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I Want You to Know

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“Reflections”

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Amanda’s Apartment - Tuesday Night

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Amanda was able to find and book a late night flight to Atlanta so Sonny headed over to her place to start staying with the girls that night. They figured it was easier for him to look after them at her apartment while she was away.

When Sonny got to the apartment he used his key and quietly let himself in, as Amanda requested he did. As he entered he could hear her talking to Jesse and Billie in their bedroom.

“Ok girls Sonny will be here any second.” Amanda said as she tucked Billie into her bed a little tighter. “I want you to listen and do what he says while I’m gone, alright? No talking back and no trying to negotiate.”

Both Jesse and Billie nodded.

Amanda then quickly gave each of her daughters a kiss goodnight and goodbye, turned the lights off, exited their bedroom and then closed the door behind her.

She looked a bit surprised, but happy to see Sonny standing in the living room.

“You said to just let myself in when I got here so—“

“I did.” Amanda said cutting him off. “And I’m glad you’re here. I just called for a taxi before I got the girls settled for bed and it should be here soon.”

He nodded and watched as she headed toward the kitchen counter and grab a piece of paper.

“I know you know how to care for the girls.” Amanda felt the need to reiterate. “But I wrote up just a few reminder notes for you. Like the days and times they have dance, which has changed since you used to take them, and when Jesse has play practice. I also listed some of the quirky things I typically did for them when we were together that they’ll need you to do.”

Sonny raised an eyebrow at her. “Like what?”

“Ya know, clipping their toenails. Brushing Billie’s teeth.” Amanda blushed a bit as she thought about all of the not so pleasant tasks on her note sheet.

She handed them the paper and bit her lip as she watched Sonny look over it. But to her surprise he didn’t seem bothered by anything on it.

“I won’t forget to do the nails, Billie’s teeth or anythin’ else on this.” He said to her, smiling. “I appreciate the cheat sheet.”

Sonny then changed the subject. “Now I have a reminder for you.”

He folded up the paper, put it in his pocket and then placed his hands on Amanda’s shoulders. “I know your primary focus while down there is to take care of your dad, as it should. Just don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Make sure you eat and rest when you can, Ok?”

Amanda nodded. “I will. I promise.”

Just then her cell started buzzing. “My cab’s here.”

They both headed toward the door together. Amanda then put on her coat, boats and picked up her suitcase.

“Let me know when you land.” He told her. “I don’t care how late it is.”

She nodded. “OK.”

Amanda then leaned in and hugged him. “Thanks again for staying with the girls.”

“Of course.” He whispered into her ear.

When they finally broke apart they stared deeply into each other’s eyes for a little while longer before Amanda finally opened up the door and exited the apartment.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Wednesday morning was the trio’s first full day together.

“How long will mom be gone for?” Jesse asked as she shoved a spoonful of oatmeal into her mouth.

“I’m not sure Jess.” Sonny said as he poured her a glass of milk. “Hopefully not too long.”

She took a sip of her milk. “I hope grandpa’s gonna be okay.”

“Me too.” Sonny told her. “Me too.”

Just then Billie, with her wild, staticky blonde hair, came storming into the kitchen but as she started to head toward the table to eat her breakfast, Sonny stopped her.

“Wait.”

The little girl froze in place.

He then bent down and motioned for Billie to come over to him.

“We gotta brush those teeth first.” Sonny said to her. “Mom will be mad at me if I let you go to preschool with morning breath. I’ll be fast and gentle, I promise.”

Billie sighed, but nodded. The two then headed off to the bathroom together.

As promised, Sonny brushed Billie’s teeth as tenderly and quickly, yet thoroughly, as he could.

Once he finished Billie gave him a big smile. “That wasn’t so bad.”

“I told ya.” He said as he lifted her from off the bathroom counter.

“I like it better when you do it.” She told him honestly. “But don’t tell mommy.”

Sonny chuckled. “My lips are sealed.”

The duo then walked back into the kitchen. Billie joined Jesse at the kitchen table and began eating her oatmeal, while Sonny finished up his now lukewarm cup of coffee.

A few minutes later Jesse brought her empty bowl to the sink. “Don’t forget to do Billie’s hair.” She reminded him.

