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A New Life in New York

Lights Down Low (MAX and gnash)

January 11, 2020

“So how was the rest of your night?” I asked Janie as we were on the treadmill running for a warmup to our workout.

“Awkward as fuck. I mean my stepdaughter read the texts you sent me. That’s not normal.”

“I have a sneaking suspicion that nothing about either of our lives is ‘normal’.”

“True statement. How was the rest of your night?”

“Not too bad,” I replied. “Harper stayed asleep until we got home and stayed asleep until 6:30.”

“Jealous. I had Finn in my bed at 5:45.”

“I’m the jealous one. I’d like to have been in your bed.” I don’t even know why I was being this blatant when it came to flirting with her. I normally wasn’t but there was something about her that just made me throw my normal behavior out the window to flirt with her. I wasn’t sure if the fact that she was not only a mother but an excellent one played into my behavior or not. She was the first mother I’d been interested in. It was nice to know that she wouldn’t be jealous of my kid coming first in my life because her kids came first in hers as well.

“You just have no fear when it comes to flirting do you?”


“You’re absolutely crazy.”

“I don’t think so. I think I’m willing to take a chance. Kissing you last night was taking a chance. You could’ve hit me, kicked me out of your house or kneed me in the balls. Instead, you kissed me back.”

“I did not!” I laughed at her. She was starting to blush a little bit.

“You wanted to though.”

“I…I…oh shut up.” She was stumbling over her words. She did want to kiss me back! “I hate you.”

“No, you don’t. If you hated me you wouldn’t have let me kidnap you from your apartment this morning.”

“You were giving me freedom from my children for an hour.”

“You’re also going on a date with me tonight.”

“Not a date,” she said as she slowed the treadmill until it came to a stop. “It’s time out of the house with a new friend and his friends.”

“It’s literally a double date.” She rolled her eyes at me. “You’re going to have fun tonight, J. I will make sure of it.”

“Of course you will.” We started to move around the gym for our workout.
“Okay, we need to stop for a minute. I’m dying,” she said as she collapsed onto the floor laughing as she tried to catch her breath. I moved from where I was at her feet to sit down, she'd been doing crunches and punching my hands each time she sat up.

“You’re doing great.”

“I’m dying. You’re worse than the personal trainer I occasionally work with.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I replied.

“Take that as whatever you want. I want to die. Killing them is not usually a good way to pick up women.”

“No, but based on this you might need a night to relax and a drink or two tonight which works in my favor.”

“I already agreed to go out tonight.”

“That was partially because I asked Elizabeth if she was watching the kids.”

“You did do that,” she said as she sat up a bit resting on her elbows. “I was gonna ask her.”

“Sure you were. Are you allergic to a fun night out?”

“I mean no. I just am a Mom with two kids and sometimes it’s difficult to get a night out for fun when I need to have people watch kids for other things. I have to ask a lot of my family so I don’t often ask for fun.”

“Well, you weren’t asking, I was. And I told her I’d pay her and her friend for watching the kids. You deserve a night out so I’m going to take you on a night out. And you know what? You’re gonna have fun.”

“Am I?”

“You are. Now get off your ass we have a workout to finish.” She rolled her eyes at me as she flopped back down on the ground.

“I hate you,” she said.

“No, you don’t,” I replied as I took her hand and pulled her up off of the ground. She basically sprung up and into me as she got up. I wrapped my arms around her to keep us both on our feet. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She was quiet as she spoke and it wasn’t until she blinked a few times and stared at the ground that I realized my arms were still around her. I quickly dropped them and we got back to work. We’d been in the gym a little over an hour when we headed back to her apartment to the kids.

I was still blown away by just how big her place was. In all of the time, I’d been reading her blog I’d never realized the lifestyle she led. She posted photos of the kids but was usually pretty secretive about their names and where they lived. None of the photos showed off the penthouse she called home. I wasn’t sure why I was surprised that she has the kind of money that I assume she does, it’s not like she ever really focused on Greyson in her writing other than the things she and the kids did to remember him in their daily lives. Or there was the sort of emotional post in fall when she got a tattoo on her ribcage of Greyson’s signature and documented it on her blog as a way to celebrate the second anniversary of his death. She didn’t often touch on their love story or the reason for his death. She maintained a decent boundary and while most of the people who read her blog knew how to use Google to find his obituary I’d always chosen not to. She chose to leave that private for a reason.

