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.

Chapter 3.32

It’s that time again.

Not only was Dylan having a birthday…

Which he was totally excited for…but it was Harper’s birthday too.

It was a quiet celebration for poor Dylan since Katie was away at boarding school but we made it work.

“Is all that cake for me?”

“Do you really think you need that much cake, Pickle?”

“Is that a real question, Auntie?  Cuz the answer is yes.”

Harper had a bit more pomp for birthday and Dylan made sure she knew it was special.

Immediately upon becoming a toddler she started to beat the hell out of some creepy doll some long lost relative maile her.  Good girl.

“Penny…do I get any presents?”

“Oh…um…did you check your room?”

He was up the stairs before I even had a chance to think.

“NEW STUFF!”

I made sure he had a fully stocked toy chest and a new bed.

“So…did you just get me furniture?  I love it but…”

“Did you try going to the backyard and whistling for the present fairy?”

“The what?”

“The little old lady who sometimes brings presents if you whistle for her in the backyard?  You know the story…”

“There’s no presents out here, Penny.”

“Well you didn’t whistle did you?”

“This is stupid…but ok.”

“Hello?!  Old Lady Present Fairy?”

It was funny to watch him make a fool of himself.  Of course there was no present fairy but the hollering would bring his present running.

“Well looky there, Pickle.”

“Hi there, little guy…”

Merry and Pippin were the newest and tiniest members of the Hanks family.

His smile is totally worth all the frustration that awaits us.

Chapter 3.29

Several months after Harper’s birth we were all chugging along as normal.  I headed over to Adam’s house for a much needed adult afternoon.  Nothing super special because my sister-in-law, Hannah was due to give birth any day now.

We had tea and chatted about my need for a bigger house and her need for a smaller belly.

“Why don’t you put in an offer on the house behind ours?  It’s right across the alley.  It would be perfect!”

“When did it go up for sale?!  Also, I have no money so that’s one reason…”

The conversation didn’t get any farther than that.  It was time to meet ADAM’S kid.  I didn’t have time to ponder the idea of my baby brother being a father.  Hannah needed a driver.

That evening Violet June Hanks happily joined our family.

The next morning I went over to check out the house.  Three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a huge backyard.  It was perfect for us.

How could I not love it?  How could I possibly afford it?

I knew what I had to do.  I took Olivia’s paintings to the consignment shop.  It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made but Liv would want her kids to grow up in a house and not a shithole apartment.

I may have tried to make money some other ways too.  I would get those kids a house by any means necessary.

Chapter 3.25

Note from SweetPoyzin:  Bad things come in threes…sorry again.

With all the shit happening in my life something was bound to break.  It was work.  I got sloppy on the job and  a patient died during a routine surgery.  I was put on leave and that’s when I made a decision.  I called Adam to tell him.

“The kids and I are leaving.”

“WHAT!?  Why!?  Just because someone died on your watch doesn’t mean you will lose your job.”

I sighed.  “I’ve already lost my job, Adam.”

I couldn’t even look him in the eye.  My little brother had stood by my side for years but this blind faith in me was too much.

“Stephen and I were having an affair.”

“YOUR BOSS!?  God damn it, Penelope.  Why can’t you stay out of trouble?”

“DON”T FUCKING JUDGE ME, ADAM!  In the past 3 months I have lost my twin, my marriage, and my job –”

“They were my family, too.”  He said quietly.

At that moment I realized I was not the only one still hurting.  I was just the only one handling it so poorly.

“Fuck.  You’re right.  At any rate I need a fresh start.  The kids and I are moving to Storybrook county…next week.”

“Fair enough.  I’ll pack my things.”

“Adam.  Don’t be ridiculous.  You just bought a house.”

“Yeah, well it looks like I’m selling it now.  We both know you need someone to keep you out of trouble.  And I need to be the fun uncle to these two monsters.  Sugar before bedtime and all that jazz.”

“Well…college?”

“Storybrook County is even closer to University.  I’ll live there while I attend classes.  Boom.  Next excuse?”

“Alright.  Pack your things.  You only have a week.”

And with that we were off to our next big adventure.

Chapter 3.24

Note from SweetPoyzin: My apologies…again.

A few months after the funeral things were finally getting settled.  Adam was gearing up for college in a couple of weeks.  He moved out into his own place to give me space for the kids.

Xander came home one night and had big news.

“Honey!  I’m no longer working the night shift!  We can get started on that baby now!”  He was thrilled.  I had doubts.

