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Be My Valentine

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It didn’t matter what Stephanie did, but she just couldn’t get through to Felicia. It seemed as if anything Stephanie said was the absolute wrong thing and Felicia would just find a new reason to be mad with her.

 

She knows her children find her to be difficult, but she just wanted to prepare her children for the world. They needed to be tip top if they wanted to succeed in life. They have the illusion that they are so great at everything because Eric spoils them too much.

 

One would think because Stephanie was the one born with the silver spoon in her mouth that she would be the one to spoil the children but nope that was her husband Eric. Or should she say ex-husband. She had been so angry with him. He cheated on her with that hanger on. She thought to herself what kind of gall Eric had to say he was doing what was right by marrying Brooke for the sake of the baby.  

 

He threw their marriage into the gutter but for Stephanie she feels like she is being blamed for the demise of her marriage. She knows Felicia blames her. ‘Mother you’re so difficult, I don’t know how you could expect otherwise…’

 

Her daughter would just say these hurtful things to her to get a rise out of her. Felicia has always been the rebellious one. It was in these times that she wish, she had Kristen to buffer. It was too much to ask of her daughter to be the referee.

 

She knows Felicia wants to make her cry in a bid to probably see if her mother was human, but she wouldn’t give anyone the satisfaction. She left crying when she left Chicago.

 

She knows Eric wanted her to cry as well. Beg him to stay to assuage his ego she guesses but she’s propped the man enough why should she allow herself to break to make him feel more powerful? Why should she cry for a daughter who would rather blame Stephanie for Eric stepping out on her instead of looking at the father who couldn’t keep it in his pants?

 

Stephanie was awarded the house that she raised her children in, but it was so empty now. Carmen was always loyal to her so it wasn’t anything to give Carmen a part of the estate to live with her family instead of driving through the disgusting and wretched LA traffic everyday just to get to work. She would eat with Carmen’s family. They helped stave off the loneliness that came from being here.

 

With Felicia doing as she pleases and Stephanie at her wit’s end. She stopped putting so much emphasis on trying to get Felicia to see her side.

 

Stephanie loved being around kids. They kept her young, but she also just liked being needed. She would help Carmen’s nieces with their homework. She always excelled at math, so it was always the first thing the kids wanted help with.

 

With the holidays being around the corner. She was alone again and her family’s life was messy. Carmen had taken her family on vacation to visit relatives in Arizona. Eric was onto his new wife Sheila ‘the She-devil’ Carter. She finds it so laughable that Sheila is so threatened by her. It wasn’t her fault Eric wanted to get back together and she told him no. It was the root cause of Felicia being upset with her.

 

Brooke had done so much to drag her family through the mud. She slept with both father and son and didn’t even know who the father was of Bridget.

 

The fact that Rick is Bridget’s brother and uncle makes Stephanie seethe. It isn’t the children’s problem that Brooke doesn’t think of the consequences to her actions. Even though Eric divorced her she is attached to this animal show.

 

What bothered her the most was that Brooke thought that she could just have Ridge like he’s a potato because of Bridget. When Brooke got upset, she lashed out at Ridge for still being with Taylor. She had expected Ridge would do what Eric had but her son hadn’t. Now Taylor was raising Bridget alongside Ridge when they had the child. Stephanie knew that Brooke hated it and created obstacles to try and prevent it. Ridge’s patience was ending and started consulting lawyers about going to court for a hammered out custody agreement. The whims of Brooke was frustrating both Ridge and Taylor.

 

 

Stephanie was just beside herself because Brooke trying to firmly entrench herself in her family. So the wench went for her younger son and Brooke’s trifecta was complete she ran through all of the men in Stephanie’s family leaving her fuming.

 

She hates both Sheila and Brooke but for different reasons but of course the two were friends thick as thieves.

 

Brooke had no decorum as far as Stephanie was concerned and this custody battle has been fodder for the tabloids.

 

She contended that she was suspicious of Macy and her intentions with Thorne but she was quick to see that it was a love match especially when she compared the woman to that viper from the Valley.

 

Stephanie wanted to slap her younger son for letting himself be a pawn in this wretched game. The fierce rivalry he has with Ridge makes him so stupid and blinded to see that he is being used.

 

When she tried to talk some sense into him, he just told her that she was just bitter that Eric left her and that she is alone now. She had never expected her baby boy to say such hurtful things to her, but it was Brooke’s words being thrown at her. She decided to hell with them. They might be her children, but she will not allow them to think that their disrespect will be tolerated. She knows her wretched family will be coming to her doorstep at some point for her to clean up their messes and she wouldn’t be surprised if Felicia and Thorne were the first.

 

She hears the doorbell ring… normally she would hear someone from the staff saying they would get but she gave everyone the holiday off not just Carmen, so she’s been toiling on herself.

 

When she gets to the door the first thing Stephanie sees is a stewardess from Delta Airlines. She has taken enough flights to recognize the symbol. She is even more surprised when she sees her niece Jessica and wonders how in the world did this girl get here.

 

“Aunt Stephanie, my mom didn’t call you?!” It sounds like Jessica was on the verge of tears to Stephanie’s ears and it breaks her heart.

 

“I’m so sorry honey no she didn’t but you’re here now and boy am I happy to see you! I was just thinking about giving my favorite girl a ring.” This is just exactly what the little girl needed to hear.

 

Stephanie thanked the kind stewardess for making sure Jessica was safely taken here. The woman tried to refuse the tip that Stephanie wanted to give but Stephanie told her that it was kindness and courtesy that she brought Jessica here. The woman accepted the money and bid both the aunt and niece goodbye.

 

Stephanie is about had it with the Forresters. How could John and Maggie let Jessica fly alone?! Good thing that the airline doesn’t let minors travel alone but so many horrible things could have taken place if that stewardess just decided that this wasn’t her problem.

 

Maggie was supposed to call her but the last time they spoke Maggie had been in somewhat of a depression because her own marriage to a Forrester man was falling apart. It would be no sense to rail on Maggie when she’s already so down in the dumps. Divorce or even contemplating it is just something she doesn’t wish upon anyone.

 

“You know your room is the same way as you left it. I’m sure Mr. Panda would be happy to see you…”

 

When Jessica hears about Mr. Panda, she becomes excited. Stephanie had won it for her when Stephanie had taken the kids to one of those amusement centers for children. Turns out she was pretty good at those games. She got stuffed animals for Rick, Bridget and Jessica. The car ride home was spent with three children fighting about which game Stephanie got the most tickets…

 

“Aunt Stephanie, I’m hungry is there some place that sells real hot dogs?”

 

She loved this girl for being through and through.

 

“I’m sure we can rustle ourselves some real hotdogs. If we can’t find it, I’ll make them for us. How’s that sound?”

 

“Like a plan!”

 

Stephanie and Jessica walk hand in hand to the car.

 

She decided to take Jessica to Portillo’s. In her opinion it was one of the most genuinely authentic places you could get a real Chicago dog in Los Angeles. Her niece doesn’t deserve anything less.

 

She had decided she would have a fun day with Jessica and then call Maggie and see what is happening in their lives.

 

When they get to Portillo’s the little girl is so excited. She can smell the hot dogs and tries to lead her aunt by the hand closer and closer.

 

They wait their turn in the line. This place is looking pretty popular and Stephanie just hopes they have all the right ingredients, so she doesn’t disappoint her niece nor herself.

 

“How may I help you ladies today?” Stephanie looks down at her niece waiting for her to tell the nice man what she wants even though she is sure what it will be.

 

“We would like two Chicago dogs please…”

 

“Sure you got it doll…”

 

When they get their hotdogs, they find an empty table to sit at and enjoy their food. It was something that the both of them needed and didn’t know how much. Stephanie asked Jessica to tell her about all the new things going on in her life.

 

Jessica relays stories about things that are happening at school and her ballet classes but when she starts talking about the things she sees between her parents is where Stephanie gets really concerned.

 

Her mother would put her to bed, but she would sneak out and hear her parents fighting. Maggie saying that she had to find herself and John saying who’s going to take care of their daughter then because he had to work.

 

Stephanie never liked the fact that John was a traveling salesman it. He was always on the move and hardly ever home. She felt her niece was just too young to be dealing with an absent parent and apparently another one who needs to find herself.

 

She understands that Maggie might be feeling isolated with John being gone so much but they should have thought about that before they had Jessica.

 

She had to stamp down her anger that this little girl traveled across the country alone without even so much as a phone call explaining anything.

 

Stephanie just wishes John or Maggie said something because she would have had no problem to pick Jess up and take care of the girl as long as needed.

 

“It seems like you are just the busiest girl in town. I’m glad you could squeeze me in for some lunch.”

The young girl just laughs and earns a wink from her aunt. When they both finished their hotdogs, Jessica asked it was possible for them to have some ice cream.

 

 

Stephanie reckons there must be an ice cream parlor near here, so they just decide to walk around until they find one. They happened to stumble upon a place called The Frieze.

 

“Well hello! What can I get for you ladies?” Stephanie finds the woman behind the counter enthusiastic and it seems to be what Jessica needed.

 

“I will have whatever she has but she isn’t quite sure what she wants. There’s so many flavors don’t you think Jess?”

 

“Yeah! This is really hard!”

 

“Well how about this sweetheart… You can try any flavor you want and whatever you like best can be what you get… How does that sound?”

 

“Like a plan…” Both Stephanie and the woman at the counter laugh. It seems trying the ice cream flavors made it more difficult for Jessica to choose.

 

After trying ten or so flavors she got the Rocky Road and so did Stephanie. She thanked the woman for being so nice to Jess because she knows that the woman didn’t have to let her niece try all the flavors she did.

 

Both Stephanie and Jessica enjoyed the ice cream and both of them said they would be back for more. When they got home it didn’t take long for the little girl to go running to the playroom. It was right next to the kitchen.

 

Stephanie tried calling the last number she had for Maggie and it went to machine She left a message for her but Stephanie had half a mind to think that Maggie wouldn’t pick up.

 

 

Chapter Text

Some months had passed by since Stephanie had gotten Jessica. Stephanie tried to make Jessica as comfortable as possible. It was a heavy phone call between her and Maggie, one that left her with an immense understanding for Maggie feeling adrift. As soon as she get off the phone with her sister-in-law she made a ring to Eric who was so short with her and she just snapped and put him in his place. She refused to let him think he could talk to her in any manner of disrespect.

 

 She thought back to when Jessica had first come to them and her conversation with her ex-husband. Even if she wasn’t the mother of his children she would be damned to let anyone let alone this man who brought so much misery to her doorstep to think he could have the nerve to be upset with her. Stephanie had told him about the predicament with John and Maggie and of course like clockwork Sheila piped up on how they could take care of Jessica…

 

Before Stephanie could rip Sheila a new one Eric had asked his wife to leave. There was no way in hell Stephanie was going to let Sheila have her grubby witch hands on her niece.

 

Maggie had made Stephanie her child’s guardian when Jessica was born, and John wholeheartedly agreed.

 

Eric didn’t know about how bad his brother’s marriage had gotten. It was in these times that he would get his strength from his wife… His ex-wife. He trips over himself when he realizes that Stephanie is no longer his wife. He had thought when he divorced Brooke that he would be able to just pick up where they left off, but Stephanie had other ideas.

 

He hastily married Sheila and he guessed he loved her, but it wasn’t like with Stephanie. Stephanie challenged him as she always had. It was what intrigued him in the first place. Women like her were far and in between when they were growing up. She was intimidated by no one. He had always been in awe of her confidence. She also had the cheekbones that could cut diamonds and he was one of many suitors who would clamor.

 

“Eric for goodness sake would you pay attention! I don’t know if I should jump the gun and enroll Jessica in a school here. I don’t know what’s going on with your brother and Maggie and she needs stability and structure now more than ever!”  Stephaine’s annoyance snaps him out of his trance. Her fury had a way of turning him on too.

 

He was getting frustrated with himself right now. The last thing he should be thinking about is bedding his wife when his niece was flown across the country without even so much as a phone call.

 

“You’re right Stephanie. Maybe it might be best to have here in school here. The divorce will be hard enough for her.”

 

“Well I am glad you are supporting me with this decision. It will be a little difficult trying to get her records from her school in Chicago. They usually make you do these things in person but the last thing on my mind is to make her criss cross around the country.”

 

“Well she can stay with me while you go get the records if they prove too difficult to get.”

 

“You listen to me Eric Forrester, I will not have Jessica in the care of Sheila. Not now, not ever.” The vehemence in Stephanie’s voice chills Eric. Her serious demand makes him wonder about Sheila.

 

“Why are you so antagonistic with Sheila?”

 

“Eric, do not try my patience. I will not tolerate it. You maybe Jessica’s uncle but her parents ensured her well-being with me and Sheila will not be around her. Period. End of story.”

 

“Fine, I think you are being a bit over-reaching but you are right, they trusted you with Jess’s care.”

 

She was happy to have Eric in agreement with her. Sheila was a devious nut and she maybe able to hide it with Eric, but the woman was unrepentant with Stephanie.

 

As much as Stephanie would love to expose her, she had other pressing things to worry about namely the person of the hour.

 

She had good enough sense to ask Taylor and Ridge to watch Jessica while she spoke with Eric about the situation. She knew that Jessica would have fun being with Bridget and Taylor. Taylor planned on going to the aquarium with Bridget so adding Jessica wasn’t going to be a big deal.

 

When she left Eric’s place and went back home… she decided on changing some things. Eric was civil to her when it came to Jessica because the little girl was in crisis but he was antagonistic to her so much of the time, she didn’t want to deal with it unless there was no other choice.

 

It was one thing to try and get him to see he should have been with her and not Sheila, but she had to change this because she had a young child she had to care for.

 

Stephanie knew she had to stop this fight of getting Eric back. She knew that this marriage would implode just like his marriage with Brooke, but she didn’t need to be on the ride. She knew she couldn’t invite drama into Jessica’s life. Her own parents were going through their own drama and that would an on-going to be an ordeal for her. It already has with her parents sending her to live with Stephanie.

 

She ended up making the hard decision to take herself out of Forrester Originals. There was less of a chance of fighting with Eric, if she was in less of his company. She knows the children especially Felicia will have something to say but she doesn’t have the time to fight so many people.

 

She picked up Jessica from Taylor and Ridge’s home and she and Bridget refused to part. Stephanie decided that if it was okay with Ridge and Taylor that Bridget and Jessica have a sleepover at her place.

 

Instead of Stephanie taking the girls to the Forrester mansion, she took the girls to her other house. It was less grand than the mansion, but it was calmer and less spacious for kids. It was a house with no stairs so if the girls fell asleep it was easy for them to go to their rooms. She didn’t want to throw out her back carrying children up the long flight of stairs. She also wanted them to have that privacy. Very few people knew of this house. After the first time she came with the girls, she decided to permanently reside here.

 

Only her sister Pam knew about the house. Pam was able to get a vacation from their mother a couple of times and came to visit Stephanie. It was good for her to reconnect with her sister, but they were still working on their relationship.  Stephanie did stop by the mansion and get some items for the girls the first time, but she was happy to bring them to the Douglas house.

 

They seemed to have more fun here. Bridget made the mention that she wishes Rick could come next time, but she did like that it was just the girls.

 

Stephanie thought about Rick… Brooke was on a tear and Stephanie barely spent anytime with the boy unless it was at the holiday parties and even then, Brooke wanted to keep as minimal contact. It would have been nothing if Stephanie still been married to Eric. There would be no choice in the matter. But that was the crux of it all, she wasn’t married to Eric.

 

Stephanie supposed if there was a time that it was beneficial for Maggie and John’s marriage to implode it would be now. Bridget and Jessica were both going to be going through some hard times, it was nice that they could be able to lean on each other.

 

She left the girls in their room, while she decided to help herself a glass of wine after the day she had. She had already gotten the girls ready for bed early. She told them that they could play with their toys, but she would be back to tuck them in.

 

“I saw this book at the bookstore and it had my name in it. The character was named Jessica Rabbit!” Jessica said, it was the first time she encountered her name in a book. It was one of the last times she was with her mother. Even though she felt sad that she wasn’t in Chicago anymore she liked being in Los Angeles. Her Aunt Stephanie was like her new mama now in her mind.

 

“Oooh she sounds cool! But the name is so grown-up we’re little! What about Bunny? Bunny Forrester!” Bridget loved coming to see Jessica. Ever since Jessica came to live here, they became more than cousins. They were best friends… sisters.

 

“I like it, but I like Bunny Douglas better. That’s my mama’s name now.” Jessica had slowly been calling Stephanie mama for some time now. She didn’t want her Aunt to be sad with her but she didn’t mind it so she kept on doing it.

 

“I want to be a Douglas too!” Bridget was petulant because if Jessica was something she wanted to be that too! “If you’re Bunny what am I going to be?”

 

“Mama, got you a Koala from the Discovery Zone.” Jessica was thinking of the last time she was in LA for a vacation when Stephanie took them all to the center. It’s how she got Mr. Panda in the first place.

 

“Hehe, I’m Koko Douglas. Then Rick has to be Fox!” Jess laughs at Bridget talking about Rick’s prize.

 

Stephanie had come back to their room and rounded up the girls and tucked them in for bed. She didn’t know why the girls kept giggling, but she thought to herself better to have two happy little girls than the alternative.

 

The trial for Bridget’s custody started to heat up and Stephanie was sure to support Ridge and Taylor’s bid for joint custody and have an ironclad custody agreement.

 

Thorne had felt it was irresponsible for his mother to take sides but Stephanie’s decision to back Ridge was actually supported by Felicia. Felicia thought her brother was being dumb being Brooke’s latest fixation because Ridge wasn’t available. Each day of the trial, Eric and Sheila went into the courtroom together but separated to go to their respective parties. Sheila supported Brooke’s bid to keep custody as is because she had a stake in that. She was nervous about this trial. She could lose everything.

 

When the judge said that the first step to the trial was going to be to establish paternity, it made Sheila sweat because of what she did. The court system didn’t use hospitals to conduct paternity tests. They used labs that she wouldn’t have access or privileges too.

 

Brooke’s lawyers even Ridge’s had argued that they had already conducted paternity tests for Bridget which concluded that Ridge was Bridget’s father. Sheila had come down with a cold and Eric advised her to stay home. But she had a conversation with Brooke and Brooke told her that her lawyer thought the tests they conducted already would suffice the courts and Ridge’s lawyers didn’t object.

 

The judge threw everyone for a loop when he said that the paternity tests that they conducted showed Ridge was the father then the test from the state should have the same result. Due to the high profile people involved the judge ordered that the test be expedited.

 

When his court reconvened, when the judge read the results of the test it surprised almost everyone. Sheila knew that Eric’s name would appear, but she didn’t expect the results to come back so quickly. She was already under the assumption that the tests for Bridget’s paternity would suffice.

 

Stephanie was already suspicious when she heard that Eric was Bridget’s father. The girl went from her granddaughter to just her ex-husband’s daughter in the blink of an eye. Eric was absolutely horrified at the results. He tried to keep himself from getting upset in the courtroom. When the judge said that Ridge and Bridget had familial markers enough to be related but not enough to show that Ridge was a possible match, he knew.

 

The judge then ordered an investigation with some detectives to see how a reputable hospital could have made such a careless mistake or if it was deliberate.

 

Stephanie’s mind went straight to Sheila. This was Brooke’s closest confidante and Sheila had the education, motive and opportunity to do this.

 

When the investigators called the hospital, they reviewed the samples and it was registered in the computer that Eric Forrester was the paternal parent of Bridget Forrester and Ridge Forrester was eliminated as a candidate. They had a certified copy from their lab that showed the correct results.

 

The investigators dug some more and asked for surveillance footage. They wanted to see everything out of the ordinary to find out how could the right result end up being changed even though the hospital records don’t. They spent days combing over the footage, hour by hour, frame by frame. People had to sign into the hospital and state the reason for their visit if they were not a patient. They combed through the log and encountered something peculiar.

 

They saw a name on the visitor log that jumped at them. Sheila Carter, she was the wife of Eric Forrester and close friend of Brooke. When they interviewed some of the staff, they found out the woman is a nurse which started to make the detectives look in her direction. The only other medical professional involved in this web was Taylor and she disclosed that she had come to the hospital for a patient in crisis after they had a medical emergency.

 

They wondered why Sheila didn’t mention she was at the hospital when they interviewed her. One of the investigators wanted to re-interview her but the senior investigator cautioned on doing that. They noted that Sheila didn’t mention it because she didn’t want too. Plenty of times medical professionals have had interaction with law enforcement due to the nature of the job. Sheila knows what kind of questions they would ask, she crafted her answers to that. A visit to the same hospital where the test was being done was highly suspicious. They looked at the time that the woman signed in and used every available camera to track the woman’s footsteps. The stated reason for Sheila’s visit was to see a patient but they tracked her movements to the lab.

 

There are no cameras in the lab however there was cameras right outside it but for someone who had no business being in the lab to be there only pointed towards guilt. This was someone who was always boasting about Brooke and how Brooke is a great mother to her children. When they interviewed her, Sheila was a cheerleader for Brooke, that made them wonder how deep did this go.

 

They went over the case notes, both Ridge and Taylor have said that Brooke has used Bridget as a way to try and create obstacles in their relationship because Brooke wanted to be with Ridge. It may sound extreme to some but in family court cases, they have seen so many scenarios of one parent using their children to leverage romantic relationships with the other.

Did Sheila and Brooke conspire so Brooke could have a chance or what she thinks of as a chance with the father of her child if the father ended up being Ridge?

 

They went to the judge with their findings and to say the judge was shocked was an understatement. What Sheila had possibly done would be a crime. Falsifying medical records is a crime. The judge instructed the investigators to have the hospital inquire about forensic experts and beef up security because this should never have the chance of happening.

 

The judge reconvened in their office rather the court given how complex this case was. When the rest of the truth had come out it left both Eric and Stephanie reeling.

 

The judge didn’t know what to think because everything about this was so messy. The father who brought the suit ends up being the child’s brother. The biological father was married to the woman who conspired to keep the truth of the paternity which benefitted both her and the mother. The two also having a close relationship that it wasn’t out the realm of possibility that they worked together.

 

Eric had been livid that he wanted a custody trial for both Rick and Bridget. He didn’t know if he could trust anything Brooke told him and anything Sheila said was falling on deaf ears. For years Stephanie told him he was being foolish and this whole situation proved how right she was.

 

This was not something for Stephanie to gloat over. Her son world was shattered and Taylor was trying to get a confused Bridget to understand this unbelievable truth. Felicia kept nagging on Thorne for his idiocy for thinking Brooke could do no wrong. He left his marriage only to look like the idiot Felicia thought him to be.

 

Thank goodness for Forrester Originals being a private company because the scandal that could erupt from this all on top of everything else might serve to be too much in Stephanie’s mind.  

 

The judge had asked to interview Bridget and Rick. The judge asked them a series of questions, when it came time to asking where they would like to live. Rick only said he wanted to live with Bridget. When Bridget was asked the same question, the answer she gave was different.

 

She said she wanted to live with mama and Bunny. It made Brooke happy to hear her daughter say that. She spoke out of turn and said she would get Bridget a rabbit which made the young girl furrow her eyebrow. Stephanie knew exactly what Bridget meant and she thought it was just another can of worms being opened.

 

Bridget said the same thing again except this time she pointed towards Stephanie when she said mama and everyone in the court room turned to her. Bridget explained who Bunny was and said Bunny calls Stephanie mama because she takes care of her.

 

Stephanie was called to the stand, she had to explain the situation that her niece was legal ward and that her parents were going through a divorce. Jessica had a habit of calling her mama or some derivative of it because she’s a maternal figure in her life right now.

 

Eric looked at his wife… his ex-wife wondering how different things could have been if she didn’t deny him the opportunity to marry her again. Sheila was arrested for her crime and Brooke was too but released when the police couldn’t prove that she was in concert with Sheila. It didn’t mean that it couldn’t be used against her here. When Sheila was investigated then everything, she had done in Genoa City came to light which really made the case even more difficult because the mother of the child was close friends with a violent criminal and the father was married to the very woman.

 

 

The judge said he had a lot to mull over because of how complex this case was. It took days but when the judge ordered everyone back to hear his verdict, he made mention that nothing about this case has been easy. The twist and turns this case has taken has left many heads spinning and lives thrown off course. The case for Bridget turned into a case for Bridget and Rick…

 

 

He made the difficult decision to place the children with the person he best thought would be able to give the children the fullest possible life with stability. Eric’s succession of marriages seemed to suggest to the judge he was in the throes of a mid-life crisis, while Brooke had the air of suspicion of working with Sheila to conceal the paternity in the hopes of reuniting with her ex.

 

To the shock of everyone, he awarded Stephanie custody of both Rick and Bridget, while Brooke parental rights were terminated on the grounds for having violent characters around her children, the air of suspicion due to the revelation of her child’s paternity and the difficulty she made posed to the legal father at the time with seeing said child was held against her.

 

The judge thought Eric Forrester was pitiable man. A man with everything and yet his life was a mess. He left his long-standing marriage to have to successive marriages that end in dumpster fires. Both of his children seem to love being with his ex-wife after he interviewed them alone with a social worker. He couldn’t revoke the man’s rights to his children because he was stupid, but he was a bad judge of character.

 

The judge ended up giving Eric visitation which could be upgraded to joint custody at a later date on the recommendation of DCFS. The only reason the judge came to that conclusion was on the strength of the testimony from Eric and Stephanie’s children. They said their father might have been a flawed man, but he was a giving and attentive father.

 

Eric was thankful for the judge allowing him to have a place in his children’s life. It was a sobering wake-up call that made Eric have to re-evaluate his life. The fact the judge put his children in his wife’s care didn’t escape him.

 

He knows he hasn’t made the best choices in his relationships, but he had to be better because his children would be watching him, he didn’t want to let them down. He vowed to do better because it was clear the judge was well judging him for shortcomings with his relationships and how they could affect his children.

 

When Stephanie had been terrifyingly adamant about Sheila not being around Jessica it proved to be the right assessment. It was the first thing he thought of when the judge made his decree.

 

Brooke had tried to appeal the decision, but it was upheld several times. She decided to eventually stop when she was fired from Forrester Originals. The fees were going to bankrupt her if she kept at it. She didn’t have any leverage to challenge her firing. She didn’t have any stock in the company, she wasn’t her children’s proxy anymore since her parental rights were terminated.

 

She was upset because she didn’t know that Sheila had fixed the results but her closeness and scheming with Sheila backfired on her big time. Even though she wasn’t criminally prosecuted, the accusation alone carried weight in the custody trial. Her lawyer told her that her associations with people matter heavily in family court.

 

She had tried to get Stephanie to see reason, but she went to the mansion several times and Carmen told her that Stephanie wasn’t there. Brooke barged her way in, but Stephanie really wasn’t there. She knew it was futile to ask Carmen when Stephanie would be back because Carmen was loyal only to Stephanie and no one else. It didn’t help that Carmen thought she was a homewrecker.

 

The biggest nightmare to Brooke was anyone thinking that Stephanie should have her paws on her children. The worst part for Brooke was there was nothing she could do about it and had no idea when she would see her kids next...

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Caring for three rambunctious children was not how Stephanie had imagined her life would be now, but her life never really went according to plan. Her mother had quietly died and she did have complicated feelings about it because her mom had her head in the sand about her father’s abuse of her but she wasn’t always a terrible mother. When you took that equation out of it Ann was a pretty good mother… she just didn’t want to be anything like her mother.

 

Her father raised her to be strong-willed, independent, she wasn’t a son but she was his heir. When their mother died, Pam came to live with her in California. She was happy that her younger sister would be able to have a life now even if it was later in the game. With their mother’s death, it gave Stephanie her full inheritance. It was structured that Stephanie got the full weight of her father’s holdings at her mother’s death.

 

Stephanie made sure that her sister was always able to taken care of no matter what Pam wanted to do but Pam didn’t have many expenses. They lived together and Pam was her secretary by choice. She made sure to have all of the children taken care of by her. Even if she was dividing her share of her inheritance by seven for each child, it was still immense as far as Stephanie was concerned. She wasn’t going to tell any of the children of it for the time being anyways, so it didn’t matter.

 

It became a Saturday ritual for her to take the kids out for an educational trip and then ice cream. They claimed to hate it but whenever she took them out, they were always interested when they got there and the promise of ice cream really made the kids ready to learn.

 

They became regulars at the Frieze. They went one day and found out about a raffle. Anyone who won the raffle got to name an ice cream flavor. It was excited when Rick was the one who won the raffle but being the good brother he said Bridget or Jessica should name it. So the girl’s played rock, paper, scissors to decide the winner. It ended up being Bridget… so she ended up having the flavor ‘A Bridge of Cookies n Cream’ named. Both Jess and Rick just laughed and said she could have picked a better name, but Bridget beamed she didn’t care what her brother or sister said.

 

The owner of the parlor said the other way of having an ice cream named was visiting 500 points in their loyalty program. It equated to 50 visits because you got 10 points every visit.

 

Rick had made sure that they all were on their best behavior because being bad meant privileges were taken away. Their mother was nice, but she also was stern when she needed to be. They knew that Aunt Pam couldn’t rescue them from anything so did their best to stay out of trouble.

 

It took them nearly a year with weekly visits to get the 500 points, but they did and it was so exciting for the kids.

 

 

“You know I am so proud of you three for being good kids even if it was so you could name some flavors. I have some lovely names for sherbet you know.” Stephanie didn’t care how or why they were good. Good children were less of a headache than misbehaving ones. After having a child like Felicia she never wanted a child-inducing headache again.

 

“Mama, no offense but only you eat sherbet nobody wants to waste a name on sherbet.” Rick knew he spoke for his sisters when Stephanie had the audacity to say that.

 

“Silly me with my suggestions after all what do I know I’m just a Chicago Blonde... I guess you should be the ones to name your ice cream.” The giggles Stephanie had her amused.

 

“Thanks mama!” They all exclaimed at the same time.

 

Stephanie thought her ears would ring after the kids were so loud. They got out of the car and went into the ice cream parlor. The owner was happy to see her favorite customers come through the doors. They had been doing a countdown at the parlor because the kids stuck with it.

 

“I know what I want my ice cream to be!” Bridget already had an ice cream named after her but she got her 500 points fair and square so she thought she should be able to get another one. “I want to call it a ‘Budge of Fudge’.” The owner listened to Bridget’s name and decided to make a flavor a mix of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownies.

 

Jessica listened to her sister’s name for her ice cream and decided on her own. “I want mine to be called Bunny Hops.” The owner thought she could change Moose Tracks into Bunny Hops.

 

Rick had listened to the names his sisters gave, he thought long about what he should name the flavor. He didn’t want to say Ricky Road because it was so on the nose. “I want mine to be Fox Tracks. It should have grandma cookies in it and ooh brownies and pecans.” This was the most complicated for the owner because she had already decided on renaming Moose Tracks into Bunny Hops but when Rick mentioned flavors, she liked the sound of it.

 

“It sounds like we have some great choices! Congratulations on your new flavors!” The owner had been just as excited as the kids. They were trying to create excitement and a loyal customer base because they happened to be very new. When the classy dame and her kids started to come it was guaranteed money coming in. She dropped a hundred dollars every Saturday and asked if she could pay for a hundred bucks worth of children being able to have ice cream.

 

The owner the woman had to be a big deal to be able to just drop $106 each week without the blink of an eye.

 

She had expected people like that to be cold and standoffish but the woman was nice to her whole staff which really consisted of her niece and her kids. She was always paying attention to her kids and they always seemed to be happy with her.

 

“But what about our mama’s ice cream? She had 500 points too.” Rick narrowed his eyes because Stephanie came too.

 

“You know that is a fair assessment… what do you want to name?” The owner looked at Stephanie waiting to know what the woman wanted to call her frozen treat.

 

“Wait, mama no sherbet!” Jess was adamant knowing that Stephanie just might pick the frozen smoothie type of stuff instead of ice cream which was yuck to her.

 

“Yeah! No sherbet!” Bridget agreeing really wasn’t needed but it amused the owner as much as it amused Stephanie.

 

“Oooh, my mom always says she’s a Chicago Blonde, maybe she could have an ice cream with sugar cookies.” Rick was nodding to himself so sure that this would be a good ice cream.

 

“And macadamian nuts!” Jess added excitedly.

 

“In vanilla ice cream with butterscotch, no… no… caramel sauce!” Bridget started jumping up and down.

 

Stephanie was on one hand touched at how the kids were ready for her to be included but on the other hand almost disgusted by the amount of sugar this flavor would entail but being disgusted at the sugar content of an ice cream at an ice cream parlor seemed quite dumb to Stephanie.

 

“Looks like we have a new flavor on our hands!” The owner of the parlor said this with a smile. The ice cream flavor they described wasn’t half bad.

 

The kids got their cups of ice cream and sat down at their usual table. Stephanie didn’t follow them to the seats yet, she wanted to speak to the owner alone.

 

“I just want to say thank you for entertaining them. They all have had a rough go of it this past year but coming here has helped lifted their spirits. The excitement of naming an ice cream flavor might seem like such a little thing but it’s given them a happiness I couldn’t describe. It means a lot to me to be able to give them this kind of happiness. So thank you again.”

 

“Ms. Stephanie, it’s been a pleasure, you have some great kids. You and your family are our best customers hands down. Each week the amount of surprised and happy parents that come in here because of your donation to their kids. It’s made them regulars too and being a new business you don’t know how thankful I was for it. But it makes me happy as a person to see a lot of mothers who come just buy ice cream for their kids because they offer their kids a little joy at the expense of their own. Its beautiful to see parents being able to enjoy having a cone with their child. It seems like such a small thing, but it means a whole lot. I know it does.”

 

“It warms my heart to hear that it really does. My other children are grown and have their own lives it’s nice to be able to have this and spend time with them. I plan these little field trips for educational purposes, but I know they come because afterwards it means ice cream… this place is a part of their healing, I know it is. So thanks—”

 

“Mama!” Stephanie turns when she hears Bridget’s shout. She looks back at Carole. It was nice to have an adult conversation, but the time has passed. She just smiled at the woman and went back to the kids.

 

“What on earth is the reason for you screaming in doors nonetheless?” Stephanie never had to raise her voice to make the children feel chastised.

 

“Fox ate some of my ice cream! Bunny saw it too!” Bridget was still upset but she lowered her volume significantly because even Felicia was scared of their mother and Felicia wasn’t scared of anything.

 

“Mom, I barely got anything on my spoon before she was screaming. The two of them kept scooping my ice cream until none was left.” Rick calmly explained himself because he knew he would get nowhere being hysterical like Bunny and Koko.

 

“So what a tit for tat? Must we be so frivolous?” Stephanie glided into her seat with grace… even in an ice cream parlor.

 

“Yes I must when they leave me no choice. The evidence is in their cups.” Rick said this hoping Stephanie would look their way.

 

Stephanie ventured a look at both Bridget and Jessica’s ice cream cups and saw the melting evidence. The girls had the gall to be shocked which was just so ridiculous to her. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have Felicia babysit.

 

When Stephanie placed her ice cream cup with the new concoction the children dreamed up, she received a thankful smile from Rick and narrowed eyes from the girls.

 

“Ridge and Thorne are right, Fox’s such a mama’s boy.” Jessica snapped out of her shocked state when they weren’t punished by Stephanie.

 

“Yeah, Fox’s a mama’s boy.” Bridget added.

 

Rick didn’t care that they called him that. It was a source of pride to him. He looked to Stephanie and all he saw was a raised eyebrow and he just smiled.

 

“Don’t be mad that I’m the favorite.” When he said that it made both girls go from snickering smiles to scowls.

 

“That’s not true! Mama who’s your favorite?!” Bridget felt attacked when Rick said he was the favorite.

 

“Yeah who’s your favorite?!” Jessica added. It was a frick and frack situation with the two of them. It didn’t help that everyone they met thought they were twins because they were the same age.

 

Stephanie just mimed zipping her mouth and throwing away the key which made the girls guffaw at her. “I couldn’t possibly choose! There’s seven of you, I’m just a Chicago blonde… what do I know?”

 

The kids all just laughed at her animated answer and Stephanie thought that they would be just fine.

Chapter Text

Stephanie had been terrified to work in the field that she had gotten great marks in. It was very few things in life that could ever scare her, but it was downright terrifying for her to be an architect. The industry had very few women and even less prominent women. In her day, she had gotten swift rejections from several universities because of her proposed major. Yes, she is highly intelligent and was fortunate to be from a good family but the last thing she wanted was to study literature...

 

She didn’t have any aspirations to be a teacher or worse some meek little housewife who was simply there to impress her husband’s guests with her knowledge of books. She thought it was disgusting of colleges to take the money of women and offer them these meaningless degrees. Plenty of universities were just seen as finishing schools in her parent’s social stratosphere. Yes, she knew about some schools that take serious notice about female scholarship, but most schools were run by men.

 

She was already a disappointment to her father for being born a woman, but she was raised as his heir. Her father was always a serious man and he refused to have stupid children. She had the highest of education any man of her station could have. Stephanie made sure to be the best to lessen the probability of her father beating her.

 

When she received rejection letters from respectable schools it made her father livid. She had thought he was going to beat her, but her father said it was an outrage for her to be denied. He marched down to one of the school’s that denied his daughter. One of the admissions people thought he was just a sponsor of the girl who applied and said she was an ambitious girl, but the curriculum would swallow her whole and they were doing her a favor.

 

It angered John so much that his child… his heir was denied because she was deemed an ambitious girl. His daughter had the best education and the predisposition to intelligence money could buy. She scored a perfect score on the SAT and yet was denied by a school that was beneath her stature.

 

He cancelled his donations to the schools Stephanie applied to because he was not enriching schools that denied his heir for being ‘ambitious’. Ambitious to him meant high aspirations which was nonsense to him because Stephanie was highly skilled in everything she was taught. It wasn’t a lofty goal for her to want a highly respectable career. Plenty of men thought a woman’s place was in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. There are exceptions to the rule like Eleanor Roosevelt, he knew his daughter was an exception.

 

It made him mad some slobbering insignificant tripe could determine his daughter’s future. They tried to put Stephanie in her place for wanting more than what society wanted for her. It was how he thought when she was born, what was he supposed to do with a daughter? And then he was given another. He had to change his tactics because daughters was what he was given.

He made his daughter into a social butterfly with the cunning of the businessman he was. She was smart as a whip and when she faltered even the slightest bit, he made sure that she wouldn’t again.

 

Stephanie could delight any room she went into, speak to men twice her age about business with a no-nonsense attitude with a charm like Cleopatra. Only difference was she was as smart as she was beautiful. She had the mind of her father and the looks of her mother. It was a deadly combination. Her stare could make boys jump and hither to her. She was the talk of his circles. His friends were clamoring to pair their sons with his daughter. John thought of strengthening the legacy of his name. She had no shortage of escort requests for her debut.

 

John assuredly was going to make sure he had double barrel named grandchildren. He was too prominent for his name to die out and his daughter adding prestige to some stupid boy without getting anything in return was not going to happen.

 

His daughter wanted to be an architect and he looked at her with just a nod. He knew that Stephanie had the intellect, creativity, and the right stature to succeed even if she was a woman. He didn’t know how much of a brick wall he was going to enter. Even though it was not a school he had first thought was good enough for his daughter, it did have a nationally recognized architecture program that allowed women to take classes there.

 

Stephanie thought back to those times and sometimes laughed. Her father was a peculiar man. She didn’t doubt he loved her and probably respected her more. She had to do more because she wasn’t a boy. But he also physically abused her for most of her childhood. Sometimes her mother and sister watched. She couldn’t blame Pam because her sister was younger than her and scared. But their mother was a weak woman but also a woman from her time. She wasn’t expected to raise her voice or tell her husband he was wrong. She still wishes her mother had even if it meant just one less beating.

 

Her father did help her get into a school that had women able to take architecture courses. It was something she liked and was great at.

 

Since the kids were at school most of the morning and afternoon it gave her a lot of time to herself. She decided to open a firm, but she was scared. She was going to need a lot of help, but she was scared. She wasn’t ashamed to admit it. The architecture world was still a male-dominated industry. She was older and a woman. As much as she hated it, she knew that people wouldn’t take her seriously if they knew the ex-wife of a designer was building houses. She couldn’t take it if anyone thought her to be frivolous. Her father’s voice was in her head… ‘frivolity is for fools; you Stephanie Ann are too exceptional to be in that company.’.

 

She knew people would think it was some sort of late career choice she chose because her husband left her and she wanted to be taken seriously or some crap like that. Her father always taught her that she needed to read the room, so she decided to flip the script.

 

She decided to call her company S.A. Douglas and Associates.  She had quietly started to build houses off her sketches which made some realtors take notice. She had Pam deal with them which added a mystique to the company. She forced Pam to use their mother’s surname instead of their own to hide their connection. It helped that Pam had just come from Chicago and she lived here for decades. Stephanie knew it would be easier to find her out if Pam went by her real name.

 

She slowly started to gain a reputation, which was nice for her self-esteem, but it made the kids proud of her.

 

It was a secret and it was one they could keep surprisingly well. She didn’t really know how to react to their pride in her. She didn’t know how happy it could make her feel. She was creating a career on her own that had nothing to do with Eric and it made her happy to have a separate identity from him. She was happy being S.A. Douglas in secret because she knew who she was and the beaming smiles on her children’s face helped motivate her.

 

It was something for them to look forward to after her broken engagement to Eric. When he cheated on her with Lauren Fenmore, it crushed the kids when they found out they wouldn’t be living under the same roof with their father. They knew that Eric had to have done something really wrong because Pam had to take care of them by herself but only Rick knew the scope after eavesdropping on Felicia and Kris one day. He had developed a bad attitude problem with Eric for a while because of Eric betraying his mother but even more so their chance to be together all the time. He was jealous of his older siblings had their mom and dad together their whole childhood while he, Koko and Bunny didn’t.

 

One day the phone rang in her office, it was one separate from the home line. The kids were doing their homework in her office while Stephanie did some sketches just to keep her mind sharp trying to recover from her broken engagement.

 

Pam raced to the phone to answer it.

 

“Hello, thank you for calling S.A. Douglas and Associates, how may I help you today?” Pam looked to her sister and got a nod of approval. “Mmhmm, I understand you would like to speak to Mr. Douglas… hold on please while I put you on a brief hold.” Pam pressed on the mute button wondering what Stephanie wanted to do.

 

Stephanie was confused on what to do. She didn’t want to be found out like this.

 

Rick raced to his Aunt and picked up the phone and before anyone could say anything, he pressed the mute button again to take the caller off mute. He made his voice as deep as possible. He was going through puberty he just hoped his voice didn’t crack. “Hello, my assistant said you would like to speak to Mr. Douglas. This is Fox Douglas. What can I do for you?”

 

Stephanie was floored at how calm and collected Rick was talking on the phone. He was the only male living in their home, he was very much needed for right now.

 

The girls watched anxiously at their brother wondering, what the caller wanted. Rick said a lot of affirmative grunts which boded well for them. After a while he actually spoke again. “Thank you, my assistant will be in touch.” He hung up on the phone and looked at his mother, he saw that she was looking at him anxious to speak. “The guy said he was fascinated with the restoration project on a classic Hollywood hotel you did, he wants to revamp an old boutique hotel and got a referral from a friend.” Rick gave her more details and it made Stephanie excited because the restoration project was her first large scale job. Building the houses was great but it was large structures that really set you apart and give you a reputation in this town.

 

Stephanie was excited to be given such a big project, she took the kids out for ice cream on a weekday which was unheard of, but the kids hoped for more big projects in the future.

 

It became a regular habit for ‘Foxworth Douglas’ to answer the phones when people wanted to speak with a Mr. Douglas. Rick told them he was an associate at the firm, which wasn’t a lie per se. it was exciting for the kids to be involved in this family business they were creating themselves. They imagined this what it was like for their older siblings at Forrester Originals.

 

Stephanie gained quite the portfolio over the years and she became one of the most sought after architects which made it more difficult to conceal her identity. She caught the attention of Architectural Digest and they released an article without interviewing her. They called her a professional recluse and reached out to her clients. It was shocking for her to see such loyalty from people who didn’t even know who she was.

 

It made the name S.A. Douglas even more sought after. She asked Morty her lawyer to make her as untraceable as possible. Both her son and lawyer told her she needed to progress to the new age and get a website.

 

After that they bought an office space that Pam went to on occasion.

 

 People had wanted to work with S.A. Douglas because they wanted to be able to say they had a property created by the company. The cult status that surrounded her company made it easier for her to keep her anonymity.

 

The mystique only made them more popular. Stephanie had Morty doing overtime handling her affairs when it came to pay.

 

When Stephanie started the company, she never envisioned she would have any notoriety much less being featured among the most talented. She knew that she was talented but to be regarded amongst the top worldwide was astonishing.

 

It made the kids so proud of her which was one of the only reasons she didn’t quit. She hated to admit it but when Eric cheated on her with Lauren, she didn’t want to get out of bed. She didn’t want to design… she didn’t want to do anything but then she thought of the children. She thought of her father… She was stronger than this, she had to be stronger than this for the children. She had to teach Rick this wasn’t acceptable and to the girls this shouldn’t be something willing to accept. She didn’t want them to think that they couldn’t pick up the pieces to their life because someone hurt you even if it was their father.

 

She channeled the anger and despair into passion for her work and doing her best to be the mother the children needed. Her secret professional life continued to skyrocket.

 

Her personal on the other hand was nearly non-existent. After Eric she didn’t really try, she felt guilt… the children’s hopes were so high at the prospect of her and Eric getting married. It was all they talked about.

 

Bill Spencer heard about what Eric did to her and he came back into her orbit. She sometimes went on dates with him, but she told him clearly that she could only give him friendship. She wasn’t the only one that got burned when her last serious relationship went down the tubes.

 

She couldn’t take it getting the children invested in someone only for it to blow up in their face again. Granted the last person she was involved with was already a permanent fixture in the children’s lives she didn’t want her dating choices to affect them negatively.

She went on casual dates with Bill, she jokingly told him that he would have to wait for the kids to be in college for her to entertain a serious relationship with him and he just looked her in the eye and told her that he would wait.

 

It unnerved her a little how passionate he was when he said it. She couldn’t recall the last time that kind of passion was directed towards her. She imagines it was when she still lived in Chicago. It was nice to hear someone talk to her in that way.

 

It wasn’t enough to sway her from her decision, but it was enough to make her still feel desirable as a woman and that was enough for her for this moment in time.

Chapter Text

It was a gut punch to Stephanie that Brooke had wormed her way back into Rick and Bridget’s lives. They were adults now and she couldn’t stop them from pursuing a relationship with Brooke if they wanted to. She so badly wanted to protect them from those she knows would hurt them, but they have decided this is what they had wanted for themselves and she couldn’t stop it.

 

The harder she pushed the harder Bridget pushed back. It was like Bridget wasn’t her girl anymore. It was so hard on her pouring all her love into Fox, Koko and Bunny. She thought those names were just beyond silly but it made her touched when they said Douglas at the end. She never thought she had heard something so poignant and she lived many years on this earth. She wished that they were kids again and she was their hero again.

 

Jess found herself in London working on her degree and she was the child of the three that she could count on to never stop calling her mama. She thought Eric hurting her was her biggest heartbreak but when Bridget and Rick called her Stephanie it felt like a dagger.

 

Maybe she was living a fantasy loving children who were not supposed to be hers. She didn’t care about the biology, people entrusted her with their care, she did her best to give them a loving and stable home life. She wanted to make sure that they grew up to be well adjusted adults. Rick was pre-law and Bridget had just finished high school with the second-highest grade point average. Jess finished on top. To say Stephanie felt like a proud mother was an understatement. The last of her children grew up and they made her so proud. She took many pictures of their big days.

 

Koko and Bunny had plans to study abroad at Oxford and both had gotten in, but Bridget had changed her mind at the last minute which surprised everyone. It was when things started to change. Even though Rick had called her Stephanie once, he went back to mother just as quickly, but Bridget was another story.

 

She grew antagonistic towards Stephanie and Stephanie tried a different approach. She didn’t want the same thing to happen with Felicia to happen with Bridget, so she tried to acquiesce. It killed her when Bridget and Brooke spent more and more time with each other. When Bridget announced she was moving out, Stephanie felt like her legs gave out on her. It made Stephanie worried that Brooke was going to shatter Bridget’s heart.

 

Eric thought she was overreacting, he said Brooke had changed and only wanted to forge a relationship with her children. She wanted to slap Eric and tell him he was still the fool she always thought him to be. She thought to herself that the snake in the grass lies in wait, but you have to be the one to remember that the snake is still there.

 

Bridget had been on a wild streak that was so unlike her. Stephanie wanted so bad to help her daughter, but she feared she would make it worse. When she tried to talk to Eric about it, he just chalked it up to Bridget being young and wanting to forge her own life and it was okay to make mistakes.

 

She knew that the fool was going to be of no use to her, so she went to Rick. She could count on him to give her the time of day, but he said he didn’t want to be in the middle. He had his marriage to focus on and Stephanie couldn’t really blame him. Rick didn’t want to rock any boats which was respectable even if she never believed that was something that Brooke deserved.

 

It came to a head when Stephanie found about Bridget’s marriage to this two-bit halfwit Deacon Sharpe. This man was not someone she would have ever expected for her daughter to go after, but Deacon was smug to point out that he married the girl with no prenup.

 

She couldn’t believe the gall of the man and she wanted to slap the taste out of his mouth. She had to speak with Eric on how to minimize the financial impact that Deacon could have on her. Most things Bridget used wasn’t in her name, so they were fine on that front. Finally Eric had to admit that Stephanie was onto something. She blamed Brooke for this because the woman acted like a cheerleader ready to help Bridget make bad decisions. It didn’t matter if Brooke didn’t like Deacon as well. She created this when she encouraged Bridget to make reckless choices.

 

It upset her, Jessica and Rick when Bridget said she was delaying her accelerated medical school plans because of this trainwreck marriage. She didn’t get her daughter on an accelerated track for her to just not complete college.

 

It was the start of Rick pulling away Brooke, which Stephanie was grateful for, but she was still worried about Bridget. He knew that Brooke wasn’t the best when she encouraged him to take a break from school to join her at Forrester. Just because she was smart enough to get his father to marry her didn’t mean he was going to quit so close to his undergrad for her.  When Bridget started dodging calls from Jess, Stephanie knew things were getting bad. Bridget was pulling away from her sister and best friend now.

 

Brooke had Eric deemed incapacitated when he a bout of respiratory issues. Stephanie went to him but he was being rough with her, which she didn’t understand because they had always helped each other in their crisises, at the end of the day she has loved him most of her life, she wanted him to be okay. Brooke used this to create a wedge between them.

 

When Brooke went on a tirade and started to demote her children and elevate unsavory characters like Deacon, Stephanie had a conniption. Of course this was when her children came to her running airing out their grievances. Brooke was mad at Ridge for choosing his wife for the thousandth time over her, so she has a hissy fit and demotes every Forrester. As much as she didn’t like Brooke, she blamed Eric for this.

 

He let himself be led by the thing in his pants instead of his mind. It landed Sheila in their lives and now her children stand to lose their family legacy. When Eric tried to come back and regain his position as CEO, Brooke threw many obstacles in his way. He was forced to admit that this decision wasn’t his finest. He hadn’t liked it when she demoted his children, but he was just trying to beat his pneumonia and couldn’t handle the stress his children kept putting on him.

 

He knew they went to Stephanie to air their grievances because she started getting more involved in the company. Brooke tried to fire Stephanie, but Stephanie had a non-fire clause in her contract. She was the defacto CFO of the company. When Brooke tried to circumvent Stephanie with keeping demotions for Stephanie’s children, Eric knew he would be forced to reveal a secret he had held since the company was formed.

 

The money Stephanie’s father gave to them to start the company wasn’t some wedding gift, it was to expand his heir’s holdings while he was still alive. Stephanie was the sole owner of Forrester Originals and it wasn’t community property in the event of a divorce. It had made Eric upset that his father-in-law had that stipulation. John Douglas had his lawyer draft the charter, gifts given or inherited by one spouse isn’t community property. Eric kept it a secret and he knew eventually he would have to come clean.

 

His children weren’t going to wait though. Ridge, Thorne and Kristen had Rick as a mole. He changed his tune for the good of his family. He told Brooke, he would take her up on her offer but he wasn’t quitting school. It put a smile on her face but made Stephanie take pause. He knew he had to keep her in the dark for the ruse to have authenticity.

 

When Rick got in his position, Amber got one too. Brooke didn’t really like the girl, but she knew that in order to get Rick and keep him onboard she had to pretend to like Amber.

 

Amber was between a rock and a hard place. She could lie any day of the week, but it was hard for her to lie to Mrs. F. She knew that if she tried that Stephanie would be able to catch her in it. But Amber knew she had to support Rick, who in turned supported Stephanie, so it made her feel less guilty because at the end of the day they were doing it for the family.

 

Rick started to dig for anything that could mean Brooke’s removal from the company as his dad separated from her. She was dragging everything out holding onto the CEO position with an army of lawyers.

 

Rick thought he was going to hit paydirt and he did just not know what he thought he was going to find. He found the charter and it was there in black and white. His father was never the owner of Forrester Originals, his mother was. This charter was a gift from John Douglas to Stephanie Douglas. A man as smart as his grandfather would make no omission unless that’s what his intention was.

 

It had Rick reeling to hold the document, it meant that his dad has been cheating out his mother since the day married. The charter felt like a lead weight in his hands. He admired his father, but his dad was a liar and he was still lying. He would hide the truth from his mother for what? It was obvious Stephanie didn’t know this because she would have never let Brooke into her company in the first place.

 

This hurt worse than the time Stephanie broke her engagement to Eric. He thought it was better late than never to come home to both his parents but then his dad cheated on his mom. It wasn’t just his mom’s trust he broke, it was his, Bridget’s and Jess’s. They had been so happy at the prospect, but it ended in tears. They never saw their mother cry ever in their whole lives. Aunt Pam had to take care of them for about two days, but their mom came out of her room with sharp eyes, ready to work.

 

The veneer of his hero dad cracked a little after that episode, but it was completely broken here.

 

He put the charter in a manila folder and went to the copy room and made dozens of copies. The original had to kept for safekeeping. He took it out of the building and put it into his safety deposit box his mother gave him on his 18th birthday.

 

When he came back to Forrester, he went straight to the boardroom. They were supposed to be having a board meeting, but it was only chaos on one side. Bridget, Amber, Deacon and Brooke on one side and everyone else on another.

 

“Great! Rick you are here, we are deadlocked. How do you want to use your equity in the company? You can side with us or with them...” Brooke was tired of this back and forth.

 

Rick felt like he walked into a war and he really didn’t want any part of it. Ridge looked at him and he didn’t know what to do because he was the mole. He couldn’t tip their hands and Amber was on one side. He snapped himself out of his thoughts. This civil war meant nothing now because what he has in his possession nullifies everything.

 

“It seems we are keeping life-altering secrets in this family.” Rick said this and Brooke bristled and took a quick slight look at Deacon which only Stephanie seemed to pick up on. It killed Stephanie to have to keep this secret of Brooke and Deacon. Bridget was so trusting of Brooke and her deadbeat husband.  

 

Brooke was worried when she heard Rick say something about secrets. She thought she and Deacon were being discreet. They had kept a muzzle on Stephanie so far, but they didn’t know how long it could last.

 

Ridge was wondering where his little brother was going with this because this was not a part of the power play, they were trying to execute. He looks to Throne and Kristen and they were just as clueless as him.

 

Stephanie on the other hand was thinking about one of her explosive conversations with Eric. He had the nerve to chastise her about the treatment of Brooke and the united front they needed to have. It was always her that had to be the united front. He rolls around in the gutter and she had to be the one to help keep him clean. She was tired of it. Between having him tell her how she needed to support the family and this wanton woman hurting Bridget as CEO, she didn’t know how much more she could take.

 

“Rick what is the meaning of this?” Eric was wondering what his son was going with this. Was he going to choose his side or Brooke’s?

 

“The meaning of this is, you have betrayed my mother…” Rick says this calmly even though he has a rage that can’t be quenched. He isn’t satisfied with his father’s clueless demeanor. Bridget looks at her brother wondering what was going on. Brooke looked at him happy that she was being referred to as his mother again, but she wondered if Rick uncovered some evidence of Eric trying to work against her.

 

“Rick, I haven’t a clue what you are talking about Rick? I haven’t done anything to your mother.” Eric couldn’t understand why his son was so mad at him.

 

“I don’t need to pretend with this charade anymore. Mom this is what dad has been hiding from you.” Rick pulls out the papers from his manila folder and gives one to each of his siblings and his parents. Amber looked on at him because she didn’t know where he was going with this. They had always discussed how they would play everything at work with being the moles.

 

“Junior, this is the charter?” Thorne asked because he was confused because it had his mother’s name on it.

 

“Yeah Thorne it is. Our grandfather financed Forrester Originals for Stephanie Douglas. He incorporated the company as a gift for her, that means it isn’t community property.”

 

“Rick, sweetheart what are you saying?” Stephanie was reading the charter. She knew that her father’s lawyer drafted the document because Eric couldn’t afford any attorneys when he started the company.

 

“Mom, it means that you have always been the sole owner of Forrester Originals since it’s inception. Gifts and inheritances are separate entities from marriage which means dad wasn’t entitled to any revenue generated by Forrester Originals. He had no power to hire or fire any personnel because he isn’t the owner.”

 

“What are you talking about Rick?! This is preposterous. Did Ridge put you up to this?! I know you are confused about family loyalties and I’m willing to forgive this mishap if you put your shares on the right side?!” Brooke didn’t know where this was coming from but if Eric didn’t own Forrester then she couldn’t be CEO.

 

“SHUT UP!” Rick was tired of pretending to have to be nice to Brooke. He was old enough to have memories of what it was like growing up with her as a mother. It was a string of broken promises and using him and Bridget to shape a life with Ridge. “I have no fucking shares, isn’t that right dad because mom has every last goddamn share in her company doesn’t she?!” Rick was fuming, he felt like steam would come out of his ears.

 

Eric felt like a deer in headlights. He wondered how did Rick ever find the original company charter? It was his last play if nothing ended up working. He knew that Stephanie would be mad, but he thought he would be able to smooth things over if he got to explain to her.

 

Their kids from Bridget down to Ridge just kept looking from their mother to their father. Only ones missing in the room was Felicia and Jess to witness this event.

 

Stephanie’s face was getting redder by the moment. She knows everyone thinks she is getting mad because of Eric lying to her but that was only one part of it. She deserved it all as far as she was concerned. She was her father’s heir and she paid for it several times over. She learned to be perfection, the sharp-minded debutante. The road to perfection was beaten into her literally. And the man she looked at knew that.

 

“You really are a rat bastard and I know you know it. When will it ever be enough? I took care of your children. Upheld this family, made your name mean something! I had so many god damn pin pricks making your dresses when we had no one on staff. Long days pregnant in the heat trying to make your dream come true. I made you and yet you humiliate, gallivant and turn it around and blame it on me?! I have to clean up the messes you create… for what? You always expect me to rescue you! You abused my love and my trust, my literal and emotional trust.”

 

“Steph, I can explain—”

 

“SHUT UP Eric Forrester, your silver tongue will not work with me! You are a foolish man, who needed me to stroke your ego. I have never had time for that nonsense, so you went to someone who would and what did that get you? Having your name on the building and no power to do anything... I told you the truth and all you could do is lie to me?! You lied to this degree though... Were you mad at me that my father chose me? He would always choose me! Did you think I would take anything from you? Your children are the legacy of this company did you think I would somehow deny that? I gave you everything I had and you still found a way to take more from me. Well no more Eric Forrester, I have nothing left to give you. John Douglas didn’t have what it took to break me so you are even more foolish than I thought if you thought you could! Rick, I don’t know how you found this honey but thank you. My children are my proxies so save yourself the groveling Eric... The seven of them will get to choose how they envision their legacy.” Stephanie swiftly exited. She was still seeing red, but she couldn’t be in this building any longer. She felt like she could scream, she didn’t know if she could control herself after this betrayal.

 

Bridget and Kristen got up to follow Stephanie. Bridget knows she has been giving Stephanie a hard time, but she loves the mother who raised her even though she was being unfair to Stephanie for reasons she couldn’t fully explain… she knew where she needed to be.

 

Amber just left Brooke’s side after everything Mrs. F just said. She didn’t have to pretend anymore because Rick pulled the cat out of the bag even though she knew nothing about it. She slipped her hand in Rick’s and she could feel the way his hand trembled. She knew he wasn’t nervous, he was angry.

 

Eric got up wanting to catch Stephanie but both Ridge and Thorne got up and blocked the door. They were going to be damned if they allowed their father to go chase after their mother. They made so many excuses for Eric over the years and have put his happiness above their mother’s and they were trying to figure out now why did they do it?

 

“Dad, I don’t think so.” Thorne knew he wasn’t always the best son to his mother but he was damn sure not going to let his father find his mother and somehow try to rationalize what he did.

 

“I need to speak to your mother. Now, move out of my way.”

 

“Dad, Thorne and I aren’t going anywhere dad. You don’t get to explain away this betrayal. We have let you do this behavior for decades it stops now.” Ridge was horrified that his father could keep a lie like this for as long as he has been alive.

 

“I think it’s safe for me to say Brooke, you’re fired and you can take Deacon with you.” Rick didn’t have to pretend anymore. He let Brooke see how he really felt, he hated Deacon whether or not that was his brother-in-law. He thought his sister was making a big mistake being with the guy.

 

“Rick you don’t mean that!”

 

“The hell I don’t. This is my mother’s company and there’s no way that she wants you to even have access to the building so you can go. If you won’t go quietly then I’ll have security escort you out.” Rick was thinking of everything he had to go through when Brooke took care of him.

 

“I’m your mother not her!”

 

“You’re a stranger! Stranger danger!” Rick didn’t know what possessed him to say that but it made Amber goof a little bit.

 

“You heard him Logan, you can leave.” The indifference in Ridge’s voice hurt Brooke. Deacon looked to her, but he was hurt that she couldn’t even pay him a glance. Brooke was shocked that Ridge’s actions could still hurt her.

 

“This isn’t over.” Brooke truly didn’t know how she was going to regroup after this.

 

“But it is. You have no power here and you never did.” Rick was going to add that Stephanie was the rightful owner of the patent because it was her money that paid for it, but he knew that Brooke knew that.

 

Brooke leaves in a huff and Deacon follows behind her. Rick made sure to call security to make sure that Brooke was out of the building and not taking any confidential documents.

 

Eric was left with his sons looking at him in disappointment and shock over his actions. He didn’t know what he could do or say to defend himself. He didn’t know how much it could hurt to see the hurt and betrayal from his children’s eyes. It hurt almost as much as the lashing he received from his wife.

 

“You know I have always looked up to you. When I was a kid you seemed like such a giant of a person. I thought ‘oh man there’s no one better than dad…’, you were my hero. I got so happy when you and mom got back together. I thought how great it would be to have the same thing my brothers and sisters had. Then you cheated on mom with Lauren Fenmore. My dreams came crashing down, my titan of a father betrayed my mother. You ruined any chance of what Jess, Koko, and I wanted. You stole her trust, but I at least thought there couldn’t be anything worse than this. Imagine my surprise when I try to find anything to help you so we can put the company back in the hands of where it belongs only to find out you have lied since the moment the company was incorporated. She gave you literally everything and yet all you do is hurt her. You always do such dumb things and then want her to fix them—”

 

“Rick let’s calm down a little…” Thorne couldn’t disagree with Rick, but he didn’t think that dad needs a pile on. He still had health issues and after a day like this the last thing they needed was one of their parents in the hospital.

 

“No Thorne, Rick is right. Dad more times than I can count I have taken your side when you and mother have gotten into it. It’s so easy for us to take your side… she’s just so strong, we think she needs no one but who does mom have in her corner? We always think about your happiness, but we hardly acknowledge hers... Dad you were mad at grandfather and took it out on mother. You stole her company, but that never mattered to her… whether you were trying to spite our grandfather I don’t know but mother does not need to be the collateral damage.” Ridge was disgusted with what Rick uncovered. He couldn’t ever believe that his father could ever be involved in any kind of thievery especially against his mother.

 

After the day in the boardroom, their mother had made them her proxy. The seven of them had to make a decision on what to do about their father. Stephanie had told them, she trusted them to make the decision in the best interest of the company. It was a contentious meeting, even though Jess was on the phone from London, she made herself clear. She believed that they should push forward without Eric at least for a while. Rick didn’t disagree. Bridget was on the fence. Even though what their father was all kinds of wrong, none of them were going to go to the media and air out family dirty laundry. Forrester Originals is synonymous with their father. Felicia agreed. No one had expected any different. Kristen had already decided that she would agree to whatever they agreed to. Thorne and Ridge were on the fence. Everyone knew that Ridge carried the most weight. He was the eldest and would be the defacto leader of the company should they push forward without their father. It would be his designs that would carry them.

 

Ultimately, Ridge decided that he didn’t want to change his responsibilities. He wanted to be a present father to his kids, he didn’t have the confidence that he would be able to with more being asked of him even if it was a family operation.

 

Even though they sometimes had a rivalry, Thorne and Ridge would always come to the same decision. Thorne had his own reasons for keeping their father at the top. It could have affected their relationships with some of their partners and vendors out of some misplaced sense of loyalty.

 

The children had to come to a begrudging consensus to keep Eric in the company. He was grateful for them coming to that conclusion, but the children let it be known that just because they kept him at Forrester Originals doesn’t mean he was forgiven on a personal level.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stephanie had such a stressful time, so many things happened in such a quick timeframe. Eric betrayed her and had the whole time they were married with this secret.

 

She let the children do what they wanted with the proxy. They ultimately let Eric stay on as CEO and creative director, but Stephanie was still livid. She wasn’t upset with the children for ultimately keeping him on. It made sense from a business standpoint. She let his calls so straight to voicemail. She wasn’t going to let his sweet talk get to her.

 

She already had the secret of Brooke and Deacon looming on her mind she just couldn’t deal with a man child wanting attention from her right now.

 

She was terrified at the prospect of her hurting Bridget. Whether Stephanie liked it or not, Bridget had developed a relationship with Brooke. It weighed heavy on her of what to do.

 

Stephanie was wild in her fury, she thought it was sick and perverse that Brooke could ever do such a thing. The worst of it was Brooke trying to rationalize it… and Deacon… what a foolish endeavor. Of course the moron was clueless and couldn’t keep it in his pants.

 

She just wonders to herself how could Bridget let herself fall into the hands of this skeevy, treacherous man. Bridget wasn’t as dedicated to school which just made Stephanie even more livid and created a bigger chasm between them. She thought back to their last big fight. It was filled with hateful words. It hurt Stephanie when Bridget told her that her whole life she wanted to be like Stephanie, she was someone she looked up to, but Bridget knew how to twist the knife, she called Stephanie bitter and sad. Stephanie was hurt but she let Bridget lash out at her. She knew somewhere deep down that Bridget needed to vent her anger and powerlessness… so Stephanie let her.

 

 Brooke was there to support Bridget’s bad decisions so anything Stephanie said was somehow bad, but Brooke’s words weren’t.

 

It was easier for Stephanie to keep the secret because Bridget seemed to want to keep a distance between them. It seemed like the distance wasn’t between anyone else just her. It was hurtful for her, Bridget was her only daughter in town after Felicia went back to Paris for the international office. She also thought it might be for the best because Stephanie didn’t know how to keep something like this a secret. This was a child… this child is Bridget’s stepchild and her sister. It’s disgusting to say… of course this would be Bridget’s luck. For years her brother was also her uncle when they thought Ridge was her father instead of Eric.

 

This was why Stephanie couldn’t stand Brooke. She always had excuses to defend the most reprehensible of behavior. Stephanie hated being put in this position. She knew that something would have to come to ahead because Brooke make Bridget look so stupid… caring for this child.

 

Her thoughts take her to Deacon… when she caught them in her old office… she was reeling. The amount of mess Bridget went through with her and Eric, defending her husband… only for him to get down in the gutter and have a child with Brooke.

 

Brooke and Deacon kept meeting in secret wondering what they were going to do about the impending entrance of their child. It was one time too many because they started to be careless. They should have been more careful because Stephanie happened upon them by mistake… the next person to find out did too. Bridget was in the surprise for her life.

 

She felt like all the air went out of her body. She heard Brooke and Deacon discussing Brooke’s pregnancy over the baby monitor. She just defended Brooke to her Stephanie.

 

When Bridget thinks of her behavior towards Stephanie it makes her sick. She has been so combative with her mother for months. She was always going about saying Brooke didn’t deserve her and her mother was right.

 

She let Brooke into her life and Bridget wanted to cry hearing that her Brooke has been having an affair with her husband. It was so vile and cruel. Brooke was always there with encouraging words but all this time behind her back she has been sleeping with Deacon. The things she sacrificed for this piece of garbage.

 

She felt a wave of calm go through her. She had her mother’s voice in her head telling her to not give them the satisfaction of seeing her tears. Bridget backs away without a sound. She didn’t want them to know that she knew… not yet… She forgave Deacon after the mess with Amber, but this was something else. He’s been fucking Brooke and it makes Bridget seethe. It was sick… her mother was having her husband’s baby.

 

She just left because she couldn’t trust herself not to just storm in, she knows how Brooke would be… try to insinuate she was confused or try to rationalize. Her mother warned her so many times and Bridget just screamed at Stephanie.

All the things she said just swirled through her brain. How many times was she going to forgive Brooke before she learned her lesson?

 

It hadn’t even been much time since Brooke and Thorne were having sex. It made her sick to her stomach to hear her brother and Brooke say they were in love. Brooke chose a man over her again, but she just kept graduating… first her brother now her husband.

 

She hated them both… the loser with his cigarette breath. She wanted to slap herself because how did she let herself get like this…

 

Brooke always made a mess of her own life, but she was starting to see the magnitude of it. She thought her biological mother was just so cool… she was nothing like her mom. She was so mean to Stephanie, she even got mean with Jess…

 

When she moved out for her junior year of high school, she was so happy to be living with Brooke. She thought having someone younger as a mom would be ideal. Her mom was so set in her ways… they got into fights. Even when she was with Brooke, she knew about her mom and dad being so upset with Bunny’s relationship with Dylan Shaw, that her dad even got the courts involved.

 

She thought her mom was going overboard trying to control Bunny’s life because she left the house. Brooke supported the relationship between Dylan and Jess. Bridget thought that was so awesome of her, she knew how in love Jess was with Dylan. She thought she made the right choice with moving in with Brooke.

