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Nothing Like Us

If I Could Take Away the Pain and Put a Smile On Your Face

Chapter 2: If I Could Take Away the Pain and Put a Smile On Your Face
“Are you excited to see mommy?” James asked, driving his car down Fenwick’s snow covered driveway. He stole a look at Eli through the rearview mirror and smiled at the wide grin that spread across his son’s face. Eli always loved to visit his mother and eventually came to look forward to James’ away games instead of throwing a fit and begging James to stay like he used to do.

“Drive faster!” Eli demanded, throwing his hands up in the air and pointing down the driveway. “You driving too slow!”

“I’m going as fast as I can, buddy. There’s a lot of snow on the ground and your mommy hasn’t gotten rid of it yet,” James tried to explain, unable to get his son to understand.

“You’re not going fast enough.”

“Mommy’s not going anywhere, I promise. You’re more excited to see her today than you usually are,” James observed. “You better not have too much fun while I’m away.”

“Is cold outside and mommy makes the best hot chocy!” Eli shrugged, happily clapping his hands and pointing at Fenwick the second she came into view.

“Looks like mommy has a friend,” James stated, nodding at the brunette standing behind Fenwick on the front porch with his arm wrapped tightly around her. When the wind blew snow in her face, Fenwick shied back into the man’s arms and cuddled herself further into his body. Eli waved at his mother excitedly and James couldn’t help but frown when the man waved back at Eli.

“That’s Jacob, I don’t like him,” Eli supplied, crossing his arms and refusing to wave at Jacob. When James put the car in park and cut the engine, Eli tugged at the buckles of his car seat impatiently. “Mommy! I want mommy, now!”

“You’re tired of me already, eh?” James joked, unbuckling his seatbelt and opening the car door. When Eli pouted, James shook his head and held his hands up in defense trying to escape his son’s burning death glare. “I’ll be right back buddy, I’m just going to get your mother.”

As soon as James got out of the car and caught her attention, Fenwick gently pushed Jacob away and greeted James with her usual head nod. He watched her cautiously as she made her way across the front yard, thankful that he did when she lost her balance and slipped on a patch of ice on the sidewalk. Within seconds, James was in front of Fenwick making sure to catch her before she hit the pavement.

“Easy there, I didn’t think you’d be falling for me again,” James chuckled, choosing to ignore the fact that his arms had made their way around Fenwick’s waist while hers wrapped around his neck, holding on tightly. “You’re still as uncoordinated on ice as ever, you Florida girl,” he joked, subconsciously pulling Fenwick closer when a small smile spread across her face. “You okay?” he added, noticing that she winced when she fell into his body. He also took a mental note of the bruise on her forehead, questioning where and when she got it.

“Yeah… It just caught me off guard. Thanks,” Fenwick replied, her blue eyes searching James’ bright ones. When she realized how close they were to each other, she cleared her throat and stepped back forcing James to drop his hands.

“Sorry,” James said, looping his arm with Fenwick’s as they set off towards his car together. The second time Fenwick slipped, James wrapped his other around her waist to steady her before pulling her closer to him.

“Winter’s going to be the death of me.”

“Not if I can help it,” James smiled. Fenwick stole a sideways look at him before shaking her head, recalling the moments during their relationship when James would try and fail to teach her how to skate or beg her to go out in the snow until she finally caved to him.

“Sorry I didn’t get a chance to shovel the driveway. I had to get a couple of articles done before Eli came over and I had no idea it was snowing this bad outside. Honestly, I completely forget that you were coming over today or I’d have the driveway shoveled. Eli’s room is still messy and I gotta clean it out,” Fenwick admitted sheepishly. “Work took a little longer than I expected and I didn’t have that much time to clean up Eli’s room. I was kind of hoping that Jake might do the driveway since we need to go out for beer and stuff for dinner but I guess he had more important things to do. Anyway, if you want to take Eli inside I can get the driveway done so you’ll be able to get your car out.”

“You cook now?” James asked, stopping a few feet from his car and recalling the memory of his ex-girlfriend attempting to cook him a surprise dinner and failing miserably.

