My assistant makes sure I eat my meals, and before she leaves the office on these two days, she'd always bring my dinner at 7pm sharp. Just so I won't forget to eat in case I'm too absorbed with work.
In short, I've gotten the hang of this, of my new routine.
Around 7.50 in the morning, my baby daddy would reach on the doorstep of our co-parenting apartment in a pair of jeans, hoodies, sometimes with a cap, to take care of Pao since I'd leave for work before 8. He'd go straight to his Princess, getting busy with anything, literally anything so he can avoid me.
Around 12.30 he'd text me a picture of Pao signalling he has picked her up from school. Then another at 3 when he has sent her to the extra class of the day, and lastly at 4ish for he has picked up our daughter to bring her home.
Sometimes I asked if her teachers share anything about her today when he picked her up, or commented on how cute she look with that outfit he assembled, or anything else but of course, none were replied. All I got was Read.
By 5pm I'd wrap up and leave around 5.30, walk straight to our place and arrive home just in time to have dinner with them. Though since my pregnancy was revealed two weeks ago, he doesn't eat with us anymore.
Suddenly he's too busy with so many things but really, he doesn't need to put much effort into that since I know he's avoiding me hardcore right now. I thought it was already bad back then when he wasn't interested to even take a glance at me but now, he cannot withstand to breathing the same air.
It's almost 11 when I step out of the elevator, about to walk to my place on the right side of this floor when I heard male voices on my left. A man is standing in front of the co-parenting apartment with Owen holding the door open.
I recognise the hoodie. It's his, and that man is saying something about breakfast date. So that's what he's been busy with? Who he's been busy with? Date nights, breakfast dates, what else? Lunch dates on days he doesn't have to pick up Pao from school? That's why he leaves early, and seems to be coming much later in the morning, perhaps from all the night-to-morning activities?
"Hey." I decided to say hi to them, since we're neighbours afterall.
And it'd be awkward if I just go to my place when I obviously see the gents. He can avoid me all he wants but I'm a civilised person, I choose to be a descent neighbour despite his treatment towards me. We're sharing a daughter afterall.
Two, including this one.
Or three, if we were to include our first pregnancy.
"Hey." The stranger replies me the moment I stop my track in front of them.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning." He says to him, totally ignoring my friendly smile. Well at least he looks at me tonight, instead of straight up ignoring my presence.
"Yeah okay. Breakfast date." The guy nods, then turns to me with a friendly smile and tone, "Goodnight."
"Good night to you too."
And just like that the door is shut right at my face as the man grimaces with the loud thud. This is embarrassing, to be treated in such a way in front of a stranger. Or should I say, his new man.
"He must have been tired," he shrugs, perhaps trying to make me feel better.
I force a smile, "Yeah."
"I'm Pierre by the way, Mr Harris's assistant." Ahhh, not someone he's seeing then?
"You must be Pao's mama?" I nod with a questioning look before he continues as he chuckles, "Met Pao a few times before when Owen told me to come here. She told me her Mama lives at the same floor."
"Yeah. Such a cutie. Anyway, I've gotta go. Goodnight, Pao's Mama."
I laugh at the nickname, "Goodnight, Pierre. Nice meeting you."
Do you know what I hate?
When he takes off his hoodie and his t-shirt rides up revealing that delicious v curve, low enough to make me gulp in saliva or wipe my drool on the floor. And this morning, he matches it with a grey sweatpants.
Grey sweatpants that can show things they want to hide but doing such a poor job at it. He clearly overslept hence the outfit and showing thirty minutes later than usual.
"Papa you are late!" Pao launches an attack the moment she sees him.
"I'm sorry, Princess," he grins boyishly while ruffling his messy hair, "You ready for school now?"
"Okay, give me two minutes to change." He rushes to his room, again ignoring my presence when I'm standing right here in my casual clothes.
I totally forgot I have a check up today so I'm taking a leave from work. I even plan to send Pao to school, go for my check up, then pick her up and spend the entire day with her. Owen can take a day off today.
