Authors: Brenda Kennedy
Tags: #romance, #love, #military, #abuse of prescription drugs, #recovery addictions
Alec laughs and says, “You’re right. I lost
a ton of money on that match. Not impressive at all.”
You are a smart man to put
your money on me,” Bobby boasts.
Not that night, I wasn’t,”
Can we talk about something
else? I don’t want to remember that night,” Leah says. Although she
is smiling, she looks a little sad.
That’s when I got this.”
Bobby points to a small scar over his right eye. “The blood
interfered with my vision and was a major reason I lost. All right,
Sweets. We can talk about whatever you want.” Bobby winks at his
wife and I have to smile.
Thank you. Alec, if you’ll
see that Molly gets his number, we would appreciate it.”
We’ll make sure she gets
it. She needs all the support she can get,” I say.
We finish our coffee and talk about Mason
and Alec going into business together and Bobby and Alec talk about
sports training and boxing. Leah and I talk about my recent
engagement to Alec, and she tells me how blessed she is to have
We walk out of the restaurant together and
we all wait for the valet. I watch as Bobby holds his wife’s door
open for her. Alec wraps his arm around me, and I cuddle into him.
“Did you have a good evening?”
I did. It was wonderful.
Our car pulls up and Alec opens my car door
for me. “I have a surprise for you for your birthday,” he says as I
get into the car. “We’ll need childcare for 24 hours,” he adds as
he shuts my car door. He walks over to settle up with the valet
before he looks over his shoulder and smiles at me. I get those
butterflies low in my belly again.
After he gets in the car, he drives off and
doesn’t look at me. “Are you going to tell me where we are going
for my birthday?”
No,” he says without
looking at me.
Are you at least going to
give me a hint?”
He smiles at me and says, “We’ll need a
babysitter for 24 hours.”
I laugh. “You already told me that. May I
have another hint?”
Pack something sexy.” He
Is that all you’re going to
tell me? To pack something sexy and we’ll be gone
I watch as he smiles his All-American smile.
On Monday morning Alec’s phone rings
precisely at 8:00 am. The kids are having waffles and sausage at
the table, while Alec and I are finishing up our coffee.
Alec here,” he says as he
always does when he answers his phone.
She’s right here, hold
Raelynn, it’s your
I watch as Raelynn excitedly reaches for her
dad’s cell phone. “Mommy!”
Alec watches and listens to everything being
said. Even with a phone call he is very protective of his daughter.
I stand up to get Bobby’s business card from my purse. I hand it to
him and he nods. With Brooke and Brice’s business growing, Alec and
I have started taking the kids to their grandparents so they can
watch them. Sam and Bridget have claimed James as one of their
grandchildren and he loves it. I have to admit I love it, too. They
are wonderful people and are very good to Alec, me, and both of the
kids. I have to wonder if this will change when Molly comes home.
How is this all going to work with Molly there?
I sit down and put James’ shoes on for
Ok, mommy, I will. I love
you, too,” Raelynn says before she hands Alec his phone back to
Rae, get your shoes on,”
Alec tells her.
Ok, daddy,” Rae says as she
skips out of the room.
I listen as Alec talks briefly to Molly
about her treatment. Right before he hangs up the phone, he tells
her that Bobby wants her to call him when she can. He hangs up the
phone and says, “The detox symptoms are done and now she is doing
the 12-step program.”
What is that, exactly?” I
It’s where they teach them
how to avoid recurrent drug use, avoid temptation, and I believe,
how to move forward from their addiction. She’ll never be able to
get her nursing license again, but maybe she can become a
motivational speaker or a drug and alcohol counselor. Molly was a
great photographer at one time. Maybe she’ll get back into
Sure, that could happen for
her. She’s on her way to recovery.”
I say, “This is wonderful news. Raelynn
Chapter Three: An Unexpected Surprise
Today is Emma’s birthday, and although we
have a large family and lots of friends, I have planned something
for just the two of us. Last night we did the birthday celebration
with balloons, cake, and our family and friends. Today it will be
just her and me.
All four sets of grandparents are taking
Raelynn and James to Disney World for the weekend. We are very
blessed our parents can do this for their grandchildren, and we are
very blessed because this gives us some much-needed alone time. My
parents, Emma’s parents, Max’s parents, and even Molly’s parents
are all participating in the weekend getaway.
What time are we going?”
Emma calls from the other room.
I think we should leave at
Where are we
Nice try.” I walk into the
bedroom; she is standing inside her walk-in closet. “Do you need
help?” I ask, walking in to join her.
How do I know what to wear
if I don’t know where we’re going?”
Mmm, that can be a bit of a
problem. Let’s try to remedy this. It’s summertime and we live in
Florida,” I say, tapping my index finger to my temple. “What would
one wear on a hot summer day in Florida?”
Alec, stop it! You’re not
Then stop laughing and wear
that red sundress.” I smirk.
Get out so I can get
dressed and just because I’m laughing doesn’t make you funny,” she
That is exactly what that
means,” I say, walking out of her walk-in closet.
I finish getting dressed and
load up our overnight bag into the car. The house is filling up
with boxes, and it’s becoming quite difficult to live in. We are
planning on moving next weekend, if I can last that long. It’s not
easy living out of boxes.
I turn around and Emma is standing on the
front porch wearing a red sundress with white polka-dots and red
high heels. Her blond hair is in a high ponytail. “You look
stunning,” I say, honestly.
