Chapter 3.54

School started and the girls were gone most of the day.  Since Pete is a writer and I work nights we got to spend LOTS of time together.

We prepped the yard for winter which was too close for comfort.  Our Halloween party was coming up and this was going to be our first big party in the new house.

Peter and I kept getting distracted.  It’s not that we were trying for a baby but we weren’t not trying either.  We were open to anything.

“It’s safe.  Nobody saw us.”

“It’s our backyard, Peter.  Of course nobody saw us.  Are you sure nobody saw us though?”

I went out that afternoon and grabbed us some pumpkins to carve that night after dinner.  It was going to be a big family affair.

I made us some lasagna since it is a nice food for blustery nights in autumn.  Peter did just get me that nice wood fire oven so I foresee many lasagna nights.

Then we all went outside to carve pumpkins.  Well, Simon mostly sat and chewed on the leaves but he made an effort to hang out with us.

Kylie carved a pumpkin for Simon.

“Daddy, is it ok if I just make it look like it was carved by a 3-year-old?  Cuz I’m getting bored.”

“Do whatever you like, honey.  It is getting cold out here though so make a choice.”

She made it look like a toddler carved it.  Kylie did the kitty.  Harper did the ghost.  Peter did the scary one.  I am the boring one who made a normal pumpkin.  I’m special like that.


 

Finally Halloween arrived.  The girls got the day off and we had a big day ahead of us with the party.  I was up early to bake for the party.

Harper took over “mommy” duty.  She adores her baby brother and relishes her time with him.  She fed her brother his morning bottle because I failed at planning (again) and didn’t have time for a proper breakfast.

Then she entertained the monster so I could get what I needed done in the kitchen.  I spent all morning cooking so we could go to the festival before the party.

The girls got dressed up in their costumes and we headed off to the park.

Simon is still a little young to enjoy the festivals.  He does the family photo and then it’s off to the toy boxes.  I don’t mind so much because before too long he’ll be too big to even want to hangout with us.

The girls, however, are all over the festival games.  It’s a damn good thing I made them take off their costumes before they jumped into everything.  They wore that pie until we got home.

Kylie wanted me to take Simon through the haunted house.  I told her I would do that only if she agreed to have him in her room when he had nightmares.  She said no deal to that and then regretted her own decision to go through the haunted house.  Harper on the other hand…well she takes after her mama and she loved every creepy-ass second of that darn thing.

Peter.  Well, Peter is working on his next masterpiece which means lots of research and little time for us.  It makes him happy and keeps us in our house so it is difficult to be angry with him.

Harper took all our tickets and cashed them in for a horseshoe pit.  I was grateful she chose that because she was eyeing the tanning booth.  It’s too damn early for that mess.

As soon as we got home I started on the roast for the party.  I had already set out the dessert table when the door opened.

“Hey, Penn!  Need any help?”  Hannah had arrived early to help me with any last minute prep.

“I think I’m good, Hanny.  I just have to get the roast in the oven and we’ll be set.”

“Oh good.  I’m going to eat this chocolate pie then.  Help clean the dessert tray early.”

She’s a good friend.

She did help set out the rest of the food though.  After eating her pie, of course.

Harper even helped with the desserts and made some cookies on her toy oven.  Grampy (my dad) loved those.

Finally I called everyone to eat.  It was going to be a full house.  Mom and Dad were there.  Katie and her husband with the twins Kayleigh and Kennedy.  Dylan who was single now but he refused to go into detail.  Hannah and Adam and their two oldest daughters Violet and Kallie.  Granny Liddy and Grampa Vic couldn’t make it.  Neither could Liv and Mike since they were busy with Bailee, Bindee, and Beckee who were now toddlers.

It was quite a feast and with all the kids running around the adults could never seem to all sit down at the same time.  Adam, Pete, and Johnathon (Katie’s husband) took Violet and Kennedy trick-or-treating.

The rest of the girls played video games in the living room which gave the adults a moment together.

When Adam got back he spent almost all his time with his nephew Simon.  They bonded (on Adam’s side) over the fact that they were both adopted.

