Loud, high giggles break through consciousness, reality invades through the dream while arms stretch high to work out kinks formed in the night. Eyes flutter open and lips curve up when the quiet, low tone of Logan's voice follows the giggles.
"Remember, Little Man, we want to be quiet, so mommy can get some extra sleep this morning."
"'kay, Daddy," KJ whispers back in that loud way that only little boys can.
With a hum, Veronica snuggles deeper into the warm blankets; concentration on what has become a morning ritual between father and son.
Water turns on and sounds of light splashes drift out from the half-closed bathroom door. "Whoa there partner, we only need to get our faces wet, not the whole counter." Veronica picks up on the amusement and love in Logan's voice while also giving firm instructions to the child.
"Okay, what comes next? I seem to have forgotten." There's no need to see, to know that Logan has a head tilted, tapping a finger to lips while pretending to think, making his most serious face.
"The shaving cream, Daddy!" Excitement colors Keith Junior's voice. The shaving cream is the favorite part; so much so, that Logan must keep the shaving cream up on the highest shelf when not using it. If not, there will be a repeat episode of KJ covering the bathroom in the white cream, along with a little boy. An experience neither parent has any desire to clean up again.
"Oh yeah, that's right!" Giggles drift out into the bedroom again and Veronica recognizes the tone as one the boy uses while wiggling to get away from Logan's tickling fingers.
The news overjoyed Logan when they discovered she was pregnant; however, that joy had sometimes turned to terror with the news she was carrying a boy. Not that there was regret for the pregnancy; no, that was never an issue. It was the thought that Aaron's DNA would turn him into a monster. Terror coursed through blood that he might hurt the baby, principally because of a boy. Fears on this level came from how Aaron had abused Logan and yet, doted on Trina. Veronica knew when the doctor confirmed the pregnancy, he had been wishing for a girl for this reason.
Communication skills were now a thing of mastery between them. So, the couple talked about these fears. Veronica never once entertained thoughts that Logan could ever be anything like Aaron. In the deepest recesses of her soul there was the knowledge that he wasn't anything like that bastard except for a few outward genetic features. Many nights were spent holding him and with gentle encouragement having him to finally give voice to these fears to purge them. Tears had come when the panic overwhelmed and she rubbed his back. whispered of their love and her resolute belief in him. Logan begged Veronica to promise that if he ever raised a hand to either herself or the child to leave and never look back. To swear to do everything in her power to run and stay hidden. Veronica made the promise, confident there would never be need to fulfil it, but also aware that Logan needed to hear the oath so there could be peace of mind.
The petite blond's most treasured memory of Logan was the moment he held KJ for the first time. The labor had been long and difficult and the doctor had almost performed a C-section because of how small Veronica was, but KJ entered the world the natural way. Logan was there for every moment; for the hand holding, feeding ice chips, to coach through contractions, to dab a cold cloth to cool heated skin and to whisper words of love and encouragement to keep her going. Neither of them would ever forget the moment they heard their son's first cry when he entered the world. When it was time to hold the babe, Logan's eyes spoke of awe and love that had no name. That moment had almost broken Veronica's heart, such a powerful emotional rush of joy. Veronica observed while he kissed the baby's forehead, counted little fingers and toes and listened to whispered promises to never hurt and always love him unconditionally; to give KJ the memories with a father he wished he could have had with his own dad.
Reality breaks through thoughts again. "Oops, you missed a spot right there." Followed by more laughter.
"No, Daddy, we don't shave our nose, no shaving cream there!"
A quiet laugh huffs out of her while eavesdropping on this precious father and son morning routine. Lips downturn a bit when a brief sense of sadness that someday this would end invades thoughts. One day, KJ would get older, these precious moments would become memories. With the sadness comes pride and the knowledge that KJ will someday pass this ritual on. And, in the far future, Keith Junior would do this with his son, pass along this treasured ritual.
Logan's strong, loving voice breaks through "Okay, Little Man, all set. Do you have your razor?"
KJ's excited, higher voice responds "Right here, Daddy."
"Alright, remember to start on the cheek and move in smooth downward strokes."
Veronica pushes back the covers and sits up, swinging her legs around to get out of the bed. The camera sits on top of the dresser and she retrieves it before creeping with quiet steps to the master bathroom. Not wanting to disturb the two but wanting to capture the memories on film. With a gentle push, the door opens more, giving a better angle while 'Mom' snaps pictures. The camera is almost silent as it clicks in rapid repetitions.
