Two hours later...
I sat on the edge of the bed, fastening my winter boots, looking back at him. He just told me everything I wanted to hear. I dreamed of this moment, along with all the others, except this one… this one was more like it happened in my dreams. He still was the same man I left behind in California, leaving behind a huge chunk of my heart. Now, I felt complete again. However, to fulfill this dream was going to be much harder than I anticipated. A lot of people were going to be hurt.
He sat on the edge of the bed, watching me, smoking a cigarette. “You are so beautiful.”
I scoffed. “Oh please. I gained so much weight with Logan. After I was put on complete bedrest, unable to keep anything down, they pretty much put me on an ice cream diet.”
He chuckled. “You women and thinking that weight matters. When a man falls in love with a woman, really in love with her, he doesn’t care about her weight. He cares about her heart and protecting it from ever getting hurt.”
I smiled at him. He always knew the right thing to say. “I missed you, ya know. It took everythin’ I had to leave the beach house. I was almost late for my flight. I just wanted to be with you. So many times, durin’ the pregnancy, I wanted to find ya an’ tell ya that you were gonna be a dad. I had dreams about it. There was one where you were in a pirate outfit.”
“I bet I was a smashing pirate. Did I have a big sword?” He wiggled his brows at me and the euphemism wasn’t lost.
I laughed. “Yes. Ya had just as big of a sword as ya do now.”
He looked around playfully. “I have a sword?”
“You’re a goofball.”
“One thing’s been bothering me since your disappearance.”
“Why did you clean out the house so thoroughly? It was like you didn’t leave anything behind, but your bikini bottoms. I have to tell you, I found that very odd. Were you leaving behind a memento?”
“I couldn’t find them! I searched everywhere.”
“I found them on my side of the bed, pushed down under the covers. Come to think of it, I think that was where I took them off of you. Why did you clean the house? I do have a maid service.”
“Tania was worried if I didn’t then ya might use C.S.I. to find me through my D.N.A.”
He chuckled. “Hm, why didn’t I think of that?”
“She was sure ya probably worked for ’em.”
“I bought that damn beach house.”
“It was my only way of contacting you. I thought, just in case you returned, at least I’d be there. I sat out on the beach, and on the porch just waiting for you to come back. You never did. I didn’t think I could suffer through another broken heart. I thought I was tougher than that, but you got in. You took my heart when I wasn’t looking, Alicia.”
It wasn’t my name, but I loved it when he called me by it. I felt bad that he was hurt by me. I had no way of knowing he felt the same way. “I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you, Corey. I knew I loved you. I knew I was fallin’ for ya after our first day together.”
“Well, at least I wasn’t alone there. I kept telling myself, it was just the fantasy of it all. There was no such thing as love at first sight.”
“My loyalty to you is why Logan is named Logan Michael Tanner. Mike wanted him named after him so bad. He kept sayin’ we could call him Matt.”
He arched a brow. “Matt? Why would you call him Matt?”
“It was his warped way of him takin’ his name, Michael Allan Tanner Two.”
“Yeah, that sounds like Mike. How did you talk him out of it?”
“I don’t like juniors an’ seconds. I think each person should have their own unique name. I compromised an’ allowed it to be his middle name. It was weird. I felt it would be the biggest slap in the face if ya found out your son was named after another man.”
He was quiet, just stared at me. I could tell he was thinking hard. I just didn’t know about what. “Make it happen, Elyse. Leave Mike and come back with me. I don’t care how you have to do it or what it takes, but make it happen.”
“I will. I’m not sure how to go about it yet, but I will.”
“I’m going to be here for two weeks. At the end of that time, I’m taking you and Logan back home.”
“Okay. That sounds good to me. I’m curious about somethin’ ya said, though.”
“You said somethin’ about receivin’ a fax. What did it say?”
“That the woman of my dreams was going to be on the beach at two o’clock in the rear of the Ritz.”
“The Ritz? That’s the one I stayed in.”
