“Where is the fifth one? I thought there were five Backstreet Boys” Luke the boys’ new guitar player asked curiously.
“Yeah there are five. Our youngest member Nick Carter stayed home because my baby sister wasn’t feeling well and needed someone to stay with her,” AJ answered.
“Ooh, how old is she?”
“Twenty one – she has a daughter who is four years old.”
“Oh, I see. When you said baby sister I thought you meant a little girl.”
“Nah, she’s an adult…but to me she will always be my baby sister. I pretty much helped my mom raise her growing up, so.”
“Her name is Ava. You’ll definitely be meeting her soon because she’s coming on the road with us” Kevin added. “She’s like a baby sister to all of us. We pretty much helped AJ help his mom raise her from eleven up.”
“Okay, cool” Luke responded slightly amused.
“I’m going to call and check up on her, we’ve been gone for a while” Tierja announced.
“Okay,” AJ responded and instead of getting her own phone out, she reached into his pocket and got his out before going outside and he smirked.
“We should probably go check on the kids,” Ava murmured into his neck as the two of them still lay together by the fire cuddling.
“Okay, you do that and I will be right up baby okay? I just want to move the dirty dishes into the kitchen and straighten up a little bit so that Kevin doesn’t come home to see a big mess and kill me.”
“Yes, because Kevin is so scary” Ava giggled while getting to her feet with her blanket still around her and Nick grinned at the beautiful sound. He’s missed it so much.
“He is to me,” he told her while standing as well and sliding his arms around her waist and pulling her against him. “He spoils you and treats you like a princess, but he’s terrifying when it comes to me.” Ava smiled in amusement and slid her arms around his neck, wrapping her blanket around him too. “Don’t worry Nicky; I will protect you from the big scary Kevin.” Nick chuckled softly and rubbed his nose lightly over hers affectionately. Kevin would listen to her too, he’s almost sure of it. He is almost as bad as AJ when it comes to Ava. She could probably get away with murder when it comes to the two suckers.
“Well as safe as I know I am in your hands sweetheart, I still better straighten up the living room a little bit.” Ava smiled up at him and he leaned down and brushed his lips lightly over hers before reluctantly pulling away from her and getting to it. Ava wrapped the blanket around her so that she was completely covered in case one of the girls woke up, and she made her way up there.
When she entered her room, she found them both snuggled up together asleep in the middle of her bed, Jade holding her favorite teddy bear and somehow their blankets ended up on the floor. Ava shook her head and went over and picked it up before re-covering them with it. She leaned down and kissed Jade’s forehead softly before sitting on the edge of the bed and she lightly combed her fingers through her blonde hair, just watching her sleep. She’s always loved to do so since she was just a tiny baby because she’s always looked exactly like Nick, blonde hair or not and it comforted her to see him in her when she was lonely or scared.
She felt horrible keeping it secret from him, and hated David every single day since he made her do it because up until then, she never kept anything from her best friend that was important and that was the most important thing of all. It was mean and cruel, and if she were Nick she would hate her for it. She is very lucky that he doesn’t. But she did it to protect this precious child they created, and if she was forced to do it all over again, she would in a heartbeat. She will do anything to protect her child. Ava leaned down and kissed her forehead once more and just as she was pulling back her phone vibrated on the nightstand. She reached over and picked it up, turned it on, and put it to her ear.
“Hello?” she asked in a hushed voice and she got up and walked out into the hall so she doesn’t wake the two slumbering children.
“Hey Ava…what are you up to? How come you are so quiet?” Tierja spoke on the other end.
“Nothing too much, I was just checking on the girls, they’re asleep and I don’t want to wake them. What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be busy partying?”
“Aje told you we would be calling to check up on you, did he not?”
“Yeah, but that was before Nick decided to stay home with me. He’s been taking very good care of me, I promise” Ava responded with a small secret smile.
“Uh-huh, I just bet he has” Tierja laughed when she picked up on the naughty tone in the younger woman’s voice. “Does that mean you finally told him everything and the two of you are dating now?” she asked nosily and just as she had, Nick came up behind Ava and enveloped her in his arms from behind and peeked at the girls inside the bedroom as he did.
