Chapter 2.4: Dear J, Blue Has a Birthday

23

Dear J, after the wonderful time I had (at my sister’s urging, I might add), the last thing I expected when Cricket and I got back from our first night out was Rachel standing there, her face red and eyes glaring.

Cricket thanked me again for “the lovely time,” then went straight inside, avoiding Rachel’s gaze. With that kind of open scrutiny, I couldn’t say I blamed her.

As soon as Cricket was inside, Rachel hissed, “Leo, how could you?”

I was incredulous, standing there with my mouth gaping. “How could I what?”

She threw her hands in the air and for a minute, I thought she was going to scream from frustration at seeing my bewildered expression. Instead, she took a deep breath and said, “What on earth would possess you to take Cricket out?”

“Rachel, I’m too tired for games. First you tell me to ask her out, then you get mad when I do.”

24

A storm of fury clouded her blue eyes but, thankfully, she didn’t yell at me again. “Honestly, you can be so obtuse. What is wrong with your brain?”

I rubbed my tired eyes and grimaced at her choice of words. “Now you’re just being insulting. What exactly have I done wrong?”

“I really can’t believe you’re asking me that. I didn’t say anything at all about Cricket. I was talking about Bexley.”

My jaw dropped again and I squinted at her. “Bexley?”

“Don’t look at me like that. Yes, Bexley! She is crazy about you. And she’s a lot nicer than Cricket. Didn’t you see the way mom reacted to her? Why would you ever go after a girl like that?”

“A girl like what?” I asked, unable to keep the anger from my voice.

She thought for a moment and I couldn’t tell if she was trying to decide what to say or if she was trying to decide how to say it. “A girl that is so obviously after something from you. Would she be pursuing you so desperately if your career wasn’t taking off? If you were working a regular, boring job instead of skyrocketing to the top of the music charts and on magazine covers, do you think she’d even look at you twice?”

“Gee, thanks. Thanks for that. Way to hold back on the insults.”

“My point is that no, she wouldn’t be trying to get your attention. Instead, she’d be after a different rising star. You can’t just go around trusting everyone you see because they’re a part of your entourage. She’s on your payroll, for goodness’ sake.”

“So is Bexley,” I pointed out, spitting the words at her. I didn’t understand Rachel’s venom toward Cricket at all. It wasn’t as if she was an ax murderer or something.

“Well, Bexley doesn’t act all shady. Think about it.”

Exhaustion was wearing me down but I didn’t want my sister to be upset or nag at me anymore about this either. So I said, “Cricket is really nice and I wish you’d get to know her better.”

“Well, I can see you’re just going to do whatever you want. Tell me though… how close are you two?”

“Yes, I am and, you know what? I’m just getting to know her. It was one date, sheesh, Rach. Besides, this isn’t really any of your business.”

25

“Maybe not, but I just want to say one more thing.” There didn’t seem to be any point in responding. She was obviously not going to let this go until she had this off her chest. “I want you to consider Blue. She looks to you for everything and it won’t be fair if you traipse a bunch of women around all the time. You owe it to her to take your relationships slowly. If she gets attached to someone you’re dating and then it doesn’t work out, she’ll feel the loss, too.”

This was outrageous! When had Rachel turned into Mom? It wasn’t that I thought she was so wrong that got on my last nerve. It was  the fact she felt she had to say it to me at all that was offensive. I wanted to yell back at her that she was being vindictive and hurtful against someone she didn’t even know… but then visions of my daughter’s large, imploring eyes filled my mind. All she wanted in life was a responsible, loving parent.

But I thought I was being a responsible and loving parent. I hadn’t done anything wrong and this third degree from my kid sister was ridiculous! Who was she to tell me what to do? If I hadn’t been approached this way, maybe I could have focused on Rachel’s concern for Blue instead of feeling outraged. But at the time, all I wanted to do was push her nose out of my business.

With fire in my eyes, I said, “I get what you’re saying and I want you to know how glad I am that you’re in Blue’s life. We’re both really lucky to have you. But that’s where this stops. Just because you’re my sister and you’re taking care of my daughter, it doesn’t automatically give you permission to give me relationship advice.”

I could immediately tell this ruffled her but good. “You don’t have the best track record, Leo.”

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’m doing everything I can to make things right. You need to back off.”

She raised her chin defiantly, but didn’t challenge me further. Instead she said, “I care about what happens to you and Blue.”

This softened my bad temper pretty fast. “I care about you, too. You’re really smart, Rach.”

“That’s good on account of you being so stupid!” she quipped.