KJ mimics Logan's actions with the rubber toy razor that Veronica had found as part of a toy shaving kit. To copy anything daddy did was the little boy's mission in life, but there was a special fascination with watching dad shave every morning. The excitement that shone in the child's eyes and the way his body bounced when Veronica had given the bubbling boy the kit had made her chest tighten, making it hard to breathe while Keith Junior told them in an excited voice that now he could be a big boy and shave just like daddy.
Veronica continues to snap pictures and that same tightening compression in her chest returns, a lump sticking in the throat while eyes blink away a few tears. Her baby is growing up and not a baby at all anymore. While the child may have mom's looks, the little imp was a mini version of daddy with actions, expressions, and demeanor. Logan catches her gaze in the mirror and smiles, eyes soft. A grin back and a few more snaps of the camera as "the men" finish up, using water to get off the remaining shaving cream and patting faces dry with a towel. Without a sound, she retreats, placing the camera back on the dresser.
"Daddy, can I wear some of your perfume today?"
Veronica bites her bottom lip hard to hold back the giggles that threaten to escape. "Not perfume, cologne KJ and just a tiny bit."
"But mommy's is perfume?" confusion colors the little boy's voice.
"That's right, women wear perfume and men wear cologne." Logan explains for probably the hundredth time "I heard some noises in the bedroom, mommy might be awake now and probably waiting for hugs and kisses."
There is a clatter, then slapping of feet against the tile before the door is flung open. "Mommy, you're awake!"
Veronica catches the little man up when he takes a running leap and holds him tight in a hug. "Good morning, Sweet Pea, how did you sleep? Did you have good dreams?"
KJ moves his head up and down with force and then presses his cheek against hers and rubs them together. "I just shaved with Daddy!"
Veronica holds the precious boy a little tighter and moves their cheeks together. "So smooth, excellent job, Baby. Did you work up an appetite for breakfast?"
"Yes, can we have pancakes today?"
"Again? That's the third day this week! Do you have a pancake monster in your tummy?"
High giggles have her lips curving up and warmth spreads through her body. "Why don't you get dressed and then watch cartoons until I have them ready?"
Veronica sets the now squirming KJ down, "Okay mommy." The little boy races out of the room.
A low chuckle turns her attention to Logan coming out of the bathroom in a pair of low slung pajama pants. "Want to inspect how smooth my cheeks are too?"
Veronica goes to her husband, arms wrapping up around his neck as Logan leans down to kiss her. When the kiss ends, she makes a point to press their cheeks together and rub gently.
"Mmm… good morning, Bobcat." Lips brush against hers again.
"Good morning, Handsome."
Logan rests their foreheads together, gazing into her eyes. "Thank you for giving me our family, Veronica. Every moment with my son is so precious, every moment spent with you is a gift."
Veronica bites her bottom lip, "Well, I'm glad that's the way you view it because there is some news to tell you."
Expression shifting, his eyebrows come together, lips turning down. "What's wrong?"
A smirk taking over her lips, stroking a hand across his back to ease the tension there. "Nothing is wrong, at least I hope you won't think it is. So, you know how I've been off and tired all the time?"
Logan moves his head up and down in response, "Did you go see the doctor?"
"Yes," Veronica's lips curve upward again, and she takes his hand, placing it on her abdomen. "Seems we're about to expand our family by one more." A quiver runs along her spine and her stomach somersaults while she waits for a response to the news.
Logan's eyes light up while large hand cups around her abdomen, "What- you mean- another - a baby?"
A low chuckle escapes from her throat, Teeth bite a bottom lip. Before another word is said, she's lifted off her feet, and the world spins as deep booming laughter fills the room. "Veronica! This is incredible!"
"Yes, I think so too," the words come out shaky and in a gasp, "but should we maybe be more careful about spinning around the pregnant woman who could throw up on you?"
Another deep laugh as Logan sets Veronica on her feet but keeps her in a tight embrace. "Yeah, sorry, didn't think that one through."
Veronica is about to respond when there is a loud crash from the living room. With a sigh while fighting a grin that wants to take over again, "Well, let's go see what your son is up to now."