© Copyright, all rights reserved.
A/N: Lot of names to remember, so here are the details
Setting: Burlington, New Jersey; 2009.
Characters(age according to March 2009):
Jeremy Simmons: James' 70 year old father and church pastor.
Allison Simmons: 68, James' mother.
James Simmons: 44, church youth pastor, father.
Madison Simmons: 42, wife of James Simmons, mother.
Mercedes Ann(Sadie): 16
Kyaleigh Renee: 13
Emma Jordan: 10
Savannah Jodi: 6
James Michael(Jamie): 21 months
Danielle Lanae: 8 mo
Pastor Matthew: Associate pastor. 30
Alex: Sunday School superintendent, 45. Childhood best friend of James. Female.
Aurora O'Brien: Madison's little sister.
Hannah March: Sadie's friend, 16.
Judith March: Hannah's mother and a friend of Madison
Jake Ault: Boyfriend of Julie, 16.
Josh Norton: Friend of Kyaleigh, 14.
Elizabeth: Friend of the girls from camp
"10:13." The green numbers on the alarm clock glowed. Madison rested her head against the bed's headboard as the awaited arrival of her husband and their children. As the youth pastor of their Baptist church, James has taken the teenagers for camp convention in Dallas, Texas. Madison watched her only son, twenty-one month old Jamie sleeping soundly while she fed Danielle. At eight months old, she had curly strawberry blonde hair and the bluest eyes that James, Madison and his parents hoped she would keep as she got older. After feeling a shiver across her shoulders, Madison picked up a small throw off the foot of the bed to keep herself and Danielle warm.
"Hey mom." Emma said quietly.
"Hi sweetheart." Madison replied, but she didn't want to jar Danielle, so she didn't stand up quickly to hug Emma. A few minutes later, Danielle started stirring and Madison took off the blanket, buttoned her shirt, began to burp Danielle and hugged Emma from the side. "How was youth camp?" Emma leaned up against the headboard.
"It was great!" She sighed. "I'm so glad I was able to go this year. When we first moved here I was too young." She smiled. "Well, what's up with you all here at the house?"
"I'm just sitting here waiting to see if your brother's going to wake up."
"Did you miss us?" Emma questioned.
"Of course I did Ems. I love you guys with everything in me and I miss you like crazy when you're gone. But I wanted you guys to enjoy yourselves." Madison smiled. "I'm glad you did. Where are your sisters and your dad?"
"They are coming in. Sadie, Kyaleigh and Julie had a bunch of bags so they needed dad's help."
"Oh okay. Thanks sweetie. Maybe I should go see what I can do to help them."
"It's okay mom. They seemed to have it almost all done by the time I got out of the van. You stay here with Jamie and Danielle." Emma sat on the edge of the bed and smiled at her sister. "Hi Danielle. How's my baby girl? Did you miss me? Did you miss your big sissy?" Madison smiled listening to her daughter.
"You enjoy having a younger sister don't you?"
"Yeah, I guess I do. I was too little when Jamie was born to help you out. Now I'm old enough to help." She sighed. "Well I guess I'll be going into the other room." She hugged her mom.
"Alright sweetie. I'll be back in there as soon as I get Jamie in his bed." Emma walked out of the bedroom. Madison looked at her precious little girl. Danielle had soft strawberry blonde hair like her mom, light blue eyes and dimples on her cheeks. James walked into the room and leaned against the door frame.
"Hi." He said.
"Hi." Madison said nonchalantly; but then she looked over at him. "James!" He walked over to her and kissed her. Then he kissed Jamie.
"Hi big boy." He smiled. "It's good to see you. I missed you." He leaned down and touched Danielle's hair. "Oh hon, she's getting so big."
"I know. I can hardly believe that Danielle is almost a year old. It still feels like yesterday that she was born." Madison smiled. She looked over at Jamie and ran her hand over his head. "Look at him, isn't he precious?"
"Yeah. Should we wake him up?" Madison laid Danielle carefully on the bed and stood up. He kissed her again, but deeper this time. Madison smiled.
"Ooh, twice within five minutes. I must be pretty special this evening." She teased.
"You are one very special person to me. But this time it's just because I've missed you and I love you."
