Happily Ever After

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The first few months Back in Oak Falls were a whirlwind. After a few weeks, Chrys let me have my very first outing with the boys. I took them for go-karts and ice cream. It was so crazy to see who they'd become.

Oliver, who went by Ollie, was a top-notch gamer. He streamed all the time and had lots of followers on social media. He was a budding star, like his uncle once was. But even though he had a good thing going with his gaming, he didn't want it to be his career. He wanted to become a veterinarian.

Blaze, on the other hand, kept to himself and was more introverted. He was a lot like his mom: worked hard, played in the school's marching band, and wanted to become a teacher. With one of Poppy's kids already rising to fame, I was relieved. One celebrity child in the family was enough.

After my first meeting with the boys, I was feeling courageous. When they got into their mother's car, I asked her out on a date. I was immediately rejected, of course. It broke my heart, but I had to keep going. I wanted to show her that I was someone worth being with.

So, I followed all the steps of the program my halfway house got me set up on. They helped me land my very first job: a dishwasher. As someone who grew up in what I called a "luxurious hellhole," it was shocking. Although home life with my parents was rough, I still had a big, clean house and was kind of waited on hand and foot. As a teen, before I knew Chrys, I thought I'd travel the world, getting girls and spending money. And here I was now: mid-thirties, washing dishes.

It was super disgusting and I was always soaking wet, smelling of food. I made minimum wage, and life was shit, but I had my boys. After a couple months, I had Chrys, too. She finally gave me a "yes," and we saw a movie together, then went out for ice cream. I'd never gone on an actual date before. All of my other girls were just flings or booty calls. This was so much more different, and so much better.

We took things slow, just like she wanted. Six months after I came home to Oak Falls, she finally said she loved me back. I'd been saying it the entire time we were dating. I'd always loved her. I shouldn't have done what I did, but that was in the past. All I could do was look towards the future, which was getting brighter.

Since I was doing so well at work, I was able to move out of the kitchen and out into the restaurant as a waiter. I made hella tips and was saving up little by little to get my own apartment when I was out of the halfway house.

Chase and I were in touch and he wanted to buy me a small place, since he sold the old mansion. After my car accident and arrest in Vegas, he finally learned about the abuse I'd gone through. After my mother died, my father lived in the house alone. With some good lawyers and a close look at my mother's will, Chase, out of spite, bought my dad out of the house. When he went to go live at their vacation house in Cancun, Chase bought out that house as well. My dad had a lot of money, but nowhere to go. He stopped talking to Chase a long time ago.

Anyway, I'd decline Chase's offer every time. This was a journey I wanted to take on my own, without handouts or help. I was going to rebuild my life from the ground-up, and even though a lot of the customers sucked and my shifts were long, everything was going well.

One night, I was helping close up the restaurant and started messing around with some of the things we had in the kitchen. We would always end up throwing away a lot of our food that was unused or about to expire. I, being in a halfway house and on a budget, wanted to make something out of that free food.

I started getting creative and mixing things together, and then after that it became a habit. My coworkers actually liked the food I was making, and I really enjoyed making it. The restaurant manager found out about what was going on after a few weeks, and he called me into his office.

I thought I was getting fired because I was technically stealing the food, but he offered me a job in the kitchen. As a chef. Even though I had no training, I was excited. I'd gotten really passionate about cooking, and the menu items we made weren't that hard. We were a chain restaurant with not a lot of options, so it wasn't difficult to learn.

The night before I finished my training and was going to start as a chef, Chrys invited me over to her place. It was a nice, two-story house she bought with Ivan. It was there that I met Chrys' other two kids: Andres and Antonio, the boys she had with Ivan. They gave me a run for the little money I had. They were hilarious and had tons and tons of energy. They warmed up to me after I cooked everyone dinner. My food was somehow winning everyone over.

A year after I got back to Oak Falls, taking things slow in our relationship fell off the radar. Chrys was pregnant. I was so excited. She was a little nervous about having a baby at thirty-seven, but I knew everything would be fine. And it was.

I laid on the hospital bed next to Chrys, who was cradling our band-new baby girl: Kayla Marie. We named her after my therapist from the prison in Vegas who helped me get my life back on track. I don't know how I would've made it through my sentence without her help.

"She's so beautiful. I can't believe we have a little girl," I said.

"Me either," Chrys said, chuckling. "Four boys, and I finally got a girl. It's funny how the world works."

"I'm just glad it worked out the way it did. I've got a good job, three perfect kids, and two stepkids, who are incredible...but there's just one more thing," I said.

"Oh?" Chrys said.

"Chrysanthemum Everston," I said, taking a box out of my pocket. "Will you, after all this time, finally marry me?"

I opened the box to reveal a diamond ring.

I gasped. "Yes! Of course I will."

I slid the ring on her finger and we had a long, sweet kiss. Life was hard, but now everything was falling into place. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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