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A New Life in New York

Once Upon a Time in New York City (Huey Lewis & The News) - Part Three

January 8, 2020

“Thank you for coming over so that I can get some stuff done this morning,” I said to Bridget. She was a former student of mine who nannied for me occasionally when I needed to get out and leave the kids at home.

“No worries, Ms. Finnigan.” She still called me Ms. Finnigan, normally I’d try to convince her to that she could call me Janie but today I wanted to get out of here as fast as possible. I needed to make my coffee appointment on time and trying to convince Bridget that when she is my nanny Ms. Finnigan didn’t matter and she could call me Janie wasn’t worth the time. Fuck, she could call me any name she wanted and I’d happily hand her some cash and hug her for giving me free time.

I grabbed my coat and headed out the door. I plugged my headphones in and turned on Monday’s episode of Pod Save America and started to mentally go through the notes I had for my meeting. It didn’t take long before I was in my favorite coffee shop, ordering the biggest latte they had and happily agreeing to the extra shot. Noelle, the barista, knew me all too well and must’ve sensed the desperation I had for caffeine. I’d been trapped in the apartment since Friday with a sick kid and it was Wednesday and I was just getting my first taste of freedom and coffee that I didn’t make, forget about and then drink when it was ice cold.

“Thanks, Noelle,” I said as I took the cup from her.

“You’re welcome. Are you here for the whole morning?” she asked. That often happened. If I wasn’t getting inspiration in the apartment I came here, sat at a table in the corner and wrote for hours.

“I’ve got a meeting and then my fingers are crossed that I can sneak to a spin class or something. I’ve been stuck at home with a sick kid for nearly a week.”

“That sounds miserable. That extra shot was clearly necessary.”

“Yes, yes it was.” I headed back to the normal table I inhabited in the corner and sat down. I was at least a half hour early for my meeting. I always did this, it gave me a chance to enjoy the first few sips of decent, warm coffee before I started talking to whoever I was meeting with and the coffee got cold.

Today’s meeting would hopefully be less of me talking, more of me listening. It was a literary agent I’d known for several years who had contacted me last week to tell me she had a project she wanted my input on. I knew her in my past-life and she’d only been a pop-in acquaintance of the current version of my life.

“Jane, lovely to see you,” she greeted. I stood from my spot to give a quick hug as a greeting. I’d learned that this woman was a hugger over the years.

“So nice to see you as well, Marianne. Thank you for making the trek down to Tribeca for me.” She worked at an agency on the Upper East Side and I’d sensed on the phone that she wasn’t all that pleased about having to come to Lower Manhattan for a meeting. If I remember from our brief conversations she also lived on the Upper East Side.

“Oh, it’s no trouble. This coffee shop seems cute.” Don’t roll your eyes, Janie. Don’t roll your eyes.

“So tell me about this project you wanted my input on.”

“Well, your blog, I just want to start by saying I love it.”

“Thank you, it’s a labor of love but something very important to me.”

“I have this idea of taking your blog and the following you have from that and turning into a published series.” I’d had this pitch from other agents before, I think even one from her agency. I never took them, it meant less freedom to write what I wanted because they all wanted me to be the next big Mommy Blogger turned Best Selling Author.


“I think your story is a very intriguing one and would resonate well with readers.”

“What about my story?”

“You’re a young single mom and doing this all on your own.”

“I mean, I appreciate that but I’m not. That old saying ‘it takes a village’ is true, I have a pretty badass one behind me.” She visibly cringed when I said badass.

“Yes, and I think talking about that is important as well.” She didn’t actually think that her eyes told me she’d edit out the mentions of my 26-year-old sister who gave up her single girl life at 24 to move in with her suddenly single sister who needed help with her kids.

“I’m sure you know that your agency has approached me with a similar pitch before.” She nodded as she took a sip of her coffee. “And that I’ve turned it down before.“ She again took a sip. “What makes your idea different?”

“I want to focus on the love story involved.”

“So this is meant to be a fictional retelling of my life?”

“Yes, you don’t need to rehash your blog in a self-help book. You’re a talented writer and great storyteller. I’d like to tell that story.”

“I don’t know if I’m comfortable telling that story.”

“Why is that?”

“Because the other half of that love story isn’t here to sign off on it. And I don’t want my daughter to someday pick up a book and read it thinking she’s going to hear the charming love story of her mom and dad and figure out that it was edited into softcore porn.”

