Chapter 77

Howie’s trip to LA was fast approaching and the closer it got, the darker his mood got and the more attentive he became.  He knew Sarah would be okay and he didn’t mind the trip.  It was just that she couldn’t go with him.  He loved taking her places and showing her off.  Not to mention, he’d become extremely accustomed to the feel of her body next to his at night.

The morning before he was to leave, Howie woke early but lay still watching as Sarah slept peacefully.  He couldn’t help himself…he had to touch her.  Ever so gently, he reached out to trace her eyebrows and then pushed her hair back from her face.

His touch woke her and as her eyes focused on him, she smiled, “Morning ‘D’.”

Kissing his finger and placing it on her lips, Howie greeted, “Good morning, ‘Angel’.  How did you sleep?”

“Like a log.  I didn’t even hear you snoring.”

Howie laughed, “You’ve been really worn out at nights.  You need to slow down and go back to napping when the babies nap.”

“Why are you awake so early?” she asked glancing at the clock.

“Just woke up and wanted to watch you sleeping.  I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s okay.”  Sarah could see the look in Howie’s eyes and her heart ached to make it better for him.  As she started to say something though, the phone rang.  It was on his side of the bed but he made no move.  “’D’, aren’t you gonna answer it?”

Looking at the caller ID, Howie said, “It’s just Kevin….he can talk to the machine.”

“If it’s Kevin calling THIS early, it’s important,” insisted Sarah as she reached across him.  “Hey, ‘Boo’!  What ‘cha doing up so early?”

“Morning, baby!”  Kevin’s smile radiated through the phone.”  “Hope I didn’t wake you.”

“Nah, my husband beat you to it.  What’s up?”

“If I’m not interrupting, I need to talk to ‘D’.”

“Nope, we were just talking.  Here he is.”  Sarah handed the phone to Howie who tried to refuse.  Sternly, “HOWARD….TALK to him.”

Grumbling as he took the phone, Howie growled, “WHAT do you want?”

“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” laughed Kevin.  “Six weeks certainly is playing hell on your mood.  Nick wasn’t quite this bad.”

“Get to the point, Kevin!”

“Plans have changed and our flight is this afternoon at four.  Also, management wants to meet with us at noon, a lunch meeting, before we head to the airport.”

“NO!  I can’t do that.  Caro and DJ have their first check up today and I’m going with Sarah.  You guys can go without me.”

“Howie, you can’t back out of this.  The GROUP is scheduled to appear.”

“So?  We’ve done appearances before with just four of us…like when AJ’s grandmother died.  I’m sure everyone will understand that I need to be with Sarah and my children.”

“Come on, ‘D’.  You know as well as I do that Sarah really doesn’t need you with her for a check up.  You have an obligation to the group.”

“Don’t tell me about my obligations, Kevin!” and he started to hang up.

Sarah decided it was time to intercede and she intercepted the phone being hung up.  “Kevin, Howie will call you back.”

“Talk to him, Sarah.”

“I will, ‘Boo’,” answered Sarah as she watched Howie get out of bed and head to the bathroom.  “Just give me some time.”

Hanging up, Sarah followed Howie into the bathroom where she found him getting ready to shave.  Easing onto the counter so that she was in front of him, she took his razor and began to shave him. 

“’D’, I know you don’t like the idea of being away but this is your job and you love it.”

“I love you,” he countered, his hands on her thighs.

“I know you do.  I’ve never doubted that and going to LA doesn’t change it either.”  Rinsing the razor off, she looked back at Howie to see tears.  “Baby, come on.  We’ve been apart before.  What’s got you so torn up this time?”

“I don’t like leaving you alone to deal with the children.”

“I won’t be alone.  Becca’s gonna come out and spend the time Nick’s gone with me…a girls’ weekend.”

“That’s only a couple days.  I’m going to be gone for two weeks.”

“And I’ll have Ilse here to help me…your mom, Angie, Sheena, Becca, Denise….”

“But they aren’t ME!  I’m your husband and their father.”

