12 YEARS LATER
"Noah! Get those buttocks up! You're gonna be late!" I yelled for the third time while finishing up breakfast.
I secretly smiled even while rolling my eyes when I heard a boyish groan from behind me, a very annoyed voice grumbling: "No need to shout, ma, I'm here."
Ah. Teenagers. "What happened to all your good morning, mama, I love you, mama?" I teased, turning around to place pancakes on the table, where my son sat in a jeans and t-shirt. I swear, every day, he's more and more identical to his father. Even the attitude has been changing. My lovely little boy seems gone, replaced by this grumpy teenager that always seeks an escape to family moments.
This time too, as every morning when I tell him that, he groaned: "I'm 16, ma. No time for that cra-no time for those things." He obviously changed when I gave him a dirty look, because he knows I don't like it when he cusses.
"Yeah, yeah ... no time to be sweet with your mother. Only time for girls, haven't you?" I teased and he rolled his eyes. Even though,opposite to his father,Noah's no player, he's always been pretty calm in the field, very much differently from his friend Richard Grant, who's been a ladies man since the very beginning.
Although, he's calmed down now ... must be because, since last Easter, he's been dating Leanne Watson, my cousin's daughter and Richie's friend since they were in diapers. It wasn't really a surprise to us, it's always been clear that Leanne felt something for him, it was just a matter of when would they end up together, and finally, they did. Their parents are really glad about it. Now, my son instead, he's never been a player, despite having his father's good looks.
It was the first day of school, Noah would start his junior year ... ah, he's so close to leaving the nest. Well, it depends. He might pick Columbia anyway. Not really bothering me anymore, he just dipped into his pancakes, clearly in bad mood, which has been happening a lot lately, I wonder why.
We came back from the holidays just last week and since then he's been this moody. I know teenagers tend to be that, but seriously ... well, I guess I'll have his father talk to him, maybe among boys they understand each other better. After all, growing up, Noah has been showing he get along more easily with his dad. Weirdly enough, considering that normally there's a conflict between males in a family. Well, it's better this way, I guess.
Speaking of Noah's father, while my son quickly devoured his breakfast and, despite my protests, all but dashed out, saying he'd catch the subway to school, no need for a ride, I was grabbing orange juice from the fridge when I felt strong arms around my waist, lips placing a wet kiss on the back of my ear while whispering a routine husky: "Good morning, princess."
That obviously had me grin like a Cheshire cat, like always. My husband, this 37-years-old strong man was still as handsome as he's always been, if not more, and I'm guessing he's only gonna get better, after all, he's not even 40 yet and he's already popular among other moms. Oh, well. He's all mine (evil grin).
"Good morning, baby." I replied, turning in his arms to wrap mine around his shoulders and kiss him.
"Slept good?" He asked and I grinned, knowing all too well what he meant ... we had some fun last night, some ... pretty silent fun, but we had it. It should be hard after 12 years of marriage and kids, but really it's not, we're just the same lovey-doveys as we've always been.
We remained there kissing for a few minutes, all wrapped up in each other, till we heard a female groan: "Ewww. Can't you just keep the cheese for the bedroom?"
I rolled my eyes while pulling away, Eric smirked, making me chuckle as he slyly pinched my ass cheeks before going to sit at the breakfast table, being quickly greeted by an affectionate kiss on the cheek by the intruder, so that I spoke sarcastically: "Oh, good morning to you too, mom, slept good? Beautifully, sweetie. Thank you."
But my daughter just rolled her eyes, dipping into her pancakes just as quickly as her brother did. Eh. If he's in the middle of adolescence, she's just about to enter those crazy years, being 13, which is the period when the conflicts with the mother start apparently, while her dad is the hero of the situation. Why are girls always so in love with their father but ignore their mother? In my case Noah is no different. Despite these turbulent years, he practically worships the ground his dad walks on.
Eric only chuckled, checking his phone while he ate, so I confiscated it while going to pour some orange juice in his glass, he complained, but I gave him a dirty look, repeating my rule: "No phone during meals."
He snorted. "That's for the kids, I-"
"That's for all of us, Mr. Rivers, you included." He rolled his eyes while our daughter snickered, quitting when she received my dirty look. "Amelia, did you, by chance, remember to wake your sister?" I asked in a severe tone, the one I use when they don't listen.
She rolled her eyes and I was about to scold her, but I was prevented by another girly voice coming from the entrance of the kitchen: "I'm up, mommy."
Ah, at least one out of three sees me before her father. Well, not like Leila isn't just as much in love with her dad as much as the other two, but she's 6, so she's still in that age where she seeks her mommy first. Amelia was the same back then, entering puberty is messing up with her mind, apparently.
Anyway, I smiled as, first thing, Leila, teddy bear still in her arms, still dressed in her cute nightgown her grandmother bought her for her birthday, came to hug me and kiss my cheek, giving me her good morning, so that I mocked: "See? It's not that hard, Amelia. Your sister recalls there's not only the big man in this house."
Obviously, the pre-teen rolled her eyes, which has become her favorite sport lately, her father chuckled, but quit when I sent him a dirty look. This things about our children picking him over me amuses him, you can tell by his look.