Simon, however, just loved Adam for being the awesome guy that he is.  My little brother has turned into one hell of a man.

The best par of the party was the part when the WHOLE family pitched in to clean up.  Seriously.  It was like the first time in the history of our three generations that anyone helped clean up after a party.

Kallie left with some leftover pie.

Katie just laughed at her cousin.  This is my family.

The nicest part was they had cleaned up so well that I only had to cast one spell to clean the rest of the house.  Best party in the history of our family.

Chapter 3.49

Exactly one week before the wedding my grandmother, mother, Hannah, Linzy, and Katie all showed up at my house.  At 7 o’clock in the morning.

Grandma Liddy was even wearing her work clothes which is never a good sign.  In fact, that’s the worst, most mischievous sign ever.

“Hey, Aunt Penny!  Can we borrow your basement for like…eight hours today?”

“You wanna tell me why?”

“Not really.”

“OH!  Of course, Katie.  I’ll just let you all in my basement unsupervised for 8 hours.  Especially since you won’t tell me why.”

“SUPER!  I’ll let everyone know.”

“NO!  Of course you cannot use my basement!  Good Lord!  Do you think I’m crazy!?”

“UNCLE PETER!  Tell your wife to let us use your basement!”

“KATIE!  You can’t make Peter force me to let you use my basement!”

“Oh how much damage can they do, Penn.  It’s just your family.”

“That’s what I’m worried about, Peter!”

“Come on.  Katie is plenty responsible.  Let’s go to the Spring Festival for a few hours.  Just you and me.”

“Well…ok.  KATIE!  YOU BETTER NOT DESTROY MY HOUSE!  I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE”

I had to admit that I was excited about a date with just Peter and I.  We really hadn’t gotten any alone time since the move.

We acted like little kids at the festival.  We had a competition to see who could find the most eggs.  I found fewer eggs but I named myself winner when I found the special festival egg.  Peter wanted to dispute that but then I reminded him who controlled the boobs in the relationship and he conceded defeat.

We ran over to the Love Tester and got proof positive that we should be together.  It labeled us Hot Soulmates!  As if there was ever any doubt.  With Xander I was scared to death to walk down that aisle but with Peter that day can’t come soon enough.

We finished our date off with a trip around the skating rink and then some snow cones.  Reluctantly we headed home around 7pm.  The house was empty.



Peter and I were watching a movie before bed when I lost it.

“Penny, baby!  What’s wrong?”

“I’m going insane, Peter!  I keep hearing this awful piano music!  It’s not awful.  It’s perfect.  Liv used to play it when we were younger.”

I plopped down on the couch next to Peter.  “I miss her so freaking much.  Her children turned out to be so amazing.  She’s missing that.  She’s missing the lives of our children and her grandchildren.  I’m getting married and she’s going to miss that.  In just 3 years I’m going to be 40 and she’s not going to be there to have a midlife crisis with me!”

I sobbed uncontrollably while Peter murmured soothing words.  Finally, he got up to leave.

“Where are you going?  I need you right now!”

“I gotta get something.  One sec, darlin’.”

After 15 minutes he returned.

“Hey, Penny.”  The sugary-sweet voice of my twin floated through my fog and tears.

“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!  YOU’RE NOT DEAD!”  Not exactly what I imagined telling my sister if I ever saw her again but that’s what came out.

“Aw, I love you too, Penny!”

“Shut up.  Of course I love you!”

“How are you here!”  I jumped up and ran over to my long-dead twin.

“My daughter — whom is amazing by the way.  Great job with that one!  Katie wanted to repay you everything you did.  Well, she wasn’t entirely selfless.  She also wanted me to meet my granddaughters.  Kudos for getting her through that, Penn.  Pretty sure I would have killed her.  They’re great girls although I wasn’t expecting to be a grandmother at my age.  Actually, I wasn’t expecting anything.  I was dead!”

“So that’s why everyone needed my basement.”

“Apparently, it takes two witches and a fairy to raise someone from the dead.  Who knew!?”