“Daddy!” Harper yelled as the elevator door opened to the penthouse. She came running across the room and jumped into my arms.

“Hello, Harper Rose. Are you having fun with your friends?”

“I am.”

“Do you want to hang out with them again tonight?”

“Yeah! Elizabeth said I was coming back tonight.” I hadn't seen my little girl this excited about new friends ever. She was more verbal than a lot of kids her age mainly because she was almost always around adults. I’d tried the playgroups and park but it never worked in my favor so I stuck to keeping Harper at home unless we were in London with my friends there who had kids. Seeing her start to build a friendship with Grey and Finn made me so happy. It was also nice to know that Elizabeth was so great with the kids, I needed to get her information so I could hire her as a babysitter on occasion.

“You are going to. Daddy is going to take Janie out to dinner tonight.”

"That sounds fun,” Harper said.

“Hear that, J? That sounds fun.”

“Sure it does.” She rolled her eyes at me. “What time are you picking me up?”

“How does 6:30 sound? I’ve got to run by the studio on the way to dinner. I can show you where I work.”

“Elizabeth, are you okay taking the kids that long?” Janie asked.

“Yeah, Jamo wasn’t free today to help me move stuff so we are going tomorrow. Ali is coming over to hang out here tonight and help babysit. I can have her be here around 6:00.”

“Awesome. I will see all of you later.” I leaned down so I could speak quietly to Janie. “Dress sexy.”

“Oh shut up and get out of here,” she said as she pushed me towards the elevator laughing. Harper and I waved goodbye as the door to the elevator shut and we headed home.

“Did you have fun this morning?” I asked.

“Yeah,” came the tiny reply of my daughter. “I like them, Daddy. They are my friends.”

“That's good. I think that they are my friends too.”

Once home I plopped Harper down on my bed to watch some cartoons while I showered off the sweat from the gym. I threw on a pair of sweatpants when I got out and drug Harper away from the TV and into the kitchen to feed her lunch. It wasn’t long after that I got her down for a nap knowing that she’d need some extra rest if she was having a fun night with friends tonight. Once alone in the living room, I sent Ed a text.
Guess who isn’t pathetic and has a date tonight?
You’re fucking kidding me. Who?
Janie. One of the girls from the other night.
Which one?
The one with two kids. She was the older of the two sisters.
The one with the 21-year-old stepdaughter?
Yes, that one.
She was a smartass. I like her. How did you not only find a babysitter with your Mum out of town but one for her kids too?
The 21-year-old stepdaughter. She lives with Janie and helped watch the kids last night.
Did you two go out last night?
No, we did a movie and pizza at her place with the kids. She lives in my building.
Random but convenient.
It absolutely is. We went to the gym yesterday and again this morning. Why is it sexy as fuck to watch a woman sweat in the gym?
Because you’re super fucking weird, mate. So do you actually want to date this one? Or is this like the last girl you brought out with us who just wanted in your pants and nearly drove my wife mental?
I could date this one. I mean the ideal first date is not part of a group date with you and your wife but I don’t think I am going to be able to convince her to go on a date with me yet. She seems a bit timid about that stuff. The whole widow thing seems to have her gun-shy about dating.
That’s completely understandable. Well, I promise Cherry and I will be on our best behavior tonight.
I appreciate that. I’m going to try and be impressive and run her by the studio first. I need to grab that drive with the songs we recorded this week.
Impressing her with your studio?
I mean it might work. Shows I have a career and don’t just sit around playing with my kid.
Good plan. We will meet you at dinner tonight.

Harper slept for a decent amount of time which meant I finally had a chance to go through emails to schedule out a few artists that wanted to come in for writing and recording sessions. I got a bit of laundry done and started to figure out what I was wearing tonight before Harper woke up. After an afternoon snack and a little bit of hanging out with her, we were off to get ready.

“Daddy you look pretty,” she said as we waited for the elevator.

