And Dad Makes Three

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17

AINSLEY POV

I ask him about his mother and I can see the wheels turning in his head.

“She is an interesting person. She likes to shop, works on charities, the typical socialite type of things to do when you don’t work and don’t have any children at home anymore.”

“What do you think she’ll think about us?” I ask, motioning to Callum and me.

“I think she’ll be happy that I’ve found someone. They saw you at the restaurant.”

“When I was working?” I ask, frowning.

“Yes, I saw you get that gift from George.”

“He was giving me a gift for Callum. George and his wife have a soft spot for him.”

“Tell me how that came about,” he asks as our appetizer is placed on the table.

“Callum comes with me on the weekends to sit in the booth while I worked. George became a regular and started to come for lunches on Sundays. Well, he and Ivy noticed Callum and wanted to know who he was. I explained I didn’t have daycare for him on the weekends, so he came with me. They befriended Callum and became sort of grandparents for him. He’s spent the night with them for the weekend a couple of times so I could pick up extra shifts.” George and Ivy have been a godsend for me, along with Vivianne. I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t come into my life.

“Wow. What does he call them?”

“Grandad and Nana,” I reply, making Finn smirk.

“I’ve never seen George smile unless he is talking to you. He is a hard business executive who doesn’t give in easily. I can tell he loves you.”

“Thanks Finn. George and Ivy are special to me too. They don’t have grandchildren close by,” I share, remembering the sad look on Ivy’s face.

“I didn’t know.” Finn sighed and popped a mozzarella stick into his mouth.

“So you have a brother, what is he like?” I ask, turning the conversation back onto Finn.

“Lazy, rides on the success he found at New York Fashion Week.”

“You don’t sound proud of him?” He shrugs and I sense an age old argument coming.

“Hard to be proud of a baby brother who gets everything he wants from your family. My mother coddles him. He moved with them when they moved out of the big house.”

“Where did they move?” I ask, wondering why they moved out of the big house.

“My mother wanted a house on the lake. They purchased a home with a private lake about thirty minutes out of town.”

“You mean the massive mansion by the national park?” I ask, thinking of the pink house that looked so out of place with its Spanish influence facade on the east coast.

“That would be the one.”

“So they moved out of a large house into an even bigger one?” I ask, amazed at what people with money will do.

“Yep. So now I have the big house sitting empty with a maid service and lawn service to keep it nice.” He gives me a sad look and I squeeze his hand.

“You’ll find a use for that house, I am sure,” I tell him as our server places our meals down in front of us. I take Callum’s dinner to cut his corn dogs in half to let them cool off.

“Mommy, can I have ketchup?” Callum asks, pointing to the ketchup Finn is currently using to put on his fries. Finn hands me the ketchup when he is done. I put a small pile onto Callum’s plate and he happily dips his fries and sucks on them.

“I take it he likes ketchup?” Finn asks with a chuckle.

“If I let him, he would eat a bowl of ketchup and nothing else.” Finn lets out a loud laugh, holding onto a fry covered in ketchup.

“I remember being like him as a child. I love ketchup.”

“I was the same way.” Finn chuckles and we fall into a comfortable silence as we dig into dinner. Callum makes comments now and then, talking about his coloring.

“Callum, how would you feel about going to a Christmas party tomorrow?” I ask him once he’s eaten about half his dinner.

“I love Christmas.”

“Finn’s mom is having a party, and he wants us to come, but you would get to go to a special kid party.” I try to make it sound fun for him.

“Will there be kids to play with?” he asks me, chewing on a corn dog.

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Callum shrugs and I look at him in surprise. I wonder how much that indifference will change when we arrive at the party. Finn raises an eyebrow at me and I give him a shrug of my shoulders.

“The party starts at five.”

“What time will you pick us up then?” I ask, and Finn gives me a bright smile.

“Four-fifteen, it takes about an hour to get there and I never like being on time. If we come exactly at five, my mom will pull us into duty. This also allows for some kids to already be there for Callum to play with.” I nod my agreement, Callum will be much more willing to leave me if there are other children to play with.

“Sounds perfect. Thank you for thinking of him.”

