Leonie ran after the little boy on his way out the front door.
“No no no, young man, back inside with you!”
She scooped Jake up into her arms blowing raspberries on his chubby little cheek, making him giggle.
“When I do that to you, you get mad.” Liam joked from a distance, near the driveway, where he stood, waiting for the first cars to arrive for the party they had invited everybody to. Their youngest son was no baby anymore, but an active toddler, it was Jake’s birthday today.
“He rarely wears make up that gets smudged.” she smiled up at her husband.
“You would not believe how glad that makes me. I think we are all set. I don’t understand why we didn’t just hire are party planner ..”
“Because I am his mom and will plan his birthday until he has a family of his own. Oh god, the cake! I hope I didn’t burn it! No time to make another now! Here take him.” Leonie gently shoved Jake into his father’s arms and ran to the kitchen.
“Don’t look at me, kid, your grandmother was the same way, and I couldn’t even eat that damn cake most of the time. I would not even be surprised if she actually brought a homemade cake with her for you.” Liam told his youngest son, who was gargling in amusement.
“You said a bad word! I am telling mommy!” Everett proclaimed.
“Hey hey, Everett, come here and help me. I need a strong man to carry some stuff. You up for that.” Liam knew how to distract his son.
“Sure! I am Super-Rett!” The boy beamed.
“You sure are.” Liam smirked while thinking “And luckily easily distracted, too.”.
Few hours later the guests arrived almost all at the same time and the party was in full swing. Usually Liam’s parents would be there ahead of time to help, but their flight had been delayed and they ended up on the same connection as the rest of the invitees. The house had gone from the sound of playing toddlers and a happily yapping puppy to a loud roar in each room as all of them mingled.
Liam stood off to the side taking in the scene. Everybody he cared about was right here, right now. All his friends, the old clique, plus kids, his parents, Vivian and even Leonie’s mother. Too bad the house wasn’t even bigger to have them all stay for good. He felt a bout of melancholy wash over him so he joined the action instead. While they all stayed in touch, there seemed to be news to be shared still.
At some point, his ears were ringing and he wanted some quiet, so he headed for the patio, where he found his sister Vivian.
“Hey, sis, why are you out here? Too many kids for your nerves?” Liam teased Vivian, joining her on the large deck overlooking the Valley.
“No, just not enough Vittos…” Vitto had been invited but due to a prior engagement was stuck at work, so Vivian had come alone. She seemed fine, unless you caught her alone. Liam hugged her.
“Yeah, wish he could have made it. So what’s going on with you guys these days?”
“Got engaged, but I told you that.” she held up her ring.
“So when’s the big day?”
“I don’t know, Liam. I kinda do not want to rush things. Trying so hard to take it slow. He’s in my ear all the time about moving in with him, getting married, kids. I am trying to do it right. I want this to be my last marriage. I want what mom and dad have. What you and Leo have.” Vivian sounded serious.
“I am no expert, but I get Vitto. I mean, why the delay? Would make sense if you recently met. But you have known each other forever. I don’t see a reason. And honestly, your neighbors are the pits. They remind me of the inconsiderate prick that lived across the hall from Leonie’s apartment. Every time I visited you recently, we had to scream at each other because of that fool next door. You work from home most of the time. I say, move in with Vitto. Move back home to Brindleton Bay. We both were born there, it will always be home to us.” Liam smiled at her.
“You know what? For being the little squirt and some airhead actor pretty boy, you sometimes spout a lot of smart stuff, Liam.” she teased him, like they often would.
“I take that as a compliment coming from you. If you talk to Vitto this way, I’d slap a ring on it now, before the rose-colored glasses come off and he realizes what kinda B you are, sissy … ” he dodged her slap at his arm when they were interrupted by their mother’s voice.
“There you are! Come on, you two, they are getting ready to blow out the candles!” she stood at the patio door, waving them inside.
Vivian planted a quick kiss on her brother’s cheek, which he acknowledged with a wink.
The rest of the time flew by, as it always did. Next thing Liam knew was that he was waving goodbye to the last limousine he had hired to take all of them to the airport.
“That was lovely, wasn’t it?” Leonie snuggled up next to him as they walked back inside.
“Yeah. Went by too fast. Wished they could have stayed, at least for a day.”
“Liam baby, they all have lives to get back to as well. Del Sol Valley isn’t exactly around the corner.” Leonie hugged him and gave him that look.
“Leo, how’s your mother doing?”
“Has her hands full. Steven and Aubrey are living with her, directly across the road from his ex-wife, Cory and his ex’s new baby with another man. I’ll let you use your imagination how that goes.” Aubrey and Cory were Leonie’s brother’s children.
