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"Hurry and up and finish your breakfast you guys! We have a busy day today!" I told my two kids from my spot at the counter. Abigail, my three year old daughter, smiled at me with a mouth full of waffles.
"Chew your food before opening your mouth Abigail." I scolded her lightly.
"Yes ma'am." She told me before going back to her waffles. I smiled at how respectful my daughter was. Wherever I go I always see moms and dad auguring with their kids that were Abigail's age. I was glad neither Masen, my one year old son, or Abigail were like that. They were both very respectful and knew when either Jace or I said not to do something or even to do something they did it without complaint. I still remember when Abigail first got a glimpse of tough Jace when she disobeyed him. She was just one year old when it happened.
Jace was sitting at the table trying to get some paperwork in order for a test he had at school next week and I was mopping the kitchen floor trying to get some of the stains out from the kool-aid I had split earlier. I focused on the stain that I was scrubbing willing it to come up mentally. I was so lost in my work that it startled me when Jace spoke suddenly.
"Don't you come in this kitchen Abigail Grace." Jace told her sternly and I agreed. It was way to slippery in here. She could fall and hurt herself. I still remember the look of defiance on her face as she looked Jace directly in the eye, lifted her left foot and very deliberately angled her foot so that only the toe of her foot touched floor. I think she even smiled a little.
Jace stood up slowly and walked over to her and kneeled down so that he could look her in the eye without bending. Grabbing her lightly by her arm he gave her a hard pop to her butt. She immediately started crying, but Jace's stern look didn't waver.
"Look at me young lady." And she did. " When daddy or mommy says do something you do it. So when I say don't come into the kitchen you don't come in here. If something like this happens again you can get another spanking and a time out. Do you understand me?" He asked her, forcing her to met his eyes. Which we deadly serious.
"Yea." She mumbled and look back down at her feet, shifting the back and forth.
"Yes sir." Jace corrected giving her another light pop.
"Yes sir." She repeated. He nodded, satisfied that he seemed to get through to her.
He let her go. "Good, now go pick up your toys and then go get you shoes that way we can go get something to eat." He told her.
"Yes sir." She said before scurrying off to do what he said.
She never disobeyed or said just 'yeah' again after that day.
Even though Jace wasn't here to discipline Masen I did exactly what Jace did whenever Abigail did something wrong even thought it killed me to see him cry. I held my ground because I knew it would be better for both me and him in the long run. Honestly, I don't how Jace did it that whole first year. I would have surely caved.
I sighed as I thought of my Jace. I haven't seen him in over two years since he went overseas in Afghanistan. Even though I was so, so proud of him for what he was doing for his country and his family I worried about him constantly. Was he okay?, Is he alive?, Where is he? All these question were going through my head 24/7. I couldn't help but want him here, safe, and holding me that way I could never let him go. We had just graduated high school and I was starting going to school that fall to be a teacher for first grade and Jace was going to college to go into construction. He had always loved building and creating things. In fact, he was the one who built the tree house in our backyard.
I was devastated when Jace told me he signed up for the Army a year after college. I cried for days and even though Jace tired to comfort me I couldn't help but keep thinking.
What if he didn't come back? That was my biggest worry. Never seeing him again, but even though I was worried so bad it literally made me sick to my stomach I sucked it up and supported him. Because I knew that is what he would have done for me.
He was deployed two months later. He stayed away for two years and didn't come back until three days after his 22nd birthday. That was the longest time we had ever been apart since we had started dating in high school and it was the hardest time of my life. I had my friends and family there to comfort me and hold me because it wasn't' my Jace holding me. He came back and we got to stay together for a whole year and then he got called back into to service.
It was a little bit easier this time because he was stationed where there were telephones and he could call every now and then. Hearing his voice made it so much easier but then he would go months at a time when he couldn't call and that was when my worries were at their highest. He stayed away for a year again before they sent him back and when he walked off that plane I could felt peace only Jace brought, but all good things must come to an end.
Jace got to stay home for another year and that was the year that we had our precious baby girl. Our little Abigail. I was grateful that he was there for her birth. Jace was ecstatic when he got to see Abigail and hold her for the first time. He even cried and Jace never cries. I have only seen him cry twice and that was at our wedding and then with Abigail. He was a strong man. He got to stay with us the whole first year of her life which was when that whole kitchen thing happened and then he was deployed again.