“No, it doesn’t mean we’re dating, and you are being awfully nosey” she insisted, playfully rolling her eyes.
“Yes it does don’t believe a word she says” Nick spoke just loud enough for Tierja to hear.
“I’m one of your best girlfriends, it’s my job to probe information out of you, woman” Tierja laughed.
“Carter has grown very possessive when it comes to me and claims that I belong to him now or something, but it doesn’t mean anything” Ava denied, partly playing but Nick could hear the serious tone in her voice and knows she is feeling slightly scared again. “And don’t go off and tell the others about Jade, because she doesn’t know yet and I don’t want her to be the last to know.”
“Got it honey…I’m glad you’re doing okay. You’re really missing out on this party though, because this Luke guy is hot!” Ava giggled slightly.
“Tierja you aren’t falling for the guys’ new guitar player are you?” Upon hearing this question, Nick chuckled softly in amusement.
“Hey! Don’t think for one minute that I can’t hear him! Smack him for me Ava.”
“No, I’m not going to smack him, he’s done nothing but make me happy tonight.”
“You suck,” Tierja insisted and Ava giggled, though she leaned back into Nick a little bit while he still stood there with his arms around her, tighter than ever after her statement to Tierja earlier and he kissed her lovingly between her neck and shoulder.
“Answer my question Tierja; you aren’t falling for the guitar player are you? Because my brother would be crushed if he found out,” Ava asked again, becoming serious.
“I know Ava but he’s not making any kind of move on me, all he’s doing is flirting. Every time I get too close to him he distances himself and I’m getting tired of waiting around for him. If he doesn’t start making some kind of move I’m going to start being interested in someone else because this guitar player is HOT!”
“He’s not making a move because he is scared. He really loves you Tierja, I know he does. If you start flirting with someone else he’s going to be devastated.”
“Well what am I supposed to do Ava, sit around and wait on him forever?”
“If you love him enough you would.”
“Whatever Ava, I’ve got to go” Tierja replied.
“Tier-“ she started but was interrupted by the dial tone. Ava sighed and then turned off her phone and she looked at Nick sadly.
“What’s wrong?” He asked while leaning down and kissing her forehead softly.
“My brother is going to be heartbroken if he doesn’t stop messing around” Ava answered, and Nick leaned forward and brushed his lips lightly over hers and held her closer to him.
“You’re sleeping with me in my room tonight,” he informed her gently and she looked up at him, raising her eyebrow playfully.
“Oh I am, am I?”
“Yes, you are” He insisted while gently turning her around to face him and he slid his arms around her waist and brought his hands down to her bottom, cupped it and pushed her closer to him before leaning down and kissing her once more. “You are coming to my bed, and I am going to spend all night loving you until the fact that you belong to me is drilled into your head so there will be no more denial about it.”
“Just let me take a shower okay?” Ava asked softly when he rested his forehead against hers and looked into her eyes.
“That I can do,” Nick agreed gently and he kissed her nose lovingly, before pulling away and allowing her to go back into her room. He stood in the doorway and watched her as she pulled out a pair of panties and to his surprise one of his tee shirts that she stole from his closet. With those in her hand, she turned and went to him and he took her hand, gently squeezed it, and brought her down the hall to his room. He shut the door just a crack and went over and lay on the bed with his head rested in the palm of his hand and she disappeared in the bathroom. She was in the shower for ten minutes and when she came out she was wearing the clothes she picked out for herself, looking beautiful in his shirt. He watched her as she stood leaning against the door frame, her hand rested on her stomach and she wore a slight frown on her face and looked worried.
“What’s the matter baby?” He asked gently. “You have to tell me everything so that I know to comfort you.”
“I just realized we didn’t use any form of protection at all tonight,” she informed him softly. “I haven’t had time to get more pills since I left David. I seem to make a habit of doing that when it comes to you, and making love to you tends to result in having babies.” Nick smiled slightly and motioned her to him with his finger. She did as he asked and walked over to him and allowed him to slide his arms around her and gently pull her into bed with him.
