Elizabeth Windsor (no, not that one) sighed as she watched her two-year-old nephew, Reid jump off of the front porch into the winter snow. It was the first week of November and winter was already in full force. She hadn't been able to take the young boy anywhere in over a week. One Nor'easter after another had struck and everything was either shut down or inaccessible.
Elizabeth lived with her older brother Marshall and looked after his two kids, Reid, and his sixteen-year-old older sister, Tempest. Marshall was divorced from his alcoholic wife and needed all the help he could get. He was the owner of the town's only auto shop and was rarely home.
Twenty-eight-year-old Elizabeth had come to live with Marshall when his ex-wife Dora was still in the picture and pregnant with Reid. Her life had entered a downward spiral back home in her native North Carolina. She had finally broken up with her abusive on-again-off-again fiancé, Baron but she was living with their manipulative father and addicted to pills.
Marshall had been the only family member she had that really seemed concerned. He bought her a bus ticket and she had packed her bags and headed north to Williamstown, Massachusetts.
She had gotten clean. She had gotten help for the anxiety that she had lived with all of her life. When her brother had divorced she had stepped up and become the family caregiver.
It was literally freezing outside but Elizabeth figured it was safe to let Reid let off some energy in the snow for a few minutes while they waited for his dad to arrive home from work.
Sure enough, the sound of her brother's tow truck could be heard rumbling up the street and within a few minutes, the red beast was carefully parked in the driveway. She could make out the shadow of a passenger in the cab but the windows were tinted so she couldn't see who it was.
Her brother got out first because it appeared that the passenger was on the phone.
"Hey, Lizzy, hope you don't mind but I told my new mechanic that he could stay in the guest room for a week or two until he can find his own place." Lovely, a house guest. She really wished he would have run this one by her first. Her brother loved picking up strays. "He just moved up here from North Carolina."
That peaked her interest. She wondered from which part of the state he hailed. She didn't have to wonder for long. The moment he stepped out of the cab she knew the answer. He had moved from Kannapolis, North Carolina but was originally from Port Jervis, New York. She knew this because she knew him.
"Cal," She gasped.
"Elizabeth," He jumped a bit in surprise.
"I take it you two know each other?" Marshall raised an eyebrow.
Reid came up to her, suddenly mittenless, and rubbing his hands together. "Lizzy, I's cold."
She reached down and picked the little blond boy up.
"Yeah," She finally answered her brother but she refused to look at Cal. "He's Baron's little brother,"
She walked inside with Reid and took him upstairs for a bath. She had no idea why she had been so rude. She had no problem with Cal. Unlike Baron, he was a good man. He had had some problems, yes. He had been addicted to heroin and done a prison term for dealing. He had a three-year-old son that he didn't have custody of but Elizabeth knew that he saw the toddler as often as he was permitted and was working hard on getting his life together so he could regain custody. Cal had even been known to step in and protect her from his brother when he got violent.
Maybe, that was the problem. Cal was a good man but he reminded her of her past...a past in which she had a crush on him.
When the two had first met she had already been with Baron for over a year and they had already broken up and gotten back together. In fact, they were engaged. Cal was fresh out of prison and came to live with the two of them for a few months while he searched for a job and an apartment.
Elizabeth couldn't help but be taken with him. He was handsome, in a Mark Walberg sort of way. In fact, that's who a lot of people said he looked like. He was a gentleman. He opened doors, pulled out chairs and did pretty much everything she wished his older brother would do. He was smart and fun. He had no problem staying up and playing Scrabble late into the night even while Baron bitched in the background while playing MLB The Show. He was caring. When she had gotten a sudden flu and was home from her call center job sick, he had taken care of her while Baron was at his job as a grocery store manager. He had tucked her into bed and hung out with her watching re-runs of Doctor Who all day.
How in the fuck was she going to handle being around him for weeks?
She took her time bathing Reid which wasn't really hard to do seeing as he liked turning the bathroom into his own personal waterpark during bath time. Her white long-sleeve t-shirt was soaked through by the time she opened the door and released a pajama-clad Reid upon the house.
Unfortunately for her at the exact same time that she exited the bathroom, which was located at the stop of the staircase, Cal was coming up the stairs with his duffel bag.
His eyes lingered on her chest for a moment and she had to resist the urge to cover herself. She was wearing an emerald green bra under her shirt and it was clearly visible thanks to her little brat of a nephew. If she covered herself, it meant that she cared.
