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A New Life in New York

Adventure of a Lifetime (Coldplay)

January 10, 2020

“Finn, it’s time to go!” I yelled. I was cutting it close. I needed to get out the door and get Finn to preschool. We were still stuck in winter break mode. “FINN!”

“I’m coming Mom,” he replied as he came bounding down the stairs. Not to far behind him came his two sisters. Elizabeth had been staying with us the last two nights. She had Grey bundled up in her jacket and stocking cap.

“Are you two girls coming with us to take Finny to school?”

“We thought it might be fun. We could stop and grab some breakfast on the way back,” Elizabeth suggested.

“Sounds perfect,” I said. I took Grey from her arms and started to get her put in her stroller. Elizabeth’s suggestion that we get breakfast made me happy that I’d decided to get up and put makeup on this morning. After Elizabeth and Finn had their coats on we were in the elevator and headed to take Finn to school. He was good and held his big sister’s hand the entire walk there. After checking him in, getting his coat hung up and giving goodbye kisses we were headed to breakfast. “Thank you for helping get her ready this morning.”

“It’s been fun. I like helping out with the kids.” I opened the door to the coffee shop and we were headed in. I got the girls settled in at a table before going up to the counter to order breakfast and coffee. Noelle told me not to wait at the counter today that she’d bring the food over to me.

“So I assume that you have a motive to asking me to breakfast that isn’t just free food,” I said.

“I do,” she answered.

“Spill it.” I got the milk ready for Grey to drink as I watched her older sister take a deep breath. I could tell she was nervous about what she was going to tell me. “I mean as long as you aren’t pregnant don’t be nervous. And really I wouldn’t yell at you for being pregnant I’d just tell you I’m too young to be a grandma so we need a cooler name for me.” She started to laugh and I watched her nerves start to melt away.

“I’ve been thinking about your offer. I had a long talk with Mom yesterday afternoon when the kids were napping and you were working.” I had noticed that she’s snuck out of the apartment for a little while, she came back with a coffee for me so I assumed she’d just decided that I made shit coffee and went to get some. “She knows I hate my apartment because my roommates and I don’t get along. I struggled last semester to get all of my work done in my apartment and was basically living in study rooms and the library. She is supportive of me moving in with you and the kids.”

“If it’s what you want to do we will start to convert that room into really being yours. If I have to buy you out of your lease or cover your rent until we can find someone to sublease I will. Last semester was hard on you and I want to do whatever I can to help. Your brother, sister, and I would love to have you live with us if it is what you want. I don’t want you to feel like you’re doing this for me.”

“I’m not. This is for me. You have done so much for me, Becks and Jamie since Dad died. The fact that you’re opening up your doors and letting me move in is just another example of how amazing you are.”

“Your Dad would want me to, but beyond that, I want to. You may not be my kid, but you’re my kid. You could’ve decided you hated me when your Dad brought me to dinner the first time. Instead you decided to welcome me into your family.”

“Dad loved you so much, seeing him as happy as he was with you made it easy to welcome you. And I know you say that I’m not allowed to be a live in babysitter, but I hope you know that I don’t feel like a babysitter, I just feel like a big sister who gets the chance to hang out with her little brother and sister.”

“I still won’t allow you to babysit them constantly. I can afford a nanny to help and I know I need to do that if I intend on teaching more classes when Finny starts kindergarten in fall.”

“You will need to. But for now, if you want to go out with friends or Aunt Nellie or maybe on a date that I can watch them.”

“Ha. Funny. Nel is clearly wearing off on you with the ‘dating’ thing. I’m fine.”

“I know you are. But you don’t have to be alone forever. Dad would want you to be happy.”

“I am happy. I have my two babies and the three best bonus kids the world could provide. I don’t need a boyfriend.”

“I know you don’t.” It wasn’t long before Noelle brought our breakfast over and I tried to manage eating mine and helping Grey.

“Hey you.” There it was again. The British accent. There standing behind Elizabeth was Harry with Harper in his arms.

“Hi there. Hi, Harper.” She tucked her head into her Dad’s chest shyly.

“Can you say hi to Janie, Harper?”

“Hi Janie,” she said quietly. The table next to us was empty, it was a small coffee shop with only a couple feet between each table. Harry rested the bag he had for Harper in the chair that was beside Elizabeth and came to sit next to me in the long booth with Harper in between us.

“Harry, this is Elizabeth, my oldest stepdaughter. Elizabeth, this is my stalker, Harry Styles and his daughter Harper.”

“I am not stalking her and it’s nice to meet you,” he said sticking his hand out to shake hers.

“Four times since Monday? Sounds like you’re stalking her,” Elizabeth answered. God I loved her sass. “It’s nice to meet you both.”

