Welcome Home. -Chapter 7

Read Chapter 6 HERE

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A few days later

Melanie fluffs Cassie’s dress and stands up as they look at her reflection in the mirror.

“You look perfect.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Dave is going to lose his mind when he sees you.”

“Funny. I could say the same about Oliver when he sees you.”

“It’s not our day, it’s yours.”

“I can share it.”

“Not a chance in hell. You deserve this. I am so happy for you.” Melanie says smiling. She grabs Cassie’s hand pulling her into a hug.

“Thank you for planning this all so fast, how you managed to get it all done in a matter of days, and from New York, I will never know,” Cassie says smiling at her best friend.

“I can be quite bossy.”

“Hmm, I hadn’t noticed,” Cassie says as she and Melanie exchange knowing giggles.

The music begins and Melanie’s eyes pop.

“That’s my cue. I’ll see you out there,” she says winking at her.

Cassie smiles as Melanie kisses her cheek and starts to walk off, turning back, she says-

“Love you.”

Cassie smiles.

“Love you more.”

Melanie takes a deep breath as she begins to walk down the aisle, a smile in place as her eyes scan the church landing on a certain someone.

Dave leans over to Oliver who stands beside him. His chocolate-hazelnut eyes glued to Melanie.

“She looks amazing,” Dave says.

“So this is what pure torture feels like,” he says, their eyes locking as Melanie gets to the center of the alter she winks at Dave who smiles, as she stands to the opposite side of them before the alter.

As the ceremony goes on Melanie and Oliver exchange brief glances, reminiscing on what could have been.

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As the reception commences, a sea of people are mingling about.

Melanie gathers her strength and walks over to Oliver who stands at the bar with a beer in his hand.

“Hi,” she smiles simply.

“Hi,” he says smiling back.

“I have to say I am quite surprised you don’t have your camera in your hand snapping away.”

“I am under very strict orders not to lift a finger, Cassie told me I am in the wedding therefore I cannot be the photographer. And you know when the bride says something…”

“Oh…you do it.”

“So you’ll cover me, when I want to sneak in a few shots later?”

“Of course,” she says matter of factly.

They exchange smiles.

“Look I know-once again I screwed up the last time we were together and I understand that we are officially done and I respect that. But I really need to talk to you about something.”

“Ok. But first, you have to dance with me,” he says smiling and holding his hand out to her.

Melanie smiles and looks away confused for a second before taking his hand as he walks her out onto the dance floor.

“You look beautiful,” he says pulling her closer to him as they sway to the music.

Melanie’s heart rate quickens.

The song ends and Oliver takes her hand and leads her to the balcony.

“So…you uh wanted to talk.”

“Oliver, I um…I don’t exactly know how to say this, so I’m just going to come out and say it.”

“Say it.” He says simply.

“Oliver, I’m-“

The bridal attendant opens the door, peeking in.

“I’m so sorry to interrupt. But it’s time for you both to give your best man and maid of honor speeches.”

Oliver and Melanie sigh.

Melanie looks up at Oliver.

“To be continued?”

“Of course,” he says as they rush into the main hall.

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Melanie gets up and takes a glass of champagne in her hand, as the bridal attendant hands her a microphone.

“Hi everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Melanie, Cassie’s best friend. We grew up together in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and I have never been more proud of her than I am right now. Cassie, even at a young age was a force to be reckoned with. Independent. Stubborn. We’re cut from the same cloth, I guess.  But Cassie is someone who also really cares about people. When I think about the way our friendship has grown over the years, I’ve learned so much about what it means to have a soulmate. A soulmate isn’t always a romantic relationship. It’s a relationship that gets you through the lowest of the lows and roots you on during the highest of the highs. It’s someone who you see bits and pieces of yourself in. Someone who can just know what you’re thinking or knows just what you need, without even asking. Someone who just gets you and makes life better. I know you can see where I’m going with this- Dave, Cassie may be your wife now, but she’s been my soulmate my whole life, and that’ll never change. (Everyone laughs) All kidding aside, Cassie you are my best friend, my sister, my soulmate, I love you, don’t ever change. On a side note. I met the love of my life in college, right around the same time Cassie met Dave. Needless to say, I didn’t handle things that well.”

Oliver looks up at her, his smile bright, his eyes watering.

“Let me give you the benefit of my mistakes, Cassie, dear lord let yourself need Dave. Let him be there for you. As your soulmate- I’m giving you permission, (she says winking. As everyone laughs.) I was there to watch this courtship grow. I saw Dave laugh when Cassie laughed and cry when she cried, protect her, fight for her, love her. And I have never felt safer knowing that my best friend is in good hands. I love you both, congratulations, and happiest and healthiest of memories and prayers for babies, lots and lots of babies. God Bless. Cheers.” Melanie says as Cassie runs up to her crying and hugging her.

 Oliver takes the stage.

“Hello everyone, I’m Oliver. Funny enough I’m going to tell a story that actually falls right into Melanie’s speech. You’d think we wrote them together. Spoiler alert, we didn’t. (Everyone laughs) I remember the moment Dave met Cassie. We were studying for our first big official college exam. There we were in the library. Three hours in, red bulls and coffee scattered about. When these two very frazzled, anxious, but breathtakingly beautiful girls, burst in. They walk right up to the librarian. And when I tell you all eyes were on them, I am not joking. They had a way of owning a room. Still do, (he says his eyes locking on Melanie’s.) But as I looked on, I already saw our future’s mapped out for us. My eyes were glued to Melanie and Dave here his eyes were glued on Cassie. Phew, (he says brushing his hand across his forehead with a flick of the wrist) glad that worked out. (Everyone laughs) So Cassie asks the librarian for a book. And Cassie is utterly defeated when the librarian gives her the bad news that it’s already been checked out. Low and behold, Dave flips to the cover of one of our books, and there it is- American Literature-The ways to know love. Cassie being the firecracker she is, begins walking through the library, checking books belonging to other students. No shame. Determined. On a mission. I’ll tell ya something, there is nothing more terrifying than a crazed college girl under far too much stress and that’s the truth. (The crowd laughs)

So Dave walks over to her, and says “Excuse me, I think you’re looking for this.”

Cassie looks up, sighing, “Thank you.” She says reaching for it, but just before she can get her hands on it, Dave pulls it away.

“Under one condition,” he says.

I remember thinking to myself, What a G.

Cassie and Dave laugh, as Dave’s arms wrap around his bride’s waist.

But it was short lived and his request was met with a pout and the barrier was built by Cassie’s arms folding across her chest.

It was a stance our girls worked well.

(Oliver mimics it, as the crowd laughs.)

“I’ll give you this book, if you let me and my friend, take out you and your friend,” Dave says.

I will never forget the smirk on Cassie’s face or the flicker in Dave’s eyes. 

From that point on he was a goner, and so was I. So here’s to your forever. Congratulations! Salud.

He says raising his glass.

Everyone cheers as they clink glasses.

Melanie’s eyes sparklingly in memory.

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“Nice speech,” Melanie says coming over to Oliver.

“Like wise,” he says smiling.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Melanie rolls her eyes, as he laughs knowing she hates that.

“You’ve been kind of distant today, I guess I understand, but I have to admit, I am surprised.”

“I’ve learned to let you come to me. I figured if I kept my distance long enough you might miss me,” he says smiling.

They share a moment.

“Oliver, I have to tell you something, can we-”she says pointing to the balcony again.

“Right. Yes, of course,” he says following her lead.

Melanie stands before Oliver, her heart beating a mile a millisecond.

She’s fidgeting and he notices.

“Hey,” he reaches for her hands, “it’s just you and me here, you can tell me anything.”

Melanie looks up at him, she takes a deep breath in and lets it out. Her heart rate slows. A calm washing over her.

“Ollie, I’m pregnant.”

 Oliver stands before her frozen.

“I realize this is probably the last thing you expected and it’s probably the worst possible timing and I am so sorry, but I just found out myself and I thought you should know….I didn’t want to exclude you….”

Oliver stands there still frozen.

“Ok. Ok. Maybe you need a minute. I’m gonna go.” She says turning to head back into the party.

Oliver walks swiftly over to her and turning her to him, he cups her face and kisses her gently.

Their lips move as one for a bit as Oliver parts from her looking into her eyes.

“How are you? How’s the baby?” he says his hands touching her stomach.

Melanie smiles.

“We’re both doing ok.”

“Just ok?” Oliver says his eyes looking into hers.

“The doctor says that everything looks good for right now. I’m healthy and the baby is healthy. But-”

“But what?” Oliver says nervously as his hands circle around her waist again, pulling her to him.

Melanie’s eyes begin to water as she bites her lip and looks away.

“Melanie, Mel….what?” he says cupping her face.

“Oliver there’s something I never told you.”

He looks at her confused.

“When we lost Cody, after I left, I saw a specialist in New York. I was searching for answers. And they told me that it wasn’t just that I miscarried, they told me that I’m unable to physically carry a baby to term. I can get pregnant, but there’s no guarantee.”

Oliver looks at her stunned, he steps back.

“So…what does that mean… for us, are we going to lose this baby too?”

“It’s a pretty high possibility,” she says her eyes welling up.