"I've missed you too. I counted the days 'til you came home. I know that the youth of the church needed this trip, but I missed you terribly." She wrapped her arms around his waist. "I love you too. I'm glad you're home. It felt like a lot longer than three weeks. You left me in your dad's Sunday School class all that time." She laughed.
"Yep. Hey, I told you that you could go. I needed help." He smiled and kissed her cheek.
"I couldn't have. I needed to stay here with Savannah, Jamie and Danielle. But I was glad to get to spend some alone time with my babies." They stood in the bedroom and heard laughter in the living room.
"Come on. Let's go see Sadie, Julie, and Kyaleigh." James paused. "They have a friend over."
"They do? They cleared this with you first?" Madison asked and James nodded.
"yes, and we would have called you, but we didn't have cell phone reception." Madison nodded.
"It's alright. I'm just glad to have you home. They can have whoever tonight." He took her hand in his and they walked through the hallway, down the stairs and into the living room.
"Julie, Sadie, Kyaleigh. Oh hi Elizabeth!"
"Mrs. Simmons, it's nice to see you outside of church. You look more comfortable." Madison laughed.
"Do I look that uncomfortable at church?"
"No, but you have your hair up and you're always wearing a dress. It's nice to see you in jeans and a sweater for a change." Elizabeth responded.
"Well thank you." Madison crossed her arms. "How was the trip? Did you enjoy it?"
"It was good mom." Julie said and Sadie nodded in agreement.
"It was amazing mom. Completely unbelievable." Kyaleigh responded.
"I'm glad. Now, you've been gone practically an entire month. I know you're teenagers now, but am I going to get a hug or not?" Julie walked over and hugged her mom.
"I'm sorry mom. We've just been excited since we got back." Julie replied.
"I met a great guy mom! He's unbelievable." Sadie responded.
"Mercedes." James said in a warning tone.
"Relax dad." She sighed. "He's sixteen and lives three hours from here. We are going to write back and forth." Elizabeth touched Sadie's arm.
"It's going to be so awesome! He certainly was a babe." Sadie smiled at her friend in agreement.
"As long as pen pals don't turn into dating pals I'm happy." Madison said and hugged Sadie. "It's good to have you home. All of you." Then she walked over and hugged Emma. Julie looked at her parents and noticed the longing gazes they were exchanging.
"Come on guys. Let's give them some time alone. They have been separated three weeks. It's killing both of them." Julie said.
"Julianne Elizabeth." Madison and James warned in unison.
"I know, I know. I crossed the line again."
"Sades, why don't we go show Savannah those pictures you took of Eric?" Julie, Emma, Kyaleigh, Elizabeth and Sadie walked up the stairs to their bedrooms. Sadie and Emma had dirty blonde to light brown hair like their dad while Julie had red hair just a little darker than her mom's. Kyaleigh had dark hair and dark eyes; which came mainly from James' side of the family. Emma was young enough to still be a mama's girl. Sadie was becoming more rebellious, but Julie was quieter than her older sister.
"I'm glad to be home. I've missed you." He said taking her hand again and sitting down on the couch. James kissed his wife and looked into her eyes. "What did happen while I was gone?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary sir." Madison said exaggerating her Georgia accent and smiled. "Let's see. Danielle, Jamie, Savannah and I got along pretty well. Some unidentified gentleman from the church called yesterday and wanted you to call him when you got home. They had an emergency board meeting. I guess and need to talk to you. I believe they said that they hired an associate pastor." She paused as if she was remembering something. "Oh, and your wife called."
"I'll call dad later and see what the meeting was about. My wife? Well, what'd she say?" He asked looking at her and squeezed her hand, playing along.
"She said that she loves you, she's missed you and that she hopes you don't forget her in the midst of that busy schedule of yours. She wants to schedule some personal alone time sometime in the future. She said to cancel all of your appointments and have somebody hold your calls." She said getting softer with each sentence. He smiled.
"Okay, I think that can be arranged." He kissed her tenderly and she broke it off. She gave James a pleading look.
"Can you do me a favor?"
"Sure. Anything." He responded.
"Will you rub my shoulders? They have been aching and hurting for days."