“You got promoted?”

“Well…not so much.  I got…fired.  Penny, I haven’t been 100% honest with you.  That security job I was working?  I was actually a Master Crime Boss.  My dad found out and well, I got arrested.  Remember that trip I took a year or so ago?  Yeah…”

“Penny?”

“Get. Out. Now.” I growled.  I didn’t know I could make that noise but I growled at him.

“I don’t even care that you were a crime boss, Xander.  You lied…for 10 years!  I’ve known you for TEN YEARS!  How long?”

“I worked there for 8 years.”

“FUCK YOU.  You disgust me.”  I had no idea how badly his betrayal hurt.  I honestly didn’t care about his being a crime boss.  He lied…for 8 years.

“How can I fix this, Penny?  Tell me.  I will do anything.”  He was actually heartbroken that he hurt me.  I could feel his sincerity oozing off his body.

“Get out and sign the divorce papers I send you tomorrow.”

“Penny!  Wait, please!”  His begging was almost worse than his lies.

“OUT or I will call the cops on your ass again.”

“I’m so sorry, Peanut.  It looks like it’s just us now.”

Chapter 3.23

Note from SweetPoyzin: Sorry it’s so short.  I didn’t want to do it but it had to be done for reasons that will be explained later.

Car accident.  It was worse than I could have imagined.  We lost Mike, too.

Mom was a mess.  Someone had to plan a funeral.  So I got on the phone and made the arrangements.

“Yes, yes I’m sure I want it on the beach.  Yes, only black table clothes and chairs.  No, make sure everything else is colorful.  Yes, I’m sure she would have wanted lots and lots of color.”

After I made the plans Xander grabbed me.

“Let’s take the kids.  You know Mike and Liv would have wanted them to be raised by family.  Who better than you?”

Bug and Pickle.  Shit.  I hadn’t even thought about the kids.  I may have lost my twin but they lost everything.

“The social worker stopped by when you were on the phone.  There’s a hearing tomorrow.  If you want them she said all you have to do is show up.  We should do this, Penny.  Liv would kick your ass if you let them go into foster care.”

He was right.  I have no idea where I am going to put them but they have to come here.  Tomorrow.

The next day before the funeral I headed to the courthouse.  I wished that convincing a judge I’d be a good parent was the most difficult part of my day but it would only get worse from here.

The venue was perfect.  It was just what Liv would have wanted.

I wished that Mom’s photos were being used for a better purpose but I wanted a celebration just like we used to have for our birthdays.  We were going to celebrate her life not mourn her death.

I still lost my shit when I saw her urn though.  How was I ever going to raise her children the same way she would have.  She was so much better than me at everything.  How was I going to get through this without the person who had been through everything with me?

Katie handled it all so well.  She stood there and let others mourn for her mother but never cried.  I knew we would be dealing with that later but for now I was glad she kept herself together.

Mom and I did the eulogy.  We did our best at least.

We both looked a little crazy but I don’t think anyone was going to hold it against us.

Later Adam, Bug, Pickle, and I went to the cemetery together.

We all just cried and held each other.  It was the best we could do.

We had all lost the glue that held us together.  It was up to us to hold each other together now.

Please, please, please.  Olivia, if you can hear me…please help me raise these babies.

Chapter 3.20

Suddenly winter turned to spring and summer was nearly upon us.  I started working in the garden again and Adam prepared for graduation.

Xander rocked the upgrades and gave the entire house a boost.

Adam was also making a bit of a name for himself as a writer.  He had moved past comic books and into novels.  He was bringing in nearly as much money as I was…only it took me an entire week and he got it done in one day.  He’s doing it right.

I prepped for Adam’s birthday and went on a gift spending spree.  I snagged him a guitar and a laptop.

Xander remembered how often his own laptop died in college and so he upgraded Adam’s to be unbreakable.

Oh…I may have gotten him the car he wanted, too.

Then it was time for the party.  I used my new oven to make the cake.  I am really becoming a little…obsessed.

We set up the table with all of Adam’s awards.  He won something in every club and prom king.  He’s going places.  At least, he better be after all this time I put into him!

Everybody showed up.  Well, everyone but mom and dad.  The baby was sick so they had to miss out.

Adam was more or less amused by the party antics.  He just wanted to be done with the mess.

Before too long…

…he was done.  My baby brother was an adult.

Adam took his college entrance exams and all his planning paid off.  He ended up getting scholarships in whatever degree he wanted.  Now all he had to do was choose one.

