"Now let's get everything ready," Bitsy said, corralling the children into the family room. "Sam, you have the painting?"
"Yep, right here, Grandma Bitsy."
"Good. Ray, did you pick up all your toys?"
"Yes. All picked up!"
"Jewel, looking pretty as ever?" she said to the little girl in Sister Rebecca Katherine's arms.
Jewel just nodded.
"Perfect. Then where's Jack?"
"On the phone, again," Sam said, disgusted.
"Well, Jack is very close to Jenna, Sam. She's his very best friend," the nun said.
"Oh no, she's not, she's his chick," Sam said, loudly.
"Oh, well, that too," the nun said. "What shall we make for the dinner, then?"
"Pizza!" Sam said. "We have those big ones in the freezer."
"Macawoni and Cheese," Ray said.
"That's all you eat!" Sam chastised. "What about that pork chops thing, Sister?"
"Oh, Dear, not that. The smell might drive y'ar parents away! Remember? Y'ar father couldn't stop poking fun at me for that one."
"Yeah, true. I guess it's going to be the pizza?"
"Unless we can think of something else."
"Yay! I love the pizza. Dad does, too."
"Well, if he loves it, we should make sure he gets it," the nun added.
Bitsy went into the kitchen, and Sister Rebecca Katherine left Sam and Ray to tend to the family room. She followed her friend, and said, "Bea, what is wrong, Dear?"
"It's nothing. I'm just so thankful that Blair was able to . . . help Todd."
"She has that way about her, she does."
"He needs her. Sister, I wish I could change everything."
"Oh, now, not everything. Look at this beautiful family."
"Sister, I've . . . made so many mistakes."
"Dear, that's behind ya. We all make them."
"Mine were so . . . bad. Oh, Sister, what if Todd had gone there and killed that man?"
"He didn't, Dear Heart. And that is all."
"Oh, Todd, there's the house," Blair said, from the copter, as if she'd never seen it.
"I can't believe how good it feels to be back here."
"I get it. Me, too."
"It just feels so . . . familiar and good, doesn't it?"
He nodded, and kissed the top of her head. He'd opted for both of them wearing headsets. He said, "Anyplace I am with you and those kids, I feel good."
"I know, I do. But something about being home. I don't think we should move, do you? Remember we talked about it, and then we never talked about it again?"
"Yeah, I guess we can stay. Sam seems to have defeated his demon, and I'm glad it's not . . . anything like mine was, Babe."
"No. It's all right. And he has a strong and loving father, Todd. You never did. Whatever monsters he faces, he has that."
Todd let the words she said reverberate in his soul. He teared up at the thought that her words could be true, and that it could be about him.
Could I be that for someone else?
The copter landed, and they disembarked, using the master bedroom entrance, each of them carrying packages filled with gifts, and Todd also carrying the small duffel bag Blair had used as an overnight, and the backpack he'd used himself. They got into their room, set down the gifts, and before they had a chance to let everyone know to come up, a stampede of feet made their way up the staircase.
"Ah, y'ar here! The children are so excited to see ya!" the nun said, appearing at the door.
She was followed within seconds by Ray, pushing past her skirts and running toward them, "Daddy! Mommy!" and jumping toward Todd, who was ready to catch him, and scooped him up, hugging him.
"Hi, Mom!" Sam said, rushing to her and they embraced. Bitsy came next, carrying Jewel, who was clapping, as customary.
"Mommy!" Jewel said.
"Hi, Baby Girl! See your Daddy?"
"Daddy!" she said, and her voice was so clear, both Todd and Blair looked at each other in mild surprise.
He put Ray down and reached for his daughter. "Hey, there. Mommy and I brought you presents."
She clapped again, and Ray, running around looking in all the bags said, "Pwesents?"
"Yep. Lots of them. We'll open them later tonight," Blair said.
"It's Family Night, I decree!" Todd said, and Jack, who just entered the room, rolled his eyes a little.
"Hey, King Manning," Jack joked, and walked to his father and mother and embraced them.
"King Manning," Todd said. "Has a nice ring to it, and nothing seems more true right now."
"Can Jenna come? She was already planning on coming over," Jack asked.
"Sure," Todd said, "The more loyal subjects the better."
"Oh, Todd," Blair elbowed him.
"Well, let's get to our homework, so we can be ready for Family Night," Todd instructed.
"What homework? It's Friday, Dad!" Sam said, as Todd picked him up. Their hug was particularly long, and Sam said, over Todd's shoulder, "Dad, I'm sorry."
Todd patted Sam's back. "For what? You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm sorry I lost my head and ran out that way."
"Nah, I'm sorry for the stuff you have in your head," Sam said.
Todd looked at Blair, and said, "Nothing up there but you, and your mother, and your brothers and sisters. That's all."
"And Grandma Bitsy and Sister Rebecca Katherine?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, them too," he said.
"Yeah, Gramma Bitty and Sister Webby," Ray said.
"Sister Webby is me new moniker," the nun said.
"It's kind of cute," Blair said, smiling.
"Oh, it sure is. Now, children, let's get back downstairs, we have some things to do before Family Night starts, don't we?" The nun said.
Todd handed Jewel off to Jack. "All right, listen to Sister Webby, will ya?"
A series of yeses were heard, as they all went out.
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