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Loose Ends

By MaxCale

Romance

Mother's Day

Amy woke up bright and early at 8:30, even though she had purposefully not set her alarm so she could sleep in, simply because her stomach had decided to make its presence known. Putting on her robe and house slippers, Amy made her way to the kitchen where she found her mother and Robbie eating their breakfasts. Kissing her little brother on the head to say good morning, Amy turned to greet her mother.

"Morning, mom."

"Morning, Amy. You're awfully cherry this morning," she said with a raised eyebrow.

"Just got a good night's sleep," Amy shrugged before making herself a bowl of cereal.

"So what are your plans for today?" her mother asked. Bringing her cereal to the kitchen table to join her Amy replied, "Well, I was wondering if the two of us could hang out and talk actually." Anne looked surprised but nodded. She hadn't just hung out and talked with Amy in quite some time.

"I'll talk to your father and then we can go out."

"Talk to me about what?" George asked, coming into the kitchen just then and looking between Anne and Amy. Anne turned to him to reply.

"Amy wants to spend some quality mother-daughter time with me today so you'll need to watch Robbie." George looked at Amy questioningly, silently asking her if she was gonna have a talk with her mother like she'd had with him. Amy understood his silent question and nodded. Anne hadn't seen the look pass between them, having turned back towards the table to finish her breakfast, but saw Amy nod and wondered why she had.

"No problem, Anne. You girls have fun." He knew there were probably going to be a lot of tears today and he and Anne would need to have a serious heart-to-heart afterwards, but luckily he'd been doing a lot of thinking about what Amy had told him for the last two days and he believed he'd be ready when Anne was ready to talk to him.

"So where do you wanna go today?" Anne asked Amy. Swallowing her spoonful of cereal Amy looked at her mother and said, "Could we go up to Palm Springs?"

"Sure! I'm sure Mimsy would love to see us!" Visiting Mimsy wasn't the reason Amy wanted to go there but she had to admit visiting her grandmother for a little while would be nice so she just nodded. Amy finished her cereal and dashed upstairs to get dressed. She made sure to take her phone with her, but she decided to keep it off for now. She would check to see if Ricky called with any emergency about John later in the day. Anne and Amy were out the door and on the road by 9:15. There was very little traffic out that morning so Anne quickly reached the freeway heading towards Palm Springs.

"So, what did you wanna talk about?" Anne asked conversationally, hoping to find out what her daughter had been up to the past couple of days. She'd noticed that Amy hadn't been calling or texting her friends lately and always seemed to be lost in thought or shut away in her room, and the emptiness of Amy's room hadn't escaped her notice either. Amy had been looking out the window but turned towards her mother at the question.

"We should wait until we get to Palm Springs to really start talking, mom. What I will tell you is that I need you to help me better understand how our family got so screwed up." Anne found herself both surprised and worried at her daughter's response but nodded her head to let her know she would wait until they'd arrived at their destination. The rest of the drive passed quickly as they talked in more detail about Amy's time in New York and discussed how quickly the boys were growing. The two hour drive was over before they knew it and they were pulling into Mimsy's care facility. As Anne predicted, Mimsy was happy to have some visitors and greeted them with a smile.

"Hello dears," she said as Anne and Amy both hugged her.

"How are you doing today, Mimsy?" Amy asked her.

"I'm well, dear, and you?"

"I'm well too," she said with a smile.

"Have we met before?" she asked Amy and Amy and Anne both valiantly suppressed their sadness at not being recognized by a woman who meant so much to them both before Amy nodded and said, "Yes, but it's been a while since I've had time to come and see you again." Mimsy smiled, accepting her statement.

"Well, it's lovely to see you again my dear." Anne and Amy chatted with Mimsy for almost an hour and then joined her for lunch. After her meal, however, Mimsy said she felt tired and wanted to take a nap. They hugged and kissed her goodbye and then left the facility, both happy and a little sad. As they headed towards the car Anne asked, "So where would you like to go and talk?" Time to get down to business.

"The beach." There was little chance that they would be overheard or interrupted if they went to the beach and that's why Amy had chosen it as their discussion location. As they made their way to the beach Anne was thankful that they had both opted for sandals and that the weather was warm with a slight breeze; they wouldn't get sunburned today. They found a spot they liked and sat down.

