The twins turned fifteen, and for reasons unknown to Marisol, her and Rita were fighting. They’d been best friends since preschool, and now her birthday plans were destroyed.
While her social life took a dive, Manny enjoyed the moment he arrived at home after school. He enjoyed learning, however the social game wasn’t his passion like his twin. Him and Nolan were good friends without drama, and who didn’t mind taking breaks to be alone.
Cesar works at his Used Car Dealership into the evenings, so the twins come home, work on homework and snack their way through the fridge.
Marisol admits she has a crush on Manny’s best friend, Nolan, and he quietly digests this information. He decides this isn’t anything Nolan needs to know about. He can see the repercussions happening months in advance, and he’s pretty sure his twin sister would be the perfect bomb to destroy his lifelong friendship.
Manny aspires to be in the Accelerated Classes at Jefferson High, so he arranges for the Headmaster to visit.
Cesar leaves the shop with his parents, and makes it just in time for dinner. He makes it to the table before Marisol strolls out of her bedroom; she’s applying because her Dad is forcing her.
Cesar has two big aspirations in his life, both his twins excelling in academics and work, and to get married one day. He would have married the twins’ mother, Annie if she’d been willing. For a dark period, he felt he’d always be alone, but Janice has brought light and hope back into his life.
Janice arrives after the headmaster has left; he accepted both twins into the Accelerated Program, and Cesar couldn’t be happier.
The twins know he intends to propose to Janice, and their biggest complaint is their single-bathroom house. Manny gripes they can’t have another woman hogging the bathroom.
But the family all knows it’s Manny who lingers in the bathroom.
Marisol protests she at least cleans up after herself when she is in there.
On the weekends, Janice sleeps over. Originally, Cesar tried to hide his relationship with the kids, but now they’re used to her being around, even if Manny still isn’t a fan.
Janice tries to coach him with his homework.
Knowing his Dad’s intention to marry her, he does thank her for helping.
Cesar prepares breakfast, intending to ask her the big question while they all eat together. He wishes his step-daughter, Ella could have been home for the weekend, but she had a study group she couldn’t miss.
Cesar focuses on the future with Janice, knowing the twins will be moving out in a few short years, hopefully to follow their big sister and go to EU. He didn’t finish his degree, and as much as he’d like his children to continue the family Used Car business, he supports whatever their dreams may be.
Marisol drags her feet, always happy to arrive late to the party.
She gestures to her brother that their Dad is crazy, for proposing to Janice, and she sees her. Marisol feels bad for it, but she doesn’t apologize.
They toast with mimosas, orange juice for the underage. Neither of the twins object to toasting for Janice, which calms Cesar’s racing heart. They know the question is coming, but he still doesn’t know what to expect from them.
He takes a moment to appreciate Janice when Marisol warms her arm up to toss some sticky pancakes at Manny.
Cesar ignores their antics, not seeing any harm in their play.
Manny’s always a good sport too, so it seems pointless to get upset, especially since they’ll be cleaning up the mess.
Janice doesn’t get upset about it either, which is a balm to Cesar’s nerves. He’s only ever proposed once before, and Annie rejected him. As he pops the question, sliding the ring over, his stomach seems to drop out of him.
Janice isn’t Annie though, in numerous ways, and she is thrilled.
She’s been wanting this moment for months herself, and she’d been thinking of asking him herself, believing he never would get around to it.
Janice tries talking to the kids, but Manny is preoccupied with his pancakes, eating them as quickly as possible. One day, he’ll be happy for his Dad, but right now, he’s enjoying all the changes.
They put breakfast away, and when Janice tries to hug Marisol for welcoming her into the family, it doesn’t go as planned. Cesar knows there is work ahead of them, and things might not ever be perfect.
Marisol calls her sister, Ella to complain and fill in her about the proposal. Ella admits she skipped breakfast, because she didn’t know how to process it. All the siblings had traits from their late-mother, and Ella and Manny both hated change. Marisol knew she could commiserate with her sister over this, even though she usually welcomed change.
Janice and Cesar lingered in their pajamas all day, then worked together to prepare dinner.
She gazed out the side window, thinking about living in this house with step-children, Cesar, and children of their own. He bought it thinking he’d never get married, and one bathroom wasn’t great for her either. But she didn’t want to move the twins out of their home again, and she didn’t want to move after they’d gone, feeling like they’d never feel welcome in a new home.
The next weekend, they took a trip up to the Cascade Mountains with Cesar’s parents. They hadn’t met Janice yet, and it seemed overdue. A weekend at a resort held the possibility for a memorable weekend.
Excited to meet Mr. and Mrs. Gonzales, Janice couldn’t contain herself. Cesar checked them all in to their three rooms, and smiled, feeling optimistic for their future.
Cesar didn’t inform Janice that his Mother hated all his girlfriends, especially Annie. He introduced her to his Dad first, which went perfect.
Cesar thought he might get sick when it came time to introduce Janice to his Mom. He wished he had warned her, because she didn’t know the woman she was about to deal with.
