"Please let me help out, Harry." I whined, trying to push past him and peek into the backyard. Harry had a massive curtain covering the back door so I couldn't see the surprise he was setting up for Ari's birthday party.
"No, no, love. Just go and help Bennie with the food. You can see in an hour." I stuck out my bottom lip, shooting him the ridiculous puppy-dog-eyes. He chuckled and leaned down to kiss me, but I giggled and spun around, walking over to the counter where Bennie stood dipped apples in caramel.
Bennie had been moping around the house all week, she knew she had lost Jordan but she also knew it was for the best, he caused her too much pain and the risk of going through that again was too much to handle.
"Can you finish these last few cotton candies and I'll go get Ari ready?" I nodded, Bennie scurried to Ari's room where she lay napping before her big day.
Harry had rented us a cotton candy machine and a popcorn machine. As a matter of fact... He rented us a lot of machines for this party.
"Here comes the birthday girl!" Bennie cooed
I spun around to see Ari smiling in her little leopard print dress that Bennie had bought her the day we ran into Gemma.
"Oh, sweetie! You look so precious!" my eyes filled with tears, not believing that she was going to be two.
I took her from Bennie's arms and cradled my little girl tight in my arms, admiring her piercing green eyes and tiny cupids bow, so sharply pointed. Her lips were heart shaped and her soft, silky hair was wrapped in a hot pink ribbon, her curls blonde and bouncy.
"Oh my God," Harry's Cheshire accent came through the back door. I turned to face him, showing off Daddy's little girl. His large hands were covering his mouth, his eyes wide and sparkling.
I stretched my arms out, offering her to him. He gladly scooped her up, devouring her in kisses and compliments that she clearly didn't understand or care about.
"She's so beautiful." I wasn't sure if Harry was sending that towards us or speaking to himself, but either way my heart fluttered, pleased with the affection he has for Ari.
"Harry, can I see the backyard now?" he looked up at me, a smirk creeping onto his face. He shook his head, making me roll my eyes.
I was beginning to get irritated but I knew whatever the surprise Harry had would be a good one.
The doorbell rang and Bennie ran to get it. I looked around the house at the cluttered room, filled with unpacked boxes and blankets folded over the couch, that would be occupied by Harry and I later tonight, when we pull it out to sleep.
I was so thankful we had Bennie to give us a home. I knew Harry could easily buy us a new house but I didn't want that. I just wanted us to focus on Ari and see where our fresh relationship would go.
Within ten minutes, more and more people piled into the house and into the backyard.
Harry pushed be back every time I tried to make my way past him and into the mysterious party.
"Who are all these people?" I asked, watching a group of slender women with flawless skin and hip-length hair strut past us as we greeted them at the door. They gawked at Ari commenting to Harry how cute she was, they were clearly oblivious of his fatherhood.
"Friends." he said simply.
"Your friends?" I asked, looking around at all the very posh people, crowding on the deck.
He nodded, "I'm going to introduce them to Ari today. They're only my closest friends, ones whom I can trust with something so delicate."
"But Harry, what if they tell the paps?" a worried look spread across my face, causing Harry to give me a reassuring smile.
"Now, now, Maeve. They wouldn't tell a soul. I don't plan on telling anyone else but these people today. Ari will be our little secret until we both agree on letting more people know."
I thought about it, but Harry never asked me about these people.
"Harry... You never asked me about telling these people either. I don't know who they are." I wasn't touching him, but I could feel his heart drop to his toes.
"Mae.. I-I'm sorry. I never even thought-" a familiar face raced over to Harry and I, cutting him off.
"Oh my God! Harry who is this little sweet pea?" she smiled, making her signature faces at Ari, who was laughing her head off.
Harry looked down at me, giving me an apologetic smile. "This is Maeve's daughter. Ari."
Cara and I introduced ourselves and talked for a while, but she then excused herself to the backyard when she spotted a friend.
I looked up at Harry. "I'm sorry..." I tried to smile but felt like total shit for calling him out on something he was very excited about.
"It's fine, Maeve. I shouldn't have made such a serious plan like this without your permission. The only people who will be introduced to our daughter today is the boys. Alright?"
I agreed and wrapped my arms around his, squeezing tightly.
"Would you like to see the backyard now?" he asked, winking. I nodded quickly, throwing the curtain back and nearly stumbling when I was shot with hundreds of pink decorations, a chocolate fountain and a huge cake.
Balloons were all over the backyard, tied to chairs, railings and even tied to the miniature jumping castle that was inflated in the corner of the yard.
So many details I was skipping over, but my emotions were overwhelmed. Harry had done all this for his daughter. My doubts about his love for her were all shot to hell, he has spent thousands on this party, not letting me do a thing.