"So what's on your mind sweetie?" Amy began with her impromptu decision to come home early.

"When Ricky came to see me in New York, we spent quite a bit of time talking about John and what he and I were to each other and what we wanted to be. We didn't make any definite decisions that weekend but we did get to know each other a little better. I decided to come home early to see if he and I really could become friends or something more. As we started talking that night I realized that I'd read more into our conversations from that weekend than was actually there but I also realized something else." Anne wanted to say something but remained silent, waiting for Amy to continue. "I realized that I had a habit of misreading people and their intentions and that was probably why there was so much drama in my life, so, I decided it was time to do something about it."

"And what did you decide to do?" Anne asked, wondering if this had something to do with Amy's empty closet and book shelves.

"I decided to sit down and really think about who in my life, or entangled in my life against their will, was actually my friend and who was actually an enemy." Anne just looked at her daughter, her face a mixture of shock and pride. She was proud of her daughter for taking stock of her life and deciding to make it better and shocked because her little girl really was becoming a mature young woman.

"And how did you decide your friends from your enemies?" Amy smiled to herself, thinking about the discussions she'd arranged and had had over the past three days. "I wrote down the name of every person involved in my life and realized I needed answers to some lingering questions before I could figure that out, so I've been talking to a few people on my list each day and separating the names into groups of friends, allies, and enemies." Again Anne was silent, this time in awe to discover what her daughter had been up to. And now she was curious.

"Who have you talked to so far?"

"Lauren's mom, Jason, Mr. Boykewich, Mr. Enriquez, Ashley, dad, Lauren and Madison, Ben, and Ricky's parents." Anne was confused.

"Why did you need to talk to Lauren, Ben, Adrian, and Ricky's parents?"

"They each played a role in some of the drama in my life, going back to when everyone first found out about my pregnancy," Amy explained, absentmindedly digging her toes into the sand. "And I wanted to go back to the beginning, so to speak, and try to figure out how and why my life got so complicated." That was news to Anne. Just how much have I been unaware of?

"Amy, something tells me I'm missing something and that I obviously missed it back then too. What 'mysteries' exactly are you trying to unravel?" Amy looked at her mother trying to decide how best to explain without having to recount every single conversation she'd had over the past three days. When she didn't respond right away Anne gave her a questioning look, waiting for an answer. Amy sighed.

"Do you remember how scared I was when I told you I was having a baby?" Anne nodded, remembering that fateful morning when Amy tearfully told her she was pregnant. "Well, by the time I got up the courage to tell you it had already gotten out around school and Lauren's mom forbid her from hanging out at our house because of it."

"WHAT! We've known Lauren's parents for years and vice versa…"

"It's okay, mom. I've already been over all that with Dr. Treacy and she admitted she overreacted and was just trying to do what she thought was best to protect Lauren." Amy shook her head and quickly continued when she noticed her mother was about to continue with another angry response. "And Jason admitted to me that once Lauren confided in him about my pregnancy to ask some medical questions he later spilled the beans at school without Lauren knowing about it. Anyway, I've also already talked to both Mr. Boykewich and Ben about how they got entangled in my baby drama and I realized that my ups and downs with Ben were partly my own fault so he and I split up, for good this time, but amicably."

"Oh, Amy. I'm so sorry sweetie. I know how much Ben meant to you." Anne reached over and hugged Amy and she let her mother comfort her, even though she wasn't sad or upset about the breakup. Amy smiled because she knew her mother was probably the only other person besides Ashley who had known just how much Ben had actually meant to her. Her mother kissed her temple and then released her. Amy continued going through her list of previous conversations.

"With all the drama and secrets going around my former circle of 'friends', you can guess why I needed to talk to Lauren and Madison and make sure the three of us were on the same page again." Anne nodded. She knew the three of them had their ups and downs but loved each other like sisters and always seemed to find a way to resolve their differences. "I needed to talk to Ruben and Ricky's parents to figure out why they chose to get entangled in my life without actually becoming involved in my life and those conversations were pretty enlightening."

"Back up, Amy. What do you mean by entangled in your life but not involved in it?"

