Part Fifty Six
A/N Sorry at the delay, hectic times. Almost at the end, and this part is really hard to get right. Hope you enjoy, MZx
Chapter Fifty Six
The silence in the cafe without his presence was almost deafening, but Natasha's mind was buzzing so many things were competing for attention in her brain. Talking to Coop had been so painful, but knowing that he shared a similar past, and that he was so bloody normal. Something she'd never felt for years. Made her feel so optimistic, she'd started to doubt that she'd ever get over it, ever have a normal life. Hiding her secret, carrying that burden had been hard work, pretending that it hadn't happened, suppressing her grief, being unable to mourn her baby, and also the loss of the greatest job in the world, being a mother. Since Mia died she'd imagined that her chance at motherhood would forever be limited to those two weeks, years ago.
But having another child wouldn't be replacing Mia, that had always been her fear. But if Coop could get over his child being murdered, trust another woman enough to have another child, then she could too, couldn't she?
As she turned off the lights, her phone bleeped and she saw a message from Bo.
So they're here. And hungry. You want to meet us at our favourite Italian?
She would've said no, but she owed him this, she was going to be the perfect girlfriend, after all, he'd been there for her.
Cool. I'll call Marco and book a table. Give me ninety mins?
She smiled when she read his response.
I would pick you up, but I can barely get my parents into this minute car.
Despite him accepting all that things that he'd resented about his move to Britain, but he'd never get used to his little car. It was the bane of his life.
After a shower, and the biggest deliberation of her recent life – what to wear to meet you boyfriend's parents, she emerged into the evening wearing tight black trousers and a colourful tunic, and heels. Killer heels. Bo had told her that his mother was a model, and she was six foot tall. There was no way that she was going to be dwarfed by them all. But that didn't mean she was comfortable walking in them, and she had to take flats to drive.
The three were already at the table when she arrived. His father, tall, dark and handsome, his mother blonde, willowy and beautiful. It was almost devastating, how good the three looked sat there together. She paused for a moment, but she was well known in the restaurant, and Marco the owner was quick to rush over to her, which alerted Bo to her arrival. Standing he watched her appreciatively as she crossed the room, his eyes like a warm caress over her body. For a moment she could almost forget that his parents were there, especially when he pulled her close and kissed her far harder and longer than was probably appropriate in front of his parents. But her heart raced and she couldn't wipe the smile off her face, it felt like everything was so different.
Bo held her at arm's length for a moment, studying her, as though he realised that things were changed too.
Then squeezing her hands, he turned to the table, "Mom, Dad...this is Natasha."
She followed his eyes to the table and a close up of the beautiful couple. His father stood, as she stretched out a hand, "Mr Holding."
He grinned, his bright white teeth gleaming, "call me Rob, Mr Holding was my father, and we are all adults here. Pleased to meet you."
His hand was huge and the shake firm but not intimidating, then she turned to his mother.
"And I'm Agnes," she beamed, ignoring Natasha's hand and pulling her into a hug, "I am so pleased to meet you."
Natasha couldn't help but smile, and that turned to a laugh when Bo muttered, "put her down, Mom."
Sitting next to him, opposite his father, she blushed when his mother replied.
"You have never introduced us to a girlfriend in the past, forgive me if I'm a little enthusiastic.."
"You'll not meet her again if you scare her off with that famous Holding hospitality."
That made them all laugh, just as Marco appeared at their table for their drinks order. And as usual he flattered Natasha, as he always did.
"You're a regular here?" Agnes asked once he left.
"I don't know if Bo old you, but I run a cafe, it's a close knit business community here, we all know each other in the catering trade. And if I am coming out for food, this lists as one of my top places."
"We came here on our first date." Bo added, and that made her smile. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
His mother gave then a sickly sweet look, then cooed at that. Bo rolled his eyes and turned to his dad.
"So how is having my sister working with you?"
It was a dramatic change of subject, but his father was a great story teller, and having his sister interning was sure to bring some hilarious recounts. He wasn't wrong. And it gave Natasha time to settle in, he couldn't imagine how stressful it felt, meeting his parents after all that had happened the last six months.
But when he glanced at Natasha, sat beside him, she was smiling, actually looked like she was enjoying herself. He felt his body relax, tension he hadn't sensed ebbed away.
When he finally looked away from her, his mother caught his eye, and smile knowingly. That made him roll his eyes, she knew everything, and he was fast realising that it was a woman thing, as Natasha seemed to have the same traits.
The food was delicious, and the conversation was light and never awkward. His parents were genuinely interested to hear about Natasha's business, and then there was the trip to Helsinki, the modified version. It was late when they finally finished their coffee.
"You must be exhausted, all that travelling, then this late night."
Agnes looked like she could fall asleep standing up suddenly.
