Wine Not Coffee

Chapter 24

Epilogue

Kate found her when she came home from school the next day. Right where she expected to find her. In the dining hall where everyone that worked here ate.

"You taught Alexis to say Mama, didn't you?" Kate was ready to give her mother a piece of her mind right here and now.

"And what if I did? She's not going to call you Katie, that word is too hard for her. Mama is so much easier. Even Da Da is too hard for her at her age, besides she doesn't even know the meaning of the word," Jo pointed out.

"But I do! And I'm not her mother." Kate would remember giving birth to any baby let alone Alexis.

"Aren't you? Alexis only knows two women, you and me. And I'm not the one that spends her nights over there. I'm not the one that feeds her. Have you changed a poopy diaper yet?

"Your father and I aren't blind, Katie. You don't come home from school each and every night and we all know you aren't spending your nights at school. Who do you think she's going to call Mama? Emily who barely says hi to her or you?" Jo demanded. Yes, she had taught Alexis to say Mama and she was proud of how fast Alexis caught on to that word.

Kate opened her mouth to fight back but she had nothing.

"You said Rick invited you to move in with him. Your father and I aren't blind about that either. If you two aren't careful enough there are going to be two babies over there instead of just the one. Who will be the mommy then?" Jo asked.

"Katie… We all like Rick and we're all happy you like him. But he comes with a baby and you know that. One day, if you two stay together, you will move in. Alexis is going to get older and start learning just who is around her and one day she's going to learn just what that word means and she's going to apply that word to you.

"So you better get used to hearing that word if you want to keep Rick. Love isn't a switch, Katie. You can't just stop loving him or Alexis just because she suddenly says a word that you're not ready for.

"So you have two choices. Dump Rick and your father and I will be very disappointed in you, or learn to love him and Alexis and get used to the word Mama. You started dating him, not us. And you walked into this with your eyes wide open. Rick didn't hide Alexis from you.

"So what's it going to be, Katie? Have you changed a poopy diaper yet?" Did she truly understand just what she had started when she started dating Rick?

"Yes." It was a stinky one too. It really cleaned out her sinuses.

Jo changed the subject since she had clearly won this one. "Have you finished your homework?"

"No." She had come straight there to give her mother a piece of her mind and had gotten her ass handed to her instead. She knew what she was doing. It was just a shock was all. She was Kate and not mommy.

"Then finish your homework, go over to Rick's, and get to work teaching Alexis how to say Da Da. She'll catch on eventually. She caught on to Mama pretty fast if it only took her this long," Jo told her and glared at her when she didn't move.

"I'm going. …But it was still a dirty trick." Kate still wasn't happy with her mother about this.

"All's fair in love and war," Jo answered and watched Katie leave.

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Rick was sure she was overdoing it with her class load but it was her life and so long as she kept her grades up, who was he to complain? He'd had to watch her only show up at his place every couple of days all semester. But thankfully her classes were going to be over in a week.

Alexis was almost a year old and formula and even a lot of the baby food was a distant memory. He was still amused and pissed that Alexis had been calling him Mama and Kate Mama. Alexis was way past that now.

He was finally Da Da and Kate was now MA-MA! And some how she just knew when Kate was home. Before Rick could stop her she would rocket across the floor to the front door to try and reach her.

"Alexis!" Kate didn't even get to step inside before she picked her up and gave her kisses. "How's my girl?"

"Uv Mama," Alexis babbled.

"You love me? I love you too. Where's Daddy?" Kate could see him standing there watching them both.

Alexis pointed. "Da da, wor."

"Daddy is working. Looks to me like he isn't doing anything." Kate walked over to Rick. "Hi, babe." Kate kissed him.

Alexis put her hand over her mouth, kissed it, and hit Kate with it. "You want a kiss or is that my kiss?" Kate wasn't sure which. "Did your new guests show up?" Rick was supposed to get a new family showing up today.

"Came and gone already. Their little boy wouldn't leave my railroad crossing sign alone. He worked out it would light up and make noise and decided it should never stop." Rick rolled his eyes just like Kate taught him.

"Din Din," Alexis announced and reached for the railroad crossing sign. She knew what it did too. She lived here after all.

"You want to make it work?" Kate bent down so she could press the button and soon the lights were flashing and it was going DING, DING, DING, DING, DING, DING, DING.

Rick had heard enough. "I'm tempted to unplug the thing."

"Don't do that. Alexis likes it. Don't you?" Kate put a finger in her belly to tickle her.