“What about Mike?  Will you be my maid-of-honor next week?  What’s it like to be dead?  Have you seen Dylan?  Does Dad know?  Oh I have so much to tell you!”

“Mike is alive, too.  Yes, I will be your maid-of-honor.  I promise I will stick around long enough for you to fill me in on everything!  I have quite a lot to tell you, too.  Right now though I have to run.  Adam doesn’t know yet either so Hannah has invited me to dinner to surprise him.  I like her.  She has spunk.  Also, did you know Adam has TWO kids!  Jesus!”

“Yeah, I might have been aware.  Go scare the crap out of him!”

“GO TEAM HANKS!  TWIN POWER!”

I sat in stunned silence for an hour or so before I passed out from exhaustion.  I never expected to see my sister again and yet here she was.  After years of taking care of everyone the tables were suddenly turned and I had no idea what to do with it.

Chapter 3.44

For a while I really wanted life to slow down. It all started with the birthdays.

First Dylan became a young adult.

Olivia would be so proud of him.  He’s working to become a CEO.  Aced his way through high school and everything.

Shortly after his birthday he and the Meri moved out and got a cute little bungalow with Dante.

Not long after Dylan moved out, Linzy and I said our goodbyes.  After helping me successfully raise three children it was time for her to move on.  We knew the day was coming but that didn’t make it any easier.  She snagged a little townhouse in the suburbs not too far from Peter (so I know I’ll see her before too long).

Harper spent most of her free time entertaining her little cousins.  They will be little architects in no time!  Our days with the twins were limited and just a short year after Dylan moved out the time came for Katie to go, too.

Graduation Day snuck up on us and suddenly Katie was graduating from college.

She ended up with a 4.0 and left Storybrook University with job offers from several laboratories in the area.

“Stand over there with Kayleigh.  I need a picture of you two.”

“Oh my God, Penny.  How many photos are you going to take today?!”

“As many as I damn well please!  It’s been a long ass road to get you here and I’m going to enjoy it.  Now go stand by your damn daughter!”

She looks so thrilled.  Doesn’t matter how she felt.  I was ecstatic that we finally made it that far.  I saw so much of Olivia in Katherine that day.  Liv would have been so proud to see how far Katie had come in just 4 years.

There was just one thing missing from Katie’s new start.  A house.  Peter moved in with me and we gave his house to Katie as a graduation gift.

After we got Katie moved in Dylan dropped by to talk about the huge gift.

“Dylan, Pete and I didn’t mean to upset you by giving your sister such a generous gift.  We realize that we can’t do the same for you but we really hope you understand.”

“That’s not why I came over, Aunt Penny.  Katie’s made some poor choices in the past.  She needed a fresh start and I think that it is really amazing that you and Pete did that for her.  I wanted you to know that you don’t owe me any gift, Penny.  You took me in and raised me after Mom and Dad were killed even though you had your own issues.  That is more than enough of a gift.  I’m the one who owes you.”

After Dylan left I realized how quiet the house was.  There were no toddlers babbling and stumbling around.  The sibling bickering was gone.  Dog barking was replaced by the rustle of leaves in the wind.  Everything was gone.

The place seemed so small when I first bought it all those years ago but now it seemed cavernous.  With just Pete, Kylie, Harper, and I the placed screamed in silence.  It was lonely.

It was time to downsize.

Chapter 3.43

Harper, Violet, and Kallie have birthdays and age into children. Katherine gives birth to the first member of GENERATION FIVE!

Life sometimes throws you curve balls.  Katherine’s pregnancy was just another in a long line of life’s pitches.  As such, I ended up putting my dreams of going back to college on hold to help Katherine bring a healthy baby into the world.

Morning sickness hit Katherine hard.  We were actually a little concerned those first few months because Katherine was sick all day every day.  The doctor assured us that it would pass once we hit the second trimester.

Despite the circumstances Katherine glowed once she started showing.  She spent every minute of her day talking to her little peanut.

Well, every minute that she wasn’t throwing up, that is.  Morning sickness refused to back down.