 

It was such a mistake beyond proportions. Stephanie was protecting Jess even if she couldn’t fathom it at the time. Bridget thought about her mom going to the ends to shield Jess… and her when it came to Deacon. She thought she was so grown up when she married Deacon… this older guy paying attention to her but even though she was 18 when she met Deacon looking back on things, she realized he had so much power over her. The age difference between her and Deacon was wider than the age gap between Bunny and Dylan.

 

She railed on Stephanie for trying to control her life and tell her that this was a mistake, she was too young to understand the implications by being married with a man like Deacon. So many times she heard her mother saying that he was taking advantage of her… trying to stick it to Eric was only a bonus. She used to counter with Rick being married to Amber but Amber actually loves Rick and their age gap was two years...

 

Deacon used her and it just made her angry again. She just needed a little time to gather her thoughts. She snapped at her father when he came to see her.

 

Bridget did feel bad, but she was just so angry that it was flying off at her and anyone in her way would have to be collateral damage.

 

The phone rings, when she answers… she hears Brooke’s voice and her anger starts to surge again.

 

Every time Brooke says anything, she wishes that she were there so she could just punch her in the face. She can’t take it anymore. She ends the call, screams in frustration and launches the phone. Her phone shatters the mirror and it makes her feel good.

 

“You’re no mother to me… not anymore…” Bridget said looking at her reflection in the broken window.

 

Bridget felt she was the right frame of mind now. Here she was with her two mothers. The one she got stuck with and the one she tried to push away. So different… she just looks at the both of them. People say that the phrase ‘as different as night and day’ but Bridget always thought that was stupid. Day progresses into night and vice versa. Brooke would never be like Stephanie. Brooke would always find a way to hurt her.

 

She accused Stephanie of belittling her feelings, but Bridget could finally open her eyes. Brooke dismissed her feelings outright. She had to so she could uphold her worldview.

 

After she reamed Brooke for this gross betrayal, she marched out of the cabin, but she could hear her mother calling for her.

 

“Bridget! Come here now!” Something in the tone reminded Bridget of when she was a little girl. That tone brokered no arguments. It used to make them come to Stephanie no questions asked.

 

“What?” Bridget couldn’t stop herself before it came tumbling out of her mouth.

 

She just sees Brooke breathing hard holding onto Stephanie.

 

“She says that she’s in labor so let’s take her to the hospital.” Stephanie was trying her best to be level-headed.

 

“No, I’m not going to make it.” Brooke was tired already. It has been a long while since she has been pregnant. The irony was not lost on her that the last time she was pregnant was here… it was with Bridget, the very same person she hurt.

 

Bridget just looked on wanting to say it was a lie. Brooke was being the weasel she was to get sympathy but Bridget has never been pregnant before, so she really doesn’t know if Brooke was lying. The last thing Bridget wanted was to be there, listening to Brooke’s whining voice.

 

She thought to herself was she supposed to feel sorry for Brooke?

 

“Of course you will.” Stephanie thought it was preposterous to hear Brooke say such a thing.

 

“Stephanie, the hospital is like half an hour away…” Bridget was tired of being here already.

 

“I’m having the baby now.” Brooke felt like she couldn’t catch a breath. She was sad at Bridget’s lack of emotion to her distress.

 

“No, you’re not you just started the contractions.” Stephanie had given birth a number of times and they could make it to the hospital in time.

 

“No they started a while ago, I just didn’t say anything.” Brooke revealed the truth. She thought that they could get everything out of the way and things would be better. But all she did was waste time.

 

“What?!” Bridget felt a surge of confusion go through her. What would possess Brooke to be so stupid is what ran through Bridget’s mind.

 

“All right, let’s call the hospital and have an ambulance sent over.” Stephanie walks Brooke over to the sofa to make her more comfortable.

 

When Brooke starts moaning in pain before Bridget and Stephanie could get her to the couch, Bridget starts to freak out more. This was a surreal experience to be in.

 

“Call the hospital, call the hospital.” It was all Stephanie said, no inflection and even with this bizarre circumstance Bridget saw her mother poise and ready to take action.

 

Bridget did just that and called the hospital and freaked out even more when the dispatcher told her that it would be an hour at the earliest before an ambulance could be dispatched let alone get to them.

 

When Brooke hears Bridget say that they would have to take her to the hospital themselves, she comes to a decision.

 

“No! No I am not going to have this baby in a car.”

 

“Listen to me… you’re not going to have this baby in front of her, do you understand?” Stephanie got close to Brooke and uttered this in a venomous tone. “If you’re really going to have this baby, I will carry you down the mountain on my back if I have to but you are going to the hospital right now!”

 

Brooke just looks at Stephanie exasperated because she’s so tired already, she didn’t want to get up.

 

“Come on, let’s go to the car.” Stephanie was adamant about Brooke not doing this in front of Bridget.

 

“It’s too late.”

 

“Stop saying that!”

 

“Stephanie, I have had two children. I think I know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to make it to the hospital.”

 

“if you’re really going to have this baby, you’re not going to have it here.” Bridget could hear her mother telling Brooke that having the baby here she was not an option.

 

“I have no choice. Now you listen to me—”

 

“No you listen to me! You’re not going to have it in the cabin and you’re certainly not going to have it in front of that girl.” Stephanie pointed to Bridget…

 

The girl in question could see everything going down as she was still on the phone with the dispatcher.

 

“I’m sorry honey, I didn’t want to put you through this…”

 

“Oh shut it! It’s the worst day of her life and what do you want her to do? Watch you have Deacon’s baby?” Brooke listened to Stephanie talk as she saw Bridget right behind her with the most unimpressed face.

 

“No!”

 

“I’m not leaving…” Even if Bridget was mad at Brooke, she didn’t think she could leave and not feel guilty if something bad happened.

 

“You’re right, you’re not but we are. Come on I’m taking you to the hospital myself.

 

“Wait, no…”

 

“No, now!” Stephanie was starting to get more irate. The more Brooke stalled the less of a chance they would ever get to a hospital.

 

“God, is she having another contraction?!” Bridget was getting even more freaked out at this point.

 

“It’s too soon…”

 

“She’s right, she’s not going to make it in town…”

 

“Call the hospital to see if they can send a doctor.”

 

“The nurse said there’s a doctor who lives around here, they’re going to page him and try to get him to come here.”

 

“Did you hear that?! They are going to page a doctor so you will have to wait… hold on…” Stephanie was trying to find the patience to deal with Brooke.

 

Stephanie asks Bridget if she could get crushed ice so Brooke could suck on it until the doctor could come.

 

Bridget leaves the room to do as her mother asked. It left Stephanie and Brooke alone.

 

“I begged her not to come up here because I knew what you would do… twist everything around, come up with a lot of excuses. I want to tell you something. I don’t know what you said while I was outside, but you’ve lost that girl. There’s nothing that you could ever say or do where she’ll trust you ever again.”

 

“Stop it…” Brooke didn’t know why Stephanie felt like now was the time to lay into her.

 

“Do you realize the humiliation you put her through? Do you understand that? And now you want her to stay here and witness you giving her birth to Deacon’s child?”

 

“What do you want me to do Stephanie? Tell her to leave?!” Brooke was getting tired of this. What was done was done.

 

“I want to take her with me… I’ll send John the caretaker and he’ll stay with you until the doctor comes.”

 

“Oh my god, what are you trying to do?! Punish me? Okay fine but do not take this out on my baby. I’m having the baby now Stephanie. So if you’re not going to help me—” Brooke was aghast at what Stephanie was saying.

 

“I will.” Bridget heard the last bits of their conversation.

 

“No Bridget.” Stephanie didn’t want her baby having to deal with this mess.

 

“Look, I don’t like this anymore than you do, but there’s no other way…” She shifts from her mother’s direction to Brooke’s. “…Look you’re going to need my help. You can’t deliver this baby alone.” Bridget was tired after the day she was having but the amount of things that could go wrong gnawed at Bridget’s conscience.

 

Brooke was hopeful with Bridget staying to help her. While the three of them were stuck in Big Bear. CJ was beside himself with laughter at the prospect of Brooke Logan relying on Amber for designs because of her pettiness towards the Forresters... Ridge in particular. He felt good inside that the Spectras were on the come up while the Forresters were in shambles.

 

Sally didn’t feel the same way. She hadn’t spoken to Stephanie in a few days which worried her because her friend had been really down in the dumps lately with all the troubles with her children. Pamela told her that Stephanie just needed some time to sort some things out.

 

Sally told her son that she felt that Brooke was a dangerous person. She destroys everything she touches. CJ didn’t care though, he was gleeful that Brooke fired Ridge because of how he treated his parents over the years but he hated Brooke just as much because she made Macy’s life difficult.

 

“Mom, thank god you’re here. You’ve given birth to four kids! So you know what to do right?!” Bridget said she would help but she wasn’t in medical school yet. She knows the mechanics of giving birth from books but had no real life experience.

 

“Yes, I have four children that were delivered by doctors! In a hospital which is exactly where we should be going…” Stephanie made no mention of Angela… she didn’t want to think about that difficult labor.

 

“We’re not… we’re not. We’re having the baby right here…” Brooke was speaking fast from her labored breathing.

 

Stephanie would have popped her good on the mouth, but Brooke was pregnant. “I don’t believe this… I just don’t believe this.” With all the time they have wasted, Stephanie knows they could have already been in a hospital room.

 

“You think this was what I wanted?! You think this was how I expected this moment to be?!”

 

“Well no one forced you to come up here did they?”

 

“You told me that Bridget came up here to see a friend in a boating accident, she was going to spend the night in the cabin.”

 

Bridget was getting tired of the fighting.

 

“Well now she is thanks to you.”

 

“Will you two please stop we have to get ready!” Bridget looks towards Stephanie wondering what happens next. “Tell me what to do…”

 

“You’re not going to do anything.”

 

“Mom… we need towels, we need hot water and an antiseptic. I think there’s some rubbing alcohol in the bathroom.”

 

Brooke just kept huffing and puffing and Stephanie knew that now it was too late. She got up and told Bridget to stay with Brooke while she gathered some reinforcements.

 

Bridget just looked confused because she didn’t want to be left with Brooke alone.

 

“Oh Bridget, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Bridget just looked on and felt disgust run through her.

 

Even though Brooke was going through contractions she thought Brooke was pathetic. How many times did her vagina fall on Deacon’s dick. How dumb and irresponsible could she be to not use protection if she was going to be a mistress…

 

Bridget bit her tongue and said the most diplomatic thing she could muster. “Someone’s on the way… They can still make it.”

 

“I didn’t mean to hurt you…” Brooke’s voice was higher pitched, Bridget knew that she must be going through some intense contractions but it didn’t change the devastation and anger she felt.

 

“Don’t talk…” She didn’t want to hear the excuses.

 

“Please just let me explain!”

 

“Not now, this isn’t the time!” Bridget was not going to be manipulated right now.

 

“Oh god, oh god!” Brooke felt the contractions getting sharper which freaked out Bridget even more. She wished her mother hadn’t left her alone to deal with this.

 

“What is it?! What?! What?!”

 

“Oh no I feel the baby!” Brooke was panicked because even though she wasn’t trying to push she could feel her baby baring down on her. “Oh god get Stephanie! Stephanie!” Brooke screamed Stephanie’s name.  “The baby is here…” Brooke couldn’t believe how this birth was happening so fast.

 

Bridget felt so out of sorts. She was so scared… she did the only thing she could do. “Mom, hurry up! She says the baby is coming!”

 

“Is she sure?!” Stephanie comes back into the living room with the necessary supplies.

 

“This can’t be right, she just started having contractions!” Bridget was beside herself. Even though she never had a child, it felt so sudden.

“Well deliveries are always different… It can be fifteen minutes, it can be all night.”

 

“It’s happening now!” Brooke felt the baby, she knew she wasn’t going to be able to hold on anymore. She needed to push…

 

“Okay, Bridget take the other half of the sheet. We need to get her down on the floor…” Stephanie turned on. She felt things becoming automatic.

 

“On the floor?!” Brooke couldn’t believe Stephanie wanted her to give birth on the uncomfortable floor.

 

“We have to get you down flat.” Stephanie couldn’t understand why Brooke was arguing with her. It was the best course of action. It was either that or Brooke do it in the squat position.

 

Bridget and Stephanie help Brooke to the floor knowing the time was near.

 

“Don’t push!” Stephanie was getting annoyed. Brooke had pants on it made no sense for her to push.

 

“Mom, toss me a pillow.” Bridget wanted to prop Brooke’s back to make her a little more comfortable on the hard ground.

 

“Oh god, the baby’s coming… the baby’s coming…” Brooke wanted to cry because it hurt so bad.

 

“Bridge,t go wash your hands.” Stephanie was ready to get this over with. “There’s some soap in the kitchen.”

 

With Brooke’s screaming about the baby coming they just forget it. Bridget stays behind her and Stephanie slips off Brooke’s pants. Stephanie coaches Brooke and tells her to push hard. Bridget after every push wanted to know if the baby was out.

 

Stephanie saw the head and knew they were close. a couple of more pushes and the baby was out. Stephanie had cut the umbilical cord and cleaned the baby up a little.

 

Bridget forgot for a moment that this baby was her husband’s child when she uttered that the child was perfect. When the baby was put in Brooke’s arms, she was excited at them being successful.

 

The gravity of the situation hit her again and she wanted to be out of the room. She made an excuse about calling the hospital and explaining what happened. Stephanie knew what was happening and just told Bridget to make sure that the doctor was still coming.

 

“Wait Bridget, Stephanie do you mind?” Brooke wanted a moment alone with her daughter.

 

Stephanie could care less what Brooke wanted, she looked on at Bridget and when she saw the nod, Stephanie got up and backed away. She made an excuse about finding a blanket for the baby.

 

“Honey, thank you for being here… and helping.”

 

“I didn’t do anything…” Bridget was unsure of how she felt. She had so many emotions swirling through her. She felt herself shaking…

 

“You didn’t leave…” Brooke was hopeful that they could get passed this.

 

“You were in labor…” Bridget thought that was obvious…

 

“I know you’re angry with me and you have every right to be… What Deacon and I did was wrong… and I know—”

 

“Let’s not talk about that now… You need to rest.” Bridget’s anger was coming back to her. Brooke reminding her about the betrayal was not what Bridget wanted or needed at that moment.

 

“Regardless of how you feel about me, this baby… this baby is sweet and innocent child is your half-sister... and you helped bring her into this world. You witnessed her first breath. In the same room you had yours. Yes, I had my two precious daughters born in this cabin. You’re connected Bridget and I love you both so much.” Brooke was trying her best to make Bridget see that she was regretful but grateful something beautiful came out of this.

 

Bridget had so much confusion roaring through. She had tears leaking from her eyes, but she couldn’t discern which feeling prompted it.

 

Brooke asking her would she like to hold her made things feel so weird. This child was her sister. She held her and a bit of affection ran through her but a duel wave of disgust because she was an unwitting stepmother.

 

When Stephanie came back into the room, she saw exactly what she was afraid of. She knew that Brooke would use the child to manipulate Bridget. It was heavy emotions that a child can bring but the trauma that Brooke inflicted on Bridget was not something Stephanie took lightly.

 

Stephanie offered Bridget an out, but Bridget said she was fine and Stephanie was worried.

 

When Brooke starts talking about the child, Stephanie can see the honeyed words just flow with ease from Brooke’s mouth and it riles her up. When Brooke tries to lay her trap, Stephanie reminds Bridget of the reality… this was Deacon’s child. Brooke responds saying that this was her child.

 

Bridget talks about this being the most horrifying day of her life and yet this miracle has come into the world.

 

“Honey don’t forget and get swept in the emotion of the moment…” Stephanie knew the adrenaline would wear off and the hurt would come back with a force of a tidal wave.

 

Bridget felt the fog clearing when she had her mother there to remind her. Stephanie always taught her to do things with a clear head.

 

“Here mother, take the baby.” Bridget gives Brooke the child gently. Brooke was cooing to the baby… happy to have this moment with her girls. “This is your only daughter now. I’m not your child anymore… she is. And I hope you love her, honor and respect her and that you give her everything, everything you weren’t able to give me.” Bridget felt something untethering to her. She let herself get numb to the hurt her mother could cause her. First the mess with Thorne and the disgusting affair with her husband. She was protecting her heart now.

 

“Bridget… Bridget no! Don’t do this.”

 

“I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. You just made a mistake. A terrible… unforgivable mistake. You slept with my husband, you betrayed my trust. You broke a bond that I thought was sacred. I can’t ever forget what you’ve done and I can’t forgive you. But I don’t hate you… I don’t hate you.” Bridget didn’t hate Brooke, she was able to be ambivalent towards her. Hate was something that took effort and she wanted to move on from this chapter of her life.

 

She thought she was cheated out on a life with Brooke, but she ran into chaos. She missed the old Bridget, the one that loved going to eat ice cream on Saturdays with her mom and siblings. She missed doing her homework in her mom’s office in peaceful silence while her mother did her work.

 

She missed her sister who was an ocean away so bad. She missed her ambition. She turned her back on so many things because of Brooke and Deacon but she really only had herself to blame. She made these decisions no one else. She was done making decisions about her life with other people in mind.

 

Brooke’s voice snaps her back to the moment. “I know we can work this out. I know we can!”

 

“It’s too late. This is hurting me, more than you can imagine, but I can’t ignore what you’ve done.” Not this time Bridget thinks but doesn’t say outloud.

 

“Honey, I’m not asking you to ignore it. I just don’t want you to give up on me. I love you… you know that. And I know what I did was wrong and it was terrible. I don’t blame you for being angry with me.”

 

Bridget walks over to her safe space… behind Stephanie. It’s where she feels strongest.

 

“Look, I’m not trying to upset you okay, you’ve been through a lot tonight… we all have. But I can’t sweep this under the rug and move on because I’m too exhausted to fight about it.”

 

“Honey, I don’t want to fight either.”

 

“You want something I can’t give you. I’m sorry, I can’t forgive you.” It was a simple statement that hurt Brooke to hear. Bridget seemed so numb saying it.

 

“But you don’t hate me…” Brooke’s voice was just whiny to Bridget’s ears. Her patience was starting to wear thin again.

 

“No, I don’t hate you…” Bridget was tired of the endless circle.

 

“Well that’s a start. I mean that’s not really hopeless. If we could just talk and maybe you can give me a chance.” Brooke still had hope that their relationship could be mended.

 

“You had a chance, you had a million chances and you threw them all away. Now the only chance you have is with this baby. This is your last shot at motherhood. I just hope you can be a better mother to her than you were to me.” The finality is Bridget’s tone pleases Stephanie, but it was like a stab to Brooke’s heart. “I’m not doing this to punish you.”

 

“Then why can’t we talk…” Brooke knew if she could just have some time to hash it out with Bridget that they could get to a better space.

 

“There’s nothing to talk about… I know what happened. I heard everything you and Deacon said.”

 

“Honey we didn’t mean to hurt you…” Brooke meant that, they just fell into something so intense and she just couldn’t stop herself. Each time she told herself it would be the last time and she just couldn’t stop.

 

“Well you did.”

 

“It’s over. You were never supposed to find out…” When Brooke says that it makes Bridget press her nails into her palm. They wanted to play her like a fool. “…We agreed—”

 

“Yeah…yeah it’s over, but not because of an agreement between you and Deacon. Because I won’t’ be lied to anymore. I’ve made my decision, I don’t want anything to do with either of you and don’t worry I won’t give away your secret.”

 

“Honey, I don’t care about that.”

 

“Well I do…” It wasn’t like Bridget wanted anyone to know that her husband cheated on her repeatedly with her mother and then got her pregnant and she helped birth her stepdaughter/sister. She already had to grow up with people teasing her about her brother being her father once upon a time.

 

“You have humiliated me and this family for the last time.” Bridget was putting her foot down with Brooke. To Brooke it was like hearing Stephanie through her daughter.

 

“Well on that note, let’s agree that the baby’s paternity stays a secret.” Stephanie cared nothing for Brooke’s downfall but she didn’t want any of it to cause her daughter anymore embarrassment or humiliation.

 

“If you ever want to have a relationship with me, you will cut Deacon out of your life and never see him again. As for me… I no longer work at Forrester.” This was a beautiful thing for Stephanie to hear. She wanted Bridget focused on school and becoming the doctor she always wanted to be.

 

“So what am I going to tell your father?”

 

“You’re not going to tell him anything. I will tell him myself.” Bridget didn’t want Brooke twisting anything and make herself look good.

 

“And what are you going to say?”

 

“That’s my business. As of right now we are through with each other.” Bridget started to walk away feeling like she could finally take back some of the control in her life.

 

“Bridget, please I love you! I know that’s hard to believe.” Brooke’s pleas were being said to no avail because Bridget tuned her out.

 

Bridget walked over to her mother and saw the child in her arms.

 

“Mama, can I borrow your car please…” It’s been a long time since she needed something from her mom, but Bridget needed to get the hell out of there.

 

Stephanie would do anything she could for Bridget, but she was worried about her state of mind.

 

“Are you all right to drive?”

 

“I’m fine.” Bridget felt calm when she spoke to Stephanie. She would save her rage for later.

 

“Okay, well the keys are in it.”

 

“How about you, are you okay?” Bridget knew her mom was going through a lot lately. Had her own shit to process on top of this tonight.

 

When Stephanie heard the sweetness of Bridget’s voice directed at her. It felt like such a long time since she heard it directed at her. It made her have a semblance of happiness on this day.  They just look at each other and this private moment between the both of them, Bridget knows her mother is okay which makes her glad. The smile Stephanie gives her makes her light up like she was a little kid again.

 

“I’ll just stay with her until the doctor gets here.”

 

Even though Bridget wanted nothing to do with Brooke, she was thankful Stephanie was doing her this kindness by staying with Brooke, so she didn’t feel obligated too.

 

“I’m sorry and I know what I did was wrong and I wish I could take it back. I wish to God I could take it back, but I can’t…” Brooke keeps trying to get through to Bridget.

 

There’s a knock at the door and Stephanie hopes it’s the doctor. Bridget takes it as her cue to go and Stephanie wants her to put a great distance so Brooke can’t manipulate her more than she has already.

 

Brooke kept begging Bridget to not go but all she got was a goodbye.

 

Bridget wanted to go home… and deal with the trash that littered it. When she opened the door, she didn’t see Deacon, but she gravitated towards a photo of them together. She picked it up and looked at it. The naïve girl, happy to have some older bad boy notice her.

“Bridget is that you?” She rolled her eyes when she heard Deacon’s voice.

 

Who the hell else would it be? This was supposed to be their home and they were the only ones who lived there unless he was fucking her mother here too which she wouldn’t put it past them.

 

“Expecting someone else?”

 

“No, no I just wasn’t expecting to see you tonight. Brooke, told me what happened with your friend… I’m sorry. Did she bring you back?” Deacon was clueless to the cloud that was above him right now.

 

“No.”

 

“But you saw her though right?” Deacon was confused because Brooke made it seem like it was a mission for her to get to Bridget.

 

“Yup.”

 

“Well good, she was worried about you, we all were.”

 

“Well here I am… so you don’t have to worry about me anymore.”

 

“Well good, I’m glad you’re here because I have a surprise for you.” Bridget thought it was the funniest thing in the world to hear her soon to be ex-husband say this.

 

“It’s funny you should say that Deacon because I have a surprise for you too.”

 

“You have a surprise for me?” Deacon was surprised but very intrigued. He thought this clean slate with Bridget was only going to bring good things.

 

“A big one, something happened at the cabin tonight.”

 

“With your friends?” Deacon started to get concerned.

 

Bridget on the other hand was wondering how she could have ever found someone so dumb… sexy before.

 

“No, it was me, Brooke and Stephanie.”

 

“Stephanie?!” Deacon felt like his heart drop at the mention of Stephanie. She knew his secret and she hated him.

 

“What was Stephanie doing there?”

 

“She was concerned about me…” Bridget didn’t add that Stephanie was the only one in this scenario that did.

 

“Did she bring you home?” The prospect of Stephanie being alone with Bridget terrified Deacon.

 

“No Deacon she’s still up there…”

 

“Stephanie is there with your mother?”

 

“Well we were going to leave but then Brooke collapsed.”

 

Deacon didn’t understand why Bridget was so seemingly unconcerned about her mother collapsing especially since Brooke is pregnant.

 

“What?! Was it the baby?”

 

“No…”

 

“The baby is fine. Stephanie did a great job. It was a perfect delivery.”

 

“What?” Deacon heard the word delivery and he thought man his child came into the world.

 

“Yeah, she went into labor and the ambulance couldn’t make it in time. So Stephanie and I had to do it.”

 

“You delivered the baby…” The marvel on Deacon’s face made Bridget want to punch him in the jaw.

 

“Pretty crazy huh?”

 

“My god…”

 

“Yeah, it was unbelievable…”

 

“Brooke is she okay?”

 

“She had a very trying day…”

 

“Yeah, I’ll bet.”

 

“You don’t even know the half of it. “

 

“The baby… was it a boy or a girl?” Deacon was anxious to know about his child.

 

“It was a little girl…”

 

“Girl…” Deacon was so happy at the prospect of his daughter. Even though he couldn’t say it aloud… he had a daughter.

 

“Congratulations Deacon, you and my mother had a healthy baby daughter.” As soon as Bridget let the bomb drop of her knowledge of the child, Deacon’s face dropped.

 

It felt good for Bridget to strike some fear in Deacon’s heart.

 

“My god…” His breathing became labored as his wife got closer to him.

 

“That’s right… little Bridget finally got a clue…”

 

“Your mother told you?!” Deacon couldn’t believe it, he and Brooke came to an agreement.

 

“No you did… after the shower, your little conversation in the nursery.”

 

Deacon realized that Bridget did hear the conversation.

 

“You heard us on the baby monitor…” He was worried for the right reasons.

 

“Yeah, that was a little bit of a shock… finding out my husband is in love with my mother… That he’s the father of her baby. Jerry Springer here we come huh!?”

 

“I wanted to tell you..”

 

“Oh no I’m sure! It must have been such torture, keeping up that act.”

 

“Bridget whether you believe it or not, I hated lying to you…”

 

“Oh really?! Because you’re so good at it because just about every word out of your mouth--” She couldn’t believe the audacity of Deacon but then again she can.

 

“That’s not true wait! When I told you I cared about you, when I told you I wanted you to be happy…”

 

“What are you talking about Deacon… the night we spent at the cabin in Big Bear? The night we made love and you promised you would never hurt me again? The same cabin where tonight I delivered your baby! This would be funny if it weren’t so sick!”

 

“What do you want me to do? Tell me?!” Deacon wanted to know how to fix it…

 

“What do I want you to do?”

 

“What can I do please? What can I do to help you?!”

 

“Well I’ll tell you Deacon… I’ll tell you what you can do for me! You can go straight to hell.” Bridget was done with hearing people whine and plead.

 

Everyone is so sorry now, but they weren’t so sorry when they were humping each other like mindless animals. She leaves the living room and goes straight for the bedroom.

 

She went to her bed and ripped off the sheets because it would serve double duty, taking out the trash and she didn’t want to sleep on sheet that smelled like him.

 

She opened the armoire as Deacon came to the bedroom.

 

“Bridget come on…”

 

“Don’t start with me…”

 

“Would you stop for a second so we can talk…”

 

“What would be the point?”

 

“Great, so I guess the marriage would be over…”

 

Bridget wanted to slap herself for being so stupid to think this worthless piece of shit in front of her was sexy.

 

“Yeah, that’s safe to say…”

 

“All right… okay then just tell me. Let me have it. Come on! Tell me what a piece of garbage I am. I deserve it.” She refused to give him the satisfaction.

 

“You’re not worth my time. You never were…”

 

“Please, I know how much you’re hurting… I know how much you love me.”

 

“I didn’t even know you…”

 

“Yes you did.” It was hitting Deacon now, what he was losing.

 

“Shut up Deacon! SHUT UP!”

 

“You were a figment of my imagination! You were every bad boy from every fucking movie I’ve seen come to life. And I was going to be the one who was going to save you from you. Show you the error of your ways. I was your last chance, remember you told me that. Remember that. When I was in the hospital and you begged me to take you back. And I did! I did because what were you going to do without me? God ugh!”

 

“Bridget you didn’t do anything wrong!”

 

“Oh you don’t think it was a mistake? Really… really? Getting married at eighteen to some LOSER I met at a bar? Believing in him when it was so damn obvious what a slimeball he is? Putting off my medical school plans--”

 

“Wait… wait! No I never asked you to do that.!”

 

“No its true. I did that… because I wanted to spend my time with you. Oh yeah, I wanted to be near you. You were spending all your time at work with my mother. I made you the center of my world and you know what’s really terrifying? I would’ve gone on doing it probably for the rest of my life…” She learned that from Brooke but this whole ordeal was a lesson for her. “…So you know what? I should thank you huh Deacon… from saving me from me… for showing me the errors of my ways. So thank you Deacon. Now get out!”

 

She left her bedroom and couldn’t wait to get rid of more stuff.

 

“Bridget! Bridget will you wait please! Come on.”

 

“Aww that’s cute…” More stuff into the makeshift knapsack!

 

Deacon comes from behind her and grabs her arm. “Come on Bridget!”

 

“Don’t ever touch me again ever!” She was irate with him putting his slimy hands on her.

 

 “I’m sorry!” He puts his hands up

 

“You have no right to ask me for anything!”

 

“I know I just want to make sure you’re okay…”

 

“Okay! Okay… well let’s see I’ve lost my mother, my marriage, and my pride in the span of a day. So yeah Deacon, I’m great!”

 

“Bridget, you haven’t lost your mother…”

 

“Don’t! Don’t defend her! It’s just going to make me kill you.”

 

“Bridget, she loves you! She married Whip as a way to protect you. That’s got to tell you something!” Deacon was just trying to make Bridget see the lengths they went to protect her.

 

“It tells me that she’s sick and a user. So you two are perfect for each other except for one problem, my mom only like guys that are unavailable and that’s not you anymore is it…” Bridget felt great twisting the knife. “… Oh my god I’m going to be so glad to get rid of these! You know Deacon, I have my secrets too. Things I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Like for instance, you stink… seriously you reek. Kissing you is like licking an ashtray. I hated it!” Bridget went over to the liquor chest and pulled the jack. “And this stuff, that doesn’t actually make you any sexier, smarter or funnier. You just thought you were. You have no class, no style, no taste and I can’t wait to erase every last bit of you from my life.” Bridget was out of the door with Deacon chasing after her.

 

She marches towards the beach and finds an empty barrel and dumps all of Deacon’s crap into it. She douses it with the bottle of Jack Daniels.

 

“Okay Bridget you’ve made your point can we please go back inside and talk?” Deacon was feeling out of sorts and didn’t want to be outside any longer than he had to.

 

“Sure Deacon. Wait…” She goes digging in her back pocket and finds what she was looking for. “I almost forgot…” She takes out his zippo lighter and flicks a flame and throws it into the barrel with all his stuff and it catches fire, it was the literal and figurative bright spot of her day. “It’s just stuff Deacon, you can replace it all… not like my pride or my self-confidence…. Or my virginity. Or the love I had for my mother. It’s time for you to go.” Fireworks starts to play in the background. “Oh that’s perfect, fireworks Deacon… fourth of July. And I’m celebrating independence day. My independence from you… now go! GO!”

 

When Deacon left, Bridget thought that she would cry her eyes out but she just walked around and looked at the sky. She felt… relieved… she was naïve but she learned her lesson and she wasn’t looking back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Chapter Text

Bridget kept getting calls from her dad when she abruptly quit the company. She got calls from her siblings too wondering what the hell was up with her.

 

Rick was concerned about her but she told him that she would talk to him when she was ready but she needed time. Even though her confrontation with Deacon was cathartic, it didn’t last long because she got calls day and night from both him and Brooke.

 

Brooke refused to listen to her, she told her that they were done, she wasn’t letting her back into her life.

 

She thought her mother would call her more but so far Stephanie had only called twice. She left a voicemail explaining that she knows that Bridget had been put through the wringer and probably needed some space to gather herself again.

 

Bunny called and she begged her sister to come home because she needed her. It was a long time coming for them. Jess didn’t deviate from her plans like Bridget had. She lightened up her course load but both Rick and Jess didn’t… Rick was almost done with law school and Jess was going to be finished with her undergrad soon.

 

Stephanie got them into top tier schools that had classes that gave college credit with dual enrollment and passing their AP exams. Bridget lost her way for a while getting caught up with Deacon. She wasted a whole year being dumb and all it led to was a divorce and delivering her stepdaughter who also happened to be her sister.

 

She had a long conversation with Jess that spanned hours and time zones. She was catching up with her sister and making up for lost time. When she pushed her mother away, it meant pushing Jess away too.

 

Jess never left the fold. She was always by their mom’s side even if she was thousands of miles away. The same way Bridget should have been… the thought goes through her mind.

 

Even through all of the pushing away she had done to her, trying to replace Stephanie with Brooke… her mom was waiting for her. She was thankful that her pig-headedness didn’t cost her the most important relationship she had in her life.

 

Deep down she knew that, her mother would always be there… waiting for her to come home when she as ready. 

 

She drove to the Douglas house… her home to see her mother and sister.

 

She used her key, she was not surprised that her mother hadn’t changed the locks. When she steps into her home. She sees that it’s mostly the same… major difference was that there happened to be some newer televisions but that pretty much it.

 

She saw her Aunt Pam coming into the living room and her aunt must have noticed her because she was running to her.

 

“Oh Koko, what a lovely surprise!” Pam came and hugged her niece tight.

 

Bridget hugged her tight too. Her guilt started to hit her like a freight train. When she started to reject Stephanie… it also by extension meant she was rejecting Aunt Pam.

 

Aunt Pam didn’t have kids off her own and helped their mother raise them. She knew the three of them were the closest things to children her aunt had.

 

“Hi Aunt Pam… I’ve missed you…” It was all she could say before her voice cracked. She didn’t expect herself to cry but she did.

 

“Oh sweetheart, I missed you too. So much! There’s no need for all the fuss. I’m right here!” Pam was the more emotional of the two sisters, but she knew that she had to put on a brave front instead of weeping herself.

 

Seeing Koko come home was such a happy feeling for her. She missed her girls so much. With Bunny being so far and Koko doing her own thing… made the house feel lonely. Even though she stayed with  Charlie most nights, she still was home a lot spending her days working for her sister.

 

Rick brought his family by a lot which helped a lot with the house feeling a little less empty. She knew that Stephanie was thinking of giving the house to Rick.

 

“I know… I’m so sorry!” Bridget knew she needed to make amends with her family.

 

“It’s okay sweetheart… you’re back. I was making some sandwiches for lunch, I even baked some cookies…”

 

“Double chunk, chocolate chip?” Bridget loved her aunt’s cookies.

 

Stephanie was the better cook, but Pam was the better baker.

 

“Mmhmm and sugar cookies…”

 

“Is there any batter left?” Bridget would always risk salmonella poisoning to eat sugar cookie batter. It was her favorite thing in the world.

 

“I was just going to wash the bowl!”

 

“I came just in time! Is mama here?”

 

“Yeah she is… she’s in her office working but I know she would love to take a break knowing you are here… Bunny’s here too. Her flight came in early this morning.” Pam added this knowing that something terrible had to happen because Stephanie came home late and all she told her that Bridget was with her for a long time.

 

She thought that they got into it again, but Stephanie said that were fine.

 

“Oh that’s great I miss her so much…”

 

“I know she misses you too. She was taking a little nap though trying to adjust to being back home with the time zone difference and all that.”

 

“Yeah makes sense… I should probably talk to mama anyways. I’ll be back okay Aunt Pam…”

 

“Sure Ko, I’ll be in the kitchen…”

 

Bridget just nods and makes her way to her mother’s office. The familiar steps bring back the nostalgia of when she was a kid. They all used to do their work in that office. They used to love being together and sharing the same space. She used to look up sometimes while doing her homework and looked up at her mom doing work and being in awe. Her mom created these beautiful buildings.

 

Sometimes mom or Aunt Pam would drive them around and show them the buildings. She thought it was just the most amazing thing.

 

She opened the door to her mom’s office and saw her working.

 

Stpehanie’s eyes lifted to the intrusion. She was going to tell Pam thought she would be out for lunch in a sec but she was so happy to see it was Bridget.

 

“Honey! I wasn’t expecting you.” Before Stephanie could finish her last word, Bridget was running towards her desk.

 

She got a tight hug from her and she missed having Bridget so close.

 

“I love you mom, so much.” Bridget tried to contain her tears, but she couldn’t. She wasn’t normally this emotional, but she hadn’t had her mother’s company consistently for a while mostly from her own doing.

 

“I love you too sweetheart… Not that I don’t love it when you give me a visit, but I honestly wasn’t expecting you.”

 

“I really had to see you. I missed you so much and being in the beach house was stifling.” It didn’t escape her that even though Stephanie hated her marriage to Deacon, she still gifted her the beach house to start her life in.

 

“I can imagine… Well I for one am happy you’re here. Jessica up taking a nap… but she should be up soon, I think. How are you feeling Bridget?”

 

“Complicated… I set Deacon’s crap on fire and it felt so good. I was able to light up every physical reminder of him. It’s easier to let go of him than I thought but with Brooke…”

 

“It’s definitely more difficult... mom can I ask you something?”

 

“Of course you can… you can ask me anything always.”

 

“Was it easy for you to walk away from your mom and dad?” Bridget never really knew anything about her grandparents. Her mom nor Aunt Pam talked about either of their grandparents much. But the day in the boardroom when Rick unleashed the charter on dad, her mom said something about grandad not being able to break her.

 

“Yes and no…”

 

“My mother was very different from you and I. She was a woman of her time and it meant certain things. The type of family I came from was all about their social breeding, my mother went to college but it was really a finishing school. Learning to be a wife… demure, charming, and… obedient. She deferred to my father always. When I married your father, I was so happy to move to California because it meant I got to leave home. The only thing was I couldn’t take Pam with me.”

 

“Was your mom just a quiet person?” Bridget didn’t quite understand what her mother meant.

 

“Well not really… not socially. I suppose your old enough to know but my father was like many fathers of his time. He beat me… I wasn’t a boy which only made him more upset when my mother had Pamela. He was saddled with two girls when he was striving for an heir. So he dealt with the heir he had. It wasn’t socially unacceptable to beat your children. Corporal punishment was still used in schools even in Chicago at the time but my father was a man who wanted perfection and he made me perfect, but it took a lot of beatings to get there. I had to be the perfect heir but in a woman’s body. I had to be intelligent yet charming, beautiful yet cunning. Deadly yet stunning.” Stephanie explained her childhood to her daughter. She didn’t explicitly hide it from the children, but it wasn’t a conversation that came up much.

 

“Grandad hurt you!” Bridget was appalled that anyone could be so cruel to her mom.

 

“Yes… I’m not making excuses for him because he loved me in his way and that was his way of showing it. My mother loved me in her way as well, but she never saved me from one beating. Thankfully my father poured it all into me and didn’t beat my sister but sometimes she saw him hitting me.”

 

Bridget was a feminist and it made her so upset that her grandma grew up believing that a man had such control over the family it meant she could have no voice over the abuse of her child.

 

“Mom…” Bridget couldn’t catch her voice. “I’m so sorry you had to endure that.”

 

“Darling, I have dealt with that part of my life. My point is I love my parents, they weren’t perfect but they were mine and they loved me in the ways they knew how. It wasn’t easy to leave because I loved my sister and leaving home meant leaving her behind which hurt me but I was excited to leave… start fresh…” Stephanie didn’t mention not to get anymore beatings. She knows that her parents only did what they learned. She wanted to be different for her children.

 

“I think I feel that way too…” Bridget didn’t want to minimize her mother’s trauma. “Mom not that’s it’s any equivalence!”

 

“Bridget, the marks faded but the emotional trauma hurt worse than the physical ones. I won’t mince words but what Brooke has done is not par for the course. It’s otherworldly. She has repeatedly broken your trust in her. Her affair with your brother and then the escalation to your husband and to have a baby by him. The last thing I wanted for you was to be there to witness the birth. She hurt you deeply and the only reason it hurt is because you love her. You trusted her.”

 

“Of my stepdaughter and sister. I know mom. I guess it’s so hard for me to reconcile because I expected bits of you in her. I was just so used to you going to the ends to protect us, but she was a source of hurt. I felt dismissed when she didn’t take my feelings seriously when she was with Thorne. I told her about the whispers at school. I asked her to choose between me and Thorne… she chose him. This whole thing with Deacon, she had a chance to choose me and nip whatever they had in the bud and tell me but they had a full-on affair. I was played for the fool… they have a child… it’s so sick and perverse and she chooses men over me. I’m supposed to be important. My brother was my father at one point in my life for Pete’s sake. It’s so disgusting and I thought she was just so cool.”

 

“Bridget, you are important… you cannot fathom how important you are to me.”

 

“I know and it means so much to me. God, mom I’m so sorry for pushing you away for the last couple of years. I wasted so much time…” Her parents were older and it dawned on Bridget that her mother could have gotten sick with normal diseases that occur at her age during their estrangment.

 

“Bridget, we have time… all the time in the world…” Stephanie didn’t want Bridget holding onto this guilt. It was natural that Brooke was going to worm her way into Bridget’s life.

 

She didn’t want Bridget hurt, but she was thankful it was not years down the line where more love and time was invested in their relationship. It would hurt Bridget worse then.

 

“Yeah I know mom, I’m going to take a full course load in the fall and get back on track…”

 

“About that…”

 

“What?!”

 

“I believe it would be best if you went to England.” Stephanie wanted the best for her child and she believed it was distance.

 

“What?! Mom do you want me gone? Is this a punishment?” It hurt Bridget to think about her mother wanting her so faraway.

 

“No it’s not that I promise sweetheart.

 

“Then why? I’m your only daughter that lives here and you want me to leave?”

 

“No Bridget. I want you to thrive. Of course I’ll miss you everyday, but I think it would be best for you to go and finish your undergrad with your sister in England. I pulled a few strings.”

 

“Mom!”

 

“Hey! Listen to me young lady. I want all my children to do well in life. I told the dean of admissions that you made the dean’s list and that you are a determined and sharp young woman. They agreed and you have a spot at Oxford. You can be with Jessica and do the frivolous things that young people do.” Stephanie knew the prospect of Jessica and Bridget being together was good for them both.

 

“I didn’t know you knew…” Bridget didn’t tell much people just Rick…

 

“I always stay hip to things in your life dear.” Stephanie also wanted Bridget able to take some time for herself. Distance between herself and LA was good. It meant that Brooke could stop harassing her. She didn’t have to expect any pop-up visits from Deacon.

 

“I’m starting to see but mama I don’t want to leave…” Bridget didn’t add the fact that she really came back into Stephanie’s life relatively recently.

 

“Bridget, I am not unhappy with you. I think after everything that has happened to you and Jess… that you can lean on each other.” When her mother mentions what happened to Jess, her mind thinks about Dylan.

 

“Yeah, I guess me and Jess are kindred in that way except I was dumb enough to marry Deacon.”

 

Stephanie’s face is confused for a second, but it disappears quickly, but Bridget caught it. She wondered why her mom looked like that, but Stephanie covered it well enough.

 

“Bridget, you are not stupid… neither is Jessica. You both are just trusting people who believe the best in others. It’s not unheard of that you would be curious about wanting relationships, it’s just my job to try and help steer you when they have points of concern.”

 

Before Bridget could add anymore, there’s a knock at the door. When it opened, Bridget’s eyes went wide it was her aunt and her sister.

 

“Bunny!” She missed Jessica so much. She put a distance between them when she wanted to leave with Brooke.

 

She just wouldn’t listen to Jess when she told her that it was a bad idea and that she should stay there with them… with their mom. She said a lot of hurtful things. She said Stephanie wasn’t either of their moms and it made Jessica so mad.

 

She told Bridget if she didn’t want Stephanie for her mother then it meant that they weren’t sisters. It was their biggest fight they ever had and they had a frosty relationship for a while.

 

“Koala…” Jess wrapped her arms around Bridget… she missed her so much. She hadn’t been in LA for a year but the chasm with Bridget was longer than that. She was happy to see her sister coming back to them.

 

A few minutes later Rick came in.

 

“I heard you ladies were having a party without me…” Rick had heard only a brief bit about his sister kicking Deacon out but he didn’t know why but he didn’t care. He hated the guy and was happy his sister could finally see it. He had just hoped it was permanent.

 

He was even happier to see both of his sisters in the same room together without them fighting. The five of them had a peaceful lunch. It was very reminiscent of when they were younger. It was always the five of them and for the children it felt like a chance for healing because they had all been through so much.

 

“Jeez Fox! You’re such a nerd…” Jess was teasing Rick when he talked about a new show he liked.

 

“And a mama’s boy!” Bridget added.

 

Rick rolled his eyes because the downside of his sisters getting along again was them tag teaming him.

 

“Don’t be mad because I’m the favorite!” It made both girls shriek and Aunt Pam laughed when he said it.

 

“Mom! Who is your favorite child?!” Jessica wanted to know. She knows that Kristen and Rick give their mother the least amount of grief but that didn’t mean anything.

 

“Yeah mom whose your favorite?!” Bridget asked knowing it probably wouldn’t be her after their estrangement…

 

“If you really want to know? Absolutely none of you lot… you’re all so frivolous… all seven of you! My favorite person is my sister and that’s that… only person that has some sense…” The kids would have been offended if their mother didn’t have a smirk on her face.

 

Pamela just smiles behind her sandwich at her sister’s praise.

 

“Yeah… Aunt Pam is the best.” Rick winks at his aunt.

 

The girls agree with him with supporting nods as they eat their aunt’s cookies.

 

“Aww shucks, you all really know who how to make a lady blush.” Pam just took another bite of her sandwich thankful to have her family back. She loved all of Stephanie’s children like she would her own but there was something a little more special with the three in the room. She helped raise them, she had bonds with them that were unbreakable. So this moment was really special for her like she knew it was for her sister.

 

 

Chapter Text

They were in their room alone at last. Funny to think this was their room when they were little girls. It was still pretty big but they both thought they lived like princesses when they were growing up.

 

It was funny how size was relative especially when you got older.

 

The sisters had a lot to talk about, catch the other up on. It was like they never left when they entered their room. They were in their beds talking to each other like no time had passed but time did pass. They were adults themselves. Bridget had her own failed marriage to prove that.

 

“Bunny?”

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Mom said something today…” Bridget got out of her bed and went to her sister’s bed and sat on it. Their full-size beds didn’t feel that big anymore now.

 

“What did mom say?”

 

“She said that it was good that we would have each other in London…” Bridget had talked to her mother and told her she would rather go to Imperial College in London. They held her spot for her and she was sure that she could get some type of college credit for the year she had done here like Bunny did with USC. It was also where Jess went, they could live together again. The prospect excited them both.

 

“I think so too… It’s been pretty difficult these past years.” Jessica was pretty somber when she said it and it ate at Bridget.

 

The distance between them meant that they couldn’t help each other through their problems.

 

“I’m sorry, I haven’t been there to really listen but I’m here now and you can lean on me if you want.” Bridget lied down in the bed and faced her sister.

 

Sometimes they would sleep together in the same bed because they were both afraid of the dark when they were little. They couldn’t be convinced that monsters weren’t under the bed when the lights went out.

 

In their minds they were stronger together against the monsters. It served true that they are stronger together and Bridget was starting to understand that more and more.

 

“It’s nice to have you back so much has happened since you left.”

 

“Yeah, I know… mom said we could lean on each other because of our experience. Do you have lingering feelings from your relationship with Dylan?” Bridget had to wonder… dad had been livid when he found out about Jess and Dylan. He was even more upset than mom.

 

“No… I don’t think so. I haven’t seen Dylan in a while. At the time I thought the parentals were just doing too much but getting older and seeing you and Deacon, I realized I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about and the uttering of love... I don’t think I was in love. I liked Dylan a lot even, but I think the fact that dad did everything to keep us away from each other only made me think I was in love with him. It was like being denied this had to mean that we were in love. Dylan isn’t a bad guy or anything but being on the outside of it now, I can see why mom is the way she is but she stood up for Dylan and made sure he didn’t end up in jail. Even though we only had a three year age difference, our experience was so different. He was in a different place in life than I was. I knew if it was true love or whatever that we would make our way back to each other but we didn’t, but I will always be thankful for him.” Jess said this as she played with her sister’s hair as she explained a little bit about how she felt about Dylan.

 

Jess didn’t think Dylan was a horrible person, far from it. She didn’t think he was anyway like Deacon, but she shouldn’t have been in a relationship with him at least not at that point in their lives.

 

“You’re thankful for having the experience of a relationship with him?” Bridget was trying to navigate how she should describe her time with Deacon. She was glad to be rid of him but she didn’t know whether to count it as a real relationship or a temporary bout of insanity.

 

“I guess so, but he saved my life…”

 

“What do you mean?” Bridget was wondering if that was a metaphor for something.

 

A couple of tears started to fall from Jess’s eyes and it made Bridget start to cry too.

 

“Bunny what’s wrong?!”

 

Jess said nothing but she pulled Bridget to her and they hugged. Bridget could feel the sobs coming making her sister shake, but her sister didn’t any loud sounds.

 

It took a while for Jess to recover enough to be able to say anything.

 

“The reason I could see mom and dad were rightfully concerned was because I had dated Sly Donovan once.” Jessica couldn’t believe that she ever dated someone like Sly.

 

“CJ hated that guy.” Bridget remembers her ex-boyfriend railing on Sly for encouraging Macy to drink when she was an alcoholic.

 

“Yeah with good reason. I was so dumb Bridget. Sly used me… he wanted to be with me and get me pregnant to secure money from mom and dad. I was so naïve and young but when I tried to end it with him he wasn’t happy with me…” It was hard for Jess to say what happened next… she took a couple of deep breaths remembering that time in her life. “… he raped me!” The sobs that came from Jess scared Bridget so bad.

 

Bunny held onto her so tight and just kept crying. Bridget cried too because she just learned that her sister was raped… and she wasn’t there.

 

“I’m so sorry Jess…” Bridget felt so ill-equipped in how to speak to her sister.

 

To be raped is such the most intimate of violations. It’s a trauma that isn’t just sexual… it’s emotional, psychological…

 

They heard a knock at the door, when it opened, they saw their mother in her nightgown.

 

Stephanie had heard such a loud sob from her room. She had been doing some light reading when she heard it. She raced out of bed and went to the girls room.

 

“Is everything all right?!” Stephanie really didn’t want the girls to fight but when she looked towards them, she saw them huddled together hugging.

 

Jessica was crying in Bridget’s arms and Bridget was crying herself.

 

“Mom, I was telling her about Sly…”

 

“Oh…” Stephanie’s face fell into a sadness that anyone could see made her heart break.

 

Stephanie just thought about everything that her daughter had been through in her life. The diabetic coma, being raped and then what happened after.

 

“Why did no one tell me?!” Bridget felt hurt that she only knew about her sister rape now.

 

“I didn’t even tell mom at the time. It was hard for me to even say… after everything…”

 

“What’s after everything? It sounds so ominous…”

 

“Sly was still pretty mad at me for ending it. I was so dumb for getting involved with him again. He played me so well. He was using me to get access to money. He was messing around with Jasmine too. Our engagement was his insurance policy. He even told Jas about his plan. When she told me, I was so mad that I ended it. He kept telling me things I wanted to hear and I was dumb enough to trust him. He poked holes in condoms so he could try and get me pregnant. I finally got a clue and wanted to get payback, but it only made him madder at me. He raped me. I was so scared and I didn’t know it was him because he had a mask on. I told Jas the only thing I could remember. He had a birthmark. He started seeing her and when she was going to have sex with him, she saw the birthmark and knew it had to be him. He knew that I told her. Jas and I were going to the police station so I could report my rape and he was in the backseat of my car. He forced us to go to the Bikini Bar and he tied us up there. He was laughing at the fact he raped me. I told him if he let me and Jas go, we wouldn’t say anything but he said that he would be collecting insurance money and letting the evidence burn. Dylan found us and untied us and told us to run so we did. Sly and Dylan kept fighting and Dylan was able to get the upper hand. Sly died when the Bikini Bar exploded.” Jess told Bridget the full story, Bridget was stunned to learn all of this.

 

“I am so glad that you and Jas are alive.” Bridget couldn’t believe that her sister and friend almost died. She saw the wreckage of the Bikini Bar and it looked a bomb was dropped there.

 

“Me too…”

 

“Bunny, I know it took a lot to tell me this but why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Bridget knew it was selfish to be hurt but she wishes her sister told her.

 

“You weren’t on good terms with mom and I didn’t want you to think that we were trying to manipulate you to coming back home.” Jess swore her Stephanie to secrecy. She didn’t want Bridget to come back because she felt like they were forcing her. She didn’t want to be like Brooke. She also didn’t think that she could handle talking about the rape.

 

She needed a lot of therapy with Taylor and then her therapist in London to be in a better place.

 

She didn’t think that every relationship with an older partner would turn out like Sly, but she was so against Bridget’s relationship with Deacon because of the similarities she could tell Deacon had with Sly. Sly was more violent than Deacon but they were both lowlifes. They were opportunists and had no scruples. Sly used her like Deacon used Koko.

 

“But still… it wouldn’t have mattered to me. Yeah, I was stupid… supremely stupid but Jess you were hurting and almost died. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you!” Bridget was crying not knowing how close to death her sister was and it scared her.

 

When Jess got so sick so fast, it was so scary. She lost weight and mom had no clue why. They went to the emergency room and Jess collapsed. All she could remember was the sound of her screaming until a doctor came and got her sister. When they said Bunny was in a coma, Koko and Fox had no clue what that meant but by the reaction on Stephanie and Pam’s face they knew it had to be something really bad.

 

“I just didn’t want you to feel trapped, it’s also really difficult to talk about.”

 

“I’m glad you two have each other… you can be there for each other and help the other heal.” Stephanie said this as she got up and let them be.

 

Both girls forgot the older woman was in the room with them. They jumped a little at the sound of her voice. She bid them a good night and they were alone again.

 

“I’m so sorry Bunny… I’m sorry you felt like you couldn’t come to me without me thinking it was a ploy.”

 

“I forgive you… we’re together now and that’s all that matters…” Jessica meant it, she just wanted her sister back. Nothing else mattered to her.

 

“Together to the end…” Bridget stuck her pinky out waiting for Jess to wrap her pinky within her own.

 

“Yeah… to the end…” Jess added as they laughed and tried to get comfortable on the full bed. They fall asleep together like they used too… no monsters where able to get to them that night because they were together again.

Chapter Text

Bridget was happy that her mother convinced her to go to London to finish her schooling. The path to medical school was different in the UK than it was in the states. Medical school was separate from undergrad in the states whereas in the UK it started at the undergrad level. It was just as intense and was relatively the same time period of study.

 

Jess had finished her MBA and got a job there while Bridget was finished her university training in record time and was practicing in the field. Although both sisters dated while living there, one was more successful than the other.

 

Bridget was happy that her sister was able to fall in love with someone that made her happy. She liked Matthew which made Jess to give him a chance.

 

He met the family when they all came out for Bunny and Koko’s graduations. It was the funniest sight having their parents, aunt, siblings and their children all coming to cheer them on as they walked the stage.

 

There were some questions about Bridget’s love life and if she found anyone, she wanted the family to meet and she only rolled her eyes.

 

After the last time she really got serious with a guy, she knew damn well that everyone in her family was going to want to vet him.

 

Things started to change for the sisters. Jessica got a promotion, but it required her moving to the New York branch of the hedge fund she worked at.

 

It left Bridget feeling out of sorts so she took the required board and state exams so she could be able to practice medicine in the U.S. when she passed, she was so happy. She could say that she was board-certified which made her puff her chest a little because not every doctor could say that.

 

She applied to several hospitals in New York City, Chicago and LA. The best offer she got ended up being Cedars which meant she was moving back home.

 

It was a weird feeling for her. She felt like she left home when she was really only a girl and now she felt like a more well-rounded woman.

She knew her sister was hoping that she got great job offers in New York City so they could be together, but Bridget didn’t want to cramp her sister’s life.

 

She had a serious relationship with Matthew which would be taking them both to New York. They were going to be living together and the last thing Bridget wanted to be was a roommate to her sister and her boyfriend.

 

Even though Matt stayed over quite a bit, it was different because in Bridget’s mind it was Bridget’s place with Jess. This new place would be Jess and Matt and she was the sidekick.

 

She knows that Bunny would never think of it like that, but their lives were going in different paths. Bridget knew that they wouldn’t ever be emotionally far from each other again, but she thought maybe it was time to let go a little bit.

 

She tried to treat this new job at Cedars like a new beginning in more ways than one.

 

When they reached New York, the sisters stayed together for a bit. Bridget wanted to help Jess get settled there. As the days went on the emotions got heavier because the both of them felt the dread… their time together was coming to a close.

 

Each hug they gave each other was longer than the last, their laughs mixed with tears… every dinner turned into late night excursions. They caught Broadway shows, went to museums… did everything that tourists do.

 

Bridget knew her time there was complete, she had to go back to LA and get her own life settled before she started at her new job.

 

The girls made a pact to contact each other each day even if it was something little. They weren’t going to let a little time zone difference get in their way.

 

When Bridget boarded the plane, she couldn’t sleep, not even for a minute. She was moving back home. A place she ran away from without thinking twice.

 

She felt weird wondering what would come to be when she moved back... Would things be the same? Would they be different? She had no clue what to expect.

 

She decided to read the welcome manual she was sent by Cedars since she had nothing else to do on this plane ride.

 

It made her laugh that it should have been night but when she reached LA it was still daytime, she didn’t know how to feel. She felt an array of emotions.

 

She did the only thing she could do… take a couple of deep breaths and stepped off the plane.

 

When she got her bags, she texted Rick letting him know that she had her stuff.

 

When he texted her back telling her where he would be, she didn’t expect to see a big chunk of her family. It felt like just about every family member that lived in LA was there waiting for her.

 

It was such a nice feeling. Everyone was bumrushing her, she got so many hugs, but she barely knew who was giving them to her.

 

It was a nice feeling.

 

When she and Jess were leaving London, they went to Paris first and had some sister time with Felicia and their big sister stayed with them until they got on the plane headed for New York.

 

Bridget felt the tears coming out in full force… hugging her parents, Aunt Pam, her siblings and her nieces and nephews.

 

It was so loud with everyone vying for her attention. It was in that moment that she realized how much she missed her family.

 

“It’s so good to have you home Koko!” Pamela said this as she gave her niece another hug. It didn’t take much to excite Pam but the prospect of one of her girls coming home was enough to make her bake a storm.

 

The kids loved that their Aunt Bridget was coming back for more than a vacation here and there, but they were even more happy because her homecoming came with Aunt Pam baking lots of snacks.

 

As Bridget settled in, she decided she wanted to live at home with her mother. She missed her mother quite a bit and it had been a really long time since they lived together. She knew that she could move into her own place, but something about the home she grew up in was calling her name.

 

In the end her mother didn’t give Rick and Amber the house. The couple decided that they would move into a house of their own as they started to have more kids and Stephanie put her on the deed instead.

 

After they have a celebratory dinner, Bridget and Stephanie were being driven by Thorne home. It made Bridget laugh that Aly’s hair was bright red. It was funny to her how Sally’s signature trait could flow to Aly even though Darla was adopted. But Bridget knew that red ran on their side because even though her hair was more strawberry blonde now it was pretty red when she was a teenager.

 

“So how do you like being back home?” Stephanie was happy Bridget had decided she wanted to stay at the Douglas house.

 

Stephanie had felt like an empty nester when all the kids went and did their own thing. Pam was with Charlie and spent some nights over, but they were infrequent.

 

She made a mention to Sally about having an empty nest and her friend felt the same way since CJ decided to live on his own. They had been sharing the house ever since and it has been great times.

 

Stephanie loved having a bottle of wine commiserating with a bosom buddy. Even though she causally dated Eric on occasion, she liked having her own home to go to.

 

She was even more happy now that Bridget was back. Stephanie had offered Bridget an apartment if she liked and Eric even offered the pool house, but Bridget was firm about living in her childhood home.

 

“It feels weird but good. I missed you so much… Vacations are really not enough time.”

 

“I missed you plenty, the both of you. In a perfect world I would have all my girls with me, but I know life takes you where it takes you. I’m happy that it took you back here.”

 

“Me too mama, me too. I am excited to work at Cedars. It’s not far from us and it’s a great hospital to start my career in the states.” Bridget was able to work in some great teaching hospitals in the UK. She was ready to try her hand at a teaching hospital at home.

 

“It’s so great to see you excited and motivated. I know you are going to do great. You’re going to knock their socks off.”

 

“I hope so because it has to work out. I don’t want to have a bad reputation at a place like that. It could carry on wherever I go.”

 

“Sweetheart, I know you are going to do well. Just make a vision board or some goals and build up to them. You are my vibrant, confident daughter and there’s absolutely no one that can get in your way when you have the eye on the prize.”

 

Bridget thought that Stephanie had to say that because that was her mother but then she thought about it, her mother wasted no time on frivolity. She told you the truth when you needed to hear it.

 

“Thanks mom, I really needed that pep talk. So enough about me… what about you?!”

 

“Nothing much to write home about. Just working and day drinking with Pam and Sally.” Stephanie was very dry with her delivery which made a burst of laughter come out of Bridget.

 

“Sounds like you are having fun…”

 

“Yes, very much… I learned the perks of brunch from Darla and Taylor.” When she hears the names of her brothers’ wives tumble out her mother’s mouth it makes her smile.

 

Before she and Jess left for England together, Darla and Taylor took them out for a goodbye brunch and they were only nineteen at the time and it was the first time the girls had bottomless mimosas. Bridget couldn’t remember if she giggled the whole time from the fact that they weren’t being carded or from the bubbles of the champagne. She and Jessica had the time of their lives at that brunch.

 

“They really are the best brunch duo.” It was all Bridget said which made her mother raise her legendary eyebrow, but she said nothing.

 

“Hmm seems they are. So was there no one special you had in England?” Bridget waited for this question all night. Her mother said nothing during the family dinner.

 

Her mother always saved the questions for those she interrogates when they are alone, less buffers that way.

 

“No… not really. I dated of course but I didn’t find anyone that I really liked like Jess did.” It sounded pathetic to Bridget’s ears. She had a few relationships that went almost a year, but they didn’t go the distance. She wasn’t broken up about it.

 

“I don’t want you to feel any pressure. That’s not a problem, you’re just a gal focused on her career and it’s great that a modern woman can do that.”

 

“Thanks mom, that’s what I needed to hear. It can get annoying having to answer why I’m single. It just hasn’t been my time. I know exactly what I don’t want and I’m not settling for less ever again…” Bridget had an unexpected bite when she finished.

 

Being married to such a chump made her realize what she didn’t want in her life. She wasn’t making the same kind of mistake again.

 

“That’s my girl. There’s nothing wrong having expectations. You have to protect yourself. So many times people forget that it means emotionally and mentally as well.”

 

“Yeah, I’ve seen so many broken people come through the hospital and they only strengthen my resolve.”

 

Stephanie just nods at her daughter. Knowing that she must see some horrific things.

 

“Are you opposed to dating at all?” Stephanie had the subtly of an axe.

 

“Why such a focus on my love life mother?” Bridget was suspicious now.

 

“No reason, I thought it would be nice for you to go on a date with a fellow I know.”

 

Bridget just raised her eyebrows because she felt like she must have heard wrong.

 

“You have got to be kidding me?! Mom, are you trying to set me up on a blind date?!”

 

“Would that be so bad?! There’s a wonderful fellow who works with Morty and I—”

 

“Morty?!” Bridget gets up from the sofa and starts to pace. Bridget started thinking to herself. Morty was ancient… he was even older than her parents.

 

Her mother said a wonderful fellow. She imagines that he must be nerdy.

 

“Bridget, I will not be dealing with the dramatics. You can save that for Sally, she’s in her room if you must. I just think maybe a dinner would be nice between you two…” Stephanie really didn’t know why her daughter was so up in arms. People did this all the time.

 

“I know you too well mother. You set up the date already didn’t you?!” Bridget had a feeling that this date wasn’t a choice…

 

“You’ve always been fast on the uptake darling. Tuesday at 7pm… He’ll pick you up… on that note I’m going to bed. Good night sweetheart.” Stephanie just smiled as she passed Bridget.

 

When Bridget turned around to try and tell her mother no, Stephanie was already gone.

 

This was an emergency so she did the only thing she could do… she called Jess.

 

“Hello…” The calm tone from Jess soothed Bridget.

 

“Bunny, she works so fast. I haven’t been here a day and yet—”

 

“Koko slow down, I’m assuming it’s mom because when isn’t it her... What did mom do?” Jess was amused wondering what her mother did that had Bridget freaking out.

 

“She set me up on a blind date…”

 

“Well her heart is in the right place…” Jess couldn’t disguise her laugh and Bridget wish her sister was there so she could pinch her.

 

“Bunny, she set me up with someone from Morty’s office!” Bridget hated how whiny she sounded but she couldn’t stop.

 

When Bridget mentioned that her date was from Morty’s office, it made Jess howl with laughter.

 

After about a minute or so of continuous laughter, Jess was able to speak again.

 

“It’s not like mom is setting you up with Morty, at least you know his toupee won’t fall if he leans forward…” Jess knew if their mother heard her, she would be in trouble.

 

“Oh my god, I forgot about that!” Bridget remembered when they were kids and Morty came to the house with some paperwork for their mother, he leaned forward to give Stephanie the papers and Stephanie got that and a whole head of hair as well.

 

The reaction on their mother’s face was even more hilarious then the toupee falling off.

 

“I think you should go on the date anyways. It could be fun, it’s a free meal at the very least. If it goes horrible you can tell mom that she can’t ever set you up on a blind date.”

 

“You make a great point!”

 

The sisters forget about the whole date drama and just catch the other up on their day. Bridget tells Jess that their room may look like theirs but has now become their nieces’ abode when they stay with Stephanie, so their mother gave Bridget another room.

 

It was nice for Bridget to have a more adult room, but she did miss her childhood room. After her talk with Jess, she had a relaxing shower and went to sleep with a weird excitement she couldn’t explain.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stephanie had some affairs that needed to be taken care of, so she decided that a visit to Morty was in order.

 

She made the decision to put the Douglas home in Bridget’s name and transfer the brownstone in New York to Jess’s name.

 

Naturally she went to Morty for these things, he has been helping her for longer than some of her children walking the earth.

 

When she came to the office, she went straight to his office like she always did. She had been there enough where no one in the office questioned her when she came in.

 

When she went into Morty’s office she was surprised to see someone else there. Morty knows she has never been late, the whole time they have known each other.

 

“Oh Stephanie, right on time as always. I was just wrapping up…” When Morty didn’t tell her to wait outside, Stephanie surmised that whoever this was with him must work here and she thought that was interesting.

 

She looked at the young man and the wheels started churning before she could stop herself.

 

“Yes Morty, I have some minor things that I need that require your expertise. And who might you be?” Stephanie was curious about this new guy. She knew everyone on staff here, but she was really interested in this young man.

 

“I’m Jubal Valentine ma’am. Pleasure to meet such an esteemed client.” Stephanie didn’t know if he was buttering her up because she was one of Morty’s most consistent clients or if he was just that charming.

 

Either way she didn’t care, she just wanted to find more about him.

 

“Jubal is very rare name in these times… hmm Victory is healthy… strong.” Stephanie said this outloud even though she was thinking to herself.

 

“Yes ma’am, many people get the meaning of my name wrong…” Jubal was oddly fascinated by the woman who correctly described his name meaning.

 

“Hmm, must be with the association of love because of St. Valentine…”

 

“When you are right ma’am, you are right.” He said this with a smile and Stephanie thinks to herself if she were a young lady again, she must have blushed because the young man was quite handsome.

 

“That she is son and don’t you forget it…”

 

“Morty always the charmer…”

 

“You’ve always been great for my billables.” Stephanie rolled her eyes at her friend’s frankness.

 

It made the young man laugh to see the back and forth with this client and his boss. So many times they have such a serious air with clients because of propriety but seeing his boss and this client be cheeky is probably the highlight of his day.

 

“And I’m going to keep them coming. It was nice to meet you Jubal.”

 

Jubal felt the gentle dismissal. He knew this woman was old-school in how she handled things. Very refined in her delivery but she made her intentions clear even if it wasn’t with words. He bid them adieu and it was just her and Morty.

 

Stephanie had explained to Morty that she needed some estate work so she could get her daughters’ on some deeds.

 

It was routine for Morty because he had been handling Stephanie’s affairs for decades. This was a pretty simple job for him.

 

She also had some new jobs that had been commissioned for S.A. Douglas. Pam had offered to do this, but Stephanie told her that she would handle it. This was a situation of two birds, one stone for Stephanie.

 

Stephanie made sure to take an actual hour because she was paying for the hour whether she used all of it or not.

 

When she finished with Morty, she got up and was getting ready to leave but an idea just popped into her head.

 

It was the most wonderful of sorts. The went down the hallway and saw the litany of offices. She kept going down the doors until she found the one that she wanted.

 

She saw the name Jubal Valentine on the door and Stephanie hoped that he was actually in there. When she knocked on the door, she couldn’t hear anything. The door stayed closed for a long pause she thought that the young man might have left or wasn’t in his office.

 

He could very well be in another colleague’s office, but she wasn’t going to knock on every door until she found him. She’d look like a madwoman and she had more decorum than that.

 

She started to walk, admonishing herself for missing the opportunity. When she took two steps the door opened, she turned and was quite happy at the sight.

 

She wore her smile unreservedly.

 

“Was there something I could help you with Ms. Douglas…”

 

“Yes, there is actually, may I step into your office?”

 

“Of course, Ms. Douglas…” Jubal said as he thought to himself of course he was going to let his boss’s best client into his office.

 

When they get inside, he closes the door, somehow feeling that she was going to want privacy.

 

“So I know you must be wondering why I am here?”

 

“It has crossed my mind…” He decided to be as vague as she was being.

 

“You may think this might be preposterous and you do not have to feel pressured to say yes…”

 

“I would probably be inclined to saying yes ma’am as long as it’s not murder or money laundering, I’m sure I can.”

 

“Oh sweetheart like I’d ever use a lawyer that potentially moonlights as a hit man. I wanted to see if you were married?”