“And this gorgeous girl must be Grey.” Harry smiled at Grey who perked up the second her name was said. She smiled a giant syrupy smile thanks to the pancakes she was eating.

“Hi,” Grey said. Noelle came over with Harry’s coffee, milk for Harper, a green smoothie and yogurt and granola.

“Thank you, Noelle.” He must be a regular around here. He started to try and feed Harper the yogurt and granola but she was eyeing Grey’s pancakes and wanted nothing to do with the yogurt. After her refusing to eat the yogurt he tried the smoothie. “Come on Harper. You need to try it.”

“She absolutely does not,” I interjected laughing. “She’s not even 2. I’m 29 and wouldn’t want you to feed me the smoothie. Harper, do you want to share Grey’s pancakes?” She nodded excitedly. Harry glared at me as his daughter climbed up into my lap and started to share the pancakes with my daughter.

“Do you do this with every random child you meet on the streets of New York?” he asked.

“Nope, only the kids of the people who stalk me.”

“That’s gotta be full of sugar. She’s never going to take her nap and my Mom just left to catch a flight to London to see my sister for a week. You hate me, don’t you?”

“Don’t hate you. Not full of sugar. It’s sugar-free syrup or something and it’s their protein pancakes or some healthy thing that I can trick Grey with.” Harry started to laugh.

“You’re lying to your child?”

“At least I’m not feeding her a what, kale and spinach smoothie?”

“There’s banana, pineapple and peanut butter in it.” I made a gagging face and heard Elizabeth start to laugh.

“She’s lying again. She normally drinks that but she’s already on her third coffee today and I told her she needed real food.”

“And to think I thought I could trust you,” Harry exclaimed in an overly dramatic way. I rolled my eyes.

“Harper, your Dad is silly isn’t he?”

“He’s really silly.”

“So what are you three girls up to this morning?” he asked, clearly trying to change the conversation from his daughter and I mocking him.

“We took Finn to school and I’m treating my girls to breakfast.”

“I was laying the news on her that I’m moving home,” Elizabeth said. “And if she’ll let me I’m going to pack up my apartment and get out of there this weekend.”

“I’m not helping you move. Use your credit card and pay for movers.”

“Movers are expensive. She’s a college student. If you need help I’d be happy to pitch in,” Harry said as he rolled his eyes at me.

“She pays my credit card bill.” I smiled evilly at him.

“See. Not mean, just not interested in moving her shit. Though you don’t have furniture do you?” I asked Elizabeth.

“Nope, it’s a furnished apartment. It’s furnished with junk but it’s furnished. It’s just clothes and books.”

“Pay a mover.” Harry started to laugh. “She’s a nerd who loves to shop.” I glanced back at Elizabeth. “Convince your brother to come help you Saturday and tell him I’ll bribe him. I know he wants some new gadget or something. You can use the car. If he wants to stay I’ll let Finny sleep in my room and he can have that room.”

“You know Finn will convince him to stay in there with him. He’s still mad at you that you didn’t put bunk beds in his room so Jamie could have slumber parties with him.” I had to laugh. Finn worshipped his big brother, Jamie was good to him and often times it was this 18 year old kid and his 4 year old brother asleep in a Finn’s full-sized bed, which I’d only gotten that big because of the occasional times that Jamie stayed with us.

“Come on, Mom. You didn’t get the boys bunk beds? You’re no fun.”

“Just wait until you get to know my kid.” I laughed as I looked at Harry. “He thinks he can fly by jumping off his bed. I can picture it now. ‘Mommy I can fly really high now’, jumps from top bunk, breaks neck and is paralyzed. No bunk beds.” Harry started to laugh harder.

“She’s a bit dramatic sometimes,” Elizabeth said. “You’ll figure that out soon enough, I’m sure.” I glared at her. She winked at me as she smiled and I knew she as going to be hell to deal with after we parted ways with Harry. The rest of breakfast was actually fun. The girls were enjoying having another tiny human their size around and Harper took to me pretty quickly as she stayed sitting in my lap until we went to leave and wasn’t quite sure she wanted to go back to her Dad when we stood up.

“Are you headed home?” I asked Harry as we walked out onto the street and got the girls settled into their strollers.

“Yeah, I need to figure out how to get a workout in today without Mom home. I probably should’ve thought this stuff out before hand.”

“I can watch the girls,” Elizabeth chimed in. “They are clearly having fun and this one has been whining about how she hasn’t been able to get away from the apartment to work out in a week. Take her to the gym.”

“Are you sure?” Harry asked.

“Positive. I was going to try and kick her out to go work out so she’d stop annoying me. I’ll entertain the girls. You two can go have some gym time and hang out.”

