One year later...
Jenny sat on the edge of her seat as Logan, the quarterback for the Spring Fields football team sent a perfect throw toward one of the wings, an orange-haired player who caught the ball and sprinted off, outrunning his opponent and scoring a touchdown. The stands erupted in cheers and the team celebrated briefly before returning the ball back to the centre. Jenny, Bryce and Natalie watched from the stands, Natalie narrating the whole game to Jenny who, as hard as she tried, didn’t understand the game at all, while Bryce read a mystery novel, not even remotely interested in what was going on.
“Did we win?” Jenny asked clapping loudly as she rose to her feet and jumped with excitement.
“Not yet.” Natalie replied. “But we scored again, we’re now in the lead.”
It was the Inter-Town Carnival again, and Spring Fields and Winter Valley were versing each other in the finals for the second time, both beating out Fall Creek and Summerville in the small four-town tournament they participated in. They were more evenly matched this year, Winter Valley no longer attempting the Winter Valley Split, both teams forced to try out new plays and strategies.
Natalie was trying to watch the game, but she often found herself watching Scott instead. He barked out commands from the sidelines, a huge smile on his face, completely in his element. This is what he was made to do, and he loved every second of it. Natalie loved seeing him like this, and her chest flared with pride every time he led his team to yet another victory.
When the game ended Natalie picked Jenny up and carried her down the stairs to her Uncle Scott, not trusting her to walk, knowing she’d just end up running for him and tripping over the stairs. The moment they got down onto the field she placed Jenny onto the ground and the little girl took off like a bolt, running as fast as she could to him. He heard her screaming his name and he bent down and swept her into his arms, sailing her through the air like an aeroplane, the two of them making the engine noises as he floated her through the air.
Natalie let them have their moment, her attention flickering over the crowd, landing on a small boy she instantly recognised, Parker. His eyes found hers and he ran over, throwing his arms around her legs, hugging her just as tightly as Jenny was hugging Scott.
“Miss Natalie.” He exclaimed, beaming up at her. “I wish you were still my teacher.”
“I wish I was too.” She replied. “Don’t tell anyone but you were always my favourite student.”
Parker was now in the first grade, no longer a preschooler and no longer in Natalie’s class. She had a whole new bunch of students now. Although none of them idolised her nearly as much as Parker did. In some ways she missed it, in others she didn’t, it was relief not having to constantly turn down the advances of a four year old.
“I have Mr. James now.” Parker said. “He’s nice I guess, my brother Logan had him too, but he’s not as pretty as you.”
“Back off little man.” Scott said coming over to them and wrapping his free arm around Natalie while his other rested Jenny against his chest. “I don’t want you hanging around trying to steal my woman.”
“Nothing I do ever works.” Parker said sadly. “She loves you.”
“If you keep charming her like this it’s only a matter of time before she runs off with you.”
A smile lit up Parker’s face at the prospect of Natalie running off with him. Almost a year ago she’d promised they would be together when he turned 18, she’d thought he’d forget about her and move on. So far his crush had remained just as strong as always. She just hoped it faded soon, she didn’t need an 18 year old Parker knocking on her door in thirteen years.
“Parker we’re leaving.” His mother called, and he smiled at both Scott and Natalie before running off to join his family.
“Hi.” Scott said to her once Parker was out of sight, pulling her to him as his lips came down on hers. For a moment she lost herself, forgetting where they were and who was looking as she reached up and pulled him closer, deepening the kiss.
“Mmm-hmm.” Bryce cleared his throat, reminding them they couldn’t get too crazy just yet. Reluctantly she pulled away, smiling sheepishly at Bryce who glared at them disapprovingly. “Honestly, you guys need to get a hold of yourself. You’re worse than teenagers.”
“Oh Bryce.” Scott said, ruffling his hair. Bryce swatted his hand away, annoyed, then smoothed down the messy strands, making sure every strand went back into place.
The four of them made their way toward the parking lot, and once there waited for Cecilia, Scott’s mom, coming to pick up Jenny and Bryce. She was babysitting them for the day while Eliza and Pete met with the lawyers to settle their custardy agreements. So far their divorce had been completely amicable, and Natalie knew everything else would go just as smoothly. The only real problem would be Jenny, who still didn’t understand what was happening. Bryce on the other hand knew all too well, a handful of his classmates having gone through the same thing. He acted as if he didn’t care, like it had been inevitable and he was glad it was happening now rather than later, but whenever he thought no one was looking his impassive frown faltered.
“Good afternoon.” Cecilia greeted, stepping out of her car and giving Jenny and Bryce a quick hug. She nodded a hello to Natalie, then turned to Scott and offered him the briefest of smiles, simply acknowledging his presence. It was a tiny gesture, and to anyone else it would seem cold. For Cecilia and Scott it was a big deal, and although they had a long way to go still, the ice between them was slowly starting to thaw.
“Bye Uncle Scott.” Jenny called out the window as the three of them drove away. Scott’s arm tightened around Natalie’s waist, and she rested her head against his chest, happily breathing in the smell of sandalwood.
“Come on.” He said taking her hand. “I have a surprise for you.”
Scott led Natalie into the cabin, his hands covering her eyes. He knew she hated this, she hated not knowing something, and with every step they took she tried to wiggle out of his grasp and take a peak. He only tightened his hold, more so to torture her, deny her the answers she wanted, than because he actually wanted this to be a surprise. Once they were safely inside the cabin he removed his hands, and Natalie’s eyes took a moment to adjust before she slowly took in their surroundings.
It was the cabin he’d looked at almost a year ago now, the one in the mountains. He’d recently discovered it was still for sale, and he’d quickly bought it with the money from his inheritance before someone else finally did. Now he was showing it to Natalie, and from the way her face lit up he could tell she liked it just as much as he did.
“Its ours.” He said. “I figured we could use it as a holiday home. Come up here for the snow in winter, to escape the Inter-Town Carnival, whenever we want really.”
“It’s beautiful.” She replied, her eyes still taking in the small cabin. Her feet soon took over and she begun exploring, moving from room to room, desperate to see every inch of the space.
“We could bring our kids here.” Scott said sheepishly, smiling at her nervously as she came out of one of the bedrooms. “If you want some.”
Her smile faltered as she registered the question in his voice, and her eyes softened as she closed the space between them and took his hands.
“Of course I want kids with you.” She said. “I want everything with you.” It was crazy that he still needed to hear her say this from time to time. He knew she loved him. He knew this, and yet there were still times when he thought he were dreaming, that none of it was real. He still didn’t think he deserved any of this, and every morning he woke up next to Natalie he felt incredibly blessed.
“I think its time for you to explore upstairs.” He said, swallowing hard as he thought about all the things he wanted to do to her up there.
“What’s upstairs?” She asked, a cheeky glint in her eyes.
“The master bedroom.” He replied, scooping her into his arms and carrying her to the room. She gasped in surprise, her eyes twinkling with anticipation as he threw her onto the bed. She smiled a wicked smile, shooting up onto her knees to face him, her hands finding the belt to his jeans. He came alive under her hands, and before he knew it he’d removed all her clothes and was easing inside her, her body hugging him like a glove, driving him insane the deeper it pulled him in.
God he was never going to get enough of this woman, and truthfully he didn’t want to. He was happy, and he knew that even on the days the darkness took over he’d be okay, because he had Natalie. He’d always have Natalie. And she’d always have him.
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