Chapter 38 Gerard’s POV I looked down at my watch before deciding it was time to head back. I closed my sketchbook and tucked my pencil behind my ear. I got up and looked towards the meadow one last time before turning around and walking back to my car. I climbed in the driver’s seat and threw my sketchbook in the backseat before roaring the engine to life. I drove through the same path I came back to, heading back to the city. It didn’t take long for me to pull up to the school and I smiled before getting out of the car. I stood leaning against the hood of my car, my arms crossed as I watch the eight year old boy run around the playground laughing loudly as a black haired girl chased him. I whistled loudly, and they both stopped short before looking my way. A grin lit up James’ face as he and Crimson ran towards me. They stopped at the gate to pick up their backpacks before continuing their run towards me. “SHOT GUN!” Crimson yelled as she ran past James towards the front seat. James, on the other hand, ran straight towards me. I picked him up in the air and he hugged me tightly. “HI DAD!” he said excitedly. “How was your day, kiddo?” I asked as I walked towards the backseat with him in tow. “It was good. I learned my time tables!” “Did you?” I asked as I playfully tossed him in the backseat. “Yup!” he grinned proudly, buckling his seatbelt. “You’ll have to teach Crimson and I on the way to her house, won’t he, Crims?” “He already taught me,” she winked as she turned to look at us. I laughed and closed the door to walk around to the other side. I climbed inside and grinned at them both before pulling out into traffic. “So what did you learn today, missy?” She looked over at me with a big grin. “I learned that Kenny thinks I’m pretty,” she said as her cheeks flushed. “Kenny?” I narrowed my eyes at her, “Who’s Kenny?” “He’s this punk that tried to hold Crimsy’s hand,” James said from the backseat. I looked at him through my rearview mirror and couldn’t help but chuckle at the way his arms were crossed against his chest and the annoyed look etched on his face. “Oh yeah?” “Yeah,” he confirmed. “He’s not a punk!” Crimson disagreed. “I think Uncle Frank will be on my side,” James said—and boy was he smug. “That’s not fair!” she said as she looked at me, “Uncle Gerard, you’re on my side, aren’t you?” “Not on this, beautiful.” She made a disgusted sound before pouting. “James even threatened to hit him!” “He’s just being protective, sweetheart.” “I’m a boy; I know these things!” he insisted. That made me laugh. “You’re eight!” Crimson and I both said. His eyes widened at me before narrowing accusingly. “You’re supposed to be on my side.” “Don’t worry, bud. If this Kenny deal is serious, Uncle Frank and I will get to meet him.” Crimson looked horrified. I couldn’t help but laugh again. “I wish James was a girl. Then we’d share some of this.” “Ew. I can’t be a girl!” he yelled and I laughed. “Let’s try this again, Crims. What did you learn in school today?” “That you, James and daddy are way too overprotective. I am twelve, you know!” “Oh honey, you should ask your mom how much I hounded her. Believe me, I’m being nice.” “I don’t even want to imagine,” she sighed. I pulled into Frank’s driveway and James immediately bolted, leaving his backpack in the backseat. “He’s gonna tell Frank, you know,” I grinned at her and she glared at me. “Obviously.” “Don’t worry.” She smirked at me before leaning over to kiss my cheek. “C’mon, brat. Let’s get you inside before the search party starts.” She laughed softly before climbing out of the car. I watched her skip to the front door where Frank and James were already waiting. I waved at them and showing him my cell phone before dialing the house number. After a few rings, Juliet picked up. “Hello?” she spoke softly into the receiver; something about her voice sounded off. “Hey sweetheart, it’s me.” “Oh hi, honey. Are you on your way?” “Almost. I’m dropping Crimson off, and we’ll be there in a little bit. I have to save her from super man dad first.” “Super man dad?” she asked with a soft laugh. “Yeah, apparently Crimson’s got her first admirer and James isn’t liking it one bit.” She laughed against, this time slightly louder. I smiled at the sound. After nine years, little things she did still made me smile—I