Oliver sighs, a lump forming in his throat as the tears spill down his cheeks. He moves away from her.

“I’m so sorry,” she says crying.

“How high of a possibility?” he says turning to her, his hands on his hips, tears streaming down his face.

“There is an 85% chance that I will miscarry again,” she says through her tears.

Oliver looks up at her, he sighs and looks away, his heart breaking.

“Ollie, I’m so sorry this is not how I wanted to tell you, or where I wanted to tell you, it’s supposed to be a happy occasion, but I couldn’t keep this from you,” Melanie says falling apart before him.

He looks over at her and swiftly rushes over, cupping her face he stares into her eyes.

“Hey, hey, don’t be sorry. You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

“But it’s all my fault.” She says crying harder now.

Oliver looks at her, he shakes his head.

“Sweet heart, this is not your fault. Do you hear me, it’s not your fault. This is not something either of us can control.”

Melanie wraps her arms around his neck, as he pulls her to him.

“Why didn’t you ever tell me this?”

“I didn’t want you to feel like you had to stay with me. I didn’t want you to feel any obligations. I can’t guarantee you a family. You deserve better.”

Oliver’s brow furrows, his eyes narrow.

“Melanie, when are you going to get it? I don’t want a family if it’s not one we build together. I don’t care if we have to look into other unconvential ways. A wife to me is not just a child bearer. It’s a lover and a partner, it’s everything you are. It’s these lips- (he kisses her), these eyes (he brushes the hair away from her eyes), this heart (he places his hand over her heart), this body, (he says his eyebrow raising as Melanie blushes,) it’s you. I want you. You not being able to have my baby isn’t going to change that.”

Melanie looks up at him and leaning in she kisses him, as he pulls her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her.

“Are you scared?” he says whispering to her.

“I’m terrified, I’m not sure that I can handle going through all this again,” she says looking up at him.

Oliver looks at her

“We’ll get through this together, ok? I’m not going anywhere. So don’t you dare either. ”

Melanie cups his face and kisses him.

“I really need you,” Melanie says looking up at him.

“Like I said, I’m not going anywhere,” he says cupping her face and wiping her tears away as he pulls her into a hug, he places a kiss on her forehead.

“15 % is not nothing, let’s bet on that, let’s bet on us, and our love,” He says, as their tears blend together. “You had to know that you and I…we’re far from over…that’s something that I can never officially agree to.”

Melanie pulls him into a kiss, holding on for dear life.

To be continued…

 

*I do not take any credit for any images used in my edits or otherwise.*

-<3-

Welcome Home. -Chapter 6

Read Chapter 5 HERE

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Melanie stands in line at the airport waiting to buy her ticket back to New York.

“Explain to me why you  always fly again,” Cassie says standing beside her confused.

“Because two hours of me with my thoughts, operating a vehicle? It’s not the best combination. I’d never make it to Philly. I’d chicken out a half an hour in and turn back. Flying means money is spent, and I have to get off the plane and face the mistakes I’ve made, no ifs, ands or buts.”

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“Interesting, but effective. Except for right now when I think you should be pressing pause on leaving again. You need to go talk to the man you love. You do still love him, don’t you?” Cassie says challenging her friend.

“Of course I love him. How can you even ask me that.”

“Because you have a funny way of showing it. I gotta say I think you’re making a mistake here Mel. A big one. If you leave now, without a face to face. It’ll really be over,” Cassie says.

“It’s already over, I could hear it in the sound of his voice. I’ve finally put him through enough. He’s completely given up on me and us. And I honestly can’t blame him, I’m surprised he lasted this long.”

“This just-sucks. He loves you so much. Don’t you get that? Women dream about guys like him. He’s so great. How can you let him just walk away?”

“I love him more than anything, but I know I have to be strong enough to let him go. He deserves better, so much better. He deserves the world. And he deserves a family, and that is something that I biologically can’t give him.”

“Yea but he doesn’t know that. He doesn’t know the full reason why you are so resistant to be with him again. That’s a huge part of the puzzle that you left out Mel. You owe him that much. Enough excuses- go see him. Now.”

“It’s better this way. He should hate me. It’ll be easier for him.”

“Easier for him, or easier for you? If he knows the truth, he’ll understand and he’ll be even more in love with you and wanna be there for you and that scares the crap out of you.”

“Ugh god, why do you know me so well? Sometimes I hate that. Stop analyzing me.”

“Get used to it babe. Call him. Now. You’ll always regret it if you don’t. Let him be the one to decide his future. Don’t just decide that he won’t be able to handle it. Or that he won’t want you because of it. Stop writing the tragic end to this story in your head and just talk to him. ” She says handing her a cell phone.

Melanie takes a deep breath and exhales as she dials Oliver’s number….it rings and rings and rings and rings and then his voicemail comes on.

“He didn’t answer,” She says defeated. “He always answered….I told you- he’s done.”

“It ain’t over until the curvy lady sings and I ain’t singing yet. Next stop….house call. Come on.” Cassie says starting to walk off, thinking Melanie is following.  

“Cassie I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I have to get home,” Melanie says rooted in her place in line.

“You are home. Do not mess with me Evans, I will throw you over my shoulder or drag you by your hair kicking and screaming…”

“I can’t.”

“You know for a really strong, smart woman you are being really stupid.”

“Cassie I am so messed up. And he’s so amazing, I don’t want to ruin him.”

“Whatever. You already are by not fighting for him. But then again you never did fight for him. You only cared about yourself and what you were feeling.  Have a nice flight.” She says walking off.

Melanie sighs as she turns around stepping up to the counter to buy her ticket, tears in her eyes.

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Melanie stares out of her office window, rain hitting the glass and trickling down in clear, delicate patterns.

Phones can be heard ringing, along with the slamming of fingers on keyboards and pages flipping.

Melanie has been in full work mode since she got back.

She shakes a memory and returns to the manuscript in her hands. Not wanting to think of him and what happened between them.

Her co-worker knocks on her door.

“Hey Billy? What’s up?” Melanie says looking up.

He saunters in and plops himself in the chair across from her desk, a pout playing on his lips.

“Uh oh, what’s wrong?” Melanie says concerned for her friend and grateful for the distraction.

“Nothing much, my date cancelled on me for tonight.”

“Date? Are you holding out on me! Who is he?”

“He’s just this really cute guy I found on city single.”

“Well maybe something came up. Don’t worry, if it’s meant to be, he’ll come back around.”

“I hope so, you know my rule, you only get two chances with me. Are you ready for lunch, cuz I am. The walls are closing in.”

“Yes. I hear ya, let’s go. Thai?”

“Yes please,” he says as he glides out of her office, she lets out a small laugh as she grabs her purse and follows him.

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The waitress places their meals down on the table before them.

Melanie smiles her thanks.

“We should have a movie night tonight. Are you up for it?” Billy says excitedly.

“Billy you know I love you, but I am just not going to be the best company tonight.”

“Oh come on, it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s bad enough we had to work. Let’s do something tonight! I’m sure there’s a party happening somewhere. The city comes alive in a new way on New Year’s Eve. People pledging to be new versions of themselves and then failing miserably by the next morning. It’ll be a blast.”

Melanie laughs sarcastically.

“Nothing is lonelier, than New Year’s Eve in New York City,” Melanie says sadly.

Billy looks on intently.

“What happened in Philadelphia?” he says his hand on his chin, inching forward and staring at her.

Melanie stiffens.

She looks up at him.

“What makes you think something happened?”

“Because you’ve been more cynical than usual since you got back.”

Melanie frowns her heart sinking. This is not who she used to be. This is not who she wants to be.

“I don’t know, I guess I had to face some harsh realities.”

“Like?”

“There is this man…”

Billy’s eyes light up.

“Tell me everything.”

“There’s not much to tell,  he’s the absolute love of my life, but it ended in tragedy. I messed up and left and he- he loved me anyway.”

“I’m sorry, where’s bad there?”

“He deserves better.”

Billy looks confused as Melanie picks up her drink and clinks it into his-

“Happy New Year.” Melanie says sarcastically.

 

A Few Months Later

Melanie is rushing to get ready for work, she’s ready to rush out the door and rushes back in to grab her purse. She leaves once again and rushes back in to grab her car keys. A pattern of frantic lateness stirring up. She leaves again, not gone more than a second, she rushes back in and into the bathroom as she lifts the toilet seat cover up, throwing up her breakfast smoothie.

She sits on the floor in exhaustion.

Getting up carefully she splashes some cold water in her mouth and on her face.

Melanie looks at her reflection in the mirror, pale skin and perspiration stare back at her, she has a flashback of she and Oliver making love just a few months earlier.

Her eyes go wide. She rushes to her purse and pulls out a calendar. She counts.

“Oh my god.” She says covering her mouth.

There’s a knock on the door.

She looks up startled, walking over to the door she peers through the peep hole.

Letting out a sigh of relief, Melanie grips her chest leaning against her front door.

Opening it, Cassie stands there holding balloons that say I’m sorry, a pout in place.

Melanie smiles and hugs her tightly.

“I’m so sorry,” Cassie says.

“No, I’m sorry you were right. I just didn’t wanna hear it.”

