They left his mother and went down to the basement, his man den. Well, his father’s man den. This was where his dad always came when he wanted peace and quiet away from the busy life that had been given to him.
“What’s goin’ on, son?”
“I don’t know.”
“Cut the bullshit with me. I’m not interested in trying to find out if you smashed the neighbor’s window. You’ve come to me as a man, I’m guessing with problems.”
“Ann’s pregnant,” he said, just blurting it out.
“You don’t want her to be?”
“I don’t know what I want.”
“Then maybe it is time you figured what shit it is you do want,” he said.
“Dad, I don’t know what to do. She’s not going to get rid of it.”
“And is that a bad thing?”
“Then I don’t see what the problem is.”
“There isn’t a problem, not a single one,” he said. He collapsed back into his chair, running a hand down his face. His company would be calling him back soon, but for now, he needed to get his shit together right here.
His dad didn’t say a word. Just sat with him while he tried to think and contemplate what was really going on in his life. It was hard, more than hard. “I love her,” he said.
“Yeah. More than I’ve ever loved any woman before in my life. I don’t want to lose her.”
“Then why did you run out here and tell me rather than tell Ann?”
“What if she doesn’t love me back or thinks I only told her because of the baby?”
“Then you make sure your woman knows that you love her for her, not because of some kid.” His father slapped him on the arm. “You know the answers to all of these, Eli. You’re a good kid.”
“Dad, I’m in my forties.”
“So, you’ll always be my son. That will never change. I know when you found out about Katie that you couldn’t stand the mother, but you stuck by her.”
“I didn’t marry her.”
“And is this what you want to do this time?” he asked.
Eli thought about it. Ann’s smile. Her incessant need to make notes and to do her finances and calculations. She also liked to clean, which was odd. Her baking. Listening to her handle Katie when his little girl had one of her tantrums. They were few and far between, but she still screamed the house down from time to time.
All of it.
He wanted it all with Ann.
The damn houses.
Elizabeth was right. The houses were fucking gifted. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
“You know, son, you’re going to have to make it up to her. It’s not every single day a woman finds out she’s pregnant and the man runs out on her.”
Not only did her revelation send Eli running for the hills, or wherever it was he went, he forgot about his daughter as well. While she was collapsed on the bed, sobbing her heart out, she got a call from Katie’s school to come and pick her up.
Eli had been over an hour late.
She didn’t walk though, opting to take her car after throwing water on her face.
She had to get herself together. There was no way Katie needed to see her like this. She was stronger than this.
So, the guy she was in love with couldn’t handle the thought of being a dad to another kid. No problem. She’d been alone most of her life and even though these past couple of months had been the best of her life, it was coming to an end. She could handle it. There was nothing she could do about his lack of love.
Gripping the steering wheel, she refused to let any more tears out. Crying was for wimps. She wasn’t a wimp. She would get her shit together and all would be okay in the world, in her world.
Katie stood outside with the principal.
The moment she saw her car, she ran toward her. She loved this little girl too, and she wouldn’t let her down.
Katie let herself into the passenger side. “Hey, Ann. Are you feeling better?”
“A little bit.”
“I don’t know why my dad is late. He’s never late. Not now. I know there was a time he never turned up but it’s been a long time since that happened. How are you feeling?” Katie asked. “I learned a lot today in school. I like it when we read, though.”
Ann didn’t need to talk.
Silence for her was easier, especially as Katie took up all of the conversation.
They drove back to her home and Ann cursed, much to Katie’s shock. “I totally forgot about Elizabeth. You want to help me walk the dogs?”
“Yay,” Katie said, throwing her arms up in the air, clearly in celebration.
Smiling, she drove back to Elizabeth’s house and parked the car.
The moment she got to the gate, the dogs came charging toward her, Elizabeth not too far behind. “I was starting to worry.”