Heide-

I hear the doorbell ring just as I am cutting Tova's sandwich in half. "Dalena, could you get the door for me, please?" I hear her give a call in response, which I assume to be a yes. I quickly throw some crackers on Tova's plate and bring it to her. She is seated patiently at the table where I had her stay until I had finished making her lunch. I was thankful that she listened to me, because I couldn't handle a rowdy seven year old at the moment.
As I place her lunch in front of her, she gives me a big, bright smile that melts my heart. As much as she was a ball of energy, Tova was also a sweet little girl. "Thanks, Mrs. Willis!"

I raise my eyebrows. "Call me Heide, please!" Tova grins before nodding, pulling her food to her. I grin before heading to the door quickly, where I can see Dalena there, talking to whoever it is. It's not until I am right behind her that I see its Christa and the kids. "Christa! Here early!" I pull her into a hug before kneeling and pulling the kids to me in a big hug. "Come in," I say as I stand upright.

Christa pulls Sampson up on her hip and leads Sallie in, a smile on her face. She heads to the living room, where I know she'll settle. I turn to Dalena. "Your lunch is on the counter if you'd like to join your sister. Make sure she eats." Dalena smiles, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes. It never does, lately. Not for a few years. I know I'm not her mother, nor am I Tova's, but I always feel like I should know what going on with those girls. I mean, I've only been watching them for the past five years. I almost feel like their older sister or something.

Dalena nods before heading to the table. I sigh, a little flustered at her lack of communication with me, before heading to the living room. I sit on the sofa across from my sister, who is trying to calm down a fussy Sampson. Sallie runs to me and I pull her up on my lap. "And how is my favorite niece?"

She grins shyly at me before throwing her arms around me. Sallie was my second and youngest niece. My other sister had a teenaged daughter, but she and I never really got on too well. Jaela was always on the rebellious side and that always seemed to clash with me. All of the other kids my brother and sister had were boys. So, I cuddle with Sallie for a few minutes before Christa pacifies Sampson with some toys. He sits on the floor, completely fascinated by the bright blocks his mother gave him. Christa grins at me before asking, "So, watching the girls again?"

I nod. "Their parents are at work. Dalena doesn't like to watch Tova on her own. I don't blame her. Tova is one ball of energy. I mean, Dalena can, but Tova tends to wear her out pretty badly at times. It okay, though. I don't mind. I'd prefer them to be here than home alone anyway."

Christa nods. "And it's not like it doesn't help you. For one, it gives you good company while Derek is at work. It also gives you practice for when you finally have a little one." Christa must see the look on my face, for she sighs and asks, "Still no luck?"

I shake my head. "Been married for three years, and trying to conceive for over two. Still nothing. It's stressful for me and Derek. We want to have a bay so badly, but there's still nothing."

Christa nods. "I know how that can be. Never had the problem myself, but you remember how long it took for Clarrisa to get pregnant with Jaela? And you know how Mom lost three babies before she had me, after she had Robbie? I think it's just hard for our family. Except me, I guess. I'm the rogue."

I grin. "I'm jealous." But then I sigh. "But you're right. I just have to be patient. I am only twenty-three. Clarrisa and Blake were married a good five years before they finally got pregnant with Jaela. I suppose all good things will come with time."

Christa smiles. "That's the spirit. So, how are things with you and Derek?"

I shrug. "Good, minus the stress of having no baby. Which is weird. We shouldn't be stressed out about not having a baby. It won't help. I mean, it could be so much worse. But aside from all of that, we're great. I still feel like a newlywed sometimes. I suppose that's good, right?"

Christa nods. "I wish I could say things are good like that with Ryan and me. I feel like one bad thing will just destroy all we have."

I frown at my sister. "What do you mean?"

She shrugs. "He just gets very angry at me all the time. The house isn't clean enough. Dinner is never on time. The kids are always too hyper and not disciplined enough. I'm not keeping up on all the work. I always complain about the things to do. He's never happy. For the past few months, he won't even smile at me or the kids. He yells at Sallie all the time. He hates to be touched and you know how she is. She loves to cuddle. And Sampson loves his daddy, but Ryan will never hold him. It's a bit of a mess. I'm hoping he pulls out of this. The kids are feeling it."

I look down at my little niece, curled up contently in my arms. She's concentrating on Sampson playing with his blocks. My sister and Ryan have been together for five years. They got married after for dating for over a year, and then a few months later found out they were having little Sallie. Then, just over a year later, they had Sampson. I never knew things had switched away from picture perfect.

"I really hope you two can work things out."

Christa nods. "I do too. I want a good family for our kids. I don't want to put them through a divorce. But if he so much as touches them, I am gone. And the kids will come with me."

I nod. "I know what you mean. I just hope it never gets to something like that. I wonder what happened to make Ryan get this way."

Christa shrugs. "Who knows?"

Christa and I spend the day together. For a few hours, Tova and Dalena play with Sallie and Sampson while my sister and I talk. When Tova and Dalena's parents finally get home, they say goodbye. Not long after, Christa takes the kids home so she can start dinner before Ryan gets home. I do the same, to have dinner ready for when Derek will get home.

I am just adding the finishing touches to a spaghetti dinner when Derek walks in. "What is that heavenly smell?"

I smile. "Dinner! Are you hungry?"

Derek enters the kitchen, wrapping his arms around me from behind, kissing my cheek. "I am always hungry for anything that you make."

I turn around in his arms and kiss him. Then I smile. "Well, then you're in luck."

We sit down for a nice dinner. I tell him all about what I did with Tova and Dalena, as well as with Christa and the kids for the day. I tell him all about the trouble with Ryan, in which he shakes his head. He never did like men who acted more like teenaged boys when they were supposed to be grown men and responsible. Then he tells me all about his day at work, which is pretty ordinary. There's usually not much variety for Derek at work.

After dinner, I set to do dishes while Derek changes out of his suit. I am just putting away the last of the dishes when I feel his arms around me again. I feel the heat of his lips on my neck and it gives me goose bumps. When he releases me, I turn to look at him. I grin up at him, so happy that Derek and I were so secure together. I couldn't ever imagine him turning like Ryan did. This thought makes me relax a little.

Derek can see me relax and grins. "What are you thinking about?"

I shrug. "Just about the best man in the world."

"Who's that?"

I grin before kissing him. "Definitely not you," I tease.

Derek gives a mock sigh of disappointment. "Well, if it's not me, then I guess I'll just leave you to your thoughts. I was just thinking that tonight might be another good night to try again. But if I'm not the right man, then maybe it's not such a good idea."

I blush as if this was something we had never done before. I always did. It doesn't matter that we have been trying to have a baby for over two years. The idea of maybe, just maybe, this might be the night excited me.

I give Derek a smile before kissing him again. "You're not the right man. You're the perfect one."

I watch as Derek smiles and that look that I've come to obsess over floods his eyes. My heart skips right before he kisses me. Not just any kiss. It's one of those kisses that promises more than just tonight. And I hope that this time, it really does.