In what seemed the blink of an eye, Charlotte and Travis were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. They didn’t have the luxury of built-in babysitters anymore, so they were pretty limited on the wheres and whats of their celebration, but Charlotte still had some ideas for a good time.
“I’ll be right back,” she told the supervisor on duty. “I need to make a quick phone call.” She slipped into her office and dialed the phone, making a reservation at Rog and Bella’s old haunt off the strip. Since they would have the children with them, it seemed the perfect atmosphere for a family dinner together.
Travis was still at home, but would be leaving for work shortly. She dialed his phone quickly.
“Hey baby,” he answered.
“Hi, honeybear!” She was so excited. “I have reservations for after work tonight. Seven o’clock, right after you get off work.”
“Oh, that’s awesome!” he exclaimed. “Where?”
“At Mama and Dad’s place off the strip. I’ll have the kids with me.”
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything.”
“We’ll see you there, sweetie. I love you.”
“Love you too honey. See you later.” They hung up the phone.
Charlotte got home before the girls came home from school, and she paid the baby sitter and dismissed her. Though having Tracy on call was a huge help, she missed Bella’s loving care for their son.
“There’s my little man!” Charlotte beamed when she saw him. She picked him up and tickled his belly, hoping to get some giggles from him. He squirmed and laughed, and then she smelled his dirty diaper. “Oh Devin,” she said, almost gagging. “I think I’m going to put you right into the bathtub!” She got him all cleaned up and dressed in a cute little outfit that would be perfect for their family date later on.
Charlotte and Devin met the bus when the girls got home from school, and she helped them with homework while Devin entertained himself playing with his blocks. “We are going out for dinner tonight, girls. Do you want to take baths before we go, or before bed?”
“Before dinner,” Danae said, and Darcey agreed.
“That makes things easy,” Charlotte said, and gathered her children to take upstairs. Both of the girls got into the tub together, and played for a while. She washed their hair and scrubbed them clean, and they got out, giggling.
“Mama, that tickles!” Danae laughed.
“Oh it does, does it?” Charlotte kept on drying her, tickling her as she went.
“Now me, Mama!” Darcey said, stepping in the way. “Tickle me!”
She looked at her watch. It was 5:30. Plenty of time. “Alright, you asked for it!” She grabbed Darcey and blew tummy bubbles on her, which got squeals of delight from the little girl.
“Alright, punkins. Go pick out some clothes, and Mama will help you get dressed.” Two naked little girls ran to their bedroom and picked out matching outfits. Charlotte picked Devin up and tickled him, not wanting him to feel left out. He let out a hearty laugh. Her heart was so full of love for her children. They were such good kids.
By the time the girls were dressed and their hair dried and put into ponytails, it was time to leave for the restaurant. “Come on kiddos, it’s time to meet Daddy for dinner!” she announced. All three of them squealed as she picked up Devin. The girls followed her closely as they walked for the garage. All of them piled into their car seats, and Charlotte buckled them in.
At the restaurant, she told the girls to be on their best behavior and gave Devin his pacifier to keep him busy until they could be seated and get some dinner for him.
“Ah yes, Dr. Jones. I have a reservation for five of you?” Charlotte nodded.
“I’m expecting my husband,” she informed the host. “Please show him to our table when he arrives?”
“Of course, Doctor,” the host affirmed. “This way, please.”
Immediately, she saw why her mama and dad loved this place. The decor was warm and inviting, nothing terribly fancy but comfortable. They had a large round table set up for them, with a high chair and two booster seats. “Can I get some crackers for my little boy?” she asked the host, who immediately retrieved two packages from a station nearby.
“If you need more, don’t be afraid to ask,” he said warmly.
Charlotte nodded. “Thank you,” she said as she opened the bag and gave him a cracker to chew on.
Ten minutes later, Travis appeared at the host station, dressed in a pair of dress slacks and a vest with a tie. It was his publicity ‘uniform,’ but it looked quite nice on him. The girls saw him approaching the table and squealed at him. Charlotte put her finger to her lips, to remind them to be quieter.
“Hello, beautiful family!” Travis said happily. Charlotte stood, and he wrapped her into his arms and kissed her. “Happy anniversary, honey.”
“Mmm, happy anniversary,” she replied.
“You all look so nice tonight, especially you, my sweet Charlotte.” He smiled at the girls, who were swooning over their daddy, and winked at Charlotte. Her dress was light blue with a fitted waist, and a flared skirt, and a white belt around the middle. Even though she could have worn something a little more revealing, she was keenly aware that her daughters watched every move she made. It was important for her to set a good example for them, not only in how she taught them, but in how she carried herself.
