’t have gone any slower. The woman helping me out was new and I had as much patience as I could when I knew my best friend was hurting. I needed to make it to her already. Finally, when I was able to make it to the Acciolli residence, I got out of the vehicle and ran into the house, sighing when I saw Amelia hugging a tequila bottle. The sight didn’t surprise me but I was quick to peel the bottle away from Amelia, setting it on the counter before I pulled her into a tight hug. She needed this, she needed me. I stopped everything I was doing when I received word on the matter and her text.

“Amelia, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere, I swear. No more tequila for awhile. Talk to me. You don’t actually believe Jayden would cheat on you, do you? He loves you so much, Amelia. So so much. You can’t believe everything the blonde bimbo has to say about the affair she made up in her head but enough about that. We can do whatever you want to do.”
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
I wanted to believe Jayden and his pleas that he was innocent but give his last of keeping things for me I couldn’t. Just as fast as I opened myself I closed myself off again. In the week since it happened, I hadn’t been to work. I couldn’t bring myself to go. I was too emotionally depleted to getting into the head of a killer when I felt dead myself. The kids were staying with my mom because she hoped, if she gave me the time I would confront Jayden and decide what I wanted to do next but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to look at him. If I did I would be reminded that another woman looked into his gorgeous blue eyes and felt the same love for him that I had. As selfish as it was, I felt robbed because I thought I was the only one who would love him in such a way.

I hadn’t remembered much of the past week, it was all a blur to me but somehow I was still here, trying to work through my emotions. As much as I fought my right to be an independent woman throughout our relationship, I hated the thought of losing him and everything he did for me. There was no doubt I loved him even if I had a hard time reminding him sometimes.

I didn’t think Isabel would come. I wasn’t the same to her anymore, just like I wasn’t to Jayden. But when I felt her arms wrap around me and pull me from the floor I couldn’t help but break into tears again. I didn’t care that I didn’t look like myself. I just knew I needed her and I couldn’t deny it this time. I no longer wondered if it would be the same between us because she made the effort to come all this way without hesitation. Crying on her, I willingly surrendered the tequila and tried to gather myself. There was no makeup on my face because I hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything all week, just sat around and pitied myself.

“No Bel, he did it. I found things that didn’t belong to me in his car, they belonged to her and condoms. It was all there when I used his car to pick up the kids from school and he didn’t try to deny it. It’s my fault, he was falling out of love with me and I was just too late....” At the thought I broke into tears again, which wasn’t good because of how much alcohol I consumed before Isabel arrived and it wasn’t long before my kitchen floor met the entire contents of my stomach, sending me into a unsettling gagging spell and it wasn’t long after that that my sister showed up, being the nurse that she was she was quick to force me to hydrate, between her and Isabel, they were the only reasons I believe I made it through the day because I didn’t care what happened to me at that point. I just wanted Gabi to burn but it was okay if I made myself burn instead right?
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Hearing what my best friend had to say regarding her husband's car, I no longer knew who to believe when it came to his and Gabi's affair. I wanted to believe that Jayden was right when he told me nothing happened between him and Gabi. I wanted to believe that the only man who didn't break Amelia's trust and never left her when everyone else did was the one telling the truth, but society always took the females side and it always would. I used to be an investigative journalist for crying out loud. If I really wanted to know who was telling the truth, it wouldn't take much work to find out but I guess I was scared. I knew deep down I feared the truth but I used to live my entire life reporting nothing but the truth. I couldn't become a coward and back away from it now. I was going to get to the bottom of this but right now, I need to focus on helping my best friend. I hope Amelia realized I would come to her in a heartbeat. Despite what happened between us, I will always drop whatever I'm doing just for her. To others looking from the outside in, anchor was just a word, but for us it was a whole lot more. To us it held meaning, something deep that only she and I would be able to understand. It was our bond and only ours.

A week had past and I spent my nights with Amelia in her living room due to the fact Amelia didn't want to sleep in hers and Jaydens room. I could understand why she refused to sleep in the room and to try making her feel better, I took her to do whatever her heart desired. We went to the movies, I took her on a shopping spree, I even did the unthinkable and took her to the Whataburger in Jacksonville though we established it was nothing like the ones back in Texas. We made up for lost time throughout the week but whenever Amelia finally succumbed to her sleep at night, I did what I used to do best and investigated into this affair a little more. Running from the truth was no longer an option and after looking over the security footage of Jayden's office when he gave it to me, I wanted nothing more than for Gabi to burn. She not only lied about the affair but she also ruined Jayden's career. I know he and Amelia hadn't spoken but he gave up the company to one of his shareholders Jayden trusted would keep the goal of the company alive. I made Jayden return home Friday evening, and when I walked through the door with Amelia, I pushed her forward when she refused to be in the same space as her husband. "I think you'll want to hear what he has to say, Melia. I'll be outside in the back with the puppers." Walking away, I called out to Chloe, walking out the back door to let a talk that needed to happen, happen.

-

With Isabel's help, I was able to find the evidence I needed to prove to my wife this affair was all a figment of Gabi's imagination. After a long talk with Isabel, I realized several things. I know this hurt Amelia greatly. Right when she was starting to open back up Gabi pulled this stunt and forced Amelia to close herself off from the world once more, including me. I was hurt deeply by this but I know Amelia was being the way she was for certain reasons I couldn't be upset over. When Isabel told me Amelia found belongings of Gabi's in my car, along with condoms, I begged Isabel for help. I knew for certain Gabi planted all the evidence in the car to try and get Amelia to believe this affair really occurred, and Amelia did believe it. I have all the evidence I need to prove to my wife this affair didn't occur, and in the end, giving up my company didn't hurt me. What was hurting me was Amelia constantly pushing me away and truly believing I would cheat on her.

Seeing my wife look at me with such disgust when I met her gaze as she walked in broke me entirely. I didn't think I could be broken further but that look made my blood turn cold and my head spin. She hated me. She absolutely hated me. Thanking Isabel silently as she excused herself after getting my wife to stay, I slowly walked over to her and took her soft, gentle hands in my own. Leading her to the living room, I meekly asked her to sit on the couch where I sat across from her. With my iPad in hand, I took a deep breath before I found my voice. I could only hope after this, she would believe I would never do anything to hurt her. I didn't like how much she changed over the years but that change was my own fault. I thought I was saving my wife but instead I ruined her for five year, watching her change before my eyes every day until I could no longer recognize her. Despite this, I still loved her and would never think of hurting her like Gabi wished I would.

