Life After You

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Chapter 27

“B!” I shout, getting out of dad’s car and speed-walking over to him.

“Hey Liv!” He smiles, opening his arms up for a hug.

“How goes it?” I ask.

“Oh, it’s going.” He lightly chuckles.

“Brian, please tell Olivia that you like me more. She seems to be delusional.” Riley states while approaching us at Brian’s front door.

Brian looks at me, and then back to Riley, debating on how to answer such a request.

“Brian, don’t pay any attention to him. Please.” My dad laughs, nearing the front door.

“Thank you.” He blows out a breath he’s been holding. “I didn’t want to answer that wrong.” He laughs.

“Hey! I want an answer though.” Riley whines, putting his arm around Tori’s shoulders.

“Riley, enough.” My dad warns, causing Riley to drag Tori inside the house and away from our dad.

“So, Peter, how you likin’ them Raiders?” Brian smirks to my dad, as they both walk inside and head for the living room with the huge flat screen TV.

“Oh man, they are doing great this year!” My dad smiles.

“Boring football.” Tori mumbles while I chuckle.

I never really minded football. I used to laugh at how excited or frustrated Landon and Riley would get while watching a game. For the entire game, all you would hear were screams or cheers, no in between.

I went over to the kitchen to greet Barbara, as that’s where she always is during the holidays. That woman loves to cook and bake! Her entire house smells so good, you almost want to eat it.

“Barbara!” I smiled, strolling into the kitchen and almost startling her.

“Oh, dear. You scared me!” She laughs, but immediately puts down the spoon in her hand to walk over and hug me.

“My, you are getting so big!” She gushes, while gently placing her hand over my belly. “I can’t wait to meet him.” She smiles.

“Me either.” I smile down at my own belly. “How are you?” I ask.

“Fine, we went and saw some family yesterday, so today is all about you.” She smiles.

“Well, don’t I feel special.” I grin, grabbing a chocolate chip cookie from the plate sitting before me on the counter.

“Do I smell cookies?” Riley suddenly says while appearing beside me as he grabs two cookies for himself.

“Don’t spoil your dinner Riley.” Barbara sighs, smirking as she takes the plate of cookies away before Tori can grab one.

With a frown, Tori looks over to Riley and snatches one of his cookies from his hand.

“Hey!” Riley glares.

“You snooze you lose, babe.” Tori smiles while stuffing the cookie into her mouth.

“Man... my own girlfriend steals from me. Now I’ve seen it all.” Riley sarcastically pouts with a shake of his head.

“I’ve missed all you kids.” Barbara suddenly smiles, her eyes slowly beginning to water.

“Nope, no crying allowed Mrs. Cavalier!” Riley smiles while walking over to hug her. “Not on my watch!”

“Thank you Riley, you can let go now.” She playfully rolls her eyes.

“Just doing my job!” He smiles, with crumbs of cookie around his mouth.

“Go wash up before dinner, yeah?” Barbara laughs.

“You got it.” He smiles, rushing up the stairs.

“He certainly is a handful isn’t he Peter?” Barbara calls out to my dad.

“You have no idea!” My dad yells from the living room.

“You girls go relax, dinner will be done shortly.” Barbara smiles over towards Tori and I.

We both smile as we head upstairs to the guest room.

While we walk down the hallway, I notice a room off to the side and I instantly freeze.

Landon’s old room.

Suddenly, before I realize it, I am standing in front of his bedroom door.

“You sure it’s a good idea to go in there?” Tori asks suddenly, as I almost forgot she were even in the same place as me.

“Oh, um. I don’t know. Maybe?” I shrug, reaching for the door.

“Nope! Not allowed.” Riley is suddenly beside us, as he grabs my hand and pulls me away from Landon’s bedroom door.

“But Rie!” I whine.

“No butt’s... unless it’s Tori’s.” He smirks at his girlfriend, who only shoots him an incredulous look.

I make a mental note to sneak up into his room later during dinner. I’ll just use the old, “I need to use the bathroom”, lie. Works every time. It especially helps that I am severely pregnant with a very weak bladder.

“Fine, I won’t go in there.” I lie, smirking behind both Tori and Riley as we enter the large guest bedroom.

Tori grabs the remote and flicks on the TV, scrolling through the channels until she lands on Two Broke Girls.

“Ugh, I hate this show. The blonde one is an idiot, and the brunette scares me.” Riley mumbled, taking a seat beside Tori.