“Fine arts.”  He announced on graduation day.  “Or communications.  One of those.  Yep.”

“Good choice, kiddo.  One of those…yep.”  I wasn’t too worried.  Adam has always had a good head on his shoulders so I had no doubt he would settle on something eventually.

Xander and I got to the ceremony early.  We were loitering when we saw  him.

“I have arrived.  Yes, yes, thank you.  I know I am amazing.”

“Oh, Christ.  Get in there and graduate you dumbass,”  I said as I rolled my eyes.

Adam was named Valedictorian and Most likely to have five kids.  Good luck to him if that is true!

“Bow down to my awesomeness, Penelope.  I am BOOMSAUCE!”

Despite having no idea how long his god-like mindset was going to last I was mostly just glad that I had raised a successful, college bound graduate regardless of my own faults.

My prayers of gratitude were interrupted.

“So…we’re down a kid and that one wasn’t even ours.”

“HA!  I have to change.”  I had a vague idea of what Xander was getting at but I just didn’t want to go there today.

“Penny?  Let’s have a baby.”

There it was.  We had been dancing around it for months.  Here we were, nearly one year married and child-free.  I liked it.  It was good.  Why mess that up with a kid?

“Erm…what?”  Smooth, Penny, I thought to myself.

“Yeah, baby.  You’ll be a wonderful mother.  Look how well you did with Adam!  If we had one of our own you would be just as awesome if not more!”

“Oh, yeah.  Well, I guess.”  He wanted this so badly.  I’m sure he was right that I’d be a great mother.

“So…let’s throw caution to the wind?  Toss the pills and stuff, yeah?”

“Yeah, yeah ok,” I said with less reluctance that I expected.

What had I gotten myself into now?

Chapter 3.19

Christmas came to Starlight Shores before I had time to blink.

Of course, this meant that I got to buy new furniture and rearrange the house again which is my favorite part of the holidays!

Adam’s favorite part is the break, of course.  He took time to sleep in and be a bum.

I was hosting the big Snowflake Day party (ugh) but that morning I had other plans with my favorite folks.  Liv, Bug, Pickle, and I were off to the Winter Festival.

Having never seen so much snow before, Bug and I took to the fields to make the biggest snowman ever.

“Hey wait here, Aunt Penny…I’m going to go get us some stuff to make his face!”

10 minutes later Bug was still missing and I had to go on a Bug hunt.

“AUNTIE PEEEEEPEEEEE!”

“NANNY NANNY FOO FOO!  YOU CAN’T HIT ME!”  Bug had wandered over to the snowball fight arena and was attempting (poorly) to challenge me.

“Oh yeah?!  I dare you to hit ME!” I taunted back.  “Come join us, sis!” I yelled toward Liv.

“No…I think I’m good over here with Dylan….you know, where you can’t kill me.”

I might have been a bit rough on Bug…

I won, of course.  I’m not about to let a kid beat me even if she is my favorite kid!

I got her some goodies with the tickets I won so it all evened out in the end.

Mike came and grabbed the kids so Liv and I could have some “grown up” fun in the snow.  Unfortunately it all ended way too soon and I had to get to the party planning.

Luck for me,  Adam was way ahead of the game because I completely forgot to make the roast.

Luckily for everyone else his cooking has really improved!

Xander, was the problem chef tonight.  He started cooking steaks but then got called into work and left.  This did not end well.

I got home just in time to deal with the mess.

“Remind me to kill him later, Adam”

“Only after I kill him first, Penn.”

Sounded like a plan to me.

Adam also ended up putting the lights on the house and a snowman in the yard.  He’s going to make some woman seriously happy one day.  One day soon in fact…the boy is nearly a man.  Sheesh!

I put the prizes from the fair until the tree for Bug and Pickle.  I wasn’t leaving that little booger out of the fun!

Everyone brought gifts to the party as is tradition.

I wanted to wear an awesome Christmas sweater set I bought (I got one for Xander too) but after the fire I forgot to change.  Next year there will be payback.

Everyone loved their gifts.

I tried to make the roast quickly before dinner but roasts are not a quick thing.

Mom saved the day with lobsters.  No complaints here!

Aunt Lanya and Mom cleaned up which was the best Christmas gift EVER

Chapter 3.16

Note from SweetPoyzin: This post is mega picture heavy.  Penny is by far my favorite member of this legacy.  I put a great deal of time into these photos and into the text.  Sorry for the delay.  I wanted to savor this memory privately for longer than is possibly sane.