“Thank you, Harper. You look very pretty too.” I’d put on a pair of black dress pants and a black button-down shirt. I knew Ed would give me shit because the pants were a little flared and the shirt was unbuttoned a good portion of the way. I’d grabbed a black and grey striped jacket that was longer. When I was getting dressed up Harper insisted that she needed to dress up too. She had on a dress that had a little tulle skirt and sequins on the top. I’d packed a much less formal outfit for her and some pajamas knowing she’d probably be fast asleep when we got home.

We were in the elevator and headed to Janie’s. Harper’s little hand tucked into mine as we rode between floors. She really was a great kid and I tried not to date much and leave her with my Mum or a sitter because she didn’t deserve that. But I also knew at some point I’d like her to have a Mum or a sibling in her life. We didn’t need to spend forever just the two of us. The doors of the elevator opened and we entered into Janie’s foyer.

“Hello,” I called.

“Hey Harry, we are in the kitchen,” Elizabeth yelled back. Harper and I walked towards the kitchen and as soon as she saw Elizabeth and Nellie she took off running towards them. There was another girl in the kitchen with them, likely Elizabeth’s friend that Janie had mentioned would be there.

“Hey,” I said to all of them. “Thank you for watching Harper tonight.”

“Thank you for taking my sister out. She needs a night of fun.” Nellie was smiling as she spoke but I noticed her sort of giving me a once over. I heard the heels on the stairs before I saw her.

“Holy shit,” I whispered quietly.

“Language,” Nellie replied. Evidently, I wasn’t quiet enough. But it caused her to turn and look at her sister who had just gotten to the bottom stair. She was in an oversized cream sweater dress, black tights and thigh high boots. She looked fucking beautiful. “Lookin’ good, sis.”

“Thanks,” Janie said as she walked towards us. She had a black long jacket in her arms.

“You do look absolutely beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Her smile made her even more stunning. “Are you ready to go?” I nodded my reply before taking her jacket and helping her into it. “Alright, kiddos. Listen to Lilibet and Ali tonight. Don’t eat too much candy and we will all see you in the morning.”

“Why morning?” Grey asked as she stared up at her mother with wide eyes. She almost looked scared and it broke my heart. I hated when Harper made that face at me and seeing it on Grey’s face was just as heart-wrenching.

“Harry and I are going out to dinner with some friends. You, my little angel, will be asleep before I get home. I promise to come in and give you kisses though.”


“Have fun tonight,” Nellie said.

“See you later,” Janie replied before we went to the foyer and back to the elevator.

“You do really look absolutely stunning, J.”

“You clean up nice yourself, Styles.”

I wanted to pull her into me, to hold her near me like she had been in the gym this morning. But I knew I couldn’t. Not yet. I don’t know why but the idea of being next to her just felt right. I just had to fight it. The door opened to the lobby and we fell into our easy conversations as we walked through the streets towards the studio a few blocks away. Part way there without even realizing it I reached for her hand and held it in mine. She seemed a bit stiff at first but quickly relaxed and when I looked at her she was smiling from ear to ear.

“This is your studio?” she asked as we stopped in front the building and I unlocked the door with my free hand, still holding hers in mine.

“Yeah, I moved stuff in here right before Harper was born. I rent the space out to other artists and producers so it’s not just me here. This week Ed and I have been here a lot. I’m lucky he loves Harper because she runs around while we work.”

“That’s amazing that you include her in that aspect of your life.” I took her on a little tour, showing her the way the place was set up and trying to not put the focus on the gold and platinum records that adorned the walls and the awards on the shelves. I wasn’t trying to show off about how great I was but yet I was trying to show off about how great I was. It seemed different though. Not like I wanted her to be impressed by me but to know that I was successful enough that I provided a nice life for myself and my daughter. I barely knew her but I felt like I needed her to know that. “This place is really great.”

“Thank you. I’ve worked hard to build it up to what I’d like.”

“Play me something,” she said as she sunk into the couch in one of the live rooms. She crossed her legs and her sweater slid a bit revealing more of her thighs. I nearly choked on the saliva in my mouth. I grabbed a guitar and sat down next to her and started to play a song we’d written this week. It was a very romantic song, something we’d been playing around with. Ed’s mind went there a lot these days with how happy he was in his love life and I was always able to go there with him pretty easily. “That’s a beautiful song.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“Oh shut up. Let me compliment you without you hitting on me.”

