A/N: Aiden Devane embezzled the money from Zach Slater's casino, not Josh Madden. Josh never came back after the tornado took place, but there was no need for him to since Zach and Kendall Slater were in Paris visiting Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams, both of whom had informed the couple of Bianca's pregnancy early on. Bianca and Reese came back with Kendall and Zach to let the rest of their family in Pine Valley know the good news, and that's when Bianca went into early labor and delivered Gabrielle. They left after the double wedding, and because there were no huge problems or secrets between them, Zach and Reese never shared a kiss, and Greenlee Smythe, now Lavery, never crashed or died. Aiden is in the pyschiatric facility for coming back and trying to kill Zach, Reese, Bianca, and Erica Kane after Zach found out that it was Aiden who stole his money. JR Chandler and David Hayward have an understanding regarding Babe Chandler, and Krystal Carey is able to concieve. Amanda Dillion is not pregnant at all.
I'm going completely crazy! Jackson, do you understand? You're absence is driving me insane. I can't figure out why. Usually, I don't let it bother me. Usually, I call Bianca or I go see Kendall, or I think about Josh. Since Josh hasn't returned or even attempted to get ahold of me, though, all I do is think about him. But, that's not the issue at hand.
You being gone makes me want to commit myself to the psychiatric facility. I know it sounds dramatic, but it's the truth. And God knows all you would have to do is pick up the phone when I call, or even call me back. But you don't. And you know what, Jack? It makes me even crazier that you don't. Maybe you don't have service, maybe you do. Or maybe you're just tired of me.
Jackson, I know we left things on a bad note, but the truth is: I've been pushing you away to see how much you would fight back. How much you'd fight for me. I wanted to see how much you really love me. But I guess I've been playing this game for far too long. Maybe I should just surrender and accept that you love me. Accept that you've been trying to prove your love for the past two decades and all I do is push you further and further away. I don't mean to push you... it's just something I do.
I really wish you would come back home. I know you have a huge case to try for the new firm, but I want you back the United States, I want you back in Pennslyvania, and I want you back in Pine Valley. I want you back in my life. I want to fix this. I want -
All of a sudden, the doorbell rang, inturrupting Erica's letter. She wanted to write all of her feelings down on paper and then shread it before Jackson came home.
Erica opened the door to find a young man standing outside, holding an enormous box. He
smiled brightly at her.
"Miss Kane?" he asked shyly. His uniform indicated that he was from some kind of delivery service. Maybe Fed-Ex, maybe UPS. She really didn't care which it was, though.
Instead, Erica nodded upon hearing her name and wondered what was in the box. And furthermore, who it was from.
"Can you just sign here?" he asked, handing her a small electronic device with a pen before pointing to the "x".
She did as she was told, and then they swapped objects as they both smiled.
"Is there any way you can tell me who this is from?" she asked before he had a chance to say anything to her.
"Uh... all I know is that it's from the Chandler Estate," he informed her. "I don't know exactly who sent it. But you have a nice day, alright?"
"Thank you," Erica said before closing the door. Her smile quickly faded and she threw the box down on the ground. She couldn't believe that Adam was still pursuing this. She just needed his money for Fusion, and then she needed to stay out of jail after losing all of it. Romantically, she could care less if he jumped off of a bridge.
Erica whipped out her cell phone and called Adam, but there was no answer. She didn't bother to leave a message, and after she hung up, she silently vowed to burn the gift. But, after continuing to stare at the box, curiosity got the best of the brunette, and she decided to open the box - just to see what was inside.
Her eyes widened, seeing the sight in front of her, and she lifted the delicate present out of the box. In her hands was a strapless faded cotton candy pink colored dress with small sparkles, whose number decreased as her eyes ran down the dress, sewn into it. The flirty ballroom style bottom would rest above her knees, and would almost act as a tutu when she spun around in it.
Underneath the dress, Erica found another piece of the elegant gown that went over the skirt part to provide a long dress for a formal event. Unattached, it would just be a short dress for the after party. She carefully took the long, flowing skirt out and attached it around the bodice at the corsage that would rest on her hip. The long bottom fell like a waterfall, and she couldn't think of a dress that she owned that was more beautiful than this. Adam must have put a lot of time into finding this for her.
And Erica couldn't help but be mesmorized by the enchanting silk and tulle. She pulled it to her body and imagined walking into an extravagant party where everyone would look at her and whisper about how gorgeous she looked. And if they talked about how horrible she looked, Erica would be happier because she would know that they were just jealous.
"Well, I guess I can try you on before I burn you," Erica said with a gleam in her eye, staring at the gorgeous gown before her.
Quickly, she stripped out of her clothes and pulled the dress up over her body, zipping up the side before walking over to the mirror. She smiled at the image before her and twirled around as the bottom of the dress spun with her gracefully, just like she knew it would. It was her favorite type of dress, and she was shocked that Adam would know that. She only ever told Jackson that it made her feel like a princess when she would wear something so gorgeous. And when she took off the long skirt, she felt like a little fairy.
Erica hoisted the gown a little higher to make her breasts look fuller, and ran her hands down her slender waist to get rid of the wrinkles on the dress.
"Maybe I won't have to burn you after all," she cooed.
Another knock at the door inturrupted her self-adoration, and she sighed.
"What could it be now?" she asked outloud.
As soon as Erica opened the door, two women barged in and the brunette looked at them strangely.
"Oh, Miss Kane, you look beautiful in that dress," one said.
"Stunning," she said the other.
"Excuse me? Who are you and what are you doing in my house?"
"I'm Ida. I'm here to do your manicure and pedicure."
