Lee slumped against the door as the girl walked towards him.
“You weren’t supposed to be here” she scowled at him stopping several feet away.
Shrugging he pushed himself from the door. “Can we talk. Please.” The entreaty in his tone was surprising to both of them.
“Don’t you think you’ve said enough” she asked glancing behind her.
“I’m not going to hurt you” he shoved his hands in his pockets. “I only wanted to understand why?”
“You know why” she crossed her arms her nostrils flaring.
“I’ll get help” he promised stepping towards her.
Taking several steps backwards “you’ve said that before. You never change.”
“This time I will” he cried hands reaching out to her. “Please I don’t want to lose you too.”
“What do you mean, lose me too” she asked her resolution slipping.
Stopping he snapped his mouth shut. “Fuck” he slammed his fist into a nearby wall. Turning he walked down to the water. He needed to get away. To think. Maybe he really did need help. He heard her call his name but he kept on going. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her anymore than he already had.
Fawn watched him go. She took a tentative step to follow then stopped. What good would it do? They’d been down this road before. She’d always when after him. He always promised to get help and never did. It was time to end the cycle. It was in his ball park now to decide what he wanted.
Walking into the silent boathouse she let her hand run along the wall. They’d had so many good times here. All marred with the idea that it could have been better if he only had the money he’d been cheated out of. Shaking her head she never understood his obsession. It wasn’t like he was living paycheck to paycheck. He had everything he needed and more.
Wiping at a tear on her cheek she went to the bedroom to get her things. Things would have been better if he hadn’t been here at all. Moving to the closet she took the few items she’d left there out laying them on the bed. The empty space her things left behind made her sick inside. The door behind her opened. Without looking she barked “go away.”
“Thought you might need some help” a girls voice said behind her.
“Francesca” she cried running to give her a hug “I’m sorry.”
“Hey” Francesca rubbed Fawn’s back “it’s going to be okay.”
Fawn leaned into her crying little “am I doing the right thing?”
“Of course you are” she soothed patting her back. “If you don’t leave he’ll continue this behavior.”
“I know” she lifted red rimmed eyes “but is it really so bad? I mean he’s not abusive or anything. Maybe I’m making too much of this.”
Lifting the girls chin up Francesca shook her head. “He left you on the side of the road. No one does that.”
“He was upset” she tried to cover for him “and I told him to leave me there.”
“What if something had happened to you” she asked.
“Thankfully” Francesca sighed sitting on the side of the bed. “What do you want to do?”
Looking around the room Fawn shook her head. “I don’t know. I thought I did but I don’t.”
“Sweetie” she patted the bedspread beside her “let me ask you one thing. How does he make you feel?”
Sitting beside her Fawn shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Of course you do” she prompted.
“Insignificant” she mumbled “like I don’t matter. Like the only thing he cares about is money.”
“Do you see that changing if you stay” she asked.
Tears rolled down her cheeks “no” her voice was small and sad.
“Then it’s time for a change” Francesca said “it doesn’t have to forever. If he changes you can come back.”
“I know it’s just….” sniffing a little “I don’t want to hurt him.”
“Sometimes that’s the only way people realize they have to change” she said “sometimes it has to hurt.”
“I know” she mumbled. Standing up she asked “did you bring any boxes?”
“They’re in the truck” Francesca said “I’ll go get them.”
Walking outside she noticed Peter was down by the water’s edge talking to Lee. She hoped he was talking some sense into the guy.
Peter didn’t know what to say. He thought Lee was being an idiot for being here when he said he wouldn’t be. With effort he restrained himself from saying so. “How are you holding up” he asked instead.
“I messed up” he said.
“You did” he nodded without offering sympathy.
“What do I do” he asked looking up at the other man.
“Get help like you’ve promised a hundred times before” he suggested “talk to someone.”
“She doesn’t want to hear about it….”
“Not her you idiot” Peter cut him off. “A professional. Fawn doesn’t want to hear about your hang ups about money anymore.”
“I’m not crazy” was his first knee jerk reaction.
Grunting Peter ran a hand through his hair. “If you want my opinion you are.” That got Lee climbing to his feet, anger flashing in his eyes.
“You’re letting a beautiful girl slip through your fingers because of your obsession. If that isn’t crazy I don’t know what is.”
Sagging like wilted lettuce he whined “you don’t understand….”
“And I don’t want to” Peter cut him off. “Look I think you’re a nice guy but if you continue the way you are you’re going to lose the best thing you have going for you.” Pausing he walked a few steps away “get help.”
Lee stared out across the water. The idea he needed help running through his mind again. He didn’t know anymore.
Edelle leaned into Castel as they watched Minions with the boys. “Not exactly the romantic evening you envisioned is it” she whispered in his ear.
Smiling he shook his head. “No it’s..” pausing he searched for the right words.
“It’s alright to say you’re bored” she chided him. “Most guys I’ve dated since having Avery haven’t even gotten this far.”
