Thank-you so much for the support you've all given me through this story. It really means a lot to me. I come home from camp to see I have 120 views! My heart nearly stopped! Thank-you all so much. You're the best! Now make this experience all that much better and R&R!
"Jonathan, don't run in the house! You'll hurt yourself," she called after the wobbly four-year old. Karrie sighed and watched as her baby flopped, taking a nose dive over the arm of the couch. The little boy didn't let it stop him though, and kept running like the tough spit-fire he was.
Karrie laughed and made her way out of the house via the wide, white-painted French doors in the living room. The grass was green and the sky was blue. It was the perfect day for the barbecue she was hosting.
She leaned against the awning pole and watched Clark scoop up their two-year old daughter. He swung the girl around, her short, flaxen curls shimmering in the sun, a messy disarray around her angular little face. Shrieks and squeals escaped the girl.
The ring of the doorbell brought the woman back to her senses. Karrie waltzed to the door, her light, eggshell dress brushing her knees. The ponytail of unnaturally red hair swayed at her ribs. Even at twenty-six, she still loved the red velvet color.
She clicked open the door to see her best friend and favorite cousin – or, rather, two of her favorite cousins. McKenna smiled excitedly and hugged her best friend somewhat awkwardly – one armed – thanks to the bubbly year old she held in her arms. Karrie smirked and switched over to hugging Derek.
"Hey there, Karrie." Derek laughed as his cousin blubbered on about how much she missed them.
"I missed you two, Karrie!" giggled McKenna. The baby in her arms squirmed, trying to wriggle away. McKenna set the boy down and watched him run off to the little girl who stood behind the French doors.
Clark stood behind her and tried to fix his rustled shirt. Karrie had managed to get her husband out of a tie, but he never went less casual than a button down. Clark pushed up his glasses and opened the door.
The little girl ran into the boy. The boy fell to the ground and looked around confused. The girl laughed hysterically and the boy shook his head, splaying the flat black hair around his face.
"Oh, Leanne honey, be nice to the boy. You might break him!" Karrie called out. Leanne looked up and continued to laugh, staring right at her mother.
"Nico's fine," McKenna reassured, much to the relief of Karrie, who thought all children other than her own, were very fragile. Nicodemus picked himself up and laughed right along with the girl.
"Ya see?" Derek chuckled. Karrie gave another sigh of relief. Clark joined the mix, standing beside his wife of seven years.
"I guess now would be a good time to go outside," Clark suggested. The rest nodded and Karrie escorted them out. The sun was bright and the winding gently tumbling through their hair.
Karrie led the way to the table she had prepared especially for the event of finally having her favorite set of family over. The whole "double date every Saturday" ended for the couples quite effectively after Jonathan was born. Then, after Derek and McKenna had Nicodemus, the movies and get-together ceased absolutely. It was the first time in a year that the two happily married couples had a decent meal
"Darn, Karrie, the table looks so pretty," McKenna gasped. McKenna had stopped swearing after Nico was born as a stand for Derek to "get the hint". Derek had a terrible cursing issue and McKenna would admit, she kind of liked the whole "bad-boy" persona that came with it, but for her son's sake, she let go that piece of her beloved husband.
"Thanks Kenna, but we all know you're the one with the setting skills," Karrie winked. Almost four Christmas' prior, McKenna had went into mega overdrive for her best little nephew's first Christmas. She had decorated every inch of the little house Clark and Karrie had been renting at the time. As memorable as it was, Karrie never let McKenna live down the crazed look she had in her eyes those few days.
The families sat and ate, amusing themselves with trying to get the little ones to eat. The highlight of the day was when Jonathan tried to feed Leanne, who tried to shove food down Nico's gullet. The whole table laughed – other than Nicodemus, who spent the time they were laughing trying to hack up the food Leanne had force-fed him.
After the food was gone, the lot just sat and talked. One subjected drifted to another which led to another; the "never ever ending train of conversation between those who can always keep said conversation going" as Karrie had once called it.
Jonathan had played the "over-protective big brother" card when he noticed Leanne fall asleep on Nico's shoulder.
