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Nathan looked down to find Evelyn gripping his legs; he was so proud to see her standing and he knew she was quickly going to be running around he was sure. She was so curious to which she spent as much time with her older brother and cousins – though as a baby it was hard to flow their conversation.
“Da,” she’s said in a small voice and he couldn’t resist scooping her up. He felt a bit guilty recalling how he didn’t want Bradley to be babied and here he was pleading Evelyn to stay tiny forever. Though with Bradley it had been more out of practicality. Of course, there would come a time when Evelyn too would outgrow the stage of sleeping in their beds. He smiled and looked into her mismatched eyes, watching as she cupped his face with her small hands, slapping them gently He laughed along with her, looking to Milli.
“I can’t take all the credit,” he told her. Nadia had come out of her room finally, glad probably to get some sleep. He knew she had been working more to get back on track financially and of course there was some resentment about her quitting in the first place to which her hours were a bit out of whack.
“Guess I’m late,” she said with a small smile as she took a seat at the table, kissing her children on the cheeks. “Good morning guys,” she said.
“Morning,” Nathan answered. He kissed Evelyn’s cheeks and handed her over to Milli. “I should check on Ma,” he said. He kissed Milli before leaving the table, giving his sister a look, to which earned a raised brow. She looked to Milli then, figuring she probably told Nathan about Derek. She wasn’t upset; how could she ask Milli to keep something from her husband? It was best if he wasn’t blindsided, Nathan could be very protective and that could lead to arguing. Though he had seemed to mellow out with Milli, and she figured not drinking helped.
“I was thinking of going shopping – I really want to . . . you know get dressed up.” She said. “You want to come with? I know Nathan is begging to get into his shed. We can take the kids and I’m always down for a deal.”
Milli watched him and sighed softly. She didn’t have siblings so she didn’t understand the protectiveness they felt for one another but it was clear to see they cared for one another massively. She leaned up and into his kiss, smiling a little into him as she set up breakfast properly. She watched the kids come down and went to fetch Evelyn who seemed more focused on trying to stand up and join in with a Bradley and her cousins. Milli kept a close eye on Evelyn to be sure she wasn’t going to topple over.
Milli looked to Nathan as he spoke and smiled,
“Hey, that’s great news.” She said, watching him and trying to work out his reaction. She knew it would be exciting for him and she hoped he really loved the opportunity and he would keep painting. She gave him a kiss on the cheek,
“That’s exciting.” She said to him. Next year was bound to be full of new and wonderful things. It was going to be wild and Milli was going to love every minute of it.
Evelyn seemed thoroughly put out by Bradley and the older kids chatting about things she couldn’t follow. She levered herself alone and hugged Nathan’s legs, chattering some gibberish and babbling. Milli smiled a little and she was so proud of Nathan, every day she felt blessed for having him in her life.
“I’m proud of you.” She said to him softly. This had been a Hell of a year for him and he had done so well.
Milli could read Nathan like a book and had always known the best way to approach a situation. Just the same, he could always tell when she was upset – he’d knew they were on good terms though and wondered what seemed to have bene plaguing her mind. [I ‘Don’t get angry or anything, okay?’] Nathan rose a brow then, not really confident in how the conversation opened. Though, he was a bit relived to find that it had nothing to do with Milli or him. Not to mention, it didn’t help as he did find himself getting upset. He knew that him and Milli had gone through something similar, but he couldn’t excuse Derek’s actions. He’d left his sister with little money and two kids to raise, while he went off with a young tart. It was a miracle that Nadia was able to get her job back and she seemed to be doing so well. He didn’t want her to pick up Derek's sorry excuse and attempt at getting back with her and pretend that it was destiny or fate. “If Derek shows up?” He asked and he calmed downs me at Milli’s touch, though he was a bit irritated and everything in him wanted to talk to Nadia. She could do better.
Who was he to talk though? And certainly, it wasn’t his place to involve himself in his sister’s marriage. Still, despite her being older than him, Nathan worried for her and his nieces as he cared for them greatly. He sighed out; he didn’t want to make a mess of New Years. They had already been through so much and he wanted them to go into this year happy and filled with peace. “Alright, I will not get involved. I don’t like it though,” he said as he kissed her forehead.
