It was getting close to Christmas by the time I was cut out of that godforsaken cast. I still had to use crutches, though, because apparently my body doesn’t like it when I break a bone, and it doesn’t heal as fast as it should. It was already close to the twenty four week mark – the maximum healing time of a broken lower leg – and the only decent progress I’d had was getting the cast off.
My usual enthusiasm for shopping had been curbed significantly by the fact that getting around on crutches was so much effort, and without being able to use my other foot to balance on if I didn’t move properly, I tended to have to choose between gritting my teeth and putting weight on my bad leg, or just falling over. Honestly, I have no idea how people get around with these things without putting themselves back in hospital every other day. So, most of my shopping for Christmas had been done online while I was sulking in between trips to the bathroom to deal with my libido.
Hadley had made it pretty clear that because I’d cheated, I was not going to be getting any sex until he decided to call off my celibacy. It was a risky move, given that I’d cheated on him for sex in the first place, and that was when I still had a chance to get some with him anyway. Still, I was determined not to fuck up again, and spent a disgusting amount of time in the bathroom trying to stop myself running off and doing something I’d regret. Again.
We were planning to do our usual family Christmas up with Hadley’s parents, only instead of fitting about eight people into the house, we had to somehow fit all of the kids, too. There would not only be Lily, Danny and Ava’s offspring Riley there, but John and Beau were invited too. Which meant this Christmas was going to be one big headache for me. As much as I love my kids and Beau... Well, I think we all know how I feel about kids.
And we also know how I feel about my family. Like I’d said to Cayden when he asked if I’d told her that we adopted kids, I’d barely spoken to her since me and Hadley got married. All contact with her after that was grudgingly given or accepted, and the only way she’d found out about the kids is because granddad told her. So you can probably imagine how I felt about the idea of Mrs. Smith wanting to fly them both out here for Christmas with us. I didn’t mind granddad coming, but did mum have to come too? I could just imagine my dad raging about having to spend Christmas on his own. In fact, he’d probably try to come over too, just so that we could all be miserable because he is.
If that’s not enough of a hectic, probably drama-filled Christmas, then you’ll love the next part: Cay and Hadley are both going to be at this Christmas gathering, but neither of them has been told that the other is going. So that should be fun, too.
A few days before Christmas, also known as what will probably be my own personal hell for the day, I was sat on the floor wrapping presents with the kids, when someone knocked on the door. Hadley got up to answer it since I was still hobbling around, and stuck on the floor for now.
“Hadley,” I heard my mother’s voice saying. Oh, god, she’s here already. Someone kill me now. I glanced up to see her and Hadley smiling at each other.
“Hey, Mrs. F,” he said. “Come in,” he stood back to let her in and she looked around as she wandered inside.
“This is a nice place,” she commented, clearly thinking it was too small and homely. She was one of those weird people who liked huge houses with sleek modern fittings. Y’know the kinda places. The ones that don’t look habitable. Hadley smiled.
“It’s home,” he said. She smiled back, making her way over to me and the kids. She knelt down between me and Lily, who looked up at her.
"I'm Lily. Who are you?" she asked, earning a smile from mum.
"I'm your grandmother - Maxxie's mother," she explained. I was casually ignoring her, doing my best to make it look like I was too engrossed in wrapping presents to talk to her.
"I've never had a grandma before," Lily grinned.
"Well, now you have two. Me and Mrs. Smith." Lily looked confused at that. She’d never met Hadley’s mum before, so she had no idea who Mrs. Smith was supposed to be.
"She means Hadley's mum," I told her, not looking up from my wrapping.
"Oh. I haven't met her yet," Lily said.
"Haven't you? She's very nice,” mum smiled. Yeah, she was only nice once she’d finished waging world war three with you.
"She must be if she's Papa's mommy," she smiled back as Hadley sat down with us all and started helping with the wrapping. Danny looked wary of Hadley’s proximity and shuffled a little closer to me. After Hadley had knocked me over, Danny had suddenly gotten all scared of him. We figured something bad had happened to him in a previous home, but I didn’t wanna ask him about it, really. I’d never been hit or anything, but I knew what it was like to grow up with a bully for a parent. He was less scared of Hadley now, but as I took a break from my wrapping and sat Danny between my legs, he clung to my shirt a little and stared at Hadley.
Hadley, who had been watching, looked kind of upset as I tried to distract Danny with some wrapping he’d abandoned. I leaned over as Hadley wrapped something up and kissed him on the cheek, earning myself a hum. I knew how much the kids meant to him, and I was pretty sure it was killing him that Danny was scared of him.
Lily and mum’s chatter filled the room while I played with Danny’s hair, and Danny stared at Hadley. He nuzzled my chest a little, and noticing Hadley still looked slightly upset, I asked if anyone wanted a drink. I kind of hoped that if I got up and went over to the kitchen that Danny would stay in the living room and that the presence of a stranger would make him go sit with Hadley instead. Seriously, that look on his face when Danny gets all scared of him is horrible.
“Juice, please,” Lily said.
“Juice, please,” Danny echoed quietly. Hadley shook his head and mum asked for a coffee. I used the back of the sofa to pull myself up with and hobbled off to get the drinks. I watched as Danny shuffled over to Hadley and sat down on his lap instead. It worked then. I felt a little relieved at that, and just had to hope he wouldn’t come straight back to me when I got back. I smiled as I was thanked for bringing the drinks, and Danny stayed sat on Hadley’s lap, though admittedly, he did look like he wanted to be back with me instead. I did my best to ignore the urge to give in and tell him to come back over, finishing off the wrapping up instead.
When I was done, Danny was staring at mum. She smiled at him, clearly a little uncertain, kinda like I was when I met him for the first time. He kept staring.
"You're very quiet, Danny,” she said in an attempt to get him to say something.
"He stares a lot. We've gotten used to it,” Hadley told her, ruffling Danny’s hair.
“Oh, I see. Has he got any um, special needs?” she asked, clearly trying, and failing, to phrase the question politely.
"Not that we know of," Hadley said, playing with Danny’s hair.
“Even if he did, why would it matter?” I asked defensively. Usually I’d probably use a slightly more polite tone, but I was talking to my mum, and y’know. Old habits die hard and all that. Mum kept quiet, looking like she was beginning to regret asking. I didn’t feel in the slightest bit bad about it, either. Danny looked like he had finally relaxed, and Hadley kept playing with his hair.
"Why don't you show grandma some of your drawings?” Hadley proposed, probably trying to diffuse the awkwardness that would no doubt fill the silence otherwise.
“Okay,” Danny went off to get some drawings to show her. I scooted over to Hadley and cuddled up to him, feeling a little better as he cuddled back. Danny came back with some of his dinosaur drawings and showed her them, supplying a few dinosaur sound effects to go with them. Mum enthused over them, and it was hard to tell whether she was actually being enthusiastic or whether she was just pretending to make him feel good about his drawings.
"I do drawings too, grandma,” Lil grinned. "D'you want to see some?"
"Of course. Will you get some to show me?" She did and showed them off to my mum, looking proud when mum was eager to see them all too. Danny stared the whole time, and as I glanced at the clock, I decided it was time to make dinner. I couldn’t be dealing with sibling rivalry as well as my mum’s presence.
“Right, you two, I’d like you to help Papa clean up while I make dinner, ‘kay?” they nodded and helped clear up while I struggled to get to my feet. Fucking useless piece of shit leg. Hadley helped me get up and after muttering a vaguely grumpy ‘thanks’ I went over to the kitchen and tried to decide what would take the most time and effort to make.