I decided to treat my wedding day like any other day.  I was not going to Bridezilla over this thing.  I’d leave that to Liv.

I woke up and did some gardening.  The end of the season was right around the corner and I wanted to stock up on as much as I could.

I wasn’t the only one taking the wedding day chill pill approach.

Xander spent most of the morning sleeping.  I was concerned he might not wake up for the wedding.

Adam is becoming quite the prolific writer.  His comic books are bringing in huge royalties.  He spent the morning working on his newest comic.

Right before the wedding Adam volunteered to grab the wedding cake so I could take a bubble bath and get ready.  He’s a pretty awesome kid.  I’m going to miss him when he heads off to college in a year.

So I did the whole bubble bath thing and woke up Snorlax so we could head to the venue.

We all piled into the car so I could go get married.  It sounded super weird even to me.  I was already getting cold feet.

Liv was right.  She does know me better than anyone.  When she decided to be serious in Bridgeport she found the most sunning dress for me.

Despite my excitement about marrying Xander I really needed a break from the whole deal.  The wedding wasn’t going to be for several hours anyway so I headed down to the beach for some alone time.

“I can’t believe my baby girl, my first-born, is all grown up.  You’re even more beautiful today that you were the day you were born.”

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even notice Dad had been watching me.

“It can’t be that hard, Daddy.  I was a small wrinkly prune baby who screamed day and night.” I smiled sheepishly.

“Daddy?”  I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say, “Am I marrying the right man?  Is everyone always this nervous or am I really making a bad decision?”

“I think Xander has his faults but I think he’ll be a damn fine husband.” Dad said with conviction.

“If he does turn out to be a bad guy he will have to answer to me.  I’m sure Adam, Mike, Oliver, and Vic will also come a-callin’ if he steps out of line.”  I didn’t doubt him for a second that there would be an ass whooping if need be.

“Thanks, Daddy.  You always know what to say.”  I sniffled into his shoulder as I hugged him.

“You will be fine, kiddo.  No matter what happens you will always be ok.”  He gave me one more good squeeze and went off to find Mom.  No doubt to shed a few tears of his own.  I wasn’t alone for long though…

“Well, if you aren’t the most beautiful bride!  How are you holding up, my dear?”

It was that long ago that I was standing in my parents’ bathroom asking Liv the same thing on her wedding day.  How time flies.  Back then I was still in med school and Liv was pregnant with Bug and neither of us quite knew what to say.

She’s always been the maternal one.  I’m glad I have her to take care of me when I need it.

I still didn’t know what to say.  It’s nice having a twin because sometimes I don’t have to say anything and she knows exactly what I am thinking.

Live pulled me into a hug.  “You know he’s not perfect…but he’s perfect for you, right?”

“How can you be sure, Liv?  How do I know this is what I’m supposed to do?”

“Penelope.  You know what?  I’m not the one you should ask.  Why don’t you ask Xander yourself?”

She wandered off to grab her camera and before I could protest Liv had reappeared with Xander.

“You’re breathtaking, Penny,” Xander mumbled as he embraced me.

The way he held me in that moment sealed the deal.  He was head over heels for me.  I was just being silly.  Probably lamenting my loss of freedom or something.

No, I was getting married today.

“Look, if you are having second thoughts…” Xander shrugged as if to say I could make this all disappear with one word.

I cocked my eyebrow at him in mock thought.

“No, we should get married.  I mean, we paid a fortune for this whole get-up.  And I love you and all that jazz.  Come on, it’s 4:30pm already.  It’s nearly showtime!”

And with that we headed up to the venue where everyone was already waiting for us.

Mom and Dad sat in the front row looking beautifully young and trying to keep it together.  You’d think after Liv’s wedding they’d have this down but I guess this is just proof I am the favorite.

Uncle Oliver and Lucy sat together.  Lanya didn’t get to come because the twins were sick.  She also said she had the flu but I’d bet dollars to donuts there is another little Lox on the way.

We had a sit wherever policy.  We’re all family now so Mike sat with Xander’s dad Isaac.  Adam was the best man and Liv was maid-of-honor/photographer so they got to sit up near the wedding arch.

Despite being divorced you can tell that Isaac and Staci still cared for each other.  They didn’t sit next to each other but they didn’t bring their significant others to the wedding either.  Seraphina was also able to make it to the wedding but Isabella was studying at boarding school still.