“He is a great kid.” I smile at him and munch on my dinner, starting to feel full.

“I’m done,” Callum says, pushing his almost eaten food away.

“Ready to get going?” Finn asks, and I notice he has eaten all his food. I nod and collect the items I brought with us for Callum to play with while we ate. Finn waves down our server and pays with cash. I help Callum back into his coat and hat, slipping out of the booth. Finn takes the bag from me and I put on my jacket. I reach for the bag, but he pulls back and slings it over his shoulder.

“Let’s get you two home.” Finn takes my hand and I hold on to Callum as we go out to his car.

“I want Finn to buckle me in again,” Callum says, and I shrug, looking at Finn. He nods and steps up to do the buckles, I stand to the side to make sure it is tight, but I needn’t have worried, Finn remembered how to do it perfectly. He opens my door and bows gently as I step inside.

“Thank you Finn.” He smiles and goes around to the driver’s side, taking us home. He reaches over to hold my hand as we drive home. The car is quiet with the gentle hum of the Christmas radio station Finn has playing in the car. I look over my shoulder to see Callum fighting to stay awake, his head bobbing up and down.

“I had a wonderful time Finn, thank you for coming with us.” I look over at Finn, who gives me a soft smile.

“I can honestly say this was the best day I’ve had in a long time. I enjoyed spending time with you and Callum. He is an awesome kid and I hope you know I want to continue to see you.”

“Thank you, Finn, that means a lot. Callum likes you too, he never warms up to anyone this fast.” Finn pulls into the parking lot for my apartment and I notice a car I’ve never seen before parked in front of my door. I frown and tense.

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t know who is parked in front of my apartment. No one parks there because they know it belongs to me technically.”

“Do you want me to check it out?” he asks and I shrug.

“I don’t know. Maybe it is someone visiting one of my neighbors,” I say as Finn parks his SUV further back from the car.

“Can you help me get Callum inside?” I ask, noticing Callum is fast asleep.

“Yes.” Finn turns the car off and helps me get Callum. He carries Callum for me and I pick up the bag and dinosaur stuffed animal Callum won at the carnival. I lead the way into the apartment, seeing a person sitting in the car. Our eyes connect and I see it is Nick again. Fuck! I open the apartment door and usher Finn inside, ignoring Nick.

“Where is his room?” Finn asks, standing in the living room with Callum asleep against his shoulder. I smile at the sight and lead him down the hall to Callum’s room. I open the door and Finn places him on the bed. I take off his shoes and pants, putting him in a nighttime pull up. Finn stands in the doorway as I get Callum ready for bed. Callum doesn’t wake as I move him around, he is dead to the world. I turn on his night light and close the door, going back to Finn.

“Do you want some coffee?” I ask, wanting him to stay, I don’t want Nick to think he can talk to me. The man left me when I was pregnant with Callum. He doesn’t get to suddenly show up and try to be a dad.

“I’ll take a cup.” He gives me a sweet smile and follows me into the kitchen. I pull out my old school coffee maker and brew some coffee.

“So tell me about the man in the car who you don’t want to talk to,” he says as I hand him a cup of coffee.

“What makes you say that?”

“I saw the look in your eyes as we went by the car. The man caught your eye, and he looks like Callum.” I sigh and sit at the kitchen table with my own coffee.

“That is Nick, he is Callum’s sperm donor.” I refuse to call him a father when he has done nothing for his son.

“I see. Is he dangerous?” I shrug, not knowing what Nick was like four years after he walked out on me.

“I don’t know anything about Nick anymore. He left me when we found out I was pregnant with Callum. He was and probably still is addicted to heroin and meth. Nick hid his addiction during most of our relationship. Only when I told him I was pregnant did he go insane. One day I came home from work and he was gone. I don’t think he really knows about Callum. He was high most of the time. I moved here when Vivianne contacted me about a job at your company. She helped me get a fresh start. I don’t know how Nick found me, I changed my phone number after I moved.” I drop my head onto my arms, staring up at Finn.

“I can make him go away,” Finn offered, and I sighed.

“I don’t know. I don’t want to engage him, I want to ignore him and hope he goes away.”

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