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“Nothing you need to say. It’s going to be me doing all the work along the way. I’m going to have some demons to fight through, but I promise you this, I’m not pushing you away again, okay?” With an admission like that, I’m not sure what to say, so I do the only thing I can and nod my response.

“I see you’re still swallowing what I just laid out for you. We’ll talk more later this evening if you’ll answer your phone for me.” He somehow, slyly at that, squeezes my hand with his uninjured one, letting it go as fast as it appeared, and then saunters off with that swagger only a man could pull off. The worst part is that he has absolutely no idea what he’s doing, and judging by the looks on the other teachers’ and parents’ faces, they saw a little too much.



Today was long and boring. That’s probably because Tanner was insistent I take the rest of the week off. The lack of use in one hand made it limited on what I could work on around the house. Not that there was fuck all to do. Before Mom and Dad left for their coming-out-of-nowhere vacation, they made sure the house was clean, the fridge was well stocked, and laundry was all caught up. It won’t stay that way for long. How a five-year-old can go through as much clothes as he does, I’ll never know. Hell, I go through enough from work if I’m at a jobsite and have somewhere to go afterwards. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be doing that for a damn long time. Ten to twelve weeks is not what I wanted to hear from the doctor, but it is what it fucking is. The damn highlight of my day was picking up Jace from school, seeing Alana blush when she caught my eye, and I definitely saw the way her eyes roved down the length of my body. At least I was smart enough to be the last parent picking up. It gave me time to say hello, ask how her day was, and make it known that the second I got Jace down this evening, I’d be calling her. Hell, it was tempting to do it while he was still awake, but I knew if I did that, my attention wouldn’t be solely on Alana. Which, by the way, if Jace didn’t think anything was up before, the twenty-one questions he asked on our way home told me otherwise.

“Dad, do you think you’ll ever get married?” Jace asks as I tuck him into bed. Tonight was a calm one. There was no rushing around, eating at a family member’s house, showering the second we got home, and then getting into bed. Instead, it was a night of lasagna at home, courtesy of my mom’s handy work. There are still a few pre-made casseroles in the freezer. I guess I’ll be the next son to send his mother flowers as a thank-you. That’s why we’ve managed three bedtime stories to our usual one. Well, I didn’t read them; he did. Since the day he could read in pre-school, it’s been a total game changer. My only fear is that he’ll grow up too fast with how intelligent he is.

“I’m not sure. I guess we’ll need to leave it up to fate.” The question saga continues. It’s as if my son knows I’m ready to keep good on my promise and call Alana, and shit if that doesn’t make me worry about later on when things are going well. What if my own son is a cock block to the woman I want?

“Dad, you’re going to have stronger answers than that if you expect to date my teacher.” I was sitting on the side of his bed, listening to him read, and now I’m damn near on the floor, recovering from his blatant response.

“Warn an old man, will you?” I joke back once I’ve recovered.

“Well, I’m just thinking about Miss. M. Maybe you should start with flowers.” He shrugs his shoulders then lets out a yawn all while snuggling down further in his bed, eyes getting tired. God, do I love his innocence. I bend down to brush my lips across his forehead.

“I’ll try that, but not at your school. Love you, Jace. Sleep tight.”

“Good night, Dad. I love you,” he replies as I make my way to the door and turn the light off in his bedroom, a room that’s decked out way more mature than I thought he’d pick when I gave him free reign on how to decorate it last weekend. The dark green bedding, the beige walls that are carried throughout the house, and the vintage furniture along with the old college flags on one wall tie it all together. I take one last look at Jace, soaking it in, a worry settling in my gut that this could be the stupidest decision I’ve ever made, knowingly risking not just myself but Jace, too. Which is why I have to be upfront and honest with Alana. I know that what they say is most definitely true—knowing it is half the battle. The other half is letting it fucking go, and that’s a thing I’ve never done before.

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