Beca smiled as she shut down her music program and shut the lid of her laptop, rolling her chair backwards and taking an idle moment to stare out of the window. She’d made much more progress today than she had expected, having finished one song and written lyrics for a second one. And it wasn’t even noon yet.
<C> I miss you!
A smile instantly bloomed on her face upon reading Chloe’s message, and she wondered, for the millionth time, how she got to be so lucky.
<B> I miss you too! :(
<C> I got those swimming lessons sorted out BTW
<B> You’re the best
<B> Shouldn’t you be paying attention to your classes?
<C> I’m bored…
<B> You wouldn’t be if you were paying attention ;)
<C> What are you wearing?
Beca bit her lip for a moment, tapping her phone against the palm of her hand in thought.
<B> Really, Chlo? Now?
<C> Like I said… I’m bored…
<C> So what are you wearing?
<B> Dark jeans, and that purple sweater you steal all the time
<C> It’s soft and smells like you ;)
<C> I’m wearing jeans too, and my navy turtleneck
<B> I know
<B> I watched you get dressed this morning
<B> Because you’re awesome and told me to sleep in while you got Rose ready and dropped her off before going to your classes
<C> I am pretty awesome, yes
<C> What are you wearing underneath? :)
<B> For real? You’re really going to go through with this right now?? XD
<C> This lecture is really boring…
<C> And you’re really interesting ;)
<C> Gonna answer the question, Becs?
Biting her lip and remembering the outfits she’d bought only so very recently, Beca made a decision before she could get around to second-guessing herself.
<B> Red lace bra and panties
<B> They’re see-through…
<C> Liar. What you really wearing? ;)
<B> I’m not lying
<C> I think I’d know if you had something like that babe
<B> Maybe it’s new ;)
<C> Proof it!
Rolling her eyes and fondly shaking her head, Beca pushed off from her chair, making her way into her bedroom and digging up the specific set of lingerie she needed. Obviously, she hadn’t been wearing something this pretty just randomly on a Tuesday morning.
Knowing Chloe would be waiting - and would just love to be confirmed in calling Beca a liar - Beca hastily stripped out of her clothes, putting the new lingerie on and pulling her clothes on again. Making her way back to her office, she was just in time to read Chloe’s new message.
<C> Unless that makes you uncomfortable. I guess then I’ll check when I get home ;)
Huffing out a breathy laugh, she pushed her shirt up above her breasts, exposing the bra and snapping a quick selfie.
<B> Just make sure no one’s looking at your screen babe
Her phone remained quiet for several seconds, during which Beca tensely watched it to make sure she wouldn’t somehow miss Chloe’s response.
<C> I’m coming home right now
<B> You’ve got classes until 3. It’s 10 am.
<C> Screw classes. I’ll be home in 20
Beca let out a content sigh, eyes closed and hands tucked under her head. She was still waiting for the feeling in her legs to return, but she was pretty happy just laying here with Chloe’s head on her shoulder and her arm and leg thrown over her body, snuggled together under the blankets.
“You really shouldn’t have skipped class, you know,” she eventually murmured.
“You made it all but impossible for me not to,” Chloe grinned. “It was almost a shame to peel those pretty panties off of your amazing ass.”
“Keep that up and we’ll have to go for round four,” Beca groaned with a brief chuckle.
“As much as I’d love that, I don’t think I have the energy,” Chloe giggled in return. “How much longer until we need to pick Rose up?”
Turning her head to check the time, Beca let out a soft hum. “We have two more hours.”
“That’s good,” Chloe sighed happily.
“We should get up and get dressed,” Beca groaned. “Now that you’re here anyway, there’s actually something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
“Nothing bad, I promise,” Beca assured her. “C’mon, let’s put on some clothes and move to my office.”
Chloe was quiet and tense as they got dressed and made their way into Beca’s office, where she was sure to pull a chair up to her own side of the desk so they could sit side by side, rather than opposite one another.
“What’s this all about?” Chloe asked, worrying her bottom lip.
“When we first met, you applied for a job as Rose’s babysitter,” Beca smiled, taking Chloe’s hand into her own. “And in a very short time, everything escalated and now you’re my partner and we’re doing this whole co-parenting thing, which, by the way, is super awesome.”