"Amelia, my wife, the light of life, please know I would never do anything to hurt you. This affair never happened and I have evidence to prove it. This iPad has footage from my security cameras that show Gabi put the items you found in my car one day while I was in a meeting. She did it this day because on my schedule I made a note stating you were taking my car that day to pick up the kids. When she claimed the affair happened, the day and the time don't match up. When she claims the affair happened, I was with you, here at the house enjoying a movie night with you and our kids before we tucked them into bed and we spent that night together. Amelia, I would never hurt you and I would never cheat on you, my love. I know I watched you change over the years into a person I know longer recognized but I still loved you Amelia; I still love you now. You're the only one who knows I'm innocent when it comes to Gabi's accusations. You're the only person who needs to know. The company is no longer mine. I gave it up to Braxton. My career is ruined because of Gabi's lie and we both know society won't believe any evidence I did nothing. I don't care about having to give up my career, Amelia. All I care about in this moment is you and where we stand. If you still don't believe me, I've decided your happiness is what matters and if you decide to leave, I'll let you go. You being happy is all I care about right now, even if you being happy doesn't include me." After my rambling, I felt the warm tears streak my cheeks. I refused to be vulnerable right now but the thought of Amelia taking off her wedding band and leaving with our children burned in the back of my mind. I could lose all of them over a false tale but if they were happy without me, I would let them go. I would rather be completely broken than the woman who will always hold my heart. She went through enough hurt already.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
I was thankful for Isabel’s visit. We picked up our friendship like there was never a fallout between us. It was natural just as it always had been and I had to remind myself that the separation wasn’t Isabel’s fault. She didn’t willingly walk out of my life, she did it because she thought at the time it was best for me after the rift between Dawson and I. At the time, we both forced ourselves to believe it was what was best for the other because it made the pain a little Bess miserable. We both knew now that nothing good would ever come out of us not being there for each other. In the end, we both struggled to brave it through life without the other. We both loved each other through the worst of times and were privileged enough to live the best part of life together until it all fell downhill. I knew I couldn’t let Isabel go again and I wasn’t going to.

I didn’t want to let her go when she pushed me forward towards Jayden. I still didn’t want to be in the same room as him. The thought of what he and Gabi had done to each other while I was distracting myself from my permanent unhappiness with my new career made me so angry my fist clenched and tears sweltered down my cheeks, feeling like fire against my skin when they did. “Isabel N-“ I protested before she stealthily skedaddled out of the room with Chloe onto the back porch. When I heard Jayden thank her politely, I rolled my eyes before I looked up at him. “I don’t want to you, Jayden.” I protested before I gave into his desperate pleas. Sitting across from him in the living room I sighed heavily at his wanting to clear his conscious.

When Jayden handed me the iPad, I hesitantly took it from him, not wanting to see what he had to show me. Watching it while he continued to pleas. When I finished I placed it on the coffee table in another sigh, rubbing my face in frustration. “You know Isabel must feel for you if she went through all this,” I said softly. “But Jayden, it’s not just about Gabi and her fantasy. It just brought the truth to light about us. I’m not enough for you anymore. You’re just trying so hard because you’re hoping, one day, I’ll be the same woman you fell in love with and I can’t promise you that. I don’t know if it’s possible now. I see the way you look at me when we’re alone. There’s a dimming of disappointment and slight disgust and I’m sorry that who I am makes you unhappy. You don’t deserve that either. You can’t pretend anymore, Jay that Gabi is our only problem. You don’t love me, not like you used to you just don’t want to admit that to either of us because you blame yourself.”
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
“Amelia, please know that I love you just as much as I do when we first met. Yes, times have changed. Over the years you have changed but you’re still my wife. You may not be the Amelia I fell in love with but over these five years I’ve fallen in love with who you are now. You’re the only thing that matters to me in life. You and our kids. You’re more than enough for me, Amelia. You always have been and always will be and all I want is for you to stay as my wife. I understand, however, we have to continue working together. We were doing so well, Amelia. I can’t lose you. If I lose you, I don’t know what I’ll do. Please Amelia, I can’t keep going without you.”

I only hope my wife would stay and not leave. From here, I don’t know what was in store. I don’t know what I am going to do from here on out. No one will believe this affair never happened. They will all take Gabi’s side and knowing that means I will be able to do nothing. Nothing at all. My career is over. My marriage just might be over. I can never find work again with this affair on my back. All I have left is painting but even then, I’ve never sold my work before. It’s always been a stress reliever or given to people like gifts. Plus, no one would dare buy my paintings if they knew I painted them. I was ruined forever. Now, nothing but my marriage seemed worth saving. I was finished meaning I was broken. I could no longer help the children I was. I could no longer save them from their hells, give them a better education and places to stay. I couldn’t keep changing the world all because of an obsessive woman. She ruined everything I worked for and now I didn’t even know who I was.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Looking into Jayden’s eyes, I couldn’t understand why so many people looked into me when I wanted them to stay and they still had the courage to walk away. The sorrow in his gaze was enough to rip to shreds every ounce of confidence I had to leave him after what I thought he put me through. He won.

“Jayden, I just want you to be happy, genuinely happy because despite what you believe, that’s what you deserve. You shouldn’t let me treat you any less than you deserve just because you’re afraid to lose me and I know you’re not happy. I may not be the same person I was but I still know you and who you are. You shouldn’t only care about me, your reputation is hurt and I’ll have to fix it but I really want you to think hard while I do, whether I’m what you really want or if you’re just too afraid to let go. Don’t think you have no right to walk away from me. I wouldn’t be upset with you if I knew it’s what you wanted. “

The next day I sent the security footage to all the local news stations and released my own statement to the public. I hated pulling the card I did, because it was still an emotional ordeal for me, but I knew it would work in getting the public on Jayden’s side.

I hadn’t been in the journalistic eye since the kidnapping in France, but this time it was different. I wasn’t on air as a fellow journalist, I was on air as a source, more importantly, the wife of the accused; everyone was going to want to hear my thoughts on my husband’s alleged affair. I knew the public was expecting me to be distraught and outraged. They were in for one hell of a curveball.

“How are you dealing with the accusations against your husband?”

“Well, being a former journalist myself, it offends me how the media is still so quick to pick up a scandalous story without any factual basis knowing how it could impact the family involved. You should know you can’t just go by word of mouth alone, especially from one source, who if you care to know, has a history of mental health problems that have lead to her obsessive personality disorder. There hasn’t been a need to “handle” my husband’s accusations because they aren’t truthful. He’s innocent and I know he is because he was with me when your unreliable source alleged she was with him and I know he was with me because,” When I paused the tears couldn’t help but brim my eyes but I kept going because I needed to do this for Jayden. “Because it was our youngest daughter’s birthday. She would have been three this year but we lost her to a heart condition and it’s still not an easy thing for either of us. There’s no way Jayden could have done anything he’s being accused of. It’s just not possible and I don’t have to beg and plead you because you saw it for yourself. It sickens me that a man who has nothing but compassion and love for people, especially children, has to deal with these ridiculous accusations while he was mourning the loss of his daughter, but now he has to mourn over the loss of all the other children he just lost because the media decided it was better to produce a human interest story than consider his reputation.”
 
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isax

Ten Thousand Club
I decided my time to leave Florida and head back home to Texas was not an option until I knew Jayden and Amelia were going to be alright. Jayden and I had talked for a bit after Amelia and he did. I could tell that no matter what happened, he still truly cared for my best friend like he did from the first time they met. His love for her was unconditional despite his reputation being hurt. I understood where Jayden was coming from when he told me he wanted to resolve what happened with Amelia before tending to his career and reputation. If I was in his spot, I would’ve done the same thing he did but I also knew where Amelia was coming from. She didn’t think Jayden needed her to be genuinely happy anymore but she was so wrong.


I decided to tag along with my best friend when she told me what she was planning on doing to help fix her husband’s reputation. I thought it was very admirable of her to speak her side of the story. All the media sources wanted to know how she felt about the affair and I wanted to be there to support her. As I stood behind the scenes, I listened to what this “journalist” had to ask Amelia. I hadn’t stepped anywhere near this realm since the French kidnapping and I would be lying if my heart strings weren’t tugging inside of me because I missed it. It seemed as though the media hadn’t changed in how quick they were to try and get clicks. The media sure as hell didn’t care about Jayden enough to ask him his side of the story. Listening to Amelia’s response, I giggled quietly to myself. She had every right to say what she did and I admired the clap back against the media so presented. Everything she said was on point and I watched the journalist interviewing my best friend stumble for words. She was not expecting that response from Amelia. I smiled as the woman tried to regain her train of thought and come up with questions that corresponded to what Amelia said. She struggled for a bit before she found her wording again.