“A little bit here and there,” Fenwick smiled, shaking her head. “It’s really not anything to brag about. I’m really good with pasta and eggs but my specialty is definitely still TV dinners.”

“Eli says you make a good hot chocolate.”

“It’s nothing special or homemade,” Fenwick shrugged, stealing a look at her son through the windows of James’ car.

“I bet you’re being modest.”

“It comes out of the Keurig,” Fenwick stated, thinking of something to talk about that didn’t involve her. “You ready to get away from this east coast weather? I wish I was going to California.”

“Eh, I like the cold,” James said, unlocking his car when Fenwick pulled on the door handle.

“MOMMY!” Eli shouted, squeezing Fenwick as tightly as he could the minute she got him out of his car seat. “I missed you mommy!”

“I missed you too, munchkin,” Fenwick smiled, swinging Eli’s bag over her shoulder while balancing him in her arms.

“I want hot chocy,” Eli demanded, pointing towards the front door of the house. “Then I wants to make snowmans with daddy in the snow. He’s teaching me how to skate so I cans play hockey too.”

“I’ll make you your hot chocolate, I promise, but will you do something for mommy first?”


“Go inside with daddy? I have to clean up the driveway so you daddy can go home.”

“Daddy has to stay and build snowmans and drink hot chocy with us,” Eli pouted, refusing to go into James’ outstretched arms.

“Eli,” Fenwick warned and James could hear the annoyance and impatience in her voice already. “I have to get the driveway done and you’re not going to see daddy for a week and a half. The driveway has to get cleaned or daddy won’t be able to get out and mommy can’t make dinner tonight. I’m making spaghetti, that’s still your favorite, right?”

“YES!” Eli said, his face brightening up as he clapped his hands happily. “Daddy has to try it. Amber can’t cook anything. She burned my toasty and made me eated it.”

“Who’s Amber?”

“A friend,” James interrupted before Eli could get any further. “Why don’t you let me shovel the driveway that way everyone’s happy.”

“Are you sure?” Fenwick asked, eying James skeptically. “You’ve got a flight tomorrow and I don’t want your game to be off because you were shoveling my driveway.”

“I’ll still be here tomorrow if you’re shoveling,” James joked. “No offense, but you still don’t have the concept of shoveling mastered and I don’t want you to add to that collection of bruises. If that one on your forehead gets worse, it’ll rival Deryk’s,” he added, noting the way that Fenwick visibly tensed up. “You need to get out to the store later and knowing you, you’ll probably just shovel enough so that I can get out so I’ll save you trouble down the line.”

“Mommy will make you hot chocy and you can stay for dinner!” Eli said happily, ignoring Jacob when they finally reached him.

“I don’t know, buddy, looks like you and mommy already have plans,” James said, immediately regretting his words when the smile on Eli’s face vanished completely.

“NO! DADDY STAY!” Eli shouted, causing Fenwick to wince and shush him.

“Do you want to stay for dinner?” Fenwick asked James, sighing in relief when Eli stopped squirming. “I’m making spaghetti, so you can be the judge of my cooking. From what Eli says, you could use some real food anyways.”

“Amber can cook,” James defended, quickly changing the subject when Fenwick shot him a dirty look. “You don’t mind?”

“Of course I don’t. Eli wants you there and you won’t see him for a little bit so you’re more than welcome to stay for dinner since you drove him here and you’re shoveling my driveway,” Fenwick said, shooting a pointed look at Jacob.

“I’m not going to intrude on dinner with…?”

“Jacob,” Jacob supplied, studying James. James held his hand out to shake Jacob’s but pulled it back seconds later when Jacob crossed his arms. “And you’re not. I don’t even like spaghetti so I’ll probably go out and get something myself.”

“I don’t want to share my spaghetti anyways,” Eli said, sticking his tongue out at Jacob. “You’re missing out.”

“Eli, be nice,” James scolded, secretly praising his son for his action. “I’m sorry fo-“

“Don’t make ‘scuses for me, daddy! I’m not sorry!”

