‹ Prequel: God Please
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Second Chance

Favor For Friends

Deep blue eyes looked over every line of her work. Every pencil stroke, every shade of color, and each blended wisp of creativity of what had truly been her passion since she was a young girl. Yes, she loved to write, but there was still something about sketching. Truth be told, it was art in general. It was always so real, raw, and could tell no lies. It was always constant in her life, whether she chose to express it or not. Her parents had put her down so many times over it growing up that it caused her to suppress it for years. It blew her mind how her mother had been such a fantastic painter in her early years, yet she hadn’t picked up a brush since Emily was a little girl. How can one love the arts, and then just turn their back on them for good? She just didn’t understand.

Though she typically stayed away from portraits, the piece that lay before her this morning was partially that. It was a family of three who stood on a white sandy beach on a beautifully sunny day. A light wind tugged at their clothes just enough to give that extra special touch of reality to the drawing. A small smile tugged at her lips as she studied the scene. Though the figures were decidedly more abstract than line for line detail, and their backs faced the viewer, she couldn’t help but think about the little baby that rested on the mother’s shoulder. Sadness tried to scrape at her heart as she looked at the trio, but her smile widened as the only outward sign of pushing it away. She knew in her heart that when the time was right, they would be a family of three. It was not a desperate hope or a wish, it was a deep-rooted knowledge.

“If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman? If I’m alive and well, will you be there—” the chorus to the years-old song blasted through her thoughts and she moved to grab her phone.

“Hi, Baby.”

“Hello. Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No. Not at all. I was just looking at something,” pushing herself to stand, she began the quick clean up process to clear the table in her husband’s studio. It was much more serene than her office. After all, the walls were soundproof. What could be more peaceful than that?

She listened to all he had to say, voicing just a few sounds of amusement or agreement in between. He was informing her of some of his ideas for their trip. While they were quite intriguing, it wasn’t quite what was on her mind today. She was definitely excited to hear them, though.

The warm expression that spread across her features couldn’t be stopped as the guitarist continued on so jovially. It seemed he was nearly back to his old self. Joyous, upbeat, optimistic, and planning for the future. The sound of such happiness in his tone was refreshing. However, it wasn’t long before a gentle beep in her ear signaled another call was coming in. With a sigh, she reluctantly brought the device in front of her to see who was interrupting their conversation.

“Hey, babe? I hate to stop you, but Nicoletta is calling.”

“That’s alright. I think Johnny’s going to start humping my leg if I don’t get back to work.”

“That’s disturbing. Love you!” she giggled.

“Love you more.”

Upon answering the call waiting, she let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding when she found there wasn’t any sense of urgency or alarm in the older woman’s voice. The pair chatted for a few minutes before the reason for the call came forth. Though it caught her off guard, she had to remind herself that they were in a state of moving forward. There was no need for her mind to race anymore, right? A simple request deserved a simple answer, right?

“Of course, we will watch them.” Despite the fact that she was a bit surprised at how easily the response rolled off of her tongue, she went with it. “What time?”


When Emily told Brian that she had committed them to watching the four Martinez children, he was a bit surprised, though he shouldn’t have been. They had come to be fairly close with James and Nicoletta in the last couple of months, and the next logical step in their friendship was to get to know their children. He had kind of thought that would happen over the course of events and different gatherings, but he wasn’t necessarily upset by this approach. He had really only helped out with Mckenna when she was little, and River and Cash when Matt and Val wanted to go out, so this would be a different experience, but he couldn’t say he wasn’t looking forward to it. He was a pretty hip and fun guy, wasn’t he? How hard could it be?

They arrived at the family’s home about fifteen minutes prior to when they were asked to, that way introductions could be made beforehand. Emily also insisted that they get a run down on likes and dislikes of each child so they had a little bit of a head start on avoiding conflicts. It had been years since she had to watch anyone’s kids other than that of her friends, but she remembered all sorts of craziness back in her baby-sitting days.

The door opened to reveal the Martinez wife who was dressed entirely differently than either had previously seen her in the short time they had known one another. Her makeup was much more thoughtful and elegant, and it was apparent she had really taken the time to pay attention to every detail. A small set of diamond earrings sparkled beautifully, but it was nothing compared to the glow and smile she wore tonight. Her sleek navy blue dress was conservative, but accentuated her in all of the right places. Black wedge heels completed the outfit, which had Emily beaming at her in an instant.

“Nicoletta! Look at you!”

“You look beautiful,” the guitarist complimented with a smile as well. Her happiness was contagious.

“Girl, I have not worn heels in years!” the Spanish woman laughed airily as she accepted the hug from the Haner wife. “When James told me he was taking me to a fancy place tonight, I wasn’t sure I still had anything nice to wear!”

“You really do look amazing. Wow!”

“Happy Anniversary.” Brian offered as her husband joined her now to greet them.

“Thank you,” James said with a firm handshake to the taller man. “We appreciate you coming. We weren’t sure if it was okay to ask or not.”

“Not a problem at all. We have been wanting to get to know the rest of your family, we’ve just been so busy,” Emily replied.