“I can imagine. What about our brood?”
“The toddlers are sleeping, Everett is in his room. At least he was last I saw. That kid has energy for days.”
“Hmmmm.” Liam raised his eyebrows and grinned.
“Whatcha thinking, hubby?”
“Your turn to guess…”
“I like the way you’re thinking. I have something I wanted you to think about too.”
“What is that?” Liam’s grin grew wider yet, while he embraced his wife, kissing in between.
“How about another baby, Liam.”
Liam was surprised to say the least and using every ounce of his now over a decade of acting to not let her see it.
“You want another baby, Leo?”
“Yeah, makes it an even number. Maybe another little girl. Natty is such a sweetheart. I could deal with another lil Natty….”
“Leo, why do you always do that to me when we just moved into a house with just enough bedrooms? Once more we would be one bedroom short….”
“Do we REALLY need an office …” she gave him puppy eyes.
“If you want another child, we will have another child.” Liam said. He’d give her the world, if she asked for it. Thing was, despite all their wealth, Leo rarely asked for anything. All she seemed to want was this family. Who was he to deny her? They could afford ten more kids. Plus they had a nanny and a maid.
“Daddy! Dakota peed on the floor again! In the middle of the living room too! Right in front of the open door!” Everett complained, carrying the puppy.
“I’ll get it. You take Rett and Dakota outside for a walk.” Leonie smiled.
As she walked away to get the cleaning supplies, Liam shook his head. He was the only actor of his caliber he had met so far in his more than 10 years in this career, whose wife still was so involved in raising the kids and keeping the house going. No wonder they all had serious issues while he always felt grounded.
“Dad!” Everett had started to walk when he noticed his father still only stood there.
“Right, come on kiddo, let’s teach that mutt to go pee where he should.”
“Kota isn’t a mutt, he is a … umm, I forgot again. But he is going to be really big one day, right dad?”
“No, son, he’ll stay small. Kinda like your grandparents’ dog.”
“Aww, I want a big dog. Can we get another dog, dad, please? A big one?”
“We’ll see Rett. Just put Dakota down there and I’ll show you how to potty train him.” Liam said while thinking what a pushover he was around his family. Was he really the same man who as a teen would not back down from any fight? Who had caused his parents all that grief, even raked up a criminal record?
Once all the kids, and the puppy, were sound asleep, Liam and Leonie retired to their bedroom, but sat outside on the private balcony, taking in the stunning view of Del Sol Valley at night.
“Do you really want another child, Liam, or are you just agreeing to make me happy?”
“To be honest, Leonie, I hadn’t even thought about it. I am happy with what we have, but would be just as happy with another one.”
“Would it bother you to have a plump wife around Award time?”
“What? No, of course not! And you would not be plump, you would be pregnant, Leo. Big difference.”
“Not really. The other wives and girlfriends are downright mean. Speaking of girlfriend, please tell me that Michelle didn’t contact you again after last date night.”
Liam had taken Leonie out for date night to one of the hot spots in town, invitation only a few days ago. As they were walking up to the door, Liam was recognized and mauled by fans, so he played nice, gave autographs, hugs and took pictures with the predominantly female crowd. Leonie usually did not have a problem with it, until Michelle, Liam’s very first girlfriend appeared and was all over Liam. Leonie was a gentle soul normally, but got to a point where she told Liam to go inside now, or she would leave, well aware that none of them would be able to follow.
Once inside, Liam was immediately talked to by some other VIPs, none of which Leonie even recognized. To top things off, some older man was very adamant about talking to Leonie, she found him arrogant and repulsive and fled to the bar when he was not looking. Somehow she ended up with two glasses of wine and by golly, she was drinking them.
Date nights used to be a LOT easier back home …
Liam’s response snapped Leonie back from her memory.
“No, Leo, of course not. And even if, nothing would come of it. You know that. And since when are you jealous?”
“I am not, but having to share my hubby with the world is tough sometimes.”
“You’re never sharing me. I always have been and always will be yours only.” Liam said with sincerity, making Leonie smile.
“Sooo .. are we gonna do this? My fertility is really high tonight … just sayin’.”
“Look at you, trampling on the romantic mood with your preparedness. And no pressure, right?”
“Well, no time like the present, right?” Liam winked.
As an answer Leonie jumped across him, kissing him.
Once she let off a little, he told her
“Hey, you better slow the roll or whatever you want to happen would be happening right now out here…” he sat her up right, stood up and pulled her up too, then gestured to the bedroom with his head making her giggle.
“But you better put some extra-effort to it tonight, hubby.” she grinned while slapping his butt, then running past him to their bed.
The next day there was another birthday. Dakota, their puppy aged up to an adult dog.