Thank you. Do you want a
bottle of water before we leave?” she asks.
Yes, please. I already have
everything in the car.”
Just give me a minute to
get the water.”
I start the car and run the air-conditioner
to cool the car off. August in Florida is unbelievably hot. I stand
by Emma’s car door and wait for her. I watch as she puts on her
sunglasses and locks the front door.
What are you smiling at?”
she asks as she gets closer to me.
I can’t smile at the
Maybe if I knew where we
were going I’d be smiling, too.”
Laughing at her poutiness, I open her car
door wide for her to get in. “You’ll know soon enough,
I drive around town and Emma admires the
view. After we ride around some, I take her to her birthday
destination. I pray she likes my surprise. When Emma realizes where
we are going, she looks over at me and smiles.
We’re going to the new
house?” she asks while looking over at me.
I look at her and smile, but I don’t say
anything. We ride to our new house in silence. Emma rests her hand
on my thigh as I drive. I enter the passcode and wait for the gate
to open. Once we are inside the gate, Emma smiles when the house
comes into view. The sun is glistening on the water and it is so
We drive closer to the house, and we both
see Brice and Brooke sitting on the bench under the gazebo. Brice
is wearing khakis and a white linen shirt, and Brooke is wearing a
sundress and sandals. Emma looks at me and smiles. “I’m happy to
see them, but I don’t understand.”
I put the car in park and say, “You will in
a minute.” By the time I get out of the car, Emma is already
running down to the gazebo to meet our friends. When she stops
running, I know that she sees her surprise. She turns around and
looks at me and all I can do is smile.
Is this your surprise?” she
asks, walking up to me.
It is.” I bend down to kiss
We’re going sailing today?”
she asks as she looks at the large blue and white sail on the
We are going sailing for
the weekend,” I correct.
Brooke and Brice walk up to us and Brooke
says, “Your boyfriend invited us to go sailing with you for the
entire weekend. Unfortunately, we can’t go for the weekend, but we
can go for the day.”
Thank you,” Emma says,
before she kisses me. “Alec, this is the best birthday, ever.” She
stands on her tiptoes and kisses me.
Emma, it hasn’t even
First we go into the large and very empty
house. Brice and Brooke haven’t seen it yet. We walk through
together and it is just as amazing this time as it was the first
time. Emma explains which room will be Raelynn’s and which room
will be James’. Once we are done with the grand tour of the house,
we load up the boat and set sail.
Emma, Brice, and Brooke look around at the
boat. “This is a big sailboat,” Emma says.
It’s a Catamaran. I like to
sail, but I also like hanging out on the water. I wanted something
that would allow me to do both,” I say as I hold her close. “Go
downstairs and look around. One bedroom, a bathroom, and a small
kitchenette are on the lower deck.”
While Emma, Brice and Brooke look around the
boat, I sail around the very large lake. We see gators and Emma
becomes scared. Now she is afraid they’ll come up in the yard of
the new house. We lower the anchor and have lunch on the boat. We
talk about us moving next weekend and when Emma brings up selling
or leasing her house, Brooke and Brice mention that they may be
interested in buying the house from her.
We have a packed lunch of sandwiches and
fresh fruit. After lunch, Brooke lights a birthday cupcake and we
sing “Happy Birthday” to Emma. Emma smiles so much that she can
barely blow out the single candle on the cupcake.
Did I ever tell you about
the time Brice whined and whined about wanting a sailboat?” Brooke
I did not whine about
wanting a sailboat,” Brice says sternly.
Ok, did I ever tell you
about the time Brice cried like a little girl about wanting a
sailboat?” Brooke corrects herself and laughs.
We all laugh and she adds,
“He had just joined the service and we were stationed in Fort
Jackson, South Carolina. He whined — I mean cried and cried — about
how much he wanted a sailboat.” She looks at him and smiles, and he
shakes his head. “Being the good wife that I was and still am, I
went out and bought him the best sailboat I could
I didn’t know you sailed,”
Emma says, looking at Brice in amazement.
I don’t, but my dear sweet
wife did buy me a sailboat … in a bottle.”
We all burst out laughing and Emma has to
wipe the tears from her eyes from laughing so hard.
Have you ever heard about
the artist and practical joker Hugh Troy? He was commissioned to
paint a mural in a bank, so he painted a scene with boats, one of
which was displaying signal flags. Deciphered, the signal flags
stated, ‘Keep your money under your mattress.’”
We sail some more before we
take Brooke and Brice
back to their car.
Once they pull out of the driveway, Emma turns to me and says, “You
I don’t know about that,
but thank you.” I bend down to kiss her. “Do you want to stay on
the boat, stay in this house, or go back home?”
You planned a weekend on
the boat, didn’t you?”
I did, but we can always
change the plan if you’d like.”
No, I like the idea of
spending the weekend, alone with you, on the
Mmm, and I like the way
that sounds.” We walk hand in hand to the boat and I give Emma her
first lesson in sailing. We sail some before we anchor for the
night. We watch the sunset and make love under the stars. Emma
sleeps and I hold her close.
We watch the sunrise and have our coffee on
the upper deck. The fish jump and the gators swim lazily in the
water. After breakfast we take turns getting cleaned up in the
small bathroom. We have a light breakfast and lunch. It’s a
leisurely day as Emma reads and sunbathes, while I fish. Emma sails
or tries to and I try hard not to laugh at her attempt.
I look at my watch; it is 6:00 p.m. “I have
another surprise for you. Do you want it now?”