It had been so easy to fall into a routine with Erin, to look forward to Saturday nights spent either at her apartment or Erin's home, to wake up in each other's arms on Sunday mornings and laze around for a while, to snuggle and caress without getting too physical, and to be filled with a yearning that she wasn't certain she wanted to be fulfilled just yet. There was something to being held and cuddled that she was quickly growing to love. But like all good things, Penelope knew that there had to be a shoe ready to drop somewhere. And so, three weeks after they had started spending their weekends together, it did.
"Mom! Dad said that you were going to be home this weekend! Where are you?"
Penelope sat up with a groan, hating to dislodge Erin's hand from her breast, but needing to wake up and wipe the sleep from her eyes. "Erin? I think one of your children is…"
The door to the bedroom burst open, and Penelope gasped a little to see the three Strauss children tumble into the room. Erin groaned a little as she scooted closer to Penelope, throwing her arm back around her waist. "You're dreaming, darling, let's sleep for a little while longer," she muttered.
"She's not, Mom!" Tabitha, the youngest, bounded over to the bed, bouncing down on it with a resounding thump before reaching out and shaking Erin's foot. "Come on, wake up and introduce us to your girlfriend. Dad said that he thought there was someone new in your life, since you've been a little less prickly towards him. He just never mentioned anything about you suddenly being gay."
Penelope wished that the floor would open up in that moment, swallowing her and removing herself from this very awkward situation. "Erin," she hissed before starting to hum their song lowly, needing a way to soothe herself as three pairs of eyes stared at her.
"Oh, hey, that's Mom's song!" Bruce said as he joined Tabitha on the foot of the bed, giving her a shy smile. "Does that mean the two of you are soulmates? I never imagined that Mom's soulmate could be a woman, since we've only known her with Dad and David. How did you finally meet each other? Have you told each other that you love each other yet?"
"Bruce! Tabitha! Can you not see that you're making her feel uncomfortable?" Karen gave her a knowing look as she drifted over to the bed and took a seat next to Penelope. "I'm certain that you're familiar with who we are, but Mother hasn't taken the time to introduce us. Karen," she said as she extended her hand to Penelope.
"I'm Penelope Garcia. Pleasure to meet you. If only your mother would wake up and save me from this."
"I'm awake, darling, I just wanted to see what would happen," she replied as she sat up, curling her body around Penelope's as she looked at her children. "Why did your father drop you off today? He's supposed to have you until tomorrow after school. Weekends are his."
"He decided that he wanted to go spend the day at Tiffany's parent's house."
From the way that Tabitha said that, Penelope knew that there was no love lost between the kids and Alan's new girlfriend. A part of her rejoiced in that, since she thought that that might work to her advantage in the long run. "I see. Well. This was not the way that we wanted to introduce our relationship to you. And yes, Penelope is my soulmate, and I am very lucky to have found her when I needed her the most. How about the three of you start breakfast for us, so that we can get dressed and meet you in the kitchen? French toast sounds delicious this morning."
Karen nodded before giving Penelope a smile that reminded Penelope so strongly of Erin that she felt confident that things were going the absolute right way. "We'll be ready in about twenty minutes. Will that give you enough time?"
"That should be fine," Erin replied as the children left the room in the same whirlwind with which they had entered. Once the door was closed, her soulmate let out a deep sigh and pressed her lips to Penelope's cheek. "So those are my children. I really wish that we had been able to arrange it so that we could have had a better first meeting. Yet this feels perfect?"
"It really does, oddly enough. They seem really boisterous, though, not at all like you." Erin frowned. "I suppose that came out wrong, I'm sorry. I just see you as this collected, elegant, calm woman, I guess. But if this is a new facet of you, I am certainly glad to discover it. Forgive me?"
"Of course, darling." They climbed out of bed and Penelope padded over to the closet, pulling out one of the outfits she had started to keep at Erin's home, knowing that it was easier for them that way. Erin had done the same, and the familiarity soothed a part of her heart that she hadn't realized needed that. "And I know that I'm off kilter with the kids just showing up like that. I think they've just assumed that I would be always alone here, since I spent my time with David at his house exclusively. You're the only person who has shared this house with me besides Alan. They would have known that you mean more to me just by that fact alone. But you sang our song without thinking, and it just cemented it into place. I sang it to them as a lullaby when they were young, so of course they recognized it so quickly. And now I feel like I'm fucking this up."
Erin let out a deep sigh as she pulled away from Penelope, bringing her knees up to her chest as she stared at the mattress. "So, we're having our first disagreement about something completely out of our control. You do realise that this is completely ridiculous, yes? But it makes complete sense for who we are. Dammit, Erin, I love you, and I am not going to let this slight bobble in our plans cause us to have a full-blown fight."
Erin turned her head to look at Penelope, a sweet expression on her face. "You love me?"
"Yeah, I do. You're my soulmate, and I knew the first night you slept with me that this was love. Real love. I don't care if it takes you years to say those words in return, I know that they're in your heart, because of the way that you hold me while we sleep. It's in the looks that you give me when you think I'm not looking. You're my better half, my sweet dumpling, and even if we didn't plan on coming out to your children quite like this, in a way it's almost better. There's no need to dance around any longer." Reaching out, she wrapped an arm around Erin's shoulder and tugged her close to her chest, pressing her lips to Erin's head as she took a deep breath in through her nose.
"I'm sorry, I reacted badly. I panic when things don't go to plan in my private life. Forgive me?"
"Always, dumpling. Now, let's get dressed and join your kids in the kitchen. I cannot wait to get to know them better." Erin nodded as she leaned back to capture Penelope's lips in a tender kiss. The gesture touched her heart, and she fought to keep from deepening the kiss, knowing that they had to get down to her children before one of them came up to see where they were and walked in on something a little more scandalous than cuddling while sleeping. Still, she was so reluctant to get up and it took everything in her to pull away from Erin and climb from the bed to pad over to the closet and pull out their clothes for the day, knowing that sweeter times were ahead for them, once they were alone once more.