Cassie smiles simply.

“Where the hell did you find I’m sorry balloons?” Melanie says laughing and opens her door to let Cassie in.

“You can find anything on amazon,” Cassie scoffs as she walks into the apartment setting her things down.

“Even pregnancy tests?”

Cassie looks up at her. Her eyes go wide.

“Are you?”

Melanie looks at her.

“I think so.”

“Wait so it would be…”

“Of course it’s Oliver’s.”

“Oh my god.”

“I know.”

“Wait so did you take a test, or see a doctor?”

“No. Not yet. But I haven’t been feeling right. I’ve been overly tired. More than usual. And I just threw my guts up, so there’s that. It all feels pretty familiar.”

“Maybe you’re just stressed?”

“I thought so too, or that maybe it was something I ate. But I checked my calendar and I’m pretty late. I guess I just hadn’t noticed because my mind has been kind of all over the place. But yea the timeline fits, Oliver and I were together about three months ago, a few times actually….and we weren’t exactly worrying about protection. Which in hindsight was pretty stupid I guess.”

“It’s not stupid, you love each other. You weren’t thinking about anything but that.”

“What am I gonna do Cassie? I can’t throw this at him, now.”

“Ok first of all, let’s take a test and see if you really have anything to tell. And then if you are, you have to tell him. Hiding it will do you no good. Stop deciding his life for him. We talked about this.”

“I know you’re right. I should get to a drug store.”

“Good, I’m coming with.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Me too,” Cassie says taking her friend’s hands in hers as Melanie smiles she looks down and notices a big sparkling rock on Cassie’s finger.

“What’s that?” Melanie says her voice a loud shriek as her eyes widen.

“Oh. Yea, I’m kind of engaged.” Cassie says smiling.

“Oh my GOD! What!”

“Dave proposed last night. That’s kind of why I’m here, I couldn’t just call you, I had to come tell you face to face. Besides, I hated how we left things, it’s been months. I couldn’t take it.  And the things I said ,were so harsh, you know how much I love you and how great of a person I think you are. I was just trying to get you to come back and talk to him…”

“I know, but you weren’t wrong. I have been selfish. I’m so sorry.”

“Water under the bridge.” Cassie says hugging her tightly.

 “I’m so happy for you,” Melanie says. “This ring is gorgeous!” she says grabbing Cassie’s hand to take a closer look at it.

“He did good, didn’t he?”

“He did,” Melanie says smiling. “Congratulations!” She hugs her again tightly. “Ugh once again here I am dragging you into my drama when you came to share your amazing good news. I’m so sorry.”

“Hey I don’t wanna hear any of that again. Best friends don’t apologize for needing each other.”

She smiles hugging Melanie.

“Let’s go get you that test.”

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Melanie sits in her bathroom staring at the numbers on her cell phone as they decrease.

Her heart racing.

Cassie looks on worried.

The alarm goes off.

Melanie sighs, and gets up turning her back to the pregnancy test.

“I can’t look at it, not yet.”

“Ok.” Cassie says standing next to her.

“I don’t know what to feel right now. Part of me is really terrified. But part of me is really calm. Which I don’t quite understand.”

“Well then, let’s talk about it. Maybe we can make some sense of it. In your heart right now. What do you think it says on that test?”

Melanie looks over at Cassie.

“I think it’s positive. I would almost bet that it is.”

“And if it is?”

“I’ll be really happy, because I really want it to be,” Melanie says coming to a realization and allowing her tears to fall freely.

Cassie smiles. “There it is.” She pulls Melanie into a hug.

“I love him so much.”

“I know you do…so let’s find out what you’re dealing with, either way you’re gonna have a lot of people in your corner, including Oliver. Are you ready?”

Melanie nods and turns picking up the test she looks at it and starts crying again.

Cassie hugs her tightly.

To be continued…

*I do not take credit for any images of gifs used in my edits or otherwise.*

-<3-

Welcome Home. -Chapter 5

Read Chapter 4 HERE

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The bell rings.

Melanie opens it to find Oliver standing there with his hands full.

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“Hey,” she smiles.

“Hey, Merry Christmas,” he says handing her a bouquet of roses and a tray of some homemade cookies.

“Thank you, Merry Christmas to you!” She says smiling, “Come in, come in,” she says waving him in.

“Wow, the house looks great. Your mom out did herself this year,” Oliver says his eyes taking in the house he’s grown to love after all these years.

Taking off his coat, he hangs it on the nearby coat rack.

“You know her, she always does,” Melanie says as they exchange sweet smiles.

They walk through the house as family members greet Oliver with warm waves and smiles. They make it into the kitchen, where Grace stands cooking over a hot stove.

“Oliver sweetheart, we are so happy to have you,” she says coming around to kiss him hello.

“Thank you Grace, it’s a pleasure, ” he says hugging her tightly. “Can I give you a hand with anything?”

“Oh you are a sweetie but I’m quite alright, why don’t you two go mingle. The family is just dying to see you.”

Melanie smiles at the sweet familiarity, as she places the Roses in a vase and sets to moving the cookie tray to the dessert table.

“Wait…Ollie….are these…” she says pointing to the cookies.

“My famous sugar cookies….you bet…fresh outta the oven.”

Melanie smiles brightly.

“Oh my god. I love these, thank you,” she says kissing his cheek.

“No problem,” he says smiling at the physical contact.

**************************************************************

Christmas festivities and spirit are in full swing as family and friends chat and catch up over cups of wine and hot chocolate while the golden flames glisten in the center of the room warming the atmosphere.

Melanie scans the room trying to find Oliver.

She walks upstairs and sees him coming out of the upstairs bathroom.

“There you are,” she says smiling, “I thought you might have made a graceful early exit, I know the Evans Family Christmas is a bit much.” She laughs.

“Are you kidding, I would never. I love your family. I’ve missed this.”

Melanie smiles.

“They’ve missed it too. Trust me. I hear it all the time.”

They share a laugh.

“So are you back in your old room, while your home?”

“Yup New Kids on the Block posters and all.”

“Ugh! Really! I hated those posters, something about you idolizing another guy, yea that didn’t do it for me.”

Melanie laughs.

“Damn that Jordan Knight,” he says shaking his head.

Melanie takes his hand and leads him into her childhood room.

“Uh, we can’t be in here, we’re breaking house rules,” Oliver says playing the role of a college teen again.

She laughs walks over to the poster and takes it down, folding it she puts it in her desk drawer.

“There. Happy?”

“Yes.”

“Merry Christmas.”

Oliver laughs looking at her.

“What?” she says noticing a shift in the room.

“Nothing,” he smiles, looking elsewhere.

“You know that I always hated when you did that. What?” Melanie says her hands on her hips.

Oliver can’t help but smile at sassy Melanie. She comes out every now and again and it fills his heart with happiness.

“It just felt like old times, for a minute. It was nice. I didn’t want to ruin it, by stating it, or scaring you away.” He laughs.

“Well you didn’t ruin it. Or scare me away. See (she points to her feet rooted in place) still standing here.”

Oliver looks at his watch.

“5 whole minutes,” Oliver says joining in on her joke.

 “World Record I know,” Melanie says smiling and rolling her eyes obnoxiously.

Oliver laughs as he looks around her room.

 “It’s like a time warp, huh?” she says looking at him, her heart beating faster.

“Yea. It really is. I remember coming home with you during college on the weekends, and this room never seemed to change. It still hasn’t.”

“Yea mom doesn’t want it to. She’s still holding on.” She says laughing.

“Yea I know the feeling,” He says his eyes finding hers.

Melanie walks over to him and grabbing him by the shirt she pulls him into a kiss.

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Oliver deepens it wrapping his hands around her waist, his hands sliding into the back pockets of her jeans, pulling her closer toward him.

Melanie pulls away, out of breath.

“Now we’re really breaking house rules,” he says looking at her through heavy eyes.

“We’re about to break a few more.” She says walking over to her door, she locks it.

“Melanie. Are you crazy? There’s a house full of people,” he says his eyes widening, but smiling at the same time.

“So…we’ll be quiet.”

“You are not quiet.”

“Hey!” she laughs.

“And I can’t promise that I’d be that quiet either.”

“Ok now you’re ruining the moment.” She says walking over to him.

“Ok, I’m sorry I’m shutting up now.” He says falling into another heated kiss.

Melanie cups his face, as Oliver’s hands slide up her blouse.

She begins to unbutton his shirt, she pulls it off, throwing it to the side as he by passes the buttons on her shirt, lifting it up over her head.

Making their way onto her bed, they fall back into a sea of floral sheets, blankets and limbs.

Oliver hovers above her, his hands wandering.

“I love you.” He whispers before kissing her again.

Melanie looks up at him, her legs wrapping around his waist pulling him closer, she gasps, as her hands grip at the sheets.

Oliver smiles and kisses her. He notices something on her hip, glancing down he sees the name Cody tattooed in script with a crown on top of the Y. His eyes begin to water.

“When did you get this?”

“My first year in New York,” she says kissing the side of his lips. 

“Great minds,” he says pointing to the same name inked on the inner part of his upper arm.

Melanie smiles up at him.

