The Spark Theory

By Michelle Chichester All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Other

Chapter Fourteen

Friday late afternoon found me racing home from work. After our dinner on Tuesday, Clark and I had spent the week ‘bumping into each other.’ First, it was meeting up for a run on Wednesday morning. Thursday, we grabbed a coffee on the way into work. This morning, we’d agreed to meet after work to see a new movie that was all anyone could talk about. After a very busy week at work, I was looking forward to this start of hopefully a relaxing weekend.

I’d just gotten off of the subway when my cell phone beeped, showing I had a message. I flipped open the phone and checked to see who had called. It was Clark; he must have tried to call me when I was on the subway. I dialed voice mail as I walked the few blocks toward my apartment.

Hey, Kate, the message started. Don’t kill me, but I have to take a rain check on our movie.

Oh, man! I thought to myself, disappointed. The rest of the message continued.

Camille called this morning, and she had a few days off between jobs. So, I’m actually on my way to the airport to meet up with her in London for a long weekend. Sorry to be so last minute. If you want to go ahead and see the movie without me, I’ll understand. Talk to you when I get back.

The message finished playing, but I continued to walk along, phone pressed to my ear. I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I played it again to be sure.

Stupid, stupid, I thought to myself. This is impossible. I couldn’t believe I’d let myself get sucked back in again. I needed to get a life, and I was going to put some distance between me and Clark. Maybe I should call Mike. At least that would help me take my mind off of things. I pondered this as I made my way toward my apartment, but the thought of a night alone wasn’t at all appealing. Maybe I would go to that movie, I thought. But the thought of sitting alone in the movie theater seemed ever more pathetic. So, I ended up stopping at the video store and grabbing a few tear jerkers to keep me company and ordered some Chinese takeout.

I kept busy the rest of the weekend. I’d already agreed to go visit Charlotte and baby Maxine and help pack a few boxes, and luckily I’d made plans with Michelle for brunch on Sunday. She was very chatty as usual, and it helped me keep my mind off of things.

The next week started okay. I had one more email from Mike, which I decided to ignore, and I met Jim for dinner again on Monday. He brought Kristen, his old girlfriend, who, he had informed me the week before, was definitely for real this time back to being his current girlfriend. He wanted me for a bit of a confirmation, I think. She was nice, and the conversation was spirited, but part of me kept feeling like a third wheel. They were sort of cute together, after all. I made the excuse of an early meeting the next morning to leave the dinner right after dessert.

Clark called me on Tuesday. I saw who was ringing in on my cell phone and chose to ignore it. He’d called, he said on his message, to let me know he was back in town and, oh, did I ever go see that movie? I decided not to call him back. Instead, I called Emile to find out how the house hunting was going. He had been in Pennsylvania searching for places to live and had settled on a rental a few blocks from campus. They would live there for a year or so, he informed me, until they knew the lay of the land and could save a little more money to buy a place.

Wednesday morning, I went out early for a run, but, luckily, I didn’t see Clark. By Thursday, I’d had two more calls from him, wanting to know what was happening and did I want to get together. I erased them both. I was a new woman. I was moving on.
Friday, I ran out the door of my apartment, running late for a meeting at the office to update Smith on one of our clients. Fumbling with my bag and my keys, I didn’t notice someone sitting on the stoop of my building until I started to head down the steps. It was Clark sitting there, waiting again with two cups of coffee. He turned when he heard someone exit the building.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he accused.

“No,” I lied, using the excuse of putting my keys in the bag to not look him in the eye. “Just busy.”

He stood up, handing one of the cups to me as I reached him at the bottom of the steps. “Here’s your morning coffee.” He must have noticed my flustered look because he asked, “Are you in a hurry?”

“Yes,” I apologized. “I’m running late for a meeting with Smith.”

“Okay. I’ll walk you to the subway.”

We started walking, me embarrassed because he was right, I had been avoiding him. I said, “You know, you don’t have to keep buying me coffee.”

“Oh, I know.”

Not wanting to be rude, I added, “I mean, I could meet you with coffee one morning.”

“Okay,” he nodded.

Wondering why I should feel so guilty when it was him who blew me off in the first place, I started to apologize for not calling him back when he spoke.

“So, did you ever go see that movie?”

“Movie?” I tried to sound nonchalant. “Oh, no. I never got around to it. Turns out I was too busy last weekend.” Trying to sound casual, I asked him, “So, how was London?”

