Charlie and Mattie were still ribbing Cane as he dropped them off after their morning on the hill. “Next time you want to just roll down the hill instead of using the tube provided, just let me know,” Charlie gives his dad a good natured jab on the shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah...I totally planned it.” Cane’s eyes move around the decorated house, looking for Lily.
“She’s not home dad, mom said she had some last minute errands to take care of today.” Mattie informs him after watching his not so subtle search for Lily.
“That obvious huh?”
Mattie puts her hand on her dad’s shoulder and says, “dad I think the folks on the space station can clearly see just how much you miss mom.”
“Yikes! Point taken I will tone it down.”
“We would never ask you to do the impossible besides it’s kinda super sweet and romantic.”
“You think your old man is sweet and romantic?”
“Ew...don’t make it weird dad!” Mattie adjust her glasses before continuing, “just don’t...don’t give up on her or us being a family again.”
“Not ever.” Cane wraps his arms around his daughter, his chin resting on the top of her head when he hears her next words he forgets to breathe.
“Honestly, we’re so happy that you’re both trying. But please don’t ever hurt us that way again dad, I don’t think any of us could survive something like that again.”
Cane holds on to her even tighter when he feels Charlie’s presence beside them. Loosening his grip on Mattie, Cane wraps an arm around Charlie as well and holding them close he tells them. “I love you both so much. As I already promised your mother all I can offer is the same promise to you and that is...that I can only hope to rebuild the faith and trust you once unconditionally had in me, I will work at it everyday for the rest of my life.”
Meanwhile, Lily found herself in a unique little store off Main Street. Heading down an isle towards the back a silver angel caught her eye, it was hanging from a dark blue ribbon among rows of other ornaments. And as she lifted it into her palm to get a closer look she noticed a heart that was attached to the bottom of it.
“That’s where I can engrave something for you if you’d like to personalize it.” The friendly sales lady said, coming up beside her.
Deciding this was the perfect one Lily agrees, “yes that would be perfect.”
“What would you like it to say?” The sales lady asks as they walk towards the counter where the engraving machine was.
Lily knew exactly what she wanted. “On the front I would like the name Sam and on the back...Welcome Home...”
Carrying the car seat, Cane carefully makes his way inside the mansion. “Welcome hom-.” He lets out a sigh, “it kind of doesn’t seem right to call this place home. It’s been a welcomed place to stay, a sanctuary to try and heal...but home,” Cane shakes his head. “This isn’t home...home is like twenty minutes away from here where your brother, sister and moth- I mean Lily are.” Cane heaves a sigh. “Let’s get you settled my little man because tomorrow is a big day, Santa will have come and lavished you with all sorts of presents and then we get to go and see everybody for Christmas lunch!!”
Lily wanted them to all be together on Christmas Day and there was no way he was going to pass up a single moment he could spend with her and the kids.
Esther came out from the living room just then and covers her face with her hands, her excitement at Sam’s arrival very obvious. Reaching for the carrier where Cane had set him down, Esther gently removes him from the seat, picks him up and into her arms. “Hello Sam. I’m your auntie Esther and I’m going to help look after you.” Esther wrinkles her nose at the unfortunate scent currently filling the air. “Perhaps I better start now with a diaper change.”
“No, Esther you don’t have to do that. I can take care of it.” Cane says with a chuckle he reaches out for his smelly son.
“No, no it’s fine. Why don’t you take your coat off and put Sam’s things away while I take care of this.”
“Well if your sure.”
“I’m sure,” Esther replies heading off to the room they turned into Sam’s nursery.
Cane slips his jacket from his shoulders when his phone suddenly rings. With a groan he reaches into his pocket to answer it. Please don’t let it be work, not on Christmas Eve.
Glancing at the screen before swiping it to answer he sees it’s an unknown caller. “Cane Ashby,” he answers.
There is a moment of silence before he hears someone take a deep breath on the other end. “Mr. Ashby? This is-...”
But Cane didn’t need for the man to say his name as he recognized the voice and accent right away.
“Mr. Helton.” Cane finishes as he says Juliet’s fathers name with a cool detachment. “After our last conversation...hearing from you ever again was the last thing I was expecting.”
“Mr. Ashby, there is something I must tell you and I cannot bare the shame of it anymore.”