"I'll stay at Natasha's tonight..." he glanced at her, and she nodded, because of course she was happy to have him stay. "I've got training early, it'll give you chance to sleep, or wake up at a ridiculous hour?"
"You don't have to on our account," Rob offered. But his wife punched him playfully in the arm.
"Of course they want to be together, you were young once."
As Natasha blushed profusely, Rob waggled his eye brows and muttered, "ah, yes I definitely was."
"On that note," Bo rolled his eyes and led Natasha outside.
"You sure that's OK?"
She nodded, then rifled in her bag, before handing him a spare key. "Let yourself in?"
He placed a hand over his heart and opened his mouth wide in jest, "be still my heart...this is serious!"
It was her turn to roll her eyes as she kissed his cheek, then said goodbye to his parents. Heading off to her car alone.
"So you know where everything is?" He looked at his parents who seemed to fill the lounge of his apartment, both being so tall and imposing.
His mother gushed, "of course, what we can't find we'll do with out." Counting off on her fingers, she repeated the instructions he's just given them, "towels in the bathroom cabinet, coffee machine in kitchen, shower is cold for thirty seconds but warms up, and there's a great breakfast bar downstairs if we need it. Check, check and check. Now, go be with your girl."
Nodding, he hugged them both, then made for the door.
His father had collapsed into a seat in front of the TV, but his mother accompanied him to the door.
"She's a lovely girl, boy. You've done well."
He smiled at that, "I think so, she's changed me."
She held him at arm's length then shrugged, "not changed you, just brought out the bits you hide away. I like her for that too."
Smiling he left them to settle in and made the short drive to Natasha's.
"Hi," Natasha murmured as two arms slid around her from behind, followed by a large warm body.
"Mmm," was Bo's only response as he nipped at her bare shoulder. "Are you naked?" When she nodded, he nipped again, then growled, "are you trying to kill me?"
She giggled, "that wasn't the actual response I was looking for."
Rolling in his arms, she faced him, before throwing her lips at his, an assault more than a kiss, but his groans told her he didn't complain.
"What's happened?" He groaned as her hands ran down his body. .
She laughed as she circled him with her fist, "nothing, I'm just appreciating what I have."
He half laughed, his face contorted with the torture she was inflicting, and it thrilled her.
"You have me," he groaned, collapsing back on the pillows and allowing her to do what she wanted. That only increased as she disappeared under the duvet.
Later she lay, wrapped in his arms, head on his chest, listening and feeling his heart beat against her cheek. His hands stroked her shoulders, and his breath warmed her head.
"So, that was..." He laughed. "Wow. Only one word."
She chuckled against his chest, "an apology of sorts?" She offered.
"If that's the make up, then you can abuse me every day."
They both laughed, but it was serious on Natasha's part.
"You've been so good to me, and I've been a moody bitch. I am sorry for that."
Rolling he flipped her over so that he was above her, "what are you talking about?"
She smiled, he was staring at her with such concern, that once again, she felt not worthy.
"You know what I'm talking about. And I'm going to change, I promise you."
He raised an eyebrow, confusion on his face. There was time to tell him about her conversation with Coop, though she still had more questions for him too.
"I'm getting through things, in my head."
He nodded, "that's good. You deserve that."
Still smiling, she pulled him down and kissed him, "not sure I deserve you."
That made him chuckle again, a deep rumble. "That is BS. You've changed me no end. I love all that you do for me, all that you have done for me." He kissed her forehead, "I love you."
She was tempted to give the Han Solo, I know answer, but it was all still so new, and she couldn't be flippant. Not about that.
Instead she snuggled into his neck.
"I like your parents."
That made him laugh out loud, propping himself onto his elbows staring at her, "talk about cold shower! You aren't being fair to my libido!"
A little wriggle made him groan, and all too soon he was devouring her all over again. Thoughts of parents or not.
Bo woke alone, but that wasn't unusual. Natasha was early to work most days. How she survived on about five hours sleep a night, he'd never know, but she never seemed to fade whatever they were doing. Today was no exception.
He stretched, then checked his phone to see messages from his parents.
He rolled his eyes as he thumbed a quick reply that he was on his way back to his apartment with breakfast in about thirty minutes. Then he showered, dressed, before heading downstairs to collect breakfast from the woman he shared it with as often as he could.
It was busy in Heaven and Hell, the business was growing daily, and he was so proud of Natasha for that, but it also meant sage was always working. He appreciated their weekend away everyday, lie ins and late nights were all out, and he wanted to change that. At some point.
She was beaming at him from behind the counter, where at least five people waited to be served, but she wasn't alone, so she moved towards him, and it was her that burst through the break in the counter and threw her arms around his neck.
The kiss was bordering on x-rated, and that was usually his job. Natasha throwing herself at him was a turn of events, a well received one at that. But too brief, as she backed off, blushing.
"Here's breakfast for three..." She handed him a huge paper bag, environmentally friendly to the end. "...and a flask of coffee."
