Caring Christopher

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#46 Plans for the future

Abigail

I’m in the middle of making dinner when the doorbell rings. Davy comes bounding down the stairs eagerly. “Can I open it?” he yells. “Please, can I open it?”

“We don’t know who it is!” I call back, washing my hands quickly. “Wait for me!”

“I’ll go,” Jagger says, getting up from the couch for the first time since he came home hours ago. He swaggers into the hallway and greets whoever is out there, asking if they want to come in.

“Who is it?” I call out.

“Me.” Brittany steps into the living room, and it’s obvious she’s been crying.

I wipe my hands on the kitchen towel and rush over, pulling her small frame against me. “What’s wrong?”

“I think Jaxon is leaving me,” she whimpers.

“Oh no,” I breathe, stroking her back. “What happened, Britty?”

“He said he needs more than I’m willing to give him,” she sniffles.

“Why is Brittany crying?” Davy asks, tugging at my sleeve.

“I had a fight with my husband,” Britty explains, pulling away from me to dry her eyes. “Don’t worry though, it will be okay. People fight sometimes.”

“Abby and Chris were fighting for a while,” Yoah says from the kitchen where he was helping me prepare dinner. “They’re okay now.”

Well shit – I guess we weren’t as good as hiding our tiff as we thought we were. Yoah doesn’t seem too upset about it, thankfully. I do need to talk to Chris about this when he gets home, but maybe it’s not a bad thing that we show the kids that even when couples fight, they can work through things and won’t necessarily break up. I hope the same goes for Jaxon and Brittany, who have been together a hell of a lot longer than Chris and me, and they’ve been married for almost two years already. They can’t get divorced. They just can’t.

“Wanna stay for dinner?” Jagger asks her, surprising me by actually sounding concerned about her. “Abby and Yoah are making fajitas.”

“Of course she’s staying,” I decide, steering Brittany to the dining table and pulling out a chair for her. I lean down to whisper in her ear. “I’ll have Jagger take the kids upstairs after dinner and you and I will have a glass of wine and talk, okay?”

Britty nods, and I go back to the kitchen, smiling when I see that Yoah is already turning on the stove. Davy isn’t allowed to come near the stove without me right next to him, but Yoah is pretty damn good at cooking, even though he’s only 9 – well, almost 10, his birthday is coming up soon. It’s a little sad that he knows how to cook as his age, since I’m pretty sure it means that his grandparents didn’t even feed him properly.

“You go talk to Brittany,” Jagger tells me, joining me and Yoah in the kitchen. He grabs a bottle of white wine from the fridge and hands it to me along with two glasses. “I’ll stay with Yoah and make sure he doesn’t burn dinner.”

“I’m better at cooking than you are,” his little brother scoffs, rolling his eyes.

“Yeah, but do you know how the fire distinguishers works?” Jagger shoots back, ruffling his hair.

“Are you sure?” I ask Jagger, surprised that he’s helping out.

“I don’t hate Brittany,” he says quietly so Yoah won’t hear. “It’s just you I despise.”

Yeah, okay, that sounds more like Jagger. I roll my eyes, thank him, and head over to Brittany. I sit close to her so we can talk in hushed tones. I don’t want Davy and Yoah to overhear anything about her marital problems, because they’re too young for that.

“We got into a huge fight,” Britty says, trying to keep herself from crying. She grabs the glass of wine I poured for her and gulps half of it down immediately. “He basically told me that if I don’t want to have kids with him, he’s divorcing me.”

“What the fuck?” I hiss, grabbing her arm. “But… you do want kids, right?”

“Yeah, of course,” she says with a sigh. “Just not now.”

“Surely he can wait until you’re ready?” I ask, disappointed in Jax. “You’re both still so young.”

“I may have yelled at him that if I’m not enough for him, I don’t even want to be married to him.” She sighs and starts crying again. “He’s been talking about us trying to get pregnant since our wedding night, and he thinks that two years of waiting is enough. He doesn’t want to wait anymore, and he said that if I need more time, that’s okay, but he needs some kind of timeframe. He want to know when I think I’ll be ready.”

“That sounds reasonable,” I say quietly. “You told me a few times that in a year or two you’d like to be pregnant. Isn’t that enough for him?”