Pete and I took a break from our relationship so I could deal with Katherine without any distractions.

Hannah and I still went to the gym regularly.  The goal was to be looking great by the time the baby arrived in the winter.  That way, Pete would be amazed by how awesome I looked.

We worked out so often that I’m pretty sure the gym will never smell the same.

It was totally paying off.  By early autumn I was nearly back to my pre-baby weight.  It only took  five years but who’s counting…


Hannah was becoming my closest confidant during Katherine’s pregnancy.  She was keeping me sane when I really wanted to cap a bitch.

“Today of all days you didn’t shower after the gym?!”

“Sorry!  I was running late and I didn’t want to miss this!  I’ll sponge off in the bathroom!”

“I don’t know if that’s better or worse…”

“Come on…Katie’s here.”

Today was the big day.  We were going to find out the sex of Katie’s little peanut.

I huddled around my niece as she stared intently at the screen.  “Is everything ok, doctor?”

“It most certainly is, Ms. Hepworth.  Would you like to know the sex of your baby?”

“That’s why I’m here!”  She was so excited but it hurt to see the childishness of it.  She was still just a girl herself yet here we were talking about her baby.

“Well, Ms. Hepworth, I’d invest in some pink decor because your daughter looks like a little princess.”

This family and our females!  Poor Adam and Pickle.  I know they wanted a boy.


Even though we were all looking forward to the birth of a new family member we had another big event to plan.

Harper, Violet, and Kallie were all having birthdays.  We decided to have one big party to make things easier.

I found it a bit hard to believe that my baby brother and his wife were about to have elementary school aged children.  Then I remembered that I was about to have an elementary school aged child too.  I figured it was best to stop thinking at that point.

We all gathered around the cakes and started the celebration.  Dylan and Katherine were there. but that was about it.  We’re small-scale these days.

Adam and Kallie went first since she was the youngest.  We figured she could be the oldest for just a few minutes.

Next up was Hannah and Vi.

Finally, I helped little Harper.

Violet was just lovely.  She has Hannah’s nearly red hair and I’d swear those are mom’s blue eyes even though Adam was adopted.

Harper is all Xander.  She might have my hair and skin color but everything else about her comes from her father.  She’s beautiful just the same.  She’s the best thing he ever did for me.


Katherine was true to her word and worked diligently on schoolwork.  Linzy really came in handy since she has a degree in education.

When it was my turn to help we usually did science together.  By the time winter rolled around Katherine was an honors student set to graduate from high school a year early.

We were working together on Christmas Eve when Katherine asked me a question.

“Penny, what does labor feel like?”

“You’ll know it when you feel it, kiddo.”

“I thought so.  Penny?  I’m in labor.”

She jumped up and grabber her belly.  I could tell this was it when I saw the eyes bug out of her head.

“Come on, kiddo!  Let’s get you to a hospital!”

“We’re a bit late for that, Penny.  The baby is coming now!”

I had to pull up every once of medical training I had.  Linzy and Dylan helped me get Katherine upstairs and onto her bed.

“Penny!  I can’t do this!”  She screamed at me.

“You sure as hell can, Katherine!  I did it.  Your mama did it.  You can do it!”

And she did.


 

After just three hours Katherine brought the first member of generation five into the world.  Kayleigh Penelope Hepworth was born in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

Five minutes later we welcomed the second member of generation five, Kennedy Olivia Hepworth.

Our little family just got a whole lot bigger.

Note from SweetPoyzin: Those twins were 100% unplanned.  Of course, so were Penny and Liv.  Nevertheless, I was shocked as hell when the second one popped out.  It seemed only fitting to name the second set of twins after the twins that helped bring them into the world though.

Also, I realize Kallie didn’t have an aging up picture.  She’s still a toddler oddly enough.  The game refuses to age her up.  I will remedy this and post appropriate adorableness when the time comes.

Chapter 3.42

Junior prom signaled the coming of summer.  While most of Bug’s class was enjoying the coming freedom, she was laid up at home with a cold.  After a week of missed classes I’d had enough.