“I hope my babies are in here,” he told her while leaning down and placing soft kisses on her stomach after having pulled her shirt up just far enough to see it. “Jade needs a baby brother or sister.” Ava bit her lower lip nervously.
“Jade’s mommy isn’t quite ready to give her a baby brother or sister yet…”
“I know, but she will be,” Nick responded gently and he brought his lips up to hers and kissed her gently before resting his forehead against hers and hugging her close to him as he has her enveloped in his arms protectively. “I don’t intend on just being one of your boyfriends baby…I’m in this with you forever. We’ll work on your fears together okay? I want to know all of them when they happen so that I can reassure you and make it better.”
“I just feel really fragile and scared all the time Nicky, one baby is all I can handle right now” Ava explained softly and she gently cradled his face in her hands while his forehead was still rested against hers and he hugged her closer to him when tears filled her eyes. “I can barely be strong enough for her as it is right now, I don’t know what David is going to do, and this is just a really bad time to bring another baby into the world.”
“Okay,” Nick responded gently and placed tender kisses over her eyes, causing her to close them making tears spill out over her cheeks. “No babies right now. We’ll work on making mommy nice and strong and getting her past this David stuff first and then we’ll talk. But I just want you to know that nothing would make me happier than to see another one of my babies growing inside you,” he told her while placing his hand to her stomach and gently rubbing it. “So I don’t want you to worry about me pulling a David on you if it should happen earlier than expected. Okay?” he asked while looking up into her eyes. Ava nodded tearfully and Nick gently dried her eyes.
“I will call the pharmacy and order more pills,” she told him softly.
“What and I am just supposed to wait a while for those things to be effective?” Nick asked amused, and despite the serious conversation they were having and her tears, she couldn’t help but smile up at him innocently. “I don’t think so woman,” he told her playfully and he reached out and opened his nightstand drawer and pulled out an entire thing of condoms and Ava laughed, making Nick smile at the beautiful sound. He’s decided his new goal is to make her smile and laugh as much as he possibly can, because she doesn’t do it enough.
“Why do you have condoms handy Nickolas…? Have you been sneaking women into your room in the middle of the night?” She asked and even though she is clearly teasing him, he saw a flicker of jealousy in her eyes and couldn’t help but secretly feel pleasure from it. She may deny that she is his, but if she’s jealous she obviously doesn’t mean a word of it.
“Oh yes, that long line of women that I have pining over me day and night” he teased right back, the tone in his voice making it very clear that there isn’t such a thing. Ava smiled and slid her arms around his neck.
“You have millions of fans pining over you all around the world, why would you want me?”
“Because you’re special,” he insisted leaning down and lightly nipping on her ear lobe before trailing kisses down between her neck and shoulders. Ava moaned softly and tilted her head back slightly. “You’re my beautiful angel that I first laid eyes on at thirteen and fell deeply in love with right then and there. The sun would rise and set with you each day, Ava, and I was only thirteen years old. You’re the girl who sat on the beach with me - or on rooftops if there wasn’t a beach for hours, sometimes all night if AJ would let you and talked to me about anything and everything and made wishes on stars with me. You’re the girl who taught me how to cook and always had really delicious treats baked for me after every concert because you loved to spoil me so much. Who spent hours playing video games with me when Brian didn’t want to, helped me pull pranks on the others, and laughed, joked around with me, and basically kept up with all of my crazy antics when no one else could or would. You are my best friend and I love you. There isn’t a girl in the entire world that could compare.”
Ava felt a lump in her throat upon hearing Nick’s true words and fought back the urge to cry again with great difficultly. David never said such loving things to her, she isn’t used to it. Very much aware of her emotions, Nick brought his trail of kisses up her neck and over her jaw until he found her lips and he kissed her, pouring all of his love into it and she pulled the blanket up on them and kissed him back.