“I don’t know if I want that anymore,” she says, sipping her wine. “I’m up for a promotion at work to run my own department, and if I do well, I might move up through the ranks even more. I could be in charge of several departments within just a few years.”

“Okay… but what does that have to do with having a kid? Do you think being pregnant will keep you from being promoted?”

She shakes her head. “Not the getting pregnant part, but once the kid is born, I will have to stop working or at the very least work parttime, and the position I want isn’t a parttime kind of deal. It’s all or nothing when you’re that high up.”

“So then work fulltime,” I say, shrugging.

Brittany laughs without humor. “Abby, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t just have a kid and keep working the way you did before.”

“Why not?” I ask, gesturing to the kids, who are now setting the table and grating cheese. “Chris has three and he’s a doctor, for crying out loud, which is a lot more demanding than a normal fulltime job.”

She nods, pulling her fingers through her long blonde hair. “Chris has you, though.”

“And you have Jaxon.”

“He works fulltime. You don’t. Or well, I mean, taking care of the kids is your fulltime job.”

“Oh,” I realize, feeling stupid for not getting this earlier. “You think that you should be the one to be home for the kids while Jaxon keeps working fulltime. But Britty… don’t you make more money than he does? And isn’t he the one who wants to get a house in the suburbs and fill it with kids? Surely you can talk to him about him being the one to cut back his hours? Or get a nanny?”

Her eyes go wide. “I can’t ask him to give up his career for me!”

I laugh and squeeze her arm. This problem might be easier to fix than I thought. “Britty, have you talked to Jaxon about this?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t want him to think I value my career more than starting a family with him.”

“I’m calling Jax,” I decide, pulling my phone from my pocket.

“No!” she exclaims, grabbing my wrist. “I don’t want to talk to him right now!”

“Fine, but after dinner, I’m calling him,” I insist. “You should stop making decision about this without telling him what you just told me. He’s out there thinking you don’t want kids at all, Britty, and you’re here acting like the only way to have kids is to be a stay-at-home mom, which I’ve always known you don’t want. Surely Jax knows that too, right?”

She shrugs. “I never told him in so many words.”

“You’ve been together for over five years, yet you never talked about the future?”

“Of course we did!” she exclaims. “Just not in such detail. Surely you and Chris don’t talk about that stuff in excruciating detail?”

I shrug. “Maybe not in excruciating detail, but we did talk about having kids, actually. Since I don’t have the gene, I can have kids, and I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom – which I sort of feel like I am already – so… yeah. We kinda did talk about that.”

“Oh,” she breathes, looking down at her empty wineglass. “I feel so stupid now.”

“Just talk to him,” I tell her, hugging her before getting up to help the kids get dinner on the table. I praise all three of them for making the fajitas and setting the table, not mentioning the huge mess they made in the kitchen. There is cheese everywhere, and I can see sauce dripping from the cupboards, but that’s okay. I will clean their mess later. Three boys – 5, 9 and 16 years old – just made dinner so I could comfort my friend. Fuck the mess, they’re good kids.

“When is Dad coming home?” Davy asks with his mouth full, looking up at me.

My heart melts when I hear him refer to Chris as his father. “Around bedtime.”

“Do you think he will have time to read to me?” Davy asks hopefully.

“Of course,” I assure him.

“Good,” he says with a grin. “He does the voice of the evil witch way better than you do.”

“Hey!” I exclaim, pretending to be offended. “I’m great at voices!”

“No, but that’s okay,” Yoah says with a small smile. “You have other talents.”

“Yeah, like what?” Brittany asks, looking a little less sad with the kids distracting her. “Abby seems pretty useless to me.”

“She makes great pancakes,” Davy says immediately. “And she never minds when we make a mess. Grandpa didn’t like it when I made a mess. He got mad.”

Yoah puts a hand on Davy’s shoulder, comforting him. “Abby never gets mad at us unless we deserve it.”

“And she lets us sleep in bed with her and Chris when we have a bad dream,” Davy goes on, chewing his food with a thoughtful look on his face. “She’s also good at making up dances.”

“Fucking silly embarrassing dances,” Jagger comments, rolling his eyes.

“She likes playing with us,” Davy goes on, gesturing wildly with his fork. “The other moms don’t do that. Theresa’s mother is always complaining that we’re too loud when I go over there to play. She yells at us that we make the house dirty. Abby doesn’t do that.”

