We were able to find Callum’s clothes at the first store we went to and by the time we made it back to the apartment Callum had fallen asleep. I am relieved to see Nick’s car is not in the parking lot. Finn carries him inside while I grab all the bags. By the time I am inside, Finn has Callum’s shoes off and tucked under the covers.
“How long does he nap?” he whispers and I shrug.
“Anywhere between an hour to two hours depending on how tired I make him in the morning. I suspect we are seeing a two-hour nap since we’ve been all over this morning,” I answer as we quietly head into my living room.
“So Callum’s birthday is coming up right after Christmas. How do you handle his birthday?” Finn asks me as we settle onto the couch, his arm wrapped around my shoulders.
“He doesn’t notice his birthday being so close to Christmas. I think this year might be the first since he is turning four. Christmas I am done with presents, his birthday I wait until after Christmas to decide what to get him. My brothers told me this year they can make it the weekend after Callum’s birthday to come down and celebrate with us. Last year they each came on separate weekends because of work schedules.”
“You mentioned they know Callum, but your mother doesn’t. Does she know about him?” I sigh and nod.
“I told her about him when I found out I was pregnant. She laughed and told me I’d just ruined her life. The only reason she had my brothers, and me was to get money from our fathers when she moved on to her next husband. After me, she was too old for more children. Now she has a man my age who whisks her around the world.” Finn frowns and shakes his head at my story.
“And your dad is in Paris with his wife?”
“Yes. He and I do not have a relationship. My dad and I haven’t spoken in twenty years. He knows nothing about Callum, and I want to keep it that way. The man wanted nothing to do with me after my mother took his money. Once I turned eighteen, he stopped sending money and my mother kicked me out. I worked my way through college and ended up pregnant with Callum my senior year.” Finn stares at me in shock.
“You’ve been doing all of this on your own? That is amazing. You are so much more than anyone ever gives you credit for.” Finn leans over and places a kiss to my lips. I lean into the touch, letting him push the kiss deeper. Finn pushes me back onto the couch, slipping his tongue in. I moan softly, wrapping my arms around his neck. I forget all talk about my subpar life as we make out on the couch. Finn keeps it just at kissing, which I am grateful for. Callum is in his room only napping and I never know how long he will sleep. True to form after half an hour I hear Callum’s voice.
“Mommy!” Finn releases me, sighing into my neck. I chuckle and push him off me gently to go see what Callum needs. Finn adjusts his pants and follows me to Callum’s room.
“Yes?” I say, opening the door.
“Is it time for the party?” Callum asks, rubbing his eyes. His hair is sticking up in the back, making me laugh.
“Not yet. We need to get changed, brush your hair and teeth before we go.”
“I have to run home and change, plus get Callum’s gift for the party. Are you two okay here alone?” Finn asks me, placing a kiss on my cheek.
“Yes, we will be ready for you when you get back,” I assure him, making Finn smile.
“I’ll be back in two hours to get you and your mom little man,” Finn tells Callum. Callum hops out of the bed and runs over to give Finn a hug.
“You are coming back, right?”
“Yes, I just told you I would be back. I never break a promise.” Finn kneels down and returns Callum’s hug. I blink back tears, the two of them bonding already. Finn releases Callum and stands, pecking me on the lips before heading for the door. I walk with him and lock the door after he leaves.
“Okay, first thing, you need a bath. I want you clean for the party tonight,” I tell Callum, pointing to our bathroom. Callum sighs but nods his head. Usually he fights me on washing his hair and it sounds like an exorcism is happening. Today I tell him Finn is washing his hair too and Callum settles down for me. I leave Callum for a minute to grab a warm towel from the dryer, keeping an ear on the bathroom at all times. It makes me nervous to leave him in the bathtub with water. I have read too many stories about parents walking away for a moment and their child having an accident.
“Mommy, can we style my hair like Finn’s?” Callum asks when I help him out of the bathtub.
“Sure, bud.” I help Callum gel his hair and put him in his undershirt and a pair of shorts. I won’t put him in his nice clothes until right before we go. I know how he is. I can give him a cup full of juice with a lid and within minutes the lid has popped off, or the valve has come out.