After the interview, I walked up to Amelia with a gentle smile before I took her into a tight hug. “I’m so proud of you, Amelia. I know Jayden really appreciates this.” I reassured her as best as I could before I walked out of the building with her. I know that interview wasn’t an easy thing for Amelia. What bothered me out of the entire interview was hearing I had another niece that didn’t make it. A niece that suffered right when she came out into the world only to leave it. I wasn’t there for that. I wasn’t there to meet her and at least give her the love from her aunt she deserved. I didn’t even know her name but I tried my hardest to push all of these thoughts aside as I walked to Amelia’s car. I must’ve fallen silent because when my best friend asked me if I was okay, I was met with the reality of the world once more. Nodding at her, I smiled faintly. “I’m fine. Why do you ask?”
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
“I doubt Jayden will appreciate it, Bel, I didn’t tell him I was doing it. I’m afraid he’s still paranoid about the wrong person finding me. That’s no way to live. Sometimes I wish we never met so that I would have never plagued him with the strong feelings that he has for me. He doesn’t deserve to be in agony all the time over a life choice that I made before he came into mine. It’s not fair. “ looking over to Isabel, I noticed she wasn’t paying much attention to what I was saying, like she had something on her mind and suddenly I felt guilty for not noticing. Maybe our years apart did mean I wasn’t as good a friend to her as I used to be if I couldn’t as easily tell when she was hurting. “Isabel? Are you alright?” I asked gently, placing a hand on her shoulder to offer my comfort. When she brushed it off in her typical two word response, I knew something was bothering her. “Are you sure you’re alright? You seem displaced. Is everything alright at home? Do you need to leave? What’s wrong? How can I help?” Me being my typical self, hadn’t changed much over the years in how I chose to handle other people’s problems and emotions much better than my own. I knew it was because I knew what it felt like to be hurt, lost and confused and I didn’t want the people I loved to ever have to go through any unnecessary pain or suffering so I always did everything in my capabilities to help. “Isabel? You’re making me nervous. Are you you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
I was so lost in my negative thoughts I didn’t really hear Amelia asking me what was wrong. When I looked at her and saw the worry in her expression is when I knew I needed to come back and stay in reality once more. My thoughts were never a place to stay in too long. Despite everything Amelia is going through, she was worried about me. That was in her nature and I knew that aspect of her personality was never going to change. She always put other people first before herself. I released a sigh and I began to fidget with my fingers, trying to find the correct words to tell my best friend what was on my mind. Looking Amelia head on, I finally told her what I was thinking about. “I’m just thinking about how I didn’t even know I had another niece. I don’t even know her name, Amelia. Hearing you talk about her in your interview shocked me. Did she at least spend her time happy and shown a lot of love?” I asked her with a broken smile, the tears forming in my eyes. I was quick to look away, shaking my head to try and stop the tears. “I just wish I could’ve been there before she left this world so quickly.”
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Hearing what Isabel had to say, I leaned over and took her into a tight embrace. The kind I wish she had given me when I lost Brenna. When I hugged her, I felt the same sickeningly hot sadness take over my body, burning the pit of my stomach as I fought the intensifying heat in my veins to not break into my own uncontrollable sob. My heart beating rapidly against my chest, I didn’t let go of her when I felt her hardening sticky cheeks stained with tears, even if only a few fell. “Brenna knew she was loved Isabel, I promise. Jayden and I did everything we could to save her but she was just too pure for this world. Before we laid her to rest, I went and bought her her own anchor, because I knew that’s what you would do and I told her you would have loved her. Her anchor is around her wrist. We buried her with the bracelet. I wish you could have seen her though, she was precious.” Reaching for my wallet, I handed Isabel the picture of Brenna and Jayden I carried with me everywhere I went. The way he looked down at her always touched me in my deepest darkest places. Looking at Bel, admire her, I summed up the courage to do something no one who knew would ever think I do. But Isabel didn’t know. “Do you want to go see her with me? I haven’t put flowers out for her birthday yet.” The truth was, I hadn’t been to Brenna’s resting place since her funeral, because the thought of going to see her sent me into a panicked episode of despair, but now that Isabel knew about Brenna, she deserved the chance to grieve her loss just as everyone else had.


I picked pink roses for my daughter, not because she was a girl, but because they had always been my favorite. I always thought they were the most beautiful of the roses, just like Brenna. I picked three dozen to make up for all three birthdays I missed but told Bel it was to signify her age.


When we arrived, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about running into Jayden, he always came on her birthday and brought her older siblings with him. I didn’t want him to see me here because I didn’t want him to tell Isabel this wasn’t a normal occurrence for me. To keep my tears from swelling, I bit my tongue while we walked. Even though I only walked this walk once before, it came back to me like I walked it a million times because I wished I never had to.


Her grave was illuminated with the strongest day of sunlight and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the flowers that had been left for her by Jayden and my mom. Every year, Jay bought her sunflowers because he called her his little sunshine. Mom bought her blue tulips because she said she wanted Brenna to know how much she loved the color. It was a heartwarming sight to see but I never thought I’d see it on the day I saved her father from such a dirty scandal.


“Brenna, baby, I brought someone I thought you might want to see,” I whispered setting down the roses next to Jayden’s sunflowers.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Stepping out of the car I felt my entire body go heavy. I agreed to come with Amelia because my heart was so heavy. I needed to grieve. I needed to grieve the loss of my niece I didn’t even know existed until today. I wish I could’ve seen her the day she entered the world. She was a beautiful baby from what I saw in the picture Amelia showed me and Jayden looked so happy to be holding her and be her dad. I wish I had a picture holding her in my arms but I was here now to introduce myself to her. I was here to finally see her and grieve over her loss.


Watching Amelia set the pink roses on my nieces grave next to the stunning sunflowers and blue tulips, I couldn’t help the tears that flowed. Amelia may not have known why but the flowers were my sign. Sunflowers and roses, my grandfathers and my favorite flowers. Slowing sinking to my knees, I didn’t mind that I was getting my blush colored pant suit with the dirt beneath the grass. The headstone was delicately designed and I inched forward towards it, tracing every word with my fingers as if this single touch was going to make me feel closer to Brenna. I wanted to feel closer to her. I needed to feel closer to her and just let her know despite I never meeting her, she was always going to be loved by me.


“Hi, Princess. I’m Isabel, your aunt. I’m sorry I never got to meet you. I just wanted to stop by and tell you that I love you and I always will. You were too pure for this world and if you meet an old man that knows me, he’ll take great care of you up there.”


The rest of the day was a blur for me. I was missing home and work was trying to get me to go back for a very important executive meeting but I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to leave Amelia when I just got her back but I knew I needed to get back to reality, even if I was dreading my career. Jayden had asked me to stay one more night anyhow, because he wanted to take Amelia out on a date. I found it sweet that he appreciated Amelia clearing his name, even if he already gave up the company.


I sat in the living room with Lincoln and Little Bel, watching movies with them when I saw Jayden walk out of the master bedroom in slacks and a nice button down shirt. If laying low was what he wanted it wouldn’t be achieved with that attire but I smiled when Amelia joined us in the living room. She wore such a cute sundress and the two made me so utterly happy. Telling them bye, I got up and decided to make dinner for my niece and nephew. They helped as much as they could and this time with them is what I needed before I departed from Florida in the morning.