“You in?” He looked at me and I started nodding without even realizing what I was doing. It was like I’d gotten hypnotized by his damn eyes. He was excitedly talking about having some time in the gym for the majority of the walk and filling in Elizabeth on things for Harper. “I’ll go get changed, get a couple things for Harp and then we’ll be up.”

“Okay,” I said softly as we walked into the building. Once the door to the elevator that went to our unit closed I turned to look at Elizabeth. “You are lucky I love you or I’d kill you right now.”

“You've got a gym date. You’ll have to tell me if he looks hotter all sweaty.”

“If there weren’t two year old ears in this elevator you’d get to hear the string of expletives going through my mind right now.” The doors opened and we were in the apartment. Elizabeth immediately started getting Grey out of her stroller and I sprinted upstairs to change clothes. I changed between different pants, shorts, and tops what felt like 10,000 times before I heard Harry and Elizabeth talking downstairs. I finally threw on my shoes and practically sprinted down the stairs.

“You ready?” he asked as I opened the refrigerator to grab a water.

“Yup. Lilibet, text if you need anything.” I gave Grey a kiss on the top of her head before Harry and I were out the door. It was just us in the elevator. We’d not been alone until this moment. It was Friday and we’d seen each other four times this week, all completely on accident, but each time we had other people with us. Sure, he’d texted me a bit Wednesday night and then again yesterday to tell me he’d had fun the night before, but this was different. This was just us alone in an elevator for what felt like way too much time because I was focusing on the way his cologne mixed with the scent of the soap he must’ve used in the shower.

“So what sort of workouts do you do?” he asked.

“Run, bike, swim, I’ll do weight training occasionally but I hate it. My sister has had to write about nearly every sort of work out trend and she usually drags me along with her so I can take a picture of her doing whatever it is for her articles. Oh, and I’ve tried yoga but I don’t think I’m meant to be good at it.”

“Why is that?”

“I'm not very well disciplined and I constantly get kicked out of classes for talking. And my talking is usually mocking other people in the room.” He laughed a little. “I’m a bitch, I know.”

“I don’t think you’re a bitch. But I think you could learn to enjoy yoga. I’ve practiced for a number of years. Maybe I can teach you. That way if you need to be a bit snarky you can be. I won’t be offended by you talking if it’s just us.”

“I mean okay, but can I just run and like beat the shit out of a heavy bag today?”

“Sure. You box too?” I nodded as the elevator door opened.

“It was the first sort of workout I did post-pregnancy. The bitter widow found a boxing club in Brooklyn and beat the shit out of some stuff for a while. It’s good stress relief.”

“Yes, it is. I spent a lot of time with my boxing gloves right before Harper was born.” It made me want to ask about the situation with Harper and her Mom but it wasn’t my place. He’d been decent enough to not ask about the whole widow thing so I didn’t want to force him to answer questions.

“Yeah, I would’ve done it when I was pregnant but that was frowned upon.” He laughed a bit as he threw put his towel and water bottle on a treadmill before he started to stretch. I did the same figuring that I’d just start with a run and then maybe not act like I was following him around the gym. “So, your Mom is going back to London for a week?” I asked as we both started out on the treadmill slowly, he nodded. “Why didn’t you go with?”

“Harper isn’t really the best flyer so considering she’s still on her antibiotics from last weekend I didn’t want to make her fly. It’s probably good for my Mom and sister to have some girl time too. I don’t always need to go home when she does and it gives her a bit of time away from Harper and I, which I’m sure she appreciates.”

“I get what you mean about that. When I was still living in Brooklyn I lived about two blocks from my parents and with my sister. They all wanted rid of me and I equally wanted rid of them. I actually wonder sometimes why Nellie still lives with me.”

“Well she’s your sister, she loves you and the kids. She probably enjoys it more than you realize.”

“She might, she might also just like living rent free in a huge penthouse in Tribeca. I mean I wouldn’t blame her for that. It hasn’t always been easy living with me, and she has to put up with two kids too."

“Your kids both seem pretty great.”

“Thanks. I think Harper and I became best friends during breakfast.”

“You fed her pancakes, so of course she loves you.”

"A kid should be able to eat pancakes sometimes.”

“I know. I think I worry too much about stuff like that because I truly have no idea what I’m doing most days.”

“She’s lived this long, you’re doing great. And honestly, I raised Finn for two years with his father and when I had Grey I still had no idea what I was doing. So as long as you don’t break her, you’re good.”

“It’s fucking tough.”

“It is but occasionally you just have to go with your gut and hope it works out.” Having someone to work out with was actually nice for a change. Most of the time I snuck down here in the middle of the night when the kids were asleep and Nellie was home. I did end up sort of mindlessly following him around the gym and doing whatever he did for workouts, trading off who was spotting for each other.