“It isn’t intended to just be me hitting on you. Truly, you are beautiful.” I leaned towards her on the couch and kissed her. It was like the kiss we’d shared last night, soft and sweet. I wanted so badly to deepen it and the irresponsible side of me wanted to push her dress up and have my way with her on the couch but I knew I couldn’t. It was completely out of line at this point, we barely knew each other. We both had more than ourselves to worry about. This wasn’t like it was when I was younger. I pulled back from the kiss and saw her smile. “You liked that.”

“I mean what am I? Stupid? You’re hot and appear like you could be a great kisser.”

“Oh, I can be.”

“Prove it,” she said. She almost looked like she was unsure of what she’d just said but she held her ground with it rather than chickening out. I leaned towards her to kiss her, at first soft until my tongue began to beg for entrance to her mouth. Her lips parted and the kiss deepened. It was the best kiss I’d had in recent memory and it must’ve been for her too because she let out a little moan against my lips. I moved back so I was looking into her eyes. “Okay, you’re a good kisser. Damn you.”

“Well, that’s no way to thank someone.” She started to laugh loudly.

“I can’t thank you for it. You’re clouding my judgment with your cute face and pouty lips.”

“You think my face is cute?”

“Oh shut up!”

“No seriously. How am I clouding your judgment?”

“I don’t do this.”

“Do what? We are kissing. You have two kids, clearly, at some point in your life you did this and then some, I mean unless Finn and Grey are both an immaculate conception.” She started to laugh loudly again.

“I don’t bring men around my kids.” My heart sank. I knew what she meant now. “It’s been just over two years that Greyson has been gone. I don’t bring men around my kids. Even men I’ve become friends with go through a screening process before I allow them to have any sort of relationship with my children. You not only know my kids but you’re becoming part of their lives too. What happens if something goes wrong and you leave? Then how do I explain that to them.”

“We are literally on our first date. Do we need to have this conversation right now?” I knew the answer. We did. I also didn’t bring women around Harper. Our situation was different though. We met with our kids there. It’s not like we could suddenly pretend the other didn’t exist. “Don’t answer that. I know we do.”

“I mean really. Do you normally bring some girl that you want to fuck around Harper?”

“You are assuming I want to fuck you already.” I was laughing to try and signal it was a joke.

“You invited me to your bed last night.”

“True. Well, no I don’t usually bring women around Harper. In fact, she’s never known a woman I dated. She knows the women in my life that are completely platonic but none that I’ve ever been interested in dating or have dated or even slept with. Fuck she doesn’t even know her mother. What am I doing?” Crap. Why did I say that? Why did I drop the ‘motherless daughter bomb’ on a first date?

“You’re allowing yourself to feel something for a person which I’ve been told is normal. But clearly, we are both allowing our judgment to be clouded if we are behaving this way.”

“That or we both are accepting that this is different. Harper met you when I did. This isn’t normal. Although nothing since Harper was conceived has been remotely normal in my life. Her mother and I weren’t even dating when we got pregnant.”

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” she said, stopping me from continuing on. Her hand resting on my thigh.

“Her mother and I were acquaintances. Mutual friends connected us in LA. We hung out a bit, partied together, slept together. She was in school, her final year at USC with the intention of going to law school. She’d already gotten her acceptance letter when she found out she was pregnant. She didn’t want kids ever, let alone with a few months to go before graduation. She told me that she intended on putting the baby up for adoption because she didn’t want kids but someone else might want to raise the baby. Without even thinking about the words coming out of my mouth I told her I wanted the baby. So we worked out a contract, legal documents, and everything. As soon as she was born Harper became 100% my responsibility, her mother asked to never be named or mentioned, she signed her parental rights away in a closed court case. There is only to be contact between us if it is in regards to Harper’s health and I need her mother’s medical history or some sort of testing. She’s the last woman I spent any kind of significant time with and we weren’t dating, we just slept with each other.”

