In the morning I’m woken by the sound of Jude’s gorgeous giggles and the sound of lips smacking on skin as Cade blows raspberries on Jude’s stomach. In between each raspberry Cade murmurs “who’s a birthday boy” over and over again.
“You wouldn’t happen to be terrorising my precious birthday boy, would you?” I ask as I turn my hands into fists and rub my eyes, trying to clear the blurriness away from my deep sleep. Cade’s eyes lock with mine as he gives me the widest of smiles that causes my heart to feel like its melting.
He quickly comments, “What—me? Terrorising this little man? Never.”
I hold my hands out expectantly for Jude and smile when Cade hands him over straight away. “Happy birthday, my baby boy,” I murmur into his cheek before smothering him with kisses. He giggles again and murmurs incoherently before finally saying one single word: “Mumma-mumma.” I smile at his words. I knew I would never get tired of hearing my little man calling me ‘mumma’, it was the best feeling in the world.
The word ‘Dadda’ was still not a part of Jude’s vocabulary, however I wasn’t surprised given the fact that he didn’t really have anyone to call by that name. Some days it was really hard to handle life without Kaiden being around anymore to help me through Jude’s childhood but then I think about it and realise he wouldn’t want me or Jude to be moping around wishing for something that will never be.
Cade has never tried to get Jude to call him ‘Dadda’ and I have no idea if he secretly wishes Jude would, let alone act as a father figure towards him. Sometimes I cannot handle the uncertainty of not being able to read Cade and know what he’s thinking.
Cade’s voice brings me back to the real world. “Come on,” he comments as he nudges me, before tickling Jude’s belly causing him to erupt into incessant giggles. “Let’s make this birthday boy the best birthday breakfast he’s ever had.”
I laugh at his cuteness before stating wryly that this is Jude’s first birthday breakfast. Rolling my eyes I gently lay Jude in the middle of the best so I can grab his clothes and dress him while Cade gets himself dressed.
Replying to my statement, Cade says, “Well then we’ll ruin him for all other birthday’s to come.” He smiles and walks up to me, pulling me into his awaiting arms and kissing my neck, causing me to shiver in pleasure.
“You’re adorable.” I murmur sweetly into his chest as he mock scowls.
“I am not adorable. Manly, yes. Smart, yes. Sexy...” he pauses and gestures to the length of his body as if that speaks for itself then continues, “...but adorable, that’s just rude.”
I raise an eyebrow at his cockiness and reply with, “Alright then, Cade. You are extremely manly,” I give him a kiss. “Excessively smart.” Kiss. “... and very, very, very sexy.” A short chaste kiss. “And I love you.” Another kiss, but before anything gets to intense I quickly push myself away from him and begin to get dressed in a grey and white stripped maxi dress with a slit at the leg. I add the look with a berry lip and some mascara before heading down to meet the boys in the kitchen where Jude sits in his high chair and Cade stands at the stove making pancakes.
I take a seat across from Jude and hand him his sippy cup filled with warm milk and he claps happily as I pass it over once he says ‘ta’ his replacement word for ‘thank you’. Not turning my attention from Jude I jokingly ask, “How long on the pancakes, Chef?”
“They’re done just about... now.” He states proudly as he flips the final one onto the plate stacked with other pancakes and brings them to the table along with some syrup and cream for him and myself. He places two pancakes on the plate in front of me, one with blueberries and other other with strawberries and then places two for himself on his own plate. After placing his chocolate chip pancakes on his plate he finally places a plain one in front of Jude and proceeds to cut it up enough so that it is easier for him to eat.
“There you go, little man.” Cade says before handing Jude his tiny plastic fork and knife. He then pours some orange juice into two glasses for ourselves.
I could get used to this, I think to myself as I stare at Cade and Jude together as he watches with Jude with so much love in his eyes. Several seconds later and I’m still staring at the two of them when Cade turns his attention towards me. “Penny for your thoughts?” He asks, with curiosity in his eyes.
“What if they’re more than a penny?” I comment, sarcastically.
“Then I’d pay whatever the cost to know your thoughts, I’m sure they’re pretty kinky,” he winks at me and I laugh at his words.
“I was just thinking how it would be so easy to get used to this being my life. Waking up to both you and Jude every morning sounds like my every dream come true.”
He smiles brightly before turning serious. “I’ve loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you.”