"Uv MA-MA!" Alexis told her.

"I love you too." Kate kissed her. "Just two more classes and I'm done for this semester. Two more tests that mean most of my grade. But I'm all yours for tonight." Kate grinned at him.

"Really?" Rick's face lit up. He smiled wide and kissed her. They were both looking forward to making love to each other tonight. "I have news." Rick ignored Alexis trying to put her hand between them. If anyone was going to be kissed it should be her.

"Good news or bad news?" Kate asked him and braced for bad news.

Rick began to tell her his news. "Definitely good news. In a Hail of Bullets is still on the best sellers list."

"Congratulations, babe!" Kate was proud of him and kissed him again then kissed Alexis.

"I've got more good news. Black Pawn likes the Derrick Storm idea and I have a two book deal. I've got a 1.2 million advance for the first one." Rick only made it that far as Kate sucked in a lot of air, placed her free hand over her mouth, and stared at him.

He told her the rest of it. "If it reaches certain sales figures they'll give me a 1.8 million advance for the second one. After that we talk but I have plans for him past two books already."

"That's great!" This time Kate really kissed him.

"I want to celebrate. Did you bring any of your good dresses? We can go to that restaurant at the casino. I'll even let you drive," Rick offered.

"I accept and no, I didn't. I need to go home first," Kate told him.

"In that case move the car seat to your car and take Alexis with you. Your parents can watch her. I'll get changed and bring the diaper bag and food and your parents can keep her all night," Rick said.

"I like your thinking, babe." Kate gave him a quick kiss. "Come on, Alexis, we're going to go see Grams."

"Nana!" Alexis screeched.

"That's right, my mom. You like her. I'll meet you there." Kate kept Alexis and headed for Rick's car. She didn't need his key since she had the spare key like he had her spare key for her car.

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"Say bye-bye, Mommy." Jo waved while holding Alexis.

"Bye-bye Mama." Alexis waved. "Uv you." That had Jo kissing her cheek. They had all come a long ways over the last few months.

"You want to go find Grandpa? I think he's in the wine storage somewhere." Jo didn't wait for an answer and began walking.

Kate let the valet park the car since she couldn't get out of his car in this dress without ripping it because she needed the door to open wide.

"Are we gambling or just eating?" Kate questioned him.

"What do you think?" Rick asked her and got kissed for his answer.

"Have I mentioned that I love you lately?" Kate asked him then dragged him toward the cash location to get some chips using his money.

"Go play craps or something. Just don't go winning a free car." It wasn't free and they didn't need another car.

"Have fun." Rick kissed her and took his chips a different direction as Kate headed for a Blackjack table.

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Rick lost his money so fast it wasn't funny and was sitting off to one side when he saw Kate walking his way. She was still the single most beautiful woman he had ever seen. And watching her breasts bouncing in that black dress had him groaning.

Rick fought to lift his eyes up to hers but it was a struggle. Kate grinned since she liked it when he wanted her and found her sexy. Apparently he still did. "Done already?"

"Lost already," Rick told her. "How did you do?"

"I quit early. I think they're catching on to me. I'm not sure how much I have but it's not as much as last time. Do we eat the same place or do you want to go to the other restaurant, Mr. Successful Writer?" Kate grinned at him.

"I feel like duck so the same place if that's okay with you," Rick said to her.

"I like it. Might even choose duck myself. It's not every day I have a successful writer for a boyfriend." Kate kissed him yet again as she took his arm and they walked to the restaurant.

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Kate tossed her winning chips aside. She hadn't even bothered to cash them in. She slipped her arms out of her chiffon coat and let it fall to the floor as Rick removed his tie, took off his jacket and dropped it on the chair.

Kate slipped her spaghetti straps off her shoulders and her dress fell to the floor. She was left standing there dressed only in her thong. "Make love to me," Kate asked him and watched him continue removing his suit.

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Kate was awake and Rick was sleeping and both were still naked in his bed. Kate hesitated to touch him for fear of waking him. It wasn't that she didn't want to make love to him again because she did. But she needed to think.

She was past falling in love with him. She loved him. He was handsome, he had two jobs, and he had told her that he had just been paid over a million dollars. It was more money than she had dreamed of ever making, let alone having. And if this book did well his next one was going to be worth even more. She knew he loved her, he was funny, and on occasion just a little too childish. But that was also part of why she loved him.

