• WORDS FROM AN AUTHOR •
Nick & Hannah bonus scene
"Why on God’s green earth would you volunteer us to do this tonight?” Nick plops down onto our new bed.
That had been his one stipulation when we decided to move in together. A brand-new king-size bed. I wanted a queen, ensuring I’d always be able to touch him at a swipe of my hand. Nick’s argument is still he needs all the room to spread out while he’s sleeping. He proves his point invalid by suctioning himself to my back every night to hold me close.
“Sandra looked so frantic at your team dinner the other night, I felt bad.” In the mirror, Nick falls back into the mattress. “You’ll survive. It’s one evening, you big baby.” I finish braiding my hair as Nick’s arms wrap around my center, pressing his chest to my back.
“The big baby part is what I’m worried about, Hannah.” His chin rests on my shoulder, pouting like a kid not getting his way. “And we haven’t been able to spend much time together because of hockey, and your internship.”
“Well, we’re spending time together now, and imagine, it will be good practice.” I unclasp his hands and push him away. “We need to go or else we’ll be late.”
“That’s kind of my plan, baby.” He slips his hands under my braid, guiding my face to his.
Kissing Nick will never grow old. I will always crave the feeling I get when his lips touch mine. It’s been three years of growing and learning each other in a way we never would have been able to inside the walls of our high school. We’ve been told from the beginning, the odds of us making it are small. It’s the same thing the world would have liked us to believe in our senior year of high school.
Nick Kovac has made it his life mission to prove everyone he’s capable of making the impossible, possible. This is his second year of being a starter on the hockey team. He didn’t allow his injury to derail him. He stuck to his therapy, made sure he was ready to prove to the hockey coach that he wouldn’t accept defeat as an answer. I don’t think I had ever been so proud watching him skate out onto the ice for his first returning game. With his parents and mine beside me, we cheered him on, just as we always have.
Nick pulls back, breaking our kiss. “We better go.”
“Oh, so now you’re eager to get out of here,” I joke as Nick grabs my coat, helping to slip it on. He drops one last kiss to my lips before grabbing my hand and guiding me to his truck.
Every time I step inside, a flood of memories holds my mind hostage. So many nights where we unknowingly changed the course of our lives happened right here.
“What are you smiling about?” Nick glances over at me as he pulls out into traffic, driving us across town to Coach’s house.
“Just thinking.” I lean my head against the cold glass, looking up at the stars shining above us, all streaks in the sky as he cruises through town.
I’m so grateful for all the pain we’ve been through. It made the happiness easier to appreciate.
“Mr. James called me today,” Nick blurts out. It isn’t a coincidence. He knows when I’m thinking about her.
“Oh, yeah?” I turn to him, looking at his side profile, imaging him the way I remember him in high school. His clean shave is replaced with the beginnings of a beard. Older and more mature is the boy sitting next to me.
“Kellan is doing well. Adjusting, I suppose. They’re a little worried he’ll be deployed, but no one really knows right now. Mr. James said he’s enjoying the warm weather, but misses being on skates.”
“I’m so proud of him.” I grab Nick’s hand and scoot closer to him, clenching the back of his hand to my chest. “I know Nicole misses him something fierce.”
“She could go be with him.”
“She could, but not everyone is an impulsive as we are.”
Nick pulls into the long drive, parking to the side of the garage. We head up the walk, greeted quickly by Sandra at the front door.
“You look beautiful,” I say, watching the sparkles of her dress flicker in the light.
“Oh, thank you, sweetheart. You have no idea how thankful I am for your help tonight. I’m surprised you convinced this guy to come with you.” Sandra checks the mirror in the entryway, applying a beautiful shade of dark red lipstick.
Coach steps around the corner in his tuxedo, whistling at his wife with a grin on his face.
“It will be good for him.” I grin over my shoulder at Nick.
“Never have I allowed a player to watch my kids, Kovac. Please don’t give me an excuse to cut you,” Coach warns.
“How hard can it be?” He reaches out his hand to shake Coach’s offered one.
“Shouldn’t be that difficult. The twins are in bed. Timothy is playing video games. He knows his bedtime and Cynthia is up in her room. I’ll be surprised if you see her,” Sandra explains. “Teenagers.”
