"Higher Ryder!" I couldn't help but smile at Amy as she reached for the top of the tree to put on the star. Hearing her laughter warmed my chest as she climbed down from his shoulders and into his arms.
"Okay, you little spider," He let her hop down to the floor. "So demanding." Amy ran over to me and hoped into my arms. I set her on my hip as Ryder walked over.
"Of course, how else does one get anything done." I bopped her nose making her laugh. "Ready to eat?" I watched as she nodded and altogether all three of us started walking to the kitchen joining the rest of the family. Seeing everyone together, talking, laughing, and genuinely wanting to be with one another changes how one looks at the holidays.
Together we all sat around the table. Talking about plans or even just funny stories that have happened since they'd last seen each other. Watching it all I couldn't help but think about the last time my home had been filled with so much joy. Having to think so far back only makes a part in my heart I've been distant from as of lately feel so much closer.
I haven't had a decent family holiday since easter the year my mother died. Hollywood, while filled with my friends, isn't my home anymore. Acting is something I love but have lost all the passion I had for it. Working in the diner and being a waitress I've felt more joy from in years from working. Honestly, it's made me see how much more I want in to in the life I've grown to want.
I used to want recognition and proof that I'm more than just the daughter of A-list actors. Prove that my talent is all my own. It's no longer want. It's a distant and a dream nearly forgotten. Ouray is showing me what I truly want. The quiet life in a small town just as unknown as everyone else. I want to be in Ryder's life.
The family gathered and helped clean up before retreating to their rooms and hotels for the night. I stayed behind helping Angela with the dishes. "I enjoy having you here so much, Bri." Angela handed me another soapy dish ready for rinsing.
"Please, Angela I love it."I rinsed off the plate in the warm water. "I'm actually kind of... jealous but love it. The craziness." I placed the dish in the last space in the drying rack watching as she just rinsed food off instead of washing it.
"Ryder told me you lost your mother when you were young. I understand the feeling. I'm sorry."
"It's okay and thanks."I placed the next dish in the dishwasher now filling that space.
"I'm sorry happy you met Ryder. It's like... like I have my boy back." I watched as she read my confused face. She stopped rinsing dishes and turned to me leaning on the edge of the counter. "There was a bit there that he turned a bit like everyone else in a small town. Stuck. Maybe a little cramped. Then you came. What made you want to move in with an uncle?"
"Oh,..." I turned to her grabbing the towel and started to dry my hands. "After my mom's death, my dad became really abusive. Even his wife. My best friend helped me get away from them. Jerimiah is...distant so I knew he wouldn't look for me in a place like this."
"I didn't mean to-"
"It's okay really. Angela your son, and your family, have made me see a lot of what I really want. Like realizing I want to go to school and become a teacher. Travel more. You've given me something that I can't possibly repay."
"We love you, honey." Angela took my hand and pulled me close. "I always knew my son would find someone amazing. You're our family now, no matter what happens." Being in her arms felt like being in my own mothers.
No one can ever replace my mom. After her death, I thought I would never have another connection with a woman who could even come close to the one I had with my mother. Angela's love went past her own blood and family. From the moment I moved in with Ryder downstairs, she's become someone I couldn't help but grow to love even if I promised myself as a child I wouldn't love another woman like my mother. Angela is someone so special she can at least stand next to the place in my heart that's for my mother.
After a bit, she pulled away and told me to head to bed. After making me leave she finished cleaning up. I walked down to the basement where we've created a space for ourselves. I found him in the bathroom door open as he brushed his teeth shirtless his plaid pajama bottoms and boxers the only thing on. "When does Peyton get here?" He asked mouth full of toothpaste.
"Actually, Peyton and her boyfriend. They get here tomorrow night." I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste. "You might know him. He's a new co-star on her show."I watched as he spits then looked at me with curiosity. "It's Dominick Lopez." He stopped moving as he stared at me. I knew he would know him as Dominick just stared in another race car movie and has already watched the movie four times. I met him as a preteen on a show we did before. Of course, we didn't work together but for a couple days and lost touch.
"The Dominick Lopez?" I nodded as he spits his toothpaste out again then kissed my cheek. "I'm so happy I met you really." I just nodded agreeing with him
"Treat him like a normal person after you fanboy okay." I started brushing my own teeth. He leaned on the sink with a smile.
"I promise. Hey, finish washing up I have an early present to give you." he walked off and I just watched as he walked across the living room and kitchen space to our room. I returned to the bathroom and did just that. Finished brushing my teeth, washing my face, and then changed into one of Ryder's t-shirt and a pair of my pajama shorts that I had changed out of this morning. When I was already I walked to the bedroom and crawled onto the bed making save his place on the book he was reading and put it on the bedside table.
"I thought we said no extra gifts," I said.
"You did." He opened the drawer on the bedside table and pulled out a small box. My heart raced as he got onto his knees looking at me. "It's not what you think." After pinching his arm he continued to hand me the box. I took it undoing the blue ribbon. I opened it revealing a necklace. A simple silver pendant no bigger than a nickel I turned it overseeing simple writing. "I'm with you." I looked at him as he grabbed my free hand.
"Bri...Phoebe Clover. I'm with you no matter what your name is as long as you want me here. No matter what happens,...I'm with you." Before I realized it I pressed my lips to his and just kept pressing until together we fell back. He pulled away after a minute and looked at me in the eyes.
"I love you," I said. I started brushing some hair back behind his ear. "I will always love you."