As I walk deeper into the house, the smell of paint definitely grows stronger as I reach the stairs. Emme and Levi are still nowhere to be found. I’m not worried, though; they could be out in the yard, or over at the park. With Spring here now, we’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible.
I’m just about to head back to the kitchen when I hear it: The Weekend, singing “I Can’t Feel My Face When I’m With You”, coupled with snickering and giggles coming from the guest room. I smile, wondering what trouble these two have gotten into now. I love hearing my Little Miss laughing like that.
Opening the bedroom door, my senses immediately overload as I take in the smell of paint fumes, the colour pink, music, laughter and the sight of Levi and Emmerson dancing around the room. Levi is spinning, making funny faces along with the lyrics—lyrics about not being able to feel his face—all the while twirling a paint brush in his hand. I watch them until I can no longer keep in my laughter.
God, I love my humans.
“Mommy! Look,” Emme shrieks, then spins around pointing to the brightly coloured pink and white painted walls. Levi sees me and stops mid-dance move. He gives me a chin lift, taking me in with his trademark molten lava stare topped off with what Grams calls that “panty-dropping grin” of his that he reserves for only me.
Yum, Levi, but let a girl get in the door for five minutes before turning her into a pool of need.
“Hi, Scrappy. Welcome home.” Home. There’s that word again. I smile back seeing the bastard smirk, knowing exactly what he does to me.
A giddy and excited Emmerson rushes over and gives me a huge rough hug, her oversized coveralls almost causing her to trip into my legs.
“Do you wove it, Mommy? It’s pink, my favourite! Levi let me pick. He said he wanted me to have my room here, too. So now I have phree bedrooms.”
“Whoa, Little Miss. Be careful with your army warfare. Slow down. Yes, I do love it. It’s perfect.” I smile down at Emme, but lift a brow at Levi.
I see Emme’s eyes, wide from smiling so much, looking up at me over the top of her painter’s mask. The sight makes my nose twitch and my eyes burn as the realization hits me:Levi loves her too. Levi loves my daughter, maybe as his own or maybe almost as much, but, regardless, I have no doubt that he will always keep her safe and protected. I know it’s just coveralls and a mask, but they mean everything to me in this instance. Everything.
I bend down, scoop Emme up in my arms, and hug her hard to my chest. “I missed you.” I remove the mask from her face. Having spied the paint can, I see it’s non-toxic, the window is open, and the ceiling fan is running, too, so I think she’ll survive without it.
I look up to see that Levi hasn’t taken his eyes off of me. Cocking my head, I silently query if everything’s okay, wondering if I’ve done something wrong or if he’s suddenly realized he needs something.
“What?” I pause, looking at him. “You okay?”
“More than okay, I just needed a minute. You’re so beautiful.”
Oh, my ovaries!
“Levi…” It’s a whisper.
“Well, you are, Mommy, Shaggy’s right. Oh, did I tell ya we’re gonna get a cat that’s gonna live here, too? Shaggy said we could. I think we’re gonna name him Mystery.”
“Wow. Mystery. That’s a great name. A cat, eh?” I say, shaking my head and giving Levi a scowl that doesn’t hold much weight after his last comment. Bastard doesn’t play fair.Hell, if he asked me to move in again right now, I’d say yes without any hesitation.
“It’s for us, Mystery Inc., like on Scooby,” she says all proud, puffing out her little chest.
The sound of Levi clearing his throat, trying to hide a laugh, forces me to laugh, too.
“It’s a perfect name for a cat.” I tell her, and tuck a ringlet that’s come loose back into her ponytail.
“How about we clean the brushes up, Scooby, and have Paint and Pizza Night?” says Levi.
“Yeah! Paint and Pizza Night. Can we watch ’punzel, too, again?”
I roll my eyes at the idea of once more watching Tangled. Ever since Pat bought it for Emme a few weeks ago, it’s all we’ve watched when we’re here.
“Yes, we can watch ’punzel again. But you go help wash up. I’ll call and order the pizza,” I say.
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