“Oh my god. That is not my intention.”

“That is the modern romance novel.”

“I think yours can be different. And your concern about the other half of your love story is unable to sign off on it, I knew Greyson well. He would be supportive.”

And we’ve reached the point of the conversation that makes me want to scream. People claiming they knew what Greyson would think. Most people knew the person Greyson presented to the public, they didn’t know him. Marianne was one of them. If I remember correctly they’d sat on a non-profit board together and that she’d been insanely jealous that he’d fallen in love with a 22-year-old political journalist and had a whirlwind romance that resulted in a short courtship, a rather small beachfront wedding on a private island, and two sickeningly cute kids. I also know she wouldn’t trade places with me in a heartbeat even if she thought that the love story was that of a best selling novel.

The Greyson I knew would’ve loved the idea of me writing fiction because it would’ve kept me in one place instead of me being on a bus in the middle of nowhere or riding a train to DC every other week. And because romance is less stressful than politics. But he wouldn’t have wanted me to describe in detail what our romance was like. It also wasn’t just me and our kids I had to worry about. I had his three older kids and ex-wife to worry about. But no one ever thought of that. They just thought of the idea of this pretty 29-year-old widow and her two gorgeous kids.

“I appreciate your time, Marianne, I truly do. But I have to politely decline.”

“Why is that?”

“Greyson’s legacy deserves more than some smutty fiction meant to get the stay-at-home mom crowd all hot and bothered.”

“That’s not what I meant.” She could tell she’d set me off.

“You also have to consider that Greyson has three other children, not just mine. I’d have to be concerned about how they felt about it. I don’t write about Greyson often out of respect for his older children, they are in college and prefer to keep a lower profile. Having their step-mother write a romance novel about their father isn’t fair.”

“Well, I have an offer for you that I’d like to give you. Take it home. Look it over. Talk to all of the kids. I hope you consider it.” She handed me an envelope before standing up. I stood as well, knowing I’d have to give her a hug before she left.“Thank you for meeting with me. I hope you and the kids are doing well and I hope to hear from you soon. Please know that my intention in meeting you today wasn’t to upset you and that I do truly think you have a beautiful story to tell. I want you to tell the story you want to tell. Be it self-help, fiction, or memoir. Greyson often gushed of your talent. That man loved you more than breathing and the world needs more stories like that. So truly, I do hope you reconsider my offer.”

“I’ll take a closer look at it and think through it. I’m sorry about overreacting.” Her face softened as she sank back into her chair causing me to sit back down in mine. “I have a lot of people who want THE story.”

“Not at all. That is your choice to tell. I approached with a fictionalized version because it might be easier for you to write. Though for a memoir I’d still offer that same deal. You went through a lot. I tried to reach out.”

“I know. I shut out his world. It was easier than dealing with the sad eyes and the uncomfortable hugs. People who didn’t know what to say to the 26-year-old pregnant girl who suddenly didn’t have a husband. The nosy ones asked.”

“I can’t imagine how hard it was. You and Greyson were so in love. Losing him so unexpectedly was hard for everyone that knew him, but for you and Finnigan, well I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was. I take it by the request to meet in Tribeca that you have moved back to Lower Manhattan.”

“I have. The apartment was done and we’d still been living in the brownstone in Brooklyn. It was too much being there so the kids and I moved at the end of summer into the penthouse of the building on Greenwich Street.”

“That’s a gorgeous building. I have a client who lives there.”

“He always had a vision for that stuff. It is just as he’d imagined the whole place would look when it was over.”

“Did you sell the brownstone?” she asked. Everyone always had questions about the real estate, I didn’t fault them for that. Greyson was known for that. It was a way for people to connect with him.

“No, it was an investment property when we moved into it. It’s not far from my parents and was going to be perfect for a big family. The penthouse is much better for me and the kids. My sister Nellie lives with us as well.”

“I think I remember Margaret telling me that.” Now I felt like a super bitch. I forgot this woman was also friends with my older sister.

“Yeah, Nellie moved in immediately. She is loving Tribeca.”

“Is she still working at Refinery29?”

“She is,” I replied. “She loves it. A lot of places have tried to steal her but the freedom she has there is perfect for her.”

“What about you?” she asked.

“Still writing for Huffington Post on occasion. I occasionally get picked up by other outlets, mainly my parenting stuff.”

