aftermath // n.h

// iii //

“Mark,” Val lingered in his office. He should have been on lunch by now and she was desperate to ask him about the high chair. The young woman was also desperately hoping it really was him.

“Yes?” He responded without looking up from his stack of paperwork.

“Did you send that fancy high chair?” Valerie asked, she should have asked long time ago to be completely honest.

A year ago to be exact.

“Huh?” Mark finally looked up from the stack of papers on his desk.

“The high chair. Black and grey? Shiny?” She raised her eyebrow.

“Of course I sent it,” he said confusedly. “I thought you knew?”

“Dude, there was no note!” Valerie’s arms flew up.

Mark laughed at his assistant, “There should have been.” He left it at that and refocused on whatever he was working on. Clearly it was a busy day and Valerie knew better than to push further.

The assistant groaned in frustration and went back to work as well. She should have known Mark was the one who sent it despite the thousands of other stuff him and Emily had already given her from Jack’s old stuff. Note to self: cook dinner for them and babysit baby Jack whenever they need me to, Valerie thought to herself.

The Lord knows Mark and Emily are one of the few people who helped Val so much this past year.

After work, Mark offered his assistant a ride to pick up Liam from her mom’s and take them home. The young mother knew she didn’t have much of choice, it was cold and dark, and Mark hated to see someone he considered like family struggle. I really do need to learn how to drive, Valerie thought after thanking mark for the ride.

Liam and Val waved goodbye to Mark and went inside to be greeted by warmth. Nobody was home yet so that gave her time to clean before her roommates turned up. The mother set her son on the floor in the living room with his toys and turned the TV on to some cartoons. Valerie grabbed the baby monitor, which thankfully came with a camera, and went into the kitchen. She connected her phone to the bluetooth speaker and began cleaning to some music.

“Y basta ya, de tu inconciencia de esta forma tan absurda. De ver a diario como hechas a la basura mi corazón lo que te doy con tanta fe de ver en ti felicidad,” Valerie sang as she finished wiping the table.

“Me llevarè la dignidad de no caer màs en tu juego,” Suddenly there was another voice, besides Jenni, singing with her. Val looked up to see Olivia finally made it home.

“Harè de todo en mi interior nuevos senderos y llorarè hasta lograr que algún día ya no te pueda recordar,” The the girls sang together. As the song came to an end, they laughed and Liv sat down at the table.

Valerie put the Clorox wipes away and sat at the table with her friend. She lowered the music and checked to see how Liam was doing through the baby monitor. He was still sleeping peacefully in his play yard. Liam looks so cute when he’s sleeping, Val thought.

“What a miracle you were listening to Jenni,” Liv disrupted Val’s thoughts.

Valerie shrugged and rested her head on her hand, “Just one of those days I guess.”

“Well thank the lord you weren’t drinking too,” The roommate said in fake relief.

Val rolled my eyes at her friend as they both laughed a bit.

“Have you thought about what we talked about? He’ll be here tomorrow.” Olivia reminded the single mother.

Valerie sighed and played with her hands, “If the universe wants him to know about Liam then it’ll give me a sign. But just so you know, my mom agrees with you both.”

It was Liv’s turn to roll her eyes at Val’s first statement, but she didn’t push on the subject any further, “Of course she does.”

The friend got up from the chair and began to prepare dinner. Stella texted both her roommates saying she was staying at her mom’s for the night, so it was going to be just them. Olivia made carne con chile for both of them. Valerie already had made arroz con frijoles for Liam. It was currently his favorite.

The night rolled in quickly, Liam and his mom were finally in bed all cuddled up. Unfortunately for them, the morning came rather quickly too. This time Val and Liam were able to catch a ride with Liv.

As soon as Valerie stepped off the elevator on her floor she sensed an aura she knew, after being here for almost 2 years, could only mean one thing.

El mero mero, the assistant thought before Mark suddenly popped into her eye sight. “Valerie! Thank god you’re here,” her boss said franticly.

“Yes, I suppose?” She gave him a look of confusion. Mark understood and immediately filled her in.

“The big boss is coming down today,” the lawyer said worriedly.

“Boy,” Val rolled her eyes and sat her bag on her desk as she took her coat off.

“This is serious!” He exaggerated, grabbing Valerie by the arm and dragged her inside his office.

“Geez, what will the people of this floor think now?” She joked.

Mark rolled his eyes, “Shut up, they know I’m deeply in love with emily.”

“I’m just saying,” she put her hands up in defense. “I can’t wait to see your dad though.”

Mark finally smiled, “Yes me too. He says he has a client for me.”

Valerie sighed, finally understanding why her boss was freaking out. “You have nothing to worry about, boss. Dean knows you’re a great lawyer. He believes in you, or not he wouldn’t be bringing you this client.” The assistant smiled, trying to reassure him.

It’s all true though, Val thought, I can’t remember the last time Mark lost a case.

“Thanks,” Mark smiled, finally releasing the tension he had built up in his body.

“Since a new client is coming in, should I set up the paperwork?” Valerie asked before she left him to prepare.

“Well my dad says he’s been handling him but I don’t know if he’ll be bringing in previous paperwork, so can you do it just in case, please?” He asked. Dean's legal assistant will eventually send copies, but it never hurts to have multiple copies.

Valerie nodded, “And when will they be down?”

“In about five minutes,” Mark spat out quickly.

The assistant squinted her eyes at her boss and let out a deep breath. “I hate you,” She said as turned to walk out.

“You love me!” Mark yelled after his assistant.

Valerie giggled and shook her head as she sat back down at her desk. Greeeat, now the floor will really be talking.

As fast as Val could, she took out a fresh new file with multiple folders. She organized the paperwork by section and stapled them. While Valerie labeled everything accordingly, her laptop pinged and she looked up to see an email from Dean. As suspected, he was letting her know that she had to set the paperwork up due to not having enough time to make copies.

Once Valerie heard the elevator ping open, she looked over to see who was stepping off it. The assistant’s eyes widened immediately at who Dean was with. She quickly stood up from her desk and ran into Mark’s office. Val shut the door behind her a lot louder she’d like and turned to look at Mark, who was already looking at her with his ‘what the fuck, Val?’ face.

“He’s here! Baby daddy!” Valerie breathed heavily. “He’s here, Mark!”

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