The next day Nick awoke to find Ava lying in his arms still sleeping peacefully. He grinned and gently tucked a strand of her hair back behind her ear before leaning down and kissing her forehead softly. He lay there just watching her sleep for a few moments, loving the fact that he gets to wake up next to the woman he loves more than anything else in the world every single morning for the rest of his life. After a while he once again kissed her forehead, and then carefully laid her down beside him. He sat up and covered her up with the blanket and he got out of bed and went downstairs planning to get right to work on his plans for her. As soon as he got down there he found everyone else down there and awake – including Jade and Zara.
“NICKY!” Jade exclaimed happily, as she was the first to see him. Everyone looked his way then and AJ glanced over at Tierja giving her a questioning look that only she would understand. Tierja nodded and AJ grinned. Nick smiled and got down on his knees and held his arms open for her.
“Come here sweetie,” he said gently and she got up and ran to him, throwing her arms around him and she hugged him tight. He wrapped his arms around her waist in return and pulled her close to him, hugging her so tight that you would think it’s the first time he’s ever laid eyes on her. He kissed her forehead softly and gently rubbed her back.
“I love you Nicky,” she told him softly while clinging to him.
“I love you too baby, very much,” he replied while managing to fight back his tears. He sat there with her on the floor for a few moments, and then got up still holding her and he looked over at AJ. With one look into his band mate’s eyes, he can tell that he knows and it shouldn’t surprise him much. He knows Tierja told him yesterday right after Ava ran off. He couldn’t help but eye the man who has been like a big brother to him his whole life nervously. Jade wasn’t created under legal circumstances after all; Ava was only sixteen and he eighteen. “Are you planning on making breakfast for Ava this morning?”
“I make her breakfast every morning, don’t I?” AJ asked making sure to sound nice as he can see the younger man is nervous.
“I want in on it this time and we have to start now before she wakes up, because I want to bring her breakfast in bed.”
“What for?” AJ asked curiously. He watched his blonde friend put Jade down and while she ran off to play with Zara again, he followed him into the kitchen closing the door behind him.
“She’s in denial that after last night she is mine, so I’m trying to prove a point. That life with me will be much better than it was with David and I would happily cook for her for the rest of our life together if it came down to it. I just want to spoil her and make her feel loved and appreciated that’s all” Nick shrugged while pulling out stuff to make bacon, eggs, and hash browns and AJ proceeded to help him.
“It’s a good plan, and a good point to make too. She definitely deserves to be spoiled and feel loved and appreciated after all she has been through, but if you want advice from her big brother who pretty much helped raise her, her whole life you should eventually let her cook for you and love it so that she will see you aren’t suddenly going to throw her against a wall and beat her if she makes one little mistake. Get her past this fear so she will love cooking again.”
“I know, and I will work up to it. But right now I just want to take care of her and make her feel loved and appreciated.” AJ nodded quietly and while he got to work on making the bacon, Nick started on the eggs and hash browns. They worked in silence for a long while, until suddenly Nick broke it.
“Speaking of you being her big brother and pretty much raising her, her whole life, you should know that I plan on marrying her as soon as I possibly can and I know I have to get permission from you first. So if you’re going to have issues with that we better get it out in the open and dealt with now” He announced, putting all of his concentration in what he is doing so that he doesn’t have to look the other man in the eye.
“Oh really, and does she know this?” AJ asked, feeling both amused and impressed at the younger man’s bravery.
“Not yet. It’s another thing we have to work up to but it’s going to happen.”
“You seem to be doing everything out of order here, Carter.” He teased light heartedly. “First you get her pregnant at seventeen, and now you’re telling me you want to marry her and you haven’t even bought a ring or proposed yet?”
“I never said anything about not having bought a ring” Nick responded, looking away from the hash browns and at AJ very seriously. AJ looked at him curiously.
“When did you have a chance to buy her a ring? She’s only been home for a short time.” Nick shrugged his shoulders.
“I’ve been up to a lot of things that you don’t yet know about. I’ve had a ring custom made and bought specifically for her for a few months now, and the ring and proposal is only just the beginning of my surprise for her, the rest isn’t finished yet.”
