Chapter 1 – First Day Surprise
"Christopher Chicago Beale, you walk your butt down these stairs right now. We're going to be late for your first day!" Chloe bellowed up the stairs.
The stomping of tiny feet soon could be heard going down the hall until Chloe saw a red streak of hair bouncing down the steps. She smiled widely, the anger washing away from her composure. It was Christopher's first day of kindergarten and she couldn't be happier, this was a day to remember and not to be angry at her adorable, but sometimes aggravating child. "Mommy I had to say goodbye to Auntie Aubrey and Auntie Stacie but I didn't find them," Christopher pouted, his lower lip jutting out dramatically.
"That's probably because I'm down here bug," Aubrey waltzed around the corner with a cup of coffee, "and Auntie Stacie is at work already. But I'm here to say goodbye and good luck on you first day of school!"
Aubrey knelt to Christopher's level and pulled him into a tight hug. Chloe melted at the sight of her best friend and son sharing a moment, she was forever grateful that Aubrey has been there for her. After her husband Chicago's car crash and subsequent death, Chloe had been a wreck. Aubrey had been there for her every step of the way, even if Chloe tried her best to push her away. Chloe pushed everyone away, especially after she found out she was pregnant. A pregnant widow at the young age of 28, who would have ever thought? But Aubrey was persistent and broke down every one of the walls Chloe had worked so hard to build after Chicago's death. Aubrey and Stacie had helped Chloe so much in raising Christopher, she doesn't think she'll ever be able to repay them for their friendship and kindness.
"Alright we better get going little dude," Chloe handed Christopher his batman backpack as he pulled away from Aubrey.
"Let's gooooo!" Christopher squealed excitedly. Making identical grins spread across both Aubrey and Chloe's faces.
The drive to school was filled with the eager chatter and squeals of the 5-year-old in the backseat. Chloe smiles warmly, knowing that her son is so excited to start school. She has been a little worried about him, considering he's never really had any contact with kids his age. For all of his life he's only ever been around Chloe, Aubrey, Stacie, her parents, and some of the other bellas. She does feel guilty that she never properly socialized him up until now, but Chloe is not a playgroup mom. She was never excited about the idea of running to the nearest all natural, organic, no cartoons group of moms down the street. The only other person she knows with a child close to her age is Beca. Chloe feels a pang in her chest thinking of her ex-best friend. She never thought they would drift apart like they had, but after she had married Chicago, Beca all but iced her out. It hurt. So obviously Beca's child was not an option.
"MOMMY!" her child's voice breaks her out of her reverie.
"What Christopher?" she looks at him through the rearview mirror, he's flapping his arms wildly.
"Look, it's school!" the excited 5-year old points out the window at the building they just pulled up to.
Chloe laughs, "Yes bug it's school. You ready?"
He nods animatedly, his red hair that Chloe had combed to perfection this morning, already a disaster from his excitement. Chloe parks the car and let's Christopher out of his car seat. The moment his feet hit the pavement he takes off running.
"CHRISTOPHER BEALE, SLOW DOWN," she calls after him.
Chloe quickly grabs his backpack and jogs to catch up to where he's sprinted. She finally catches up to him and grabs him by the shoulders, stopping him dead in his tracks.
She drops to his level and looks into his eyes, "You don't go running off without mommy like that, especially in a parking lot."
"Ok mommy," he nods, she can tell he's sorry by his long face.
"Ok well don't be sad now, let's go find your classroom!" Chloe stands up and grabs Christopher's tiny hand in hers.
They find their way to the kindergarten classroom pretty easily. Christopher's excitement seems to bubble over again and he's jumping up and down next to her. He's about to run off into the classroom but Chloe yanks him back by his hand. She drops to his level again, but this time pulls him into her arms tightly. She can feel his little hands wrap around her neck and grasp at her hair as he hugs her back just as tightly. Chloe is filled with such warmth from the hug her son gives her, she doesn't think she could ever love anyone more than she loves him.
"You didn't think you'd be able to get out of giving your mom a goodbye hug, did you?" she pulls away looking into his bright blue eyes, which are completely identical to her own.
He shakes his head no, "I love you mommy."
"I love you so much bug, be a good boy at school today," she says standing up and letting go of her wild little 5-year old, but not before handing him his backpack.
He looks back at her one more time before dashing into the classroom. Chloe can't help the small tear that escapes and trails down her face. She can't believe he's in kindergarten already.
She notices Christopher's teacher standing by the doorway, greeting every child that walks in. She better go introduce herself.
"Hi, I'm Chloe Beale, Christopher's mom," she extends her hand to the short, chipper looking blonde.
"Very nice to meet you Chloe! I'm Autumn Brown," she smiles back, shaking her hand, "I'm sure he'll be a delight to have in class."
"I know he's going to do well, he's been so excited for weeks," Chloe explains, watching Christopher out of the corner of her eye through the classroom door.
"That's so good he's been excited, some kids are so nervous to start school," Autumn replies kindly.
"Yea not Christopher," Chloe giggles thinking about she hasn't been able to get him to shut up about school for the last month.
"Well it was nice to meet you," Autumn smiles, ending the conversation so she can greet the other parents filling the hallway.
"You too," Chloe chirps before sliding over, but still enough to see into the classroom.
She stands still watching her son make his way through the classroom, greeting every kid he sees excitedly. She looks down at her watch and realizes it's getting late; she has to get going or she's going to be late for work. Just as she's about to turn around to leave she hears her name called by an all too familiar voice.
It can't be. She feels her stomach drop to her feet as she turns around to confirm her suspicions. Before her, in all her glory, is Beca Mitchell. Standing next to her, there is what appears to be a miniature Beca. Chloe looks her up and down in shock, like she isn't even real.
"Beca…wow," she stutters, "it's good to see you."