"Hey, LilBit, which room's the guest room?" He tore his eyes away from her chest and smiled at her.
Did he have to use that nickname? He had given it to her because standing at five foot even she was a little bit smaller than everybody else. His New York accent made "little bit" sound like "Lilbit".
She pointed to the room that sat directly across from hers without saying a word. Would it make her a coward if she slept in Tempest's room? The teenager's room was on the other end of the hallway. She considered asking the girl to switch room's when she returned home from her job at the local Greek restaurant. Seeing as the girl was likely to ask why her aunt wanted to switch rooms she ultimately ruled the idea out.
"Seems like old times, huh?"
He again tried to draw her into conversation.
"Yeah," She nodded before turning and making her way to her bedroom and closing the door.
She barely spoke a word to him at dinner and went and hid in her room the minute that Reid was in bed for the night and Tempest had called to let her know that she was spending the night at a friend's house.
She lay in bed watching a Criminal Minds marathon when nature called.
Cracking open her door she peeked into the hallway to make sure the coast was clear. The light in the guest room was on but the door was closed.
She slowly opened the door and tiptoed to the bathroom. She made it there safely but was met with a smirking Cal when she exited.
He was leaning against the upstairs railing with his arms crossed over his chest. He had been waiting for her...fuck!
"What do you want?" She huffed in annoyance wishing she was wearing something other than a pair of short lime green pajama shorts and a tight Eminem tour tank top.
"To know why you're avoiding me," He said bluntly. "Just because you broke up with my idiot brother doesn't mean that we stopped being friends, Lilbit."
That warmed her heart a little.
"You remind me of a past that I've tried very hard to forget," She told him a half-truth.
"And I wasn't a good part of that past?" He sounded hurt and his shoulders slumped a little.
Elizabeth immediately felt bad.
"You were the best part of that past...that's the problem." She told him honestly but cryptically.
She watched as he took a moment to decode what she had said. Once he did a slow, cocky grin spread across his face and he stalked towards her like a lion to its prey.
"What are you doing?" She tried to back away but he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her flush against him.
"Taking what should have always been mine," He said gruffly before crashing his lips to hers.
For a moment she was in too much shock to actually respond to his kiss. Cal was kissing her. Movie star looking Cal was kissing chubby, mousey blonde Elizabeth. How was this possible? Before she knew it her body started responding of its own accord. She parted her pouty lips to allow his tongue entrance. Their tongues dueled for a moment before she surrendered dominance. His tongue slowly licked along the roof of her mouth before he pulled away, nibbling on her lips as he went. He leaned his forehead against hers as they both fought to regain their breath.
"Your room or mine?" He asked against her lips before kissing her quickly and softly.
This snapped her back to reality.
"We can't, Cal," She backed away and shook her head.
"Why not?" He demanded as he pulled her back into his arms.
They were so close that she could feel his arousal against her stomach and it made it hard to think.
"Because I used to be engaged to your brother...I took out a restraining order against your brother!" She tried to make him see reason. "He hates me and so does your parents. We could never actually be together and if all you're looking for is a one-night stand or a fuck buddy...you're barking up the wrong tree."
Without warning, he moved his hands down to her ass and lifted her up so that she was forced to wrap her legs around his waist. He carried her to her bedroom and quietly kicked the door closed before gently laying her down on the queen size bed.
"I haven't spoken to my family in years, Lilbit, and I don't care if you were with my brother first. If you hadn't been, I never would have met you." He whispered to her huskily as he hovered above her. "And I'm not looking for a one-night stand, sweetheart." He laughed a little bitterly as he stole a kiss before continuing. "I've wanted you since the first day I met you. I want a chance with you."
"Shouldn't you be working on getting custody of Greyson?" She played her last card...his beloved son.
He laughed again. "I already have custody, sweetheart. He's staying with some friends in New York while I look for a place up here."
She was beyond thrilled for him...and now she was completely out of excuses.
"Let me have you, Lilbit," There was a raw need in his voice and Elizabeth found herself giving in.
"Okay," She nodded.
He smiled and dipped his head down to steal a passionate kiss.
They laid there sharing kisses for what felt like forever. Her anxiety didn't start kicking in until she felt him reach for the bottom of her tank top.