His jaw clenched. “London was fine.” He didn’t add anything else.

“Fine?” His tone surprised me.

“Yeah, fine.”

“You flew all of the way to London for a weekend away and all you can say is ‘fine’?” I was incredulous. “Gee, I wish I could have those kinds of weekends.”

He grinned. His eyes crinkled at the sides when he did that. “Okay, maybe next time you can come with me,” he said.

I swallowed. A weekend in London with Clark? My mind flashed forward to impossible images for a moment before I shook my head.

“No, sorry,” I said. “A weekend with you and your girlfriend in London doesn’t really appeal to me.”

He winced, as if what I said hurt. “Yeah, sorry about ditching you like that. It wasn’t very nice.” We’d arrived at the subway steps. He stopped, turning to me. “Let me make it up to you. What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Why?” I asked, suspiciously.

“Well, I thought we could see that movie, since you were so busy this past weekend.” I hesitated, and he continued. “C’mon, don’t be mad. It’ll be fun.”

“No surprise visits to London?”

“No.”

“Paris?” I added, unconvinced.

He laughed. “No. I promise.” He held up two fingers. “Scouts honor.”

“Okay, then.”

“Great. I’ll call you later today to firm up the plans.”

He started to leave, but then I stopped him. “You were a boy scout?” I asked.

He paused. “Yeah. Weren’t you a girl scout?”

“No,” I shook my head. “Green was never my color.”

“Hmm,” he said, looking confused.

“What?” I asked.

He smiled. “Green seems to suit you just fine, now.”

He waved and walked away, leaving me staring at him open mouthed in disbelief. “Jerk,” I said, under my breath.

He was right, of course. I was jealous. I didn’t have a right to be, but there it was. Still, I couldn’t get over the audacity of his comment. If he thought I was going to a movie with him now, he had another thing coming!


Of course, when he called later, my earlier irritation had faded away to only a mild annoyance. His voice -- so sure and welcoming -- made me almost forget why I was mad in the first place, and I agreed to meet him the next day for a matinee. After the movie, we decided to head back to our neighborhood bar for a few happy hour drinks. Having only had popcorn and soda at the movie, I could feel myself getting a little drunk on my first beer.

“I have to admit, it was pretty good,” Clark laughed. “I mean, what about those aliens? Pretty scary to think they live among us, huh?”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked in disbelief. “That part was so unbelievable. Why do you think that FBI agent would learn that aliens existed and not tell anyone? Why did he have to fight their whole group all alone? Is that some male macho thing?”

“That’s the whole point,” Clark shook his head. “If he’d told anyone, they might have been the aliens. He couldn’t trust anyone.”

“I still thought it was pretty strange. And, what about the girl, the alien with the dark hair?”

“Yeah, she was hot.” He leaned back, taking a sip of his beer.

I felt my face getting red. “She was such a bad actor.”

“Really?” he laughed. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Okay, macho man.” I tried to play it cool. “I can see what type of girl you like.”

“Really?” He leaned forward, elbows on the table, and looked me in the eyes. “What type?” he challenged.

“Um, well, you know,” my face getting even redder. “Tall, long hair, curvy, gorgeous model types.” I tried to cover my embarrassment by taking a sip of beer.

“Hmm,” he said, leaning back again. “I think you’d be surprised.” He took another sip of his beer, finishing off the bottle. “Do you want another?” he asked, standing.

“Yeah, sure,” I agreed. “I’ll have another . . . SHIT!”

He stopped, an amused expression on his face. “Excuse me?”

“Shit, I mean shoot,” I said, lowering my voice. “Sorry, my ex-boyfriend just walked in.”

Clark casually looked over his shoulder before looking back to me. “You mean that guy over there?” he indicated with his chin.

“Yes,” I said, trying to hide behind him. “I am so not ready to handle him.”

“Want to have a little fun?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll pretend to be your boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?”

“Sure.”

“I don’t know about that, Clark,” I started. Before I could say more, it was too late. I could see out of the corner of my eye that Mike had spotted me. He gave me a hesitant wave and started to walk over. I looked at Clark. “He’s coming. Be cool,” I pleaded.

“Sure thing,” he smiled. Suddenly, he let out a big laugh, as if whatever I had just said had been extremely amusing. I gave him the evil eye, but it was too late to say anything. Mike was at the table.