Together they headed inside, by then the kids were already up and Bradley being the oldest had taken to helping the girls with breakfast that Milli had cooked. His hand held Milli's tightly as he went in for a kiss. “I love you,” he promised, and it seemed so important than those words, despite how man times they had said them. Had it been the talk of his sister and Derek to make them realize how lucky they were to have the relationship they did? Their marriage had ben shaky and yet they managed through it.
He took a seat at the table, the kids in their own world at the far and, discussing a show they’d all been watching the night before. Was this good enough? He wondered and not in a cynical way, but honestly wondering what else was to come into their lives. Another home? More vacations? Maybe Milli would move on to making films and of course . . . the possibility of another child.
“I spoke to the director of the university; he’s thinking of giving me a temporary teaching position for a few weeks.” He told Milli. It was new territory; he wasn’t sure how he would do but he was excited . That said, it would kind of shift dynamics a little, but things were cool for now. Once Milli went back to filming it would really shake things up.
Milli would never get tired of being his arms, despite everything that they had been through. She watched him and sighed a little, of course he could tell there was something playing on her mind and she wasn’t sure whether to explain the issue at hand. Nadia was Nathan’s sister and he might get peeved about the whole thing because of how hurt Nadia had been. Then again, her and Nathan had gotten through it all and had come out stronger.
“Don’t get angry or anything, okay? Nadia spoke with me. Derek wants to get back together with her.” She said and mapped his face, gauging his reaction. She chewed her lip as she thought for a while,
“I guess Derek just thought the grass was greener on the other side.” She murmured thoughtfully and reached up to move some of his hair from his face. Life was only going to get quicker and Bradley going to middle school was a huge step and she knew after that would come high school and then college.
“I’m not sure what Nadia is going to do. But... if Derek does show up tonight, we can just act like it’s all normal, let them figure it out.” She said to him.
She lead him inside and out of the cold. She got him a fresh coffee and watched him. How much had they been through since that first day on the train together? Milli had faced death twice, Nathan had fought valiantly for his sobriety, Charlotte and Bradley, all the drama with Julia and yet here they were, getting ready to bring in a whole new year.
“I love you.” She said, suddenly, like she needed to remind him that she did love him after everything. They could have ended up like Derek and Nadia, confused and separate from one another but they hadn’t. They had two stunning children together and Milli wasn’t sure if she could give him anymore children, they had gone through hurdles to conceive Evelyn and there was no guarantee she would carry another child but it didn’t matter. They had Bradley and Evelyn and that was amazing.
Nathan had went through his phone, responding to messages. He was glad to see that the guy that Sharon introduced him to about the teaching position had confirmed he sent over some material to help him through the process. It would only be a few classes at first, but he was a bit excited. He thought about Milli’s idea of becoming some kind of secret artist. It certainly sounded like a god gimmick – he knew Sharon would love the idea. A part of him wanted to suggest it despite being consumed with the fear that she would agree to it. Something like that would take up a lot of his rime and could really push Nathan pass his limits which was thrilling, but could Milli handle that? They had their trip to Egypt and a wedding to plan – and come after Summer Bradley would already be going into middle school. They had a full plate.
He’d dumped the bud in the bin, finishing up his coffee when he felt Milli’s arms wrapping around his body. He looked over his shoulder at her to give her a kiss in return. “Good morning. How’d you sleep?” He asked before turning around to hold her himself. Small strands of her hair blew gently in the breeze. It was a nice morning and it was nothing like fresh country air. He was glad he had moved out of the city – he remembered when Milli had first talked about her cottage. It was just as he imagined. Sometimes, despite the madness, their life did feel like a fairytale.
“You alright?” he asked her, she looked like she had something on her mind.
Milli cuddled in with Nathan and kept an arm wrapped around Bradley, she felt awful the young boys mother had taken no interest since the check but she wasn’t complaining. She nuzzled into Nathan as she fell asleep and when morning came, she was still asleep. Mornings were always the stiffest part of the day for her but she was getting better. She woke a while after Nathan and felt around the empty side of the bed before opening her eyes.