“You don’t have a fever.  You aren’t puking.  You aren’t bleeding profusely from a lost limb.  You aren’t dying, Bug.  Get your ass to school tomorrow or you are in danger of being held back!”

“I can’t, Aunt Penny!  I won’t,” she moaned as she started to get up off the floor.”

Something in her voice lodged in my heart and I knew she was right.

I sighed.  “How late are you, Katherine?”

She just stared at me like she thought I was crazy.

After a minute she sighed.  “Five, almost six weeks.  I told Teddy when I first suspected it before prom but he didn’t believe me.  Then when I showed him the positive tests he started telling people I was a slut because he doesn’t think it’s really his!”

“They said horrible things about me, Penny!  Even my friends!  I’ll never go back there!  You can’t make me!”

I wanted to be angry.  I was shocked that she’d gotten herself pregnant but I remembered a long ago trip I took to France.  I remembered the fear, so much fear.  I couldn’t be angry.

“Alright.  Well, what kind of cookies do you want?”

“Cookies?”

“If you are anything like the women in this family I know you are craving cookies right about now.”

“I’d kill for a sugar cookie.  I’ve been craving them for a week now.”

“Ok, Bug.  I’m going to go downstairs and make some sugar cookies.  It will take me 45 minutes.  Think about things and then come down and we will chat.”


“Here’s how this is going to work.  You have three options.  You can have an abortion and everything stays the same for you.  You go to a new school and you keep your after school activities.  The second choice, you can put the baby up for adoption.  You’ll be home schooled and no after school stuff.  Just focusing on classes and the health of the baby.  Finally, you can keep it.  You’ll be home schooled until graduation.  After the baby comes you will get a job.  You’ll work until college.  You and the baby can live here until after college and then you have to do it on your own.”

“I already decided to keep the baby, Penny.”

“They you sure as hell better straighten up and fly right.  Any more of this bullshit you’ve been pulling and you’re out on your own, baby or not.”

“I’ll be alright, Penny.  It’s not about me anymore.”

Chapter 3.41

Contains adult language and subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.

Bug goes to prom but has a disappointing time. Penny and Pete take things to a new level.

Note from SweetPoyzin: Contains adult language and subject matter.  Reader discretion is advised.

By spring we were getting into our new groove.  Dylan was off to school, I was puttering around the house, and Bug was Bug.

I had all but forgotten about applying to college.  Then one morning a letter showed up unannounced informing me that I had been accepted to Storybrook County University’s Masters of  Business Administration program.  What I was going to do with that degree I didn’t know but I’m sure it would work itself out in time.

After our major blowout Katie started to get her shit together.  In fact, by the time prom rolled around in late spring, I was convinced our problems were behind us.

“How was prom, Bug?”

“It SUCKED!  Teddy totally refused to dance with me even though he said he would in school!”

“I’m sorry, honey.  Who’s Teddy?”

“And THEN after prom I was like CALL ME!”

“But he was all fuck you.  I hate boys.  I hate Teddy.”

I had never heard of this Teddy kid but whomever he was he seriously pissed off Katie.

“Ok, ok sit down.  Let’s talk about this, Bug-a-boo”

“Why are boys suck jerks!?  I mean, Xander was a huge ass to you.  What’s wrong with them?!”

“I don’t know?  First, let’s talk about Teddy.  Tell me about him?”

“I dunno…he’s some kid from school.  He plays football.  He’s super popular and then one day he wanted to hangout so we did.  Now he won’t even talk to me!”

“Ok.  Well…can you think of anything that would make things weird between you?  Did you have a fight?”

Katie was silent for awhile and her eyes told me she was far away.

“Katie?  Is there anything that you can think of about why Teddy is mad?”

She finally returned to Earth.  “No, Penny.  Nothing.”


It was night to get a break from the perils of teen drama and jerky boys.

Peter and I were still enjoying our…thing.  We still weren’t putting a label on it.

Pete did finally invite me to his house to meet his daughter Kylie.  She’s a sweet little thing and she’s only a few months younger than Harper.  She’s and I became fast friends.  All it took was an “aldergader” toy…her favorite animal.