“You’re doing great,” he said as he was spotting me while I was on the weight bench. As I went to finish and put the bar back his hands brushed mine. The bar slipped out of my hands and fell, loudly, onto it’s rest. “You okay?”

“Uh, yeah fine. My hands were sweaty.” They weren’t. But I couldn’t tell him that simply being touched by a man was shocking, but him touching me was almost too much. I couldn’t tell him that because I had NO IDEA why it effected me enough that I nearly dropped a barbell on my head. When we were done we basically fell into the elevator and headed to my apartment. The door opened to the sound of the TV in the great room. I saw Elizabeth laying down on the couch and the kids nowhere in site. “Where are the girls?” I asked.

“They are both passed out in Grey’s room. They played really hard for a while and then got tired. I’ve honestly never seen Grey pass out like that.”

“We will go check on them,” I said. I gestured for Harry to follow me up the stairs, which he did. When we got to Grey’s room I slowly opened the door and there they were surrounded by 10 billion stuffed animals asleep in her bed.

“She looks so tiny on that giant bed,” he said quietly. “She still sleeps in a crib. My little girl looks grown up in that bed.”

“Grey has only been out of hers for a few weeks. It was her Christmas present. Tucking my baby into that bed the first night was so heart breaking. She’s my last little baby.”

“I hate waking her up when she’s passed out like that.”

“Don’t. Go home, shower and then come back up here. They will be fine sleeping for a while. You said your Mom was out of town right?”

“Yeah, she left early this morning for London.”

“Well, we were planning on ordering in pizza for dinner. I know it’s not a kale smoothie or anything but kids love pizza.”

“I hate you.”

“Nah, you’d stop stalking me if you hated me. Go shower, let her sleep for a while and then we can all do dinner up here. The kids can hang out for the rest of the afternoon if you want.”

“When do you have to get Finn?"

“I’m gonna jump in the shower and then go get him.”

“Well, if Elizabeth is okay watching the girls I’ll walk with you to get him.”

“That would be nice. Meet back here in 30 minutes?”

“Sounds great.” He placed a soft kiss on Harper’s forehead and we walked out of the room. He got back into the elevator and headed down to his apartment while I jumped in the shower. I really wasn’t completely interested in getting dressed in cute clothes for school pick up, it was cold out, I just got done with a killer workout thanks to my stalker and knew that I’d have a rambunctious four year old on my hands. I pulled on a pair of black leggings, an oversized white sweater and an olive green jacket after drying my hair and putting on a little bit of makeup. I threw on a pair of black tennis shoes and a scarf as I heard the elevator ding.

I walked towards the doorway of the master and leaned against the doorframe as I watched the door open to Harry standing there, glancing down at his phone with his hair hanging in his face. He looked up from the phone as the door stopped moving and smiled at me. He has such a great smile. I can see why Nellie and Elizabeth spent time obsessing over the fact that I knew him, he is extremely attractive.

“Hi, there,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied. “The girls are still asleep.”

“That’s great. Harper hasn’t napped all that well this week.”

“Well they played hard this morning.”

"You ready to go?”

“Yeah.” I grabbed my purse off of the table that was inside the master bedroom where it usually sat and stepped into the elevator with Harry. “Thanks for kicking my ass today.”

“You did great. It’s not like you needed me to kick your ass in the gym. I think you know your way around it pretty well. We should do it again though. Sometimes it’s nice to have a buddy in the gym. I got pretty used to it back in the day when I was on the road. There was always someone around to go to the gym with.”

“I bet. Thanks for going with me to get Finn.”

“The walk will be nice and it also means I won’t sit in your apartment waiting for Harper to wake up. It’s also nice to know that Harper is making a friend.”

“Yeah, Grey is used to her brother and cousins. Most of my friends don’t have kids yet. Which I know seems surprising considering my age.”

“You’re not old,” he said laughing.

“I know. But a lot of the people I was casual friends with in college have kids. My close friends are all still engulfed in journalism and life on the road isn’t conducive to children.”

“Is that why you changed up what you were writing?”

“Yeah, sort of. I got the opportunity shortly after I met my husband to take a new position in my writing. One that allowed me to have a position.” I started to laugh. “So often in journalism, unless you’re a columnist, you have to be Switzerland and be neutral. Just report the facts, no opinion on the facts. I wasn’t really interested in doing the investigative journalism that my older sister does. I mean she’s taking on stories that require her to go undercover to get information. The threats she receives and the threats I received are different.”

“You get threats about what you write?” he asked as we reached the lobby.