Sonny nodded but internally cringed at the thought of it. Though he could do ponytails and braid well, Billie had woken up looking like she had just been electrocuted and he didn’t have the slightest idea on what to do with her hair.

Jesse, sensing his hesitance, reassured him. “Don’t worry. I can show you what mom does to Billie’s hair when she wakes up with it looking like that.”

He smiled down at her.

Once Billie was done with her breakfast, the three gathered together in the living room and Sonny started on the four year old’s hair.

“Spray this in it.” Jesse told him as she handed him a bottle of hair product. “Then comb it.”

Sonny did as Jesse said and after about a minute Billie’s hair started to return to the state he was used to seeing it in. He mouthed ‘thank you’ to Jesse and gave her a wink.

“So Billie, how do you want your hair today?”

“Can I have a braid?” She asked hopefully.

Sonny nodded and went to work. He quickly brushed her long blonde hair into a ponytail, braided it and then added a pink headband that closely matched the pink sweater she was wearing.

“What ya think?” He asked both girls, handing Billie a small hand mirror.

“I like it!” Billie exclaimed.

Jesse grinned and gave him a thumbs up.

“Ok, time to head out.”

Jesse collected the hair supplies and went to put them away while Sonny helped Billie get her sneakers on and tie them. About a minute later, Jesse came running back into the living room area. She quickly put on her shoes and both girls then put on their jackets and grabbed their backpacks and lunch boxes. As they did, Sonny retrieved his briefcase from the bedroom and put on his coat. Once everyone was all set the trio left the apartment and were off on their way to school and work.

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Atlanta

Hospital - Early Wednesday Afternoon

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While Jim didn’t have a severe, life-alternating heart attack, he was going to need to spend the next 2-4 days in the hospital and then require some at home assistance for a couple of weeks. Amanda, not wanting to be away from the girls for too long, decided she would stay for up to three weeks and then hire a nurse to check on Jim, as needed, if he hadn’t recovered enough to be on his own by that point.

Though Amanda got to Atlanta the night before, Jim had to remain in the coronary care unit (CCU) for 24 hours so she was only now finally getting the chance to see and spend some time with him.

“You thirsty?” She asked her dad as she pointed toward the cup of water on the end table by his bedside.

He nodded so Amanda picked up the cup and held the straw up to his mouth. Jim took a few sips and then motioned to her that he didn’t want anymore so she set it back down on the table.

“Are you comfortable?” She asked as stood up and fluffed his pillow.

“You don’t need to baby me.” Jim said as he adjusted himself in the bed slightly to get more comfortable. “It wasn’t a widowmaker.”

Amanda sighed. “Well it wasn’t exactly minor either.”

“I’ll be fine.” He tried to reassure her, though failing miserably.

“Not if you don’t stop smokin’ and don’t start eating better and exercising more.”

“Where are the girls?” Jim asked, changing the subject.

Amanda, though realizing he was trying to deflect, decided to let it go for now.

“New York.” Amanda said as she ran a hand through her messy blonde locks and sat down in the seat next to him. “Jesse and Billie need to be in school. Even if they didn’t the hospital isn’t allowing kids their age to visit.

“Sonny looking after them?”

Amanda nodded.

He smiled softly. “I’m so glad you finally went for the good guy.”

Amanda smiled, but internally cringed. She was feeling pretty bad about the fact that her and Sonny had broken up nearly three months ago at this point and she hadn’t bothered to tell her dad. Not wanting to potentially give Jim another heart attack by telling him the news, she thought it would be best to leave it alone for now.

“You two ever gonna get married?” He asked, curiously.

Amanda shot him a look.

“It’d be nice if he did it before I croaked.” Jim said interrupting. “That’s all I’m saying.”

She sighed. “Dad don’t talk like that.”

While Amanda was now certain she was not going to tell her dad about the break up, she thought he might enjoy good news of some sort.

“So I’m not engaged but I do have somethin’ good to tell you.” Amanda said to him. “Sonny and I are going to have a baby.”

Jim, though a bit surprised, grinned. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandpa again.”

Amanda smiled softly. “Yup. For the last time. Well, from me anyway.”

