Stacy was surprised to see Brad's truck when she got home later that evening. Most nights lately, she was the first one home. She was even more surprised when she walked in to see a live Christmas tree in the living room.
"Look what Daddy brought home," Callie, their ten year old daughter said happily.
"I see!" Stacy said, smiling as her other young children came to hug her. Ella, their five year old, and David, who was one, hugged her legs. Charlie, their fourteen year old son was at the kitchen island doing his homework, with his earphones in his ears.
"Hey," Stacy said, pulling the earbud out of his ear.
"Oh hey Mom," Charlie said, turning to look at Stacy.
"Where's your sister?"
"Upstairs in her room, she's still mad about the FSU thing."
"How'd you hear about that?" Stacy asked.
"She was on the phone with one of her friends when I got home."
Stacy nodded, pursed her lips and looked around. "And where's Dad?"
"In the attic. He wanted help untangling the Christmas lights, but I've got an essay."
Stacy laughed and headed upstairs where the ladder to the attic was. As she walked by Lana's room, she could hear the music blasting.
She sighed and made her way up the ladder. She looked around the dusty attic. She couldn't believe how much stuff they'd accumulated over the last sixteen years. She looked in the corner and noticed several instrument cases of different sizes. She was hit with another wave of sadness looking at the cello and violin that were collecting dust. She sighed and tore her gaze away from them.
"Brad?" she called, out looking for him.
"Over here," he replied.
She turned and found him surrounded by several boxes of Christmas items.
His hands were filled with the Christmas lights Charlie had mentioned before she made her way up to the attic.
He smiled at her and something in her stirred. It had been awhile since she'd seen that boyish grin.
"Hi," he said, standing.
"Hey yourself." She made her way around several boxes to stand in front of him. "I, uh...I saw the tree downstairs. I thought we agreed that we were just going to use the artificial one."
She glanced over at the fake tree in the box that was several feet away from them.
"Well, yeah, that was until I got a raise today at work," he said excitedly.
Stacy looked at Brad with a raised eyebrow. "A raise? That's...that's incredible."
Brad looked at her for a moment then frowned. "Well, you could at least pretend to be a little more happy for me. This isn't just good news for me, you know? It's good news for us all."
"Of course it is. I just wish you would have discussed it with me first."
"What's the big deal, Stace? It's a damn tree! For the kids, to make them happy."
Stacy shook her head. "I can't do this right now. I'm not about to argue with you about a tree. I'm going to go get started on dinner.""Stacy," Brad called out to her, but she'd already made her way down the ladder and back downstairs.
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