-


I was nervous for this date with the love of my life. I truly was grateful she managed to clear my name the way she had. I hadn’t given up the company yet but it was still up in the air on what I was going to do now. Sighing contently, I drove Amelia and I to our favorite Chinese take out in my friend Donovan’s truck. A truck didn’t suit me well but what I had planned for tonight required it. He was fine with it as long as I clean it before returning it. After ordering our food, I smiled when she asked curiously where we were going. “It’s all a surprise, my lovely wife.” I said gently, continuing the drive to our destination.


When we arrived, I knew she wouldn’t disagree with it. I brought us to the beach, the sun slowly setting before us. I reversed the truck closest to the water and before Amelia could get out, I kissed her like a high school boy, nervous about his first date. “Let me fix the bed of the truck first. I’ll come and get you after. I got out of the truck, grabbed the blankets and pillows I brought from the back and set them up elegantly on the bed of the truck. The blankets covered the harsh metal as possible and once the pillows surrounded the bed of it, I grabbed our food and set it in the middle, with a lit candle to accompany it. Finally, I walked to the passengers side and took Amelia into my arms, chuckling softly when she squealed. We hadn’t been able to be so carefree in awhile and I wanted to thank her for everything she’s done for me. I set her down on the bed of the truck before I jumped up and joined her, taking my shoes off before I sat across from her with a gentle smile. Handing her a bouquet of pink roses, I took her other hand in my own and kissed it gently.


“I believe a date was needed for the both of us so I arranged one. I do hope you enjoy the night. This is my thank you for what you did today and most importantly a reminder that I love you, Amelia Acciolli. I have since the first time I saw you at the station and I still do now. Forever is what I promised you and nothing will stop me from giving you that.”


I could only hope she accepted this gesture. I’m sure she saw how nervous I was because when I poured our glasses of wine, my hands were shaking. Everything about our surroundings was breathtaking. The sun setting in front of us casted a beautiful glow on the woman before me and she looked as beautiful as ever. I missed her blonde hair but I learned to love the changes she made to herself through the years. Her eyes were my weakness. They always had a way of calming me and making everything disappear around us. In a troublesome time, they were all I needed to see to take a deep breath. She was all I needed, now and forever.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Sitting with Aunt Bel in the kitchen, I sighed out of happiness. I hadn’t seen Mom and Dad leave the house together so happily together in a long time. I assumed It must have been Aunt Bel’s return.while Lincoln ran off back in the living room to watch Trolls, I decided to stay with Aunt Bel because I was still shocked she was here. “What did you and mommy do today, Aunt Bel?” I asked curiously. I missed talking to her.

I was nervous for the night with my husband, and for once, it was a good thing. I wasn’t terrified that he was upset or disgusted with me. Tonight was going to be genuine. Looking back at myself in the mirror as I gathered my things to get ready for our night, I pushed most of them aside and decided to surprise Jayden with a look he hasn’t seen in awhile. The subtle look I always use to wear, just the bear minimum of mascara, eyeliner and a colored lipstick, to really get to him, I went with the typical red I used to wear but retired when I decided my look needed to change. When I finished, I looked back at myself, shocked to see someone who almost looked like me, her hair didn’t match but in the very least it was almost the Amelia Jayden would recognize. I hoped he didn’t think this was something temporary, that I did just to please him for a night. I decided it was the real me, the wife, mother, best friend and professional I aspired to be.

Leaving the house with a wink towards Bel, I followed Jayden out, confused as to why he I had to borrow Donavan’s truck for our outing, but I didn’t question it too much. I was curiously excited for what Jayden had planned. Though he didn’t get the chance to show it much, he was a natural romantic. I secretly adored and missed it but never spoke of it. I didn’t want to make him feel worse about our relationship than he already did. I slacked in some areas I knew he missed too.

When we picked up dinner, I took his arm as we walked inside together. “Where are we going?” I asked in a whisper, leaning into him, taken by his scent and the fact I hadn’t been this close to him in months. I missed him. When he looked down at me and replied by calling me his wife, I felt giddy cliche heart flutters like a teenage girl who found her first love.

It didn’t take long to realize where we were going, I had taken these streets countless times when I grew up here. “You’re not dressed for the beach, as usual,” I teased with a fake roll of my eyes. I couldn’t remember the last time I went to the beach, but I knew I was ready for it. Jayden though he thought it was secret, hated the beach. Despite this, he loved me enough to let us honeymoon on a beach in Hawaii and I’m pretty sure Jayden hadn’t been since.

“You didn’t have to bring me here,” I replied before I reached for the handle to get out. When he pulled me back towards him I looked over to him perplexed, only to be taken aback by his nervous kiss. When he pulled away, I couldn’t help but giggle. “Okay,” biting my lip, I waited for his return, only to squeal when I felt him take me in his arms. Even though he wasn’t a lieutenant anymore, he still was disciplined in his workout routine. It was his stress reliever. “You’re such a showoff, Mr. Acciolli.”

Waiting for him to join me, I lost interest in our dinner. I was enjoying being smitten by him, my cheeks a light shade of red while he continue to flatter me with his promises. “You don’t have to thank me for protecting you, I’m your wife. You’re mine to protect. I love you too, Jayden.” I couldn’t help but laugh when I watched him continue to shake while he tried to pour the wine. Reaching for it, I helped him. “Relax, I’m already your wife, there’s not much you could do to mess up. But if I do recall, this is how we became parents so I think we need to be careful.” I teased, inching closer towards him, I found my way into his lap. The gesture was beautifully sweet but my heart bursted with excitement to be with Jayden, I didn’t care where we were.

Looking up to him, I pulled him towards me, bringing him into a long, unforgettable kiss. His surprised expression was enough to bring me to tears as I was overcome with guilt for not being the wife he deserved after he worked so hard to prove himself to me. I only wished we had more time to grow as a couple before we were rushed into having a family but I wouldn’t have traded our daughter for the world. “Thank you for never leaving me, even when I gave you every reason to. I don’t deserve you. I’m sorry your whole life had to change because of me, that wasn’t fair to you, but you never once complained and I admire you for that, Jayden but I love you for everything you’ve done for me and the family I was afraid to have. I hope we’re all enough for you after everything you’ve been through because you mean the world to us and you don’t get enough credit for being there for the kids and I when it matters and I’m sorry. Thank you for your patience though, you really are the man I hoped you’d be. Though I wish you never had to give up that uniform, it suits you better.” Winking I kissed his scruffy cheek and didn’t let go of his hand that was holding mine tightly. Despite everything we’d been through, I knew I loved this man with everything I had, even if at times it was hard for me to remind him.
 
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isax

Ten Thousand Club
My niece was such a beautiful soul and I would always try to protect her as best as I could. She may not have caught me but I saw the bright smile that spread across her face when she saw her parents leaving the house together. I was surprised by the makeup look Amelia chose but it would always suit her and if brought me a sense of comfort. Amelia was back to being her and I couldn’t be anymore relieved. Looking over at Bel when she spoke, I smiled gently at her curiosity. With the way she asked her question and looked, she reminded me so much of Amelia. “We went to handle some grown up stuff. Nothing too exciting. What did you do today, Love Bug?”


