"You have time for a beer quick?" John asked Scott out of earshot of Chris.
"You're drinking beer?"
"No, but I'll buy you one."
He glanced at Chris who was putting stuff away.
"Sure," he said. "I was going to Tina's for dinner, but I can call her and tell her I'll be late."
Scott shrugged. "Sure. I see her every night, it's not like I'm canceling on her."
"All right. Thanks. Meet at Bud's Place?"
"Sure. See you in a bit."
John stopped to pick up a couple of movies on the way but still got there first. He'd sort of figured he might since Scott would have to stop at a pay phone and call Tina. Bud's Place wasn't as busy as other bars they went to after work, but it was still a bar and therefore prone to being loud.
He ordered a beer that Scott liked; producing the fake ID he'd gotten last summer and ordered himself a Coke. Scott came in about fifteen minutes later.
"The kid's yours, isn't he?"
John didn't say anything at first, nodded simply in response.
"I kind of figured. You're not the type to back down from being dared to do something and I saw the look on your face."
Scott frowned. "Not exactly, no. Surprised for sure. Mad definitely. No fear, though, and actually a little excitement."
"I think you were seeing things."
"I don't know your full history, John, but I could see why a guy like you might get excited at the chance to do better than what you had. And besides you like her."
"I did last year. I screwed up," he said and relayed the story to him. He actually told him the whole story, including the day of detention because he had to tell him the truth in order to get advice.
"So you blew her off because you were scared."
"Well, yeah. Come on. You've seen my scars. You saw my parents' house last summer when you had to pick me up before I got out of there and had a car."
"You've seen her house."
"I mean, I tried to get a second chance."
"But she'd already been embarrassed and knew she was pregnant. She was probably afraid you'd find out and leave her again. And probably for good that time."
John closed his eyes, wondering if that thought entered her mind. He didn't think he would've, but he really wasn't sure a year ago what he would have done or said.
"I wouldn't have."
"Are you sure? And does she know that?"
"No," he admitted.
"Because you couldn't tell her how you felt?"
"So, someone did break your heart."
"No, Jesus, get over this broken heart shit. I just," he huffed. "I knew I wasn't going to find someone like her again. So, why bother."
"So you saw her last night?"
"Well, yeah, I couldn't talk to her about Jack with you guys hanging around."
"Understandable. She invited you for lunch?"
"Yes. She let me hold him for a few minutes before taking him inside to bed last night. I fed him some bananas today. I sort of invited myself over there later to help put him to bed and watch movies with her."
Scott's eyebrows arched up at that.
"She kissed me before I left from eating lunch."
Scott rolled his eyes at that.
"So, what's the problem man? You clearly had chemistry once before. You don't want her to kiss you?"
"I'm not sure I want her kissing me right now. Christ. She didn't tell me! I have a son that I didn't know existed until yesterday."
"Well, I don't really know what to say to that. It sounds like she had legitimate reasons for not telling you. I saw your dad, man, and she was right. You had to get out of there and you had to have a chance to make it not just get by. Maybe you would have thought of a job like this, but chances are you probably wouldn't have because you would've been panicked."
"So, what I'm supposed to just forgive her and start cuddling with her on the couch?"
"That's up to you. You just said you knew you were never going to find someone like her again. To me, speaking as one who found someone like that, you need to decide if she's worth it or not. She did something wrong, sure. Unforgiveable? I don't think so, because like it or not her intentions were solidly spot on. You said yourself you didn't seek her out to be sure you hadn't gotten her pregnant."
"She'd come tell you who she believed slept with a different girl every day of the week that she was pregnant?"
John huffed again. "It was part of my reputation. What guy in their right mind is going to admit it's partially fabricated?"
"Does she know you haven't been with anyone since that day?"
"No," he said quickly.
"John, she kissed you so that means she might want more. You need to decide if that's what you want, but you can't lead her on. If you're intentions are solely to see your son you need to be honest with her. She doesn't deserve to go back to school thinking you're possibly going to get together."
"I donít want her sleeping with anyone else!"
"Well," Scott said with a chuckle. "I think that's pretty much your answer. If no one else can have her that's a pretty good indication you want her for yourself."
"And what? See her on weekends once in a while?"
"It's better than not at all. I mean, people do it that are in the military and stuff. It's a couple hundred miles. Hell, maybe during the winter you could go stay there."
"You going to help her?"
"The kid, you moron."
"Oh yeah, of course. I figured Friday I'd take some money out of my savings account and give it to her."
"Good man. Is she a good kisser?"
John chuckled at the question. "Yes."
"If she didn't have Jack and she'd kissed you what would you do?"
"I'd be all over a second chance."
"You know it's not wrong to think about what's best for both you and your son. They may even be the same thing."
"And if I'm misreading the kiss?"
"Do you think you are?"
"No, because that's how she let me know she was interested in the first place."
"Sounds to me like you guys need to actually learn to talk to one another."
"But it was much more fun that way."
"And now look at where you are!"
"He is a cute kid."
"Babies can be cute, but you better be sure if you two get beyond kissing you suit up."
"Don't worry. That was the first and last time I'll ever let my dick think for me."
"Probably not the last time. She's nice looking I can't deny she'd probably distract me from thinking logically, too, but your son needs her to finish school."
"You ever thought about it?"
"Kids?" He shrugged. "Sure, I mean, we're getting married so of course."
"Even though we have downtime during the winter?"
"Sure. Tina works. There's temporary agencies. There are factories or warehouses that are always hiring. I mean, for now I collect unemployment, but if the need was there I could have income. Her dad's paying her rent you said, though, so like I said earlier. If you two are together you could spend the winter down there. She might appreciate the help with Jack."
"Did I help?"
"I'm not sure."
"Do what you feel is right, John. I can't tell you what that is. If her kissing you makes you uncomfortable you need to tell her. Maybe she was just trying to be nice. Maybe she was seeing if you still find her attractive, or even if you ever really did. Sounds like the way you got together was kind of intense and then it fizzled pretty quickly."
"I ran away!"
"It doesn't make me uncomfortable I'm just not sure I should let her do it this soon."
"You reject her again, John, she's not the type to give you a third chance. If you're not comfortable and you're not honest with her she's going to assume you're not interested. She's going to go to school and someone will be happy to accept her kisses and someone will not mind being around Jack either. Not everyone in a college town is college aged to where a kid would put them off."
God he hated that idea.
"And if the idea bothers you as much as it seems to I say again, that's probably your answer. If you let her go, though, John, then you must let her go. And you have to move on, too. She has five or six weeks before she leaves?"
"That should give you some time to see if things are working. You don't have the peer pressure that was in high school so that shouldn't be a factor this time. Just see how things go between now and then and when she's ready to leave you either ask her to be exclusive or you let her go."
"You're not going to be exclusive?"
"Well, yeah, just sounds so odd to hear that word used in conjunction with any facet of my life."
"Sounds like you wanted it to be a facet of your life all along with her you just chickened out."
"I was a moron."
"Yeah, you were, but who knows where you'd both be now if you hadn't been."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com