It is not just bringing up a girl that matters,
but showing her how valuable she is.
To build the confidence she needs to fight her battles.
Del Sol Valley Villa ViVa Home to Liam, Vivien and Aria-Grace, as well as family dog Toby, who is one of George's two now grown-up puppies with Maeve's poodle Peach. Sadly, the Cameron's previous dog, Spot, as well as Peach have passed on.
Rising after having been tickled awake by the soft beams of the morning sun shining into her room, Aria-Grace yawned and stretched, sitting at the edge of her bed, when she noticed the message light of her phone was blinking.
“Aww, Nicky texted.” she said to herself as she tapped around to read it.
‘Happy V-Day to the sweetest, most beautiful, and only mildly annoying little sister. Luv ya, monster! -N.’
It made her smile, as she texted something similarly sweet, yet tongue-in-cheek back. Once she hit send, she was gonna put the phone down to go to the bathroom, when she noticed another message waiting.
“Rohan!” she exclaimed, her heart racing, as she clicked the text. It opened to an animated picture of a butterfly bursting into a million rose petals raining down, forming a red heart.
‘Hopefully your day will be as beautiful as you are. -Rohan.’
“Oh my God! OH. MY. GOD. That is so sweet! He thought about me on Valentine’s Day! OMG!!! I have to write back. Just what? What do you say to that? What expresses how he just made my day, without me sounding too needy?”
After countless attempts, she settled for a gif of a bunny blowing kisses at the recipient, hoping it wasn’t gonna be too much.
Instantly, she received a reply.
‘Cute, but not the cutest bunny I know. 😉 How does your last day of youth feel? Enjoy it while you can. j/k 😉 Gotta run, my shift just started, gotta make my rounds. TTYL’
Aria-Grace nearly cried happy tears as she jumped up to hop around excitedly, trying to keep from screaming for joy. He remembered. He had so much going on, his entire life had been reshuffled like a deck of cards, but he remembered her birthday was tomorrow!
She would be 18 years old in less than 24 hours now. Sadly, she would have to celebrate without Nick for the first time ever – not to mention without Rohan. Because of the baby. Her good mood received a damper. Right. The baby thing.
With a sigh, AG tried to be understanding and not egoistic. Little Aryelle was simply crazy-cute, AG had fallen in love with that child the first moment she laid eyes on her. Looking at her, with her darker complexion – inherited from her Indian father – she looked like a deliciously pudgy milk chocolate treat, her soft rosy cheeks were so kissable, and she was the happiest baby AG had ever seen, you barely knew she was even there, so quiet, just lying there, smiling or sleeping. AG couldn’t help seeing a female version of Rohan, something he vehemently denied when she told him, claiming she had to take after her mother, as she was beautiful.
AG bit her tongue, while she really liked her cousin normally, the jealousy of Ezzy having a baby with Rohan, HER Rohan, and him complimenting her after everything she put him through just reared its ugly head. No, she knew he didn’t love Ezzy, nor she him, but the compliment still didn’t sit well. Ezzy wasn’t THAT pretty. Argh, Esmée. Annoyingly, Aria-Grace could kinda understand her more than the rest of the family seemed to, she wouldn’t want a baby yet either, but then again, Ezzy had been lucky enough to be intimate with Rohan, multiple times from what AG gathered, yet it apparently meant nothing to her, means to an end, Ezzy just squandered it all away, but most annoyingly, as a reward for such recklessness was now forever bound to the man AG loved via a mutual child. No fair! It should have been her. Aria-Grace should have been the mother of Rohan’s first kid, in a bunch of years from now, at least she would have fully appreciated everything about it, rather than treat it like an illness. Now Ezzy had stolen that magic from her. Maybe not on purpose, but it had been irrevocably taken from her nonetheless.
Even if her fairytale were to become real, even if she and Rohan one day would be a couple, even if one day she were to have his baby, it wouldn’t be as special as the first had been. Just another baby, not THE baby. Oh well, water down the river. What happened, happened. Aryelle was not something to be mad over.
After her morning routine AG went downstairs to the kitchen where her parents were making coffee and breakfast.
“Morning my still little angel girl! Ha, had to get that one in before it could be construed as weird.” Liam greeted her.
“Weird is your middle name, daddy. Wow, you must have a super-guilty conscience. Two huge bouquets during the V-Day price hike times? Your cheapskate side will need years of therapy for this.” Aria-Grace giggled, pointing at the bouquets.
“Funny bunny! I am not cheap, I am money-conscious and NEVER when it comes to your mother – or you kids! This one is mine for your mom, that one is yours, actually. Needless to point out, you got some ‘splainin’ to do, Missy!” Liam grinned, winking, while pointing to a large bouquet of carnations with a card and a small gift box first – his gift to Vivien – then a slightly smaller one of red roses.
“Mine? I got roses? From Nicky?”
“I don’t know, your mother wouldn’t let me read the card.” Liam shrugged.
