"Stop screaming!" I yelled, glancing over at Mel with wide, crazy eyes. She laughed, her emerald eyes sparkling, and tucked a few short hairs behind her ear. I caught a glimpse of the light catching off of the diamond on her left ring finger and my gaze softened.
A gleeful howl sounded and I winked playfully at the beautiful woman, leaning over to press a quick kiss to her lips where she stood leaning against the kitchen counter. I let out a mock-groan. "Look out, Aidan!" Melody cried, her smile betraying the pretend worry in her voice. "He's coming!"
I ran into the living room, my eyes scanning all around for any sign of the mischievous three year old. I couldn't help the smile that broke out on my face when I saw ten perfect, tiny little toes wriggling from the side of the couch. I heard a giggle and decided to play along. "Where could he be?" I asked rhetorically.
I walked toward the table in the middle of the room, catching a glimpse of the brown-haired head that peeked out from the corner of the couch.
"Under here?" I asked, crouching down and pretending to look underneath the clearly empty table. I shook my head. "No, not there."
I heard another string of giggles as I continued my lazy stroll around the room.
I reached for the curtains and pulled them back quickly. "Aha!" I exclaimed in excitement, feigning disappointment when I found that hiding place to be vacant.
I tapped my chin thoughtfully, pacing a little for effect.
"If I were Aidan," I mused, "where would I be?"
My eyes slowly traveled over to the couch and made eye contact with a bright, wide pair of green ones before the little head darted back for cover.
"Maybe…" I casually strode over to the couch and found myself staring down at the crouched form of a toddler. "Here!" I reached down and swiped him from his hiding place, tossing him playfully in the air before carefully body-slamming him on the couch and blowing raspberries into his plump little belly. "I found you!"
His peals of laughter filled the air. "Daddy, stop!" He cried, his eyes beginning to water from laughing so hard. My hands tickled him mercilessly and he did the only logical thing he could: he called for reinforcements. "Momma!"
Melody was there in an instant, having just finished cooking dinner and setting the table. She let out a tremendously fake gasp and ran toward us to disentangle our son from my clutches. "What are you doing to my poor baby?" She scolded me teasingly.
Aidan's thick chestnut hair was ruffled beyond belief from rolling about on the couch cushions and I shrugged with a guilty smile playing on my lips as he informed her in his tiny voice, "Daddy found me and tickled my tummy!" His green eyes were alight with enjoyment as he looked between us.
Melody smiled and kissed his forehead, running a gentle hand through his hair to fix it back to the normal way it laid, his wavy fringe hanging just above his large, round eyes. "Did he really?" She asked, moving him to her hip and walking into the kitchen to get him ready to eat dinner. I followed behind them.
Aidan nodded enthusiastically and obediently raised his arms so she could remove his shirt to avoid making a spaghetti stained mess on the light blue fabric. I leaned against the counter and watched them interact with a smile as she placed him in his booster chair, knowing that his time sitting in it was coming to an end.
I walked over to the table and put a small mound of angel hair noodles on my little man's plate, spooning a little spaghetti meat sauce over them. "Do you want any cheese on this, bud?" I asked him.
He blinked curiously at me. "Do you want it on yours?"
I grinned at him, reaching forward to pull his chair a little closer to the table so he could reach his dinner properly. "I sure do," I answered, knowing exactly what he would say next.
He looked at me with an innocent, serious look as he said, "I want to be just like you, Daddy, so I want some."
I grabbed the Parmesan cheese container and sprinkled some over his pasta before putting the plate in front of him. "There you go."
Melody carefully settled into her own chair and glanced at me, her lips twitching at the edges to tug up into a wide smile, and we joined hands to briefly pray over our meal before we tucked into it and conversed about our days. Aidan informed us of the coloring he'd done while he was at pre-school and Melody told him that he needed to bring his artwork home so we could hang it up on the fridge to show off to everyone who came to visit.
After dinner was finished, I cleared the table, putting away the leftover food in Tupperware containers and washing the dishes. I put everything away and wiped down the table just as Mel finished up with Aidan's bath, and I glanced up from my work just in time to see her carrying the wet-haired child down the hallway to his bedroom in a fluffy red towel.
By the time I walked into the racecar-themed room, Melody had just tucked him into his red racecar-shaped "big boy bed" as he liked to call it, tenderly brushing away stray tendrils of damp hair from his forehead. They both looked at me as I entered and her face softened. "He wanted to wait for his daddy to tell him tonight's bed time story."
Aidan nodded slowly, fighting back a yawn. I sat down beside Mel and reached for one of his tiny hands, running my thumb over the back of it. "What story do you want to hear tonight, little buddy?"
He smiled dreamily as he replied, "Tell me the one about you and Mommy again." He wrinkled his nose for a second as he added, "And don't forget the happy stuff when you tell it because that's my favorite part."
