SIXTEEN:

 

Kelly stared at the black box on the table in front of her and it seemed to grow in size. She'd been watching it for almost twenty minutes now, at least most of the way through the episode of Sesame Street that the kids were watching, but still didn't have an answer to Joey's question.

Finally it got to her so she went to the kitchen to fill up her glass of iced tea then grabbed the phone and went back to the couch to watch the kids color. It was getting to be almost lunch time and she hadn't heard a peep from the upstairs bedroom so she thought she'd keep the kids at bay for a little longer before she let them go up and wake Joey up. He didn't need to be sleeping the whole day away, but she understood that he was tired.

"Hello?"

"Meredith?"

"Beedee stop it," she said, "Someone is on the phone for me...not you..." Meredith laughed, "Hi Kel."

"Hi," Kelly said with a laugh, "I didn't know Justin was staying with you."

"He's not," she said with a laugh, "He's sick...yeah...a cold..." Kelly could hear Justin in the background coughing. "He was supposed to go back to Tennessee, but he got sick so he decided to stay in Orlando an extra day."

"Oh," Kelly said with a laugh.

"Where are you?" she asked, "I knew that you had gone out to LA, but I lost ya after that."

"I'm in Hawaii with the kids and Joe."

"Did you tell him yet?" she asked then spoke out into the room. "Mind your business BeeDee...go grab some something to eat. Kelly and I are going to talk girl talk in a second here so unless you want to hear about tampons and--" She laughed. "I knew that would do it." She took a breath. "Did you tell him?"

"No," Kelly said, "I couldn't tell him--"

"Kelly you have to tell him."

"I know. I know." She sighed. "He asked me to marry him so I kind of--"

"You're getting married?"

"I haven't answered yet," she said.

"You haven't?" Meredith almost choked, "Why the hell not?"

"It was a mess Meredith. He told me about what happened when I went to visit and then everything got confused and he basically threw the ring box and me and left me to decide. This morning I wake up and he's next to me in bed snoring like no tomorrow smelling like he took a shower in beer rather than drink it."

"Oh man," Meredith said.

"He's still asleep." She looked up at the ceiling then looked over at the kids hoping that they wouldn't realize the time and how long Joey had slept in. "I haven't dared to wake him up yet. I don't want him to be like that in front of the kids."

"So what are you going to do?" Meredith asked.

"I'm not sure yet," she said, "I mean it's what I want, but I'm not sure that I can trust--"

"Kelly do you love him?" she asked.

"Yes."

"Then there is your answer," Meredith said, "Just be with him and don't stress about it."

"I don't know."

"Kelly, you've done that before. You're always the one that girls wanted to be like, because you let Joey be Joey and you had all his love, not for the things that you did for him, but because you were there for him. Everyone wants someone who is always going to be there for them."

"But--"

"No," Meredith said, "Just go up and wake him up and tell him to take a shower and spend time with your family. You're on vacation in Hawaii and just got proposed to. Just go enjoy it."

Kelly smiled, "Ok. Ok. I get the picture."

"Good," she said, "I have to get back to Justin before he eats all my ice cream. Have fun, don't get too much sun and get back to Orlando so we can celebrate and start planning that wedding."

"Ok. Ok," she said.

"And tell dad about his new baby," Meredith said.

"Ok," Kelly laughed. "Tell Justin we send our love and that he better not eat all the ice cream in Orlando or Brianna is gonna beat him up."

Meredith laughed, "I'll tell him. Love ya."

"Love you too."

Kelly put down the phone and look at the kids. They were still playing and Sesame Street was still on. "Guys I'm gonna go upstairs and wake up daddy then come back and make lunch. Do you want macaroni and cheese for lunch?"

Brianna's head immediately snapped to attention. "Sheese one?"

"Yep," she said, "Mac and cheese."

"K." Brianna said.

"You guys me good," Kelly said and started up the steps. She looked back after a moment and grabbed up the jewelry box and opened it before whispering, "Hopefully Mommy and Daddy will be family by the end of the day."

The humid morning heat crept through the house and reached them in the bedrooms. As he began to come back from the coma like sleep he'd been in, he could hear the ceiling fan whipping around above him, but couldn't feel the coolness that it was trying to bring to the room. After a while he rolled over onto his side from where he lay on his back and looked across the bed and saw Kelly watching him.

"It's almost lunch time," she said.

Joey moved his tongue around in his mouth and remembered the beers that he'd downed after he'd gotten back from his walk. Kelly had been asleep and the kids had been in bed so he'd downed three beers in a row and had watched a movie before flopping into bed to sleep.