Eric stood up, wiping his mouth with a tissue, came to place a kiss on Leila's forehead, making her giggle, then he stated: "Well, then, I'm going to take a shower before heading to work. Whoever plans on catching a ride to school better be ready in ... twenty minutes."
I barely hid my chuckle as he headed upstairs, his words being followed by Amelia's groan as she stood up, muttering about Noah never waiting for her, so that she can never catch the subway with him because she's too little and we don't let her.
Once they were all out, I turned to Leila, still in my arms: "Alright, little lady, what do you wanna eat? I've made your favorite." But she shook her head, hiding it in my chest, so I asked what was wrong and she complained that she was nervous ... obvious. It's her first day of school.
I tried to comfort her, telling her it would be everything fine, I was nervous too my first day, but it went beautifully, and I'd be right there waiting for her outside school, she could even take her Boo (the teddy bear) with her if she liked, so she smiled once again, agreeing, and I grinned with her. We sat down, her on my lap, and ate breakfast quietly, as we always do, considering that the others leave before us every time.
In twenty minutes Leila and I were heading upstairs to get ready, having to step by before being hit by the tornado named Amelia, running after her father who was actually nowhere to be seen. It was easily explained when I found him in our bedroom, still putting on his shoes. I put down Leila and she ran to her room, saying she was going to pick a beautiful outfit for her first day.
"Didn't you say twenty minutes?" I asked, a bit confused, and Eric grinned crookedly, grabbing my hand to pull me down so that I sat on his lap, and he grazed my neck as he spoke:
"I said it only because it takes her ages." He smirked, pinching my cheek. "Just like someone I know, Amelia is always late."
I gave him a dirty look but before I could argue he kissed me, and we would have gotten carried away ... hadn't our daughter stormed into the room, grumbling about him being late. Ah, the family life. Beautiful, really, but sometimes it gets a little hasty and without privacy.
Reluctantly, Eric pecked my lips once more and stood up, going to join our impatient daughter, though before he could leave, I pointed out: "Ah, Eric, you should talk to Noah. He's a little strange lately."
He nodded and said he would, but Amelia snorted, arms crossed, pointing out: "He's always been a freak." Before I could, her father scolded her and she rolled her eyes, but quietly followed Eric out. I barely had one spare minute to enjoy the sight of my sexy husband walking away, before Leila called me from her room, asking to be bathed. The life of a mother, ladies and gentlemen.
I should have figured. Catching the subway has become his code for I need to be alone. Like father, like son. Honking, I caught Noah's attention. As soon as he spotted me, he rolled his eyes and kept walking, but I insisted, so he had no chance but step in, his sister in the backseat grumbling about us being late, so I argued that her school was just a couple of blocks from here, if she preferred to be quicker and walk, she just may, she huffed, using the excuse of her mother not letting her do such thing because she was too little, so I quite simply mentioned: "Well, you're mom's not here now. Wanna sit tight and wait or walk your way to school?"
Kids. You gotta do the grumpy voice now and then. Normally Natalie's the bad cop, I just support her, but we're a team. It's the only way it can work, as also our friends say. Otherwise the kids are gonna take advantage of any disagreement to get what they want. Especially Amelia, she's a master in that.
I drove silently for a few minutes, till we reached Amelia's school and she stepped off, leaving Noah and I alone, which was my purpose. Natalie's right, the kid's been strange lately, I know teenage years aren't easy and he's right in the middle, but I think there's more to it.
"So ... wanna tell me what's the issue?" With him the direct approach works better ... almost always. This time he just snorted, crossing his arms, and turned to look out of the window. I sighed. Was I this untreatable at his age? Ah, yeah, right, I was. For other reasons, though. Either way, I think we're lucky, Noah is a much more easier challenge than some of his friends are.
I tried to make him open up once more, but as a response he turned on the radio, huffing when I switched it off. "I know you like being drama king, but can you just let it out? It'll be better, promise." Leave it to Natalie the sweet approach, I'm more direct. Especially with Noah. Between men, we can understand each other. Well, my wife says that. I only see a teenage boy in the middle of his teenage crises.
"Leave it, pa. I'm fine." Pa, as in papa, of course. Ah, he was so cute as a kid. I guess puberty does this too. They get annoying. And we're on our way to face another one. Lucky thing Leila's got a few years before that. My Little Bee's growing so fast, though, just like her sister has. I almost wish time would freeze so she'll remain just as adorable as she is. Amelia was the same, then puberty happened and in one summer she's gone from adorable little girl to grumpy pre-teen. Just like her brother did.
The infinite circle, guys. That's what keeps Natalie and I from seeking another child. We both have our handfuls with these three, another one would send us off balance. Even though, in something less than two years Noah's gonna head to college, so it might be slightly easier. But ... I'll agree on having a fourth baby only if Natalie doesn't act like her friend Sam that forced her husband to a vasectomy not to risk raising a soccer team.