"Looking back I noticed that they made decisions that affected my life or generated some drama in it but they never actually spoke to or approached me before doing so." Amy could tell her mother was about to ask for some clarification and beat her to the punch. "We'll get to the specifics as we talk about our family."

"What about our family?" Amy sighed. Now we get to it.

"Mom, you, dad and I all threw our family for loops with our actions. I take full responsibility for my own because I know what was and wasn't going through my head at the time of each. What I don't fully understand is what was going through your and dad's heads at the time when you guys did what you did and how our family broke down. I talked to dad about some things but I need to hear some of those things from your point of view." Anne was once again speechless. She knew her girls dealt with upheavals differently: Amy often cried or lost her temper and then cried while Ashley lashed out with sarcasm and cruel jokes. How out of touch with my girls have I been Anne wondered. Is this what George said he had to soul search about?

"Let's start at the beginning, Amy. Since you've already spoken with your father, first tell me what things he did to throw us for a loop and then tell me what I did." Anne wasn't sure she was gonna like what she was about to hear but she was finally about to get some answers to some questions she had secretly had for some time now.

"Well, he had an affair, lied about his vasectomy, told someone else about it before confessing it to you, and then sold his house to the woman he had an affair with." Anne nodded in agreement and waited for Amy to explain what she had done wrong. "And you had sex with someone before you were legally divorced and then allowed dad to sell his house to the parents of a girl you both knew I didn't get along with." It was news to Anne that George had told someone else he'd lied about his vasectomy before telling her but she would discuss that with him later. Right now it was more pressing to find out why Amy was upset with her, starting with David.

"Amy, do you know why I was so angry at your father for having an affair?" Amy looked at her mother like she was speaking a foreign language.

"Uh, he cheated on you." Anne shook her head and Amy gave her a skeptical look.

"Do you remember when I told you that there were consequences to being rescued?" Amy nodded, remembering the night she and her mother had sat at the kitchen table and really talked about all of Amy's fears about her pregnancy as well as why her mother was against her getting married. That was also the night she'd found out her parents eloped in college because her dad had knocked up her mom with her.

"Even though I loved your father dearly while we were dating and during the early years of our marriage, like I told you that night, I spent a lot of time trying to show your father how grateful I was that he rescued me. Just like you, I was scared that I couldn't raise a baby by myself." Amy smiled at her mother's words, earning her a confused look from her mother. Seeing the look Amy explained.

"That was one of the main reasons I was so ready to marry Ben illegally. I was scared that since it seemed like adoption wasn't going to work out and I would end up keeping my baby, I was so scared to do it alone and without any financial means to do so that I desperately wanted someone to take care of me while I tried my best to take care of my baby." Anne smiled softly in understanding.

"And Ben had the means and cared about you."

"Actually he didn't." Now it was Anne's turn to look confused.

"Remember the night dad come down to the hot dog shack?" Anne's eyes narrowed at the memory, but she nodded. "Well during my break Ben said he could give me and my baby the best of everything and his dad got on his case, saying Ben didn't actually have any money, it was all his dad's. That's when Mr. Boykewich decided to get Ben a job of his own. I knew we didn't have any money to take care of a baby but I knew Ben was willing to take care of me and that was more important to me at that moment in time." Anne gave her daughter a sad smile. Like mother like daughter she thought and reached over to give her another hug. "That's why I was willing to let him rescue me, mom." Now she got it. Fear can sometimes be a more powerful motivator than love. It was Amy's next question that ruined the moment, however.

"Were you ever in love with dad, mom, or did you just love him?" When did Amy become so smart and astute? Anne smiled.

"At one point in time," she said, finally releasing Amy again, "I was very much in love with your dad." She sighed before continuing. "The problem was that after we were married I still felt like I was just his girlfriend. Not his wife. I may have been the mother of his children but part of me always felt like he and I just weren't connecting the way a married couple was supposed to. After a while it seemed like that lack of a solid connection between us drove us apart and we started bickering more and more about silly things." Amy could tell from her mother's expression and body language that she was mentally reliving her marriage, trying to figure out it ended the way it did. This time Amy reached over and hugged her mother to offer her some comfort. Realizing the mother daughter roles had suddenly reversed, Anne smiled at her daughter, laughed, and hugged her back. "I guess your father and I just never found a way to communicate how we both were truly feeling and that's why even though I was angry that I had been cheated on, I honestly wasn't as angry as I pretended to be." Amy looked at her mother in surprise and confusion. Anne chuckled at her expression and kissed her forehead. "Sweetie, I was actually glad when I found out because it meant that I didn't have to sleep with your father anymore. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed sleeping with him," she paused and chuckled again at Amy's disgusted expression before continuing, "it was just that we'd been bickering so much lately that I simply wasn't in the mood to be intimate with your father very often." Amy smiled sarcastically.

