12 years later
"Mom, have you seen my purse?" Rosie called out as she looked around the living room, frantically flipping over couch cushions during her search. She was coming up empty so she shouted out for her again. "Mom, can you help me find my purse?"
Christina finally emerged from the far end of the house where she'd been working in (hard to come by) peace for the past hour. She pushed her recently required reading glasses atop her head so it pushed back her thick black hair. "What did you lose this time?"
Rosie was somewhat careless with her belongings, and when she realized things went missing, it became a catastrophe that needed to be rectified immediately. She'd panic and force everyone else to join her search party until the item surfaced.
"My purse," Rosie replied, "I can't find it."
"Which one?" Christina managed to get out patiently.
"The leather one. It's like an olive sort of color."
Christina perched her hand on her hip and shot her daughter a pointed look. "You mean my purse that you borrowed two months ago and never returned?"
Her attitude didn't faze Rosie and she replied with positive enthusiasm. "Yeah, that one!" she beamed.
"It's hanging in my closet where it belongs."
"Oh c'mon, Mom! I was going to give it back, I swear. Can I borrow it tonight? Please! I'll give it to you as soon as I get back." Rosie pleaded with her hands clutched together as if in prayer. She was even bouncing up and down as she alternated her weight from one foot to the other.
It wasn't easy for Christina to maintain a disciplinary stance when she wanted to laugh. "Fine, you can borrow it for tonight."
Rosie took off running for the purse before Christina had even finished speaking. Christina sighed and dropped her reading glasses back into place before she walked down the hallway to the quiet room where she'd been configuring numbers and research for work.
Adam came home carrying some goodies in a brown paper bag. He was storing the armful of groceries in the fridge and the freezer when he saw Rosie dart past from one end of the hallway to the other, towards her bedroom. "Where's the fire?" he said.
She backtracked to poke her head in the kitchen quickly enough to greet him with a "Hi Daddy!" before she scampered off again. His daughter always seemed to be in a hurry so he shrugged it off.
The house was quiet so he went into the living room to relax. He clicked on the TV to a basketball game. For some reason the couch cushions were all over the place. He put them back in place and sprawled out to enjoy the game when the doorbell rang.
Rosie's voice rang out from her bedroom. "Could you get that for me, Daddy? I'm not ready yet."
"Got it," he replied before he dragged himself away from the comfortable couch.
When he answered the door he was relieved that it wasn't another boy. Rosie had been on a few dates here and there, but recently her number of "suitors" had spiked. The logical part of his mind told him that it was inevitable but he still had trouble accepting it. Rosie was 17-years-old and boys were part of the picture now. When he looked at her he saw Christina 2.0 (except Rosie's black hair was thin and straight). Their personalities might have been like night and day, but physically, Rosie resembled Christina in almost every single way. Adam hated it and more than once Christina had to dissuade him from investing in a shotgun.
Adam was just grateful that this wasn't another one of those dreadful nights filled with worry and paranoia when Rosie went out on a date. One of her friends had come to pick her up. He smiled gratefully when he opened to door to see Veronica standing on the other side. "Hi Veronica," he stepped back and waved her in. "Rosie's in her room. I don't think she's ready yet."
Veronica followed him into the living room and sat on the couch with him. "That's all right. I'll just wait for her out here."
When it came to her feelings, Veronica Sterling was not a subtle creature. She'd had a crush on Adam ever since she and Rosie had become friends in middle school. Even now she was watching him as he focused on the tight basketball game. She tried making small talk, and he was polite enough, but nothing really caught fire.
Commercials started rolling across the screen and Veronica was grateful. She smoothed back her short brown hair and slid closer to Adam.
"Want some ice cream?" he offered as he stood from the couch. "I went to the store to pick up stuff to make sundaes or banana splits."
Veronica followed closely behind and joined him in the kitchen. "Sure, I'll help," she offered eagerly.