 

Jubal’s eyebrows raised because he did not see this going in that direction.

 

“You can adjust your face, I’ve never been a woman that ever needed to ask a man for a date… I doubt I ever would.” When Stephanie was a woman in her youth that had plenty of gentleman callers begging her father for a date. Even now she had men claiming their undying love for her. She laughed and thought them to be frivolous. “…I would like to set you up with my daughter. She’s a fantastic woman, highly ambitious and a doctor…”

 

 “You have a daughter?”

 

“I have four, but it doesn’t mean you get to have a harem young man. I think you would have a splendid time with my daughter Bridget. How old are you?”

 

“I’m 31 ma’am…” Jubal wanted to hit himself with how freely that flowed from his mouth. He should have been telling her that it would be inappropriate for him to go on a date with her daughter.

 

Then again, he thought of what Morty might say and her daughter wasn’t a client per se. He also knew he had to tread lightly because she was the firm’s best client and she brought them a lot of business.

He couldn’t deny he was interested in the possibility of a date with her daughter. He had never gone on a date with a doctor before. He knows that parents always over-emphasize about their children but since he met Stephanie Douglas, he could tell that she wasn’t a woman who believed in empty, pretty words.

 

If she believed that about her daughter, then it must be true.

 

“That’s acceptable.”

 

He laughed at the fact his age was acceptable for her, he made sure it was a soft chuckle. He could tell she was a woman who appreciated subtlety within others.

 

“Glad to hear it… It would be an honor for me to accompany your daughter on a date.”

 

“You can choose the place, I’ll give you details on where to pick her up. I really do think you will get along swimmingly.”

 

Jubal already had a place in mind and told Stephanie that the attire for the date should be casual.

 

They had more small talk, Jubal was cautiously optimistic about meeting this Bridget Forrester that his boss’s client raved about.

Chapter Text

Bridget was so nervous. She needed Jess to calm her down each time they talked because it was going to be her first date in a really long time. The fact that it was a date that her mother set up with someone who worked in Morty’s office made her feel even more out of sorts.

 

She felt like her mother would pick the anti-thesis of Deacon, she snorted to herself because she thought anyone who isn’t criminal fits the bill.

 

Bridget just hoped he wasn’t someone who would follow in Morty’s footsteps. She didn’t dare tell Fox about the date because she knew he would never let her live it down. This was the kind of stuff Rick feasted on especially when she and Bunny teased him all the time.

 

She was thinking about what to wear… her mother only said that the date was going to be casual attire and Bridget balked at that.

 

In her mind casual could be anything. It was so vague that it could mean t-shirt and jeans or anything that isn’t a formal gown. She had no clue what to wear. She didn’t want to overdress for the occasion, but she also didn’t want to underdress for it either. She felt like she already had a bone to pick with this guy.

 

She really thought about it and the guy’s a lawyer he probably does vague every day. After looking through her closet three times over and asked Jess numerous times what she should wear, she settled on a dress. The only reason she had to settle on it was because Jessica threatened to hang up if Bridget kept on about picking the right outfit.  

 

Bridget was done with herself after so much back and forth. She was making herself go crazy with all the wondering. She just wore the simple dress and some sneakers. She tried to psych herself up, she could do casual.

 

She came down the stairs and she got a strong dose hubris when her family started complimenting her.

 

Bridget started to wonder if her mother specifically chose this night for the date because she would encounter the most people today. It was movie day… since the kids were out of school for the summer it was something Stephanie started so she could see the grandchildren. It was the sanest girls night in that her family could muster.

 

“Oh Bridget you look so pretty!” Darla said this as she jumped off the sofa and came to hug her.

 

Bridget smiled because Darla was probably the most positive person you could ever meet. She always had a way of cheering you up even on your most trying days.

 

“Yeah, Budge you look absolutely beautiful…” Taylor was pretty proud to see Bridget. She gave her sister-in-law a hug. She always had a soft spot for Bridget.

 

She was wrapped in a hug that kept adding because all of the ladies got up and hugged her. She thought it was silly for her to get so caught up in such a simple thing. She was glad she decided not to wear much make-up she just filled in her eyebrows and put on a little lip balm.

 

The doorbell rings and Bridget was nervous because she thought to herself this must be her date.

 

She cautiously went to the door and opened it. When she did a wave went through her stomach. She had no clue if it was her nervousness of the date or if it was something that this man could elicit.

 

She gasped a little and blinked speechless not knowing why.

 

“Hi…” He broke the silence between them, Bridget could only think he’s voice was so deep and his smile was even deeper, he had dimples.

 

When he smiled, it brought a smile out of her and she just stared at him. They gazed at each other, enthralled by the other’s smile.

 

One of her niece’s voices breaks her reverie and Bridget realized she never responded to him.

 

“Hi…” Bridget felt out of her body when she said it. The ‘hi’ she gave him was low and shy. She didn’t focus on it to long to admonish herself but because the way he smiled at her reached his eyes.

 

She kept thinking wow his hazel eyes were so beautiful.

 

“Are we going to be introduced?!” Aly was loud and it made Bridget pull his hand so he could come in. Aly had been talking to her mother and grandmothers when she said it.  

 

“Nice to see you again Jubal…” Stephanie was pleased with herself by the way Bridget was acting.

 

Her daughter was nervous in a good way, she could tell.

 

Bridget said his name in her mind, she never heard it before, but she liked the way it sounded.

 

“Nice to see you again as well ma’am.” Jubal knew he should always be polite as he was raised but it was paramount with a woman like Stephanie Douglas.

 

“Well?!” Aly got impatient and it earned a few looks from people in the room.

 

“Oh yes, these are my nieces’ Steffy, Fifi, and Aly. Their mothers and my sisters-in-law Taylor and Darla. You already know my mom, there’s my Aunt Pamela and Aunt Sally.”

 

Jubal could say this has been the only first date where he has encountered eight members of a date’s family.

 

“Nice to meet you all.” His statement was simple, but it made Steffy and Phoebe giggle to each other and whisper things in the other’s ear. Bridget wondered what it could be…

 

“Young man when will you have our Bridget home?” Sally was only teasing. If Bridget wanted to stay out all night she would not object.

 

“You live here all the time with your mom?” Jubal asked curiously. He knew this was Stephanie’s address because Morty called it the Douglas house.

 

A wave of shame rolled through Bridget because people their age here didn’t typically live at home. When he rubbed his thumb on her hand, she realized they were still holding hands and he was comforting her probably without much thought.

 

“No, I live with my daughter… She is a homeowner.” Stephanie added trying to help Bridget. Of course Stephanie would think that would be something to highlight about her.

 

“And what am I chopped liver! I live here too.” Sally butted in…

 

“I used to live here!” Pam didn’t want to feel left out but it sounded so ridiculous to everyone in the room. All these people were fighting on who lives with Bridget.

 

It only made Bridget more mortified, her mother was trying to talk her up with her aunts as backup...

 

“I dig it, I’d live at home with my mom but she’s still in New Orleans. She makes the best Jambalaya in the whole neighborhood.” His answer makes Bridget smile at him.

 

 “Well… we better be going…” Bridget wanted to get out of there, she used their joined hands to pull him away before anymore embarrassment could happen.

 

She could hear the snickers as she walked and normally she would give them a piece of her mind but she wanted to be out of there.

 

He lead her to his car and he opened the door for her. It was nice for him to be chivalrous even though she could do it herself. Then she thought he was probably taught to do those things since he was a kid.

 

They had some small talk in the car about their jobs. Bridget smiled to herself being happy that she was wrong that he didn’t look like a Morty waiting to happen.

 

“Does anyone call you Jubie or Jujube like candies?!” Bridget asks excitedly. He made her feel so at ease with their conversation that she asked him frivolous things like this. Before she could chide herself, he answered.

 

“No, they don’t but you can if you like… I don’t mind it…” He doesn’t look her way as he drives but she blushes at his answer.

 

He parked the car and got out while going to her side of the car to open the door. She normally wouldn’t call anyone outside of their name they had unless they had a nickname but the way he said that he didn’t mind did funny things to her.

 

When he opened her door and helped her out, she wanted to try it and see if it was really okay.

 

“Thank you, Jubie.” She looked up at his face and she had to because he was tall. She reckoned he was about half a foot taller than her.

 

When she saw the blush appear on his cheeks, she was satisfied that it was okay to actually call him this.

 

“You’re welcome cher… You ever been to a Louisiana Creole restaurant?”

 

The statement was so ordinary… even a throwaway but the word cher made her blush.

 

He slightly lead her by putting his arm around her midsection, his hand rested at the lower part of her ribcage. It was such an intimate but innocent place to touch her. It unnerved her how much feeling he could wring out of her. They just met and she was feeling a type of way.

 

His hand placement made it so easy for her pivot her body. She curled in just a little and her shoulder was on his chest, the urge to hug him was strong.

 

“No I haven’t…” It was the truth.

 

“Great, I’m sure you’re going to love it!” His excitement was palpable.

 

It made her look forward to trying this food out. Without a thought his arm brought her closer and she was hugged into his body. She extended her arm around his waist and they walked into the restaurant together with stupid smiles on their faces that the other couldn’t see.

 

It seemed that Jubal was known to just about everyone in the restaurant. His accent came out in full force. It was almost like he turned into another person. If it was possible Bridget heard his voice get deeper. He talked so fast that she couldn’t decipher anything he was saying.

 

When he finished talking to someone, she had no clue of their name because he spoke so fast… it was a flyby conversation, so she didn’t get upset when he didn’t introduce her.

 

He just kept walking with her and they arrived at a table. She thought he must be really familiar here to not have to wait for a host or hostess to seat them.

 

“I’ll be right back, I’ll rustle you up a menu…” He got up before Bridget could get a word to him edgewise.

 

She wasn’t alone long because he came as quick as he went. He had a smile on his face as he gave her a menu which made her blush.

 

“Why didn’t you get a menu for yourself?”

 

“I know everything on the menu besides, I already knew what I was getting before we even came.”

 

“Oh…” This was all Bridget could say as she looked at the menu.

 

She took some cautious glances at him between reading some of the items and he kept doing things that threw her off. First time he winked at her, the second time he made his eyes go cross.

 

She found herself giggling not even knowing why really…

 

“You’re so silly you know that right?”

 

“Just about anyone whose ever met me would kindly disagree…” Jubal said. He was a serious guy ever since he was a kid he was branded with that title.

 

“Well maybe you just don’t show them what you’re showing me?”

 

“Do you like me being silly?”

 

The question put some heat on her cheeks. She could start to see how he could be branded as a serious person. She wanted to hide herself with the menu but she could hear Felicia tsking in her head, so she decided not too.

 

“I wouldn’t be opposed…”

 

He said nothing to her answer, all he did was smile, she saw it was a real one because dimples were present.

 

Their server came to take their orders and she had no clue what to order, it was hard for her to pay attention to anything but him.

 

“What are you getting?”

 

“I’m getting an all-in seafood boil with Mardi Gras style…”

 

She had no clue what that meant but he has definitely eaten here more than once so he knew what had to be good.

 

“I’ll have that too then.” Bridget thought that was the safe choice.

 

“Ms. Mo could you dial it back and make hers mild.”

 

“Make mine medium please…”

 

“All right I’ll put those orders in baby, I’ll be right back with your drinks.”

 

Bridget really didn’t like it that he altered what she was going to eat. Since her relationship with Deacon she had been more guarded about things.

 

“Boil spiciness should be something you build yourself up to. I don’t want you thinking I’m a guy that tells woman what to eat…”

 

She was still a little peeved that he did it in the first place without asking her.

 

“You could have asked me…” Bridget didn’t feel like being quiet and just accepting it. She did that enough times in her life. It might seem small, but she didn’t care.

 

“I should have and I apologize for that. I won’t do it again.” Jubal was a little upset with himself for getting ahead of himself and doing it.  He was having such a good time and then he felt like he blew it.

 

He tried to spark up some conversation, but Bridget would give short answers or just hmm to things. It made the air awkward and he felt the date getting worse by the minute.

 

Bridget felt awkward herself, he wasn’t being the silly guy he was minutes ago. The conversation became stilted. They were rescued by the food, which she was thankful for.

 

It was like a like a stew. She saw all kinds of shellfish, potatoes, corn and sausage. It was very colorful, she didn’t know where to start, she opened the napkin that had the utensils when she saw Jubal about to dig in with his bare hands.

 

“It can get a little messy, it’s helpful to put the napkin on your lap…” He was watching what he said because he didn’t want to seem like he was dictating.

 

When Bridget saw that his napkin was in his lap, she didn’t fight him on it.

 

She picked up a piece of sausage with her fingers and ate it. The spice hit the back of her throat and it was so hot for her, it made her cough. She was not expecting for it to be so hot and spicy because she got a medium.

Jubal saw that she was having some trouble, so he got up from his seat and went to her with a clean napkin. He dabbed under her eyes and her nose.

 

“Baby, drink some water…” His voice was low and soft… accent flowing freely.

 

She knew he was there, but her eyes were so watery that all she saw was blur. She listened to him as she felt him place the water in her hands. She drank it greedily hoping that her tongue and throat would feel better.   

 

 

Ms. Mo comes around and shakes her head as she sees what’s going on…

 

“Where y’at baby?” Bridget heard their server, but she really couldn’t decipher the simple statement.

 

“We okay shug. Just ate a little fast for the first time. Can I get a cold drank in a boo-coo cup please?” He gave Bridget his cup of water because she drained hers and he wanted some soda after this.

 

“Y’heard…”

 

Bridget just looked at him and realized she was ignorant to his cuisine and it only led her to having a tear-induced embarrassment on her blind date.

 

“The owner is a Creole woman with a heavy hand for spice and heat…” Jubal explained with a slight smile.

 

“I feel stupid now, I ignored you and went for the spicier option… I was ignorant towards your knowledge and cuisine…” Bridget was just glad she didn’t wear any makeup outside of shading her eyebrows.

 

“I could have taken the time to explain it to you so you could make an informed decision for yourself…”

 

Bridget wasn’t looking for him to give her an answer like that but when he did, she felt a kind of elation. She pulled him by his dress collar and kissed him.

 

She never been so bold in her life, but she didn’t regret it. Even getting him by surprise, he was a good kisser.

 

Even though Jubal was in an awkward position to be kissing, he didn’t want it to stop. He didn’t envision any kisses happening tonight but he was happy to be wrong.

 

“Ahem! You good cher?” Ms. Mo put the glass of soda Jubal asked for on his side of the table and a whole new platter of a seafood boil and took the old one.

 

They broke apart from their kiss and Jubal had the decency to look affronted in front of Ms. Mo. Her scrutinizing gaze led him back to his seat which made Bridget laugh.

 

“I feel much better now thank you Ms. Mo.” Bridget remembered the woman’s name, so she tried to mention it as a way of being polite.

 

“Glad to hear it shug. Jubal know what he talkin’ bout with the food here. He’s sometime get a little ahead of himself and forget he not in New Orleans no more but he’s a good boy. He ain’t ever brought no date here before so you must be something.” Ms. Mo loved her some Jubal and she thought he might need a little rescuing.

 

Bridget wondered what Ms. Mo meant when she said they weren’t in New Orleans anymore, but she just nodded in agreement. As Ms. Mo was leaving, she ruffled Jubal’s hair which gave Bridget a little pause.

 

“Seems that Ms. Mo is sweet on you.” Bridget was only teasing but she felt all of her apprehension fade away when she saw the two of them interact.

 

“I should hope so… she’s the reason I’m in LA.”

 

Bridget’s eyebrows raised when he said that, he realized how open-ended that was after the fact.

“Oh wow…”

 

“Not like that I mean! She’s my aunt but biologically she’s my cousin. That’s my mom’s sister… I have a confession to make…” Bridget’s mind was already processing the information he was telling her. She came to the conclusion that he was adopted by family members and her heart softened even more for him. They had a kinship even if he didn’t know that she was adopted.

 

“What is it?” Bridget thought it couldn’t be that bad.

 

“This is my aunt’s restaurant, well my mom’s other sister but she’s not here right now. I brought you here for our date because I was nervous about a blind date. I wanted to go somewhere that would make me comfortable, I’ve never done a blind date and I was terrified. I thought if I was around people, I was familiar with that it would calm me. I guess I was a little too calm.”

 

“I was really nervous too but I’m not so nervous anymore…” Bridget reached over for his hand feeling that they were on the same wavelength. When she did it made him smile and she liked the feeling of being the person to put on his face.

 

“Me too. My auntie brought you a mild plate of the seafood boil you want to try it now. It’s still going to taste good, but you can taste the punch of flavor without it punching you…”

 

Bridget took a cautious bite of the shrimp and she felt an explosion of flavor in her mouth. All she did was nodded with him as she took a piece of corn and bite into it.

 

He picked a piece of crawfish and showed her how to get the meat from it and she had fun eating it. Everything tasted so good, but she could see why you put a napkin on the lap. As they ate their meal, they took the time to learn about each other.

 

Monique came by a few times to see if they needed anything, but they were fine.

 

It was a big plate, neither finished their food and asked for to-go boxes. As Monique finished boxing their items up, they went to the bathroom and washed their hands. She came back to the table and spoke to Jubal in another language. Bridget knew it wasn’t English but it wasn’t French. It was a hybrid of sorts, she knew French because she went to an immersion school all her life up until college. She was fascinated by them speaking.

 

“I hope to see you again baby.” Monique said this quickly to Bridget and left as another table called for her.

 

Jubal told her that he would see her soon and the two of them got up and left the restaurant.

 

“So since you took me to your place, I think it’s only fair to take you to one of my favorite places for dessert…”

 

“Is that so?”

 

She only nodded and wrapped her arm around his waist as they started to walk to the car. Bridget gave him the address to the place she wanted to go to.

 

When they got there, he saw it was an ice cream parlor and he just looked at her and smiled. He could go for some ice cream. Too bad the parking in LA was just as bad as the traffic. He only found a parking spot close to the beach.

 

When they got inside, Bridget didn’t even get two steps in before she was greeted.

 

“If it isn’t Koko Douglas, what a sight!” Bridget blushed as Ms. Carole practically shouted. The older woman came from behind the register to hug Bridget.

 

It was nice to see someone who has known her for so long especially because Ms. Carole had always been kind to her since her mother started taking them there.

 

“Hi Ms. Carole…” Bridget started to ask her how she and her family were doing which delighted the ice cream shop owner.

 

“And who’s this… haven’t even been a week back in town and you found a boyfriend. Then again the whole lot of you Douglas girls just so pretty from the top down. Count yourself lucky mister.” Ms. Carole was not so subtly telling Jubal that Bridget was a catch. “This is the only person in the history of my shop that has two flavors named after her… two!”

 

“Oh is that so… I’d love to see…”

 

Neither let go of the other and just walked closer to the ice cream counter. Bridget was slightly curled in and could smell the crisp scent of his cologne. She didn’t know what it was, but she wanted to keep on smelling it.

 

“So we have a budge of fudge and a bridge of cookies and cream…”

 

Jubal looked at what was in it as Ms. Carole spoke and he decided a scoop of each.

 

“Koko, you want your mama’s flavor?”

 

All Bridget did was nod and Jubal looked wondering what was Ms. Douglas’s flavor and he saw Ms. Carole get a scoop of Chicago Blonde and he thought how appropriate.

 

They got their ice creams and said goodbye to Ms. Carole. They walked blocks and blocks until they ended up close to the beach again. They had long finished their ice cream cones when they heard a crack of thunder. It proceeded to rain hard and they ran until they found an awning at a business that had closed for the night. They stayed there both soaking wet just laughing at the absurdity of this surprise rain.

 

They laughed so hard that they both didn’t notice their faces inching closer to one another’s and kissed.

 

A kiss that swept Bridget off her feet because he picked her up off the ground. It still rained but it wasn’t beating down on them anymore and they decided to go back to the car.

 

He got back into the driver’s side, but Bridget was in the backseat.

 

He looked at her through the rearview wondering why she went to the backseat instead of the front.

 

“Join me.” It was all she said.

 

He got out of the front seat and locked the doors but made sure to manually open the back door and went to the back and got in. He figured she wanted to talk or possibly make out but when she climbed up on top of him, he was surprised.

 

Bridget kissed him again and could taste the ice creams named after her on his tongue, it made her feel alive. The last thing she expected was to feel electric kissing him. He worked with Morty, but she was surprised in a good way how the date was going even though she had times where she wanted to cower in embarrassment.

 

His hands reach cautiously to her back and hold her, she shudders because she couldn’t remember the last time she had intimacy like this.

 

She worked quite a bit, didn’t really let herself have time for free time. When she wasn’t working, she was researching. Bridget didn’t know what she was doing but she didn’t want to stop. She unbuttoned her dress carefully because she would never rip them. She had to return home at some point and possibly having her mother see that embarrassed her.

 

Jubal was shocked at her opening her dress. It left him speechless, his mouth opened wider when she started to unbutton his shirt. Bridget used his surprise push his head into her breast, he got a hint. She undid the straps that were plaguing the both of them. When her bra fell, she shivered a little as the air hit her bare breast.

 

She shivered again when her let out a breath hot against her chest. He pressed mouth towards one as he moved his other hand, to the space between her legs.

 

He found she was wearing a thong and just slide it to the side searched for her clit. When he found it, it was like the jackpot... It made Bridget whine in his ear. His finger rubbing her most sensitive place made her tremble.

 

“Jubie… oh God…” It had been so long for Bridget, since someone other than herself strummed with her clit. His fingers were rougher than hers… she liked that.

 

One finger slipped into her and she kissed his forehead in thanks as she grabbed a handful of his hair to hold onto something.

 

“You’re so beautiful… it’s not even right.” He thought she was pretty as soon as she opened her front door, but she was even more so like this. He whispered this into her ear and it made her cling to him.

 

She just gasped at him, looking at him like he was confused, it was then he added another finger that made her eyes roll.

 

All Bridget could think was that he had talented fingers. They knew how to make her see stars.

 

“That feel good baby…” It wasn’t really a question to him. He knew exactly what he was doing.

 

He had her unfocused and holding him tight like he was the key to her lock.

 

“Yes, don’t you dare stop.” Her scold only came out as a whisper. It was all she could muster in this haze.

 

He thought to himself, he’d never stop like it was his job.  He could feel her building up to something by the grip her hands had on him. Her nails were digging into him hard and he thought to himself that it fucking hurt but he wasn’t going to let it stop.

 

He curled his fingers and massaged her g-spot as he played with her clit and that’s all it took to make her a moaning mess. Her head was pressed into his neck and the mixture of the rain and sweat made her stick to him.

 

After some time passed, she reached for her bag. His hands were tracing patterns all across her back. He liked making her skin react. He liked it even more when she shivered or moaned from his actions. He kissed her cheek as she fished out what she was looking for.

 

She tore the condom with her teeth and his eyes got large in a comical fashion. She laughed at him. She could feel his excitement underneath her even if he said nothing as he made her cum.

 

She unzipped him and gave him a few pumps, she wanted to feel him in her hand.

 

“Christ!” He felt like her hand had the heat of the sun when she touched him. He looked straight up to the roof of the car.

 

“I prefer Bridget…”

 

It thrilled Bridget seeing how he reacted to her. She bit the column of his neck as rolled the condom onto his dick.

 

She took him into her slowly. It had been a while since Bridget had sex and her long moan turned them both on.

 

He made a fist and bit into it to stifle a grunt.

 

“You can bite me Jubie, I don’t mind.”

 

He felt like he might cum right there when she said that. He didn’t understand how someone could look so pretty after being rained on.

 

“Damn, you feel good…” As soon as he said it, Bridget tightened on him and laughed at his facial expressions.

 

She started to get a rhythm she liked and went up and down. She got carried away and hit her head on the roof of his car.

 

“Ow!”

 

“Damn, are you okay?” He was concerned. He moved one hand from her back and brought it to the spot banged against the roof of the car.

 

“Yeah, my ego though…”

 

“You’re reducing me to a mess so you’re ego should feel great, but how’s your head?” He rubbed at her forehead gently with his thumb.

 

She looked at him quizzically. He was sweet but funny in the same breath.

 

“How are you real?”

 

“I’ve been asking myself that since you opened the door…”

 

He thought out loud, he didn’t realize that he actually said it until she gasped.

 

The only response he got was her diving to kiss him.

 

Bridget felt like a succubus, she wanted to devour him alive. She just moved her hips and touched her clit. All the friction and excitement made him cum into the condom and he moaned deep into her mouth. She played with her clit faster because she knew he would start to go limp soon.

 

She shuddered as she climaxed again. She just sank into him. Breathing him in, the dueling smell of sex mixing with his cologne was like an aphrodisiac.

 

She was discovering he was a very affectionate man, he kissed her shoulder while she was still in her orgasmic haze. She felt like every touch was magnified and she doesn’t think she had sex this satisfying in a long time, if ever.

 

She picked her head up but two orgasms made her feel like a lightweight everything was heavy.

 

He gave her a kiss on the lips, that was quick, but it made her smile even though that felt like a chore now.

 

“Take me home please, I’m going to fall asleep after a fucking like that.”

 

He was astonished how sweet she could sound after being so bold to initiate sex between them. Jubal put her bra back on and buttoned up her dress when she made no motion to fix it.

 

He fixed himself up and got out the backseat. He went to the other side and opened the passenger side door and left it open while he carried Bridget from the backseat to the front seat and put on her seatbelt.

 

He only got a smile that had a hint of mischief which he liked terribly.

 

He drove her home with a dumb smile the whole time. As they approached her home, Bridget started to look over herself and for once she was thankful to get rained on, it didn’t show that she was just freshly fucked.

 

She went into her purse again and ripped a piece of paper and scribbled her number on it. When they reached, he made sure to get her car door again and walk her up to her front door.

 

The ladies in the house had been waiting hours for them to come back and when they saw the car lights, they were excited to see how the date went. They stayed in the living room, so they didn’t see them kiss good night or the looks that they gave each other.

 

Manners he learned dictated he stayed right in his place until she was securely in her home.  He drove back home thinking this was the most adventurous first date he ever had.

 

When Bridget got inside, she was surprised to see everyone was still up and possibly waiting for her to come through the door.

 

When her family looked at her appearance, they all had their own versions of a wince.

 

“So how was the date?” It was Darla who broke the silence.

 

“It was actually pretty good under the circumstances, safe to say it’s the best blind date I’ve been on.”

 

“Then why do you look like a wet rat?” The mouth on Aly definitely showed that she was the granddaughter of Stephanie and Sally. Several eyes went big at Aly’s frankness.

 

It made Bridget self-conscious for a second and put her hand to her hair. Jubal said she was pretty and yet her niece says she looks like a rodent.

 

“Alexandria, this is no time to showcase your Spectra characteristics.” Stephanie was amused and slightly befuddled at her granddaughter.

 

“Oh no… no… no! Spectras are known for their refinement, class personified… this is on you Stephanie… it must be a Douglas thing.”

 

The whole room liked at Sally like she had three heads.

 

“Really?” Darla looked at her mother with a howl of laughter tumbling out of her mouth.

 

“What?! Don’t give me that… It could happen!” Sally didn’t like the collective giving her disapproving eyes.

 

“Ok… mother.” Darla rarely called her Sally by that title… only when she was being facetious.

 

“It’s okay they don’t grandma they just don’t understand us. We are classy.”

 

“Maybe with a K…” Pam just sipped her wine as she said it and Stephanie was impressed. “… you should have left well enough alone Sally. When you went for the Douglas name you should have known.”

 

“As much as I would love to see you all verbally spar with each other, I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”

 

Bridget hightailed it out of there because if there’s one person that would crack her like a peanut, it would be Taylor. The scrutinizing stare of the psychiatrist would be enough to shake her of all the information that happened that night.

 

She realized it would be too late to call Bunny and tell her about the date, so she sent her sister a text telling her that she would give her a recap about it tomorrow. Bridget took a quick shower and went to bed gleeful she got laid.

 

She laughed to herself thinking she was glad that when she pulled Jubal’s hair it didn’t fall like Morty’s did all those years ago.

Chapter Text

Bridget had started her new job and she was excited. Being at Cedars was great. She felt like she met great people that she could learn from and Taylor comes regularly because she sometimes treats mental health episodes. The chair of the department was her old boss and trusted her sister-in-law’s opinion.

 

Being at work allowed her to focus on her career. She was a little disappointed that it had been a couple of days and Jubal had not called her. She endured Jess’s endless jokes about her fucking him on the first date.

 

When her sister told her if she knew Bridget was itching that bad, she would have just bought her some batteries. Bridget nearly hung up the phone.

 

Every time she came home, it had become a habit for Stephanie to fish for information regarding her and Jubal but there was nothing to report. He hadn’t called her. Once it got to the fourth day, Bridget had given up any kind of hope that he was going to call her.

 

She felt a little stupid falling for his act. He called her beautiful when her VERY honest niece said she resembled a wet rodent.

 

Bridget thought the sex was toe-curling even though she felt foolish about it now. She couldn’t believe she fucked a dude in a pair of k-Swiss tennis shoes. It was easy to chastise herself now because it was after the fact.

 

When she came home one night from work, she was eating dinner with her mother and she made a mention of Jubal.

 

Stephanie mentioned going by to see Morty about some things that he was helping her with, and Jubal had smiled ear to ear when she said Bridget’s name.

 

Bridget thought to herself it was probably a smirk because she was just a notch on his belt. She just nodded and listened to her mother go on about Jubal, biting her tongue.

 

Even though she was upset with him, she knew if she told her mother that it didn’t work out between her and Jubal that it could incur wrath on his part. Her mother was protective of her and she didn’t want it to interfere with anyone’s career.

 

Some morning talk show was on at work… she couldn’t tell if it was the Early Show, Good Morning America or the Today Show… they were all the same thing to her really.

 

“Man I’m glad we live on this coast, they are getting battered over there.” Someone made a comment about a tropical storm that formed the Atlantic.

 

Bridget looked up and she thought it was a rather active hurricane season. The weatherman said that the storm was fast moving, it would probably fizzle out as it went through the west coast of Florida when it got to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Bridget hoped so because it felt like every time ,she opened the tv to see anything there was some new storm. This Katrina had already made landfall a couple of deaths had been reported in South Florida. She hoped that the worse was over with this.

 

She ate her lunch and did her rounds and observed doctors for the rest of her shift.

 

Bridget ended up getting a little bored after doing the same thing for days on end. She was the type of person to get into a routine and not notice anything else. All she did was go to work and then go home. Even her mother said that she should go do something which she didn’t disagree too. She had only gone to work or done research for work and it had been nearly ten days.

 

She drove around and she doesn’t know how but she ended up at the restaurant she had her seafood boil. She thought about her date and she thought it went great, but it was clear it didn’t. She didn’t let it that stop her from going there, she liked the food there…

 

When she got into the restaurant, it was a very different atmosphere than the one she had on her date. Everyone in the room was somber which made no sense. There was no lively music that played, it felt like she was in the wrong place.

 

She could hear every sound in the restaurant.

 

“Baby looks like your shug came…” She heard Ms. Mo say that as she rubbed the back of a man who had his face down.

 

Ms. Mo gave her a small wave and hello as the man shot up and as soon as he pivoted his body she knew exactly who it was.

 

She got so angry again. He started to come over to her and she had her hand up ready to slap him. When he got closer, she could see his eyes were red and he was so sad. As much as she was angry, she didn’t like the look of a sad Jubal Valentine.

 

“You came baby…” His voice was hoarse. It was clearer to Bridget that he had been crying. She let go of the urge to slap him.

 

He scooped her into a hug, his heart was hurting but it felt a little bit better when he saw her. He knew she was a busy lady being a doctor, so he just left her messages on her voicemail.

 

He thought he was coming on too strong with trying to call her every day since their date. He knew it was probably a lot, but he couldn’t stop. He was getting so worried with things back home it was nice to be able to have someone to talk to about it even if he only left messages to her voicemail.

 

Even though it was apparent where he came from that people call each other by pet names all the time. When she came here with him. Everybody was baby, shug or cher. It still made her feel a little weird for him to be affectionate when he left her high and dry. Maybe he was a Casanova she thought.

 

He led her by the hand and took them to the bar to sit down. She saw Ms. Mo and another woman. She had Jubal’s eyes but a similar tone to Ms. Mo. She thought this might be his other aunt.

 

“Would you like something to drink?” He asked her.

 

It was the first time he spoke to her in almost a week and she didn’t know why she was pushing his anger or why he was being so polite.

 

“Umm yeah… I’ll have whatever you are having.”

 

He just nodded to her answer and rubbed her hand. Even though it was comforting to her, it seemed like he was the one in need of comfort.

 

“Ms. Jeannie, can we get two cold dranks, can you make them boo-coos?”

 

“You got it baby, we gonna find ya mama y’heard…” Bridget could hear the conviction in the woman’s voice. Ms. Mo hummed in agreement.

 

They both started to walk away because they had customers to attend too.

 

“Yes ma’am…” He just looked down at the bar counter and tried to take a breath.

 

Bridget gasped when Ms. Jeannie said that they would find his mother. It was when Bridget looked up and saw the devastation on the tv. The same storm that had hit Florida days ago just massacred New Orleans and the levees malfunctioned making it worse. No wonder he hadn’t called her, his hometown was a humanitarian crisis in real time.

 

“Jubie…”

 

“They ain’t got no goddamn phone reception because of everything. My mama told us she was evacuating but since the storm hit, we can’t see if she’s okay... If our house is okay… if my grandfather’s house is okay. So many people are missing…”  

 

“I’m so sorry Jubie, it’s horrible but listen to your family. You’re going to find her.” Bridget’s words felt empty to her ears because there was a real chance that might not happen.

 

He didn’t say anything, he just reached over and kissed her. She felt like a lifeline in that moment for him. She on the other hand felt the same sparks as the night they met.

 

“I have to believe that, but I am scared, I am even more frightened at the prospect of my mother being scared and alone and the fucking city underwater.” He thought he wasn’t going to cry again but it was proving to be difficult.

 

“Is there anything I can do?”

 

“You’re here that’s all that matters. Thank you for coming.”

 

“If I’m being honest, I didn’t know you were going to be here…” Bridget figured she should get that out of the way.

 

“If you didn’t know I was going to be here, how did you end up here?” Jubal was getting sadder thinking she probably didn’t listen to his message.

 

“I was hungry.” It sounded terrible to Bridget’s ears.

 

He let go of her hand like it burned him, she realized she didn’t want him to let go.

 

“I didn’t realize. I apologize for my forward behavior… I can get you whatever you like. Let me get you a menu.” Jubal got up, wanting to get away because he was embarrassed and more emotional than he ever is.

 

“Please don’t go Jubie. I’ve been waiting for you to call me all week. I was pretty upset but that doesn’t matter right now.” His mother was more important to Bridget than a call.

 

“It does matter because I have been calling you. You don’t return my phone calls. I just thought it was because you have been busy with the new job or you got tired of me because I called too much.”

 

Bridget was puzzled with his answer. So he opened his wallet and pulled out the paper she gave him. She looked at it and wanted to slap herself. Stephanie had told her time and time again to pick up the pen and not loop her numbers because it makes her 3 look like 8.

 

“Jubie, I think you have been leaving messages to the wrong phone number. My mom tells me all the time to not loop my numbers and I still do, I think I made you confuse 3 with 8.

 

He pulled out his phone and showed her the number he had, she was mortified.

 

“I just thought you thought I was doing too much…”

 

“I just thought you thought I was a notch on your belt.”

 

He looked affronted at what Bridget said.

 

“I don’t think that way and I could not think that of you. It was the first time I did anything like that on a first date.” He whispered the last part… Jubal wanted to let her know it wasn’t something he expected or does on the first date. He sat back down in his seat.

 

His aunt brought back their drinks and it was a monster serving to Bridget, but she drank it. She asked for the same thing she ate last time and Jubal asked for his usual but Bridget chimed in after saying it should be to go.

 

“Me neither, I have never done that before too. Do you want to go somewhere to be alone?”

 

“If I’m not here, I don’t want to be in public right now…”

 

“Okay let’s go to your place.”

 

When he raised his eyebrows, she realized how that sounded.

 

“Not to do that! You just look like you need some time to recharge and if you want to talk, I am ready to listen.” Bridget knew whatever they had was really new, but it pained a part of her to leave him like this.

 

He got up and told Ms. Mo that he was going back to his house with Bridget. He asked her if she could bring his car to his house because he really wasn’t in any condition to drive.

 

They got their food and Bridget plugged his address into her GPS system and started to drive.

 

She could tell that he was in a really distressful mood because he didn’t say a word the whole ride long. It wasn’t an awkward air, it was a sad one and Bridget thought she would be just as distraught if she couldn’t get in contact with her mother after such a catastrophic natural disaster.

 

When they got to his house, he got out of the car quickly and went to her side and opened her door, Bridget thought even now his manners didn’t deviate.

 

They held hands as he lead her to his home. When they got inside, Bridget felt how intimate it was. He had pictures of his family everywhere. It looked like he had a big family like she did. It was something she liked.

 

They put the bags of food down and Bridget wondered why he was just standing there…

 

“Can I hug you again?”

 

“Yeah… as much as you need to or as much as you want to…”

 

Hugging him felt so right and Bridget wanted to kick herself because he needed comfort right now and she was thinking about him in romantic terms.

 

“How was your day?” Jubal needed to focus on something else for the time being.

 

“My day is trivial compared to what you’re going through…”

 

“I would like to hear about your day please. I want to know and it will help focus on something else for a while.”

 

“Okay, well it’s been a quiet day for me. It’s my day off from work…” Bridget didn’t add that she really wasn’t going to do much else than go home and probably play hearts with her mother, aunt and Sally.

 

“How’s work?! It’s been a full week since you started right?” Jubal said slightly excited to hear about it. He left messages wondering how she was doing at the new job.

 

“Jubie, it’s been going well. I’m learning so much and it’s nice to be home I can’t lie… I loved living in London, but I missed home.” Bridget felt a slight feeling of guilt as she was happy to report to Jubie how her first week was going well.

 

“I’m glad you came back to Los Angeles…”

 

Bridget smiles and gives him a kiss. Her head rest on his shoulder for a minute.

 

“Let’s eat…” Bridget was trying to make sure she saw him eat because she knows when she is going through something major, she tends to not have an appetite and makes herself even more tired by not taking care of herself properly.

 

They ate in silence, but it wasn’t stilted. Bridget watched him and it was such a departure from the first time watching him eat this. He had so much gusto and laughter. He taught her how to eat crawfish but right now he ate everything in a mechanical manner.

 

The food was sustenance and just that.

 

She asked him if he wanted to watch the news for any updates, he just shook his head and told her he was tired.

 

“Maybe you should go to bed…” Bridget was trying to be helpful.

 

“Yeah, maybe I should, I haven’t slept since Katrina was in the Gulf.”

 

“Jubie, it’s been three days!” Bridget was alarmed.

 

She knew that his cognitive function had probably taken a deep dive, but his grief probably doesn’t let him sleep.

 

“I can’t sleep, I’ve tried but it’s so hard…”

 

“Come on, let’s at least try to take a nap…” Bridget got up and her tone was one that wouldn’t be toyed with.

 

He got up and followed her and Bridget had no clue which was his.

 

She just left her hand open and he took her there.

 

He sat on the bed and just took a breath and closed his eyes. She was next to him and she saw it firsthand, he was so weary, his elbows were on his knees and his hands rubbed his face trying to soothe himself.

 

“Come on, lay down.”

 

He did as she asked. She didn’t know it, but she was calming him as much as he could be calmed down right now.

 

He felt the bed move and he opened his eyes seeing that she got up.

 

“Don’t go…”

 

His plea hit her in the heart. She just took off her shoes and walked around to the other side and got on the bed.

 

He reached for her and she got closer and pulled her by the waist until they were hugging.

 

She felt like a dam broke within him. He cried loud and she could feel his pain. His body shook and it made her cry too, but she was silent.

 

“We’re going to find your mom…” She said it over and over.

 

She ran her hands through his curly hair as he cried into her neck. She didn’t know if she was telling the truth, but she knew he needed to believe that. She needed to believe that.

 

He cried for nearly half an hour in Bridget’s arms, but his crying ceased, he was able to find some relief.

 

It was the first time in three days that he could actually sleep. Bridget felt him get heavy and she shifted him, so he was on his back.

 

She picked up his hand with her own and brought it to her lips and gave it a kiss.

He was already asleep, but she felt like she needed to say it again.

 

“Jubie, we’re going to find your mom…”

 

She fell asleep in his bed, relieved that her recklessness wasn’t foolhardy but worried for him hoping that no more tragedy would befall him.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Jubal woke up, he reached over and felt the bed was empty. He felt a wave of disappoint hit him when he found that Bridget was gone. He was able to separate himself from the chaos that hit him like a freight train because of her.

 

When he got up, he could focus more. The headache he had been stuck with for days had lessened greatly. He could smell food being made and it made him hopeful.

 

He walked out of the bedroom and followed the smell to the kitchen. He saw Bridget wearing different clothes than he remembered her in.

 

He sighed and it must have tipped her off because she turned and smiled at him.

 

“Do you like to cook?”

 

It wasn’t the question he had expected her to ask but she was always doing things that he didn’t expect.

 

“Yes, I do… sometimes… why do you ask?”

 

 

“You have good cookware. It’s surprising to see someone who has good cookware and they don’t like to cook.”

 

“Oh well I guess that makes sense. I’m not using cookware at Michelin rated restaurants but good cookware can make your food taste better.” He missed this… the back-and-forth conversation about something mundane. It was amusing how interesting she could make such typically mundane things.

 

“I like it… I made us something to eat.”

 

When Bridget made a mention of them eating, his stomach growled and he was actually willing to eat.

 

“What did you make? It smells good…”

He was wondering where did she find the ingredients to make this because he hadn’t gone to the supermarket since before everything.

 

“It’s called youvetsi, it’s Greek. I love eating it.” Bridget wanted something to make something that she thought he might like.

 

“Well if you like it, I’m sure I will too.”

 

Bridget was happy to hear that he was amenable to eating something. It was almost done so she just went over to him and sat on his lap.

 

She had an arm around his neck to support her, he had an arm around her waist to make her feel more secure.

 

They just looked at each other. She used her other hand to hold his cheek. He closed his eyes feeling a moment of peace, she kissed his forehead with no particular reason why.

 

“It was great to be able to sleep for a couple of hours.” Jubal said relishing the fact that his headache disappeared.

 

“Jubie, it hasn’t been a couple of hours.” Bridget realized he probably got straight out of bed and came to her.

 

“Well, it couldn’t be that long because it’s still daylight out.”

 

“You were asleep, let’s see… for 27 hours.” Bridget looked at her watch and she saw his eyes getting wider.

 

She knew where his mind was jumping to and she pressed her hand to his chest.

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up? I need to see if there’s been an update!”

 

“There hasn’t been… I promise. I let you sleep because you needed to recover from the physical and emotional stress you are under. I made sure to answer the calls from your phone. Your aunts have no new updates. I watched the news, the infrastructure hasn’t changed so it’s the same. I promise you I’ve done everything I can to make sure I can to take care of you.” Bridget explained herself making sure to mention his aunts, so he was more inclined to believe her.

 

“So there’s no new news?”

 

She knew that it was going to make him sad again, but she couldn’t avoid this news.

 

“No, but maybe more news will start to trickle out soon.” Bridget had to be hopeful because she didn’t want Jubal to be in low spirits.

 

“I hope so. Shouldn’t you be at work though if it’s been more than a day?”

 

“Yeah, I was scheduled to work but I told my boss that we’re looking for my boyfriend’s family because of Katrina and decided it was best to take a leave of absence.” Bridget looked straight at him when she said the word boyfriend.

 

Jubal’s arm got tighter around her. He was appreciative that she was taking time off to be with him. This was new and definitely a heavy time for him, he knew she didn’t need to be here if she didn’t want to be.

 

They hugged each other tighter whatever they were doing, neither wanted to stop it.

 

“I’m a mighty lucky fella to have you as a girlfriend I reckon.” He smiled into her shoulder.

 

“Mighty lucky indeed if I must say so myself.” She gave him one more kiss before she got up.

 

She didn’t go to the grocery store and buy food only to let it burn.

 

Jubal got up himself and got them some plates from his cupboard and watched her as she finished up the cooking.

 

Once they finished getting the food on the plate, they sat down and ate together. It was another silent affair, but it was a happy one. Both felt more confident in their relationship. The miscues they had were easily resolved and they were happier for them.

 

“This is really good…” Jubal wanted to give his compliments to the cook. It was different, he had Greek food once or twice, but it wasn’t cuisine that he was overly familiar with.

 

“Yeah?” Bridget didn’t cook for much people. She and Jess would take turns when they lived together but it wasn’t like she was trying her sister. With Stephanie and Sally if anything they left food out for her because of her job.

 

“Yeah, I really like it. Thank you for staying.”

 

Bridget believed him since his plate was almost empty. It made her happy that even if he didn’t have an appetite he was still eating.

 

“There’s no place I’d rather be…” Bridget meant it.

 

When she was angry when she thought him blowing her off because she liked him so much but knowing what she knows now only made her want to explore this more. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so strongly for someone.

 

Bridget got comfortable with Jubal and decided to get some of her stuff and stay with him for a while. When she told her mother about everything, Stephanie was horrified and thought it was a great idea to be there for Jubal.

 

Stephanie was also of the mindset that her matchmaking had been successful.

 

Even though it was a tragic circumstance that led her to staying with Jubal it was a nice feeling for Bridget to learn more about him and spend time with him not worrying about work or any other obligations.

 

She also did her best to distract him with sex, one of the great benefits of her staying over was a consistency in orgasms not achieved by herself and she could make sure he was taking care of himself.

 

After a night at the restaurant trying a new dish called dirty rice, Bridget felt she never wanted to eat anything else ever again. It was like falling in love. It was nice for them to be on another date in a place where they were comfortable.

 

Jubal’s aunts started a donation drive and Bridget told everyone she knew about it hoping that they would contribute. She was moved when her father made a public announcement that Forrester Creations would be lending a hand in the relief efforts. All her siblings came together for her which she appreciated more than words could ever express.

 

She knew that it made Jubie pretty emotional to see how much family cared because she cared.

 

They were pretty exhausted when they came home, they just took a shower and went straight to bed.

 

As they slept, the phone kept going off. Bridget kept hearing a buzzing sound in her dream and she felt like she kept getting a page but there was no patient. As she dreamt, she felt herself getting frustrated at being contacted but every time she asked a nurse, no one seemed to know what she talked about.

 

All Bridget wanted to do was be attentive towards her patients but there were no patients in the hospital. She let out a small scream that woke her up. It took Bridget a couple of seconds to realize that she hadn’t been to work in some time and that it was only a dream.

 

She looked to her left and saw Jubie on his side of the bed sleeping, the sound of buzzing interrupted her again, but it was real this time. She looked at Jubal’s nightstand to see his phone was buzzing.

 

Bridget reached over and answered it immediately.

 

“Hello…”

 

“Hello, whose this?”

 

The woman on the phone had a similar accent to Ms. Mo and Bridget figured it was someone who was from Louisiana too.

 

“This is Bridget…”

 

Bridget realized she didn’t sound the smartest, but it was four o’clock in the morning she needed coffee.

 

“Oh Bridget! It’s nice to meet you, I hate to cut this short, but could you put my son on the phone.”

 

Bridget felt like she was struck by lightning when she heard the woman. She had no ounce of sleep anymore.

 

“Oh my god. Yes of course!” Bridget was excited and nervous but mostly excited. She started to shake Jubal up almost violently. “Jubie… baby wake up!”

 

Jubal’s eyes opened frazzled. He was trying to figure out what was making Bridget so nervous.

 

“You okay? What’s going on?” He became more alert thinking about their safety.

 

“Your mom is on the phone.” Bridget exclaimed as she shove the phone to his ear.

 

“Hello maman?!” Jubal was cautiously optimistic it was actually his mother.

 

He knows what Bridget said but he wouldn’t believe it until he heard her voice.

 

When Jubal started to speak to his mother in Louisiana Creole, Bridget felt a sense of relief go through her. He pulled her closer and hugged her body to him as he talked to his mother. She hugged herself to his middle, the more excited he got, the more she smiled.

 

Bridget couldn’t understand everything he said but she gathered that his mother somehow made it to the airport after sheltering at a church in the 8th ward?

 

She saw Jubal get more serious and she figured it was some kind of plan forming. He told his mother bye after a few more minutes more of talking.

 

“My mom made it to the airport, she needs me to buy a ticket for her and some of my cousins.” Jubal was happy to get his mother out of there. He had the means to help his family so he was going to do whatever he could.

 

“Yeah, do you need anything from me?”

 

“Just you, it seems that you are my rabbit’s foot.”

 

He didn’t give her anything to respond before he was calling airlines asking for flight information for flights from New Orleans to California.

 

When he called her his good luck charm it made her feel like she was smiling into his neck while he booked the flights.

 

When he finally got off the phone, she was pretty anxious to have see where his head was at...

 

“How are you feeling baby?”

 

Bridget knew that he must be feeling a whirl of emotions. His hometown was destroyed but there was some light at the end of the tunnel for him at least.

 

“It’s just so hard, so many people missing. I feel terrible for being happy because my mom told me that our family was camped out at the church, but I have friends missing. She told me about having to cover my little cousins’ eyes because of some horrifying sights. So many people trying to get in contact with their parents in nursing homes. It’s hard not to feel guilty when I know so many of people are holding onto the same hope I have and their heart will break.”

 

“Jubie, I know it’s difficult to not have conflicting feelings over this. What we can do is have hope for them and maybe when it’s safe we can help them in anyway we can…”

 

Bridget was doing her best to be a supportive and caring girlfriend but how do you navigate such a catastrophic event.

 

“If I went to New Orleans, when we are given the all-clear, would you come with me?”

 

Jubal knew it was a tall order to ask but he knew that she was a doctor and they would be needed.

 

“You’re going to leave?!” Bridget couldn’t believe what she was hearing right now. It was a massacre there and Jubal going there was just not in Bridget’s state of mind.

 

“Yeah I am. This is my family we talkin’ about here. Family ain’t just people I share blood with baby... Where I’m from people give you the shirt off their back, no questions asked. When your mama work late, they let you sit at their dinner table and feed you. When you graduate high school, the whole block cheering for you when you walk to get your diploma. Just as we celebrate when everything is joyful, we help each other in the darkest hour. This is my city’s darkest hour, I can’t turn my back on my family. These are my people.”

 

Jubal said what he felt, it made Bridget cry. She wasn’t mad, she felt everything he said. She thought about her mother taking care of her, Fox and Bunny when they none of them had blood ties to her. It wasn’t something Stephanie doubted even once. She did it because she wanted to, hearing Jubal speak reminded her that she had people who would be there for her in her darkest hour no matter what and they would be the same ones to cheer for her when things go right for her.

 

“We’re going to New Orleans… I’ll do whatever I can to help Jubie I promise.”

 

She reached up a little so she could kiss him, even though it was so early in the morning there, both of them knew there was no chance of them going back to sleep now.

 

They cuddled in bed until Jubal could call his aunts at a respectable hour to tell them the news. Bridget was trying to figure out how she was going to break the news to her mother that she would be leaving for New Orleans when they were given the okay.

 

Chapter Text

Bridget was nervous for a multitude of reasons. She was going to be meeting Jubal’s mother soon, but she also had to tell her own mother that she was going to be leaving for New Orleans when things got a little better.

 

She told Jubal that she had to drive home and tell her mother and prepare for the potential fireworks.

 

Bridget decided to call her sister for motivation and potentially buffer support just in case her mother flipped a gasket.

 

“Hey Koko, this was earlier than I expected but I dig it.”

 

“I know but I might need some help… I don’t know…”

 

Bridget was feeling unsure about how to unload the information. She was sure in her decision to leave for New Orleans but how was she going to explain to her mother and then her family that she was going to go to another state after living in another country for eight years.

 

“Well Ko, is everything okay? You are scaring me right now…” Jess said this as she sat down in her office chair. Her sister sounded all over the place. Her sister is articulate and confident, something was up.

 

“Well yes something did happen but nothing bad. Jubal’s mother was finally able to reach him. She’s actually coming to LA by the end of the day. She has a layover in Houston right now.”

 

“Oh that’s great news Koko. I’m so happy that his mother is okay. It looks just so scary there.”

 

“Yeah, I was so happy when she called us earlier but Jubal and I made a decision…”

 

“What did you guys decide?” Jessica said confused wondering what was happening.

 

“We’re going to New Orleans when they allow people to enter and I don’t know how to tell mom. I’m also going home as we speak to break the news to her. I figured it would be hardest with her than the rest of the family so… get it over with first right…” Bridget laughed nervously, Jessica knew that her sister needed moral support.

 

“Yeah, maybe mama might be sad because you just came back, but Bridget it’s on the news 24/7 this devastation is soul-crashing. I don’t see mom being mad at least not forever. You’re a doctor and I’m sure that she will come around if she does get mad.”

 

Jessica knew that their mother gets a rep for being dramatic and with good reason but she was also a woman with a big heart.

 

“You’re right even if mama is mad at first, she has to come around.”

 

Bridget was at the house now, she told Jess that she would call her back giving her the play by play of how their mother reacted to the news.

 

When Bridget got inside, she saw her mother and aunt in the living room watching some courtroom show.

 

“Oh Koko, what a lovely surprise… I wasn’t expecting to see you here today.” Pam knew that Bridget had been staying with Jubal but she thought Bridget was a sight for sore eyes.

 

“Hi Aunt Pam, it’s so great to see you too!” Bridget came to hug her aunt and then her mother.

 

She made sure to hug them tighter, with everything that happened she couldn’t help herself. She remembered Jubal’s face when he couldn’t find his own mother.

 

“Bridget, we’ve missed you honey…” Stephanie was happy to see her girl again.

 

“I missed you too mama. I came over to share some news with you. Jubal’s mother made contact with him earlier today.” Every time Bridget said it, she got emotional.

 

It was a surreal thing to experience for Bridget. The kind of crisis her family went through were usually induced by another human, this was a force no one could stop and the relief she felt for her boyfriend made her want to scream in relief.

 

Stephanie eyes went big with relief as Pam clapped her hands in excitement.

 

“That’s downright miraculous Bridget! Is she okay?!”

 

“Yeah, she and Jubal’s family took refuge at a church near his grandfather’s home and it was unscathed.”

 

“Oh sweetheart that’s so heartwarming to hear. I’m so glad that young man was able to reach his mother.”

 

“Yeah me too mama. My news doesn’t end there… he got his family on flights to come here. They’ll be here later tonight I suppose. They have a layover in Houston.”

 

“Oh that’s even better news. It’s great to hear that they are accounted for and safe.” Stephanie’s relief was felt by all the women in the room.

 

“Yeah, I’m so happy for their safety but Jubal is going to leave for New Orleans when they give the all clear.” Bridget explained as she tried to ease into the bomb she is going to drop on them.

 

“Oh that young man. This must be hard on you too because you just started this relationship.” Stephanie was worried because this relationship was so new, she didn’t know if distance could handle it. The situation in New Orleans looked like it would take years to sort through.

 

“Yeah I know, but I’m leaving with Jubal when it’s deemed okay.”

 

“What?!” It was Pam who shrieked. She couldn’t understand what would prompt her niece to just do this when she just came home.

 

 Stephanie just looked at Bridget and there was something in Stephanie’s eyes that Bridget couldn’t read.

 

“There’s going to be a need for doctors… it’s a humanitarian crisis and it’s Jubal’s home. He’s lucky but people he grew up with… that whole city is going to need help.” Bridget was looking at her aunt, but she was really speaking to her mother.

 

“I think it’s the right thing to do.” Stephanie said it as naturally as she could breath.

 

It startled Bridget that she didn’t have to put up much of a fight, nothing at all if she was honest with herself.

 

“Mom you are all right with this?” Bridget wanted honesty even brutal if need be.

 

“Yes, Bridget you are such a compassionate soul. Your life’s work is to help people and I can’t… no I won’t stop you. Every time I turn on the television, I get a reminder of the horror that plagues hundreds of thousands of people. People on their roofs begging people in helicopters for help. They need more than hope… they need real tangible help. Help that you can offer… Will I miss you… every minute of everyday but I can’t be selfish and try to hold onto my daughter because I love her when she could be providing necessary help to a place that so badly needs it. I’ve lived a long time and I don’t think I have ever seen such destruction and desperation in this magnitude in my whole life.” Stephanie still gasped when she looked at pictures on the news.

 

It was grim and saddening for her to see but she could only imagine how magnified it is for people living through it.

 

Bridget just cries at her mom for understanding, her aunt nods too understanding why she needs to do this.

 

She tells them that’s its not like she was leaving tomorrow. She would only go when the government gives them the ok.

 

They still had some time together, so it wasn’t like she was saying bye at that very instant. She hung out with her mother and aunt for several hours and then got some more clothes and decided to go to a place that she hadn’t been in years.

 

With Jubal’s family coming to stay in California, he knew that there was going to be little room at his home. His aunts was talking half of the family and the other half was going to be staying at his home.

 

Bridget volunteered that her and Jubal could be at the beach house so his mom could stay in his room. The look she got from Jubal was all the thanks she needed.

 

She went to the beach house and it was different than she left it which she was happy for. Her mother told her that she had made renovations to it. Updated it so it could be more modern with newer televisions and some new furniture and appliances. Bridget loved how it look because nothing of it reminded her of her time with Deacon. It felt like when Stephanie renovated, it erased Deacon from her life.

 

She knew that he wouldn’t ever be completely erased because Brooke had a reminder of their betrayal, but this house wasn’t tainted with him and she was glad.

 

She had given Jubal the address of the beach house when she left him to go break the news to her mother. She knew he was here somewhere because she saw his car.

 

She sees him come from the bedroom and it made her giddy to see him. Her making all these plans with him made her feel even more invested in this relationship with him.

 

“I thought I heard your car pulling in. Thank you for being so adaptable…” He was appreciative of how understanding she was being about all of this.

 

“You’re welcome but there is a small part of me that’s selfish Jubie. Now that I know what you can offer me, I don’t think I want to let you out of my sights.” Bridget said confidently as she walked over to him.

 

She put her arms around his neck, it made him smile with how comfortable she was around him.

 

“Is that so… And what can I offer you?”

 

“Let’s see you’re so sweet…” She gives him a kiss. “…stimulating conversation…” She gave him another kiss. “you seem to be able to stimulate me in other ways too… multiple times.” She wraps her legs around his waist.

 

He carried her to the bedroom and the kisses were frantic and the minute she started to unbutton his shirt and alarm from his phone was blaring.

 

“God damn it!” He slammed his hand on the bed hard. Bridget wondered what could have him in a tizzy. “We gotta go to the airport, their flight is coming in soon.” Jubal was happy to see his that his family would be coming soon but he was sporting an erection.

 

“Well if we don’t have much time, I think we ought to take care of this.” Bridget teased his dick with her index finger.

 

The touch alone had Jubal reeling. Bridget got up from the bed and had her hands on his chest and descended slowly. She loved feeling his midsection. She was appreciative of athletic endeavors.

 

When she got on her knees, she looked him in his eyes as she unbuckled the belt from his trousers and let the zip down.

 

He refrained from screaming he loved her when tongue licked his whole length. When she opened her mouth to let him in, she took her time. She gave his whole dick attention, it had him flexing and balling his hands into the duvet

 

“God damn it baby.”

 

Her mouth left his dick so she could see him a little clearer. She just pumped him using the pads of her thumbs to stimulate the head.

 

“You like that huh? I bet you fucking do… I want to make a mess of you Jubie. I’m so sad that I can’t take my time but that’s okay there’s always later.” Bridget didn’t waste anymore time after she spoke.

 

She went back and gave the blowjob of her life. When he came, she struggled a little to swallow all of him, but she didn’t waver. She didn’t care for the taste of cum, but she also didn’t want to make a mess of her bedspread or worse her face.

 

Jubal needed a minute to recover from that. He was happily sated, but he knew they had to get a move on.

 

“You think you can walk?” Bridget raised an eyebrow at him, she was having fun with Jubal as she fluffed her hair.

 

“I don’t have a choice, but I most certainly appreciate your accommodating nature.”

 

“Well, you’ll be accommodating later so we’re square now let’s get a move on. We wouldn’t want to be late now…”

 

Chapter Text

They ended up getting to the airport early, which ended up great because they kept looking for updates for the flight. It came on time, but Jubal and Bridget were still waiting to see his family. His aunts and their families ended up coming a few minutes later in their own cars soon after.

 

Jubal just held Bridget’s hand while they waited. She felt it become a little clammy, but she chalked it up to being nervous and anxious. It’s been a hard time for him and his family, she knew it was taking him a lot of effort to try and be okay.

 

They all just sat in their seats in silence. No one had the urge to speak because really what could they say…

 

It was Monique who first spotted the family and then gestured to them. Jubal got up so fast, it surprised Bridget when he let go of her hand. She realized how much she missed it in the little time that passed.

 

She saw him take off; he was walking so quickly through busy LAX trying to get to his mother. Bridget just followed because his aunts had left too.

 

When she got closer to him, she saw him hugging a woman who looked like Lena Horne with hazel eyes.

 

The woman was so beautiful and youthful it would be hard to believe that Jubal was her son at his age... whether or not he was adopted.

 

“Well hello, I’m pleased to meet your acquaintance although I wish it were under better circumstances.” Bridget’s thoughts were interrupted when she heard Jubal’s mother spoke directly to her.

 

It captured her attention. The woman didn’t even speak loud, to pull Bridget from her thinking. She couldn’t help but think Jubal was right. She had only heard his mother’s voice once when she picked up his phone while he slept. He said that her voice was like the honey butter they slather on the biscuits at the restaurant.

 

“I do too.  It’s a pleasure to meet you too. Jubie talks about you all the time.” Bridget sticks her hand out to shake the woman’s hands, but she is engulfed in a hug.

 

“No need for the pretenses. Handshakes are for business meetings, you’re my son’s belle… his lady friend. Jubie talks about you all the time as well…” Jubal scratches his neck a little when his mother calls him by the nickname Bridget calls him.

 

Bridget laughs a little because Jubal didn’t have any nicknames tied to his name, so she knew that his mother was teasing him. 

 

He just keeps his head down and gathers some luggage belonging to her and Bridget takes some that belong to his cousins and introduce herself to them. They are pretty young, they wanted to know everything about her.

 

Bridget watched how Jubal’s mother Julienne, seamlessly gravitated to her sisters and they had their own homecoming even though none of them were in New Orleans.

 

The Boisseau sisters were together again. It was hard for Bridget to decipher but the sisters talked all at once but seemed to understand what the other was saying. It reminded her of how she and Jessica were. They had their own weird way of understanding each other even when no one else didn’t.

 

She looked towards Jubal and he just had a wide smile on his face as he glanced in their direction every now and then.

 

As they got closer to the cars, Bridget started to second guess herself. She didn’t know whether if she should sit in the front seat or the backseat. She didn’t know if Jubal’s mother would take it as a slight if she sat in the front seat.

 

The answer was made up for her when they got to the car, she had helped Jubal put the luggage in the trunk when she saw that Ms. Julienne got in the backseat with the kids. She felt a sigh of relief because the woman had a nice demeanor, but she carried her way in a manner that wasn’t to be trifled with and she didn’t want her relationship with Jubal to be affected. She never felt this way about a person before.

 

It was easy for them to have a conversation; it was about everything and nothing. Bridget didn’t dare bring up the storm or anything related to it. They stopped by Jubal’s house first and dropped everything off. He told his mother that he wanted them to be comfortable, so he was going to be staying with Bridget.

 

Jubal didn’t want them to feel packed like sardines especially since his mother wasn’t used to that and he wasn’t going to start any of it now. The kids would have breathing room, he knew Sasha was not going to appreciate rooming with kids now that she was so grown at fourteen. She was thrilled to hear she would get to have her own room. She was already having to move across the country and have to make new friends in a place unfamiliar.

 

When they got to his house, they put their things away and then proceeded to the restaurant. Bridget thought it would be better to take her car as well because Jubal made a mention of going back to her house. His mother was going to need something to drive in while they figured everything out.

 

Bridget was surprised when Sasha wanted to go to the restaurant in her car. She talked to the girl very briefly, but the little kids were the ones that asked her the most questions.

 

She didn’t mind because the girl was nice and she was Jubal’s family.

 

Bridget started to drive and make some small talk.

 

“So… how do you like being my brother’s belle?”

 

Bridget was still trying to get used to how they refer to things.

 

“I quite like being his girlfriend.”

 

The girl laughed at Bridget’s words which made the older woman a little affronted.

 

“You’re not his girlfriend…” Bridget hugged the steering wheel tighter when Sasha said different.  “Mama says girlfriends are juvenile. You’re a grownup. My brother is your gentleman caller… your beau… you know.” Bridget laughed when Sasha fully explained.

 


“Gentlemen caller… sounds like I’m at a debutante class.” Bridget could only think that this was something her mother and aunt would say.

 

“Well yeah… mama asked me if I wanted to do it, but I said no… not really my thing. It’s old people stuff like Jubal.”

 

Bridget found herself chuckling at the stop light at Sasha making fun of Jubal.

 

“Oh you’re being so mean to him, he’s not that old!” Bridget learned new things throughout her conversation with Sasha. She wasn’t just Jubal’s cousin; she was his sister.

 

“Sure…”

 

“If that’s the case wouldn’t your mom be ancient if Jubal’s ‘old’…” Bridget just turned the corner as she tried to stump the girl.

 

“Juju B is forever young and if she heard you… she’d never make you a plate of her jambalaya for as long as she lives.”

 

Bridget changed her tune really quickly with the mention of never getting to eat Ms. Julienne’s jambalaya. It was something Jubal talked about a lot.

 

She also learned something new. She made an inference apparently Ms. Julienne nickname was Juju B like the candy. She was starting to see why Jubal didn’t have a nickname tied to his name because it would be the same as his mother.

 

“I would never risk that… is her jambalaya better than your Aunt’s dirty rice?”

 

“Hmm, I would say it’s a tie but it’s a family recipe. Each of them inherited their own recipes from their mom. Aunt Mo’s gumbo will change your life. You haven’t had it yet?”

 

“No, I haven’t! Jubal had it a couple of times, but he wouldn’t share it with me... I’ve fallen in love with your other aunt’s dirty rice. I can’t help but keep eating it.”

 

“It is good, our block calls it the ‘Boisseau Trinity’.” Sasha was proud to admit that people loved her family’s food.

 

“I need to try it all, I feel like I have been missing out.”

 

“You should have a bone to pick with ya man. He is letting you miss out on so much food. You know my aunts got a secret menu.”

 

Bridget was parking the car when she heard Sasha admit about this secret menu.

 

They got out her car and made their way into the restaurant. Even though it was a joyous occasion for them, their home was still going through it.

 

Bridget made her way to Jubal who was getting some drinks for the both of them.

 

When she gently placed her hand on his back, he turned and gave her a smile that she just blushed over.

 

“Hey baby…”

 

“Hi… you know I had an illuminating conversation with your sister…”

 

“Oh is that so? Let me guess she was asking you if you had any kind of problems to be dealing with me?” Jubal said with amusement.

 

“Hmm it was more along the lines of you being so old.”

 

“That girl’s been 14 for three months and swears she has all the answers.”

 

“I think she’s fine, funny too. Apparently, this man who’s supposed to be so into me doesn’t share to me the joys of Ms. Monique’s gumbo.”

“How many times have I told you to expand your cuisine. If I remember correctly you always say, how can I have anything else?”

 

Bridget could look everywhere else but at Jubal being put on the spot because she did say that.

 

“Well, how could you not tell me about the secret menu?”

 

“Why would you need a secret menu of food you’re not going to know if you don’t even go through the actual menu?”

 

“Why do you have to be such a lawyer?!” Bridget was annoyed that he was being intellectually stimulating right now even though it was one of the qualities she liked most about him.

 

“I just can’t help myself… Usually you have the power to render me dumb, but I have a temporary antidote to the poison of your beauty.”

 

“Would you rather me be… ugly?”

 

“I’d baseline the poison any day of the week.”

 

Bridget started to feel hot from the flirting.

 

“Are y’all going to make googly eyes and silly banter the whole time we’re here? My goodness my sisters said it was bad but this is something else. It’s summer but the two of you are acting like it’s spring with how sprung you are. You gonna watch these kids while I go help in the kitchen…” Ms. Julienne just shook her head as she went into the kitchen to make her signature dish.

 

Bridget and Jubal had the decency to look every bit admonished as they felt getting a mini-lashing from his mother. Jubal knew when his mother told him to watch the kids it wasn’t a request.

 

“Mmhmm, yes ma’am.”

 

Jubal answered and went over to the kids table and sat down.

 

“Mama, cooked you good huh?” Sasha was enjoying this…

 

“Yeah, grandma said you didn’t know how to act around pretty ladies but that’s okay Ms. Bridget because I don’t lose my head...” Ms. Monique’s grandchild might have been in California for a couple of hours, but he was going to make his mark.

 

 “Raymond, you’re six…” Jubal just shook his head at his little cousin. He wished Mo would come collect her grandson.

 

“And yet he’s smoother than you…” Jubal rolls his eyes because of course his brother Diego would tag team him.

 

“I see that you two are still wildly aggravating.”

 

“Welcome to a day in my life frere...” Sasha couldn’t wait to get her own room because she’s been stuck with frick and frack for so long.

 

“We give your life color…”

 

“I have a bottle of Advil for that.” Sasha turned after giving the boys a scare and looked at her brother “Jubal you gonna buy me a phone right?”

 

“Sure, if mama says it’s okay, I don’t see why not…” He knew he had to play it safe. He wasn’t stepping on his mother’s toes.

 

“Bridget, tell him I need a phone!”

 

“I have no horse in this race, but I do think she should have a phone for emergencies, she’s a completely new place and it’s easy to get lost in LA.” Bridget didn’t want to overstep because she wasn’t anyone’s parent, but she thought it was a good idea.

 

 “That’s all I need Bridget!” Sasha was happy that her brother’s lady friend said that. If she was going to be stuck in LA, she wanted to have a way to contact the people back home.

 

“Okay enough talk about cell phones, I know y’all must be hungry, what are we gonna eat?”

 

Everyone at the table didn’t need a menu because they knew what they wanted to get. When Ms. Mo came out to get their orders, the boys finally started acting correct as she took the orders for everyone. Sasha talked about how excited she was to start high school even if it was going to be in LA. She made Jubal promise to buy her a whole new wardrobe because she was not going to be the new kid and the kid that didn’t know how to dress.