“Obviously, since we’ve gotten together, I haven’t paid you anymore. That would just be weird and awkward.”
“I agree, but where are you going with this?”
“Chloe, I know that, with your studies, you’re not very financially stable at the moment, so-”
“Let me stop you right there, Becs,” Chloe smiled tensely. “I still have plenty of money left from the times you did pay me.”
“I know, I know. Or, well, I figured as much, I should say. That’s not what this is about.”
“So this isn’t about money?”
“It is,” Beca conceded. “I know you’ve been paying for our groceries, you paid for Rose’s haircut- And I know you didn’t mind, I know,” she continued before Chloe could interrupt. “But it’s not the way it should be.”
“Because Rose is your daughter and not mine?” Chloe asked, eyes narrowing slightly.
“Jesus, Chlo, no!” Beca balked. “That is so not what I was going to say!”
“Then what are you saying?”
“I’m trying to bring up the idea of sharing our finances,” Beca huffed. “But I seem to be doing it all wrong, I guess.”
“Beca,” Chloe started, voice softer now. “I’m not with you for the money.”
“I know that,” Beca nodded, squeezing Chloe’s hand. “Really, I do! And I’m not doing this because I think you’d leave me if I didn’t. If that were the case, it would be all the more reason not to do it. I’m doing this because…”
“Because I’m really serious about you, Chlo,” Beca breathed out, trying to gather her thoughts. “I know I’ve said it before, but I wouldn’t have let it come this far with you and Rose if I wasn’t sure about us. I’m serious about you, and I’m in this for the long run. This isn’t some kind of meaningless fling or anything… You’re my partner, the mother of my daughter - our daughter - and the woman I’m hoping to spend the rest of my life with.”
“I… I feel the same way,” Chloe sniffled, wiping at her eyes with the corner of her sleeves. “But the money…”
“It’s not about the money for me,” Beca explained. “The way I see it, you and I are equals in this. Eventually, you’re going to get through the money I paid you for the babysitting gig - let’s face it, you didn’t do it that long, right? And when that time comes… I don’t want you to have to come to me for money when you need to pay for something. If Rose needs new shoes, or if we want to do something fun… I want you to be able to pay for that with our money. Not yours, not mine.”
Chloe was silent for a minute, slowly nodding as she seemed to go over Beca’s words. “I… I get your point. I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet, but… it makes sense, if we’re really going to be equals in this relationship and in Rose’s upbringing.”
“And we are,” Beca told her firmly. “If you want that, too, of course. But… I’m pretty sure you do.”
“Right,” Chloe nodded, taking a steadying breath. “So, shared finances?”
Firing up her laptop, Beca gave a nod. “You don’t have to show me yours, but I want to show you mine, at least. I think I’ve told you that Benji takes care of most of it for me, but I think you should know where we stand, financially.”
“On top of Mount Olympus, I’m guessing,” Chloe smiled carefully.
“Pretty much,” Beca agreed, pulling a face. “It’s obscene. I’m ashamed to even show you.”
Logging in, Beca turned the laptop so Chloe would be able to see everything without having to crane her neck. “So, obviously, I’m rich. There, I said it,” she smiled awkwardly. “While I would have been fine just having it all in a savings account, Benji told me I was an idiot.”
“That’s…” Chloe stammered. “That’s a lot of money, babe.”
“Obviously, this is my account of regular expenses,” Beca pointed out, hovering the cursor over it. “And this is my personal savings account.”
“And those two?” Chloe asked, pointing. “If I may ask.”
“You can ask anything you want,” Beca told her, squeezing her knee. “The top one is a savings account I’ve set up for Rose. She won’t be able to access it until she’s eighteen, though. The one below that is basically her college fund, should she choose to go to college. If she won’t… Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. If you look here, off to the side? Those are my credit cards.”
“Okay, while these numbers are absolutely outrageous, this all seems pretty straightforward. I’m guessing the bit down there is the complicated bit?”
“Yeah,” Beca nodded. “That’s definitely where Benji’s expertise comes in. We’ve used a substantial amount of my money and invested it in shares, real estate and other fun stuff. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know how it all works exactly - that’s why I have Benji. If you want a rundown of it all, I can have him come over sometime.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Chloe smiled, pressing a kiss to Beca’s cheek. “Thank you for showing me all this. Can you explain how you envision this shared finances idea of yours?”
