When Bethany convinced Logan to skip school, she had forgotten one very vital detail, this was modern day. Erin received two text messages and a voicemail that Logan had not been in homeroom, nor had he been excused. After the initial shock, she called her sister and found that it had all been her idea.
She asked Marshal if she could leave work early, he was being more lenient since his wife was 8 months pregnant, and he was planning to bow out himself once the baby arrived.
Originally she planned to hunt her sister down and drag Logan home, but once she arrived at home, she decided to just stay there. She poured herself some beer from Bethany’s keg, and worked on getting a buzz. It wasn’t like her to drink in the day, but that’s what her sister did to people.
When Bethany finally came home, she couldn’t help but get into it with her. Barely did she ask Bethany to see the kids to the bus, and the simplest of tasks were beyond her capabilities. Always, her sister had to make everything into something fun.
It didn’t matter if Erin tried to burst Bethany’s bubble, she was thirty-one, and having the time of her life, still. She blew off Erin’s bad mood, and started in on her newest idea. This time she was set on going up to the Cascade mountains for Christmas.
Bethany makes everything sound good, she uses her talents well at Zoe-Gen Bridal, where she talks easy sales into extravagant gowns, but Erin is immune to her sister these days. Of course, she’d love to rent a cabin, but none of that was in her budget.
Erin is livid with her sister that she would have agreed to visit the dentist if that were an option, so a parkday in the winter sounded perfect.
Caitlyn arrives shortly before them, and they instantly jump into catching up. Everyone is glad that Caitlyn graduated university, and that she’s back home now.
It’s not the first time that Erin thinks how much she loves Colin’s family, and wishes that it was hers instead of his. Although she knows that they have all welcomed and accepted her, and they invite her to more events than Colin by a landslide.
For the most part Caitlyn is in better spirits since getting her own house, but she still struggles with being a single Mom, and Erin can wholeheartedly relate.
Logan attempts to hang out with his cousin, but Thomas turns out to be a bit of a cuss like his little sister. Caitlyn witnesses the exchange and is worried that Logan’s feelings might be hurt, but Erin just laughs, little kids don’t have that power over Logan. Mallory has built up a thick armor on him after all of these years.
Caitlyn asks probing questions about marriage, and knowing when the guy is the one. She doesn’t realize how little Erin knows in this subject, she’s still figuring things out and she’s in her mid-thirties.
She can only suggest that she thinks with her mind and her heart, never just one. If any part of her as doubts, to just let it go. She admits that she believed she could change Colin, that they could meld together into a happy family, and it was far from it. It’s not the happy-go-lucky advice that some people give to Caitlyn, but she appreciates this more.
Chaz happens to look out his window and see Logan at the park, and runs across the street to join him. They took turns spinning the kids until they could barely squeal in delight.
When they finally exhausted themselves with pushing, Thomas hurled himself off and fell to the ground, losing his grape juicebox all over the ground. All of the kids loudly exclaimed how gross it was, while the Mom’s continued talking.
Once Thomas finished, he immediately ran to his Mom to fill her in on all the gory details. He was pleased that he’d even made the big boys grossed out. Caitlyn just mused how different boys could be from girls, and she’d even been a bit rough as kid, but she’d never relished puking.
He begged to be pushed on the swing, and Caitlyn attempted to teach him how to pump his legs, though Erin said that four might be a bit young for him to successfully accomplish that skill.
Once Erin was left alone on the bench, a blonde guy came by and started talking with her. He was definitely being flirty, and Erin just had to ask if he had any kids at the park, which he didn’t. She knew about these kind of guys, that somehow got off when hitting on single Moms, like Moms only came to parks to pick up creepy guys.
She was still wound up from Bethany and Logan skipping school, that she rejected his advances a bit more harshly than she intended. But she was happily dating Nico, and wanted to just be left alone. Where were all the guys when she wasn’t dating anyone? Nowhere. She’d go to pubs and she’d come home with her only action being a dance with Nadia or her sister.
Logan was a good kid, protective of his family, but for the most part, he was oblivious to things. On the opposite hand was Mallory, she was tuned in on everything. She immediately dropped off the bars, and barely bothered to wipe her dirty hands as she stomped over.
She didn’t even hesitate as she went after that creep. She didn’t do it because of Nico, she hated Nico. She hated all men, especially any guy that was nice to her Mom. This was protection for her entire family.
Erin witnessed the ordeal and just covered her mouth as she giggled. Sometimes Mallory did the funniest things and she couldn’t help but laugh. The guy looked to her for help, but she just shrugged, so many times she never knew what to do with that daughter of hers, but times like these, she loved that fiery personality.
Thomas immediately approached Mallory afterward and marveled at how she’d been so brave! He’d never consider sassying back at a grownup, especially a stranger. Mallory just waved him off, and promised that she’d tell him all her secrets.
Thomas was slightly stressed by the idea, unlike Mallory, he saw his Dad regular enough, and hadn’t known any other way. It seemed to bother Mallory, but Thomas hadn’t thought of it as being something bad.
A few days later, Erin checked her bank account balance, and with great hesitation, asked Bethany to go Christmas shopping with her. The kids would be on Christmas break soon, and she needed to get her shopping done.
Logan was easy to shop for, he’d been begging for any kind of electronic. But when Erin got to the store, she was welcomed by more options than she expected. She asked Bethany for advice, but she was too occupied dancing to the stereo and insisting that he’d want one for his bedroom. His smallish bedroom that he shared with his sister, there wasn’t even room for such a monstrosity, not to mention she couldn’t afford it.
