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Nathan sighed out when he got to the top of the stairs, trying to give her a smile back. Though, Milli could see right through it. He saw the bottle on the dresser, but she hadn’t said anything. Nathan didn’t know what to say, like usual he didn’t want to say anything. Though that had never done much good and Milli and him were supposed to be communicating more now. The less he held in, the better. He took a seat on the bed, smiling down at Eve as Milli changed her clothing.
“Mom has cancer,” he said with a sigh. He didn’t know if he would start crying if he looked at Milli and tried to focus on Evelyn who was bringing him just enough joy to stop him from wanting to drink the shot or even polish off the last unopened bottle of champagne. “Nadia wants me to sell the house. Her and Derek are considering moving closer to us with mom until – well [I you know].”
Nathan didn’t want to think about his mother dying, even though of course she couldn’t live forever. He knew she was sick, but she was also old. He just figured . . .like his grandparents she’d pass of old age. His stomach turned thinking of her being in pain. She looked so happy and lively for once last night, spending time with her grandchildren.
Bradley had come in then, all changed and making sure his things were gathered before disappearing to spend the last of his time for now with his cousins. “I don’t know what to do.” He said, though it seemed so simple. They could keep the house, but Nathan didn’t want anyone else living in it and honestly didn’t know if he could ever feel the same being here without his mother.
Milli heard footsteps on the stairs and looked up to see Nathan and Evelyn, smiling softly but she could tell Nathan seemed a little lost for a second. She took Evelyn from his arms and smiled as she started to get the girl changed into something more comfortable for the flight, figuring the little one would sleep through most of it so it would be easier for her to be comfortable. She looked to Nathan,
“Everything alright?” She asked Nathan softly as she let Evelyn roll around the bed as she started folding some clothes, the bottle on the side table that she had found but she didn’t say anything, not wanting to awaken an argument over nothing.
Milli zipped up the case and she had to admit she was going to miss this all. It was always nice to be surrounded by family and friends. Her parents were due to visit just after Egypt and she figured that would be exciting but she always felt somehow [i less] than her parents. They were both successful doctors with slight reservations about Milli and her career. But they were as supportive as anyone else which was nice.
Milli sat on the edge of the bed and looked to Nathan, curious what had shifted his mood since she had come upstairs and she tied up her sleek hair.
“Well it’s hard to sleep alone,” he said with a smile as he kissed Milli’s cheek. He thanked her for the coffee, heading over toward the table where the others were enjoying their breakfast. Nathan had started to protest but Milli was already up the stairs. He had a fun chat with the kids who were trying to get as much playtime in as possible before they’d have to leave. Nathan turned to his sister, who was extremely in a good mood and he knew why – not wanting that picture in his mind. He knew it wasn’t his place to tell his sister what to do and honestly, he did think that Derek had just made a stupid mistake. If Nadia was happy and his nieces taken care of, that’s the most he could ask for.
“So, you guys will be leaving in the next few weeks right,” Nadia asked Nathan. He nodded with a smile. Egypt would be a nice get away for them, even Evelyn seemed to be excited as she danced in her seat, squishing the scrambled eggs in her to easily fit into her mouth.
“Yeah, I know Milli is very excited. We’ve always planned to go.” He smiled, fondly remembering the talk on the train. Some part of him wanted to go back in time and tell that Nathan all that was going to happen, but another part of him liked the road he’d taken to get to this point with Milli, no matter how bumpy it had been.
“What’s up Nadia?” The look she gave him was enough to clear the kids form the table. He could tell something was on her mind. He started to gather the dishes, Nadia helping.
“Derek and I as you know re getting back together and we just – he doesn’t want to live here, and mother are getting worse.”
“What do you mean?” Nadia chewed on her bottom lip then and of course she wasn’t surprised to find their mother hadn’t said anything.
“Ma has cancer Nathan and according to her doctor it’s not looking good. I really think you should sell the house and she should be put into a home.” She put her hand up to stop him as now he was no longer washing the dishes and ready to argue. “But but – she can come live with us – we can move closer to you guys.” It wasn’t a bad idea, but Nathan had a strong hold on the house and that was the last of his thoughts considering how he was still wrapping his mind around her health. “Just think about it please. I think this change will be good for us.”