She reached down and stopped him.
"What's wrong?" He asked her in concern.
"Cal," She said so softly she was barely audible. "I probably don't look like the other women that you've been with under this shirt."
His own brother had constantly reminded her of how overweight she was.
"Whatever Baron told you about how you look was a fucking lie, sweetheart," He pushed her hands away and pulled her tank top over her head almost roughly.
She wasn't wearing a bra underneath and immediately moved to cover her breasts with her arms.
Cal caught both of her wrists in his hands and pinned them above her head with a growl.
"Don't you ever fucking hide from me," He told her harshly as he crashed his lips to hers.
He released her hands and let his hands travel down to her breasts.
"These are the most perfect fucking tits that I have ever seen," He kneaded them gently. Hearing the language that was coming from good-guy-Cal and feeling his hands on her had moisture gathering between her legs in no time. "I love how they overflow out my hands." He took one nipple then the other into his mouth before moving his hand down to caresses her belly. "You're not chubby, sweetheart, your stomach is flat it's just not defined...I love that." Before she knew it he had pulled her shorts and panties down and was laying in between her spread thighs. She felt his length rubbing against her moist center and let a little moan escape her lips. He smiled and ground against her as he reached both hands down and squeezed her ass and her eyes fell closed. "I love this ass, Lilbit. All nice and heart-shaped. Perfect to grab onto while I'm making love to you." He stopped his motions and reached up a hand to gently stroke her cheek. "A woman like you has a child bearing body...and I hope that someday maybe you will want to carry my baby,"
The emotions running through her were too much. She had been with the wrong brother all along. A few tears made their way down her cheek and he leaned forward to kiss them away.
"Now's not the time for tears." He told her as he started moving again. "Let me make my baby feel better."
He slowly kissed his way down her body until he was face to face with the most intimate part of her. He gently blew on her causing a shudder to run through her body before leaning forward and taking a slow long taste of her. It wasn't long before he had her withering beneath him. Right before she went over the age he pulled his mouth away.
He smirked at her groan of frustration.
"Don't worry, sweetheart, I have something better than my mouth for you,"
He pulled his t-shirt over his heart exposing his six-pack and the large tattoo of Greyson's name that was printed across his chest. He kicked out of his red pajama pants and quickly settled between her legs.
"You ready, baby?" He asked as she felt his tip poking her entrance.
"Please," She begged breathlessly.
He pushed forward and in one long thrust was encased inside of her.
"Christ," He hissed and held completely still for a moment. "You are so fucking tight,"
Cal was longer than any other lover she had ever had and way thicker. It took her a moment to adjust to his girth but once she did she was aching for him to move.
"Please move," She thrust her hips upwards.
He started off with long slow thrusts, rocking against her as they shared slow, sensuous kisses but it wasn't long before they both lost control and got lost in each other.
"I'm close, sweetheart," Cal panted as he thrust into her at a rapid pace.
"Me too," She panted her hips rising to meet his every thrust.
He reached a hand down between them and gave her a little push towards ecstasy.
As she went crashing over the edge she felt him jerk and spill himself inside of her.
They lay there for a few moments catching their breath and coming down from their mutual highs before a word was spoken.
It was Cal who broke the silence.
"Please, tell me this means that you're mine now?" He asked as placed a kiss in the valley between her breasts.
"If you want me to be," She replied meekly.
She had been his for a long time. She just hadn't known it until that moment.
He withdrew from her body and moved to lay on his back beside her. He held his arm out to her and she cuddled up against his strong chest.
He kissed her temple. "I want to keep you for as long as you'll let me,"
Was forever too long? She wondered. She suddenly remembered something that he had said earlier.
"Not to pry," She said delicately as she traced imaginary patterns on his chest. "But why haven't you spoken to your family in years?"
He looked down into her eyes. "Because of how they treated you, sweetheart. They treated you like some whore when everyone knows what Baron did to you,"
Crap, she was in love with him...
She awoke the next morning to Reid bouncing on the bed at 5:00 in the morning. Luckily, she and Cal had been wise enough to put their pajamas back on the night before. She pulled the hyperactive little boy down to sit on the bed so that he wouldn't wake Cal...how the hell did he sleep through the hurricane that was her nephew?
