The sun set on what had been a trying day. Another trying day. Paul sighed and closed his laptop. Terse snuck up behind him, ran her had down his chest and gave him a peck on the cheeky. She walked around and joined him on the sofa.
“Any luck darling?”
“None. You know it would be much easier if you were still working there. Chloe hasn’t got any clue and Pierce is even less helpful. It feels like I’m on my own over there at the moment.”
“You can be a bit stubborn though, are you sure this is not you, being you?”
“Oh, thank you very much. Your support as always is just what I needed.”
"I just mean you have been pretty hard on Chloe since this whole management gig started. She’s learning you know; she was never going to be perfect. She’ll get there you’ll see.”
“Is that before or after we lose the hotel.”
“I was there once and so were you”
“Yes, and tough love never did us any harm, it’s a dog eat dog world Terese sooner she learns that the better.
Terese looked at him with a glaring look.
“Come on you know I like Chloe; she’s just not cut out for this particular role at Lassiters. I know you see that to.”
“Do I really. See I recall a certain someone trying to bully me out of his precious hotel at the beginning.”
“Who on earth was that?” Paul said sarcastically
Terese looked at him and gave him a cheeky smile.
“Fine maybe but that was different.”
“Because you fought back”
“There is nothing worse than a one-sided battle, someone who just won’t fight for themselves. You weren’t afraid to stand up to me and my ways and that was a nice change. You knew what you wanted from the word go no matter who or what you came up against.”
“And I came against a lot. It’s hard coming into that hotel you know. It like fighting a lion protecting his cub.”
“But you fought and look what happened. A year ago, today?”
“I’m surprised you remembered”
“How could I not. That night was the happiest I’d been for some time. All that time I waited. I loved you for years and to hear you say you wanted us, that was the perfect valentine’s gift.”
And I did have something planned to mark it, but it was highjacked by a man is a fedora!”
Paul looked at her confused
Both paused for a minute looked at each other before looking down and smiling.
“Boy we took the long way around didn’t we.” Terese said looking at him “Six years we’ve lost because of what, game playing”
“You say lost I say gain.”
Terese gave him a confused look. He gave her a smile.
“I’ve known you now for almost eight years. In that time, you have been there for my best times and my worst times. You have been my worst nightmare and my best dream. The game playing is a part of our history and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
“Not even a couple of extra years together.”
“Darling you became my wife last year, but you were something much more before that. You were my best friend and you still are. No matter what happens you will always be. I don’t need a piece of paper to know how much I love you. Being here with you is all I need.”
“Aww Paul.” She leaned forward and held his hand “After everything we still came out the other end stronger. And just look at us now, twelve months on we’re married, a family home, three young adults to look after”
“To think it took me so much time to decide to move, but if there is one thing I will not regret it’s that. Building this family with you has been a joy. Roxy, Ned and Harlow have made us even stronger and I wouldn’t change a thing”
“Not even the drama”
Paul shrugged his shoulders
“What’s family without a little drama, disagreements and a whole lot of bickering”
“So, no regrets?”
“Yes! You take way too much space in the wardrobe and you hog the bed!” She said with a cheeky glint in her eye
“I do not. I just like to cuddle, maybe you should just enjoy the fact that I love you so much I can’t bear to be too far away from you even when I’m asleep”
“It a king size for a reason”
“Exactly. Fit for a king” said pointing to himself “and his queen” he looked and pointed at her.
“Well would his lordship like a cup of tea”
Terese got up and headed towards the kitchen. Paul watched her with adoration and smiled. This was the perfect anniversary and valentine’s day. He didn’t need any grand gesture today just Terese and a cosy night in.
“Can you bring the biscuits too?”
Terese grabbed the jar and shook it around the corner.
“On the list”
“Was that Harlow again. What is it with Brits and Biscuits?”
“Maybe she just has the same habits as her grandad?”
Terese walked back over towards him.
“So, do you fancy doing anything tonight?”
“Yes. This. Can we just enjoy this? Ned is out with Yashvi and Roxy and Harlow are at the cinema so it’s just us. For one night we can just enjoy us”
“You know what Paul. I’m glad you turned around and came back into the office last year. That place holds so much memories for us, not all good, but that day changed all of that. That space started the story of the rest of our lives.”
“I thought about working there tonight, if you were busy. The memories we shared there, it just, it makes me feel like I’m home”
Terese gave him a smile
“So, what do you have in mind for tonight?”
“I can think of plenty of ways to make tonight our own”
Paul gave he a cheeky smile. She smiled back.
“Your specialty I assume?”
“How did you guess.”
“There is only always a choice of three with you.”
“You know me so well. I’ll set up while you get the tea finished.”
Terese headed back to the kitchen and as Paul turned and got up the front door opened.
“You are unbelievable you know that. Who turns up without booking a chick flick on valentines?”
“Well you should’ve checked shouldn’t you, it’s just as much your fault trusting me”
“Aargh” Harlow exclaimed
Terese came out of the kitchen two mugs in hand and placed them on the table.
“Girls what’s going on?”
Just as they were about to start again the door went and in came Ned.
“You as well?” Paul questioned as he walked towards the kitchen
“Yes, the Rebecchis were celebrating I didn’t want to intrude. Why we’re not interrupting are we?”
Before either had a chance to answer Roxy looked over towards Paul.
“Is that Monopoly?”
He looked down and then straight at Terese.
“See Paulie knew we were on the way, it like fate.”
““Actually Roxy, me and Paul...”
“Were just about to set up.” Paul interrupted “So that’s five, right?”
“Aye why not” Ned answered
“I call the Iron, obvs because I’m hot!”
“I’ll get the snacks and drinks” Harlow said walking into the kitchen as the other two joined her Paul shook his head. As he set up the board on the table. Terese joined him. As they watched the three of them squabble, they looked at each other and shared a disbelieving snigger.”
“Did we expect anything different. I can send them away if you prefer darling, I know you would’ve preferred just us”
“Terese I love you. I wanted to grow old with you, share memories with you. Laugh, cry and play board games with you. I also wanted a family with you. Our little army, something we could call ours. It not Perfect but this is it. All of it.”
As they looked towards them all they saw was a wave of disagreements. Paul and Terese laughed as they watched them. Ned lifted his head and smiled back.
“Like I said not Perfect but ours.”
“The family we’ve always wanted”
As they came to the table, snacks in hand, Paul set the pieces in place.
“So, I’m dog and you’re the Horse, right? Iron for Roxy, Car for Ned and Harlow?”
“I’ll be the thimble please”
“The what? Roxy said looking confused
As the girls fell into another heated discussion. Ned looked over at Paul and Terese.
“Happy Anniversary guys. Are you sure this is ok, if you want the night, I can handle these two?”
“Thanks, but what could be better than celebrate with the family right Paul?”
“It’s just another ordinary day as far as I’m concerned, why celebrate on one day when we have the rest of our lives to celebrate us”
“I love you so much Paul.”
“I Love you too, my darling Mrs Robinson”
He leaned towards her and they shared a kiss. They sat back and smiled at each other.
“So are we playing or not.” Roxy questioned
“Give me that dice. This will be sweet revenge for ruining my night.” Paul answered stretching across the table.
As laughter filled the house Terese sat and smiled. The past 365 days, 52 Weeks and 12 Months had been a roller coaster that was worth every second. For nights like these, it was all worth it.