"And I'm Alma. I'm here to do your hair and make-up."
"Who sent you?" Erica asked, praying it wasn't Adam Chandler.
"I was sent by the Hayward residence," Ida said, setting her nail kit down on the ground.
Alma followed similar action with her hair and make-up bags. "And I was sent by the Martins."
"I'll go get the rest of our things," Ida inturrupted and walked out.
"Why don't we get you situated," Alma insisted.
Erica led the woman to the diningroom where Alma grabbed a chair and they headed to the bathroom near the enterance, where the stylist put a large tarp on the floor and a drape over the chair. She didn't want to get anything on Erica's furniture.
"Do you have something else that you would like to change into? I don't want to get antthing on your dress."
"Yeah. I'll be right back," Erica said before walking out of the room. Luckily, she ran into Ida and pointed her in the right direction before she went to change. Slipping back into her pajamas that she had on before she tried on her dress, Erica laid the gown back in the box neatly, still confused about why everyone was sending people over to her house. But, unable to deny a spa treatment in her own home, she headed back to the bathroom.
"Miss Kane, I have a different idea," Ida said as soon as Erica walked into the bathroom.
Erica looked at her curiously and she continued.
"Well, what if you take a nice relaxing bath, and that way, Alma can wash your hair and I can wax your legs, and give treat you a full treatment."
"That would be wonderful," Erica smiled, seeing that Alma was already drawing her bath water and adding the bubbles and bath salt.
"Okay, we'll leave while you get in and-"
"Oh, I'm not shy," she said, slipping out of her clothes and into the bubbles. She felt the hot water surround her, and she closed her eyes as her pores opened up.
Alma washed her hair and rinsed it over the foot bath that Ida had for her pedicure. Some of the water splashed on the floor, but the tarp that was put down under the chair reached the bath so it would be easy to clean up.
Meanwhile, Ida gently rubbed her face and applied lotion to make her face look incredibly refreshed. Then she propped Erica's legs on the side of the bath so that she could wax them.
Once the ladies were done, Erica stepped out and put her robe on before sitting down in the chair so that they could do everything else.
Alma started with Erica's hair, while Ida began with the pedicure. The hair stylist rolled Erica's hair into curlers and then blew it dry while the nail artist scrubbed at Erica's feet and spread her toes apart so that she could paint them.
The brunette just let out a deep breath and closed her eyes, as she listened to the ladies chit chat over her. It was so nice to just relax instead of thinking about what Jack was up to and why he wasn't answering his phone.
Great. Now she was thinking about him again. How was she supposed to relax when all she could think about was his whereabouts and why he couldn't be bothered with her calls and texts. And what was he doing otherwise? Was he with another woman? Had he even thought about her at all the whole trip?
Her thoughts disappeared when she felt Ida rip the white sheets of hard plastic-like paper from her legs. Immediately after, the woman ran a warm wash cloth over her sensitive skin and then spread lotion over her legs. Erica looked down at the briefly painful area only to see that her toe nails were already painted and were drying slowly in the air.
"Miss Kane," Alma said softly. "I'm going to do your make-up now, alright?"
Erica nodded with a smile and closed her eyes.
She felt her face being covered with soft powder and then felt a brush blend it into her skin. She then felt Ida tug on her left hand to start her manicure, and then felt a pencil run over her eyes. Another brush stroke followed on her eyelid and then the same feeling swept across the other.
"Do you ladies know why you were sent here?" Erica asked, with her eyes still closed.
"I'm going to do your lipstick, Miss Kane, so, please keep your lips still," Alma told her.
"And no, we don't know why. The man on the phone just said you have to look like a queen."
Erica kept her lips pursed but once Alma moved her hand, she couldn't help but smile, even though she still have no idea why she was supposed to be so dressed up. Not that it mattered, though. She loved dressing up.
Alma then took the curlers out of Erica's hair and smiled at the loose ringlets. Since her hair was naturally wavy, it was easy to twist her hair into curls. The woman pulled her up and teased it with a comb before bobby pinning it and spraying high intensity hair spray to hold it in place. She worked with each part of Erica's hair, until finally it looked much like it had at the Mardi Gras ball that she had held years ago.
Soft tendrels fell out of the bouquet of hair that rested on the back and top of her head, and Alma placed a small clip on the front of the bump. She had a few strands of hair in her face that gently spun into small curls. She was absolutely loving being treated like a queen.
Ida finished her manicure and then went to dry Erica's toes with her small portable UV light device. Alma touched up Erica's blush and ran another brush over her eyes before grabbing some mascara from her bag.
"Just keep your eyes open for a minute," she said as she curled Erica's lashes and then applied a heavy coat of mascara. It made her lashes look full and glamorous as usual, and then Alma took out another eye shadow container while Ida took her left hand and held it under the light until it was dry.
Once both women had completed their jobs, they helped Erica into her dress, and led her out into the hallway where the body mirror stood. Erica's eyes widened at her image and a huge smile painted itself across her face.
Her toenails matched the color of the sparkles on the dress when hit by the light exactly right, and her fingernails were repainted with french tips. Her eye lashes stuck out off of her face and had a few sparkles fallen onto them from the light pink eyeshadow resting on her eyelids. There was a line of the eyeshadow beneath her eyes, too, to accentuate how truly beautiful they looked. Her soft pink lipstick was coated with a luscious cover of sparkling lipgloss, making her lips look more pouty than normal.
The hair that fell into her face looked just as gorgeous as the rest of her updo, and she almost squeeled when she saw the tiny clip tucked into her taunted hair. It was a small tiara, and it looked like it was made for a princess. She had always wanted to wear one, but never really found one that seemed classy enough. This, though, was just stunning.