She turned the television that sat on her dresser on and flipped through the stations until she found an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Reid's favorite show. She reached over to her nightstand and grabbed the sippy cup full of watered down apple juice that she kept there for Reid's early morning visits.
As was his routine, he took the sippy cup and lay on a pillow in the middle of the bed with one of his arms behind his head and watched a few minutes before falling back to sleep with his sippy cup hanging out of his mouth. He would sleep for another hour or two.
Chuckling lightly, she reached over and took the sippy cup, setting it back on her nightstand.
She lay back down and wrapped her arm around the little boy and he rolled over and cuddled into her chest with his little thumb in his mouth. She placed a kiss on his forehead. This was one of her favorite times of the day. When Reid was sweet and cuddly and not yet wide awake and possessed by Satan.
She was surprised when Cal scooted closer and wrapped his arm around the both of them.
"You're a natural born mom," He mumbled sleepily without opening his eyes.
Seeing as she hadn't grown up with the best example of motherhood she took this as a very meaningful compliment.
"Thanks," She whispered back.
"I gotta go with your brother to pick up my truck from the shop in a few hours, the guys put snow tires on it, but after that do you want to go apartment hunting with me?" He asked opening his eyes a little.
"Do you mind Reid and maybe Tempest tagging along?" She questioned. Even though it was Saturday, Marshall would still be going into work. Reid obviously couldn't be left alone and Tempest didn't like to be when she was home. She had developed the family curse of anxiety and the fear of being alone that Elizabeth herself suffered from.
He leaned over the top of Reid's head and kissed her softly. "No problem, baby,"
Marshall had noticed the change in the both of them the minute they stepped foot in the kitchen that morning. Elizabeth, normally a grump in the morning, had a soft smile upon her face and Cal carried Reid on his hip as the little boy chatted animatedly to him.
He hadn't said a word as Cal made them both a cup of coffee and Elizabeth started making everyone breakfast. He just smirked as he sipped from his traveler's mug.
"Hey, Marshall," Elizabeth got his attention as she fried up some bacon on the stove. "Do you mind if me and Cal take the kids out later? He asked me to go apartment hunting with him."
"Dude, why don't you just stay here?" Marshall offered. "We have the room,"
Elizabeth found herself really liking this idea. She looked to Cal to see his reaction. She couldn't read his expression.
"Man, I got a kid," Cal reminded her brother.
Marshall nodded. "We still have the room, Greyson's almost the same age as Reid, they can share a room," Now his smirk grew wider. "Or seeing as you'd be sharing a room with my sister he could have the guest room."
Elizabeth spit out the sip of coffee that she had just taken and Marshall burst out laughing.
"I'm your brother, not stupid, short fry," He told her.
"You're okay with this?" She gestured between herself and Cal.
Marshall nodded. "When you first moved here, remember how we used to smoke joints to help you get through your opiate withdrawal?"
She nodded. It was the only thing that had allowed her to eat during those difficult weeks when all she wanted to do was throw up and sleep the pain away. Both she and Marshall still smoked weed. Both being former addicts they used it as a non-addictive way of relaxing. It was probably what had saved them both from ever relapsing. Her psychiatrist had even written her a prescription for the plant.
"Well, once you'd get a little up there, you'd start talking about what happened with Baron and you want to know what I noticed?" He asked.
"What?" She asked curiously.
"For every bad story you had about Baron, you had three good ones about Cal." He informed her. She was shocked. Really? "I knew then that you were in love with him but you were so messed up that I didn't want to point it out and add any more stress." Did he really have to use the word "love"? She hadn't used that word yet and neither had Cal. This was opening a can of worms.
She took the bacon off of the heat and while she had her back turned, she quickly wiped a few tears away before putting on a brave face and turning back around to address Cal.
She jumped when she discovered him standing directly beside her.
"Can I talk to you for a minute in private?" He asked her seriously.
"Go," Marshall waved them away. "I'll finish breakfast; I think I can manage to scramble a few eggs."
"I crack! I crack!" Reid went running up to his father.
Elizabeth let him lead her out of the kitchen and into the living room/Reid's play room. He closed the heavy brown, wooden door that separated these rooms from the rest of the house. He took a seat on the couch and pulled her to sit in his lap.
Her heart was beating so fast that she thought that it very well might beat right out of her chest.
He reached up a hand and pulled her face down to his for a soft kiss.