“Listen Mr. Helton I don’t really care what you need to unburden to me. After all weren’t you the one to say that it didn’t matter that Juliet had died because she was already dead to you? So if you are calling about some sort of sudden claim on my son or something you will have to get a lawyer because after what you did, there is no way I’m going to let you anywhere near him without a fight!”
“Mr. Ashby, that is not what this is about. After what I tell you, you will soon realize that neither myself or my daughter ever had a claim to your son...”
“Just what the hell are you talking about?” Cane listens in disbelief as the older man begins to tell him everything that he knows.
“I received a letter from Juliet after she had passed, she must have had something set up with a barrister to have it sent to me. She wrote if I had received this letter it meant she had passed she wanted me to tell you what I knew and while I don’t know what she told you while she was pregnant...I believe she kept the likelihood that she was going to die if she carried your son to term from you. But her obsession with carrying a child for you this time around knew no bounds. I told her I would have nothing more to do with her but still she persisted...”
“Hold up, what exactly do you mean carrying a child for me this time? Just what the hell are you talking about Mr. Helton?”
“When your wife was ill with cancer and you were looking for a surrogate, Juliet was the one you turned down, you of course didn’t recognize her having only corresponded by email but she also went by her mothers last name then...”
Cane bangs the door open against the wall in his haste to get to that box. It was so loud that Esther came out of the nursery. “Cane,” she scolded in a loud whisper. “You’re going to wake Sam.” But coming closer she noticed his pallor and frantic gaze. “Cane what’s wrong?”
Cane grabs hold of Esther’s shoulders. “Esther I need you to look after Sam while I take care of something. I just need to go through some stuff undisturbed and then if I find the answers I think I will I’m going to have to leave the house for a while. Are you okay with that?”
“Cane you’re worrying me.”
He takes a deep breath trying to calm his racing heart and lets go of her shoulders before answering, “Esther if what I’ve just heard is true...,” spontaneously he gives her a hug. “Things are going to be made right, so can you please look after Sam?”
“Of course I will, just do what you need to do.”
“Thanks Esther. I’ll explain everything later, I promise.” Cane closes the door behind him and heads straight for that box.
Taking it over to his bed he flips it upside down and dumps everything out. Papers spilled from folders in his haste to see exactly what clues Juliet had left behind...
Knowing that he was pulling the night shift at the hospital, Cane took a chance and with a shaking hand he dials a number of someone he hopes can get him confirmation as soon as possible.
“Rayburn,” Stitch answers on the third ring.
“Stitch? It’s Cane.”
Stitch tightens the grip on his phone at the desperation in Cane’s voice. “What is it? I know you just took Sam home this afternoon, is something wrong?”
“No sorry Sam is good but I just had a very disturbing phone call and after going through some of Juliet’s things...well...I need you to quietly look into something for me.” Cane hears a hesitant sound come from Stitch. “It’s nothing illegal um...exactly...but this could change everything.” Cane says trying to convince him.
“Okay... Tell me what you need and then I will decide whether or not I can do it.” Stitch waits as Cane begins to fill him in.
“Look I know you’re not his doctor...currently not any of ours actually but I need you to pull Sam’s medical file and I need you...I need you to compare it to Lily’s records and tell me what you find, as soon as possible,” Cane finishes quietly as if not wanting anyone to overhear.
Stitch straightens from leaning against the nurses station. “Cane...why do I need to do this? And what in particular am I looking for?”
“I think you will know it as soon as you see it because if what I was told and the things I’ve read tonight are true...not only is Sam my son but he’s Lily’s son too...”
“Cane, I don’t know how that could be possible...you told me what happened with Juliet...I think you’re grasping at straws here.”
“Honesty Stitch I swear I’m not! I don’t have time to explain because....” Damn it he runs a frustrated hand through his hair. Still holding the phone to his ear with his free hand he begins shoving all the papers back into the box. He had to get to Lily, he had to tell her what he’d found. He makes a hysterical sound in the back of his throat, a miracle...it was a goddamn miracle.
“Stitch please, I’m begging you man there is something to this. Listen I have to get to Lily...please just look into this and call me back as soon as possible.” Not waiting for an answer and hoping against hope he would do it, Cane disconnects from the call, throws on his jacket and grabs the box.