"Excluding the time the two of you had sex in the garage and conceived Robbie." Anne whipped her head to look at Amy, her eyes going wide, and Amy laughed.

"Ash heard the two of you out there one night and told me she thought you guys were having sex. Since Robbie's part of our family now I guess she was right." Anne couldn't help but laugh, Amy soon joining her. I guess we weren't as sneaky as we thought we were. Anne's laughter died down as she remembered that Amy was still upset with her for sleeping with David and she also remembered finding out Robbie wasn't David's.

"Amy?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you angry with me for, technically, cheating on your father?"

"No."

"But you said I threw our family for a loop by sleeping with David."

"There's a little more to it than that, mom."

"Oh?"

"Did you know that news that dad had lied about his vasectomy started spreading around school?"

"WHAT!? How'd that happen!"

"I'll let dad explain to you the particulars but long story short, he told Grace to try and make her feel better, she told, Adrian found out, and I had to defend you to Adrian when she called you a slut for not knowing who the father of your baby was." Anne was instantly both shocked and angry at George. However, it quickly disappeared as she remembered something.

"Amy, was that the day you were suspended for calling Adrian a slut?" Amy nodded and Anne sighed. "I'm sorry for putting you in that situation, Amy. It's not a child's place to defend their parent and I'm sorry I was basically the reason you got suspended."

"Thanks for that, mom."

"I'm the adult, Amy. I should've been more responsible and yes, even though I knew I had no interest in being married to your father at that point, I should've waited to sleep with David until I was legally divorced."

"Why did you sleep with David, mom?"

"I don't know how much of it you've witnessed but your father can be downright mean in some of the thing he says and I'd simply had enough. David was sweet to me and treated me the way you should treat another human being and it was nice to be treated nice for a change. That doesn't excuse my behavior; I just hope it helps you understand why I did it." Anne looked at her daughter questioningly and was relieved to see Amy nod. They sat and watched the ocean for several minutes in companionable silence, Amy's head resting on her mother's shoulder, Anne's arm around her daughter.

"Mom?"

"Hmmm?"

"Do you find it awkward to have Cindy living next door, knowing she was the 'other woman'?" Anne just smiled and shook her head.

"Like I said, sweetie, deep down I wasn't really angry at your father for having an affair. Besides, your father and I are trying to piece our family and our marriage back together because we love you kids too much not to try and that means we've agreed to put the bad stuff behind us and move forward instead. Yes, I know Cindy slept with my husband but the affair's over now and we've all moved on with our lives: your father and I are reconciling and Cindy is reconciling with her own daughter's father." Her mother made it sound so simple and easy. She wasn't sure if she could put in the past everything Adrian had said to her. More importantly, Adrian had said things to hurt and pick at more repeatedly whereas Cindy had, technically, only done one thing to hurt her mother. Time to weigh the good versus the bad again to see where I stand with Adrian. Amy knew that particular conversation was going to come much later, and after she and Ricky had cleared the air. She had planned to speak to Cindy as well but if her mother held no ill will towards the woman, maybe there was no point in rehashing her father's affair one more time. Amy's question brought one to Anne's mind.

"Amy?"

"Yeah?"

"Why does having Adrian as a next door neighbor bother you so much?"

"Because she hates me for having sex with Ricky." Anne raised an eyebrow in question.

"What makes you so sure she hates you, or that that's the reason she dislikes you?" Amy sighed. She'd told her dad so now it was time to tell her mom

"Adrian has been going out of her way to make digs at me and has been trying, quite successfully, to get under my skin about ruining Ricky's live and being nothing more to him than his baby momma." Anne's protective mother instincts kicked into overdrive.