With Amelia now in my lap, my stomach began feeling like I had butterflies inside of it. We hadn’t been this close in such a long time and when there was a rare chance we were, it didn’t feel like this. It was genuine and knowing this the tears fell down my cheeks when I listened to everything my wife had to say. We both ignored the food because in this moment all I needed was Amelia. A strong, beautifully independent, beauty with brains. My wife, the woman the universe blessed me with for the rest of my life. The kiss we shared was breath taking but the surprise in my face couldn’t be hidden.


I slowly cupped her cheeks in my hands, smiling as I leaned closer, running my hands through her dark brown hair. The way she did her makeup today made my heart flutter. She found herself again and I was indebted to Isabel for this. I finally had my wife back. As I closed the smallest gap between us, I smelled that scent I would love forever. The smell of apples. It was so beautifully Amelia it took my breath away. Kissing her neck gently, I smiled when I pulled away from her, my hands moving to the back of her neck. I pulled her into a genuine, loving kiss, one I wanted to last forever. Slowly pulling away, I couldn’t take my eyes away from hers. Being out in the open on the beach wasn’t a concern for me anymore. She made everything disappear and had my entire focus. “Amelia, I love you so much. I was never going to leave you despite how hard things became. You are who I’m meant to spend my wife with. You and our beautiful kids. You’re the only woman who can make me cry and you’ve done just that tonight. I wanted this date to show you my Love has never changed and it never will, Amelia.”


I leaned in to kiss her once more, slowly laying her against the bed of the truck as the sun almost finished setting behind us. I didn’t pull away from the sweet flavor of her lips but I knew I needed to. We were in a public setting and would have to finish this another time. Pulling away in that moment was the hardest thing for me to do. I propped myself up on my right elbow, my left hand tangling in my wife’s hair as I stared into those stunning eyes of hers with a playful smile on my lips. “You’re so beautiful, Mrs. Acciolli. If we don’t eat soon, the food is going to get cold. We wouldn’t want that, would we?” I leaned down once more, stealing a chaste kiss. She was such a beautiful person, inside and out, controlling my actions was difficult. I slowly pulled her up so we could sit together, looking out onto the ocean as we ate our lukewarm Chinese takeout. The moon replaced the sun and soon we were sitting beneath a blanket of stars. It was always a breathtaking sight.


When the stars made their way out of hiding, I smiled as I looked at my niece and nephew who were eating their food happily. They were such innocent souls and I wished I could spend more time with them. My heart felt heavy and I knew it was because I had left my family behind for almost two and a half weeks. I missed them. My dashing pilot who swept me off my feet the minute he jotted his number on my notepad and continued to do so with every day that passed. Our handsome son who reminded me so much of his father with each day that passed. I know Dawson wanted another child but I don’t know if I could give him that. I felt old, constantly tired with such dark bags under my eyes, living life through a routine instead of taking in all its beauty like I used to before. I missed them so much that I took both Lincoln’s and Bel’s hands, walking them out onto the patio where we sat on the rocking swing, gazing at the stars. When I spotted our star, the tears fell as I remembered what my husband told me that night. “See that star loves? That’s mine and your Uncle Dawson’s Star. Cool huh?”


“But why is it your star, Auntie?” My Lincoln asked in all his innocence.


“It’s our star because I used to travel a lot. He told me no matter where we were in the world, all I have to do is look at our star and know he was with me, under the same sky. Looking at the star I know I’m never really alone.” I know this confused my nephew. He didn’t understand what his uncle and I used to do with our lives but I know my mini me understood because her grip on my hand tightened and my tears were wiped away with her small and gentle hands.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Feeling Jayden’s fingers graze my skin as he reciprocated the deep affection I felt for him casted my fair skin in heavy goosebumps. I remembered feeling like this when we were in sync with each other and I was frightened I would never feel this kind of affection again. I thought maybe we had outgrown it, we had reached the climax in our relationship shop where we knew we loved each other but our lives together remained mundane. Day in and day out we both contributed to the family we created and provided for each other’s physical needs but the spark, that everyone speaks of was long since burned out, or so I thought.

With each kiss, the want for him only intensified as his fingers remembered the places that got me every time. I couldn’t remember where I was or why we ended up here, I was so lost on the moment I didn’t think I get again. When I brought myself back to reality, I noticed how I was shifted on my back with him over me, the red lipstick that painted my lips now stained his. As he looked down at me so deeply, I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight. Wiping it away gently with my finger, I shook my head at his compliments. “You flatter me, but as long as you pull away from me, I’ll think that I can do better.” Laughing at his embarrassment, I kissed his cheek again before I ate our dinner. I wasn’t hungry for it now, but I was for him. I kept that to myself though, not wanting to waste the elegant night he had planned for us leaning into his shoulder, I looked up at the stars while we ate our food contently. “What’s next?” I asked curiously meeting his gorgeous blue eyes again. After today, the us-against-the-world feeling was seemingly indestructible.

I was sad to know Aunt Bel had to leave us again, but seeing how bad she missed Uncle Dawson made me feel guilty for wishing she didn’t have to leave. She wasn’t as happy here, not like she used to be. Wiping her tears with my hand I smiled up at her gently. “You’ll be home soon, Aunt Bel,” I reminded her gently giving her a hug. When we walked back inside and Lincoln ran away back to his toy trains, I whispered a thank you to Aunt Bel because I wanted her to know how happy I was to have my mom back. “Thank you for fixing mommy, me and daddy missed her a lot.”
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Smiling brightly at my wife’s question, I gripped her hand tightly in my own. I was so relieved she enjoyed this date as much as I hoped she would. My nerves were present through the entire time we spent together. We hadn’t had a moment like this in a long time and I was too scared this wouldn’t last. I knew better than to think that way and by the way she touched me back I knew this moment would last forever. The spark everyone always speaks of was finally reignited between my wife and I. I’m not sure if it ever went away but all that mattered was it was back and I wanted more moments like this with my wife whenever I could get them. I wanted her but would have to wait until a more appropriate time.

“We keep going one day at a time, together and stronger than ever.” I replied to my lovely wife, knowing anything thrown at us will never tear us apart. We have been through so much together and our promises from our wedding will always stay true.

The stars twinkling above were a beautiful sight. By now I had put away the take out containers and placed them in the back of the truck. Now I laid on the bed of the truck with Amelia’s head against my chest. I played with her hair as I always did before looking and admiring the beautiful woman beside me. “I love you, Amelia.” Whispering faintly, I leaned in closer to my wife, stealing another kiss from her sweet flavored lips. I didn’t mind the red lipstick that would stain my own lips. I wanted to drag out this kiss as long as possible. When I knew we both needed breath, I smiled tenderly down at my wife, chuckling softly when she wiped away the lipstick once more. “It’s okay. I don’t mind it. Let’s spend all night out here. I don’t want this moment to ever end.”