1

And so, Rachel gradually cooled off about my having asked the “wrong” girl out. She was still aloof toward Cricket, but I decided that it wasn’t my job to make people like each other. I had more than enough on my plate without all that, too. My hope was that one day, Rachel would see what I saw when I looked at Cricket.

I wouldn’t say we were officially dating. Things were just too hectic over the next few weeks to put any effort into a real relationship. Most of my time was spent writing lyrics and practicing with the band to get some songs down. As with our first album, it was a tedious process that lasted for hours on end at a time.

On our last day of recording, I decided to spend the morning hours with Blue. Her birthday was tomorrow and I wanted to cherish this time with her as best I could before everything changed again.

2

We tried going for a walk, but she had no interest in riding in the stroller. Instead, she kept trying to climb out and I was afraid she would fall on her head. Plus, we’d barely gotten down the road when the paparazzi spotted us. I didn’t really want them snapping pictures of Blue, so I decided we should stick close to home.

3

For a while, we played in the yard and she was so cute, toddling around. At one point, she fell on her bum with a thud. Over time, I’d learned that if I didn’t show a lot of reaction during these moments, she would simply continue playing. It was only when I made a big deal about it that she stopped to cry.

4

Today, though, my heart just really couldn’t cope with her falling down. So, I knelt down in front of her, helping her up, my hand on her shoulder. Telling her how much I loved and adored her, I kissed her forehead and told her how sorry I was that she’d fallen.

Lightly, she patted me on the arm as if she was trying to comfort me and said, “It okay, Daddy.”

5

This, of course, made me melt and love her even more. I was proud of the bond we were able to forge. It grew and strengthened every day.

Happily, we spent the rest of the morning exploring the trees, smelling flowers and watching an army of ants climbing on their hill. Blue was really interested in nature and everything around her. I was sure this was a day I’d never forget.

6

That afternoon, we began laying down the last track for the album we’d been so diligently working on. We hadn’t meant to leave this song for last, it was just that we’d had so much trouble with it. At several points along the way, we’d almost scrapped it altogether.

7

But Cranky Sy insisted we work it out. He said this song, which I’d titled, “He Heard She’s Bad,” was going to be a hit. He insisted this was the one that would get us to the number one spot on the charts if we could just hammer out these rough spots.

After rearranging lyrics, changing tempos and the key twice, it seemed like we were finally pulling it together.

8

“That’s good,” Cranky Sy encouraged through the mic. “Pick it up again at measure twelve. Josh missed the chord change.”

While I counted the band in, I became distracted by Cricket and Bexley. They were standing behind Cranky Sy, talking. I couldn’t hear them because of the soundproofing in the studio but I could tell there was something definitely going on.

“Concentrate, Leo!” Cranky Sy barked. “C’mon, guys, you’re almost there!”

9

As I counted us in again, I tried harder not to screw everyone up. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that Cricket was openly glaring at Bexley.

Curiously, Bexley was staring straight ahead, her face one of complete contentment.

10

My interest was piqued as Bexley watched us…. and Cricket continued to watch her.

It wasn’t until we’d finally finished the song and everyone was pleased with the results, that I realized Cricket was not around.

13

Searching everywhere, I finally found her outside, heading for the front gate.
“Cricket, wait up! Where are you going?”

The sun had just started to rise, emphasizing that beautiful golden yellow in her hair that I was so fond of. I smiled at her but her eyes looked so sad.

12

“I’m quitting, Leo. I can’t take it anymore. I’ll come back to get my things after you’ve all gone on tour and the house is empty.”

“Wait! Can’t take what?”

“Everyone hates me. They don’t want me here. I’m just…. I’m tired of it.”

“C’mon, Cricket, I know my sister hasn’t been the friendliest but she just feels protective of Blue.”

She shook her head and crossed her arms. “I’m not just talking about Rachel. You never see the things Bexley does to me. You never hear the things she says to me.”

This gave me pause. She was right, I hadn’t ever seen Bex do anything out of the way to anyone so it was hard to believe she would. Still, I didn’t want Cricket to go. “Please, don’t go.”

11

I tried to pull her into an embrace, but she put her hands up like stop signs against my chest. “I can’t do this!”

Helplessly, I stared at her. Granted, we hadn’t had the time to go out again, but I was under the impression she wanted some kind of relationship with me. Why would she just want to leave like this?

“Please,” I stupidly stumbled. “I really don’t want you to go.”

“Then why don’t you ever stick up for me?”

“I’m at a complete loss. I haven’t seen anything to stick up for you about.” Was I just blind? Was I as obtuse as Rachel claimed?

“Then you’re part of the problem because you don’t believe me!”

14

She sighed loudly, turning on her heel to walk through the front gate and out of my life. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t let that happen. I didn’t care what anyone thought. It didn’t matter in that moment that I was supposed to be careful and take things slowly. I did not want her to leave.