"We also have gifts for you from the men who sent us," Alma told her, handing her a box.
Erica undid the bow, and inside was a small sparkly silver clutch that matched her toenails and would be able to hold her phone, a few containers of make-up, and any other small item that the diva wanted to tuck away inside. Ida handed her a small box that contained a diamond necklace and matching dangling earrings. They helped her put them on, and she looked like royalty.
"Thank you so much for absolutely everything!" Erica said with a smile before hugging each one of them.
"You're welcome Miss Kane," Ida said.
"Oh, it's Erica. Please."
"Well, Erica, you're very welcome," Alma smiled.
"Have a great time tonight," Ida said before picking up her kit and heading toward the door.
"Yeah... have fun," Alma said, following the other woman outside, leaving Erica confused.
The brunette closed the door after the woman, and walked into the livingroom where she found that it was already four thirty in the afternoon. However was she supposed to keep all of her make-up on and keep her dress from wrinkling?
She picked up her cell phone and tried calling both David Hayward and Tad Martin, but neither one answered. Why would no one take her calls?
She dialed Jackson again, too, but he didn't answer, either. Not that she expected him to, but it would have been nice to talk to him.
Seconds after hanging up, Erica heard the doorbell again, and she walked over to open the door.
"Miss Kane," the older man said sweetly.
"That's me," she said almost quietly.
He handed her a bag and watched the dressed up woman open the bag to find a pair of four inch stillettos. The lace up satin ribbon went up three inches on her ankle when she put the shoes on. They were pink like her dress, and it seemed like everything was made just for her on this very night.
"Are you ready?"
"Well, we are supposed to be there at five o'clock sharp," the man told her, still standing outside her door.
"Be where? For what?"
"Follow me, miss," he said, before leading her to the limo parked in the turn around.
Confused as ever, Erica climbed into the limo and before the driver could shut the door, she looked up at him and asked, "Who sent you?"
"Mr. Hubbard," the driver told her with a smile and then closed the door carefully.
Erica just stared out the window, her head still reeling from everything that was happening, and enjoyed the ride that felt like it would never end. They drove through a forest area, and Erica was beginning to think that this whole thing was a set up and she was being taken to a secluded area to be killed. However, that brief thought disappeared when the car came to a stop.
When Erica carefully stepped out onto the cobblestone walk way with a click of her heel, she smoothed out her dress and patted down her hair, making sure it was still in place. Before she could even glance at her surrondings, the driver held something out for her to take.
"These are for you, Miss Kane," he told her, handing her nineteen pink roses; her lucky number.
"Flowers?" she said outloud to herself, admiring the color, the scent, and the quantity.
"Well, I know you hate chocolates," a voice said from behind her.
Erica turned around quickly with an enormous smile on her face. "Jack!"
In just enough time to grab the front of the heavy dress and hold it up, out of the way, Erica ran and threw her arms around his neck as he scooped her off of the ground.
Jack was dressed in a black tuxedo with shiny new dress shoes on his feet. The tie hanging around his neck was a smooth silky silver, and the ring on his finger that once meant he shared a life with the woman in his arms was gone. His hair was combed back nicely, and the grin on his face showed Erica that he was thrilled by her appearance.
"Why haven't you answered any of my calls?" she asked, glaring at him after he picked her up.
"Well, I wasn't allowed to use my phone at all while the trial was going on, and then I didn't call you when it was over because I was so angry with you. But your daily attempts to get a hold of me made me realize that I didn't want to be angry with you. So, I had this whole thing set up. I wanted to show you just how sorry I am, and how much I really do love you."
"I thought everybody helped?"
"No, I just used their names to make you less suspicious."
"Less suspicious? I didn't suspect anything."
Jack smiled. "That's exactly that I was hoping for. Now, are you ready to head inside?"
Erica turned her head and saw the huge gate in front of her and saw the huge gate in front.
"Where are we?"
"You'll see," Jack said, walking her back to the limo and carefully placing her inside. He climbed in on the opposite side, and they started up the long and winding driveway. They passed gardens and trees and finally pulled around a small fountain where water dripped down and birds splashed around.
Jack helped her out seconds later and watched her gasp. Standing tall before her was a small castle and she just stared at Jack.
"How did you pull this off? Isn't this Katherine Archibald's castle?"
"Then it was Marcus Archibald's. And if you recall, I was working overseas to get his son off of murder charges. Turns out, we won."
"So... you got to borrow this?"
Jackson nodded. "Something like that."
Originally, there was a mansion built on top of the gorgeous hill that fell down into the huge backyard, complete with a pond, a few trees, and a picnick area. Once the Archibald family bought the two hundred acre property, though, they added on and redid part of the mansion to make it into a small castle.
"This is incredible," Erica told him with a huge smile.
"Well, I already ordered dinner, so it should be waiting for us inside."
The brunette was stunned. No one had ever done anything so sweet for her. And the way that she treated Jack before he left, Erica thought, was completely uncalled for. She didn't think any of what he had done for her was right. Guilt had briefly consumed her being.
As they walked inside, Jack lead her through the house, pointing to the hand painted ceilings, the extraordinary color and hand-painted designs on the walls, and the magnificent windows with a gorgeous view of the fountain in the cul de sac. They finally reached the dining room and Jack pulled out a chair for Erica before sitting down across from her. Their food was already set out in front of them, and the chandelier above them was lit up, making everything in the room sparkle.
"This is absolutely amazing, Jack," Erica cooed.
"You deserve it. Especially after the way I treated you this past month."