“Hey, the blonde one isn’t always an idiot.” Tori glares, while pushing a piece of her blonde hair out of her face.

“Oh, of course not babe.” Riley smiles, patting Tori on the top of her head.

I roll my eyes at the two and sit on the chair beside the window. I look out into the backyard and see the sand box that Landon and I used to play in when we were little.

I can’t believe he made me believe it was quick-sand in the sandbox instead of actual sand. I wouldn’t go near that thing for the longest time.

“No Olivia! You c-can’t go in there!” Landon suddenly said, pulling me back by my arm.

“Why not?” I frowned, and I could tell that he was trying not to shed a smile.

“Because... that isn’t regular sand!” He exclaimed, pulling me further away from the sandbox.

My little eyes widened in surprise. “What is it?” I asked.

“It’s quick sand! If you step inside the sandbox, the sand will eat you up!” He says, while I raise my eyebrows at him.

“You’re lying.” I pout. “There’s no quick sand in there!”

“Yes there is... I can prove it to you.” He lets go of my hand and runs over to the sandbox jumping inside.

He immediately begins to disappear, as his body sinks lower and lower into the sand. Little did I know, he was actually just pushing his legs down into the sand, letting the sand cover his legs so to me it looks as if he’s actually sinking.

“Oh no, Landon!” I yell, running towards him.

“Pull me out Olivia! Pull me out!” He shouts, pretending to be sinking.

“I’m trying!” I yell, gripping Landon’s hand as hard as I can and yanking him for dear life.

“It’s not working!” I cry, tears filling my eyes. “Mommy! Daddy!” I yell over my shoulder towards Landon’s house. Our parents were enjoying lunch together.

Suddenly, all four of our parents came barging from the back door.

“What? What is it!” Barbara cried.

“Landon is sinking! The sand is going to eat him up!” I cry, still desperately trying to pull Landon from the sandbox as he continues pushing his body further and further into the sand.

“Um, honey... it’s just sand.” My dad said with a confused look.

Both Barbara and my mom rolled their eyes at our dad’s obliviousness, and they held back laughs while walking over towards me. They must have known what kind of trick Landon was pulling on me.

“We’re gonna help you pull him out okay sweetpea?” My mom said, a hint of a smile on her lips.

“Okay mommy, hurry!” I whine some more while putting both hands on Landon’s arm as my mom put her hands around my stomach and Barbara pulled on my mom.

“Ready? One... two...” All three of us pulled, but Landon was no longer trying to sink into the sand so we instantly pulled him up and out of the sandbox as we all tumbled backwards into the grass.

My mom, Barbara and Landon were all laughing while I instantly crawled over to Landon and jumped into his arms.

“You could have drowned!” I cried against his chest.

He realized how well I had believed his lie, and that only made him smile even wider.

“You saved me Olivia!” He cheered, picking me up with him as we both stood with our hands wrapped around each other.

Both of our mom’s beamed down at us in awe, as our dad’s just stood there still oblivious.

“Well, shall we get back to our lunch?” Brian said.

“Of course dear.” Barbara laughed.

All of the parents went back inside, and Landon and I stayed in the backyard.

“Let’s stay far away from that thing!” I say, finally pulling away from Landon.

All he does is smirk at me, “Okay Liv, okay.”

After that, we begin playing again as he chases me through the entire backyard, laughter being the only thing escaping our innocent mouths.

“Earth to Olivia.” Tori says, waving her hand in front of my face, startling me.

“W-what?” I ask, peering over at her and Riley who are giving me confused stares.

“You okay?” Riley asks.

“Yeah, just reminiscing.” I slightly frown.

“Nope, no frowning! What did I say to Barbara?” Riley shakes his head while pointing at me.

“Okay, okay!” I hold my hands up in surrender. “No more frowning.” I smile.

“Thank you.” Riley smiles with a nod. “Now, can we go downstairs for dinner?” He whines while clutching his stomach. “Me hungry.”

“Of course, let’s go.” I say, standing up from my chair.

We make our way downstairs to find Barbara still in the kitchen and dad and Brian still in the living room.

“Is dinner done yet? I need to eat!” Riley says entering the kitchen.

“Yes, can you help set the table?” Barbara smiles over to Riley, who agrees to help.

“Dad, B, dinner!” I yell from the dining room.

