Monday: June 9, 2025
5:03 AM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
“I don’t think I can do this, Jay,” Alice whispered.
Jacob turned back toward his wife, offering a smile. “Baby, if you don’t like the psychologist, you don’t ever have to go back. I promise you that. But you should try… just this once,” he said. She nodded, but she didn’t meet his gaze. She sat on the edge of the bed, her robe wrapped around her and a t-shirt wrapped around her hair. Jacob had helped her wash her hair out for the first time in, admittedly, a rather long time. He had followed the routine he had learned so well over the years.
After she was dressed, he’d go about moisturizing and oiling her hair before styling it. He’d perfected his technique through watching Alice, as well as doing Charlotte’s hair for preschool.
“What do you want done with your hair?” he asked, turning back toward the closet.
“I don’t know,” she said quietly. “Put it in a headwrap, maybe. I don’t… No afro or anything like that,” she said. “Hide as much of it as possible,” she added.
“Okay,” Jacob murmured. He cleared his throat. When he and Alice had first met, she spent most of her time straightening her hair and hiding her curls. Her first husband had conditioned her into believing the curly hair didn’t work for her, that she should be as white as possible. Jacob hated him for it, and the mentality came back through whenever her confidence was lacking.
Jacob pulled a dress from the closet, quickly followed by one of her looser blazers. If he knew anything about low-confidence Alice, is was that she wouldn’t go out in public looking like a bum, but she wouldn’t go out with something tight-fitting, either. “All right, baby. Let’s get you dressed,” he said, his voice soft as he laid the dress and blazer on the bed. He pulled her to her feet, unwrapping her towel. He tossed it into the laundry basket by the door and took the dress off of its hanger. “Step.” A hand on Jacob’s shoulder, Alice stepped into the dress and allowed him to pull it up her body. “Oh, oh, one sec. Hold this.”
Alice stared at him for a moment before wrapping an arm around her chest, holding the dress in place. Jacob came back several seconds later, a bra in hand. A faint smile tugged at one corner of Alice’s mouth as he hooked her bra and reached around her to zip up the dress. Hands on either side of her face, he pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. He grabbed the blazer from the bed and slid it up her arms. He tugged at either side of it before smoothing his hands over it.
“I have to go?” Alice asked.
“For yourself, yes,” Jacob said softly.
“You’re beautiful, Al,” he said, his eyes locked with hers.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“Ah… you betcha,” he said. A soft smile formed on her face. “Come on. Let’s get your hair up so you and your dad can get to your appointment. He grabbed her hand, leading her to the bathroom. “Your session today is two-hours. Since it’s such a long drive, I did my best to make sure it was worth it. And, again, if you don’t want to go back after today, you don’t have to.”
“You won’t be mad?”
“No, of course not. We’ll figure it out on our own,” Jacob said, flipping on the bathroom light. He stood behind her, meeting her eyes in the mirror above the sink. He smiled. “We’ve both been through some horrible shit, Allie. With or without a psychologist, we’ll work through this,” he said, wrapping his arms around her chest.
Alice covered one of Jacob’s hands with one of her own. “We’ll work through it,” she repeated.
“That’s right, beautiful,” he murmured. He kissed her shoulder, quickly followed by her temple. “Let’s get your hair done, okay?” She nodded.
7:00 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BATHROOM
Bo leaned against the doorway, watching Jensen shave. Jensen’s green eyes flickered up to meet Bo’s gaze in the mirror. “Whatcha doin’, babe?” Jensen asked.
“Mm… standing, at the moment,” Bo said with a shrug.
Jensen chuckled. “Yeah, I gathered that part.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “Do you want coffee and breakfast before we head to the station? Or do you want to drop by Little Delights?”
“Hmm… Little Delights,” Jensen said.
“Figured.” Bo leaned back into the bedroom as Eve’s cries came through the monitor on the dresser.
Jensen frowned as Noah’s cries quickly joined her. “Can you handle them both?”
“I’ll be done here in a few,” Jensen promised.
Bo smiled faintly. “Take your time, love. I’ll handle it,” he said softly. Jensen nodded as Bo walked back into the bedroom. Through the mud room and into the kitchen, Bo pulled open the refrigerator. He pulled out two bottles—one blue and one pink—and turned on the warm water in the sink. As usual, he warmed them to temperature and wiped the water. He glanced up at the ceiling for a moment before pulling open the refrigerator again. They were nearly out of Noah’s formula. He and Jensen would have to run to the store after work.
Bo headed down the hall, pushing open the partially open the door. “Hey, sweetheart,” he said softly. “What’re you doing up?”
Kayla looked up as Bo as he set the bottles on the table by the door. “I’ve been up for a little bit,” she said quietly. “Can I help?”
Bo smiled faintly. “Of course,” he said softly. “Sit down,” he added, lifting Noah out of his crib. After Kayla sat down in one of the rocking chairs in the room, he handed Noah over to her. “Always support his head.”
Bo walked back to the door, grabbing the blue bottle. He handed it to Kayla. “Remember how?”
“Good girl,” Bo said softly. He lifted Eve out of her crib, cradling her in the crook of his left arm.
“Bo? Can we… talk?” Kayla asked.
“Of course,” Bo said, shutting the door before grabbing the pink bottle from the table. “What’s on your mind, Kay?” he questioned, lowering himself into the rocking chair closest to the door. After both babies started feeding rather than crying, he lifted his gaze to the young girl’s face.
“I want to start calling you and Jensen… Dad,” she said quietly. Bo remained silent. “But I’m scared to.”
“Are you still worried that we’ll give you up?” Bo asked.
“No. I… I know you guys love me. A–and I love you guys, too. But…” Kayla cleared her throat. “When my mom was alive, she started dating this man. He was really nice and he took us out for lunch and supper all the time. I started calling him Dad, and it was… after that that he started hitting Mom. He only did it twice before Mom kicked him out of the house, but, umm, I’m scared that if I start calling you guys Dad, you’ll get hurt.”
“Sweetheart,” Bo said after a moment of silence, “I promise you that I am never going to hit Jensen.”
Kayla’s gaze shifted back to Bo’s face. “I’m not worried about him,” she whispered.
“You think…? Kayla, he’s not going to hit me. Ever,” Bo said.
“You don’t know that. My mom didn’t think her boyfriend would hit her, either.”
“Jensen doesn’t have a violent bone in his body,” Bo said honestly. He had hurt more people than Jensen ever had, than Jensen ever would. As far as he knew, Jensen had never put someone in the hospital, had never killed another person.
“He’s bigger than you, Bo.”
“Yeah, that’s true. But he’s not mean or violent. He’s basically a teddy bear, Kay,” Bo said softly.
“One hundred percent, sweetheart.”
Slowly, she nodded. “I don’t know when I’ll start, but I really do want to start calling you guys Dad.” She cleared her throat, looking down at Noah. “How do I, umm…?”
“Differentiate between us?” Bo asked. Kayla nodded. “Up to you, sweetheart. Amber calls us both Daddy. It depends on you.”
Again, the young girl nodded. “Thanks, Bo.”
Bo smiled softly. “You’re welcome, sweetheart.”
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