"You treated me? Jack, I was horrible to you before you left. I don't blame you for not speaking to me. I probably wouldn't have spoken to you."
"Oh, I know you wouldn't have. But I feel horrible about it."
"So do I."
Jack pursed his lips. "Well, don't. I'm not mad at you."
"I'm not mad at you, either. Can we can just forget it? I mean, if that's what you'd like to do."
"That would be magnificent," Jack smiled. "By the way, have I told you how absolutely beautiful you look?"
"I don't think you have," Erica said, blushing. Tonight was different for her. Everything that he said had an affect on her tonight.
"Well you do."
"The tiara is the best part, I think."
"Me, too," she smiled. "So, what is the party dress part for?"
"Is there more to the surprise?"
Jack paused. "Maybe."
Erica took a bite of her spaghetti that had been sitting on the table since before she sat down. "This is amazing."
"Mmm-hmm," he agreed, taking a sip of his wine.
"I still can't believe you put this all together."
"I can't believe I actually pulled it off."
"That's what I meant," she teased.
"You're so funny," he said sarcastically.
They continued to talk about the trial that took place over in Ireland, and once they were done with dinner, Jack led her to the backdoor, and told her to shut her eyes. He carefully untucked her the skirt of her dress and gently laid it down on the long table next to the exit.
"Why do I have to close my eyes? And why are you taking off my skirt?"
"It's a surprise; I already told you."
Erica looked up at him skeptically, but closed her eyes like she was told. "Alright..."
Jack took her hand and lead her outside. When she opened her eyes, there was a large crowd standing in front of her yelling "surprise!"
The woman just looked at everyone and then at Jack. "What is this?!"
"A party!" he said with a smile before everyone starting coming over to her.
"What did you say?" Colby Chandler asked her, standing in a lillac colored silk dress that hung low on her back, but tied around her neck, holding the top up to her collarbones. The loose skirt hung past her knees and she looked absolutely adorable.
"How did he ask?" Amanda Dillion jumped in. She had a red strapless dress on that clung to the slight curves of her body and stopped above her knee in a loose pencil-like shape.
"Are we all invited?" Randi Morgan piped up, standing in a white halter top that fell loosely around her body and hung mid-thigh. Her hair was done into a ponytail, unlike the other two girls, who let their hair down around their faces nicely.
"What?" Erica asked, more confused than she had been all day.
All of the girls just shut up, realizing that she had no clue about what they were talking about.
"We're gonna set the dance floor up. We just have to get the music ready. Would you like to help?" Colby covered.
"Okay?" she agreed, still not understanding what was going on.
The girls led her over to the dance floor that had apparently been set up earlier that day. The music system was set up, but they wanted Erica to pick a cd before they started any music.
"I like Red Hot Chili Peppers," she said with a smile after looking through a few selections.
Colby and Randi looked at each other while Amanda agreed. "They're a good band."
She nodded as Adam Chandler began to walk toward her, dressed in a tuxedo with a black bowtie. His hair was messy, but it didn't seem to bother him at all.
"Erica," he said with a long kiss on the cheek.
"Hello, Adam," she said with a bat of her eyelashes. She still needed to remain safe for losing all of his money, after all.
"Are you enjoying yourself? Is this everything you ever wanted?"
"Well, I hope you're having a great time. I wish you all the best," he said before walking away.
"What the hell is going on with everyone?" Erica asked outloud to herself.
"What the hell's going on with you?" David Hayward asked, hugging Erica tightly. He, too, was in a nice tuxedo with no tie or bowtie, but instead, just two open buttons. He was obviously dressed to impress tonight.
She looked up and gave him a giggle. "Oh, just living out a fairytale."
"Well, you look phenomenal, Erica."
"You don't look half bad yourself."
"Why thank you. Are you having a good time?"
"Oh yes. What Jack did for me... I am so in love with him for this. Well, not just for this, but you know."
"I'm glad. I'm so happy for you two," he smiled.
She smiled back. "Is Krystal here?"
"Yeah... I think she's speaking with JR."
"I'm so glad you guys worked out Little A's custody."
"I am, too. I think it would have been what Babe wanted."
JR Chandler had full custody of his son, but he went to David and Krystal's place every other weekend. They also went over to the Chandler mansion whenever they wanted to visit their grandson. The custody battle had gotten so bad that Krystal intervened, doing a bang up job of getting her husband and her son-in-law to agree on what was best for the child. Because she was secretly carrying David's child, she used that to get David to back off and focus on his immediate family.
Erica nodded at the doctor, but before she had a chance to say anything else, Greenlee and Ryan Lavery walked over to them and Ryan kissed Erica's face while Greenlee said hello to David.
"How's it going?" Ryan asked with a huge grin. Ryan had his coat unbuttoned and hit tie loosely wrapped around his neck despite Greenlee's objections toward his appearance. This was supposed to be a formal party, but Ryan got tired of that scene quickly after arriving.
"It's great. I am so grateful to Jack," Erica told him.
"He put so much work into this, Erica," Greenlee told her. "I can't believe he pulled it off."
"How long has he been planning this?"
"Since before he left to go to Ireland. Nothing was concrete. He had just mentioned this. But, when he called me after the trial, he said he was putting this together, hoping to make everything up to you."
"Oh my God. He did a phenomenal job."
Greenlee nodded and then went over and hugged Erica tightly, as her soft green spaghetti strap dress touched Erica's pink one, creating a strawberry-kiwi illusion. Greenlee's hair was curled at the bottom, and touched her former step-mother's shoulders when they embraced. "I am so happy for you."
Erica looked at her strangely. "Thank you, I think?"