Seeing Esther in the hall again as he’s leaving he tells her he’s going to see Lily before running out the door to get in his car...
Meanwhile Stitch is left looking at his silent phone but Cane had definitely piqued his curiosity...could it actually be possible? He grabbed his tablet and walked over to the available computer, opening them both on one he brought up Sam’s medical history and on the other Lily’s...
It takes him only a few minutes to find and compare what he’s looking for... Well holy shit! And since they’ve all stayed at the hospital at some point, he was able to pull up Cane, Mattie and Charlie’s records too. Printing off the five specific documents from each of their files, Stitch grabs them and lays them out on the counter of the nurses station. There it was... “Cane was right!” He was stunned that the lab didn’t notice this when Lily and Mattie donated blood for Sam’s surgery, Stitch picks up his phone and immediately dials Cane’s number...
Cane presses the button on his steering wheel to answer the call. “Stitch? Are you calling to confirm what I already know?”
“Yeah man I am...honestly I’m not sure how no one noticed this but I guess if you aren’t looking for it... I mean obviously there is so much more to this story and what you will have to deal with. You and Lily will need to do a DNA test to officially confirm this legally but yeah brother from what I’m looking at Sam belongs to you and Lily both.”
“I’m just a few minutes away from the house,” Cane swallows over the lump that’s formed in his throat. “This is going to change everything.”
“Good luck man.” Stitch says before he disconnects.
Lily was sitting alone in the living room, the twins having already crashed since their tubing adventure earlier that day had exhausted them. Thankfully teenagers slept like the dead so Lily turned up the instrumental jazz rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. She hummed along to the trumpet solo while she put the last piece of tape on the gift she was wrapping.
She jumped when pounding started on the door, when she heard the muffled shout of her name she new Cane stood on the other side. She rushes over to open it.
“Cane?” She questions when she pulls the door open. “It’s really late, I thought you’d be getting Sam settled in...I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow, what are you doing here tonight?”
The adrenaline of the discovery was still running through Cane leading him to just burst with everything that he had learned that evening, almost too fast for Lily to get so it took her a moment to catch up with what he was saying.
“Wait! Wait Cane!” Lily holds up her hands finally succeeding in getting Cane to stop talking for a moment. “How can you say something like that to me? What do you mean Sam is my son? In case you’ve forgotten, we had two embryos that became our two children Cane that’s it.” Lily backs away from him in disbelief.
Cane fills her in on the phone call he received earlier from Juliet’s father before continuing. “Lily, I was as shocked as you are now but I’ve had sometime to absorb it and I’ve had the chance to see the proof.”
Cane continues when Lily remains silent. “I um...also may have got Stitch to compare all our medical files and we’re a match, all of us. We will have to do a DNA test to make it official but Lily, Sam is our son.” Cane lifts the box he still holds in his hands. “There is some thing’s in here I need to show you. Please, it will start to explain everything at least as much as it can as we can never question Juliet about this now...as crazy as this sounds I am telling you the truth sweetheart. Sam is just as much your son as he is mine.”
He goes over to the couch, sits down and puts the box on the floor beside him. Reaching into it he picks up the contents and puts it on the coffee table in front of him. “Please Lily come here, you need to sit down before looking at any of this.” With wariness, Lily comes around and sits beside him on the couch before Cane continues with what he knows.
“From what I’ve been able to get from all this is...the embryo that became Charlie wasn’t just Charlie...that embryo split but...and you’re going to have to call Olivia to see if she can fill in any of the missing pieces for this...but I believe the embryo that became Sam was stolen and stored away all these years.” Cane flips through a folder and pulls out a few sheets of paper. “Here look she had a contract with a storage facility and information on how long embryos could be frozen...indefinitely it seems.”
With a shaking hand Lily reaches out and pulls another sheet from the folder on top of the pile. It’s was an old newspaper clipping from when she had cancer. Grabbing more papers from the pile she sees...more newspaper articles, an old employment record from the hospital and an old email that strangely looked familiar...
“Wait..I wrote this,” Lily realizes as she reads it over. “This is the letter I wrote to the woman who showed interest in being our surrogate before Mac volunteered to do it. This was the email I sent letting her know we wouldn’t require her services after all. Are you telling me Juliet and this woman are the same person?”