“Well, what I was thinking is we get Benji to add your name to these accounts - the expenses, savings and credit cards. I’m perfectly happy to get the investments in your name as well, but I don’t think that would have a lot of added benefit for you.”
“I guess it wouldn’t, no,” Chloe agreed. “If you’re sure you want this, then it’s fine with me, too.”
“Okay, cool,” Beca smiled, feeling a weight lift off her shoulders. “I’ll give Benji a call tomorrow and have it taken care of.”
“May I?” Chloe asked, gesturing to the laptop. At Beca’s nod, she pulled it towards her and began pulling up her own finances. “So, this is where I’m at.”
Beca had to admit that, compared to her own, it was rather a pitiful display. While there was enough money on Chloe’s expense account to last her for a while, and she’d funneled a good part of her paydays into her savings account, there was the matter of the glaring matter of her student loans and debts at the bottom of the page.
“Not pretty, huh?” Chloe grimaced.
“It is to be expected,” Beca shrugged easily. “I mean, c’mon, Chlo. You’re studying to be a vet, for crying out loud. Obviously you’re going to run up a debt.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Chloe agreed half-heartedly. “I guess I can put the money on my expense account into our shared account. If it’s alright with you, I’ll keep my own savings account, just in case…”
“In case we end up getting divorced,” Beca nodded. “I hope it’ll never come to that, but it’s the sensible thing to do. How do you feel about the student debts?”
“I’m not very fond of them,” Chloe pointed out dryly.
“I’m meaning to say,” Beca started, biting her lip for a moment. “I mean, you’ve seen my savings account. I can pay off your debt and it wouldn’t make much of a dent.”
“I… Can I think about that?”
“Of course,” Beca was quick to assure her. “I’m not trying to force my money on you or anything… I just… It seems like a logical thing if we’re doing the shared finances shtick. Just let me know when - if - you’ve made a decision, okay?”
“I will,” Chloe nodded. “Thanks for having this talk with me. I… It wasn’t really fun or romantic, but I think it was a good talk to have for us.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Beca nodded, shutting the lid of her laptop. “I’m glad we talked about it. Now… How do you feel about grabbing lunch before we pick our daughter up from school?”
“... And that’s it for tonight,” Chloe smiled, snapping the book closed and handing it to Beca, who placed it on Rose’s desk. “You ready to go to sleep, sweetie?”
“Not tired,” Rose murmured, eyes drooping to disprove her words. “Can we read more?”
“We’d never go to sleep if it were up to you, missy,” Beca grinned, ruffling Rose’s hair. “Chloe will read more tomorrow, okay?”
Rose nodded, albeit with a pouty expression. “Okay. Love you, momma. Love you, mommy!” she smiled tiredly, pushing herself up to kiss them both.
“We love you, sweetie. Now it’s time to close your eyes and get some sleep. Mrs. Johnson told me you’re learning a new letter tomorrow,” Chloe smiled, returning Rose’s hug and tucking her in when she dropped her head to the pillow.
“Sleep tight, kiddo,” Beca smiled, pressing one more kiss to her forehead before climbing down from the bed again. Turning off the light, they lingered in the hallway for a moment, listening to Rose’s even breaths before quietly closing the door.
“So,” Chloe grinned. “Now what?”
“We can go downstairs and watch a movie or something,” Beca smiled tiredly. “Or you could do some extra studying to make up for skipping your lectures today,” she added with a wink.
“Hard pass, thanks,” Chloe replied deadpan. “How about we grab our phones, something to drink and a book or something and just chill in bed until we feel like going to sleep?”
“Ugh, we’re such old people ,” Beca groaned with a smile. “That sounds like a real good plan.”
“I’ll go grab everything from downstairs,” Chloe told her with a playful tap to Beca’s butt. “You go and get that pretty old butt of yours in bed.”
Beca did exactly that, sighing contentedly as she slipped under the covers wearing only her panties. Chloe joined her a few minutes later, and Beca didn’t make a secret of her ogling when Chloe began undressing. “You’re so hot,” she smiled reverently.