Ryan gave Greenlee a stern look and then smiled at Erica. "Well, you look amazing. Greenlee, how about we got get a drink."
By the time the couple walked away from Erica, she realized David had left, too, and then she wandered over to find Kendall and Zach Slater, who were talking to Taylor Thompson and Jake Martin.
The guys were wearing tuxedos that had been toyed with, much like Ryan's, and both of their hairstyles were messy, like they had just played a game of football. Kendall was dressed in a light blue dress that bunched below her chest, and the rest fell loosely on her skinny frame. The soft straps holding it up were thick, but they rested gently on her shoulders. Taylor had a dark blue dress on with the slightest ruffles on her sleeves and fell softly on her body. Not too tight, but she wasn't swimming in the dress, either.
"Hey!" they all said happily. The men kissed Erica's face while the girls both hugged her.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" Jake asked with a smile.
"Oh, yes. This is incredible," Erica assured him.
"I'm glad," Kendall smiled. "Jack put a lot of work into this."
"I keep hearing that. And I am so pleased with him. I appreciate this more than he'll ever know."
"Well, you should tell him that," Taylor said, grinning at her.
"I will. I was actually coming over to ask if anyone had seen Jack. I keep getting caught talking with everyone. I haven't really had much time to speak with him."
"Well, last I saw, he was talking to Krystal," Zach told her.
"Yeah... Krystal Hayward," her daughter said.
"I know. It's just strange that he'd be talking to her."
"Well, why don't you go find him. I bet the music is going to start soon," Jake said. "By the way, you look gorgeous."
"You really do," Kendall agreed.
"Well, thank you," Erica smiled. "I'll be sure to-"
Before La Kane could finish her sentence, she was drowned out by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She waved to the small group after spotting Krystal, but before she could make her way over to the pregnant woman, she was being lead out onto the dance floor by her husband.
"Where is Jack?" Erica whispered aloud.
She glanced over at the dance floor to see everyone from Angie and Jesse Hubbard, to Pete Cortland and Colby, but she didn't see Jack anywhere.
Minutes later, after finding herself on one of the hard park benches by a tree with a nice view of the dancing crowd, there was a tap on Erica's shoulder.
"Oh, Jack, thank-" she said before turning around. When she did, her jaw nearly dropped. "Reggie?! Lily?! What are you doing here?!"
Erica got up to hug the children tightly and didn't want to let go. They were like her own kids.
"Well, my dad wanted us to be here for the party," Lily said with a smile. She was dressed in a soft yellow dress with a layered bottom that reached her knees, and a top that clung to her small frame neatly. She didn't want to feel confined in the dress.
"And since it was for you and him, we couldn't say no," Reggie added, dressed in a tuxedo with striped pants to match. He had a bowtie and his hair was braided back, much like it was at Jack and Erica's wedding. "How have you been, E?"
"I've been great. Well, last month wasn't that great, but everything is a million times better tonight. Enough about me. How are you two. What's been going on? I feel like we haven't spoken in forever."
"Well, actually, Erica, it's only been two weeks, three days, and nine hours exactly since we spoke on the phone, but it does feel like forever since we've talked to one another in person," the blonde smiled.
Erica smiled back adoringly at the young girl. "I have missed you both so much! How is college going?"
"Well, I've got a 3.6 GPA, so i think that's pretty good," Reggie told her.
"That's great, honey! What about you, Lily?"
"I have a 4.0."
"Of course you do. I don't know why I asked; I already knew the answer," the brunette said with a giggle. "Do you two have any summer plans?"
"Well-" Lily started.
"It's a surprise!" Reggie cut in.
"Yeah, a surprise."
"Why is everything a surprise today?"
"Because what else could possibly make you happier?" a voice asked from behind her.
"Bianca!" Erica practically screamed, throwing her arms around her daughter. "How are you, sweetheart?"
"I'm great. My flight took a lot out of me, but I rested all day and I'm fine now. I'm not so worried about the flight home tomorrow night, because it's a straight shot from here to Paris, but I'm still a little exhausted," she explained, adjusting the tie that wrapped around the waist of her simple black dress that sat on her body perfectly, not showing a lot of skin, but not concealing too much. It was just the right amount of mystery.
"You're leaving tomorrow night?"
"Yeah. But I'll be back for the-"
Quickly enough, Reggie covered Bianca's mouth and shot her a look that shut her up.
"For the what?" Erica asked, looking at all three of her kids.
"We'll let J explain," the boy said, hoping she wouldn't find out what was going on.
Erica sighed. "Well, speaking of your father - where is he?"
"Last time I saw him, he was inside," Lily answered.
"Yeah, me too," Bianca confirmed.
"And where are the girls?" Erica asked, turning to look at her biological daughter.
"They stayed in Paris with Reese."
"Oh. Are they feeling alright? Is everything okay?"
"They're fine. I just thought two flights in one weekend would be far too much," she told her mother. "Miranda talks about you all the time, though. She misses you like crazy."
"Well, I miss her, too. And Gabby," she smiled. "Why don't you three catch up while I go find Jackson? Greenlee and Kendall are out on the dance floor, and I'm sure they'd love to see you, as well."
The three nodded and began to chat while Erica went to find the man who put this whole party together. Instead of finding him, though, she ran smack into Opal, who gave her a huge hug.
"Sweetie, you look magnificent. Ah! Just gorgeous, honey!"
"Well, thank you, Opal. You look beautiful, too."
Opal was dressed in a dark pink dress that bunched at her midsection and had a bell bottom that covered everything above her knees. She had her normal clanky bracelets on, and her hair was done up much like it was everyday.
"That may be, but you and that dress were a match made in heaven."