“Has Harper started asking about her yet?” Her question wasn’t to pry, I could sense that it was because of her own situation. Her kids lived each day without their Dad the way Harper did without a Mom.

“Not yet, though I can sense it coming. She just thinks that some people only have daddies. And that like your kids only have a mommy and then some people have both. But I know that when she starts to interact with kids more and make friends it will be something she asks. I hate lying to her but I also don’t want her to think that her mother was heartless. She was doing the best thing she could for Harper. She had a few issues that made her never want to be a parent and for me, it’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life. Have the kids started asking you?”

“Well, Finn remembers his Dad to an extent. We all do the best we can to keep the memory of Greyson alive for both of the kids, especially for Grey since she never got the chance to know him.”

“You don’t need to tell me what happened tonight. I want you to wait until you are 100% ready to talk about it. Ok?” I brushed my thumb across her cheek causing her to nod. “And when you are ready to talk, I promise I will be ready to listen.” This time it was her leaning forward and pressing her lips to mine.

“Thank you,” she replied softly. “I'm sorry that I’m a freak. I’m just always nervous that someone is going to break not just my heart but theirs. After yesterday I can tell that my kids think you’re great. I mean you are great.”

“So are you.”

“We need to set a rule now.”

“Okay.” I didn’t know what was coming next.

“The hand holding and kissing and all of this stuff.” She waved her hands wildly in between us. “This can’t happen in front of the kids. At least not yet. Not until we know that this isn’t going to end up with us just as friends or us hating each other. I don’t want to mess with any of their minds. We’ve got three great kids on our hands and we need to protect them at all costs.”

“I agree 100%. Harper really likes you already.”

“And Finn thinks you’re awesome. You played with legos with him yesterday. You’re his new best friend.”

“He’s a great kid. You’re an incredible mother. I mean honestly, you’re absolutely fucking gorgeous but even when you had sick Finn at the doctor’s office you were so beautiful because who you are was shining through. You care about your kids in a way that makes you even more attractive, which seriously shouldn’t be possible with your beauty.”

“Shut up.”

“I’m not kidding,” I defended.

“Well you’re a pretty amazing Dad to Harper and we talked about this. Dads are hot, good dads are fucking sexy.” I laughed quietly before leaning toward her to kiss her again, just as our lips connected my phone started to beep in my pocket.

You’re late. Where the fuck are you?
On our way. Be there in ten.

“We need to go.”

“Okay,” she replied. She stood up and readjusted her dress before we headed out of the studio. I took her hand back in mind as we walked. She was right, we needed to keep this from the kids but it didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy it while we were out tonight. As we walked up to the restaurant I squeezed her hand tightly in mine. I opened the door and we were inside where within seconds I spotted Ed and Cherry. I led her towards the booth as they both stood to greet us.

“Hi, Cherry. How are you?” I asked as I hugged her.

“Wonderful. Happy to be back in New York for a little while.”

“I want to introduce you to my friend Janie. Janie this is Ed’s wife Cherry.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Janie said as she shook Cherry’s hand.

“You as well.” I helped Janie out of her jacket and hung it up beside the booth allowing her to slide in first. As I sat beside her I grabbed her hand in mine beneath the table. The conversation began with the normal awkwardness of any first conversation. The women at the table asked about what the other did for a living, for fun, what they liked about New York. As soon as Cherry revealed that she used to live in New York and work on Wall Street they started to ease into the conversation. By the time our appetizers arrived it was as if they were old friends. “You know you’re not like most of the women Harry brings around,” Cherry said.

“Really? What do you mean by that?” Janie asked.

Well for starters, you have a brain.”

“Hey! Cherry I have brought women with brains around before.”

“It’s a rare occurrence,” Ed added.

“I was assuming it was because I wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret Angel.” My jaw dropped.


“What? My sister works at Refinery 29 and covers Pop Culture as part of her job. Did you think I didn’t know you dated half of their runway show?”

“I mean…”

“It’s okay,” she said as she leaned in closer to me. “You didn’t stalk them.”

“I don’t stalk you either.”

“That’s debatable.” I couldn’t help but laugh at her. I leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to her temple. “Seriously though, he’s stalking me.”

“You look like you’re enjoying it,” Ed replied.