"Okay." He began massaging her shoulders. She leaned back into him to make it easier. Madison sat there for a few minutes letting her husband turn her back and shoulders into butter.
"Oh that feels so good. Thank you. Well, it's getting late. Maybe we should be going to bed."
"I just got back home after a month of being away. What about our usual coming home?" He asked.
"Oh I don't know. I've been up and down with Jamie and Danielle all day."
"Okay." He pushed her soft, fuzzy, red hair away from her ear to whisper gently in it. "You know you drive me crazy sometimes." He stood up and held out his hand for her to take it. "Are you ready?" She nodded and took his hand to steady herself to stand up and they walked to their bedroom. He leaned down to Jamie. "Jamie?" He whispered in his ear.
"Daddy!" Jamie said sleepily. James looked at Madison.
"Do you mind?" James asked and Madison laughed with a nod.
"Go on daddy, I've carried him to bed the last three weeks." James picked him up carefully and Madison kissed his forehead. "Goodnight sweetie." James laughed.
"I can take Danielle too if you want."
"No, I'll take her. You just take Jamie." He walked out of the room. "Come to mama baby girl." Madison picked up Danielle and walked out of the room. A few minutes later, they met back in their bedroom. She sighed as she sat on the edge of the bed. "I am ready to go to bed. I'm so tired."
"You're wearing your sweats?"
"Yes, it's comfortable."
"I just thought on my first night home you'd wear something a little different." Madison sighed.
"Sweetheart, if I wanted sexy I would have gone with something from Azaleas. Right now, I just want to go to bed and forget about it." He took off his button up shirt, to reveal a white t-shirt underneath it.
"Not even a kiss good night?" Madison sighed.
"Can you give me a minute?" He got into bed and she walked across the room to turn off the light. Then she walked back over to the bed and laid down. She reached over and kissed him. Madison leaned up and picked up the phone off the end table.
"Who are you calling?" James asked.
"Your parents wanted to know when you got home."
"It's after 10 o'clock! We can't call that late. And anyway, why would they want to know?" Madison turned to him. The moonlight shined in the room just enough that she could see him.
"It's MARCH. You drove home to southern New Jersey all the way from Dallas, Texas. Most of the states you were driving through were snow covered I'm sure. Your parents just wanted to make sure you're okay." She paused and nodded. "Hey, it's me. They're home." She paused again. "Okay." She handed him the phone.
"Who is it?"
"Your mom." James took the cordless phone out of her hand.
"Hey Mom. We got home about half an hour ago or so." He paused. "Maddie said you were all worried and so we just wanted to check in and let you know we're safe. I love you guys. Bye." He hung up and handed her the phone to put back on the charger. Madison laid down, and reached over to kiss him again. "Welcome home." She smiled and curled up in his arms. "I love you."
"I love you too." He wrapped his arms around her.
"But you do know that it's more romantic on my end to surprise you than for you to whine right?"
"What?" He asked looking at her.
"You've been 3,000 miles away from home for the past month. You weren't really even able to call because you were dealing with the kids, and your letters didn't help me miss you any less." He smiled his boyish charm. "Do you know how badly I wanted to grab you, lock the door and not let you out when I looked up and saw you standing there? You were finally home, in my eye sight, not my imagination?"
"Why didn't you?" He asked and she shrugged.
"Elizabeth's here. It wouldn't have felt right." He kissed her cheek and brushed her hair behind her shoulder.
"Well, the girls are asleep." He kissed her neck. "And you aren't the only one who's been three thousand miles away from their spouse." He smiled. "Are you planning on wearing your sweats?"
"No, I'll probably eventually put on my nightgown, why?"
"Because I would prefer the honor of removing them." He laughed. "I'm nothing if not old fashioned."
"Can you give me a minute before you just go ripping my clothes off like there's no tomorrow?"
"Sure," he paused, "but I wouldn't anyway. I want to make sure I can remember the cool feeling of your skin as its touched." When she yawned, he kissed the top of her head and moved so she could sit up. "Here, I'll let you go so you can lie down."
"Would you mind if I fall asleep in your arms? I've missed it."
"Sure." He wrapped his arms around Madison and felt her chest moving on his as she breathed.