“I don’t know many journalists who don’t. I’m critical of a lot of people in power. Their base hates me. I get threats all of the time but most of them aren’t spelled correctly so I don’t worry. My sister has actually had to go into hiding or have a security guard for a while. It’s crazy. My threats are mainly that they are going to block me or tell everyone not to read me because I’m fake news.” Harry started to laugh. He had a good laugh.

“I mean I get that. I get threats because there are people who think I’m preventing my old band from getting back together. There’s a lot of conspiracy theories about me out there so I just avoid social media for the most part.”

“I’m sure. You basically use it now just to stalk me.”

“I hate you,” he replied.

“No, you don’t.” I shoved him a bit with my shoulder because we were walking close enough.

“You’re right. I don’t hate you.” He put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a side hug as we were stopped at a crosswalk. The light changed and allowed for us to walk causing his arm to drop from my shoulders. We went back to talking about the gym as we walked, it was an easy conversation topic for us. I knew that I could be a little socially awkward when it came to men, especially attractive ones. I wasn’t sure if he was sort of awkward too. It was weird to try and think about the opposite sex and how to handle them when you were constantly trying to think about if you had enough diapers at home and if the spot on your shirt was from the coffee you spilled or something produced from a baby. My go to subjects with people that weren’t kid related were food, music, fitness, and politics. During our walk he decided he was taking me to the gym he goes to that isn’t in the building to box and that we need to catch a spin class at Soul Cycle this week.

We finally made it to Finn’s school and I directed us through the building to Finn’s classroom. When I opened the door and walked in he jumped up out of his chair and ran towards me. He gave me a hug before glancing next to me at Harry.

“Did you have a good day, Finny?”

“I did.”

“Do you remember Harry from the doctor’s office on Monday?” I asked as I grabbed Finn’s coat from the hook and started to put it on him.

“Yup,” Finn replied. “Hi Harry.”

“Hi Finn,” Harry said. “How was school today, buddy?”

“Good. We got to paint today.” The teacher came over to us with what I assumed was Finn’s painting.

“Hi Janie,” Ms. Rockwell said. “Here is Finn’s painting from today. He did great! I love his imagination.” I glanced down at the painting to see it was of a dog. He wanted a dog really badly and was constantly asking if we could get one. My parents and my older sister had dogs. In addition to that a few weeks ago, while she was babysitting Elizabeth had taken him with to stop at her Mom’s house and they have several dogs.

“Finny, are you imaging puppy dogs again.”

“Puppy dogs aren’t imaginary, Mom.” All three of the adults in this conversation started to laugh.

“Puppy dogs aren’t imaginary at all,” Harry said. “They are pretty awesome actually.”

“I know. We are going to get one,” Finn added.

“Finn, don’t start with me.”

“I’m not starting with you. I want a dog.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He was determined to get a puppy.

“Maybe someday.”

“Remember Monday is a full day for him,” Ms. Rockwell said. “We are going to take them to the fire station for a tour. You signed him up for that.”

“I did. I signed up to chaperone too didn’t I?”

“You did. Remember that it’s okay to bring Grey with you that day.”

“The fire station? That sounds awesome. I’m jealous you get to go, Finn,” Harry chimed in. He was clearly trying to win my son over as payback for feeding his daughter pancakes, I could feel it.

“You can come too.” Finn was cute, inviting strangers on his school field trip. I needed to talk to him about how inviting strangers places was not a good idea.

“I’m sure that Harry has something else going on and that Ms. Rockwell doesn’t need any other chaperones.”

“Actually,” she said. “Rowan’s Dad was supposed to go but got called away to China for work last minute. I was going to send an email this afternoon out to parents to see if they could fill in. If you don’t mind you’re welcome to join us.” I could tell the look on her face. She was hypnotized by his eyes too.

“I could do that. Do you mind if I bring my daughter?” he asked. “She and Grey are friends.”

“Absolutely,” Ms. Rockwell replied, almost too quickly. “The more the merrier.”

“We will all see you Monday morning then,” Harry said. I grabbed Finn’s bag and was out the door.

“You really don’t have to come with on Monday.” I had Finn’s hand in mine and he was walking in between Harry and I. “I can ask Elizabeth to help chaperone, she’s not back in classes yet.

“No, it’s okay. Taking Harper to a fire station might be fun. Plus I said I’d help. I’m a man of my word. We will have fun together. It’ll be a chance to get to know each other better with the kids.”


“You are the worst.”

“I know.” Once back at the apartment Finn started in with his toys that were okay to play with and let his sister play with. Watching Finn play with Grey and Harper was cute. He loved being a big brother so having two little girls follow him around was like a dream.

“You should give me a tour,” Harry said. “I’ve not been in any of the penthouses in this place.”

