Back in Angel City, Jake and I talked about our wedding and where to live going forward. We decided to get married as soon as we could arrange it; neither of us wanted a long engagement. Although we both loved Jake's modern house in the hills, it was really too small for a family of three. And besides, I still hoped to make it a family of four one day soon! Not right away, but maybe in a year or so.
We decided that for now, Jake would move in with me and Meadow as soon as I had a chance to discuss our relationship with Pat. I felt I owed him that, since he would naturally be concerned about Meadow, and especially since they were all going to be living in his house. He had paid for it, after all! Then as soon as Jake sold his house we would search for a new house that would just be our own, the three of them together, a place in which to make new memories. And we both agreed that we would turn the ownership of the Holmby Hills house back to Pat.
Later that week, Pat came for his usual visit and Laura had a chance to talk to him. "Pat", she said when they were eating dinner, "I told you I had been seeing another man named Jake, right?".
"Of course I remember"; Pat answered; "still seeing him?"
"Yes, I am. As a matter of fact, we recently got engaged to be married." Laura replied.
Pat silently looked at me for a stunned moment, then he choked out; "That's great, Laura, I know you wanted to get married"
I cleaned up the dishes, then afterwards I found Pat sitting in the office just off the kitchen, looking pensive and concerned.
"Are you OK?", I asked when I looked at his face. Pat stood up; "Yeah, sure. I'm surprised, that's all. You aren't rushing things, are you? He'll be good to you and Meadow?" Pat answered.
"I don't think so. It feels right. And he and Meadow get along great and I think he'll make a wonderful Step-Dad to her; that's something that is very, very important to me".
"I'm honestly happy for you, Laura. But make sure he understands that he won't be taking my place as Meadow's father", Pat said sternly.
"Of course not, Pat. He wouldn't do that. He's loving, supportive, and protective but he won't try to take her away from you or anything like that", Laura reassured him. "And I already told him that as Meadow's father, you would remain part of the family so we could raise her together."
"That's good", Pat said. "He darn well better be good to you both, because he won't like what happens if he tries to hurt either you or Meadow" Pat replied firmly.
His concern was really very sweet. "I'm sure everything will be OK, Pat", I said.
I ran upstairs to change clothes while Pat went to the family room to say goodbye to Meadow before he left. She loved being in her walker, so when I came back down I saw that he had placed her in it. "Did you see how well she is walking now?", I asked.
"That's my girl!", he replied, then he turned to me and said out of the blue; "I'd like to formally have Meadow's last name changed to Gabriel, if that's alright with you."
I was surprised; he'd never offered to do this before. After I thought for a few moments about the situation and what I thought would be in the best interests of Meadow, I replied; "Yes, I think that would be fine. I'm happy to know that you are willing to publicly and legally accept her as your daughter."
"I've never denied that she's my daughter", Pat replied a little defensively.
"Oh, I know Pat, that's not what I meant. I just meant that it's a big step giving her your name, especially since we were never married. But for Meadow's sake I think it's the right decision, so I'm just so glad you want to do it," I explained. "I've never once thought to lie to her about who her father is, and I think having your last name will make her feel completely accepted by you".
Pat nodded. "I'm glad you approve"; he said. "I'll contact my lawyer and make the arrangements."
He picked up Meadow and set her down next to her toy bear before telling her goodbye. Before he left, I wanted to tell him about the house; "Jake will be moving in soon while we plan the wedding, but he and I will be looking for a house of our own. We want this house to go back to you, of course."
Pat looked thoughtful for a minute. "How about if I sell the house and put the money in a trust fund for Meadow's education?", asked Pat. "That way she'll be all set for college when she comes of age. Goth knows me and Julia don't need the money!"
"OK, if you're sure. I think that's a wonderful idea." I said. "I'll be sure to keep you informed on where we're moving to as soon as we know ourselves", I said with a smile.
"Sounds good, Laura". He told Meadow goodbye and he's see her again in a few days.
He turned to go, then he suddenly turned back towards me, spun me around in an enveloping hug and said; "For your and Meadow's sake, Laura, I hope you will be very happy. But I have to admit it's going to be really difficult for me to see another man in this house with my girls."
His warm breath tickled my ear and his deep voice rumbled through me. I'm pretty sure that my eyes got big and I know for sure that my heart began to pound. "Oh, Pat", was all I could come up with to say. Then he let go of me, and turned around to quickly leave before I could even begin to think of a more suitable reply.