“There is a card? Like in the movies? A card for me in a bouquet of red roses for me?! WOW! I like this adult thing already and yes, I know, still one more day to go! Please don’t get sappy again, I promise I won’t completely change in a day now. And thanks mom for protecting my privacy from Snoopy, the dad!” AG stuck her tongue out at Liam, who just laughed, while she smelled the roses, then pulled out the little envelope, containing a card.
“OH MY GOD! Those are not for my birthday tomorrow; they are for Valentine’s Day today! I got V-Day roses! AND HE SENT THEM! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” she exclaimed before she could brace herself, attracting stares of both parents, halting her happy dance. Oops.
“Iiiiiiinteresting. Do tell! Who sends my STILL 17-year-old-daughter – and you betcha I will ride this fact to death until the last second before midnight tonight – a Valentine’s Day bouquet? I don’t remember you mentioning any boy to us.” Liam inquired in dad-mode.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just sweet. And a surprise.”
“Baby, daddy and I really wanna hear who’s behind your sweet surprise. That bouquet wasn’t cheap, sweetie, and you wouldn’t just do the spasi-dance for no reason. This means something. We weren’t born last night, sweetheart.”
“Oh, mom. Please turn off the investigative mode again. It’s just Rohan.”
“Rohan? A-ha. Interesting. And why would your brother’s best friend be sending you flowers?”
“Because he is sweet, mom, and considerate and likes me. And I like him. A lot. Like – a LOT.”
“And I am not sure I like hearing that at all, let alone a lot.” Liam said.
“Dad. Chill. THAT is why I haven’t said anything.”
“I AM chill, baby. This is me being chill about that revelation. You have been spending a lot of weekends at your brother’s place in San Myshuno, far away from where you mom and I can see what’s going on, and where the sender of a bouquet of romantic Valentine’s Day roses of notable proportion lives and as I have to assume now, who commandeered a good part of your time there, potentially alone. I am not gonna ask what you two have been up to, mostly for self-preservation reasons cos I don’t need another heart attack, but he is a single father and significantly older than you. Not being judgy, just …”
“Just – being judgy while claiming you are not being judgy, daddy. Look, guys, reminder: I am going to be 18 tomorrow, people are going to expect adult actions from me, and I expect to be treated like an adult in return then. But nothing will change, you guys and I have always been very honest with each other, so rest assured, as of right now there is nothing to tell, but if and when that ever changes, you two will be the first to know. If you excuse me now, I will take my beautiful flowers and put them in my room.”
“Uh uh uh uh! After breakfast, honey. Food first. I have one more day to put the parenting thumbscrews on you before it becomes a struggle about you aging out of my protective jurisdiction. I cannot believe our baby is about to be an adult. AHHH! Liam, make it stop!”
“I know baby. I know. I wish I could. AG, quit aging or you are grounded! Be a baby again immediately! Or a toddler, first grader max.” Liam jokingly wagged his finger at their daughter, while snuggling Vivien.
“Oh my God, you two are such drama queens! Well, no offense, I had the best childhood, well except the parts where you two almost drove the marriage into a ditch, but I am glad you can’t stop time. Relax, parents, you know I love you and think the world of you and always will. I am no fool, I know I have excellent parents, why do you think Nicky and I turned out as incredible as we have.” Aria-Grace giggled.
“Glad we raised you so humble! Sit down and let’s eat already – and more importantly – let’s talk about that Rohan situation. Daddy and I have questions. Lots and lots of questions.” Vivien told their daughter.
“And I already gave you all the answers you are gonna get, Nosey 1 and Nosey 2. All you can get from me at this point is gushing about how cute Rohan is. Those eyes … so soft and brown and … hmmmmmm.” Aria-Grace sighed demonstratively.
“OH MY GOD NO! Vivien, make our daughter stop or I will throw up right here, right now!” Liam said with the straightest face he could muster, playing along with AG’s teasing.
“AG, quit aggravating your poor father!” Vivien laughed.
“But daddy, his hands … those hands … I have to tell you about those hands. He should be a surgeon with THOSE hands … I am sure mom would know what I am talking about!”
“Hey, don’t you drag me into this mess, Missy! I want no part of this fiendish torture! The only male hands I know anything about are your father’s and that is my final answer!” laughed Vivien.
“Good answer too, Vivien! And you, AG, enough, you brat, or I will rip those hands off that guy next time I see him and spank you with them – in a VERY VERY unpleasant way!”
Both women laughed harder.
“Oh, rawr, daddy! But I haven’t even mentioned those lips, those soft full moist lips …” AG pressed out in between laugh attacks.
“You better either shut up now or start running young lady – or I will take you and throw you into the pool as you are!”
“AFTER breakfast!” insisted Vivien, giggling.
Author's Note: In a way, this is a teaser and a cliffhanger, originally the birthday party was part of this chapter, but it all got too long, so I broke it up. So ... make sure not to miss the next part. Soon. 🙂