He took them both, then kissed her more gently, "thank you, my angel!"
She beamed as he left, promising her as he reached the door, to see her later.
Bo's mother was sat in the lounge, absorbed into morning TV. When he unlocked the door, she looked up at him with wide eyes/
"And I thought US TV was dreadful..." It was only in scorn that her Scandinavian accent came out and he couldn't fight the grin that erupted at that.
"I've brought breakfast, not sure what..."
Agnes jumped up, reaching for the bag, her eyes lighting up when she opened it.
"Home made muffins..."
Bo nodded, pouring the coffee into three cups, "no two days are the same in Natasha's cafe."
His mother didn't answer, but he recognised the knowing look.
"You have something to say to that?"
Shaking her head, she opened the door to the bedroom and bathroom and called out, "Robert, hurry in the shower, breakfast is here, and going cold." Then she turned to him, "Nothing to say."
Again he knew better.
"Natasha?" he offered. But she just shrugged smugly.
Finally, she tuned to face him, "I just think that she is really good for you, and it makes me happy. Seeing you finally settling down. It's about time."
He sighed, "don't go think of wedding dress shopping, we are just getting to know each other."
Again his mother shrugged, "looks a lot more than that to me."
He hated the doubt that was so apparent in his own voice, but he was concerned. Natasha was everything to him, but he wasn't sure what more to say. Things weren't where he hoped they'd be and he wasn't sure they ever would be.
"I can see the way you look at each other."
That made him roll his eyes. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"
"Language, Bo!" She chastised him, without any anger. "You are both smitten, you barely take your eyes off each other. I know what that means."
He shook his head, "as I say, don't get your hopes up, Mom."
Pulling him into a hug she kissed his cheek, "love is a hard thing to manage, hard to commit to, and even harder to admit to. You love her?"
He gave a slight tilt of his head, "like no one I've ever met before." He dropped his eyes for a long moment, before finally managing to meet her gaze again, "a lot has happened to her, she has had so much bad happen to her...and I'm not sure I can be enough for her. I think she needs more than I can offer."
"Not enough? Oh, Bo." She took both of her hands in his. "Everyone has baggage, you've got enough...and you need to know, that despite what that bitch did to you. You are so much more than any one woman deserves...except Natasha...she deserves you...I can see the way she looks at you that she is as in love with you, as you are with her."
The front door opened after her knock and Natasha smiled at Freya.
"Is Coop there?"
She nodded, "come in. He's playing football with the kids out the back. You OK?"
Natasha shrugged, "I think so. Coop was brilliant yesterday, really helped get my head square, but it's just thrown up so many questions that I can't answer."
Freya hugged her, "It'll all work out, you'll see. If Mitchell Cooper can get his head out of his arse, then you can!"
"Not sure if there's a compliment or an insult in there."
Freya chuckled as she led her into the house. "You never met him before," rolling her eyes, she moved to open the patio doors. "Coop, can you come in?"
Lots of grunting and moaning came from the garden, before a whoop of victory. Coop jogged into the lounge, swept Freya up in his arms for a passionate kiss, before realising they had company. Turning to Natasha, he grinned, "sorry, but beating the kids at sport brings out the competitive streak in me."
As Natasha laughed, Freya punched his shoulder, "you can let them win occasionally. You are not your father."
That made him place both hands on his chest in mock pain, "the words cut like a knife!"
Natasha observed the banter between the two and couldn't help but smile, would she ever be that relaxed with anyone, with Bo, her heart warmed at the thought, she wanted that so much.
Coop grabbed a can of lemonade from the fridge, as Freya disappeared outside, "you want one?"
She shook her head, "I just wanted to ask you a few questions."
He nodded, "was a lot of stuff to deal with yesterday."
Natasha sighed, "how do you open up? How do you risk losing al over again?" She dropped her head for a moment, "everyone I have ever loved has gone, some by choice, some not..I just don't think I can do that, let someone close enough that they can destroy what little I have left."
Coop smiled, "I can't answer that, I just knew I needed Frey, more than I needed anything else in the world." He looked across the room to the woman silhouetted at the open door. "It was literally put up or shut up. I had one chance, she was leaving, and I knew that losing her like that was the worst thing. Not sure I thought about what would happen in two months, six months or even a year."
He leaned against the counter beside her, watching her intently, "Bo is here, and I know you worry about him leaving, I can't say what will happen next season, we've got a long way to go. But where there's a will, there is definitely a way. If he loves you he'll work something out, with you, with what he wants. It's a collaboration."
"He told me he loves me. Lots of times."
Grinning he patted her on her back, "that's not a thing he says lightly, I bet. He'll make it work."
When she nodded, he added, "the only real question you have left is to yourself and not me. Love - it's just a word, four simple letters. So, can you tell him you love him? Cos it's blatantly obvious you do."