“You’re one to talk,” Chloe grinned. “I was very pleasantly surprised by your choice of lingerie today.”
“That was the general idea I had in mind when I bought it, yes,” Beca nodded faux-seriously. “Glad I didn’t disappoint.”
“You could never.”
They cuddled up together, Chloe playing Candy Crush on her phone while Beca fired up her e-reader to continue where she’d left off last night. She was just getting into it when an incoming notification from her phone disturbed her.
Unlocking the screen, she noticed Stacie had sent her an email, opening the link, she suddenly found herself on Gail Abernathy’s blog.
DJ BM Better Be Prepared!
I know no one’s reading this anymore, and I’m just tossing words out into the ether tonight. After all, DJ BM manipulated all my followers into deserting me. But that is fine. It’s cool, no hard feelings.
I have nothing newsworthy to tell the select few readers still remaining. I wish I had better news, but that’s the truth. But I haven’t given up, I assure you!
I’m still fighting for our right to know the face behind the many masks. I want my fans to know that. I have a plan - several plans - to unmask DJ BM, and when I do, everyone will be sorry for unfollowing my blog.
I’m not a petty person (unlike SOMEONE we all know - or rather, don’t know) so I’m leaving this message here for DJ BM herself: I know you have your spies watching my blog - probably watching every move I make. I won’t hint at my plans, but I’ll warn you: if you want your identity to be kept a secret, you better watch your back!
This is Gail Abernathy, hot on the trail of DJ BM.
With a roll of her eyes and a frustrated sigh, Beca handed her phone to Chloe.
“Sounds like a rant more than anything else. What do you think she’s planning?”
“I have no clue, but I’m not too worried. I’ve been keeping this secret for years, I doubt there’s anything she can do that will jeopardize it.”
Chloe nodded, resting her head on Beca’s shoulder. “Will you ever go public?”
“Probably, in a few years,” Beca smiled with a careful nod, making sure not to jostle Chloe. “But I’ll do it on my own terms. Not on the terms of some attention-horny harpy.”
“Enough about her,” Chloe smiled, closing her mobile game and pulling up her browser. “Saturday’s going to be sunny and fairly mild, temperature-wise.”
“That’s nice,” Beca responded absent-mindedly. “What's Saturday?”
“I was thinking we could go to the zoo,” Chloe smiled up at her. “Unless you have something else planned?”
“No,” Beca shook her head. “The zoo sounds like a fun time.”
“Hm,” Chloe hummed. “They have a children’s program going in the afternoon. I was thinking we can do a lap of the zoo together, and then maybe have Rose join the feeding of the sea lions or something. Do you think she’d like that?”
“I bet she’d be so thrilled,” Beca grinned. “Do you think I’m tiny enough to join the children’s program?”
“Probably,” Chloe grinned in return. “Want me to put in a good word for you?”
“If it means I can help feeding the sea lions, sure thing.”
“Alright then,” Chloe hummed, lapsing into silence as she focused on her phone again. “Tickets purchased,” she piped up after a few minutes.
“You’re amazing, you know that?” Beca hummed, pressing a kiss to the red hair tickling against her throat.
“Oh, shut up, you.”
“Momma, where we going?” Rose asked from the backseat of the car, stuffed animal clutched to her chest.
“We’re going to the zoo, kiddo,” Beca smiled over her shoulder as Chloe navigated them through traffic. “There’s lots of animals there, and we are going to see them all!”
“Like the fishyplace?”
“Exactly, but with less fish, and other kinds of animals,” Beca smiled, chuckling at Rose’s little wiggle and toothy grin.
“Are we there yet?”
“Nope,” Beca laughed. “Why don’t you play with your monkey for a bit. We’ll be there before you know it.”
Traffic was, mercifully, light this morning, and it didn’t take them nearly as long as Beca had anticipated. Much like Rose in the backseat, Beca felt the excitement buzzing through her body once Chloe had parked the car and they made their way towards the entrance, both of them holding one of Rose’s hands.
Admittance was expedited by Chloe, who flashed the tickets she had purchased online, accepting the little booklet and the map as they passed through the gates. Instantly, Rose began walking faster, and Beca was vaguely aware of the fact she was all too eager to run on ahead as well. “So where to?”