“Yes, and I scoured the beach for someone who fit that description and then I saw you. I almost didn’t go. I figured it was from a ho-bum who was just looking for a good time. I went through the stages. Thanking God that I went to the beach and found you, then wishing I never met you, then praying I would see you again.” He put the cigarette out, climbing out of bed. Walking to the door, he opened it. Peering out, he moved to the crib, standing over it. I followed him, gathering my things, watching him. He bent down, picking up Logan, smiling softly. “I do have a handsome son.” He held him close as he walked towards me.
“When did ya get the fax?”
“I got it that morning.”
“Do ya still have it?”
He picked up Logan’s coat and started putting it on while he slept. “Yes. I keep all my paperwork and faxes. It’s back in California in the file.” He sighed after he finished, leaning down kissing his cheek. “How true that fax was. I just didn’t realize it till you were gone. Now, I will never let you or Logan go again. However, we’re going to change his name; Cordero Alexander Tanner the second. You can call him Catt if you prefer.” He smirked.
“No. Not Catt. You know how I feel about that. Everyone deserves their own name. I just told ya.” He continued glaring at me. I knew what he was thinking. I did owe it to him. Slowly I nodded. “Yes, dear. We’ll name your first son after you.”
“That’s right, boy. You are my son and I’m your father. You call no other man daddy but me.” He looked back at me and sighed. “I’ve missed so much of his life already.”
“He’s only almost five months. He hasn’t really done anythin’, but sittin’ up an’ rollin’ over. He’s not crawlin’ yet, but that won’t be too much longer. He’s already tryin’.” I chuckled. “He looks like he’s tryin’ to fly then he looks around shocked that he hasn’t moved. It’s so cute.”
He pouted, sighing heavily. “I should be there to see it. I’ve missed all the first steps he’s already taken.”
I smiled at him. “Not really.”
“How’s that?” He looked confused.
Reaching over, I picked up the heavy backpack I brought in, putting it down on the bed. “I wouldn’t allow ya to miss those. In here, I have pictures for ya that I took every day of his life since he was born. I knew eventually you’d see them… or at least I hoped ya would. I made ya copies of all the home movies. It’ll take ya a while to watch ’em all.”
He gave me an odd look that I could only describe as surprise. It was as if it just hit him that I really did think of him this past year. That I wasn’t some conniving bitch just out to screw him over.
He smiled. “Thank you. That means a lot to me. I never thought I’d see you again. I want to see everything. You and Logan come back in the morning and we can watch some together.”
“Ya want me to come back tomorrow mornin’?”
“Yes, as early as you can get here.”
“Mike usually leaves the house about seven-ish. I can come over as soon as he’s gone.”
He kissed Logan’s head again, snuggling him. Even though Logan was still sleeping, he put his hand on Corey’s cheek. It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen. “My little baby.” He looked at me. “…and my woman, equals my family. I want you both home with me.”
“I know, babe. I know. Soon, I promise.”
He smiled. “That’s the first time you’ve ever called me babe.”
“That’s the first time you’ve ever called me your woman.” I winked, taking Logan.
Reluctantly, he released him. “You two come over tomorrow and we’ll make the day of it. I have a lot of catching up to do.”
Being August, it was starting to get cold. My guess was because it was an easy summer. Once Logan was bundled up, he walked us out to my car and helped put him in the car seat. When that was finished, I leaned up and kissed him. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here with coffee for us and the DVD player ready. I love you. You know that, right?”
“I kinda had that idea. I kinda feel the same way an’ love ya back.” I reached into the glovebox and pulled out a pen. Turning, I took his hand, writing on his palm. “This is my number. You can text me or call me an’ that way we can talk later. I can let ya know when I’m on my way tomorrow so you’re ready with breakfast.”
He smirked. “I feel like I’m back in high school and out of paper.” He leaned in kissing me again tenderly, but oh so sweet. “I’ll text you as soon as I get back in the room, but no texting for you until you get back to your house.”