"Daddy, ice cream!" Grace calls out as she runs towards me from the sandbox.
"Really?" I tease her as I catch her and pull her into my arms, having already seen the ice cream cart pull up on the walkway next to the playground.
"Look! There!" she points over my shoulder and I turn to look in that direction.
"You're right." I smile at her. "You want one?" I ask and she nods, holding on to my neck.
"Pweeeease, Daddy!" she begs, pouting a little before she places a kiss on my cheek.
"Okay. You convinced me, princess." I chuckle, kissing her on the forehead before I put her down.
"You want one too, Babe?" I turn to Alicia but she shakes her head, smiling. My glance lingers on her, watching her cradle our son Zach in her arms.
"And what about my big boy? Three scoops of chocolate, right?" I bend down to my son and stroke him softly on the cheek. He grabs my finger and holds it in his little hand, laughing at me.
"You wish." Alicia laughs and I join her, leaning closer to place a kiss on her hair.
"Daddy, my ice cream!" Grace calls out behind me, tugging at my jeans.
"I'm already on my way, honey. You stay here with Mommy and I'll go get your ice cream, okay, Gracie?" I turn around towards my daughter and she nods.
"Thank you, Daddy. Vanilla, pweease." she smiles and crawls on to the bench to sit down next to Alicia, snuggling up to her.
I walk towards the cart and get a cone with one scoop of vanilla for Grace.
"Mr. Florrick?" I hear a voice next to me and look around to spot a man about my age.
"Yes?" I turn towards him.
"Hi. My name is Eli Gold and I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute." he extends his hand and I take it, wondering where I heard his name before.
"Sure. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I was hired by the Illinois Democratic Committee to find a suitable candidate for the next Cook County's State's Attorney." he explains, not letting me out of his sight.
"Okay." I state, not really knowing what he could want from me.
"We have vetted a few possible candidates and your name was among them." he continues.
"My name?" I ask skeptical and he nods.
"Yes, Peter. I can call you Peter, right?" he chuckles nervously.
"Sure." I nod, still not sure if I should take him seriously.
"So what do you say?" he smiles encouragingly while I still wonder why his name sounds familiar.
"You're that campaign manager, right?" I finally recall having read his name in an article during the last senator election.
"Yes, I am. You've heard of me?" his face lights up.
"Not much, just read your name somewhere." I clarify.
"Well, anyhow, what do you say? Would you be interested to run for State's Attorney?" he steers back to the previous topic.
"Please call me Eli." he interrupts me and I smile.
"Okay, Eli. I once worked at the State's Attorney's office and I would lie if I hadn't thought about or even dreamed of running for the post of SA then. But now, my answer has to be No." I declare, not even thinking twice about my words.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am." I nod, putting emphasis on my words.
"We know that you are now running a successful firm with two partners, but think of the prospects, the places you could go from the SA's office." he tries persuading me, but I turn my head to look over the playground.
"Do you see that little girl on the swings there?" I point towards Grace after I've found her sitting on the swings. Alicia is pushing her and I can hear her squeal in happiness.
"Yes." Eli nods, his glance following my pointing hand.
"That's my daughter Grace. She just turned three a few days ago. And the woman next to her, that's my wife, Alicia." I smile as I watch her bend down over the buggy, taking out Zach.
"And that baby in her arms is our son Zach. He's four months old." I add turning my head back to look at Eli.
"That's exactly what makes you such a great candidate, Peter. You have the perfect family. No scandals, no skeletons in the closet."
I chuckle at this comment, wondering who did the vetting as I think some of the stuff that happened in Alicia's and my past could be considered a skeleton in the eye of the media.
"If you say so, but it's not worth dragging them into the public." I state, noticing the slight confusion in his eyes.
"You're exaggerating, Peter." he chuckles, but his eyes avoid my glance.
"You know that I'm not." I reply and he shrugs his shoulders.
"A few years back I would've jumped at a chance like this, but now I have to think about my family as well and if you knew me you'd know that they are more important to me than anything." I tell him, thinking about the time I thought I would never really call Alicia and Grace my family. My glance wanders over to them once more and I smile as I see them walk back to the bench. Alicia helps Grace crawl onto it and I watch her turn her head around and I'm sure she's looking for me.
"Daddy!" I hear her call out as soon as she spots me and I wave at her.
"If you'll excuse me now. I have to get this ice cream to my daughter." I lift the ice cream cone in my hand.
"Okay, you seem to know what you want, but just in case you change your mind." he takes a card out of his jacket pocket and hands it to me.
"I don't think so." I shake my head, offering him my hand instead.
"You seem sure, but why don't you take it anyway?" he offers and I nod curtly, taking the card from him, putting it into my pocket. "I wish you all the best, Peter." he says, shaking my hand.
"Thanks." I smile before I walk away, approaching my family.
Grace jumps from the bench and runs towards me, reaching for her ice cream. I hand it to her and she smiles brightly at me. She grabs my hand and we walk over to Alicia and Zach, joining them on the bench. And as I sit there with my family I'm more sure than ever that moments like this are worth more than anything a political career could ever promise me. I reach into my pocket and retrieve Eli Gold's card, tearing it into little pieces. As I watch them get scattered by the wind I know I'll never look back.
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