“Do you miss politics?”

“I still get to write about it a bit, but yes. Especially this time of year. The Iowa caucus is in a few weeks. I’m supposed to be following a candidate around from diners to VFW halls in small snow-covered towns. But instead, I get to sit in the comfort of my penthouse apartment and text back and forth with my friends who are still part of the press pool. They pretty much all hate me.” She laughed a bit. We talked for a little while longer, long enough that I missed the spin class I’d been hoping to make and knew I needed to head back to the apartment and let Bridget get to her part-time job. I stood to finally say a real farewell to Marianne.

“Thank you for meeting with me. Look at the offer. Talk it over with his kids and if they are okay with it I hope you consider it.”

“I will.” As I went to walk out of the coffee shop with her I saw a very sweaty Harry standing in line for coffee. “Hi,” I said smiling.

“Hi, Janie. How are you?” he asked.

“I’m good. How are you?”

“Sweaty or I’d hug you. I just got done with class at Soul Cycle.”

“Dammit you made it to the class I was supposed to go to!” Marianne was standing awkwardly because she was ready to leave. “Marianne, I’ll call you in a few days. Thanks again.”

“Thank you,” she replied. It was hugs and air kisses and she was out the door.

“Sorry, my meeting ran long and I missed class. I’m still pissed.”

“Want to grab a coffee with me instead?” he asked. He was a few people from the front. I caught Noelle looking at us and she raised an eyebrow.

“Normally I would love to but Noelle put four shots of espresso in my latte and I have to go relieve the babysitter that is at the apartment now and get the kids fed before the next babysitter comes in for the evening.”

“Alright well maybe sometime soon since you appear to live near me.”

“Send me a DM and we can grab coffee sometime this week.” I smiled through the rest of our goodbye and was out the door and hurried home. I paid and relieved Bridget while running around the house getting stuff ready for Elizabeth to get here for tonight. She loved coming and spending time with the kids and Nellie demanded we have a girls night tonight and was dragging me out to some restaurant and for drinks. I needed to make sure the sheets on the guest bed were clean because Elizabeth often stayed if she babysat late.

“Hello,” she called as she walked into the foyer.

“I’ll be down in a second,” I yelled back. One last pillow was thrown on the bed and I headed downstairs. There she stood looking like a model with her blonde hair and long legs. Her gorgeous figure was that of her mother, her steel blue eyes were her father’s and looked exactly like the pair I’d woken up to this morning. I gave her a hug quickly. “Hi, Lilibet. How are you?”

“I’m good,” she said as she followed me into the kitchen. “You look frazzled.”

“Too much caffeine, not enough sleep, longer than necessary meeting today and really no desire to go out tonight with Nellie.”

“You need it, I can tell. Plus Aunt Nellie text me earlier and told me that because Finny had been sick all weekend that you’ve barely slept because he’s been sleeping in your room.”

“He has.”

“Then you definitely need the night out. But that’s not why you’re so frazzled, what was the meeting?”

“A literary agent.”

“What about?”

“She wants me to look at writing fiction. Or a memoir or self-help or something. I don’t really know. I haven’t looked at her offer,” I said as I gestured to the envelope in front of her. Marianne had written on it with her perfect handwriting, scrawled across the envelope, Jane Murphy. “I mean she clearly doesn’t even know who to make the offer to.”

“Yeah, who is Jane Murphy?” Elizabeth asked laughing. “Dad would’ve loved to see this and made SO much fun of you.”

“I know, I nearly gagged seeing it but I could hear him in my mind. ‘Jane Murphy, if dreams came true that would be your name,’ he was such a pain in my ass sometimes.”

“He was a pain in both of our asses. I had one of those moments last night. I was set up on a blind date, didn’t ask too much because I just wanted to shut my roommate up. Turns out it was the President of the Young Republicans on campus.”

“Your father would’ve LOVED that. His rowdy feminist 21-year-old, the firstborn, stubborn, pain in his rear on a date with a Republican. His laugh would’ve filled the house.”

“I know. I miss him.”

“It’s okay to still miss him. I do every day.”

“And it’s okay for you to go out and have fun sometimes, you know that right?” I nodded. She opened the envelope. “Janie, you didn’t look at this at all?” I shook my head. “You might want to consider her offer.”

“I’d never want to. She wants the love story of Greyson and Jane. That’s not fair to you, Becks, Jameson or your mother.”