Erica smiled. "Have you seen Jack?"
"Uhm, well... I saw him a little while ago, heading inside. I don't know if he ever came out, though."
"Alright," she smiled before hearing a huge shriek from her daughter. She spun around to face the trio that she had just walked away from, and got the biggest surprise yet. Walking toward her was her son, who she hadn't seen since after she got out of prison.
"Oh, Josh," she said, wrapping her arms around her son like she would never let him go. On the verge of tears, she realized that her make-up would be ruined for the rest of the party, but she couldn't stop the two that were already falling down her face, quietly soaking into Josh's overcoat.
"Erica... mom, you look so beautiful," he said, hugging his mother just as tightly as she was holding onto him. He had a tuxedo on that was an off-black color, and a regular black tie that wasn't wrapped around his neck the proper way, but Erica didn't care. She was just beyond happy to have her son back.
"Thank you, honey. Oh my goodness. Sweetie, do you know how incredibly happy I am to see you? To have you here with me?"
"Well, you seemed pretty happy to begin with."
"That was nothing compared to right now. I feel so complete."
Josh smiled at his mother. "I'm so happy for you."
"Are you going to move back?" Erica said, not completely understanding his last comment. "I assume that you know they caught Aiden Devane?"
"Well, I got rid of my phone after I left, but somehow Jack found me and told me what had happened."
Erica just stared at her son. She felt like she was just going to break down into tears. Not only was she happy beyound belief that her son was back, but to know that he had stayed away for almost a year made her heart sink. She couldn't believe he missed out on the past year's events just because Zach jumped to conclusions.
On the other hand, knowing that Jack was the one who reunited her with all of their children made her think that maybe he was ready to be a family again. Maybe he was ready to trust her with absolutely everything. She wasn't going to get herself too excited, but she hoped with all of her heart that it was what he wanted.
"Well, I'll have to remember to thank him later."
As soon as that sentence escaped Erica's lips, Kendall and Greenlee came running over to Josh and their other siblings, hugging them all and talking about how much everybody missed everybody else. They began to catch up with one another when Erica stepped back from the group, just watching in amazement. She wished that she could bottle this moment up and save it forever. Her whole family was finally together and they were actually getting along.
"I see you got your surprises."
"Jack," Erica turned around, following the voice. She wrapped her arms around him, and then let him go moments later. "How did you ever pull this off?"
"Well, since I was married to you, and I am a world-famous lawyer, I have plenty of sources that helped me out."
The woman smiled at him before turning back around, as they both watched their children interact with one another.
"Look how happy they are together."
Jack nodded to himself, wrapping his hands around her waist, overlapping her hands.
"They look blissfully happy."
Erica felt a cool shiver run down her back. His warm breath crept up her neck and her hair nearly stood on end.
"Jack, would you please tell me what's going on tonight?"
"Go put the bottom of your dress on and meet me on the dance floor," Jack whispered in her ear.
The brunette just looked at him strangely before dashing inside and slipping on the extension to her dress. She then came back out as all eyes stared at her, and she made her way onto the hard floor as her children slowly followed when they saw Erica in her long dress, walking over to Jack. Kendall, Greenlee, Bianca, Josh, Reggie, Lily and the rest of the guests found themselves watching the couple slowly dance against one another and even witnessed Jack twirl and dip his partner a few times.
"Erica," he said, moments later as the music died down.
Erica looked around and saw Colby turning the stero down slowly, and then noticed that she and the man holding her were the only two on the dance floor. She looked around, seeing that they had an audience, as well. Everyone's eyes were on the couple, including their children who's smiles were the brightest in the backyard.
"Jack? What's going on?"
"Erica, I have a question to ask you. A really important question."
Erica's heart pounded harshly in her chest. It beat so hard and loud that she felt like it might break through her rib cage.
"Here's the thing. I've been thinking about this for... well, forever. And I know I've asked the same question what seems like a million times. I know that we finally, finally, went through with the process after you gave me the answer that I wanted last time, but then something changed. I think if we work a little harder, and we are honest with each other all of the time, though, we could create a different outcome. And maybe, I won't have to ask this question again. Ever."
Erica couldn't help but smile as Jack knelt down in front of her. As he pulled out a small black box from his pocket, tears welled up in her eyes.
"Erica Kane, I want you to know that you're not unlovable. Nothing will ever, ever make my feelings for you disappear. Honey, will you do me the honor of taking this ring and becoming my wife? Again?"
The brunette swallowed the lump in her throat and hoped like hell that the tears that clouded her vision would disappear. She couldn't believe he was asking for her hand in marriage again, but she honestly had never felt like everything was so right.
"Of course I'll marry you!" she finally exclaimed before her tears spilled down her face and their lips touched for the first time in over a month. The magic that swirled around them didn't vanish when they broke apart, but all of their senses began to work again, and the couple smiled at the clapping audience.
"Did you all know about this?" Erica asked, turning to the crowd with a huge smile on her face.
"We thought he already asked you!" Amanda exclaimed with a smile.
"Yeah, my dad forgot to mention that this engagement party was actually a party where the proposal would happen!" Greenlee said.
"What would you have done if she had said no?" Zach teased.
"She wouldn't have said no," Lily chimmed in.
"She couldn't have said no," David piped up.
"Uh, excuse me," Erica inturrupted, with a serious look drawn across her face. "I could have said
no if I wanted."
Everybody looked at her, while she stood there with that diva attitude, enjoying the attention the audience gave her while she confused them all. Then the pause ended. "But why would I ever want to say no?"
Everyone cooed at the couple when Jack leaned in to kiss her again, and then the man asked Colby to turn the music back on.