Jim nodded slowly. “It’s good that at least one of us in this family of ours was finally able to get their act together. And hopefully you keep it together. It’s not often you find someone who fits you like a glove and is willing to do anything for you. Like take care of kids that aren’t his for weeks while you come to look after your old man.”

“You should get some rest, Dad.” Amanda said, changing the subject. “I’ll sit here with you while you do. I won’t leave.”

Jim, who was feeling a bit tired, just nodded. He then closed his eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep.

As he slept she couldn’t help but think of what he had said. She hated that when it came to her romantic life her father, of all people, seemed to always be right. He was right about the reason she used to date losers and he’s right about the fact that Sonny is a really good guy. One who understands her better than anyone and who, despite their present circumstances, would still do anything for her. Even brush her four year old’s teeth.

“Why am I not fighting harder to hold on to him?” She whispered to herself.

Amanda sighed as she stared aimlessly out of the window, pondering her life. While she wanted to take a stab at saving what they had, she wasn’t sure if she had the guts to put her heart out there on the line. What if he crushed it?

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New York City

Amanda’s Apartment - Wednesday Evening

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Sonny’s busy workday flew by and before he knew it he was back at the apartment again with the girls, helping Jesse with her homework and Billie with an art project while cooking dinner. It was hectic for sure, but he was enjoying it.

“What are we having for dinner?” Billie asked as she put away her green crayon and grabbed a red one.

“Eggplant parm.” Sonny told her as he opened up the oven and checked on it.

Unbeknownst to Sonny, Billie made a face, even though she had never even had it before. Jesse caught it and whispered to her. “You better eat it. Us not listening is the reason mom and Sonny broke up. If we listened more they’d still be together.”

Sonny, having overheard what Jesse said, felt terrible that his and Amanda’s arguing had indeed been overheard, and overheard incorrectly, by the girls. It crushed him to hear Jesse’s thoughts and he immediately sought to rectify the situation.

“Jesse,” Sonny began as he took a seat at the kitchen table across from both girls. “Your mom and I didn’t break up because of somethin’ you or Billie did or didn’t do. It’s not your fault and I don’t want either of you thinkin’ that.”

“Then why did you?” She asked.

Sonny ran a hand through his hair. “It’s…complicated Jess.”

“But you still love mom, don’t you?”

“I do.” He answered honestly, then redirected the conversation. “I also love the both of you a whole lot. And even though our family looks a little differently than it used to, we’re still a family and I’ll always be there for you two, OK?”

“But our family shouldn’t have to look differently than it used to.” Jesse retorted. “You love mom and she loves you. You love us and we love you. People who love each other, should be together.”

Sonny found himself at a loss for words. While her logic was simple and didn’t take into account all the various variables that made it difficult for him and Amanda to reconcile, Jesse’s proclamation got to him. If him and Amanda still truly loved each other as much as they claimed to, than they should be willing to do whatever it takes to make their relationship work so they all COULD be together. But Liv was right. They hadn’t.

As Sonny sat thinking, the oven timer went off, forcing him to temporarily put his thoughts on hold.

While he took the eggplant out of the oven and began plating their food, the girls cleared the kitchen table of their things and went to wash their hands. They emerged back into the kitchen a few minutes later and took their seats at the table. Sonny placed one plate down in front of Jesse and the other in front of Billie. It had been a while since he cooked for the girls and he wasn’t quite sure how receptive Billie would be to it, but he was hoping she’d give the eggplant a try.

“I know mommy said not to ‘gotiate,” Billie told him. “But can we do what her and I do for dinner sometimes?”

“What’s that?” Sonny asked curiously.

“How about I try three bites.” She said pointing to the eggplant. “If I don’t like it I don’t have to eat anymore, but I’ll eat everything else.” Billie then pointed to the linguine and the salad.

Sonny raised an eyebrow and smirked. “What a great idea. I wonder where she got it from?”

He extended his hand out to the four year old. “Ok Billie. Deal.” And the two shook.

Sonny watched as Billie took a bite of the eggplant.

She chewed it very slowly and after a few moments a big smile spread across her face and her eyes lit up. “It’s really good!” Billie then took a bigger bite.