Despite the lack of teen drama, we still dealt with teen hormones.  Well, except we were teens anymore.

“You know, Penn, I think I might lo–“

“Shush.  If you say that then everything changes, Peter.  We have to label this shit if you say the l-word.”

“Well, I won’t say the l-word but I would like to do the f-word except I should probably put the toddler to B-E-D first so she doesn’t crawl into the oven or something.”

“I’ll do it, Pete.  I’m that nugget’s favorite person today and I want to keep up the good vibes with your daughter.  Just in case.”

“You know, you look good putting my daughter to bed, Penny.  Perhaps we should make this a habit?”

I knew where Pete was going with this but after deciding we weren’t labeling this I wasn’t quite ready for “love” and “let’s move in together.”  In the long run I did see a life with Pete but for now I was just going to ride this one out.

“If I look good in you daughter’s room imagine how good I will look in yours..”

“Point taken.  Get your sweet ass in gear, woman.”

Maybe it was just the warm fuzzies of after glow but I am starting to think we need to label this shit.

Chapter 3.40

“What are you talking about, Honey?”  Hours later I was still upset from the fight with Katie and babbling incoherently to Peter over the phone. “Just hang tight, Penny. I’ll be right over.”

When Pete arrived I told him everything that had happened. I was completely broken in a way I hadn’t been in years. I had no idea how I let a teenager, let alone my niece, crush me in such a way.

“She said what! Oh, honey. That wasn’t what I said at all!”

“So it’s true?” I couldn’t even look at him. I didn’t want to see what his eyes might say.

“Only in her mind maybe. When I was here last week I told her she was a smart, beautiful young lady and that her behavior might give some men the wrong idea about her. I was speaking as a father. I didn’t mean anything else by it.”

I heard in his voice that he meant it. I was struck by another odd thought in that moment. “I meant it like a father…” I was still lost in my own little world when I realized that Pete was still talking to me.

“Come here, Penn.  You have no reason to feel sorry for yourself or the way you look.  Yes, you might weigh more than you did 10 years ago but it’s beautiful.  You know why?  Because you grew a life inside of you.  You’re gorgeous.”

I was so busy enjoying this moment that I wasn’t thinking about anyone but myself.

“Penny? Where is Katie now?”

“Shit. I really don’t know, Pete.”  I’d been so upset that I hadn’t even thought about the fact that she was still gone. I didn’t know how I managed to let a teenager, let alone my own niece, get under my skin like that. After months of watching her destroy herself my resolve was broken.

“Don’t worry, Penny.  We’ll find her.”


Katie finally returned in the wee hours of the morning.

“Hi, Penny.  I’m sorry for what I said and I’m sorry I ran away.”

“I’m sorry too.  Let’s just leave it at that.  We both screwed up and we both have things we need to work on.  You head up to bed.  We’ll start fresh in the morning.”

Katie grabbed on to me a sobbed.  I knew I would never replace her mother.  I just hoped we could weather these teen years together.

Chapter 3.39

**Adult content and language** Penny plans to get back in shape for her new man. Katie creates some massive issues.

With the holidays over Hannah and I made good on our plans to get in shape.

I wish that getting into shape was the most difficult part of my life…


Katie was proving to be more of a challenge than I’d anticipated.

“They aren’t mine…I swear!”

“Do NOT lie to me, young lady.  I found them in your room this morning.”

“You were in my room?”

“I was going to surprise you with new furniture.  I was the one surprised.  How’d you get all the  booze, Katherine.”

“None of your business!  You shouldn’t have been in my room without asking!”

“IT’S MY HOUSE!  I will go in your room whenever I want.  Especially now!”

“SCREW YOU!  I HATE YOU!”

We’d been doing this for months and I was getting run down. I had no idea where this attitude was coming from and I had no idea how to help her.  At least I still had my work outs with Hannah to look forward to.


Those weren’t going quite as planned either.

“You got this, Penny!  Sweat those pounds off!  I’m going to grab a cookie but you got this!”