“Mom wouldn’t care, they’d been split forever by the time he met you. Rebecca wouldn’t mind and Jameson would hope people would assume he was as romantic as his dad and go on dates with him. He’s 18 and a freshman at Columbia, girls are the only thing on his mind.”

“He’s a mini-version of your Dad that’s for sure.“

“Think about it and then come to us. We all love you and support you. We want you to be happy and do what you want. And Dad would too.” I hugged her tightly. Elizabeth was my biggest fear when I met her father. I’m a mere 8 years older than my oldest step-daughter. Turns out we bonded really quickly and it was Rebecca, the middle child, that took a bit more work. Elizabeth, or Lilibet as her Dad had always called her, came to watch the kids at least one night a week and last summer after we moved into the apartment was here every day. She was in school at NYU and we were often times a better dinner option than takeout and ramen noodles. We were also closer than her mother who lived on the Upper West Side. She was the one who took to the kids fastest. In fact, she offered to step in to play the role of birthing coach when I needed one for Grey.

“I made up your bed upstairs. You should stay with us tonight. I’ll make breakfast tomorrow. Do you have anything tomorrow?” I asked.


“Why don’t we have a day with the kids then? Finny has been begging for a day with his big sister.”

“I’d love to. It’s kind of boring at my apartment. Only one of my roommates is still around and Becks is already gone.” Rebecca had opted to go to college in London, she’d taken the loss of her Dad the hardest and just wanted out. She had only come home for a few weeks for Christmas and wouldn’t be back until summer. The kids, Elizabeth and I had a plan to go visit in March over part of Elizabeth’s break and around Grey’s birthday.

“Is it the roommate you hate?” I asked.

“Of course.”

“You know you can sublease your room and move here if you want. The kids would love it. I’ve told your Mom that if you decide that you can just save what she is putting towards rent and I’ll cover everything.”

“I wouldn’t want to put you out.”

“If your Dad was here that room upstairs would be yours anyway. You had a rough fall semester with roommates. Think about it. But we’d love to have you here. I promise to not force you to babysit your brother and sister constantly too.”

“We’ll talk about it. Have the kids eaten?” she asked.

“Not yet but I ordered delivery from that Chinese restaurant you love. She wants to grow up to be like you so Grey is excited to eat it.” Elizabeth laughed.

“Go get ready for dinner then. I know that Aunt Nellie said she wanted to make happy hour somewhere or something.”

“I will.” I ran upstairs with Elizabeth on my heels and as I entered the bathroom I heard the kids cheers as she walked into their playroom. I started to curl and pin my hair so they would hold throughout the night. Before too long Elizabeth came into the bathroom with Greyson. Their matching blonde hair and eyes always melted my heart. My little girl looked like her big sister and both of them looked like their Daddy minus ending up with the blonde hair from their mothers. What can I say, Greyson loved blondes. “How are my girls?”

“You’re pretty, Mommy,” Grey said.

“Aww, thanks.” I leaned over and kissed her chubby little cheek. I’d finally started on my makeup knowing that Nellie would be home any minute and probably would’ve scheduled some makeup trial how-to video or something at the end of her day so she looked perfect. My phone vibrated on the counter, I glared down expecting it to be her, it wasn’t so I pushed it aside as it vibrated again. “What should Mommy wear out tonight?”

“Pretty dress,” Grey answered.

“Let’s pick something out!” Elizabeth said excitedly jumping down off the counter and picking up her little sister to head into the master closet. Elizabeth loved fashion and I’d sort of thought she’d end up at the Fashion Institute of Technology for school but ended up at NYU and was studying Dramatic Writing in the Tisch School of the Arts. She was amazing and already planning on applying for graduate school at Tisch as well. She loved school and learning. We were opposites in that manner. If you told her she could be in school and learn forever she would and I’d graduated college in three years because I wanted to be in the real world.

“Nothing too short,” I called after Elizabeth.

“No…short!” Nellie called as she walked into the bathroom. I flipped her off. “You look cute so far.”

“Thanks. I knew you’d come home with a full face of makeup and your hair done.”

“We did videos at the end of the day.”