Very carefully she detached herself from Bradley to let him sleep in a little more given it had been a bit of a wild day yesterday for him and Evelyn. She headed downstairs after putting on some comfortable clothes and glanced out the window to see Nathan outside having a coffee and cigarette. She never liked him smoking but knew the occasional one was his vice and let it slide. She made herself some tea and ran a hand through the loose strands of hair that had fallen from her bun.
She started on some breakfast for everyone, nothing fancy but Nathan had done dinner last night. She set some stuff on the table and stepped outside, wrapping her arms around Nathan from behind, standing up a little taller to kiss the back of his neck.
“Morning.” She greeted quietly as she let the fresh air wake her up a little more. It was New Years Eve and she figured spending the night with family was the best way to relax and have fun. She thought about Nadia and Derek for a moment and sighed out, hoping everything would go well.
Everyone soon headed to their rooms to sleep, Nadia helping her mother settle in bed. His old bedroom was currently occupied by the lot of them which was a bit cramped. He didn’t mind though and he certainly knew Bradley was always happy to cuddle up to Milli, especially since she was healing well. He was careful around her. He was growing bigger everyday though, taller and Nathan was always shocked when he noticed it. How crazy to know last year he had no clue Bradley even existed and now here he was, growing as a big brother to Evelyn. As New Year approached he wondered where Charlotte was. Was she happy and safe? Had she died? Bradley eventually stopped asking about her, and they hadn't heard from her since he signed the check. Nathan could only hope that Charlotte’s story didn’t end badly.
Nathan got into the bd then after shutting off the light, his hand stretching over Bradley’s sleeping form to lay on Milli’s arm. His thumb brushed against it gently as he offered her a smile. “I love you too,” he promised her softly. It was certainly a surprise that the conversation on the train had led them to this point – Milli facing twice within a year to only come out alive and Nathan – a scared but hungry artist that had certainly made his own lane in the art world. “And I enjoyed every minute of it.” He promised Milli, sitting up to give her a kiss. He laid back peacefully, glad for a break as well.
Morning soon came, everyone still asleep it seemed. He was happy Milli was sleeping in and tried not to wake her as he wanted her to take good care of her health. He got out of bed, shrugging on some sweats and heading downstairs to enjoy a smoke and coffee.
Milli didn’t know what the new year would bring, but she had hopes it would be something positive for them. She looked to Nadia and gave a small smile before ushering everyone up the stairs. She got Evelyn changed and set her in her cot and of course Bradley wanted storytime, it was a little cramped but Milli knew there was a lot of love in the home for each other and it was all they needed.
Milli wandered to the room and she had to confess she was exhausted, there were very dull aches in her chest area where the injuries had been the worst and the concussion still lead to headaches now and then. She changed and inspected her ribs area. It was a little tender and sore but nothing wild. She slipped into bed and pushed her hair out her face, mismatched eyes watching Nathan.
“I love you.” She said to him softly, and she meant every word,
“This year has been.... a little wild.” She said with a soft laugh. They had certainly had wonderful things to celebrate but there had also been things that they would rather forget. D
Nadia still held the same shirt in her hands. After three minutes, she hadn’t even turned over a sleeve. She ran her thumb gently over the onesie. She remembered when her daughters were small. Derek and she used to still have so much fun, it was exciting and then somewhere along the line – apparently it got boring. She sighed out, she didn’t really want to think that she wasn’t attractive anymore or interesting anymore. She did believe that she was a gorgeous woman, but things just became routine.
“I was thinking of saying yes, but I don’t know really. I’m kind of scared, I mean what if he changes his mind and it’s the same thing all over again?” She chewed on her bottom lip then, gently lacing the folded onesie back in the pile. It was interesting to think of having Derek at the party. Th girls certainly would love to see him, but it would be a bit awkward on behalf of Nathan and her mother she felt. “Maybe,” she said.
Nadia soon followed Milli out of the room, the promise of a drink making her relax somewhat. She was comfortable with Milli and happy to have someone she could confide in about this and trust them not to judge her. Nadia took a seat at the table with her girls, Nathan bringing the casserole over. She helped by cutting the pieces.