 

As they all ate, all of them just listened to Sasha go down her list of things she needed to do and used Bridget as back up even though Bridget didn’t really know what to do in the situation besides listen to the girl and look at Jubal every now and then.

 

She quickly found out that Jubal was the quiet one in his colorful family and it made her happy to be able to see another side of him.

 

 

 

 

  

Chapter Text

Even though Jubal had started to live with Bridget, they were at his house often helping his family get settled.

 

They had to get so much logistics figured out for them. The kids needed to be registered for school even though the school year had started in LA. It was a nightmare because they needed transcripts for the children even though that was all in Louisiana and schools were an afterthought at the moment because major parts of the city were still underwater. It was hard for them to contact anyone.

 

Julienne had been an educator for twenty-five years. She went up to the school and asked them if they could just give the children benchmark tests to see what curriculum would work best for them. She told the school officials that her granddaughter and nephews were all in the gifted program back home hoping it would make it easier for them to get placed after they took the assessment tests.

 

Even though the school year had started it was rather recent so they wouldn’t miss that much class. Just a couple of weeks and it would be easy for them to all catch up.

 

Stephanie had offered to make some calls with Bridget’s old school, but Julienne told the woman it would have to be a last resort. She knew the private schools in Beverly Hills would not be a kind place for someone in Sasha’s position. Sasha was already a fish out of water, she wanted Sasha to get a good education but to also not be miserable going to school. She knew it would be more difficult for Sasha to make friends here because it is so different than what she is used to. She figured a magnet school with diverse student population would be a better option for Sasha versus a mostly homogenous school that are notorious for othering people who don’t fit their mold.

 

Stephanie couldn’t argue with that. Bridget was bullied at her school when the scandal of Brooke and Thorne made waves and Bridget fit the mold of privileged, rich and White.

 

Jubal was in contact with some of his friends in New Orleans about coming down to volunteer. He made mention that Bridget is a doctor could come down there and help. Bridget had gone to Taylor for help with her job. She was just beginning her residency program, but this was extenuating circumstances.

 

Taylor had placed some calls with some colleagues she knew that had moved to New Orleans. One of her friends was at Tulane Medical Center now and she explained the situation of Bridget wanting to help but needed to make sure that her career trajectory wasn’t affected.

 

Because Tulane and Cedars were both highly rated, they worked together with Bridget. Tulane said that they needed a high demand for medical professionals because of the sheer scale of the disaster. They accepted Bridget on loan to their residency program and her job said that this would count for time in her residency program there.

 

It made Bridget so happy to be able to give Jubal this news. She thanked Taylor for having friends in high places ready to help her.

 

She waited for Jubal to get home from work so she could tell him the news. She had started to prep the meal she was making for dinner when she heard the key unlock to the beach house.

 

“Hey baby, you home?!” She could hear him shouting from the kitchen. She was always happy to see him. she just set the oven timer on and ran to him.

 

“Yeah, I’m here. I have some news for you.”

 

“Hmm does it involve you, me and the bedroom?”

 

She blushed which made him laugh.

 

“That can be later! I have other news! You know how I went to my sister-in-law Taylor for help with my residency so we could go to New Orleans?”

 

“Yeah, I remember you saying it’s complicated because each state has their own exams for doctors to be able to practice.”

 

“Yes, that’s true, but the State of Louisiana is in dire need of medical professionals and states with similar degrees of difficulty to their board exams they are allowing doctors to practice. Well Taylor had a colleague when she was Texas who works for Tulane Medical Center now and they spoke with the Chief of Medicine and they said due to the circumstances they are going to do a partnership with Cedars. I can work there and get credit towards my residency training.” Bridget was so excited to tell him.

 

Jubal just lit up with the news. This was the only thing holding them up from going to Louisiana. He had already talked to Morty and his job was secure at the practice.

 

Jubal didn’t plan on practicing law there even though he was admitted to the Louisiana State Bar. He was really there to help re-build his hometown and make sure shoddy construction and greased pockets didn’t lead to people being displaced again.

 

“Baby, that’s great news.” He couldn’t help himself. He just pulled her into his lap and kissed her.

 

“When do we leave?” Bridget asked in between kisses.

 

She didn’t think she could ever get tired of kissing him, it was among her newest favorite hobbies.

 

“Well now that we have things more set-in stone, we can start to see flights, but I imagine maybe we have a week. My mom has a handle on everything. She did the hard things and got the kids enrolled in school. Everything else she can handle on her own and if she needs anything, she can call me. How about you? How are your folks going to take it? I know you told them but now it’s more set in stone...”

 

Bridget realized that she hadn’t told anyone besides Jessica and now Jubal about the news. She wanted to first talk to him. She was doing this all with a heavy heart because she just came back home but this was an unprecedented time. People like her were needed and she wasn’t going to pass this up.

 

“I wanted to tell you first, but I think I’m going to have dinner with my family and then break the news. I’ll probably do it tomorrow so I can let it sink in with them. That way I can spend some time with them before we ultimately go. I don’t want it to feel like whiplash for them.”

 

“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea, you going to stay over there?” Jubal was not a selfish man, but he really didn’t want to have his bed empty.

 

He knew that he was being unfair when he kissed her neck while asking her this.  

 

“Umm maybe a night or two…” Bridget knew that he was trying to get her flustered, but he was going to have to do better than this.

 

“What do I have to do to cut that down to a night?”

 

“Jubie, don’t be like that… this is my mom… unh stop that, it tickles.”

 

“I have the utmost respect for your mother, but I like when I sleep beside you.”

 

“Mmhmm, I think you like it when you can have your way with me.”

 

“I like that too. By the sight of your t-shirt… you do too.” He bit her ear after he whispered into it.

 

“You don’t play fair!”

 

“I doubt you ever wanted me like that cher...”

 

He twisted her nipple lightly between his fingers. The cotton separating his fingers from her bare nipple only added friction.

 

“I’m making food, I don’t want it to burn.” Bridget could care less about the food right now.

 

“If it burns, we can order a damn pizza.”

 

“No Jubal Valentine!” Bridget ripped herself from his arms. It shocked him, he really thought she wanted what he did.

 

His shock only grew when she removed the thong she had been wearing under her skirt. And threw it at him.

 

“That’s all you can have Jubie...” Bridget was looking to make a sassy exit.

 

She stopped in her tracks when she heard his husky voice.

 

“If this is all I can have then…”

 

He surprised Bridget when he licked the part that clothed her vagina. It was damp from all of the foreplay they were doing.

 

“My goodness Jubal, you’re so nasty.”

 

“We’ll see how nasty I can be later.”

 

He got up and stuffed the panties in his pocket and went to the kitchen washed his hands and asked how he could help her finish dinner.

 

Bridget was absolutely puzzled at his game. She was starting to see just how daring he could be.

 

When they ate dinner, she was talking about what she wanted to do when she got there when he left her speechless.

 

He pulled the panties from his pocket and took a whiff. It made her drop her fork.

 

“God that pussy is so fragrant. Wait till it’s in front of me, I swear to god I’ll make you cum till you cry.”

 

Bridget blinked hard and kept her legs closed tightly.

 

“Hmm I bet that pussy so wet right now huh? Gotta keep those legs tight like you practice abstinence.” He laughed to himself when he saw her blush. “A damn shame you wearing that skirt right now. I bet you wish you still had this underwear on huh?” His smile made her so mad, but she was more upset at herself because it only made her more wet.

 

“Jubie…” She wasn’t prepared for this game, but she could up the ante.

“Yes…”

 

She was glad that she was almost done with her dinner, she had no more use for appetite.

 

She got up and shimmied out of her skirt. It made Jubal even happier, she threw it at him and then her top and bralette. She walked around the house stark naked and he chased after her. She went to the sitting area that had views of the beach. Bridget started to touch herself and he made a loud grunt because he was only getting harder.

 

“You can look but you cannot touch Jubal.” Bridget moaned as she curled her fingers in her. It made her body shake. She could smell the sea salt in the air. As she fucked herself with her fingers, she wondered how it would be like to have sex with Jubal at the beach. “Fuck! I’m so close Jubie, so close... so close” Bridget had no interest in drawing this out.

 

When her climax hit her, it felt like she was falling but no ground to crash into. When she could settle herself again, she saw the image of a horny Jubal which only made her more satisfied with what she did.

 

She went up to him and kissed him. She pumped him a couple of times through his pants and he saw her rueful smile.

 

“I’m sure you can figure out how to handle this problem of yours.”

 

All he that ran through his mind was that she thought she was so cute with her little stunt.

 

“Oh I have plenty of ideas!” He grabbed her by the waist with one arm and ran to the bedroom.

 

All Bridget think off was just don’t fall.  

 

When Bridget’s back touched the bed, all she could think was thank god she didn’t fall.

 

She licked her lips as he unbuttoned his shirt, she wanted to yank his shirt off, but she let him do what he liked. She wasn’t going to rush anything she had all night to play with him

Chapter Text

Bridget couldn’t believe it, she was in New Orleans. When she told her family that they finalized everything, it made the atmosphere heavy. They knew she was going to leave but when she broke the news it was like a ton of bricks for them. She just resolved to spend as much time as she could with them.

 

To Jubal’s chagrin, she spent the majority of her nights at her mother’s house. Stephanie took off a week of work so she could spend as much time with Bridget. It was filled with lunches, dinners, massages, spas, facials, so many other things that were just centered on relaxing. Her dad joined them for some lunches. It was weird to actually see her parents dating even though she knew they were. She just couldn’t stop the protective feelings she had for her mother because of the past betrayals. They looked happy but then again, her father couldn’t do anything to take from their mother anymore because all of the kids were in charge of the trust. She had the hope she had that her parents had figured it out.

 

She felt refreshed when she left home. Being here was different for her. She had never been her before and the closest thing to New Orleans that she ever saw was those disgusting Girls Gone Wild commercials that came on tv.

 

She could remember when they first touched down. She knew from Jubal that this city had so much soul that you could pretty much feel it when you got there. When she was in Louis Armstrong Airport, she felt like the soul of the place felt distant. When she made the comment to Jubal, he told her it was probably because they were in Kenner, it was much quieter in the suburbs of New Orleans.

 

When Jubal saw that Jefferson Parish had much less damage he made a note in his head. He had taken Bridget to his grandfather’s house... his house when he really thought about it. It was the Valentine house. The site of the city on their cab ride broke his heart. It was one thing to see it on tv but to see it with your own eyes was horrific. He never saw something so horrible in his whole life. Bridget could feel the tension in his body, it’s been there for a while.

 

She had started her new job at Tulane and it was an excellent hospital. She was honored to work there, when she started, they told her that things would be a little unorthodox because it was hard for people to get to them. Bridget was out in the field, basically looking for people who needed help.

 

When they found out that she had experience from her training in the UK, she was added to a team of more experienced doctors. She was still reviewed by the most senior doctor on staff but she easily impressed her superiors. It helped her patients feel more at ease when they found out she was board-certified in internal medicine because they were putting their life in her hands.

 

Many nights she came home and just wanted to cry because passing through neighborhoods where flooding was still persistent broke her heart. She knew the standing water was a breeding ground. Her group of doctors tried to sound the alarm that this hazardous water was only going to add to the woes. There were people on the roofs of their houses begging for help even though some of these houses could collapse from being submerged in water for so long. It was a humanitarian crisis and it felt like there was no way up.

 

They had to set up tents and made many visits to the Superdome to try and reach as many people as possible. The area hospitals had to select who could get care within the hospital because there were just too many people to serve and not enough infrastructure to support them all.

 

Jubal had his own busy days. With the outpouring of common people giving donations to rebuild houses and government money being trickled in after the fact, he knew that exploitation was coming, especially for the most vulnerable. It got so bad that people started calling New Orleans; K-ville. The one thing that a lot of speculators didn’t realize about the neighborhoods was that the people own the land and overwhelmingly. Families clawed and scrapped every damn dollar they had to buy their houses and the land it was on. It wasn’t uncommon to have full houses filled with cousins, aunts, grandparents. It was how he grew up, most of his friends grew up. His biological mother grew up in the same household as his adoptive one. His biological mother was an unofficial Boisseau sister even though their mothers’ were half-sisters.

 

He felt an obligation for the people who were going to be told lots of things by people coming to ‘help’. They would need approval by the homeowner to build on their land. So many people were coming down to New Orleans to be the savior and he hated it. He didn’t mind people lending a hand but the hard part was going to be done by the people who lived here. He knew when a new disaster happened, or something else made news that Louisiana and the whole Gulf community would be afterthoughts. But the pain was still going to be here. The destruction was still going to be here. They were still going to be here dealing with the effects while people moved on. Good intentions had a short news cycle.

 

He didn’t think he was going to be practicing law when he came here but he offered his legal services for free to homeowners and businesses he knew. It was going to be a massive fight dealing with insurance companies not wanting to take liability, dealing with bureaucracy and slow federal money and scamming charities that were sure to pop up ready to be of service to the vulnerable communities. He had experience suing the crap out of fraudulent charities in California because of the wildfires. Even though hurricanes and their aftermath were a different beast, he knew that so many people exploit natural disasters for personal gain at the expense of compounding people’s trauma.

 

 

Many of his friends parents wanted to rebuild as part of programs offered their services to rebuild at no expense.

 

Some of his friends came to him because it involved contracts and he was one of the few lawyers that was still in the area.

 

When he read some of these contracts it made him laugh. It made him laugh so hard.

 

“What making you laugh so hard?”

 

They were in bed, it wasn’t particularly late but they both wake up relatively early and Bridget was actually home so all she wanted to do was be in her own bed versus in the on-call room.

 

“This damn contract, this ‘charity’ wants to shift liability to the homeowner should anything happen to the property.”

 

“Well, isn’t that standard? Once they are done that it become’s the responsibility of the person who owns it?”

 

“Yeah, it would be if these people were on the up and up baby. I have seen this shit before. You know how there’s earthquakes, mudslides, brushfire season in California and they happen with frequency...”

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Well, they happen enough where I represent plenty of people who have been bamboozled and hoodwinked by insurance companies or these shady charities. California is starting to crack down on these shady charities but I’m sure they will just change their name and go to wherever the next disaster that isn’t in California is.”

 

“Like here?”

 

“Yeah, exactly like here. We have so much experience dealing with them that we hired a former insurance adjuster. I gained valuable insight on how lawyers for insurance companies work and exactly what policies will cover.”

 

“So, what are they trying to do?” Bridget was intrigued because her mother is an architect.

 

“My best guess is that this so-called charity really isn’t. It’s probably an offshoot of a construction company of some sort or in-league with one. They want to build houses on the cheap, generate goodwill and have grateful people and low and behold the bait and switch. The so-called charity have partners giving them materials to build.”

 

“Giving materials isn’t such a bad thing Jubie…”

 

“It is when it’s useless. These charities are really a front. They have 501c status and the construction companies tied to them are going to overprice what the value of the materials are to lower their tax bill. But I’m sure that these fake charities are going to tout the dollar value of the materials used to heighten their legitimacy which will heighten their ability to get donations. Most of these charities that have set up shop on the back of this hurricane are not even based in Louisiana or the Gulf coast in general.”

 

Bridget listened to his words and she was horrified. She was going into communities everyday seeing the effects of the devastation. It’s not just physical, almost all of her patients have some form of PTSD. The last thing any of the people here need is snake oil salespeople trying to take advantage of their tragedy. She had patients every day asking her if she treated so and so trying to find their family.

 

“This is horrifying, I’m in the field most of the week and these people are just trying to survive, living on a shred of hope.”

 

“Yeah, it grinds my gears because that’s only half of it baby these so-called materials are subpar. They are not structures that can withstand the humidity of the Gulf. You know why this house has lasted all this time?”

 

“No, why?”

 

“Because it’s brick. Same like Chicago… like New York. People back then especially people in the South may not have always known why they did something but it was just how it should be. Everyone can’t afford an architect or engineers to help them construct a home. Brick cost more because more labor goes into it but it’s built to last. If a brick house is maintained it can last a whole century. This house has withstood seven major hurricanes. Its highly impervious to tornadoes. My ancestors may not have known all of the science as to why brick is better than wood but they knew when shit went down the brick homes stayed up while the wood ones collapsed.”

 

“What kind of materials are these people offering to the residents?” Bridget became even more interested with Jubal explaining all of this to her.

 

“Wood but it gets better, you couldn’t use this wood in California. The state has banned it for residential homes because it’s not humidity resistant. It’s funny because California is not a humid state but it has to do with the fact that California can suffer mudflow. Most of the time these mudflows is watery and can settle and it can wreak havoc on a house. Especially a house that is made with wood that isn’t humidity resistant. It can weaken the wood and the structure of the house itself. This kind of wood is terrible for the humidity here. It will rot and grow mold. If a house was made with it, I would be shocked if it made it ten years without problems.”

 

It made Bridget upset to hear Jubal’s words especially when finding out this wood wouldn’t be permissible back home why should it be used here when it would have just as many problems. The humidity here was something she has had to get used to because it is there every day. Just thinking about how it would affect people’s houses just makes her upset.

 

“This is not right!” Bridget said as she was on the brink of tears, she didn’t want anyone to have to find out down the road that their house would need major repair that they most likely won’t be able to afford. People were spending their last dollars trying to find places to sleep and it was hard for anyone to find work right now outside of medical professionals.

 

“You damn right it’s not. The most egregious part is that they are primarily in the downtown wards especially here, the 8th and the 9th.” Bridget didn’t need Jubal to tell her that these are pre-dominantly Black neighborhoods.  “Homeownership here is high. It’s about 98% of the houses in these wards are owned about 95% of that 98% are Black. Mostly inherited, back in the day when you got married, your whole family both sides chipped in so you could settle in your house and build your own family and keep your house in your family for generations. So many of these houses are gone and now these shysters are trying to come in and take advantage. My gut is telling me that these construction companies are hedging on endorsements so they can get government contracts while the people here will be left holding the bag.”

As Bridget was having everything explained to her it only made her angrier.

 

“What are you going to do Jubie? You can’t sue them because it would be pre-emptive.”

 

“You’re right, I can’t… the only thing I can do is warn everyone here. Offer my legal services when we’re not building and team up with architects and reputable engineers to show people their options. I have to do everything I can to get them the money they deserve from insurance companies because they are going to try and nickel and dime them, blaming the government for the levees. And the bottleneck at the federal level means that the priority for disbursing money will be slow and painful and people here will be last ones in line.”

 

“Then that means you need to go after these insurance companies, people pay for their insurance and now is the time to collect, I’m sure that you can find fault even if the levees broke. People can’t just up and change their location. The insurance companies decided to insure them ready to collect their money.”

 

“Yeah, I am going to talk to the office and ask our insurance guy what kind of tactics I can expect from these insurance companies. It won’t be hard to sue the federal government and the army corps of engineers. I can find plenty of people I am sure that would want to join in the suit and fight these insurance companies to pay out at the real value and not bullshit I’m sure they will try to cook up because they always do.”

 

“I’ll support you always. I love you so much.” Bridget meant every word. Being here had only made their relationship stronger.

 

They’ve spent about four months there so far and it’s been about six months since they started their relationship. She loved him more than anybody she ever has been with. She was infatuated with him sure almost as much as he was infatuated with her. She felt different about this relationship.

 

She was finally with someone who had a passion for her as much as she did for them. She felt on top of the world to be in love, it was one of the only things that she could hold onto here. The devastation that she met head on everyday was frightening. When she came home, she counted on Jubal being there, even if it was just to give her a hug or distract her with an absurd story. He had so many of those, it was never a shortage of laughter for her when she was with him.

 

“I love you too, every day I wake up thankful that you came with me to help. I appreciate you doing everything to help my city.”

 

“Always, it’s you and me forever.” She rested her chin on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him.

 

“That’s right baby, red beans and ricely yours.” He turned his head to give her a kiss.

 

Bridget smiled wide; she knows she’s living in the birthplace of Jazz. Jubal himself played the tenor sax on occasion. She learned that Louis Armstrong used to say this to end his letters. Ever since she and Jubal exchanged I love yous, he said it all the time to her. She used to laugh but he was dead serious.

 

“Forever and ever?”

 

“Pour toujours et toujours.” (Forever and ever.)

 

It took her a long time to get here but those were the only words she ever needed to hear by someone who held her heart.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bridget started to notice things about Jubal that really had no rhyme or reason. Mondays were his day to make food and they ate the same thing. She noticed it after the third week. She chalked it up to him really liking red beans and rice. The meal was always good, she shouldn’t have been surprised at the fact that he knew how to cook better than she did. He came from a family that had recipe books passed down generation to generation. Members of his family received recipes as inheritances.

 

She was pondered to herself about him.

 

“Girl, if you squeeze any tighter you gonna pop my arm off.”

 

Bridget came back to reality. She didn’t know how she forgot. Taking someone’s pressure was something very automatic for her.

 

“I’m so sorry! I don’t normally do that.” Bridget prided herself on being a competent doctor that provided excellent care to her patients no matter what.

 

“It ain’t nothing but a thang Doc, that smile on your face showed me you were thinkin’ about something else entirely instead of my blood pressure. I know this isn’t your normal jive…”

 

This was one of Bridget’s patients Angelina that she had from her field work. It was her fourth time seeing the woman.

 

“Thank you, Ms. Angie. I still feel terrible that I squeezed to hard, but it looks like your blood pressure is good.”

 

“Oh that sounds great shug. Now you wanna tell Ms. Angie, what made you look like you wanted to be anywhere but here. Must be a boo thang of yours. Don’t worry.”

 

Bridget blushed. It wasn’t hard with how pale she was in the New Orleans sun.

 

“Well I shouldn’t have been but yes! I was just thinking about how he does things. Like for instance today is Monday and I know when I get home… We are going to eat red beans and rice. We always eat it on Mondays. Sometimes he’ll make it on another day but for dinner on Mondays it’s always red beans and rice. The whole time I’ve known him it’s always been that.”

 

Ms. Angie just laughed at Bridget because she really knew this child was not from New Orleans or Louisiana in general. Not everyone here speaks in a variation of New Orleans English vernacular, but it was things like this that made people know that you from out of the city.

 

“Aww shug, you really not from here!”

 

Bridget shook her head.

 

“My gentleman caller, that’s what his mother says he is because boyfriend is juvenile, is from here. I came with him to help in any way I can.”

 

“Aww that’s so sweet. Well I’m glad ya here Doc. We sure need it I swear it. Gentleman caller that sounds like how my friend Juju B talks.”

 

“Did you say Juju B?” Bridget was really curious now.

 

“Yeah!”

 

“As in Julienne Boisseau?”

 

Ms. Angie, broke out in a big smile when she head her friend’s name. She hadn’t seen Julienne since before the hurricane and she had been looking.

 

“Yeah, that’s my girl. You know her?”

 

“Well yes, that’s my boyfriend’s, excuse me gentleman caller’s mother.”

 

“Aww shoot, Jubal is your man?! How’s his mama and ‘em?” Ms. Angie practically shrieked and laughed when she found out that her doctor knows her friend.

 

“Yeah, he is! She’s good, they all are, She’s in LA with Sasha, Raymond and Diego.”

 

“Oh that’s wonderful, I know Mo is probably over the moon that Ray Ray and Didi are with her.”

 

“Yeah, she is. You know if you would like. I can call them and you could catch up. I know Ms. Julienne didn’t want to leave because she wanted to find her friends.” Bridget remembered Jubal having to put his foot down with his mother on her coming to LA. He never got a forceful tone with anyone, but he told Julienne, she had to think of the kids and what was best for them.

 

It was one of the reasons he was resolute about coming here. He was here trying to help so his mother didn’t feel like she had to do everything.

 

“Oh Doc that would be marvelous. I would very much so appreciate such a gesture.” Angie was excited at the prospect of seeing a friend again.

 

“It’s no sweat if you like you could join me and Jubal for dinner. I hope you like red beans and rice.”

 

Angie started laughing again because of this silly girl, she just thought to herself Doc didn’t know any better.

 

“Oh honey child, I love red beans and rice ever since I had enough teeth to eat it. Jubal make red beans and rice every Monday, because that’s what his mama did and her parents and their parents before them. Everybody in New Orleans makes red beans and rice on Mondays because Monday is wash day and a long time ago it took you all day to do laundry for your family especially if you also worked for a family and did their laundry too. Red beans and rice is a dish packed with flavor and it’s a no fuss meal so you could focus on your laundry and let it cook with little to no supervision. If you go to any restaurants here on a Monday, the special of the day is always going to be red beans and rice.”

 

Bridget regarded Angie like a walking encyclopedia of things quintessentially New Orleans. She just thought Jubie loved the dish because it tasted good.

 

“Wow I didn’t know that.”

 

“Lots of people don’t and they are from here. They just know if it is Monday, they eat red beans and rice. It’s also a comfort food for plenty of people because it’s something their parents made for them when they were children.”

 

“I feel like I have so much to learn about here. It’s so unique, it’s unlike any city I have ever been too not that I have been to many.”

 

“They don’t make them like they do here... We got the best food, the best music, the best parties, even now. We just do things different here, people fall in love and say to themselves, I gotta get back to New Orleans.” Angie was proud of to be a New Orleanian.

 

“I can definitely say that is the truth.” Bridget was always finding out new things about the place.

 

“I’d love to join you for dinner, but I can’t stay out too long, I gotta get back to the Superdome before it gets too dark you know. My family inside of there and I can’t have them worry.”

 

“I’ll make sure that you get back in time. I just know that it would lift Jubal’s spirits to see someone who cares about him.”

 

“I love me some Jubal. He was always a good boy, I’m glad he was able to find a good woman like you. Maybe one day wedding bells can ring for you.”

 

Angie’s words made Bridget heat rise. She definitely was in love with Jubal, but he would have to be the one to put the ring on her finger. She could see her forever with him.

 

“Well maybe you can give him a talking too. You’re my last patient for today. We can go right after I sign out for the day and drop off my charts to my supervisor.”

 

“Sure. I’ll wait over there.”

 

Bridget took maybe ten minutes and when she came out, she saw Ms. Angie in the same spot ready for her.

 

She was driving Jubal’s SUV and she always took the long way home because it had much less standing water. She had given Ms. Angie her phone and pulled up Ms. Julienne’s contact and pressed the green button.

 

She could only hear Ms. Angie’s part of the call, but the friends sounded so excited to hear from each other. The whole car ride, Bridget didn’t say even one word, she just drove as she heard loud laughs and that fast talking, she was still trying to decipher. It was like they could have an hour conversation in just thirty minutes.

 

When she got home, she heard Ms. Angie saying she would find a way to call her again.

 

Bridget was so anxious to give Jubal some good news. She knew if Ms. Julienne could get a good kick out of this, so would he.

 

“I think he’s going to be so surprised when he sees you.”

 

“I bet he will!”

 

Bridget goes up the steps and puts her key in the door and could smell the food already.

 

“Baby, that’s you?!” Jubal was shouting, he was about to make the rice for the dish when he heard her answer.

 

“Yeah, I have a surprise for you.”

 

Jubal wondered what it could be? He came from the kitchen and saw a sight that surprised him so much it stopped him in his tracks.

 

“Ms. Angelina! You got to be kidding me! I’m so glad to see you.”

He went straight to the woman and gave her a big hug. This was one of his mama’s good friends. He was play cousins with her kids. He loved that whole family.

 

“Oh shug, so good to see you. So glad… so glad. You sure are doing good if you courtin’ Doc.” The all-knowing smile from Ms. Angie made this man look like a little boy.

 

“I must say, I am swell… Bridget you don’t know that you stumbled upon a local celebrity!”

 

Jubal changing the subject was noted by all, but it was a good transition.

 

“Stop it boy!”

 

“I’m serious, Ms. Angelina’s devil food’s cake has been deemed the best six years running in all of New Orleans.”

 

“What can I say, my great-mammy’s recipe stands the test of time. Doc, this is the kinda cake that makes boys like Jubal mow your lawn for free at the chance to be able catch a slice.”

 

“It’s that good! I didn’t know we were having guests, let me go throw some more rice and water in the pot.”

 

Great things about making the dish, was it didn’t take long.

 

When Jubal had finished, he set the table and they ate.

 

“So Ms. Angelina, how’s your family doin’?”

 

“We surviving, they told us to evacuate so we went to the Superdome, we still there. My house is gone, I can’t reach Jack…”

 

Jubal just nodded as he heard, he knew his friend was actively deployed and letters was the best form of communication but letters are not coming to Louisiana for a  long while.

 

“I talked to him a little while ago by email, I can send him something letting him know you okay.”

 

“That would be wonderful, most of the time I can’t really get no good service because the lines down.” It was frustrating for Angelina dealing with this.

 

“Yeah, you can email him too, I don’t know when he’ll be able to answer but at least he’ll know you good, his wife and Diana there at the dome too?”

 

“Yeah they good, I told Doc, I can’t stay out too long because I gotta get back before it’s dark.”

 

Jubal hated the idea of his friend’s mother, wife and daughter stuck at the Superdome, so much could happen with the sheer amount of people and the tension and stress people are feeling.

 

“Y’all can’t stay there, it’s so many people there and it only takes one person getting unruly.”

 

“I hear you, but the house is gone Jubal… gone. The money Jack sending is just sittin’ there because we can’t use the ATM because they ain’t put no money in them. So many places only taking cash because they can’t afford the transaction fees with cards, we are stuck. We can’t spend all of our money staying in hotels.”

 

“Stay at the Boisseau house, it ain’t safe having that many people there and y’all can’t sleep at the same time because you gotta make sure no one take ya stuff.”

 

“I couldn’t do that Jubal…”

 

“You got to, that baby deserve a roof over her head and you deserve peace of mind. I know it’s a little out of the way in Woodmere but it give you some time… figuring it out. I came back to help my family. That's what you are...”

 

“I guess I should take you up on the offer, your mother said the same thing on the phone today. I spend most of my time going back and forth with the insurance company. I got this man on my back telling me he gonna help me build my home. Valerie said I should take him up on the offer, but I said ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

 

Bridget and Jubal looked at each other, both thinking back to their conversation a while back of shady characters.

 

“Well good thing I’m your lawyer. You let me see the policy for your insurance and I will deal with this guy. If he’s on the up and up, I’ll draw up a contract myself. Insurance companies tend to act different when you say talk to my lawyer. I’ll get you, your money.”

 

“That would be such a blessing, the cell service is so spotty and I waste my whole battery waiting on hold to talk to these people only for them to transfer from one person to another. It seems like Doc is a good luck charm.”

 

“She’s my rabbit foot.” Jubal looked straight at Bridget; she smiled a shy smile which only made him stare longer.

 

“If that’s the case what are you waiting for? Hmph. Jubal you had better shape up before one of these Doctor types scoop her up.” Angelina looked at her watch, wondering where the time went. “All right, this food has been decent, it’s not your mama’s red beans rice but I can tell that you try but I gotta get to them kids.” Ms. Angie gave a wink to Bridget. Only she could help facilitate a marriage proposal and insult Jubal’s cooking at the same time.

 

“Yes ma’am.”

 

“Doc, you comin’?”

 

“I would but I have to call my parents and sister, but I can swing by and see you guys after you settled in.”

 

“Sounds good to me. Jubal stop moving like molasses and let’s go.”

 

Jubal gave her a quick kiss goodbye, she waved to them as they drove out. She went to clear the table and she never noticed that all the plates that been scooped up. It was always fascinating to her how people could move so fast that you don’t even see what they are doing. She started to make her calls as she washed the dish happy that you never really know who you meet especially here.

Chapter Text

This was Bridget’s first time celebrating all these holidays away in a place far from home. The weirdest feeling came over her when she started to feel like this was home it was different but it gave her the same feeling That LA did. She thought back to her Halloween here. She had spent the day at the hospital giving candy to little children, the happiness in their eyes gave her the greatest feeling that she couldn’t measure in words. Sometimes she felt overwhelmed from the sheer magnitude of the work that had to be done there, but then she looked into their eyes and she saw all of the hope they had, she thought to herself these kids were from here and they weren't giving up and she finally felt like she was making a difference.

 

Sometimes she felt jealous of Jubal, she did everything she could for her patients, but he was building homes, shelters for people to live in after they’ve had everything back from them. It wasn’t a rational thought and she knew it, but seeing it made her so enamored with the amount of heart that he gave everything he did. It only made her fall even more in love with him and she never thought that was possible.  The days could be heavy and filled with some sorrow, but it wasn't always about sadness here, the city was coming back to itself even if it was at a glacial pace… Even through the rain in the still active rebuilding, he was showing her how to have a good time here. Some of the restaurants and bars reopened and she was finding out how good of a time it could be to take a break to relax after a hard work week, have a couple of drinks and get some dancing in…

 

It almost made her feel guilty were having the time of her life at a time where she came to help, every time she told this to Jubal, he just laughed at her, telling her this city is too filled with soul to not make you smile. It always made her smile when he told her that no matter what if the people that keep the spirits of New Orleans high. Jubal is having the time of his life, being back home even under the circumstances made him feel complete in a way.  Even though he was in New Orleans without most of his family there with him, it felt good to be there with Bridget. He was getting to show her parts of him that she would have never otherwise seen, it made him feel closer to her and he thought that was the best feeling of all. She was getting better at understanding New Orleans English and she told him she wanted to learn Louisiana Creole. It wasn’t something he ever asked of her, but it touched him that she would ever want to do these things to feel closer to him. He knew he loved her when she came into the restaurant after everything happened… He could feel his heart in his throat, red eyes and anxious from all the uncertainty but when he looked at her, she gave him hope that everything would be okay and everything was for the most part, she was his rabbit foot and he had no intention of letting go.

 

Every time he took her out on a date to a new place, he saw how happy she was learning about new things whether it was eating beignets or having her first po’boy in New Orleans, she loved it all. The more acclimated she got with the place, the happier he became, he could feel how at home she was in his city. It was like they were in their own bubble, there was no expectations here… They were able to be unencumbered and let their relationship grow, it was blossoming into something neither had ever felt before.  Bridget had told Jubal of her first marriage and how it crashed and burned, it made her scared to be in a place where she was so vulnerable with someone else, but it seemed to only make their relationship even stronger. They could rely on each other; it was the first time in her life that Bridget felt that she was in a worthwhile relationship.

 

Them living in New Orleans was really a blessing in disguise, Bridget felt that she could let her guard down more here than she would if she were at home. Even though she came here to work and help, she felt away had lifted from her the more she stayed here. It was completely unlike living in England, she had relationships, but they never really went far, she definitely wasn't as invested in them as she was with Jubal. She felt like she could really communicate without feeling the need to be defensive or apprehensive, he always seemed to just understand what she needed in the moment and she felt like she understood him in a way she’s never understood a lover before.

 

After everything that went down with Deacon and Brooke, she had resigned herself to just focusing on her career in getting ahead, even though she dated and even had relationships that lasted a while they all felt like dead ends. Something was always missing from those relationships, sometimes it was passion, sometimes it was motivation, sometimes it was just her finding out slowly that she was with a loser… It made her feel broken in a way and it only made her heart harden even more. She didn’t think about the betrayal every single day, she even eventually got over it, but it did have a way of rearing its head in her relationships, when things got tough or when she felt frustrated, she always had thoughts were not rational. Brooke and Deacon did a number on her and she knew it but that didn't stop the feeling that she fell in those empty relationships, it made it difficult for her to ever get past that hump and kept all her romantic relationships at a standstill after a point she just gave up.

 

She had never thought a blind day that her mother set up would ever yield the most powerful feeling that she ever had. She didn’t feel like it was embarrassing to communicate the hurt that she felt in her life, she found security in the same person who pushed her to be daring and take the leap off the ground. She had the passion in a relationship that she always wanted, she thought that she had that when she was with Deacon, but it only made Bridget realize how young and dumb she was. She mistook someone who she thought was just misunderstood and wanted to give all her love because of the stories he said tell her that played on her better nature. She saw him for who he was after he hurt her so terribly. She was a means to an end at first and then treated as if she were a clown at the end and that made her so angry. That anger carried her into so many relationships even with Jubal at first her defensiveness almost cost her the relationship before it even started. Even if Jubal said she wasn’t wrong to feel the way she did, it wasn’t Bridget’s first time being like this. It was a defense mechanism and now that she knows exactly who Jubal is, she saw how close she was to losing the happiness she has waited so long for.

 

“Hey what’s going on in that pretty head of yours?” Jubal had been staring at Bridget for a while, she had set her spoon down and just kept thinking about something.

 

He just kept eating and looking at her wondering what was going on in her mind. He knew that she wasn’t all the way there because sometimes she would frown, other times she would smile. An array of emotions kept crossing her face and he wondered if it was something that had to deal with work.

He knew that sometimes the cases and her patients really hurt her heart. It was always her inclination to help everyone in the best manner she knew how but as a doctor she could only advise. Sometimes people didn’t want the medical advice she gave them for a number of reasons. It could be that they couldn’t afford it or their friend told them what worked for them and they wanted to try that or simply because they were just scared. He knew it was hard to swaying older people especially from here.

 

“I’m just thinking about our journey here, I know it’s been unorthodox how we got together, us coming here and making a life while we did everything we could to help your hometown. We’ve come a long way as a couple… as individuals and I guess I’m just going through what it has meant to me to be here. Sometimes people say they feel like completely different people but I don’t feel completely different as if I’m another person, I feel like I have grown after feeling so stagnant in my personal life for so long. I had always made it an emphasis to focus on my career to distract from the emotional hurt that I held on to for so long. Even though my mind had gotten past it, my heart was still holding on to things and then you came into my life. I guess sometimes I just can’t believe it because it was the first time that I didn’t go looking for relationship, I found something so special with us, well I guess I should say my mother found something so special, it surprises me how she knew what I needed, when I didn’t even know it for myself. I think about it a lot, our relationship it's become so central to my life it makes me think a lot and I couldn’t even tell you why...” Bridget was still confused and how she could think about her luck almost every single day but she never took it for granted because she knew what it was like be in a relationship where no matter how hard she tried, she felt empty as if the relationship took everything out of her and that person only wanted more.

 

 “I don’t really know what to say to that… You know I do find myself thinking sometimes too. I certainly did not expect to fall in love with you. I was just trying to not piss off my boss with telling his one of his most important clients no. I also just thought why not take a chance… The worst that could have happened was we didn't connect. But that didn’t happen, I definitely didn’t think that we were going to connect in a carnal sense on the first date, but I wasn’t mad at it. You know after the initial awkwardness; we had such a great time and it was the first time that I had felt that way in Los Angeles. It hadn’t been the easiest transition for me to be there, it’s so different than here and sometimes I felt alien and misunderstood… It also doesn't help that I’m also a pretty reserved guy so people mistake me for being mean and aloof when I’m really just feeling sometimes lost and out of my depth. You took a shot with me and outside of my family, I’ve never had better times with anyone.” Jubal had no trouble explaining how he felt about Bridget, being in love was nothing too be shy about, nothing to hide about and certainly not with the person you're in love with. He always wanted that kind of love that he saw from his mama and daddy… He really felt like he found it with her and he wasn’t looking back.

 

He thought there was nothing better then when she came through the doors of the restaurant and his aunts tapped him letting him know there, she was there but he was wrong… He knew that she was the one when she didn't hesitate to say that she was going with him to New Orleans. She was dropping everything in her life even after she had just come back home from being away for so long, to go on this adventure with him even after anyone with common sense would have said maybe that wasn't the best idea… He knew that the love that they had exploded because they were in a vacuum, but they have is passionate and sometimes desperate, when they have sex he didn't know if it was her saving him or him saving her, they always felt closer and they were sharing each other and it wasn't just their body, they shared their hearts, their minds.

 

It wasn’t as if she didn't get on his nerves and he didn't get on hers because that would have been inevitable… Every relationship goes through that but he knew that she was the only person that he never minded being annoyed by. Their fights can be explosive and impulsive but they were usually about things were mundane like finding the plot to a horror movie stupid or being tired of watching romantic comedies… It was entrancing for him to have domesticity with her. In the day he was helping build homes or helping his clients make sure that they were getting checks from their insurance companies to rebuild and it took a lot out of him, but when he got home just one smile from her or a kiss made him feel renewed and that he could do it again day after day.

 

It was always at these times that Bridget couldn’t believe who she was with… He had a way of making her feel just so special… When she was growing up she and Bunny used to read fairy tale and young adult novels about big grand gestures that shows how much someone loves you… There was nothing wrong with that in her mind, but they were in the privacy of their own home, it was a Monday so they were eating red beans and rice and it felt as if it was just a special for him to profess his heart to her here as it would be at some 5-star rated restaurant. What could she say to follow it up…

 

“And I would do it again, each and every time… I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know when but I can’t live without you and I don't want to. I can’t say that means following you here was completely altruistic, yes of course I wanted to help as much as I can, but there was no way in hell I was leaving you. I don’t think I have ever felt such a depth of emotion for anyone and I don’t wanna spend any time apart and having it possibly dampen because of distance because I know myself. I knew if I didn’t take the leap, I would start to make excuses of why it couldn’t work and possibly lose a feeling I never had before in my heart. I knew it on the first date, and you know I don’t ever give it up on a first date… I gave into my emotions and I would never regret it, even though I felt dumb for giving you the wrong number by mistake. I had worked in my head that I was a fool and gave it up to someone who didn’t deserve anything from me and you were talking to an automated machine about the hurt, loss, the confusion and hopelessness that you were going through, seeing you that day in the restaurant felt like everything was standing still. You don’t know what the feeling is like to have this strong and stoic guy barreling down to you looking for strength. I was so glad that I made my way over there because I would have kept being so mad that this man that I thought I connected with on such a deep level couldn't even be bothered take give me a call. I had too much pride to show up at your job or ask my mother for your number because I couldn’t take it being embarrassed again. Being with you in those first days it was comforting to being needed emotionally by someone that I was so attracted to, I never had that and it wasn’t like your grief was an aphrodisiac to me but it was fulfilling to know that I could be that again, I could open my heart to someone and they could open their heart to meet as if I wasn’t so damaged to love or to trust. It was so hard to tell you about the fucked-up nature of how I got to be like that in the first place… But you don’t judge me or make me feel foolish because I felt all of those things looking bad about the decisions I made when I was young you give me love and understanding and it's so easy to reject those things can you make me feel so safe that I can trust it, that’s when I knew that I could trust you with my heart and it was okay to give you my all. ”

 

If someone had told Bridget a year ago that she would be trusting a lover with her heart, she would have laughed in their face and told them to go to hell. But here she was doing it unreservedly and proudly.

 

It made Jubal smile to hear how much he meant to her because she meant the world to him, she was the light at the end of his tunnel… They had had their first Valentine’s Day together, their first Mardi Gras together and as time pass it only became clearer to him that he needed to do something about this relationship… They already shared the same space, but he wanted more. He wasn’t a selfish man, but he wanted it all and he wanted it with her. As the months went by, he only got a stronger urge to lock this down… so much so that he went to go visit one of his cousins, who happened to be a jeweler started designing a ring that was going to be worthy of the woman he wanted to be his wife.

 

Sometimes Bridget was too perceptive to things and it was hard to explain away why he would come home late one day when she knew that they broke every single day at the same time… So if he came home after she did, she would be curious to know why especially if he was coming home empty handed. It took him about three months to design a ring but most of that came from the logistics of trying to get in what was deemed not necessary by the state government so gemstones, diamonds and gold for rings to go back seat to food and water as they should in his mind and but when they did come, he never felt happier. It wasn’t like he had majored in gemology or know how to really design rings he left that up this cousin, but what he really wanted to convey was the feeling that she gave him… His cousin told him that jewelry can be like flowers and if there was one thing that he knew it was flowers… It was something that he learned from his father. Creating something beautiful always took time, it took hard work and sometimes it took a couple different tries, so he treated the process of making the ring, like it was Saturdays when he and daddy used to garden in the yard. Sometimes it took months for them to grow a really good bush, but when they did, they used to create stories with the flowers from Mama. They would each make their own bouquet and explained to Ms. Julienne what it meant, and that’s what he was going to do with this ring.

 

He had it for some time now, but he was always looking for the right moment, he just didn't know what the right moment would look like or feel like… Then he supposed there is no such thing as a right moment. So he did what he always did, he made his red beans and rice, but something was a little different tonight… He wasn’t even sure if she noticed but everything he did always had meaning… That’s how his father raised him to be, everything had a purpose, in every action you did had an intention even if you didn’t know it at the time.

He had made a bouquet, he didn’t have enough time to create the flowers himself, so he paid a visit to Flora Savage to create the story that he wanted. He knew that it was a risk doing this but he supposed everything was, it didn’t mean he should stop himself from doing it anyway. They had finished their dinner and he picked up the plates and put them in the sink.

 

“Would you like to play a game?” Jubal asked her with a shy smile on his face.

 

Bridget immediately thought it might be something sexual in nature… some cat and mouse game that ended with both of them sweaty and out of breath.

 

“Hmm… I love it when we play games…”

 

“Well… something about this room is different, it’s up to you to figure out why. When you figure it out… come tell me your answer.”

 

Jubal gave her a kiss and went to their bedroom to take a shower. It left Bridget all by herself trying to figure out how she was going to solve this puzzle.

 

“This was so not the game I was expecting!” Bridget gets up trying to take in the room around her to notice and she didn’t notice anything different. She knew that Jubal would mind his business as she tried to figure it out so she was really on her own with this. “I’m going to be here all night.” She shook her head wondering what she got herself into.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bridget was trying to figure out how the room was different. She got a little upset with herself that she couldn’t solve it that night. Every time they had dinner at the table, Jubal looked at her with a knowing glint in his eye, it irritated her because she was so frustrated that she couldn’t solve the puzzle.

 

She had started to recruit Ms. Angelina and her family to help her solve the puzzle when they came for weekly dinner. She had been telling them of her urge to find out what Jubal intention for the game was because it was driving her crazy.

 

He knew what she was doing but the more help she got meant nothing because no one lived there but them. Every night they ate their meals, she was always scanning the room to see if anything was new or out of place. It amused Jubal, when he started this, he had no clue that it would last this long… it became a running gag at this point. He knew it drove Bridget up the wall trying to figure it out. She didn’t even know what it was going to be, but he knew she was like a dog with a bone. She was relentless when she started something.

 

At first Jubal wanted to give up and just tell her, but Bridget just wouldn’t let him… She started pacing back and forth, even going so much as to talk herself through it on why she wasn't giving up. She thought if Jubal went through all this trouble to start this game, it was up to her to end it. She supposed that it was a bad thing that she came from such a competitive family because she just couldn't concede. She just couldn’t let him win… Jubal didn’t think of it that way, he wanted Bridget to solve it so badly. Her not being able to find what was different about the room was a torture that affected them both. When he started this adventure, he didn't think that it would turn into this. Bridget never talked about it to him, she would just track his eyes every time they ate. Too bad for Bridget that he was just as perceptive as she was.

 

He tended to look straight into her eyes when they ate or on his plate. Their cat and mouse they had going on only added to their everyday lives. It had been about six weeks since the challenge had started and Bridget was still in the same spot she was when she started. She had no clue what was different about the room and Jubie didn’t change anything. The only thing he changed was to put fresh flowers in after the previous ones wilted. She felt like he was doing that to keep the room just like he left it when they started the game.

 

Every time Bridget saw Jubal changing the roses in the vase, he was smiling wide… She knew he was enjoying this, but it made her alarm bells go off. She was visualizing the room as much as she could remember before and after the challenge had started.

 

She almost wanted to kick Jubie because she couldn’t see anything different with the room. She had an idea though. She took a photo with Ms. Angelina when she had dinner with them for the first time so she could email it to Jubal’s mom.

 

She looked at the picture and everything in the room when it made her deflate. Everything in the room was the same. She was about to close the picture on the camera as she looked up in the room and she paused. The flowers were a different color in the picture…

 

The Flowers had a completely different arrangement too… The ones in the picture were all one color and one type, just simple daisies. But the one she were looking at right in front of her, completely different… This was an arrangement, an assortment of Flowers with different colors  and different types.

 

She knew that there was a language for flowers, but she had no clue what most of it meant. She loved getting flowers because they just look beautiful, but she had never  given a second thought of the intention behind them. She did the first thing she could think of and took a picture of it and left the house. The only place she could think of going was where someone could give her the answer she needed. What better place to go to then a florist?

 

She went to a popular street and asked for directions to the nearest flower shop and she found out she was less than four blocks from one. When she got out if the car, she tried to keep her cool by not running into the store demanding to know what this floral arrangement meant.

 

She walked calmly into the small shop Robineau’s Magasin de Fleurs and saw an elderly woman.

 

“Well hello, how may I help you today young lady?” The old woman asked Bridget with a kind smile on her face. The woman had been on her phone texting something to someone. Bridget heard the woman giggle and wondered why but she was on a mission.

 

It made Bridget feel more at ease for some reason. There was something about the woman that made feel calm. Maybe it was just the vibe of the shop… it was quiet and just filled to the brim with flowers.

 

“Hi, I have something somewhat unorthodox to ask…”

 

“I’m sure whatever it is, I probably have heard it before… Tell me how can I help?”

 

“So my boyfriend has this floral arrangement at our dining room table. I was wondering what it meant?”

 

Bridget turn on the camera and showed the woman a photo of the arrangement hoping the woman could help her make sense of it. The flowers may not even be what Jubie was talking about…

 

“Your beau sure does know his flowers…” The old woman laughed and shook her head thinking about the youth these days.

 

“Yeah, he does… he learned about it from his dad. It was something they did when his father was alive.”

 

The woman smiled at Bridget but it seemed like it was pained. It was as if she was remembering something in her own life. Bridget wondered if the woman lost someone she loved too. She didn’t want to be improper and ask even though she wanted too.

 

“Aww that’s such a sweet thing to hear, he didn’t lose his father because of the storm did he?” The woman already knew the answer but she played dumb.

 

“Oh no, thankfully his family was spared in the storm. Its been about eight years since his father’s passed. I’m just happy that he lived long enough to see his son graduate college. It was important milestone he got to see and I know it still means the world to my boyfriend that his father got to see him graduate top of his class.”

 

“Oh looks like you have a thoughtful and intelligent fellow. I can tell you exactly what each of these flowers means. Are you sure you are ready to hear what it means?”

 

When Bridget heard the woman, she felt a pit in her stomach. The way she said it made her feel a type of way as if it were something she couldn’t turn back from. Whatever it meant… Bridget was ready to hear it. She has been on this search for so long, outside of work, it has dominated her life.

 

“The Gloxinia alternating on the outer most ring is significant, Gloxinia is the flower that symbolizes love at first sight…” The florist looked at her with a sweet and kind look in her eye. Bridget had to keep herself from snorting. She remembered their first meeting… when she opened the door, she had expected someone who looked like Morty only younger. When she laid eyes on Jubal, he made her speechless. She couldn’t believe that her mother set her up with someone who looked like him and not a Morty with hair. When he first spoke, her knees almost buckled from how deep his voice was. She forgot that there was a gaggle of family behind her. He had that kind of effect on her and she never felt that way before. She could remember the shock of Aly breaking their reverie with her impatience. “The other flower with prominence is the jonquil which is most likely used here to express love reciprocated, You see the holly being weaved through the two flowers here signifies defense. So it seems the outer rim is showcasing a story of love or infatuation at first sight that was mutual and that love, or affection will be defended by the two of you…” As Bridget listened more to the meaning of the flowers she felt tears streaming down her face.

 

She couldn’t help being emotional… because she ate there everyday, completely ignorant to the beautiful flowers at the center of her dining room table.

 

“You doing okay cher?”

 

“Yeah, I think I am… I just love him so much and he does things like this that make me fall in love with him even more…”

 

“He sounds like a keeper, we just got started… there’s more to the story. Are you ready to hear?” Bridget just nodded to her this godsend helping her with the meaning of the floral arrangement. “Next we have Lily of the Valley here, being used here it looks like he is saying return to happiness, as if his life is complete… These flowers are being sandwiched with primrose which signifies he cannot live without you. Next ring you can see that there are red tulips which is a bold declaration of love and they are flanked with blue violets which is being used here at least from what I can gather as I’ll always be there you can see at the top of this ring are magenta zinnias but it's only one which signifies lasting affection period now we are getting closer to the center it starts to get funny, this ring is only orange blossoms and stephanotis, it symbolizes eternal love and the intention to marry. Now we are at the center come on you can see that there is only one flower here, this is a myosotis, which most people call forget me nots and they symbolize true love.”

 

 Bridget was stunned, absolutely speechless… This was on her dining table for so long, Jubal seem so amused that she just couldn’t figure out what was so new about the table. Between the tears that were still streaming down her face, she started to laugh… He showcased his love at every meal and she was none the wiser... he taunted her with his devotion. Even when he wasn’t at home she ate at the table, she didn’t know if it was a habit or if she just like being there because it felt like he was still there even when he wasn't…

 

She thought to herself how long she would have gone had she not checked her camera… Going absolutely crazy trying to figure out what was different in the room. She even told her colleagues at the hospital about the little game and everyone laughed at her wondering how she couldn't get it. One of her coworkers said’ you lived there how could you not know what was different’… But now she was realizing that Jubal moved in silence… he had a stealth to him and it only made her smile in this flower shop. She thought about the floral arrangement and how it told a story and not just the I wanna get married…

 

She couldn’t help but compare it to how she married Deacon… even though there really wasn’t a comparison, it was her only frame of reference. Her mind kept going to her stoic, brooding…stalwart boyfriend. She didn't know how it was possible so fall in love with someone deeper each and every day, but he somehow made it possible. It was always funny to her that he didn't need to speak to convey so much emotion, which was ironic to her because he was a natural orator. His mother was always going on and on about him being a national speech and debate champion, for God’s sake he’s a damn lawyer of course he had to talk for a living, but at home he was just completely different. He liked to listen and he like to listen to her.

 

It’s intoxicating to be someone’s center, their foundation but it's even more powerful when you feel the same about them. She could live without Jubal, and it seemed like he couldn’t live without her and he was trying to do something about it and it put a smile on her face. He was asking her to marry him the most Jubal kind of way. He knew her so well because anyone who knew her, truly knew her, knew that she thought that talk was cheap, you had to show her in order for her to know that you were being truthful. That same floral arrangement had been there for so long and yet he always brought fresh flowers each week, if he even saw an inkling of them wilting, he got rid of them all and put a fresh new arrangement in.

 

Here she was, silently bawling her eyes out in front of a woman she didn't even know and yeah it seemed like the woman only understood.

 

“I would like to purchase a single flower that would convey my intention or at least answer the question, but he seems to be asking me… He speaks the language of flowers and I need something that tells him that I understand and I reciprocate so tell me a flower that will tell him that I not only love him but he is my forever too and I want that to be official…”

 

“I can do that for you, but I think you should do more than just one single flower, this arrangement conveyed a lot of emotion and it clearly took him a lot of time to make it because this is not something that you can just order this is something that you would have to make custom and it wouldn't be something that a florist would just do… I can of course get you one single flower that will say yes but if someone confessed to you that they loved you and only you with a soliloquy, would you reply with thank you…” the older woman just looked at Bridget wondering what the young lady wanted to do.

 

Bridget thought about it and she didn't want it to be a slap in the face the jewel of him giving her all of this devotion and she in kind thought it was an expectation and not a reciprocation.

 

“I want him to know that I love him just as much as he loves me, so please help me find something that shows that I want to marry him, his actions are not in vain…”

 

“Well I would do something with white heathers which symbolizes wishes will come true, I would also add some daisies and daffodil… the daisy will showcase that your love is loyal in the daffodil will showcase that he is the only one I would also add nasturtium, will symbolize that he has conquered your heart. And in the cente,r I would just do one flower and that would be a chrysanthemum which will symbolize fidelity, longevity and happiness. How does that sound to you?”

 

“it sounds like I’m going to get married…”

 

 Bridget’s words made the older woman laugh and she wishes women nothing but luck and good fortune with a man who seemed to be a really good one.

 

“Oh that’s good dear… I love the sound of that.”

 

Bridget couldn’t help but think there was more to the woman’s words but she was too excited to pay any mind.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Jubal got the page from Robineau’s Magasin de Fleurs, he smiled... his secret weapon give him the lowdown. He had to activate his plan. With Bridget taking longer than expected it meant that he was in a limbo that he didn’t originally foresee.

 

That was okay though, he knew how to adapt as soon as he got the page, he started to enact the rest of his plan.

 

She knows. -Jubal

 

As soon as he sent it, he felt a wave of relief, he could still have his way. He told Bridget that tomorrow night was going to be a night to eat out. She laughed at him telling him that it was a random Thursday but she was down for it if that was what he wanted. She had been so happy on the phone that she didn’t question anything he said or did.

 

When Bridget got home from the flower shop, she went straight for the flowers at the center of her dining table. She thought about her boyfriend again… He brought a smile to her face and he wasn’t even there to see it. She got giddy as she just admired the arrangement. She took several minutes to just be awed by it. She ate there every day… she still couldn’t believe it.

 

It was like flying high… they had accomplished so much there. Even though the work seems insurmountable, she felt like they made a difference. She wanted to be bring effective and thoughtful care for those impacted and Jubal was leading the effort for not letting their neighbors be scammed by their insurance companies from rightful compensation or being preyed upon by bad actors using their tragedy for monetary gain.

 

She felt liked she matured as a person. She loved being a doctor, she was always about helping people but here she felt more passionate about her profession than she ever had before. This place made her different, Jubal made her different… she didn’t know how to explain it to someone. She knew life was a never-ending learning experience and this whole experience was not something she ever foreseen, but neither was Jubal.

 

She touched the flowers, tracing each one of them… It made her giggle to herself, how did she not notice this until now? She was beside herself still… admiring this floral arrangement for the beauty that it shows. She was still trying to fathom what it is like being so devoted to someone. She has never experienced anything remotely like this in her life, she didn't even know if she was ready for something like this… there’s no manual out there for people in love, she felt stupid because she just couldn't stop giggling into the air, her mind kept going through moments that she had with Jubal, she knew that she loved him and he loved her come back he wanted to marry her… Spend his life with her, build a life for her like he builds houses.

 

She started to daydream wondering what it would be like to be his wife, she didn’t think much would change but she liked the idea of being able to call him her husband.

 

“God, it’s so annoying how he can make me feel like I’m a teenager with a crush… It’s just not right the effect that he has on me!” Bridget started to laugh at herself again. Here she was all alone in the house and the only thing she can do was talked to herself.

 

She heard keys in the lock, this was about the time where Jubal would come home. She thought about their game and it was to find something. The flowers were nice and honestly earth shattering but she just realized that there was more to the intention of all of this. She could hear his footsteps, but she just had the urge to pay attention to the bouquet in front of her, she picked it up not knowing what to expect start… Most of the flowers we’re cut, most of the stems weren’t very long… they were tied in a couple of places. When she followed the long stems, she saw a beautiful ring gleaming, holding the longest stems.

 

When Jubal walked further into the house, he just looked on at Bridget, she was at the dining table staring at the flowers. He wanted to chuckle to himself add the fact that it took her this long, but he couldn’t because his heart was in his throat. She found the ring, she solved the puzzle but now it was his turn to wait… She was the one with the upper hand now. All he could do was just stare at her, he imagined that she must be in some shock, but she had to know his intention because she went to a flower shop for some help, not that she knew that he already knew that.

 

It felt like an eternity while he was waiting to know what her answer was going to be, but in reality, it couldn't have been more than one minute. She turned her head and looked at him with the ring in one hand and the bouquet of flowers in the other… This was do or die now, this was their future, he was waiting for the answer that he's been longing for…

 

Bridget eyes met his, her face was blank, still in shock about actually finding out what the flowers meant… in solving the puzzle. The competitive part of her wanted to say ‘in your face I won’, The other part of her just gazed upon him with nothing but love in her eyes…

 

“I have been making myself go crazy, I wondered how in the hell could the room be different, I couldn’t see it, but that’s what you wanted isn’t it… Of all things to expect, I had never foreseen that you would give me something so beautiful, these flowers, these intentions, declarations… I have never had anyone love me the way you do. The way I found the ring, it’s just so you to do something like this… You’re still quiet and mischievous, you have this humor that I have never really encountered in anyone else before.  I had never expected that I could have anything like this, I had only said yes to the blind date to get my mother off my back, I thought I was going to be with someone who was like a younger version of Morty… not that Morty is a bad person, he’s great, but I didn’t think that I would ever have met someone who's changed my life, the way you have… I found a purpose, a home within you, within our love.  For the longest time I thought I was broken, I couldn’t think about sharing myself really, I thought I would be rejected, be seen as not good enough to love… I was a coward, I couldn’t commit myself to anything or anyone besides my career… that was something that I could always count on, something I was good at. I didn’t think that love was in the cards for someone like me, and then I met you. You not only told me I was beautiful, you made me feel that way… Even when my niece thinks I look like a naked mole rat, you think I’m the most beautiful thing in the whole world. And it’s not just because you think that I am pretty or beautiful or whatever attractive descriptive word I am, you listen to me, you hear me and understand me in a way that I have never had before… you have made me invested in wanting a future… with you. I love coming home to you, I love hearing about your day, you building houses or kicking someone’s ass with the law. I love it all… I love all of you. I brought you something…”

 

Bridget had backed away from him and went to get her little surprise. Jubal only wanted to hear the words ‘yes, I’ll marry you’, but he was stewing in the silence wondering what Bridget was going to surprise him with.

 

He saw bring out her own bouquet and he was a little in shock. She gave it to him and said nothing. He scrutinized the arrangement and looked at her interchangeably for about ten seconds.

 

He laughed as he read the language of the flowers… her laughed joined his, they looked at each other with an understanding that needed no words. He was getting married, that was a nice thought to have but the best part was, he was marrying this tour de force who would follow him to the ends of the world. He counted on her strength to help ground him, keep him focused. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him, he felt that in his soul, he knew that he would do anything for her… no questions asked.

 

Bridget just slid her arms around his neck and brought him closer to her. She didn’t want to do anything else but be with him.

 

“You know, I can’t wait to celebrate, what do you think about that?” He popped a kiss with every word he said. It only served to make her giggle.

 

“I think that’s a splendid idea but right now, I don’t want to do anything else but have a long night of you fucking me like we don’t have work tomorrow.”

 

Bridget had no problem conveying what she wanted. Shyness went out the window when she discovered the ring.

 

“Well damn, if I knew that I would get this for a marriage proposal I would have proposed on the second date…”

 

He scooped her up and went up the stairs.

 

“Why wouldn’t you propose on the first date? You said it was love at first sight for you?”

 

“You gave it up to me on the first date…” The sweet kiss he gave contrasted with the lewdness of his words.

 

“You are such a dog… Jubal Valentine…” She laughed as she gave him a playful shove as he carried her to their bedroom.

 

“Woof… woof.”

 

He was having fun with her. Everything felt easier now that he had an answer… even though he knew that she loved him, it was not a guarantee she was going to say yes. She had been married before and it was something that defined her. She was betrayed in the cruelest way by people she was supposed to be able to trust. It made it hard for her to trust in a future. He knew that he did everything he could to show Bridget that she could count on him and trust in his love for her but emotional wounds could linger no matter how much they love one another…

 

He got inside their room and placed her gently on the bed and watched her. She looked him in his eyes as she unbuttoned her top. He did the same with a smile. He got on the bed and slowly made his way to her. He just dropped himself on the bed feeling a lightness go through him.

 

Bridget scooched herself closer to him, hugging herself to him, giving him kisses… he rubbed her back slowly, she shuddered from his warm hands touching her. He took the time to snap the hook from her bra off. Slowly removing her bra from her was an act of art. He made sure to trace her skin as he removed the strap from her skin.

“Don’t make me wait all night Jubie…” Bridget was trying to be patient, but she would take matters into her own hands if her fiancé wouldn’t get the show on the road.

 

“You said we had all night…” He kissed her shoulder, it would seem sweet, but she knew that it was a taunt…

 

“I imagined that it would be multiple times throughout the night... we might die of old age before I get my all of my garments off.”

 

“Maybe not old age… just a year.”

 

He had a way of bringing the humor back into the equation. There was no shortage of laughs for Bridget. She couldn’t get enough of it On a normal basis, but right now she was just trying to get it in.

 

“Jubie… I really can’t wait a lifetime or even a year… I’d really like to have sex with my fiancé now… It would be the second greatest thing that happened to me today.”

 

Jubal smiled at the fact that he was now her fiancé, not her boyfriend or anything that was less than soon to be husband. He wore the title like a badge, he knew how lucky he was to be able to be hers...

 

Those words seem to do the trick because Jubal was expressing how happy he was through the kisses to her body. Every kiss he made on her skin felt like fire.

 

 He took off the rest of her underwear, she was bare to him… exposed but she looked at him with nothing but admiration and trust. He smiled at her being so comfortable with him. She opened her legs a little, showing him what she wanted. She reached over to her nightstand and pulled out the lube and gave it to him, he squirted some on his hand and just massaged her whole vulva. Hearing her soft gasps into his ear made his erection strain even more in his boxers.

 

“I love you, but you better be prepared to do more than just rubbing my pussy Jubal Valentine.”

 

“I have to fulfill my fiancee’s desire of fucking her all night long…”

 

“Mmm…”

 

Bridget felt him slip two fingers in her and it made her go crazy. He had big hands which meant he had long fingers. It felt completely different when he fucked her with his fingers than when she tried to service herself. The orgasms were better, longer and that’s what she needed right now.

 

“By the moans escaping those lips, I’m guessing you like that huh?”

 

“Fuck me faster Jubie…”

 

He picked up the pace with his fingers.. The more desperate she became, the more it fed his ego and right now his ego was an extension of his erection. When he made her cum, he let her go through the motions of it as he slid the condom on. He gave himself a few pumps and he slide into her. He was on top of her.

 

Her legs wrapped around his waist without a thought. The strength of her legs drew him closer. They were chest to chest. She hugged him to her.

 

“Oh god Jubie…” Bridget felt him everywhere. Her nails pressed into his back trying to get him impossibly closer.

 

The hiss that came from him caressed her ears… it seduced her. Her legs did something she couldn’t really control, it prompted him to move. He fucked her slow and deep. He was taking his time, they could only have this experience once and he wanted it too last.

 

He kissed everywhere he could reach… Bridget felt the security of his weight on her. His body covered all of hers… there was something powerful in that for her.

 

“Jubie, you’re going to make me cum…” she could barely whisper her words. She looked into his eyes as he kept on giving her deep strokes. He was focused on seeing every reaction from her eyes.

 

Neither one of them could focus on anything but the other. When Bridget orgasmed, it was powerful normally she would give in to the feeling but she kept her eyes on her fiancé. He could see every gasp, her eyes flutter and her head shake. It was an intoxicating sight that made him lose focus, he was weak to the feeling and climaxed into the condom. He let our roar of a grunt right in her face. He put his forehead to hers and tried to catch his breath. She decided to steal the breath and kiss him.

 

They had a long night ahead of them, they smiled at each other. She ran her fingers through his hair as he slipped out of her. He tied the condom and threw it into the trash by his nightstand. He loved the feeling of her running her fingers through his hair. He closed his eyes and surrendered to the feeling, he felt himself relax like he had a hour long massage.

 

“You better not fall asleep or I won’t forgive you.”

 

“You should know better than to run your pretty fingers through my hair. You know it’s like melatonin for me…” He got comfortable in the bed, he opened his eyes and looked at her, admiring everything about her.

 

He thought everything in this moment was perfect, they needed no words because the words I love you was conveyed in their gestures.

Chapter Text

Jubal had a little heads up, but he didn’t have that much time to plan for the dinner. He wanted to make it as memorable as possible. He had decided to rent out one of his favorite restaurants in New Orleans, he had only been here four times with Bridget, but every time they came, she always left her plate clean. He even seen her pick up her plate to drink the sauce of her gumbo before. It seemed to him that she liked this restaurant as much as he did, which was going to be a great thing because tonight would be even better than yesterday.

 

Bridget had gone into work it's the biggest smile on her face. She was only spending her shift indoors… It was pretty slow and it had been because the infrastructure got better around the city. It was easier and more accessible to get to the hospital than it was before, they still went out in the field to look for patients, but it was not like before… She may be went four times a month, instead of going four times a week.

 

She made her rounds and every patient she saw we're all doing good which only made her day feel even better. She did love the action of diagnosing and treating, but what she loved most of all was a patient not needing all of that, it meant that they were healthy and that was most important. When it was her lunch time, she went to the cafeteria and of course the ladies there were the first ones to recognize then she had a new addition.

 

“Wow look at that… Walking around town with that pretty ring, one can only assume that he popped the question?”

 

Some of the other lunch ladies heard and they started to gather around on their side to see the ring… Bridget had had a couple of lunch dates with Jubal at work… He loved to come and surprise her just because he could, he knew some of the lunch ladies just because everyone knew everyone in New Orleans.

 

“So this was tired to the puzzle that took me forever to solve but I’m so glad that I solved it because I’m getting married… I feel like the luckiest woman right now.”

 

“You definitely look happy… I am so happy for the both of you I know that you are gonna have a great marriage and a great life. He’s such a good man, like his father was and I know he’s gonna treat you right as he should because you know you're our favorite doctor. I wish you could stay here forever but we know one day you’re gonna have to go back to LA but we love you here…”

 

That was one of the bittersweet things about being here, she loved this place and she had even talked about staying here permanently with Jubal… This was his home, but she didn’t mind making it her home too if that's what he wanted. Now that she could understand what people were saying when they talk so fast, it made her wanna stay even more. She learned Louisiana Creole for him, she tried so hard to be a partner in every way.

 

He told her if it was just that easy he would stay… But he couldn’t he had already established a life in LA and was on a partner track with Morty’s firm. He had never expected to come back to New Orleans so soon, but it was circumstances that brought him here… And he loved being back, his city made it so easy to want to never leave, but he had responsibilities that he had to fulfill, he could never break a promise. He left his job in good faith and they held on to the position for him. It warm Jubal’s heart though, Bridget seemed to love his home as much as she loved him.