Chloe smiled at them fondly, placing the stuff they had received in her purse. “Alright, babe, if you two go on straight ahead, you’ll get to the tropical zone. There’s lemurs there, I’m sure you two will love it. I’ll join you in a second.”
“Where are you going?” Rose pouted.
Beca watched as Chloe knelt down next to her. “I’m going to arrange a fun surprise for you, and then I’ll be right behind you, okay?”
“Okay!” Rose chirped, toddling off and pulling Beca with her. Beca made sure to keep a tight hold on Rose’s hand as they stepped into the dimly lit tropical area, Rose instantly squealing at one of the tropical-looking birds that strutted around. “Momma, momma!”
“I see it, kiddo,” Beca grinned. “Isn’t it pretty?”
“Yeah,” Rose breathed, face a perfect study of amazement and wonder. “So pretty.”
Beca was just about to reach for her phone to take a picture when something black-and-white flashed through her periphery, drawing her attention. “Look, Rose!” Beca whispered, eyes wide with amazement. “Those are lemurs!” she repeated Chloe’s words, hoping she wasn’t making an idiot of herself.
“Monkeys!” Rose squealed, skipping forward for a closer look. Beca followed suit, smiling as the lemurs appeared as intrigued by them as they themselves were, studying them with their bright orange eyes, their little heads cocked sideways. “I want one!” Rose declared.
“I bet you do, sweetie,” Chloe grinned, stepping up next to them. “But they need a lot of space and they always need to be really warm, so they wouldn’t be happy in our home.”
“Did you manage alright?” Beca asked behind Rose’s back, their daughter too occupied by another bird flitting by.
“Of course I did,” Chloe smiled easily. “Come on, let’s keep going, see if we can’t find a few more lemurs, hm?”
It took them twenty minutes to get through the tropical zone. Rose was only willing to follow them after Chloe promised there were more animals for them to see in the other areas, and Beca had no doubt Rose would’ve been perfectly happy just having seen the birds and lemurs before going home.
Her excitement was infectious, and Beca felt herself looking forward to the next habitat as they followed Chloe down the path. “What is that racket?” she asked as they left the tropical zone behind them.
“Those be the sea lions,” Chloe grinned over her shoulder. “They’ll be the last stop. For, y’know, reasons.”
“Right,” Beca nodded.
“Momma, real monkeys!”
“I see them!” Beca laughed freely, watching the monkeys on a large slab of stone, fleaing one another and playing around.
“Those are called Snow Monkeys,” Chloe told them. “They’re native to Asia.”
“What’s Asia?” Rose asked, looking up at them.
“It’s a place very, very far away,” Chloe explained with a smile. Beca joined Rose near the railing, amusedly watching the monkeys fooling around with each other, chasing around their habitat in the most chaotic game of tag she’d ever seen. She was all too aware of Chloe, snapping pictures of them from the side.
“C’mon, you need to be in the pictures too,” Beca smiled, taking her phone and stepping up to an elderly pair a few steps away. “Excuse me, would you mind taking a quick picture of us three?”
“Of course,” the man smiled, taking her phone and taking a few steps in their direction. “Smile for the camera, ladies!” he beamed.
“Thank you so much,” Beca smiled once she got her phone back, looking at the picture. “I’m going to have this one framed back home.”
“As you should, dear,” the woman smiled. “You three make a pretty picture.”
“Thank you,” Chloe smiled kindly. “Enjoy your day!”
“Where to now, mommy?” Rose asked, pulling on the sleeve of Chloe’s coat. “Where to?”
“Let’s go that way,” Chloe guided them along.
They spent an inordinate amount of time watching the bears, lazily roaming around and playing with some toys the caretakers must have left for them. Rose was over the moon, obviously wanting to take one home because they were so cuddly, and Chloe showed great patience in convincing Rose that wasn’t a good idea.
The penguins, too, were a great success. Rose vividly remembered them from the aquarium, but that didn’t seem to detract anything from her joy of experiencing them again. Beca had to admit it was amazing to watch them dive into the water from their perches on the rocks, effortlessly moving around like little winged torpedoes.
“We should head over to the sea lions,” Chloe interrupted them all too soon.
“The final stop?” Beca asked, eyebrow raised.