"All done!" He comes out of his room wearing jeans and t-shirt, holding a leather jacket.
"Let's go, Sweetheart!" He walks towards the main door before I managed to tell him I'm taking over today. I left him a text message this morning but he clearly didn't read it.
"Come on Mama!" Pao says impatiently when both of them are already wearing their jacket.
"You said you wanna send me to school today?" She raises an eyebrow.
"Uhh yeah but," I turn to Owen who doesn't look pleased with that little information.
"Come on then." She grunts, then mumbles, "Why is everybody making me late today. Hurry already. Urgh."
"Pao." It was one word but both Pao and I know it's a warning from the man. He's big in teaching Pao to respect other people especially if it's regarding me or him; the parents.
How contradicting, given what happened three nights ago when he rudely slammed the door at my face for the fact I obviously hadn't finished conversing with him or Pierre.
"Papa can send you." I say softly, not wanting to cause more conflict.
"But you promised!" She's on a brink of tearing. Maybe the after-effect of what Owen did just now.
"Okay, Mama will send you today." His tone is different than earlier, trying to console the little girl. Then he turns to me with a stoic expression, "Take the car. Philip will send you guys."
"But I want you to send me too!" I can see tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. I rush to her as Owen squats and pulls her into a hug.
"I want Mama and Papa to send me." She sobs, hiccuping at each word.
"Alright, we'll go together." He murmurs, stroking her long hair while giving me a look to get ready instantly.
I oblige, grabbing my coat and bag as he stands up, carrying her and her school bag. The two of us walk to the elevator, leaving Nancy who is puzzled with what's happening.
"Erm I..." I break the silence as we walk next to each other after sending Pao to her classroom. He doesn't seem bothered with what I'm about to say, but nice enough to walk at the same pace with me.
I adjust the strap of my tote bag and try again, "I uhh, I have a check up today. So... erm so I'll pick her up afterwards. I'm taking the whole day off so uhmm you can uhh go back to your place. Or, uhh, do whatever you're supposed to do. I'll handle her today."
He doesn't say anything making me wonder if he heard what I said, if my voice was too low because of my nervousness. Or he's just ignoring me like he always does?
So I remain silent as we awkwardly walk to the school's gate. Good thing I remember to take my bag before coming out of the car so I can dash away from him once we step out of this school compound without having more uncomfortable interaction.
Two steps from the gate, I can see his car with Philip at the driver seat is entering the express pick-up lane. It stops right in front of us by the time we're out of there.
"It's okay, I'll get a cab. You can go." I politely say to him when he holds the door without sliding in, as if waiting for me to get in.
"Philip can send you." He's using the same tone as he called Pao just now. An order, rather than a suggestion.
"Nevermind, the weather is good. I might just walk to the clinic. It isn't that far." I refuse to stay in this awkward situation.
His eyes are directed to the cars lining up behind his Maybach, then focuses on me again, taking a deep breathe with a slight irritation on his face.
"I walk to work everyday, this is like another walk-to-work for me. No worries."
"What time is your check up?" He asks while glancing at the watch on his wrist.
"Uhh. Ten thirty."
"That's one hour and a half from now. Get in. We'll have breakfast first."
"No?" He repeats in a combination of disbelief and annoyance.
"Look," I clutch the strap of my bag, holding onto it as my source of courage, "I know you hate me. And I know you don't wanna see my face or be near me. It's too obvious, Owen. So no, you don't have to do this. You can leave so we don't have to continue being awkward like this. You don't have to tolerate my presence when Pao's not around."
He stares at me with daggers piercing into my skin, warning me. But I'm gonna stick with my decision, "I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself."
"Yeah I can see you're a big girl now," his eyes move lower, to my baby bump. Then going upward again to my face but he did stop at my breasts. Urgh, these girls have grown from DD to G, I look like a pornstar now no matter what I wear.
"Either you eat breakfast with me or you become my breakfast, your choice. Either way you're getting in the car."