“I promise everything will be okay. You two have fun. We have this under control,” I reassure them as they step outside and they wave goodbye.
The front door shuts and Nick’s eyes are on me, pure unfiltered doubt on our capability to survive this one night of babysitting.
“This is such a mistake. We could be cuddled in front of our fireplace, in our pajamas or less, ringing in the new year, but no, you had to be a saint and volunteer us for a gig, I’m quite certain, we are not qualified for.” He passes by me into the kitchen.
Boxes of pizza are stacked on the kitchen island.
“How hard can it be? Two are above the age of eleven, and the twins are already asleep. This is going to be a piece of cake. We don’t even have to feed them.” I pull open one of the boxes to see a full supreme pizza untouched. Nick grabs himself a slice and sits down across from me.
We both still, questions in our eyes as we listen. There’s a faint nose, barely registering to both of us. A young boy comes into the kitchen, an annoyed grimace on his face.
“Any chance one of you are going to actually do your job and check on my brother and sister?” He gestures a thumb over his shoulder.
“The babies are crying. That’s what we were hearing,” I state.
“Yeah, no kidding, genius.” Timothy covers his ears with his headphones, turns his back, and leaves the room.
“Okay, little man, enough with the attitude.” Nick stands up. “You are the one that thought this was going to be a good idea, so you get first crack at taming two babies.”
“Like it’s going to be so hard.” Cockily, I turn my back and head up the stairs, where I assume the bedrooms are.
I approach the crying little humans like their heads will spin around and spew vomit out at me. Their actually really cute. They share a crib still and when I look over the railing, the boy’s eyes widen. He knows I’m a stranger. Immediately, I realize we’re fucked.
“You must be Natasha and Nate,” I whisper. They glance at each other and back to me with cries fully loaded and ready to fire.
It takes a full hour to calm them both down. Once I think I get one down, the other screams out. Nick never comes upstairs and I’m half tempted to yell for him, but it’s not worth risking waking one of the babies.
Instead, I go back and forth between them, trying my hardest to calm them both to my ability. One loves to bounce. The other wants to swing. One likes a pacifier. The other despises it.
Once their son is peacefully asleep, I pick up his sister.
“Hey, Natasha,” I whisper, sitting down at the glider. “You going to take it easy on me?” She grins up at me. “That a girl. Give the world hell.” She smiles wider. Okay, this girl likes to be talked to. Talking is something I can do. “You know, downstairs there’s a boy that doesn’t think we can survive this night? I know, I think he’s crazy, too, but I’m determined to prove him. It’s one of my favorite things to do.” Natasha’s giggle makes me laugh. “But boy, do I love him. We’ve been through some things, like down in the trenches kind of stuff, and somehow we came out on the better side of things.”
For almost fifteen minutes, I tell her about Nick. At first, she seems interested, but her eyes slowly drift to sleep, but I continue to talk to her.
“One day, someone will swoop into your life and you won’t know what it was like to live without them from that point forward. That’s when you’ll know all of the bullshit, excuse my French, has been worth it.” I stand and lay her down in the crib next to her brother. “You’ll fight for them and argue with them, hate them at times, but they’re worth every sunrise, Natasha. I promise.”
The door clicks behind me and I wait for the cries, but they never come. With a sigh of relief, I step down the stairs and find Nick at the bottom of the steps. He’s swinging the baby monitor in his hand with a wild grin on his face.
“You heard all of that?” He catches me on the bottom step, wrapping his arm around my waist.
“Worth every sunrise, huh?” He kisses my cheek and releases his hold on me, heading back towards the kitchen. “Took you long enough to put those babies to bed.”
“I take it all back.” I playfully smack the back of his head and skip past him. “I didn’t mean anything I said up there.”
“Yes, you did. You love me.” Nick slips into one of the island stools.
“Eww!” Timothy cringes, pulling open the fridge to grab a can of soda.
“Have you seen your sister?” I ask, realizing we haven’t seen her since we’ve been here.
“She’s probably already snuck out her bedroom window to meet the neighbor kid. They like to make-out in our old playhouse,” Timothy says nonchalantly.
“And your parents are okay with this or?” I look to Nick as he slides out of his seat and checks the back door.