“And what if she hadn’t come back? Then what would you have done?”
“Gone after her and brought her home myself. One way or another, she was coming home.”
“Does Littrell know about this?” AJ demanded, fighting back the urge to kick the other man in the butt for keeping this secret from him all this time.
“He’s been helping me plan it this entire time. He was going to help me ‘kidnap’ her and Jade and bring them home and everything if it came down to it.” Nick responded with a shrug of his shoulders. “And he’s been sworn to secrecy about the rest of the surprise and so has Jade, so you aren’t going to get any information out of either one of them.” AJ stood there in shock, just taking all of this information in.
“So, are you going to have any issues with me being with your sister or not?” Nick asked after a moment. “If so, I’d rather get it out in the open and dealt with now so we don’t have to worry about it later.”
“I’ve had you picked out as my brother in law since you were thirteen years old, Nick. I had you on my mind when I decided to bring her on tour with me that first time. I wanted the two of you to hit it off because she desperately needed a friend. I’m not happy about you sleeping with her when she was only sixteen, and I should really beat you senseless for that, but for the sake of my niece having her daddy in one piece and my sister being happy, I will let it go.” Nick smiled slightly and AJ continued. “I only want my baby sister to finally be happy, she’s had a really hard life and you are the only thing that’s managed to make it better. Get her through this mess with David and you will have my permission to propose to her.” Nick nodded, and one look into the younger man’s eyes, AJ can see that his blessing means more to him than he will openly admit.
“I’m working on that I promise. She’s stubborn which is pretty well known to everyone, but Brian reminded me I’m not a quitter and can be pretty stubborn too when I want to be.”
“Also very well known to everyone,” AJ responded with a small smile, and he patted him on the shoulder before turning his full attention on breakfast again and Nick did the same. “I used to think Jade got it strictly from Ava, but now that I know the truth I can definitely see she really does have you down to a tee.” Nick laughed softly and kept his full focus on what he is doing so that AJ wouldn’t see the sudden tears building up in his eyes. “I thought it was just imitation, I never would’ve guessed the truth if she hadn’t told me J…”
“I started to suspect it a little bit when she finally let her dye her hair blonde and her similarities to you became very pronounced, but I didn’t think too hard on it” AJ shrugged. “Were you mad when you found out?”
“Not terribly mad that I couldn’t keep it to myself and just forgive her and be happy. I promised her I wouldn’t get mad at her if she told me.” Nick answered softly. “I wish I could have known all of these years so I didn’t have to suffer so much pain, but at the same time I see and understand why she kept it from me. She was protecting our baby like any mommy would and I love her for that…that she would do anything to protect our child. I know if I were put in that situation, I would too in a heartbeat and I can see it was hard for her. There is no reason to make it any harder on her by being mad at her…especially when I spent all week putting her through such unnecessary pain to begin with.”
“Thank you for that…for being understanding,” AJ responded gratefully. He doesn’t even want to know what he might have come home to if the outcome had been different.
“I love her…that’s what you do for people you love.” AJ nodded quietly, and the two of them continued to cook breakfast. When it was nearly finished, AJ looked at the clock and then at Nick.
“You might want to send up reinforcements to make sure she stays in bed, she’s usually up by now, especially when she smells breakfast.” When Nick realized that AJ is right about that, he turned and walked to the door and opened it before peeking out into the living room. His eyes fell on his daughter as she sat playing with Zara.
“Baby J,” He called out.
“Yeah Nicky?” Jade asked, turning to look at her favorite person ever with a small grin upon her face and Nick smiled back, his heart melting.
“Want to do me a huge favor?” Jade nodded eagerly and got to her feet and ran over to him. Nick squatted down in front of her and took her into his arms for a hug. “Why don’t you go on upstairs and keep an eye on your mommy for me okay? I want to surprise her with breakfast in bed, so it’s important that she stays in bed until I get up there with it. Do you think you can keep her there?”