I look at him with confusion evident in my expression. “But the first time you saw me was when we laid together on the floor after Alex and I were born. You were like a month old...”
Cade nods, “Straight away I knew I would love you for the rest of my life. Do you remember what you told me when I said I was worried about being just another star quarterback?”
“I said that you could never be ‘just another star quarterback’ because you were you and there was no one else that was even remotely close to being like you. Because no one loved me like you loved me and no one loved you like I loved you.” I recount as I recall the day perfectly. He’d been so worried that everyone only liked him because he was the star quarterback.
“That was one of the best days of my life. That was the day that I knew I had definitely fallen in love with you and that no one else would ever compare to you or the way you made me feel just by being in your presence.” He murmurs staring deep into my eyes with the upmost sincerity clear in his deep pools.
“Oh, Cade. I love you, I love you, I love you.” I comment repeatedly as I bring him in for a kiss. This kiss isn’t like the others. It’s long and sweet and full of love and passion and I regret that we have to pull away. “If that was only one of the best days of your life, what were the others?”
“Well... one was the day Jude was born and I’m hoping that today is another.” He says, his eyes given nothing away.
“Why, because it’s Jude’s first birthday?”
“That and the fact that I hope you say ‘yes’ to my next question.” He pauses for a second before turning to Jude and saying, “It’s time buddy.” He holds his hand out and Jude immediately reaches his hand under his high chair bench and pulls out a small scarlet box, handing it to Cade. I suck in a sharp breath.
“Scarlett Rose Maxwell, I’ve loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you and been in love with you for even longer. I know our relationship has been rocky and I’ve said and done unspeakable things to you, but I love you and Jude and that will never change.
I want to love you both every second, every minute, every hour of every day for the rest of my life. Please make me the happiest man in the entire universe by becoming my wife and I promise I will never, ever let anyone, even myself, hurt you ever again, because I love you with every being in my soul.”
I’m pretty sure I’m staring at him with a dumbfounded expression on my face. I can’t believe what he just asked me. Yes, yes, yes! My mind is screaming at me but my lips aren’t working and no words are coming out. Cade takes my silence for a ‘no’ and the expression on his face of love and happiness immediately falls away to disappointment. I finally find my voice.
“Cade, of course I’ll marry you! I’d be crazy not to say ‘yes’. I love you!” I exclaim and jump into his arms causing the chair he was sitting on to fall backwards and we go toppling forwards so that I’m now straddling Cade on the floor. I’m to happy to care as I smother Cade with kisses all over his face before bring him in for one long one. I’m not the only one whose happy about this position as Cade gets a little ‘excited’.
Cade reaches for the box which had landed an arm reach away with our fall. He opens it to expose a diamond infinity loop ring in sterling silver and a lotus shaped ring with a ruby in the middle of the petals. “It was the closest I could get to a ‘Scarlet Rose’. Look at the inscription in both of them.”
Curious, I look at the inscription inside the lotus ring and see ‘With love forever, Cade’ and in the infinity ring I see Kaiden’s name. I look up at Cade with shock.
He explains, “So we’ll both always have a direct link to your heart.” With his words I remember that apparently there is a vein in your ring finger that goes directly to the heart and I smile at Cade’s thoughtfulness.
“Sometimes you really surprise me with your actions, Cade. I love it, thank you.”
All of the sudden Jude exclaims and claps, “Mumma! Dadda!” and Cade and I immediately sit up to look at him, shock on both our faces.
Cade speaks first, “Did he—did he just...”
“I’m pretty sure he did...”
“Dadda.” Jude repeats and this time Cade jumps up and runs around the table to him and lifts him up and out of his chair hugging him close. Jude reaches his hands up to clasp Cade’s cheeks as he keeps repeating the words and there is no doubt that he’s saying them towards Cade.
Every time Jude says ‘Dadda’ Cade replies with ‘I love you’ and kisses him on the cheek, hugging him close. It’s not until I feel the wetness on my cheeks that I realise I’m crying with happiness. I get up and walk over to them bring us in for a group hug.
My head is nestled in the crook of Cade’s neck and left arm is around my waist, holding me close, as he holds Jude with the other one. I love them. This is home. We are still in this position when the doorbell rings.
“That will be our parents.” Cade says as we separate and head towards the front door, Jude still in his arms.
