I catch Callum and swing him up onto my shoulders as he screams in delight. We wait for Ainsley to catch up. I hold out a hand for her to take as I keep Callum secure on my shoulders. I feel right with the two of them. Callum’s interest in knights when I mentioned it to help him feel brave made me feel I had done the right thing. Ainsley’s hand fits perfectly in mine as we walk over to the water gun game.
“We’d like to play,” I tell the worker who is leaning against the booth looking bored.
“We need all the seats taken to play,” he tells me in a dull voice.
“We’ll pay for them all,” I say, handing him enough tickets to cover the five seats. His eyes open wide as he takes the tickets from me. I help Callum down and sit on a stool. He climbs into my lap, looking up with the same bright blue eyes as his mom.
“Want to help me?” I ask him and he nods. I smile at Ainsley as she sits next to us and takes one of the water guns.
“Ready, set, go.” The guns turn on and Ainsley and I battle back and forth, pushing the hopping frogs across the board. Callum holds my hands and bounces in my lap, urging me to go faster. I see Ainsley shift her gun to only hit half the target so mine and Callum’s frog makes it to the end.
“And we have a winner!” The guy pulls down a small blue dinosaur, passing it to Callum.
“Congratulations Callum!” Ainsley says as Callum hops off my lap, shoving the dinosaur into her face.
“Look, Mommy! Finn helped me win!” Callum jumps up and down, making me smile. She catches my eye, making my breath hitch. I love seeing that look in her eyes, it tells me she is happy.
“Want to go on the Ferris wheel?” she asks, pointing to it. Callum nods, holding the dinosaur close to his chest. I see the sun is setting. The view will be amazing this time of day from the top of the Ferris wheel.
“Hurry!” Callum takes each of our hands and pulls us toward the Ferris wheel. I smile at Ainsley as she laughs.
“Okay bud, don’t pull my arm out. Remember, Mommy bruises easy,” she says, and I look at her in confusion.
“You do?” I ask and Callum nods.
“Mommy has to take medicine to keep herself healthy.” I keep my eyes on her and she shrugs.
“We can talk about this later,” she whispers as we get in line. I nod and let Callum take my attention. He is pointing out all the different things he sees as we wait in line.
“Look at that one!” he shouts, pointing at a ride that spins you around until you throw up.
“That one is for big kids. You have to be taller,” Ainsley tells him, and he frowns.
“Want to check out the barn after this?” I ask Callum to distract him.
“Yes.” He leans into my leg and I pat his head. He is such a cute kid. We get onto the Ferris wheel with Callum sitting between us. I lay my arm along the back so I can touch Ainsley’s shoulder as Callum shouts about everything he can see below us. I catch her eye and she mouths “thank you” to me. I smile and nod. We spend the ride with my hand on her shoulder, Callum telling us everything he sees. I can’t help but find it endearing. Getting off, I take Ainsley’s hand while she holds Callum’s hand and we walk to the barn. The smell of animals hits my nose and I do my best not to grimace. Callum pulls on Ainsley, yanking her over to the cow and the calf that must have been born in the spring. Pigs with their piglets are in two other stalls, and at the end there is a cage of bunnies. I walk down to the bunnies, checking out the white and brown one.
“Finn,” Callum’s voice catches my attention, I turn to see him coming over, his hands out. I pick him up so he can see into the bunny cage.
“Bunnies!” Callum wraps his arms around my neck as he leans forward to get a closer look.
“Be calm around them, bunnies scare easily,” I tell him in a soft voice. Callum smiles and whispers back,
“I like that one.” He points to the brown and white one I had been looking at before.
“Me too.” I feel Ainsley take my hand and look over to see a soft expression on her face.
“Which one do you like?” I ask her, pointing to the rabbits.
“I love the white one with the pink nose,” she answers, pointing to the one sitting in the back laying under the heat lamp.
“It looks happy under the heat,” I remark, making her laugh.
“I love curling up in front of a fireplace. Unfortunately, my apartment doesn’t have one, so I have a heater I sit in front of during the winter.”
“You should check out the fireplace at my house,” I tell her.
“Where is your house?” she asks, leaning into my side.
“I have a penthouse twenty minutes’ drive from the office.”