"Yea you too Chloe," Beca looks just as bewildered.
The two stare at each other for a moment before Chloe remembers the little girl still standing next to Beca, "And who is this you have with you? I don't think we've ever properly met."
"Oh yea," Beca says before looking down at her daughter, "this is Amelia."
"Hi Amelia," Chloe waves down at the tiny brunette, "I'm Chloe."
Chloe nudges her daughter, "Say hi to Chloe."
The little girl looks up nervously at her, "Hi Chloe."
She's so adorable and apparently shy. Chloe melts at the interaction.
"So…what are you doing here?" Beca asks curiously.
"Oh, I just dropped my son Christopher off," she motions toward to door to the classroom, "Looks like Christopher and Amelia are going to be classmates."
"I had no idea he was that old already Chlo," Beca slips, using her old nickname for the redhead, "I had no idea we were even in the same school district."
Chloe shrugs, "Yea…I um didn't realize your daughter was the same age as Christopher."
"Looks like we've got a lot of catching up to do," Beca replies sheepishly.
Chloe nods, her heart soaring at the prospect of talking to Beca again. She had no idea the younger woman had any interest in her life at all.
"Well I'm going to walk Amelia into the classroom," she motions down toward her daughter, "she's kind of nervous. Would you maybe want to grab a coffee afterward though?"
Chloe wants to say yes more than anything, but she has to get to work, "I really have to get going actually. I have work in a half an hour."
"Oh ok," Beca looks disappointed, "we should get together sometime when you're free."
Chloe nods excitedly, "I would really like that Beca."
"You probably don't have the right phone number for me anymore," Beca whips a pen and notebook out of her bag. She rips out a piece of a page, scrawling her phone number onto it, "I had to switch phone numbers after a crazy fan got a hold of my old one."
It dawns on Chloe that Beca is famous. Beca had rose to fame quickly after being discovered by DJ Khaled. Something Chloe seemingly forgot, even though it's hard to not hear a Beca Mitchell song whenever you turn on the radio.
Chloe takes the scrap of paper from Beca, another question forming, "How did you manage to drop your daughter off without being bombarded by paparazzi or fans?"
"I would be surprised if there weren't a few outside right now," Beca laughs, "I got lucky this morning though, but that's also why I bring him along."
Beca points at the burly looking man down the hall, aviator shades still on his face even though they're inside. What a crazy life Beca must have, needing a bodyguard for something as simple as taking her daughter to school on her first day.
"Wow," Chloe replies simply, still kind of shocked.
Beca rolls her eyes, "Yea fame has its perks, but it has a lot of downfalls."
Chloe just nods, suddenly feeling very bad for the petite brunette she used to call her best friend.
"Ok well I better get going, I hope that we can get together soon," Chloe smiles warmly at the mother and daughter.
Beca smiles back just as brightly, "Definitely. It was great to see you Chloe."
Chloe spins on her heels and walks back out towards her car. Her head and heart are swirling at the prospect of getting to "know" Beca again. Who would have thought she'd run into her here? She knows she has to be careful though, Beca had hurt Chloe badly all those years ago when she refused to be a part of her wedding. And then if that wasn't enough, she stopped talking to her. It took a long time for her heart to heal after losing her best friend. She also knew deep down inside though that the distance and space helped. Chloe had still been in love with Beca. Beca never made it clear that she felt similarly, so Chloe did what she had to. She found someone else. She knew it was wrong to agree to marrying Chicago when she was still in love with Beca but she knew it was the only way to move on. It's not like she didn't love Chicago though. She did, with all her heart, but it was never the same way she loved Beca. The thought of her deceased husband still makes her heart split in two. She won't ever truly recover from losing him in the way that she did. She does know though that she is ready to have Beca back in her life, if that's what she would like.
She didn't realize how lost in her thoughts she was until she pulled up to the vet clinic. Working will help clear her head. Working always helps center her. She gets out of the car and walks into the clinic, the secretary smiles up at her, "Morning Dr. Beale."
"Good morning Annie," Chloe chirps.
The young secretary holds up a yellow file folder for her to grab, "You've got a dog with joint problems at 10, they got scheduled last minute. I saw you didn't have anything, hope that's ok?"
Normally Chloe would grumble at last minute add-ons but today she is grateful for all the distractions so she doesn't sit and think about everything that could go wrong with Christopher at school…or Beca, "That's perfect actually, thanks!"
Chloe walks to her office and sits down heavily in the chair behind her desk. She's still trying to process everything that happened this morning. It's like something out of a dream, seeing Beca at the school and Beca asking to meet up. She wasn't sure if Beca even cared for her anymore. Chloe can't help but pull out her phone and send a quick text to Aubrey.
C: guess who I ran into today?
Chloe barely sets her phone down before Aubrey responds, she forgot she had the day off.
C: Yea Beca. Apparently our kids are going to be in the same class
A: CALL ME ASAP
C: can't. I've got a patient in 10 minutes
A: CHLOE MARIE BEALE YOU PICK UP THAT PHONE AND CALL ME NOW
C: I will when I'm done. Keep your pants on
Chloe can't tell if Aubrey's responses were angry or surprised, but she has a feeling it's the first one. She sighs, Aubrey has been very protective of her ever since Chicago died. And she's grateful, she is. She knows it's just Aubrey showing her she cares. Sometimes she can be a little overbearing though. Chloe's not the same fragile person she was 5 years ago. She can hold her own now, unlike when all it took was someone to breath and she was broken all over again. As if Aubrey is a mind reader, Chloe gets another text.
A: You know I'm just worried. I don't want to see you hurt again.
C: I know.
Chloe shakes her head knowingly and stands up to leave for her first patient. Maybe she should be more worried about letting Beca back in, maybe Aubrey is right.