In the end she decided on a video game for the cold winter days that lay ahead and a cell phone with a small data allowance. He’d be grateful for just one of those things, and it always made her want to give him more.
Mallory was more difficult, she was eight going on seventeen, and toys weren’t going to cut it. Bethany insisted they try the clothing store, the one that many of the teens shopped at, including Bethany.
Erin had thought there might be glitter or some glitzy costume jewelry, but there was nothing young for Mallory. That didn’t deter Bethany from holding up inappropriate clothing and insisting that Mallory would look fabulous in it, ignoring the fact that she’d be swimming in anything from that store.
Bethany complained that Erin was just a fun-sucker and that’s why Mallory preferred her over her own Mother. Those tactics didn’t even phase Erin though, her sister always went for the daggers when she didn’t get her way. This was how she’d been spoiled rotten when they were growing up, and oh how her parents had ruined her.
If they weren’t shopping for Mallory, than Bethany was shopping for herself. She found the most skimpiest black dress, and paraded it around the store, getting catcalls and feeling darn proud of herself.
When they were driving home, that was when she got the perfect gift idea for Mallory. Nico was waiting outside for their dinner plans, and she filled him in on her idea.
Naturally he loved it, he loved almost everything about Erin, and unlike Bethany, wasn’t a total psychopath.
On Christmas Eve, Nico stayed over, along with Bethany’s some-what boyfriend, Zion. Nico filled Bethany in on their surprise present for Mallory, no one had bothered previously because she would have likely ruined it or stolen it. She immediately protested and than insisted that she would never help clean up anything in regards to the gift.
It snowed Christmas morning, and both Nico and Erin had awoken before dawn to take a taxi out to Millwood. They’d made sure the pet store would be open early, and than they got to their tough decision, what dog to buy for Mallory?
In the end, the internet helped Erin decide on a Canaan dog that was sure to be a great family pet. Nico adored him immediately, and thought it was a great choice. They both thought a large breed dog with high energy would suit Mallory, and hopefully help her gain some responsibility as well.
When they got him home, he ran around the main floor, his claws clicking on the wood; they thought for sure that Mallory would wake up, but she slept like death, which had been great when she was a baby.
They sneakily placed his new bed in her room, and placed a treat in the bed, and like magic, that was when Mallory awoke.
It seemed to be a mutual love at first sight, and Erin was thrilled that she’d thought of it.
Mallory even gave her a kiss on the cheek when she came downstairs, and then immediately told her she was naming him Cujo.
Logan loved his gifts as well, and for the first time, Christmas felt like a wonderful celebration. It felt traditional even if Zion was walking around without a shirt on with low cut pants.
Everyone seemed happy, the kids were getting along, Bethany wasn’t fighting with anyone ether, which was a surprise.
Nico pulled Erin closer to the tree, and whispered that they hadn’t given each other their gifts yet, and then he knelt down.
Erin was shocked, she had dreamed of things like proposals and romantic gestures, but after all these years, she never really thought she would get one.
Of course she said yes, she’d been happy with Nico beyond comparison, and had often wanted to have him move in with her, but she refused to make that mistake again.
She could feel her kids’ surprise, and hear their gasps.
She knew that in a minute there would be hell to pay, but she enjoyed her moment, instantly thinking about sharing their life together.
It was by far the best Christmas of Erin’s life.
And then they all heard the stomping of Mallory as she torpedoed herself up the stairs, huffing and puffing, and slightly growling. When she slammed her bedroom door, the star on the Christmas tree quaked.
Nico tried to go follow Erin, but she insisted this was a Mom moment.
Before allowing Mallory a moment to speak, she jumped right in on all the good points of having a step-Dad. He’d be there to help with homework, take them to the park and the swimming pool. His family owned the fabulous Italian restaurant, and they’d get to visit whenever they wanted, even after hours. That one day it’d be Nico’s place, and perhaps Mallory would work there too.
Told her how Daddy’s were great at bedtime stories and making voices, and how excited Nico was to be part of her life. She spoke of how Mallory had been jipped in the Dad-department for years, but would soon see how great it all could be.
Erin felt a bit of hope, that perhaps the perfect Christmas could continue into lunch time, Mallory seemed to be genuinely listening to every point that Erin made. When she finally felt that she’d made all the best points, she asked Mallory what she thought, and she immediately said no.
She wasn’t having a step-Dad, she didn’t need a Dad, and he wasn’t even a real Dad, he was just a guy who liked her Mom. She was going to run away and live with Bethany, who she knew her Mom was just going to kick her out and have a new family anyway.
Erin just shook her head, she tried telling Mallory that none of that was true. Bethany had her own suite in the basement, and they weren’t kicking her out. As much as Bethany aggravated her, it was her sister and family stuck with family.
Mallory was done listening though, if she’d ever listened to begin with, and spent the rest of the day in her room, petting Cujo and telling him all her secrets.
Notes: First, I’m thrilled that Nico and Erin are engaged! She’s been wanting to be married since forever, and to have another baby (while equally afraid to have another baby). I don’t know when the wedding will be, but I doubt Erin will want to wait too long, because she does want another baby, just as Mallory fears, and she’s 36 years old right this next month. Her fertility is dropping at this point, and she’s fully aware of that.
I was afraid if Nico didn’t roll some type of wedding want this round, that they would have to break up. Thankfully he came through! If they’d broken up, than she might not ever have another kid.
As for Mallory, Nico can’t do anything right in her eyes, they can’t talk without her plugging her ears. Logan likes him though, and I think he will enjoy having him in the home.
I liked that Chaz showed up at the park, he lives right down the street from the park as seen in this photo (this is his front porch looking towards the park).
Thanks for reading!
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