He knew Milli would help in this decision and a part of him was thinking that Nadia also just wanted to be closer to her sister in law. “I’ll think about it,” he said, though he knew there was nothing terribly bad about the decision. He made sure Bradley got showered and ready and soon got Evelyn out of her highchair to head upstairs and get both dressed to leave.
Milli looked up when Nathan and Nadia came down and she smiled softly,
“Morning.” She noticed Nadia seemed a lot happier, a definite spring in her step and she figured it wasn’t a good idea to ask about anything in front of Nathan right then. She plated them up some breakfast for the siblings and set the kettle on. She looked to Nathan and grinned a little,
“I thought you’d be having a long lie?” She asked him as she made him a black coffee. The kids were all chatting amongst themselves and Evelyn had found Bradley’s side, watching everything going on.
“I’ll start packing, you have breakfast.” She assured him as she headed upstairs and started to pack everything away. She raised an eyebrow when she noticed something in Nathan’s pocket and pulled out the shot Derek had gifted Nathan and was at least relieved to see it was still sealed and she chewed her lip. The smallest things seemed to remind her that Nathan was as fragile as he was strong.
Milli set everything in suitcases and stretched, rubbing her side experimentally and was relieved to know that it wasn’t so tender anymore and seemed more like a bad dream nowadays. She took a moment in the quiet and sighed out, fixing the bed and sitting on the edge. They’d be in Egypt soon enough, enjoying the sun and no doubt watching the kids in the pool, it seemed so relaxing to think about.
Nathan was glad to know that Milli hadn’t given up on the possibility of having another child, despite the complications and all they could do was try and be careful. There was no rush of course, they had their whole lives ahead of them. Though he thought it would be nice for Eve to have someone closer to her age to play with. Bradley was getting older and eventually their sibling dynamic could change. Though, an older Bradley could help when it came to the kids. With the kitchen all taken care of and the kids asleep, the couple headed upstairs to his old bedroom. It still felt so surreal to have Milli there in his childhood home, in a good way. He was happy to have the family he’d always thought he couldn’t have. All his life he’d been searching for someone like Charlotte and at some point, he had figured he would never have that life. When she introduced him to Bradley it was certainly a shock, but also, while happy to have his son, it had further incited him to want a child with Milli – knowing he loved her not just more than he loved Charlotte, but anyone.
Eve fast asleep, their footsteps were light as they crossed the space of the bedroom, only lit by one single bedside lamp. There was something incredibly satisfying to him when Milli took the lead and Nathan had every intention to follow. They could find one another in the dark if need be, his fingers recognizing every line and curve of her body. She still smelled of perfume he found as he kissed along her neck, playing with the wavy strands of hair that fell just along her back. It was a night of passion expressed in soft moans silent gasps, just the two of them – once strangers and now more than lovers or partners – Milli was his world.
He kissed her forehead gently, his fingers playing with hers that danced across his chest. “I love you,” he whispered back.
Nathan had decided to slept in once waking up to find Milli and Eve gone. He was thankful for the break, knowing they had their flight come afternoon. Derek had seemed to have the same thought as he had slept over the previous night with Nadia. Yawning, his sister walked into the kitchen to find Milli making breakfast.
“Good morning,” she said, clearly in a pleasant mood.
Milli watched Nathan’s reactions, her eyes careful and quiet as always when she looked upon him. He was her world and she didn’t want it any other way right then. She leaned in and captured his lips with hers. How exactly had they gone from being awkward strangers on the train to this? She knew a third child, if such a blessing ever happened, would mean extra work and she figured all they could do was try and see what happened. She held Nathan close and sighed out, content with her share.
Milli headed up to bed, tugging Nathan by his hand and turning off the tv for the sleeping kids. She shed her dress, pulling Nathan down in the bed with her. There wasn’t much need to be careful but there was a need to be quiet and right then it wasn’t about being wild or rough with one another, it was about sharing all of her with the man she loved. She let her lips become reacquainted with his skin, her finger mapping his body once more and finding everything she had fallen in love with the first time they had laid together in her small apartment in London.
Spent, Milli settler at his side, fingers tracing patterns in his bare skin, sleepily.