 

“I know it's going to be so hard for me to leave when the time comes, is been such a pleasure and honestly a blessing to get to know all of you. I can see how it’s so easy to fall in love with the place and the people here because I’ve never been to a place where you just say hi to people on the street and it's a common thing amongst everyone.  You know Jubal said he had to come back here because he had to help his family, and family didn’t only mean blood and I can tell you I get it. I finally get exactly what he means, his neighbors, you help each other and it's not like it comes from a place of feeling holier than thou, and I’m from a place where people do that... He comes from a place of love, and that kind of spirit has been here for hundreds of years. The people here have a resilience that I have never seen before.  It has made me in awe of how much humanity is here. I wanna be a part of that so badly, this has become my second home. I lived overseas for school and thankfully I had my sister there with me but when we lived there it did not feel like home, yeah we lived there and we had fun and we had each other but the place itself, we knew it was only temporary, we don’t wanna live there forever. I’m going to make it my mission to tell my eventual husband even though we can’t live here full time that we come here for at least our summers because I can’t fathom taking years to see my friends again.”

 

Bridget’s words resonated with all of the ladies, it made them feel so appreciated, she had seen all of them in a professional capacity, but she became friends with all of them. She loved to hear about their day, their families, what they were going through… They also had the best gossip and not just for the hospital but in all of New Orleans. The fun fact about knowing everybody when she can be in so many people’s business, but it wasn’t that mean kind of gossip, it was lighthearted and uplifting, like finding out that your friend was opening up her own bakery shop or someone found a family member who had been missing.

 

Bridget had told them about Jubal was taking her out to dinner tonight to celebrate their engagement… All the ladies just laugh to each other and said nothing about them already knowing about it. They just told her that would be a great way to celebrate her engagement.

 

Bridget had her lunch in complete silence by herself, all of her meals tasted better than she had ever remembered. The day at the hospital stayed pretty quiet which she wasn’t mad at because she had plans tonight. When she got off of work, she decided to buy a new dress and some heels… Everything felt special for her, so she wanted to look the part.

 

She found it so funny that she was in a Department store and she went straight for the Forrester section, she looked at some of the new designs that her family put out and she decided to wear a green dress so I can really bring out the color of her hair. When she made her way home, she thought that she was going to find Jubal there already, but she came to an empty house… She didn’t think too much of it. She thought to herself this might be the best option because she would be able to focus on getting ready for tonight, as much as she loved you Jubal, he was a distraction… She wanted to celebrate her engagement outside, but she knew if she took one look at him, they were not going to be leaving the house.

 

She had been in such a hurry, she didn’t even change out of her scrubs. She just went to the bathroom and discarded all of her clothes and took a shower… it was like she was brand new appearing every couple of minutes she found herself just looking at her ring finger admiring her ring. She put on her dress and started to get ready, but every time she tried, she just kept laughing to herself. The giddiness still hadn’t worn off yet and she wasn’t sure that she wanted it too.

 

She decided that she wanted to be light on the makeup because she still did have work tomorrow and she didn't want it to be a big deal to take it all off when they came back, she didn’t know how drunk that she would be getting tonight.

 

She had just finished her makeup and decided to go down the stairs when she heard the door opening, Jubal got a great view of her coming down, like she was going to a dance with him. He let out a long whistle, he admired how beautiful she looked.

 

“Damn you really look like you wanna go out…”

 

“Jubal Valentine, if you dare try and tell me that you don't want to go out anymore I will have to take matters into my own hands, and I don’t wanna have to explain to your mother why I had to kill you.”

 

 “Seeing as how I would like to live, I think the best option available would be to get ready so I can take you out…”

 

 “Good answer.”

 

“I couldn’t even stay home if I wanted to… I made us reservations at the best restaurant in town.”

 

“Now I really wanna know where we’re going because there's so much good food here.”

 

“There is only one place that will do as justice for this celebration. I’m taking you to Dooky Chase restaurant.”

 

Bridget knew that Dooky Chase was Jubal’s all-time favorite restaurant, this was a place that he said was better than his own family’s place. This was a place where his father would take them out to have family meals when it was a special occasion. This was a place that was near and dear to his heart and the fact that she was being taken there she knew that this engagement meant the world to him.

 

“Well I feel like a lucky girl if you’re taking me to Dooky Chase. I know we’re going to be eating good tonight, maybe I wore the wrong dress.” Bridget said as she started to think to herself now that she knew that she was gonna have some good food tonight maybe she should wear some looser clothing because she would probably order everything on the menu.

 

“Ain’t nothing wrong with that dress, but you’re right we are gonna be eating good tonight... That place… everything tastes like heaven on a plate.”

 

“I definitely won’t argue with that sentiment I love it there.”

 

 They had made their way out of the door, Jubal had helped her get into the car like he always did… It just made Bridget really giddy and she had no clue why because he done it every day. She found herself so excited to go to Dooky Chase, she couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate her engagement.

 

When Jubal pulled the car in, she thought to herself wow it looks like it was a busy night because she could see that the place was crowded, she saw cars up and down and wondered if he had made reservations because if he didn’t, she was gonna be really upset.

 

He opened her car door and helped her out, but all she could think about was please let them get a seat.

 

He just held her hand and it seemed that he knew what she was thinking because all he did was laugh at her… When he opened the door to the restaurant, Bridget was so surprised.

 

She saw all these cars outside but the dining room looked pretty clear, they went to the maître-d' to get seated.

 

“You know that you two are the last ones to make it right?”

 

Bridget was confused because this dinner service was looking really light, but then again, she did see all those cars outside.

 

But then she started to see and hear footsteps, it seemed like a lot of footsteps. And then when she turned back into the dining room, she could feel the breath leaving her body.

 

She felt out of control, she didn’t realize that her body was moving…

 

“Mommy!” Bridget started to run when she saw her mother there.

 

She didn’t notice that there were so many people crowding the room, all she could hear was the soft laughs coming from Stephanie’s mouth.  All she could do was hug her mother tight, it was then she realized that Jubal must have called her over here. This was the best kind of surprise that he could ever give her.

 

“I hope I get just as big of a hug…”

 

Bridget started to feel her body get hot even more, she was so excited, she could have sworn she heard her father’s voice, when she looked too her right, she saw him.

 

“Daddy!” Bridget was feeling on top of the world to have her parents here. This was completely different than the first time. She was celebrating with the people she loved most. She gave him a big hug and it felt like she was a kid again.

 

After she hugged him, she took a big step back and she noticed there were so many people in the room. There was people that she worked with at the hospital, just about every single person in her family, even Felicia showed up and she knew that her sister lived the furthest all the way in Paris. She saw that Jubal’s family was here too and she couldn’t help it, the first person she hugged after her parents, was Ms. Julienne.

 

 She got so carried away with hugging all of her friends from work and her family, she forgot that Jubal was even there. It made her laugh and as soon as she was going to go back to him, she was stopped by all of her siblings.

 

 The first one that hugged her was Bunny and it felt so good to have her sister by her side again. Even though they talked almost every single day it was a completely different feeling to see her again, to share her happiness with someone she knew only wanted the best for her… she was with her best friend again. After she got her obligatory hugs from all of her siblings and their spouses and their kids, she made her way back to her husband to be.

 

She found him talking to his family and the owner of the restaurant.

 

“So tell me this Jubal, who has the best food, me  or your momma and them?”

 

“Now Ms. Leah, we did not come all this way for you to stir up all this trouble come you better leave my son alone…” Ms. Julienne didn’t want any trouble.

 

“Now Ms. Leah, I think that tells you everything you need to hear, there’s no one in this world who loves my mama more than me, but there ain't no food better than anything made in this restaurant, and we pretty much know that.” Jubal knew that he couldn't lie, he had no reason to because he knew that Ms. Leah was an institution, not just there either… They didn’t call her the Queen of Creole cuisine for nothing.

 

“You see I knew the boy had some good sense… And now look at him big time lawyer, getting married to a good girl, you know they nothing wrong with that Julienne, you got so much stuff going for you, you Boisseau sisters can be the best in LA. There’s no shame in that.” Ms. Leah Chase always loved to tease. She was a friend of their mother, she loved those girls something special. It made her laugh sometimes because she knew them since the day they were born and here they were, with grown children, even some grandchildren.

 

“Can’t argue with the queen.” Julienne said, remembering the times when they used to come as a family to have dinner with Jubal and Sasha. The last big dinner they had Sasha was five and Jubal had just graduated college.

 

Bridget just watched them talk with a smile on her face. People were out and about eating, she slipped into the space of Jubal’s side. She got a smile from Ms. Leah, she had met the wonderful woman the first time Jubal took her here.

 

Ms. Leah gave her a wink and told them all that she was going back to the kitchen to make sure the food kept coming out in a orderly fashion.

 

Bridget was hungry but she stopped in her tracks.

 

“Jubal, oh my gosh, you won’t believe it?!”

 

“Your mom is talking to the woman who helped me find out what the flowers mean…” Bridget was happy that the woman was able to come to her party, but she was confused that Jubal invited her, he didn’t know she went to the woman… right?

 

“Oh that's a funny thing isn't it…”

 

Bridget and Jubal walked over to them, and Bridget couldn’t help herself she just needed to ask the question.

 

“Oh my goodness, Ms. Robineau, thank you for coming.”

 

“Well there’s no other place I’d rather be, I had to celebrate the happy couple…”

 

Bridget had a happily confused face that made Jubal, his mother and Ms. Robineau laugh at her.

 

“So you're probably wondering how she’s here, remember I told you that I wasn’t too worried about my grandmother because she was in Houston… Well my grandma came back from Houston, she happens to be the nearest florist to where we live.”

 

Bridget started to think back to her interaction with Ms. Robineau, she didn’t know how she completely missed the mark, even the sign that said this woman's name she just didn’t connect the dots, she knew that Jubal’s father’s middle name was Robineau... Jubal's middle name is Robineau, but she didn’t actually think to put those things together. She was talking about this woman’s son to her, she could remember how soft her eyes became when she talked about Jubal’s father. She had just thought to herself that this woman was incredibly empathetically at the time but now she could recognize the situation for what it was.

 

“I wanted to meet you before, I had just come back from Houston when Jubal told me that he wanted to get married and wanted to play a game. I thought it would be very fun play the game of flowers, I just didn’t think it would take you that long to come to me, but  it was worth the wait because I think you’re just lovely...”

 

 It just made Bridget laugh to think about how elaborate this plan was, he had just about everyone in on it even his grandmother. It seemed like this was a family affair as the thought came to herself. She wasn’t going to have her family here for long and she didn't know when the next time she would be able to see them. She didn’t even know when they were going to leave but an idea just came to her head.

 

“I don’t want to wait…”

 

“What are you saying?”

 

“Let’s see if we could get married on Saturday, our families would be here most likely, I don’t need any time to know that I want to be your wife.”

 

Bridget said all of this in front of Jubal’s mother and grandmother with no qualms about it.

 

It did make Jubal’s eyebrows raise but he didn't need to wait either. He just knew that sometimes the logistics with a wedding can take a bit of time.

 

“Let’s see if Saint Louis cathedral has anything going on this Saturday, maybe we can have our wedding there. You know Harry Connick Jr. got married there… I need to go talk to my mother now... It was so nice meeting you and I want to thank you so much for helping me see how much your grandson loves me and helping me convey how much I love him back… I can’t wait to be your granddaughter in law ma'am.” Bridget hurried away and had to find her mother.

 

If there was someone in this world that could help her have a wedding on such a short notice it was going to be her mother.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The whole time during the engagement party, all Bridget could do was eat and talk to her mom about making a quickie wedding. Normally she would have taken her time with Jubal, but she wanted to strike while the iron was hot. There were so many people who came here for them, she hardly ever got to see Felicia or Kristen. Now with her being back in the states, the same could be said for Jessica.

 

 She had already thought about it, she could have her sisters and Jasmine be her bridesmaids, most of Jubal’s guy friends were here. This could be done… She was sure of it… she was so sure of it that she took the next day off so she could go to Saint Louis cathedral and ask if she could have a wedding mass there. The priest was a little taken aback that she wanted the wedding to be on that Saturday. She had to explain to him that time was of the essence because due to the disaster and the fact that her family lives all over the world, this was one of the only times that both Jubal and her family were in the same place at the same time. She made sure to emphasize that family was important to them both and she was able to convince the priest that she could have her wedding there on Saturday.

 

 Stephanie had made it her mission to get Bridget a wedding dress that would fit the occasion. This was the first time and she hoped the only time that her daughter was going to have a real wedding. The last time she did this, she really didn't know what she was doing. She was being used by someone who was looking to stick it to Eric and he manipulated her daughter into thinking that marriage with him would be magical. All Bridget ever got from her marriage with Deacon were trust issues and betrayals.

 

She could trust that this time Bridget was marrying for the right reasons. She saw how her daughter and Jubal were with each other and she didn't need to say I told you so, she just really wanted all of her children to be happy. If that meant that they had no relationship so be it and if it meant that they were happy within one so be it.

 

She was glad that some of the malls had department stores that carried Forrester clothing, it did make her upset that Bridget ended up not liking any of the designs, she wanted it to be an easy process for her daughter to get a gown. Bridget went on line to see if there was any gowns as she would like and if they were close in the area.  She didn’t know how she got there but she ended up being an Zuhair Murad’s website and saw dresses that she fell in love with.

 

Stephanie had asked her if this was something that she really adored; Bridget told her yes, but it was of no use because they wouldn't be able to get it in time. Stephanie thought that was nonsense, if her daughter loves this dress, she was going to get that dress for her daughter. Stephanie took the first flight out to New York so she could go get the dresses. She had Bridget tell her every single dress that she wanted, so when she got there, she could just buy all of them and come right back.

 

It took her all of 10 hours with Jessica by her side to get the dresses needed and come right back. Most of the dresses look beautiful on Bridget, she couldn't choose between the last two so she did the only thing she knew how she played rock paper scissors with Bunny to figure out which dress she should wear. She did something unorthodox and chose a dress that was a pinkish white instead of a traditionally white dress.

 

She thought it was kind of fun, on top of it being beautiful she wanted this wedding to be about how Jubal makes her feel. She was tickled pink by him or however the saying went.

 

The family had decided to stay in town so they could have the wedding. Bridget was scared that people would be mad that their children were missing school. But she found that almost everyone was just excited for her and Jubal. It made her feel special that people cared so much for them. This experience was going to be completely different from the last time she got married.

 

She had no urge to be rebellious, she didn’t have any doubts about the veracity of love from her groom… She felt like she knew Jubal inside and out and she thought to herself there is no decision in her life that was easier to make.

 

There she was in the room with her mother and almost all of the women in her family, even some women in Jubal’s family too. Her mother was putting her veil on her. She didn’t know how but the veil felt so much heavier then it actually was. It felt like a crown on her head… She supposed that when you were getting married, you should feel like a queen.

 

Ms. Julienne had to leave because she had to take her walk with Jubal down the aisle. It was getting closer to that time… She was about to be married, and it honestly felt like it was the only time. Her last marriage felt like a fog in a dream, she knew it was legally real, but she didn't feel like it was. It didn’t feel like this. It just felt like the longest nightmare of her life, this feeling was euphoric. She could care less about the wedding itself, what mattered to her more was just being married to such a wonderful person who makes her feel so valued, desired and cherished.

 

She could finally see why people in love could fight so hard for their relationships. You just have to be with the person that's worth fighting for, to make it all worth it. She and Jubal fought, not really each other… He could be annoying sometimes but so could everyone. They fought circumstances, they could have easily broken up when Jubal decided to come to New Orleans. Bridget thinks all the time what happened if she had said no. It would have been too complicated for her to have long distance with him. In a place that you could hardly get good phone reception for the first 8 months.

 

Bridget knew that she had pride, this was a pride that didn’t let her give in sometimes, no… sometimes she dug in her heels to prove a point … It usually led to her only hurting herself more to save face. It was in Bridget’s mind to let Jubal go when she thought he intentionally didn't call her. She was ready to curse his name and curse herself out for giving it up on the first date...

 

She laughs to herself thinking about all of that, the misunderstanding due to one of her worst habits, she was glad that she got to see him and explain away. She was forever grateful that she ended up at the restaurant because she could have lost out on the love of her life. She could have lost everything she held dear from her bad handwriting. She was glad she was hungry and needed to get out the house.

 

“What has you laughing? It’s such a pleasant thing to hear…” Eric wondered what it could be that had his daughter giggling like she was a little girl again.

 

“I’m just thinking of everything.  How I got here… how happy I am… Dad I just can’t describe this feeling. I just love Jubal so much; I didn’t ever think that my life could turn out like this. I didn’t think it was in the cards for me. I thought I was gonna end up with a lifetime of men like Deacon, losers who didn’t deserve me but somehow gravitated towards me. It was like they could see that I was a shell of a person. I guess I’m just so happy that I’m getting to see what it’s like to really be in love, be in love where it doesn't feel like I have to give up myself. I really don’t know how to describe it other than that. I guess I’m laughing from just really not expecting it to come.” Bridget knew that she was getting a little emotional, her eyes teared up, but she was able to reign in her tears.

 

“Darling that’s all I ever wanted for you, I wanted you to have someone who loves you for you. I think you’re so magnificent, so splendid... You care so much for everyone else, your capacity for empathy and love is why you're such a great doctor, a great daughter, sister and great friend. I’m so happy that you were able to find someone who can care for you so deeply. Give you the life that you deserve. One filled with love and happiness. It makes my heart content to see you laugh and smile. It’s what you deserve. I thank your mother every single day for fixing up that blind date. She likes it think of herself as some Nostradamus and I can’t even blame her.” Eric had many conversations with Stephanie about how much happier their daughter was. She was the one that they worried about the most. They knew that she didn’t need to be in love to feel complete, but they at least wanted her to have fun. They didn’t want Deacon to have some kind of hold on her life where she didn’t even give a chance to romance. In the end Bridget was the one who won, she was able to move on with her life… With someone who brought out passion in her, made her so happy that her smile reached her eyes. It made Eric feel like a lucky man for all of his children to just be happy.

 

“Thank you, dad. I really do thank mother for all of this...”

 

“Now let's get this show on the road…” Eric had seen all of the bridesmaids go down the aisle. The only one that was left was the bride herself.

 

It was his honor to walk her down the aisle, it was like walking her to her new life. A life that he knew he could trust her to be happy.

 

Everyone in the church got up, Bridget tried not to think about it. Everyone was up because of her… she just tried to focus on the one thing that mattered… Jubal.

 

When she got to the altar, she felt a rush of excitement go through her body. She was getting married. This was real… She saw the Jubal with smiling, such a simple act could do so much to her, she gave him a shy smile that only made him smile more. He knew that he had a way with her, she long stopped acting like he didn't.

 

The wedding mass felt like it was a breeze, Bridget didn’t know if it was just the excitement from getting married, but she paid attention to no one else but Jubal. When it got to the part when they said I do, she said it so loudly that it made the whole church laugh. When they were pronounced husband and wife, they kissed but it was anything but chaste…  he picked her up and  twirled her around as he kissed her. He slipped a little tongue too, they forgot where they were for a second until they heard a cough. Jubal didn’t dare let her go but he did stop kissing her. He gently put her on the ground. He looked at the priest and gave a shrug, he really didn’t care because Bridget was his wife, but he thought to himself he wasn’t going to embarrass his wife because he could see her blushing.

 

They decided that they were just going to have the reception at the house. They didn’t want to rent out Dooky Chase on a Saturday. They knew that it would be a lot of patrons ready to have a dinner out. So they opted for catering, it was really the best idea. Bridget and Jubal had such a great time just being at home. They felt that there was nothing better then celebrating their love at the place where they felt the most comfortable.

 

It was a little bittersweet because they knew that this was probably going to be one of the last times, they saw their friends in New Orleans for awhile. Bridget had made Jubal promise that they would come every summer, but they did everything that they could with helping, real life was starting to seep back in.

 

It was probably their greatest year, a year that ended up being really 15 months. They grew accustomed to their routines there, grew accustomed to the people in their lives. They had a new normal, but they were going to have to create a new life in LA. A life together… Jubal had already decided that they needed to find a house. His house and her house were populated by their families. They loved their family but they wanted something of their own, Jubal wanted to be able to fuck his wife wherever he liked. They were definitely not going to get that living with either of their mothers.

 

Even though one chapter in their story was ending, they were excited for the newest one, they were excited to go back to LA and build a life there… Who knew where their future was going to take them but they were ready to find out…

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The first thing that they did even before they touched down and Los Angeles was to look at some houses. Bridget and Jubal knew that when push came to shove, they could always stay at the beach house if they needed. Having Jubal there erased all of the bad memories that came with living there with Deacon. It just seemed as if it was a distant memory, she is pretty much numb to the pain that came with that marriage.

 

Just because Bridget was able to move on from that time, it didn't mean that she wanted to start another marriage with someone completely different in that home.  She wanted a new place, she wanted their home to be theirs... She didn’t want to be comparing her past with her present and future.

 

They have searched high and low for a place that they loved… But it couldn’t be too far from their families, the last thing they needed was a headache from either of their mothers. They also wanted to be close to work because traffic was just very… unique in Los Angeles. It was completely different than being in New Orleans.

 

Jubal was just getting settled back in at the office. Bridget still had sometime before she actually had to go back to work. She was just catching up with friends, she actually didn’t have that much time when she was working. She had made her career such a focus, if she wasn’t at work then she was doing research. She was always trying to get a leg up, always trying to show her superiors she took her job seriously. She wanted her superiors to see that she was completely invested in what she did.

 

It gave her lots of time to catch up with Jasmine. Jazz had come to the wedding and it made it so amazing to have her old friend there, they used to be The Three Musketeers.  Her, Jessica and Jasmine getting up to no good in LA giving Stephanie nothing but grief. They had lunches all over LA. It was so much fun to feel like a young person again. Jazz was doing business like Jess, she owned her own accounting firm so it was easy for her to play hooky.

 

Jazz told her that she actually had to work today because she got a big-time client who got audited. Bridget decided that she could find something else to do. Sometimes she chose to explore LA by herself. The city and County was so big that there was always something to do. She took the time to go to some museums and see some shows. It was always fun to catch a play. She got so immersed in the story that it only made her addicted. If she went to one show then she was going to have to go to ten.

 

She loves seeing actors getting so completely immersed in a role, able to convey human emotion through that medium. Sometimes she would see plays about heartbreak or love… sometimes even revenge. As much as she loves her dramas she was still a sucker for comedies. She loved to laugh… When Jubal got off of work, she started dragging him to these shows. She liked the idea of having dates with her husband. She didn’t want to be one of those married couples that did nothing. She wanted to explore things with him. Even if it was disastrous like their pottery lessons. It was fun for her, she loved it. She got to do it with him and creating memories was so important to her.

 

Being back home was also good for her relationships with her family. Being gone in New Orleans for so long after just coming back home from the UK… It was very important for her to spend time with Stephanie and Eric. Her parents weren’t young parents… She was very aware of the fact that they were mortal. It was one of the things that she hated about life. When she was a little girl, she always thought that her mother was invincible. Nothing could slow down Stephanie Douglas, but that wasn't true… Her being a doctor she was cognizant of the realities of life. Her mother’s hair started to grey, and her mother had no use for dying or bleaching it. Stephanie wasn’t afraid to age, she always told that to her children.

 

But just because Stephanie wasn’t afraid of it, didn’t mean that her children felt the same way. Bridget had made it her mission  to be a daughter that didn't forget to spend time with her mother. She knows that she and all of her siblings give their mother a hard time because Stephanie was always in their business, but she actually liked the fact that her mother wanted to be in her business. She showed that she cared, Once Upon a time she used to hate it. She thought her mother was being controlling, it wasn’t until Deacon did what he did that she could understand her mother more.

 

Bridget did think that Stephanie went above and beyond, definitely more than most mothers, but her mother was who she was and she wouldn't change anything about that. It got her a husband.

 

Her mother told her that she was going to be at FC… Bridget thought it was nice that she would get to see both of her parents at the same time. She had decided to take her own little field trip, she was taking crochet lessons and told her parents that she would be by the building once  she finished.

 

This was her first time being back at FC since she came back to LA to live full time. She loved the building how much she remembered so much of her childhood revolves around the walls of this building. She’s got into so much trouble with Bunny and Fox. Felicia let them get up to no good there. They enjoyed giving Eric heart attacks. She could admit that they could be some horrible children sometimes. They had a horrible influence egging them on. But it was all good natured. It was many a times where Eric had to call Stephanie, she was the cavalry all by herself.

 

Just even uttering the name Stephanie used to make the children change their tune. But it was just laughing to herself remembering yesteryear. She made her way through the building thing so many familiar faces. So many tenured people who knew her since she was a little girl. It was really a family… Her parents really wanted to keep FC like a family operation. She used to play hide and seek with the kids in the daycare, she knew their parents from the picnics and softball games the company held. These people wanted to know about her life, congratulating her on her marriage. It humbled her to know that so many people rooted for her.

 

She knew just about everyone in the building knew about Brooke and Deacon’s affair. It had made tabloid news… It was incredibly embarrassing for her, but the people at FC really rallied around her. It was something that she appreciated. It was a real kind of loyalty, a loyalty she really didn’t expect because she wasn't actually involved in the company. Her mother told her on many occasions that it didn't matter. These people have known her longer than she could form logical thoughts, they’ve seen her grow up, they cared for her of course they were going to be loyal to her. She was their children's childhood friend here she was not one of those snobby stuck up itty bitty’s with those horrid vocal fry accents.

 

After Bridget made her rounds just catching up with just about everyone, she made her way over to her father’s office. She knew that her mother was going to be there. Stephanie had texted her letting her know that she was in the building.

 

When she got there, she could see Stephanie on her phone, Wheeling and dealing. She waited for her mother to finish her call, she made herself comfortable on the sofa while she waited.

 

When Stephanie had finished her call she just turned and looked at Bridget… she had a  wide smile. She was happy to have her daughter back. She couldn’t be more proud of the fact that her daughter went on a humanitarian trip to help people, but she couldn’t deny the fact that she was absolutely happy that her daughter was home. As much as she loved her daughters in law, this was different. She had one of her daughters home… It was something that she always wished for. She didn’t like being a burden, she didn’t want her children to feel that they had to live in Los Angeles. They were all going in different directions, living their lives which was a great thing for Stephanie because she loved that her children were independent, but she loved having her girls close. She had her sons, but it was something different, it was a different energy with daughters… So she cherish it a little bit more just because her daughters for a long time didn’t live close.

 

“How was your  crochet lesson?” Stephanie thought it was great that Bridget like to have her time occupied. She thought that Bridget was a girl after her own heart. She hated to waste time, if she could learn a new skill why not...

 

“Let's just say that it was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be, but I am enjoying it…”  Bridget was being truthful, things usually came natural to her. She had this ability to be good at things without really trying, but crochet was something different. It was completely alien to her and she was having fun in the difficulty. She felt like she did better with things when they didn't come easy to her. It’s why she enjoyed being a doctor so much. She loved being able to find a diagnosis, she loved being a statistician and doing research, it called to her.

 

“Well you know what they say, the more difficult a task  is, the more rewarding it will be when you achieve your goal.” It was something that Stephanie lived by. It was her philosophy on just about everything. Her father taught her that being a woman in her time was honestly seen as a disability, employers didn’t really take women seriously in any job industry. The only thing that women were seen to do well were caretaking careers such as being a teacher or a nurse. It was more rewarding for her to succeed at everything she did because she knew that women were always boxed in. Even though she hated how her father could refer to how women were in society, it didn’t mean that he was wrong.

 

Women were seen as being highly emotive, it was seen as a detriment, of course there were outliers but they were just the exception to the rule to many  businessman. It was a crock of bull of course but it was the truth of that time.

 

“I know mom, I really do enjoy it though. I don’t care for the easy.”

 

“That’s my girl... you know I have no clue where your father is. He said that he had just one meeting and then he would be in here. But I swear I conducted two long phone calls and he’s still not here. I know you wanted to see the both of us, but I have no clue when he'll be ready sweetheart...” Stephanie had been there a while and Eric told her that he had a quick meeting with the marketing team about a big campaign push for a new fragrance.

 

“Mom is completely okay; I know that dad is busy. We came to his job of all places, I don’t expect him to be able to drop everything he’s doing to just see me. I honestly wouldn’t want him to anyways. I don’t have anything else to do for the day so I don’t mind waiting.” Bridget knew that it could be a long while before she saw her dad. You can’t have the expectation of going to someone’s job and them not actually having work to do. Her father was very involved with the business, if something didn’t gel with his vision there was no way that he was going to let It happen.

 

“Well that is very gracious of you dear but I’m not giving your father that courtesy. He has had ample enough time to have his meeting and come see you.”

 

“Mama really isn’t a big deal, I’ll wait all day to see dad if I need to... I really hope you don’t make it a big deal either. He’s the CEO of a big company mom, please don’t give him grief over that.”

 

Before Stephanie could say anything else, she could hear the door knock because she knew that it couldn’t be Eric because there was no way in hell he would ever knock at his own door. She saw that it was one of Eric's executive assistants.

 

She saw two little girls with the woman, she thought she might have missed the memo on take your child to work day. It really didn’t matter to her because this wasn't her job.

 

When the woman announced that one of the little girls was Stephanie’s granddaughter, Stephanie’s eyes went big and Bridget was in shock.

 

Chapter Text

Hope's friend Melanie had been helping her find her other mom. When Melanie’s mom researched Brooke Logan, she didn’t like what she saw. She was a reckless woman, but she also knew she couldn’t think that the gossip rags had it all right. They had to sell magazines so they would slander anyone’s name for a dollar, but she knew there was some credence when she saw an article that involved CPS. It was very hush hush but anytime child protective services were involved it made her nervous.

 

Melanie had been on her mother’s computer so they could watch Dora the Explorer but saw an article and it had Hope’s name on it. It made the both of them curious and they read it or tried to as much as they could. It said some guy named Deacon was her dad and she had a stepmother. It made Hope happy because it meant she had another mommy out there somewhere. She was always by herself at home. Sometimes she would go to school hungry because no one was there to make breakfast for her but the ladies in the cafeteria were always nice to her. Her favorite was Ms. Tammy…

 

It was after-school and Hope and Melanie went to the cafeteria to say bye to Ms. Tammy. When they got there, they saw the ladies cleaning up. Melanie and Hope always asked if they needed help. They always got a laugh and a cookie. They saw Ms. Tammy so they wanted to say goodbye for the day.

 

“Hi Ms. Tammy!” Hope waved enthusiastically towards her favorite person at the school. Melanie had her own loud hello. They both ran to their preferred lunch lady.

 

“Well hello girls. I see you got your daily cookie.” Ms. Tammy always had a pep in her step when she saw these kids.

 

“Yeah, we asked to help but Ms. Cindy said it was okay.” Melanie added to make sure everyone knew they volunteered.

 

“You girls are so thoughtful, but I think we got it. How’s life?!” Tammy knew that couldn’t be much going on since yesterday when she saw the girls.

 

“We found Hope’s mommy.” Melanie was excited. Hope stayed at her house sometimes but if they found Hope’s other mom than maybe she could stay with Hope sometimes. Her mom never let her stay at Hope’s house…

 

Tammy eyebrows rose a little. She knew a lot about Hope through their limited interactions. The girl came hungry to school and was clearly dressing herself. The school was private, so she knew the girl’s mother had the means to feed her and yet sometimes Hope was hungry. The girl was too shy to ask anyone for anything, but her tummy did all the taking sometimes. She paid out her own pocket sometimes to make sure the girl wasn’t hungry.

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Yeah Ms. Tammy! We found her, it was on the computer! I have a grandma and grandpa too. They work at a big building. They make clothes.” Hope was excited to admit it. Melanie had all these people Hope had met. She knew that daddies existed some people even had two, but when she asked her mother about hers, she got mad and said she didn’t have one. “I want to see her! Will you take me please?” Hope had been thinking about asking the bus driver but Ms. Tammy was better.

 

Tammy was a little thrown. Even though she feed Hope nearly every morning when school was in session, the girl never asked her for anything in the whole time she knew her.

 

Tammy was friends with Melanie’s mother Diana and gave her a call telling her, she was taking the girls on a little field trip before she dropped them off. Diana appreciated it because she wasn’t off work yet.

 

Hope and Melanie sat on the cafeteria bench and waited for Tammy to finish her job and clock out. Then the older woman asked her did she know where to go… Hope pulled a paper from her backpack.

 

Tammy was impressed that these little girls were smart enough to print out the address.

 

She took to the girls to the address on the paper and Tammy was surprised at how big it was. It felt more like a campus than a simple place people make clothes.

 

When they got into the building, Tammy had each girl’s hand within her own, it would be murder to have one of the girls lost here.

 

“Hi, welcome to Forrester Creations, how may I help you?”

 

Tammy wasn’t sure how to explain to this executive assistant, exactly why they were there without launching into a long story.

 

“I’m here to see my grandparents. They make clothes.” Hope explained to the lady.

 

The executive assistant thought wow, these girls were cute as a button. The explanation lead, the receptionist to believe that her grandparents were the founders. They had so many grandchildren that it was hard to keep track of them all, but she had never seen this little girl before.

 

“Sure let’s go see if they are busy. Would you girls like a snack?”

 

“No thank you. Ms. Tammy already gave us a snack.” Melanie knew she shouldn’t eat more snacks than her mom said was okay.

 

The assistant gathered that this woman was Ms. Tammy. They smiled at each other as the woman took them all to the boss’s office. Stephanie was there, she knew Mrs. F always loved to see her grandchildren.

 

When they got there, the assistant lightly knocked on the door and heard that it was okay to open the door.

 

“Hi Mrs. Forrester, I have an excited visitor for you. Your granddaughter has come to visit you.”

 

“Oh thank you Fiona!” Stephanie was excited at the prospect of seeing one of her granddaughters today even if it was unexpected. First Bridget came to see them and now a granddaughter. It felt like an amazing day to Stephanie.

 

When she saw two little girls, she had never seen a day in her life or the woman they were with. She looked to Bridget and wondered what’s going on.

 

Melanie took a step and whispered in Hope’s ear.

 

“Look over there, isn’t that your mommy too? Isn’t this great, your grandparents and your mommy!”

 

Hope giggled because she looked over to where Melanie was pointing and it was her mom, it was the lady in the picture. Hope thought she was even prettier than she was on the computer.

 

Hope couldn’t contain herself; she didn’t think this day would come but it was real. She started running to Bridget at full speed and hugged her legs when she got there.

 

Bridget froze when this strange little girl just launched herself at her. She felt wetness on her leg, she realized soon that this girl was crying.

 

For Hope it felt like all her wishing paid off. She found her, she finally found her…

 

“Hi…” Hope said to Bridget with a smile that showcased some of her newly missing teeth. She was sad that she didn’t get any money or candy from the tooth fairy, but this was better than the tooth fairy.

 

“Hello…”

 

“What is the meaning of this?” Stephanie wanted to know what was going on… Eric would be back soon; she didn’t even know what this was.

 

“You’re my grandma!” Hope started jumping up and down and Melanie joined her.

 

“Excuse me?!” Stephanie was in shock because she knew all of her grandchildren. She realized she was a little harsh because the girls stopped jumping and the pout on this little girl’s lip made it seem like she had practice.

 

“Bidget Forrest is my mommy.” Hope thought it was obvious, but she didn’t know that she was only confusing the two women even more.

 

“Yeah, Bidget’s her mommy.” Melanie thought that they would be more excited that Hope found them. Her own grandma was always happy to see her.

 

Bridget came out of her confusion to hear that she was someone’s mother which only made her mother look at her like she had some explaining to do.

 

“Hi, honey I think you might be confused…” Bridget was trying to be gentle to the girl, but it didn’t make the girl any happier.

 

“No, we saw it on the computer. It said you are my step-mommy. I got the book from the library I can show you.” Hope went in her backpack and took out the book. “It says that step-mommies help take care of kids. I can show you… please step-in and be my mommy please! I promise I will be good.” Hope was trying to do whatever she could to not have to go back.

 

 

Stephanie and Bridget both soften at the mention of stepmothers. Bridget looked at the book, it was one that talked about blended family dynamics.

 

“May I speak with you outside ma’am?” Tammy thought she should have a frank conversation with any relatives of Hope. At the very least they could help make sure that the girl had more than Brooke.

 

It left Bridget alone with two little girls who looked at her hoping she wouldn’t break their hearts. She was a little confused because she and Jubal knew everything about the other, it was weird to think that he could leave out that he has a child one that was able to check out books from the library no less.

 

“Hopie, this is so exciting maybe I can come over to your house for sleepovers...”

 

When Bridget hears Hope’s name she freezes. This had nothing to do with Jubie… This was Deacon and Brooke’s child. No wonder the little girl said that she found Bridget on the internet. It was probably one of those rags that made a field day with Brooke’s affair with Deacon. The girl didn’t know that they were related by more than Deacon or the fact that Deacon was no longer her husband.

 

“Yeah, that’s cool but I have to ask my mommy first.” Hope was curious if this mommy was like her other one, she hoped that wasn’t the case. “Mommy, can Melanie come over and have sleepovers like we do at her house?”

 

Before Bridget could even think about how to respond to Hope calling her mommy, Stephanie and this woman who Hope apparently liked came back into the room.

 

“Bridget, I need to speak with you.” Stephanie was horrified but she hid it because of the two little girls in the room.

 

Chapter Text

Bridget could feel the sternness in her mother’s voice. She got up and it wasn’t until she did that did she realize that she’d bent down to talk to Hope and her friend.

 

“I need to go talk to my mommy.”

 

“Okay.” Hope laughed with not really knowing why, the smile her mommy gave her made her feel happy.

 

“Bye Ms. Bidget.” Melanie said thinking of the manners her mother instilled in her.

 

Bridget just waved bye to both the girls as she followed her mother out of the office.

 

Tammy stayed with the girls while Bridget and Stephanie talked.

 

Stephanie took her daughter to an adjacent office to her own.

 

“This child is Brooke’s child…”

 

“I know, Hope’s friend said her name and all the pieces came together. Somehow the girls found out who I was by accident and now think I am Hope’s stepmother.”

 

“Well technically you were for eight months.”

 

The mention of how long it took the state of California to grant Bridget her divorce earned Stephanie a glare.

 

“Mom!”

 

“Anyways that’s neither here nor there because that grifter isn’t involved in the girl’s life and apparently neither is Brooke.”

 

“What?!”

 

“If it is to be believed by the woman who brought them here, I am very concerned.”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“So Hope’s friend… Melanie… her mother used to be a social worker and did some digging when she saw a story about CPS being called to Brooke’s house. Her alarm system went off because it detected smoke and the alarm company called the fire department. When they came they found Hope alone… and a lighter. She thought it was a toy and played with it. Another time Hope was left alone for a whole weekend, Diana came to pick up Hope for a sleepover that had been scheduled and found the girl. Hope ran to the woman crying… she told Diana that she ate all the crackers and was hungry but couldn’t reach the handle to the fridge. Diana thought Hope had the crackers as a snack, but it was all she had to eat since that Friday evening. There’s been numerous people who reported neglect from Hope’s school.” It stupefied Stephanie that Brooke could be so negligent. She was a worse mother than she was before.

 

Bridget felt like she was going to throw up from hearing this. This poor little girl, Brooke only got worse with time it seemed. She told the woman that she hoped that she could give this new daughter the love that Brooke should have given her, but this wasn’t the case.

 

“Mom…” Bridget didn’t think she could hold in any tears. Things like this were what she saw on her rotations sometimes, it was never easy.

 

“You cannot cry right now. This little girl needs help, she doesn’t know anything about her circumstances. Brooke is an absent parent and doesn’t even leave adequate care to go on her drunken escapades. That child could have killed herself because a lighter… was left like a toy. Brooke doesn’t show up to parent-teacher conferences and when she does, she’s drunk. The teacher called social services because of it but you know how it goes in cases like this Bridget... Something really bad will need to happen to that poor little girl in order for them to really do something because she has an absent father.”

 

“Mom, I get that but what can I really do… you said it yourself, it’s hard for parents with the means Brooke has to have their parental status challenged.”

 

“That little girl begged that woman to bring her here because she believed her grandparents were here and they could help her find her other ‘mommy’. She maybe five years old but she’s screaming for help. Brooke can’t even make breakfast for the girl. She spends almost every weekend at Diana’s house and goes straight to the cafeteria when she gets off the bus at school because that woman who brought her here… Tammy, makes her breakfast every school day.”

 

“What am I supposed to do? I feel for her but mom I’m at a loss…”

 

“I’ll notify DCFS, file an emergency petition to the courts on your behalf and step in like that little girl said.”

 

“Mom, how can you ask that of me… what will people think?”

 

Stephanie looked at her daughter with her famous eyebrow raised.

 

“If I didn’t do something because of what other people thought then I would be robbed of a daughter who is in her residency at Cedar Sinai.” Stephanie knew that she stumped Bridget. The situation was a little different, but Stephanie would have been well within her rights to have nothing to do with Rick or Bridget.

 

“Okay mom, I get your point but how am I going to explain this to my husband? Just bringing home five-year-old child is not something one does every day.”

 

“Just be honest with him, I doubt he would fault you for having a heart. It’s why he loves you so much Bridget.”

 

“Please just give me a couple of minutes to think.”

 

Bridget had to sit down because this was not what she expected her day to be like this. She thought a simple visit to her parents would be nice but her she was confronted with a painful circumstance from her past. She moved past it, but it wasn’t something that she lingered on thinking about. Then she thought about how this little girl was suffering and how Brooke still didn’t seem to care who she hurt except now it was worse.

 

“Mom, how do we do this?”

 

“Let me get in contact with my attorney and file an emergency motion today. Brooke already has a file with DCFS so it’s something easily verifiable and proof on your side. With testimony from Tammy and Diana, I don’t see how a judge could send Hope back.”

 

Bridget went back to her father’s office and put on a brave face for this girl. Her mother was already making calls to lawyers to file petitions on her behalf.

 

Tammy made a mention of having to get Melanie home to her mother and it left Bridget alone with Hope while Stephanie talked to her attorneys about their options.

 

“Mommy?”

 

“Yes…” Bridget chastised herself, she was going to have to talk to Hope about that.

 

“Can I hug you again? It was nice...” Hope knew that she should let people say it was okay to hug them, but she couldn’t help herself before.

 

“I suppose that’s okay.” Bridget mused but Hope was a child, she probably wouldn’t be able to pick up the amusement. With Brooke seemingly being a neglectful parent… she thought maybe Hope was not given as much affection.

 

She bent down again and opened her arms which Hope tentatively went to. When Hope hugged her back, the girl’s face went instinctively into Bridget’s neck.

 

Bridget got up slowly with the extra weight and walked over to the couch and sat down. She absentmindedly stroked the little girl’s hair. She could feel Hope’s little hands grab onto her a little tighter and only made her feel for the girl more.

 

She wondered how this was going to play out, but she knew one thing, she was going to make sure Brooke was nowhere near this little girl.

 

 

Chapter Text

Bridget realized that she may not actually get to see her father. This situation was just dumped into her lap… She literally had a child in her lap.

 

Every time she thought that she could get past the Deacon and Brooke situation, it had a way of bulldozing right back into her life.  None of this was Hope's fault, She really had no clue about her circumstances. She couldn’t believe that Brooke was just ignoring her duties as a mother. She actually could believe that, but she thought that she would turn herself around for this new child.

 

It just seemed as if Brooke was a progression of self destruction and anyone in the way was just collateral damage. Stephanie had been making some calls… They were trying to figure out the legalities of everything involved. Her mother told her that she would be back. Bridget asked why… Stephanie told her that Bridget needed to have a car seat for Hope.

 

It wasn’t until her mother said that that Bridget really got the magnitude of the situation. She thought to herself what she was going to tell her husband… This was something she didn’t know how to explain. He left for work this morning with a satisfied smile and a coffee and would be returning to a child.

 

When Stephanie returned, she told Bridget that it would be the best decision to leave the premises. Even though everyone in the company was tight lipped, vultures were outside ready to take photos… Always some kind of stupid tabloid ready and waiting to catch them on the slip.

 

Bridget didn’t need to be told twice because she had been the collateral damage in tabloid fodder one too many times. She had thought that hope was sleeping, but she was surprised when the little girl just looked at her.

 

“I’m going to take you to my house… is that okay with you?” Bridget didn’t know how to tackle this, so she did what she thought was best.

 

“I’d like that a lot mommy…” Hope was excited at the prospect of going to her new home.

 

Bridget was about to correct Hope, but when Hope slipped her hand  into Bridget’s, she couldn't find the words. Bridget just walked with her through the secret exit. It made it easy for her to get to her car without any prying eyes.

 

Stephanie had told Bridget that she would handle all of the legal hurdles while Bridget attended to Hope.

 

Stephanie had made it her mission to get DCFS involved. She knew the best course was to get social services involved because they could take immediate action when it came to the child. Court cases even emergency ones could take days even weeks. It bothered her that such a little girl could go without food needlessly.

 

Bridget was getting used to the fact that someone was in the car with her. She realized that maybe Hope would want to listen to something different on the radio.

 

She tried to find some kind of kid station and remember that Disney had some kind of channel, so she tried to find that.

 

“Are you hungry Hope?” Bridget was trying to make some kind of conversation to break the ice. She was nervous, but it didn’t seem that it was the same for Hope. The little girl just looked excited.

 

“Yes…” Hope was a little hungry. She didn’t say much after that because she learned to keep her words minimal.

 

“Well is there anything that you like in particular? Do you have a favorite food?” Bridget felt that if hope at her favorite food, it could be a source of comfort for her.

 

“Anything would be nice mommy…” Hope didn’t care what kind of meal she got, she was just happy to know that it was gonna soon be a reality.

 

“Well you have got to have a favorite meal or food that you like… You know one of my favorite foods is just about any Greek dish…” Bridget did love Greek food but she just about love anything from Jubal’s family, but the last thing that she needed was to take Hope there before she actually had a conversation with Jubal.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever had that before… If it’s your favorite food, then it’s my favorite food. Let’s get that…” Hope was excited at the prospect of sharing something with Bridget.

 

Bridget thought it was incredibly cute that Hope was trusting her with culinary choices. She knew that it was a symptom for something else entirely. She had seen enough cases where neglect from a parent was apparent. Hope wanted to be able to trust someone, put her faith in someone… That person right now happened to be her.

 

“It looks like we have a winner for dinner. Let’s get some food for us…” Bridget decided that should go to the Greek restaurant that was close to her house.

 

When they reached there, Bridget made her way too the rear door and helped Hope out of her car seat. It was nearly automatic when Hope put her hand in Bridget’s. Bridget knew how dangerous this was… She couldn’t help a form an attachment, but that’s who she was…  she had to shake her head and move forward.

 

They walked into the restaurant and Bridget ordered her usual. She tried to keep it pretty simple because this was going to be something not Hope probably never had before. She wanted to make sure that it would be something that Hope would actually like. She surmised Hope probably was just used to basic dishes. It was one of the reasons that she loved Greek food so much, it had amazing flavors, but it wasn't always going to be overwhelming for people, especially people who’ve never had it before.

 

It took them about 20 minutes for them to get their food. Since Hope was actually hungry, Bridget thought it would be a good idea for her to get an appetizer and share between the both of them.

 

Hope marveled at the snack that her mommy got for them. She thought it tasted really good. Every time she looked at Bridget’s face, she saw a smile… It made her feel happy inside, she hated going home because it meant she usually was going to be by herself, and if she wasn’t it usually meant that her other mommy was going to be mean to her. She always saw Brooke with the grown up bottles… The ones with the ducks on them. She tasted it once and it burned her throat. She thought it tastes nothing like water even though it looked like it. She never touched a grown up bottle again even when she was thirsty.

 

“Do you know what they call these?” Bridget felt like an idiot after she said it… of course Hope didn't know what they were called, this was her first time eating any kind of Greek food.

 

Hope shook her head; she didn’t know what these were but she liked it.

 

“No, but I really like it… What is it?” Hope was curious about everything. It usually annoyed her other mom but it didn't seem to bother Bridget…

 

“It's called zucchini chips… And you see this white sauce here… It’s called tzatziki Sauce.”

 

“I love keeney chips and zaza sauce!” Hope declared… she thought that this was the most amazing thing she ever had.

 

Bridget just laughed at Hope’s attempt add saying the dish.

 

After they got their food, they started to make their way home. That’s how Bridget thought of it in her mind… It was when she started to think to herself that even if it was just for an interim time, they had to make this home kid friendly.

 

When Bridget got home, she saw an unfamiliar car… When she got out of the car to investigate it, she saw the older woman in the car get out… She was wondering if this woman was somehow lost, but something told her that this woman was waiting for her.

 

“Hello doctor Forrester, I am Gertrude Donaldson… I am the caseworker for Hope Logan. Your mother told me about Hope coming to you. Could you please get Hope from the back of the car…”

 

Even though this woman seemed to be saying the right things, there was no way in hell she was just going to go get Hope because this woman asked her too. She was going to need some credentials to back that up.

 

“Ma’am, if you don’t mind, I just want to make sure that Hope’s safety is observed. I’m going to have to see some kind of identification. If you are who you say you are, then you should have some ID to back that up…” Bridget had seen enough ideas working in hospitals to know what's a fake from the real deal.

 

Gertrude was actually impressed that Bridget wanted to see her identification. It showed her that she wasn't some gullible person… She pulled out her ID, but she saw that Bridget wanted to touch it. She gave it to the woman and saw her examining the ID. Going over every crevice of it to see if it was in any way fraudulent.

 

“This seems to be real… I just had to make sure, I work in a hospital and we are mandatory reporters, I have seen parents and relatives bring fake identification pretending to be social workers in order to get children under false pretenses. I have to make sure that I do my due diligence.”

 

Gertrude knew exactly how some people could be. It wasn’t the first time she ever heard of someone impersonating a social worker. She saw Bridget go back to her own car and got hope out of the vehicle. She also pulled out some food which made Gertrude smile a little…

 

“Hi, miss Gertrude, how are you?” Hope really liked Ms. Gertrude, sometimes Ms. Gertrude brought her food on her surprise visits.

 

“I am doing well… How are you?”

 

“I’m doing good, I got a book that talks about other mommies who step in, look at my new mommy she's stepping in, she even gave me keeney chips and zaza sauce…” Hope licked her lips as she remembered the food that she just had.

 

“What she means is, zucchini chips and tzatziki sauce. Somehow Hope found me because of an old article. I used to be married to her father…” Bridget didn't feel like stating the obvious.

 

She knew that Gertrude would know her proximity to the relationship with everyone involved. For once her biological relationship with Brooke would actually help for once instead of cause destruction for everyone around her.

 

“I’m glad to see that you like something new. What do you think about staying somewhere new, someplace with Bridget?” Gertrude was finally feeling like things were looking up. This was a relative that was close. She didn’t know much about Brooke Logan’s older children, they were even harder to find. It didn’t escape her that it was rather peculiar that a 5-year-old could find a relative before she could.

 

“It’s gonna be great to be with my new mommy. I know I’m going to get to have sleepovers now, I get hugs too… They’re really nice.”  The naivete that was still in Hope’s voice was as devastating as it was  enlightening. It was good that Hope still had the innocence that children should have, but the desperation to want something good was something not a child should not have to worry about.

 

Bridget had invited Gertrude in, she had Hope sit on the sofa while she discuss things with Gertrude.

 

Bridget had come to learn that Gertrude had been looking for relatives of Brooke for so long, Bridget knew that her biological aunts lived in different states, she really didn’t know where they were, her relationship with them was pretty nonexistent. It wasn’t surprising the Gertrude could not find Rick, Rick was in Paris and they would have been way out of the resources of the state to be able to find him. It was just a lucky coincidence that Bridget had come back from New Orleans when she did.

 

She explained all of this to Gertrude, the social worker started to tell her more about Hope’s story. When Gertrude started to tell her she told Hope that it would be good for her to go color by the window, it gave them some privacy to talk but it also kept Hope in her view line.

 

Gertrude explained that taking care of Hope was a large undertaking. Being thrust into a situation where you have to take a child is easy for no one. Bridget explained to the woman that she understood that this was not going to be an easy feat. She didn’t treat parenthood as if it were a novelty. She wanted to see to it that Hope was safe and didn't feel abandoned. Gertrude started to interview Bridget and ask her about her home life and her husband. Bridget did her best to convey that Hope was in the best hands possible, she would see to it that Hope was cared for in the highest degree.

 

This is what Gertrude had been looking for this whole time. It was actually very difficult to remove a child from their living situation. The courts tend to find it not appealing to remove children from their homes. Sometimes parents are given so much latitude and too many chances to hurt their children before the state intervened. The gross neglect that happened to a child was never easy for Gertrude too deal with. Especially when the parents actually have the means to provide for their children. There’s no excuse for the gross neglect that Brooke brought to the child.

 

The interview lasted almost an hour and a half. Bridget had told her of her intention to call for an emergency custody hearing which actually surprised Gertrude. She hadn’t seen anyone taken active part in Hope’s case that weren’t already mandatory reporters.

 

Gertrude had given Bridget her card and told her that they would keep in contact and that she would see her at the hearing.

 

Gertrude had told her goodbyes to hope and it made hope happy. Even though miss Gertrude was her friend, she didn't like it that she took all of her mommy's time.

 

Now it was just them and that was what Hope like best.

 

“Did you wanna do your homework before dinner or after dinner?” Bridget would have preferred to have done the homework before eating instead of after, but she wanted hope to have the choice.

 

“If I do my homework now, can I watch TV later?” Hope was trying to see how much she could get away with.

 

 “I don’t see why not as long as you do your homework, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little bit of TV…”

 

Hope pulled out all of her folders with her homework. Bridget just observed her as she did the work, if Hope needed any help she was going to let the little girl ask for it. She didn’t want to assume that Hope needed help with everything because she wanted to empower the girl.

 

Bridget could hear the car pulling into the driveway… She thought it was only a matter of time before she would have to explain the child in their home.

 

When Jubal came through the door, he was thinking about resting his feet, he had such a long day and the only thing he wanted to do was relax and be with his wife. When he opened the door, he was a little confused because he saw Bridget with a little girl.

 

“Hey baby, what’s going on here?” Jubal wondered where Bridget found a child, a child who seemed to be doing their homework in their living room.

 

 “Hi Jubal, I want you to meet someone. This is Hope… Hope I want you to meet my husband…” Bridget didn’t really know how to introduce them in any other way.

 

Hope looked at the man, he didn’t look like the man on the computer but if this was her mommy’s husband… He must be her daddy like the book said. She knew that her first mommy lied. She told her that she didn’t have a daddy but here he was right in front of her.

 

Hope got up quickly and ran to Jubal…

 

“Hi daddy…” she just hugged the man's legs.

 

As she was hugging her new father, Jubal was looking at Bridget with an expression that could only be described as WTF.

 

“Hope… Sweetheart, let me speak with him for a second, do you wanna go back to the window and finish your schoolwork?” Bridget said this in a gentle voice and a smile on her face.

 

Hope really didn’t want to go to the window, but her mother asked her really nicely, so she did as she was told.

 

Bridget pulled him by the hand and they sat down on the sofa. She just looked at him for some seconds and said nothing. When she was able to find her voice and exactly what she wanted to say, she was able to study herself.

 

“I know this is kind of confusing right now, I didn’t foresee this when I started my day. That Brooke and Deacon’s child, she somehow found me through some kind of old article that said I was her stepmother. Technically I was and she found me. I know we just moved back home and we're still trying to settle ourselves, but Jubie she needs our help and I can’t turn my back on her…” Bridget took a look towards the window and saw Hope doing her homework.

 

Jubal was still trying to process everything that was going on at the moment. Somehow… Some way, this little girl made her way into Bridget’s life.

 

“Is this something that you really wanna do?”

 

“Yes honey, I want her to be with us.”

 

It wasn’t anything for Jubal to think about, Bridget followed him no questions asked to his hometown ready to help anyone in everyone she could. It was a testament to how much she loved him and the strength of her character. She trusted in their love, when they were just starting out. She supported him and now it was his turn to support her.

 

“Then she is home, she has a home with us and that's the end of it.” Jubal didn't see it any other way. He sealed it with a kiss.

 

 It made Hope smile to see them doing the kissy face. They look so nice… That’s all she ever wanted.

 

“Hey baby girl, you wanna come back here and take a seat?” Jubal said this with such an easy tone in his voice, he had always been so good with children. Bridget was still sometimes amazed with how it came naturally to him.

 

Hope was so happy to be away from the window sill. She went back to the couch and sat in between them.

 

She was done with her homework and she decided that it was time to show them. Bridget had reviewed her work and gave her light praise because she got all of the answers correct.

 

As Bridget was checking hopes homework, she had realized something, Hope needed clothes… They didn’t have anything suitable there because Hope with a little girl. She told Jubal and sent him out to buy as much clothes that made sense for a 5 year old girl.

 

Jubal didn’t really know what that meant, so when he got to the nearest clothing store he could find which was the Gap, he asked one of the  sales associates to get him just about everything for a 5 year old girl. He didn’t care what it was as long as she got it. He even asked to throw in some uniform because he didn’t know if the school Hope went to had a uniform policy.

 

When he came back home, he just gave all of the clothing to Bridget, Bridget decided that she was going to wash them, so Hope could feel as clean as possible when she put the clothes on.

 

“I’m so hungry… Please tell me we have some kind of dinner?”

 

“Mommy bought some food before we came home, it’s Greek! Do you eat Greek food, I like it…” Hope shared her thoughts on Greek food.

 

“Yeah, I very much do…” He gave her wink that light up her whole world.

 

They ate dinner and Jubal and Bridget did their best to learn as much about Hope as they could.

 

 

Chapter Text

 After they had dinner, Bridget state true to her word. She had allowed hope to watch TV. They all sat on the sofa and watch the Disney channel.  It certainly wasn’t something that Jubal  and Bridget did ever, but this shows weren't the worst. They seem to make hope laugh and that was the most important part.

 

Bridget felt less terrified at the prospect of taking care of hope. She didn’t want to mess this up… It was a new thing for her and she tried to be the best at whatever she did. So committing to Hope and promising to take care of her became her number one priority. After about an hour, Bridget told Hope that they should get her ready for bed.

 

Bridget had washed and dried all of Hope’s new clothes, but she didn’t find any pajamas. She had looked at Jubal, she asked him to do one thing and he bought the whole store worth of clothes and forgot to get her pajamas.

 

Jubal said it was okay, he would just give Hope one of his shirts to wear. Bridget had taken Hope to the bathroom nearest to where Hope was going to sleep. She ran a bath for the little girl. She made sure that the water was not too hot. She wanted to make the experience a fun one because she knew that sometimes kids could get unruly. She put a bath bomb in there and Hope was so surprised by all of the colors that she saw. Bath time was something fun for her now. It was filled with giggles and smiles.

 

When they were all done, Bridget had put the fluffiest towel around Hope. Hope loved it, it felt like a hug. She just reached out and hugged Bridget, what Hope hadn't been expecting was a kiss on the cheek. It made her blush, it made Bridget laugh at the sight, she could see the dimple in Hope’s cheek. She poked the dimple and only made Hope smile even more.

 

Bridget and Hope walked into Hope’s new room, they saw one of Jubal’s shirts on the bed. Bridget had thrown the shirt over Hope’s head. It was such a funny sight to see Hope drowning in Jubal’s shirt.

 

“Is there anything that you would like that would help you sleep? Sometimes I have a glass of water with me when I go to bed…” Bridget was only trying to make her feel as comfortable as possible.

 

“This smells like daddy…” This was all Hope could say. It was like Jubal was all around her. It made her feel safe…

 

“Yeah, I know, it’s his shirt… he forgot to buy you pajamas. He’s so silly sometimes.” Bridget made some hand gestures; it was enough to make Hope giggle some more.

 

“I like it a lot, it feels like daddy is hugging me even if he's not here.”

 

“Who knows maybe he did it on purpose…”

 

“Can he read me a story? I really like his voice… Can you have a sleepover in my room? I don’t want you to leave…” Hope felt like it was a gamble, but her mommy told her that she asked her what she would like.

 

“I’m sure it would be no problem for him, I think he bought some books too… I don’t mind staying with you, I’ll stay with you as long as you like me too.” Bridget’s said this with a smile, so Hope knew that she meant it.

 

She poked Hope’s nose softly knowing that it would be something to put a smile on her face.

 

Bridget told the little girl that she would be right back, she made her way towards the living room and told Jubal to get a book from his 5000 purchases that he made.

 

Jubal had been watching a show, but he was not going to tell that to Bridget.

 

He got the book and started walking towards the guest room that had now become Hope’s bedroom. When he got in there, he saw Hope and Bridget together.

 

“Hey, Hope I’m going to be right back, I’m just going to go take a shower and get in my own pajamas. In the meantime it looks like you’re going to get that story. I won’t be long okay…” Bridget wanted to take a quick shower because she didn't want to get into the bed with all the grime from outside on her.

 

“Okay mommy... Me and daddy will be right here waiting for you.” Hope sometimes had a tendency to state the obvious, but it was also part of her charm.

 

Bridget had made her way towards her own room, she wanted to take a nice hot shower to help relieve some of the tension from today. After her relaxing shower she put on her own pajamas and made her way back to Hope’s room. She saw that Jubal still hadn't started the book; they were just talking. She stayed in the doorway to listen to them.

 

“So you're really telling me, you’ve never been to Chuck E. Cheese?” Jubal had thought that just about every kid her age would have gone too one of those amusement centers.

 

“No daddy, I’ve never been to chunky cheese. Is it nice? If we go, can Melanie come too, she’s my very best friend… She helped me find mommy.”

 

“Well I think we’re going to have to remedy that.  I don’t see why not; we can always ask Melanie’s mother. Maybe we can even go to Disneyland too… Of course that’s up to the lady right there.”

 

Hope had never been to Disneyland, but she has seen the commercials and it was always one of her dreams to go there. It looked like so much fun, and that’s where Mickey Mouse lived.

 

“Mommy can we please go to Disneyland? I want to meet Mickey.” Hope was already starting to make plans in her mind.

 

“I’m going to have to think about that, it has to be something that you earn so if you do really good in school, we can talk about it.” Bridget was taking one page out of Stephanie’s book. When they were kids in order to get what they wanted, Stephanie would tell them they would have to earn it by being good kids.

 

“I promise… Daddy can you read me my story now please?”

 

Bridget had stepped closer and got under the covers, the bed was incredibly big for a child. This was an actual guest room, they had a Queen size bed in here, it was so funny to see such a little girl in such a big bed.

 

Jubal started to read the story, his deep voice was very soothing too just about anyone's ears, it started to make Hope very sleepy. Her body started to seek out Bridget and got closer.

 

Bridget hugged herself to Hope which only made the girl burrow herself deeper into Bridget’s side. By the time that Jubal had finished his story, Hope was fast asleep. Bridget told Jubal that she was gonna stay for about 30 minutes more and she was going to be ready for bed. He left the room so he could get ready. He wasn’t really going to go to sleep but he always like watching TV in bed.

 

Bridget just stayed with Hope, watching her sleep. She wanted to see if there were any signs of distress, she didn’t want to leave just in case Hope had any nightmares. When she felt confident that Hope was going to be okay, she fixed the little girl so she was tucked in and sleeping on her back.

 

She decided that she was going to leave a night stand lamp on, she didn’t know if Hope was afraid of the dark and just in case she woke up in the middle of the night, she didn’t want Hope to be scared.

 

Bridget had made her way back to her bedroom, she saw Jubal in the bed just watching TV. She didn’t know how he did it, this day threw her for a curveball and she thought it would be like that for him too, didn’t really face him at least from where she was standing.

 

“Can you be honest with me? Do you have any reservations about this? Don’t want you to feel forced if you have any doubts, we can find a way to help her but I need to know if this is okay with you…”

 

“Yeah it's fine with me, I’ve never had any problem being honest with you before... Baby you are the most important person in my life, I know that you will go to the ends of the world for me. I want you to know that I would go to the ends of the world for you too… period… end of story. She is your family… That makes her my family. If she’s going to call you mommy then she's gonna call me daddy.”

 

Bridget thought that she might cry, Jubal’s simplistic answer to her question made her feel a happiness inside. She knew that her husband loved her, but this was the first time that it was really being extended to someone else. This was the first time that she was having a crisis. It was her turn to be the one in need…

 

“Thank you, I love you so much. Every time I think my heart couldn't get fuller for you, you find a way.”

 

“Of course, I would do anything for you.  I would never let you have wilted flowers.”

 

 Bridget felt like her breath was being stolen from her, Jubal was speaking in metaphors. Wilted flowers meant rejected love. The fact that he was telling her this made her so elated. She gave him a kiss, a sweet one… And hugged herself to him.

 

“I’d never have a problem, with having her here. We are both children of mothers who chose us. My birth mother, she was a good woman and did the best she could with the shitty hand as she was given. I never told you this, but my birth father, I don’t know much about him other than the fact that he lied to my mother… He was this guy who came to New Orleans for business quite a bit. He gave my mother nothing but broken dreams, a future that was never going to be. She got pregnant and that’s when she found out that he was married man, with his own family, probably thinking that he was just the greatest guy. My mom tried to do it alone, and she was pretty good at it for a while. It was a surprise when she passed, I have no memories of her because she died when I was two. That’s when my mama and daddy picked up the pieces. I don’t have an urge to find out who he is or meet him, I think he’s a piece of trash. But that’s not the point of this story. My mom, she's the one who taught me how to ride a bike, my father taught me everything there is to know about gardening. I know technically by blood, my mother is my second cousin, my biological mother and Julienne share the same grandfather. My birth mother was an unofficial Boisseau sister when her own parents passed. But at the end of the day, my mom is my mom, your mom is your mom. My father gave me his name, his home... I know what it’s like to be in Hope’s shoes. It’s a little bit of a different journey, but I know does she just wants someone to love her. You know what that’s like too. So that's what we're gonna do. Wherever the cards lay, we are going to make sure that she knows that there's people out there who love her and will protect her. Baby I will fight for her, I will give her everything I got.”

 

Jubal’s declaration was exactly what Bridget needed to hear. Happiness that made her give him gratitude sex. He didn’t do it, for any kind of thanks, but he was very much happy at the outcome.

 

Chapter Text

As each day started to pass, it was starting to get easier for Bridget to navigate the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of Hope. She didn’t think that she was going to take a sabbatical when she came back but her job was pretty understanding when she explained to them what had happened.

 

After they had the emergency hearing, the judge said that Hope would be staying with Bridget. It was an easy determination because Brooke didn’t show up to the hearing. Her lawyers had nothing to say because they had been calling her all morning to make sure that she showed up. Bridget didn’t know what was going on with Brooke, but she was not going to be disappointed at the outcome.  Brooke’s irresponsibility only meant that her actions were going to be seen as negative by the court.

 

With Brooke being seemingly MIA, Bridget had received a temporary guardianship of Hope for the foreseeable future. It made Bridget more hopeful that this was just going to be a steppingstone, Brooke already had a lengthy file with social services. The fact that Gertrude was giving the recommendation in favor of Bridget went a long way. Gertrude had testified to the fact that Hope was doing well and it was clear that she was being fed more. In the first 10 days Hope was in the care of Bridget, the little girl had already gained 2 pounds.

 

“Mommy, are you gonna make food or are we going to go out to eat?” Hope asked because it was Friday…

 

Usually on Fridays and meant that they would go out to eat. Jubal had started to incorporate their life and their habits into hope.

 

“Well since it’s Friday, I think we’re probably going to eat outside for dinner, do you have any favorite place you wanna go to?”

 

Bridget just held on to Hope’s hand as she asked the little girl the question. She had just picked her up from school and the first thing Hope wanted to know was about her next meal. It didn’t help that Jubal and Bridget were pretty much the same way. Hope had the tendency of acting like the people she was around, so she copied a lot of their mannerisms.

 

“I don’t know, I like everything. As long as they have cookies… I guess… Will I get to wear a pretty dress?” One of Hope’s favorite things about going out was the fact that she got to dress up.

 

“If that’s what you wanna do then more power to you. How about we decide what we wanna do when Jubie gets home, we can take a vote on it.”

 

“But daddy's just gonna vote for whatever you wanna do.”

 

Bridget thought about the answer as she started to help Hope into her car seat.  When she was finished, she got into her own seat and fastened the seat belt so she could start driving.

 

“Well I guess it wouldn’t matter if he agrees with me because you said you like everything…”

 

“I do like everything, but I want to go to that place again, they make the food in front of you and then they had the fire. Can Aly and Melanie come too?”

 

Bridget knew exactly what Hope was talking about, the last time they went to Benihana’s, it was a hit. It usually was with just about everyone in the family.

 

“We can go to Benihana’s, but I think it might be a little too late to ask if they can come…  But I will definitely ask for next time, I just wanna give their parents enough time to decide. They could already have plans.”

 

“Yeah, that makes sense mommy. I have a playdate with grandma tomorrow and then another playdate with my other grandma on Sunday.”

 

Stephanie and Julienne had been doing the most they could to make Hope feel included. Hope was having pretty much the time of her life every single weekend. She was a busy girl, she had so many people to see and she loved it all. This was nothing that she was used to. Before she used to spend her weekends with Melanie sometimes but most of the time she was just alone, waiting for Monday to come back to school. For the longest time she hated weekends.

 

“Yeah, you’re a pretty busy person.”

 

“Yeah… I like it a lot though. But I do have the best time with you and daddy. Everybody is nice but I love you to the most.”

 

The drive to Hope’s school wasn’t a long one. It was just a happy coincidence that she didn’t live far, if she had still been living at the beach house that would have been the case. She started to tear up at Hope’s words as they pulled into the driveway.

 

“I love you too Hope. I love you so much baby. No matter what happens I’m always going to love you more than anything.” Bridget knew that she was getting comfortable with having Hope in her life. If there was one thing that was consistent, it was Brooke’s irresponsibility. She was gonna see to it that Hope would never leave them.

 

Hope was beaming at the fact that Bridget told her that she loved her. Hope that it must be a lot is Bridget loved her more than anything.  Hope knew that her mommy loved her daddy a lot and if her mommy loved her more than daddy then it was a lot a lot.

 

Her daddy brought flowers every single day, he even brought flowers for her.  She had flowers on both sides of her bed on the night stand.

 

“Like how much do you love me?”

 

 “You cannot measure the love that I have for you. It’s greater than all of the stars in the sky.”

 

Bridget had helped Hope out of the car seat and remember to grab hope’s backpack. She is made sure that Hope did her homework on Fridays so she didn’t have to do it on the weekend. She likes to have her jam packed weekends at her grandmothers’ houses.

 

Hope remembered how the sky looked at night, there was a lot of stars in the sky more than she could count. If mommy loved her that much… She couldn’t even think anymore. She just gave Bridget a big hug. When they got in the house, Hope went straight for the sofa so she could start her homework.

 

Bridget was gonna go to the kitchen and make a snack.

