Sammy stopped dead in her tracks and looked at Jake in shock, his face mirroring hers.
“What did you say Grace?” Jake asked in a stern tone.
“I said thank you for picking me up. I didn’t want to be in school anymore,” She replied, looking a little guilty.
“Grace, I need you to have a seat here on the couch. We need to have a talk,” Sammy said.
“But I want to go play!” Gracie replied indignantly.
“Oh no! You will sit and talk with your Dad and I. RIGHT NOW.”
Gracie sighed and went to the couch and sat next to Jake. Jake looked at Sammy and she nodded as Jake cleared his throat.
“Grace, can you tell us what is going on with you lately? You have not been acting like yourself.”
“No Sweetie, you are not. You have been throwing tantrums, not listening to your Mom, breaking rules at home and at school and now hitting a friend in your class. Please tell us what’s wrong?”
Gracie broke down hearing the sincerity of her father’s voice. She cried and Jake pulled her into his arms and smoothed her hair back as he rocked her. Sammy had never seen her child this way before and was concerned. After a few minutes, she calmed down some and sniffed.
“Gracie, tell us what’s wrong, please.” Sammy urged.
“So much is happening Mommy! So many things are changing!” She started, “I got my Daddy, and then he left. We moved here and then my cousin came. Uncle Derek likes him more than me because he is a boy. Then Daddy came back for a while and then leaves again to live in that boring house with no backyard. Mommy gets to go and see you, but I don’t! Uncle Kevin and Aunt Ashley were here and then they moved away and are gonna have a baby. Grampy is gonna get married and I’m not gonna be his special girl anymore since Emily came! Everything is different!!” She wailed and started crying again.
Sammy was shocked at her words, forgetting that even though she was only five. That speech proved that she realized that there are changes but she wasn’t mature enough to process them and see how life would be better. She looked at Jake and he was just as stunned as she was.
“Oh Gracie, honey…I know so much has happened and so many changes, too. But Sweetie, that doesn’t change how much all of us love you so much! Every single one of us loves you so much and that will NEVER change! Never!”
“How do you know? Grampy doesn’t love me anymore, I heard him.”
“What did you hear Gracie,” Jake asked gently.
“I heard him tell Uncle Derek that he finally got a girl with Emily. That he always wanted a girl after Daddy, but only had him. And a granddaughter was only a small gift.”
“Gracie, I don’t think Grampy meant it that way, honey. Grampy loves you so much and you know that you are his special girl.”
“It didn’t sound that way! And Uncle Kevin wants a boy, just like Uncle Derek. I’m not a boy! They don’t love me anymore!” She cried and buried her face into his shoulder.
Sammy sat on the couch next to them and rubbed her back. She whispered how much she was loved and always would be. She reminded her of all the good times and reassured her that she was loved and cherished by everyone. Sammy got out the homework she did the first day of school showing her family and had her look at all the pictures of the happy people in her life. It made Gracie feel a little better, but Sammy knew she needed to make sure she heard it from someone else.
“So what happened at school today, Sweetie?” Jake asked gently.
“Quinn was mean to me. He said naughty things to me…”
“What do you mean he said naughty things to you?” Jake asked for clarification. He saw his daughter’s hesitation at answering, “It’s ok Sweetie. You won’t get in trouble. We just want to know so we can help you.”
“Ok…He said that Daddy was going to sleep in the same bed with other mommy’s and not come back to me and Mommy. He said football players were slimy and couldn’t be trusted. He said his Daddy said that.”
Jake was pissed and tried not to let his daughter see his anger, “Is that why you hit him? Because he said those mean things about me?”
“Yeah Daddy. I told him to stop and he wouldn’t, so I hit him. I’m sorry Daddy, I was just so mad!”
Jake looked at Sammy and smirked a little, “You come by your temper honestly. But listen, you can’t hit everyone who makes you mad. You have to learn to walk away Sweetie. You are too smart to let someone make you so mad that you hurt then. Use your mind and your brilliant brain and be better than them. Does that make sense?”
Gracie nodded and Jake continued, “And as for Quinn, I will take care of that. Don’t you worry Baby girl!”
“Gracie, why don’t you go upstairs and change clothes and lay down for a little bit to calm down,” Sammy said kissing the top of her daughter’s head.
Gracie nodded and went upstairs. Sammy turned to Jake when she was out of earshot and looked at him, a little nervously, “What are you going to do about Quinn? You aren’t going to create a scene, are you?”