Adam reached into the cabinets for a couple of bowls when the basketball game resumed on the TV. "Hold on," he said. He walked briskly back into the living and perched at the edge of the couch to watch the last couple minutes of the close, competitive game.
Veronica returned to the couch and sat close by like before.
"You like basketball?" he asked conversationally.
"I do," she lied.
Rosie came out of the bedroom at last. "Okay," she huffed out. "I'm ready to go. My Mom stole my purse and I had to put all my stuff back in," she explained to her otherwise distracted friend.
A timeout had been called so Adam turned away from the TV to face his daughter. He smirked after he glanced at the purse she had slung over her shoulder. "Isn't that your Mom's purse? I think she was looking for that thing a couple of weeks ago."
"Okay, you caught me. It's Mom's purse, but I promised her I'd give it back this time."
Adam wasn't buying it for a second so he simply continued to smirk. Rosie tried keeping a straight face as she engaged in a staring contest with her Dad. Eventually she lost when she broke out into a mischievous grin. "Cut it out!" she laughed.
Satisfied with his victory, he turned back to watch the final seconds of the basketball game.
Rosie nudged Veronica. "C'mon, let's go."
Veronica looked torn and she tried thinking of a way to stall. "Um, what's the rush?"
"We have tickets to a concert, and I want to get there before the crowd does. You know parking is going to be a total nightmare if we get there at the same time as everyone else," Rosie reasoned.
"Can't we stay a little longer?" she tried. "Your Dad says there's ice cream."
"I could make you a sundae if you want," Adam offered.
Rosie stared at her friend as if she'd sprouted another head. "Ice cream? We could stop and get ice cream on the way. Let's go."
Christina had overheard the end of their conversation when she finally made an appearance. She went straight for the freezer to retrieve the tub of ice cream. "Stick a fork in me," she announced.
"You're done," Adam automatically finished.
That was their traditional back and forth when she completed a big project from work. The game had just finished so Adam stood from the couch to walk into the kitchen. She was scooping some ice cream into a small bowl when she smiled gratefully. "You're a lifesaver."
He pushed an empty bowl next to hers and kissed her cheek. "Let me have some of that." He turned his head towards the living room. "You girls want some ice cream before you go?"
Veronica's former warm attitude instantly cooled. "No thank you. Rosie's right. We should leave."
They were nearly out the door when Christina stopped Rosie. "Hey," she pointed emphatically, "leave your phone on, and no coming home late."
Rosie's response was automatic: "Fine."
Christina wasn't done. "I mean it, Rosie. If you break your curfew one more time you're grounded."
"Mom," she moaned, "that happened one time! And it wasn't my fault. Joey really did get a flat tire when he was driving me home."
"Which is exactly why I want you to leave your phone on," Christina reaffirmed. "You call to let us know about things like that. I don't want to worry about you."
"Okay, I get it," Rosie slumped against the doorway. "You're kind of killing my mood. Can I go now?"
Adam smiled at Rosie and Veronica. "Have fun."
Veronica instantly brightened. "Bye!" she smiled broadly.
Christina shook her head in annoyance once they were gone. "Why do I always have to be the bad guy? You're too easy on her."
He spoke through a mouthful of ice cream. "She's a good kid. What am I supposed to lecture her about?"
Nothing major came to mind, so instead she said: "Maybe you should tell her to make new friends."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't tell me you haven't noticed the way Veronica acts around you. That little crush she has on you used to cute, but I feel like she's starting to hate me more with each passing year," Christina said with a playful tone.
Adam groaned in annoyance and walked into the living room with his ice cream. "Sometimes I think you enjoy the fact that she has a crush on me just so you could tease me about it."
Christina sat next to him on the couch. "I hate that you know me so well."
They tried settling on something to watch on TV. This task had never gotten easier over the years. To this day, it was practically a miracle when they could agree on a show or a movie. They'd argue half-heartedly, until they ultimately ignored the TV altogether.