“I love you.” She said, voice quiet and she settled her words with a chaste kiss to his bare shoulder before drifting off to sleep, in the home she loved best within in his arms.
Evelyn was chattering and giggling when she awoke and Milli sat up, pulling on some clothes. She washed up and looked to Evelyn,
“Hey, shh.” She murmured as she picked her up and let Nathan sleep a little longer as she headed downstairs and looked to the kids who had put a movie on and she smiled a little as she started breakfast. Nathan had done most of the work yesterday and she was determined to repay that as she fixed up some bacon and toast, letting the kids eat with their movie. She helped Evelyn with some scrambled eggs and giggled softly.
He offered a smile, stealing a kiss at Milli’s skin, his nose gently brushing against her palm. Looking into her eyes all he could feel was love. “I had a good time,” he said finally as he smiled to hr, his arms wrapping around her tighter. He was glad that things had worked out so well and there was no drama which was different for them – save Christmas, though that had been short lived. He closed his eyes for a moment, Milli’s hand against his cheek. Nathan opened the slowly as she spoke. Another addition? Nathan was of course incredibly excited, but he was also worried. Them conceiving Evelyn had bene a miracle e- a bit of luck after so many times of trying and failing and even then, Eve had been born prematurely. What f this time is was harder? Yet, he wanted a big family and of course Nathan would be happy if Milli were to get pregnant again. He’d be working at the school which would give him more time with the kids – though being a full-time dad was a bit exhausting and though pregnant, Milli would more than likely still be working until going on leave.
He didn't want to get ahead of himself though and he didn’t want to stress Milli out. The pregnancy had been so difficult with the troubles she had, and he didn’t want to put pressure eon hr. Nathan didn’t want Milli thinking any less of her if Eve was their last baby together. He didn’t even know if he could bring up the other options; she had been a bit hesitant on adopting – IVF . . . [I surrogacy] . . . those were tough options to lay out.
“If that’s what you want, of course I’m with you,” Nathan said softly against her lips. He couldn’t help the grin across his face, thoroughly excited by Milli bringing this up. He kissed her deeply. The new year was starting out perfectly.
Milli helped Nathan tidy up and put a film on for the kids to fall asleep to, tucking them all in. She figured all of them were exhausted from such a late night but the house was quiet save for the stereo and she looked to Nathan as they swayed in the area, wrapping her arms around him softly. She leaned into his kiss, breathing out when she felt his lips on her neck.
“It’s been perfect.” She responded to him gently and leaned back to look at him, moving some of the strands of hair out of his face.
“Did you enjoy it?” She asked him, cupping his cheek with her fingers, stroking the soft skin there. He had done so well for himself and she was at least grateful they would have some privacy.
“I was thinking-“ She said to him quietly, like it was some private secret between them and no one else.
“I know it’s not... Well it’s not easy but...” She murmured, “But maybe after Egypt, we could think about...” She looked around, “Another addition.” She suggested and smiled softly. It was risky and there was no guarantee of course that it would happen and she knew it might end up in sadness and grief but she wanted to try.
This was all he wanted and all he could need right? Nathan kissed Evelyn’s cheek then with a smile, watching how she giggled at the small bit of streamer that made its way through the air into her hands. There was a lot to be thankful for and Nathan knew this was the beginning of something great. Eventually the night came to an end and then and everyone was heading back home. Derek and Nadia had retired to hr bedroom and Nathan a trying to get the living room cleaned and settled for the kids. He figured a makeshift sleepover would be fun enough for them and – a selfish part of him did want to spend a night with Milli alone. Well as alone as possible considering Evelyn would still be sleeping in a cot in the room. She was fast asleep already though, not used to being surrounded by such excitement.
He’d taken hold of Milli, holding her close then as he kissed her. Derek’s words had stirred something in him. Maybe it was a all a distraction from the bottle in his pocket. Why hadn’t he tossed it? He was too busy with Milli to think about it though, his lips against her neck. “Did you enjoy yourself?” He swayed with Milli gently, the music from the stereo playing softly in the background. Cleaning up didn’t seem to matter much anymore.
Milli was doing her best to make sure everyone was alright and it was so nice to have everyone together and she truly did feel wonderful right then. There was laughter and smiling and Milli looked over when Nathan came back in after Derek and she gave a small smile, hoping everything had gone alright. She sat with him at dinner and she felt wonderful, right then no one mattered.