 

Hope didn’t want her to leave, she wanted her to be with her on the couch, she wanted Bridget to stay close. She always wanted to be around someone who loved her. Bridget let her do her work, she didn’t say anything to help… she just put her arm around Hope and let her get on with her business. She knew that hope wanted affection. It would be something that she would never be selfish in giving…

 

 

It was about an hour later when Jubal came home. As soon as he stepped foot inside, hope started running towards him. He bent down so he could give her a hug.

 

“Well hello…” even though it happened every day, it never got old for Jubal.

 

He gave her a kiss on the cheek and slipped a pink carnation in the space of her ear. He brought her a single pink carnation every time he came home.

 

 “hi daddy, I missed you.”

 

 “you must have missed me terrible…” He hugged her close to him.

 

This was starting to become their normal. Jubal started to make sure that he wouldn't be taking any cases that dealt with long travel. They were trying to settle into something foundational. In the last thing he or Bridget wanted was hope to feel as if they were transient in her life.

 

He made his way towards the couch is that right next to his wife. He missed Bridget so much, being away from her was still a hard adjustment. Every time that he saw her face, his heart felt calm but it also  beat faster.

 

He gave her a kiss, they kept it PG, bad both of them  smiled from the kiss. It was weird how calming and passionate such a simple act could be for him. Loving his wife was easy, he didn't think there was anything else in the world he'd rather do.

 

“So what did my girls get up to today?”

 

“Well Hope is still trying to finish her homework because she has a very busy weekend. I think she is pretty much done. We decided that we want to go to Benihana’s tonight… is that okay with you?”  Bridget already knew what the answer was going to be, but she was just asking to be polite.

 

“Yeah, I don’t mind Benihana’s, I know my favorite girl loves it when they do the onion tower…”

 

Jubal started to tickle Hope, it made the little girl erupt in laughter.

 

“Mommy, make him stop.” Hope tried to find her breath in between all of her giggles.

 

“I don’t know, I think I’m an even bigger tickle monster than he is.” Bridget started tickle hope as well.

 

After Hope beg for mercy, Bridget stopped. She decided that they needed to finish the homework so they could have a nice dinner out as a family. It felt oddly nice for Bridget to think that. It was something that she wanted to get used to. This wasn’t the way she envisioned that she was gonna start a family with Jubal, but just like everything about their relationship, every adventure they have was completely unexpected. She thought that’s why they worked so well together.

 

“Mommy… Daddy said he was gonna check my homework, I wanna go choose a dress for our dinner, please help me.”

 

Hopes words snapped her out of her spacing out.

 

“Sure, baby let's go.”

 

Chapter Text

Bridget had to get everything updated at Hope’s school to let them know that Brooke wasn’t allowed to pick her up. They left well enough alone when she said she was Hope’s legal guardian. She knew there might be gossip amongst the staff because Brooke had shown up to school events blasted.

 

She had taken some time off work to help get Hope situated. Hope was so well mannered it wasn’t a really a bother. Taylor said that she should spend as much time with Hope as possible to make a bond happen, it was clear at least from Hope’s end that she had the bind she needed. Bridget was still trying to wrap her head around it.

 

For Jubal's part, he didn’t miss a beat. He loved children and he knew about Bridget’s history with Brooke, it wasn’t hard for him to make sure that Hope felt safe with them.

 

It was why Jubal decided to take the day off and spend time at home. Hope was still at school, but he could be with Bridget and see where her mind was at… it also gave them alone time that they got less of with the new addition to their home.

 

The couple got reacquainted with the horizontal mambo a couple of times before it was time to pick up Hope from school.

 

Jubal tagged along and drove Bridget to the school. She knew where to find Hope, the cafeteria was where Tammy worked, Hope visited the woman everyday to tell her goodbye. When she got there she of course found Hope and Melanie eating a cookie.

 

“Mommy!” Hope was so happy. She did this every day but she didn’t care she was happy to see Bridget.

 

“Hi Ms. Bidget!” Melanie said with her mouth filled with cookies.

 

Bridget bent down so Hope could give her a hug. She lifted her up and took her backpack.

 

“Hi Melanie… Hi Tammy..”

 

Tammy made some small talk with Bridget just catching up. The woman told her that she was taking Melanie home, so it made Bridget more calm knowing Hope’s friend was going to be with someone.

 

When Bridget got out the cafeteria door, she was surprised to see Jubal. She figured that Jubal was going to stay in the car. He had his shades on, she thought he looked so cool.

 

“Daddy!” Hope loved her surprise.

 

“Hey baby… how was your day?” Jubal asked as he picked up Hope from Bridget’s arms.

 

“It was good. You want half my cookie?” Hope put her cookie by his mouth and took his sunglasses and put it on her face. It made Bridget and Jubal both laugh when she did that.

 

“You didn’t offer me any of your cookie…” Bridget teased Hope, but Hope didn’t miss a beat.

 

“Daddy surprised me; I knew you were coming… you told me.” Hope didn’t say that she didn’t really want the cookie because it was oatmeal raisin. She thought it was chocolate chip until she bit into it.

 

Nevertheless it made Jubal laugh at the little girl’s explanation. Hope stuffed it in his mouth when he wasn’t paying attention which made Bridget laugh at him now.

 

They got to the car and Bridget said she wanted to go to the supermarket and get groceries. It was going to be the first time they went to the supermarket with Hope. She wanted to see things Hope liked, it didn’t mean that she was going to let the girl have it all but she wanted to know what Hope liked.

 

When they got to the grocery store, Hope just looked wide-eyed she thought they were going home. She had been there before with Melanie and her mom, but Hope was here with her own mommy now and a daddy too.

 

When they got out the car Hope felt special because Jubal held on of her hands while Bridget held the other as they walked in the grocery store together.

 

Bridget got everything from her list while Jubal just got things, he felt they needed.

 

“Baby, you wanna get anything?” Jubal made sure to look at Hope when he said it, so she didn’t think he was just talking to Bridget.

 

“Can I have the soft cookies in the white box?” Sometimes she saw Melanie’s mother get them. She liked them a lot when she slept over at their house.

 

Jubal and Bridget were trying to figure out what she meant so they went to the snack aisle. Jubal looked around and saw Entemann’s and picked up. He showed it to the little girl and when she gave him the happy nod, he knew that this was it. He made a little note in his head every time they came for groceries to pick that up.

 

“Do you want anything else?” Bridget remembered when she was a child, she had whole lists that she gave to Stephanie.

 

“I don’t know.” Hope didn’t know what she could really have…

 

“Well let’s see shug… when I was your age, I used to ask my mom for ice cream, candy, chocolate.”

 

“I think ice cream is nice. I like ice cream, is there ice cream with cookies in it?”

 

The girl loved her cookies…

 

“That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s get you some ice cream with cookies.” Jubal made it sound exciting so Hope could find it exciting. Bridget rolled her eyes at the both of them. “She’s just jealous baby, don’t mind her she likes ice cream with raisins in it!”

 

Hope starts to laugh because she hates raisins.

 

“Hey, rum raisin is a perfectly legitimate choice for ice cream and its not even my favorite.”

 

“Yeah, did you know that she has two ice creams named after her. She’s a fancy lady in the ice cream world…” Jubal always bragged about Bridget to everyone.

 

“Yes… I do, actually we should get the ice cream from the Frieze. It tastes a hundred times better than anything here.”

 

“That’s a lot!” Hope said wondering if she ever had ice cream that good before.

 

“It sure is. Man you’re so smart."

 

Hope was beaming from Jubal's praise. They scoured the aisles making sure to get everything on the list. Bridget knew if Stephanie was there, her mother would be criticizing her for getting so many sweets. She got frozen fruit bars because she could see the woman in her head.

 

When they finished, Bridget insisted they go home first so nothing frozen melted and then they would go to the ice cream parlor to get their ice cream.

 

After they finished putting everything away, they went to the Frieze. It felt like a homecoming for Bridget. She hadn’t been there yet since they returned from New Orleans.

 

“Well call it a surprise. What a sight?!” Ms. Carole was surprised to see Bridget.

 

“Hi Ms. Carole.” Bridget saw that the owner was looking at Hope on the sly. She knew that Stephanie probably spoke to her in confidence about this situation.

 

“Well hello and who might you be?”

 

“I’m Hope. My daddy said my mommy had two ice creams and she’s famous in ice cream land.”

 

“I reckon she is, isn’t she? Want to take a look?”

 

“Can I?!” Hope was excited at the prospect.

 

Jubal picked her up so she could see all the different ice creams on the display. Ms. Carole pointed to Bridget’s ice creams. Hope marveled at it because there were cookies in it. But she also liked the other one.

 

Bridget asked if it was possible to do a half scoop of each which made the little girl so happy. Bridget asked for a quart of each and her mother’s ice cream flavor to go.

 

When they got home, Bridget went straight for the kitchen. She left to put the ice cream in the freezer.

 

“Daddy?”

 

“Yes shug…”

 

“I really liked mommy’s ice creams a lot. It had cookies in it.”

 

“It’s really good huh? It’s my favorite.”

 

“Me too!”

 

“I bet. Do you have homework to do?”

 

“Yeah…”

 

Jubal opened her backpack for her, she pulled out her folders with her homework.

 

She had to read some passages and did her math homework but that was about it.

 

Bridget was making starting to make dinner while Jubal watched Hope as she read her homework. Any words she got stuck on, she looked to him for help, it made her happy when he helped her.

 

Since Hope started living with them, she finished her homework so fast she had so much time to do things.

 

She watched television with Jubal curled into his side while Bridget made dinner for them because it was her night.

 

Bridget had done all the prep for the meal. She put it in the oven. She would cook the rice later so it could be the freshest. When she came back to the living room and saw the sight that welcomed her it was hard for not to want to hold onto this. Seeing Hope holding onto Jubie just watching TV was something she didn’t know she could love.

 

This was her new normal and she thought to herself she was ready to go full stop to keep Hope was with them.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jubal and Bridget had been doing some planning. Bridget was still off of work for the most part.  Even though she wasn’t practicing medicine, it did not stop her from doing continued research. She decided that it would be a great idea for her to stay home while Hope was still getting accustomed to living with them. That did not stop her from doing research though. She was still making sure that she stayed on top of her research fellowship.

 

She started to get into the swing of things. She didn’t dedicate as much time as she did when she had just come back from the UK. A lot of things had changed in her life since then. Back when she was just the single overachieving nerd, she took no days off by design. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, the fact that her sister lived on the other side of the country and their best friend was a high-powered accountant… if they weren’t free then Bridget pretty much had no life. She filled it with research, she wanted to be a part of the breakthrough, but it also helped her as a distraction.

 

She didn’t think of herself as one of those people who completely changed themselves once they got a man. She was still her over achieving self… Her mother would require no less from them but she was enjoying life more. Her personal life was as fulfilled as her professional one and she was always trying to find the balance.

 

Even though she didn’t dedicate as much time to doing research like she used to, she used the school day to get most of her work in… she was still productive. She had admitted several academic papers that were actually finding traction… It paid that Cedars and UCLA had a good professional relationship. There was a number of doctors who teamed up with researchers from UCLA.

 

Bridget had been doing so much work on the research front that she felt that she needed a break. Not something for long but just something to reward herself for the accomplishment that she felt with having her academic papers being up for peer review.

 

When she broached the subject about doing something fun for Hope that she never done before, Jubal seemed to be on board with her. She made a mention of wanting to go to Disneyland, it was something that was relatively close to them and it wasn’t like Jubal would need to have an extended vacation.

 

She knew that his caseload was starting to get pretty steep again. She thought it was pretty amazing that Jubal had been one of the most productive employees at the firm, his workload had to be divvied up by 5 people. She could see why her husband was on a partner track. It was no wonder that her mother had set him up with her. She must have just felt the vibe of him being able to achieve so much. She thought that he would have no time on his hands if he had such a big workload, but she was surprised. During the time that they were getting ready to go to New Orleans, she saw Jubal work. Even if he did work from home, he segmented his time… They spent a lot of time together still, while they were waiting to get the OK to travel to New Orleans.

 

She felt so proud of him too and she thought he deserved a break too. Even though they had been gone from California for along time… it wasn’t exactly a sabbatical. They were working they just happened to be in another place. They didn’t have a honeymoon, not really… it really just involved a lazy Sunday together all day

 

She had been talking with Jubal about doing something special as a family. Even though hope was thrust into their lives when they didn't expect it, it has become something that they both welcomed.

 

When Bridget had picked Hope up from school on that Friday, Hope was incredibly happy. She couldn’t wait to get home and do her homework. It was Friday night which meant that they were going to eat out somewhere and then she would have her weekend with her grandmothers.

 

Hope had been talking about what she was going to do for the weekend. She knew that on Sunday that her grandmother was gonna have a pool party, Aly and hope already decided that they were going to follow Steffy and Phoebe around everywhere.

 

She just couldn’t wait… It was going to be perfect. She had been saying as much to Bridget and then that’s when things changed.

 

They had gotten home first before Jubal. He had decided that he was going to take a shorter day to get a move on things. Bridget had expected him to be home by the time she got back but she thought to herself that LA traffic was so unpredictable, she thought she was going to take longer than she did and maybe that's what happened to Jubal.  He probably got the raw deal, and she got the good one this time.

 

“I was expecting us to meet Jubal, but I guess he’s still stuck in traffic.” Bridget had wanted to do this together but it seemed as if she was going to have to do this alone. It wasn’t like they were going to have much time after she told hope.

 

“But daddy's at work…” Hope knew that she wasn't going to be seeing Jubal for hours. She didn’t know why Bridget was telling her that Jubal was supposed to be there.

 

“Yeah, that would be the usual, but he's actually supposed to be coming home now. He was actually supposed to be here by the time we came back, but he’ll be here soon.”

 

“Does that mean that I should do my homework earlier so we can go out earlier since daddy is coming home sooner?” Hope was curious because this seemed weird.

 

“Well we can do your homework now; it would be a really good idea because we are going to do something different this weekend.”

 

Hope didn’t like the sound of that, she already had her weekend planned and she had been looking forward to it all week.

 

“Well I don’t know if we should do anything different this weekend, I don’t think my grandmas are gonna like that. I’m supposed to go to a pool party on Sunday… grandma bought me a new bathing suit…” Hope was starting to get a little sad. She didn’t want to change her plans.

 

Jubal had finally made it back home, when he opened the door, he saw Bridget and hope on the sofa.

 

“How are my girls doing?”  Jubal had an easy smile on his face… It looks like they just came home. He brought his customary flower for the both of them. A red rose for Bridget and a pink carnation for Hope.

 

It momentarily made Hope giddy to get her daily flower from her daddy.

 

“Mommy doesn't want me to go to the pool party! Can I have your phone to call grandma? She can fix this.” Hope you if she could get Stephanie on her side then this would be nipped in the bud.

 

Bridget rolled her eyes; she didn’t know what the hell Stephanie was doing with Hope. Those words had her mother written all over it, she could actually imagine Stephanie telling Hope if there was any problem, just to call grandma and she would handle Bridget just fine.

 

“What pool party?” this was news to Jubal; he had no clue about any parties that were happening lately.

 

“Last weekend, I was at grandma’s house and she said that she was going to have a pool party and it was gonna be a lot of fun. Aly, Steffy and Phoebe are going to be there…Now mommy tells me that we have to change the weekend and I don’t want to. So, I need to call grandma…” Hope thought it was incredibly simple, she just needed someone’s phone… well that and them to actually dial for Stephanie.

 

Jubal started laughing… and that only made Hope even more annoyed.

 

“I’m afraid I just can’t do that…” Jubal was having too much fun with this.

 

“You see hope, if you had let me finish then I would have explained why we are changing up our weekend.”

 

“You were going to tell her without me?” Jubal specifically remembered their conversation. They both agreed that they were going to do it together.

 

“Tell me what?” Hope whined, she wanted to know what was holding up her weekend…

 

“Well, we wanted to do something different this weekend. We wanted to do something together and we think that it’ll be something that you love a lot.” Bridget started to explain…

 

 “I don’t see how that is possible, my Juju B was going to take me to the park tomorrow, I’ve been practicing my hopscotch and there’s a pool party on Sunday at grandma Stephanie’s house.  I’m gonna tell your mommies what you’re doing.” Hope knew that both Stephanie and Julienne did not like their time to be infringed upon.

 

Bridget was tempted to roll her eyes again, the audacity of this little girl to think siccing their mothers on them was going to do anything. She was tempted to laugh but she didn't want to make Hope feel bad.

 

“Well you can go ahead and tell my mommy, if you do… you can go to the park and have fun at your pool party, that you can do anytime you want by the way. While we are going to be at Disneyland… having so much fun with our Mickey Mouse hats and eating so much candy. We’re going to meet so many Disney princesses. But you have fun at the park and at the pool party.” Jubal got up and then gave Hope’s shoulder a squeeze for good measure. “Come on baby let's go get packed, I’m sure that Hope would have such a fun time going to grandma’s house early while we go to Disney.”

 

Jubal was having too much fun with this, he gave Bridget a wink  and she had to really refrain from laughing.  Hopes eyes got so big, she just couldn’t believe what she was told. Her mommy and daddy were gonna go to Disney without her. As much as she loved going to her grandmas’ houses, she will see them when she sees them because she wanted to go to Disney.

 

“I want to go to Disney, please let me come too… I’m sure you know I can do something the next weekend with my grandmas but I wanna come to…, mommy… daddy… please!” Hope was on her feet, she was ready to do as much convincing as need be because she wanted to go to Disneyland. Melanie’s dad took her there once and she said it was the most amazing place she had ever been.

 

“But hope you’re such a busy girl, we wouldn’t want for you to cancel your plans…” Bridget knew that she was wrong for this, but it didn’t mean that she was going to stop.

 

“I’ll them it’s Disney, they’ll understand.”

 

“Only if you’re sure…” Jubal looked as serious as serious could be.

 

 “I’m sure I can daddy, please let me come.”

 

“Baby, I think we should let her come with us, she’s doing this really big and noble thing by cancelling her plans, so she could keep  us company. What do you think?” Jubal acted like he was really confirming with Bridget.

 

Hope was looking back and forth at each of them, she was wondering what was Bridget going to say.

 

“I think it would be a good thing if she came with us, I don’t think I could have fun at Disneyland without her. So I think it’s cool.”

 

Hope start it's had jumped up and down, she was going to go to Disneyland, she was gonna finally get her hat and maybe eat the big lollipop.

 

“Thank you, mommy and daddy…  I’m really glad I get to come.”

 

“Now that we have gotten that out of the way, we need to get packed and leave immediately, we have a weekend to get as much of Disney as possible.”  Bridget said as she started to get up.

 

They were gonna drive down and then check into the hotel as soon as they got there but who knows what traffic is going to look like going to Anaheim on a Friday, competing with plenty of families who are also going to Disney for the weekend. But in that moment none of that mattered for Jubal or Bridget when they saw the happiness that was radiating from Hope.

 

They were creating memories for her and nothing else seemed to matter. They were just gonna enjoy their weekend as a family and for the three of them they couldn't think of anything better to do.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When they got to Disneyland, they checked into their hotel. They made sure to pick the hotel that would be closest to the park. When they got there it was pretty much nighttime, so it was really about just getting some dinner and unwinding. Hope was just excited to be in the Disneyland atmosphere. She didn’t think that anything could be better than this.

 

“You know maybe it would be a good idea for us to go to Disney World when you get a long school break. Then you can see if you like Disneyland or Disney World better…” Jubal had only been to Disney World before this. That amusement park was closer to him than Disneyland was when he was a kid.

 

When Hope heard the fact that she may go to Disney World too, she thought nothing could get better than this. She knew that Disney World was farther, but she heard that it was bigger.

 

“I love that idea daddy; I love it a lot.  Oh my God it's going to be so awesome I can feel it.” Hope couldn't contain herself, she wanted to start making plans for it now even though it was a long way off. “If we go in the summer can we stay there all summer?”

 

Bridget just laughed but she shook her head no.

 

“Maybe we can go for a little bit, but we're gonna go to New Orleans. We’re gonna go there in the summertime.” It was very important for Bridget too go back there. Even though that they had their lives established in LA, Bridget and Jubal had made a promise to each other, that they were going to go back to New Orleans every summer.

 

“That’s where daddy is from!”

 

“You are such a smart girl, that is where I’m from… Is that some place that you think you might like?” Jubal didn't think he was getting ahead of himself.

 

Even though they had temporary custody of Hope, it was looking like their social worker was going to make the recommendation that hope stay with them permanently.

 

“I think I will love it; I love you and I love grandma, and I love my great titis. I love my cousins too, and that's where you're from and so so many people I love her from there, I think it will be my favorite place, even more than Disney. You’re my favorite person daddy.”

 

Jubal gave her a wink; he was touched to hear her words. It was amazing how a child could make you feel so loved to come it was something about how they could articulate something so simply that really moved him.

 

Bridget felt just as happy, what she wanted most was for Hope to have a foundation. They gave Hope that, but they were just the beginning, it really was a family affair with them… Jubal’s family and her own make sure to make Hope feel like one of their own. She loved how her mother and Jubal’s own made it their goal to love her like a granddaughter. No different than any of their other grandchildren.

 

“Oh he’s your favorite person… Where does that leave me?” Bridget always had fun teasing Hope because the girl was just so earnest.

 

“Mommy I’m so sorry, you’re my favorite person too.” Hope is doing her best to make Bridget see that she felt just the same about her.

 

“Baby don’t pay her no mind… she’s just jealous. We don’t have to play pretend; I know I’m your favorite and it’s OK to say it. You’re my favorite too…” Jubal just winked at home and made her giggle.

 

“Daddy is silly, I really do love you… So much.” Hope could still remember how she felt the day that she went to see Bridget for the first time. She could remember how it felt to be hugged by her.  She felt a peace in her body, a feeling she never had before. Hope got up from her seat and went to Bridget. “Mommy you make my heart feel happy. I love you so much, when you hug me, it makes everything okay.”

 

Hope opens her arms to Bridget; she was easily swept into Bridget’s arms and hugged tight. It made her feel so special.

 

“I feel the same way about her…” Jubal loved his wife something terrible. Anything she wanted; he was always going to try to deliver.

 

Bridget had only been teasing Hope, but it did make her feel so appreciated… Who didn’t want to hear that they were loved, especially with people that they always tried their hardest for?

 

Hope ate the rest of her dinner in Bridget’s lap. It was a little more difficult for Bridget to eat, but she really didn’t care… She had everything she needed at that table with her.

 

When they had their first full day at Disney, they made sure to wake up early so Hope could soak up as much of the experience as she could. They had gotten so many pictures with so many Disney princesses… Hope felt on top of the world when she met Mickey and Minnie mouse.

 

Jubal had said he would be right back, Hope kept talking about the rainbow swirl lollipop. He had no clue of where to find it, so he decided that he was going to ask someone who worked there. Bridget and Hope stayed in line for the ride.  Bridget thought the next time she did this, she would be more prepared… it was murder waiting in the hot sun for the rides… It was something that she did in mind for herself, but the heat can make children tired.

 

 Bridget’s phone started to ring, she wasn’t expecting a call… but when she saw that it was one of her research colleagues, she picked up.

 

As Bridget started to talk to her colleague, she started to really focus on what they were saying. They wanted to know how she got to her conclusion in one of her papers. As Bridget started to explain, Jubal had started to come back.

 

One of the crew members told him where he could find the rainbow swirl lollipop for hope, he didn’t want hope to wait so he thought it would just be a good idea to take her and then they could come back for the ride. Bridget was going to stay in line anyway, so he figured it didn’t matter.

 

“Mommy, I’m gonna go with daddy so I can get the lollipop…” Hope had waved bye to Bridget, but Bridget didn’t see it because she wasn’t looking down.

 

Bridget saw Jubal doing some hand gestures and she really didn't pay any attention to them. She just said okay as she kept talking to her colleague. After about 5 minutes she was able to get off her call.

 

She was about to tell Hope not to let go of her hand when she saw that Hope wasn't there. She looked around in the line and she could not see Hope anywhere. She started to ask anyone in line if they saw her daughter.

 

“Have you seen her?” Bridget had opened the camera and showed some people in the line what hope look like.

 

Everyone she interacted with, said that they didn't see the little girl.  Bridget started to panic, and she got out of the line. She started to ask people randomly if they saw her daughter, she needed to find hope. It was no use, it seemed as if no one saw her and Bridget felt like she was going to have a heart attack. She didn’t know how she lost Hope. Hope never left without telling her, but this was an amusement park… there was distractions everywhere. She was distracted herself and now she didn't know what to do.

 

She fished out her phone from her bag and started to call Jubal.

 

When Jubal answered his phone, the last thing he expected was to hear his wife crying and hysterical.

 

 “Jubie, I cannot find Hope anywhere… I got a call from my colleague and I didn’t even notice that she was gone until the call was over. I can’t find her anywhere and no one has seen her. I showed people pictures and I feel like--” Bridget felt like her heart was in her throat, her breathing was so labored, it was so hard to catch a breath.

 

Jubal was trying to understand what his wife was saying… she was speaking so fast that he could barely understand her.  her words were blurring together, and she was making no sense.

 

“Baby, it's okay… Hope is with me, I told you that we were going to get the lollipop.  I thought you knew that when I came back you said okay.”  Jubal was trying to calm down his wife. He was trying to let her know that everything was okay, and Hope was with him the whole time.

 

“She’s with you! Oh my God thank goodness. I’m by the ride that we were standing in the line for. Please bring her to me I need to see her right now.” Bridget had always trusted Jubal, but right now she really needed to see Hope, she needed to be able to put her mind at ease.

 

Jubal wasn’t far from Bridget; it probably took about 3 minutes for him to get there. But it felt like the longest 3 minutes for Bridget. When she saw Hope in Jubal’s arms, she took off running. She couldn’t wait for them to get to her, so she thought to just go to them.

 

She was crying buckets at seeing hope… she couldn’t help herself she felt relieved.

 

“Hope!” Bridget practically screamed in Hope’s face.

 

The girl in question, just kept eating her churro.

 

“Hi mommy. Daddy got me this too, it is so good, you want some?” Hope knew that her mommy would love it if she tried the churro.

 

“Give me Hope please, I need her right now.” Bridget opens her arms, the weight of Hope, was heavy but welcome. She hugged her close to her and kept giving her kisses on the cheek.

 

Bridget felt so grateful that Hope was safe. She was with the person she trusted more than anything the whole time.  Bridget knew that she needed to pay attention more, she was gonna make a vow to herself that she was not going to be distracted when it came to this little girl ever.

 

Jubal just hugged Bridget close, He knew that she was freaking out still, he hoped that seeing them started to make her feel better.

 

“Sure, I’ll have some of your churro. Hope, you know that I love you so much. Mommy loves you so much.” Bridget had always tried to make sure that she was cautious with Hope. It was one thing for Hope to refer to her in Jubal as mommy and daddy, but it was another thing for them to reinforce it.

 

But this small situation, made her realize that she was no longer Hope’s guardian, she felt like the little girl's parent and she wasn't going to minimize that anymore.

 

Hope love that Bridget had said that mommy loved her, she felt the same way. She never wanted to leave, and she thought to herself maybe they could have forever, like the books that daddy read to her at night.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was a big week at Hope's school. It was open house night; this was where parents got to come and see exactly what their children have been doing…

 

There is plenty of times that parents could come to parent teacher conferences, but they tended to be about when children were falling behind. That’s where concerns were discussed, it didn’t really leave anytime to talk about children who had successes. It wasn’t something that could be individually expressed to every single parent. There will be no time left in the day. This was why the open houses were so important, it was usually when children were so excited to show their parents all of their fun projects and their good grades and where they sit.

 

It was all the talk in Hope’s class today. She and Melanie couldn’t wait for their parents to come and see what they were doing. Hope was very proud of what she was doing in class, it used to be very hard for her to focus, but now everything was different. She loved to come to school, she loved raising her hand because she knew the answers. She wanted to show her parents that she was always a good girl even when she wasn't with them.

 

Hope and Melanie were talking during the mini break that their teacher gave them. It was one of the only times you could talk without getting in trouble in class. Hope never used to be excited about these things because she usually didn't go to them and when she did, she never had a good time. The last time she had one of these, one of the teachers had to take her home because her first mommy wasn’t able to.

 

Some girls saw Hope and Melanie speaking to each other. One of the girls started to approach them and had a smirk on her face.

 

“It’s open house night, aren't you so excited that our parents are going to be coming to the school, sorry Hope I didn’t mean you.” The little girl giggled when Hope frowned.

 

Hope didn’t like it when people were mean to her. She didn’t really talk to the girl, it was Melanie that was her best friend. She had other friends in the class, but she never really liked being around these girls. They were so mean to everybody. She remembered the day after the last open house, those girls were laughing at her because the teacher had to take her home. They kept saying if she had a real mommy that she wouldn’t have to count on the teacher.

 

“Hope does have a mommy and daddy, and they are very nice. Their friends with my mommy and daddy.” Melanie wasn’t going to let these girls to try and make Hope feel bad. She didn’t like her friend sad.

 

“Yeah I do have a mommy and daddy. My daddy gives me a flower every single day including today. You can see it’s at the corner of my desk!” Hope pointed to the corner of her desk, Jubal gave her a pink carnation every single day. She liked to keep one in her hair and she also liked to have one at her desk. Anytime she was at school it was like having a little piece of home with her.

 

“The flower doesn’t mean anything, you could have just get it from the garden. And that’s not cool, that garden is for everyone you shouldn’t be picking out flowers every single day just to make yourself feel better.” When the ringleader of these girls said that, it made the other girls around her feel uncomfortable.

 

“I don’t need to take flowers from the garden, I have a garden at my house. I garden with my daddy every other day.” Hope was trying to defend herself.

 

“Yeah, I’ve seen her garden, she has lots of flowers. Why do you have to be so mean? Even if Hope didn’t have a mommy and daddy that’s not something you should ever say to someone. My mommy lost her daddy and it made her really sad. And my mom is a grown up. That’s not something to say to someone. It’s a really bad thing when we lose people we love. What happen if someone said that to you?” Melanie asked this girl an honest question. There was no point in being mean about stuff like that.

 

“Yeah, Felicia that’s not nice, you should never be mean about someone's mommy and daddy.”

 

Hope was shocked to see that this was one of the girl’s friends. She had expected them all to be mean to her, she certainly wasn’t expecting that one of them would be nice for her.

 

“Yeah Felicia, even your friends say that it's really not nice. I would never wish anyone to not have their mommy and daddy. It’s not good to be alone especially when you're 5. It’s not good to ever feel like no one loves you. I hope you never have to have that happen to you.” This was all Hope could say, she could remember her life when she would be all alone at her old home. She could remember what it was like wondering when she was going to see someone.

 

The teacher had called for them to go back to their seats, they had to resume their learning schedule. When Hope got back to her desk, she had touched the flower. When she did, she could imagine her daddy hugging her… It made her feel warm inside and she went on with her lessons.

 

As their day started to wind down, Hope and Melanie made their way to the cafeteria, they kept Tammy company until their mommies came and picked them up.

 

Hope and Melanie gave each other a hug and told one another that they would see each other later.

 

“How was your day baby?” It was something innocuous that Bridget said every single day. Normally Hope would be so happy to explain to her every single detail.

 

Even though Hope started to talk, Bridget notice that she wasn’t as excited as she usually was.

 

“Hope, is there something that is making you sad today?” Bridget wasn’t overly concerned, but she didn’t want something to fester if it didn’t have to.

 

“It was just… This girl in my class was mean to me. She said I didn’t have a mommy and daddy. I told her she was wrong, but it still made me feel bad.” It started to make Hope upset again, she really didn’t like feeling sad.

 

Bridget felt completely different than Hope, Hope might have been sad and withdrawn, with good reason. Bridget on the other hand was irate and ready to smack a 5-year-old if need be. She wasn’t going to allow anyone to be talking to Hope like that.

 

They had already gotten home when Hope started telling her about this Felicia girl. Bridget had gotten Hope out of her car seat and just gave her a hug.

 

“Baby, she's wrong and you know that she is wrong. I’m right here and I love you.  Now I want you to repeat after me, I want you to say ‘my mommy loves me’.”  Bridget spoke to Hope plainly, she wanted her to see that this was something she was completely serious about.

 

“My mommy loves me.” As soon as Hope said it, Bridget gave her a kiss on the cheek.

 

“Say it again…”

 

“My mommy loves me!” Hope said it again. She got another kiss when she did, it made her giggle.

 

“Say it again…”

 

 “My mommy loves me!” Hope said it at the top of her lungs, she got another kiss.

 

Bridget held on to her tight. If she needed to physically manifest her love and make Hope believe that, that’s exactly what she was going to do.

 

“And I always will.” Bridget just looked at Hope in her eyes. Hope started to play with Bridget’s hair because she was blushing. It was something that she did periodically.

 

When Bridget opened the door to their house, Hope wanted to be let down, she was in for a surprise because Jubal had come early from work. It was his first open house, and he didn't want to be late. He knew that it was something that was important to Hope, she had been talking about it for ages.

 

“Daddy!” Even though Hope knew that she shouldn’t have been running in the house, it was something she still did when she saw Jubal.

 

“There goes my girl, you look so pretty today.” He scooped her up and placed a pink carnation in her ear.

 

Hope was as pink as the carnation. It made Bridget happy to see the sight, especially since Hope was pretty sad earlier.

 

“Hope you have to get started on your homework, remember you’re not going to have as much time because we have to eat dinner after we comeback from the open house.” Bridget hated to be a ball buster but she had to get this show moving. She didn’t even make food today because she didn’t want to be late, she would have Jubal go and pick something up when they were coming back. Since she never been to one of these open houses, she didn’t know how long they ran. But it was supposed to start at 6 and that's when she would normally start to think about cooking dinner.

 

Bridget didn’t say anything as Jubal helped Hope with her homework, she was still pretty upset herself. She didn’t understand how someone could have the same name as her sister and be such a little bitch. On one hand Bridget thought maybe she was being a little harsh in calling such a little girl a profane name, but she started to rethink that when she remembered how sad Hope was. This little girl went to Hope unprovoked and started talking trash. This was something that she didn’t appreciate, and she was going to let this girl’s mother know. If that woman decided that she wasn’t going to handle her child, Bridget was going to have to handle Felicia's mother.

 

Even though Jubal was helping help with her homework, he started to notice how tense his wife was, he didn’t know what had her riled up but he knew something was going on. As Hope finished with her homework, Jubal told her to go to her room and change into some other clothes for tonight. It was something terrible to have a clothing designer be Hope’s grandparents. She loved playing dress up, but this was one of the times where it came in handy. He wanted to be able to talk in front of Bridget honestly without wondering if it was a conversation where a child could be present.

 

“Baby, are you upset?” Jubal got up and went over to his wife, he just sat on the coffee table and held his hands out.

 

It was hard for Bridget to be upset when Jubal held his hands out. She put his hand within hers and she started to feel better, now she was able to channel her anger.

 

“Well, there seems to be a little bully in Hope’s class. She is going around telling Hope that she doesn’t have a mommy and daddy. Normally, I would be wondering what would have this little girl escalate to say something like that, but you see she went to Hope unprovoked and what would Hope even say to someone anyways. Hope is always offering freaking cookies to people?! I’m upset because Hope was sad, and I am not going to have some toothless gremlin try and wreck all of the progress we have made with Hope. She’s happy and I don’t want some bully to be able to destroy that.” Bridget started to get emotional because this was important to her, Hope’s well being was the most important thing in her life. It was her top priority, and she wasn't going to let someone come in and ruin that.

Chapter Text

When Jubal heard that someone was bullying Hope, he could feel why Bridget was angry, he was angry. Jubal had always been a serious person, but he held anger. For him to get to that kind of point, he had to really be pissed off.

 

Bridget could see that Jubal was mad because he subconsciously started squeezing her hands hard. She was glad that they were on the same page.

 

“Ain't nobody talkin’ to Hope out the side of their neck. I don’t care if they’re 5 or if there 50. I’m going to find that girl’s parents and it will be addressed. And you can cash that.”

 

 Bridget shouldn’t have been as turned on as she was at Jubal defending their family, but she was.

 

“You just made my pussy wet.” Bridget knew she was wrong, but she really didn’t give a damn. She thought why not, they were gonna have to change their clothes anyways.

 

Jubal just smirked, he really wasn’t looking to get any kind of sexual gratification, his wife was a… unique woman. He got up and scooped her up from the sofa. Bridget had wrapped her legs around him and they went straight for their room.

 

When they got to their room, Jubal had made sure to lock the door. He thought they would at least make it to the bed, but he was wrong. Neither of them had the patience, he started fucking his wife against a wall.

 

It was rough and fast; it was what Bridget needed at that moment. She was angry, she needed a fucking that match that.

 

“I love it when you’re angry.” Jubal said this as he was roughly thrusted into her. The sound of his skin slapping hers was music to his ears.

 

“Unh…ooh baby! Fuck me…just… like… that! Mmm…You know how to fuck that pussy so good… so good.” Bridget was losing her mind, she was relying on her husband’s strength because she could only have one arm around his neck as she using her other to play with her clit.

 

“God dam you so tight, I fuck you so good because that pussy was made for me.” Jubal grunted as he thrust between every word he said. The loud claps their bodies made when they joined just heightened both their senses.

 

They heard a knock at the door animate them freeze after a particularly loud clap from Jubal’s thrust.

 

“Mommy? Are you in there?”

 

Bridget was about to answer when she felt Jubal starting again, she looked at him as if he was insane.

 

“Jubal, we need to stop, she’s right outside the door.”

 

“Ain’t nobody stopping me from fucking my wife, not when I’m like this I’m sorry. Answer her. So I can finish.”

 

“We have to stop.” Bridget whined even though she didn’t want to stop.

 

“We ain’t stopping. Baby that pussy is pulsing.” Jubal started thrusting slowly. “Baby! Give your mama a couple minutes, she wants to wear pretty dress too.”

 

“Okay daddy! I’ll wait, I just wanna match with mommy bye.” Hope went back to her room; she couldn’t wait to see Bridget again.

 

 “Jubal you're so terrible!” Bridget moaned as she continued to play with her clit.

 

Jubal decided he was gonna make her pay for it. He started fucking her even faster than he was before.

 

“Don't you act like he didn't want me to beat it up.”

 

He was relentless, he knew he had her when her pussy was gripping him with the strength of super glue. He could feel her nails dig into his neck trying to grip him as she held on for dear life as her climax ran through her like a train.

 

He kept on fucking her until he came. He set her down on the bed so she could relax as she tries to come back to herself. He knew that he was a nasty man, he loved seeing his come in her.

 

 “Jubal you're disgusting.” Bridget said this as she did a Kegel which pushed some of the cum out of her.

 

She saw her husband just so fascinated.

 

“I’m so nasty and disgusting and yet you let me fuck you. Not even that, you let me fuck you on the regular.” He taunted her as he picked her up, he brought her to the bathroom and sat her down on the toilet seat.

 

Bridget knew that she needed to get ready because she needed to go to Hope.

 

Jubal just left the room because he had to get ready himself. He didn’t know how dressy he was supposed to be, so he decided that he was just going to wear a burgundy button down and some dress slacks.

 

When he came back into the bathroom, Bridget was on him.

 

“I like you being nasty and disgusting, my man is nasty, and I like it.”

 

 “I know you love that shit, risking it all on the first date for a little taste. Remember that.”  Jubal gave her a kiss, she loved kissing this man. She let her tongue play with his. He abruptly stopped the kiss and slapped her ass as he went to fetch his toothbrush.

 

She guessed she deserves some of that teasing. They were just going to have to continue this when they got home. She had to quickly dress and get to this little girl before Hope goes on a hunt for her.

 

She went to Hope’s room after she picked a dress to quickly throw on. She chose something easy, she wore green. When she stepped into Hope’s room, she saw the smile that never stop making her heart skip a beat.

 

“Mommy I was waiting for you. Daddy said that you are choosing a dress.” Bridget was glad that this dress was long sleeve because her whole body was blushing.

 

“You did so good waiting on me. Thank you so much, you’re such a good girl.”

 

“Thank you. I wanted to match with you. I want to wear green dress too.”

 

Bridget had only said okay, they quickly found a green dress and Hope threw it on.

 

It didn’t take Jubal long to dress which was great because the last thing they wanted to do was be late to their first open house.

 

Thankfully Jubal got there early. He had made sure then he got there on time or else he was afraid of what Bridget might do. They followed Hope to her class and went to her desk. The children were told to sit at their desk and their parents were to stand behind them. It was good for Bridget and Jubal to see Melanie’s parents. They were friends with both Diana and Mateo.

 

“Hey, do any of you know who Felicia is?”  Jubal thought he should get this out of the way now.

 

“Melanie told me about Felicia today, I know what she looks like from how Mel described her.”  Diana got an earful as soon as she had picked up her daughter.

 

It was the first time that Mateo was hearing any of this, even though he was very involved in his daughter’s life, he was co-parenting Melanie with Diana. He wasn’t always versed in every single conversation they have.

 

“Well I wanna know where she is, I need to speak with her mother.” It was the first thing that Bridget wanted to do when Hope told her what happened.

 

 Hope and Melanie were just talking to each other about what they did in the interim from school ‘til now. They were in their own little world and had no clue what their parents were talking about.

 

Diana had pointed out who Felicia was and Bridget had seen the woman who was with the little girl. She really could believe the stereotype, this woman looked like some Real Housewives wannabe. Like who the hell wears sunglasses at 6:00 o’clock in the evening... indoors.

 

Bridget started to walk over with Jubal on her heels. Diana and Mateo had offered to be close to Hope while they spoke to Felicia's mother.

 

When they got to the woman, Bridget could feel the woman’s eyes on her even through the sunglasses.

 

“Are you Felicia's mother?” Jubal asked with a blank face.

 

“What's it to you?”

 

“well it seems as if your daughter is calling my kid an orphan.  She was doing so in a derogatory manner, I believe that it should be settled tonight, if your daughter thinks she’s going to be bullying mine then we’re going to have a problem.” Jubal was no nonsense when it came to his family.

 

“Kids say things all the time, we can’t put too much stock in it. They are five years old.”

 

“You see my husband was being kind to you, you see he's all about being practical and civil because he’s a lawyer, he likes to you know come to a settlement. But ma’am I’m a doctor, we’re taught to diagnose the problem and then treat it. I’m not leaving here until I have assurances that your daughter won't be talking disrespectfully to mine. Because if it doesn’t stop, I’m going to hold you responsible and I sure as hell will hold you accountable. I will have the school so tied up in litigation because of this, I’ll have your daughter’s place revoked here. And I won’t just make it a nightmare for you here, my mother knows all of the reputable private schools in the whole state, I’ll have her blacklist you and your daughter from all of them. If you don't talk to your daughter and make her come correct, I’ll have to assume that you are trying me.  And ma’am I promise you, trying me will be the worst mistake of your life.” Bridget said this with the kindness of smiles on her face.

 

“Doctor Forrester… Doctor Forrester”

 

Bridget turned her head towards the voice calling her. It was Hope’s teacher. Bridget went to the woman to see what she wanted to speak to her about.

 

“Ma’am I advise you take my wife’s advice. I’m a much nicer person than she is.” Jubal left and went right back to Hope. He bent down and sat on the floor next to her desk and kept her company. So they just started to talk.

 

Jubal pointed at the cardboard cutout of Hope’s name on her desk.

 

“Who dat?” Jubal asked Hope.

 

“That’s me daddy!” Hope laughed, she thought he was so silly.

 

“What that say?” Jubal felt his heart was just filled with joy.

 

“Hope Valentine!” Hope said this proudly.

 

Jubal didn’t know that Hope had been writing that as her name in school. If there wasn’t so many people around he just might cry.

 

“You want to be my Valentine?” Jubal asked Hope. It was something his daddy had always said to his mother and them when he was still here.

 

“Yes.” Hope blushed and giggled.

 

“That’s mighty nice since you’re my best girl.” Jubal gave her a kiss on the cheek.

 

Hope just gave him a hug. She loved him so much.

 

Felicia’s mother was wondering if Doctor Forrester was related to the Forresters from Forrester Creations. She did a quick Google search on her phone. She saw that indeed the Bridget Forrester was from that family. She knew that Stephanie Forrester was someone not to be trifled with. She knew that she had to talk with Felicia, there was no empty threats if that’s that woman’s mother.

 

“Daddy you see I keep this flower on my desk. I change it every week. Just so it doesn’t grow old and get limpy.” Hope is describing everything on her desk.

 

Jubal listened, he loves listening to her speak, he didn’t care what it was about, he was just happy that she was excited.

 

Bridget had made her way back to her family as the open house started. They got to see all of Hope’s projects and her portfolio with her grades. It made them feel proud that it was something that Hope works so hard on. Bridget’s heart got caught in her throat when she saw Hope’s name on the desk; Hope Valentine.

 

Hope was excited to show all of her work. She couldn’t remember the last time that she was so excited. She lied to herself she could remember exactly when she was last so excited. It was when they went to Disneyland. Even though Disneyland couldn’t compare to this, it still felt pretty great to her.

 

It was weird for her when Felicia came up to her and apologized about her behavior earlier that day.  Felicia never apologized to anyone in the class, so everyone took note. Hope could only think of one thing to say and she did.

 

“Bye Felicia.” She went back to Jubal’s side.

 

She wasn’t trying to be mean but Felicia was only saying sorry for this but she did a lot of mean stuff to a lot of people.

 

 When other kids started saying was she going to say sorry for all the mean things that she said to them, other parents started to see that this little Felicia girl was a bully. Everyone started to look towards Felicia’s mother and it just made Bridget smirk.

 

Of course this little girl was a bully, her mother probably was just a rude person in general and she was just following in her mother's lead. She couldn’t believe that this woman was trying to dismiss her daughter’s bullying as if it was something that kids do. No children learn this.

 

They were walking towards the next class, even though most of Hope subjects was in one room, they still had different kinds of teachers, they had one for physical education, one for music and art. So there were times that they were moving from room to room. Jubal has settled his hand on his wife’s hip and it made Bridget shutter. She whispered in his ear.

 

“You had better not try to fuck me in these people’s school.”

 

“Looks like New Orleans is rubbing off on you.”

 

“I prefer when he’s in me, but that will have to wait.” Bridget started to walk faster because if she could not be around Jubal right now. “Hope come to me, don’t you want to show me your drawings from Art.”

 

Hope left Jubal’s side to go to Bridget and show her everything she did in art class.

 

Only thing on her mind right now was just to find out about Hope’s studies and stay away from her husband. His smile was making her feel wrong feelings in a room of five years old.

 

“Hope, your daddy is a mean man…”

 

“Really?! Is it because of I’m daddy’s favorite girl and then it’s grandma and then Titi Sasha and then you?!” Hope asked innocently, it made Jubal bellow out a laugh.

 

Bridget thought to herself, damn it sounded so sexy.

 

“Wow I’m at the bottom of the list.”

 

“It’s okay mommy. You’re number four that’s still nice… I guess.” Hope was trying her best to make it seem like the truth, but she didn’t feel that bad. She was number 1.

“Little girl.” Bridget was not going to be told about herself by a five-year-old.

 

“You better leave the little Valentine alone. I’ll tell my mama on you. Don’t cost yourself good food over being petty.” Jubal was having too much fun.

 

Bridget’s retort died on her lips. She wasn’t risking an embargo on any Boisseau food. She wasn’t going to allow her mouth to get her in trouble. Jubal was the type of person to fuck her and then snitch on her. She couldn’t take her chances.

 

Chapter Text

It was Sunday, it was one of Hope’s favorite days of the week. She loved going to her grandmother's house. She was sad that she didn’t go to the pool party, but Disneyland was way better than that. Her grandmother told her that she was going to have another pool party soon.

 

It made Hope less sad because it meant that she was going to have fun with her cousins. She and Aly were inseparable. Hope said to herself that Aly was her other best friend. She loved her cousin so much; they didn’t go to the same school so she really loved going to grandma’s house so she could see Aly.

 

They had so much fun in the pool, Stephanie told them that they needed to stay on one side of the pool. They splashed water at each other until they got tired. When they saw that Steffy and Phoebe came, both girls got excited. They loved it when their big cousins came.

 

They were known to follow them as if they were shadows. They got out of the water and went towards them. Hope and Aly were confused because they didn’t see their cousins in bathing suits. They had on their regular clothes.

 

“Why don’t you have on bathing suits? It’s a pool party…” Aly started to ask. She was the one known to badger people with questions.

 

“Well, we didn't want to ruin our hair, we’re thinking about going to the mall.” Phoebe wouldn’t dare go into any water; she had spent nearly an hour straightening her hair.

 

“What’s so great about the mall?” Hope wanted to know because she didn't think anything was better to do today than a pool party at grandma's house.

 

“We just felt like going there, maybe watch a movie… buy some earrings. Who knows? We kind of just go with the flow.” Steffy just wanted to go somewhere.

 

“Well, if you’re going to watch a movie and get earrings then I want to come too?!” Aly did not want to miss out on any fun. She knew that the pool party wouldn't be the same if her cousins weren't there.

 

“I want to go to if Aly is going.” Hope didn't want to be left out.

 

“Come on Hope, you’ve been crying about wanting a pool party since the last one we had. The whole point of grandma making this pool party was because she felt bad.” Steffy did not want her grandmother getting mad at them because Hope and Aly wanted to leave.

 

“But it's not really a party if you two are not going to be here! We will just go tell grandma.” Hope looked to Aly for some support and when her cousin nodded, she felt more confident.

 

“Yeah, we’ll just tell grandma that we’re leaving.” Aly didn’t see the big deal. She wanted to go to the mall.

 

Phoebe and Steffy looked at each other, they really did not want to take two kindergarteners with them to the mall. The last thing they needed was any of their friends to run into them and see they were on babysitting duty. They would hate it if something fun was going down and they couldn’t do it because they were stuck with two kids.

 

“Fine, if grandma says we have to, then so be it.” Phoebe was annoyed, she knew what was going to happen…

 

“Good, we’re going to go ask grandma right now. Come on Hope.” Aly was excited, she already knew that grandma was going to say yes.

 

Both of the little girls started to walk over to their grandmother. She was on the other side of the pool talking to Sally.

 

“Grandmas, can we go to the mall with Steffy and Phoebe?” Aly tried to put on her most innocent face.

 

It was impressing neither Sally nor Stephanie.

 

The older women just looked at each other and then looked at Steffy and Phoebe. On one hand, they knew that Steffy and Phoebe probably wanted to just be teenagers, on the other hand if they said no, they would have very moody and possibly crying children.

 

“Steffy… Phoebe!” Stephanie shouted because she wanted her granddaughters to come over to her.

 

Both girls just rolled their eyes at each other, they knew what was happening even before they got there.

 

As they walked over, they could see Stephanie smiling. As soon as they saw that smile, they knew was over.

 

“Girls, I understand you want to go to the mall.”

 

“Yeah grandma, we only came to say hello. Steffy and I made plans.” Phoebe knew that it was futile, but she was trying to make her grandma see that little kids really shouldn't have been coming.

 

“That’s so sweet of you two. You know Alexandria and Hope would like to come too. Do you think there’s any way that you can include them? They have expressed interest in going to the mall as well.” Stephanie was trying to be nice; she wanted the girls to say yes rather than forcing them to do so.

 

Steffy and Phoebe just looked at each other… Even though their grandmother was asking them, it really wasn't a choice in the matter.

 

“Fine! Ugh! You rugrats can come too.” Steffy was a little upset because if they took the kids to the mall, they couldn’t really do what they wanted to do.

 

Aly and Hope started celebrating. They were going to the mall; they might even get earrings!

 

 “Okay, now that it has been decided, Steffy and Phoebe you should get Aly and Hope ready so they can look presentable.” Stephanie was not letting her grandchildren leave the house like that.

 

Steffy and Phoebe, were even more annoyed now. They knew that they were going to have to give the girls a bath and wash their hair. They were starting to think that they should have never come to say hi.

 

Steffy and Phoebe started to draw a bath, they put some rubber duckies in there because they knew that’s what Hope, and Aly liked.

 

 

 As the girls took their bath, Phoebe washed Aly’s hair while Steffy washed Hope’s.

 

 

When they were done, the girls giggled as they were getting towel down.

 

“Don’t tell Aly but you’re my favorite Steffy.” Hope that her big cousins were so cool.

 

“She doesn’t have to tell me anything, I’m right here Hope. Forget you anyways, Phoebe will be my sister now. Right Phoebe?!” Aly wasn’t taking this lying down.

 

“Whatever, Steffy will be my sister then.” Hope didn't mean it, but if Aly was going to trade her then she was going to make a trade too.

 

“You little girls are crazy. My sister is my twin and last time I checked neither of you fit the bill.” Steffy rolled her eyes but she couldn't help but laugh.

 

They got the girls dressed with little fanfare. Hope insisted on wearing her flower, so Steffy pinned the flower with a hair clip in Hope’s hair.

 

Steffy drove them the mall they liked that movie theater. The twins weren’t that upset that they were on babysitting duty. The girls were pretty good kids. They took Aly and Hope to Claire’s and got them some new earrings.

 

They had all settled on watching a movie, but it was going to be awhile before their showtime started, so they bought the tickets and decided to peruse the mall. Phoebe has suggested that they go to the food court and get something to eat while they killed time.

 

 As they walked through the mall, the girl saw a playground and begged the twins to let them go. Even though it was not something that they planned, Phoebe said why not… Their movie wasn’t going to start for awhile. The twins decided to just sit at a bench that was close to the park and watch the girls as they played on the playground. After about half an hour the girls had decided they had enough.

 

They finally got to the food court, there was so many choices that they decided that they should take a vote. Steffy and Phoebe knew that they couldn’t be too bad with the choices because the last thing they wanted was for their aunts to give them hell for feeding their kids junk food.

 

They decided that they were going to get the healthiest but tasty thing in the food court.

 

What they didn’t anticipate was that someone was watching them…

 

Brooke had been doing some shopping when she spotted Hope, she couldn't believe it.

 

She saw Hope with another little girl and two older ones. When she got closer, she did a double take. One of the teenagers looked so much like Taylor. It was when she realized that these teenagers had to be Taylor’s children. She took a guess that, but the other little girl must have been Thorne’s child.

 

She found herself getting really upset at the fact that they look like such a little happy family. She should have been the one to have kids with Ridge. And there was her child with the children of her rival. She was not going to stand for this.

 

She kept following then, she saw Hope at the playground playing. She had one mind to march in and scoop up Hope and leave. She realized that she couldn’t when those teenagers sat at a bench that was really close.

 

 She made her way towards the food court. She saw that Hope was excited to eat. If that was the only thing that made Hope so happy, she’d throw her a bone. The girl could be so needy sometimes.

 

She started to get impatient, she just decided to be done with it. She had the confidence she needed. She had a half a bottle of 1800 before she came to the mall. The ladies at BCBG were kind enough to give her 3 glasses of red wine. She felt good, she felt confident. She started marching up to those girls. He wasn’t going to allow for Stephanie to try and take another child from her.

 

She got closer to them, as soon as she was within an arm reach of them. She latched onto Hope’s wrist squeezed.

 

“Give me my daughter!”

 

Brooke started to pull; she wasn’t going to leave this mall without her daughter.

 

At first Phoebe didn't know what was going on, she heard some woman saying give her daughter and her mind went to holding on to Aly. She saw that some woman was pulling on Hope, Steffy was on the other side not letting go.

 

When the woman looked up, both of the teenagers started to freak out. It was Brooke. Steffy was terrified, but knew no matter what, she could not let go.

 

Chapter Text

Steffy was in shock, she had never really seen Brooke before. She knew a little bit about her but no one in their family ever really talked about the woman.

 

Seeing the woman now, she could only see the crazed glaze in her eyes. Hope was crying and so was Aly. It felt like everything was in slow motion.  She saw Brooke loosening her grasp on Hope’s arm, this was the moment she picked up Hope.

 

Brooke was angry that Taylor’s child was holding her child. It reminded her of when Taylor would hold Bridget.

 

She started hitting Taylor for touching her child, she wasn't going to let this happened again.

 

Steffy felt the blows raining down on her face.  she could only think to herself that this lady was crazy.

 

“I’m not letting you take my child. Give her back!” Brooke started yelling, she didn’t know how audible she was… The alcohol made her voice project.

 

Phoebe was horrified, this lady was just pouncing on her sister and sometimes even hitting Hope. Aly started screaming and Phoebe told her to get behind Steffy.

 

She did the first thing she could think of her sister was not letting go of Hope, they couldn’t take the chance that this crazy lady wouldn’t run off with her. But she couldn’t take this woman repeatedly scratching and clawing and punching her sister. So she punched her in the stomach and then again in the jaw.

 

Hope had turned around, she kept her face in Steffy’s neck, she didn’t know what was happening. Her flower fell on the floor and that's when she started talking again.

 

“Hope, put your face back in my neck. I don’t want anything to happen to your face.” Steffy didn’t want Hope’s face to be scratched up, she could feel some of the cuts on her face, they were starting to sting her as the air hit   them.

 

You would think that she would go down, she actually did fall to the floor, but she was screaming. She was livid and cursing at them. Brooke was so mad that Taylor's spawn actually hit her.

 

When she got up, she stepped on the flower and kicked it away. Hope watched that, she knew that she had to listen to Steffy but she wanted her flower.

 

“You little bitch, you’re just like your freaking mother! All you do is ruin peoples lives. You take what’s not yours. Why can’t you just stay out of it? Give me back my daughter now?!”

 

People in the food court had no clue what was happening. They just saw this woman start hitting this teenager, the little girl in the teenager’s arms was getting hit too. It was a bizarre sight.

 

People started to try and separate them, but the woman was just so belligerent. She was screaming saying that they were kidnapping her child.

 

Security finally came and took them all away. They had to call the police because there was assault involved. The security  guards had to separate the woman from these girls.

 

“I need my flower. We can’t leave without my flower.” Hope just wanted to have her flower.

 

Her shoulder hurt and so did her wrist, but the only thing in that moment that Hope could think about was her flower.

 

“Hope I’m sorry, they’re not letting me go back. I wish we could get your flower for you but they’re making this go here and we don’t have a choice.” Steffy knew that they had to listen to the security guards, there was a scene, and it was incredibly embarrassing.

 

Her whole face was stinging, she didn't understand why this woman was going berserk on her. She knew that she could not let Hope go no matter what. She was happy when Phoebe punched the lady. At least she stopped hitting them.

 

The security guards took them too the mall management office and told him that they had to wait there. It was hellish for them. Phoebe and Steffy were doing their best to try and calm down Aly and Hope. Nothing was working, they were hungry and tired and confused. All the little girls could do was cry, Phoebe and Steffy did their best to try and calm them down, but they were pretty freaked themselves.

 

The security guards came into the room and told them that they would have to go to the police station. Steffy and Phoebe looked at each other and wondered what the hell do they do now?!

 

Steffy told them if they were not under arrest, they were taking their car. She was not riding in the back of a police car. They didn’t do anything wrong.

 

Phoebe knew that Steffy was right, they had witnesses ready to tell them that it was self defense. They didn’t go looking to attack Brooke, she went to them unprovoked and started wailing on Steffy.

 

The police at least let them take their car, it wasn’t a chance that we’re going to take anyways, this was where Hope and Aly’s car seats were. Not that they wanted anything to happen but who's to say something didn't happen on the way there to the station and the girls weren’t protected. Phoebe could imagine their grandmother in her head… and they needed to make sure that the girls were protected.

 

The police station wasn’t far from the mall, when they got there, they were telling them that they needed to make a statement and relay the whole story.

 

It seemed like they had to say their story so many times to so many different people, the police told him that they needed to separate an individually tell their stories.

 

This was something that Phoebe and Steffy would not agree to. They weren’t going to leave Aly and Hope alone but they did it anyways. They didn’t know anyone here. Phoebe and Steffy started talking to themselves and they realized that it was getting late and they were minors. They should have had an adult with them, and they were never offered one.

 

“I’m going to call Julienne, the restaurant’s not far from here and she see through the bullshit of what they're giving us here, they keep telling us that we only have to say it one more time and they separated us from Hope and Aly. What happens if Brooke is able to convince them somehow that she can just take Hope? Aunt Bridget will lose her shit and fucking kill us…” Steffy was going through the scenarios of things not going their way.

 

Phoebe knew that her sister was right, they had already separated them from Hope and Aly, she couldn't take it if something were to happen to either of them.

 

Steffy used her cell phone to call Julienne.

 

“Hello, how are you dear?”

 

“Hi Julienne, I’m so sorry to just call you out the blue, but I’m at the police station and they picked us up, we were at the mall and then Brooke ambushed us and started hitting me and then security came and then the cops came. They made us come here and now they’re not letting us see Aly or Hope. I don’t want anything to happen, what happens if Brooke is able to convince them to give her Hope?” Steffy knew that  Julienne did not play around when it came to Hope.

 

“You said everything you needed to say, I’m on my way.” Julienne could not believe her ears, she was through the roof. She told her sisters that she would have to be right back. If she wasn’t back by the time they closed, then they needed to pick up Sasha and take her home.

 

He drove right down to the police station and went up to the desk Sergeant.

 

“Excuse me, I was informed that my granddaughter is here, she was with her cousins and now she is alone. She is 5 years old and she should be with a guardian or a social worker.” Julienne was a teacher for 25 years in New Orleans, there was no one who was going to tell her that she didn't know enough about children being questioned.

 

“And who may I ask called you?” The desk Sergeant had to deal with enough people coming in and out and they did not get paid enough. They had plenty of kids at the station right now.

 

“I received a call from Stephanie Forrester. She is my granddaughter’s cousin. They had gone to the mall and got into an attacked by a woman. That woman hit them and now they’re here. They should not be speaking with anyone without an advocate or a guardian present.”

 

One of the responding officers heard this and approached them.

 

“Hey, I can handle this sarge.” The officer in question beckoned Julienne over.

 

Julienne did not like this treatment however she was not in the place to be asking for many favors. She had more questions than answers.

 

“Hello officer, do you know my granddaughter’s whereabouts?”

 

“Well ma’am, we’re not actually allowed to release any names of anyone… especially minors. It’s their privacy you know…”

 

Julienne was not dealing with this today.

 

“Well Sir, I have just said that I was given a call by Stephanie Forrester, if you would like to see my phone that is no problem, but what I do know is that you do not have an advocate or a guardian for any of the four children that you have taken in today. I can describe them all for you, their names are Stephanie, Phoebe, Hope and Alexandria. I don’t need to make this up. They were attacked and now they have been sequestered and no one is with them.”

 

“Ma’am, I’m finding it hard to believe that any of those girls are your granddaughter.”

 

Julienne felt like she was going to have to choke someone today.

 

“Sir, I don’t care what you choose to believe… That is not my prerogative. My prerogative is to get to my granddaughter who is scared and alone and I’m dealing with some person who doesn't know her trying to tell me what he believes… Your belief doesn’t make my granddaughter less scared. But what it does do is show me that you have no plans to follow the law.”

 

“Well yes, my belief does matter. I’m finding it hard to believe that some country Black lady, is the grandmother of a little white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.”

 

Julienne had about enough of this, she just had some ugly man who never missed a donut run tell her that she was country. Ain’t nothing wrong with being country, but she’s from New Orleans proper... she was southern... She wasn’t standing for anymore of this bullshit. She took out her cell phone and looked at this officer.

 

 

“Get your ass here right now, I’m at the police station and they have Hope here and they're not letting me see her. I’m going to need you to come here before I have them have an excuse to throw my ass in jail.” Julienne told her son the address of the police station she was at. In front of the officer in question.

 

When Julienne got off the phone, she just looked at the officer.

 

“Seeing as how you have done nothing but waste my time, I’m going to go speak with the desk Sergeant, if they are not your superior, I will find your superior and lodge a complaint. My son is a lawyer, and you just made a huge mistake. I’m going to show you what some country Black woman can do to you.” She didn’t bother to stay at this point, she was going to raise hell to every single person until she got to the girls.

 

When Julienne had spoken with the desk Sergeant, she had explained the runaround she was getting and how she very much did not appreciate that and her son would be coming to clear this up but in the meantime she was going to make sure that her grandchild and her cousins we're not to be left unattended.

 

The desk Sergeant already saw the headache forming, she didn’t know what was going on but she was tired of knucklehead officers playing cowboy.

 

“I’m sorry about that ma'am, I will get you to your granddaughter and her cousins. I’ll get you a different officer to escort you and relay the situation to you.”

 

Julienne felt like this was more like it, when she finally got to the room, she only saw the two girls. Hope ran to her grandmother, she finally saw someone she knew. They had her and Aly with this officer lady, but they didn’t really wanna be with her.

 

Julienne was upset when she saw Hope, she had marks on her face, the girl bruise easy so it was going to stay for awhile.

 

“Grandma, they had me and Aly here forever, they won’t let us see Steffy and Phoebe. And I don’t have my flower.”

 

“Juju B, we were supposed to go to the movies and we never got to see it. And we’re hungry, they only give us chips but we were at the food court getting ready to eat and then the crazy lady came and hit Steffy, she hit Hope too.”

 

Julienne just hugged the girls close. When she did was when they really started to wail. She just looked at this officer with venom.

 

“You can leave.” She was tired of all these people. She couldn’t wait for her son to come and knock some heads. “It’s gonna be OK, Juju B is here babies.”

 

Chapter Text

Bridget loved the weekends. It was a great way to catch up with her husband.  She was mostly doing research these days so she could be more attentive to Hope.  Jubal had got back to his workload, he made sure to come home at the same time most nights. But sometimes he brought work home with him. It wasn’t something Bridget minded; she knew that they would need some kind of sacrifice. She knew how hard he worked and the type of workload he was comfortable with. If he needed to bring some of that workload home so he was physically there, then so be it. It would be something that she welcomed because she didn’t like him far.

 

They were intimate most nights, sometimes she had to give him a quick blowjob in the bathroom or he would eat her out in the closet just in case Hope had a nightmare and wanted Bridget to sleep in her room or she came and slept with them. They had to find creative ways to satisfy each other but they always found a way to satisfy each other. It was why they didn’t fight their mothers when the ladies decided to divvy up time for Hope.

 

They could get fully acquainted with each other on the weekends. Jubal loves to take his time with his wife, he could fuck her for hours and it still wouldn't be enough time. He always made sure to get all of his work done within the five-day work week because he had a full-time job on the weekends.

 

They were making the most of being alone. Bridget liked walking around naked, if there was something that could always get Jubal in the mood, it was her walking around naked. She enjoyed it, she taunted him with it. He was a man that didn’t rile easy, so her ego was on epic proportions because all it took for her to rile him up was walk right in front of him with no clothes on. She almost got him to not focus on a Saints game once.

 

Sometimes Bridget thought to herself, was she having too much sex? Sometimes she felt like a hoe with her own husband. Sometimes it would be on sight, soon as he came into the house, she would be on him. She had never been this way before, she felt like a fiend for it. She’d be so horny that she could just fuck him in the entryway. Didn’t even make it to the sofa. He will be fucking her against the front door. Didn’t even set his keys down, but Bridget was getting her pussy worked.

 

Bridget was used to quick meaningless fucks.  Every man she had ever been had something missing. But all of them have something in common, none of them could satisfy her, if she wanted to orgasm, she usually had to do it herself. Her dumbest decision was getting married to Deacon. Not just because of who it was, but also when. She had no sexual experience, no other relation to compare it to. That’s dangerous, she had to have faith that he was putting it down on her, he certainly wasn't.

 

She knew that she was in trouble with Jubal the first time she saw him. When she opened that door, her whole body felt heated. She was definitely confused when she felt a hunger for someone who worked with Morty. She was not expecting a good looking man to be at her door to take her out on a date. What she expected even less Was her desire to increase as the night went on. She started to do things that were unlike herself. She got in his back seat with misplaced confidence and wanted to fuck him. She was in a surprise for her life, she was not expecting him to be packing the way he was. He was so unassuming; you would never expect what was hiding inside his pants.

 

He had the biggest dick she ever seen, she felt some of her confidence leaving her when she was in the back of his car. She pushed it down, she pretended like she knew what to do with it. When he was inside her, she felt like a new woman. She looked at him in his eyes just how serious he was, he wasn’t expecting so fuck on the first day, that’s something she knew. But when it happened, she felt transformed. She looked into his hazel eyes and it was unlike any feeling she ever had before. It made her orgasm explosive. Up until that point, it was the best sex she ever had. She caught him by surprise, but he wasn’t surprised for long. Somehow, he knew what she wanted more than she knew herself. He was calling her beautiful while fingering her with his rough, thick fingers.  He had the biggest hands she ever seen. She came all over those fingers. Then she put the condom on his dick, her heart almost tapped out, when she was rolling it down, she didn’t expect to keep on going. She had to take him slowly if she was going to take him at all. She had been shocked at the time, she had just had the best sex in her life, in the back seat of the car of a blind date set up by her mother.

 

Sure most nights of the week they had sex, most mornings too but these weekends were long and hard, just like him.

 

Her husband told her to put on a DVD, he didn't care what she wanted to watch. He did that sometimes, sometimes it was a movie… other times it would be playing an album. He would make her focus on that well he had a good time in between her legs. It surprised her the first time he did it. She didn't think he could last eating her out for a whole movie. She didn’t think that she would like it going on that long. She was wrong on both counts…

 

She didn’t even think that she could come so many times. One time he insisted on outdoing himself, he said bakers dozen, he really did make her come 13 times. After the 11th time she had a mind to stop, even though she was pretty sensitive, she said fuck it… She wanted it all and that's what she got. When he achieved that task, she thought he was going to be done but he had other things in mind.

 

Today had been no different. She had already climaxed four times. He let her pussy relax, he took his time kissing up and down her body. He made his way to her face.

 

When he kissed her, she couldn’t help him moan in his mouth. She could taste herself; she didn’t really care for it before Jubal, but she found power in it… she reveled in it now. He could stay in between her legs for hours; he is always talking about how he loved the way she tasted… She found a new appreciation for herself through it. Every time she tasted herself on his tongue, it was a reminder.

 

He thought that she was irresistible… delicious… He showed her how he felt at every opportunity. Every time he kissed her after he went down on her, she believed that her pussy made him crazy. Sometimes she laughed, she never told him why. He would just look at her puzzled but amused… On occasion he even laughed too because her laughter was contagious.

 

She laughed into the kiss, it was at this specific moment that he slid into her, her pussy was stretching taking his thick dick. Her laughs died in her throat, she let out a high pitch scream into his mouth. When his balls slapped against her, she stopped kissing him, she let out a moan so loud… It only riled him up to be rough.

