Ness finished applying the last bit of mascara just when her boyfriend, Jeff Hardy, entered the room. He leaned against the door frame of their newly built home, his arms crossed against his chest. With his yellow and purple hair pulled back into a ponytail, he also wore khaki's and an un-tucked, white, button down shirt. They made eye contact through the mirror that hung on the bathroom wall and both smiled. "Why hello there," she greeted him, putting down the mascara wand. "Are you just about ready to get going?"
She stood up from her cushioned stool and let her knee length sundress flow around her. She did a quick twirl to show off her whole outfit, topped off with black high heels. Jeff mouthed a "wow", putting his hands in his pockets. "I don't know how you still amaze me, nine years later," he commented, having her do another twirl.
The day Jeff showed up before everyone to her apartment in Colorado really did change their lives. After he helped her pack and took her to her favourite spot, the waterfall, they talked everyday. Their relationship was made official that night, and had been going strong ever since.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and brought his head closer to hers for a kiss. It wasn't anything deep, but it was satisfying enough that she smiled when he picked her up and spun her around, letting her black and white dress flow ever so gracefully. "So," he started, his arms still around her waist while she played with the hairs on the back of his head, "I thought instead of going out, we can stay here tonight."
Ness gave a small pout. After all the unpacking of boxes they have done over the last two weeks, and all the delivered meals they ate, she was hoping for a nice dinner out. "Aw, Ness. Come on," he drawled, leading taking her by the hand and leading her out of the room. "Wouldn't it be nice to get a couple of steaks, have a nice salad, maybe some wine?"
Ness sighed at the mention of wine. While their relationship remained strong, her sobriety was an ongoing battle. Though she hadn't had a drink in over a year, the temptation always remained when friends were over, or if they did end up going out for dinner. "You don't have to have wine," Jeff said, shaking his head. "I shouldn't have mentioned it, and I apologize."
Just like that. She knew she was lucky to end up with him. All the past boyfriends, Randy, Austin, the lot before them, would never have realized a mistake so fast. She gave him another quick kiss at the top of the stairs that looked over the front foyer. "It's OK, babe," she told him. "I just really wanted to go out. I shouldn't be so pouty. We already have everything we could want." She leaned on the railing and still looked over the front foyer. Their house was a combination of their dream houses, with her requesting a grand stair entrance, and he needing a huge backyard, and a pool.
This was a lost battle though. Jeff had already won. They weren't going out for dinner. She started to walk down the grand stairs, when there was a knock on the door. She looked up at Jeff, confused. "Are we eating Chinese food again? Did I really get all dolled up for more shrimp fried rice?"
"Maybe you should answer the door," Jeff suggested with a shrug. She shot him a side eye before continuing down the stairs, and peaking through the front curtain to see who it was. When she saw, she gave Jeff another side eye while she opened the door.
"Ness!" She let out a grunt when two, seven year old girls hugged her at waist, with a boy toddler hugging her at the knees. An older boy stood behind John and Lillian, and he offered a small wave. "Hi Aunt Ness," he mumbled.
"Hi Jacob," she answered, giving her brother a hug, and her sister in law a squeeze. The twin girls, Anna and Olive ran up the stairs to see their Uncle Jeff, while the toddler, Leo, got picked up and was placed firmly on Ness's hip.
"Hey guys," she finally greeted John and Lillian. "Did Jeff invite you by any chance?" She questioned jokingly.
"He invited us, and told us to bring steaks, salad, and our bathing suits," Lillian answered, holding up grocery bags and overnight bags. "He said we could finally have a tour of this massive home, which John and I are very interested in, but then he also mentioned to Olive that you guys have a water slide, and a working waterfall. Also, Jacob wants to dye his hair blue." Lillian rolled her eyes at Ness, while John shrugged.
"I can only do so much!" Ness said with a laugh. "I can't even control what my own boyfriend dyes his hair, I am not starting with your nine year old boy."
The three adults watched as Jeff flung the twin girls over his shoulders and carried them down stairs, listening to them giggle with every step. "Did you guys bring swim suits?" Jeff asked the kids, winking at Jeff and Lillian. When all the kids shrieked with excitement, Lillian took out all their bathing suits and handed them to Jeff. "They're your problems now. I want them exhausted and passed out by no later than ten o'clock tonight. We have an afternoon flight to catch tomorrow back to Colorado."
John and Ness stepped into the kitchen area, which John whistled at when he entered. "Damn sis, you got your own bakery in here," he commented, running his hand over the granite counter. A collection of Ness's cookbook's, including some she authored herself, were lined up against the wall with the spine showing off all the titles. "Are you guys settled in? Everything is good? You guys...you guys are OK?"
"Oh my God John, yes we're OK. We're always better than OK." She walked him over to the family room that was just off from the kitchen, and had him sit on the couch. "I don't know how many more years I need to tell you..."
"Ness, I know, I know. I just..."
"John." She put her hand on his chest, over his heart. "I've been with Jeff for almost a decade now. Just because we aren't married and haven't popped out four kids like some people," she joked with a wink. "We're doing great. We always will be. Just please...please, John. Stop. Worrying. About. Me."
John signed. "You know that's impossible," he admitted, standing up from the couch and offering her his hand to help her up. She gladly accepted, and they went back to the kitchen to get drinks and snacks ready for everyone. "If I have a drink, would you be fine with that?" He asked, just to make sure.
Ness gave him a sly smile. Her brother immediately knew something was up. While they both chopped up vegetables, they stood in silence. "Whatever you're assuming," Ness began, breaking the quietness, "you are probably assuming right. And no," she held up a finger to silence John, "I haven't told him yet. I'm going to tonight. So you can just shut up about it, and you don't mention it until you see me tell him. You may only tell Lillian. Do we have a deal?"
So much was hitting John at this point. While having four children of his own has been an absolute life changer, he was having a hard time with picturing his little sister as a mother herself. He watches her with his own children, and how she laughs with them, and shows them pranks to play on himself. Picturing her as a mom was just something John never saw in her future.
"I'm going to get my bathing suit on, if you want to take this out and set it on the table," Ness instructed her brother. "Get your suit on, lets have some fun." She gave him the biggest smile, and any worry John just had seemed to have disappeared.
She was OK.
She was doing as fine as she said she was.