I laughed, sharing a smile with my wife before launching into the child-friendly story of how Melody and I got together, starting all the way back in middle school when we hated each other up to three and a half years ago. Our little trooper crashed about ten minutes into the story and we both kissed him before heading out of his room. I flicked on his racecar nightlight as I stood up and turned his bedroom light off, lingering in his doorway for a moment to murmur, "Goodnight, Aidan Robert Williams. You make Daddy so proud," before quietly closing his bedroom door.
Melody and I stood, unmoving in the hallway outside his door for a long moment and I felt myself falling in love with her all over again as I looked at her slender face and soft lips in the near-darkness. My eyes trailed down her body to the noticeable bulge of her swollen abdomen and I couldn't help but cross the short distance to kiss her softly.
"I can't wait to meet her," I whispered, breaking the kiss, careful not to raise my voice since we were still standing outside our son's room.
Melody leaned forward to press a few more gentle kisses to my lips before taking my hands and guiding them to her stomach with a loving smile. My heart leapt happily when I felt the strangely familiar little jolt inside of her body. "She feels the same way about you." Melody shook her head, laughing under her breath. "She's already a Daddy's girl and she hasn't laid eyes on you yet."
I smirked at her and knelt down to kiss just above her bellybutton through her thin oversized T-shirt, cradling her pregnant stomach between my hands. "Hi, baby girl," I breathed, nearly pressing my lips against Mel's stomach. "It's your daddy." I glanced up and saw Melody watching me with an affectionate expression on her face before focusing my attention back to the baby. "We may not have seen you outside of Mommy's belly yet, but I wanted to let you know how much Mommy, Aidan, and I already love you."
I stopped for a second as I felt her kicking my palm, tears of happiness forming in my eyes.
"I know you love us, too, Scarlett, and I promise that we'll take good care of you once you get here." I briefly looked up at Mel again and saw her own eyes shining with tears as she watched me talk to our unborn child. "We can be pretty silly sometimes, but you'll fit right in. Aidan and I will protect you from harm because that's what the guys do in families, but your Mommy will teach you how to act like a princess."
A joyful tear leaked out of the corner of my eye as I imagined what Scarlett would be like but I didn't wipe it away.
"I hope you are just like her, Scarlett, because your mommy is the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world." I paused for a second as I contemplated how to phrase what I was trying to tell her before explaining what that meant. "Looking good on the outside is great, but your mommy taught me that it's more important to be good on the inside. And trust me when I tell you, sweetheart, that she is the kindest, most caring, most generous, and most understanding person you'll ever meet."
Melody stopped me by reaching down to brush her fingers along the side of my face, and I looked up at her, humming my acknowledgement softly. "Stand up," she whispered, and I compliantly did as she commanded. She reached out and pulled my face to hers, capturing my lips in a searing kiss, and I could taste the saltiness of her jubilant tears on her lips. She pulled back, linking her forehead to mine and said, fresh tears welling up in her eyes, "I love you so much, Trey."
I kissed her again, breathing my own earnest, "I love you," against her lips, and I did.
With all that I was and would ever be, I did love her, and it was sometimes still mind-boggling to think that I never would have had the chance to show her if I hadn't agreed to Jon's dare all the way back at the end of senior year. How could I have known back then that the chain of events following it would happen if I shook his hand? At the time, it seemed stupid and harmless.
When I thought about it, I almost always wanted to laugh at my own idiocy but it was in the past and regardless of all the negative things that stemmed from it, I knew I would never have pursued her without it.
After all, in those first seemingly inconsequential moments, it was just a dare.
Author's Note: I know it was short, but I don't feel that this epilogue needed to be forever long because it's up to you guys to imagine what happened from here. All of the important questions up to this point have finally been answered and as sad as it makes me to say it, this is really it, guys.
I never thought I would actually be done with it (well, okay, we all knew it was going to happen, but it happened sooner than I expected it would), but here it is: after four years of writing and re-writing this story, it's finally finished.
I hope you guys enjoyed this ride with me and are happy with how Trey and Melody Williams's lives ended up. I know that I am, despite the hardships they faced along the way, because they deserve that happy ending.
As a last present (and also a Christmas gift to you all), I uploaded another trailer onto Youtube for you. :)
Here's the link, just make sure to remove the random spaces:
www. youtube watch ? v = IAu ATK R _ cl8
I love you guys and for the last time in this story, it's time for me to say goodbye. It's been an incredible journey with you all and I am indescribably thankful for all of your support throughout this process. You guys mean the world to me and I hope you know that.
*pokes screen with a smile* Yes, that definitely means you.
I feel like I should end this with something cheesy, so here we go…
I'm sending peace, love, hugs, and happiness your way because you're just that awesome.