"Amy! Why didn't you say something sooner!? A rude remark is one thing but if you knew someone was going out of their way to mess with you why didn't you say something!?"

"Mom," she said in a tone that suggested she wanted her mother to calm down, "some of the things she was saying to me were simply thoughts that I already had and the rest was just said out of jealousy, and possibly a little insecurity."

"Amy, tell me the truth. Exactly what kinds of things was Adrian saying to you?" Amy's tone hadn't worked. Her mother was still determined to find out how this girl had tried to hurt her daughter and her tone let Amy know her mother wouldn't stop pushing until she talked. Amy sighed and thought back to her conversation with Ruben. Might as well stick to the same things so everyone's on the same page she thought.

"Adrian basically kept reminding me that Ricky would forever hate me because by keeping John I ruined his life and she kept implying that because she was willing to have sex with Ricky that one day she'd replace me as his mother and the two of them would raise John as a 'real' family." Amy looked at her mother sideways from beneath her eyelashes to see her response and was shocked to see rage on her mother's face. Her mother could get angry but this was the first time Amy had seen this expression and Amy knew exactly what it was because she had felt it herself the night she saw Adrian holding her child. This was a mother's wrath.

"SHE WHAT!?" Anne exploded. Amy didn't get a chance to respond as her mother continued shouting in rage. "NO ONE, I REPEAT NO ONE, HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL A MOTHER WHO OBVIOUSLY LOVES HER CHILD UNCONDITIONALLY AND IS DOING A WONDERFUL JOB RAISING THEM THAT SHE CAN BE REPLACED! THAT GIRL'S GOT SOME NERVE INSINUATING THAT YOU AREN'T FIT TO BE JOHN'S MOTHER JUST BECAUSE YOU REALIZE SEX ISN'T JUST SOME AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITY AND IF SHE EVER SETS FOOT ON MY PROPERTY AGAIN I'M GONNA GIVE HER A PIECE OF MY MIND JUST LIKE I GAVE THAT NO ACCOUNT BOB A DOSE OF REALITY!" Anne was huffing, still upset that someone had tried to imply her daughter was an unfit mother, just because she decided not to sleep around. Yes, Anne knew Adrian and Ricky both slept around because she heard her daughters talk about it, but never before had she felt the urge to slap some sense into someone else's child before. Amy just stared at her mother in shock and awe and couldn't help the few tears that squeezed out of her eyes and made their way down her cheeks. Seeing the tears Anne quickly, almost split personality quickly, switched into nurturing mother mode. "What's wrong, Amy?" Amy just hugged her mother and Anne, not sure what had just happened, hugged her tightly back.

"Thanks, mom."

"For what?"

"You just said I was doing a great job as a mom and coming from you that means a lot." Anne tried to remember saying those words just a moment ago and couldn't recall doing so, but apparently that's what Amy heard out of what she'd said so she didn't say anything. Suddenly Amy chuckled. "And thanks for having my back."

"What do you mean sweetie?" Amy sat back up and wiped her eyes.

"When I told dad that Adrian and I still weren't getting along all that well he said exactly what you just did, that Adrian shouldn't be allowed to set foot in the house or on the property until she proved she was going to play nice from now on."

"Well given the things she's been saying to try to get under your skin of course we're not gonna let her keep messing with you now that we know about it." There was something her mother had just said that Amy was curious about though.

"Mom?"

"Hmmm?"

"You said you would give Adrian a piece of your mind like you did Bob. Do you mean Bob Ricky's biological dad?" Anne nodded. "When did you give him a piece of your mind?" Anne thought back to her 'conversation' with Bob Underwood and her eyes narrowed again.

"I ran into him at a gas station shortly after he made his presence known around town."

"Why'd you give him a piece of your mind?" Anne's eyes narrowed again as she was filled with the same rage she felt when she had crossed paths with Bob.

"I was furious with him for being the lowlife human being that he is and told him so." Amy stared at her mother in awe.

"You stood up for Ricky?" Anne looked at her daughter confused.

"Of course. Why wouldn't I?"

"Well, he and dad weren't on the best of terms, considering, and you barely knew Ricky."