“Thank you, sweetie,” she blushed. “You look exceedingly handsome tonight, doesn’t he girls?” Danae and Darcey giggled softly, nodding their heads.
“I’m gonna marry Daddy someday,” Danae announced.
Charlotte laughed. “I’m already married to Daddy, sweetie pie.”
“Aw man!” came her disappointed reply. Charlotte and Travis looked at each other and smiled.
Devin fell asleep before dinner arrived, but he hadn’t had anything to eat for dinner either, so Charlotte had to wake him. He was cranky and tired, but he didn’t cry. The girls were busy coloring their placemats, but set them aside for some macaroni and cheese, while Charlotte got shrimp scampi and Travis got the chef special, lobster thermidor.
“Is it better than mine?” Charlotte asked as he tasted it.
“Nope,” Travis declared. “I mean, it’s good, but it is missing your special ingredient.”
She smiled. “What is Mama’s special ingredient, Daddy?” Danae asked innocently.
“Love, honey. She makes everything with a large helping of love.” Travis smiled at his sweet little girl and booped her nose.
“Ah, that’s what tastes different!” she exclaimed. “Mama’s does taste better.”
Charlotte smiled at her. “This scampi is amazing, and I don’t know how to make this,” she laughed. She offered a forkful to Travis, who readily sampled it.
“Ooh, that is good,” he stated. “You need to learn how to make that.”
Charlotte helped Devin with his dinner, which consisted of bits of her meal with some of the girls’ mac and cheese. “Come on, sweetie,” she coaxed him. “It’s good!” He rubbed his eyes and yawned. She lifted the little boy from his high chair and sat him in her lap, where he immediately snuggled up on her shoulder and fell asleep.
“Looks like he’s done, baby,” Travis observed. The girls were yawning, and their ability to keep themselves entertained was diminishing quickly. He hailed the waiter and asked for the check.
“I’m sorry this wasn’t very romantic, honey,” she apologized. She knew it wouldn’t be with the kids in tow, but they were out later than their usual bedtime.
“You did great, Mama,” he said, blowing her a kiss. Travis paid the check, scooped Danae up and took Darcey’s hand. “Come on, kiddos. Time to get you home to bed.”
When they got home, Charlotte put the girls to bed, and Travis changed the baby and tucked him into his crib. She retreated to their bedroom, yawning herself, but not wanting the night to end, either. Travis joined her and snuggled up with her on the bed.
“Thank you for dinner, sweetie,” she said, her head on his chest.
“You’re welcome, my love,” he replied. “The kiddos are tired, all of them.”
Charlotte nodded. “Kiss me,” she said boldly.
Happy to oblige, he lifted her face to his and kissed her passionately. “Aww Amy baby, that’s just how I like it, honey.” He said, caressing her shoulder.
Charlotte went white. “What did you call me?”
“I said Charlotte, baby.”
“No, you didn’t.” Hot tears rolled down her cheeks.
“What did I say?” he asked.
“You called me ‘Amy’…” Her heart was breaking into dozens of pieces.
“Oh baby, I’m so sorry, honey.” He tried to hold her, but she got up from the bed.
“I’m going downstairs. I don’t think I’ll be back up tonight,” she announced. Grabbing her pillow, she stomped out of their bedroom.
Good job, Travis, he thought to himself. You call her Amy, on our freaking anniversary. Knowing he should go after her, he got up out of bed and followed her angry footsteps and the sounds of her crying. He sighed deeply, so very upset with himself.
“Honey,” he said, kneeling beside the couch where she lay weeping. He gently touched her, and she flinched away from him.
“I don’t want to see you, Travis,” she spat.
“Baby, give me a chance to make this right, honey,” he begged.
“Do you think of her when we’re together?” The hurt in her voice was obvious. “Do you compare me to her?”
“No!” he exclaimed emphatically. “Baby, of course not, honey.” He caressed her cheek. “I never think of her anymore, I don’t even know where that came from, baby.”
“I’m not sure I believe you, Travis.”
“Baby, you are the one I am with. You are the one I love with all my heart.”
“Because she’s dead. You should have been married to her.”
Travis sighed. “Listen to me, and believe what I’m telling you. I love you, no one else. I married you because you made me fall madly in love with you, not because Amy is dead and I had no other option. You are the mother of my children, and I will love you forever.”