“What do you consider a scene?” He asked innocently and as soon as he saw her face pale, “I’m joking! Relax baby! I’m going to take Gracie to school Tuesday and watch for little Quinn and see who drops him off. If it’s Daddy Dearest, I will have a little talk with him in the parking lot about who I am and to lay off my daughter.”
“And if it’s Mommy Dearest?” Sammy asked, already knowing the answer.
“I might just have to turn on the Doogan Charm and make her see that the way her son talked to my daughter is not ok.”
Sammy groaned, “I don’t know which scenario I am more afraid of!”
“Oh don’t worry Baby, Daddy’s gonna make it better!” He smirked at her.
Sammy sighed and shook her head as she picked up her phone and went outside to the patio to call Abby. Sammy apologized for interrupting her the day before the wedding, but wondered if her and Mike had a few minutes. Abby assured her they did and Sammy explained the situation. Abby felt bad and told them the time to come over about 5 so they could talk.
Sammy went back in and flopped on the couch next to the sexy man in the house and put her head on his shoulder, “This is NOT how I thought this day was going to go!”
Jake chuckled and kissed the top of her head, “I thought we would have still been in bed naked!”
She sighed and wove her fingers in his, “Parenting sucks!”
“That is does Baby, that it does!...Did you ever get the idea that Gracie was upset about not going with you to see me and the games?”
“No, she always seemed so excited to go to Ashley and Kevin’s or to Lynn and Derek’s. I guess I read that wrong! Damn I can’t believe I missed that. I feel like shit, Jake.”
“It’s ok, Baby. I would have missed it too. I guess I won’t see you until Thanksgiving and Christmas now…”
“Well, you probably won’t want to take Gracie out of school every week. So I just assumed that you wouldn’t be flying out…”
“It’s Kindergarten and she is practically a genius so a few missed Friday afternoons and a few late Monday mornings and she will be fine. I had no idea that she was feeling this way, so we both will be coming out to see you. It’s as simple as that.”
“Are you sure Baby?”
“Absolutely! We just can’t fool around on the couch or kitchen anymore and have to be quieter like we are here.”
“I love the way you think!!” He said and kissed her deeply and looked at her after he pulled away, “I’ll go make some lunch for us all.”
She watched him go into the kitchen and she laid her head on one of the throw pillows and closed her eyes for just a second. The next thing she knew, Jake was kneeling next to her, kissing her face gently, waking her up and letting her know that lunch was ready.
“You’ve been out for a little over 30 minutes Baby. Gracie is out too. Do you want to let her sleep?”
Sammy stretched and groaned, “Yes, she needs it. The next few days are going to be crazy!”
He helped Sammy up and they ate the soup and sandwiches he made, going over the schedule for the weekend. He was amazed that they were going to do so much in 48 hours.
“Do you need me to do something for Sunday?”
“Ask Derek if he needs help with the chairs, but other than that, I think we are good. Lynn has all the desserts, Ashley is making all the breads and I have all the ingredients ready for the three types of chili. It’s times like this that I’m so glad that my dad added on the great room when I was 10. We are going to need the extra space for this group if we keep adding people to our family!”
Jake chuckled, “You are right. Kev is getting Lexi, Smitty and the kids’ right? They are staying with them?”
“Yes, since they have the extra rooms, they will stay there. Gracie was mad she couldn’t have the kids stay here to play, but I promised we could bring lots of toys wherever we went for them. It was actually really cute how she picked out some toys for Trey since he is a little older than Matthew. They are already at Ashley and Kev’s.”
“She is a sweet girl. She will make the best big sister!”
“You still want more kids with me after this wild morning?!” Sammy asked timidly.
“More than you can ever know! I’m still thinking five or six,” he said kissing her neck.
“I think you have taken a few shots to the head to want that many kids!”
He chuckled and squeezed her hand. They cleaned up the kitchen together then watched TV, making out like teenagers until they heard Gracie come down the stairs. Jake went to the kitchen while he calmed down some and heated up her lunch while Sammy tried to not laugh at him as she listened to Gracie tell about her dream.
She ate and they doted on her then went to run some errands as a family. They picked up Jake’s suit from the dry cleaners and Gracie and Sammy’s dresses from the dress store. With three hours left before they were due to meet Abby and Mike, Sammy thought they needed some down time and went to the ranch and went on a ride.