“What you and Justin Timberlake don’t hang out together? There’s not a Boy Band Survivors Club in this building?” He laughed and flipped me off after checking that the kids weren’t watching. “Fine, I’ll give you a tour.” We stood up off of the couch as I watched Elizabeth giggle a bit. I led him through the house showing him my office that was in the library on the first floor, the area of the house that was occupied by my sister, the kids’ rooms and playroom, Elizabeth’s room, the master and then the rooftop terrace and entertainment center. We stood in the indoor living area upstairs looking out at the city.

“Your place is gorgeous.”


“The terrace has to be nice with the kids.”

“It’s a lifesaver. They love the pool and it’s nice to let them run around up here and burn energy. We’ll have to do some playdates this summer.”

“That would be nice.”

“Our kids all appear to be getting along well.”

“Yeah, it’s nice. Harper doesn’t spend a lot of time with other kids, I’ve got friends with kids but not a ton of them in New York. So thank you for inviting us to hang out tonight, I appreciate it a lot. It’s nice to give her some kids to hang out with and it’s nice to have grown up conversations with someone that isn’t just my Mum or completely centered around music.”

“Fridays are always pizza night around here. You’re welcome anytime.”

“I might take you up on that.”

“Most people have date night on Fridays. I have family date night.”

“Date night? What’s that?” He had to be lying. He was too cute to not know what dates were anymore. “It’s been a while since I went on a decent date.”


“Dating as a single parent is tough. Yours has to be harder,” he said.

“Yeah and I’m maybe not equipped to always be nice. Like I feel a little bad about what I said to Ed at the bar when he asked about Elizabeth but it’s also something I get asked a lot and judged about.”

“You get judged about your husband dying?”

“Yeah, you’d be shocked. I’ve had a lot of men look at me from the other side of the table during appetizers and drinks with sad puppy eyes. I usually then say that I got a text from a nanny and I have to go home.”

“A lot of women think the single dad thing is hot.”

“It is,” I said before even realizing what I’d said. “I mean, men with babies is an attractive thing. Umm…I…fuck. I don’t know."

“Single Moms are…”


“That’s not what I was going to say. I was going to say are often times intense but also refreshing.”

“How so?”

“It’s been nice to spend time with you today. I meet a lot of women who only pretend to be interested in what goes on with Harper because they want to get into bed with me. You appear to be interested in Harper and not my bed.”

“I mean…” We both awkwardly laughed. We’d been standing up here mindlessly looking out the window for a while.

“What?” he asked.

“You have a cute kid.”


“She has your eyes.”

“Finn has yours,” I said as I turned to look up at him as he spoke. “They are beautiful. A beautiful, soft green.” I watched as he licked his lips and pulled the lower one through his thumb and index finger after he spoke. “They are the prettiest green I’ve ever seen.” His hand came to my cheek, brushing a bit of hair out of my face before cupping my cheek and his thumb rubbing back and forth gently.

My mind started going a million miles a minute. He was literally touching my face. I didn’t know why. And the worst part. I couldn’t really focus on anything except the incredible way his eyes looked as he stared into mine and the feeling of his hands. They were soft despite being slightly callused from playing guitar. He slowly bent down towards me and placed his lips against mine as his hand slipped to the back of my neck to cup the base of my head. His lips were soft and full, like two pillows against mine. I felt my stomach do a backflip, the hair on my arms stand up and my heart rate increase all at once. I sensed that he wanted to deepen the kiss and was hesitating.

“MOM!” came the scream of my son as I heard his feet come bounding up the stairs. Harry and I backed away from each other so quickly we banged our foreheads against each other. I started to laugh a little nervously.

“Yes Finny?” I yelled back.

“Come downstairs and play with us. Lilibet is getting out markers and crayons. I want you to color with us.”

“Okay Finny. We will be down in a second,” I replied.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Harry said quietly.

“You’re okay.”

“No, it was wrong of me to do that without asking.”

“No, it wasn’t. You’re fine. We are fine. Fine, yeah…fine.”

“You promise?”

“Yeah, let’s go downstairs and color.” We went downstairs and the kids forced us onto the bench on onside of the dining room table. We were sitting close enough that every time he moved I felt his skin brush against mine. I was like a robot sitting there and coloring. I had no idea what had just happened.

It had been two years since a man kissed me and I felt anything. Sure, there’d been some awkward and terrible kisses from maybe two or three of the men my sisters forced me to go on dates with, but none of them made me feel anything. That kiss made me feel like an electric current was running through my body, even still despite the kiss having ended 10 pages of a coloring book ago.

“I colored this for you,” Harper said as she handed me the picture she’d been coloring. It was full of scribbles that my Mom senses told me were hearts and flowers.

“Thank you, Harper. It’s absolutely beautiful. I am gonna go put this on the fridge with Grey and Finny’s pictures. Is that okay?”