"Relax," He smiled at her when he pulled away. "I don't want to talk about anything bad,"
She let herself relax just a little bit. "What do you want to talk about?" She leaned against his chest and laid her head on his shoulder.
"How do you feel about me and Greyson moving in?" He asked.
She sat up straight. He was actually considering her brother's offer.
"Are you serious?" She asked trying to conceal the fear and excitement in her voice.
"As a heart attack," He nodded. "Are you okay with Greyson being around all of the time? His mom signed away all of her rights. I have full custody."
How could he even ask her that? She had been in the room the day the boy was born. Cal had been in prison when his son had been born and she was dating Baron. When Cal's ex-girlfriend Kristy had gone into labor and couldn't reach anyone else, Elizabeth had been the one to drive her to the hospital. She had held the little boy before his own mother had.
She nodded. "Of course, I love Greyson, I just...are we ready for this?"
"Well, I love you, and you love me..."
"Wait! You love me?"
He looked confused. "I thought I made that clear last night...you, know, making love to you and telling you that I wanted you to have my baby,"
"You didn't actually say the words, Cal," She shook her head, tears pooling in her eyes. "And you were serious about having a baby?" She thought he had only said that in the heat of the moment while trying to make her feel good about her body.
"Why do you think I didn't wear a rubber last night?" He raised an eyebrow at her and her heart nearly stopped. "I had one in my wallet in my room, all I had to do was go and get it but I didn't...I didn't just forget, after Greyson, I'm not that irresponsible,"
Fuck, he hadn't worn a condom. She hadn't been with anyone since Baron so she wasn't on birth control. There was no need for it. What if she was pregnant?
"Just breathe," He chuckled and nuzzled her neck. "I'm clean and I'm not going anywhere...I love you. I hope that's clear now, sweetheart."
She should be pissed at him. She should want to deck him in the face. How dare he take that risk without her consent? But she wasn't mad. All she could see were little blonde babies with gray eyes running through her head. She made her decision.
"I love you too...and I really want you and Greyson to move in," She leaned forward and kissed him gently.
In for a penny, in for a fucking pound as the old saying went.
Cal had requested the following week off and the two of them had driven to Port Jervis to pick up Greyson and bring him home. The little boy didn't remember her, he had only been a baby the last time she had seen him, but he took a quick liking to Elizabeth. Once he was home and settled, he fit in like he had always been there. He and Reid quickly became the two freaking amigos after being moved into the same room. They were each other's partners in crime and wherever one went the other was sure to follow...kind of like Mary and her little lamb. Now instead of one toddler climbing into bed with them in the mornings, they had two...and she wouldn't have it any other way.
For the first time since before she had met Baron and before her mother had died, Elizabeth was truly happy. She had her family and she had the man that she loved. A man that treated her the way she deserved to be treated.
She went to sleep every night in his arms. She cuddled with him and the boys in the early morning hours before waking and making breakfast for the family and lunches for Cal and Marshall to take to work. She drove Tempest to school and took the boys to their play groups, karate, the library, and the grocery store. She made dinner in the evenings and Cal would help her do the washing up. It usually took all three adults to put the boys to bed at night. Elizabeth would put them down first and when they both snuck out of bed for the first time, Marshall would put them back. When they snuck out for the third time it was Cal's turn. They would take turns until the marauding boys finally settled down for the night.
Chores completed, she would retire to what had become her and Cal's bedroom, the framed Star Wars poster on the wall a dead giveaway that it was no longer just her room. She would climb in bed with her boyfriend and sometimes they made love and other times they just cuddled and talked or watched TV.
Their life together was boringly average...she loved it.
She had never been one of those women who wanted to be rich or famous. She had grown up the daughter of a working woman who barely ever had any time to spend with her. She had been left in the care of her father who liked to play with his children's emotions just for kicks. All she craved was a family and real love. She now had both. Her family might be a bit unorthodox but it was still a family. She didn't have a soccer team full of children like she had dreamed about as a child but Greyson and Reid were both as good as her sons. She and Cal still weren't using protection. They hadn't discussed children since that day in the living room. It was like an unspoken agreement that they wouldn't actively try but would go about their normal activities and whatever happened, happened.
It was the morning of Thanksgiving and only four out of the six people in the house were awake. Elizabeth was in the kitchen getting started on the day's meal. Tempest was in the living room with Greyson and Reid. They were watching the boys' favorite DVD The Rugrats Go Wild. It was so early that the parade hadn't even started yet.