Nathan smiled toward Milli and took a seat at the table. “Thanks love,” he told her. Nathan couldn’t believe the new year was just a day away and how much his life had already hanged. What would this upcoming year bring into this life? Another child? A blossoming career? He was optimistic.
Once dinner was settled, Nadia offered to give them a break. She told them to head upstairs while she cleaned up, wanting an excuse to eb alone and call Derek.
Milli watched Nadia and gave a small smile to the other woman in appreciation. She knew she could have very easily lost her life and the thought of being separated from Nathan and the kids in such an awful way was devastating. She stopped unfolding clothes when Nadia mentioned Derek and paused to look at her.
“What are you thinking?” She asked her, sighing softly as she heard dinner being served.
“Hey, it’s just an idea but maybe you could invite him over tomorrow for New Years Eve? They’ll be plenty of people to keep it casual and you can treat it more like a first date again?” She suggested and she didn’t want to ask Nadia if she still loved Derek or if they could get past this because she knew every single couple was different. She gave her a small smile and patted the woman’s shoulder.
“Come on, let’s get something to eat and maybe we can speak over a glass of wine later, okay?” She offered. Milli didn’t commonly drink and she knew a glass wouldn’t hurt her.
She headed downstairs and looked to the table with a bright smile as she fixed her hair up. She looked to Bradley as he came up and smiled,
“Hey, this looks great.” She said and looked to Nathan.
“You’ve done great.” She said to him and kissed his cheek softly as she took a seat and she wouldn’t say anything to anyone else about Derek and Nadia for now, feelings like earning the woman’s trust was almost sacred and she didn’t expect others to understand entirely.
Nadia was glad to hear that the wedding was still going on, which meant they had no plans of separating. Nadia couldn’t allow herself to believe that Nathan would have an affair. Even despite having her own husband cheat on her. That night in the kitchen Nadia was just trying to find comfort in knowing that she wasn’t stupid for not thinking her husband was cheating and even more she wasn’t stupid for staying when she found out. It was a bit of a selfish way to think about it, but she just figured that if Milli had the same problem then maybe it was proof that she wasn’t alone in this.
“I’m glad you’re safe and you’re healing so well. I know Nathan is definitely blessed that you survived.” Nadia knew what it was like to have that fear; those days when you didn’t really put much effort in, and you see his eyes linger for a second too long on someone. There are so many names, pretty faces attached with him that you figure it’s easy to slip up.
“Derek wants to get back together,” Nadia finally admitted. She’d told no one and certainly had no intention of telling Nathan, not sure how he would take it. He and Derek got along well. “I haven’t told anyone but you,” she quickly explained to Milli. “I don’t know what to do.”
Nathan had finished up dinner, getting the kids together and asking them to wash up. He sent Bradley to go get Milli and his sister while he set the table. His mother was ecstatic to be spending time with Evelyn at this time in her life where she was constantly learning and advancing in her age. He was happy his mother was around to enjoy these milestones. He’d made a chicken casserole.
Milli had spent a lot of her recovery sleeping and trying to take part but she knew that it could be a real task. She didn't want Nathan to deal with everything alone. She looked to Bradley and smiled a little, looking to Nadia and ushering Bradley to go play for a while.
"Yeah, hopefully I'll look a little better." She said to her with a small smile, gesturing to the lingering remainder of bruises but it was nothing that wouldn't fade in time. She could tell Nadia was curious about what had happened.
Milli gestured for her to come and help her unpack the kids stuff upstairs and honestly, she could definitely use the helping hand for sure. She watched the woman for a while.
"It's a little complicated, sure. I uh, I know what the papers said and the paparazzi. I didn't get into the crash on purpose. Honestly, I can't remember much of it." She said with a small frown gracing her features at that.
"It wasn't a full on affair. Nathan took the girl home, she was drunk and I guess she was young and impressionable." Milli explained and realised it just sounded like she was making a million different excuses but she wasn't.
"I trust him, I trust what he told me and I love him. I thought for a while I wouldn't see New Year." She murmured, it put everything into perspective.
