Ten months later
“How does this look?” Eva asks me as she steps out of the walk-in closet wearing a one-piece white sleeveless dress. It’s tight on her top and hips, then flows down and is covered in blue flowers.
“You look amazing.” I look at her as I sit on the bed with Cici, who is watching a cartoon on the iPad in front of her. She’s wearing a special dress Eva bought her for today and we are trying not to get it dirty. It has a white top and a full pink skirt—which she hates because it gives her trouble when she walks, or better yet, runs—a big sash in the front with a huge bow in the back that matches the bow on her headband. “But you looked amazing in the last outfit.”
“I just want to look like…” She trails off. “Like I’ll be a good mom.” Today is the big day. She finally gets full custody of Cici; all the CPS visits are finally over.
“Baby, you are a good mom,” I say softly and get off the bed walking to her. I grab her face in my hands. “You are a great mom, the best mom there is out there.”
She looks down and blinks away the tears. “This is just going to make it more formal.” She looks up and I see big tears in her eyes. “Like she’s going to be mine.”
I rub her cheeks with my thumbs. “She’s already yours.”
“That’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about,” she redirects, her voice going a bit low. “Before we leave, there are a couple of things we need to talk about.”
“Um.” I hesitate as she steps away from my touch and walks over to the bed.
“Cici,” she calls her name and she looks up at her, “come.” She holds out her hands and Cici drops the iPad and crawls over to her. “It’s time for the surprise.”
Cici smiles at her and claps her hands. “What’s going on?” I ask, putting my hands on my hips.
“Stay there.” She holds her hand up. “I’ll call you when we are ready.” She walks out of the room, and even though she told me to stay where I am, I walk to the doorway and out into the hallway, watching them walk into Cici’s room. “Thanks for listening,” she throws over her shoulder, glaring.
“I’m not following you.” I stand in the hallway. “I’m making sure you guys are safe.”
She laughs. “We are still inside the house.”
“I didn’t know where you were going, Eva,” I retort, huffing. “How was I supposed to know?”
“Stay there,” she orders, then looks down at Cici. “Tell him to stay.” She holds up her finger.
Cici looks at me and says, “No, no, no,” with her fingers shaking, because that’s what we are constantly doing now that she is so independent and hates having us do things for her.
“Close enough.” Eva smiles, walking into the bedroom and closing the door behind her.
I shake my head and walk over to the door, leaning against the wall facing it, and listening to the noise that is going on in the room. It’s been a year since we got married, a little over a year and I’ve never in my life been happier. “Are you ready?” I hear Eva and I don’t know if she’s asking me or Cici. “Okay, I know you’re outside the door. You can come in now.”
I walk over and turn the handle to the door, opening and seeing Eva and Cici standing in the middle of the room. There is a streamer across her crib that says Worth the Wait. I look around and see there is a line across the room that is hanging with pictures of Cici and me from the past eight months. “What is all this?”
“Well,” Eva says, then stops when her voice trembles. “Wow, this is harder than asking you to marry me.” She tries to make a joke of it and all I can do is stand here looking at her.
“Best day of my life,” I declare softly. “I mean one of, obviously marrying you was the best, and then when we got Cici. And then when we, you know, did the deed.” I smile at her. “And then when we finally said we loved each other for real.” I look at Cici. “And then when you made me do that thing—”
“Okay,” she cuts me off, “let’s focus right now.” She picks up Cici, who is now wearing a white T-shirt. “Over a year ago, I asked you for the biggest favor of my life,” she states and I can tell she’s nervous when she swallows and clears the lump in her throat. “I had no idea that it would change not only my life, but yours also.” She chuckles looking at Cici. “And then, well, you not only stood by my side through it all, you literally became a parent overnight.”
I look at her and at the other person who owns my heart and smile at her. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her.”
“I know,” Eva replies, “she’s got you wrapped around her little finger.” Cici holds up her hand and looks at her finger, making us both smile. “And because of that, Cici wants to ask you something.”
“Does she?” I look at them both confused.
She puts Cici down on the floor and turns her to me, showing me her shirt. And I gasp when I read it. “Will you be my dad?” I put my hand to my mouth.
“Today we are going to the courthouse and we are going to get custody of her for good,” Eva explains, my eyes fly to her and I see her with tears streaking down her face. “And I was hoping you would want to adopt her.”
“Eva,” I whisper, my heart exploding in my chest.
“I know it’s a lot to take in.” She wrings her hands in front of her. She does that when she’s really nervous. “But you’re her dad,” she finally says, “in every single sense of the word you are her dad.” I can’t help the tear that escapes. “You get up with her when she is sick. You soothe her when she falls down and really doesn’t hurt herself, but you make sure you kiss all her boo-boos away. You teach her things and sit down with her to read to her. You protect her from everything you think will hurt her, and there is a lot on that list.” She makes me laugh. “Even that little dog from down the street.”
“Hey.” I point at her. “That dog was without a leash and coming to her. What if he pushed her down?”
“It’s a Chihuahua,” she reminds me, and all I can do is glare at her. Then I squat down and hold out my arms for Cici, who walks over to me.
“Hey, baby girl,” I coo when she walks into my arms and all I can do is hug her close to me. “It would be my honor to be your dad,” I tell her, then look up at Eva.
She puts her hands to her mouth. “Really?”
“Did you think I was going to say no?” I ask, shocked. Picking Cici up, I walk over to Eva, pulling her to us. “How lucky could one guy be?” I look down at Eva, who smiles up at me, putting one arm around my waist. “First, you propose to me,” I recap to her. “Then this girl proposes to me. I’m going to have to ask the two of you to stop stealing my thunder,” I tease. right before I kiss Eva’s lips softly, then turning and kissing Cici, who moves her face close to me with her mouth open to give me a kiss. “I promise to forever be the best husband and father I can be.”
“Shall we go?” Eva asks and I just nod my head at her.
One hour later, in the middle of the courthouse filled with all of our friends and family, a surprise neither of us knew would be happening, the three of us become a family.