“Of course!” Jade responded importantly and Nick chuckled softly and kissed her cheek.
“Do you want me to go up there with her in case Ava doesn’t listen to the kid?” Raven spoke up in amusement.
“It might be a good thing, the woman is too stubborn for her own good sometimes” Nick replied and Raven laughed and held her hand out to Jade. When the small child took it she began to take her and Zara upstairs and Nick turned and returned to the kitchen.
When he and AJ had breakfast done, while everybody was fixing their own plate and settling themselves at the kitchen table, Nick with Kathryn’s help put together a tray full of enough food for Nick, Ava, and Jade and while Nick carried that upstairs, Kathryn walked behind him with the drinks so they wouldn’t get spilled on the way up there.
When they reached his bedroom upstairs and walked into the room, they found an amused Raven leaning against the doorway with her arms crossed while she watched both Jade and Zara sit in Ava’s lap and Ava had the most beautiful smile that Nick has ever seen on her face, as both girls have her laughing over something silly that they must’ve said. When Ava noticed the new people in the room, she looked their way, her eyes finding Nick first and her smile got even brighter if at all possible, as if he is the most important man in her world and Nick’s insides instantly melted. When her eyes fell on the tray in his hands, her heart did an entire flip.
“Oh, Nicky….” She spoke softly, and he grinned and brought the tray over to her and gently placed it in front of her.
“I thought I would surprise you this morning with breakfast in bed,” He told her before leaning forward and kissing her, making Jade smile and giggle happily.
“I watched her for you, Nicky. Zee an’ I sat right here in her lap an’ wouldn’t let her up for anything” Jade announced importantly and Nick grinned at her and kissed her cheek.
“Thank you sweetheart that was very good of you” he praised before sitting down next to Ava and watching her as she sat there staring down at her breakfast, momentarily unable to speak as Nick had taken her breath away. Raven went over to them then and gently gathered her daughter into her arms.
“Come on baby, let’s go downstairs and eat. Jade is going to eat breakfast up here with Nick and Ava” she told her while walking out of the room and Kathryn followed after placing the drinks on the tray, leaving the family to spend time alone. Ava looked up into Nick’s eyes and he saw a hint of tears in them but he knows he made her happy. She reached up and placed her hand to his cheek and pulled his lips down on hers and kissed him.
“Thank you Nicky, this is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me” she told him softly and he smiled at her and lightly caressed her cheek with his finger.
“I’m just getting started baby. I plan to spend the rest of my life spoiling you.” When Ava pulled away she wrapped her arms around Jade while she sat in her lap and handed her, her fork before grabbing up her own and starting to eat and he did the same.
“I want to take Jade to the playground today,” She announced after a couple of moments and Jade squealed happily upon hearing this news. Ava smiled and kissed the top of her head before looking up at Nick and meeting his eyes giving him a look that clearly says she wants to make today a happy day for their daughter, because with Ava being such an emotional mess these days, there haven’t been very many.
“That sounds like fun…just the three of us, or are we going to invite everyone else?”
“Everyone else can come if they want.”
“They haves to come, Zee will want to play too!” Jade insisted happily.
“You will have to take that up with Raven sweetie,” Ava responded.
“The park will be fun, but I want to arrange for my lawyer to come by first so we can take care of some other important things that really need to be done.” Nick announced, and Ava once again met his eyes. “He will want to meet with you and Jade so he can see the evidence. I know you want today to be a happy one baby, but if we get it over with we won’t have to think about it anymore.”
“Kay,” Ava responded softly and he kissed her forehead. “Speaking of other important things,” she added and she gave him a look that clearly asked if he wanted to tell Jade now, or wait until they’re with everyone else.
“Now, if that’s okay. That’s why I made it a point to make sure she was up here with us. I gave AJ the go ahead to tell everyone downstairs for us so we will only have to go through it once.”
“Thanks for that Nicky…” She told him softly and she gave him a grateful look. Nick placed his hand to her cheek and gently caressed it.