“Yeah!” she excitedly answered. I stood from the bench and went into the kitchen. I sensed that Harry was following me.

“You promise you're okay?” he whispered.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It was a kiss. It was nothing.” Except it wasn’t. But I didn’t know what it was.

“Okay.” It wasn’t much longer when we finally ordered pizza. Harry and I both had a few beers with dinner. It was a nice way to relax from the whole confusing kiss thing.

We put on movies and I grabbed the sleeping bags that the kids used when we declared it movie night. Harry sat next to me on the sofa. It was close enough we could quietly talk during the cartoon the kids had picked but far enough away that Elizabeth wasn’t going to suddenly figure out that we knew what the other person’s lips felt like. His hand was close to mine on the cushion, I felt his pinky rub against mine and I glanced over at him to see him smirking at me. I just shook my head and turned back to the movie.

When the movie ended and we turned the lights up I realized that all three kids had fallen asleep in the sleeping bags. It was becoming difficult for me to carry Finn up to bed. I sighed deeply knowing I’d need to do that tonight.

“Let me get him,” Harry said.

“You sure?” I asked.

“Yeah. Elizabeth can you stay with Harper while we take the kids up to bed?”

“Of course.” Harry bent down to lift Finn as I lifted up Grey. He followed up the stairs parting in the play room to put Finn into his room while I went and tucked Grey into bed. I shut her door just as he did.

“Thank you. I would’ve died doing that after the workout you put me through.”

“I could put you through another workout, this one might be more…fun?” Well fuck.

“I bet you could.” Hey beer I drank earlier, shut up!

“Maybe sometime.” He raised an eyebrow at me and it took everything not to roll my eyes at him. Instead I laughed as we headed back downstairs. He picked Harper up off of the ground and in her sleep she snuggled into her Dad, her head rested in the bend of his neck. I walked with them to the elevator as Elizabeth picked up the sleeping bags. “Thanks again for tonight,” he said as we waited for the elevator.

“I had fun. We will have to do it again.”

“We will. Elizabeth said she’d watch the kids in the morning. We are going to the gym again.”

“I hate you.”

“Nah, you’d want me to stop stalking you if you hated me.” The door opened and he stepped in with Harper and I stood in front of the door to keep it open. “I’ll pick you up at 8:00.”


“Goodnight,” he said as I stepped away from the door and it closed.

“Thank you for watching all of the kids today.”

“It was fun. Harper is a sweet kid.”

“Yeah, she is.”

“Her Dad is pretty great too.”

“Yeah, he is.”
“He asked me to watch the kids tomorrow so he could drag you back to the gym.”

“I hear that.”

“I thought he might ask if he could take you out to dinner.”

“Nah, we are just friends.”

“Uh huh, sure.”

“What?” I asked.

“Friends don’t sit as close on the couch as you two were tonight. Your couch could fit 15 people. He was close enough I’m pretty sure you could tell me what cologne he was wearing.”

“Actually I’ve been struggling to figure out what cologne he wears. Whatever it is it’s fucking amazing. Fuck. Why did I say that outloud?” My phone vibrated on the island of the kitchen. I saw Elizabeth glance down at it and a smile spread across her face as she grabbed it. “Give me my phone.”

“Nope,” she said.

“Give me my phone or you have to stay at your apartment.”

“You don’t scare me.”

“What does it say?”

“Thanks for tonight. The dinner, movie and kiss were all pretty great.”


“You kissed?”

“You know what? This is really an awkward conversation to have with your stepdaughter.” Just at that moment I heard the elevator open in the foyer.

“GET IN HERE, NELLIE!” Elizabeth yelled.

“What?” Nellie asked. I could tell she’d been out having drinks with her co-workers and she seemed a bit tipsy.

“Janie and Harry kissed today.”

“You’re fucking kidding me,” she replied.

“I am so not talking about this. This is not something appropriate to talk to my stepdaughter about.”

“Then talk to me about it.”

“Not happening.”

“You realize that I don’t care if you talk about this,” Elizabeth said. “I told you today. I want you to be happy. Dad would want you to be happy. Dating is ok.”

“This wasn’t dating.”

“No it was better than dating. It was a kiss.” My sister was such a smartass. “I mean if it was a good kiss.” I could feel the blush creeping into my cheeks. “Okay NOW you’re telling us what happened.”

“I gave him a tour of the apartment. We were upstairs looking at the view of the city from the rooftop terrace. We started talking about how great the kids were. Then there was conversation about how Harper has his eyes and Finn has mine. Our eyes locked he kissed me. Then Finn yelled for us to come down and color.”

“Was it a good kiss?” Nellie pushed.

“I mean it wasn’t much of a kiss. It was just soft and sweet.”

