"Mom, dad is coming over here to go to my baseball game," Johnny said walking into the kitchen in his baseball uniform.
"I thought you wanted me to take you."
"I want both of you to take me."
Evangeline sighed. She had avoided John for the past few days. After that kiss, sheíd gone into her room to pull it back together. John had a way of making her forget why sheíd asked for the separation. He had always been working. From her point of view, heíd taken both her and Johnny for granted. The one positive thing that had resulted from the separation was that Johnny spent more time with John. John had always checked on Johnny when he got home from work, but Johnny didnít have the chance to see his dad. Now that had changed.
"Okay. When is he getting here?"
"He said heíd be here in a few minutes."
"Do you have everything you need for the game?" She asked looking at the duffel bag sitting on the floor at Johnnyís feet.
"Yes, maíam, I have everything."
"Grab your jacket," she said, as the doorbell rang. Johnny headed up the stairs to his room. She took a deep breath before opening the door. She looked into Johnís blue eyes and smiled.
"Good Morning, Angie." John was wearing jeans and a baseball jersey. He looked laid back and so handsome that her breath caught.
"Hey, John. Johnny is getting his jacket and who knows what else."
"Okay. How are you?"
"Iím good. I didnít think that you were able to go to the game today."
"I didnít think I would be able to go, but I got my schedule changed."
"Thatís nice. Johnny is really excited about you being there today."
"Well, I plan on being at the majority of his games for the rest of the season."
"Really? How are you planning to make that happen? You were never able to before." She looked at him as she made the snide remark.
"I never needed to. You were always there," he said looking at her for a reaction. When he got none other than a glance, he continued, "Besides, Iím the Chief of Detectives. I can delegate. Itís only a few hours a week."
"Iím impressed. Your son will love that."
"How does his mother feel about it?"
"Iím glad that youíve found some time to spend with Johnny. He really loves you and heís a happier little boy when he gets to spend time with you."
"Thatís nice for me to hear."
"Well, youíre his hero."
"Sometimes I wonder."
"Donít. He practically worships the ground you walk on. He talks to his friends about you all the time. Heís so proud to be the son of the Chief of Detectives. He has already said that heís going to be a cop when he grows up."
"Really?" John had no idea that his son felt that way. He had obviously missed out on a lot. He regretted that.
"Yep," she answered as Johnny came down the stairs and ran straight to his dad. He wrapped his free arm around his fatherís leg and squeezed, grinning up at his dad. He was so happy that his dad was going to the game.
"Are we ready to go?" John asked.
"Yes, sir," Johnny said in reply. John glanced at Evangeline to confirm.
"Letís hit the road." John headed to his Black SUV and opened the passenger and back seat doors for Evangeline and Johnny. He helped Evangeline into the passenger seat, while Johnny climbed into the back. He made sure that both of them were in there seats with seatbelts fastened before closing the doors. What was he trying to prove? Evangeline knew that he was a gentleman. That was never in question. What was in question was why he was spending so much time with the two of them.
At the game, John was the typical baseball dad, telling the coach how to play the kids. Evangeline found herself laughing at John and Johnny from the sidelines. She missed these times, she thought pensively.
After the game, John took Evangeline and Johnny out for pizza. He noticed that she was especially quiet. Johnny didnít notice since he was so excited about his teamís win. John was proud of his son. Johnny was a team player, even though the boy had a natural talent for baseball that John couldnít explain. While Johnny recapped the game, John studied Evangeline. She was even more beautiful in a t-shirt and jeans, then in one of her business suits, if that was possible. How could I have let her go?
"Dad, did you hear me?" Johnny asked anxiously.
"No, Iím sorry. I got distracted. What did you say?"
"I asked if I could stay with you when mom goes to Pine Valley."
"Sure you can." He turned to Evangeline. "Whatís going on in Pine Valley?"
"I have a client that I have to see."
"John, donít do this."
"Donít do what? Donít worry about you and this Slater?"
"Johnny, why donít you go play that baseball video game that you wanted to try earlier?" Evangeline said, laying quarters on the table.
"Yippee," he said, picking up the quarters from the table. "Thank you, Mommy."
"Stay where I can see you."
"Yes, maíam." He moved to the video game that was directly in his motherís sight in the adjacent arcade. Before he inserted his quarter, he looked at her with a smile and waved. When she waved back, he turned back to the game.
"Donít start conversations like that with Johnny around. Heís an impressionable little boy and youíll make him worry about me. This is between us."
"I wasnít thinking. I got a little carried away. Why isnít your client coming to see you since youíre so close?"
"I am going to a meeting at Olivia Fryeís office. Look if you donít want to keep JohnnyÖ"
"Donít even try to make this about me not wanting to keep Johnny. He can stay with me anytime."
"I know. Iím sorry."
"Yeah?" He waited for her nod. "Look, when do you leave?"
"Day after tomorrow. Iím just staying one night. I would normally just drive for the day, but my meeting is late in the afternoon and I donít know how long itíll last."
"I actually agree with you staying. I wouldnít want you on the road any more than necessary and definitely after dark if it can be helped."
"Thanks for caring."
"What else would I do? I know that youíre a big girl, but I still worry," he said with a solemn look on his face. Evangeline didnít know how to respond to that, so she didnít. "Iíll pick Johnny up tomorrow night and he can spend a couple of nights with me. He has practice tomorrow anyway and I was planning on taking him."
"Okay. Iím sure that heíd like that. Thank you for keeping him."
"You never have to thank me for keeping my own son. I love him more than my own life."
"I know that, John. I was thanking you for helping me with work."
"Not a problem," he replied, pausing for a moment before adding, "I love you, too."
"I know. I feel the same way. I wish things could be different," she said and looked away. While he studied her intently, she looked to the arcade. "Iím going to get Johnny so we can go home."
"Okay. Iíll go pay and meet you by the door."
Within ten minutes, Evangeline and Johnny were inside the house and Johnny was on his way to take his bath. Evangeline took that time to review her and Johnís earlier conversation. It appeared that John was really attempting to spend more time with Johnny and she was so glad. Johnny adored his father and it was wonderful that they could see each other more. She couldnít understand what had happened to cause this type of change and she was afraid to ask. She still loved John, but that love didnít change anything. They hadnít worked hard enough to keep their relationship alive and now they were both paying the consequences.
When John arrived at his two-bedroom suite, he glanced around the living area and sighed. He was still not used to sleeping alone. He missed being in bed with Evangeline and going to check on Johnny in the middle of the night. He knew that they had both contributed to the break-up, but he carried a lot of guilt for the marriage not working. He had admitted to her that he loved her and sheíd admitted the same thing.
They could find each other again if only Evangeline would give them the chance. He knew that she was afraid of being hurt and that sheíd been hurt more than she thought possible with the separation, even though sheíd asked for it. He wanted to take that pain away. He wanted to try again. Would she give them the opportunity?
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