“Always baby,” He told her before once again kissing her forehead and Ava looked down at their daughter causing Nick to do the same and they found her staring up at them happily. This is a huge turn around between the two of them; just yesterday Nick wasn’t even talking to her mommy and kept making her cry.
“What are you smiling about, huh?” Nick asked, playfully tickling her and she squirmed slightly and to his pleasure, she giggled, her smile got even bigger, and he got a smile out of Ava. Those are three of his absolute favorite things. They waited until the three of them were finished eating and then Nick gathered up the tray and moved it to the side before settling himself next to them again. Ava gently shifted Jade so she was sitting in her lap facing her and looked into her eyes, becoming slightly serious now.
“Baby, Nicky and I have something very important to tell you.”
“What is it mommy?” Jade asked curiously while looking up at Ava worriedly as she can sense her mood change.
“Mommy has been keeping a very important secret from you and Nicky all of your life. Nicky knows the truth now but it’s time for you to find out the truth too because I can’t go on lying to you anymore. I think it’s time that you know why David is the way he is toward you…”
“It’s because he dranked all the time mommy, I know this already…” she replied and she gazed up at Ava feeling highly confused.
“No honey, that’s not the whole reason…” Ava took a deep breath then, and she willed with all her might that the tears that clouded her eyes wouldn’t fall. So much for Jade only seeing her happy today – she will, Ava promised herself. Right after she gets this out in the open…it should be easier then. They can move forward then…
“Mommy what’s wrong? Why are you crying?” Ava stared at her for a few moments feeling scared and emotional. Nick took her hand into his own and squeezed it gently in attempt to remind her that he is there for her.
“It’s okay honey, you can tell her. You told me…” She looked at him then, waiting for the strength that he always manages to give her to sink back into her, and when it finally did she looked back down at Jade.
“Because he wasn’t really your daddy, Jade,” She told her deciding that there was no easier way that she could think of to put it. Jade stared back at her in bewilderment then, not knowing what to make of Ava’s confession.
“He…isn’t?” Jade asked slowly and Ava shook her head.
“…Then who is?”
“He-He…he’s what?” she stammered, her little eyes filling up with tears and going wide as she glanced up at Nick to find him staring right back at her and he was fighting back his own tears to the best of his ability. “Mommy - no…you’re playing games with me…” Jade insisted and she shook her head to emphasize that she does not believe her. It’s easier that way.
This information that her mommy is trying to tell her seems too good to be true. How long has she wished that Nick could be her daddy instead of the mean monster she’s had to live with? How many times has she longed for a daddy who would love her? Her whole life and she’s lost count.
She was just getting used to the idea that she was a bad girl and just didn’t deserve a loving daddy like any regular kid. And now her mommy is trying to tell her that she’s had one all along? No. It’s impossible! But her mommy is shaking her head at her. Why is she doing this? What has she done to deserve this? Did she leave her toys on the floor again? She can clean them up quick! She will. She’s been trying very hard to be a good girl.
“No baby, I’m not,” Ava insisted gently. “You know I would never do that to you – not intentionally. I’m telling you the truth…Nick is your daddy.” Jade shook her head in disagreement.
“No! Mommy, no!” she insisted, slowly becoming angry.
“Yes honey he—“
“—NO!!! STOP it mommy! Stop lying to me! I’VE BEEN A GOOD GIRL! I’M A GOOD GIRL, I AM!” she sobbed, and then started to fling herself from her arms so she could escape, run, and hide – something she learned to do very early in her life. But Ava was quick to gently grab her by the arms and keep her there, and she looked her daughter in the eyes.
“Jade – baby- honey listen to me, please” Ava pleaded tearfully and she gave her a serious look. “I would never intentionally lie to you if I can help it baby, and you know that. You’re a very good girl and I love you very much. You’re the most important thing in my life – mommy’s everything,” she reassured and she hugged her close, rubbed her hand over her back soothingly, and she placed soft kisses on her forehead.
“Mommy I’m so confused…” she sobbed into her chest.
