Last week I asked what kind of Valentine’s Day scene people would like to read for Thad and Julia. One of you suggested seeing them about fifty years in the future. So, that’s what I wrote. Here are Thad and Julia at eighty. They’re still married and still in love. It was fun imagining what their lives would be like. I hope you enjoy it!
“Jules?” Thad stomped the snow from his boots before easing his achy body onto the entryway bench to remove them. The cold weather made all of the aches and pains associated with age intensify. Not that he was complaining. If he was aching, he was still breathing.
“In here,” Jules called from the living room.
Easing from his seated position, his knees creaking and popping, he picked up the bouquet of lavender tulips and slipped his feet into his house slippers.
I can’t believe I’m old enough to have fucking house slippers.
After a quick stop in the kitchen to place the flowers in water, he headed toward the living room. The serene sounds of trickling water and melodic pan flute filtered through the air.
He paused and took in the magnificent sight before him. Jules, in a downward dog pose. Her succulent ass covered in black yoga pants pointed at him. Even after forty-eight years of marriage, his wife’s ass still stirred his greedy cock. “You keep doing that, and I’ll take you right now.”
Peeking around her legs, she wiggled her bottom before moving to upward dog. Her swan-like neck extended, her head back. “Big talk from someone who moans and groans about his bad knees every morning.”
“Is that a challenge?” He moved around the boxes and bubble wrap and plopped onto the sofa. He was going to miss this place. The old brownstone had been their home for forty plus years. They’d raised their family here, celebrated holidays and birthdays, mourned losses, had lived their lives in this home.
Valentine’s Day would be their last holiday spent here. Next week he and Jules would move into a senior living facility. The kids were thrilled, and he understood their concern about all of the stairs in the house. Jules was excited to be able to call maintenance whenever anything needed to be fixed, and he wasn’t going to miss shoveling the front walk. But leaving wasn’t easy.
“Having you in traction isn’t how I want to spend our last week in this house.” She squeaked and jumped when he reached over and swatted her tempting bottom.
His laughter arrested in his throat when she sashayed over to him and straddled his lap. Instinctively, his hands cupped her bottom, and his dick stirred. Arms around his neck, Jules pressed her chest to his and placed her luscious lips to his mouth.
He groaned, jutting his hips as he pulled her closer. The friction of her pelvis. The touch of her tongue as she slipped it between his lips. The scent of strawberries. All of it was enough to forget about their Valentine’s Day plans and spend the rest of the afternoon in bed with his wife. The best part of retirement had been being able to stay in bed with Jules whenever they felt like it.
With the ping of his phone followed by another and another and another, Thad growled. His breaths came short and shallow as he placed a final kiss on Jules’ lips. “It’s Max.” Jules nodded but before she could slide off, he held her to him with one hand while opening the texts. He brushed her neck with his lips. “Don’t go.”
Max always sent off numerous texts at once, like doing so would express urgency, making it more likely for Thad to answer. It worked.
Jules nuzzled his neck, her silver hair tickling his skin as she snuggled in.
Thad sighed when he read the messages. They’d have to get moving, or they’d be late. Convincing Jules to go out while keeping the surprise had been damn near monumental.
“Max and Zoe are going to be here in an hour.” This time he let her slide off his lap.
“Why do they want to go out today of all days? And with us?” Standing, she went to her yoga mat and rolled it up. “Valentine’s Day is useless. Everything’s overpriced, and the pressure we put on ourselves to have a perfect romantic evening is ridiculous. And don’t get me started on how it can make some people feel.” Eyes narrowed, she peered over her shoulder. “You didn’t get me flowers, did you?”
Jules didn’t find chocolates and flowers romantic—though she loved tulips, which is why he bought them for her regularly. To her, romance was doing what you said you’d do. Spending time together. When they were younger, he’d surprise her at her office with tacos, and it was like he’d bought her diamonds. That was romance, according to Julia Hughes-Humphries, and she hadn’t changed.
Hell, the first time he brought her flowers on Valentine’s Day, he had to endure a twenty-minute lecture on the commercialism of the day and unrealistic expectations. All these years later, and he still got hard remembering her passion and conviction, which is why he made a point to buy her flowers every Valentine’s Day.
“I didn’t buy you Valentine’s Day flowers.”
The warmth of Jules’ smile lit her face. “What are they if not Valentine flowers?”
“They’re regular, everyday flowers I thought you’d appreciate.”
When he rose, she swatted his chest. “Incorrigible.”
Thad took the yoga mat and placed it in the corner then laced his fingers with hers. “Let’s get dressed. Knowing Zoe and Max, they’ll be here early.”
Ninety minutes later, Max, his wife, Zoe, Thad, and Jules were being ushered into one of the private rooms at the Rose Tattoo Café. Jules glanced at him, questions in her caramel eyes prodded him. He lifted a shoulder and hoped it was convincing.
He and the kids had been planning this for months. At Christmas, Cora and her daughter, Genevieve, had the flu and were unable to come home. Oren and his partner, Francesca, had just had baby Marcel, days before. So, the entire family hadn’t been together in over a year.
Max and Zoe lived in Philadelphia, and Oren and Francesca resided just outside of the city in Wayne. But with Max’s oldest, Alia, in her freshman year at Colombia University, and the sixteen-year-old, Sasha, busy with high school and soccer, and Oren busy with the baby and Izabel and Catrina, his eleven and twelve-year-olds from a previous marriage, it made it hard to get together. He and Jules traveled to California at least twice a year to see Cora and Genevieve. They made frequent trips to NYC to see Oren’s twin, Zedia, her wife, Clara, and their boys Michael and Theo. Still, nothing made Jules happier than having their brood together.
