We Did a Good Thing Ch. 02

The words "READ ME!" were written directly adjacent to the engagement ring I'd offered her months earlier.

My love, please don't be alarmed. I haven't left you. I haven't abandoned you. I'm not ending it or calling off the wedding.

I know I took you to a dark place last night when you revealed so much to me, and I'm sincerely grateful that you did. We can't have secrets, especially painful ones, and I'm thankful you felt comfortable enough to share your pain with me.

I trust you. I so totally and completely do, but I'm not sure you've absolved yourself of your own perceived guilt of your past. I'm worried you haven't moved beyond what Cassidy did to you. What happened wasn't your fault, but I don't want to think or worry that your pain will keep you from trusting me fully or completely. I hope you understand what I mean. I know your heart was broken, and I'm not comparing your story to mine.

I need to be sure that you're ready. I am so totally and completely ready to be your wife, but I'm worried that you're still reserving your fullest because of your past, and wonder if you're totally and completely ready to by my husband.

I hope you understand that I need to know you're sure. If you aren't, I'll wait. Stacie and I both will wait as long as you need. Please know this is me being totally honest with the man I want as my husband. I am giving you the chance to decide to ask me again. Or not.

I'm totally and completely supportive and devoted to you, my love, whether you choose me again or not.

I'm in the other bedroom.

All my love,

Brenda

It was a kick to my balls, and I was pissed.

It was a kick I needed, and I was pissed at myself.

I sat at the foot of the bed, reevaluating the last ten months of my life,

I left the master bedroom with her ring and walked to the guest bedroom on the opposite side of the house, across the hall from Stacie's.

I knocked softly.

There was no answer, so I opened the door and walked inside to see Brenda under the covers of the bed.

I said nothing as I withdrew the covers from her sleeping body. I placed my right arm under her knees, and my left under her shoulders. I carefully lifted her limp form from the bed, and began to walk to our bedroom. The soft jostles stirred her.

"Todd?" she sighed, awakening.

"Yes, Love?" I whispered, still walking.

"What are you doing?" she said with a small trace of alarm in her voice.

"Taking you back to the bed you belong in."

"Did you read it?" she whispered, her head now erected, watching where we were going.

"I did."

"And?"

"You are so right."

"Talk to me, Todd. Please talk to me," Brenda said as I lowered her to the foot of our bed and sat on the floor on front of her.

My emotions suddenly overwhelmed me. The cries I sought to hide the night before escaped my grasp. I released myself to the woman I loved. I released everything. I cried. I cried fully and forcefully.

"I'm sorry, Brenda! I am! I wasn't trying to push you away. I do trust you, Baby. I don't know if I can explain it, but you're everything to me. Yes, Cassidy killed me. But you're bringing me back— Oh, shit. No, that's completely the wrong thing to say. You . . . you brought me back to life. I hope you understand me. You rescued me, Brenda!"

She softly kissed the tears away from my cheeks. "I wish that had never happened to you," she whispered tenderly.

"It ended, and I know that I dodged a big bullet," I said, hugging my future wife close to me. "You asked last night if I was excited with you like I was with her, and I said 'no.'

"I'm not excited like that. The excitement I feel now, for you, can't be described.

"I think I told you when I took you and Stacie out to dinner that evening in Seward that I might have noticed what was going on between me and Cassidy if I'd paid attention. I mean, hell. Even Benny tried to tell me that something just wasn't sitting quite right, but I waved him off, and he didn't press. He never even said 'I told you so' when she proved him right.

"But I swear to you, Brenda, I've been paying attention every day since. I've even consciously made myself look for a reason not to trust you in a way that could turn back on me, and I hate myself now for doing that, because I have seen nothing. There's absolutely nothing I don't look forward to in spending the rest of my life with you."

I stopped speaking, wondering if I'd hear a rebuttal. Hearing none, I added, "Brenda, I trust you. Completely."

"Baby," she whispered, "I'm nothing like that. I love you, Todd, and only you," she cried with me.

I knew she was nothing like my former "whatever".

She knew me and understood me. She got me.

"I love you, too, Brenda," I whispered, looking up at her, seeing nothing but tender compassion painted all over her.