It was like he was trying to make up for lost time or something, maybe even trying to show me how sorry he was for not being there even though it was completely my fault he has missed nearly two years of Ari's life.
Harry's chuckling shook me out of my gaze, people all around the yard were gazing at Harry and I when I raced and pressed my lips to his.
I pulled back quickly, watching every ones faces become dazed and confused. Cara and Bennie looked over at us, not sure what to do.
I felt like such an idiot, looking up at Harry for support, he was looking at me, smiling wide. Dimples deep and eyes blossoming.
I fucked up, didn't I? Is he smiling because he thinks my mess up is funny or because he's trying to act calm.
"Harry?" my eyes shot to the back door, a group of four boys watched curiously at Harry and I. But they soon became infatuated with Ari, smiling and waving at her.
The people in the yard went back to their conversations, casually looking back up to us in case we might kiss again.
One boy stepped forward, he was tall, tan and had a beautifully sculpted face. "Is there something you wanna tell us, Harold?" he gestured to me. They must have seen me kiss him.
Harry took a deep breath and nodded, he guided us into the house, bouncing Ari in his arms.
He brought us to the living room, where no one was around. "Please, take a seat."
All four sat down at once, Harry and I stood in front of them, Ari chewing on her thumb, looking at them with wide, glossy eyes.
"This is Maeve..." Harry trailed off, slowly reaching his free arm out to grasp mine. "She's my girlfriend... From the X-Factor."
They looked at me, confused. To be completely honest, I was just as confused as they were. I had no idea what Harry was doing nor where he was going to go with this.
"Sooo..?" a blonde boy with an irish-accent asked, his brows knitted together, eyeing our linked hands.
"Maeve and I were dating during my time on X-Factor... But soon broke up..." the boys nodded, trying to make sense of Harry's shitty explanation job.
I shook my head, stepping in to help.
"Harry and I were high school sweethearts, we were together during his X-Factor audition but shortly after boot camp we... I... ended things." Harry nodded, handing Ari his phone when she started to whine.
"Okay? So why are you guys making this seem like a big deal?" I knew this was Louis. Bennie has a massive crush on him and always had him set as her lock screen. She's freak when she found out he was here.
"Maeve and I are now back together... And we have a daughter."
All four jaws dropped at once, nearly hitting the floor. They looked at each other, then to me, then to Harry and when they put two and two together they realized the little baby wrapped in Harry's arms was really his.
"She's..." another boys trailed off, pointing at Ari.
"Yes... This is my daughter, Ari." Harry confirmed.
"Harry, I just... I don't understand." the tan one said once more.
"I ended things with Harry because I found out I was pregnant... I didn't want to ruin things for him or you boys. I knew something like that would get in the way. So I left... I moved out of Cheshire with my sister and her boyfriends. Harry had no idea about Ari until a month and a half ago, when we ran into Gemma..."
The room was quiet, they took in every word I said and put the pieces together like a puzzle.
"So you guys are back together?" Louis asked, and we both nodded.
"It felt right... Even more the second time. I love her." I looked up at Harry, flattered and love struck.
The boys spent the rest of the day keeping quiet around everyone else about Ari. They cuddled her and played with her, adoring their niece.
I soon learned all their names... Niall, Louis, Liam and Zayn. Each one spent at least a half hour with Ari trying to get her to say their name.
"Lou... Lou..." Louis repeated to Ari while she tugged on his hair.
"They took that so well." I smiled, leaning into Harry, a cotton candy wrapped between my fingers.
"I'm so happy I have you and Ari. You two and the boys... You guys are my rocks."
Bennie nearly lost it when she saw Louis, demanding I introduce them. She was already ecstatic about all of the super models and actors in her backyard.
I left Louis and Bennie to chat-and probably flirt-making my way around the yard to greet guests and look for Harry.
Ari was in Zayn's arms, his lovely girlfriend, Perrie on his arm, poking her tummy and letting Ari wrap her fingers around her own.
"Maeve!" Bennie called and I turned to find her, but in her place were two middle-aged people. A couple. Their hair was a mix of brown and grey, the woman a more rusty color than anything. They stood tall and stiff, looking me up and down, Bennie's hands covering her mouth as she gazed at them from beside Louis and Niall.
It didn't take long for me to recognize them. At this point I wish Anne and Gemma has stayed in town for the party... Because I knew I'd need a lot more than Bennie and Harry to keep me sane around my parents.
There they were, standing like cold stone. Their eyes stabbing at my flesh and soon twisted around to nip at Bennie.
I couldn't move, I just felt Harry's arms around me, almost holding me back from running away.