I smiled when I heard my niece thank me. No thanks was necessary because I didn’t fix anything. Amelia did all of this herself, she just needed a push in the right direction which is what I was here to provide. I’m glad she accepted the nudge and was finally back to being her true self. As her best friend, that’s all I could ask for. Looking down at my niece, I leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss on her head. “I didn’t do much, love. I’m glad your mommy is back because I missed her just as much as you and your daddy did.”
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
"Jayden, as much as I admire your optimistic response, I mean, what's next for you? What are you going to do? I don't want to pressure you into something that you don't want to do. I don't want you to give up the company if it's something you want to go back to it but I also don't want you to feel obligated to go back to it if it doesn't make you as happy as you hoped it would after having to give up your true dream. If you want to come back to your rightful field, we can find you a place. We can get a second an opinion on your physical It's been eight years and you've been getting stronger since then. I just want you to be happy because you deserve it after all the sacrifices you've made. I just need to know what you want in life. The last time we had this conversation on this beach I told you I didn't want to be a wife or a mother and six months later that all went to shit so I hope it works out for us this time," I teased, pulling his arm towards my rest and resting it against my steadily beating heart while we continued to look up at the dazzling stars, the breeze still soft with the faintest scent of the ocean that always comforted me in every mood. "I need to know what you want for yourself and for us, I don't want it to just be about me anymore. That isn't fair, it wasn't how our marriage was supposed to go, not after you did the impossible to make me everything I thought I didn't want to be." To be Jayden's wife and the mother to his children, even though it was a frightening reality for me at first, as much as I didn't want to admit it, I loved and took the most pride in being those roles for him after everything we went through together, I only wished now that I hadn't been so uncertain before, swarmed in my own unrealistic doubt and performed these roles the right way from the start.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
"That's a loaded question, don't ya think love?" I asked Amelia softly as we both continued to look at the stars above us. I knew what my wife had to say was genuine, and considering everything that happened these past few days has really taken a toll on me and what I plan to do with my life. Going back to the force, as much as I wished I could, would never happen. I didn't want to get my hopes up believing I made a well enough recovery to go back. I also didn't want to give up the company. Ever since I was no longer able to do what I loved, the company became my everything. I was bettering the lives of so many children like myself. I released a sigh before I moved my head to the side, smiling at Amelia gently before I took her hand in my own. "Going back to the force isn't an option, Melia, despite the recovery I've made in the past eight years. As much as going back would be wonderful, I've done well with the company. I don't want to give up. I'm bettering so many lives through it and I can't believe Gabi almost ruined all of it for me. It's going to be hard sticking with the company though. This accusation will still fall on me and make business matters difficult. I don't want to give I up though. As for us, our family, I want us to be happy. I want you to be happy. I want us, whether we stay or move away from Florida, to be happy. I want Isabel to be around more, along with Dawson and Asher. Lincoln could use a friend like you have with Isabel. I want everything to go back to how it should be before I ruined it all out of selfishness."
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Sighing, I shook my head. "You're my husband, you have every right to be selfish when it comes to me. Do you think I wanted to let you go when no one thought you were going to make it? Do you think in the moment where I was certain I was going to lose you because a psychopath decided he wanted to unleash his rage onto you that I that I wanted to respect your wish to give your life away for the public good? Hell no. I was scared, I didn't want to raise our daughter by myself and I didn't want to wonder about all the ifs of what we could have been. I'm not mad at you for protecting me because if the tables were turned, I would have done the same thing in a heartbeat and you know that. I just wished when you told me, that our whole lives didn't have to change because of it. I wish I didn't have to lose Bel. I wished it all didn't have to be a lie, but even I can understand that they are inevitable in certain situations. I don't blame you, Jayden. The important thing is that we're all okay and Isabel's back and wants to be in our lives again. We have a lot of catching up to do though. As for your next step, I don't think you should let Gabi win by leaving you to think no one trusts you anymore. That's not true. This is just a setback you have to work through, not everyone is as gullible as you're afraid they will be. There's no factual proof that you were unfaithful so you aren't going to carry the stigma. I'm not going to let you. We'll work through it together. Okay? We have to stay here though, this is where the kids are acclimated now and I don't want to move them again. I want them to grow up in a home where they can be kids and not remember us moving all the time, Bel and Licoln deserve better than that, they've already been through enough for being as young as they are and it's our turn to make it up to them."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
“I know. I know staying here is what’s best for the kids. I just wish the Covington’s were closer. Bel really misses her aunt but you're right. This is where we belong even though I will never dress appropriately for the heat. I miss the cold. When everything blows over, can we please take a trip back up north? Maybe to the city we both love and where I found you." I said with a gentle grin, kissing Amelia gently before I pulled away, releasing a soft sigh. "What's next for you? Are you still going to be a profiler or are you going back to what you love and are meant to do?" Little did my wife and Isabel know, Dawson and I owned the company just as much as they did. He and I have been keeping a close eye on all activity at the Straight Scoop and I just wish my wife and her best friend would return to where they are needed; where they belong. I wanted everything to go back to how it should have stay but Amelia was right. I couldn't blame myself for being selfish and wanting to protect the woman I love.

The night at the beach was a success. Amelia and I were able to talk about everything that needed discussing. I felt as though everything in the world was back to normal and I couldn't wait for what the future had in store. Maybe I would take my family to Texas for a visit soon, when Isabel was feeling more like herself of course. I wanted to see Asher and Noah. I believed they didn't know Amelia and I existed but I knew that was a lie. Isabel made it a point6 to inform them who we were in not only her life but theirs as well. I know Dawson always spoke to me about wanting a little girl but he didn't know if Isabel was up for it. Isabel told me she was no longer up for having another child but who knew what the future held for the Covington's. Who knew what the future held for all of us.

When I arrived back to Texas, I drove straight home. Leaving Amelia never was and never will be easy for me. I never wanted to leave her and I missed having her here in Texas, so close by our children would've grown up together had we never gone to France. That was my fault but we moved past that. We talked it out and that was the closure I needed. Seeing my boys call out to me excitedly is what made my day. I missed them both entirely, along with my husband. In life, you go through so many obstacles you lose hold of who you really are. I lost who I was and what I stood for but I found myself again with the closure from Florida. Giving both sons a gentle kiss on the head, I looked over at my husband. He had to leave for work and I wished in that moment he didn't have to. I wished he could stay home with us, his family, and watch movies. I just wanted his presence as I stared into those deep colored eyes both our son acquired from him. Watching the boys run off to play together, I closed the painful gap between my pilot and I, planting a sweet and passionate kiss. "I wish you didn't have to go to work. I miss you, Dawson." Pulling away from him, I held his hands tightly in my own. "You look dashing in your uniform. How were the boys while I was away?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
Isabel is coming home today. Was the first thought I had when I woke up before dawn. I hadn't seen my wife in nearly three weeks. While I understood the importance of her elongated trip to Florida, I missed her. Taking care of two boys and leaving them to go work on the naval base was a difficult thing for me to do. As much as my career was once my everything in life, I couldn't say the same about it anymore. While it still was an important factor of my life and brought me a great sense of purpose and service, my family is what brought me the greatest joy. No excited adrenaline rush brought on by flying even compared to the joy I felt when I stepped out of the cockpit and found those three faces staring back at me with their pride and excitement to see me loud in their eyes. They were my everything.