"Brenda Emily Mays," I said, taking her left hand in mine. "I will give every ounce of my being to honor, protect, and provide for you and your daughter. I admit I've been an asshole, and gave you a reason to doubt me. The woman who crushed my soul did me a favor and released me to find you.

"I've thought I'd said goodbye to her, but I admit that I never released the pain she caused until you drew it out of me. You . . . Damn it, Brenda, you somehow knew that I needed to swim across the River Styx again to realize just how drawn to you I am.

"I will strive to be every bit the man you want and deserve, and I hope you grant me grace and mercy if I sometimes fall short, as will I you. Thank you for pushing me to talk. Thank you for listening as I did.

"Please, Miss Mays, I really do want you to marry me and be my forever wife, friend, confidant, life partner, and soulmate," I concluded as I replaced the ring on her finger she'd removed at some point during the night.

She wrapped her arms around me.

"Yes again, Baby! Yes!" she squeaked as her own tears flowed again. "God, Todd! That was even more awesomer than the first time you asked!" she bawled.

She said, "I know you, Todd! Telling me what you told me last night had to be very difficult for you," she sniffled. "Thank you for opening up to me. Thank you for letting me see that dark spot. Forget this one on your back. What you described to me last night was your real scar," she said, running her fingers down the strip of distorted skin I'd earned twenty years earlier.

"I'm sorry for crying on you," I gasped in stuttered breath. "I guess I'm not so manly to you right now, huh?"

"Yes, you are, Baby. More now than ever. You've earned a crap-ton of man-points for letting your guard down. I love that. I love that you're willing to be vulnerable with me, you know?"

"I said this a while back. I hid a lot of stuff under the bed. I think you've just pulled the last of it out."

"Jeez, Todd, I love you so much," she said, kissing me softly. "I can't wait for you to be my husband," she wept.

I, quite willingly, did, too.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I'm a pragmatist, so that's saying something.

I was overwhelmed in joy the moment I saw Miss Brenda Emily Mays walking down the aisle, "escorted" by her daughter, Stacie Ellen Mays. I was overwhelmed not just by the moment, but also because our petition for me to adopt Stacie as my daughter, signed by us both, was sitting on a particular family lawyer's desk. I was, that day, her step-father, and I knew that title would live a very short life.

Texas's legal requirements had all been satisfied. Brenda and I had signed the petition two days prior to our ceremony.

The next day, we drove to the port in Galveston to embark on a seven day cruise to Key West, then a private island, then to Nassau, then back to Galveston on a very kid-friendly ship. Our attorney would have plenty to do while we were gone.

Yes, of course we took Stacie with us on our honeymoon.

The cruise line's menu of on-board activities, being very family friendly, ensured Brenda and I had plenty of alone time to celebrate our union both metaphorically and very, very physically. The fact that I booked us a two-bedroom suite afforded us even more. We realized naval architects don't seem to take into consideration what happens behind closed doors on cruise ships, because I found the sound attenuation between our cabins to be rather . . . unsatisfactory. Yes, Brenda and I tested it as each of us stood in opposing rooms with the connecting door closed. Normal "indoor" voices couldn't be heard through the walls, but anything louder could. Wanting to avoid traumatizing our child, we kept our animalistic noises down.

On our first full sea day, which was the day after our departure, we took Stacie to a Character Destination at a massive onboard venue that could hold probably a hundred kids plus thirty "cast members." The adult supervision was more than adequate. We knew Stacie would be safe and secure there.

The look on Stacie's face when she saw so many familiar and utterly alive movie characters interacting with the children was priceless, and we both lucked into some great "candid" photos with our phones.

"Bye, Mommy! Bye, Daddy!" Stacie said before she eagerly went into the room, and my heart absolutely melted. It was the only the fourth or fifth time she'd addressed me as such.

Her fifth birthday was the next day, and we had even more special events planned at a place in Key West which was managed by a former client of mine who was more than willing to offer Brenda and I a special favor. No, I wasn't trying to spoil Stacie or garner particular favor. I only wanted the whole experience to be one of her fondest early memories of family.

Brenda took my hand, then whispered into my ear, "We've got two hours. Let's use them." She smiled invitingly before nibbling my earlobe, then she took off down the broad passageway.

She was laughing when the elevator's doors closed before I got there, so I had to run up the stairs.