 

His balls kept slapping against her swollen pussy lips. He had been playing with her for so long, he made her whole pussy sensitive.

 

“Jubie…  you fucking that pussy so good baby…” Her words came out in a whine, her voice was an octave higher, she looked at him in his eyes.

 

She used to think that missionary was boring, with her husband it was her favorite position, she loved looking at his face as he fucked her while she was on her back. She loved to see everything, sometimes his determination alone made her come, she could see it on his face. She would explode on his dick.

 

“Hold the back of your knees with your hands.” Bridget listened to her husband and picked up her legs, his voice was like gravel and they had her mewling. “Who does this pussy belong to?” Jubal asked his wife as he planted his forearms beside her shoulders, and he pounded into her harder.

 

Bridget loved it, her husband to the outside world was the most unassuming man, he never got jealous. Other men could look at her and he never paid them any mind. She used to get a little sad that he wasn't jealous… She wanted to know her worth to her lover. But in all that time she was waiting for him to be jealous, when he looked at her was when her whole body went ablaze. She didn’t need other men to make him jealous, when he looked at her, it made her weak.

 

He was never possessive in their everyday life…, but he sure was possessive when he was fucking her. Something about it called to her. She can make him just as weak as he made her and that was the ultimate turn on.

 

“You know this pussy belongs to you.”  Bridget practically chided him.

 

 She didn’t think that he could actually fuck her any faster but when she told him the magic words, his dick was pounding her at lightning speed. She was hollering like a banshee.

 

“Just like that! Ugh! Just like that baby…  beat that pussy up… I need it like that.”

 

“Don’t worry I’ll always give you what you need.” Jubal knew just the way she needed it right then and there. He knew that he was going to have to finish soon, she could barely hold her legs up. He shifted his weight to one forearm and used his free hand to rub the shit out of her clit.

 

When Bridget came, she was absolutely silent, her arms gave out and her legs were starting to wobble. Jubal felt his dick being squeezed like a vise, and he didn’t stand a chance. His come with spilling in his wife as he fell on top of her.

 

Bridget was hugging on her husband like he was a lifeline. Sometimes after she came, she had the overwhelming urge to stay attached to him. Before him, after she has that she couldn’t get far away fast enough. It was usually because she went to the bathroom to go play with her clit so she could actually come, she didn’t have that problem here.

 

They settled in the bed, it was only the early afternoon and it was in both of their minds that they may have another round before Hope gets dropped off.

 

 Bridget gets the remote and starts to look that was shows they could watch. She sees that TBS is running The Wedding Date.

 

“Baby we watch this movie at least five times a month, surely there’s something else on TV…” Jubal didn’t even hate the movie, it’s just they had a DVD of it, and it comes on TV so much at a frequency that he is finding puzzling.

 

“Well I like it.” Bridget liked it because she could identify so much with Kat before she met Jubal. Their circumstances weren’t the same but is she had to go to a family wedding, she would have been tempted to hire a date, she was the only sibling without a significant other at the time.

 

That killed any words from Jubal’s lips.

 

When it gets to the dance lesson scene, Bridget started to feel daring. She giggled as her hand started to go down her husband’s chest, she loved feeling his body… Running her hands down his abs … going lower where her prize was.

 

She saw him close his eyes, he groaned as she took him in her hands. Bridget pulled back the sheet that was covering them. She felt like sucking her husband’s dick. She loves the grunts and moans that she elicited from him; his phone started to ring. She knew that he was close.

 

 Jubal was climaxing as he said hello. His voice cracked and it was about the funniest thing to Bridget.

 

“Hello…” He was trying to recover as he said the greeting.

 

“Get your ass here right now, I’m at the police station and they have Hope here and they're not letting me see her. I’m going to need you to come here before I have them have an excuse to throw my ass in jail.” Julienne gave him the address of the police station she was at. She didn’t let him get a word in edgewise…  that was all Jubal’s mother said before she hung up on him.

 

Jubal just held his wife's face with his hand. Bridget could see the sad look on his face, and she started to get worried.

 

“We need to go to the police station, my mom just told me that they have Hope there and they’re not letting her see Hope.”

 

Bridget started to wonder what the hell was going on… She shot up out the bed and went into the closet to get dressed. Her mother was supposed to be the one watching Hope today. They dropped her off at her mother’s. She didn’t understand how Hope was in a police station and somehow Jubal’s mother is the one that knows about it.

 

The both of them got dressed quickly and we're out of the door. Bridget immediately called her mother when she was in the car. Stephanie told her that Hope and Aly wanted so badly to hang out with Phoebe and Steffy. She let them go to the mall so they can get some earrings and watch a movie.

 

Bridget was trying to figure out did Steffy and Phoebe somehow lose Hope… She felt like she was losing her mind. she cried the whole way to the police station.

 

“Baby, I’m going to handle this okay... I promise I’m going to handle this.”

 

Bridget nodded to her husband’s words, if there was one thing that she could always bet for life on with her husband defending their family.

 

“I know you will.”

 

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Chapter Text

Bridget felt scared going into the police station. She didn’t know what to expect and all she wanted to do was take Hope home. She latched on to Jubal’s hand, she was afraid that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted.

 

She did one of the only things that she could think of, she had called the social worker related to their case. At first, she didn’t want to do it because she was afraid that she would get blamed. Hope was their responsibility, and she didn't want anyone to think that she was being irresponsible, Hope just wanted to hang out with her big cousins and feel like she belonged in the family. It was the same thing that she used to do when she was a kid. She and Jessica used to always wanna hang out with Felicia or Kristen. When she was a little girl, everything they did seemed like the coolest thing.

 

It was the same thing for Hope, she knew that the little girl thought that the twins were fun an amazing. Why wouldn’t she want to go to the mall and go shopping with them? It’s the same thing that she would have expected for herself. She certainly didn’t expect for her niece to be assaulted by Brooke. It was something that was still hard for her to believe.

 

She felt like she couldn’t even speak right now, her head hurt, her hand shook… She was scared and she could admit it. It had been such a long time since she actually felt scared. She looked at Jubal and he was calm. She didn’t know what was going through his mind. Nothing seemed to rattle him, and she supposed that it was a good thing because one of them had to be levelheaded right now.

 

They just walked up the steps and he held the door open for her.

 

They walked up to the first desk they could see.

 

“Hello, excuse me, I received a call from my mother telling me that our daughter was here with her cousins.” Jubal wasn't going to be anything less than polite until someone got on his wrong side.

 

“Sorry sir, could you elaborate more because we have a lot of people in the building at the moment. We have lots of kids who are waiting for their parents...”

 

“My mother told me that she was trying to see our daughter and she was being denied that. Her name is Julienne Valentine… If you ever seen dynasty she looks like Dominique Devereaux.” As Jubal started to explain, it became clearer to the desk Sergeant who he was talking about.

 

Bridget could see that the officer raised their eyebrows. She didn’t know how to take it, so she just kept her mouth shut.

 

“Yes sir, I had your mother escorted to your child by an officer. There was a misunderstanding with one of the officers who had responded at the scene.”

 

“What I want to understand is why my mother was denied in the first place? She was called by our niece. My mother called me telling me that she wasn't being allowed access and I find that incredibly troubling. None of the girls should have been asked any questions without a guardian or some kind of advocate. Were any of the girls with a social worker?”

 

“I don’t believe they were sir.” Even though the officer was only a desk Sergeant it didn't matter, they were going to get the brunt of blame for someone else’s fuck up.

 

“So there was no social worker with them, and my mother wasn't allowed to see them at the time, they were being questioned in unethical and possibly coercive ways.” Jubal wanted them to see the magnitude of this mess. He was upset and he was going to have his say, now that he knew that his mother was with them, he felt that he had the time.

 

“Sir, I’m not completely caught up with that specific case, it seems to be that the woman who allegedly attacked the children is claiming that she is the mother of one of the girls. I cannot speak for the officer in question, I just believe that there was a lot of confusion.”

 

“That woman, is Hope's biological mother, she is also not allowed to see her. We are her legal guardians; I have all of the paperwork here. What charges are being leveled against her?”  Bridget had been silent up until this point, as soon as Brooke was mentioned was when she got riled up.

 

“I believe that she is being booked on two counts of battery, two counts of aggravated assault both including bodily injury to a minor.” That was all the current information that the desk Sergeant had on that specific case.

 

“Okay that's a start. We have also called the social worker tied to this case; they are going to need to know all of that for their file.  I also want to lodge a complaint; my mother should have not been denied any access to Hope or her cousins. She was acting as a guardian for all of them and she was denied that. Which is especially egregious because they are all minors and should not have spoken to anyone without a Guardian or an advocate present and the fact is, they were spoken to without either of those present… The police had also not even tried to contact any guardians to let us know that they were even in the police station... I understand that it is overflowing with people here however the responsibility especially when minors are involved cannot be shirked ever. My mother did her due diligence coming here and explaining the situation to only be denied that. I know that this probably has nothing to do with you, this reflects poorly on this police station and the LAPD at large... and it does not help that my mother was declined access to our daughter because she is some ‘country Black woman’ and it was the disbelief of an officer and no basis in fact to deny her access. The fact that my mother is Black does not preclude from being my child’s grandmother. The fact that my mother is from the South doesn't either. My mother is not country and there’s nothing wrong with that, I have family in the so-called country, she’s southern and I don’t appreciate anyone trying to disparage her because of how she speaks or the color of her skin.  My mother’s articulate and eloquent and always has been, she has also taught me on the best course of speech. She has also been an English teacher for 25 years and has a master’s degree in education and literature from Baylor University. So for an officer to try and disparage my mother is not only asinine but also reckless. It reflects poorly on the officers who work here.” If there was one thing that Jubal would not stand for in life was anyone trying to disparage his family, especially his parents. These were the people who loved him after the fact.

 

Bridget just heard her husband speak and she had no clue that Julienne was denied initially to see Hope because she was Black. It was never something that she had to confront before, she's seen some uncomfortable situations with Kristen and Zende, she hated it when people would be weird to her nephew. Obviously, there was a difference between her sister and her nephew. Kristen and Tony did the best to make sure that Zende was immersed in Black and African culture. It took them a lot to say that they didn't have all the answers, but they wanted to do right by their son and wanted him to have an identity and mind frame that was rooted in reality and truth.

 

It wasn’t something that Bridget really spoke to Jubal about. It was different for him.  Jubal’s whole maternal family was Creole and his dad’s family was Black, they were varying shades, Julienne was probably the darkest skinned of all of them, but her skin was still pretty light. Bridget had seen a picture of all four sisters at once and Jubal’s biological mother was the lightest of them all.  

 

She knew that he was a product of an affair, unwittingly on his mother’s part, his biological father was completely white. She thought it must have been confusing for him, it was different it was a reverse of Zende.

 

“Sir, I can only apologize to you about that, I do not have the rationale or an explanation to that. I truly am sorry that your mother had to go through that because it's uncalled for and when I was assessed the situation, I made sure for her to be escorted to your family to rectify what had happened to her. Of course we’re not perfect and I hope that that one officer's opinion does not change the perception that you have the Los Angeles Police Department. I will definitely give you a form that you can fill for the complaint. I also apologized once again. I will have an officer escort you to the room that your family is being held in at the moment.”

 

Jubal had kept his mouth closed, he had very strong feelings about Los Angeles Police Department, but it wasn't in him to have any kind of arguments with anyone right now. He just wanted to go see his mother and daughter.

 

When the officer came and escorted them to the room, it made Bridget feel more at ease.

 

Bridget didn’t know what to expect once you got into the room. She just took a deep breath and watch the officer open the door. She got to the room she saw that Steffy had superficial cuts on her face and a bruise on her jaw. Knew that the scratches wouldn’t scar which was a blessing. She was so thankful that Steffy and Phoebe truly were protecting the girls.

 

“Mommy!”

 

“Auntie!”

 

Hope and Aly had screamed at the same time and started running towards Bridget. Bridget just felt herself laugh; the laughs turned into tears. She was relieved that the girls were okay.

 

“Are you ladies okay?” Jubal asked Steffy and Phoebe if they were doing alright.

 

“Yeah, Uncle Jubal we're okay.” Steffy had made it a point to let them know that she was fine. She was just really worried about the girls. She knew that it was going to be a traumatic experience for the both of them, they were so young.

 

Jubal had nodded to the twins. Everyone in the room could see his face. It was like stone, his eyes were intense, it was almost like he wasn't even blinking. He just turned and faced his mother.

 

Julienne was so upset; she still was going over what that man told her and how he was trying to keep her away. Jubal was upset that his mother was upset.

 

She started speaking in Louisiana Creole to him. She was relaying her feelings about the situation and her initial helplessness. She wanted to scream but she knew that she had to mind herself in front of the children.

 

Bridget could understand most of what they were saying, she made it an important priority for her to learn the language. It was tied to Jubal’s history, his family’s history and heritage. It was something obviously important to him, so she wanted to make it important to her.

 

Julienne didn't like getting emotional in public, but she was so angry, and a couple of fat tears escaped her eyes. She wiped them away quickly with her index fingers, but the anger wasn’t easy to wipe away like her tears were.

 

Jubal started to get more upset as his mother spoke. It was a big mistake to disrespect his mother. He was going to make them pay for it especially considering they had kept her from Hope as well. He told his mother that this was unacceptable, and he was going to make sure that it wasn't going to be taken lying down. He was going to fight them and make them regret what they did.

 

When another officer came in the room, Jubal started to go to work. He told him that all of their statements that they have gotten before could not be used. He was the representative for all of the girls.

 

Steffy and Phoebe were amazed with how fast things started to move when their uncle was there.

 

Jubal had thought it was best for them to leave, he was going to square away everything with the police but since they already had their statements now their work was done. The police made it seem as if the girls had to stay after giving their statements even though the police had no reason to hold them.

 

Julienne had known that the girls were hungry and decided that it would be best for them to go to the restaurant and get something to eat. Bridget thought that was a good idea as well because she and Jubal had only come in one car and her husband wasn’t leaving yet, she had time to burn and she was hungry herself.

 

When the ladies entered the restaurant, Steffy and Phoebe saw that Sasha was there, so they went straight to their friend to catch up and get their minds off of everything that happened today.  Hope and ally went as well, they wanted to be with the big girls and they only left Bridget and Julienne.

 

The ladies sat down at a table; Bridget was curious but nervous. She wanted to ask her mother-in-law things, but she didn't want to rock the boat.

 

“Shug, it looks like you have a lot of things on your mind…”

 

Bridget just looked at her mother-in-law and nodded. She has so much on her mind and she really didn't know where to start.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Can I ask you a question?” Bridget was scared but she felt like she needed to ask. It was something that was eating at her. It was uncomfortable but she thought to herself it has to be more uncomfortable for her mother-in-law.

 

“You can ask me just about anything. Will I have the ability to answer? I don’t know…” Julienne felt as if she knew where this was going. But she couldn’t be too presumptuous.

 

“Was it hard to raise Jubal?” Bridget wanted to know because this was not an experience for her. Even though her mother was older, there was never an experience she ever had where she could remember that anyone ever questioned Stephanie being her mother in any circumstance. All Stephanie had to do was just say the words and people believed her.

 

“In what context?”

 

“That officer didn't let you see Hope because he said that you were an improbable choice for Hope's grandmother. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop on your conversation. I just was in the same room and you guys were talking and you got tears in your eyes, Jubal had tears in his eyes and honestly I have never seen him cry except during the first days after Katrina.” The crying Bridget witnessed was completely different. The first time she had ever seen Jubal cry it was because of desperation and the fact that his family could have been killed and he had no way of knowing. The cries at the police station or silent and full of anger.

 

“So I’m guessing you picked up Louisiana Creole when you were living in New Orleans... That’s good. Things are different for Jubal. For all intents and purposes Jubal was raised by Black people. My family is Creole, and we have every shade in our family. I’m the darkest of my sisters and I’m pretty light skinned. My sister, Jubal’s biological mother, I guess now people would call her mixed race in a place like Los Angeles, she looked like Lena Horne. But where we're from and the time we grew up in, she called herself and was seen as a black woman. She was the youngest of all of us, also the most idealistic. People always called us the Boisseau Trinity but that ain't true, it was four of us. Before our daddy took her in, her mother, my father’s sister, had married a white man, technically miscegenation was illegal but in New Orleans it was different. Technically it was against the law but if a white man wanted it then it was deemed okay. Anyways she was Black, with a white daddy. Her parents died and by law my father was next of kin. She was always at our house anyways. Her parents only had her and family is so central to our identity, our family, our traditions. She was kind of like Hope and Alexandria, always following us but since it was four of us our ages weren't that far apart. She’s the same age as Jeannie, if you took them out people would think that they were fraternal twins. Jeannie is only a little bit darker than she was. My daddy used to send us to do errands for him. Nothing hard or cumbersome because at the end of the day we were Black girls in the 60s and 70s, there are some places that we would never want to be after a certain time or had a certain place whether we were together or not. Even in cosmopolitan New Orleans, we were aware of the dangers that opposed to Black women in the South especially young girls. One day, my daddy told us that we were going to have a party and he wanted nice roses for our mother. My father did not know anything about that stuff. Any gift he wanted to get our mother; it was from us because that wasn't his world. My dad could talk about different kinds of wood and nails and carpentry and all that but was clueless when it came to gift that my mother would like. That's why my dad was happy when he was gifted with four girls. Someone was always in the house to help my dad choose something for an anniversary, Valentine’s Day, birthday, Christmas or Easter or whatever Holidays came up and you know being from New Orleans there’s a lot. So a lot of excuses for presents. So he sent us one day to get flowers and we stumbled upon Robineau’s. I went in and I just thought that the woman who owned the place was just so debonair. She had this calming spirit, carried herself with so much honor and respect. She was only 5 foot 5 inches, but she always held her head high, it was like she could have been my mother's friend. She was so sweet to us to find something that was for my father to my mother. She was so soft spoken but clear; her voice was barely was above a whisper when she said Robin and this man came out. Tall and mighty fine, back then we didn’t have a car for us. My dad had a car and so did my mother, but we were expected to take the bus or just walk there. We had walked from my house to the flower shop. We didn’t feel it as much because we were chatting the whole way there. It was completely different than going back with flowers. Anyways Robin was told to escort us back to our home with the flowers for the party. I swear to God me and my sisters were blushing. This man was so attractive.  A man came out and he had such a booming voice, he was telling Robin what he was going to do when he came back. That is so funny to see, the man had these beautiful eyes… These blue green eyes had reminded me of the Gulf of Mexico. He looked at the soft-spoken woman after speaking to Robin and I wanted in that moment for a man to look at me that way. I’m sure that my sisters felt the same way. It was clear that they were settled in love. Such a beautiful sight. Even Robin looked frozen, we were watching a love story. Anyways he escorted us back to our home and dropped off the flowers in the right place. The whole way back, he had a way with words… he spoke to me on the whole way home and I was delighted when he asked for my phone number. He told me to call him Julius, Robin was what his mother called him. I could hear my sisters in the background whispering to each other and giggling. If we didn’t have company present, I wouldn’t have been so polite. I wanted to tell them to shut up so badly, but I refrained as manners have taught me. I said to that boy ‘you better not be calling me late; this is my daddy’s phone, and he won't take too kindly at some boy callin' his phone late at night.’ I only wanted to scare him a little because I knew that my father wouldn’t let me answer any calls so late. He was highly distrustful of a man calling any of his daughters at such a late time. Back then it would have been deemed as disrespectful unless it was some kind of emergency. He said wouldn’t dream of it. We had talked a couple of times on the phone and then he asked me if I would be so inclined to join him for dinner. I was so excited, my goodness he was the bee’s knees. My father would have never allowed any dates to happen, unless I had a chaperone, just about everyone in my family worked including my mother. So there was no way to have any kind of chaperone, so my dad saw that I really like this man, so he did work around. He said if this boy likes you so much then your sister must accompany you at all times. He didn’t don’t care which sister, but I needed one of them. I said fine, Missy was always available. She loved it. If we ever went out for a meal, he would have to have enough money to feed the three of us. Missy was so enamored with how much Julius loved me... How beautiful he was with me... There was no one like him. He was a mix of his mother and father. His mother loves flowers, his daddy loves poetry. This man used to bring me and my sister flower every time he saw us. Julius had been drafted to the Vietnam War. It was so scary and surreal. When he got the news that he had been drafted, he said that his timeline had changed, he wanted to marry me before he left. I said he was crazy, he said no 'I’m just in love with you' and I said okay. He said if there was one thing that he could make sure that he did was marry me and if he didn't come back alive, the least he would do was to take care of me. While Julius was over there I went to college, I had gotten into every school that I applied to, but I decided I’m going to Baylor. We have a little bit of family that live in Texas, so my father felt comfortable sending me there, I lived with a cousin of ours. I did not pay a dime for college. My husband had all of his wages sent to me. I had gotten all my degrees. When I got home, Missy was talking about she had fallen in love and she had found someone who made her feel like Julius made me feel. I felt uncomfortable with it. I know that Julius and I seem like such a great love story, and we are but we wouldn't have gotten married so early if it had not been for him getting drafted. My father worked so hard for us, he wanted us to get in education, make something of ourselves… it was a little different than it was for Black girls. There was only so many jobs so we could do before, but we were living in a different age now. Missy wasn’t hearing any of it, she was going to the University of New Orleans and she had dreams. We even liked him; he was this white man who wasn't afraid of being around so many Black people at once... He had dinner at our house that at our dinner table a few times, a table that our grandfather made that during Reconstruction with his father. That man had such audacity. My sister loved him, she thought she was getting her love story. Even though our father wanted her to just focus on her studies, he wasn't opposed to the union. That man actually put a ring on my sister’s finger, never mind the fact that my sister was fresh into college and this man almost 10 years older than her. Wasn’t such a big deal back then, but it just made me so mad because she was just starting her life and here comes this man waltzing in talking about these dreams. Nothing’s wrong with having dreams, but he was selling her a fantasy. I had a convention; it was for young Black women professionals that was being hosted in Atlanta. My mama let me borrow her car so we could go. Monique had just gotten her teacher’s license, so she wanted to go as much as I did. Jeannie and Missy just came for the ride. Missy wanted to go so bad because her supposed fiancé lived there. We went on a road trip, we had never done something like that before, so we had the time of our lives driving from Louisiana to Georgia. It was a little scary because of sundown towns. We had our green books with us, even though they’re technically outdated, there was no way in hell you were gonna catch four Black women in a sundown town. We got to Atlanta, Monique and I were having a great time, we were networking and getting great contacts and learning from women who had more experience then us. Jeannie and Missy, where just finding things to do in Atlanta. They liked it a lot there, they had been eating lunch at a restaurant. They were having such a good time and loving the food and having so much fun, then Jeannie spots this guy. She thought that she was seeing things. She tapped on Missy to look over that way and my sister's heart was breaking. That man had a whole family, taking his two little kids and his wife out for a meal. She was so embarrassed and upset. When Monique and I had come back to the hotel, she was crying, and the lights were off. We had turned on the lights and Missy starts screaming to turn the lights off, she was crying on Jeannie’s shoulder.  they were cuddled in the bed like they were kids again. I had wanted to know why was my sister crying… it was not even crying it was like wailing, it was like listening to a woman singing the Blues. When I find out that my sister is being duped by a man who pretended to love her. He was using her. He made a mistress out of my sister. He had the nerve to put a ring on her finger and make her feel as if they would have a life together. It was so disgusting; I wish I could tell you that it wasn’t common. Many women have fallen for that, especially women who look like me. He didn’t see my sister in that restaurant, how could he? He was the one that was always going to her. He was a traveling salesman. I just started to think to myself how many women did he have? Did he have different women in different cities being sold the same lie. Was he giving them fantasies? I felt so guilty… Had good man who loved me, my father was a good man who loved his wife, Missy’s biological parents loved each other. My grandparents loved each other. We came from a family that had love matches, it was an embarrassment of riches, but it also made my sister too trusting. She was being true to a man who had no knowledge of the word. When we got home, she did not want to tell our father, but he had to know. He had given his permission to this man to marry his daughter, it wasn't like my father wasn't going to ask... Julius had come back from the war at this point.  He had been back for awhile; he came back in 1973. I had to tell my husband and father what this man did, my husband had a mind to go to Atlanta and shoot this man dead. It may sound extreme, but it's been known to happen if a man where to hurt someone's sister or daughter, there were unspoken rules.  I forbade it. I was not going to have my husband thrown in jail for beating the crap out of a piece of shit. My father cried; I think it was probably the first time I’ve ever seen my father cried my whole entire life. He felt like a fool, he was usually such a great judge of character. That man had the luxury of being from somewhere else. My father normally investigated anyone who we had been interested in. He had to see what family the person came from, how they will treat your child. He bought this man’s act. He made me so mad, walking around town. He came back to New Orleans and wanted to meet my sister. He didn’t know that we knew, I told her that give a time for you guys to hang out.  Julius and I showed up as well. We told him that we knew that he had a family in Atlanta. I told him that I saw him eating with his family when I was at a convention. I didn’t let my sister say anything. She was still speechless. That’s when he finally didn’t have an answer for things. I don’t know if it was the first time he had ever been caught in his game. When he had been caught, he had the nerve to ask for the ring back…  Julius said he would beat his face in, the ring was pain and suffering that he put Missy through. I made her sell that ring, she was going to need the money because we find out she's pregnant. That’s what hurt the most. She was so young and so innocent. She fell for a man who treated her like a plaything. She was so embarrassed and ashamed. Not at the baby. She was ashamed and embarrassed at herself, all of us had told her just wait. If he really loves you then he’ll wait right there with you. It was such a hard time in her life. When Jubal was born, he became her world. She loved him so much, she wanted him to have everything that she didn't. She wanted him to be able to go to college and finish.  I did something… I called that man’s house. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. He had learned to go round messing with people’s lives. Selling fantasies like it was one of the products he sold. It was so irresponsible of him, not to just my sister but to his wife. When I called, it was his wife who picked up the phone. Back then if you called long distance, you would be told that it was a long-distance call. I thought I had the wrong number and I said is this the home of blah and blah and she said yes, it is. I tried to tell her that her husband was a cheater, she flipped the script on me, she must have thought that I was one of his mistresses. She told me I was just a Black bitch in a long line of Black bitches, it didn't mean anything because he always came back to his family then she hung up in my face. So this man had a fetish for Black women, I was just happy that my sister didn’t get a VD. I’m guessing that another woman had called her home at some point to tell her that her husband was a no-good lie and cheat. I never told my sister because why kick her while she was down... She had picked up her life and made it full for Jubal. That’s why it hurt so badly when she passed, she was a baby. She loved her little boy with everything she had and that’s all you can really ask a parent to do. She had no urge to try and get that man involved in Jubal’s life. Jubal had my daddy, he had Julius, he had Julius’s daddy. There are so many people who love him. We love him so much. Jubal’s only a quarter black, you wouldn’t look at him and see it…Majority of his genetic makeup is European, his skin happens to reflect that. But he’s culturally Creole, he was raised that way, it’s how I raised him because that’s how my sister raised him. There was no contribution of whiteness to Jubal, the white person that was involved in his procreation probably left a lot of children through the South with no intention of ever taking care of them. People see him as White here I guess... He has the same percentage as the president of the NAACP... I don’t think it is difficult for Jubal, it might be more difficult for people to see my son through a lens that isn’t their own. What I will say is, we never took family trips outside of Metropolitan area until Jubal was about 14. We were cognizant that something might happen if a mistake was made. He knows the difference between him and Sasha. Sasha might be the one with blue-green eyes but there's no mistaking that her phenotype shows Black to just about anyone who sees her. Jubal has my eyes, but people would assume that I was married to a white man. When they saw Julius, is when some people got confused. Never in our neighborhood because there were kids as light as Prince walking around. I wouldn’t say it was difficult, I have nothing really to compare it to... I raised him in a place where he wasn't looked upon as different. There’s plenty of families that are also Creoles with people as light as Jubal is. So it was normal for us, there’s been miscegenation in New Orleans since New Orleans was founded, it’s an anomaly so it’s somewhat of a reckoning now here. This is unlike where we grew up...” Julienne was done talking about family history. “I knew that my son had to love you something special because he never allowed anyone to give him a nickname.” Julienne had told Bridget what seemed like a long story, but it really was only the tip of the iceberg in the history that is her son and the circumstances that engulf their family.

 

Bridget blushed when her mother-in-law said that she knew that Bridget was someone special to her son. She gave Jubie his nickname and night she met him. He even told her that no one called him that.

 

“He really went his whole life without having a nickname?” Bridget found is so difficult to believe because just about every single person she ever met in New Orleans had a nickname that they went by including her in laws.

 

“Well he had a nickname; my husband Julius gave it to him. I don’t even remember where we were, but we were together, and Jubal was probably four years old at the time. Everyone had always called me Juju B, my sisters as well because of our last name. Jeannie B, Momo B, Missy B… it was our normal my husband had his nickname too. His Mama called him Robin; her last name is his middle name. When we got married people started calling him Robbie V. No one called Jubal anything but his name, but there was a friend we had in the neighborhood who asked us Jubal’s nickname ‘because we sounded like some upstart hip hop group. Hip hop was still pretty new and disorganized, you know at this point it was like talking on a disco record and everyone had these cool B boy names, so we partook in the fun. So they asked us what our son's nickname was because everybody in both our families had nicknames and Julius said his nickname is my son. And he was dead serious. So anytime people would ask Jubal what his nickname was and if he was with Julius that's what my husband would say. Jubal had never let anyone call him anything outside his name. That boy loved his daddy and his granddaddy something special.  It made him feel so special, he thought his daddy was the best daddy in the whole wide world. He used to tell me all the time, he was really slick in the mouth, he would say my daddy is better than your daddy, I said you know that my daddy is your granddaddy… he used to say Mama you taught me never to lie, I can’t keep the truth from you. I told him I guess your father’s name shouldn’t be Julius, it should be Caesar… he laughed but I really started calling Julius that name. He learned to garden because that's what his dad like to do, flowers is in the Robineau blood.  Jubal read poetry because that was a Valentine thing. Julius's father had a stuttering problem when he was a child and a teacher told him that reciting poetry might help. So that’s what he did, got all the books that he could and read and recited that poetry. He read to Julius the greatest poets, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and so many more. Julius read to Jubal just about every night. When they got older Julius made Jubal read to him. It’s why Jubal is such a great orator. He had to read to his father and grandfather, it was something they did it was a shared love, between three generations of Valentines. Where we’re from some people go hunting as a way to bond. They were reading poetry. They all have such deep voices too… Crazy huh? That’s how I knew when the first time you called him Jubie, that you meant something to him. It had to be something powerful because there is no one in life that Jubal has ever loved more than his father barring his grandmother. And I mean anyone, Julius was a good man, he made sure that he not only provided for his family but actually be there for his family. Be present for his children. Julius always said we were meant to be together. All of our names start with JU, my husband was very serious about that.” Julienne started smiling thinking about her husband. He was her everything.

 

“He sounds like an amazing man. I know that Jubal loves him so much, I can read it in his eyes when he talks about him. He started gardening with Hope, he was always telling her, and this was something that he did with his daddy and it was something that he loved so much. Hope it's not so forward of me asking but if all of you had the same prefix to your name how come you guys didn’t name Sasha something else?” Bridget was curious because the Sasha was completely left field and that was her nickname.

 

“It was Julius’s idea. Alexandra was named after his aunt. She was definitely a fighter. This woman survived polio only to be taken out by TB. It was a really sad chapter for Julius’s mom. It was her older sister. Made her so delighted to see he named his daughter after someone she loved so dearly.  And Sasha is a nickname for Alexandra so that’s what we call her. We wanted our children to be bonded to us, but we also wanted it to be different because they are different, and they deserve to have their own links to us.” As the last words left Julienne’s lips, the door to the restaurant opens and its Jubal walking inside.

 

Bridget wanted to go to her husband, she wanted to ask what happened at the police station after they left but her mother-in-law stopped her. Julienne knew that Jubal needed to calm down. He was rightfully upset, and he just needed a second to decompress. She held on to Bridget’s forearm and made her sit down. Jubal needed to clear his head for a second. He went straight to the office so he could dial back his anger.

 

Bridget felt like she was learning a new layer to her husband. She learned so much from her mother-in-law telling her some background on their family, she was learning more when Julienne was holding her back from going to Jubal. Even though this was Bridget’s husband, this was Julienne’s son, she knew him in a way that Bridget is still learning, and it was something that she was grateful for in that moment.

 

Chapter Text

Jubal had taken about 20 minutes to collect himself. After he reamed out the officer and gotten all of the statements squared away, he knew that he needed to calm down. He came back to the restaurant because he knew that they would still be there, but he was still not ready to speak.

 

He needed time to decompress then gather his head, he was appreciative of the fact that no one followed him and was pestering him to talk. He was angry and the last thing he wanted to do was lash out as someone who didn’t deserve it. When he came back to the dining room, he could see that Hope was now with Bridget. They were with his mother and it was a beautiful sight for him.

 

He could see that the twins and Aly were still there, but they were with his sister. He knew about that time where they had to start heading out because they were going to have to get Aly to her parents. He just walked over to the table that his wife was at, he could see Bridget looking right back at him, cautious in waiting for him to give her some kind of signal. He just walked over and sat next to her. He picked up her hand in kissed it.

 

“Daddy! I missed you… My flower is gone.” Hope had felt terrible because she had wanted to get her flower, but she wasn't able to.

 

Jubal just looked at this little girl, after everything that happened the only thing in her mind was her flower. If there was one thing that made him feel better about this whole ordeal, it would be the fact that she wasn’t seemingly traumatized by it. He knew that in the days to come that it could manifest but in this moment he felt good. She had little superficial cuts that Bridget said would fade and wouldn’t even scar, there would be no physical reminders of the nightmare that was today.

 

“That's okay. When we get home, we can get you another pink carnation.” When she came into their household, it was the first thing in his mind to start planting, it was a way for her to grow roots with them. She would figuratively and literally be a part of their family. It was a way for him to signify that they would always take care of her and that she was important to them. He told her as much.

 

He knew that it had made his wife very happy when he told her what he was planting, he had planted them right next to the red roses. It was to signify that Bridget would always be right by her side, ready to fight for her at anytime. He tended to them because that was his job. He was there to take care of his family by any means necessary.

 

He had asked his mother if he could have some food to go because all the arguing that he did, made him hungry. Being furious had a way to tap all of his energy. They just sat there as a family while they waited. Hope buried herself within Jubal, she wanted as much comfort as she could get it and she didn’t want it from anyone else. He hugged her close to him and use his other hand to hold his wife's hand.

 

He wasn’t going to lie it made him feel very uneasy to hear that Hope was in the police station, possibly scared and wanting to know where they were. He knew that it must have been even more frightening for his wife. She could become downright thunderous when it came to Hope, he seen her in action with people who aren’t kind to Hope. It wasn’t something that he could blame because he felt the same way. But he knew that he was going to have to fight for them. It didn’t matter how long it took; they were going to protect Hope at every cost.

 

The fact that Brooke could be belligerent and drunk and hurt Hope only strengthened their resolve to want to protect her. It only made his wife madder. They got their food and then said their goodbyes to everyone. Their car ride was quiet with the exception of the songs that played on Radio Disney. Jubal drove with one hand and held his wife's hand with the other. He could tell that this was something that she needed at the moment.

 

When they got home, the first thing he did was go get a pink carnation and snip it.  The smile that it brought to Hope’s face was everything, and made Bridget smiled too so it made Jubal feel good too. Very little of the way the day was turning out was good, but this was a nice feeling.

 

Jubal ate his food by himself because both of his ladies had eaten with his mother earlier. He and Bridget decided that it should be early night, it was just about the worst way to cap off their weekend. They had been going through the regular motions of their weekend before, it was a ritual at this point that they loved, and he had never expected that something so terrible could invade their lives so casually. All this happened by chance and exposed some things.

 

He knew that they were going to have to go to war for Hope, Brooke was a person who needed help… professional help but that had nothing to do with him, Bridget or Hope. He wasn’t going to let that woman try and wreck Hope’s life. She was blooming into a child who knows happiness and love and he refuses to let anyone take that away. He certainly wasn’t going to let someone who neglected her as if it was a normal stance try and ruin her life again.

 

To him it was shameful that now when Hope could trust in happiness and love that it was being threatened, she was being threatened with the status quo that she was used to. It was knocking at her door, it was more than that… Brooke was banging on the door, ready to hit and berate anyone. He had already decided that Hope wasn't going to school tomorrow. He didn’t want her going with little scratches on her face. Even though she told them that she wasn't being made fun of again, it was something that he wasn't trying to test.

 

He knew that children can be cruel, and she was already a target for bullying it was almost making it too easy for them.

 

“Come on baby, let's get you washed up for bed.” Bridget had handed over the remote to Jubal, Hope was curled into her as they watched TV, but he was in the recliner by himself eating.

 

She could tell that he wasn’t paying attention to anything on the screen, he was thinking… if she knew her husband and she did, He was strategizing. He could get so quiet when he was in his head formulating plans. She let him do it because she knew whatever he was thinking about… It had to do with Hope’s situation. There were very few people in life that Bridget had absolute unshakable trust in, but she knew when her husband told her that he was going to take care of things, she knew that to be the most truthful thing that he could say.

 

She got glimpses of how scary and formidable he could be he could be with his enemies or rivals. She needed someone like that, to protect her and her interests when it came to Hope. She knew her husband would fight for them; he was calm for them, but he was the storm for every person who got in his way. It was one of the things that she loved so much about him. He was so loving to people who deserved it and those who would take advantage of them would know what it was like to see the repercussions of getting into his crosshairs.

 

“Can I sleep with you and daddy tonight please?” It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Hope to ask to sleep with them. Sometimes she would ask Bridget to sleep with her too, she had been so alone for so long that she clamored for company as much as she could have it.

 

The first thing that came to Bridget’s mind was that seen Brooke’s face was traumatizing for Hope. It made her want company, and she hated the fact that her face alone could hurt this little girl.

 

Bridget just looked at her husband and waited for some kind of answer.

 

Jubal had heard everything, of course it was a no brainer. He had nodded silently giving his wife the signal for an okay.

 

“Of course you can. Come on, let’s get you cleaned up and ready.” Bridget got up and stuck out her hand so Hope could take it.

 

He watched them go, he finished his food and turn off the TV. He checked that all the doors and windows were locked and double check the alarm system. He was a careful man, and he wasn't going to take any chances or underestimate anyone. He knew that he had to get a move on because Hope was going to want him to read a story to her.

 

He went to their bedroom and then went to shower come on it was a quick one, but it was one that was definitely needed. He needed to get the stress and grime off of him from today. He knew they had to be present and calm. He had dressed in his pajamas in the bathroom.

 

When he came out, he could see the both of them on the bed smiling waiting for him. He had to make a detour in Hope’s bedroom to get a book.

 

He had read for about four minutes before as she fell asleep, he knew that she had to be pretty wiped out from today, but she was just holding on because she wanted her story.

 

“How are you doing baby?”  Bridget knew that today was a lot, she knew that Jubal was still angry on multiple fronts.

 

“I’d be lying if I told you that I was fine. I’m angry and tired I know that you told me about your time with Brooke, but it’s one thing to know about something and not being able to do anything about it because it’s the past, is something that you dealt with, before you even knew who I was. But she’s somehow worse, she is using Hope for what?! She is too damaged to offer her alive that doesn't involve pain. She starved her, neglected her and created a dangerous environment that Hope was drowning in. I will not let Brooke hurt her. I will not let her hurt you anymore than she has.” Jubal didn’t even look up at his wife, he was just running his fingers through Hope’s hair.

 

“I know you  won’t. I know you love us and will do anything for us. That’s how I know we are going to win permanent custody of her. Brooke is not able to get to me anymore. I won’t let her use Hope as a conduit either. She made a mistake in thinking that things were going to go her way. She met a brick wall in us, we are Hope’s home and she cannot blow us down.” Bridget reached out, her hand touched his cheek, and he lifted his head.

 

They came closer and kissed each other. The kiss was nothing more than a promise. They were going to do everything in their power to cement their family.

 

“I documented everything with the social worker, as much as we wouldn't have liked this episode to happen it only strengthens our case as guardians. If there is a silver lining at least Hope’s trauma will help us in the end, at least will be able to give her the environment that she needs to grow and thrive in.”

 

“I was talking to your mom while you're at the police station. She told me that your dad used to say that you were meant to be their son.” Bridget didn’t say anymore, and she had an in-depth conversation with her mother-in-law.

 

“She’s right. I love my daddy more than words could ever explain. He was just such a great person and he learned that from my granddaddy. Honor and integrity in how you treated your family. My father cloaked me in dignity. The strength of his character lives in me. It’s how I know that we were meant to be together. Hope came into our lives because she’s supposed to be here... We are the ones that are supposed to protect her, nurture her and love her. Just like my parents did for me, they are the best people I have ever known. Their love for me is a template, it’s how I know how to treat Hope, how to treat you…  Everyone in this bed is my family and absolutely no one will ever break it, I know what it’s like to be chosen and so do you. I will honor the both of you every day of my life. Hope will always know that we choose her and absolutely no one is ever going to stop us from giving her a world of love and care. It was given to us and we will give it to her. We have everything we need to fight for her.”

 

Jubal just looked into his wife’s eyes; Bridget was crying because she knew that he meant every word. Hearing those words made her emotional because it was true. The veracity in those words moved her, strengthened her and this day had been a whirlwind for all of them, but she knew that in the end, they were going to be okay because her husband was right. It didn’t matter how Hope came into their life, they were supposed to be together, and she had trust in him that he would make their family would be permanent.

 

Chapter Text

They were getting closer and closer to their court date. Even though they had so much going in their favor, it still didn’t make Bridget anymore at ease. She was happy that Hope was able to move on from that day without feeling worse for wear. It was always Bridget’s fear that it might hurt Hope’s psyche seeing Brooke. She was at an age where she was aware of things but also could be profoundly hurt by them. She would be able to store the memories and come back to them and that was one of the biggest reasons that Bridget was trying to do everything she could to protect her.

 

But today was just a day about being a family, the Valentine family, Jubal had wanted to take out all of the women in his life for a nice brunch. His mother had insisted that it would not be at the restaurant because if he was planning something for them, then he couldn't take the easy way out. He took them to a nice new fare American restaurant. It was probably the most perfect choice for the kind of brunch his mother liked… Bottomless mimosas was the name of her game.

 

Hope had been so excited for this day; she had been talking about it all week. It seemed as if every other sentence out of her mouth was about brunch. It was something that she had never done before and she was fascinated by the concept of mixing breakfast and lunch. She had been begging Bridget to make sure that they were wearing matching outfits.

 

Bridget thought that it was a little over the top, but it didn't make her feel giddy inside. She could remember when she was a little girl, she and Jessica had begged their mother for matching pantsuits. It was the probably the funniest thing, requesting to Eric to please make them matching pantsuits. It was even crazier because he actually did it. It really didn’t matter that Rick laughed at them for a week because they had insisted on shoulder pads too. Bridget had thought it was the coolest thing so she kind of loved that Hope wanted to dress like her.

 

To mark the occasion, she took Hope shopping, they did their best to find exact matching dresses. The one that hope like the most with a Sunflower dress. Bridget thought it was perfect because sunflowers were very important to Jubal. Even though Hope gardened with him, she didn’t know about the significance of sunflowers in his life. It was like every day she found a way to enmesh herself even further in Bridget’s heart.

 

Jubal had insisted that it had to take place on a Saturday because he would not be available on Sunday. There was no way that he was doing brunch when the Saints were playing and not just that they were winning, he bought Hope her own little jersey. He called her his good luck charm. As soon as he said it, Hope’s favorite sport became football. Even though she went to Stephanie’s house on Sundays, she made sure that she always watched the Saints play with Jubal now that she loved football.

 

They had made their way to the restaurant and they had a nice ambiance. It was definitely a great place to have brunch, when they got there, they saw that a lot of people were taking advantage of the bottomless mimosas.

 

“I love brunch!” Hope couldn’t contain herself; she was practically buzzing in her seat.

 

“Girl you haven't even looked at a menu yet.” Sasha loved her niece but sometimes she thought that Hope was jumping the gun.

 

“I love it I promise, auntie Sasha.” Hope was practically begging for her aunt to believe her.

 

Sasha rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t do anything but chuckle. She thought it was really nice that Hope got excited by just about anything. It reminded her of grandma, she just gave the little girl a wink and that earned her a smile.

 

“I know you do baby girl.” Sasha said as she poked Hope on the cheek which only made the little girl's smile even deeper.

 

They all put their orders in, it was typical, but Hope had copied the same order as her grandmother… Even down to the bottomless mimosa which Bridget had to tell the server to please make Hope’s mimosa virgin.

 

Julienne laughed but Hope was not pleased. She made a face that showed her derision, she didn’t know what it meant to have a virgin mimosa, but she knew that it didn’t want it because that was not what her grandmother was having.

 

She tried to complain to Jubal about why she needed a non-virgin one, but she did not succeed.

 

They all had been enjoying the food and having a good time. It was fun for them to have a meal together as the Valentine family. Jubal’s sister was growing right before his eyes, she could drive now and soon she would be off at college. She was growing up and he was happy that he got to see it all. Obviously, he wished that it was better circumstances that made his family come out west, but it was a silver lining, So he took it for what it was worth. Life had a way of showing you how it was going to be and not how you thought it would be. But he would change nothing… he was lying if there was one thing, he could change it would be having his father and grandfather back. His grandfather would be with his grandmother in New Orleans, probably doing someone’s taxes while thinking of some poem to write in his grandmother's honor. And his dad would be right next to him probably macking on his mother as if they were just boyfriend and girlfriend instead of married.

 

He wished that his dad could have met Bridget and Hope, he knew that his dad would love them. He would give him advice and tell him how to avoid some of the pitfalls of marriage and parenthood. He had his mother there to help guide him, but he missed his father every single day. He missed him even more when Hope came into his life.

 

“You okay baby?” Julienne could see that far away look in her son’s eye. She knew that he was thinking about Julius.

 

It made her smile that Jubal was thinking about his father, she knew that he was probably thinking about what it would be like to have this moment with him, it would be a full circle moment.

 

“Oh yeah mama, I was just thinking of how lucky I am to be able to eat with my family.  I just didn’t wanna take the moment for granted so I was just locking the memory up. You know I have a mind like a steel trap.” Jubal didn't want to bring down the mood with saying how much he missed his father.

 

That was the love of his mother's life and he hated to see that glint of her when she was reminded that her husband was gone.

 

“I really like doing this too. You know I have no problem doing this more, especially since you're the one that's paying for it.” Julienne started laughing at her own joke. “Geez Louise, these mimosas are going through me, I need to use the ladies room.”

 

“Well if he didn’t drink those mimosas like they were water, you probably wouldn't be in such a hurry, now would you?” Jubal was about to laugh when he saw his mother look at him sideways.

 

“You must have forgotten who I am, you are not going to be talking to me like I’m one of your little friends... Don’t you think because you got a little daughter now that I won’t embarrass you in front of her. Let me know if you wanna love tap…” Julienne gave him the same look that she gave him when he was a little boy, he was always good, but he learned too much from his father.

 

“Oh, mommy I think daddy is in trouble…” Hope looked on wide-eyed, she was very concerned. She seen grandma talked to Sasha like that before and it was always scary.

 

“I apologize ma’am.” Jubal knew that he had to walk it back really quickly.

 

“Good. Now since I drink mimosas like their water, I need to go to the bathroom and get situated so I can come back and drink like a fish. I almost wish that they weren’t bottomless.” Julienne got up from her seat.

 

As soon as she did, Jubal got up… He couldn’t fail his etiquette now, not when he just put his foot in his mouth.

 

“Grandma, can I come too? I’m a lady, I think I need to tinkle too.” Hope always wanted to be with party with was at.

 

Bridget just sighed, she started to get up because at this point, they might as well all go.

 

All the ladies got up to go to the bathroom. That left Jubal all by himself guarding their purses. It was always funny to him how they carried purses even though he was the one that was footing the bill. He could get why his wife would carry her purse because it had Hope’s stuff in there. Everywhere they went they always had to have emergency cookies. She also had a first aid kit if Hope ever got hurt.

 

To pass the time while the ladies were in the bathroom, he pulled out his phone and decided to check in on work, even though it was a Saturday it didn’t mean that he didn’t receive emails.

 

“Jubal?  Oh my God it is you!”

 

 Jubal had been surprised at the voice; it was a voice that he hadn’t heard in years.

 

“Rina? Wow it’s been a long time.” Jubal didn’t know how he was supposed to feel about the situation.

 

He looked on and saw that she was happy to see him. He couldn’t say that the feeling was mutual.

 

“Yeah it has, wow it's been almost eight years. When you left the firm, it was like you left so suddenly. It threw me for a loop.” Rina was upset when he left, she thought that they were heading towards something and he just took off.

 

“I did what was right for me, the firm was not a good fit and I don’t think it was conducive for my growth as an attorney in the long run.” Jubal was trying to be as respectful as possible, but Rina made it very difficult for him.

 

“What are you doing here?” If there was someone that Sasha didn't like, it was definitely this bitch here.

 

She thought that Rina was a disrespectful bigot, and she had no respect for the woman.

 

Julienne was not pleased to see this woman. She just scanned her up and down and the woman looked nearly the same except she could use a little sunscreen because her eyes were cracking.

 

“Hello Mrs. Valentine, it's a pleasure to see you again.”

 

“I cannot say that I have the same disposition.” Julienne had no pretenses of wanting to be nice, she also felt as if she didn't have to be.

 

Sasha was very pleased when she heard her mother's highbrow shade. She knew that Rina was full of shit and she was glad that her mother wasn't having it period.

 

Bridget had no clue what was going on, but she could sense the tension coming from her husband, his sister and his mother so she knew whoever this woman was, she was not good news.

 

“I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, who are you?” Bridget asked already knowing that she didn’t like this woman.

 

Hope had let go of Bridget’s hand and went straight for Jubal.

 

“Daddy look, mommy put my flower on my dress, she said it won’t come off now. Do you like it?” Hope didn't care about this new lady, she wanted to know if Jubal liked that the flower was pinned to her dress instead of in her hair.

 

Jubal had felt his heart just soften; Hope always knew how to make him melt. He opened his arms and she walked towards him. He hugged the girl closer to him and sat her into his lap.

 

“I think it looks really pretty. I love it.” Jubal had given her a kiss on the cheek that made Hope shimmy a little.

 

“You have a child?!” Rina was stunned, the girl looked to be about 5.

 

“Yeah, he does and I’m his wife, so I repeat who are you?” Bridget didn’t appreciate having her question ignored.

 

“She’s just a former colleague that I worked with briefly at a firm. You have a good day now Rina.” Jubal just stared at her the same way he would as opposing counsel until she left.

 

Sasha had voiced her pleasure at the fact that Rina was dismissed. It only made Bridget more curious about who this woman was, she had worked with her husband, but she didn't really have a clue as to who she was. She wasn’t jealous, she had no reason to be, Jubal was addicted to her. What struck her was the coldness that came from all of them towards the woman.

 

She just wanted to enjoy brunch and keep everything light, but she was definitely going to find out who this woman was and why her family didn't like her.

 

 

Chapter Text

They had all enjoyed the brunch, Sasha had made plans with Steffy and Phoebe to go to the movies, so she had left them. Jubal had dropped his mother off at the restaurant because she told him that she wanted to work.

 

It was a beautiful day out and, but they had thought it would be nice to take hope to the park. It was nice to see Hope smiling again, the joy on her face was everything to Bridget. Hope was able to move past everything, but it was taking Bridget a while to catch up. She had so many things on her mind, she wanted to win the custody battle and just be done with it. She wanted everything to be definite and concrete, she didn’t want to be thrown for anymore loops. She didn’t want anymore chaos.

 

She and Jubal were fighting for peace and she just wanted them to win that. She just sat on the bench and watch Hope run from the slides to the monkey bars. Jubal was right behind her, they had made sure ever since that day if Hope was going to do anything, she needed to have someone by her side. She knew too many times of kids getting snatched up at playgrounds because the parents focus would split for one second. She was being extra vigilant, and she would have been one of those people telling a parent to chill out and not be so paranoid.

 

She felt so stupid thinking that she ever had that line of thought. It was a completely different mindset when you actually had a child, when you had a responsibility to someone, someone that was looking at you to protect them. She completely understood why parents could be so protective over their kids. She could completely understand the anger involved when children did things like run off. Even as a doctor, she saw and how to report kids who were definitely taken, even then she wasn't responsible for a child so she's to tell her colleagues with kids to relax a little. They always looked at her like she was out of her mind and she was sure that she gave them the same looks.

 

She lost that naivete, she was always watching Hope like a hawk. She always made sure to be early to pick Hope up. Even if they didn't leave right away, she would let Hope and Melanie talk, she just always had it in her head to be there early. The school was good about not letting the children out without an approved person, but kids could still fall through the cracks. She always made sure to get there before school let out because she didn't want to take any chances. She didn’t want Brooke to have any chances.

 

Ever since that day it made Bridget realize how unhinged Brooke could be, she knew that Brooke was troubled but knowing that she could hit Steffy and in turn hit Hope even if it was because Hope happened to be in Steffy’s arms made her so upset.

 

She just watched Jubal push Hope on the swings. It was her favorite part of the park. He always made sure not to make her go too high but enough where she felt like she was on top of the world.

 

It was the most beautiful sight to her; this was her little family, and they were happy. After about an hour, Hope had tired herself out. Jubal just picked her up and walk towards his wife's direction.

 

There was something about when her husband smiled at her that made her weak in the knees. She used to roll her eyes at people who said that they were in love. It was a concept she couldn’t understand at the time, she didn't get up from the bench right away because she really did feel off kilter.

 

“Mommy, can I have my cookie now?” Hope knew that Bridget had packed a good number of cookies. She had some at the restaurant, but all of the playing made her want more.

 

“Baby, how about you hold off on eating some cookies and just drink some water…” It was the gentlest way of Bridget telling Hope no.

 

Bridget had given Jubal the sports bottle from her bag. He gave the bottle to Hope and told her to use both hands. As Hope drink her water, Jubal had slipped his hand within Bridget’s and they walked together to the car. It was the moments like this that they cherished the most, it wasn't extravagant or anything other than there every day. That’s what made it the most special.

 

When they got home, they both knew that Hope was due for a serious nap. She had been using all of her energy and she was maxed out at this point.

 

“It seems that she had a really good day today.” The day was only half done and Hope would be up soon, but Bridget knew that Hope had a lot of fun today.

 

“I’m glad she did, it's always nice for us to have family time. It’s good for her and I think it’s good for us too. I do miss what are Saturdays typically are but right now our focus is on her.” Normally at this time, Jubal would be balls deep in his wife. Their Saturdays were usually different, but It didn't mean that this experience was bad.

 

“We can’t get up to our normal weekend plans, but we can still make time for that. But you’re right, she was really happy today and right now that's the most important thing. Can I ask you something? I don’t want you to get mad though…” Bridget made her way over to him on the sofa, she got close, but she wasn't right next to him.

 

“Of course you can baby. You can always ask me anything.” Jubal had an idea of where this conversation might be going, but he didn’t want to assume and then be wrong.

 

“Who is that woman? I know you said that she’s a former colleague but Jubie, the air was so thick with tension, I could tell that Sasha and your mom don't like her.” Bridget was wondering if this was an ex-girlfriend of his that she didn't know about.

 

Jubal had told her that he only had long-term serious relationships and she wanted to know where this woman fit in.

 

He had let out a long sigh.

 

“I did work with her. I had gotten a job at a firm right out of law school. I was actually surprised that I did because some of my friends weren't as lucky. Anyways you know about my ex-girlfriend LaTonya... We had moved out here together. It was great to us because she had just gotten into grad school at UCLA and this job was like a godsend because I didn’t know anyone in LA, my aunties just opened the restaurant so we would have them but that was it. I started out at the firm and it was fine. I was actually doing really well, and I was on a partner track, but some things bothered me at the job.” Jubal had to go into the mind frame of what it was like working there.

 

"Anyways I met some great people there, we've had drinks with them before you know Omar, Maggie, Tiffany, Kristen and Stewart. Well, we all came in at the same time. And so did Rina. At first everyone got along and focused on work but then things started changing a little. My relationship with LT started to have some fragments because we were being pulled in different directions, I was a junior associate working crazy hours and she was in grad school and that’s just as crazy. But she met my friends and we all hung out. But then Rina started to do some things and it caused some kind of tension between Kristen, Tiffany and Maggie. I don’t remember the particulars of that situation, but it was something that she did towards Kristen that she absolutely was wrong about and Tiffany and Maggie sided with Kristen. It wasn’t a good thing because Kristen ended up getting fired from our firm which made absolutely no sense because she did excellent work, she had great reviews by her senior associate as well as by clients, but Rina was one of the partner’s daughters. I had started to slowly distance myself from her because I didn’t like my friend being fired for basically BS. Rina said something that completely irked me, she told me I shouldn’t feel bad because Kristen was only a diversity hire and it was appeasing the NAACP. She started saying about them being forced to hire less qualified minorities. I told her I am a lifetime member of the NAACP and so are my parents and grandparents, I also said I wasn’t aware that she a hiring manager. It shut her up for once. It was maddening that she dismissed Kristen, never mind the fact that Kristen excelled at every metric that the firm graded us upon and she graduated top of her class at Yale Law. It was truly laughable. LT did not trust her; she was always saying that Rina had feelings for me. I told her that was ludicrous, I certainly didn’t have feelings for Rina other than wanting her to shut up because she would say these horrible little flyby comments, she would always say it to me. In some way that she would think that I agree, I would tell her that it was very unbecoming of her to speak in such a manner, she would just laugh and think as if it was some kind of joke. One day I was working late on a case, Rina was one of the people assigned to the case with me. We were really just doing research and precedent for our senior associate. Almost every single person had gone for the night. It was just us. I don’t know where she gathered the courage, but she started talking about wanting to be with me. I thought she was out of her mind, I could never understand how she could think that it was in any way mutual, I’ve never gave any indication that I had any kind of feelings for her. I was also in a relationship with LT and everyone in the firm knew that. She didn’t care about my relationship; she certainly didn’t respect it. She kissed me; it was this surprise attack and it made me feel frozen. I had told LT that she was mistaken, but I was the one that was mistaken. You know how I am; I believe in telling the truth and being honest. I told LT and I saw her crumble; she had been telling me for quite some time that Rina was not platonic and I dismissed her. I dismissed that notion because I was committed to my relationship, I loved her, I didn’t see anyone else. We were already becoming different people because life was taking us in different directions, but I had never seen her so hurt and she told me that it really wasn’t the kiss.  She knew that I would never do something like that, I believe too much in having respect for the person you're in a relationship with to ever do something like that. She was hurt because I made her feel unheard, I unknowingly gaslit her because my obliviousness. She broke up with me and it hurt. I got over it, it hurt me because she had been my friend all my life, we had become steady much later in our lives, but before she was ever my girlfriend, she was my friend. Our families know each other, and it pained me to see her cry because I wouldn’t ever want that for someone that I love. But it did teach me something, it taught me that I can’t be oblivious to that, it was such a different way life for me here. It sounds stupid but all my life I knew people to be honest and decent, everyone in my orbit valued honor and integrity. It wasn’t to say that I didn’t know what liars were like I’m a lawyer for Pete’s sake, I know what they look like, but this was supposed to be an acquaintance and colleague. I felt the wool being pulled from my eyes. I’m very glad that LT was able to find happiness because that's what she deserves, she’s a good woman.” Jubal had thought about how the past could rear its head.

 

“She sounds like a piece of work, she is really foul baby, she knew that you were in a relationship and she did not care. I hate women like her.” Bridget could never understand anyone who willingly goes after people in relationships, she knew there were some circumstances where it could be a gray area like abusive relationships, but this was despicable. That woman knew exactly what she was doing except she wasn't going to win the battle.

 

“If it only finished there. I had reported her to HR because I didn’t want to have any kind of repercussions come upon me, I would have felt terrible to have to go home with my tail between my legs. I told HR that it was an unwanted advance on her part. I knew nothing was going to happen to her because her dad was a partner, his name was on the door, but I still had to protect myself and document everything. She never apologized; I didn’t even care for her apology it had no value... like her but just to know that it was something that never crossed her mind pissed me off. They had these family days, I thought it would be great because you seen my mama in action, she rounded up my grandparents and Sasha and they came and saw me, and it was something that I really needed. I was still going through my breakup and I was homesick. So family day rolls up and everyone has to come, technically we were getting paid for it so of course I was coming. You are telling me I'm getting free food and I'm getting paid to be there, oh it's not even a choice for me. I had been talking with my friend group at work and she was I guess mingling as per her father. I wish you had been able to meet my grandfather, if you think that my voice is deep, his voice was like a drum. It could boom, it always had me in awe. He was so proud of me; my grandma was so proud obviously my mother and my sister too. You had so many people in there like Country Club gear, but my parents and my grandparents didn't grow up that way, occasions like this you were supposed to wear special occasion clothes, so you were dressed to the nines and always to impress. My mom made me dress up to go to the doctor, when I mean completely different, it was completely different. My grandfather had a spring suit, Rina was going around and she stumbled upon my family. She kept guessing unprompted who they must have been related to. She just kept going one by one and my grandparents certainly were not impressed, my mother was holding her tongue, she was probably biting down hard on it. Sasha she was about 10 or 11 at the time and you already know my sister. She has no problem letting anyone know what she feels for them she would make these sly comments that were definitely going over Rina's head which made my grandparents laugh, I came over and I hugged them. I called my mother by the only name that I'm allowed, she was shocked that this was my family. My grandfather said loudly and proudly that I graduated from an HBCU, we’re the same height and his voice booms like thunder and when his blue eyes stared at you, it could rattle your soul. He had this taunting laugh that could make someone feel rightfully chastised. I don’t know if she felt foolish, I do believe that Sasha did her very best to make her feel so. She wasn’t the only one there with those attitudes, obviously she learned that from those closest to her. My friend group was the most diverse there, Maggie and Stuart are the only white people within it, they were giving themselves pats on the back for hiring us. To make them seem progressive or whatever, but to even be considered you have to be just as good as everyone else so I never understood why she would always refer to us to anyone as diversity hires. She looked at me different after that day. I don’t know if it’s because she recognized that she put her foot in her mouth, she was always saying these undercover racist things to me. Her coded language had made us devolve into a lot of intellectual arguments. To her it probably seemed like discourse, to me I was defending my intelligence and the intelligence of people that I know to be smart and capable. I was tired of fighting for personhood, she thought that was cute...  My granddaddy had asked me to take a walk with him. He knew that I was going through a hard time because of the breakup with LT, but he knew that it was more than that. I was coming into work and having to deal with someone like Rina. He told me that I have different avenues and opportunities, I didn’t need to waste it on a place that would silently denigrate people who look like him or my grandmother or my mother or sister. I can pass, I could go through my whole life and people would never know that my biological mother was Black. But I didn’t have to subject myself to the sly remarks, he knew that it would accumulate and one day I could erupt and give them what they want. He said I can’t let them win; I can’t let them have a hold on my mind like they had a hold on our ancestors. He was right, I knew if my dad had been there, he would have said the same thing. I had given my resignation and it surprised people, when I had my exit interview, had a lot to say to HR come I don’t know if they ever did anything, and I didn’t expect them to. The culture doesn’t change if those at the top refuse to believe something to be true, they have to want to examine bias within themselves and a lot of people don't want that kind of introspection. I work there right after 9/11, some of the things they would save behind Omar’s back were reprehensible. People always took two looks at him, never mind the fact that he’s one of the chillest dudes you will ever meet. People will bend themselves over backwards to uphold their bigoted views. I didn’t want to work for people like that, I didn't know how to accept money from people who think either of my mothers were less than. Missy B had already been victimized and taken advantage of by someone like that. It broke her spirit and even though I didn’t grow up with her in my life because she had died, my morals tell me I don’t want to be in a place that tell you should be grateful with what they give you. The next place I ended up was working for Morty. I had gone into my interview incredibly transparent. I know that I’m talented and I have the education required, I told him I cannot work for any company that would denigrate my character or the character of people who look like my parents. It’s something that I cannot waver on, I wouldn’t accept the racist remarks or microaggressions anymore, I shouldn’t have to... When you terrorize someone's mind it stays with them forever. It’s why for so long slavery went unchecked, you break someone’s psyche, and it becomes very difficult for them to fight back because they're just trying to survive the harsh reality of the situation they are in. I guess when I told all of that to Morty, he saw something kindred in me. He told me about his parents coming to this country from Austria, they had to leave everything they had while being hunted by Nazis.  I wanted to work for him after he told me that, I could trust that even though we had different experiences, he knew what it was like to face a world where you are told to be grateful for what you are allowed as someone tries to beat you in place. I obviously have been there ever since but I’m happy, I like the work that I do and the atmosphere. I even got the gang to come over and work for us. Rina is just a bad chapter and a reminder to myself that I can’t afford to be oblivious and that I won't allow anyone to hurt someone that I care for.”

 

Bridget was happy that her husband could give her insight about his life. She knew that it was difficult to navigate, and she wasn't even the person who had to navigate it. Now knowing who Rina is, she could understand why this was a person that was unliked by all of them.

 

“Thank you for telling me. I really appreciate it; I can see why she is not liked by your mother and sister.”

 

“That might be an understatement, I’m sure that they find her to be the scum of the earth. Sasha had idolized LT, she was sort of like a big sister to her because she was always in my friend group when we were younger, even though there’s a significant age difference between me and Sasha, I would let her hang out with us because she wanted to be grown up and she thought we were grown up. LT was a good role model for her, she saw what it was like to be driven and it appealed to my sister. It was someone who looked like her showing her that many things are possible for her. It broke Sasha’s heart when we broke up. She already didn’t like Rina because of the family day thing, but when she found out later about the kiss much later, it just cemented that she would never like Rina.”

 

“Does your sister like me?” It was never something Bridget had to think about, she got along with Sasha really well. But it did make her feel a little insecure to know that Sasha had such an admiration for Jubal’s ex-girlfriend and the differences between her and LT.

 

“Are you kidding? I knew my sister liked you when she said that she was going to ride with you the first time you met her. I know that she loves you, i promise she wouldn’t call you her sister if she didn’t. Sasha is a really good judge of character, she always has been, she got that trait from our mother.”

 

Bridget fell a satisfaction that was deep within her to know that. It was one thing to feel something, but it was another thing to have it confirmed.

 

“I’m really glad, I love her too.” Bridget leaned over so she could kiss Jubal.

 

She had really enjoyed their talk come and give her more insight on her husband and all she wanted to do right now was to have him hold her.

 

“Mommy, I’m not tired anymore, can I watch TV?” Hope’s voice had spooked Bridget.

 

The little girl had come out of nowhere and she started walking over to the sofa and pushed Bridget’s legs to make her move so she could be in the middle of them. Even though Hope was not remotely strong enough to actually push Bridget to make her move, it made Jubal chuckle because Hope was trying to get in between them literally.

 

Bridget just moved over as Hope jumped on to the couch. Even though it was nice to spend time with her, Bridget was thinking about how she wanted her regular Saturdays back.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was half day at Hope’s school so Bridget had to pick her up early. So early in fact that they didn't even serve lunch, she had an idea that popped into her head. She thought it would be nice for them to have lunch at a restaurant. She knew that Hope loved eating out, she made an event out of it, so Bridget thought to herself why not?

 

 

Bridget thought about it and texted Jubal and asked if it was possible for him to take some time from work to join them for lunch. She thought it could be something cute, they didn’t really eat out in the middle of the week so it would be a nice surprise for Hope. He had texted her back telling her that he couldn't commit 100% to it but he was going to try. He was doing prep for a new case, but his family always came first so he told her that he would do his best to try and work it out.

 

Bridget had gotten to the school early, just out of habit because that’s how she was and she waited. She had caught up with Tammy and waited for the clock to strike noon. And just like that, she saw Hope and Melanie coming into the cafeteria. Hope had gotten her customary cookie and they left.

 

“You know since you got out of school early today, I was wondering if you wanted to have lunch outside instead of at home?” Bridget was pretty sure she knew what the answer was going to be, but it was always nice to hear the excitement.

 

“I want to eat outside, I would love it. I’m really glad that were matching today. Now it can be extra special.” Hope was excited at the prospect of having lunch at a restaurant. Even though she liked eating at home, she liked being out and about.

 

“Well are you hungry now? You know we could always go to the park and play a little bit before we go to lunch but if you’re hungry then we could eat first.” Bridget knew that since today was half day, Hope didn’t have recess today.

 

She also thought about Jubal, if they push back the time that they had lunch, maybe it would be more feasible for him to meet them for lunch later.

 

“I get to go to the park too? Is this because I’ve been extra good?” Hope was always trying to be on her best behavior because she got more cookies that way.

 

“Would it make you feel better if I said yes?”

 

“Uh huh.” Hope nodded her head, she wanted to hear it.

 

Bridget chuckled because Hope could certainly be a character sometimes. “Yes, we can go to the park because you've been extra good, but I know why you’re really good because if you're not, daddy will  take away those cookies…” Bridget thought that she was going to have to be the disciplinarian, the ‘mean’ parent.

 

It turned out that neither of them had to be the quote unquote mean parent. Sometimes they had to be firm with Hope about certain things, she couldn’t have bottomless mimosas and she couldn’t eat cookies all the time, she wanted Hope to have some teeth by the time she was 20.

 

Anytime Jubal told her no, Hope knew that it was the end of the story, she never fought back and she certainly didn’t whine. It was something that both of them appreciated, Hope might have been five, but she had common sense.

 

After telling the little girl what she wanted to hear, Bridget had taken them to the park. There weren’t that many people in the park because it was midday and mid-week so most kids, were in school at this time. Bridget appreciated this because it meant that Hope had the room and space to play. Even though there weren’t that many people in the park, she stayed right by Hope side. She knew that parks and beaches were hotspots.

 

Hope had gotten bored after half an hour, since they were less kids here,  it meant less kids she could socialize with. Most of the children that were in the park right now were toddlers.

 

“Mommy can we go? I’m hungry now.” All of the playing started to make Hope really hungry. She could feel that familiar grumble in her tummy.

 

“Alright come on. Let’s go.”