She started a pot of coffee and went about stuffing the turkey. Once that task was completed and the bird was in the over, she turned her attention to breakfast. She went with the usual unhealthy Thanksgiving morning tradition, cinnabuns.
She had just pulled the sweet pastries out of the oven to cool and was pouring two sippy cups full of milk when Cal joined her in the kitchen.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed the back of her neck.
"Good morning, beautiful,"
"Morning, hon," She screwed the lids on the cups and turned around in his arms and placed a kiss on his lips.
"Need any help?" He asked.
She shook her head. "Not in here, I have a system and it's been working for three years, we're not messing with it. You could save Temp and go and sit with the boys while they watch their movie in the living room," She suggested. "She was nice enough to sit with them but I know she wanted a shower before the parade starts,"
He nodded and stole a kiss before grabbing the sippy cups and leaving the room. She followed and delivered a plate of cinnabuns and retreated back to the kitchen.
It was three in the afternoon and everything was under control in the kitchen. The turkey was basted and cooking nicely. Her pies were cooling on the counter and all of her sides were ready to go.
Sticking with Windsor tradition, the family was gathered in the living room putting up the Christmas tree.
"When Lizzy was in the second grade, we were putting up the Christmas tree and she appears with this little handmade candy cane ornament. We thought that she had made it in school," Marshall was laughing. "Turns out a little boy in her class had made it for her. She had a huge crush on him and was beat red. I think his name was David. Anyway, we ran into David again when she was about twenty...he had joined the priesthood."
Elizabeth wanted to smack him. He got such a kick out of embarrassing her.
Cal pulled her into a hug and kissed the tip of her nose. "Don't worry, baby. The day I join the priesthood is the day you have my head examined because there is no way I'd give you up if I was in my right mind,"
"Come on," Tempest groaned. "That's my aunt, Cal, I so do not need to hear this crap."
Elizabeth felt a tug on her sweater. Looking down she found Greyson, holding up the Christmas tree ornament that he had made in Sunday School.
"Mama, help me," He shook the ornament at her and lifted his arms to be picked up so he could hang it where he wanted it on the Douglas Fir tree.
All of the air left her lungs. Greyson had just called her "mama". What did she do? Did she correct him? She knew that his biological mother had not been in his life pretty much from the day that he had been born and after signing away her rights would never be...but was it right to allow him to call her "mama"? She would kill to be his mother. She loved him so much.
She looked to Cal for help but he had a loving smile on his face and his eyes were suspiciously wet.
"Well, mama, are you going to help our boy or not?" He challenged softly.
She took the challenge and leaned down to pick the boy up. "Of course, Mr. Man, where do you want to put it?"
Later that night as they lay in bed, Elizabeth with her head on Cal's chest, she broached the subject of what had happened with Greyson.
"Why did Greyson call me "mama" today?"
"Because he asked me if he could the other day and I said yes," Cal replied without even opening his eyes. It was like it was no big deal. As if they weren't already moving fast enough.
"Why would you say yes?" She was completely flabbergasted.
He sighed and sat up to lean against the wooden headboard of the bed. He pulled her up to rest against his chest once again.
He looked down at her seriously. "Because you are his mom. You do everything for him that a mother would do. You tuck him in at night, you cuddle him in the mornings, you take him places...you love him...do you plan on stopping?"
"Of course not!"
"Then you are his mom, the only one he's ever had," He pointed out as brushed a piece of her curly blond hair behind her ear. "If you don't want the job...that's fine, but...I want to share my son with you, Elizabeth. I want you to be his mother."
He felt the familiar sensation of saltwater pooling in her eyes. She was getting sick of him and this making her cry bullshit.
"I want to be his mom," She assured him as the tears began to fall.
Before they knew it, Christmas Eve was upon them and there were two little boys waiting for Old St. Nick and a teenage girl keeping her fingers crossed for a new iPad (Marshall had been a sucker and waited in line for eight hours on Black Friday to get her one).
Elizabeth was in the kitchen getting a plate of cookies ready for the jolly old Christmas elf and the boys were in the living room with the rest of the family when the doorbell rang.
Who could it be at nine at night on Christmas Eve? They had received almost four feet of snow the night before. No one in their right mind was out unless they really had had to be.