“Maybe a little bit.”

“So who has Harper tonight?” Cherry asked.

“Her daughter,” Cherry’s face showered her shocked. “I mean stepdaughter.” The shock grew.

“My husband passed away a couple years ago. I was his second marriage. He has three kids from the first and he was much older than I am. My oldest stepdaughter lives with me and she’s home with the kids tonight. She’s 21 and a student at NYU.”

“Kids?” Cherry asked.

“I have two kids. Finn, my son, is four and Grey, my daughter, is two. I’m lucky that their big sister and my younger sister live with us and help out when they can. It would be a shit show without them most days.”

“You’re a great Mom, J. Don’t discount that.” She smiled at me before resting her head on my shoulder briefly.

“So how did you two meet?” Cherry was clearly interested in what was happening and not going to hold back with her questions.

“The pediatrician’s office,” Janie answered. “Both our kids were sick Monday and it turns out we use the same pediatrician.”

“That’s cute.”

“Yeah, she was the one next to the empty chair that looked like it was safe to sit in and not get into a conversation with someone annoying. Plus she was the cute one in the waiting room.” I saw the blush start to creep into Janie’s cheeks.

“Well, you’re adorable. A week or a lifetime I’m in favor of this.”

“Forgive my wife. She sometimes thinks life is a romantic comedy,” Ed said.

“It’s okay. This sort of is a bit romcom-esque.”

“You are the expert on romantic comedies,” Ed added. Janie just shook her head.

“You would be.”

“You like it, J. Don’t lie.”

“Nah, I sort of hate you most of the time.”

“Except you don’t.” I kissed her temple again not wanting to get too affectionate in public with my friends on the other side of the table but I also couldn’t resist the urge to touch her.

As dinner was coming to an end I started to get a bit sad. I knew based on their behavior that Ed and Cherry would want to go back to their rented flat and snuggle in for the evening. I didn’t want the night with Janie to end and I feared that was what would happen.

“We are going to head home,” Ed said confirming my fears. “Thanks for a lovely dinner. Hopefully, we can do this again while we are all in town. We’d love to get to know you better, Janie.”

“I would too. I’m sure we can arrange something. Elizabeth doesn’t start school again for a few more weeks so she’s looking for some spending money and Styles here seems to think you pay her to babysit.” Ed and Cherry both laughed which made me happy. They both thought she was as funny as I did.

“I’ll call this week and we will get together,” Cherry added turning her attention to Janie. They’d bonded pretty quickly and decided they would get together for lunch.

“Sounds wonderful.” After hugs and goodbyes, we parted ways on the street and I turned to look at Janie.

“So J, does the end of their night mean the end of ours?”

“It is 10:30. We probably should get back.”

“We don’t need to though. In fact, Elizabeth sent a text that everyone is tucked into bed and fast asleep. She told me to take you out for a good time.”

“She did not,” Janie argued. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and clicked on the text. She began to read it allowed. “Could you do me a favor and keep her out for a while? The kids are all asleep and she needs to have fun. Get her drunk or something.” I watched her sigh before falling against my chest causing me to hug her.

“I hate them so much.”

“Why? They love you?”

“They are all trying to push me to put myself out there. I watched my two sisters sign me up for dating websites last summer with my two stepdaughters, which let me tell you is super fucking weird. What if I’m not ready for this?”

“Then we wait until you’re ready.”

“That’s not fair to you.”

“Telling me I need to date someone I’m not interested in is unfair. Waiting for you is just the price I have to pay for someone amazing.” She glanced up at me and I saw her eyes looked a little bit like she wanted to cry.

“You don’t even know me.”

“I do though.” I took her hand in mine and started to walk. It was a bit cold but the walk home would be good for us. A chance to talk. “So maybe the stalking joke isn’t so much a joke.”

“I know it is. Just because you read my blog on occasion doesn’t mean that you stalk me.”