As we reach the door it swings open on its own to reveal Cade’s parents, Eric and Monique, my parents and Brandon and Trisha and standing behind them is Kaiden’s brother and friends.
I smile and greet them all with hugs and kisses lingering more so with Trisha and Brandon.
“Hello, my darling girl.” Trisha says as she embraces me in her arms and squeezes. “I’ve missed you and my little Jude.”
“You know you can visit any time you like, or we can bring him to you.” I smile.
“I know, baby girl, I know.” She smiles at me before moving onto Cade, kissing him on both cheeks before commenting, “I hope you’re looking after my girl, young man.”
“Always.” He smiles at her.
“Good man. Now hand me my beautiful Grandson.” She says with excitement as she extends her arms expectantly and Cade hands Jude over without complaint.
“Don’t I get a kiss?” Brandon mock scowls as he looks at me before bringing me into his arms for a fatherly embrace. I kiss him on his stubble and we pull apart. “You look beautiful.”
“Thanks, Dad. You don’t look to bad yourself for such an old man,” I joke, but he smiles anyway. I place my hand on his shoulder and squeeze it and suddenly I hear my Monique and my mum squeal.
I turn towards them, worried, when I see that their eyes are latched on my hand—my left hand to be exact. “Is that what I think it is!” My mum exclaims with excitement. Jude is quickly placed into Brandon’s arms as Trisha, Monique and my mum rush over to me and look lovingly at my rings.
“Oh, they’re so beautiful.” Mum comments as she touches the ruby of the lotus flower.
“You did good, my beautiful son.” Monique comments towards Cade and he nods in appreciation.
I turn my head towards my dad to see if he’s shocked about this encounter but see that his face is clear of any shock. My mum takes enough time away from my engagement rings to notice and scowls at him, “You knew about this and you didn’t tell me?”
He rolls his eyes. “Of course I knew about this. Did you think I’d let him marry my only daughter without asking my permission?”
“Old man, I went to you willingly.” Cade states dryly, but my father ignores him and opens his arms for me.
“Daddy,” I murmur as I walk into his awaiting arms. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. Just remember, if he treats you wrong I’ll always be here to knock him down a few. I may be an ‘old man’ as you young one’s say but I can still hold my own against him.”
“I know, Daddy. But I also know he’ll treat me right.”
“He bloody better.” My dad says sternly and we all laugh as Cade’s face pale’s slightly.
“Don’t worry, he’d have to go through me.” I smile as I move out of my dad’s arms and into Cade’s. “Now let’s get this party started!”
A few hours later and the house is filled to the brim with all three packs. Kaiden’s pack—which was now run by his younger brother Daxton—wanted to see the heir to their pack turn one and everybody else just came to celebrate Jude. The fact that there was free food probably helped, too.
Jude is having an absolute blast and is extremely spoiled little boy. He had received so many presents this morning including movies, toys and books.
Alex, being the smart-ass uncle he was decided to get Jude a book called “Take That Dump” where Jude was encouraged to “take that dump in the pool” and other extremely inappropriate places. Safe to say someone received a smack upside the head and it wasn’t Jude.
I’m in the kitchen with mum, putting the finishing touches on Jude’s birthday cakes. After lighting the candles my mum, Alex and I each walk out with a cake and my dad holds a camera to take photos.
As we enter the dining room the four of us begin to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jude and the packs begin to stop talking and join in. When I finally place the Thomas cake in front of Jude he’s giggling and clapping and we take a quick photo with us all together before finally blowing out the candles together and cutting the cake.
“Alright everyone, Thomas is vanilla, James is strawberry, and Henry is chocolate. Enjoy!” I say loudly, letting everyone know the flavourings of each cake. Cade cuts a tiny piece of Thomas first and places it in front of Jude to eat—or play around with.
Cade and I put Jude to bed at 5 o’clock because by the end of the party he was barely able to keep his eyes open. The parents stayed and had dinner with us before leaving to go home. We offered Brandon and Trisha to stay with us instead of staying in a hotel, but they declined saying we needed our space after having a house full of guests.
It was late when Cade and I finally made our way to bed but when we do we cuddle close and murmur terms of endearments towards each other always beginning with ‘I love you’. I reflect on the day and realise that it couldn’t have been any better. Cade and I were together and Jude was celebrating his first birthday. The whole family, including all three packs were here to celebrate and Kaiden was with us forever in each of our hearts.
Nothing could be more perfect than this.