The front door opened and the large pit bull went straight for his water bowl in the kitchen. His hefty tongue enthusiastically lapped up as much water as possible until he needed to come up for air. The young girl who'd opened the door removed his leash and refilled his bowl with more water. She bent over to open a drawer that contained his dog food and poured the appropriate amount into the other empty dish.
When the chore was done she walked into the living and dropped onto the other end of the couch. "Chop needs more dog food," she said.
"We'll buy some tomorrow," Adam promised.
Lucy's face contorted into a look of disgust. "Ugh, why are you watching this? This movie sucks."
Adam smiled with gratification. "Thank you!"
Christina shoved the remote control at him. "Fine. You pick something."
He started clicking for something better when the doorbell rang.
Chop had already devoured his meal so he barked and ran to the front door. Lucy leapt over the couch to answer the door.
Adam immediately recognized the voice. He called from the couch. "Hi Charlie."
"Hey Mr. Katz," Charlie responded. He stepped inside and waved shyly at Christina. "Mrs. Katz."
Christina smiled. "Charlie."
He looked at Lucy and nodded towards the door. "Ready?"
She looked at Adam and Christina with hopeful blue eyes. "Mom? Dad? Is it okay if I go to Charlie's house? We're going to play basketball."
Her best friend lived across the street. If they wanted to check up on their 11-year-old daughter, all they had to do was look out the window to see them playing ball in his driveway. They readily agreed which made her smile. Lucy jogged toward the room she shared with her sister and returned with a worn basketball.
"Bye," she waved.
Chop whined when he saw that his master was leaving him behind. She stroked his fur affectionately. "I'll be back soon, boy," she promised before she closed the front door behind her.
"She's going through a growth spurt," Christina noted after their daughter had gone.
"I know. She'll be taller than Charlie pretty soon," Adam predicted.
Whereas Rosie was a physical clone of Christina, their other daughter favored Adam. Like him, Lucy had a tall and lean physique. No doubt she'd surpass her older sister in height within another two or three years. Lucy had also inherited Adam's electric blue eyes. Her skin tone wasn't as dark as Christina and Rosie's, but she did share their long, black hair. Lucy's hair was nowhere near as thick as her mother's, but it was wavy.
After her miscarriage and being told it wasn't likely they would ever conceive again, Christina and Adam had stopped taking precautions when it came to birth control. When the possibility of another baby had surfaced, the news had come as a shock. Even after her doctor had confirmed the pregnancy, they were still in disbelief. Her doctor shared his concerns. She was at-risk when it came to miscarrying again. Even when they successfully made it past the risky early months, there was still the possibility that she wouldn't carry the baby to full-term. Despite the odds, and her doctor's warnings, she'd delivered another healthy baby girl.
Even though a small part of him hoped to one day have a son, Adam was relieved. He would've been more than happy raising five daughters as long as he got to have more children. They'd been lucky to have Lucy, but unfortunately that was the end of their family tree. There was no room for disappointment in his heart. It had overflowed with gratitude and love for the gift of having another child.
Christina viewed the entire experience as a second chance. When she'd become pregnant with Rosie years ago, she emotionally shut down. It was too much to comprehend. Having children was something she wasn't sure she'd ever want. She'd been apprehensive and doubtful about her abilities as an impending mother. She didn't know anything about babies and she feared having a baby so young would ruin her career. Things had turned around dramatically once she and Adam began to repair their broken marriage.
Adam yawned and extended his long limbs across the couch. He pulled Christina against him as he continued to channel surf. She snuggled contentedly against him as his comforting warmth enveloped her smaller frame. He carelessly tossed the remote aside when he came across an old Disney movie. He kissed her cheek and tugged her body closer.
Did it get any better than this?
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and review. I'll miss these two, but every story has to end. 'Climbing up the Walls' is my latest attempt at writing. Feel free to click on my profile and give it a read.