was sure they always would. “I think he takes too much after you in that aspect,” she whispered. “You think so?” “Definitely. I remember how much you tormented your poor sister.” “That’s what I told Crimson,” I chuckled. “So did you have a good day?” “Yeah, it was fine. I’ve been working on my drawing again.” “Did you manage to finally finish it?” “Not yet, something’s still missing,” I said. Silence. “Jules, are you nodding your head, sweetheart?” I asked with a smile. Another pause. “Shut up,” she said and I laughed. “What’s on your mind, babycakes?” “Nothing,” she answered too quickly. “Juliet,” I said. “Gerard,” she spoke back in the same tone. “Tell me, sweetheart.” “It’s nothing, really. We’ll talk when you come home.” “Is it something bad?” “Um, well, I guess it depends how you look at it.” “You’re scaring me.” “Don’t be scared,” she whispered, “it’ll be okay. I’d just rather talk when I can see your face.” “Fair enough,” I sighed, “we’ll be home soon.” “Okay. I love you.” “I love you, too, Jules.” I waited for her to hang up before doing so myself. I slid out of the passenger seat before making my way up the pathway leading to the front door. I knocked on it as I opened it, making my way inside. “Daddy, he just touched my hand!” Crimson argued. “He’s a punk!” James insisted, “And I’m going to hit him if he touches her again.” “If you hit him, I’m never talking to you again,” she told him and his eyes widened. “But, but, but…” he sputtered before he looked down sadly, “fine, I won’t hit him. But if he hurts you, then I’m gonna hurt him. Even if you don’t ever talk to me again.” The look on her face softened and I smiled as she walked over to him, and hugged him. Even if he was younger than her, he was an inch or two taller—although it probably didn’t help much that she’s a few inches shorter than she should be. “Whoa, whoa, wait; I’m not exactly ready for this to be over yet,” Frank scowled. I shook my head and walked over the threshold, letting my presence be known. Crimson immediately looked at me for help. “I’m sure it’s nothing, Frank,” I told him as I walked over, picking Crimson up, “right, princess?” “Exactly,” she agreed as her arms wrapped around my neck. Frank still looked unsure but he gave in. I grinned at him and he shook his head. I let Crimson down and she looked up me. “Uncle Gerard; can James stay and play for a little while?” “I don’t know, babe. I kind of need to get home.” “I can drop him off,” Frank offered and James looked up with hopeful eyes. “Alright, but homework before play; got it?” “Yes! Thank you, dad!” He ran up to me and I picked him up as I hugged him. “Be good, okay?” “I will. Don’t tell mom I learned my times tables, okay? I want to surprise her.” “Okay, I promise I won’t,” I grinned at him. He smiled back and hugged me one last time before wiggling around. I laughed and set him down the ground and he ran off with Crimson towards her bedroom. Frank shook his head with a smile and I sighed with a smile of my own. “Our kids are growing up way too fast,” Frank said and I chuckled. “Yeah, tell me about it. Hey, at least she has James to watch her in school.” “That’s actually a very comforting thought.” “Isn’t it?” I laughed. “Definitely. Is everything okay with Jules? You said you had to get home.” “Oh; yeah, I mean, I think so. She said we’d talk when I got home. I’m kind of worried, to be honest.” “I’m sure everything’s fine.” “I hope so,” I nodded, “I should get going.” “Alright, call me when you’re ready for me to bring James over.” “I will; thanks.” “Nah, thank you for picking her up.” “Say hey to Lu for me, alright?” “I will,” he smiled. I patted his shoulder before walking towards the door to let myself out. “Who’s doing their homework?” I heard him call out. “WE ARE!” I smiled and closed the door before making my way towards my car. I climbed in the passenger seat and took a deep breath before pulling out of the driveway. The entire ride home, I wracked my brain trying to decide what it was that had happened. We’d been married a little over nine years—happily married, might I add. We had James about a year later. He’d only made our life brighter than it already was. Not long after he was born, we bought a house; deciding we needed a new place to make new memories. continued in next post.