A fire danced in the hearth as Kelly lay cuddled up in Joey's strong arms. She listened to his steady heartbeat as she silently reveled in the feeling of comfort and love that she always carried with her now – Joey's gift to her. Even when he wasn't with her, she was at peace. More than that, she was happy.
"You okay? You're a little quiet tonight," Joey said, rubbing her slender arms where the sleeves of her baggy tee-shirt ended. At his touch, her skin immediately pimpled with goosebumps. "Cold?"
"I'm more than okay," Kelly responded. She looked up into his smoky blue eyes. "And I'm feeling a little warm right now actually."
Joey grinned and moved to press his lips to hers. Things quickly heated up between them. Joey slid his fingers into the waistband of her pajama bottoms as she cupped his handsome face in her hands.
Just as they were about to rip each other's clothes off, they heard the study door open. "Oh god!" Zane's familiar voice rang out from just over the threshold. "Not again."
Kelly's face heated with a fierce blush and she quickly rolled out from under Joey. She ran a shaky hand through her mussed dark blonde hair. Zane shook his head at her, and then turned on his heel, heading back the way he had come.
"Zane, wait!" Kelly called to him. "We're actually still fully clothed," she offered lamely.
"This time," Zane said with a groan. "I've caught you two almost going at it like, five times now."
"We're engaged," Joey piped up. "Plus, your mother is incredibly beautiful and it's hard to keep my hands off of her."
Kelly shook her head. "You're not helping here, Joe." She smacked her hands together. "Anyway, I've got an idea! Why don't we all play a board game?"
Zane rolled his eyes. "I'm not five. I'll pass." He disappeared up the staircase.
Kelly sunk back down onto the cushions. "Sorry," Joey said, slumping down beside her. "I didn't mean to say that. It's just… Zane, he makes me nervous."
"Since he found out we're engaged."
"I think he hates me, Kelly," Joey said. "I think he hates the idea of his getting married again, packing everything up and moving back to Llanview."
"Joey, of course he hates you."
Kelly smiled. "Joey, he's fourteen, full of teenage angst, conflicting feelings, and raging hormones. He hates everybody right now."
"Okay, and that doesn't bother you at all?"
"Well, I figure he's a teenager. Teenagers are supposed to be pissy and belligerent."
"So that's all this is then – teenage attitude, or something?"
"Yes. Don't you remember how you were as a teen? Didn't you think the world and everyone in it sucked? Because I sure did… Until I met you anyway."
Joey's frown began to melt away. "Aww, don't you just say the sweetest things?"
Kelly smirked as Joey leaned over to kiss her, his hands going to tangle in the long locks of her hair. As his tongue darted at her lips, she forcefully pushed him back.
"Zane can't see us like that again," she said.
"Can we go upstairs to our room then?"
"Not just yet. I think I should try to talk to my son, and it won't help my case if I go into his room smelling like your aftershave."
"Too late, you already do." His fingers played on the hem of her tee-shirt.
She shook her head. "Later, okay? But for now, you need to cool off. Go roll naked in the snow or something."
"You're a cruel, cruel woman, Kelly Cramer," Joey laughed.
"Don't I know it?" Kelly laughed too. She then pushed off the sofa and went upstairs to try to talk some sense into her son.
4: An Important Talk
"Zane, can we talk?" Kelly asked, poking her head in the door of his room. Zane was sprawled on his bed, legs in the air, pounding on imaginary drums as he bobbed his head along to music on his headphones. "Zane?" She said louder.
"I heard you; I heard you." Zane slid off his headphones, leaving them encircling his neck.
"Can I come in?"
"Yeah, I guess," Zane said. He pointed to the chair at the desk. Most of his stuff was packed up in boxes and bags; ready for the trip back to Llanview. The only reason any packing had been done at all though was because Kelly had kept annoying him about it until he threw everything together a few days ago.
"So I thought we should talk," Kelly said, trying to think how to approach this delicate subject.