She pondered his pleas and wiped her tears away. “But why? Why after all this time did you call me Amy?”
“I don’t know, honey. Maybe it was the way you said, ‘kiss me.’ Maybe something just reminded me of her. It isn’t because I still love her. Look, I know I screwed up, but honey, I couldn’t be more sorry about this. Really.”
She sighed. “I want to believe you, Travis. But how do I know? How do I know you’re not secretly remembering her while we make love? What if I do something else that reminds you of her?” She wiped more tears from her eyes. “I don’t want to live the rest of our lives together wondering if you love her or me.”
“If I can’t convince you with what I’ve already said, then I can’t convince you at all, I guess. You need to decide if you believe me, honey.” He sighed, frustrated. “I’ve already poured my heart out, and if you can’t accept what I say as truth, then why are we even married?”
“What are you saying, Travis?”
“My goodness, woman, I love you, but you’re thick-headed sometimes.” He got up and turned to leave. “I’ll be upstairs. Decide what you want, but let me know. Charlotte, baby, I love you, honey.”
Travis hung his head and began to walk away from her, hoping that she would stop him. But she didn’t say a word as he started up the stairs. All he heard coming from her general direction was melancholy cries.
For the first time since their wedding, Travis woke up without Charlotte by his side. The girls were awake and playing together, and Devin was fussy and hungry. Charlotte was nowhere to be found on the upper floor of the house, so he assumed she was still downstairs. Taking Devin from his crib, he brought their son downstairs to feed him. “Come on, girls,” he called to the twins. “Let’s get breakfast.”
Danae and Darcey ran for their daddy, making requests for breakfast on the way down the stairs.
“Shh,” he said to the twins when he spotted Charlotte sleeping on the couch. “Mama is still sleeping, babies.”
“Why is she here, Daddy?” Darcey didn’t understand.
“She wasn’t feeling well last night, honey,” he explained. There was no need to tell them they were fighting, especially when it would most likely be resolved before the end of the day.
“Oh, okay,” Darcey remarked. “I hope she’s feeling better now.”
Travis plopped Devin in the high chair and gave him some cereal and fruit to nibble on while he cooked breakfast for the twins and himself. The aroma of pancakes woke Charlotte, who sat up and yawned. Her face was puffy, and she had dark circles under her tired, but pretty blue eyes.
“Good morning, beautiful,” he greeted her, hoping for at least a smile.
“Thank you for feeding the kids,” she said, her tone chilly.
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked. “They’re my heart, just like their lovely Mama.”
“Just stop, Travis.” The twins stopped what they were doing and listened.
“Mama?” Darcey said, surprised.
“It’s okay, Punkin.” Charlotte walked to her and kissed the top of her head. She realized she needed to cut her sour attitude in front of the children. “What’s Daddy making for breakfast?”
“Cherry pancakes, right Daddy?” Darcey beamed. It was her favorite.
“You got it, little punkin’,” Travis confirmed. “Whatever you wish.”
She walked to where Travis was cooking and asked the twins to play in the other room until breakfast. Devin was finished with his cereal, and she let him down from the high chair, kissing his cheek and tickling his belly before she set him down.
“Honeybear, I thought for a long time last night,” she finally said to him. “I know it was a mistake, and you didn’t mean it.” She kissed his shoulder, and laid her head on it, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I’m sorry I acted so badly last night. I should have believed you.”
He turned around and wrapped his arms around her. “You know what, you have nothing to be sorry for. I messed up, and I’m so sorry, honey.” He kissed her tenderly. “I messed up what should have been a night of passion and love, and…”
She shushed him. “You’re forgiven, my love,” she said as she kissed him. “As for the night of love and passion, tonight is another night.” She looked into his eyes and saw his desire for her, and no one else. “That look right there, that’s what makes me know that Amy is the past, and we are here and now.” She caressed his cheek. “That can’t be faked.”
Travis kissed her again, and said, “I love you. But, if I don’t get breakfast made for those little munchkins, they’re going to complain loudly.”
Charlotte giggled and broke their embrace. “I love you too, sweetie.” She walked to where the girls were playing and plopped herself down with them.
“Mama, are you feeling better?” Darcey asked, concerned.
“I sure am, Punkin,” Charlotte smiled. “Come here and give your mama some loves!” She held her arms open for the girls, and Devin piled on top of them, all of them collapsing into a pile of giggles and tummy bubbles.
Up Next: Chapter Eight, Generation Four