Julia left Emily at Lucy's house at 3:15 the next morning, already late for work. Emily and Lucy had run off to play with Lucy's paints almost immediately, and Julia had rushed off quickly. Because she was late for work, but also because she didn't really like Lucy's not only parents and didn't want to talk to them.
"Lucy! Emily! Don't make a mess!" Amanda, Lucy's mother shouted up the stairs.
"We won't!" came the chorus of angelic voices, and then mischievous giggling could be heard.
Amanda smiled and shook her head. "Kids," she muttered. There came a crash and a smash from the kitchen, and then the rolling sound of metal on a tiled floor. "Steven... what happened?" Amanda asked suspiciously, as she entered the kitchen.
"Um, nothing, dear," her fiancée said, unable to keep the grin from his face.
Amanda laughed at the complete mess Steven had made. Several plates, which had obviously fallen from the open overhead cabinets, were smashed on the floor, the pieces scattered across it so that it looked more than it actually was. There were pans also on the floor, some on their sides, some upside down. The granite counter had been chipped slightly. Steven was standing shocked in the far corner of the room.
"What did you do?" Amanda asked.
"I was trying to get... great, I've forgotten," Steven answered sheepishly.
"And you're going to tidy this up, yeah?" Amanda raised an eyebrow.
"You're going to help, yeah?" Steven countered.
Amanda rolled her eyes. "I'll go get the sweeping brush."
"I'll... err... tell the kids not to come in." Steven launched himself over the rubble, landing so that his face was just centimetres from hers.
Amanda gasped jokingly. "Cheater."
"Oh, so it's a game now is it?" Steven grinned.
"It must be," Amanda grinned back.
They kissed briefly, and then Steven retreated hastily up the stairs. Amanda thought this was a bit strange of him, but let it pass. They had only just moved in together and Steven was finding it just slightly difficult to adjust to engaged life. But then, Steven had always been quite a shy person.
"Steven?" Amanda called when he was halfway up the stairs. Steven jumped down a few steps. "Love you."
"Love you too," Steven smiled, before walking back up the stairs.
"Ahh! No! Stop painting me!" Emily squealed.
"No!" Lucy giggled back.
Both girls were completely covered in a brownish mush of mixed up, wet and drying paint. There was paint on the walls, the floor, and all over the furniture. Wet paper had been strewn all over Lucy's bedroom and the table they had meant to be using to paint on had been knocked onto it's side.
"Girls, don't-" Steven started, but stopped when he saw the complete chaos the children had made of the room. "What have you been doing?"
Lucy and Emily grinned but said nothing.
"It was an accident," Lucy smiled angelically.
Steven smiled too. "Just clean it up. And don't go in the kitchen, all right?"
"OK," they promised.
"Hands over heart?" Steven challenged. Both girls put an arm across their chests.
"Cross my heart and hope to die," they said, out of sync. Then they got the words confused.
"Uhh... stick a pin... umm... my eyes..." Emily said.
"Needle... err... put it... I mean, stick it... in my eyes!" Lucy said at the same time.
"All right, all right. This has to be tidy by the time I come back up, then you can both have a bath." Steven told them. They nodded.
Steven left, and the girls looked at each other.
"It was your fault" they both exclaimed, and then fell to the floor in fits of laughter.
"Where are you going?" Amanda asked after the kitchen had been cleaned and she and Steven were watching TV.
Steven, who had just got up, answered, "Not far. I'll be back soon."
"You sure? Last time you said that you were gone two hours."
"OK, I'm going to the pub for a bit," Steven fidgeted. "I hope you don't mind, Mandy."
Amanda smiled at Stevens nickname for her. "No, I don't mind. Just don't get drunk, kay?"
"Yeah, sure. Love you, yeah?" he walked over to the sofa a knelt in front of Amanda.
Amanda grinned. "Yeah, yeah, love you too. Now, get gone."
"No," Steven put a hand either side of Amanda's face. He couldn't believe was he was doing. She would be so upset when she found out. "I love you, Amanda."
"I love you too," Amanda smiled warmly. Steven leant in and pressed his lips softly to hers.