I put my arm around her waist, my other hand grasping hers. She felt delicate and vulnerable in my arms. I wanted to protect her. I kissed her shoulder as I  whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry. We can work this out. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Isn’t it enough that I want you here?”

With baited breath, I waited for her answer.

15

Slowly, her body relaxed and she turned to face me. I encircled her in my arms and leaned in, my lips just hovering in front of hers. I longed for her to kiss me… to reassure me that my efforts weren’t in vain… that she would stay. Gradually, she leaned into me as well and our lips melted together.

16

As the sun continued to rise above the hills beyond the house, relief flooded me. I pulled her closer and could feel her hand touching me tenderly at the nape of my neck.

It no longer mattered to me what anyone thought or said. And I couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that this felt right.

17

The guys and I spent the rest of the day assembling a swing set and other playground equipment for Blue’s birthday present. Rachel and Bexley decorated the front patio with balloons and set up a buffet table.

Seeing all the food the catering company put out made me really miss my mom’s cooking and all the fun she always had fixing our favorite meals for our birthdays.

18

Cricket was the last to join us as we all gathered around Blue to celebrate her special day. I noticed she wasn’t really standing with the group, so I winked at her, hoping that would encourage her to not feel so left out.

19

“Blue, smile!” I enthused as I snapped picture after picture of her.

20

It broke my heart to think of her growing up but another part of me was so excited to see what she would do with her future, that I couldn’t help but grin at her like a fool.

She waved at me as though she was wise beyond her years and had the forethought to say goodbye to her toddler years.

21

My breath caught in my throat…

22

… and before me stood the most beautiful little girl I’d ever laid eyes upon.

Addendum… 2:00 a.m.:

J… Jillybean, I can’t sleep. I believe you were here on this important day and that you saw your little niece. She reminds me so much of you with her dark hair and fair skin. She’s really smart like you and cares about people. I can picture you telling me now to always remember that she is her own person and not to pressure her into being a copy of you. Don’t worry, Sis, my little Blue is going to do great things with her life!

 

 

45 thoughts

  1. The good stuff first: I really didn’t want Blue to age up from the cute toddler that she was, but now I am looking forward to the father daughter relationship of the future. She is beautiful RO. Good choice on hair.
    Now the bad stuff: Leo is an idiot! Although his sister handled it the wrong way, he should listen to her. What exactly does Cricket have up her sleeve, that little manipulative…..ah girl?
    Luckily we will find out more in a week and I don’t have to sit here stewing for too long!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Bee. I had such a hard time choosing Blue’s hair, I’m glad you like it. 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing how Leo and Blue’s relationship blossoms, too. As for the bad stuff…. I can’t say I disagree with you! lol Good catch on the “…. ah girl…” too! LOL I’ll try not to let you stew for too long! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww Blue is as cute as ever! I wonder how her being older and being able to speak her mind will affect how this whole living arrangement works. And I wonder if Blue will like Bexley or Cricket better… I know who I like better!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! 😀 That’s a really good point about Cricket. Let’s hope a wedge doesn’t form. Blue does look a lot like Jilly, doesn’t she? I can’t wait to see what she looks like when she gets older.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Men…dense, so dense!! I am afraid Leo is not thinking at all, just letting his hormones take over! I was holding my breath, waiting for Cricket to say the only way she would stay would be if he fired Bexley. I am looking forward to Blue “finding her voice”, so to say, and if she is anything like her mom, she will not be afraid to state her opinion on things! She is absolutely adorable, by the way…I really like her hair, too. Lots to come, and can’t wait for the next entry! =)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Marj! 😀 Yes, he seems to be very dense. haha With this situation, you just never know what might happen next. I think Blue might definitely put an extra spin on this as well. I’m glad you like Blue. I had a little trouble trying to find just the right hair for her. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, Blue is too cute!
    But I was facepalming at Leo throughout the whole chapter. It’s sooo obvious how lying and manipulating Cricket is but somehow he’s too dense to see it. He should definitely listen to Rachel even though I think she shouldn’t have yelled at him like that. I hope now that Blue is a kid she can reveal how poisonous Cricket is and how sweet Bexley is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lila! Believe me, I was facepalming while I wrote it! haha Maybe if someone other than his sister had said something, he would have listened… but then again, maybe not. He is really certain he’s right. Blue could definitely put a whole new spin on this… In fact, I’m certain she will. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh I have so much catching up to do now that classes are over! Leo has made quite a life for himself and his little girl! I’m eager to see which lady he decides to spend more time with in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It was so much fun to see Blue blossoming into such a beautiful little girl. She’s adorable. I really wish Rachel hadn’t come on quite so strong. Too bad she hasn’t realized that trying to intervene is only going to make Leo more determined to spend time with Cricket. I’m enjoying the story and am looking forward to more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Judith. 🙂 I definitely thing you’re right about Rachel coming on to strongly. If she does this, she can probably expect Leo to do the opposite of what she wants. lol I’m so glad you’re enjoying the story. I can’t wait to write some more.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Blue turned into an adorable young child! It’s interesting that Leo is gravitating toward the slim blonde and not Bexley, the zaftig brunette! But then…!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awww Blue is so adorable. I can’t wait for hers and Leo’s relationship to grow. Now I want to know if all the partying of his younger years destroyed half of his brain? Really Leo how could you fall for that manipulative crap from Cricket. Open your eyes you fool. How could you believe Bex would be mean to Cricket? You said it yourself you just couldn’t picture it so believe yourself. Walk away from Cricket before she destroys your relationship with Blue because I guarantee you she will do just that because she will not share you. And in all reality Cricket is going after Leo to hurt and get back at his mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Awe, Blue is such a pretty girl. I can’t wait to see what she has to say about Cricket. And speaking of Cricket, I hate how she is trying to make herself the victim. Rachel has her all figures out. And speaking of Rachel (did you see how I transitioned from character to another) what is going to happen to her now that Blue isn’t a toddler anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 You’ve brought up some good points! I can’t wait to reveal more of the story to you. As for Rachel (very good transitions, btw), there is a plan in the works. Thank you again.

