Beautiful Again

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"Oh, wow, Riley! Is this your sacrificial offering?" Paige asked as she opened the door, three 4-year old boys dressed up as Ironman, Captain America and Thor running past her. She was dressed in a beautiful Monique Lhuillier full-length gown that shimmered about her feet, and as Riley stared at her, Paige twirled, showing off the ensemble in full effect.

"He stopped by the Library, and figured he'd help me out with the boys."

"She makes a wonderful caffè Medici," Ashe said, grinning.

"You still have a chance to get out of this, you know," Riley said as the triplets, Trey, Trevor and Thomas stopped in their tracks and stared at him. Then before she could introduce the boys to Ashe, Trey, dressed as Thor, yelled at the top of his voice, I am Thor! before running off while the other two chased after him.

"And miss out on my first ever ménage à cinq? I don't think so," Ashe said as Clint Caldwell III appeared at the top of the stairs dressed in a tuxedo. Clint was in his early fifties, with dark wavy hair and a sharp nose. Although he came from a family that reeked of old money, Clint wasn't the type to sit back and wait for the investment checks to come in. He owned an investment company that specialized in commercial and residential buildings all along the East Coast, which meant he and Paige often found themselves attending charity balls and inaugural dinners. It allowed Clint to socialize and certainly didn't hurt Paige's love for attention.

"Paige, Clint, this is Ashe," Riley said in a loud voice, above the shouts of the triplets who hushed immediately the moment Clint told them to and disappeared into their playroom. "Ashe, this is my sister, Paige, and her husband, Clint Caldwell III."

Clint made his way downstairs and shook hands with Ashe, grinning broadly. He always reminded Riley of the American version of Gary Oldman, especially when he wore his reading glasses. "What a lovely surprise! Riley's never brought anyone over before to help her corral the three terrors. I guess she figured she needed reinforcements tonight."

"It's probably best that he does not know what he's getting into just yet, dear," Paige laughed before extending her hand toward Ashe. "Very nice to meet you, Ashe. Riley has apparently been keeping you a secret,"

"Unfortunately, I haven't been around long enough for anyone to keep me a secret, but it would be nice to change that," Ashe said. "There's no point in disappointing the audience now, is there?"

Everyone laughed, except for Riley, who glared at Ashe before one of the triplets tackled her with a hug. Soon all three surrounded her, telling her all their plans for the next few hours.

"Let's play with trains, auntie!" "No, I wanna build trains." "Let's read a story. I want Finding Nemo." "No, I want Chuggington!" "I want some mac n' cheese!" "Chicken nuggets!" "I'm Thor!"

Before she was swept away by the triplets into the living room, she reminded Ashe that it wasn't too late to back out.

Clint laughed. "I won't blame you if you decide to leave, Ashe. My boys can be quite a handful, but somehow, Riley manages to handle them quite well."

"Now don't scare him, honey," Paige said.

"I don't mind. Indeed, I don't," Ashe said, chuckling.

"As long as you know what's in store for you, Ashe. Many brave men would quickly run away from something like this," Paige laughed, leading Ashe into the living room where the triplets were showing Riley their newest toys, which were partly still in their boxes. It was a Lionel train set, and they were telling her all about how they planned to assemble all the parts tonight.

"Well, I'm certain it will be fun," Ashe said.

After a few more minutes of small talk, with Paige wanting to know how Ashe had managed to find Riley ("purely by chance," he said for he'd heard of how good the caffé Medici was at the Library Cafe), Clint reminded her that they had to leave. The town car was idling outside their brownstone and after loud goodbyes and air kisses, they were on their way, leaving Ashe and Riley with the children.

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