Just after the school year started, Katie finally crossed the line.

She tried to steal exam answer keys from the high school and was arrested for trespassing.

“Don’t even speak to me.  I raised you better than this.  Your mother raised you better than this.  You are so much better than what you’ve become.  I’m so disappointed and I’m embarrassed for you.  Look at you!  You’re dressed like trash!”

“SHUT UP! You’re just jealous because Pete thinks I’m hotter than you! He told me!”

This was news to me. I was pretty sure she was trying to get a rise out of me but after months of this I broke.

“KATHERINE PENELOPE  HEPWORTH…GET OUT OF MY SIGHT.”

“I’m sorry, Penny!  I didn’t mean it!  I’m sorry!”

“Go.”

“Go where, Penny?!”

“I don’t care.  Just get out.”


Chapter 3.38

Note from SweetPoyzin: Some language and adult situations.

I went downtown to meet Peter at the city square.  It was late but who cares.

We acted like little kids and built a huge snowman right there in the middle of the city.

“You know, Penny…I kinda like you.”

“Oh shut up.  Don’t ruin the moment by getting all mushy, Pete.”

I still wasn’t quite sure what our relationship was or if we even had one.  I had to admit that even if this was a fling I wasn’t going to complain.

“Do you want to come back to my place?”  The words were out of my mouth before I even thought about the repercussions.  One glimpse of me and he was going to turn tail and run.

Pete surprised me.  “Ok.  I’m a little out of practice.  It’s been…ah…a few months since…”

“You think I’ll be any better?”  I said trying to reassure him that my prowess was nothing to write home about.

“Probably not.”

This man could match my wit even with half his brain thinking correctly.  If this relationship did go anywhere I’d be in trouble.

We headed back to my place and got there in record time.

Linzy was still cleaning up despite the fact that it was now 3am.

“Have fun, ya’ll.  Don’t get knocked up!  I have enough to do around here as it is!”


Pete didn’t run that night but he didn’t call back either.  Several weeks passed without a word from Pete and I was back to the online search for Mr. Right.

It was nearly spring when we got word from Bug that she was returning from boarding school.  She would be home any day.  So while we waited for her we all enjoyed a quiet Sunday.  Well, as quiet as it can be when King Pickle is holding court.

“Peasant Penny!  Fetch me my cookies!”

“You wanna try that again?”

“Queen Penny, would you please grant the King permission to get his own cookies?”

“That’s better.  The answer is still no but nice try.”

Finally, after over a month of waiting Pete popped up on the radar again.  He sent flowers with a note of apology.  He didn’t say when he would call or visit but it was something.

“You like my brother don’t you?”

“Yes, yes I do actually.  Why?”

“I invited him over to chat today.  That’s all.”

“Oh.  Well…good for him.”

He’s cute but a little dumb.  It was 28 degrees and he comes running up in workout gear after spending the morning at the gym.  Go figure.  I mean I wasn’t going to complain because it was a nice sight but you know…

After changing Pete and I sat down in the living room.  He said we needed to “talk” and it didn’t sound good.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Penny.  But I do like you so I feel that you have the right to know so you can back out now if you want.”

“Oh…ok.”  I had no idea where this was going.

“Penny, I’m a single dad.  Kylie is the same age as Harper.  My wife, well, she died in a horrific accident.”

OMG DON’T FREAK OUT DON’T FREAK OUT DON’T FREAK OUT.  I was freaking out inside.

“She was a police officer and even though I begged her to quit the force for Kylie’s sake Amy wouldn’t.  She was doing what she was meant to do.  Well, one night she got a call on a domestic violence issue and she and her partner went to investigate.  Some asshole was beating the shit out of his wife and kids.  When Amy got there…she jumped right in the middle of it to save the kids.  Didn’t even stand a chance.  She died a few days later.”

He paused and took a deep breath.

“I’m still very much in love with Amy.  She’s been dead since Kylie was just a few months old but I can’t shake her.  I just don’t want you to get the short end of the stick because I’m hung up on my dead wife.”

I wasn’t sure what to say.  Luckily Pete knew exactly what to say.