“I read it every day. I’ve laughed with you. I’ve cried with you. I’ve considered running away to a deserted island with you.” I listened to her start to laugh. She moved her hand a bit, lacing our fingers between one another. “You are the reason I survived the first six months of fatherhood. Then I met you and you were even better than the woman who I got to know through a blog. You are funny as hell, quick-witted, could run laps around me intellectually, incredibly caring, and have an incredible heart. Our conversations in the gym, our text messages, our little talks over the last few days have all meant a lot to me. I know you’re scared. I know you don’t think you’re ready. I know that this is all new to you. I want to take this at whatever pace you want. If you are going to just be my friend for a year before you let me have another date with you then I’ll do that. If you want to have date nights with me every week even just as an excuse to get out of the house for a few hours, I’ll do that. If you want to go back to my apartment and make love until the sun comes up, I’ll do that.”

“What if I told you I wanted you to go on dates until I’m ready?”

“I’d really hate doing that, but if it’s what you wanted I would try it. If it’s what you really want.”

“I don’t know what I want.”

“So talk through it with me. What’s going on in that beautiful mind of yours.”

“I mean kissing you. It’s…it’s…it’s the best feeling outside of being a mother that I’ve had since Greyson died. I mean you aren’t the first man I’ve kissed since Greyson but by far you take the number one spot.”

“I’ll try not to let that inflate my ego too much,” I said which made her laugh a bit.

“I just constantly live in fear that if I let myself love someone again that something is going to happen and the kids and I will be left alone again. I don’t want to invite someone into their lives that is going to just up and leave if things get hard.”

“Why would you think I’d do that?” I tried not to sound hurt but I knew it came out that way.

“I don’t necessarily think you’d do that. I just feel like I need to be careful for them. And honestly, I’m scared. I haven’t even attempted to let anyone into my heart since Greyson and there’s so much I’m terrified about with that. I mean I’m 29 and I’ve had two kids. Things aren’t the same down there anymore.” I started to laugh a bit at her. “I mean the last man that wasn’t Greyson that saw me naked was a stupid drunk hook up during the Democratic National Convention and it was another member of the press pool.”

“None of that matters to me. You are what matters to me.” She stopped walking and pulled me into her, wrapping her arms around my waist. She stood on her tiptoes to kiss me. “We can go as slow as you want.”

“Okay.” I bent down to kiss her again, pulling her into me closely. This time it was Janie that deepened the kiss. As we moved back from each other I could see her catching her breath. “So that whole dating while I figure out if I’m ready shit?”

“Yeah?” I asked.

“It was a lie. I can’t handle the idea of you kissing someone else.” My arms tightened around her, picking her up off of the ground and spinning her in a circle as she laughed. “I don’t think that means that going home and making love until the sun comes up is in the cards, at least for tonight, but we can negotiate terms of what this is.”

“No negotiating necessary. It’s 100% your terms. My only term is that I get to spend time with you.” I felt like I was on cloud nine as we walked back towards the apartment. She plugged in the code for her penthouse as we got in the elevator. We found Elizabeth and her friend in the living room watching movies.

“Are they still sleeping?” Janie asked.

“Yeah, not a peep out of them. Be careful when you go in to say goodnight. The girls took a while to fall asleep because they were busy giggling in bed in there. Do you need me to get Harper’s stuff put together Harry?”

“No, you’re fine.”

“Harper is going to stay here tonight,” Janie said. “We are all doing Sunday brunch tomorrow. Ali, you’re welcome to stay.”

“You should. She goes all out for brunch,” Elizabeth said.

“Awesome, thanks, Janie.”

“We are going to go upstairs and check on the kiddos and then we’ll be upstairs having a few drinks.” I followed her quietly through the apartment, we went into the Grey’s room first. Both of the girls were snuggled up with what seemed like hundreds of stuffed animals as they had been the last time we checked on them in here. A quick peek into Finn’s room and we went up the final flight of stairs to the roof. She headed towards the bar that was up there. She turned on some music at a soft volume. “What would you like to drink?”

“Whatever you’re having.” I heard ice cubes clink in glasses as I walked to the fireplace and turned it on. She walked over to me with two glasses that appeared to be whiskey on the rocks. I took a sip and knew my face contorted a bit.

“Not a Jameson drinker?”

“Not often.”

“I can get you something else?”

“I’m fine.” I took another sip and the same face reaction came.