“No, not at all. Dad says the kid is shit for brains and has so little talent, he’ll probably end up living with his parents for the rest of his life. Also, Dad’s pretty sure he’s just trying to steal Cynthia’s virginity.” Timothy couldn’t care less about this conversation. He turns his back and leaves the room as if he didn’t drop a bomb on us.
“What are we suppose to do?” I ask, unsure of how far we are allowed to go. These aren’t our kids.
Before I can suggest anything, Nick flings the back door open. “Cynthia, get your ass inside this house right now.” Cool winds break into the house as he stands with it wide open.
A young girl with beautiful blonde hair stomps inside the house. Her arms are crossed over her chest.
“How old are you?” Nick asks, shutting the door behind them.
“I’m thirteen.” This girl’s eyes widen, taking in the situation we are finding ourselves in. “You must be my sitters because my parents don’t think I’m mature enough to stay home by myself yet.”
“You bet your ass we are and I think they have a point. You snuck out of your second story bedroom to fool around with, from what I hear, a no-good boy,” Nick barks.
“Thanks a lot, Timothy.” She sticks her tongue out at her brother as he steps into the kitchen, clearly here for the show.
I grab him by the shoulders and usher him out.
From just outside the kitchen, I watch as Nick sits down beside Cynthia. “I’m sure your dad has told you this, but boys are scumbags. No one worth anything will have you sneaking out of your parents’ house.”
“I’m not a baby. I can take care of myself. Don’t sit here and act like you weren’t doing the same thing at my age.” Good argument, girl. I’ll give her that.
“That’s not the point. The point is that a boy worthy of you will come along, when you’re older. Don’t waste all the good stuff on lonely boys next door.” If I couldn’t love this man anymore…
Seems Cynthia feels the same way. I know that look. I’ve given him that look when I was thirteen years old.
“Okay.” Cynthia stands. “You know, I threw a fit when my dad said one of his players was going to babysit us tonight.”
“And now?” Nick smiles.
“You aren’t so bad.” She shrugs, leaving the room, throwing a snarl my direction before disappearing back upstairs.
Apparently, that not so bad doesn’t extend to me.
Nick meets me in the living room and we both sit down on the couch. For the next few hours, we connect in a way we haven’t been able to in a while. When I volunteered to babysit tonight, I didn’t know what to expect, but as always, we hit the task as a team, ringing in another year together with hopes and dreams for our future.
“You still think you want to have kids one day?” Nick asks once we fall into bed around two in the morning. I roll onto my side, watching him as he slips between the sheets and sighs. “I’m seriously exhausted, Hannah, and it was only a few hours.” His eyelids flutter as he succumbs to the exhaustion.
I watch him, wondering what it would be like to see him as a father to his own kids. He’d be patient, probably far more than I am, and he’d teach them how to skate before they can walk. I’m certain he’d shield a daughter from anything that tries to harm her as he did Cynthia tonight and teach his son how to cherish a girl.
“Yes.” I swallow, afraid to admit it. “I still want to have kids.”
His eyes stay shut and he rolls onto his side. “As long as they have this.” His hand slips up to my chest, covering my beating heart. “Your heart.”
“And your blue eyes,” I add.
“Well, of course.” His spring open, showing off the color. Like always, love shoots out of them straight to mine. There’s never any doubt of what I mean to this man. “And if we’re being picky of our unborn children, then I hope they have your understanding.”
“I have to be understanding to be with you.” I run my finger along his lips.
He rolls, hovering his body over mine. His strength keeping his body off of mine. He lowers himself, dropping a kiss to the tip of my nose.
“Practice makes perfect, Hannah,” Nick whispers.
“You want to practice then?” I cup his face in my hands. “Because I’m not going to lie, watching you tonight, that Dad voice, it did something for me.”
“It did, did it?” He smirks, biting the corner of his lip to stop his smirk. “Make you want to call me Daddy?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” I laugh.
Everything about Nick grows serious. His stare melts in front of my eyes, softening in all the right ways. “You’ll be a great mother one day, Hannah. I can’t wait for the day that it happens.”
“You think so?”
“You love unconditionally by nature.” He kisses my cheek, switching to the over, consuming all of me. “Our kids going to be damn lucky, just as I am.”
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