"You said that already. That's what women do, right – talk about everything, analyze everything?"
Kelly smiled in spite of herself. "Wait until you have a woman of your own; she will talk your ear off too. I think Joey only lets me get away with chattering on endlessly because there's no escape from me with this blizzard raging."
Zane rolled his eyes. "Can we not talk about him?"
"Zane, he's your uncle…"
"Yeah, and he's your fiancée and Grandpa Kevin's brother… Do you know how much I get teased about that?"
"Oh, Zane," she said. "I had no idea."
"Yeah, well… Nothing is going to change, right? You're still going to marry him."
Kelly nodded. "Yes, honey, yes I am."
"Because I love him. It's as simple and complicated as that. I love your uncle so much."
"Did you love Grandpa? You were married to him too, remember?"
"Of course, I remember that. And yes, I loved your grandfather, but –"
"Not the way I love Joey," Kelly said. "I will never love another man as much as I love Joey… except for you of course."
"Mom," Zane groaned.
"Oh, I know. I know. You're a teenager. The last thing you want to hear is that your mother adores you. That's embarrassing, right?"
"I'm sorry," Kelly said. "Sorry that it embarrasses you, but it's true. You're the very best thing I ever did."
Zane sighed. "I guess," he said. "But are you totally sure you want to marry Uncle Joey?"
"Yes, Zane, I do. I wish you could be happy for us; happy that we found our way back to each other."
"I'll try," Zane said, "but I am worried about Grandpa. He hasn't been with anyone in a really long time, and he says he's okay with it, but I don't think he really is."
"You love Kevin so much."
Zane nodded. "He's like the Dad I never had."
"I wish you could have met your dad," Kelly said. "Duke was a really special guy."
"Did you love him?"
Kelly sighed. "No, at least not in that way," she said. "I loved him as a friend, as the son of your grandfather, but what happened wasn't about some soulmate connection."
"So do you regret that it happened?"
Kelly rolled the chair over to Zane's bedside and touched his cheeks. To her surprise and delight, he didn't repel in horror at his mother's touch. "I deeply regret that I hurt your Grandfather, but I can never regret that I got you out of the deal. You're my number one guy."
"Does that make Joey number two?" He asked with a sardonic laugh.
"Let's not go there," Kelly said, knowing what he really meant by that remark. She kissed his cheek. "Now, can you really try to be happy for Joey and me?"
He shrugged. "I guess I can try," Zane said.
"Thank you. And as for your Grandpa Kevin, I've noticed he's been lonely too, even if he denies it. I think if we can just get him to return to Llanview with us, I can help him. I know just the person for him too."
"You're going to set him up? That never works."
"I will have you know, Zane Buchanan, that I am a matchmaking expert."
Kelly laughed. "Since … now." She ruffled his hair. "Now why don't you get some sleep? If the storm lets up tonight, we might be able to fly back to the states tomorrow."
Zane nodded. "Just do me a favor?"
"Please stop making out with Joey all over the place. That's what bedrooms are for."
Kelly flushed. "Yes, they're for sleeping, of course."
Kelly went to the door. "Goodnight, honey."
"Goodnight, Mom," he said.
Joey was waiting for her in the hall when she left Zane's room. She smirked. "Tell me you weren't eavesdropping."
"I can emphatically say I was not… But are you really going to try to pair Kevin up with someone?"
"That's just one reason why you love me," Joey joked. She swatted his arm and he stilled her hand, pulling her into a crushing embrace, devouring her with kisses.
Kelly laughed. "Oh no, you're not starting up something right here. To the bedroom you go."
"As long as I'm not going alone."
"You're not, Joey. You and I are a packaged deal, buddy."
They walked hand in hand to their bedroom where they sequestered themselves for the next twelve hours. When they came up for air in the wee hours, they saw that the blizzard had let up.
"Llanview, here we come," Kelly whispered.