Nathan was glad to see that Milli was progressing and healing daily. He knew it was hard to get used to taking things slow and letting others do stuff for her, but she was at least willing to try. Fortunately, their cottage still was their palace of privacy which made healing easier, he knew especially with the scar from the blow to the head, that the paparazzi was interested in getting shots of the actress who in a year rose to high celebrity status. Of course, questions of her career we in the air. Would she return to acting? Nathan didn’t see why not. Milli was beautiful and eventually her wounds would heal, and the scar would flatten out. If anything, it was a mark of her strength.
Everyone was finally packed and ready to head out, Nathan feeling like a trip away would be nice and a great breather for the family after the accident. Though it was maybe a bit extra, Nathan was glad that they had flew first class, just to allow Milli more space, to ease her pain during travelling as best as possible. His sister was there to pick them up from the airport. It was a full van, the kids happy to see one another again. Nathan was glad to see that the tradition of their growing and close family was coming together. His sister seemed to be doing well despite the whole Derek situation. Though according to her, he’d been working toward getting back with her and disputing the divorce. Of course, the fling he had only lasted so long once the money dried up.
Once home, the kids were the first to run out, already eagerly heading toward the living room to play their video games. Bradley was fitting in so well compared to when he first visited and even his sister had learned to control her mouth about him, humbling herself and realizing that her angry toward her brother was unwarranted. His mother looked to be in good health which was nice. Her nurse had went home for the holidays, though with his sister living with his mother now things worked out well.
He was making dinner, which his mother was shocked by while everyone stayed in the living room area. Bradley nuzzled close to Milli while Evelyn was getting acquainted with her aunt.
“So, are you guys still planning to go through with the wedding?” Nadia asked Milli. She wanted to inquire about the whole affair, but felt it wasn’t really her place. Still, she was curious about the rumors and it wasn’t something you really asked your brother about – well at least her brother, knowing how he could get.
Milli was recovering, the bruises fading and the bandage off her head which proved to have some stitches she had had removed. She didn’t like that she had a nasty scar that was still red and raw looking. She had regained some movement but still couldn’t carry much weight when standing but sitting down she could tickle Evelyn as long as she guarded her ribs. Going to Nathan’s mother’s sounded great and like a well deserved break for everyone.
The flight had proved to be an uncomfortable affair, stuck in one position but she was grateful when they arrived at his mothers home. She looked to Nathan and she had to admit after everything she wasn’t sure if she would see a new year. She of course was first to put the kettle on and she was grateful to be able to move around. The only bruises left were those marking her ribs but they weren’t as tender or as sore as they had been. She served up some tea and looked to Nathan with a smile.
Milli found a seat and unbundled Bradley from his coat,
“Here, get a drink champ.” She said to him softly and got him something to drink. She looked to Guinevere and set Evelyn by her. She took a moment just to drink in the moment of quiet family time.
“Well you should be so lucky; you pick her up and sometimes she refuses you let her down.” Nathan said with a small smile, trying to lighten the mood. Of course, he could understand why this would frustrate Milli. After the home invasion, he was quite frustrated that he couldn’t paint. He remembered his bursts of anger, how short he was and reclusive almost, drawing into a deep depression at the fact that he couldn’t paint nor do the simplest of tasks. Milli had been patient with him about that and maybe that was why he was trying to stick to Milli just allowing her body to rest and heal. She’d worked so hard already, it wouldn’t hurt to just let someone take care of her. He’d no chance to say anything as she kissed his cheek and he could only shake his head at his daughter, playfully teasing that she needed to talk sense into her mother tow which she giggled with joy.
“See? She agrees,” Nathan said to Milli playfully before kissing he forehead. He followed her out of the room, Bradley giving a wide yawn as he met them in the hall. Milli made breakfast and Nathan had turned something on the telly, sitting at the table and drinking coffee. Breakfast had taken a bit longer, but the children didn’t seem to notice, and Nathan didn’t mind. He squeezed Milli’s hand gently. “Hey, this is only temporary yeah?” He smiled at Milli.
The next few weeks weren’t easy, of course; Nathan was being a bit overbearing and Milli was not a fan of him babying her. Evelyn had become a bit more active, able to get more steps in before balance and gravity took over. It was the day before New Years eve. Everything seemed to be going well and Nathan had suggested they visit his mother back home to welcome the new year.
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