By Rifath Islam
[THIS FINAL CHAPTER CONTINUED FROM OUR PREVIOUS ISSUE!]
Adeline blinked, breaking the intense stare between them. “My…my keys?”
“Yeah, the ones with the keys to the shop.” said Theo. “Where are they?”
“Just tell me Adeline, it’s a surprise,” Theo whined.
Adeline told him they were in the pocket of her pea coat which was hanging on the back of the door. Theo quickly grabbed them and made Adeline get to her feet. “C’mon, Sassy Addie, time for an adventure.”
Adeline rolled her eyes, but followed along. As Theo walked out the door, he called out: “Adeline and I are going somewhere, we’ll be back soon,” over his shoulder. He heard a few “we get it’s” from his friends and a “be safe,” from his mother as he closed the door.
Ten minutes later, Theo was unlocking the door to the coffee shop as a shivering Adeline stood and watched him. They walked inside, breathing in the familiar scent of the shop as Theo flipped on the lights.
“So,” Adeline said turning to Theo. “Why are we here?”
Theo shrugged. “I actually don’t know. I just thought we could use some time away from my crazy family.”
Adeline smiled up at the green-eyed man for whom she was slowly falling after only a matter of weeks. “That was very thoughtful of you Theo.”
Theo sighed as stood near the register. He decided he would just take the risk and let it all out.
“Adeline, bro, I don’t know what you’re doing to me.”
Adeline tilted her head and squinted her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You just. . . I don’t know. There’s something about you that makes me smile whenever you smile. And if you’re upset or stressed, I feel upset and feel the need to cheer you up. And God. . . I sound so childish saying it Adeline. . . but I like you and I don’t know what to do, ” Theo said, finally letting all his thoughts out. Throughout his outburst, Adeline moved closer until she was standing only an inch away from Theo.
Suddenly, Theo looked around and his face brightened. “Adeline, look where you’re standing.”
Adeline looked down at the floor and saw nothing wrong with it, especially considering the fact that she had mopped the day before she closed up the shop. While she looked around the floor in confusion, two fingers slid under her chin and tilted her face upwards until she was staring at the ceiling above where she was standing.
With a bright red blush, Adeline looked directly at Theo, who was now standing in her space, very, very close to her. As she opened her mouth to say something, she was cut off by a pair of lips descending upon her own. Her words died in the kiss and she wrapped her arms around Theo’s neck, attempting to pull him closer. The two kissed until they had to break apart for air.
“Still hope you’re not the one caught under this mistletoe?” Theo asked breathlessly, but with a smirk still on his lips.
“Shut up and use that mouth for something other than taking,” Adeline breathed out before pulling Theo’s lips back to her own so that they could kiss again.
“Adeline?” Theo asked moments later after pulling back.
“Yeah?” Adeline replied while toying with the collar of Theo’s shirt. She didn’t know where any of that came from, but she really liked it.
“Will you be my girlfriend?”
Adeline’s head snapped up so quickly she almost got whiplash. “What?”
“Will you be my girlfriend?” Theo repeated.
Adeline took a moment to process the question before she nodded.
“I mean, I guess, if I have to,” she sighed like it was such a chore and then let out loud giggles when Theo peppered kisses all over her face.
When Adeline’s giggles finally faded away, Theo leaned down and pecked Adeline once more on the lips. “Good.” He detached himself from Adeline and gazed at the girl who suddenly looked like she was lost just standing alone under the mistletoe.
“Stop looking like a wounded puppy, it’s making my heart hurt.”
Adeline gave a bright smile–teeth and all–as Theo said this.
“Now, I lied to you when I said I didn’t know what we were doing here. I actually brought you here to give you your gift. So stand there for a minute while I get it.”
Theo retreated behind the counter and came back out holding a black, glossy briefcase.
Adeline tilted her head as Theo handed it to her. “A briefcase?”
“No you dork, open it.”
So Adeline carefully sat at one of the tables and opened the case to come face to face with a vintage typewriter. She gasped as she saw it and read the 4 words that were already typed onto the white sheet inside. “Merry Christmas, Sassy Addie.”
“Theo, this is too much, I can’t accept this,” Adeline shook her head, ready to give the present back
“Shut up. Yes you can. Besides, the rules of Christmas are you’re supposed to accept your gift no matter what,” Theo shook his head stubbornly.
“But. . .”
“Nope, you gotta take it,” Theo insisted.
“I don’t know what to say. Thank you! I, wow. . .it’s beautiful,” Adeline gushed. Then she was barreling towards Theo, throwing herself into the man’s arms. “Theo, you absolute idiot. I love you.”
Theo’s breath caught in his throat at this confession and Adeline froze upon hearing what had slipped out of her mouth. So maybe it was a little early to say it, but in all honesty, Adeline really did fall in love with Theo in just a few short weeks.
Theo regained his composure. He kissed the top of Adeline’s head. “I love you too Sassy Addie.”
Adeline grinned at the words. “Say it again.”
“I love you.” Theo pressed a kiss to Adeline’s forehead. “I love you,” then a kiss to her left eyelid. “I love you,” a kiss to her right eyelid. “I love you,” a kiss to her nose. “I love you,” and finally a kiss to Adeline’s lips which she returned with a lot of enthusiasm.
Once they pulled apart, Adeline frowned. “My present basically pales in comparison to yours.”
Theo ruffled her hair. “Anything from you is amazing for me.”
“Now c’mon, let’s get home before mom starts freaking out and thinking we were murdered on Christmas.”
Adeline’s heart warmed and she held Theo’s hand all the way home. Turns out Adeline had gotten Theo a bunch of new records for the record player that Theo once mentioned he had.