She was changing Alexis's poopy diapers even if she didn't like it. It wasn't so much the act or look of it, it was the smell that got her. She was remembering what her mother had told her.

When she was sure she loved not just Rick but both of them and she could change Alexis's poppy diapers she was ready to move in with him. But was she ready?

If she moved in, all this wouldn't be part time. It would be her life. One short step away from what might come next. Marriage. But she was still only nineteen years old. Her twentieth birthday was still five months away and she would be attending fall classes by then.

No, her first idea was still correct. Finish one year of college and if she still felt the same then she could accept his offer to move in. This summer they would have all the free time they needed to go out on dates and keep learning about each other.

Secure in the knowledge that she loved him and Alexis, Kate touched him till he was awake and made love to him again.

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Kate had effectively moved in with Rick during that entire summer. She only went home to drop off Alexis so they could go out on a date. One time Rick had even arranged to be gone all day so they took a train to Geneva and got to tour and be tourists in that city.

They even now had plans for a trip to Paris. It meant a train to Geneva, followed by a train to Paris, then a taxi to their hotel. Right now it was just a plan and Rick hadn't even booked it yet.

Kate had to go into school that morning to arrange for her fall classes and at least pay her tuition using her parents' credit card. Since they were fall classes Kate went a little easier on just how many classes she was willing to take. Her spring classes had shown her that she had overdone it a little.

During her drive home she was debating just where she was going to live. She had told herself that she wasn't going to move in with Rick and Alexis until she had completed one year of classes. It was just she had spent every single day and night at Rick's all summer long.

They made love to each other constantly and while Rick was out front tending to his guests, if they needed him at all, she was spending her day with Alexis. She was still MA-MA to her and she didn't mind any longer. In fact she was starting to enjoy it.

Kate had learned all about Meredith and still didn't understand that women. Alexis was clearly worth loving. She knew exactly where his mother was. Martha was going to be on a plane later today flying from New York City to London where she changed planes and flew to Geneva. From there she had a train trip to Montreux.

Martha was going to get her old room while Kate stayed with Rick and Alexis. The same day classes started his mother was going to fly back to New York.

It meant Kate was now excited and worried. This was Rick's mother they were talking about. Rick had long since met her parents but what if Martha didn't like her? Didn't like Montreux or what Rick was doing?

Rick had explained that Martha and her sister didn't get along. Something had happened that Rick wasn't willing to talk about. "It's Mother's story, not mine. If you want to know you'll have to ask her."

Kate did want to know but she didn't want to start a fight either. So maybe it was just going to have to stay a mystery.

"Hi, Emily." She was at the front desk instead of Rick which was puzzling. "Why are you here so early?" It was past lunch but she didn't usually get here for another hour. She still cleaned the train coaches but she didn't clean the residence any longer.

"Rick called me in. Said he had something he needed to do and asked if I would cover for him. So he took Alexis to your mother and left. Then came back and your dad drove him away," Emily explained.

"Did he say why?" His Ferrari was clearly out front so he hadn't left that way.

"No, just that he had something to do. Very mysterious." He refused to say anything to her only to thank her for this and got Kate's dad to give him a lift into town.

"Interesting. …I guess I'll go home since that's where Alexis is. Thank you." Kate got back into her little red BMW and drove home.

Kate found her mother and Alexis in the living room. Her mother was just sitting there while Alexis was on the floor playing with her toys. Toys that only existed over here.

"MA-MA! Horsey!" Alexis made it move as Kate sat next to her mother.

"Why is Alexis over here?" Kate asked her.

"Got me. Rick just asked if I would watch her then left. He's up to something, I just don't know what. …Mama." Jo rubbed it in.

"Ha-ha, very funny. But you were right." Her mother had warned her that Alexis was going to start calling her mommy or MA-MA even if she didn't think she was.

"Mothers are always right and she's still precious." Jo watched her play in her make believe little world she had created for herself.

"Is Dad here?" There was a truck missing and she wanted to know why her dad was driving Rick anywhere.

"He went into town. Rick showed up with the diaper bag but it was a little on the empty side so he went into town to get some stuff. He'll be back in a moment. I'm not really sure what's taking him so long." He had been gone too long just for the things they needed.

"So Rick and Dad are being mysterious. Emily said Dad showed up to drive him somewhere." Kate saw a clue here but didn't know what it was.

Jo raised an eyebrow at that. "Did you sign up for your classes?" Jo knew that was today.

"Yup, here's your credit card and thank you." Kate handed it over.