“Soft and sweet can be good,” Elizabeth added. I sighed deeply.

“It was like in the same instant my heart jumped into my chest, my skin covered in goosebumps and my heart started racing.”

“YES!” both of the girls yelled.

“Shut up there’s two sleeping kids in this house.”

“They have a gym date in the morning,” Elizabeth said.

“Why not a real date?” Nellie inquired.

“He only asked me to watch the kids so they could go to the gym, not on a date.”

“Because we are only friends.” The phone buzzed again.

“Not just friends.” Elizabeth’s face lit up. “This one reads: That workout could’ve been a fun end to tonight. Still could be.”

“What kind of workout?” Nellie was not going to let me not answer this.

“He carried Finny up to bed. I thanked him for that because after the workout he had me do in the gym today I wouldn’t have been able to carry him up the stairs. He told me he could put me through another workout and it might be more fun.”

“He’s trying to sext you!” Nellie was yelling again and this time both Elizabeth and I shushed her. “If you want to go get that workout we will watch the kids.”

“Give me my phone I’m going to bed.” Elizabeth finally handed the phone over and I went upstairs to go to bed. I was laying in bed staring at the ceiling when the phone went off for a third time.

That was out of line, right?
Well, considering Elizabeth had my phone in her hands when you sent it…
I’m sorry. Is she upset?
Umm…in a way.
How so?
She’s upset (and so is Nellie) that I crawled into my own bed instead of replying to you.
HAHA! That’s great. She’s a great girl.
Yes she is. Well was, until tonight. I want to kill them both. They almost woke the kids up.
How so?
They were excitedly screaming about you evidently sexting me.
It was a failed attempt at sexting because I’m alone in bed.
You are the worst.
Nah, I’m the best. You just don’t know it yet.
DAMN. Someone has an ego.
So are you ready to get your butt kicked again in the morning?
Yes. Nice segue in the conversation by the way.
I’m good. And I wasn’t completely changing the subject. Think you can get a sitter for all three of the kids tomorrow night?
Maybe why?
Ed wants to go out. His missus just landed today which was why we weren’t recording today. Since his lady is coming and I don’t want to be the third wheel I thought you could join me.
Could be fun.
Oh, I can make sure its…fun.
Bold statement, Styles. Bold statement.
I think that I can find a sitter for all three kids. Elizabeth and one of her girlfriends had been talking about having a girls night. I'll convince them to do it at home instead of out. I’m good at bribing them to do things.
I’m intrigued now. Well get some rest. I’ll see you in the morning.
Dream of me.
Oh shut up.


Well, well, well. A first kiss interrupted by a tiny human. Nothing seems more appropriate for these two. The flirting that went from subtle to blatant. And Harry with the “failed” attempt at sexting.

I mean Harry is being bold with Janie and frankly I love it. Writing them is fun. Their banter. Her sarcastic, smartassed nature. The world has sort of left Janie without a fully functioning filter. I mean she fed his kid pancakes! I love the idea of Janie sitting with both of their girls feeding them pancakes. And the mental image of Harry and Janie coloring with their three kids sort of melts my heart. They are both incredible parents who have done nothing but put their kids first.

They have the building blocks of a great friendship in place. Shared interest. Kids that get along. Proximity, haha. I am excited for them to get to know each other and wonder just how long each of them can go without talking about the two GIANT elephants in the room: Harper’s Mom and Greyson’s death. Eventually they will have to have those conversations and they both appear to be avoiding them because they don’t want it to feel like they are prying. As their friendship grows that will be something they have no choice but to talk about. Any speculations on either situation?

I love writing the three women in this story. Janie, Nellie and Elizabeth are great characters and I can’t wait to provide more information about Nellie and Elizabeth. Janie has quite the tribe of people ready, willing and able to help her raise these two kids alone. Elizabeth being a daily fixture in Janie and the kids’ lives is going to be fun. And I am pretty sure she will always keep Janie on her toes.

I can’t wait to hear what you think!! This was really only supposed to be like 3,500 words and ended up at 7,644. What do you want to hear next? I am excited to tell different parts of their growing relationship and jump around a bit. So please, please, PLEASE tell me what you’d like to hear. I’d love to have a spark of an idea come from someone else.
Also thank you to my fellow Coldplay addict, @death--by--dimples for the title. I’ve been staring at my iTunes for a half hour and she in an instant had a title without even reading the chapter!

xx AM.

PS I apologize about the grammar and spelling. It’s almost 1:30. I’m tired and don’t want to spell check. #lazywriter


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.

raybansncoffee raybansncoffee


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

xXFluffy_GruXx xXFluffy_GruXx

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.

raybansncoffee raybansncoffee

:) I am so in love with this.

xXFluffy_GruXx xXFluffy_GruXx