“Are you hungry for a snack?” I ask, following him into the living room.
“Can I have an orange?” Callum asks, meaning he wants a clementine. I nod and go into the fridge, pulling out one clementine and peeling it for him. I stick it into a bowl and put on a show for him to watch.
“Can you sit out here and not open the door for anyone while I shower?” I ask him, Callum is a good kid and I know he wouldn’t open the door for anyone.
“Yes, Mommy.” Callum settles on the couch with a smile. I hop in and take the fastest shower ever since Callum was an infant, and I feared any time I was away from him he would suffocate. I wonder what having a baby with a supportive partner would be like? Stepping out of the shower, I hear a knock on the door. I hurry to get dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Finn shouldn’t be back yet, but maybe he was faster than expected. I open the door without looking and stop short, seeing Nick standing on the other side of the door. I instantly try to shut it, but he shoves a foot into the doorway, stopping the door.
“Just talk to me, Ainsley,” he begs and I shake my head.
“No, you don’t get to talk to me.” I try harder to shut the door, squishing his foot.
“Please! I have changed. I am clean.” His words stop me and I look him up and down. He looks better than when he ran off.
“You cannot come inside.” I grab my coat and step outside into the cold, shutting the door behind me.
“Talk,” I say, crossing my arms.
“First, I am sorry.” I nod but refuse to say anything.
“I shouldn’t have just run off while you were at work. I am in a program to get clean. My parents found me and helped me into a program.” I give him a disbelieving look. I never met his parents the whole time we dated. He always told me they were not part of his life.
“Part of the program is righting any wrongs we have done in our lives. I know running off on you and not breaking things off the right way was wrong. I am sorry.”
“Do you know why you ran off?” I ask, curious if he remembered Callum. I assumed he was so high all the time he wouldn’t remember.
“I remember being scared, but not what about.” I sigh and nod. I will not tell him about Callum. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him.
“Fine, bye,” I tell him, trying to go back into my apartment.
“Who is the guy and boy?” he asks and I huff.
“My boyfriend and son.” I’ll let him believe Finn is Callum’s father.
“You have a son?” he asks, giving me a surprised look.
“Why are you living here then if you are dating Finn MacNee?” he asks me, and instantly I know he is up to no good.
“How do you know who he is?” I ask, glaring at the man I once thought was attractive. He stood only a few inches taller than me. His brown eyes and blond hair do nothing for me anymore. He is scrawny where Finn is muscular.
“Who I date is none of your business. You said you are sorry, I forgive you, now you can leave me alone forever,” I say turning around and opening my door.
“Wait! That boy isn’t Finn’s child. That would have been all over the internet and tabloids.”
“I never said he was Finn’s,” I corrected him and wait to see if anything clicks.
“What the fuck do you want, Nick? You said you are sorry. Now you can leave me alone.” I sigh, leaning against the door.
“I want to know you forgive me,” he growls, stepping into my space.
“I already said I did. Now leave.” I can feel a headache coming and want to get some Advil before it gets worse.
“Fine, I’ll go.” Nick storms over to his car and gets in. I wait until he peels out of the parking lot before closing and locking my door again.
“Who was that Mommy?” Callum asks from his spot on the couch.
“Just a man I once knew. Look at the time. Let’s get you dressed.” I usher him into his bedroom and help him get dressed before slipping into my dress. I curl my hair and put on light makeup. Looking at myself in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself. It has been years since I’ve felt beautiful, and tonight I felt that way. I couldn’t wait for Finn to show me off. Now all I had to do was contend with his mother and pray she didn’t hate me. I walk out of the bathroom and find Callum laying on my bed thumbing through one of his dinosaur books. He puts the book down and smiles at me.
“You look pretty, Mommy.”
“Thanks bud, You look handsome in your clothes. Finn should be here soon.” Just as I say those words, there is a knock on the door. I check the peephole and see Finn standing on the other side wearing a dashing tux.
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