He stayed gone a year and then came back home a few weeks after Abigail had turned two and then our little Masen Lucas Wayland was conceived. He didn't get to stay for Masen's birth which I know killed him because he got to be there for all of Abigail's firsts and I know he wanted to be there for Masen too. I made sure to record everything. It wouldn't be the same as seeing it first hand, but I know he would appreciate the gesture. Masen is now one and has never met his father. He hasn't asked about him and I not worried if he does. It saddens me because he should have met Jace by now.
"Mommy! I done!" Masen sweet voice pulled me from my memories and I couldn't help but smile. I turned to see that Masen was standing at me feet holding his plate up to me with a smile. I leaned down and gave him a peck on the cheek and he turned a little pink. Masen was my own little mini Jace. He got everything from Jace. Blonde, curly hair, dimples and the whitest teeth you ever did see. Only thing he didn't get from Jace was my freckles and green eyes.
"Thank you buddy." He nodded. I placed his plate in the sink before going to clear off the table and placing those in the sink as well.
"OK!" I clapped my hands. "Time for baths and then we have to clean the house before we met Aunt Isabelle and Grandma Mayrse for lunch."
"Yes ma'am." They both said together. I smiled and lead them into the bathroom that they shared upstairs.
"Stay here." I said to them. Running into Abigail's room I grabbed some underwear, pair of jeans, long-sleeved shirt, and socks before grabbing a gray hoodie and her fur boots. After I had that I quickly ran to Masen's room and grabbed the same thing for him except I grabbed him a jacket and sneakers.
I met them back in the bathroom where they were both waiting patiently. I smiled at them.
"Abigail you go clean you room while I get your brother ready."
"Yes ma'am." She said and went to her room. Turning toward Masen he had a pout on his face because I made him go first. I filled the tub with water and bubble bath while he took off his clothes. I placed him in the tub when it was full and washed his hair and body until he was squeaky clean. Wrapping him in a towel I dried him off and put his clothes on him and brushed his hair.
"Go clean your room and send you sister in." I told him. He mumbled 'Yes ma'am' and a few seconds later Abigail trudged into them room and got the same thing done to her. When she was dressed I blow dried her blond hair and pulled it back in a clip and she all but ran out of the bathroom. Rolling my eyes I picked up the bathroom and check the kids' room before going downstairs. There really wasn't much to clean beside picking up some toys, vacuuming and loading the dishwasher.
"Masen, Abigail!" I called and there came trampling down the stairs and stood in front of me. I smiled at my kids. They were so sweet!
"Masen you pick up the toys and put them in the bucket. " He nodded and ran off. I turned to my daughter. Grabbing a wet rag I handed it to her.
"You wipe off the table." She nodded at me and got to work. In less that two hours we had the house sparkling clean and I decided I needed a shower myself as I looked at the sweat on my arms. I peeked into the living room where the kids were quietly watching some T.V.
"I am going to take a shower. Be good." They both smiled and I walked up the stairs. Walking into my bathroom I stripped my clothes, turned on the shower, and jumped in. I scrubbed all the sweat and grime off me making myself a whole lot better.
When I was done I shut the water off and stepped out, wrapping a towel around me and drying myself off thoroughly. I dug up a pink lace bra and matching boy shorts and pulled them on before slipping on some dark wash jeans and light pink shirt. Putting socks on my little feet and my light brown fur boots on along with my gray hoodie that read AERO '87 across the front and letting my hair dry naturally in its curls I was ready to go.
I found Masen and Abigail in the position I left them in expect they were watching a different show. They were so into it they didn't even notice me walking in.
"Let's go guys." I told them. "Shut everything off!" I hollered behind me as I went into the kitchen and swiped up my car keys up and headed to the door. The kids met me there and we walked out together. I turned back to lock the door before walking to the car and helping both of them get buckled in before I buckled myself in and slowly back out of the driveway and in the direction of the restaurant I was meeting Isabelle and Mayrse at.