I stood under the wedding arch and stretched, “Are you ready?  Cuz I got my game face on…”

“Yes, my precious.  I wants the precious in holy matrimony.”  Oh we were a match made in heaven.  Either that or we were just too weird to marry other people.

Next thing we knew, it was sunset and it was showtime.

“Penelope, the moment I laid eyes on you in the university commons I knew I wanted to marry you.  I’ve always known it was you.  And even though you haven’t always been sure I was the one who would be your husband, I’m so glad you finally came around and decided to jump in with both feet.  I love you more than life itself and I will give everything I can to make you happy.”

“Xander, I knew you were the one I was going to marry the night we went cosmic bowling in college.  You fell face first in the bowling lane and instead of being absolutely humiliated, you giggled like a squirrel on crack.  I knew then that I wanted to spend my life with you.  I want someone by my side who can make me laugh no matter what even during life’s darkest moments.  I may have made you work to get to this wedding arch but I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else.”

From somewhere in my mind I heard justice of the peace say “I now pronounce you husband and wife” but I was so lost in the moment it didn’t register.  I was standing at the altar with my best friend while our families joined us in celebrating our union as one.

We stood under the wedding arch a while longer while our family and friends cheered us on.

At sunset the justice of the peace finally said the words everyone was waiting for:

“I now present to you Xander and Penelope Sutton!”

Xander snagged one more surprise kiss under the arch.  It was perfect, the cheers from our family, the sunset, everything was perfect.

We went inside to cut the cake.  Our family had signed their wishes onto a photo matte with a print of Xander and I holding hands in one of our engagement photos.  It was a total surprise and all I could manage to do was smile dumbly at Xander.

Finally I came to my senses and cut the cake.

Liv and I stayed upstairs eating cake long after everyone had wandered downstairs to dance.  We deserved that damn cake.  We had both dieted and exercised for months.  We were going to enjoy us some cake.

Finally we headed downstairs to dance.  Liv followed everyone around like a creeper taking photos non-stop all night.

I had to admit, despite my reservations I was thrilled.  It was a wedding for the books, really.  Everyone had a blast.

Xander and I danced long after everyone went home.  That night it was just us.  We’d deal with the world in the morning.

Chapter 3.14

Note from SweetPoyzin: This chapter is a bit short.  You’ll thank me for the brevity when we get to chapters 15 and 16 which will be so picture heavy and full of feels it might break your computer and/or your sanity.  My apologies in advance.

I had been a world renown surgeon for about two weeks which meant I’d been engaged just as long.  Xander and I set a date for the end of summer giving us just three months to get everything in order.

With all this stuff hanging over my head I did what any intrepid young woman would do: I got a makeover and invited my boss to dinner in hopes of a raise.

I played up the fact that I was getting married in a few months, working to send my baby brother to college, and trying to make ends meet.  Most of which is true.  The ends meet more or less depending on how much shopping I –er…Xander– does.

Nobody needs to know that I laced the food with a potion made specifically to force my boss to do my bidding.

Needless to say, my powers of persuasion did the trick and after some steak, angel food cake, and lots of wine I was granted a $57 an hour raise.

It was great timing, too.  Liv, Mom, Granny, and I were headed out venue shopping this weekend and I’d need a hefty chunk of change for a down payment.

Would you believe Xander decided to take my raise to the furniture store and redid the whole living room?

I didn’t think so.

Well someone had to redo it.  It was getting old and boring.

It might as well have been them since they spend their entire lives in there playing video games.  They are totally obsessed with this game where they are chased by llamas.  I have no idea either.

On Saturday I left the boys to their llama battle and met up with the women of the family at Delmar Beach.  I didn’t want the same wedding that Mom and Liv had.  I wanted something new and exciting.  The beach sounded like the perfect place.

Mom and I arrived early and took advantage of the warm weather.  Let’s be honest, the building wasn’t going anywhere and it could wait.

Once Liv arrived she took the helm and kept mom and I in line.  We abandoned our patch of sun and toured the building.

It didn’t take much convincing.  This was it.  I put down the outrageous payment and went to track down Liv who was now taking up my towel on the beach.

“So I need a maid of honor still and you are my twin…so?”

“Like there was ever any doubt?!  Seriously.  I’ve already got the bachelorette party planned for tonight and next weekend you, me, and mom are headed to Bridgeport to find you a wedding dress.”

At that moment I could only think one thing:
I’ve created a maid of honor monster.