“I’d like to try this, Penny.  I really like you.  But you needed to know I come with exceptional amounts of baggage so feel free to tell me to pound sand.”

I sighed.  “We all have baggage, Pete.  I’d like you to stay.  Let’s not put a label on this yet.  Let’s just be comfortable for now.”

We sat in silence for a bit letting the words from earlier sink into the space between us.  After a while the silence was punctured by an unfamiliar sound.

“Hiya!”

It was Bug.

Or at least it sounded like her.  I’m not sure who Le Fromage sent back but it wasn’t my Bug.

The girl who stood in front of me was all spray tan, bellybutton, and attitude.  All I could do was stare.  Again Pete knew just what to say.

“Hello.  I’m Peter.  You must be Katie.  I’ve heard quite a few stories about you.  You sound like a lovely lady.  I’ve got to run now but I look forward to getting to know you better.  Bye, Penny!”

“Erm…bye Pete,” I managed to mumble while still staring at the doppelganger that was my niece.

“Jeez, Penny.  Are you dating him?  How’d you manage such a hottie in that ‘Mom Gear’ you call clothing?”

I have no idea where my sweet, loving, kind Katherine went.  These teen years…oh boy.

Chapter 3.34

I thought about Hannah’s offer for a few weeks and then headed over to take Adam up on the offer.  I was still on the fence but the kid..er man…has grounded me since he was a teen so I figured we could at least talk it through.

It also allowed Hannah and I to take a break from the Harper and Vi.  They adore each other.  They’ll be trouble in a few years!

“Take the money, Penny.  You know you want a fresh start.  There’s no strings attached.  In fact, considered it repayment for the debt of raising me.  You gave a lot and I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”

“The kids though.  I can’t trust them to another babysitter.  Last time…I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I’ve got a friend.  He’s an author and his sister is looking for a full-time nanny gig.  She’s perfect.  I’ll call him up tonight and have her get in touch with you.  Do it, Penny.  You deserve it.”

He was right.  I raised him.  I’m raising Liv’s kids.  I’ve got Harper.  We’re never going to get anywhere until I go back to school.  I really wanted a business degree.  I didn’t know what I would do with it but something said it would be worth it.

“Alright.  I’ll do it.   It’ll take some time but I think I can make it work.”

It did take a few months but the house made its “debut.”  I didn’t change much.  Mostly just expanded but we needed the extra room.

With puppies, a toddler, and two children the living room needed some room to…well, live in.

And the kitchen had a growth spurt, too.  The dining room was tossed out in favor of a playroom and office.  It was too difficult for the poor toddler to hobble up and down the stairs to either her room or the basement to play.  Dining rooms are overrated anyway.

I planned to head off to university in the spring.  Granted, I’d be attending Storybrook County College but I’d be there for 10 hours and then there was homework.  My baby was going to grow up in the arms of a nanny.

Of course I was putting my horse in front of the cart.  I hadn’t even taken my entrance exams let alone applied to the school.

The aptitude exam was more difficult than I remembered.  Of course, it had been about 15 years since I took the last one.  Also I have relatively no business skills.  It’ll be a few more months before I know the results.  In the meantime there was still a lot to do.

One was meeting the nanny.  The doorbell rang early one fall morning.

She was quite unexpected.  When I think “nanny” I think old woman.  However, Linzy was lovely and highly qualified.

As we sat drinking coffee I interviewed her.  I already knew she would be perfect but I wanted to seem like I knew what I was doing.

“So, tell me about yourself.  Why do you want to be a nanny?”

“Hm.  Well, I love children.  I’m nurturing, neat, a natural cook.  I’m a master gardener and chef.  I have a degree in education and I used to be a teacher.”

Someone up there must love me.  If there is such thing as divine intervention this is it.

I showed Linzy to her room in the basement.  One more of the remodeling projects from the summer.  It wasn’t much but she loved it regardless.

Harper took right to Linzy as if they were old friends.

For the first time in a while I actually allowed myself to feel optimistic about the future.  Things could work out for us after all.