"Clary!" Isabelle squealed as Masen, Abigail, and I took a seat. She came over a gave us all a hug and Mayrse did the same before they both took a seat across the table. We chatted about how our week went before the waiter showed up and asked us for our orders.
Isabelle ordered a salad and an iced-tea and Mayrse had the same expect she had diet coke with hers.
"I'll have the chicken salad with low fat dressing and a lemonade. She'll have the chicken finger plate and a small coke with fires and he'll have the same thing expect with tator tots." Luke, our waiter, smiled, took our menus and retreated to the kitchen to place our orders.
"I have to go to the ladies' room. Be right back." Isabelle told us and a few seconds later Mayrse excused herself. I looked at them strangely, but really didn't think about it too much. It really wasn't that weird that they had to go, was it? I shook my head and smiled at the waiter who was sitting our food on the table.
"Thank you." I told him smiling and he smiled slightly before turning and walking away. I didn't want to be rude so I waited for Isabelle and Mayrse to return. I didn't have to wait for them and soon enough we were all laughing and chatting about a story Isabelle had just told us.
"So, Clary, do you have any idea when Jace is coming home?" Isabelle asked my casually as she took a bite of her salad and a sip of her tea. I shook my head sadly.
"Nope. I hope it's soon though." I admitted and they nodded because they did too.
We were quiet for a little while before Isabelle spoke up and I immediately wished she hadn't. Not that I didn't love her. I just didn't love the words that came out of her mouth.
"Clary," Isabelle started cautiously, "me and mom sort of have a surprise for you." I sighed and opened my mouth to protest, but Isabelle cut me off.
"Please Clary! I know you will love it!" I sighed. Usually when she said that she was right. Nodded my head the both squealed and ran off leaving me sitting there. They were back a few minutes later. Isabelle's face suddenly appeared in front of me and I let out a little squeak. She held up a blindfold. I sighed and motioned for her to put it on. She did so and I stood there and waited for what was bound to come.
I watched as Isabelle blindfolded my Clary and turned her in my direction. My heart clenched in the best way as I watched my wife pout. She looked even more beautiful than the day I left two years ago. I can't believe that I am about to get to hold her, kiss her, just be with her. Of course she has no idea what is about to hit her, but I don't think she will mind it. I have missed her like crazy. I am so grateful that this was my last my last tour and I would be honorably discharged after this and I could stay with my family; for good.
My gaze slid from Clary to my precious daughter. I couldn't believe that she was three years old. She didn't look much different other than her height and she had gained some weight. Abigail was a perfect mix between me and Clary. She had my blond hair, but Clary's curls. She had Clary's freckles, but my nose and eyes. She was still my baby girl after all this time and always will be.
Finally my eyes rested on my son I was about to meet for the first and my heart stopped for a minute. He looked just like me. All the way from his hair, to his build, to his cheek structure. The only thing different was his eyes and freckles which was all Clary.
My heart clenched as it dawned on me that this kid was a complete stranger to me. He was my son and I knew absolutely nothing about him expect that he looked like me and my eyes misted a bit, but then cleared as I thought about all the time I had to get to know him and teach him all the stuff that my dad never taught me. Like how to throw a baseball, or a football, or how to ride a bike, or any of that stuff. I would be the best dad this kid would want. Masen would want for nothing. Neither will Abigail for that matter.
"Isabelle. When can I take this off?" Clary complained, sounding impatient.
"Count backwards slowly from thirty and then you can take it off."
"Fine." She sighed and then started counting. "30, 29, 28..." Mayrse lead me over to stand right in front of her and took all I had not to just snatched her up and spin her around. I looked at my kids and Abigail was grinning like a mad woman while Masen just looked confused as to why I was standing in front of his mother. I frowned.
"15, 14, 13…" I put my finger to my lips and pointed to my kids. They both nodded and didn't say a word. All the people in the restaurant were staring at us with smiles on their faces and I grinned a little back.
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1." She finally said and ripped off the blindfold. She stumbled back a little and put her hand to her mouth; completely shocked.
"Jace." She started crying while grinning and I grinned back.
"I'm home baby, I'm home." She shook her head at me, still smiling and crying. Then suddenly she launched herself at me.
"Jace!" She squealed so loudly that it hurt my ear, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I hugged her tighter and lifted her up off the ground to where her feet were swinging like a rag dolls. I felt so good to have her in my arms again.