Even though, it's not like we planned the other pregnancies. I mean, Noah, he was the product of a very painful last night together. Amelia ... came out of us celebrating our third anniversary. And Leila ... well, it was New Year's Eve. No, we weren't drunk, Natalie's teetotal, we just had a lot of fun while the grandparents babysat the kids.
Anyway, I rolled my eyes at my son's response, reminding him that he can talk to me, we're buddies, between men, we can understand each other, he nodded, but stepped off as soon as we reached his school, muttering about me or Natalie not having to come pick him up, he could catch the subway, I asked if he was going to see Arianna after school, considering she attends a private school, her father not wanting her to risk because of his status and because she's really smart and better cut for a high-leveled school other than the public one. Noah just snorted, walking away. Ah, so that's it. That's the issue. I knew the day would come.
They've spent the summer together, I mean, all our group, we managed to get together for the whole August, using Jake's mansion in Martha's Vineyard, and Noah seemed fine, he was always hanging out with Arianna, but since we came back he's been strange, as Natalie pointed out. I guess something happened between them.
Oh, well, we'll see what happens. Meanwhile I had work to think about. I'm a pilot, obvious. I've started as private pilot for Lukas, when he had to travel all over the country or globe for his business, till I was able to fund my own agency and now I provide pilots to different companies, both commercial and private, but sometimes I still go on the field, well, ok, Lukas at this point trusts only me with his jet, so I still accompany him in his trips now and then.
These 12 years have gone so fast. Feels like yesterday when it all started and now here we are, happily married with three kids that aren't always easy to get along with, but we work it. As usual.
"I know why Noah is so grumpy lately." Natalie informed me as she joined me on bed. It's been a long day, with Leila's school calling to say the little girl cried half of the time, wanting her mommy, Noah always retired in his room, barely coming out for dinner, Amelia being the smartass she becomes when grumpy ...
I wonder how Natalie copes with all this. Even though, we've always taken turns, when needed, either of us would stay at home with the kids, so it's not like I'm the man that works and she's the wife that takes care of the house.
When Amelia was born she asked me if I thought she should leave her job, but I didn't let her, knowing she'd regret it, and I was right, because she really loves her job and couldn't do without it. She's even become a pretty known writer, you know. At first she only published books for kids, but in these past five years she's been publishing also a fantasy saga, and she's working on the third book of it, which her fans crave, given the amount of emails and Facebook messages she receives.
My wife snuggled up to me and we enjoyed the silence of the house for a moment, before I asked what did she mean and she grinned, explaining: "I've talked to Sam and she said that Arianna too was weird, but because the girl doesn't confide, Sam had to spill it out of Sophia, who, being the big sister, is Arianna's confidante, and via her, Sam was able to find out that the girl's got herself a boyfriend from her school."
"So quickly? It's just the first day."
Natalie shook her head, chuckling. "No, they've been texting all summer, it was light because Arianna was always with Noah, remember?" I nodded. "Well, neither Sophia knows why, but they fought and suddenly, Arianna decided to accept being her schoolmate's girlfriend." Natalie snickered as she added, all giggly: "Oh, this is her first boyfriend and Lukas doesn't know about it, so ... don't let it slip."
I frowned, arguing that he gotta know who his daughter is frequenting, but Natalie rolled her eyes. "You remember what happened when he found out about Sophia's first boyfriend?"
I grinned, recalling all too well how Lukas went all frightening dad on the poor kid, practically scaring him off. Sophia, despite loving her father endlessly, didn't speak to him for a whole week, claiming he'd ruined her life. Of course, she was exaggerating, but you know, she was only 16. It's true that Lukas maybe went a little heavy, but I can understand him, it's his first daughter, after all.
Natalie often mocks me that I'll be the same when Amelia starts dating, I say no, but then contradict myself when I remind my daughter that she's gonna be allowed to date only once she's a major. They take it as a joke, but I'm not kidding. I know how perverted boys can be. She's not getting anywhere near them till she has the brains to handle them. Not that my daughter isn't a smart, but she's still a child.
Although, neither do I want to end up like Lukas Bennet and have my Amelia run away like Nicky did because of her father being too strict. Tara justified is as their daughter being a female version of Lukas, which he denies, but I think she's right. The girl's quite feisty. Lucky thing her sister is way calmer.
"So you should avoid mentioning the thing to Lukas." Natalie reminded me, explaining that Arianna to him is still his little Bunny, so he wouldn't so easily accept the idea of her dating. I frowned, arguing that I can't lie to my friend and I understand what he feels, but my wife reminded me that it would cause ruckus, so I had to promise I wouldn't let it slip ... yet.
"So Noah's all grumpy because his Arya has got a boyfriend?" I resumed and Natalie nodded, grinning as she made small circles on my chest, kind of giving me the chills, as usual ... well, it's not like now that we're parents we don't do it anymore, eh.
So I barely gave her time to say that we should let them handle it on their own that I was already hovering over her, ready to a pleasant night of ours ... but always silent enough not to wake the kids. I guess that's marriage life too, but we cope with it. We have in these past 12 years, we will till the end of time. Because we're forever. No matter what.
THANK YOU for reading,hope you enjoyed :)
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