Five years later…
New York had to have been the best thing that had ever happened to me. Going to Columbia ended up being a fantastic experience for me. I graduated in two years with a business and English major and communications minor. I already started my own magazine, written another book, and was on the verge of starting my own publishing when I got pregnant. Nine months later, I had Caleb Nicholas Underwood, who was the most stubborn child I had ever met but he is also the sweetest. Caleb was always permanently attached to my hip when he wasn't with Kendall on Fort Hamilton.
When Caleb was 18 months, I had another baby. My baby girl was definitely a daddy's girl. Raeghan Paige Underwood. As soon as she was born, Kendall was already wrapped around her finger. Caleb didn't like Raeghan at first but soon became very protective of her when she was accidently knocked down at the playground.
Everything was going very well. Brooklyn joined me in New York after she graduated and was opening her own restaurant. I still hadn't talked to Farrah but I quickly got over the fact that I had lost a friend. Brooklyn loved Caleb and Raeghan and spoiled both of them with her homemade desserts. Larissa, Tasha, and Lexi loved them too. They came to visit any time they could which was just mostly the kids' birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. Larissa was at boarding school not far from Rochester so she was able to visit more often than Tasha or Lexi.
Kendall was stationed in Germany a few months after Raeghan was born and it was heart breaking to see our children being separated from their father but we all managed. I was grateful that Kendall was near a phone and computer at all times but we all still missed him. I finally agreed to marry him before he left. We had a small wedding in El Paso, on his parents' estate in the fall. At first, I didn't want to have a wedding at all but I knew that Stacey would have killed me if I didn't let her plan it.
The 4th of July was spent at Genesee River Park watching the fireworks and playing with the kids. Brooklyn, Stacey and my friend from Columbia, Andrea, were down at the park with us. Brooklyn brought food, of course, and the kids were having a blast.
"Caleb! Baby, come here!" I held my arms out for him but he just looked at me and then down at the sparkler in his hand. "Caleb," I said again. "Come here." He shook his head at me.
"No, Mama, no," he said.
"You wanna eat?" I said. That caught his attention. "Eat, baby? Eat?"
He waited until the sparkler fizzed out before running toward me. I handed him a cookie before picking him up. "You can't go near the water, baby, it's yucky," I said, wiping crumbs from his face. He held the cookie up to my face but I shook my head. "That's yucky water, Caleb. Don't go down there, you hear me?" he nodded at his cookie. Raeghan waddled beside him and reached up for me.
I picked her up by her waist and set her on my hip. She grabbed at my hair and reached for Caleb's peanut butter cookie at the same time. I pulled her hand away before she made contact with it. Raeghan was extremely allergic to peanuts which left us in a crossroads because Caleb loved peanut butter. She could be around peanuts but once she came in contact with them, she will start to break out in hives and she can't breathe. We had to learn that the hard way when she shoved her hand in a full jar of peanut butter and smeared it across her face. Her face became immensely red and puffy and she was choking, as if she wanted to cry but couldn't. It was terrifying so we try to keep the kids apart when it came to peanut products.
It was starting we get dark and the fireworks were starting. Caleb clapped at the pretty colors. "Look, Mama, look!" he said, pointing to a blue one, in the shape of a star. Raeghan, on the other hand, had her arms wrapped around my neck and was burying her face in my shoulder. She was never a fan of loud sounds and was forever hiding behind me when it began to get a little too disruptive.
"See the pretty colors, Rae?" I asked her, quietly. She shook her head. "Look, baby. It's pretty." I bounced her a little but she wouldn't budge. Caleb started to squirm in my arms so I let him down. "What's wrong, Rae?" I asked her. She looked at me with a pouty look on her face and covered her ears with her hands. "It's too loud?" she nodded.
I just held her to my body and rocked her back and forth and rubbed her back. That always seemed to make her calm down but this time it made her more bouncy. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I tensed; it didn't feel like Brooklyn's hand or Stacey's. I slowly turned around to see Kendall standing right behind me. I rubbed my eyes to see if my brain had suddenly wanted to play some sick joke on me. After blinking a couple of times, Kendall was still there with a wide grin on his face. "Happy 4th, Ana, I'm home," he was still in his uniform and had small bags under his eyes. He never sleeps on the plane because he feels the need to be completely aware of everything while he's not on the ground.
Kendall picked Raeghan up from my arms and kissed her head. Then he leaned down and kissed me once on the lips. I still hadn't said anything out of pure shock that he was here instead of in Germany. "It's really me, babe," he said, taking my hand and helping me stand up. Then he pulled me to his body and breathed in my hair. "I missed you, baby." He said, placing a kiss on my neck. I finally wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face in his chest.
"Are you really here right now?" I asked.
"I'm really here," he chuckled. He pulled back and cocked his head. "Do I know you? I'm looking for Adriana…you almost look like her—"
I hit him on the arm and he laughed. "Don't play like that! It's been too long!"
"No, seriously! You cut your hair and got highlights and…you're crying. Baby, don't cry." He pulled me to him again and rubbed his thumb under my eyes. I felt a tug on my leg. Caleb was standing under me with his hands up.
"Mama, up," he said. I picked him up and he reached over to hug Kendall. It was scary how much they looked alike sometimes. Although, both Caleb and Raeghan inherited my auburn hair and eye color, all of their features were purely Kendall's doing. "Miss you, daddy," Caleb said, kissing Kendall's cheek. Raeghan was resting her head on Kendall's shoulder. I could tell she was getting tired but she was still watching the fireworks.
I smiled as I looked at my family. I couldn't believe that my life had gone to complete disarray to something that I, sometimes, had to check wasn't a dream. I was successful, I had a husband that has been there for me through everything, my sisters that are behind me with every decision I make, and two beautiful kids that I love immensely.
And as we all watched the fireworks, Kendall said the one thing that I was thinking, "It feels good to be home."