“You’re not though.” She took the glass from my hand and poured it into hers nearly overflowing the small glass. She took a sip to lower the level of liquid so she was safe to walk. “You were drinking tequila the other night, right?”

“I was.” I watched as she pulled a bottle of Casamigos into her hand and poured it into a glass and threw some lime wedges in it. It was exactly how I took my drink, she’d clearly paid attention the other night. I took a sip. “This is much better.”

“Speak up about that. Not everyone wants to drink Jameson on the rocks.” We went to the couch and sat down. She moved to take her boots off and threw them on the ground. “Those are cute but not very comfortable.” She moved her legs so they were crossed on the couch as she faced me, it caused her dress to show even more of her thighs. My hand rested on one of them before I leaned over to kiss her.

“Tonight was fun. When do I get to take you out on a first date that doesn’t involve friends.”

“I’ve been out a lot lately. I need to focus on Mom stuff. Maybe next weekend.” My thumb brushed back and forth on her thigh.

“That seems so long.”

“We have to find a babysitter for three kids to have a date.”

“I know. But we’ve pulled it off twice so far for a night out and for gym dates.”

“Yes, because of my stepdaughter. I can’t make her keep doing that. I need to make sure that Lillibet gets herself moved tomorrow. I’ll likely have her and Jameson here for dinner. While my stepdaughters were ready for me to move on, my stepson is another story.”

“I can respect that. What does Monday look like?”

“Me wanting to die after chaperoning a trip to the fire station with a group of preschool students.”

“Tuesday?” I asked.

“Don’t you have things to do?” she questioned.

“Sure but they can be rearranged. Wednesday then?”

“Wednesday is my Mom night. Nellie takes the kids so that my older sister can drag me out with her Mom friends. I am free Tuesday, but I feel guilty about putting the kids off on people two nights in a row.”

“If I can get you to commit to Tuesday I will help watch the kids Wednesday.”

“That’s not necessary. Nellie will take them.”

“We can go out for a late dinner. Wait until after the kids have eaten so that we don’t miss dinner with them.”

“I could maybe do that.” I leaned forward and kissed her, not even bothering this time to be slow. I just wanted her lips against mine. She rose to her knees and started to move towards me a bit. We stayed on the couch making out for what felt like hours, it was like being a kid again. I hadn’t had the intention of just making out with a woman and it not continuing past that in a while. We eventually ended up laying on the couch, her head on my chest while I played with her hair and we talked. “You promise you’re okay with this?” she asked. I could hear how tired she was.

“I’m more than okay with this. It’s perfect.” It didn't take long before she fell asleep in my arms. I watched her sleep for a little while in awe of her before I finally got tired enough that I drifted off.


So I tallied up what I’ve written so far in January - I have a goal of over 300,000 words this year since I made it to 293,720 words last year - and so far I’m at 27,686 which is well over 1,000 words a day which is sort of where my goal is for days that I’m writing. I know that none of that matters to you but I’m pretty excited about it.

So this entire installment, chapter, segment, piece, whatever you want to call it started when I got home last night around 7:00 Central and was finished around 5:00 today. In less than 24 hours I wrote 7,115 words and it’s not 7,115 words of crap. This is a chapter I’m proud of. I’m working hard to craft the story of Janie and Harry to be something that would be somewhat realistic to the people I’ve developed while still giving everyone the romantic story they desire from fanfiction. Needless to say, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

Do you think it was too soon for them to have a conversation about their future and fears?

How do you feel about how Harry decided to take on single fatherhood? There will be more on that later as well as Janie’s backstory involving Greyson’s death.

I am completely honest when I say ALL feedback is welcome. My editor read through this as I was writing it and vetoed an idea I had saying it didn’t seem realistic for the characters or the situation. She also confirmed my thoughts on things. She’s been an incredible resource to me as I write as she is a Mom of two amazing girls and I am just a Mom of two cats. So HUGE thank you to her.

Submit your ideas of what you want to read next. I’m totally up in the air about what I’m writing for the next installment so seriously, SEND IDEAS. Requests are open and will be accepted - within reason. I am willing to write non-canon pieces as long as it’s something that sparks creativity for me.

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.

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.

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:) I am so in love with this.

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