“I know baby…I know,” Ava told her softly and she sat there rocking with her for a long while until she had her under control somewhat. She held on tightly to Ava with all her might now and sniffled. “Nick is your daddy honey I promise you that he is,” Ava began softly in her ear when she knew she was over the shock and ready to listen. “He always has been, always will be, and nothing can change that baby. That’s why you’re so much like him. That’s why you love him so much and want to be like him.”
She pulled back slightly and gently tilted her chin up with her forefinger and thumb and she gazed into her eyes with a small smile on her face now despite her tears. “You have his eyes, the same shape of face as him, and a big part of his personality. You love to sing and dance just like him. He helped bring you into this world and guess what? You mean the whole world to him baby.” She stole a look at Nick then and found him still watching her. She really took notice of their similarities for the first time in her life then and she suddenly understood why she was never allowed to dye her hair blonde up until recently. She looked back at Ava again, now feeling hurt.
“Why didn’t you tells me?” she demanded, now giving her mother a very accusing look.
“Because I couldn’t honey…David wouldn’t let me. He threatened to do some not very nice things if I ever did. You’re my special baby, the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I was just trying to protect you. I couldn’t keep it secret from you any longer though because you deserve to know the truth. It was hurting Nick because he so badly wanted to be your daddy never knowing he really was…I’m sorry baby, I’m so sorry I lied to you. I will never ever do it again if I can help it I promise.” She looked at Ava for a couple of moments in silence, and then she hugged her tightly and Ava returned it.
“Nicky is my daddy?” she asked, double-checking. She just wants to hear it confirmed one more time. Ava nodded and Jade looked up at Nick contemplatively, before crawling into his lap instead and she hugged him next where she began to cry all over again. She buried her face in his shoulder and he returned her hug, gently rubbing his hand over her back. He kissed her cheek and rested his forehead against hers. “I love you daddy,” she whispered after a long while when she managed to calm down a little bit. Nick was able to hold his tears at bay and keep from crying until he heard those words and that was it – he fell apart.
“I love you too baby and I always will,” he told her while hugging her tighter. As soon as he had calmed down too he looked down at her and delicately lifted her chin up so that blue eyes were gazing into blue. “You’re the most precious gift that god could ever give to anyone and your mommy and I feel so very lucky to have been the ones to be blessed with this precious gift.” Jade’s eyes watered up all over again, though she smiled some as her heart melted all at once.
She has never experienced so many different emotions before. And no one has ever told her that before other than her mommy. She’s never experienced having a father who really loves her until now and it’s the most wonderful feeling she’s ever felt. She’s romanticized Nick being her daddy for so long…and her fantasies don’t even come close to the real thing.
He leaned forward and kissed her forehead before placing other feathery light kisses on various parts of her face as he hugged her. She rested her head against his shoulder and plans on staying in his arms for as long as she possibly can. He wrapped his arm around Ava too, pulling her close to him.
“Does that make us a family now?” Jade murmured into his shoulder and Nick smiled tearfully.
“I’m working on it baby. Your mommy and I have a lot of things to work through, but if I have it my way we will be” he told her gently and he looked down at Ava before brushing his lips over hers with the lightest touch and she quietly rested her head against his shoulder too and combed her fingers through Jade’s hair lovingly.
“When are we going to the park mommy?” she asked while snuggling deeper into Nick’s arms.
“Soon baby. You need a bath, I need a shower, your daddy’s lawyer is coming over a little later, and then we can invite Zara and everybody to go to the park afterwards okay?”
“Okay,” Jade responded happily and Nick kissed her forehead softly and Ava looked up at him, causing him to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear and look into her eyes adoringly.
“Will you get her bath water started while I go down the hall to get her some clean clothes to wear afterward?”
“Mhm, I can do that. I was thinking about putting on my bathing suit and joining her, I need to get cleaned up too. Is that okay?” He asked and Ava nodded.
“Get the water started, and I will be right back with her bathing suit” She instructed gently before getting to her feet and while she left the room to go to her own, Nick got up out of bed and headed toward his bathroom while placing soft kisses on Jade’s forehead.