“According to her father, yes. She apparently used her mother’s maiden name as her own then...”
Lily slides from the couch on to the floor as the adrenaline began to fade and pure emotion took over. “Why,” she cries. “Why, Cane? This is so insane...she was the lab tech when our embryos were being fertilized? We only had that one chance to get pregnant. Why would she take one of them after they split?”
Lily covers her eyes with her hand but Cane’s hand on her shoulder as he knelt down beside her had her lowering it to meet his gaze.
“Maybe it’s because we were told there were only two separate eggs she thought we would never know that one embryo had actually split! I mean how crazy is this? Sam is technically Charlie’s identical twin!” He finishes incredulously.
Cane takes out the leather journal that had been in the bottom of the box, his hand shakes a little as he holds it out to her. “I think there could be more answers in here but I didn’t get much past the first few pages...”
“Why? If this could tell us why she did this...why didn’t you finish reading it?” Lily asked taking it from him and flipping it around to look at it.
Cane stands up and begins to pace, there was no way he could sit still when he told her this part, he himself was still processing it. “I didn’t read anything past what she wrote about that night in Tokyo...I couldn’t I was too shocked to deal with anything more.” Stopping his movement he faces the fireplace instead of her. “She drugged me Lily,” his voice trailed off as he stared at the flickering flames and listened to the sound of rapidly flipping pages until Lily found what she was looking for. His eyes closed as she gasped over what she reads...
In the next moment he felt her body press up behind him and her arms wrap around his front to hold him tight. Burying her face in the center of his back her voice laced with pain she whispers, “Cane I am so sorry.”
Cane places his hand over top of hers keeping her arms locked around him. “After everything else I did don’t you dare apologize to me. What’s done is done I just wanted you to know that I didn’t...that I didn’t...” Cane shudders as his voice trails off because he still couldn’t remember anything from that night.
“You didn’t cheat on me,” Lily finishes what he didn’t.
He was only going by what Juliet had written and while she had apparently tried...she had given him too much of the drug she had slipped him and that combined with all the sake he had...he’d been in no condition to do anything, he wasn’t even conscious...so she wrote...she had just made it look like they had sex instead so she could use it as leverage to make sure she was recommended for that damn job.
He realized that may not have been the first time Lily had said his name.
“Cane, look at me please.”
He slowly lets go of her hands and she loosens her arms allowing him to turn in her embrace. Looking down at her he places his right hand on her waist and his left along her cheek.
Lily slides her hands up over his chest and shoulders until her palms come rest on either side of his neck. Her eyes searching his she says, “so her claim of sexual harassment was also a lie.”
Cane moved his hand from her waist and slipped it into his pocket to pull out a flash drive. “This was in an envelope amongst the papers I played it on my laptop, she must have taken it from Hilary at some point...”
“Wait...what does Hilary have to do with this?”
“Maybe she was going to use it against her at some point, I don’t know but according to this,” he says holding up the drive. “Hilary convinced her to file the sexual harassment claim to begin with.”
“So Victoria paid out that money for nothing?You were labeled a sexual harasser because of Hilary? And you basically lost your job because of her as well?” Her voice raising in anger after each question, a now furious Lily finishes, “Oh that bitch is going to pay.”
Lily’s fierce and protective nature was shining through, his Tiger Lily had her claws out and ready to strike and he loved her deeply for it.
“With this proof she will.”
“Cane...” Lily stroked her thumbs along his jawline. “I am so sorry. How could I ever think that you could be even capable of something like that, a lot of ways you were the victim in this and I am so sorry that I didn’t see that sooner.”
“How could you sweetheart?” Cane asked while he caresses her cheek and searches her eyes. “I was so consumed with guilt and shame over what I thought I had done I never thought to question it, I foolishly accepted it at face value while I lied over and over again to cover up what I thought I had done and never saw it for the lie it truly was.”
Lily sighed. She was done, done talking, done thinking...hell her mind was literally fried at this point with all this unbelievable information she had taken in. She needed...
“Cane,” she chokes out over the lump in her throat. “I feel like I’m flying apart. Please, you’re the only one who can...who...can make it okay. Please Cane...I need you...!”