Milli was content enough to try and keep some of the home tidy while everyone chattered and laughed together and she looked to Nathan as the countdown began. She couldn’t believe they had made it a year, with two gorgeous children.
“I love you.” She whispered softly before leaning in for his kiss, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him close. She broke off and giggled softly as she felt Bradley tugging at her dress hem and she leaned down to hug him tightly, kissing his cheek and lifting Evelyn into her arms.
“Thank you, for an amazing year.” She said to Nathan softly. He had given her more than she could ever ask for.
They had a daughter together and a son, maybe not by birth but she loved Bradley all the same. Milli looked to Nathan and nuzzled into his neck. She was so fortunate and so wonderfully blessed to have such an amazing man at her side.
Nathan knew Milli meant what she was saying. She didn’t think he was pathetic and really, he didn’t think too terrible of himself, he just for the moment felt like a loser and he didn’t want to disappoint Milli. He was glad for the distraction, though it was a whole other complex seeing Derek. He squeezed Milli’s hand as she disappeared, knowing she was getting the dinner set. By the time they finished dinner, it’d only be maybe an hour or so until the countdown.
Derek took a seat beside him then without invitation, but it had always been that way.
“Don’t reckon were on good terms?” He asked as he looked out, sparking a cigarette to which he handed Nathan an unlit one. He took it, knowing it took the edge off for the time being. He could smell he liquor on his breath though – hotter than champagne.
“Well you did fuck my sister over,” he commented, taking a long drag, eyes focused then on the burning end of the stog as he exhaled. “You here to stick around?” It was quiet then, nothing more than the sound of them smoking.
“You think she’d take me back?” Nathan looked over to Derek then.
He cleaned up nice, but his shirt was wrinkled and his hair a mess – he’d lost some weight too which led him to believe he wasn’t eating. His sister had doted on him, always making sure he was taken care of and their children. Though she’d had her slipups, Nadia for the most part had dedicated a lot of her life to Derek. She quit her job for him and to pay her back, he slept with the nanny.
“Of course, she will.” As much as he hated to say it or even think it, Nathan knew that his sister loved Derek with everything she had.
“I was stupid,” Derek admitted. Nathan was glad he realized that at least. He watched him reach into his pocket then, handing him a small bottle, a shots worth of gin.
“I can’t take that,” he said, though his hand was itching toward grabbing it. Derek tossed it his way though.
“You look miserable man.” He said. He ditched his cigarette to which Nathan followed, his hand toying with the small plastic bottle. “You don’t have to drink it – just . . . think about this year coming and who you’re entering this new year with. Try not to be miserable and I know its easier said than done. You’ve got a good thing going Nate, nothing to sit out here and mope bout. I learned that the hard way.” Nathan rolled the shot in his hand before shoving it into his pants pocket. Words left unsaid, the two of them came to a stand and entered.
Nathan had made a turkey and a few sides, the house warm and filled with intense good smells and friendly faces. Dinner was soon served, the kids enjoying their dinner in the living room and by chance with some maneuvering and a few chairs from the basement, they had managed to git the lot at the table.
Eventually dinner was finished, and the ball was bound to drop. Nathan had Evelyn with him, Bradley clinging to Milli – their own little group. Everyone blared in comparison and all he could do was look into those eyes that had caught him all those months ago. [I 10, 9, 8, . . .]
“I love you.” Nathan said, a kiss to her lips then; horns and cheers going off in the background to welcome a new year.
Milli raised an eyebrow and watched the whirlwind of emotions cross over Nathan’s face. She watched him when he apologised and called himself pathetic, shaking her head and cupping his face,
“Never.” She said to him quietly and she was distracted when she heard Derek and she eyed the man. She glanced over his shoulder to see Nadia and smiled,
“Nice to see you again, Derek.” She said to him politely because she didn’t want to mess anything up and it wasn’t her place. Nadia knew what she wanted.
She looked to Nathan and gave him a small smile as she went inside first. Nathan was Nadia’s brother and she figured he would want to test the waters with Derek as she checked on dinner and gathered the kids to settle down, placing Evelyn in her high chair, going around and telling them dinner would be served in a short while courtesy of Nathan.