“No, but we’re taking a little longer than I’d anticipated,” Chloe grinned with a crinkled nose. “Wouldn’t want to be late for Rose’s surprise, hm? We can visit the other animals afterwards.”
“Can we go back to the bears, too?” Rose asked, eyes large and hopeful.
“Sure thing, sweetie,” Chloe smiled fondly. “C’mon, we need to go this way.”
“Bye!” Rose called to the penguins, waving excitedly.
They joined a small and modest crowd standing in front of the sea lion exhibit. “Mommy, seals!” Rose yelped.
“Those are sea lions,” Chloe corrected her. “Aren’t they cool?”
“Yeah,” Rose breathed out. “I want one!”
“You can’t kiddo,” Beca laughed. “You should know that by now.”
“They’d be unhappy,” Rose nodded wisely, parroting Chloe’s words from earlier.
“Welcome everyone!” one of the caretakers called to them all. “It’s lunch time for the sea lions! Now, who wants to help me feed them?”
Predictably, Rose jumped up and down eagerly. “Momma, mommy, can I?”
“Yes you can,” Beca smiled, ruffling her hair and gently pushing her forward, watching her join all the other kids around the caretaker, who went on to explain that sea lions eat fish, and how they were going to go about it.
“Thank you for setting all this up, Chlo,” Beca smiled, eyes never leaving Rose, who intently listened to the caretaker’s instructions. “This is going to be all she talks about for forever.”
“I’m glad she’s enjoying herself so much,” Chloe grinned excitedly. “What about you?”
“This is really awesome,” Beca smiled, taking her phone out and filming as Rose reached into the bucket the caretaker held out and grabbed a fish, pulling a face at the slippery texture, before excitedly tossing it into the water, where a sea lion immediately snapped it up, earning himself a lot of squealing and clapping from the children. “I can’t believe I’ve never been here.”
“Neither can I,” Chloe shrugged. “I’m just glad we can do stuff like this together.”
“Yeah, me too.”
They watched - and filmed - Rose throwing four more fish into the water, each one gulped up by one of the sea lions.
“Great job, you all!” the caretaker gushed with genuine enthusiasm. “You’ve been such a great help! Now, let’s all go wash your hands, okay? Get all that fish slime off your hands before we get you back to your parents!”
“Momma, momma! Did you see me throw the fish?!” Rose squeaked as she returned to them, visibly vibrating with all the excitement.
“I sure did!” Beca smiled, reaching down and lifting Rose, resting her weight against her hip. “Oof, Chloe was right, you are getting heavy.”
“No I’m not!” Rose giggled.
“Alright, Chloe, you’re the tour guide. Where to now?”
“Snow leopards,” Chloe nodded decidedly. “Over yonder. A little ways past the bears.”
Ten minutes later, they actually reached the cat habitat, where several snow leopards were lazing around in the sun, cleaning themselves or feasting on large chunks of meat scattered around the area. They were magnificent beasts, and it was with some reluctance Beca eventually followed Rose and Chloe towards the next area.
“Holy fudging heck!” Beca gasped upon rounding the bend. “Are those…?”
“Red pandas,” Chloe grinned, urging them forward. “Figured you’d like those.”
“They are so adorable!” Beca gushed, leaning on the railing.
“Careful you don’t fall in, babe,” Chloe chuckled.
“Look at those little faces!” Beca squealed, pointing wildly. “And those fluffy tails!”
“They’re lazy,” Rose pointed out, most of them sleeping or sluggishly climbing around the trees. “Just like momma!” she added with a toothy grin.
“Hey!” Beca gasped. “I heard that, missy!”
Chloe laughed loudly when Rose merely stuck out her tongue.
“I think I’ll leave you here,” Beca teased Rose, “and I’ll take one of them home with me!”
“Noo, momma!” Rose grinned. “They wouldn’t be happy in our house!”
“Hm, okay, I guess we’ll keep you then,” Beca smiled, tickling Rose’s sides. “Can we stay here for a bit?” she asked Chloe.
“As long as you feel like,” she nodded. “There’s a cafe right over there, I was thinking we’ll have lunch there, when you two are up for it.”
“Mommy has the best ideas!” Rose squealed happily.