“It’s beautiful…I love it and I love you so much,” she managers to say in a whisper. 

He smiles as she pulls his neck toward her, to allow his lips to meet hers.

Their hands intertwine over their heads.

*************************************************************

Melanie lays there, exhausted, her heart pounding.

“Well, that still works too.” He says smiling uncontrollably as he stares up at the ceiling fan spinning slowly.

“Did you think it wouldn’t?” she says smiling in his direction.

“I knew it would, we were always really good together. Besides this attraction was always gonna be there, I knew it the moment I met you.”

Melanie smiles and leans in to kiss him.

“You know we probably still have a few minutes before dinner is ready…” she says looking at him.

“Really…well whatever shall we do?”

“Only one thing comes to mind…” she says kissing him, he smiles and rolls on top of her, kissing her as her nails dig into his back, a groan escaping him.

“Take that Jordan Knight.” He whispers as Melanie laughs mid kiss.

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 Melanie and Oliver rush out of her bedroom. She stops in the hallway to check her reflection in the hall mirror.

“You look beautiful. Let’s go before people realize we’ve been gone.”

“Wait.” She says turning and wiping lipstick off his lips.

“What…that’s not my color?” he says seriously.

“Shut up!” she says hitting him playfully.

Oliver grabs her hand and pulls her to him, cornering her against the wall, he kisses her, his lips holding her there with him, as Melanie becomes like putty in his hands.

“You can’t seriously be ready for round 3,” she says breathlessly, against his lips.

Oliver smirks and looks down at her chest, her cleavage just enough to give him some ideas.

He reaches up and begins to unbutton her blouse as her lacey white bra begins to peek out again.

“Oliver!” She says laughing as her hands stop his.

“I’m always ready.”

“Yea well we can’t do it right here in the hallway!” she says giggling.

“Not like we haven’t before,” he says smiling of lover’s past, his eyebrows raise.

“Shh!” she laughs falling into his kiss as he continues to undo her blouse,” she laughs as she grabs at his hands, trying to stop them.

“Seriously Oliver, look, I love you,” She says grabbing his face and looking at him intently. “But people are going to notice we are gone.”

“Mmm, I love you too,” he says cupping her face and grabbing her into a kiss.

“I’ve missed you,” She says looking at him before kissing him one more time.

“I’ve missed you too,” he whispers as he kisses her again for longer than the last.

She pushes him away with a laugh.

He laughs “Just go, go!” he says swatting her butt as she squeals, they rush downstairs.

Just before the last landing, Oliver grabs her by the arm, pulling her to him, and plants a kiss on her lips quickly.

Melanie smiles and then fixing herself she walks into the living room as Oliver walks the opposite direction.

Melanie walks over to her girl cousins who stand in a circle chatting.

“What’d I miss?”

Her cousin Julissa turns to her, “where the hell have you been, you’ve been MIA for like an hour and a half?”

Melanie’s face turns red.

“Just around.”

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Cassie walks up to her and pulling her to the side she whispers, “So how was it?”

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“I don’t know what you’re referring to.” Melanie says her cheeks on fire at this point.

“Really because you look like you just had your world rocked. And not the kind that lasts 5 minutes, Ms. gone for an hour and a half.”

“I- (Melanie smiles and laughs) don’t know- what you’re talking about.” She says again taking a sip of her wine.

“Admit it, you and Oliver just had sex.”

“Cassie. Shhhh.” She says her eyes widening. “That kind of thing should not be broadcasted to my entire family and town on Christmas. My dad is right there.”

“Hmmm, yea right there, talking to the man who just ravished his daughter. That is just poetic.” She laughs.

“Shhh, please.”

“I’m just messing with you. But seriously how was it?”

Melanie looks across the room to find his eyes meeting hers.

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They share a moment before continuing their conversations.

“I’m still pretty weak in the knees, if that answers your question.”

“Damn I’m so jealous. Dave got stuck working this weekend, no sexy fun for me.”

They laugh.

“You look happy,” Cassie says smiling at her friend.

“I am happy. Something just feels different. Being with him, it feels right.”

“Well good, maybe you guys can finally get that second chance, you’ve deserved after all these years.”

“Maybe.” She says looking over at Oliver again to see him laughing and talking with her family. A new hope ignited.

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Melanie comes up behind Oliver and hands him a cookie, he turns and smiles.

“Thank you.”

“Ollie…They are so good.”

“Really? Better than…what we just did in your bedroom.” He says his eyebrows raising.

Melanie’s eyes widen and her mouth drops, “Shhhh, Ollie.” She hits him in the chest as she looks around to see if anyone heard.

He laughs “nobody’s listening.”

“We are both in the same room with my entire family and half the town, of course someone is watching or listening,” She says rolling her eyes.

“Well is that so bad, that they find out?”

“I’m not worried about them finding out that we’ve been getting closer, but yea the sex part I’d leave out.” She says laughing.

“Fine, I promise not to mention it again while we are here, but you have to answer my question…”

“Yes your cookies are amazing, better than I remember- but nothing compares to what just happened in my bedroom,” she says leaning toward him in a whisper. 

“Twice,” he says raising his eyebrows and going in for a sweet kiss.

“I’m still recovering, ” she says whispering after his kiss.

Oliver’s eyes glisten as he smirks, he glances around and pulls her behind the wall of an archway, away from eye sight and kisses her.

Cassie notices and smiles.

Melanie kisses Oliver back as her hands wrap around his neck.

“So when do we get to do that again?” he whispers.

“I don’t know. The Evans family has some major Christmas plans. Weekend long plans.”

“Come home with me, tonight. I’ll bring you back in the morning, they’ll never know you were gone.”

“Oliver.”

“It’s either that or I’m sneaking in your window tonight.” He says smiling.

She laughs and kisses him.

“I’m in.”

“Yea?”

“Yea.  But I’ll come over. I’ll sneak away after everyone goes off to bed.”

Oliver smiles and kisses her as he leans her against the archway wall, his hands pulling her waist to him, and her hands-one cupping his face the other wrapped around his neck. As mistletoe hangs above. The kiss escalates as Oliver’s hands begin to dance along Melanie’s lower body.

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“I want you.” Oliver whispers kissing her swiftly as she bites her lower lip in agreeance. “You don’t know how much I’ve missed you, this, us being together. It’s all I’ve been fantasizing about all these years,” he says staring into her eyes.

Melanie smiles as her hands fall to his chest, her eyes looking into his.

He kisses her passionately.

Cassie peers over and her eyes widen as she rushes to step in.

“Hey! Hey! Hey! Are you two crazy!”

Oliver and Melanie freeze and the bubble they have been in fades.

“There are kids here. I am really thrilled for you too. That you’re still so hot for each other. Tickled. Really. But if you’re trying to be stealth I gotta say you’re failing. You may wanna cool it, your family is literally right around the corner.”

Melanie and Oliver separate and look at her.

“You’re right. Thank you,” Melanie says her face heating up with embarrassment.

“It’s just ya know….mistletoe,” Oliver says pointing up.

“Yea I bet,” Cassie’s says smiling as they start to go their separate ways.

Melanie pulls Oliver back to her as he smirks, she glances around and opens the downstairs bathroom door, pulling him in after her.

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“Hey sexy, you on your way,” Oliver says answering his cell.

“I can’t come, Ollie.”

“What-why not? Is something wrong?”

“It’s been so amazing getting to be with you like we used to, it’s felt like no time has passed. But time has passed and so much has changed. We’ve been living in this bubble and when the holidays are over it’s all going to come crashing down. I just don’t think it’s best that we continue messing around.”

“Messing around… that’s what you think we’re doing?  I love you and I’m pretty sure you love me. Or were you just in the moment and said it just to say it?”

“Of course not. I do love you.”

“I just don’t understand it. I have understood everything, but this is bigger, Melanie. God I knew this was going to happen, I shouldn’t have let us get that far. I should have stopped it. But silly me, I actually thought you wanted to be with me as much as I wanted to be with you.”

“Don’t say that, Oliver. I did want to be with you, it was wonderful, I just-“

“No. You weren’t ready and I should have known that.”

“Oliver stop. This isn’t you. It’s me, it’s my problem.”

“I get that it’s been confusing being back here and reliving our past in some way. But that doesn’t mean that what’s been happening with us, between us isn’t real. Because I felt it. When I had you in my arms, I knew I never wanted to let you go. And now you’re back to running. I knew it. I knew you would do this. But you know I’m sure you are loving this. Now that I’m finally reacting the way that you want- the way you expected. It’ll be easier to leave now that we’re fighting, right?”

“Nothing about this is easy, nothing about this is what I want. I hate this. I hate that I feel like I can’t trust what I’m feeling.”

“Can you trust what I’m feeling? Can you listen to me when I say I want you, with me, forever? I love you, I’m in love with you, come over. Please. We don’t have to do anything, we can just talk. We need to talk. We need to figure this out, once and for all.”

“Ollie I-can’t.”