Most of the people at the party went back out to the dance floor and began swaying with his or her partner. Erica felt like she and Jack were the only two on the dancefloor as she held him tightly. She never wanted this moment to end, but when it did, he lead her down to say goodbye to everyone. She didn't realize it at the time, but Jack had asked everyone to leave by ten o'clock so that he could spend some time with her alone.
"Dad, I think we're gonna head back to your place," Reggie said, speaking for himself and Lily.
"And why don't you take Bianca and Josh with you," Jack added. "Now that I have the mansion..."
As Jack trailed off, Erica looked up at him. "What's wrong?"
"Well, I guess I can say we have the mansion, if you'll move in with me?"
Her small nod caused him to smile, before he continued. "In any case, you should all stay there. It's bigger than Erica's condo, and there's plenty of room for everyone."
"Are you sure?" Josh asked.
"Positive," he smiled, pulling out some money for them all. "And here. Order some food. Do something fun."
Lily smiled and gave both Erica and Jack a hug. "Thanks Daddy. And congratulations."
"Thank you, honey," he smiled, kissing her hair. Then Bianca, Josh, Reggie, Greenlee, Kendall, Ryan, and Zach did the same, congratulations included, and then they were on their way.
"Gosh I miss having them around," she said after they had taken off.
"I do, too. But listen to this: our wedding is going to be better than the last one. Josh is going to be there, and Ryan and Zach are going to watch the kids during the ceremony. Unless, of course, you want the kids to be a part of the wedding."
"That would be adorable."
"I agree. Maybe just Spike and Miranda. Ian just learned how to walk, and Gabrielle won't even be able to walk. That is, if the engagement doesn't last for the rest of our lives."
"Of course not!" she smiled. "Well, the littlest ones can just hang out with Zach and Ryan. Probably Reese, too. I really don't want any of them to be in our wedding, no offense."
"I understand. Now, why don't we head inside, my princess," he said with a wink.
"Lead the way, prince charming," she smiled back.
As Jack lead Erica through the house, she admired more of it. The old fashioned furniture, the old rugs that must have been imported from Europe, and the careful attention paid to each crease and crevice on the staircase rail. Before she knew it, Jack was lifting her into his arms and carrying her up the stairs, careful of the heavy fabric that now draped down before Jack.
"Jack," Erica asked, hoping her question wouldn't ruin the evening. But being as nosey as she was, she had to ask anyway. "Why were you talking to Krystal tonight?"
Jack just continued up the stairs, not seeming angry with the question, but obviously not wanting to answer it.
Before Erica felt her feet kick the door open, she saw Jack's face smirk for the briefest of seconds.
"What? What's so funny?"
"Look," Jack said with a smile.
Erica turned her head and gasped. The room was lit up with candles and white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. There were pink rose pedals all over the bed, as well as a few in each vase set up around the room. Lying on the bed was a pink chiffon babydoll with a low-cut front and thin straps. The bottom was loose and ruffled at the very end, and he knew Erica would love it. There was a thong tucked inside of it, but Jack was sure she didn't notice when there was so much to look at. They both spotted a bottle of sparkling champagne chilling on the nightstand, and next to the display of liquid, there was a platter of strawberries with a stack of condoms in the middle.
The brunette let out a laugh when she saw them and looked at Jack with a smile on her face.
"Trying to seduce me, Mr. Montgomery? I think the condoms really make the moment magical."
"Well if that's true, Krystal did a great job of seducing you."
"What?" she asked with a silly smile plastered on her face.
Jack carefully let her down, making sure he didn't put her on the floor so quickly that she might lose her balance on those heels, or that she got caught in her own dress.
"The reason I was talking to Krystal tonight was so that she could come up here and see what I had done. I asked her to add or subtract anything that she thought would or wouldn't be necessary."
"And that's all she could come up with?"
Jack chuckled. "Apparently."
"I'll have to thank her next time I see her then," she grinned before planting a kiss on his lips. "But, honestly, this is absolutely gorgeous, Jack. You were so gracious to me, setting everything up and getting all of the kids home. How can I ever thank you?"
Batting her eyelashes at him, she smirked before he kissed her lips softly.
"Well, since you already agreed to marrying me, maybe you can go put your lingerie on?"
"You know I will."
Jack kissed her again, and she grabbed the items off of the bed before walking to the bathroom. The blonde just stood, mesmerized by the movement of her body, and after she shut the door with a sultry smirk, he went over and texted Krystal.
'Thanks for all the help, Krystal. I couldn't have done it without you. Erica loved the condoms, by the way.'
Then he made his way to the plate and ate a strawberry before taking off everything but his shirt and boxers, knowing how much Erica loved to do it.
"Oh, fiancee," he heard, as Erica emerged from the bathroom, minutes later.
She had let her hair down into a soft wave and still had her stillettos on. She walked over to the bed and showed off her new outfit, twirling and strutting as if she were on a runway.
"You've never looked so sexy."
"Why thank you, Jackson. You've worked so hard on this party for me, and I just want to show you how grateful I am. Why don't you tell me what I can do to make you feel better," she said, her voice slipping into her french maid accent.
"You could get over here and help me take this shirt off," he told her smoothly. "Is it hot in here, or is it just you?"
"Oh, no, it's you, too," she told him with a wink, finally walking over to the bed.
Jack stood up to meet her at the edge of the bed and she sat him down gently with a kiss on his neck.
As she toyed with the buttons on Jack's shirt, he kissed her lips softly, and ran his fingers through her brown curls. He was so beyond excited that everything played out the way he had hoped tonight. Just having Erica back in his arms was a blessing, but making her smile and more importantly, making her truly happy, was what thrilled him the most.