Cane new exactly what she was asking for because honestly he needed it too. “I’ve got you baby...I’ve got you,” he says as he gently gathers her in his arms and holding her close. Cane lifts her and his long strides take them quickly to their bedroom at the back of the house.
Turning to the side he carries her over the threshold of their room and using his foot, kicks the door shut behind them. Striding towards the bed he gently lowers Lily on to it.
Not breaking eye contact for a moment he straightens up and starts undoing the buttons of his shirt, shrugging it off his shoulders he lets it fall forgotten to the floor.
Lily’s gaze is locked on Cane, she runs her tongue along her bottom lip in anticipation as she watches him unbuckle his belt and drag it from the loops of his pants. “Please,” she begs again as he unbuttons them and lowers the zipper.
Letting his pants rest low on his hips, Cane adjusts himself trying to relieve some of the pressure.
Lily lets her legs fall open as Cane lowers himself over her aligning his body with hers.
His arms by her head, Cane lets the weight of his body settle over hers. Lily moans from the feel of it, it has been so long.
“Sweetheart,” he whispers in between trailing kisses along her jawline. When he reaches her mouth Cane bites the bottom lip she had been licking moments ago.
When he lets go Lily runs the tip of her tongue over it once again, enjoying the pleasurable sting. Reaching up she sinks her fingers into his hair and pulls his mouth back to hers. “Cane,” she moans kissing his lips. “There is still to many clothes between us, I need to feel you...all of you...” She presses her hips up and into his, rolling her core over his hardness.
“Sorry sweetheart I just needed a minute...needed to feel you under me.” Nipping at her lips some more. Lily’s fingers slide from his hair down to his back, her nails digging into his skin there cause him to hiss with the pleasurable sting.
“Cane, please.” She gasps.
He lifts enough to allow his to get her shirt up and over her head, delighted to find her braless his hands cup her breasts as he lowers his mouth first to lick one nipple then the other.
Kissing his way down her belly he slides her leggings down while his mouth and tongue followed, leaving her panting and wanting so much more.
“Cane!” She exclaims as she reaches for the waist of his pants. Shoving them past his hips, she couldn’t wait a moment longer. Grabbing his hard length she guided him to her core.
Cane slid inside her, their bodies finally joined after being apart for so long...
Lily wakes with a start and Sam’s name on her lips. She looks over at the clock on her nightstand...after midnight...it’s Christmas Day...Sam!! She needs to get Sam!
Quietly so as not to wake Cane, Lily slips from the bed and pulls on her leggings from earlier. Searching for her top she finds Cane’s shirt on the floor instead and desides to slip it on. She does the buttons three quarters of the way down then knots the rest at her waste. Taking a moment she lifts the collar to her nose and breathes in Cane’s familiar scent.
Looking over at her husbands sleeping form she has an idea for what to do. Grabbing her cell phone from the nightstand she slips quietly from their room.
Going across the hall to what was once the twins nursery but now mainly a bit of a storage room. Lily flicks on the light then pulls out her phone to call Esther.
She answers sleepily on the second ring. “Hello?”
“Esther? It’s Lily. So sorry to wake you but I just knew you would have your phone nearby since Cane was here. Listen I need a favor when Sam wakes for his next feeding can you get him bundled up and into his car seat?”
Esther now fully awake and her curiosity piqued. “Lily you know it’s really late but I can do that...wait why am I doing that?”
“Because Esther, I’m going to bring my son home.”
A giddy Esther says with excitement, “ oh Lily I just knew you would want him to be a part of your life, you can adopt little Sam...and I’ve always believed you and Cane are soul mates and..and..-“
“Esther,” Lily interrupts. “There is so much we have to tell you and we will I promise but I’ll start with the biggest thing first...Im not adopting Sam he’s already mine....”
After finally getting off the phone with Esther, Lily looks around the twins old nursery. She started moving some boxes over to the side against the far wall to be moved to the basement later.
Clearing the space to make it usable took less time then she thought. Luckily one of the twins cribs was still assembled in the corner and with some fresh sheets from the hall closet Lily had it ready for Sam.
Looking around she realized the rest of this could wait until tomorrow. She in fact couldn’t wait any longer to get her son. Sending Esther a text to let her know she was on her way she slipped quietly from the house to bring Sam home once and for all...