“You know, I have always been here, even when you didn’t know it, or want it, I have always been here hoping to get you back at some point. Hoping that you would come home to me and let me be the one you lean on. But you know what as much as I wish that I can be that guy for you, forever, I can’t. I can’t do it anymore. It is mentally and emotionally exhausting. And part of me just feels like maybe I’m just the one pushing this. Maybe it’s not what you really want. So you know what Melanie if being apart is what you want. Then I guess this is goodbye. I hope that you find what you’re looking for and I hope that it makes you happy,” he says through his tears, choking up.

He hangs up.

“Ollie, Oliver? Oliver wait.” Melanie sits crying as she sinks to the floor in her childhood bedroom.

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To be continued…

*I do not take credit for any images or gifs used in my edits or otherwise.*

-<3-

 

Welcome Home. -Chapter 4

Read Chapter 3 HERE

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Melanie sits in the gazebo, alone, watching the Christmas lights twinkle. Small town stands surrounding her, selling the sweetest of homemade treats. Her cup of cinnamon, gingerbread hot chocolate-the only thing warming her hands. Once again she left her gloves home- up the road-a mile away.

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She looks around and her breath catches at the mere sight of the winter wonderland beauty that lies before her. Its times like this when she’s conflicted in the worst possible way.

Because she remembers. She remembers him. She remembers the moments. The good. She remembers her heart’s home. She’s transported into a memory.

On that same bench. Side by side. Crisp, freshly fallen white all around them.

“I love it like this. This is my favorite time of year,” she says looking around in awe.

“Yup there’s not much that can top this,” he says smiling and looking around.

“I wish I could bottle this feeling, ya know. Like put it in a little box and lock it up, and when I feel sad or like life is just too much, I can take it out and it’ll be like a really well needed hug, a reaffirmation that it’ll be ok, it’ll get better.”

Oliver looks at her and smiles lovingly.

“Come here,” he says as they scoot closer to each other, he puts his arm around her and hugs her close, kissing her forehead.

“You know I can be that for you. I have a lot of hugs to give. I can do that for you whenever you need it.”

Melanie smiles up at him and leaning in, she places a kiss on his lips.

His eyes close as he cups her face with his free hand.

They part and look into each other’s eyes.

Melanie smiles up at him.

“Mel?”

“Yea?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” she smiles cupping his face.

“I don’t ever want to lose you.”

“Babe. We’ve been through this. I’m not going anywhere.”

Oliver looks at her and fidgets.

“What?” she says her eyes looking him over.

“I want to be with you forever, I mean, I’m not just saying words, here. You know that right?”

“I know that. Ollie? Is everything ok? Because I gotta say, I’ve never seen you this nervous.” She says laughing.

Oliver looks at her and laughs as he pulls out a small red leather box.

Melanie looks at him, she’s frozen.

Oliver shifts, kneeling in front of her.

“There aren’t really enough words for me to describe just how much I love you. All I can do is try. You mean everything to me. Hearing your voice after a long day is a lifesaver. Your laugh is like music. Your eyes and smile are my favorite things in the entire world, they’re like magic. I fell in love with them the minute I saw you. And that’s when I knew you were gonna be the one. You are the love of my life. And I treasure you and will treasure you for the rest of my life, if you’ll let me. Will you be my wife, will you marry me?” he says opening the box.

Melanie sits unable to speak.

“Hey?” he says willing her to look at him. “I know that it’s freezing out, but I’m sweating here babe,” he says with a small laugh.

Melanie snaps out of it.

“Yes.” she says barely a whisper.

“What?” he says confused if he actually heard right.

“Yes!” she screams, smiling as her tears spill over her frost bitten cheeks, she hugs him tightly.

“Oh, good.” He says laughing as he hugs her back.

She pulls away and grabs his face, kissing him.

Oliver smiles against her lips, as he takes the ring outside of the box, he parts from her-

“I’m thinking maybe we should make it a bit more official,” he says as he slides the ring on her finger.

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“Oh my god! It’s beautiful!” she says her hands shaking, she covers her face.

“What?” he says laughing as he pulls her hands away from her face, cupping it in his palms her lifts her chin to will her to look at him.

“I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel real, ya know. To be this in love.” She says smiling brightly up at him through watery eyes.

“Yea I know the feeling. I guess we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that we’re stuck with each other, forever. It’s all a part of my evil plan.”

“Ah, I see. Operation forever.”

“Something like that. But I’m sure we could think of a better name than that.”

“What- why I like it.”

“Well if you like it, then I like it.”

Melanie smiles, reaching her lips up to meet his again, her hands laying softly on his forearms.

“I love you so much.” He says brushing her hair from her face.

“I love you, and now I get to be your wife.” She says making her eyes go wide to match her a shocked expression.

Oliver smiles and places a few kisses on her lips in a row, the last one lingering a beat.

Oliver hops up and shouts loudly into town.

“SHE SAID YES!” he says holding up Melanie’s hand.

Neighbors walking around town turn and cheer loudly.

Melanie laughs happier than she’s ever been as Oliver takes out his camera and takes a few pictures of he and his future bride, as Melanie holds her hand up.

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Melanie sits there, lost.

She looks around. The memory fading.

Her eyes begin to water.

She takes a sip of her hot chocolate.

She feels eyes. Familiar eyes staring at her from a far.

Melanie looks up and sees Oliver’s eyes watching her.

He smiles and walks up the stairs to the gazebo.

“Mrs. Bean’s famous cinnamon-gingerbread hot chocolate, huh?”

“Hey. Haven’t seen you around much.” She says smiling weakly.

“I figured maybe you needed a little break from me, you know since our last unplanned run-in.”

“Oh, Oliver I’m so sorry. I-”

“Mel, stop it. Don’t worry about it ok. You don’t have to apologize. Besides, Mrs. Krinston has been keeping me pretty busy, so even if I wanted to stalk you I couldn’t,” he says laughing.

Melanie laughs.

“So she has you on photographer duty, does she?”

“But of course, and we all know you don’t say no to Mrs. Krinston.”

“Oh no,” Melanie says knowingly with a smile.

“You’ll never hear the end of it.” They both say in unison, as they smile at each other.

“God I’ve missed this town.” Oliver says smiling looking around.

“Missed it? I thought that you were living here?”

“I was. For a long time. I still have a place here. But work kinda takes me all around nowadays. I’m kind of a nomad.”

“I see. Traveling must be nice though.”

“It is. It’s really amazing Mel. I’ve been to Ireland, Italy, and France, I stayed at this little bed and breakfast in Paris, the couple that ran it were two of the sweetest people, and every morning they would make me blueberry waffles, sausage and bacon. And my room, it overlooked this little lake, it was breathtaking. You would have loved it.”

“I’m sure I would have,” she says smiling up at him.

“Maybe one of these days, you’ll let me take you there.”

“Maybe.” She says looking away, fidgeting with the cup in her hands.

“Always forgetting your gloves.” He says noticing and smirking at her.

She looks up at him, and smiles.

“So…what’s on your mind?” he asks standing before her.

“What makes you think that I’ve got something on my mind?”

“Because I know you and because you always do.”

Melanie sighs, exhaling heavily.

“That bad huh?” Oliver says looking on, with ease.

“No, not bad. Just difficult,” she says shrugging.

“Hmmm, you wanna talk about it?” he says sitting beside her.

Melanie stiffens, the similarities too much for her to handle.

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breathe.

Oliver looks at her and waits.

“I was just thinking about what this place represented for us.”

Oliver nods looking around.

“Not too long ago, we sat here in this very spot and you asked me to marry you.”

“Yea I remember.” He nods.

“And that was the happiest moment of my life. You know that right? Or have I just completely tarnished that memory for you?”

Oliver looks at her and smiles.

“Are you kidding me? The way your eyes lit up and the smile you gave me. I knew you meant it, when you said yes. You couldn’t tarnish that if you tried.”

“Well I’m glad. (She smiles simply) It was a beautiful moment. And now sitting here it’s just a memory, a beautiful one, but it hurts to think about. Because we’re completely different people now. And we’re in completely different places. And we’re not together. If you would have asked me after that moment where we’d be in the next 5 or 6 years, I can promise you this reality would not have been my answer. Not being with you, wouldn’t have been even a possibility.”

Oliver looks on, his calm and collected will threatening to fade.

“Life kicks you down sometimes, that’s just how it goes. Sometimes there’s no real reason, or rationale. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find that kind of happiness again. I mean I happen to think we’re still the same people. You’re still smart, and kind, and talented. You’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life. As far as I’m concerned that’s never going to change. And I am well still, my very handsome, self-made, rugged self.”

He laughs, smiling at her as she smiles back at him.

 “It’s been 5 years and we’re both here, in the same place, at the same time. Long enough to have an actual conversation. Finally. (He says looking over at her with a smirk) So what do you wanna do about it?”  He laughs, bumping his shoulder into hers, looking at her, his eyes questioning.

Melanie stiffens once again.

“Oliver, I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” She says rushing off.

Oliver stands up and stops himself. He paces for a bit.

But then he rushes off after her.

“Melanie! Mel!” he says running. “Melanie. Stop it.”

Melanie runs into the woods, blanketed. Perfect. Untouched.

She keeps running.

Oliver finally catches up and grabs her arm.

“Will you just stop running for once!” he says.

“I can’t. And trust me I know it’s screwed up. I know I’m horrible. I know I’m hurting you all over again. And I am sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Just talk to me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted was for you to talk to me about this. Talk. to me.”