“A penthouse?” she asks and I shrug.
“I have a house too, for parties held by the company. It is too big for me to live in by myself, but my parents passed it on to me when they moved away.”
“Where is the house?”
“It is in the Timberwood neighborhood.” Her eyes go wide when I tell her where the house is located. It is the wealthiest neighborhood around the city, there is a gate keeping people out unless they have a code.
“Wow, those houses are large. I can understand not wanting to live in one by yourself.” I nod and pull her in to place a kiss on her temple.
“I like my penthouse. It is the first thing I purchased without the help of my parents,” I share walking us out of the barn still holding Callum in my arms. His head is resting on my shoulder and I can feel him getting tired.
“Want to get dinner and then I’ll take you two home?” I ask and she nods. We head back to my car and I drive us to the local burger joint. Callum’s eyes get wide as we walk in and sit at a booth. He is sitting next to Ainsley in a booster seat.
“What can I get you three?” the server asks as she pulls out a pad to write on.
“I’ll take a coke, and he will have milk,” Ainsley says, pointing to Callum who is busy coloring on the children’s menu.
“I’ll get a coke too,” I say and the server nods, leaving to get us our drinks.
“Callum, did you have fun at the carnival?” I ask, pulling his attention away from his crayons.
“It was the best. Mommy got to have fun too,” he says with an enormous smile on his face.
“Good. Would you like to do something like this again?” I ask, hoping he enjoyed himself enough to want to spend more time together.
“How about the aquarium?”
“What?” Callum gives me a confused look.
“It is a place with fish in tanks for us to check out. They have sharks too,” Ainsley explains, and Callum gives us a thoughtful look.
“I like sharks. Do they have dinosaurs?”
“No. That would be a museum,” she answers, and I see Callum frown.
“I like dinosaurs.”
“I know you do, but the museum with dinosaurs is a long trip away,” she explains, and he sighs.
“I guess I can go see some sharks,” Callum replies, going back to coloring. Ainsley looks up at me with a laugh in her eyes.
“When do you want to try the aquarium? Christmas is next week so we can’t do it until after that,” she says to me and I nod.
“I have my mother’s Christmas party tomorrow night, so I can’t this weekend. What about the weekend in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve?” I ask and she pulls her phone out.
“I think we can.”
“Perfect. I’ll get you two first thing in the morning, say eight? That way we have most of the day to look around the aquarium.”
“I’d like that.” She gives me a sweet smile and I return it.
“Would you be willing to come with me to my mother’s Christmas party tomorrow?” I ask, not wanting to go alone.
“Are we telling people about our relationship?” I am taken aback by her question.
“Do you want this to become a relationship where I introduce you as my girlfriend?” I ask, I want her to say yes. I want her to be ready to make this more.
“I’d like to, but will it cause problems at work?” I shake my head.
“I am the CEO. I can date whoever I want and you don’t work directly for me anymore. You work for Percy.” She nods her understanding and reaches over to touch my hand.
“I’d like to be your girlfriend. About tomorrow, I don’t know. I can’t call on Vivianne last minute to watch Callum for me.”
“What if I found a babysitter?” I ask and she frowns.
“I don’t know. I’ve never left Callum with anyone I don’t know.”
“My mother always has a person run a children’s party while the adults have their own party,” I explain, and she bobs her head back and forth.
“Do I need to bring anything?”
“Usually they do a gift exchange. I can find a gift for Callum to bring since I am the one asking you to come last minute.” I squeeze her hand, praying she’ll say yes.
“Okay, we can try. If Callum doesn’t want to leave me, then we might have to go back home,” she replies and I nod.
“I’ll leave with you if he doesn’t want to stay,” I tell her, making her laugh.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“You are my girlfriend, I don’t want to be there without you.” Our server comes back with our drinks.
“Are you ready to order?”
“He will have the corn dogs with fries, and I’ll get the barbeque burger with onion rings on the side,” Ainsley answers her, then the server turns her eyes onto me.
“I’ll get the double decker deluxe burger with fries. Can we get a basket of mozzarella sticks for our appetizer?” I ask her and she nods, then leaves again.
“What is your mother like?” She asks me and I pause to think about how to tell her.
Let me know what you think!