So, for months he and the kids had planned and plotted in secret. When Zedia suggested surprising their mom on her least favorite holiday, Max, Cora, and Oren were on board. Thad knew that after today, Valentine’s Day would have new meaning to her. Because for Jules, loving her family was what it was all about.
The hostess halted her pleasantries before swinging open the doors to thirteen beaming faces.
Jules sucked in a breath, her hand flying to her chest as Michael and Theo charged her,
“Surprise, Gram. Surprise.”
Head thrown back with laughter, she held out her arms and caught the boys, hugging them to her and kissing the tops of their heads. One by one, each of their children and grandchildren greeted them. The smartest thing he ever did was drive across the state in a snowstorm to tell this woman he loved her all those years ago.
Jules smacked Max in the chest. “You knew about this?”
His son, who had Thad’s height and build, wrapped his arms around his stepmother. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Jewel. We love you.”
Jules wiped her eye. “I love you, too, sweetie.”
Oren placed their youngest grandchild, baby Marcel, into Jules’ arms and led her to the table. When the commotion of everyone finding their seats finally settled, the group ordered. The next few hours were filled with catching up, reminiscing and sharing stories about growing up, and laughter. Lots of laughter.
“So, we’ll see all of you tomorrow?” Jules’ excitement shone on her still-gorgeous face as their crew donned coats, scarves, and mittens.
“Genevieve and I will be over early to help with what’s left to pack,” Cora said as she handed Jules her purse.
“Can we come too, Aunt Cora?” Alia asked.
“Yeah, we don’t get to see you and Genevieve that often,” Sasha piped in.
“Us too! We want to help Gram and Pops!” Michael and Theo jumped and wiggled, high-fiving each other. They missed on the first try, Theo high-fiving Michael in the face, which led to a short-lived shoving match before a successful high-five was completed.
Thad covered his mouth and coughed to stifle his laugh. Those two cracked him up, much to their mothers’ chagrin.
“If the little ones get to go, we want to go too.” This from Catrina—hands on her hips looking like a mini Jules—with Izabel nodding in agreement.
“I don’t know…” Bemused, Cora looked to him and Jules for assistance. With all of the grandkids “helping,” nothing would get done.
“How about everyone comes over for breakfast? Pops will make his famous chocolate chip pancakes.” Slinging her arm through his, Jules beamed up at him. “Won’t you, Pops?”
“Only if I can make them heart-shaped.” He tweaked her nose.
Jules’ elbow poked his ribs as the grandkids cheered and chattered. Thad leaned down and kissed her cheek before whispering, “Let’s get out of here. I want some alone time with my Valentine.” Her shudder and the hooding of her eyes told him everything he needed to know. He tugged her with him, calling to Max, “We’ll take an Uber. See you tomorrow.”
Before they got caught up in another round of hugs and goodbyes, Thad ushered his laughing wife out the door.
“You’re just as eager you were forty years ago.” She slid her gloved hand into his.
Thad pulled her closer, shielding her from the wind and the cold evening air. “Because you’re still the sexiest woman I know.”
Once home, their outerwear removed and hung up, Thad led his gorgeous bride to their bedroom. Hands entwined, he noted the weathered skin. Wrinkles created a map of roads that merged and parted, but Jules’ hand still fit in his like it was made for him. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed her knuckles. “Dance with me?”
She chuckled, her giddiness from an evening still bubbling. “There’s no music.”
“I don’t care.” He drew her to him, bringing their clasped hands to his chest and palming her waist. The warmth of her skin, penetrated through their clothing as she followed his swaying steps, dancing to the music of a lifetime together.
Pressing her face to his chest, she placed a kiss to his thudding heart. “Thank you for today.”
“Thank you for every day, Jules.” He pulled her closer until she was flush against him. “Thank you for this life we created together.”
Tipping on her toes, she grazed her lips along his, igniting a flood of sparks that popped and pinged at the base of his spine. “I love you.”
“I’ve loved you for seventy-five years.” When he dipped her, her laughter sparked more pops and pings.
“Good thing I had an extra red crayon to share.” Julia winked as he righted her.
Needing to feel her, he twirled her before tugging her to him again. “Let’s go to bed.”
“It’s only eight-thirty.” A sly smile played on her mouth, the dimple he loved peeking at him as she dropped his hand and slipped out of her low heels.
Stalking her, he yanked on the tie of her wrap dress. When he was with Jules, they were still thirty. Aching knees disappeared. Withered skin was firm and sleek. Thinning hair was dark and thick. They were Thad and Jules, young and in love, only better because they had a lifetime of shared memories that deepened their love and connection.
Her dress fell open and her lips tipped up. “What do you think you’re doing, Mr. Tanner?”
He closed the space between them, her still-firm body wore age like a silk glove, and he reveled in her. “I’m going to have my way with my Valentine.”
“Incorrigible.” She pushed at his chest. When he didn’t move, she giggled and wrapped her arms around his waist, tugging him closer. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Thad.”
In that moment, the heat and excitement was like their first Valentine’s Day, and he couldn’t imagine any place better than right here with his best friend. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Jules. I love you forever.”