“I can’t.”

“Can’t. Or won’t?”

“It hurts. Seeing you and being near you- hurts. I love you. I have always loved you. I loved you then, I loved you through these 5 years and I still love you. We have so many amazing memories that I will never forget. But you were also part of the most difficult, most traumatizing experience of my life. And when I’m with you, all that pain comes rushing back. And I remember how crippling it was. It still is, even today. I can’t go through it again.”

“You don’t think I feel that too? You don’t think I think about how we would have a 4 year old running around, how we’d be husband and wife right now, in our own home, one big happy family, had it gone the way we hoped. I think about it every day. My heart’s not the same. And it won’t be ever again. But running away from the fact that I am still crazy in love with you, isn’t going to help me heal. It’s just going to make it harder.”

Melanie looks at him and starts to cry.

“I just I need a reason. I need to know why?”

“Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for us and god knew that… Come here,” he says reaching for her.

Melanie moves away.

Oliver reaches for her anyway and grabs her into a hug.

“I will always be here for you, whether you like it or not, no matter how much you avoid me, or push me away. Because guess what- I am the only person in this world who actually can say that I understand what you’re feeling. Because Melanie it was my baby too. And I miss him, every day. As much as I miss you. But somehow when I’m with you that pain hurts just a little less, because I know he’s with us, in my heart and in yours.”

Melanie looks at him

“I know that, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, I miss you too,” she says wrapping her arms around his neck and he hugs her close.

Oliver and Melanie continue to walk through town.

Melanie takes his hand.

He looks over at her surprised.

“Thank you.” She says tears still in her eyes.

Oliver stops and turns to her, he brushes his thumb across her cheek wiping her tear away.

“Don’t mention it.” He says smiling.

Melanie looks up at him and before she can talk herself out of it she leans up and places a kiss on his lips.

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Oliver reacts quickly as his hands wrap around her waist pulling her into him.

The kiss lasts longer than either of them expected.

Melanie pulls away.

“Wow. So that still works,” Oliver says his smile inevitable.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” She says covering her lips and turning away. The spark undeniable.

“What? Why? You have nothing to be sorry for,” he says walking after her.

“Yes. I do. I have a lot to be sorry for. I waltz back into your life and just kiss you out nowhere, after driving you crazy and avoiding you and running from you. It’s just so misleading and I’m such a mess, I shouldn’t be dragging you into all this.”

 “Do I look upset?” he says with a smirk.

She looks at him with a glare, shaking her head, she lets out a small laugh.

“Wow. She laughs.” He says. “It was always my favorite sound.”

“Ugh, Why are you so perfect?” she says covering her face with her hands.

“Ah, I was just born that way.” He smiles, winking at her.

Melanie looks at him, her nerves evident.

“Go ahead. Get out of here.”

“What?”

“I will resist my gentlemanly urge to request to walk you home, you seem like you’re ready to take flight. So go.”

“Oliver-“

“It’s ok. I get it. Don’t worry. Go.”

Melanie looks up at him, wanting to say something, but unsure of what.

“Ok, I guess I’ll see you around,” she says starting to walk away.

Turning back, she pauses looking at him.

“Something you wanna say, Mel?” he says smiling.

“Do you have plans for Christmas?” she asks.

“No not at the moment.” He says smiling.

“Would you like to come have dinner with us? I know it’s been a while so I understand if it’s weird for you-”

“If you honestly think I’m going to pass up an Evans Family Christmas dinner, you don’t know me as well as you think you do.” He says his eyes flirting, as he smirks.

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Melanie smiles.

“Ok, good, I’ll see you then,” she smiles.

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“And this time it’ll be on purpose.” He says smiling back.

“I think we’re  long overdue.” She says her sassy side showing through.

“I agree, I’ll see you this weekend.”

“Ok.” She smiles as she waves and walks off, Oliver’s eyes following as usual.

 

To be continued…

 

* I do not take credit for any images, or gifs used in my edits or otherwise.*

-<3-

Welcome Home. – Chapter 3

Read Chapter 2 HERE

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The next morning Melanie wakes up to the sound of many voices in the house, and kitchen clanking.

She looks at her clock on her end table. 12:30 PM.

Wow, I seriously over slept, she thinks.

She grabs a towel and heads into her bathroom.

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Melanie walks downstairs to see a packed kitchen. Generations of women prepping for Thanksgiving dinner.

The rumble of the lawn mower outside, as her Dad landscapes.

“Hi Hunny, you’re finally up!” Grace, Melanie’s mother says her voice cheerful.

“Hi, Hi Aunt Rita, Aunt May,” she says coming over and kissing them each on the cheek.

“So good to see you sweetheart,” her aunt Rita says hugging her tightly.

Melanie’s eyes start to well up. Something about the hugs she receives from the people she knows love her have such an impact on her. The reverse effect of what she knows they actually intended- hugs are meant to be a comfort. For Melanie they feel like the passage of time, years she’ll never get back.

“Oh sweetie, is everything ok?” her mother asks, noticing her puffy eyes.

“I’m fine. I just- I really didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t down earlier to help you all.”

“Don’t apologize there’s plenty left to do,” she says smiling and passing her an apron.

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Melanie stands in the kitchen and grabs a bottle of wine and a glass.

Noticing her dad Charlie smiles, “need a hand there hun?”

“Oh no, I’m good. These days, I’ve perfected how to pop a wine cork in 3 seconds flat.”

“Tough day?”

“Tough 5 years.” She says, raising a glass to her dad before taking a sip.

He looks on with a faint smile.

“Talk to me Mel Belle. Because kid, you gotta get it out at some point.”

“I just. I can’t shake this one dad. Skinning a knee, failing a test, struggling to find a steady job right out of college, all of that is a piece of cake. Because they had the rhyme of reason. But this, how do you explain this?”

“You can’t.”

“I’m getting really tired of people telling me that. You, mom, Oliver, my therapist.”

“So you are seeing a therapist?”

“I am. And she’s great, but every time I get some distance, some perspective, I come back here and I am just right back there.”

“So what’s the answer, you never wanna come home again? Is that the alternative?”

“Of course not. This is home, I love this town. Philly is all I’ve ever really truly known. But it’s been tainted.”

“Don’t let it be. You’ve grown up here your whole life. This rough patch your going through is no competition for the memories you hold in your heart. The good that you had here, let that outweigh the bad.”

Melanie smiles. Taking down another glass she pours some wine and hands her dad the glass.

“Cheers.”

She clinks her glass into his.

“Hey at least you’re sharing?”

“Small steps.”

Her dad smiles at her and pulls her into a side hug, kissing the top of her head.

“Oh kid, you’re gonna be ok. I’m sure of it.”

Melanie smiles smelling the warmth of her father’s known scent of cider wood and engine fuel.

“Let’s go eat, shall we?” Charlie says smiling down at her.

“Yes please!” Melanie says excitedly, as they walk off toward the dining room.

*********************************************************************************

“Mom that was the best Thanksgiving meal. Honestly I think it’s one for the books.”

“Well my daughter is home, I was motivated.” She says smiling as she and Melanie begin to clear the table off.

Melanie smiles brightly.

“Well I am stuffed…when’s dessert?” she says with a small laugh.

“Whenever you’re ready hunny, we’ve got all your favorites…Oh shoot but I did forget to pick up the extra honey maple syrup.”

“I can get it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yea no problem. I’ll be back,” she says kissing her mom’s cheek and walking off to grab her coat.

*******************************************************************************

Melanie walks into the neighborhood grocery store and makes  a beeline for the dessert aisle. She turns a corner and bumps into someone.

“Oh excuse me, I’m so sorry,” she says looking up, she sees Oliver peering down at her.

“Hey, Mel.”

“Oh. Hi. Um. I’m just here for honey maple syrup.”

“Grace’s sweet potato pie?”

Melanie nods, with a smile.

“Right. Well enjoy,” he says smiling and walking past her.

Melanie’s mind and heart screaming at her to call after him.

“Oliver?”

He stops, surprised and turns.

“Do you have a minute?”

“Sure.” He says nodding and putting his hands in his pockets, slightly nervous.

“Would you like to take a walk with me?”

“Of course,” he says with a hopeful smile.

“We should probably pay for these things though,” Melanie says with a small laugh.

“Right,” he says following her to the register.

**********************************************************************************

The night is lit up in twinkling lights as a peek of orange dresses every corner, Melanie and Oliver walk side by side. The silence building into an anxious cloud around them.

“Oliver.” “Melanie.” They both say in unison turning to each other. 

“You first.” Oliver says smiling.

“I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted the other night. I was so rude to you. That’s not how I wanted that to go, especially since it’s been so long. I guess I just wasn’t really quite ready to see you that soon after getting home.”

“I get it, Mel, really I do. Seeing you was kind of like getting hit by a ton of bricks for me too.”

“Really? Well I gotta say you hid it really well.”

“I try,” he says smiling.

“I know that you must have things you want to say to me. And I deserve them all. The way I left, the way I handled things. It was terrible. And I truly am sorry.”