 

They left the park and got in their car. Bridget didn’t know where she wanted to have lunch, she honestly hadn’t thought about where they were going to eat. She started to think long and hard about the perfect place that wouldn't be too heavy in portions because they would eat dinner later. Sometimes Hope would wake up in the night and the last thing she wanted Hope to be was hungry at midnight.

 

She was thinking of places that Hope liked that she didn't hate. She remembered that Hope like the crustinis that they gave with the soups they served at the restaurant in Bloomingdale’s.

 

It felt like a good plan to go eat there, she knew that just about anywhere please Hope so it wasn't like she was going to be disappointed.

 

It did mean that this was going to be the first time that Hope was going to be in a mall again since that day. Bridget had decided to just park in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot and go in through the store, she didn’t plan on shopping, so they didn’t have to go through the whole mall. They were going straight to the restaurant and that was it.

 

When they got to the restaurant, there was a bit of a line and Bridget knew that Hope’s was probably really hungry right now. She had packed some apple slices just because she always knew that she had to have emergency food for situations like this. As they waited in line, Bridget had given Hope several apple slices.

 

Bridget had a firm grip on Hope's wrist. If someone tried to pull on Hope, it would ensure that she didn’t slip through Bridget’s fingers.

 

Hope always liked to look around, she liked to take in her surroundings, she loved being outside. They had been the last ones in line.

 

But then someone came.

 

“Hey I remember you, I’m one of your daddy’s friends.” It was still weird for Rina to believe that Jubal had a child, it had been years since she seen him, but it was still so unexpected for her.

 

Hope didn’t like the lady, something in her body told her the lady was not good. She didn’t believe that this was her daddy's friend. Just because her daddy knew her, didn’t make them friends. She knew a lot of people that weren’t her friends.

 

“Good for you.” Hope just narrowed her eyes at the woman. She used her free hand to pull on her Bridget's dress.

 

Bridget could feel Hope tugging on her, Hope only did that when she wanted Bridget’s attention about something. When she turned She saw Rina. Bridget could feel her nerves and synapses firing.

 

“Hey, talk about weird! Funny seeing you here. How are you?”

 

Bridget could hear the fakeness just tumbling out of this woman's mouth. The fake saccharine smile on her face just made it more obvious. They met briefly and it wasn't like Rina even knew her name.

 

“I’m doing just fine. If you’ll excuse me.” Bridget just turned back and moved Hope in between her legs.

 

“Oh wow, I was trying to be nice to you and you're giving me the brush off. That is so rude, I really don’t understand how Jubal could be married to someone like you.” Rina scoffed; she couldn’t believe that she was being treated this way.

 

“Someone like me, you don’t even know me. First of all Jubal knows exactly how lucky he is to be with me and second I don’t owe you anything. Just because my husband worked with you briefly eight years ago doesn’t mean I need to give you an ounce of my time.” Bridget was trying to refrain from saying anything to this woman, but she changed her mind.

 

“Lucky? Maybe the other way around, Jubal is a great man despite the family he comes from... I see their rudeness rubbed off on you too. Look at you, you’re just some mousy ginger bitch. It’s a little juvenile to have matching mommy and me outfits don't you think? He could do better; I said the same about his ex.” Rina was enjoying not having to pretend.

 

 Hope listened as this lady was speaking, she heard the lady saying a bad word to her mommy and it made her feel really mad. Then she started thinking about the stuff that auntie Sasha told her. How to talk to bullies.

 

“Why are you calling my mommy a mouse when you're the one that looks like a rat? She’s not a bitch, that's what you are. You are a rat bitch. Leave my mommy alone you rat bitch.” The more Hope said it, the more powerful she felt. She wasn’t even sure what a bitch was but it didn't stop her from calling the mean lady that.

 

Bridget had been so shocked at hearing Hope curse that all she could do was laugh, to hear a 5 year old girl telling a grown woman that she was a rat bitch was probably the funniest thing she’s ever seen.

 

“Wow and your daughter has no manners. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

 

“I can see that I’m dealing with a bitter Betty here. Let me tell you something, you don't get to talk about my family. Because I promise you if you say anything disparaging about them again, I will make sure that you are end up in a hospital. My family is class and grace personified. My husband is a great man because of his family, not despite them. And if you think that you are going to say anything unbecoming of the people who raised him, who love him and are his blood, you must have dropped on the head as a baby. You seem to have this personal problem with the fact of where my husband comes from. You say it as if you have some kind of shot with him, it doesn’t matter if LT was in his life then or I’m in his life now. There is one constant that will always be the same, he will never want you. He will never like you. How could he ever like someone like you? It makes you feel good to put other people down. You are a bigot and I don’t understand how you could ever think that my husband would want you or can even stand you... See that’s what my husband is… decent which he learned from his father and his grandfather. You are a bigot on top of being an ugly bully, the only chance you'll have in life to ever have a partner, will be to find someone who is just as ugly and bigoted as you. I truly hope that you have the life that you deserve.” Bridget was over this conversation because if it escalated anymore, she was going to be arrested.

 

She had put in their orders and waited for them to be seated.

 

“You are trash. You belong in the garbage. My family are the best people.” Hope didn’t understand everything Bridget was telling the mean lady, but she understood that the mean lady was saying bad things about her family.

 

See the so glad when the hostess could seat them, so she didn’t have to be in the same space as this woman. She never met her husband's ex, but if this was how LT was treated by this woman, no wonder she complained to Jubal about this woman’s duplicitous nature.

 

She had gotten a text from Jubal telling her that he was able to meet them for lunch. After their ‘discussion’, Bridget saw that Rina left instead of eat at the restaurant which she was happy about because if that woman came to their table and tried to be nice to Jubal after everything that was said, she was going to lose her mind.

 

“Hey baby. I know that you were trying to protect me but I don’t want you using that word anymore okay. That woman said a bad word to me, I know you were just saying it back to take away her power as a bully, but I don’t want to repeat that word okay. That’s a grown up word, do you want to be a grown up or do you want to be my baby?” Even though Bridget was very entertained by Hope's delivery, she couldn’t make bitch apart of Hope’s vocabulary. The last thing she needed was Hope saying it in school and getting in trouble. Even if somebody was being a little bitch.

 

Hope thought about it carefully, it was nice to use the word, but she didn't want to be a grown up right now, she knew if she did become a grown up, she would have to buy her own cookies and she didn't have a job.

 

“I wanna be mommy’s baby, I don’t wanna be a grown up right now.” Hope was sure that she made the right decision.

 

Jubal had shown up about 10 minutes later. As they waited for their food, Hope had gone to Jubal and played with him. He was shaking her and making her shimmy, it made her squeal with laughter, Bridget could only look on and smile.

 

“Daddy guess what I did today?!” Hope just looked at Bridget with a very mischievous smile.

 

Bridget was concerned that Hope was going to see the word again after they just had a conversation about not saying the word.

 

“What did you do today baby?” Jubal was curious, he always wanted to know how her day was going.

 

“Well, me and mommy saw some trash and we picked it up and threw it away in the garbage can.” Hope giggled at Bridget as she said it. It was like it was their secret.

 

Bridget just looked on at Hope, she could definitely see the influence of her nieces and her sister-in-law in this little girl.

 

Jubal started to talk in a singsong voice. “Look at my baby… she picked up the trash and put it in the garbage... She doesn’t litter… My baby is a big girl.” Jubal kept singing this makeshift song to her while he moved her side to side as her laughter increased.

 

Bridget felt herself dancing to her husband’s poorly constructed song, she thought about it and anybody who wanted to start anything with her family, they most certainly would finish it. Having this impromptu lunch turned out to be the best idea.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Since Hope was out of school, she had insisted on spending more time with her grandmothers, today was Julienne’s day so she brought Hope to the restaurant. It was a place she always loved to go to. She got to help cook and have lunch with her grandma and cousins. She thought they were always so funny even though they got on Ms. Mo’s ‘last nerve’.

 

“Okay Etoile, before we can get to the fun stuff, we have to do our…”

 

“Homework!” Hope loved doing her homework. Ms. Julienne always made doing her homework fun. Hope did have more homework than usual because she had a school break. Bridget and Jubal still made her read an hour a day out loud and it meant no difference if she was with Julienne or Stephanie. They made her read aloud too.

 

“That’s right baby, let’s get those workbooks cracking.”

 

Hope was able to finish all of her assigned work for the break in two hours with Juju’s help. Ms. Mo brought them some lunch while Hope read to Juju B. She wanted to get her hour of reading out the way so she could have fun in the kitchen.

 

She wanted to wear the new apron that her grandma bought for. She loved that it had her nickname on it.

 

“Juju B, am I done with my reading yet?”

 

Hope was anxious to get this done. She didn’t really notice when she was reading with Melanie because most of the time, they were just giggling but since it was break, Melanie was visiting her grandparents, so she didn’t come with her to the restaurant this week.

 

Julienne looked at her watch and it was about three minutes left in Hope’s reading hour but at this point, three minutes wasn’t going to kill anyone.

 

“Looks like we are done here. Let’s get to cooking!”

 

“Yay!” Hope was excited, she didn’t come to the restaurant to read, she wanted to be where the action was… the kitchen.

 

As Hope was getting ready to cook with her grandmother, Bridget was heading to court.

 

Bridget had to go to because the date had finally come and she knew that the Brooke would have lawyers ready to argue on her behalf.

 

Stephanie told her that she needed to keep her head in the game and not allow any distractions from Brooke get to her.

 

It was a weekday but Hope was on break at school. They did their normal routine of dropping Hope off with Julienne.

 

The bailiff introduced the court to the judge.

 

“Be seated, I understand we are discussing the case involving a tender age child of 5 years, Hope Logan. Counselor.”

 

“Yes your honor, we are petitioning to transition the temporary custody order into a permanent order.”

 

“Objection, your honor the mother Brooke Logan had her child stolen from her through deceptive means. We are challenging this overreach by the petitioner.”

 

“This is a serious accusation; do you have any proof to back up these claims?” The judge asked Brooke’s lawyer because pretty words meant nothing.

 

“It is my client’s belief that the petitioner is doing this because of the negative influence in her life. She is estranged from her elder daughter, the petitioner due to the interference of Stephanie Forrester, the woman behind the petitioner. They have a documented rivalry that has stretched into Stephanie Forrester taking custody of Ms. Logan's elder children and creating a chasm and lead to the estrangement.” Brooke’s lawyer smirked at Stephanie which didn’t faze the woman.

 

“Gloria, please let me go on the witness stand.”

 

“This isn’t like a regular trial. I can ask for the judge to let you say a few words.” Gloria Schiller is a shark of a lawyer, she had been handling Stephanie’s affairs on the business front since Stephanie found out she was the owner of FC.. “Your honor, my client Bridget Forrester would like to say something.”

 

“I’ll allow it.” To the judge the case got so much more interesting when she found out the petitioner is this woman’s daughter.

 

“Hi your honor. I have been taking care of Hope since the day I filed for an emergency hearing. I didn’t go looking for the little girl, she actually found me. It’s shocking but I was Hope’s stepmother because I was married to Hope’s biological father at the time of her birth. And for the majority of the next year. Brooke Logan is my biological mother, but she had her parental rights terminated and a judge gave my mother Stephanie Forrester legal and physical custody over me because I asked for it, my mother was divorced from my father and she had no legal rights to me but the judge decided that she was the best suitable person to take care of me because that’s what she had been doing for me, my brother and my sister. I let Brooke Logan back in my life when I was much older, it proved to be a mistake. She is a person with no regard for anyone else’s feelings not even the children she claims to love. She has been in a two-and-a-half-decade obsession with my eldest brother. When my eldest brother decided to marry and have children with my sister-in-law, it enraged her. For years she had tried to get my brother back and it has been rather unsuccessful. Then she moved on to my next eldest brother when I was in high school. I begged her not to do this because it was sick. I knew I would be subject to ridicule by my peers but most of all I found it to be disgusting because she had been with my brother, my father and now my other brother. She didn’t approve of my first marriage and yet had a near yearlong affair with my ex-husband that resulted in a pregnancy. She kept that from me, I found out on the day of Hope’s birth. I had decided to cut her out my life because all she has done is hurt me and my brother our entire childhood. My brother had massive amounts of anger in his childhood because of the instability we grew up in. I had issues with self-confidence and trust because of Brooke Logan. Hope went to my parent’s place of business to find them so she could get into contact with me because she thought I was still legally her stepmother. She came with her best friend and a woman who cares deeply for her. That woman Tammy told me that Hope dresses herself with no aid and comes to school hungry more often than not… So this woman fed Hope with money out her own pocket. Melanie is her best friend and the girl’s mother Diana had Hope most weekends for sleepovers but its more because she wants to make sure Hope is fed and under a watchful eye. She found Hope once crying because she was so hungry and ran out of crackers to eat. For a whole weekend Hope had to ration crackers because her arms were too short to reach the handle on a French door fridge. When Hope found me, she begged me not to leave her and that she would be good and is no trouble at all. She is being neglected for days on end with no caretakers even though Brooke Logan has the means. I can provide a home for Hope where she is a priority.”

 

Bridget was nervous but she kept it out of her voice.

 

“Thank you Ms. Forrester for your candor. Is there anyone who can corroborate your accusations?” The judge could believe that Brooke Logan was a hot mess when this woman described having an affair with her daughter’s husband and recklessly getting pregnant from it.

 

“Your honor, we have multiple witnesses from the child’s school who can describe events where neglect was found. Hope’s teacher reported to child services about Hope’s hunger making it hard for her to focus in class. Ms. Logan has missed most of the scheduled parent teacher conferences and the ones she has shown up to she was inebriated and agitated. She has a file with DCFS regarding the neglect of Hope.”

 

“If she has a file with DCFS. Do we know the caseworker and if so, has counsel asked her to tell her accounts?”

 

“Yes, your honor, they are here and ready to give an account.”

 

“If I can get the DCFS social worker who is tied to the case of the tender age child.”

 

An older woman who had been in the back of the room came forward. She got closer and wondered if she was supposed to testify or just simply relay her findings at a respectable distance.

 

The judge beckoned her over to sit in the box. The woman pulled out her case file and gave it to the judge.

 

“Hello, can you explain your findings.”

 

“Hello your honor. I have documented dozens of accounts of neglect or harm concerning Hope Logan. Ms. Logan has said she would be getting more help for her to tend to the child, but it hasn’t been done. If anything it seems as if the neglect has only escalated. We did not know about the child rationing crackers over the course of a weekend because it was the only food she could reach. It has been my recommendation for Hope to be put into foster care for a while, but Ms. Logan high priced attorneys have used money to get their sway and buy time, but it hasn’t made Ms. Logan more attentive as a mother to her child. Due to the backlog, Hope hasn’t received her day in court. Its been the assessed by people above me that Ms. Logan would just simply get childcare even though I have tried to make the case that even with the means that wasn’t Ms. Logan’s intention. She has been given so many chances and still Hope is falling by the wayside. This little girl is crying for help by running to people she knew nothing of because it was a chance at a better life. She is only 5 so that’s a warning sign… things will only get worse if we allow Ms. Logan to keep custody. She attacked Ms. Forrester’s niece and Hope in a mall. It’s my recommendation to terminate rights. It’s been almost a year of dealing with this case and Ms. Logan needs help because she is an alcoholic but even when sober she has an apathy towards her child and its dangerous.”

 

“You cannot take Bridget from me. She is mine! I won’t let anyone take her away from me again!” Brooke’s outburst shocked the court, but it only made the judge get more of a full view.

 

“Counselor, control your client now or she’ll be in jail on contempt charges. Ms. Logan, we are discussing your daughter Hope not Bridget. I don’t need a recess to come to this conclusion because it looks like the state was ready to proceed with terminating your rights Ms. Logan and I am just fast tracking it. These are the times where the bureaucracy hinders the well being of children. To think a little girl who doesn’t know much if the way of the world knew that she had to get away from you. I won’t let that child down and return her to you. This child is screaming for help and I am going to hear her. I hereby decree that Brooke Logan your parental rights are severed to Hope Logan. As for you Ms. Forrester, are you sure you are ready to take care of this child.?”

 

“Yes your honor, my husband and I have a goal to give Hope a chance to be happy, feel safe and nurtured. It’s something I and my family take pride in. She is happy to have cousins and be the one to host sleepovers at our house. I just want her to be okay not because I have a biological link to her. I’m a doctor and I am confronted with issues of neglect and abuse in field of work and if I can help ensure there’s one less child goes through that then I will gladly do whatever I can. I love Hope… she’s my child as far as I am concerned. She is a sweet child and no child deserves to starve especially when the only barrier for them is their height. I know it’s serious to be someone’s guardian, I love Hope more than anything and she has a family that can take care of her, I’ll do whatever I have to do to appease the court and DCFS to prove Hope belongs with me.” Bridget was met with silence.

 

She had no clue what was going to happen, just because Brooke's rights would be severed did not mean she automatically got custody. Until the judge made any kind of ruling either for or against her, Hope was legally a ward of the State of California.

Chapter Text

“Thank you for your words, what’s your recommendation?”

 

“I have made a couple of surprise visits to the home and interviewed Hope’s educators and the child is much less withdrawn in school and has shown a more outward personality among her teachers and peers. Her grades have picked up with the addition of getting help with her homework. At their home the girl loves to play Legos with Bridget and watch TV with her husband. She is the best I have seen her in the year I have known her. It’s my recommendation that Bridget and her husband Jubal are her permanent guardians and start the process of adoption.”

 

“Before I make any ruling, I will interview Hope myself. No one but the caseworker, my assistant, clerk and the stenographer will be in the room when it occurs. Bring the child at 3:30.”

 

Bridget had called Jubal and told him that the judge wanted to interview Hope today before making her ruling.  Jubal left the courthouse to go pick up Hope from his mother. They knew there might be a chance that this might happen. It did make Bridget a little nervous because Hope was such a polite girl. She didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Her demeanor in itself to how Brooke treated her was so conciliatory. But she was a small child trying to be good to get any scrap of love she could get. She was just glad that Brooke wouldn’t be allowed in the room to confuse Hope.

 

When Hope was brought to the court, she was actually not a happy camper. She was with Juju B learning how to make gumbo. It was fun, her grandma let her throw the sausage into the pot. She needed help from Jubal, but he never had problems picking her up. She refused to leave until she got to do it so Jubal didn’t put his foot down and tell her no because the last thing they needed was Hope in a pissy mood and unknowingly make things harder.  They didn’t get to finish the gumbo, but she told her grandma that she would be back to eat it.

 

The girl was not brought to the courtroom itself; Jubal was somewhat used to the building; he knew it well. He took Hope to the judge’s wing where a bailiff was waiting for them with the social worker.

 

“Daddy… you’re not coming with me?!” Hope was alarmed because she never been here before and she didn’t want to leave Jubal.

 

“I can’t go past here but I’ll be right here waiting for you I promise.”

 

“I don’t want to leave then. I didn’t get to finish the gumbo with grandma and now you are not coming with me?! Did I do something bad daddy?” Hope didn’t like getting in trouble. She did everything she could to avoid it. She didn’t want Jubal leaving her.

 

“Baby, you listen to me. You didn’t do anything bad… I promise! You are a good girl, my very best girl. I’ll be right here. You just have some nice people who want to meet you because they heard you’re such a good friend. Ms. Gertrude will be with you the whole time, you remember her right?”

 

Hope nodded, Jubal’s’ words calmed her enough where she allowed herself to be taken to the judge. She had given Jubal a hug and hoped that he would keep his promise and be there waiting for her when she finished.

 

She made her way to the judge’s private chambers and was a little scared because it was a lot of people she didn’t know.

 

“Hi Hope! My name is Lola…” Judge Carmichael announced herself in a kind manner to make Hope feel at ease. She had done so many of these and children three times Hope’s age would be intimidated by all the people in the room.

 

“Hi Ms. Lola, nice to meet you and your friends. My daddy said you wanted to see me. He said it was okay because I’m a good girl and you probably just wanted to be friends with me.”

 

Lola’s heart softened to mush when she heard this little girl, she had to advocate for this little girl to be in the right situation. She hoped that she doesn’t let the girl down.

 

“I’m so glad that you would like to be friends with me… I was wondering if I could ask you some questions to get to know you better because we are friends.”

 

“Okay!” Hope was excited because Ms. Lola was really nice.

 

“What do you like to do for fun?”

 

“I like building castles with Melanie, playing candyland with mommy and daddy, making food with my grandma. We’re making gumbo today!” Hope was excited to admit that she has been learning to cook.

 

Lola’s eyes widened at the mention of this itty-bitty girl making gumbo.

 

“And what do you know about gumbo, friend?” This wasn’t one of the questions Lola was going to ask but she was just so interested.

 

“It’s umm… Creole cuisine. My grandma is a Creole lady. She’s from a place called New Orleans, she came to live over here after a spinny thing called Katina. She let me put the sausage in the pot today. Do you want to see?”

 

Lola was fascinated to hear this all…

 

“Sure, why not?”

 

Hope goes into her backpack and pulls out her camera. It was really Jubal’s, but her backpack could carry more stuff than her dolls and Legos.

 

Hope showed her the videos of them making food. Lola could see that it was a regular occurrence. She swore the woman in the video looked just like Dominique Deveraux.

 

“See my grandma said it was okay to put the sausages in. See I did it.”

 

“Yes you did, you listened to her.”

 

“Yeah, I did… Ms. Julienne… my grandma is really nice. She’s in my heart with my other grandma.” Hope pointed at her heart locket.

 

“Aww that’s so sweet, who else is in your locket?”

 

“Me, mommy and daddy.”

 

“Yeah, that was silly of me to ask.” Lola saw the picture in the little girl’s locket and could see the happiness in this little family.

 

“It’s okay we’re friends.” Hope doesn’t know any better, she can’t gauge Lola’s demeanor someone older could and just puts her hand in the older woman’s like a friend.

 

“Aww thank you Hope. I want to ask you something, it might be a little hard.”

 

“Okay, if it’s hard maybe my daddy can help, he’s good at solving stuff. He plays this game called Sudoku. He’s teaching me…”

 

“Oh that’s nice. I’m sure you’ll be really good at it. I think you are the perfect person to help me with it.”

 

“Okay, I love to help!”

 

“You see Hope, I’m here to help you because we’re friends. I wanted to see how it was living with your first mommy?”

 

Lola saw all she needed to do when the girl visibly got sad, she even started to hunch to make herself smaller.

 

“I will go if that’s what you want Ms. Lola... I promise to be a good girl. I won’t make any noise.” Hope’s voiced cracked and she was near tears. It was something everyone in the room was used too but that didn’t make it any easier.

 

“Tell me how do you like living where you are now?”

 

“I love it, daddy reads me bedtime stories, so I don’t have to do it by myself anymore. We have a garden and I help him. I even have my own shovel. He gives me a pink carnation everyday. See I have it pinned on my dress. Do you know what it means?” Hope was really excited to tell Ms. Lola about flowers.

“I don’t know what it means. Can you tell me?” Lola was touched to see this girl’s happiness in so simple as a flower.

 

“It’s the symbol of your mommy’s love. It’s something that doesn’t stop even when they are not there. Every time I look at it, I remember how it feels when my mommy hugs me or gives me a kiss. It’s the I’ll never forget you flower. It makes me really happy because my daddy always puts fresh carnations on the tables by my bed every week so every time, I sleep I know they will never forget me. In our gardens the pink carnations are next to the red roses. That’s the I love you flower, those are for my mommy. My daddy put them next to each other because my mommy always be next to me. My daddy always takes care of the flowers because it’s his job to take care of us because that’s what you do when you love someone or something.” Hope loved talking about flowers to anyone who wanted to know.

 

“That’s so sweet. Is there anything else you like to do?”

 

“I love when we watch tv because mommy is on one side and daddy is on the other. Mommy is my best friend… well after Melanie but you can’t tell because I don’t want to hurt mommy’s feelings. We are friends now, so you have to keep my secret, if you don’t you have to eat your boogers for a month! I get to have snacks anytime I want, I eat dinner every day even on the weekends! I went to Disneyland and had the big lollipop and I have my Mickey Mouse hat!”

 

The fact that Hope made a mention of food really stilled Judge Carmichael. The affidavits from multiple people saying that they thought this girl wasn’t eating with regularity just pissed Lola off especially considering how high-powered the attorney Brooke had… showed she had the means to provide her child a personal chef if need be.

 

“You know Hope, I’m so glad I got to meet you today. You have been such a good girl. Would you like a sticker?”

 

Hope beamed at the prospect of getting a sticker.

 

“Is it okay to have two stickers?! One for my book and one for my hand.”

 

“Sure Hope, that’s no problem.” Hope was happy when she received her two stars. “It was a pleasure to meet you today. I’m so glad we became friends.”

 

“Me too…” Hope got her backpack ready.

 

The social worker stuck out her hand for Hope to take but she ran to Lola to give the woman a hug which Lola wasn’t expecting but it these were the days where she was proud to do her job.

 

The little girl waved to her goodbye. It didn’t take long for Lola to come to her verdict. When Hope left the room, she saw that Jubal was in the same place he said he was going to be and it made the girl so happy.

 

“In the case of Hope Logan, I find in favor of the petitioner and the DCFS recommendation. Brooke Logan, you deserve to be brought up on criminal charges for reckless endangerment of a child and willful neglect. I examined your case file with your elder children, I see that it gave you no motivation to be a better mother to Hope. Your parental rights to Hope are being severed. From this day she is not your child in the eyes of the California DCFS and the state. As for you Bridget Forrester, I don’t say this often because the circumstances of this case are very unique. You have a strong constitution to deal with this highly emotional situation for the betterment of Hope. She is not aware of her circumstances and she is just a little girl wanting desperately to be loved and in a stable environment. It’s clear that you provide that for her that. I am granting you permanent custody of Hope, just continue to do what you have been and I know that little girl will be all the happier for it. This is my verdict. Court is dismissed.” Judge Carmichael ruled and before she got up and left her seat. She saw the emotion coming from Bridget. She could see the young woman crying and hugging her lawyer but when she looked at Brooke it was almost as if the woman was irate but no sadness. It just made Lola even more resolute about her decision.

 

When the judge gave them her verdict, Bridget felt such a heavy weight lifted from her shoulders. She had the legal rights to Hope and was going to make sure that Hope never had to leave them. She didn’t want anymore harm or neglect to touch the girl.

 

She told Jubal the verdict, it made him happy to hear because he wanted to protect Hope just as much as she did.

 

Bridget had come with Stephanie, but she told her mother that she just wanted to be with Jubal and Hope right now. She hugged her mother and gave a quick call to Bunny to let her know the news. When Jessica congratulated her, that’s when it felt real for her. Bridget came out of the courthouse and followed Jubal’s text and saw him and Hope, she felt the tension leaving her some more.

 

The tears from her eyes couldn’t help but fall.

 

“Mommy, you’re crying?!” Hope was worried to see Bridget crying.

 

“I’m okay sweetheart, I’m just so happy to see you.” Bridget calmed down the girl.

 

She gave Hope so many kisses which made the little girl giggle. Bridget and Jubal kissed, he hugged her to him. They walked down the stairs together and just wanted to be together.

 

“Can I go back to grandma now? I was making gumbo with her.” Hope was happy to make new friends today, but she had already made plans with Ms. Julienne.

 

“Of course you can baby. Let’s go.” Jubal knew the little girl was going to want to go back to the restaurant.

 

With the mention of food, Bridget felt her hunger coming back to her. She was glad that her nerves settled because of the judge’s decision, she couldn’t eat anything that morning. She felt like this meal was going to be more delicious than normal because she was happy.

 

 

Chapter Text

She had been doing a lot of thinking lately, even with everything that happened at court… Something felt missing to Bridget. There was a calm in the air for them, things were finally as they should be. There was a concreteness, a completeness that made her breathe easier.

 

She still wasn’t satisfied though; she was terrified to tell her husband what she wanted because he had his career here. He was established here, and she knew how hard he worked for it. She also knew that Hope had been here her whole life, but Bridget wanted a change. Maybe they were supposed to come back here for a reason. The only reason she could think of was Hope. But in her heart, she knew that they needed to move on.

 

As much as she knew that Brooke’s ties had been severed, she could never get it out of her mind that Brooke could found them by chance or worse hire people to stalk them. She saw Hope by circumstance and was willing to do anything to leave with her. It didn’t matter if she was drunk or sober, Bridget couldn’t trust that kind of mind frame.

 

But it was more than that, she felt like they would be their happiest elsewhere. The foundation of her marriage was in New Orleans, it was the best time of her life and she wouldn't trade it for the world. She knew that it was risky to uproot Hope, but she felt in her heart that it would be a good place for the little girls who grow up.

 

Bridget didn’t think that she was being impulsive, she thought about it every single day. The day that they were able to legally change Hope’s name only heightened the want for a different locale. Hope Logan didn’t exist anymore, she was a tie to a past life that was filled with pain and sadness. That chapter of her life was over, Bridget’s daughter is Hope Robineau Valentine.

 

It was a lot to ask to move to a whole new place. It wasn’t new for them, they had lived in New Orleans before, Jubal had lived there before he even met Bridget, it was his hometown. She had the strong desire to protect Hope in every way she could. She felt as if distance from Los Angeles might be the best way.  It sounded a little scary because a big segment of their family on both sides lived there.  It wasn’t as if Bridget couldn’t be happy here, she could… she was but it didn't feel like it was the place that was meant for them.

 

She knew that Hope would have an adjustment period. She would have to make new friends and it might be a little scary for her being that she was so young. She didn’t want Hope to lose Melanie, she wouldn’t let that happen, she would do everything she could to foster their friendship even though they would be on different sides of the country.

 

Bridget wanted to follow her heart and It was telling her that they got what they needed to get when they were coming back to Los Angeles, but they needed to go back home.

 

She knew the best option was to wait for the school year to be over, she wasn’t going to disrupt that, and it was very difficult to enroll that students so late in the year at new schools especially in different states, she had no desire to uproot her family. She just wondered what was best and to follow her heart.

 

She had picked up Hope from school and it was like any other day, Hope was so excited to relay everything that she did and Bridget like always listened attentively. She loved the happiness in her daughter's voice. She loved that Hope couldn’t wait to tell her everything that happened to her.

 

Bridget knew that she couldn’t speak to Hope about this yet, not until she spoke to her husband about it. The last thing she wanted was Hope to blurt out the idea of them moving to New Orleans to live permanently.

 

When Jubal had come home, he could feel something in the air. Something was different, he couldn’t bet his last dollar on it, but as soon as he came in the door, he saw his wife’s eyes on him, and looked as if she wanted to have a deep conversation. It was definitely a conversation that was only meant for adult ears, so it wasn’t something that could be spoken at dinner.

 

They watched each other, all throughout dinner both of them were able to engage with Hope and the little girl wouldn't never know the difference, but they looked at each other. Their eyes were having heavy conversation with each other even though neither could quite make out what the other was saying.

 

Thankfully, it was a night where Hope could fall asleep pretty quickly, Jubal didn’t even make it to the third page of the book before she was sleeping. They were both able to slip out of her room without her waking up.

 

“You look like you’ve been wanting to talk to me ever since I came home, by the heaviness in your eyes it seems really important... Did something happen?” Jubal was already fretting about the next problem that was going to come up, he didn’t expect it to be so soon, but you can never underestimate unpredictable people.

 

“No… nothing happened. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking and I wanted to run something by you…” Bridget was talking softly, she thought she might lose her nerve or her voice. Even though she was not a person who shied away from explaining herself, she knew that this was going to become a debate and it is not a great place to be when you are debating a great debater.

 

“Oh baby thank god. I thought something happened and we would have another crisis to solve.” Jubal could rest a little easier, he was already stressed out from the long day at work.

 

“I have been thinking a lot and I felt that something has been missing for along time. I never voiced it because things were not set in stone, even though Hope was our daughter before the court said anything, I have been wanting something that I’ve been afraid to say out loud because I don’t want to fight.” Bridget was starting to feel unsure about how she wanted to proceed.

 

“Baby, what would we have to fight about? Did I do something? Are you mad at me?” Jubal was trying to figure out where this was coming from because he felt like he was being blindsided.

 

“No. Jubie, I’m not mad at you or anything like that. You’re so amazing, you really don’t understand the magnitude of how much I love you. I love you so much. I can never be mad at you. What I thought was missing was where we're supposed to be…” Bridget was hoping that he could read between the lines, but she knew that he might not.

 

“Baby, I need you to stop talking so cryptically and just tell me. Tell me what is going on?” Jubal wasn’t mad, but he was starting to lose a little bit of his patience because he did not like it when people talked in circles.

 

“I want to move back to New Orleans. Everything is finalized with Hope, remember when we were in bed and you were telling me that you and your parents were meant to be, just like we’re meant to be a family with Hope. We didn’t want to leave New Orleans; we only came back because you had your job here with Morty and you did it out of loyalty. And I completely get loyalty, but maybe we were meant to come back for Hope and then go back home.” Bridget didn’t want to sound crazy; she knew that this seemed weird, but she couldn’t hide the way she felt.

 

Jubal was more than surprised; out of everything he expected his wife to say… He had never envisioned that she would say she wanted them to all move back to New Orleans.

 

“Move back home… baby what are you talking about? Hope only knows Los Angeles… You really want to uproot her from that and her family? And you’re right I do have my job and you have your job.” Jubal was trying to sense of the situation right now.

 

“I know that Hope only knows LA. I feel it in my gut. I know that's a lot to ask, I just want to talk about it. I know that most of our families are here. I didn’t go into this lightly, I love our family.  But right now I’m only thinking of my husband and my child, I want to raise her there. I think that she would benefit so much greater living there. I’m not even thinking of the potential issues of Brooke or even Deacon right now. I was happiest there, and so were you and I know in my heart that she will be too. Our families can come and visit anytime, we can come back and see them. I don’t want to isolate us from them coming… but I can’t make every decision with them in mind, we have to do this for us, whatever that decision is... I’m not saying that we have to move to New Orleans, it's just an idea. I hope it’s an idea that you don’t shut down.” Bridget was feeling vulnerable, she didn't want Jubal to potentially shut the conversation down because he wasn't risking his job.

 

Jubal had to take a minute, he had to take a minute to breathe and really think about things. He knew that his wife was a planner, she was probably planning this conversation for a while now. She felt strongly about this and this wasn’t something that could be solved within a night. This would take time and logistics and it was not even a guarantee that it would be a yes.

 

“Thank you for telling me how you feel. This is a little unexpected for me, I didn't know that you were going to ask me this. Baby, this is also something that we have to talk about for a while before we come to any decisions. Yeah, I agree that Hope could benefit from living in New Orleans, but she could also benefit from living here too. We have obligations, whether you wanna see that or not… you know I do not break my promises ever. You matter more to me than anything, and you know that. I would never put anything above you. You are my wife, you know the place that you have in my heart and in my life, but you also know what my word means to me. Any kind of decision like this, we are going to need to talk about over the course of… I don’t know weeks maybe months.” Jubal was trying to be reasonable, but he felt a headache coming on. He put his face in his hands and tried to rub his temples.

 

Bridget knew that he probably had a long tough day at work, and this conversation was probably only heightening his stress.

 

“That's the only thing I ask for Jubie, it's something for us to think about... I didn’t expect any decisions to be made today, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I knew whenever I had this conversation with you that it would only be a starting dialogue. You look stressed, I didn’t want you to feel more stress on top of everything baby. How about you take an Advil for your headache and a shower to relax? I’ll be waiting in our bed for you to fuck me within an inch of my life." Bridget knew exactly how her husband like to blow off his steam, it always left her sore and sated.

 

Jubal’s eyebrows rose, this wasn't the first time his wife talked like this. It wasn’t even the first time she talked like this within the week. Their conversation wasn’t remotely done, but it was done for that night.

 

“You sure do know how to end the conversation. I’m gonna wear you out.” He looked over and beckoned her to come closer to him. He kissed her and it just felt right.

 

“When you come out of the bathroom, I’ll be on all fours... Don’t forget to lock the bedroom door.” Bridget got up and went straight for their room, she would be waiting for him. She had been waiting all day to be able to do this, she knew that he was tired, but she had no clue when she was going to let him sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Bridget had thought that she was going to be the one to hold on to Hope a little tighter, but she was wrong. She felt as if she was in a place to let Hope go back to her regular routine. It was something that Hope asked for every single weekend, but Jubal wasn’t ready. It was not as if he didn’t trust his mother or mother-in-law, he did trust them. He trusted them to protect Hope at all costs. He didn't want to give power to the people who cause harm to Hope, but he felt it was important for them as a family to be together.

 

 Jubal had slowly gotten used to the idea of Hope being gone on the weekends. She wasn’t gone the whole weekend anymore, but she did spend her days with her grandmothers. It was the first sign that they were returning to the normalcy that they created. It made both Bridget and Jubal a little nervous, they had gotten used to spending their weekends with Hope, but it seemed as if Hope wanted to have what she was used to. Bridget was proud of Hope wanting independence from them.

 

It was a good thing for them too, they got used to the idea of Hope going back to her regular weekends, it meant that they could go back to their weekends as well. They made sure that no one bothered them on the weekends. Jubal had made sure that he got his work done during the week so he could give his undivided attention to his weekends.

 

Jubal couldn’t help but marvel at the sight of his wife; she wasn't paying attention to anything but making breakfast for them. His mother had come to the house early to pick up Hope. They were able to go back and sleep in, eventually they did get up and Bridget had volunteered to make breakfast.

 

Jubal couldn’t focus on anything other than his wife, her nightie was so short, it showed off her legs. He knew his wife so well; he knew if she bent over that he would get a full view of her naked pussy from behind. He started to walk closer and hugged her close. One of his hands went to her breasts while the other pressed on her stomach.

 

He loved hearing her intake of breath. Every time she gasped; it went straight to his dick. He knew how to make her go crazy without even trying. He loves to make her frustrated… He loved to make her furious sexually, it was like sending her on a mission to destroy you. The way she would ride his dick with no abandon, just the thought was making him hard.

 

“You don't play fair.” Bridget started to moan as he teased her breasts, it was easy for him, he could just slip under her nightie. She couldn’t focus on making food anymore.

 

“I don’t play fair; I play to win.” He made sure to drop the timber in his voice, he knew he succeeded in his goal when he could feel her shiver.

 

“Look at you trying to seduce me when I’m just trying to make you some damn eggs to eat.” The frustration and Bridget’s voice was mounting.

 

“Fuck those eggs, I’d rather be fucking you.  I’d rather be eating you for breakfast, hell I’d eat that pussy for lunch and dinner too.” He chuckled because he meant every word and she knew it.

 

“Jubie...” Her moans of frustration were only signals of her being turned on.

 

“Fine, I’ll stop.” he immediately let her go. He enjoyed torturing her.

 

“I didn’t say you could leave; I didn’t say that you could stop holding me.” Bridget loved the feel of his weight on her. She loved it when he was close.

 

She did have a mind to let the eggs and bacon burn, but she was really hungry, so she decided against that even though she really wanted to deal with the hardness that was pressed against her ass right now.

 

She had finished making their breakfast and Jubal decided to be helpful, he got plates for the both of them. Their breakfast was a silent affair, it was filled with longing looks. Every time Bridget looked up from her plate, she saw just how hungry her husband was… only thing was it wasn’t quite for food. She would never admit it to anyone, she was scarfing down her food just so she could run back to her bedroom. She wanted to feel the dark promises in her husband’s eyes every time he looked at her.

 

As soon as she picked up the last bit of egg from her plate, Jubal was getting up.  He picked up her plate so fast she didn't even have time to blink. He was already putting everything in the sink. He wasn’t going to be stopped anymore, he didn’t want to hear the excuses of food hindering him from having what he wanted most.

 

He just walked up to her and said nothing, Bridget didn’t know how he did this, but he had a way of mesmerizing her without even trying. He stuck his hand out for her to take. She said nothing and just got up, they walked hand in hand right back to their bedroom.

 

Jubal sat on the bed, he just looked up at Bridget. He said nothing to her, the air was rife with sexual tension.

 

Bridget stared back, this staring contest between the two of them only made her hornier. She took two steps, she was right in front of him. She sat in his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.

 

She knew she was going to kiss him, but she held off. She traced her fingers across his face, featherlight… She reveled in it when he closed his eyes. That’s when she decided to kiss him… It was a surprise to him because he couldn't see it coming. His little bit of shock made him gasp on reflex, it was at this second that she slipped her tongue into his mouth. She felt him hugging her tighter to him, he slid the spaghetti straps of her nightie down and it fell by her waist. She could feel his big hands on her back, and she couldn't help but let out a moan into his mouth because his hands felt so good.

 

She loved it when he kissed her, she didn’t know that she could get so aroused just from kissing until she met him. His hand started to move lower, Jubal knew the kind of reaction that he could elicit from his wife. He put his hands on her center and could feel the wetness. He started massaging her there, she kept moaning and keening louder in his mouth. It only made him harder, but that would have to wait cause he needed to taste.

 

In a blink of an eye, Bridget found herself on her back with her ass to the edge of their bed. She could feel Jubal’s hands on her hips, he pulled her closer. Her ass was dangling off the bed and her legs were over his shoulders. When he started eating her out, she could only describe it as starved, it was as if it was like the last time, he was doing this. She came in under two minutes, but that didn't stop him. He took another five minutes and made her come twice more, after the third time she climaxed her body was shaking and the evidence was all over his face.

 

Bridget was squeezing her breasts and teasing her nipples, she could feel him moving her towards the center of the bed. Every dip his knees took on the bed, only excited her more. When Jubal saw her playing with her breast, he got jealous.  He moved her hand so his could take over, her whines heightened because his hands were rougher than hers. She loved the feel of his hands on her. He dipped his head and took a nipple in his mouth and sucked. He flicked his tongue and took a little nibble.

 

“Jubie… I love you.” Bridget couldn’t form any coherent thoughts.

 

The audible pop in the air when Jubal let his mouth slipped from his wife's breast might as well have been a thunderclap to Bridget.

 

He just looked at her, she was rising in their bed… It made him feel good that this was what he could do to his wife.

 

“Open your eyes, I want you to look at me when you fuck yourself.”

 

She could feel the exhale of her breath, the churning in her stomach at her husband's demand only heightened her desire. She started fucking herself, she slipped two fingers in and use her palm to massage her clit. She had gotten lost to the rhythm; she closed her eyes and just focus on the orgasm that was building. When he shouted for her to stop it shocked her. The shock had made her open her eyes, he told her to take her fingers out and she did. He held on to her wrist and started sucking her fingers.

 

She just watched him lick the desire off her fingers.

 

She could feel him, the hardness was pressed against her thigh and she felt impatient, she wanted more but her husband was a patient man and that was one of the most annoying things.

 

She used her moans against him, she used the sounds he loved to get what she wanted. She could feel him entering her and it felt like Christmas. She arched her back and the deep long strokes he took made her go crazy.

 

It wasn't long before she felt another orgasm creeping on her, her pussy was clutching at him. Trying to keep him in place because the feeling was too good. Jubal had given her clit a couple of swirls with his thumb and it had Bridget screaming.

 

Her whole body was sweating, she could vaguely feel him chasing his orgasm. Her eyes were closed trying to lengthen the bliss she was feeling.

 

Jubal looked down at her, her serene expression is what made him climax. It took so much out of him that he fell on her. Bridget was holding on to him like an octopus. She held on to him so tight, her body was clamoring to be as close as she could to him. She loved the weight of him on her. Her arms were tightly round his neck.

 

“I love you too.” Jubal kissed Bridget as they were both coming down from their high. He just went on to his side and held her close and kept kissing.

 

He just kept murmuring how much he loved her, it felt like a song to her ears, he just started making poems about her. He couldn’t think of anything better to do then hold his wife and tell her how much he loved her.

 

Chapter Text

Hope had gone to school just like she did every day. It became something that she really loved, she used to think of school as an escape but now she thought of it as just a fun place to be.

 

When it was lunchtime, she and Melanie sat at their usual table. Hope had some leftovers from when she went to her grandma's house.  As the two girls ate their food, they talked about everything.

 

“Guess what?” Melanie was excited to tell Hope about the news.

 

“What is up?” Hope giggled as she answered this was one of their little inside jokes that only the two of them understood.

 

“My daddy got a promo. My mom says that we have to move to George for his job. You know the soda Sprite… He works for them but now he has new job there.” Melanie had been so excited to hear about her dad’s job. Her mom explained that they were going to have to move but her dad was able to make sure it didn't start until the next school year.

 

“Where’s George? Is it far?” Hope started to think where Melanie was going, she remembered that when they went to Disneyland that it took them a while to get there. She wondered if George was near there.

 

“I don’t know, my mom says that we’re going to have to move to a place in George called Atlanta. That’s where they make Sprite I think.” Melanie was trying to recall as much as she could from the meeting her parents had with her.

 

“Atlanta? I’ve never heard of that place… Maybe it’s like Santa Monica.” Hope was happy that Melanie was excited. She liked Melanie’s daddy a lot. He was really nice, even though Melanie’s parents don't live together, they are always nice to each other and it made Hope happy.

 

“I don’t know. My mom says we have to take an airplane. I’ve never been on an airplane before.” Melanie remembered that her mother told her that they were going to take a flight to get there.

 

Hope remembered when Bridget talked about airplanes. They go to far places when it's too much trouble to take your car. She didn’t like the sound of an airplane.

 

“But if you have to take an airplane then it means that Atlanta is not close. My mommy told me if you have to take an airplane it’s because you have to go somewhere far, and the car isn't good enough.” Hope started to get a little upset because she didn’t want Melanie to leave. Especially to go to George. What’s even in George?

 

“I guess it’s not close, my mommy said I have to go to a new school. I don’t really want to go to a new school if you’re not going to be there.” Melanie started to think about it, she didn’t like the idea of leaving if it meant George was really far.

 

“But if you go to a new school then we won't be together. That’s not fair. Why can’t your mommy stay here?” Hope felt like her body was getting a little hot. She didn’t want to cry; she didn't like crying at school.

 

“My mommy said that we have to go because I won’t see my daddy if we don't. She said that Atlanta is not so close, so I won’t see my daddy as much. I don’t like that. I love him so much. She said that if we don't move then I can only see him on breaks and like once a month when he's able to go on airplane. I don’t wanna see my daddy once a month.” When Melanie talked to her parents, they told her that it wouldn't be easy for Mateo to see her if they stayed in California.

 

“Yeah, I can’t live without my daddy. But why does George have to be so far? I don’t want to be here if you’re not here. You’re my best friend, the very best best best.” Hope didn’t want to think about coming to the school if Melanie wasn’t there. They did have other friends here, but they weren’t her best friends, not like Melanie. Melanie helped her find her mommy and that made her even more special than she was before.

 

“You're my best best best friend too. I don’t know maybe we can make your mommy and daddy move to George too. Maybe my daddy can get your daddy a job?” Melanie started to get excited because maybe her dad could get Hope’s dad a job.

 

“That would be so good. Then we could be together, and we don’t have to worry about that anymore. Please ask your daddy.”  Hope was feeling anxious, the idea of staying here alone was not appetizing.

 

The two girls kept talking until lunch was over. They went back to class and finish their lessons for the day. After school was finished, they went to get their cookies and wait for their parents.

 

Bridget was already there waiting for Hope.

 

Bridget had noticed that Hope was quieter than usual, Hope would be rattling off everything she did today even before they got to the car, but the little girl was nearly silent. All she did was eat her cookie and it didn’t even look like she enjoyed it.

 

“How was your day at school?” Bridget had started the car as she asked Hope what happened today.

 

“School is okay. Can we move to George?” Hope was curious because she wanted to see what her mommy was going to say.

 

“Where’s George? Baby you have to give me a little more clarity than that...” Bridget doesn't always understand what Hope is trying to say because the girl can speak in confusing shorthand. She had never heard of a George Street or anything like that.

 

“Melanie’s dad got a job with Sprite so they’re moving to George when the school year is done. I don’t wanna go back to school if Melanie is not there. So I asked her to ask her daddy to give daddy a job.” Hope started talking a mile a minute, she couldn’t keep it in anymore.

 

Bridget was silent, she just looked at Hope through the rearview mirror and thought to herself that maybe this was things falling into place.

 

“Okay baby, I think you meant Georgia.” Bridget was starting to understand a little bit more.

 

 “Melanie said it was George, she said that you had to get on an airplane to go there. I remember when you told me that if you have to get on an airplane to go someplace it means that it's too much trouble to take the car. If it’s too much to take the car then it means that they’re going to be far, and I don’t want to be far. So we have to get daddy a job.” Hope was trying to make her mother understand that this was how things needed to be.

 

Bridget had to resist the urge to roll her eyes when Hope tried to correct her on the state of Georgia, her citing the Melanie as the source didn't help because it just meant the both of them were wrong. Melanie still calls her Ms. Bidget.

 

She couldn’t believe that Hope was lobbying to get Jubal a job with Sprite. One thing she could commend Hope on was her commitment into not wanting to be far from her friend.

 

“How about we do things one step at a time? I will talk to your father and we will see. I’m not guaranteeing you that we will move to Atlanta. But maybe you don’t have to be at the same school next year.” Bridget had no plans to make Hope return to that school anyways. The only reason that she kept Hope in it now was because it was too much trouble to try and find another school that would accept Hope after term started.

 

She was always infuriated that they allowed bullying to happen, trying to let it get resolved between 5-year-olds was probably the weakest excuse that she heard from the school leadership. She was not allowing Hope to be in some kind of Lord of the Flies situation especially if Felicia is going to be the bully.

 

With the promise of Bridget talking to Jubal, Hope was happier. If there was anyone that could convince her daddy to do something, it was her mommy. She never seen her daddy tell her mommy no. Even if she’s not his favorite girl, he still listens to her.

 

Bridget had started making dinner and hoped that Jubal didn't come home late. He usually didn’t but you can never tell with LA traffic when someone might come.

 

When he came home, Hope had run towards him and gave him a hug. The only reason Hope didn’t tell Jubal about getting a new job was because she knew that it would be easier if mommy did it.

 

They had eaten dinner and watch the little TV before they put Hope to bed. Jubal had a sense that a talk was coming. They had been talking quite a bit about the prospect of leaving for New Orleans or staying in LA.

 

“Something happened today.” Bridget said she was in their bed. She was lotioning herself like she did every night.

 

Jubal had taken it upon himself to lotion her back.

 

“It couldn't have been something that bad because you would have been fuming if it were.” Jubal is trying to think about what was going on before his wife told him.

 

“Well Mateo got a promotion with Sprite and he has to move to Atlanta. That’s what Hope told me today, so it seems as if Diana is going to move to Atlanta as well because if she doesn’t then it would mean that Melanie wouldn’t be able to see her father as much.  So Hope is trying to get you a job working for Sprite because she wants to move to Atlanta too.” Bridget had chuckled a little bit trying to remember how determined Hope was.

 

It had thrown Jubal for a curve ball when his wife told him that Melanie and her family were moving. He knew that it would be a big deal for Hope because Melanie was her best friend and certainly an ally at that school.

 

“She's trying to get me a job? She certainly is determined, isn’t she?”

 

“Can you blame her? I wouldn’t want to lose my best friend either especially at that age. That girl has seen Hope through a lot of things, I’m so grateful for Diana and Mateo being present for Hope when her life was at its bleakest. Obviously, you’re not going to get a job with Sprite, but maybe we could move to New Orleans... They would be much closer together and we could plan for them to see each other maybe every two weeks on the weekends you know, and they can speak on the phone. I really feel like all of these things are happening to tell us that we need to go back home.” Bridget felt strongly about wanting to move to New Orleans. There were less distractions there and a bigger chance to really shield Hope's privacy.

 

Jubal had been racking his brain over the last couple of weeks about their living situation. He surely didn’t mind going back home, he loved being there. He didn’t want to leave LA because he didn’t want to disrupt Hope’s stability. Even though he was doing well at Morty’s firm, there was nothing that could supersede his family. Jobs come and go but he wasn't willing to sacrifice his family for anything. He really loved working for Morty, but he had to do it was right for his wife and daughter. His wife was looking at him expectantly.

 

“I’m more inclined to thinking about moving to New Orleans. I need to speak to Morty but maybe you're right. I’ve been thinking this whole time about Hope needing to be here because this is all she knows but if she sees how much we love New Orleans then maybe she’ll be more receptive. Maybe she’ll have an easier time of making friends because it would be new scenery for her. It could be her fresh start. I’m not saying things are set in stone, we might not even be able to move yet but I’m going to look into it baby. This is something you felt strongly about for a while and maybe this is what we were supposed to do.” Jubal had finished lotioning her back.

 

He hugged her close to him, he knew that she liked when they cuddled. It usually was a precursor to much naughtier things which was something that he wanted.

 

“That makes me very happy.” Bridges said seductively, when she got her way, she was more amiable to sexual activities.

 

“Oh is that right? Is there award for my change of heart?” Jubal just brought her closer and started to kiss her.

 

As he slipped his hands into her nightie so he could feel her breast, they heard a knock at the door.

 

As much as Jubal loved Hope, he couldn’t help but punch the bed in frustration.

 

Bridget got out of the bed and opened the door; she could recognize those little knocks from anywhere.

 

“Hi mommy, can I sleep with you and daddy tonight?” Hope didn’t have any nightmares, but she did wake up to use the bathroom. She always found it hard to go back to sleep when that happened, but it was easier when she was with her mommy and daddy because they would watch over her.

 

Bridget just looked down at Hope, the little girl had her little narwhal stuffed animal with her.

 

Before Bridget could even give Hope an answer, the little girl just started walking in and climbed on the bed.

 

“Hi daddy, did you miss me?” Hope always wanted to know even if it had been thirty minutes or three hours.

 

“Of course I did.”  Jubal just opened his arms because he knew that Hope wanted a hug.

 

Even though Bridget was annoyed that she was going to be sexless tonight, she couldn’t help but soften at the beautiful display of love and affection in front of her.

 

Chapter Text

This was probably going to be the most difficult conversation she was ever going to have. It wasn’t a conversation that she hadn’t had before but it was definitely going to be one that would change everything. Bridget has left home a couple of times already. One of those times was at the urging of her mother and then the other time was completely decided by her and Jubal.

 

Bridget was happy that Morty was so understanding. She had known the man her whole life and she knew how empathetic and sympathetic he was. She was really thankful that he wasn't an asshole about Jubal asking to leave. Bridget knew that her husband could stay anywhere, it really didn’t matter to him. Even though the idea of going home would be something that he would welcome, he didn't have a problem staying somewhere because of obligations.

 

She was happy now that he wasn’t obligated to stay in Los Angeles. Things weren’t set in stone, it was still months away, but they were starting to put plans in motion and that is what made Bridget the happiest. It was going to be reality soon. She knew that it would be the most real when she told her mother. That was the only thing that hurt Bridget.

 

For so long, her mother had wanted one of her daughters to be home and here she was. she knew that it brought so much joy to Stephanie to have her close. Why wouldn’t it? Every time she hugs Hope, that’s exactly how she feels, and her mother had been doing this mothering thing longer than she has.

 

She was in her mother’s house having lunch with her mother, and her two aunts. She knew that Sally wasn’t her aunt by blood, but she had always been an important part of her life.

 

“I’m so glad that you came over. I know it hasn’t been long since we had lunch together but every single time, I see you just means I’m going to have a great day.” Stephanie had been so excited when Bridget had wanted to come over.

 

When Bridget heard her mother speak, it made her heart hurt. She knew that this was not going to be easy but now being in the situation itself, it’s so much harder than she thought it was going to be.

 

“I feel the same way about you mama. I didn’t only come here because I wanted to have lunch… I wanted to speak with you and Aunt Pam and Sally. I have some important news I want to share with you.” Bridget had initially thought it would be best to save the conversation until after lunch, but she doesn't think she can take the guilt of listening to three people sing her praises only to drop a bomb on them.

 

“I’m guessing you have some kind of good news. Well it’s splendid, then I will just go get a bottle of champagne and get a bucket of ice and let it chill and then we can celebrate.” Stephanie was always happy to hear good news, with all the terrible things that has happened to her family, she always wanted to celebrate the good things.

 

“Mama is definitely good news, but I don’t know how much you'll like it.”

 

“Well dear, if it is good news then I’m sure that I'll love it.” Stephanie was a little confused at her daughter and her cryptic words, but she did raise a peculiar bunch.

 

“I don’t know how to say this. I’ve been feeling really guilty about it because I love you so much and I know how much it means to you for me to be here, but I have to follow my heart. I had asked Jubal if we could move back to New Orleans to live there permanently, it has nothing to do with you or daddy. And I know that you love having me here which makes me so sad because I don’t want to disappoint you, but I think a change of scenery is what my family needs.” Bridget could feel the tears welling up in her eyes.

 

She tried to rein herself in because she knew that her mother wasn't a person who liked to get lost in emotions and normally, she wasn't either, but this was a really hard conversation to have. The tears started to fall, and she couldn't hold in her sobs.

 

“Bridget, I can’t say that this news isn’t shocking, I had no reason to believe that you wanted to move back to New Orleans, but you don’t need to live here out of an obligation to me. Honey all I’ve ever wanted in life are for my children to be happy. That is what is important to me. I can’t say that I won’t miss you because obviously I will. I will miss you so much because I love you so much. But you said it yourself, you have to do what’s right for your family. As much as I can tell people stories of when you were my little girl, you have your own little girl now. I love that you are thinking about me and what would make me happy, but what makes me happy is for you to be happy.” Stephanie knew that her children really valued her happiness, especially after Rick had found the charter.

 

It was one of the first times where she felt her kids put her happiness above their father's. It was something that felt nice to her, she gave them everything she had, and she would always do that again but sometimes she felt as if they prioritized her happiness last.

 

“But mama you’re always talking about how you want your daughters to be home. And now I’m leaving and that means all four of us will be gone from you.” Even though she heard her mother’s words, it didn’t lessen the guilt Bridget felt.

 

“In a perfect world I would have all of my kids living in Los Angeles. It would be a utopia and everyone would be happy and I would have lunch with you every single day, but that’s not life. I don’t want you to think that you have to give me everything that I want. No parent wants that for their children, at least no parent in the right mindset. I want you to thrive and be so happy that it is contagious to your child. Yes, New Orleans is far, and I won’t get to see you, Hope and Jubal all the time and that will make me sad. But I can visit you and you can visit me when Hope has breaks. You know they have these things called phones.”

 

Bridget started to laugh a little because her mom was not a comedian. Unless she was cracking the whip on her dad.

 

“I was so scared to tell you. I really do think that this is the right decision for us, but it doesn’t make it any easier.” Bridget was so relieved that her mother wasn't mad at her. Because she needed Stephanie, she always looked to her mother for strength in everything she did.

 

“I know if I told you once that I told you 1000 times that I never want you to be scared to tell me anything. It would be very unfair to me for me not to be accepting of you moving when only two of your siblings live here full time. I love that you take such concern in breaking the news to me. I am glad that you value our relationship. You know for some time I didn’t think that we would have that anymore. So I don’t care where you moved to, that kind of distance is only physical.” Stephanie was going to miss her child, but she'd rather have a physical distance from Bridget then an emotional one.

 

Bridget thought about the time where she pushed Stephanie away. It was so horrible to think back to. She really had no real reason of pushing her mom away. Her mom wasn’t overly strict, but she was fair and firm with them. Brooke looked so cool, and it was enticing to live in a different way. It took her years to figure out that she had it so good with her mom. She put a distance between herself and Stephanie, and Jess and she lost time that she could never get back. It was probably the only real regret that she had in her life. Both her sister and her best friend went through traumatic experiences and she didn't even know about it. Her mom just kept trying to be her mother and she pushed her away and she carried so much guilt because of it.

 

“Mama… I’m so sorry those times. I don’t even know why I did that. I hurt you badly and I know that I did, I can’t take it back even though I wish I could. You have done nothing but protect me my whole life from everyone who would do me harm and I really didn’t understand that until I hugged Hope for the first time. I had this overwhelming urge to just make sure that the world would have to go through me to get to her. I know that all of us tease you for being so overprotective, but I get it now and because I get it now, I get so mad at myself for pushing you away. Even when you were just trying to tell me that you would be there, I would just so mad and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why I let Brooke get in between us.” Bridget found herself really asking why would she listen to Brooke?

 

“I’m just glad that we were able to get back to what we have. I can’t tell you that it didn’t hurt, it broke my heart clear all I want from my children is to have a good relationship with them and to make sure that I can help them in any way that they need. The more I saw you floundering the more I wanted to help, but everything I tried to do just seemed like the wrong thing to you and I had to step back and allow you the space that you wanted or needed. But we are on the other side of that. I don’t care about that. You are my daughter, and I am so proud of the woman that you have become. You are so accomplished and independent, and you never let anyone tell you any different and that is what I wanted for you your whole life. I wanted to make sure that you knew how one of a kind you were and to never let anyone dull your shine. That’s what you’re going to teach Hope and I completely get why you’re moving to New Orleans. Being in California is a lot and I see how you could come to the conclusion that it's not worth it. Brooke drunkenly found Hope by mistake, she lashes out and does rash things when things don't go her way. If she ever stopped drinking, she could realize that if she tracked down Deacon, she could find a way to use him to get Hope. Even though he's been absent in Hope’s life for its entirety, he can come with a sob story and technically his rights have never been severed so it could possibly be another custody case. I don’t want that for you and I definitely don’t want that for Hope.”

 

Bridget knew that I was always a possibility that he could come back, he would have to establish paternity which would be easy because he was a dick. Since he didn't have parental responsibility, they won’t be required to need his consent to adopt Hope. Their case was almost done so it would feel absolutely ridiculous to her to fight Deacon for custody at the 11th hour if he were to show up.

 

That was one of the biggest reasons that she wanted to leave, even if they had adopted Hope, who knows how a court could rule? She would be damned if she was going to share custody with a grifter. He would give Hope empty promises and abandoned his child just like he did to his son. She also didn’t want to deal with him on a personal level. She knew the type of man Deacon was, he was a loser, and he had a very big problem when it comes to measuring up to other men. She knew that he would try to exercise as much control as he could because he would try to establish himself as Hope's father. She knew that he would try and get under Jubal’s skin even though nothing would rattle her husband, she just knew that the pissing contest that Deacon would want to start would only confuse and upset Hope. He would cause maximum drama and flee like he always does. And that was the last thing she wanted to deal with.

 

 “I have definitely thought about the Deacon angle and it was one of the first things that I thought about after the judge severed Brooke’s right.” Bridget was happy that her mother could see the whole picture, it wasn’t about just leaving to leave.

 

Her eventual departure was for a multitude of reasons, she knew that Hope would be happy in New Orleans and she certainly would be too. It was no question that Jubal would love living at home. But this was also to protect Hope and keep her close to her friend good things just happened to come together in a kismet way. She was just counting down the days until it was summer.  They were going to keep their house here, but it was a done deal. They were moving and she was ready for it.

 

Chapter Text

Bridget was over the moon when her parents had supported her decision. She had been nervous that Jubal’s family might have had reservations, but his mom was just as much on board as hers was. The only thing that really mattered was about protecting Hope, they didn’t want any surprises and the last thing they wanted to deal with was more uncertainty.

 

Even though they legally were Hope’s parents, so many things could happen and it wasn’t something that Bridget was going to take a gamble on.

 

Jubal and Bridget had decided that after telling all of the important adults in their life, it was time for them to tell Hope. They had had a nice dinner how at a restaurant on a school night which made Hope really happy because she wanted to wear a new dress that her grandmother bought for her.

 

Jubal told her that it was a special occasion. It had made Hope really excited because it wasn’t anyone’s birthday or a holiday. She wondered if a surprise was going to happen. Jubal had started to explain that he and Bridget had been thinking long and hard and thought it would be a good idea to move.

 

Hope became really excited because she thought that they would be moving to George. Her daddy told her that he didn’t need a job from Sprite, but he was very impressed with her trying to take care of their family and get him a job. She let it go because it earned her a kiss on the cheek.

 

Bridget had told Hope that they wouldn’t be moving to Georgia which made Hope very disappointed. The couple tried to explain that even though they weren’t moving to Georgia it didn’t mean that they weren’t moving to somewhere really great. Jubal had said that they were moving to his hometown and it made Hope a little happy because she knew that New Orleans was a great place. Her grandma and aunts were always talking about it.

 

“We want to make sure that this is something that you will come to love. Your mother and I think that we will be really happy in New Orleans, we want you to love it as much as we do.” Jubal was trying to make hope more excited about their move.

 

“Mommy lived there too?” hope hadn't known that Bridget had been to New Orleans.

 

“Yeah, I did, me and daddy lived there for quite a bit of time. We were so happy there, we made so many friends and we have family there, you know Jubal’s grandma lives there. And even though it’s not Georgia, we can still visit. It’s not far from where Melanie will be so you two can still see each other. It won’t be as often as it is right now but is very important to me for you to have your best friend. Hope, I will always do whatever I can to make sure that you’re happy.” Bridget wanted her daughter to know that there is no limit to what she would do for her.

 

“I know mommy. My big grandma lives there! That’s nice… She likes flowers like me and daddy. Daddy do you think I’ll be happy there?” Hope looked towards Jubal, she already knew that her mother wanted to go but she wanted to hear his answer.

 

“Yes, I do. It’s so much fun to be there, I had the best times there when I was a kid. And we get to enjoy it together. And you’ll be closer to Melanie there than you would be if we stayed here... You would also be closer to Disney World and I believe I can convince this lady here to let us go.” Jubal added a wink to really drive his message.

 

Hope giggled, just about anything Jubal did made her smile or laugh.

 

“I guess if we can’t go to George then it’s okay to go to New Orleans. it would be nice to be closer to Melanie, I know I won’t be able to see her every day but if you promise I’ll still see her then I want to go. Since we’re going to be moving really far, are people going to come and visit us?” Hope started to wonder because how would her weekends be now…

 

“Of course they're going to come and visit us. Family is the most important thing to us, I know that everyone is going to miss you so much but we're going to make sure that even though we won't be living here anymore it doesn't mean that we won't get to see them or hug them... We’re going to come back for the big holidays, I know both of your grandmothers are super excited to come and visit you. Baby, I promise that you’re going to have a great time and life will be even better.

 

“How can life be better than this? That’s very hard.” Hope was finding it very difficult to believe that her life could get any better. Her mother wasn’t one to lie but this was a hard thing to find true.

 

“Because she said so… that’s why.” Jubal just smirked as he glanced from Hope to Bridget.

 

Bridget appreciated the assist, she could always count on her husband to hype her up.

 

“I guess. So when are we going to move? Melanie is not leaving until school is over. Am I going to have to move before school is over?” Hope just realized that she didn't want to move yet because she still had school and she wouldn't be seeing her best friend if they moved to New Orleans now.

 

“So we are going to move after the school year is over, we’re going to stay here for a little bit and then move over probably in the middle of the summer so you can get used to living in New Orleans. It's going to be very different so you're going to need some time to adjust. The people are different, the city looks different.”

 

Jubal was trying to subtly show Hope that she shouldn't expect her new hometown to be like her old one.

 

“Okay daddy. If you say we’re going to have fun, then I know we’re going to have fun. It might be different but if it’s a place that you and mommy love then I know I will love it too. Do you think my big grandma might give me a job?” Hope was starting to like the opportunities that New Orleans could bring.

 

“And why do you need a job?” Bridget could not understand where these ideas come from.

 

“I need a job so I can make money. And if I have money, I can buy you presents all by myself.” Hope that it would be obvious why she needed a job.

 

Bridget thought it was cute Hope wanted to be the one to give them presents.

 

“How about this… You won’t get a job but if you are a good girl, you can earn an allowance. So I want you to focus on being a good student and getting good grades. Being really nice girl for me and for your mother. Being a really good friend and family member. Do you think you can do that for me?” It was very easy to convince Hope of anything when it came from Jubal’s mouth.

 

She had a deep trust for him, and she knew if he was the one to tell her something then it had to be true. She always listened to Bridget, but Hope knew how to have a little bit of sass for her, but for Jubal she but always blush under his praise and she would do anything to keep that coming.

 

“Okay daddy I won’t get a job. Only because you don't want me to. I think I can be a good student, I can be a good friend too and I love all of my family, so I’ll keep doing that.”

 

“Baby that’s all I ask.”

 

The rest of their dinner went on to be very smooth. Hope was excited to embark on this new journey. She was a little scared because she had never left LA before, but she wasn’t going to be alone. She had parents who loved her more than anything and they were going to do this together.

 

The school year was winding down and the excitement was growing. Bridget was happy to have this new start and she honestly couldn't wait to hop on a plane. All of her life she had someone fighting for her with everything they had. She could always count on Stephanie to guide her through every big-time heartache in her life. But it wasn’t about the sad times.

 

She could think back to her childhood and remember all of the birthday parties and all of the activities that she used to think were so boring when she was a kid but when she looked back on it, she loved going to the planetarium. She loved when her mother took them to a museum. When she was a little girl, she was so astonished that her mother knew everything or at least that's what it seemed like. She thought her mom was so classy and knowledgeable. So intelligent and sophisticated, when she walked into the room it was as if you could feel when grace and power became one.

 

As the years have gone by, that notion has only gotten stronger. She could see just how strong her mother was and still is. She still looked to her mother for that guidance. She was a mother now and she wanted to be able to show Hope that kind of strength. That was the strength that built her into being the woman she is today. The kind of heart that her mother showed her and her siblings was the reason she was able to love her own daughter with just as much ferocity.

 

The empathy she learned from Stephanie was the reason she could protect Hope from every single person whoever done wrong in that little girl’s life. She has seen her mother pick up the pieces through terrible events, she seen her mother survive when other people would break.

 

Being able to witness such a strength in a woman that she admires, admires more than anyone else in this world, made her believe that she can weather any storm. She could ride out any wave… Life may try to bend her, but she would not break. She would do anything to protect her family.

 

She remembered what it was like having her mother read to her at night and feeling as if she was the luckiest girl in the world. That her and her siblings were gifted with the best mom. It also gave her a template and she was going to give her love in more ways than one.

 

She wasn’t a kid anymore, as much as she loves her mother, she doesn’t need that kind of protection anymore. Stephanie raised someone who can defend themselves and stand to any foe. She was a mother now and she was going to be the best mother she could be tonight just only Hope, but the child that was growing inside her as well.

 

When Bridget got off the plane, she felt the biggest sense of relief. The air was different, the aura was different it was just like when she came here before, but it was different now. It was silent the last time she came here too… It was silent but you could feel the chaos. The city still needed help, but it was better now, this place led to the foundation of her love for her husband. Now it would be the foundation for her family.

 

She would still be Koko Douglas… But this new adventure would be the Chronicles of the Valentines.