That night, when they got home, the two of them attempted to slow-dance together to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” It was one of the records Adeline had given Theo.
“Adeline,” Theo said for the 100th time since they’d started to dance. “You stepped on my toe again.”
Adeline was losing her patience. “I’m sorry Theo, I just don’t know how to dance and it’s frustrating because–ugh.”
Theo chuckled as he held a squirming Adeline in place. “Here, just put your arms around my neck.” Theo guided Adeline’s arms around his neck. “We can just sway,” he whispered. The moment felt too intimate to ruin by talking loud.
Adeline did as told and soon, the two of them were contentedly swaying around the empty dining room (mostly everyone else was in the living room opening presents).
James and Meredith, Theo’s parents, stood in the doorway, watching their son and his girlfriend. James wrapped an arm around Meredith’s waist, pulling her body into his. He planted a kiss on her hair.
“They’re so in love,” he whispered, so as not to alert the two.
“Yeah, they are. I’m proud of Theo,” Meredith whispered back with tears in her eyes. Adeline already felt like a new addition to the family.
James dragged Meredith back to the living room so that they could let the two dance in peace.
* * *
Three years later, Theo dragged his wife back to the coffee shop.
“Theo!” Adeline giggled as Theo continued to lead her somewhere down the road with her eyes blindfolded. “Where the heck are you taking me?”
“Stop being impatient Addie, you’ll see,” said Theo.
Adeline sighed, knowing she wouldn’t get a proper answer and went along with her husband’s antics.
Finally, the blindfold was being untied from around her head and her eyes came back into focus to see Theo grinning brightly at her.
“What is it?” Adeline asked curiously, trying to move in place, but Theo firmly held her still where she was.
“I figured it was time we moved out of my apartment to a bigger place since my place was much too small,” Theo began to explain. “So I talked to Gabe, who wants to open a new coffee shop in the next town over. He said he can’t manage both, so he wanted to sell this one.”
Adeline held her breath. She really hoped this was going in the direction she was thinking.
“So I pulled some strings here and there, and with Jen and dad’s help, I was able to buy this place. The coffee shop is now owned under the name of Theo and Adeline Reed. That’s why I had you sign that paper for ‘work’ for me the other day Adeline. It was for this.”
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Adeline turned around to find a different building. It was the coffee shop, their coffee shop, on the lowest ground floor but with another two stories added onto the top of the shop. Turning around, Adeline searched Theo’s eyes for further explanation.
“Oh, and about the new renovations,” Thro continued, “that’s why I kept you at home for so long. Because this place was being renovated. And I figured that you’d want a 2-bedroom place for guests and whatnot.”
Adeline grinned with tears shining in her eyes. “Well, I guess with the three of us, it’ll be perfect.”
Theo stopped and stared at Adeline. “Three?”
Adeline nodded her head and laughed. “I’m pregnant.”
Theo wrapped Adeline up in a hug and with that hug, Adeline let her tears spill out.
“I love you, I love you, I love you!”
Theo held Adeline’s face in his hands and he kissed her with so much emotion and love that Adeline felt weak at the knees. Nearby, people stared and clapped at the two. Most of the small town was already in on the plan, having seen Theo at the construction site almost every day, but the sight of the joyous married couple was still a sight for sore eyes. People couldn’t help but feel happy for them.
* * *
Eight months later, Adeline and Theo brought Isaac Gabriel Reed into the nursery above the coffee shop. He absolutely adored his parents and how much love and attention they gave him.
Three years after his birth, a giggling Isaac ran into his parents room, being chased by Theo.
“Mommy! Mommy! Heeelp, Daddy’s after me,” he cried as he jumped into his mother’s waiting arms.
Adeline hoisted him up and spun him around, then held him in her grip. She poked his nose. “Your Momma’s starting to get old, sweetheart.”
A pair of arms encircled Adeline’s waist and an all too familiar voice whispered in her ear. “You’re still beautiful to me, though. Besides, you’re only 27.”
Adeline turned in her husband’s grip. Planting a quick peck on his cheek, she let Isaac out of her arms. He stood on the floor, looking up at his parents.
Adeline bent down to be at his level. “Go get ready for breakfast, honey. Me and Daddy will be right down.”
“Okie dokie,” Isaac said. He quickly skipped out of their room and the two of them heard his soft steps padding down the stairs.
Adeline quickly turned to Theo and wrapped an arm around his neck. “I love you so much, you know that?”
Theo pecked Adeline’s lips. “And I, you.”
Adeline let her head rest against Theo’s chest, listening to his heartbeat. The two stood like that for a while until loud cries were heard through the baby monitor.
Theo let out a low chuckle and his arms again circled his wife’s waist. “You should probably go get Danielle out of bed.”
Adeline smiled as she pressed her lips against Theo’s once more before retreating to the nursery to get one year-old Danielle Adelaide Reed out of her crib and ready for breakfast.
“Moooommmyyyyy! It’s time for breakfast!” Isaac’s voice called from downstairs.
“Coming, sweetheart, just a minute!” Adeline called, bringing Danielle down with her before setting the little girl down into her high chair.
“What do you want for breakfast, Theo?” Adeline asked, watching as her 3-year-old shakily tried to pour himself a bowl of cereal before Theo steadied Isaac’s hands.
“I dunno, anything,” Theo answered, getting Danielle’s baby food ready.
“Coffee?” Adeline asked, busying herself around their coffee machine, already knowing her husband’s answer.
“Black coffee,” Theo said with a grin, “no sugars, please.”