“Of course you did,” I replied as I rolled my eyes. “I shouldn’t be too much longer. I know you wanted to hit up some happy hour thing.” It was 6:00 and food for the kids should be here shortly and I knew that Nellie would want to go out early. It was weird, she normally loved going out late but she always claimed after work happy hour was great. She’d actually met her current boyfriend at happy hour. I finished my makeup just as Elizabeth and Grey came out with a short burgundy dress with high neck.

“What do you think?” Elizabeth asked.

“It’s perfect, Lilibet.” I quickly changed, threw on some heels and allowed Nellie to shove me out the door after 10,000 kisses on the cheeks of my kids. "So why do we need a night out?”

“Because you haven’t gone out since that Christmas party that you drug me to in the middle of December.”

“I have kids I can’t go out every night.”

“Yeah, but you can have a social life. You’re only 29 sis. It’s not like your life is over. You’re young.”

“I know but I have two kids at home to worry about, three if you count that Lilibet is there a couple nights a week.”

“Yes and because Lilibet is there occasionally it’s okay for you to go out with me and get a drink every once in a while.” We walked into the bar she’d picked for happy hour and got a seat. It was nice to spend some time with my younger sister without the kids. She was amazing at helping me with them but sometimes we got so used to speaking in kid code that it would be midnight and she’d still be trying not to swear when she spoke.

Drinks and appetizers were great. We caught up on how her trip to Miami had been and I told her about the offer I’d been given at my coffee meeting with Marianne. Then we were headed to the next restaurant for dinner. I’d let her pick the entire evening but told her that we needed to stay within walking distance of the apartment because Finn was still sick and I felt pretty terrible making Elizabeth watch him when he wasn’t feeling well.

“Just one more drink,” she begged.

“Fine. One and then I need to go home. I want to give Lilibet the chance to go home if she wants.”

“She’s staying and you know it. She hates her apartment.” We were linked arm-in-arm as we walked towards the bar she claimed we needed to go to next.

“I actually told her she could move in with us if she wanted.”

“I would love that.”

“I figured you would. You and Lilibet get along really well. She loves going out and having fun, I’m old and a Mom.”

“You’re not old. In fact, you’re young. You’re young, beautiful and you deserve to go on a date or I don’t know, have sex again before you die.”


“What?! You haven’t had sex in over two years.”

“I mean that’s not by choice. My husband died.”

“I know. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely swear off of the possibility of ever having someone special in your life or getting laid again.”

“I don’t want to have this conversation. You’re being terribly rude. Like why on earth do you care if I ever get laid again?”

“Because you’re my sister and I love you. You had one of the most epic loves of all-time. But Greyson would be angry at you for refusing to live just because he isn’t.” We’d stopped outside the door of the bar she wanted to go to while we were having this conversation. I couldn’t tell if I wanted to scream, cry, run away or tell her she was right. I had stopped living. I’d stayed in the bedroom in the brownstone for the first month after the funeral and not left. Finn would come lay with me all day and tell me he wanted to play and the farthest I’d take him was the tiny back garden we had where I’d sit in my robe, drinking decaf coffee, and wishing I could drown my sorrows in vodka but I couldn’t because I was pregnant.

Despite being two years younger than me Nellie had given me one of these stern talks more than once in recent memory. There was the one the day she showed up with a truck full of her belongings and moved into a spare bedroom in the brownstone. She told me that Finnigan deserved someone who wanted to take him to the park and feed him more than processed shit for dinner and that if I couldn’t keep it together to be a Mom for him that she was going to do it. After a few days of hearing them laugh together, I emerged from the bed.

Then there was last spring when I was still sulking around the house nearly two years after Greyson was gone. I still wore my wedding ring every day, I’d refused to date and told everyone that it was too soon to move on, that I just wasn’t ready. Nellie told me that I needed to take the ring off and go on a date. I’d done it. It was the worst date of my life. I left wishing I could call Greyson and tell him how terrible this guy was. The next date was less terrible and things had gotten easier from there. No one had made it past date three. I always freaked out. Date three when I was younger was the date that my friends all claimed was the sex date. I wasn’t ready to have sex again so I avoided having a decent third date. The one guy I’d thought might be worth dating I’d sabotaged the date in fear of having to get naked in front of someone. I mean a woman’s body post-baby isn’t the same and what if he didn’t get it and ran and then I was stuck have caught feelings for a guy who left. So I was the worst date ever and he offered to get me an Uber home.