“Eli James!” Fenwick scolded. “Stop it.”

“Sorry mommy,” Eli said, casting his eyes to the ground when his mother glared at him.

“How about I go make you and daddy some hot chocolate so it’ll be ready after daddy’s done cleaning off the driveway? When he’s all done we can go to the store and if you’re really good, I’ll everyone can have some ice cream for dessert.”

“Ben and Jerry’s,” James added, hoping that Eli wouldn’t give Fenwick too much trouble. When Eli’s face lit up, he knew he said the right words. “Does Phish Food sound good?”

“I no like Phish Food anymore, daddy.” Eli said, causing both his mother and his father to laugh while Jacob just stood there glaring at the three of them. “I like Chunky Monkey!”

“That’s so gross!” Fenwick joked, ticking Eli’s sides and making him laugh. “You’re a chunky monkey.”

“I not, Jacob is!”

“Hot chocolate time?” James asked, looking at the hardened frown set on Jacob’s face.

“You have some too right daddy?”

“Of course, buddy. I’ll be in there soon, okay? Be good for mommy.”

“Always!” Eli said, kissing his father’s cheek and watching as he made his way to the garage while Fenwick followed Jacob inside the house.


“Jake, do you mind watching the stove for a second?” Fenwick asked, trying to stir the boiling pot of water while cradling her cellphone between her ear and keeping an eye on Eli who was sitting wandering around the kitchen. “It’s a work call and I really need to take this.”

“Why don’t you ask Eli’s father?” Jake asked, kissing Fenwick’s cheek as he passed her to get a beer from the refrigerator.

“One, Jay can’t cook and two, he’s our guest,” Fenwick pointed out, frowning when she saw Jacob’s face darken.

“It doesn’t take a culinary chef to watch a boiling pot of noodles,” Jake pointed out, shaking his head when Fenwick rolled his eyes at her. “Besides, you can’t mess up cooking noodles no matter how bad of a cook you are.”

“I know I just… I hate to ask him after he shoveled the driveway and picked up the tab on the groceries,” Fenwick sighed, telling the person on the other end to hold for a second while she tried to sort out the situation.

“It’s not that difficult, I’ll ask him if you won’t,” Jake said, rolling his eyes. “He’s your guest but he’s not mine and I don’t care if he’s James Neal or not. If you’re cooking dinner for him, the least he can do is help out around here.”

“He did help, Jake, he shoveled the driveway.”

“Wouldn’t have to if you did it like you said you were going to.”

“Work took a little longer that I expected,” Fenwick shouted, putting her phone on mute as she felt herself losing her patience. “What were you doing all day, anyway? I’m cooking dinner for you too so you could at least help out.”

“It’s not my job,” Jake argued, slamming his beer down on the counter. “And you’re not cooking dinner for me, you’re cooking it for Eli. I told you when you asked last night, I hate spaghetti but you’ll listen to a three year old before you listen to me,” he said dirtily.

“Watch the tone you use when you talk about my son. I barely get to see him and I see you every other day. Eli and Jay are really close and it’s always hard when he’s on away stretches like this so I try to make Eli’s stays something that he loves until Jay gets back.”

“Just because you have the kid over doesn’t mean everyone has to suffer.”

“Eli, sweetie, how about you go in the other room and find daddy?” Fenwick asked, setting her phone on the counter and pushing the fallen hair out of her face. “I think daddy has grandma’s recipe for meatballs and I know how much you love meatballs.”

“You’re trying to get rid of me mommy!” Eli said, crossing his arms stepping in front of Fenwick.

“Eli, please. I need to talk to Jake alone for a second,” Fenwick begged.

“I no like Jake yelling at mommy.”

“Your father does enough of that when he talks to her, why does it matter?” Jake asked, unfazed when Eli took a step forward. “You don’t need to go, I’m leaving.”

“Where are you going?” Fenwick asked. “Jake, please, stay. I’ll make you something else for dinner.”