“You broke my heart when you left. After everything we went through, all that pain, I didn’t think that I could ever hurt more, and then you were gone. I was a wreck, part of me still is. But I want you to know something I never blamed you. I understood you did the only thing you could. The only thing that felt right for you.”

“Regardless, I could have went about it differently.”

“I don’t think that you ever really had a plan. I don’t think you knew what you wanted or how to feel. You weren’t thinking at all, you were feeling and when the feelings got to be too overbearing you ran. I get it.”

“I just didn’t feel like me anymore. I was broken and I needed a change. It wasn’t you.”

“I did think you would always come back.”

“There were so many times when I wanted to pick up the phone to call you, or drive to see you. I would get as far as getting into my car and turning it on and backing out of my driveway.”

“So what stopped you?”

“It wasn’t fair to you. For me to jump back into your life. You seem like you’ve moved on. And Nancy seems wonderful. You look good together.”

“So you’ve been checking up on me, I see?” he says smirking, his eyes sparkling.

“Of course I have.” She smiles.

“It’s ok, I’ve been checking up on you too, more than I care to admit.”

Melanie smiles and looks away.

“As long as you’re happy, I’m happy for you.” Melanie says looking into the eyes of the boy she’s loved forever.

“It’s over with me and Nancy.”

“What? When…Wait why?”

“Why do you think?”

They exchange glances filled with a heavy history.

“The minute you walked back into town, it was over. She knows it. She knows that I’ve never gotten over you.”

Melanie looks up at him, her eyes welling up.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I just thought you should know.”

“Why are you being so nice to me? You should hate me, after everything I put you through. I mean I can’t imagine what you’ve been feeling all these years.”

“I don’t hate you. I could never hate you Mel.”

“A part of you must hate me, right?”

“Of course not.”

Melanie stares at the love of her past, in disbelief.

“Look, I’m not going to lie and say that it hasn’t been difficult. Losing you was always my worst fear and it finally came true. We both went through a really traumatizing time, and I needed you more than anything, but you needed to run…and that’s ok. I get that the weight of it all was harder on you, physically, mentally and emotionally. I felt like my heart was ripped out, but I wasn’t the one who had to physically deal with it. So once that was in perspective, it was pretty easy to understand why you ran. I forgave you a long time ago.”

“How…why? I was so selfish.”

“We lost our baby Melanie. That’s not something that you just get over, and how people deal with it…there’s no rule book.”

“But I know that I hurt you. I want you to know that I don’t…I don’t take that lightly. I didn’t intend to run. And even when I did leave, I didn’t expect it to be permanent. You have to know I never meant to hurt you.”

“I know that.”

Melanie sighs and looks away still unable to fathom his understanding. But then again, Oliver was always level headed and kind. He always looked for the good in people, even when they let him down.

Oliver looks at her and smiles simply.

“Mel. Hey, look at me. It’s all ok. We’re ok. I just, I’ve learned that you and I-we just love differently.”

“What…how so?”

“You don’t know what it means to love someone so completely, so unconditionally that no matter what they do, you’ll always love them and want them in your life. But it’s ok. You will. One day. “

Even though Melanie knew Oliver’s intentions were meant to be kind, hearing him say those words were kind of a blow to her heart.

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“I know that what we had was a long time ago….but I have never forgotten. I’ve never stopped loving you.”

Oliver’s eyes lock on hers, the stillness of the moment begins to threaten Melanie’s will to handle the intimacy.

He begins to lean in and Melanie takes a step back, putting her hand on his chest, to stop him from getting any closer.

“I should probably go. My family is expecting… their syrup.”

Oliver pulls back with a small understanding smile.

He gestures with his hands, a clear path for Melanie to walk.

Melanie smiles faintly and walks swiftly past him.

Oliver stares after her longingly, but shaking his head he lets out a laugh.

“One day,” he whispers to himself as he walks off.

 

To be continued…

 

* I do not take credit for any images used.*

-<3-

 

Welcome Home. – Chapter 2

 

Read Chapter 1 HERE

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oliver-and-mel

Melanie steps out on her front porch, wrapping her long knit sweater tighter around her, as she folds her arms over her chest. She looks out into the town she’s always known.

Kids running around playing tag, couples riding bikes, a family throwing around a football. The freshly fallen leaves kicking up in the commotion and the wind.

Smiling to herself, Melanie walks over to her porch swing. She sits and begins to rock gently.

Stopping after a short time her eye catches something, she stands and walks to the end of the porch, placing her hand on the railing. Her fingers run over an imprint-Oliver and Melanie 4 Ever.

She smiles as she sees his face flash in her mind.

 “What are you doing?” he asks as she carves the first few words.

“Nothing,” she says with a sly smirk and glances over at him before resuming the task at hand.

“You’re parents are going to kill you.”

“It’ll be for a good cause.”

Oliver peers over her shoulder and wraps his arms around her.

“Forever huh?”

Turning in his arms, she faces him, smiling.

“What, you have a problem with that?” Melanie says is her sassy tone.

“Not one.” He says smiling as he inches his lips toward her before planting a kiss on hers.

“I love you,” he says whispering, his eyes staring into hers.

“I love you too,” she says leaning up to kiss him.

They part ways and share a small nervous laugh.

“I was really nervous to say that.” He says looking down.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I mean don’t get me wrong I wanted to say it, I’ve been dying to say it. It just never felt like the right time. I wanted it to be perfect. I know I’m such a dork.” He says laughing at himself.

“You’re not a dork. You’re perfect,” she kisses him with a sweet peck.

“I just -sometimes I worry I’m too much for you.”

“What? Ollie?” she says cupping his face in her hands. “That’s crazy!”

“No. I just mean that like- I know I can come on kinda strong. (he pauses trying to search for the words to explain) You mean a lot to me. I’ve never felt like this before, I don’t always know what I’m doing.”

“Everything you’re saying I’m feeling that too.”

“Really?”

“Yea, this is all new to me too. But I love you and I want to see where that takes us.”

He smiles at her brightly as he pulls her into a kiss.

“I am so happy to hear you say that. I love you,” he kisses her.

Melanie smiles up at him, her eyes beaming with love and hope.

 Melanie is brought back to reality as she hears a scuffle of feet.

“Knock, knock.”

Melanie looks up hearing the familiar voice.

Her childhood friend stands at the top of the porch steps, knocking on the wooden panel.

cassie

“Cassie!” Melanie says smiling brightly as she rushes to her, embracing her in a hug.

Melanie’s tears cannot be held in anymore, as they spill from her eyes.

“Hey, hey what’s wrong?” Cassie says concerned for her friend.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been trying to keep it together, but I guess all of the nostalgia, it’s just…” She says wiping her eyes.

“Too much?”

“Yea. I mean sometimes I am so happy to be home to see you and my family. But then I get this anxiety. I feel like I’m drowning in everything that happened and in my regrets of how I handled it all.”

“Mm, that’s understandable. What you went through was traumatic.”

“I know but it’s been years, I feel like I should be rounding some corner.”

“You can’t be mad at what you feel. Or how long you feel it. There is no set way in how to deal with this situation. And there isn’t any right or wrong way either.”

“Really because I think if you asked anyone if my leaving was the right or wrong choice, they’d say wrong.”

“You know I love you, and I will forever be here to support you, but even I will admit, I couldn’t believe it. But at the same time, you did what was right for you. And god help Oliver, he understands.”

“Present tense?”

“Yea it is. He still understands why you did what you did.”

“So you’ve spoken to him, recently?”

“Come on Mel, that’s no secret. You know I’m with Dave, and Oliver is Dave’s best friend,” she says shrugging awkwardly. “I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m not picking sides, I don’t think there are sides.”

“I know. You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m being such a child.”

“Let’s talk a walk, yea?” Cassie says talking her by the hand and pulling her toward the steps.

“Yea, I think I could use some fresh air, to clear my head.”

“Yea it’ll do you some good.”

Cassie and Melanie set off to walk through town.

As they pass house after house, the cool breeze chilling the air, Melanie looks around taking it in.

Memories floating throughout the air.

Silence setting in. Deafening.

“Hey? If you wanna talk, I’m here.”

Melanie looks over at Cassie with a simple smile.

“I know, you always are, 5 years couldn’t shake it, thank you.”

“Coffee? for old times’ sake,” Cassie says smiling, and pointing to their favorite coffee shop- Mrs. Bean.

“Duh?” she smiles as they walk into the shop.

“I’ve got it…hazelnut latte right? (Melanie nods with a smile), why don’t you grab a table?”

“Ok I’m on it.” She says turning and walking toward a table.

She sits and takes her coat off, settling in.

Melanie looks around and smiles feeling the warmth of the heat and the smell of coffee beans and baked treats.

The bell above the store door chimes and in walks Dave, Melanie looks up and smiles faintly as the lines of their vision meet. Immediately, Melanie’s stomach drops when Oliver soon follows behind him.

dave

Dave stops short and Oliver looks at him questioningly, until he sees Melanie sitting there before him, he too stops dead in his tracks.

Cassie turns around with the coffees in her hands to find a sight to behold. Her jaw drops and instinctively she wants to jump in, but gives it a beat.

