***Chapter Twenty-Seven***
Word Count: 1,928

John slid a fingertip along her arm. She was asleep or at least on the verge of falling asleep. She'd had a busy week preceded by a pretty emotionally draining trip to New York last weekend. He'd hated her going, but knew she felt the need to. So he wasn't insulted or bothered by the fact she was on the verge of falling asleep a few minutes after sex on their wedding night.

He was pretty sure the trip had been more for Bill and Justin's benefit than her own, but there'd been a niggling doubt in his mind that the trip would set them back more than just a step or two. He had visions of her coming back and feeling or thinking she was doing something wrong by marrying him. If she hadn't seen any of her friends he may not have been as uncertain, but they were people who knew her then. That life she led in New York with Dan and that did not include John. So, he'd braced himself for her coming back and at the very least delaying things if not canceling them altogether. Her phone call helped, but it hadn't eased his mind entirely since she hadn't seen her friends yet.

He'd bought her an engagement ring back in January, holding off giving it to her until they'd told the kids and her family. She'd insisted it wasn't necessary.

He hated that word. He especially hated her using it in conjunction with anything having to do with them or their relationship.


Of course it wasn't necessary, but you plan on marrying someone you do that. She deserved a ring. She deserved a lot of things. She certainly deserved better than the wedding they had today. She'd given into his wishes, though, and made it very small. They'd still gotten married in the church, but since theirs was so small her priest (who had married her and Dan, Scott and Joan, and her parents as it turned out) had agreed to marry them early in the day before another wedding had been scheduled.

He'd been very glad she had the ring for her trip, though. It wasn't vanity or anything because while it was a pretty nice ring he wasn't pretentious enough to believe there were none bigger out there. He just liked knowing she had a token, a symbol when she saw her friends again last weekend.

The closest thing they'd had to an actual argument regarding this whole thing was whether or not she was going to change her name. He completely understood her not wanting to upset or disrupt her kids, but he absolutely was not going to spend the next fifty years with a constant reminder of her first husband as part of her name. If only because John thought she deserved infinitely better (truthfully, he thought she deserved infinitely better than him, too). She didn't want to go back to using Standish, which he understood he supposed. Using Dan's name, though, just smacked to John of wanting to hang on to something not worth hanging onto. If the guy had been a stellar guy John could maybe understand it. Why would she keep the name of the guy who'd cheated on her versus taking John's who'd done nothing disrespectful to her?

They hadn't talked for a few days after that conversation. He'd gotten pretty drunk that night, too. He just couldn't do it, talk to her and pretend he was at all happy with her wanting to keep that asshole's name. He had visions of her calling it off during the time they hadn't talked. Greg had insisted he wasn't being out of line. (Yes, John told him everything he knew about Dan, including what Bill had told him about seeing him kissing someone else.) They hadn't talked about it when they finally did talk days later. They hadn't ever again. He wasn't going to bring it up and evidently she felt the same way. He had no idea what to say that hadn't been said during their argument. It wasn't until this week that she told him she was going to take his name. It made his heart hurt in a way he hadn't been able to fathom that she'd even contemplated doing that. It wasn't even about her having his name. He could give two shits about his name when it got down to it. In fact, generally speaking, it bothered him that she was taking on the name of his dad. He didn't like the idea of her having anything to do with him however distantly.

He ran a finger over her ring finger. There was a wedding band with her engagement ring now. Their bands matched. He'd stared at his hand at lunch after the ceremony more than a few times. He'd never worn jewelry of any kind so it was completely foreign to him to look down and see something there. He imagined that would take him a while to get used to.

The boys were at Greg and Lisa's for the night. Tomorrow they'd pick them up in the afternoon and drive up to Greg's cabin again for a few days. Not nearly as good a honeymoon as she deserved, but she insisted she didn't want anything better. They'd be able to do more stuff this go around than they had when they were there in the winter. The Dells weren't far and the things to do there were endless. Greg and Lisa had no plans on going up to the place for a couple of weeks

“What are you thinking?” she whispered.

“I thought you fell asleep,” he said, kissing her shoulder.

“No,” she said, turning to face him. “I like laying with you. I missed you last night.”

“I missed you, too.” He shrugged. “I was just thinking it's strange.”

“What is?”

“How a piece of paper can change everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“Last night I went to bed…”

“You did not go to bed last night.”