"We promised we would pay your tuition either for Stanford or here. I did get to finally thank Rick for the signed book." Jo now had signed copies of both his books. "Derrick Storm, huh?" Jo teased her a little.

Kate didn't think it was her. "I don't know that I can take credit for the name. I maybe said something about a storm. Rick did the rest."

"Your father and I are looking forward to the Montreux Jazz Festival. Jim tells me it's held every July. Should be fun. We plan on bringing you and Rick with us. Hopefully Alexis here likes Jazz." Since she was going with them.

"Ma-Ma." Alexis was up and headed for Kate. She was done with her little world.

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That left Kate to keep Alexis happy since she was in her lap. "You can stop grinning at me now, Mom." Kate got it. She was Mommy just like her mom had warned her.

"I happen to like being proven that I'm right. So shoot me." Jo kept grinning at her.

"Don't tempt me," Kate snarked only to have her mother laugh a little at her.

"What do you think I should do with ma ma?" Kate asked Alexis. Except all Alexis did was cuddle in close. "You look like you're getting tired." That got Alexis to shake her head. Kate let her rest on her chest and Alexis fell asleep.

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"Look who I found wandering around the train station," Jim announced as he walked in with diapers that would fit Alexis along with some food she especially liked.

"Babe!" Kate was happy to see him. She had no idea what he had been doing all day. "Train station?" Why would he be at the train station? Kate tilted her head back so she could get a kiss. But he didn't kiss her.

What had she done that she couldn't get one little kiss from him? They had kissed in front of her parents lots of times. They weren't keeping it a secret any longer.

Instead he came around in front of her and suddenly he was down on one knee.

OH GOD! Oh God, oh God, oh God. He wasn't, was he? Kate couldn't breathe and she didn't even feel the weight of a sleeping Alexis in her lap and on her chest. All she saw was Rick. She could hear the pounding of her heart in her ears.

"We don't have to do this tomorrow. We don't even have to do this anytime this year. But I'm not letting some other guy swoop in and try and sweep you off your feet. So I asked your dad for permission." Rick showed her the little box that held something inside it.

OH MY GOD! He was! He was actually going to do this. And he chose now!? Today of all days?

"I love you. Alexis loves you and only sees you as mommy. The only mommy she's ever going to know even if you didn't give birth to her. So, Katherine Houghton Beckett of the Beckett winery family who is still a coffee drinker, marry me?" Rick opened the box and showed it to her.

Kate only had eyes for the ring that was inside the box. She barely heard her dad talking to her.

"The fool took a train all the way to Geneva this morning to search for it. And yes, he asked," Jim told her.

But Kate was barely listening to anything save the pounding of her heart. He had. He had actually proposed. She had told herself that she wasn't doing anything till after fall semester. Till after she was twenty years old and not technically a teenager any longer. A real honest to God grown woman.

Suddenly her vision got cloudy and she couldn't see the ring clearly. Only then did she work out that she was crying. She loved him. She knew she loved him. She knew she loved Alexis almost as much.

Her dream wasn't shattered by following her parents out to Switzerland. If anything it was even better. She had found her someone special.

"Katie?" Jo was sitting there with her own tears. Her daughter had her own daughter sleeping on her and the father was proposing in front of them all. What was she waiting for?

Kate wiped away the tears without thinking and nodded. Then she found her hand in his as the engagement ring slid onto her finger. She was getting married. Nineteen was too young, but he said he would wait.

"Yes." Her voice was cracked with tears but she had answered him.

"Ma-ma?" Alexis was awake. Something had woken her. She was too young to know it was the madly beating heart of her mother that had woken her. She saw her mother crying. She didn't do that, ever.

"Daddy proposed. See?" Kate showed her her ring and kissed her head.

"Rick asked if he could propose and I happily said yes." Jim tells his daughter. His wife may have done all the plotting and planning but he didn't try and stop her. Now he was glad that he hadn't.

One day she was going to be Mrs. Castle and live in a B&B not far from her parents' winery. She would finish school and be a lawyer till her parents decided to retire. Then she, Rick, and their family, however big that turned out to be, would move in and learn all about wine.

And Alexis or their children would take over when they retired. The winery would stay in the family for generations to come. They would simply own a B&B on the side.

In Montreux, Switzerland. The United States was somewhere else and no one cared what they did.

XXxxx

Trivia time. How many of you knew that the Casino in Montreux is the basis for a Deep Purple song? Can you name the song?