“Hey, Kate,” Mike said.

I looked up, pretending to be surprised. “Mike? What are you doing here?”

He eyed Clark dubiously before answering. “Oh, you know. I was in the neighborhood, and I stopped by your place.” He hesitated. “You weren’t there, so I thought I’d try a couple of our old haunts.”

“You were looking for me?” I asked, playing dumb.

“Yeah, um . . . . ”

“I was just going to get us a couple more beers,” Clark broke in. “Do you want one?”

Mike looked confused. “No thanks.”

“Okay,” Clark replied. He looked at me. “Be back soon,” he winked.

I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or be mad. I hoped Clark could feel a sharp pain in his back as my eyes shot daggers at him as he walked away. Mike took Clark’s chair across from me.

“How are you, Kate?” he asked.

“Fine, Mike.” He looked tired and a little unkempt. Not his usual self that was always so pulled together for his days on Wall Street.

“You didn’t call me back.”

“I know. I was going to, really. I just haven’t decided anything, yet.”

He gestured over his shoulder. “Who is he?”

“Oh, sorry. I guess I should have introduced you. That’s Clark.”

“That’s not what I meant. Is he the reason you haven’t called me back?”

“No, Mike. Clark . . . well, he’s just a friend. He’s my neighbor. He moved down the block from me a couple of months ago.”

“Just a friend.”

“Yes.” I was getting exasperated. “Just a friend.”

He nodded. He leaned forward in his chair. “So, what do you think? About us, I mean.”

I picked at the label of my beer bottle, not meeting his eyes. “I just don’t know, Mike. Things are different, now.”

“Different? How?”

“I don’t know. Different. I got a new job, for one.”

“A new job?”

“Yeah, long story. I quit my other one. I’m working for a new agency, a smaller one, in charge of some of the accounts.”

“That’s great!” he exclaimed. “So, you’re like an account manager?” I nodded. “Well, that’s what you’ve always wanted to do,” he added.

“Yep.”

“So, what else?”

“What else?”

“Yeah, what else is different?”

“I . . . I can’t explain it, Mike. I just feel different, like I’m discovering a part of me that was lost.”

“Lost when you were with me?”

“Yes. I mean, it’s not because of you. That’s not what I meant.”

“Can’t you share that part with me?” He sounded hurt.

I could see that Clark had gotten our beers and was returning to the table.

“Mike, now’s not a good time to talk about this, okay?”

He could see where I was looking and turned to see Clark approaching. He turned back to me. “When will it be a good time, Kate?”

“Soon, Mike. I’ll call you, okay? I promise. I just need a little more time.”

He got up from the table as Clark got back. Clark took the seat next to mine, draping his arm across the back of my chair. “Leaving?” he asked Mike casually.

“Yeah, I have to go,” Mike said, looking at him and then me. “I’ll talk to you, Kate.” He looked at me for a moment longer before he turned and headed out of the bar.

I watched him until he reached the door, and then buried my face in my hands. “Urrgh!” A perfectly nice day, now thrown into turmoil. My stomach was twisted in knots.

“What was that all about?” Clark asked.

I looked up at him for a second before focusing on the beer bottle he had given me. My thumb traced the edge of the label. I couldn’t help but notice that Clark’s arm was still draped along the chair behind me. “Nothing. He just wants to talk, that’s all.”

“Oh?” He moved his arm away. “Realized what a jerk he’d been, huh?”

I shifted in my chair to face him. “How do you do that?”

“What?”

“Always get to the heart of the matter. There’s no beating around the bush with you.”

He shrugged. “Life’s too short.”

“Well, okay, yes. He realized what a jerk he was. Now, he wants to talk about it. Maybe get back together.”

“And, you said . . .?”

“That I’d think about it.” I turned away and took a sip of my beer. Suddenly, I felt Clark’s hand on my shoulder.

“Think hard.”

I looked at him. I couldn’t read the expression on his face. It almost looked sad or -- what was a better word -- pained. His hand grew warm on my shoulder. A second later, he smiled and took his hand off of my shoulder to reach for his beer.

“So,” he said, with a gleam in his eye. “What are you doing next Saturday?”

I smiled. “Why?”

“How about a picnic?”


The next Saturday found me traipsing through a corner of Central Park, trying to find the spot where Clark said to meet him. I was sure I was lost and was on the verge of turning back to try another path when I heard my name. I looked up to see Clark coming toward me from the grass. He had a bat slung over his shoulder, and a younger boy followed close behind.