Last summer she told me it was time to stop hiding in Brooklyn. That part of why I was finding it so hard to move one was because I was surrounded by memories of Greyson. Every single inch of our house was filled with happy memories of him and our family. The penthouse in Tribeca had been finished for a while and sitting empty. It was the project Greyson was working on when he died. It was in an area I loved and close enough to the Financial District that his commute to work wouldn’t be terrible. He’d bought the entire building and renovated it but our penthouse was the final project. So after the verbal lashing from my sister, we packed up the house in Brooklyn, put it back on the rental market and moved into this lavish apartment he’d been working on. While I saw pieces of him around the house it was in the design and function, not because of memories like watching Finn take his first step or dancing when we found out we were pregnant with Grey.

Now here we are, on the streets of Manhattan outside of a crowded bar a few blocks from that apartment and I was getting verbally abused by my sister again. This time about how I’d shut my heart off and refused to let myself fall in love. I’d always believed that you only got one true love in life and that Greyson was mine. My sister, however, believed that it was possible to have more than one and that it was time for me to find my next one.

“Janie?” came a voice from behind Nellie. It was a British accent so I was thrown off a bit until I saw him come into the light and I smiled.

“Twice in one day?” I asked. “Are you stalking me?”

“No, just lucky,” he replied.

“Smooth Talker. How is Harper feeling?”

“Good enough that she requested a movie night with Nana and kicked me out of the house.”

“Helps that her godfather asked nicely and with some candy. I’m Ed, nice to meet you.”

“I’m Janie,” I answered. “This is my sister, Nellie.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Nellie. I’m Harry.”

“Nice to meet you both,” Nellie said sticking her hand out. I knew she was going to smack me as soon as they were out of sight.

“So can I buy you both a drink?” Harry asked. “I’ve been told I have to stay out until at least 11:00 because then when I get home Harper will be asleep enough that I would feel guilty sneaking in to say goodnight.”

“Yes, you can buy us a drink. We will be inside in a second. She’ll have a glass of red, you pick she’ll literally drink anything, and I’ll have a tequila on ice.”

“Fantastic,” Harry said before heading inside.

“You know Harry Styles and Ed Sheeran?” my sister practically screamed at me after the door shut.

“I don’t know Ed Sheeran and this is the third time in three days that I’ve run into Harry Styles. It’s not like we are best friends or anything.”


“Yeah, the first was at the pediatrician on Monday. He and his daughter Harper sat next to Finny and I. Then this morning I ran into him at my coffee meeting. That bastard got to go to the spin cycle class I wanted to go to while I sat and listened to Marianne tell me that I needed to write a romance novel about Greyson and I. You witnessed time three.”

“You saw him with his kid? Did your ovaries explode?”

“Don’t think so. Why?”

“Because Harry and Harper Styles are about the cutest thing on the planet. Half of my office is obsessed with them.”

“He was just another dad with a sick kid in the waiting room. It’s not like I immediately was trying to figure out how to fuck him or something. Turns out he reads the stuff I write or at least the parenting stuff.”

“How did you not tell me any of this?”

“Umm you abandoned me and your sick nephew for Miami for a long weekend and just got back late Monday and I didn’t see you yesterday. Plus he was just another Dad in the waiting room. It’s not like he was asking me out on a date or anything.” He did ask me to get coffee this morning but I’ll keep that to myself. “Can we go inside?”

“Yes, yes we can.” She opened the door and we walked in. I scanned the room quickly seeing Harry wave at us from a tall table towards the back. He stood to help me into my chair.

“So what are you two lovely ladies doing out tonight?” he asked.

“Nel decided I needed a night out. She sent a cry for help to my step-daughter and demanded she come watch the kids. My step-daughter evidently thinks I need a night out too because she told me to go out and it was similar to your mother’s ‘don’t come back and think you can wake the kids up to say goodnight’ talk when we were heading out the door.”

“How old is your step-daughter?” Ed asked. His face was one I saw frequently when I talked about kids.

“Twenty-one. Why? Need a date?” He nearly shot his beer out of his mouth.

“How old is your husband?” This was always the next question. Harry and Nellie both tried to get him not to ask the question. Knowing that Harry avidly read what I wrote meant I didn’t have to explain the whole widow thing.

“He was 45 when he died. I was 26 nearly 27. Yes, big age difference. He was married once before. My step kids are 21, 20, and 18. You aren’t the first person to think that was weird. It’s okay.”