She heard Cal answer the door through the closed wooden door that led from the kitchen to the hallway and to the front door and living room.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Whoever was at the door Cal was not happy to see them.
"Mom told me you called and asked her to send you grandma's engagement ring, I was in New York hanging out and thought I'd drive up so I could meet my soon-to-be sister-in-law,"
God really fucking hated her. Baron Green was standing at her front door...and her restraining order had expired two years ago. Wait...Cal had called his mom for an engagement ring?
"You need to leave, bro," She heard Cal order.
"What is this chick a dog or something?" The pig laughed.
"Dude, you're fucking tweaked, get lost, there're kids in this house," Cal's voice was getting angrier.
"Tempest, take the boys upstairs to your room and lock the door," She suddenly heard Marshall's voice in the mix and then the sound of footsteps going up the stairs and a door closing.
Deciding that she wasn't going to spend the rest of her life scared of Baron, Elizabeth took a deep breath and opened the kitchen door. She walked the ten feet to the front door and found herself standing face to face with her greatest fear. The man that had nearly destroyed her.
When he saw her, he was enraged. "You have to be fucking kidding me! This bitch?!"
"That's my sister, mother fucker," Marshall was suddenly in his face and Baron took a few steps back.
"You're really going to marry my sloppy seconds?" Baron sneered. "You're really going to marry the ugliest of all of my exes?"
Elizabeth felt like she had been punched in the stomach and something seemed to snap inside of Cal.
He grabbed Baron by his New York Yankees jacket and pulled his face down to his.
"No, I want to marry the goddess that you were stupid enough to lose. The mother of my son. My best friend. You aren't welcome here, big brother. Get fucking lost or I'm calling the cops, you're still on parole." He reminded the slightly older man before shoving him backward.
Baron couldn't catch his footing in time and ended up falling backward off of the porch and landing on his ass in the snow.
Cal slammed the door shut and locked it.
"You two should talk," Marshall said wisely. "I'll make sure he leaves,"
Without a word, Cal took her hand and led her into the kitchen. He pulled out a chair and directed her to sit down.
"Are you okay?" He asked he gently as he studied her face looking for any sign of distress over his brother's unexpected visit.
She nodded. She really was. Seeing the pathetic excuse for a human being that he ex had become had helped her to finally conquer her fear of him. Yes, he had said some pretty awful things but his opinion didn't matter. It never had.
No, what she was thinking about was the mention of marriage.
"So you really want to marry me?" She whispered and looked up at him.
He reached into his back pocket and extracted a simple gold and diamond ring.
"What do you think, sweetheart?" He held it out to her.
She couldn't believe it. He was making another dream of hers come true but she couldn't say yes just yet.
She jumped up. "Wait here,"
She ran to the tree and retrieved the small, long and thin gift box wrapped in silver and green that she had hidden there earlier in the day.
Returning to the kitchen she handed him the present and retook her seat.
"Before I take that ring, I want you to open your present first," She told him.
He raised an eyebrow at her but he set the ring on the table and made quick work of the wrapping paper on the box. When he opened the small white cardboard gift box he nearly dropped it.
A grin spread across his face. "Are you serious?"
She nodded and smiled. "Six weeks,"
He pulled her up and into his arms, spinning her around before setting her down on her feet.
"You're having my baby, you better put that ring on your finger, woman," He ordered jokingly.
"On one condition" She laughed.
"Name it, baby,"
"I have to have your last name before this baby does," She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Besides it's a tradition for Windsor women to be pregnant at the altar...who am I to mess with tradition?"
"Deal," He promised as he grabbed the ring off of the kitchen table and slipped it on her finger.
Their romance hadn't been your average, once upon a time type of romance. She had started off with the wrong brother and had mistakenly cast the right one aside. Elizabeth had never really been one to believe in the power of fate or true love but she couldn't help but wonder what stars had to have aligned for her and Cal to find one another again so many miles from where they had last met.
As she rubbed her ever expanding belly and watched as Cal, Greyson, Reid, and Marshall teamed up against Tempest in a water fight on the bank of Pontoosuc Lake she couldn't help but feel blessed. She had her husband, her son, her family, and a little girl on the way in a little under a month and a half.
Yeah, she was a believer. She had started off with the wrong brother and fate had conspired to give her the life that she was truly destined for.
All was right in her world.