“I wasn’t going to say boring” he protested despite his lips quivering.
“Liar” she giggled as his fingers tried to tickle her sides.
“Mama shhh” Avery put a finger to his lips which was instantly mimicked by Neel.
“I guess you were told” Castel chuckled earning himself a shush from Neel.
“So were you” she whispered taking his hand. “Next time I promise I’ll get a babysitter.”
“No this is fine” he protested “I’m enjoying it.”
She gave him a long considering look. “I’m not sure if I should believe you. It’s nice of you to say so though.”
He could see the uncertainty in her eyes. Probably because most men run in the opposite direction with they find out the woman they’re interested in is pregnant or has kids. He’d done it himself in the past. Maybe this was a sign he was ready to settle down. Ready to stop running from the past and what might have been beens. There was no point holding on to the anger he had surrounding a lot of his memories. Blair had made the right decision. He all but forced her into it. He had acted like an ass.
“What was that look for” Edelle asked lifting a hand to soothe his frown from his forehead.
“Mama” Avery complained “shhhh.”
“Sorry baby” she whispered to her son. Turning to Castel she took his hand and led him into the other room where they could talk.
Looking at his feet instead of into her eyes “I’m sorry” he murmured.
“For what” she asked motioning for him to sit. When he was situated she sat in his lap wrapping her arms around his neck. “Something’s bothering you. I can see it in your eyes.” She didn’t add that the frown marks were a dead give away as she let her fingers trace the lines. “You were thinking of her again, weren’t you?”
Meeting her gaze he nodded. “It’s been over for years and I still can’t forgive myself for the things I did to her.”
She could hear the regret in his voice. Leaning her head on his shoulder “you were a lot younger then” she tried to console him.
Grunting he shook his head “that’s no excuse. It took me years to even admit I was at fault. It was because I didn’t know myself back then. I thought I could pretend to be what she wanted and pretend to be what my parents expected me to be. In the process I turned into something I didn’t want to be.”
Brushing his hair back “I like who you turned out to be. You save my son’ life.”
Shrugging a little he tried to brush her thanks away. “Well he had the really hot mom.”
Slapping his shoulder she protested “you didn’t even meet me until afterwards.” Cupping his face she forced him to look at her. “Stop running from who you are” leaning in close brushing her lips across his “because who you are is pretty damn good.”
His arms tightened around her. He couldn’t find the words to express what she meant to him. He could feel the shackles of the past falling away from his mind and soul. He wasn’t perfect nor ever would b but maybe he wasn’t as bad as he believed he was.
A knock at the door prevented him from saying anything. The look they shared as Edelle moved to see who was at the door was enough. “That’s probably Neel’s parents” she said walking away.
“Prisha, Ajay come in” her voice was warm and welcoming.
“Thank you so much for watching our son” Prisha said coming inside “sorry it was so last minute.”
“Don’t worry about it” she waved the woman’s words of thanks away. “Avery loved having someone to play with.”
“Neel can be a handful” Ajay said “I hope he behaved himself.”
“About as well as any three-year old can” she laughed. “Believe me Neel wasn’t the one causing trouble. That’s my son’s middle name.”
Prisha waved at Castel who was leaning against the wall. “Were you two on a date” she inquired.
Shrugging he said “one of the hazards of dating a single mom.”
“We’re sorry” Ajay repeated “if we had known we would have asked someone else to babysit.”
“Don’t worry about it” Castel encouraged “it was enlightening.”
Walking over to him Edelle kissed his cheek. “That’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said about helping me babysit. Most of the time the guy makes up an excuse to leave as soon as possible.” She leaned her head back to smile up at him.
“Well” he chuckled “I need help getting up to date on kids movies. I don’t know what’s out there anymore.”
“Why” she asked curious “I thought you were bored.”
“I wasn’t bored” he protested.
“Uh huh” she giggled kissing his cheek. “Nice try.” turning to Prisha she said “the boys are watching Minions. They’ve been awfully quiet so either they’re up to something or they’re asleep.”
“That’s never a good sign with kids” Ajay chuckled following the other’s into the living room.
“Aw look at them” Prisha cooed fining both boys cuddled together on the floor asleep.
“I’ll get him” Ajay said bending to scope his son into his arms. “Hopefully he stays like this the rest of the night.”
Following him to the door Prisha turned saying “thanks again for watching him for us. Next time it’s on us.”
“Avery enjoyed it” she assured the older woman waving as they left.
“But we’ll accept your offer the next time we want a night out just the two of us” Castel said “we’ll let you know when.”
“Good night” Prisha said as they closed the door behind them.
Turning Edelle asked “will there be a next time?”
“Of course there will be” he leaned down pressing his lips to hers.
“Good” she sighed breathing deeply. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met anyone willing to give me a chance once they find out I have a kid.”
“As far as I’m concerned Avery’s an added bonus” he hugged her tight. “After all it’s not everyday I get mistaken for Aquaman.”