“Sorry,” Harry said.

“Don’t apologize. He’s not the first to ask and won’t be the last. Most people have always thought Lilibet was my sister.”

“Lilibet?” Harry asked.

“Elizabeth, my weird husband once found out that Queen Elizabeth II’s family called her Lilibet and called his oldest that. Then there’s Rebecca who is 20, they are Irish twins but couldn’t be more different. Becks lives in London. And the youngest is Jameson. Jamie lives in New York and goes to Columbia. He still lives with their Mom. Lilibet goes to NYU and is not too far from here. Then my two littles are Finnigan, he’s four, and Greyson or Grey and she’s two.”

“That’s a lot of kids.” Ed’s eyes went wide.

“Yeah, my husband loved his kids.” I knew I was doing something bad based on the look that Nellie was giving me. She seemed to think that Harry was some potential love interest or something because she was giving me the ‘don’t talk about your dead husband’ look that she often gave around cute guys. “So what have you two been up to tonight?”

“We did dinner and are here for some drinks. We were in the studio late this afternoon.”

“Which of you is working on a new album?” Nellie asked excitedly.

“Neither of us really. We were doing some writing. Doing demos to send out to artists. He’s got an album almost finished and I’ve promised myself nothing towards an album until Harper is two which isn’t until the end of March.”

“Grey’s birthday is the middle of March.”

“I know this,” he said. “I may have stolen some of your party planning ideas from your party prep last year. Harper is a week younger than Grey.”

“Aww,” Nellie and Ed both said at the same time. I gave them both a look and turned back to the conversation with Harry.

“Did Grey get sick?”

“Thank god no! Mom kept her in Brooklyn until it was time for bed Monday night and by the time the kids were moving around it was nearly 24 hours of Finny on antibiotics. And he’s starting to feel like himself today.”

“That’s good.” He really did seem sweet and I’d be stupid if I didn’t admit he was cute. I mean the dimples, the eyes, the accent. I’d be lying if I didn’t think he was cute. But despite my sister telling me I needed to date I wasn’t 100% ready to sit and flirt with a guy for a night. A phone buzzed on the table and Harry and I both glanced down to see which of us lit up. “It’s you.”

Message from Lilibet:
Both of the kids are passed out cold. I hope you’re having fun. I realized that I’d done my laundry here last week and left some clothes to dry so I have clothes for tomorrow. I’m just gonna stay the night.
Sounds perfect. Maybe tomorrow we can talk you staying permanently.
Maybe we can. Now stop texting me and have fun!
“Sorry, Lilibet wanted me to know the kids were asleep and she’s staying with us tonight.”

“Don’t worry. I’m just jealous it wasn’t my Mum. I really hope Harp is asleep.”

“I’m sure she’s fine. You deserve a night out.”

“I know.” We eventually all decided it was time to leave and headed out of the bar. It was nearing midnight and I hated being out this late with Elizabeth watching the kids. She always refused money. She told me that because I wasn’t making her break into her inheritance or trust fund to pay for school or living expenses that babysitting her brother and sister on occasion wasn’t too bad. “Do you need a cab?” Harry asked.

“Nah, we only live a couple blocks from here. It’s an easy walk.”

“I’m gonna get a cab to head to my hotel. I’ll see you after lunch tomorrow buddy.” He gave a manly hug to Harry. “It was very nice to meet both of you,” Ed said as he gave a hug to both Nellie and I. We started to walk and Harry walked with us.

“You don’t need to walk us home or anything. We are big girls and I carry pepper spray.”

“It’s okay, I want to walk you both home, make sure you get there okay.”

“Okay,” I said.

“So Nellie are you going to get in trouble for being hungover in the morning?”

“Nah, I’ll just go in late. We are flexible like that. I could even work from home tomorrow if I wanted.”

“That’s nice,” Harry said. “You work from home, right, Janie?”

“I do. We have an office set up for me at the apartment so I can write from home. I’ve got a few pieces for Huffington Post I need to work on this week. It’s almost caucus and primary season. Time to brush up my political writing skills.”

“What she means is she needs to learn how to be somewhat unbiased about politics.”

“I mean not completely. I’m no longer just a straightforward political journalist. As a columnist, I’m given the freedom to have an opinion while I write. Plus I write a lot about women’s issues and in this election women have one big GIANT issue and it’s the Cheeto living in the White House.” Harry started to laugh. “Sorry. I get a little angry about it sometimes.”