“There you are,” he said, reaching me.

“Yeah, sorry I’m late,” I said, holding up the package of cookies I brought. “You said to bring dessert, but I couldn’t decide what to bring for a picnic.”

He saw me eyeing the boy behind him and turned to put his arm around him. “Kate, this is Enrico.” He looked at Enrico and said, “Say ‘Hi,’ kid.”

“Hi,” Enrico mumbled, bowing his head. His dark hair was partially covered by the baseball cap he wore and was a sharp contrast to his pale skin. His t-shirt was faded, and I noticed a small hole in the left knee of his jeans, which were covered in dust. His shoes, although they looked in good shape, were also covered in dust. I looked at Clark. He, too, was a bit sweaty and disheveled, a good sign they’d already been playing some baseball.

“Enrico’s my little brother.”

“Little brother?” I asked. Then, I realized. “Oh. You’re a Big Brother.”

“Yep,” Clark smiled. “We’ve been hanging out for about six years now, right kid?”

Enrico glared at Clark. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a kid anymore.”

Clark laughed. “Right.” He looked at me. “He grew up some while I was in Africa. I hardly recognized him when I got back.” He gestured to my package. “C’mon. We’ve already got a spot picked out over here. Might as well eat lunch and enjoy the dessert.”

I followed them to a blanket spread out near a group of trees. On it lay a couple of baseball gloves, a small cooler, and a paper sack. “Have a seat.” Clark indicated a spot across from the basket.

Enrico sat on the blanket across from me, next to the food, eyeing me from beneath the brim of his hat. Clark sat beside the food on the other side and began searching around in the bag. He found an apple and handed it to Enrico before asking me if I wanted one.

“Thanks,” I said, catching with one hand the apple he threw to me.

“Good catch,” he whistled.

“Thanks. It was playing softball for three years.”

“Wow, you were on a team?” I heard Enrico ask.

I turned to Enrico. Apparently, his initial shyness was starting to pass. “Yep,” I confirmed. “I played three years in junior high and high school. I wasn’t the greatest player,” I admitted. I held up the apple. “This was a lucky catch.”
“Enrico’s on his way to becoming a star baseball player,” Clark said, pulling out more food. I could see sandwiches, sodas, and something that looked like potato salad in the cooler.

“Are you on a team?” I asked Enrico.

“Not yet. I want to try out for a team in the Spring. I’ve been practicing a lot,” he shrugged and then looked away, taking a bite of his apple.

“That’s cool,” I said, trying to get him to come out of his shell a little more. “Is it tough or can anyone play on the team?”

“The team I want to be on is hard to get on. It’s the only one worth being on, so if I don’t make that team, I might as well not play.”

“Why not?”

“Because that team always wins!” He looked at me like I was crazy for not figuring out that fact for myself.

“I keep telling him any team would be better with him on it, especially since he likes to play so much,” Clark said.

I looked at Enrico. “Can I tell you something?” He nodded. “I felt the same way my third year of playing, my sophomore year of high school. There was a team at the school one town over. They were unbeatable. I think they must have won the league championships five or six years in a row. One of my best friends, actually, someone I’d known for years and who I played softball with, got her dad to pull some strings so she could go to that school, just so she could play on their team. That really hurt my feelings, me and some of our other friends. We vowed we would win that year. We worked so hard, really pulling together as a team, to try and beat them and win the championship.”

“Did you win?” he asked, expectantly.

“Well, wouldn’t the story be great if we did?” He nodded. “It turns out, the coach from the other school ended up leaving and that other team never even made it into the finals. Our team did, although we lost in the end. Still,” I shrugged, “we had a great time that year. I made a lot of friends that year, too. I would have missed out on a lot if I had decided it wasn’t worth the time just because the other team was unbeatable.”

“Yeah, you never know what’s going to happen,” Clark agreed.

“I guess so,” Enrico admitted. “Still, I don’t know.”

“Well,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of time between then and now. Things might look different by then. You might not even want to play baseball by then. You don’t even like it that much, do you?” Clark teased, grinning at me.

“Of course I do!” Enrico exclaimed.

“Oh, okay. Well then, I guess after lunch you’ll have to get out there and show me a few moves,” Clark said. He looked at me and smiled. I felt my pulse race, and the apple I was eating got stuck in my throat. “Are you up for hitting a few balls?”

