They landed and had just left the airport when Veronica’s phone rang. She glanced at the display and frowned in confusion.
Jon noticed her expression. “Who is it?”
“Our house. Molly must have a question. Or maybe it’s one of the kids.”
“The kids are there?”
“Yep. Dorothea was going to drop them off with Molly so they could be there when we got home.” The phone rang again. “You gonna answer it?”
She took a deep breath. “Hello?”
“You make me cookies when you get home? Prease?”
Jon’s heart swelled at the smile that lit up her face.
“Sure little man, I can make you some cookies when I get home. What are you doing?”
“Watching toons, waiting for you. Molly made big chicken for dinner. Dat okay?”
“That sounds great.” Veronica could hear a commotion in the background,
“Romeo what are you doing?” Stephanie’s voice.
“Asking Ronnie if her make cookies for us.”
“Did you really call her? Give me the phone.” Stephanie took the phone from her brother and spoke almost hesitantly. “Ronnie?”
“Shiii....I mean, I’m sorry. Dad programmed your number into the speed dial for Molly, Jesse must have shown him which button was for you.”
“That’s okay.” Veronica smiled at the language slip. “Cookie monster strikes again?”
“He’s worse than Dad!”
“I’m not sure it’s possible for anyone to be worse than your dad when it comes to cookies.” She smirked at Jon.
He wrinkled his nose at her and shrugged. “Kid’s got great taste.”
“So you’ll be home soon?” Stephanie asked.
“Yes, we just left the airport.”
“Okay. And Ronnie?”
There was a lengthy pause. “I’m glad you’re moving in.”
Veronica blinked back sudden tears and had to swallow before she could reply. “Thanks Steph. That means a lot to me.”
When she hung up the phone, Jon pulled her into his arms and kissed her temple. “I told you, everything’s going to be fine.”
Veronica snuggled closer to him. “I hope so.”
Her words were barely audible, but he heard them and knew he still had some convincing to do.
The car came to a stop in front of the main door. Jon got out, helped Veronica, and they waited while the driver unloaded their bags. Veronica half expected the kids to come out to greet them, but they didn’t.
Jon opened the door and stepped back so that Veronica could enter first. She stepped into the foyer....and stopped dead. Above the doorways in the high ceilinged foyer was a large sign, obviously made by the kids:
Welcome home Ronnie
Feeling Jon’s arms slide around her waist, the heat of him warming her back while she stared at the sign, she leaned back against him. “Was this your idea?”
“Nope.” He murmured in her ear. “I didn’t know anything about it. It’s all them.”
This time Veronica couldn’t hold back the tears and a couple escaped to slide down her cheeks. “Oh.”
“WELCOME HOME RONNIE!!!” Four voices cried out in unison as the kids entered the foyer. Romeo and Jake ran over to hug her.
“Why you crying?” Romeo frowned up at her.
“Because I’m happy to be home.”
“Oh.” He still looked confused.
“It’s a girl thing, don’t try to understand it.” Jesse advised his youngest brother, reaching for his own hug.
“You’re staying forever now, right?” Jake raised hopeful blue eyes to meet hers.
His father answered before she could. “That’s the plan buddy.”
“Good. Will you make cookies now?”
“She just walked in the door! Let her get settled first guys.” Jon chuckled.
“Come on Dad, I’ll help you carry the bags upstairs.” Jesse offered.
Jon was a little surprised, but appreciated the help. “Thanks Jess.”
Upstairs, they set Veronica’s bags on the bed. Jon watched Jesse fiddle with the strap on a piece of luggage and look around the room. “What’s on your mind son?”
“I really like Ronnie.”
“I’m glad. She likes you too.” Knowing there was more, Jon waited.
“Are you going to marry her?”
“I hope so.”
“Are you going to propose tonight?”
“No. I want to give her a little time to settle in first...make sure she’s comfortable.” And I want to make sure she’s going to say yes! He noticed Jesse’s frown. “Why do you ask?”
Jesse shrugged. “Like I said, I like her. I’d just like to know she’s going to be around.” He looked his father in the eye. “Don’t screw up this one too.”
“Believe me Jess, I don’t intend to.”
“Uh huh.” Jesse turned and left the room.
Jon watched him go, sighed and raked a hand through his hair in frustration. Obviously, things hadn’t improved in their relationship as much as he’d thought they had, but he didn’t know how to fix it. He didn’t know how to get the trust and confidence of his son back.
“When’s the rest of your stuff coming?” Stephanie finally found room between her little brothers to get her own hug in.
“I’m not sure, a couple days I guess.” Veronica replied.
“Come on. We can take a look around the house and figure out where you want to put everything.”
“Cookies!” Jake called after them as they headed deeper into the house.
“Then we can talk about redecorating.” Stephanie added. “I know you’ll probably want to redo your bedroom first, but....maybe then we can talk about mine.”
“Cookies!” Came from behind them.
Veronica smiled at Steph. “Do you have some ideas of what you’d like?”
“Uh huh. Maybe we can sit down soon and I’ll show you.”
“Sure, how about tomorrow afternoon?”
“COOKIES!” Romeo yelled.
“Yes, boys, I’ll make cookies in a few minutes, I promise.” Veronica felt a little overwhelmed and pulled in several different directions at once. But the message was received loud and clear - the kids were thrilled she was there and wanted her to stay. Their support went a long way to easing her trepidations about her future in this house.