Erica slowly kissed her way up his stomach, running her tongue through the maze of hair on his chest and looking up at him seductively with every few licks she gave.
"I love the taste of your skin," she whispered in her normal voice with a smile, before lathering him in kisses again.
"And I love the way your lips feel on my skin," he whispered back. "Not to mention your tongue."
Erica giggled against him, before finally reaching his lips. She slid the white fabric off of him as she caught her lips between his, moaning into his mouth. She ran her fingers down his body slowly before sticking them between his skin and his boxers. She began slowly tugging them down, leaving him completely naked.
She gave him a small laugh before tossing the last of his clothes across the room, and pushed him onto his back. Gently, the brunette stradled his waist carefully, not wanting to touch his erection so soon, and she began kissing him. As she dragged her fingernails down his body softly, she created a sensation that sent shivers through Jack's body.
"Honey," he whispered, "I think you're a little overdressed for this occasion."
"Am I?" she asked innocently. "Maybe you can help me dress down."
"Before I do," he said softly. "You need to know that you look absolutely incredible. You're completely stunning, Erica. Honestly, just stunning."
She tried not to blush, but she couldn't help it. "Well, thank you, Jackson. But I agree. I feel a little overdressed for the occasion. Why don't you help me take my clothes off?"
Jack kissed her lips and left a trail of kisses down her face, finally reaching her shoulders. He bit the straps of her top, and dragged it down her shoulder, before doing the same to the other one. Erica smiled at him, letting his mouth work it's magic, and before she knew it, her top was being pulled over her head and Jack was licking at her breasts.
"Mmm... Jack..." she moaned, as her head tipped into his face and her hair was in his eyes.
Carefully, the blonde pushed her hair back with one hand as the other worked to harden her right nipple. His mouth slowly swapped places with his hand, and gave simultaneous pleasure to Erica's ripe buds before she tilted her head backward, arching her back to give him better access.
"Oh, Jack! I want to feel you inside me!" she cried, almost writhing over him, wishing he would stop with the foreplay and get to the actual act.
"Hold on," he said, kissing down her slim stomach as far as he could go in the position he was in.
Suddenly, he lifted her off of himself and turned her around, sitting her on the edge of the bed. Then he positioned himself so that he was kneeling on the floor before her. He kissed all over her tummy, leaving more butterflies than she already had, and then caught the thin fabric of her thong between his lips. He tugged the material down her legs and slipped them off with his hand before kissing from her toes to her vagina slowly, making her squirm with delight.
"Jackson... I'm ready," she said almost innocently, looking up into his eyes.
"You sure?" he teased, before pushing his tongue past her wet folds and lapped at her clit.
She whimpered and gripped the bed sheets with her delicate fingers.
"Please..." she nearly panted. She could already feel her orgasm building, and as soon as she moved her hands to push Jack's face closer to her sex, he pulled away. Jack pushed her onto her back and climbed on top of her, positioning himself above her.
"Don't you want to use a condom?" she teased.
"Well, I don't think we're going to get pregnant," he said with a smirk.
The brunette laughed at him.
"I just want to feel you."
Erica kissed him and knocked all of the protection packets to the floor. "I want to be on top," she whispered.
"Not tonight," he said, entering her before she could protest. He knew it was her favorite position, but he was in charge tonight.
"Oh, oh my God," she sighed with pleasure, letting her eyes close. She forgot all about getting on top of him for a brief moment, until Jack began thrusting against her.
"Oh my God is right," he said with a sharp intake of breath. "You're so tight, babe."
"Well it has been a - oh! Jack!" she cried as he found the exact spot that made Erica buck against him uncontrollably, "Mmm... a month! It's been a whole month, Jack!"
"I know," Jack told her, catching his breath. "Wait for me!"
"I'm trying. Oh... oh gosh, Jack! I don't know what you're doing to me! You're driving me crazy though!" she nearly screamed.
He kissed up her stomach as his hands kneeded her breasts slowly. He blew cold air on his trail of kisses, making her skin crawl with goosebumps.
She ran her fingers through his soft hair, down to his back where she dug her nails into his flesh. It was hard for her to control how harsh her fingernails jabbed him because he made her feel so uncontrollable.
The blonde finally moved his mouth to kiss her breasts and his hands grabbed her ass, pushing himself further inside of her.
The brunette squealed in delight and let him completely take over her body, as she arched her back and grabbed the pillow behind her, squeezing it between her fists. She wanted to cover her face with the silky cover, but she didn't even have enough time to pick it up when she cried out as he bit down on her nipple.
Jack slowed his thrusts and made them harder as Erica's vaginal walls clentched around his cock, finally causing them to reach their peak together.
"Erica! Come with me!"
As they both rode out their orgasm together, Jack crushed Erica's lips with his own and when they broke to breathe, Jack kissed her face.
"That was incredible!"
"It was probably the best sex I've had with you on top," she winked, catching her breath.
"Why, thank you," he kissed her lips again.
"I get to be on top next round."
"As long as you're with me, you can do whatever you want."
Erica smiled, running her gentle hands over his chest, playing with his hair. She loved the after glow with Jack. She always felt so whole and complete, and she never felt like that with any other man. And for as much as she wanted to be on top of him right now, she needed nothing more than to feel the way she felt with her head against his ribcage.
She would get on top of him in a while, but right now, with Jack's hands manuvering through her hair and his heart beating against her body, she felt like nothing could make her happier. She was laying in a castle with her prince charming, and she never felt more like a princess then she did in that very moment.