“Girls! Come say hello to our friends!” the Martinez wife called towards the other end of the house, where sounds of laughter rang out through the halls.

In bounded the first child, who leapt the last few feet to proudly stand before the couple. Her sandy brown hair was a bit wild from play time, and the sage green shirt she wore sported a large sunflower with the word CHEERFUL printed across it in bold letters. Those two things alone gave the pair a pretty good idea about her personality. Her carefree giggle when her father asked her to introduce herself further confirmed it.

“O-liv-ia!” she practically sang out.


“Hi Olivia. I like your shirt,” Emily said with a smile.

“Thank you! It’s my favorite!”

“She’s eight. She is our free spirit. She will be happy with just about anything you do. But her favorite thing to do is play pretend.”

“Can we play now, mommy?!” she exclaimed at the simple mention.

“Not right now, sweet girl. They might play later,” her father explained with a glance to the hallway again. The older of the three was holding the hand of her youngest sister, who seemed to have a case of shyness.

“Rose Marie is ten, and Angel is going to be three soon.” Nicoletta told them before she had to go pick the toddler up. “She is like this around new people, but will open up for you later.”

“I’m Rose Marie, but you can call me Rosey.” The pre-teen introduced herself with a smile and a gentle handshake. She stood tall, her hair was in place in a neat bun, and her clothes seemed perfect despite the fact she had just been playing with her siblings.

“Nice to meet you, Rosey. I’m Brian, and this is Emily.” The stringsman nodded once to accent his words before he rose back to his full height.

“Hi Rosey. You are very well spoken.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Emily.”

“Angel, can you say hello to our friends?”


“No, honey. English. Hello,” she encouraged with a kiss to her daughter’s flushed cheeks.”


“We have already fed them dinner. Rose’s homework is finished, and Livey’s is almost done. You don’t have to mess with that. Snack time is in about an hour, and we have all kinds of choices in the pantry. Bath time is usually around 7:30 and bed time is at 8, but they can stay up until 8:30 tonight if they’re good.”

“Rosey will help you remember,” James laughed lightly. “She is our little time keeper. She knows all the rules and is good about keeping them, and helping her sisters do the same.”

“The baby is sleeping. He ate about ten minutes before you got here. His milk is in the fridge. Rosey knows how to heat it and what temperature it needs to be if you don’t. The girls can show you where everything is. He will probably get up in an hour and a half or two hours to eat and have a diaper change, and then probably one more time after the girls go to bed, before we get home.”

“We can handle it, Nic. Everything will be fine,” Brian addressed the hesitancy her words displayed, and a smile turned up the corners of his lips now.

“I am sure it will be. It has just been so long since James and I have had a real date. Even longer since anyone besides my mother has watched them.”

“Let’s kiss the girls, darling. We don’t want to be late for our reservations.” Her husband coaxed gently. He leaned in to dot a kiss on the toddler’s cheek, before moving to hug the older girls.

“Love you, Papi!” Olivia belted with a huge kiss on the cheek and a shriek of a giggle as he gave her a bear hug.

“I love you, Papi. Have fun with Mama.” The oldest told him with a large embrace as well.

“Have fun with Mr. Brian and Mrs. Emily, girls. Be good for them.”

“We will, Mommy!”

“Adios,” the youngest girl said, though she tightened her arms around Nicoletta’s neck.

“Adios, goodbye sweetheart. Mommy and Papi won’t be gone long. It’s okay. Play with your sissies. Okay, sweet Angel?” with one last kiss to precious brunette locks, she bent down to put Angel on the ground next to her siblings.

Though the tot fussed a little, she didn’t protest much when her parents walked out the door. Emily moved to squat in front of the two and a half year old, who had a few tears glistening in her sweet brown eyes. She knew the first order of business was to gain her trust. Brian, on the other hand, smiled and looked at the older two.

“What would you young ladies like to do?”

“I want to have a tea party!” piped Olivia.

“I wanted to play 20 questions.”


“Livey, it is only fair. You picked last,” she reminded in a matter of fact, but in no way harsh tone.


“Whoa,” Emily started to intervene, when her husband fixed the problem in one statement.

“Let’s do both.”


“How in the world….”

“You of little faith,” he huffed playfully at his other half. “Come along girls. We have a date for tea and a few questions to answer!”

Swiftly taking the hands of both of the girls, the guitarist strode out of the room like he had been born for this moment. Emily’s laughter followed them down the hall as she stayed behind long enough to coax Angel into taking her hand to help her up.

This was going to be an entertaining evening, to say the least.
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Hello all. I have been struggling with inspiration, largely due to my own circumstances. However, I have been wanting to do another chapter recently, and today I decided to let it come out as it will. I was previously putting so many limitations and standards on it, that I couldn't satisfy them. This story has truly become a healing tool for me as well. Every once in a while now, I am seeing just a hint of myself in Emily or a speck of my husband in Brian. I try not to do that with my characters, but sometimes it happens.

Don't give up on me! I am going to keep pressing on.