Milli had to admit this was better than any New Years she had spent in a very long time and she smiled to Evelyn as the girl giggled at all the attention. She got everyone some drinks and it was nice to play host in a way, she was so used to being served and treated so well and it was nice to give back.
Nathan looked up at Milli, tossing the cigarette. “Sorry,” he said with red cheeks. He gave her a small smile. “I’m fine,” he said, trying to brush it way. All it took was discipline and control. He just had to think about why they were coming together. This was supposed to be fun and he didn’t want to put a damper on the evening. He wrung his hands together, looking over to Milli. “Just gets shitty – one day at a time I s’ppose.” Nathan sighed out, brushing his hands against his hair. He looked to Milli; gold suited her well. He thought about how much warner her skin would appear once they visited Egypt, the sun’s rays soaking into her skin. While it was hard to believe, he very much imagined that she’d look even more stunning then.
He didn’t know how to explain it Milli; the feeling of craving a drink. His mind was exhausted as he bounced from yes and no – just a sip or even just a glass. Could he stop? Would he be normal? Or had he really been consumed, and it was dangerous to even consider breaking sobriety. He was never good at social events and drinking had made things easier – now he kind of felt like an outsider. He knew people knew his story too – what would they think of him having a drink? He didn’t want to embarrass his family or Milli especially.
“I’m sorry, I’m pathetic,” he said with a sigh for leaning over to kiss her cheek. “I’ll be fine.e C’mon, we should dead inside for dinner. The screen door creaked then, Derek peeking through the doorway.
“Sorry, just figured I’d say hi.” He seemed to be in good spirits, but of course the situation was a bit awkward He could see Nadia in the background, as though making sure Nathan weren’t going to go at his throat.
Milli smiled at Nathan softly, about to answer him but she heard Nadia and grinned.
“You look amazing, Nadia!” She said to the other woman happily. She looked to Nathan again and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. She watched as people filtered in and mingled a little, it really did feel surreal to not be at some big event or somewhere overly crowded for a change. It was oddly nice and she looked around when Derek entered and she watched Nathan duck out for a bit.
She made a small excuse to the little group she was standing with and making small talk as she set down the glass she had been sipping from to see Nathan, checking on the kids as she passed but they all seemed to be behaving and Evelyn was enjoying some time with her grandma.
Milli said as she felt the cool air wash over her.
“Are you alright?”
These events were difficult for him, she knew that.
She adjusted her dress and watched him, he was her husband and she loved him dearly and she wanted him to always be honest with him to know he could always speak to her about anything. It was getting dark and she knew there was no one else in the world she would want to bring in a whole new year with.
“Don’t you start,” he told Milli with a smile. He looked her over, not used to seeing her hair down anymore, he couldn’t help but gently run his fingers through the strands. “You look, stunning,” he said as he kissed her lips gently, trying not to mess up her makeup. Milli usually got dressed up for events and it had been a while since the exhibit. “How are you feeling?” He asked, knowing that she had been pushing through her injuries, but she was doing much better now it seemed. She was active for longer periods of time. He couldn’t help but be cheeky, his hands light as they roamed over her back. He chuckled nervously then and pulled away, taking her in fully. “Those legs,” he whispered. “How’d I get so lucky?”
“I wonder the same thing,” Nadia said as she entered the kitchen. She was dressed in the jumpsuit, her hair braided on the side and pushed to settle as a dark wave against her shoulder. “Milli helped with the makeup,” she said with a smile. True sibling rivalry did have Nathan considering trolling his sister, but he knew what this night meant for her. Of course, he didn’t agree with her and Derek getting back together, but he couldn’t dictate her love life.
It didn’t take long for the guests to soon arrived, mostly Nadia’s coworkers; he recognized a few people from the neighborhood. Of course, everyone was excited to meet Milli and a lot of people were surprised to see Nathan the small own artist, now celebrity. A few people had brought their ids, which was nice for the children. Nathan tried to relax, knowing it was just the causal party – no need to impress anyone or worry.
It was the middle of the party when Derek soon arrived. Nathan only felt right to talk to him. He needed a breather though honestly, escaping outside just for a moment to collect his thoughts. He wanted. Drink honestly.
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