“I’ll be back later,” Jake said, overstepping Eli to place a kiss on Fenwick’s lips. “Love you, Fenny,” he shouted over his shoulder on his way out the door.

“He not allowed to call you that. Only daddy calls you that,” Eli said darkly, watching as Fenwick picked up the phone, said something on the other line and ended the call. “You okay mommy?”

“I’m fine, munchkin. Mommy just needs some air, it’s getting hot standing over the stove.”

“I’ll watch the stove!”

“It’s okay, honey. It’ll be okay. I’ll be right back,” Fenwick promised, walking into the living room and jumping when she almost ran into James. “Fuck Neal, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” she snapped, trying and failing to push past James.

“I heard shouting and I wanted to make sure everything was okay,” James shrugged, his blue eyes studying Fenwick’s face. “Are you okay, Fenny?”

“Do you mind watching dinner for me?” Fenwick asked, praying that the tears pooling in her eyes wouldn’t fall. “Everything’s all set so all you need to do is make sure the noodles don’t get too mushy. If you’re up for it, Eli loves meatballs and you could show him how you make yours. They’re always really good.”

“You okay?” James asked again, his voice more demanding.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just need to get out of the kitchen for a few minutes. The heat’s getting to my head, you know?”

Fifteen minutes later, with dinner done and the table set, Fenwick walked into the kitchen earning concerning looks from both James and Eli. Her eyes surveyed the pots sitting on the table before settling on Eli, a soft smile slowly making its way to her face. As she passed him on her way to grab a bottle of wine, she pressed a gentle kiss to his head.

“You okay?” James and Eli asked as the same time, both looking at Fenwick’s mascara streaked face and frowning.

“Yeah, I’m fine, sweetie,” Fenwick said, her eyes fixed on Eli. “I’m sorry if dinner’s not as nommy as it usually is.”

“It’s okay, mommy. Daddy helped make it!” Eli said, watching interestedly as Fenwick poured herself a glass of wine and taking a big sip of it. When she offered James some, he shook his head and she just poured herself more before returning it to the refrigerator. “I want some, mommy!”

“You can’t have any, baby,” Fenwick laughed. “Maybe one day when you’re older, okay?”

“But mommy! Is not fair,” Eli pouted, crossing his arms. “Daddy doesn’t have some and I has none so you can’t has any either.”

“Eli, one day you’ll-“

“What’s wrong, Fenwick?” James asked, watching as she shook her head and tipped back the entire wine glass before setting it in the sink.

“I’m fine, James,” Fenwick said, taking her seat next to Eli and ruffling his hair affectionately. “Did daddy teach you how to make meatballs?” she asked him.

“Yeah! We made lots of them,” Eli answered, clapping his hands when James placed a bowl in front of him.

“How much do you want, Fen?” James asked gently.

“I’m not really that hungry, thanks,” Fenwick replied, resting her head in her hands and rubbing her temple.

“Fenwick, Fenny, what’s-“

“I told you, I’m fine,” Fenwick snapped, lifting her head to glare at James. “I just ate a big lunch and I’m not that hungry.”

“Is okay if you want dessert first, mommy,” Eli said pointing at the freezer. When James looked at him questioningly, Eli shrugged. “Mommy always eats ice cream after she cries. Sometimes she thirsty too but she always eats ice cream.”

“Does mommy cry a lot?” James asked, walking to the freezer to grab the container of Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Fenwick looked up and gave him a weak smile when he set the ice cream in front of her with a spoon and another glass of wine.

“I no-no,” Eli shrugged. “I not with mommy all the times but she does lots when I’s here and Jacob go ‘way,” Eli babbled, causing Fenwick’s head to snap in his direction with a new set of tears falling down her face.

James looked at the silent conversation happening between Fenwick and Eli, making a mental note to interrogate Eric about Jacob first thing in the morning. He had a bad feeling about Jacob and he hoped he wouldn't be right.


Thanks for reading guys! (:


love this soo many back stories to be told!!! and eli is the cutest 3 year old ever :) update soon!!!!!!