Christmas morning arrived all too quickly. Not quite awake yet Cane stretches his arm out reaching for Lily...wanting to confirm that everything that happened last night wasn’t a dream but all he feels is cool sheets.
Turning he sits up in bed while the sheet pools at his waste. Rubbing the sleet from his eyes Cane realizes what actually woke him to begin with when he turns his gaze to the nightstand and sees the baby monitor that now sits there but it was what was being said that made his heart sing...
“Hello my sweet boy. Are you getting settled into your new room. This used to be Mattie and Charlie’s nursery and now it’s yours.” He hears Sam make little cooing noises as Lily continues, “Mommy’s here now, mommy’s here...”
Cane gets up and goes to the dresser where he had...yes still there...a the couple of pairs of sweats and T-shirt’s he had left behind. He throws a set on quickly while he continues to listen to Lily talk to Sam through the monitor but as soon as he’s dressed he heads to the room across the hall.
Cane leans against the doorframe just watching Lily and his son...god their son...together. The emotion filling his heart is so overwhelming that he finds himself absently rubbing at his chest trying to ease it. Clearing his throat to let Lily know he’s there when she looks up from gazing at Sam he says, “morning beautiful.”
“Morning,” she returns.
All Cane could think was just how beautiful she was just sitting cradling their son. “It looks like you’ve been a busy elf Mrs. Ashby.”
“I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to surprise you, I wanted all of us to wake up under the same roof this morning,” Lily tells him softly.
“I can’t think of a better Christmas present to wake up to,” he replies as he steps further into the room.
Lily reaches down beside the chair with one hand and picks up a small package. “Cane with everything that happened last night I didn’t get the chance to tell you...before we got this unbelievable news that Sam was ours...when I thought if I was accepting you back into my life how could I not accept Sam as well...I...well I bought this while I was out yesterday.” Lily hands over the tissue wrapped ornament.
As Cane unwraps the silver angel, he sees Sam’s name written in script. He looks up from it and smiles at Lily. “It’s beautiful,” he says.
“Turn it over,” she says softly.
Cane flips it over to see what was on the back of the heart. “Welcome Home,” he reads aloud. His gaze jumping back to hers.
“I was going to ask you to come home for good today when you came over for lunch before I knew any of this. I just wanted you to know...I love you Cane...I never stopped...despite everything I never stopped.”
Cane chokes on a sob and drops to his knees in front of Lily, burying his face in her lap beside Sam. He takes a shuddering breath and tries to get control of his emotions.
Lily runs the fingers of one hand through his hair doing her best to sooth him. “We’re going to be okay. We still have work to do but no matter what we are going to be okay Cane, I love you.”
Looking up at her, Cane reaches out and holds her face in his hands. “God, Lily I love you so much.” He leans over Sam and presses his lips to hers, treasuring everything about this moment.
“Do you know how many times I referred to Sam as your son? When things started to unravel yesterday I thought for sure that I was going crazy, that I had wished for him to be yours so badly that when I was told it was true, I thought I may have truly lost it.”
“But he is ours...” Lily reaffirmed.
A shocked Charlie and Mattie come to stand in the doorway of their old nursery taking in the scene in front of them. Their dad on the floor with his arms wrapped around their mother and Sam, tears running down their cheeks unchecked. Mattie and Charlie each found themselves blinking back tears of their own.
“You guys,” Lily begins on a shaky breath when she sees them there. “There’s something we need to tell you..-“
“Mom,” Mattie interrupts. “If you wanted to surprise us with the craziest, most unbelievable yet most wonderful news ever then you shouldn’t have left the evidence strewn all over the coffee table for us to find.” Mattie says as she wipes at her cheeks and she and Charlie enter the room and come to kneel down next to their parents.
“This is so incredible yet it’s also so crazy unbelievable...is someone gonna pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming?!” Charlie asks.
Mattie makes a noise between a giggle and a sob and says, “gladly.” Pinching the skin above his elbow. When Charlie yells and starts rubbing the spot she just pinched Mattie continues, “real enough for you?”
It breaks the tension as they all kind of chuckle at that.
Cane looks at them with so much love, he touches each of their cheeks before leaning in to place a kiss at Lily’s temple and run a gentle finger over the soft hair on Sam’s head. “It’s our very own Christmas Miracle.....”