I swallowed the apple. “Well,” I said, coughing a little. “It’s been a while since I played.” I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to embarrass myself in front of Clark or Enrico.

“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” he prodded.

“I’ll try. I might be a better catcher than hitter, though.”

“Great!” Clark smiled and looked at Enrico, who looked resigned to have me join their play.

After lunch, we each took turns hitting a few balls, and playing catch. It turned out that I wasn’t so bad at catching or hitting, just a bit rusty, and I was relieved to get through it without completely embarrassing myself. Even Enrico seemed a little impressed after I ran and caught a pop fly that Clark hit our way. After a while, Clark brought out a Frisbee and we took turns throwing and catching. Luckily, my Frisbee skills were even better than my baseball ones.

We ate some cookies and then Clark suggested we head toward the Central Park Zoo to take in the sights. Enrico initially shunned the idea as being too babyish for a 13-year-old. Clark bribed him with the promise of some ice cream. I was secretly delighted. The day was beautiful, but hot, and the ice cream sounded good. I hadn’t been to the Central Park Zoo in years, and I looked forward to seeing it again.

The walk was pleasant once we reached the cover of the trees along the path. The sun dappled down through the leaves, illuminating the stream of joggers, bikers, parents with children, and other groups of people we passed. I was always amazed when I went to this park. It was an oasis of calm within the sea of confusion that was New York City. I always promised myself I would come here more but never seemed to find the time.

Clark kept up a steady stream of conversation, trying to engage both me and Enrico, and it made the almost twenty-block distance fly by. The zoo was crowded, as we should have expected, but we didn’t have to wait long before getting our tickets and going inside. We deposited our baseball gear and the cooler in a locker. Enrico’s idea was to head straight to the penguin house to cool off, and Clark and I readily agreed. Once inside, Enrico crowded through the mass of people pressed up to the window to get a better view. I laughed, seeing his eagerness and how the once childish idea of the zoo had changed. Clark and I stayed in the back against the wall, as we waited for Enrico to get his fill of penguins.

“He seems like a great kid,” I commented, gesturing to Enrico.

“He is,” Clark agreed. He sighed and leaned back against the wall, arms folded across his chest.

I looked at him. “So, what made you become a Big Brother? It’s kind of a big responsibility.”

Clark shook his head. “Nah, it’s not that bad, actually. I kind of enjoy it. My family has always been involved in charity work. You can say what you want about my grandmother, but that was a big deal to her. Of course, her idea of charity was to hold big balls and get people to pay thousands of dollars to donate to the charity of her cause, so when I decided to do this, I think she was a little taken back at first. However, I think she got it.

“You see, Enrico is -- was -- the son of someone who used to work for my dad. Not a big corporate guy. The head of our mailroom, actually. He died several years back, and it was just Enrico and his mom. One thing about my dad, you wouldn’t know it, but he really makes a point of getting to know the people who work for him. He always walks around the office, talking to various people, getting to know them, asking questions. He found out that Enrico’s dad was sick, and he helped with the hospital bills. Once Enrico’s dad died, my dad continued to keep in touch with the family. Of course, he can only do so much. He told me that Enrico’s mom was signing him up for the Big Brother program, and I decided to look into it. I guess of all of the things I’ve done in my life that had ever made my dad mad, this was one thing he could be proud off. He made a really big deal of Enrico when I decided to join the Peace Corps. Really tried to guilt me into staying because of it.”

“Hmm, didn’t work, though, huh?”

“No. After a while, I didn’t even think that Enrico needed me all that much, anyway. Once I left, I heard from his mom a couple of times. He stayed out of trouble for the most part, but his mom was still worried about him. I looked him up soon after I got back from Africa. We see each other about once or twice a month. Not much, but enough to let me stick my nose in every once in a while.” He looked at Enrico. “Try to help keep him on the straight and narrow.”

“Sort of like what you weren’t able to do for your brother, huh?”

Clark turned to me abruptly before turning away again. “How do you do that?”

“What?” I asked.

He smiled at me. “Always get to the heart of the matter,” he teased, repeating my statement from the week before. “There’s no beating around the bush with you.”

I shrugged. “Life’s too short,” I said. Two could play at that game. “Besides,” I continued, “I learned from the master.”

He laughed, shaking his head. We noticed Enrico making his way through the crowd over to us.