“Okay, this morning when I went to bed. Is that better?”

“As long as you went to bed alone.”

“I'm going to assume you're joking, considering your brother was there with me.”

“I think I'd pay money to see my brother at a strip club.”

“Princess, I didn't want to go.”

“I'm sure it was a terrible burden.”

“Stop,” he said. He ran a fingertip along her collarbone. “I've got you. I don't need or want to look at anyone else. Besides, you went to an equally morally questionable place.”

His friends had decided at the last minute that he needed to have a bachelor party despite the fact that only Greg and a couple of others were going to be at the actual wedding. He hadn't wanted to go, but evidently Lisa had talked to Nancy and Claire's friends took her out, too.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “And I was so bored.”


“Yes,” she said with a shrug.

“Well, I guess that's good to know. I don't have to worry about you taking up going to male strip clubs on your nights off.”

“No,” she said with a laugh.

“So, I went to sleep this morning … Alone. I was single. I'm going to sleep tonight not single anymore. All because of a piece of paper saying I'm not. We had the piece of paper weeks ago, but we signed it today. Just strange.”

“Bad strange?”

“No, just strange. Unexpected strange. I mean, two years ago when I showed up at your dad's funeral if someone had told me I'd be here now I would've laughed at them.”

“Because you didn't know Dan had died.”

“Well, right, but I still wouldn't have believed it.”

“I wouldn't have either.”

“I bet.”

“Why did you show up at Dad's funeral?”

“I wanted to see you,” he shrugged. “I knew you'd be there, didn't know how long you were going to be in town or anything.”

“You knew I was married, though.”

“Sure, doesn't mean I didn't want to see you. It sure doesn't mean I was sorry you lost your dad. I may not talk to mine, but I know that's not normal and I remembered you liked yours well enough.”

“I was so surprised to see you there.”

“I could tell. I was surprised, too.”


“I had no idea you had kids, and Bill was a lot older than any kids I might have imagined you having.”


“And now here we are.”

“Is Greg going to take you to places like that often?”

He snorted. “No. I hadn't been to one in like six years before last night. I have an idea, though, just to be sure.”


“You could give me a lap dance every once in a while.”

“Oh God, don't even.”

He chuckled. “I think I might actually like that from you.”


He shifted them so she was on top of him. He was admittedly pretty tired. It was four o'clock in the morning before he'd gotten to bed. He hadn't slept well, worried he'd oversleep despite the fact he hadn't had too much to drink or anything the night before. Paranoia. He'd never be too tired for her, though.

“It depends. Would I have to tip you?”

She laughed softly, leaning in to kiss him. She pressed against him, apparently noticing despite being tired and them having sex not that long ago he wasn't that tired.

“I think you'd better expect to, yes.”

“Yeah? Hmm. Do you take checks?”

She laughed softly, kissing his neck.

“I'm sure we could work out some sort of arrangement.”

“That's very good to hear.”

“Now, Mrs. Bender, I think you have something to tend to.”

“Hmm, it seems I do. Say that again.”


“My name.”

“Oh,” he said with a shake of his head. “It's going to take me a while to get used to that.”

“I know.”

“It'll be nice,” he whispered as she moved slowly over him.

“What will be?”

“Having my own Mrs. Bender. The good kind.”

“Yeah, it will.”

“It's about time there was a good one.”

“And one day there'll be more than one Mrs. Bender out there. Of the good kind,” she said.


“Bill and Justin told me this week that they want you to adopt them if you still want to.”

He shifted them so he was on top of her. She'd mentioned she thought it might happen this way, and maybe that was why she'd been indecisive about changing her name. Maybe she would've when Bill and Justin made a final decision about that when they were older. He had no idea.

“Really? And you waited until now to tell me this?”

She laughed softly as he pressed into her deeply as she liked him to be.

“Well, I was going to give it a while and see if they changed their minds. We're not in any hurry anyway, are we?”

“Well, no, but if you go off the pill in August…”

“Yeah, I know.”

They'd talked about her doing that, but hadn't decided for sure if they wanted to try this summer or next. He wanted to try right now, but he knew timing for her with school was everything.

“So that means when they're older they'd get married and have their own Mrs. Bender.”

“My father wouldn't believe it if he saw me today.”

“I know. He doesn't deserve you. We love you, though, John.”

“Love you, too, Princess. All of you.”

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