Sonny grinned, happy that she branched out and tried it out. But also because he found it endearing how the expression on Billie’s face in that moment reminded him so much of Amanda. It was an expression he hadn’t seen in a while and missed a great deal.

Just then, Sonny’s cell, which was sitting on the counter, buzzed. He went to go look at it and cringed when he saw it was a text from Meghan asking where he was. It had completely slipped his mind that he had made plans a couple days ago to make her dinner at his place tonight. It wasn’t even until that very moment he realized he hadn’t even told Meghan that he would be taking care of Jesse and Billie for the next couple of weeks while Amanda was out of town. He knew he had a lot of explaining to do and that it should be done in person.

He texted Meghan, apologizing for being a no show and asked if she could meet him in an hour at a coffee shop to talk.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Sonny asked Amanda’s neighbor, who sometimes babysat the girls, to watch them for a bit so he could meet up with Meghan.

When he got to the coffee shop she was already sitting at a booth waiting for him and she didn’t look very happy.

“Hey.” He said as he took a seat.

Meghan wasted no time getting to the topic at hand. Or at least what she thought would be the topic at hand. “Where were you?” She asked. “If something came up at work you could’ve told me.”

Sonny ran a hand through his disheveled hair. “It didn’t. Honestly, it just…slipped my mind. Some stuff came up and—“

“Like what?” Meghan asked, cutting him off.

He sighed. “Amanda’s dad, who lives in Georgia, had a heart attack. He lives alone, with no family around to help him out so she flew down to take care of him. Someone needed to take care of the girls for her while she’s gone—“

“So she asked you?” Meghan asked raising an eyebrow.

Sonny shook his head no. “She didn’t ask, I offered.”

“Why?” Meghan asked, looking genuinely confused. “Why isn’t their dad or an actual relative staying with them? I’d understand if your baby was here and you were taking care of him or her while she was away, but her daughters from a previous relationship? Isn’t that kind of weird?”

Sonny remained quiet for a bit as he contemplated her questions. Volunteering to watch his ex girlfriend’s children was probably one of those things Amanda had mentioned during their trip to the doctor’s office that in her words ‘no woman was going to put up with.’ Still, as weird as it may seem to outsiders for him to be looking after Jesse and Billie, it wasn’t to him.

“No it’s not.” He said to her honestly. “Because she doesn’t have much family and the girls’ dads, yes they each have different dads, aren’t actively involved in their lives. But I have been. Since they were both born. Before Amanda and I were even a thing. I love Jesse and Billie so much and think of them as my daughters. Because they are in every way that truly matters. So of course I would offer to take care of them for her. My devotion to them doesn’t just suddenly stop because my relationship with their mother ended.”

Sonny paused for a moment and then continued on. “I didn’t go into all of this with you before because after Amanda and I split she wanted time to think about what my relationship with the girls should be post break up. Ultimately she decided she wanted it to continue as it was, which I’m extremely grateful for. So moving forward, they’re going to be in my life in the exact same way that my baby on the way will be and treated no differently.”

A stunned Meghan sat quietly for what seemed like a long while before finally responding. “Sonny this is a lot to process.”

He nodded. “I know. I can see your strugglin’ to understand and accept this dynamic I have with Amanda and her girls. Which makes me think this is a sign we should stop this while it’s still undefined. Because while I get that this is all far from conventional, it’s my life and whoever I’m with needs to be OK with it.”

Meghan stayed silent for a few moments as she pondered his words and then nodded her head slowly. “Maybe you’re right.” She said to him quietly.

She left money at the table, more than enough to cover the coffee she hadn’t touched, blinked back her tears and got up from the booth. “See you around Dominick.”

Meghan then quickly left the coffee shop.

He sighed and rubbed his temples. He could tell that Meghan had been taking whatever it was they were doing more seriously than he had and more seriously than she initially planned on and felt bad about hurting her. But it was better that it ended now. Especially since, while everything he told her was 100% true, his heart was still with Amanda. It wasn’t fair to Meghan or himself to keep things going when he knew he felt this way.

While Sonny didn’t know what the future had in store for him and Amanda, he knew he didn’t want that situation holding him back from going all in and figuring it out when she returned home. He just hoped he had the nerve to take the step when she did.