Three months later …
Alexa laughed heartily at Colton’s joke. It had been funny despite being stupid. Colton wondered in awe at her laughter. That she could laugh still was amazing to him. She was a strong woman who could survive anything and still emerge on the other side laughing.
The trial for her parents had just ended. Guilty verdicts all around. They had taken the stand and tried to cry and whine their way out of their punishment, but the jury didn’t buy it. Now they faced twenty-five years in jail. The judge would sentence them in three weeks.
Right now the three of them were at a rooftop restaurant they had all been to before, celebrating the victory. The boys were keeping her entertained. Both were competitive about making her laugh or gasp in amazement. They wanted to be the one she paid the most attention.
“That was dumb,” Grayson remarked wryly. “A bear can’t do that.”
“Of course it can’t that’s what makes it funny,” Colton explained.
“You are a terrible joke teller,” Grayson threw back at him playfully.
“Like you’re any better!” Colton said humorously.
“Ok boys,” Alexa interrupted. “You both have me laughing, so I think you both are great comedians. Let’s not fight.”
“Fine!” they both said over dramatically and looked away from the other.
Alexa giggled at their melodrama and appreciated what they were doing, keeping her mind off her parents going to prison. She knew that was where they belonged, but a part of her still wanted to please them and get their approval somehow. That would never happen though because they truly didn’t accept her at all. They hated her. She would never be good enough for them.
“Hey what’s wrong boo?” Grayson asked leaning forward when he saw her face fall into sadness. Colton wasn’t too far behind. He reached out and grabbed her hand.
Alexa shook her head and tried to smile again.
“Nothing,” she replied sadly. “I was only thinking about mom and dad and how I’ll never get their approval now. But I never was going to get it. I still want it but what can I do?”
“You’re right, you will never get their approval,” Colton agreed. “But you don’t need it. Are you happy with your life?”
Alexa was taken aback by the big question. She thought about it for a minute.
“I am,” she finally answered. “I’ve never been happier.”
“So you don’t need their approval to be happy,” Grayson chimed in. “Screw them then. Sweetheart they don’t deserve any of your attention anymore. You’ve moved beyond them into your own worth.”
“I have, haven’t I?” she said amazed by the thought that had some action behind it. “I’m happy with y’all’s approval.”
“Yeah but you don’t need ours either,” Grayson countered gently. “You need to approve of yourself first. Affirm yourself because you are an incredible woman Alexa. You deserve to be loved and cherished. You deserve our love and respect, which we freely give to you like it should be done between friends and lovers.”
Alexa smiled brightly at the two men. “I am so grateful for the both of you,” she told them honestly. “I couldn’t have made it this far without you Grayson and you Colton. I do affirm myself, but it’s nice to have back up.”
The two men chuckled and nodded their heads.
“I’m a lucky girl,” Alexa continued. “To have the both of you in my life makes me the richest woman in the world. I love you, Grayson. I love you, Colton.”
“Honey we love you too,” Colton said with a smile. “Well, I do. I won’t speak for Grayson.”
“Yeah right,” Grayson drawled, hitting Colton in the shoulder.
“Ow,” Colton over exaggerated rubbing his shoulder.
“I love you, Alexa,” Grayson continued ignoring Colton. “Always have and always will.”
“Thank you, both of you.”
“Are you feeling ok?” Colton asked slipping under the covers on their bed. Alexa had moved in with him after being released from the hospital. It had made it easier to take care of her. She had needed almost around the clock care. He had to hire a nurse to watch after her when he was at work.
Taking care of her brought him immense satisfaction. He was providing for her, and that was all he wanted to do with his life. There was an intense gratification he had never felt before in his working or personal life.
His love for her only grew with every minute he had to carry her to the bathroom, move her to keep away the bedsores, give her a sponge bath or wait for her to wake up to take her meds. Never had he been so exhausted but so happy. She was alive, and that was all that mattered. He had almost lost her when he had just found her!
“I feel contemplative,” she responded honestly. “I have this new life, and it doesn’t include my parents. It feels odd.”
She smiled up at him as he stared down at her. He propped himself up on one elbow while lying next to her in their bed. Raising her hand, she cupped his cheek and was rewarded with him nuzzling into her touch.
“Definitely good,” she spoke truthfully. “You make me so happy.”
“You make me happy. I love you sweets.”
“I love you too.”
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