      Like

  10. OH Blue is adorable .. Happy Birthday little one. I kind of like Cricket. Maybe I missed something important .. but I think it is sad that no one likes her (I don’t think it is right that she works for him tho .. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 Your comment is very interesting and you bring up a good point about it being sad no one likes her. I agree that it’s usually not a good idea to date someone you work with. I can’t wait to tell you more of the story! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Rachel could have handled the whole thing with Cricket better. Attacking him and his choice wasn’t the best way to make Leo reconsider his feelings and attraction for Cricket. He should though consider why everyone obviously does not like her. Plus it’s never a good idea to get involved with someone who doesn’t like your child. If Leo wasn’t dismissing the little signs Cricket has been giving him he would see she doesn’t like Blue. When she said she was quitting I was like good let her. Than she turned everything around and manipulated the situation twisting Leo around her little finger even more. Leo’s in trouble and Cricket isn’t good for him. I wish he could see it though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! You always make such good points. 🙂 You are definitely right about Rachel needing to use a different tactic. He’s her older brother and somewhat successful so far with his career, so I think he feels like he’s capable of making the right decisions for himself. There is so much Leo doesn’t know about Cricket that he should try to piece together.

      Oh! I wanted to tell you that I nominated Bring Me Back to Life for The Sunshine Blogger Award. I love your story so much. 🙂

      You can find the nomination here: https://booomcha.com/2016/08/10/sunshine-blogger-award/

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lightly, she patted me on the arm as if she was trying to comfort me and said, “It okay, Daddy.”
    EEEEEEEK! That was the cutest!!
    And ummmm, Leo…you’re not using your brain! Something else, maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree with Dandylion that Rachel didn’t handle that very well. She’s the one who sent Leo off without nailing down who they were talking about. There are so many people in his entourage and in his life, how could there only be *one* woman trying to get his attention right now?

    BTW: The fact that Cricket and Rachel were wearing the same hairstyle and similar makeup has made it a bit hard to track them in the last couple of posts.

    I completely sympathize with Leo in the way he behaved with Cricket to try to persuade her to stay. At his age, I probably would have done the same thing.

    I am very curious as to what ongoing argument Bexley has been having with Cricket. And very curious to see what kind of person Blue is growing up to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Echo. 🙂 I agree that Rachel didn’t handle that very well. As you said, how could Leo have known when he has a huge entourage like that? As for the argument between Bexley and Cricket, it’s big but I can’t say anymore than that. lol 😀

      Like

  14. Blue looks so much like a mixture of Jilly and Chrissy, it’s amazing. I want Cricket to leave, like there’s the door! I’m ready for Bexley and Leo to happen. I sense good things from their relationship, I just hope Cricket doesn’t get in his head.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Blue is a little cutiepie!! So beautiful and sweet! ❤ I wonder what is up with Bexley and Cricket… but I'm sure I don't trust Cricket at all! There's something fishy about her behavior and I hope we – and Leo – will find out soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ll just try to be happy about Leo and Blue and try not to think about Cricket. I’m ignoring Cricket completely. Yes. That’s what I’ll do. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

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