By the time I heard my wife walk through the door, I already spent twenty minutes fighting with Asher to get ready for school in between arguing with a two-year-old that his breakfast was the same as his brother's. Sometimes my everything knew how to test my dad patience. When both boys ran towards their mother, I breathed a sigh of relief at the kitchen counter before I smacked a genuine grin on my face to greet her myself. "Hi, my love," I whispered taking her into a tight embrace, kissing her cheek before Asher and Noah wedged their way between us, innocently over excited for their mom's attention. Backing out of their way so they could bombard their mother with their hellos, I missed you's and attempts to tell stories about the week while I retreated back to the kitchen to finish my coffee before I had to dash out the door for today's flight checks. When Isabel rounded the corner and filled the gap between us, I couldn't help but smirk. "Oh, it's my turn now?" I asked teasingly, setting down the empty mug. When she pleaded for me not to go and inched towards me, I sighed heavily, draping an arm around her waist, pulling her in tightly, kissing her back before I replied. "I don't want to go either, but I think the boys are done with their dad," I teased. "They were as good as boys their age can be, but they're definitely both momma's boys. How was Amelia?" I wasn't sure how to approach the question because even though Amelia called anchor, this was the first time the two had seen each other and I was curious to how it was for them. Was it awkward? I hoped not. The fact that Isabel spent nearly three weeks there assured me the mend went well, but I knew the encounter was bound to be different than what either of them were used to.
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
"She was different at first. I mean looks wise she was but she's back to who she used to be which is good because Little Bel and Jayden really missed her. I missed her and I'm glad we were able to mend everything. I needed closure from what happened to the both of us." I said softly to my husband, smiling at him brightly before I walked to the coffee pot and poured myself a cup of coffee. Glancing at the clock we had in the kitchen I realized it was almost time to take Asher to school. "Asher, Corazon, are you ready for school?" I called out to my oldest son, sipping my coffee before I let out a content humming sound. Noticing Dawson put his coffee mug in the sink, I pouted. I really wanted my husband to stay home but I knew they were going to be flight checks today. It was still show season, after all, and off the top of my head I couldn't remember when his next show was. Before he could leave, I pulled him close against me, knowing our sons were still occupied in the living room. Sitting on the kitchen counter, I wrapped my legs around his waist and smiled when I saw love mix with lust in his eyes. I always loved the look in his eyes when we were intimate but I kissed him deeply, letting it draw out as long as it possibly could before I pulled away. "Be safe at work today, Six." I whispered huskily in his ear, calming down my nerves before I let go of the pilot who stole my heart. Grinning at the expression on his face, I jumped off the counter before giggling, grabbing my cup of coffee to finish before placing it in the sink, walking out to the living room while my hips swayed to get the boys situated. "Tell your daddy bye, my loves. He's leaving to work."

Once settled in the car, I smiled as I watched Asher entertain his little brother while I drove them to school. I was off today, which I was thankful for. Everyone at HEB sort of gave me special treatment because they knew I was a major asset to the company and so was my mother when she used to work for them. It was a nice career to keep me busy and the hours at corporate weren't what I though they would be but I still missed my camera. I missed telling a story through the lens of a camera. That was what I was called to do, but it didn't feel right after the fall out with Amelia. Hearing my son sing along to My Shot from my Broadway playlist is what brought me out of my thoughts. Asher seemed to really enjoy this song and I chuckled as he sang his heart out while sitting in the backseat. Even Noah sand along as best as he could. Turning down the volume, I looked at Asher with a grin through my mirror. "How did you know that song, Ash?" I was curious because I never listened to my favorite musicals around the boys. We mainly listened to Frank Sinatra, better known as "baby making music" in my husband's eyes and country music.

I didn't want to spend the day along at the house which is why after I dropped off Asher, I decided not to take Noah to daycare or his grandmother's. I kept him all to myself, snuggling with him on the couch all day while we watched his favorite Disney classics. He was especially fond of Aladdin because of all the colors within the cinematography and knew most of the songs. It was a relaxing day for he and I, to say the least, and we both fell asleep on the couch, not waking when Dawson and Asher arrived back home from work and school. I had covered Noah and I in the grey blanket I made with Noah on my chest.
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
My wife was amazing at everything she took on. She was as an outstanding mother, wife and employee, but above all else, I would never forget the amazing journalist she turned out to be. After I recovered from my self-inflicted panic of what could happen to her when she courageously ventured to France to expose corruption, I realized how honorable she was in every assignment she took.

Being a naval pilot my career is a public service duty as well, and while I did have the opportunity to protect my country and its freedoms, I never would have wished the terror I experienced on anyone. When I was in the war zone, I didn't find anything honorable about me being there. I was scared shitless and if anyone would have given me the chance to leave, I would have. Some may consider that to be cowardly, some may even have the guts to ask why I even bothered to enlist if I didn't want to fight when it was my time to, and the answer is simple, no one wants to go into a war zone. The only people who get a thrill out of that kind of demented chaos are the people who create it. I thought by fighting in the war, I was protecting my people, but they were my people. I learned from my wife, that honor is not protecting the people you consider to be your own, but everyone else in between.

Now that there was no reason for her to hide, I wanted to remind Isabel about the impact she made on so many people doing the thing she loved. In her eyes, she didn't touch as many lives as I knew she had and her absence she thought, would mean nothing to no one, I knew that to be wrong to, So I arranged something to put it on all in perspective for her and hopefully, make her realize how unhappy she had become in her mundane day-to-day life. I wanted better for her, She deserved it,

Telling Jayden my plan, he agreed that it was genius and agreed to not only pull it off, but he and Amelia would attend. I just hoped it all wouldn't turn out be a smack in the face and end up upsetting Isabel rather than empowering her.

"Are you ready, love?" I asked rolling the sleeves to my dress shirt neatly, just like I had on our first date because that's how I knew she liked them. Tonight was date night and as I told my wife all week where we were going was a surprise. She hated those and I didn't usually make them because I knew that, but this was certainly an exception to our unspoken surprise rule.

We were both dressed in a matching shade of ruby red and fit for the occasion, even though Isabel didn't know what the occasion was.

When we arrived, I knew she would recognize the building and when she tried to pull away I pulled her back towards me. We were at the office that was once her and Amelia's pride and joy. "Isabel, please. I wouldn't bring you here if I didn't want you to see what I have to show you. Trust me please. You might be surprised with who's inside. Taking her hand, I planted a gentle kiss on it "C'mon, they're all waiting for you."

Leading her inside, I opened the door to the lobby to reveal that the lobby had been converted into a gallery of her journalistic photos she took over the course of her journalism career and beside each one that had to deal with people was a quote lining the photo of her impact on that particular individual. The gallery stretched from wall to wall of the first floor and I invited everyone who could come that had the chance to work with Isabel during her time as a journalist alongside all her friends and family; Jayden and Amelia in the front dressed in crisp white holding classy wine glasses, Amelia cut her hair back to its typical length and dyed it its natural color.

"Surprise," I whispered delicately into her ear as she took in the scene. "I wanted to know what an incredible human you are and how proud I am to call you my wife."
 

isax

Ten Thousand Club
Date night, among other things, is one of the many aspects of my life that I look forward to. I love my boys, all three of them, and as much as I love being a mother and having motherly duties, I always want at least one night to spend with just my husband. I guess you could say I got that desire to never lose the spark from my parents. No matter how old hey grew together, how busy their lives became with work, or how their finances played out that month, they still made time for each other; Their dates consisting of movie nights at the movie theatre, followed by dinner. Everything I ever dreamed of having in my love life was inspired by them, by how my father always bought mom flowers and chocolates on Valentine's Day. Despite doing this every year mom really enjoyed the little gifts and she told me once she didn't care that every year was the same gift, hidden in her car to find when she left for work. She said what made these gifts special was the card my dad left her, filled with so much chicken scratch writing but this writing was different every year and managed to make my mother cry whenever she read it. They were my goals and it feels so amazing to say I found my person. I found my husband, Dawson, and every little thing he has ever done for me in our years together has definitely not gone forgotten.

Dawson knows how much I despise date nights where I have no clue what we are doing or where we are going. He only keeps everything a secret when he really wants me to be swept off my feet. My curiosity was piqued but my nerves were definitely there. I was anxious to know what surprise he had in store but I pushed them away as I dressed myself for the occasion.

