I was in my idea of seventh heaven as I set myself the task of buying Mabel a birthday present. I passed the dolls, kiddie pushchairs, and accessories with somewhat of an idea of what I wanted to buy, before I bypassed the LEGO for some more inspiration to find several more things to add to the list.
I picked up one of the Disney LEGO sets to turn it over in my hands, thinking it was right up Mabel's street. Then, heading for the Baby Born aisle, I checked out the little outfits with three going into the trolley, along with two of the LEGO sets, and four LOL Doll egg surprises.
After doing another sweep of the store, I paid for it all at the checkout and left the building with the Smyth's toys superstore theme tune playing after me.
I pulled open my boot and picked up the rolls of gift wrap to find the scissors and Sellotape in a separate bag. Getting to work, I wrapped all the gifts I bought with the pretty pink paper, sticking the large glitter bows in the corners of each present.
My car looked like a pink explosion when I finished, and I worried Henry would be mad at me for being so impulsive. I wanted to spoil her. I was sure he would understand.
You couldn't miss their house as I spotted the glow in the dark balloons tied to the gates when I drove towards the end of the col-de-sac, and the sounds of Little Mix pulsing through the air from the windows when my engine came to a stop.
I could feel the sweat marking my palms.
I got out of the car and pulled down my dress, deciding to leave the presents inside of the car until it settled enough for Mabel to open them in front of everyone.
The pathway went on forever until I climbed onto the porch way steps for the door to open and reveal Henry's mother in a party frock. "I'm so pleased you came," she said with a small smile playing on her lips.
I rushed to her with such a force, she almost toppled backwards until I wrapped her up in my arms. "Thank you," I whispered in a raw tone. "Thank you for loving my baby girl when I couldn't."
"Oh, love, come here," she said, grasping at me on a quiet sob.
I bit my lip extra hard to stop the tears. "I owe you my life."
We pulled back as Gene caressed my face, staring at me with sparkling eyes. "You owe me nothing."
I nodded. "Thank you. I'm just so sorry for the way I acted when I found out."
She flattened her lips. "You have no need to apologise. I think it was granted, given the situation. Did you know that I held Henry for two hours as he broke down over the way you found out?"
I think it would still haunt me if I did. "No, I didn't know that." I wasn't sure I wanted to know that, to be honest.
"Yeah," she replied, eyes darting to the other side of the room. "I think the guilt was eating him alive. I'm pleased you seem to be working past that now."
I followed her gaze to find Henry chatting with his brothers. "I'm in awe of him. I don't know how it's possible to keep going after the blows that kept hitting him."
"Love. It's a powerful thing. And hope," she replied, smiling down at an approaching Mabel.
I covered the back of her head with my hands, thinking she was the most beautiful thing on earth. "Here's the birthday girl! Give me a twirl, baby."
Her entire body moved around into a massive circle to show off the glittery netting on her party dress. "Did you get my texts?"
Henry let her message me from his phone when I wasn't hanging out with them, and it was the sweetest thing, as we chatted back and forth about school, her birthday presents, and bedtime stories.
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Strain of LoveRomance
FREE STORY WITH PAID BONUS CHAPTERS. A shy primary school teacher, who falls in love with her student's father, learns that the secrets he keeps will change her life forever. ... Primary school teacher Verity Rose's life is simple and straightforw...