"True. But I'm a mother and anyone who hurts a child in any way deserves the worst that life can dish out. I may not have known Ricky very well but I did know that no child ever deserves to be hurt, especially by their own parent. Besides," she added, "there was no way on God's green earth I was gonna stand by and let some creep like Bob pull the despicable stunt he was trying to pull and hurt my daughter or grandchild."

"Wait, what 'stunt'?"

"Huh?"

"What stunt was he trying to pull?" Anne had Amy's full attention. Anne sighed. She had hoped to spare her daughter from ever finding out just how unethical people could be. Seeing Amy's face, she knew she couldn't keep it from her any longer.

"Amy, Bob wanted to convince Ricky to sell your baby."

"WHAT!?" Anne nodded.

"He heard Ricky had gotten you pregnant and then found a couple desperate for a baby. So desperate they were willing to pay to have your baby as soon as it was born." Amy stared at her mother in shock and disbelief. "He wanted Ricky to agree so that Bob could basically be paid a finder's fee for 'finding' your baby." Amy was stunned. No wonder Ricky was suddenly dead set against adoption when I told him his father had come to see me.

"Hang on. How did you find that out?"

"From Ricky's parents."

"Huh?"

"After you told us what Bob had done to Ricky, your father got in touch with Ricky's foster parents to try and find a way to get Bob back out of the picture. Ricky's foster dad told your dad what Bob was really after and he told me. The next time I crossed paths with Bob I gave him a piece of my mind." Amy was floored by this news. So our parents have all had both of our backs this whole time!? Just how much have people been doing for us without us knowing about it!? Amy started to tear up again and gave her mother another hug.

"Thanks, mom. For being there for me, John and Ricky." Anne smiled down at the top of her daughter's head. There's no need to thank your mother for protecting you, Amy. It comes with the job title.

"Anytime, honey. No matter how old you get or how many kids you have, Amy, you'll always be my baby and I will always do what I can to protect you. I love you. Always have, always will." Amy smiled up at her mom and received a kiss to the forehead. "What do you say we head back and then go out for dinner?"

"Sounds good to me." They picked up their sandals, dusted the sand off themselves, and made their way back to the car. One nice thing about Mimsy's care facility is that it was close to the beach. They put their sandals back on once they reached the pavement. They were both quiet for most of the drive back, thinking about their conversation. It was still fairly early in the afternoon so traffic was only slightly more backed up than usual, with people coming back into the city from their weekend adventures. Amy turned on her phone to check her messages and saw that she had missed texts from Lauren and Madison asking her if she wanted to hang out that afternoon. She sent them both a text back

Sorry. Spent the day in Palm Springs with my mom catching up and my phone was off.

They each responded right away with similar messages.

Lauren: No prob. We'll hang l8tr

Madison: K. Ttyl.

Even with the little bit of traffic Anne made good time and they arrived home by just after 5:30. During the drive they had decided to go out for Italian and dress up for the occasion. Amy had called their favorite Italian restaurant and got them a 6:15 reservation and they quickly dashed in the house to put on something nice, Anne stopping to check in on Ashley and Robbie and letting George know what they were up to. Not sure when they would finish their dinner, they each drove their own vehicle so that if they were out close to John's bedtime Amy could simply leave to pick up John and Anne could meet her at home.

Dinner was a much more relaxed conversation. Having cleared the air and gotten some answers to lingering questions, Anne and Amy simply caught up on each other's lives and reconnected. Anne realized that she really had been too busy with work and taking care of Robbie to spend time with her two older children, even with her grandson for that matter, and she had missed it. She and Amy used to be a lot closer and you would've thought that currently raising toddlers would've brought them even closer by now. Time to get my priorities straight Anne thought as she enjoyed a savory bite of her pasta and watched Amy laughing about how much John enjoyed bath time. Amy checked her phone and saw that it was close to 7:45 and their dessert still hadn't arrived. Anne saw Amy check her phone and checked her own watch as well.

"Go ahead and go, Amy. When the dessert arrives I'll ask for them to be wrapped up and it'll be waiting for you when you get home."

"Thanks, mom." Amy picked up her purse, gave her mom a kiss on the cheek and then went out to her car. She arrived at Ricky's apartment only a few minutes early. She stood outside his door for those few minutes, not wanting to leave time for small talk since she really wasn't in the mood for it right not. Finally she knocked.