“That’s because Abby is louder than all three of us combined,” Jagger says, laughing loudly. His brow furrows when he remembers he’s supposed to hate me, and he grunts before digging back into his dinner. It’s nice to see his walls coming down a little. It makes me feel like I might have a chance at gaining his trust again.

“Abby sounds like a pretty good mom,” Brittany says with a small smile, squeezing my leg under the table.

“Yeah,” Davy agrees, nodding. “Abby, can we have ice cream after dinner?”

I laugh, enjoying how Davy knows exactly when to ask for a favor. He’s a smart little guy. “Only if you help me clean the kitchen.”

“Sweet,” he says with a huge smile. “I love ice cream.”

The boys talk about what kind of ice cream they want, and I just listen to them, enjoying this wonderful family moment. I can’t believe I almost walked away from this. I must be the most stupid person on the planet.

***

Christopher throws himself into bed beside me, sighing deeply. When he came home, he went straight to Davy’s room to read him his bedtime story, and then he showered and scarfed down some leftovers, getting called back in to work halfway through his fajitas, because a colleague got sick and there was a car accident with multiple hurt kids, and he was needed to help out in the ER. It’s already way past midnight, and he’s only getting home now. He won’t get more than a few hours of sleep before his next shift starts.

“Hey baby,” I say softly, a little groggy from waking up just a few seconds ago.

“Tell me something good,” he orders, pulling off his shirt and pants before snuggling against me under the blankets. “Tonight was brutal and I need some good news before I go to sleep.”

“Davy called you Dad today,” I start, kissing his cheek. “And Jagger seems to be a little less mad at me. He even smiled at me twice before realizing he hates me. Of course, he did call me a bitch a bunch of times, but he hasn’t called me cunt today, so that’s good.”

Chris chuckles, throwing a leg over mine and nuzzling his face against my neck. “That’s progress.”

“Oh, and Brittany showed up, because she thought Jaxon was going to leave her,” I go on, drawing lazy circles on Chris’ back while I talk. “She had dinner with us, and then I called over Jaxon and they had a good talk.”

“Ah, about the kid thing?” he asks knowingly, taking me by surprise.

“You know about that?”

“Yeah, guys talk too, you know,” he replies with a kiss. “Are they okay now?”

“They’re getting there. Turns out they never actually talked about who was going to stay home to be with the kids, or if they’d both work fulltime or whatever, and Britty kind of figured her career would end the moment she decided to have kids. Turns out Jaxon doesn’t expect her to stop working at all, and he’s perfectly fine being the one to cut back his hours, so she was freaking out over nothing.”

Chris sighs. “It’s so weird that some couples don’t talk about that stuff. Isn’t that something you should talk about before getting married?”

“I know, right,” I agree, kissing him softly. “Now that we’re on the subject…”

“What subject?” Chris asks, sounding wide awake now. “Marriage?”

“Yeah, well, no, I mean…” I pause, gathering my thoughts. “I know we haven’t been together that long, and you only forgave me for my major screw-up a few seconds ago, but… I just wanted to make sure you know that if you’re okay with it, I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom when we cross that bridge one day in the far-away future.”

“Oh,” he breathes. “Are you sure? I wasn’t kidding that time I offered to pay for you to go back to school to be a teacher or whatever you want to do.”

“I know, but I like taking care of the kids, and I’d love to have two or three babies with you, and maybe keep fostering as well, so it would be a little too intense to do that with your crazy hours and me working as well.”

“I know it’s not very modern, but I’ve always wanted a wife who stayed home with the kids,” Chris confesses, sounding embarrassed. “Not that I would ever force you to, but… I love the way things are right now, and I like knowing the kids are always taken care of when I have to rush off for an emergency or something, like tonight.”

I pull away from him a little, looking into his deep blue eyes with a smile. “I love it when we make plans like this. I never thought I’d be able to.”

“I know,” he replies softly, kissing me. “Same goes for me. When I got divorced and never found anyone to remarry, I figured marriage and kids might not be in the cards for me. And look at us now.”

Indeed. Look at us now.

I know we’ve got a long road ahead of us, especially with Jagger being so mad at me, but things are good right now and I know for a fact I’m never going to be so idiotic to walk away from this wonderful man and these three amazing kids.

For the first time in my life, I truly believe that I might be able to have a family of my own. In fact, I have it already.

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