Sarah saw she wasn’t going anywhere this way so she went another route.  “You need to go so you can accept my Grammy when I win.”

“Kevin and AJ can do it,” he answered flatly.

Frustrated, “Ohhhh! Would you STOP IT!”

“No!  I’m NOT going out to LA until I absolutely have to….and that DOES NOT include the Grammy appearance.”

Okay, this isn’t working.  “Howie, why did you fall in love with me?”

“You know why.”

“Come on…tell me again.”

“Because you’re smart, confident, and you can…”  Howie stopped in mid-stream realizing exactly what she was trying to do.

“Because I can what?”

“Because you can take care of yourself.  I guess I’m not showing you that I really believe that, am I?”

“No, you aren’t.  Howie, I’m not going to lie to you.  I’m going to miss you and I wish like everything I could go with you but it’s NOT the smart thing to do since the twins are only two weeks old and they WERE sick after they were born.  I know you though…you’re gonna call every chance you get and you’re gonna be busy with the show.  The time will fly by and when you get home, we’ll be able to make love.”

“That’ll be a nice homecoming.”

“If you aren’t totally repulsed by me,” snarked Sarah patting her belly.

Taking her by the waist, he leaned in to kiss her.  “Never!  You’ll ALWAYS be a knock-out to me.  This belly is gonna disappear as soon as the doctor gives you the all-clear sign and I can get you back into MY workout routine.”

“Oh goodie!” smirked Sarah rolling her eyes.  “So, you’re gonna go?”

“Yeah, I’m going and I’ll call Kevin to tell him…after I get a shower.”

“Be sure to apologize while you’re at it.”

“Yes dear!”

“That’s more like it.  Do you want me to finish shaving you?”

“No, I won’t cut my throat.  What about the check-up?  I can’t go with you because management wants to meet with us before we leave today.”

“I can handle it alone but why don’t we go to town together and I’ll drop you off for the meeting?  I can hang out in town somewhere and then I’ll take you to the airport.”

“Should you be doing all that driving?”

“I’ll be fine, ‘D’.  It’s been two weeks.”

“Sounds like a plan, ‘Angel’.”

“I’m going to go get breakfast started.”

“I won’t be long in here.”

When Howie was ready, he headed out to find Jesse.  Ilse was just getting ready to help Jesse so he dismissed her and took over.  Father and daughter cuddled for a little while and as she was dressing, Howie talked to her about him being out of town for so long.  Just like Sarah, she was fine with it all.  In fact, she was excited that her Papi was going to be on TV, not once, but three times.

As soon as breakfast was over, it was time for Jesse to leave for school.  Grabbing her backpack and jacket, she started for the door.

“Whoa!  Slow down, Jess,” called Sarah.  “Daddy’s gonna be gone when you get home.  Don’t you think you need to tell him good-bye?”

Jesse raced back into his arms hugging him tight and planting a wet kiss on his lips.  “I’m gonna miss you, Papi!”

“I’m gonna miss you too, ‘Princess’.  Be sure to be a good girl and give your mom a hand around the house and with your brother and sister.”

“I will.”

One more tight squeeze and Jesse dashed away leaving Howie battling another round of tears.

Sarah slipped her arms around his waist from behind and placed a kiss on his shoulder as they stood at the door watching Ilse drive away.  “It’s going to be okay, ‘D’.  You’re making this harder on yourself.”

“I don’t get it, Sarah.  You HATE it when I’m away from you…and so does Jesse…but you’re both okay with me being gone for two weeks.”

“It’s not that difficult to understand.  You’re being gone is part of who you are and we love that part of you just as much as we do your snoring.” 

Howie turned in her arms.  “Really?”

“Yes!  Howie, I’m proud of what you do...make thousands of girls happy with your music…your daughter and me included.”  Hearing Dwaine starting to fuss, Sarah said, “Come on.  Give me a hand with Caro and DJ.”

Together the couple headed to the nursery and spent the morning together getting ready for the time apart.

Chapter 78                Index