“Coming!” They both yell in unison.

We all sit at the table and dish food out onto our plates, passing things around if need be.

I smile at everyone at the table and say a quick prayer to myself, including my mom and Landon.

Everyone waits for me to finish before we begin eating.

“Oh my Lanta, this tastes like sex in my mouth!” Riley moans while stuffing his face full of ham and mashed potatoes.

“Riley!” My dad glares from across the table.

“It’s alright Peter, as odd and inappropriate as that sounds, I take it as a compliment.” Barbara laughs, shaking her head at my ridiculous older brother.

“As you should!” Riley smiles while pointing his fork at her.

“Riley, can you act normal for oh I don’t know... five minutes?” I ask, shaking my head while eating a delicious dinner roll.

“What’s so great about acting normal anyway?” Riley defends himself, stealing a carrot from Tori’s plate to which she sends him a glare.

“Back off Barbie!” Tori scolds while flicking Riley’s hand away. “This plate is mine!”

“Touchy...” Riley mumbles while rubbing his hand soothingly.

Brian laughs while my dad only glares at his son.

“Haven’t you missed family dinner’s sweetie?” Brian looks over to Barbara who is eating and smiling all at the same time.

“You bet!”

As I’m eating and listening to the familiar dinner banter going on around me, I feel the baby kick inside my stomach.

“I guess the little guy has a lot to say too.” I chime in, smiling down at my stomach and then up at everyone who looks over at me with loving looks on their faces. “He’s kicking like crazy.”

“He loves the sound of my voice.” Riley coo’s, while reaching over from beside me to place a hand on my belly.

“Son, nobody loves the sound of anything that you do.” My dad replies, causing Brian to snort from beside Barbara.

“Hurtful...” Riley sighs as he begins stuffing his face again.

Tori laughs at my dad’s joke and Riley sends her a glare right before blowing her a kiss.

I roll my eyes at my crazy family, and thank God that I have them here with me during this hard time of the year.

I hate not having Landon here with us, but I love how a piece of him is still here no matter what, that being our baby. I love feeling him move inside me, letting me know that he is okay and that he is healthy. I can’t wait to see him at my next doctor’s appointment with Dr. J. Seeing him up on the monitor gives me a feeling I have never felt before.

I suppose that would be the feeling of being a mother, which is new to me.

After dinner, we all gather around the fireplace in the living room and drink hot chocolate. Barbara put our favorite movie in, one that we always used to watch here at Landon’s house every Christmas Eve when we were younger.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I smile as the beginning credits start, feeling nostalgic as the white snowflakes begin to roam around the TV screen.

This used to be one of Landon’s favorite Christmas movies. He always used to say how he loves that the Grinch finally finds his heart after thinking it was gone for so long. He used to say that everyone has a heart, even if it appears to be nonexistent, so we should always remember to be kind to everyone even if they give us a reason not to be.

“Oh Brian, why can’t we go back in time?” Barbara sniffles as she watches Riley, Tori and I gaze upon the movie.

“Let’s just smile at the future we have, okay hun?” Brian smiles, pulling Barbara into his side as they sit on the couch with my dad on the other end.

Riley, Tori and I managed to sit in the floor with our hot chocolate.

“Barbara...” Riley sheepishly smiles while holding his empty cup in the air.

“How did I know you would need seconds so fast?” She smirks, standing up to take his empty cup.

“Anyone else need a refill?” She asks.

“Nope, not for a while.” I say, still having over half my cup full.

Everyone else nods to what I say, and Riley gives Barbara another smile before she turns around to head to the kitchen.

This is how we spend the rest of our Christmas Eve.

We watch the movie and drink hot chocolate until the movie is over and its time to leave. We all say our goodbyes and get back into dad’s car.

On the drive home, I lean my head against the cool window and slowly begin to close my eyes as sleep consumes me.

I smile at the wonderful dinner we had and smile knowing that no matter what, Christmas Eve will always be shared with Landon’s parents... no matter how old Riley and I get.

I place my hand over my belly and begin to dream about how fun it will be to take the baby to Landon’s parents every Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to continue all of our family traditions, even if it will sadden me to remember that Landon won’t be there.

No matter what, I will still have a piece of him with me. This baby is a piece of Landon that I will never forget. He will always be a reminder of the amazing man I grew to love and cherish in the short time we had together.

He will be my new love. My entire world.

I really need to pick out a name.

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