"You're going to pay for that," I wheezed when she exited the elevator. She was quite surprised to see me waiting for her elevator on deck eight. I was surprised I made it up there alive because I was taking the stairs two or three steps at a time.

"Oh, I hope so," she giggled, then sprinted again to our stateroom.

Jeez, my wife could haul her perfect butt! And thankfully, there were no other passengers in the passageway for her to careen into.

She pulled me aggressively into our stateroom when I reached it.

She stripped the clothes from her body and nonchalantly strolled onto the open-air veranda, completely nude, twirling around her finger the indigo blue panties she'd removed. I wondered if she was going to toss them into the Gulf of Mexico, but she tossed them to me instead.

I placed her offering under my nose, smelling her rich and absolutely delicious scent.

"We have to be quiet, okay?" she grinned, "It ain't exactly soundproofed out here."

"Did you just say ain't'?" I chuckled.

"Yeah, you and Texas have rubbed off on me."

"Yeah? Well, you got me hooked on Dorothy Lynch, and you might even convince me to become a Husker fan. But, Baby, I will never. Ever. Ever like red beer."

My gorgeous wife pulled me close to her and said, "I won't try to change your mind, because red beer is disgusting."

The red-tinged fur at her mons, however, was absolutely beautiful.

"You gonna get naked, or what?" she whispered. "I want to make love with you out here," she smiled so sweetly that goosebumps ran down the back of my arms, back, and legs.

She reclined atop the deck table and pulled her knees up to her chest, exposing very inviting sights to my eyes.

I knelt and ran my tongue across one, eliciting a wonderful gasp and sigh. I placed my tongue's tip at the center of a forbidden spot with a little wiggle while stroking her clitoris with my thumb.

"Oh," she quietly groaned.

She hissed through clenched teeth when I licked that spot again, feeling her little ring-like muscle contract repeatedly in reflex as her first orgasm struck. I insinuated my tongue into her vagina, consuming its plentiful offerings, partially satisfying my animalistic hunger and thirst.

Her flavor. Her scent. Her textures. Her groans and whimpers. They were familiar, but suddenly and so newly amplified.

"I need you inside me, my husband," she whispered with a sexy smile after she'd settled into coherence.

I watched her eyes roll back as I entered her. She mewled in a wonderfully soft, fantastically feminine tone and put her hand over her mouth to quiet herself.

My thighs and calves were exercised as I worked myself in full strokes, occasionally removing myself completely so I could experience the sensation of penetrating her again.

My love and lover wrapped her limbs around me, clutching me into a forever-embrace when I began erupting into her. I felt her clenching vagina. She knew I was cumming, and she was increasing my pleasure with the wonder-clutches. She made me quiver. I stood at the table's edge, slowly stroking in and out of my mate as I softened. When I reached the point I could no longer enter her, I released our embrace, and both of us stood completely naked in the late morning's sun.

"Do you think anyone heard us?" she quietly giggled.

"No way," I answered. "But whoever is flying that drone might have caught quite a show."

"Where!" she yelped, twisting us around so that her back was to our cabin, using my body as an unnecessary shield, searching over my shoulder for something that didn't exist.

"Gotcha!" I chuckled, gently stroking her bare bottom. "Payback for you making me run up the stairs."

"Oh, wow!" she laughed. "That was pretty good!"

She turned to walk back into the suite, and I slid the glass door closed behind us and drew the shades closed.

We had a little over an hour to kill. After we recombobulated ourselves, we spent the time exploring the immense ship and its various activities and venues.

The festivities I'd planned for our day in Key West didn't quite turn out as I had hoped because a late-season tropical depression blew into the gulf overnight. The high winds and thirty-foot seas prevented the ship from making port because other ships couldn't leave their berths. That meant ours had no place to moor.

The captain, probably trying to preserve fuel, navigated his vessel in a circle with a twenty mile radius, but at a speed which reduced the roll-stabilizing system's effectiveness. It wouldn't have mattered if we'd made port, though, because the weather was horrible in Key West, too.

Stacie became a bit green around the gills in the rough seas, and, to be honest, so did I.

Brenda spent her time doping us with anti-nausea medications which Stacie and I basically slept off. I felt horrible. Not just physically, but I regretted we weren't able to celebrate Stacie's birthday the way I'd planned.