Oliver’s eyes lock on Melanie, unsure of what to do, he stands there, hands in his pockets. Wanting to say so much. Melanie bites her lower lip and looks down, her hands clasping at each other- trying to feel grounded, to be present, to feel some sense of control. Anxiety creeping in, taking over.

Cassie comes over.

“Hey guys, babe.” She says kissing Dave on the cheek. “Why don’t you and I take a walk, give these two some time to catch up?”

Dave looks between the two star crossed lovers, a glimmer of intensity in Oliver’s eyes and a fear like no other in Melanie’s.

Cassie exchanges a look with Melanie as she hands her the latte, a look of reassurance.

Melanie takes a sharp breath in.

“I guess we’ll see you guys later. Good to see you Mel. We’ll have to catch up.”

Melanie nods, “You too, and absolutely- I’d like that,” she says smiling faintly.

Oliver stares on. Unable to take his eyes off her.

“See ya bro,” Dave says patting Oliver on the shoulder as he takes Cassie’s hand and walks them out of the coffee shop, the bell chiming startles Melanie.

“May I?” Oliver says gesturing to the chair across from her.

Melanie nods yes.

“So…what’s it been Mel…5 years since we’ve actually had a full conversation?” he says his voice holding a light joking tone, his smile sweet, his eyes flickering with a familiar spark.

“Sounds about right, give or take a few.” Melanie says looking down at her coffee, avoiding his eyes.

“It’s good to see you Mel, You look amazing.”

“Thank you. You too. I like the beard.” She says trying to smile.

“Thanks, I figured winter’s coming. Why not, right? So how are things, how’s New York?”

“It’s good. Busy. Very fast paced. I’m grateful for the distraction.”

“I hear that,” he says knowingly. “So Cassie mentioned you’re working with a new publishing company?”

“Yea.”

“How’s that going? You write that book of yours yet?” he says smiling.

“Not quite. I’m more in charge of seeking out new writers these days and getting their work published.”

“What? Why? You’ve always wanted to get your own book published, what happened?”

“What do you think happened?” she says looking up at him.

Melanie looks away, her eyes welling up.

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“Melanie…hey, I’m sorry- I…I was just trying to…”

“I can’t do this. I’m sorry,” she says getting up grabbing her coat, she rushes out.

Oliver starts to get up to follow, and then stops himself. Sitting back down, he runs a hand through his hair in frustration with the distance that has wedged itself between the two of them. He stares looking after her.

*********************************************************************************

Melanie splashes cold water on her face and looks at her reflection in the mirror.

“Who are you?”

She says looking at herself.

Sinking to the floor, her tears fall freely.

To be continued…

-<3-

2016 Memory Jar Review

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!!!!!!

I cannot believe it is already 2017.

 

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My camera year is wrong…should say 2016, ignore that mishap. :/

 

As I sat down on New Year’s Eve to sift through my memory jar- a bandwagon that I finally hopped on two years ago- I was amazed at how little I felt like I did, because of how quickly I felt the year had flown by. It was a blur for me. But as I dove into these colored pieces of paper, the many memories came flooding back….and a lot actually happened. It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in the holiday bit at the end of the year, that we forget all the memories we made throughout the year.

So here are some of my most favorite memories- (in no particular order!)

 

*My 2016 Highlights*

 

Took my god daughter to see Trolls- “Sophie’s big girl movie date”- Trolls, went to a diner, and saw the Christmas Lights with my family.

 

Had a little Walking Dead Season 7 Premiere Party but… RIP Glenn still heartbroken: / haven’t watched an episode since then, but my party looked awesome. Read my post HERE!

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Celebrated my grandmother’s 83rd birthday with a whole bunch of family.

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I made a few job changes and had to bounce around a bit, which was a bit difficult but finally found a place where I am happy for now, it was for the better- I’m building a work family and have made some great friends. Read my post on “adulting” HERE!

Finished two short story series-On The Run & Love Conflicted (-premiered in 2015 but carried over into 2016)

Official full cast photo movie poster

Started a brand new series- Welcome Home (-first chapter premiered in 2016, rest will be continued in 2017)

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My best friend Roe got engaged!!!!

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Went on a massive family trip to Great Wolf Lodge and had a blast! (vlog will eventually get edited!)-Read my post HERE!

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Why does my camera have the wrong year? How do I fix that?

Sophia Bush retweeted my tweet and my phone blew up….

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My brother got married and he and his wife bought a house.

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I entered one of my scripts into a writing contest! (although nothing came of it, it was a huge leap that I took, and I was really proud of myself for facing that fear.)

I got free movie passes for covering a story in my local theater, my best friend Jenny and I saw Finding Dory in 3D…because why not?

I’ve realized that I can overcome my anxiety on my own, but the help that I have received has been a gift I will continue to utilize.

My best friend and I finally saw Bethany Joy Lenz in concert and WE MET HER! #LifeGoal –Read my post HERE!

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Fuller House seasons 1& 2 are killin’ the game #NetflixIsDangerous

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I went for bridesmaid’s dresses for my friend Jenny’s wedding-I was asked to be her maid of honor last year.

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I went on The Polar Express with my god daughter and other family members. (vlog will eventually get edited!)

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I worked for a summer camp, and my kids made some really great story books for my creative writing class.

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I hosted a Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life- Netflix revival….viewing party- Read my post HERE!

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I got a vlog up on my YouTube channel, and have been vlogging more, but editing has been a slow process. I WILL GET THERE!

I finally got to pretend to be a YouTube vlogger and did a Mini “Vlogmas” from Dec. 23-Dec. 31 into 2017 (Stay Tuned!)

My brother and I started to shoot the first installment of our zombie short, but it got halted because…. #WeddingCraziness #BridalShowerCraziness

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michelleleighwrites turned 3!!!!!!! Read my post HERE! (It’s turning 4 in a WEEK!!!!!!)

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 Justin Timberlake released new music & a video – Can’t Stop The Feeling! (he also produced the soundtrack to Trolls (What a beautiful, fun loving film, highly recommend seeing it!). Read my fangirl report HERE!

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Valentine’s Day Girls Nite In with my girls.

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Celebrated my Aunt Mary’s birthday  with some dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant and had some Pepsi- her favorite drink. Love you Aunt Mary, Miss you!

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Bruno Mars new album, listening to it as I write. So obsessed! #24KMagic #Chunky #ThatsWhatILike #VersaceOnTheFloor #Finesse LISTEN

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Rocked some obnoxious Christmas Lights for the holidays. #BestDecisionOfMyLife #5BucksWellSpent #ShoutOutToStrangerThings

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Received some handmade Christmas cards from my students.

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30th Birthdays Celebrations- We hosted a big family dinner for my sister in law and went on an AC family trip for my brother.

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Family BBQ’s!!! #Cousins

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Best Friend Weekend. – Even at 25, my best friend and I still keep our sleepover tradition going. It started off going to the Zumba class that my best friend teaches, then we had some dinner at her house (BBQ chicken my fav at their house hold-like old times), next we watched our favorite tv show One Tree Hill until 4 AM, Went for breakfast the next morning, got manicures, and shopped a bit. It was so nostalgic and it was just what we needed. #BestFriendMiniWeekend #RoshellWeekend

That Zumba class tho-I had been trying to get to one, forever!

Britney’s back bitches! #GLORY album is just….EPIC! Read my post HERE!

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Rainbows.

Pineapple float- #SOTRENDY

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Took my mom to see the Radio City Spring Spectacular- it was her mother’s day gift and it felt really great to be able to do that for her. What a brilliant show. Visually stunning!

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Got hooked on Murder Mystery 13 Part Series American Gothic- so damn good! #SHOUTOUTTOBETHANYJOYLENZ

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Started Stranger Things #NetflixIsDangerous

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Attended my best friend’s engagement party.

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Continued with the annual chop.

 

Dressed up in Hawaiian theme attire for my cousin’s birthday party.- Read my post HERE!

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Finally got to rock the yellow, red, blue look I’ve wanted to try for forever! Read my post HERE!

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After the chop, had to try out some new hair do’s – Reverse Space buns.

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Marina Squerciati answered my tweet, (cuz we’re besties) ;). #thathashtagtho

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My parents treated me to a massive birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant. Got my big gold number balloons too! #BlackAndGold #Family #Friends Read my post HERE!

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That TWD finale tho. #WHOISIT? Read my feels HERE!

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Started an unintentional tradition of taking massive group family photos/selfies.

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Bridal expos with my bestie. #MaidofHonor #OnCall

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My cousins from Florida surprised us with a quick visit!

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Curvy Barbies (and other body shapes and sizes) are a thing! #FINALLY #Variety

Read my post HERE!

curvy-barbies

 

That *NSYNC picture. #reunion #myheart

 

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Met our newest family member! My god daughter is a big sister!

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Started watching a few new tv series- This Is Us (I have to catch up, I’m so behind) and Shades of Blue.

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*****

Damn a lot can happen in a year. I am grateful for the blessings 2016 has given me. Of course it wasn’t all marshmallows and honey all the time, but I still fought through obstacles and made beautiful memories. Cheers to 2017, may it be beautiful and happy and healthy for all of you, filled with love and inspiration and success. See you soon friends!

*Most images are my own.*

-<3-