“Ready for ice cream?” Clark asked him. Enrico nodded, and Clark turned to me. “What about you? Where do you want to go after we get the ice cream?”

“Well, I’ve always been partial to the polar bears.”

“Polar bears it is,” he said.

I insisted on paying for the ice cream since Clark had purchased our tickets to the zoo, and then we found the signs to lead us back to the polar bears. The ice cream was melting quickly in the afternoon heat. We were eating fast, trying to keep our hands from getting sticky from all of the drips. The polar bear pen was also crowded, as people made their way over to watch the bears enjoy themselves playing in the water.

“Now, they have the right idea,” Clark laughed, gesturing to the bears.

I laughed, too, and looked over at Clark. He was smiling at the bears, oblivious to the ice cream in his hand. The other hand was placed lightly on Enrico’s shoulder, and the two of them were laughing and pointing out the antics of the bears as they tumbled around in the water.

Clark’s ice cream must have dripped, because he suddenly stopped to lick it. His head turned, as he continued to lick his ice cream cone in an attempt to keep it from dripping any further. His eyes caught mine, and they sort of crinkled as he smiled at me through the licks.

“What, don’t you care about drips?” he asked.

I gasped and looked at my hand, which was now the recipient of a few of its own ice cream drips. “Oops!” I exclaimed. Quickly, I licked the cone in a few futile attempts to stem the ice cream flow before giving up. Embarrassed, more from being caught staring than letting my ice cream melt, I made the excuse of finding the nearest trash can so that I could hurry away before Clark could see how red my face was getting. “Why?” I thought. ”Why do I have to get so embarrassed? What is wrong with me?”

Clark and Enrico found me there a few minutes later, trying to get the last bit of stickiness off of my hands with the water from the water bottle I was carrying. “Ready to go?” Clark asked. Clark explained that he had to get Enrico home and then meet his parents, who were in town for the weekend, for dinner. We retrieved our deposited items and then headed out of the zoo.

“What are you doing next weekend?” Clark turned to ask me.

“Umm, next weekend is Labor Day weekend. I was planning on heading out to Long Island to stay with my parents for the weekend.”

“Do you want a ride out? I’m driving out to my parents for the weekend, too.”

The thought of being able to avoid the hassle of the train, even if it meant being stuck on the roads in traffic, was appealing. Mostly because I would be stuck in traffic with Clark. “Sure, that would be great. If it’s not too much trouble,” I added.

“No trouble at all. You’d be doing me a favor, actually. The ride can be pretty intense with all of the traffic. You can keep me company and keep me from blowing my top too much on the road,” he smiled.

“Okay, then,” I said. It was time to part, and I wished the day hadn’t gone so fast. I didn’t relish another Saturday night alone and resolved to call Michelle when I got home to see what she was doing. Chances are she was going out with her boyfriend, but maybe I’d get lucky and they’d invite me along. I didn’t mind so much being a third wheel tonight. Just to keep busy. The busier I could be, the faster next weekend would come. “I’ll see you next weekend, then.”

“If not before,” he added.

He leaned in for a hug. My surprise translated into a return hug that I hoped didn’t look as awkward as it felt. The pressure of his arm around my back sent chills down my spine, and his warm, salty scent filled my nose. Over his shoulder, I saw Enrico roll his eyes, and I almost started to laugh. I stepped back, unsure of how to react to Clark. Although we’d hung out many times, Clark and I hadn’t previously graduated to goodbye hugs.

“Well, see you later,” I sputtered out, hoping that if my face was red again, he would mistake it as being from the heat. I leaned past him to see Enrico again. “It was nice to meet you, Enrico,” I said.

“It was nice meeting you, too,” he replied.

I raised an eyebrow at Clark. “Nice manners,” I said.

“Yep,” he agreed, reaching behind him and guiding Enrico forward. “It’s all his mom. Nothing from me, right, kid?” he teased.

I laughed and then waved goodbye. “See ya,” I said for what felt like the millionth time. We headed in opposite directions. I looked back a few moments later to see Clark and Enrico walking away to catch the subway to take Enrico home to Queens. They were talking about something animatedly and laughing, as Enrico tossed the ball up and caught it with his mitt. It was a nice picture. Two brothers out having a good time. I reached in my bag to grab my cell phone as I turned back around. Michelle picked up on the third ring, and I proceeded to invite myself out with her and her boyfriend for dinner.

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