Thankfully, I'd not taken into account that five-year-old kids aren't exactly familiar with calendars, so when Stacie and I felt better two days later, she was quite convinced the celebration was of her actual birthday.

"You're such a wimp," Brenda playfully chastised me in a whisper while characters sang "Happy Birthday" to Stacie in the restaurant we'd selected for dinner.

"Don't hold it against me, okay?"

"Never, Babe," she kissed me tenderly. "I'm guessing flying airplanes is different?"

"I've only gotten airsick while piloting a plane a couple of times. Both times, I found an airfield to land at to wait out the weather. I imagine that's not entirely practical for quarter-mile-long cruise ships, though."

"You are such a great daddy. You did your best to comfort and care for Stacie, even as bad as you were feeling," she whispered, kissing me softly again, not giving a damn that we were in the public eye.

Her words and actions warmed me to my core. I answered, "You're a better mommy, because you pampered me, too," I smiled and kissed her warm lips again and again.

We had an absolutely fantastic time on the line's private island as well as in the Bahamas, despite the light rain. Who cares if a little water is coming from the sky when you're splashing in the azure blue warm water of the Caribbean? Those days more than made up for the few uncomfortable sea days. It seemed that Stacie thought such activities were some sort of "forbidden fruit" while she was dancing, prancing, swimming, and playing in rain. Thankfully, there weren't any thunderstorms, or we'd have had to abort those activities, too.

My two gals slept most of the ninety minute drive back from Galveston to our home in Katy after we'd returned to port.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Just before the Christmas holidays, Stacie Ellen Mays became Stacie Ellen Carlson when the adoption was finalized. Added to the joy I felt in marrying her mother, the fact that Stacie was officially my daughter felt enormously fulfilling.

Brenda and I decided to enroll our daughter in a Pre-K program hosted at the local senior high school. Brenda wanted to spend more time working in our office, and, more importantly, we wanted Stacie to interact daily with children her own age.

I say "our office" because I'd already started working with counsel to bring Brenda in as my business partner in the limited liability corporation.

The firm had grown dramatically over the prior two years, and I'd begun investigating expansion, seeking appropriate nearby commercial properties into which we could relocate. Brenda asked if she could take over that job, and I quite willingly agreed.

We returned to the office right after the new year break.

"Hey, Bren!" Benny grinned, offering my wife a fist to bump along with his latest chosen diminutive.

"No," Brenda objected, wagging a finger at my best friend and most-talented investigator, Benjamin Warren.

"Fine, then. 'Sup, Brie?" he said, presenting his fist again.

"Todd, cuff him, will you?" she laughed.

"My sister from another Mister?" Benny tried again, with an appellation far from diminutive.

"That'll work," she said, bumping his fist twice. "So, you tell me. What's the word, Benihana? What'd we miss?"

"Absolutely not!" he barked, the play repeating in reverse.

I enjoyed the banter between the two of them. Brenda and Benjamin clicked immediately when they first met, working together on the Hanes/Grant case. Both of them had an odd angle to their senses of humor. They often fed off each other. It was fun to watch.

I'd left him at the helm of the firm for the month I'd been absent.

"All of the applications have either been culled or assigned, except for this one. This one is wild. The kid's attorney wrote the application. You're not going to believe it," he said, opening the the online file to display the document on the screen in the team room.

I read the summary.

"No. Reject it," I said.

"Come on, Todd," he said gently.

"No, Benny. You know that's counter to the firm's practices."

"Yeah, I know. Just . . . read it again."

"Benny, no. You know I don't want to get the firm into things like this. Particularly domestic cases. Especially something that . . . horrific."

"Whoa, Boss. You didn't say that when I helped a certain someone a year ago who shall remain nameless, and whose perpetrators will undoubtedly go to prison, all on account of this firm. YOUR firm."

"Todd," my wife nudged me, "read it again. Please?"

I used the wireless mouse to open the more detailed portions of the application.

I read it all twice.

"Brenda, what's your opinion?"

"Take it, Todd. We have to."

"Why?"

"You know it's the right thing to do."

"I'll leave you two to discuss it," Benny said as he left the room.

"What's your concern?" Brenda asked after she closed the door after Benny departed.

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