“You’re fine,” he replied. “You’re entitled to an opinion and I happen to agree with the one you have. Sadly because I have not applied for citizenship I can’t do anything to help but I’ll listen to you rant if you need it.”

“Thank you.” I smiled and giggled a little bit. After a few more minutes we came upon the building. “Well, this is us. Thanks for walking us home.”

“You’re kidding, right? This is you?”

“Yeah, this is us. Why?”

“This is also me. How have I never seen you here?”

“She’s a hermit who never leaves the apartment,” Nellie said.

“Fuck you, Nel. But yes, I’m a hermit. I rarely leave my apartment. We just moved here last like August. I wanted to be here in time to get Finny into a preschool near here for half day classes.”

“Which unit are you in?” he asked. Ugh, I hated this question.

“Penthouse A,” I said as we walked into the building.

“I mean not to be a dick but how do two writers afford a penthouse in this building?”

“You’re not being a dick. I get asked that a lot.”

“Her husband was the developer of the building,” Nellie answered.

“Yeah, Greyson was a fairly big real estate developer and owned a venture capital firm. I was well taken care of. The penthouse had been our plan when he died. It just took me a while to move in because of his death.”

“That’s understandable. Well, maybe we need to get the kids together for a playdate soon.”

“I would like that,” I said. I reached into my purse and grabbed one of my cards, it had my cell phone number on it. “Text me in the morning and we’ll set something up.”

“I’d like that a lot. Have a good night ladies.” After hugs, we were in the elevator and headed upstairs. I got to listen to Nellie and Elizabeth gush about how I knew Harry Styles as I changed into my pajamas. I kicked them out and climbed into bed.

Message from Unknown Number:
It was nice running into you twice today.
Yes, it was. Thank you for buying all my drinks tonight. I’m guessing the penthouse apartment thing made you realize that was unnecessary. Sorry I hate that. Greyson was the one with the money. I’m still not really used to it.
Don’t worry about it. Buying a pretty woman a drink isn’t a terrible way to spend money. And don’t feel bad about having money. I didn’t think you were one of the stuck up moms in the waiting room. You were the one I made friends with.
It’s still unusual to me. I literally spent the first year and a half out of college staying in terrible hotel rooms and living on vending machine food while I covered an election. I met my husband at a fundraising event I was covering. He had enough money to be in the room, I barely had clothes nice enough to get past the door.
You’re fine. I won’t judge you for having money. ;) I’ll text you in the morning. We should get the kids together. Unless you have plans with Lilibet.
We might. I’m trying to convince her to move in. Her apartment is terrible and she hates her roommates. She should be here with us.
Hey if there’s another babysitter in the building I’m for it. I’ll help convince her to move in.
She’s mine. Back off. I’ll fight you for her.
Goodnight, Janie.


And there it is. The final part of the introduction to this series! This part was quite a bit longer than the first two but I wanted to give Janie a chance to have a bit of her story told. There are still a lot of things about her story that will be revealed throughout the different pieces of this story. We will learn about the kids, about what happened to Greyson, and perhaps a little bit about their love story. Her story is a bit dark, but sometimes life can be too, and seeing how she makes it through the dark (ooo 1D lyric reference) is important to who she is.

But the exciting thing is to see how she and Harry develop a bond about their shared life experiences and as they navigate their lives as single parents.

As I stated before I intend on jumping forward and backward in time to tell this story. So we will get to hear about how Harry became a Dad, what made him decide on New York, and how he attempts to date as a single dad. So here is the exciting part…REQUESTS ARE OPEN! I do intend on staying in the first part of Harry and Janie getting to know each other but I want to know what YOU want to read. And I’ll add them to a list that I pick from as I write.

As always, any and all feedback is welcomed with open arms. The only way to write this stuff in a manner that pleases the audience is to know what the audience likes. So please, let me know what you think.

xx. AM


I am really glad you're enjoying it. These characters are fun for me to write and such a departure from what I've written in London Calling and In the Heat of Los Angeles. Writing Harry as a Dad basically makes me melt.

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That's probably why I love it so much... because Harry with kids makes me so happy.

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YAY! I'm glad you like it. It's SUPER fun to write. I also really love the challenge it gives me. Plus really, Harry with kids. I'm pretty much dead.

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:) I am so in love with this.

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