"I'll be down in a minute," he said, "I'm gonna take a shower first."

"Brush your teeth too babe," she said and leaned and kissed his forehead. "You smell like beer."

He was caught for a moment by her calm attitude towards him, but nodded and closed his eyes as if he hadn't noticed. He turned back onto his back again then let out a grunt as he pushed himself up to a sitting position. He watched her leave the room then pushed his feet over the side of the bed and made his way towards the master bathroom.

His shower didn't take that long, but a half-hour later he was dressed and on his way down to the kitchen.

"Didi!" Brianna said and ran up to him.

She had on sandals and almost tripped but he caught her and pulled her up before she did. "How are you this afternoon jelly bean? You look like you're ready to go out to the beach." He pulled on her little shirt a little and made her that her shorts weren't making her comfortable.

"K." Brianna smiled at him and then made what he'd considered to be her serious face. She put a hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes. "No seeping."

"No jelly bean," he said, "I'm not sleeping anymore. I was really tired, but I'm better now."

"Hey Joe?" Kelly called.

"What Kel?" he asked back. He looked around for a moment, but didn't see her. He only saw that the television was on in the living room and that the back door was open and a breeze was coming in.

"Come in here and have lunch so Brianna will eat."

"Ok," he said and found her in the kitchen.

"I'm making macaroni and cheese," she said as she moved to pour noodles in a pan. She poured a little milk and threw some butter and the cheese into the pot and began to stir it. "You can have that or make something for yourself."

"Sheese one Didi," Brianna said.

"Where's your brother jelly bean?" Joey asked.

"I'm here," Colton said holding up the forks he was placing around the table in the dining room.

"You helping?" Joey asked feeling suddenly out of place, as if he was a visitor to their little family instead of part of it. When he saw the jewelry box sitting on the counter he tried to ignore it.

"Mac and cheese Joe?" Kelly asked with a smile. He couldn't understand how they'd blow up each other and in the next moment, well next morning anyway, would be back to normal again.

"Macaroni and Cheese sounds good." He moved Brianna onto his hip and looked at her. "What about juice for you Miss Thang?"

"How about milk instead?" Kelly said.

"Milk sounds good," he said and reached for the sippy cup that was sitting next to Kelly on the counter. He looked over here shoulder where she was stirring the macaroni and smiled, "I haven't had home cooked food in way too long."

"Ina a box," Brianna said, "Sheese one ina box."

"It's still good though," he said as he took the milk and closed up the cup using only one hand. "Cuz mommy made it."

"Thanks Joe," she said. She came up to him and stood on her toes and kissed him then walked away, "Only the best for my fiancée and my kiddies."

Joey almost dropped Brianna. He knocked over the sippy cup and righted it before it spilled too much on the counter. "What did you say?"

"Have a pawty?" Brianna said.

"Yes baby," she said leaning to kiss her daughter, "We're going to have a big huge party, but not right now. We have to wait until Papa Joe and Nana and Papa Donovan and Nana Mary are with us."

"You're sure?" Joey asked.

"Yes honey," she said and leaned and kissed him then handed him a plate. "Bring this over when you're ready."

Joey watched her walk into the dining room and felt a complete sense of peace wash over him. He hugged Brianna to him again then noticed the little piece of green on her finger.

"What is that kiddo?" he asked.

"Wing," she said, "Mommy wing ana Bri-na-na wing."

Joey set her down and reached for the jewelry box and opened it finding that the ring was gone. He looked up just in time to see Kelly waving at her, using the hand that now held her engagement ring. It was a moment that he thought he'd never see. He was going to be a husband and she was going to be a wife.

When he made it over to the table he sat down with them and started to eat. There was a smile playing on Kelly's lips and he reached over to push her hair out of her face. "What's that smile for?" he asked.

"I have another surprise for you Joe," she said.

"What?" he asked with laugh, "Hot dogs?"

"No," she said, "You know that scene in Cocktail at the end where Tom Cruise is making the speeches?"

Joey looked at her. "Yeah," he said, "What about it?"

"I bet I can spook you," she said.

"What?" he asked, "How?"

"You're gonna be a daddy again," she said and looked at her plate.

"What?" he dropped his fork to his plate and stared at her.

"You're gonna be a daddy again. This little party of four is going to be a party of five."

His jaw dropped before his face formed into a smile. This was too good to be true. He was getting it all. It had been a long road, but he'd fought through. His career was going well and his family was becoming a little bit bigger.

 

THE END!!!

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