"Just a minute," she heard Ricky call out, followed by the unmistakable giggle of her son and the sound made her smile. Ricky opened the door and looked her up and down with their son on his hip and a confused look on his face. Amy looked back at him questioningly but John chose that moment to break the silence.

"Mama!" he squealed, reaching out for her. Amy smiled and took her son from Ricky's arms, placing a kiss on his cheek. He snuggled into her side contentedly and looked back at his father with a smile. Ricky smiled back at him. Amy reached for John's overnight bag and Ricky's attention swiveled back to Amy.

"How was your date?" he asked rather stiffly as he handed her the bag.

"Huh?" Amy responded, taking the bag and placing it on her shoulder.

"You're a little dressed up, so…" he let the rest of his answer trail off and Amy looked at her outfit. She had on a black dress with spaghetti straps that went down to her knees, a little grey sweater that stopped just under her chest, black dress shoes, and her hope chest necklace. It wasn't fancy by any stretch of the imagination but she was definitely too dressed up to run over to her baby daddy's apartment and pick up her son. She just shrugged and turned to leave.

"Wait," Ricky said quickly. She turned to face him and he suddenly started fidgeting.

"I know when we start talking it can get pretty late." He paused and Amy simply nodded. "So I was wondering if you'd like to pack an overnight bag for you and John and then just come straight over after work." At Amy's surprised look he finished his thought in a rush, before she could object and before he lost his nerve. "That way if it gets late you don't have to worry about waking John and driving home late and then getting to bed too late since you'll have to get up for work the next day." He nervously waited for her response and his heart sank when he saw her surprised expression. She's gonna say no. Amy thought it was actually a good idea.

"I'll have to run it past my parents first." Ricky dared not let her see how happy he was that she hadn't come out and said no.

"Okay. Text me after you talk to them."

"Okay." And with that Amy walked downstairs and out to her car. John yawned as she buckled him in and he was asleep by the time she got him home. He didn't wake up once as she unbuckled him, carried him upstairs and kissed his forehead before placing him in his crib. She smiled down at her sleeping son and then went to find her parents. Her dad was in the living room watching TV and her mom was sitting in the kitchen finishing off her dessert from the restaurant. Amy asked her dad to join her in the kitchen and then told her parents about Ricky's proposition.

"No," her dad said as soon as he heard her say the word 'overnight.'

"George, let her finish," Anne said. Amy finished explaining Ricky's reasoning for the overnight stay and her parents each thought about it for a moment. They each thought back to their own talks with their daughter and realized that she had much more to talk about with Ricky and it could take some time. Also knowing that Amy had no romantic feelings for Ricky helped. They shared a look of understanding.

"Okay," Anne said. She and Amy looked at George.

"Alright!" he said, arms crossed, still not thrilled with the idea. Amy kissed her dad on the cheek to soothe his ruffled feathers and gave her mom a hug. Amy sent Ricky a text right away.

They said okay.

Ricky read it and literally jumped for joy. Finally, we're gonna get to the bottom of things and we won't have to worry about cutting it short just so she can drive home! Amy got ready for bed and then sat at the kitchen table enjoying her dessert of tiramisu and thought about her day. Talking to her mom had made her feel a lot better and she felt a little closer to her mom than she had over the past few months. She also thought back to her dinner with Margaret and knew her conversations with Ricky were gonna take some time. This could take weeks she thought, realizing they only had a few hours each night during the week to talk, and possibly one entire weekend, thanks to Margaret's offer to help them out. But there was just so much to talk about! Anne meanwhile was getting ready for bed quietly herself and George watched her curiously, wondering what she and Amy had talked about. Feeling his stare, Anne hung up her robe, made her way to the bed and got situated under the covers. She turned to face George.

"I know Amy's talked to you about our marriage and some other things. I figure that's what you were soul searching about a few days ago, right?" George nodded. "Well, now I need a day or two to think things over. How about we talk the day after Amy's belated birthday dinner."

"Sounds good."

"Okay." She turned off the lamp on her night stand. "Goodnight George." He did likewise.

"Night, Anne."

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