"I can't believe you're hear. I have missed you so much! So, so much!" She sobbed into my shoulder and I rubbed her back while whispering in her ear.
"I know baby. I have missed you too. You have know idea how much! I couldn't stop thinking about you or my babies while I was over there. I am so glad that I am going to be discharged after this." She pulled back to look my in the eyes. She had tears streaming down her face, her eyes were puffy from crying, and her bottom lip couldn't stop trembling. Her eyes though, they were shining with happiness and adoration. She looked so proud and… hopeful?
"Really? You're being discharged? That means you'll never be deployed again right?" I smiled and her grin got even bigger as more tears poured from her eyes.
"Yeah baby. I home with you guys. For good." I smiled at her. She hugged me as tight as her little arms would go. They were so small they didn't even met unless they were wrapped around my neck.
"I am so, so happy right now. I love you Jace. I love you so much." She kissed me and I sighed as I finally felt what I had been dreaming over for two years. Her soft, plump lips on mine. I responded with the passion but eventually had to pull back before I ripped off her clothes and took her on one of the tables. That would be a show that no one would soon be forgetting. I sit her back on the ground but still keeping my arms wrapped around her as I turned back to my kids.
I looked at Abigail and she looked like she was about to burst with happiness and excitement. Letting go of Clary I crouched down and held my arms open for her with a grin. She wasted no time.
"DADDY!" She screamed as she crashed into my arms. I wrapped my arms around her and covered her face with playful kisses. I lifted her up and spun her around in a circle.
"Daddy missed you baby girl!" I felt some tears run down my face, but I couldn't bring myself to wipe them away. These were tears of happiness. Suddenly she pulled back and looked very serious as she took my face in her hands and squeezed my cheeks together making sure that I knew she meant business. Which I did.
"No leave me again daddy. Mommy, Masen, and me miss you too much. No leave us daddy." She started to cry and clutched to my shirt and hid her face as she continued to sob. I looked over at Clary to see her crying as she listened to Abigail's confession and I knew that what Abigail said was the truth. I held her as tight as I could without hurting her as I whispered soothing words in her ear.
"Daddy is never going to leave you again. You hear me. Never again. Do you understand?" I leaned back and made her look at me. To let her know that I was serious too.
"Yes sir." She smiled and wiped her tears like the big girl she is. I smiled and sit her down, but she didn't go far as she clutched the leg of my pant and walked with me as I went over to crouch in front of Masen. He looked frightened to see me so close to him and looked to Clary for help but she just shook her head. Motioning for him not to move.
"Do you know who I am?" I asked gently and when he spoke I felt my hear break in my chest.
"No." I let some tears run free as I looked at my son. The son who had no clue who I was.
"I'm your dad." I told him and rock on my feet a little as I gauged his reaction. Masen's eyes, my eyes, widened as he look to Abigail for answers and now we all turned to her.
"Yep!" She smiled brightly as she leaned against my shoulder. "Mommy says that he is your dad and you know that mommy would never tell us something that wasn't true. He is the best dad in the whole wide world!" She looked at me like I was superman and I couldn't but think if that was how Clary viewed me. I turned back to Masen to find him crying.
"Daddy?" He asked cautiously. I smiled at him and opened me arms for him. He didn't jump into them like Abigail but at least he was hugging me.
"Daddy." He whispered as he laid his head on my shoulder and placed his arms around my neck. I could feel his tears hot soak into my jacket and it made me cry some more because I was finally holding my son and it made me never want to let him go. Much liked it did when I held my girls.
I felt him lift his head so he could look me in the face. "You leave me daddy?" He asked with a heartbroken expression and I felt like that worst person in the world. I shook my head as I held him close once more.
"I'm never going to leave you. Never again." As I rested my knees on the floor and held my son in my arms I felt Abigail pull one arm away from Masen and put it around her on shoulders. She put an arm around neck and one around Masen's back. Clary moved in next as she laid her head on my shoulder and placed her arms around us all I felt something that I hadn't felt in long time.
Love only these three people could give. As I held my family in my arms for the first time in two years I was at the one place I couldn't stop thinking about.
I was home.