"She is so too young to be near other boys," he had stated in his best grown up accent, only succeeding in sounding more like speech impaired child he was.
"You know, how cute would it be if those two got together some day," Karrie crooned.
"Sorry Karrie, but could you imagine how awkward that would be? They're first cousins! Stuff like that doesn't happen outside royalty or BC times," McKenna stated.
"Yeah, but we're not really cousins," Derek said lazily. He shot up in his chair and slapped his hand over his mouth. He had just leaked the untellable secret to McKenna of all people!
"Derek! Shut up," Karrie whispered harshly.
"What do mean?" McKenna asked, confused.
Derek sighed aloud and said again, "Karrie and I aren't really biological cousins. My mother was her mother's best friend way back when. The two were still in high school, as the legend goes." Derek glanced up from his tale to see Karrie glaring at him, using the force of all that is evil.
"Well, then they lost contact for a few years after my ma married my dead-beat pop. They moved from Jersey to Texas a few months after. Of all the blasted placed the blasted places pop could've chosen to move, he chooses the same damn – darn – neighborhood Karrie's ma and pa lived in. Mama reconnected with her high school bestie and from there, after they had kids, raised 'em to think that they were cousins. I didn't figure out Karrie wasn't my real cousin until nearly the end of junior high. I felt like I had just found out I was adopted," Derek laughed heartily.
"Are you frickin' kidding me?" McKenna snorted like a teenager. "So all this time, you guys weren't really cousins? Well now I understand why Karrie never felt awkward about talking about how incredibly hot this cousin of hers was," McKenna laughed. Karrie flushed and grabbed Clark's arm. Clark stroked her bright red hair and Derek laughed, despite the fact that his face was as red as Karrie's.
Time went by like that for a few hours, the conversation still acting as the "never ending train of conversation between those who can always keep said conversation going". Dusk started in and Karrie collected the wriggly four-year old who wanted to stay awake, but, in the end, his eyelids betrayed him. In contrast, Leanne was still wide awake and intently watching baby Nicodemus sleep.
"I still think they'd be cute together," Karrie whispered jokingly.
"Ha ha Karrie. I doubt that will happened," McKenna muttered sarcastically. Karrie just sniggered and walked back to the door where her not cousin was standing. McKenna collected the boy in her arms and stood at the door with the other two, Clark joining shortly after.
"It was so nice seeing you again Karrie. You too, Clark," McKenna murmured, trying not to wake Nico.
"You too, honey. Come back soon, ya hear me?" Karrie informed.
"Absolutely Karrie," Derek replied.
"Good and it'll be your house we eat at next time." Clark laughed at the ever brashness of his wife. Derek laughed along with him and led himself and McKenna out.
"That was nice," she stated as the exited, the cool night air biting at her son's cheeks.
"Yes it really was," Derek smiled. He hadn't thought he would ever be at an occasion like that. When he was younger, he wanted nothing more than to escape the whole "family scene". With his own messed up home life, Karrie was the only thing he had, and she really wasn't much. Then he met McKenna.
After that, he couldn't think of his life without her. She was the sun that he revolved around. After her came Nico, who was another part of the things he couldn't live without. His family was perfect – his beautiful wife and adorable son.
McKenna noticed Derek's gaze on her and looked up.
"What," she asked. There was no response aside from the kiss he planted on her temple. McKenna blushed just like she was still in high school. She really didn't mind though.
Karrie watched from her window as the scene went by. She was very proud of her cousins – even if they shared no blood. She stood by Clark and rapped an arm around his lanky figure.
"Goodnight babe," Clark said, kissing her on the forehead.
"Goodnight," Karrie agreed. Now, miles away, back in their own home, McKenna responded the same to her own husband with an extra 'I love you' tacked on.
I think I made the end there a bit more clichéd than necessary, but who doesn't need a little more fluff after a crappy day? Exactly. Again, I would like to thank everyone so much for everything. I know this wasn't a really long story that deserved so much attention (*cough* even if there wasn't many reviews *cough*) I really appreciated all I got. Now, if the review come in and people think so, I'll write an epilogue about the kids. Just an idea floating in my head, so if you guys like it, make sure to review! Thank-you again for everything!