Ruby red was what he told me to wear. He never really chose the colors to coordinate so I was more than willing to fulfill his request. I decided on a simple short length dress that hung off the shoulders with a very slight high low style on the bottom. Since my husband made this night sound very special, I decided on wearing my favorite pair of black heels to accompany the dress. To finish off the look, I put no other make up on besides my red MAC lipstick. I hardly ever wore it but today it was needed. Letting my hair stay down with my natural curls, I sighed softly before I grabbed my purse, making sure I had everything.

I walked down the stairs to my pilot, smiling gently when he asked if I was ready. He looked so handsome in red it was starting to become my favorite color on him, and watching his roll up his sleeves made it even better. He knew how much I liked when he wore his shirts rolled at the sleeves. "Ready when you are, Amor."

My heart began racing as the route Dawson took to our date destination flooded my mind. We weren't going to a restaurant or a play or even a park; We were going to my pride and joy but I wasn't ready to be back My stomach was turning and my heart was beating incredibly fast before it dropped in my stomach.

When out of the car, I stared at the skyscraper before us, every story I ever covered flooding through my memory. I couldn't be here. It didn't feel right being here. Pulling Dawson's hand, I tried walking back to the car, but it was futile. I was pulled closer to him in an instant and he pleaded for me to trust him. I did trust him, with all my heart, and I knew his intentions were more than good but I wasn't ready to step foot in this building again. I was afraid once I did I was going to cry and when I let him lead me inside, I did.

Gasping as I took in the scene, I focused mainly on all the photos I ever took during my journalism career. Seeing them all blown up and aligned delicately along the wall in the lobby took my breath away. It was like a smack in the face, but not in a negative way. Seeing them once again made tears fall quickly and my heart skip a beat. I missed this. I missed meeting new people and helping them however I possibly could. So many people trusted me with their life stories and believed I could tell it through a camera lens. I devoted my career to doing so. "Dawson, this is so beautiful." I whispered before I turned around to look at him, smiling gently before he took my hand once more and lead me towards Amelia and Jayden who looked as dashing as ever in their crisp white outfits.

I hugged them tightly, wiping away my tears with a giggle as Amelia helped. "They're all here. Every picture I ever took, Amelia, every story." I whispered gently, biting my lip to distract myself from the urge to cry. I was in the presence of my work, those I loved, and those who worked with me. Each person came to me when they had a chance and we shared small talk. What every person had to say in common was they missed having me in the field. I never thought I would be missed with my decision to live a mundane day-to-day life but they all hoped I would consider coming back to what I love. I didn't know if I could do it again and I know Dawson and Amelia saw the doubt lingering in my eyes but I pushed it away as everyone in the room helped me realize just how many lives I changed. I was too humble to ever believe I changed as many as I did, and I still don't think I changed as many as everyone claimed tonight.

As the amount of people in the lobby lessened, the room and I became much more intimate. I was no longer in a room with those I cared about but in a room with my work, all the people of the stories I devoted myself too. As I walked along the wall, my hand naturally grazed every photo it could within reach. I was connected to the photos in the room and as I made my way around, the tears only worsened. It felt like I was saying my final goodbye instead of hello and that frightened me. When I made it to the very end, my hand rested against the last story I ever wrote. It was a six part series or better known as chapters on the South Korean government taking away access to the internet. I remember leaving to the country where on the fourth day there, Dawson blew up my phone with messages asking if I was alright. The South Korean government had taken American correspondents, along with other countries correspondents, into custody for trying to tell the story. I spent a night in a Korean prison before our President was able to set us all free. The series was long, full of emotions, and one of the most draining pieces I ever wrote.

Feeling a hand on my shoulder is what made the memory fade. The hand on my shoulder wasn't my husbands because it wasn't strong and lacked that sense of security but I knew who was behind me. I knew who drew me out of my memories and it was Amelia, my best friend. Smiling weakly at her, I released a gentle sigh. "Hi, best friend. This is all so beautiful. Thank you for helping Dawson put this together. I truly mean it. It was nice to hear from others the impact I made." Biting my lip, I glanced over to Dawson who was currently speaking to Thorne. Lord only knows what that man was telling my husband but it was nice to see him here supporting me after he gave me the opportunity to improve over the four years in college. He saw something in me I never saw in myself at that time, something that's still hard for me to see. "This has to be one of my top date nights with Dawson. I'm glad you're here though because I know my husband hopes this pushes me back into what I loved but why does this feel more like closure?"
 

Lexus

Ten Thousand Club
When Jayden told me what Dawson was planning for Isabel, I was honestly blown away by the gesture. Throughout the time I had known Dawson before the fallout, I had known him to be hesitant of Isabel's journalism career. When they first started dating, I even feared his own insecurities about losing her after what happened to Josie would talk Isabel out of her own passion that would lead the world to become a better place. I never voiced my opinion about it though, because even though, at the time her and I were each other's first priority in life as we were still getting to know our husbands, I didn't feel it was my place as her best friend to ruin the one chance at happiness she had yet to be satisfied with.

As Isabel and Dawson continued to prosper as a couple, I came to understand Dawson was doing his best to work through his insecurities because he truly admired my best friend and what she did to help change the world. He wanted to support her and that was a relief to me both as her closest ally and future business partner. Even after they got married though I knew and understood why Dawson would never fully be at ease with Isabel's career. It had a lot of risks. Risks that normal wives and mothers didn't think about taking. But Isabel wasn't normal and I wanted Dawson to understand he could never mold Isabel into being a typical mother or wife because Dawson didn't have a typical woman, he had someone who was extraordinary.

Because I knew how Dawson felt, it was easy for me to believe the lie he and Jayden created for our protection. For awhile, I even resented the man for it. I found it unfair and unjust that as much as I wanted to, I never did anything that I thought would impede on his relationship with Isabel, but he had no hesitancy in putting my relationship with her on the back burner if it meant saving his. I was offended by that but I accepted because I believed it was what was best for Isabel, that’s all I ever wanted for her. For Dawson to acknowledge how powerful and outstanding his wife was, was reassuring to me that I wasn’t wrong to let him come between us. He loved her. That’s why I agreed to come for the gallery. I didn’t want to step foot in that building again but I would for Isabel.

Her reaction was worth my own hesitancy. Seeing for myself all the people she touched during her time as a journalist was not only eye-opening for her, but for me as well. As her best friend I hoped she would use her talents to touch as many lives as she could but to be able to comprehend the magnitude of it, was amazing. I had immense pride for the woman I matured beside. Even if this wasn’t what we did any more I felt immensely blessed to have shared this chapter of her life with her as both her best friend and a colleague.

“I’m glad you liked it, but I didn’t help. I’m just a visitor. Dawson did this all on his own." Keeping a hand on her shoulder, I took Isabel into a hug when she turned to face me, still overwhelmed with her shock at the grand gesture. Sighing heavily, I rubbed her back gently while she leaned against me. "Because it will always be the hardest chapter to close for the both of us." Our journalism careers ended in abrupt tragedy and it would always be a sore wound to bare. "I brought you something but it's upstairs," I whispered. "Well, two things, but we'll start with this," Reaching into my purse, I pulled out a gold sharpie and handed it to her. "You know what this is for," I said with a grin. "I promised you I'd bring you one," Laughing at the joke I was referring to from years ago before she started college. "Sorry it took so long, but that's typical me. But now you can sign all of them at once! I have another surprise for you upstairs afterward so let's get to singing!"
 
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