Maria seemed to be on good behavior, perhaps Juan had warned her. When Annie had been alive, Maria almost lost her son forever, by laying down a rule that he had to pick between pregnant Annie or her.
Cesar hoped it was just Annie she didn’t approve of, which if that were true, he could forgive her, because Annie had rough spots.
She pulled her only child into a hug, while Janice caught up with Ella.
The kids went to the rec room to catch up, playing darts and arcade games. It wasn’t until recent that Ella and Marisol seemed to bond, but it left Manny feeling left out and at odds. He was happy his sisters weren’t fighting, but he missed his close relationship with Ella, who always understood him the best.
Even Ella seemed different from attending university; she embraced Cesar buying a house and leaving the apartment behind.
While the kids were occupied, Cesar and Janice sneaked into the hot tub, while his parents showered off the travel smell and went to bed.
Marisol embraced the mountain air, enjoying time away from the city and cell phone service. She hoped Rita would wonder where she’d gone, but she doubted it.
All three kids in the same room, the girls intended to stay up and giggle until their eyes grew heavy, but Manny snored before Marisol had gotten into bed.
Cesar and Janice connected now that they were alone without any chance for interruption.
Waking up with the cool mountain air creeping through the window was bliss to Cesar. He couldn’t wait to wake up next to Janice every day. They’d decided she wouldn’t move in until they were married, and they joked they should have the ceremony that day so they could get started on the rest of their life.
Marisol and Ella bonded over university, Marisol having loads of questions and ideas about the experience her sister must be living.
Ella didn’t want to tell her she’d spent her entire freshman year living on a third shift schedule, avoiding people and the world. So she told her bits and pieces she didn’t mind sharing. She mentioned Milo London, because he was easier to discuss over Monroe, whom she still loved.
Marisol didn’t have any inclination on her degree or career aspirations, and Ella explained she didn’t have to know until after she’d finished her generals.
Manny sulked until he decided to watch TV in Ella’s bed. Soon he forgot his troubles.
Later when Marisol tried to perk him up to Janice and discover his problem which had him pouting, he got upset.
Janice and Cesar were blissfully unaware of any kid drama. They thought they might even return for their honeymoon, the kids were old enough to be home alone for a long weekend.
Janice took the kids to an Art Studio, inviting them to play in the clay with her. Manny declined.
To Janice’s surprise, Ella joined in.
When the kids went off to do their own thing, she sat down with her future inlaws. They’d stuck to themselves most the time, which Janice worried was her own doing. Perhaps she needed to be more open and sharing.
She decides to share a secret with them, something she hasn’t even told Cesar yet.
She’s one month pregnant with their future grandchild.
She’s occupied with Juan; she misses Maria’s true feelings on the matter.
Juan is thrilled at this news. He looks forward to having another baby to dote upon and a child to know. While Maria is upset that nothing ever goes according to plan. Why couldn’t her son find a nice young woman, get married, then have children, in that order, and without an alcoholic like Annie.
She’d been willing to accept Janice into the family, and it felt like a slap in the face that the woman was already expecting, like she might be trying to trap her son just like Annie had done.
Juan realized his wife might not be happy, but he couldn’t be more thrilled.
Maria sulked in her room the remainder of the weekend, and Janice could tell she’d stepped into something bigger than she’d anticipated. While her and Juan seemed to be connecting with this secret news, Maria seemed to despise her.
When they arrived back at Cesar’s Sunday night, she decided to share the news with him. She’d been planning a nice evening out, and slipping the news in a romantic fashion, but it seemed wrong for his parents to know and not him.
She shared they were expecting someone new in September.
Cesar was slower on the uptake for this than his Mother, possibly because he had been wrestling with the fact that he might not want more children. His were almost grown, and he’d done it alone. He didn’t know how he’d raise children with a co-parent.
Suddenly his house he bought to retire in seemed too small. What if it were twins again? Fraternal twins could be hereditary, was it his genes or Annie’s? Or just a fluke? One bathroom with a full house seemed insane. His son didn’t even have a proper bedroom, it was a back sunroom converted to a bedroom. It had a door the backyard, not safe for a baby to sleep in.
Janice admitted she had no answers, but she was confident they could get through it together.
Pulling himself together, he took a deep breath, then beckoned her to his arms. They were in this together, and unlike the past, Janice was a healthy, well-adjusted woman with a career.
They could handle whoever came their way.
They stayed up late into the night, discussing possible baby names, and thinking about the logistics with his twins.
Notes: Cesar’s wants are to marry Janice, for the twins to both be overachievers, and his fear is to have a baby. I kinda felt he was done with children, especially with the twins being 15 years old now. I’m not sure when Janice got pregnant, but it wasn’t during the vacation. I caught her telling the future inlaws the news, and Maria was very upset by it, just as she was about Annie.
Manny isn’t thrilled about all the changes with Janice, and I wonder how he’ll take a new baby. And Marisol and Rita are angry at each other, and I have no idea why. So I’m chalking it up to being teenagers. High school is rough.
I don’t want to move Cesar out of this house, I think he’d want to stay, especially since he can afford it, but we will see.
Thanks for reading!