Sitting in Yvonne’s kitchen, watching her feed Kendo Jr, Terrence had a chance to reflect on how the past two weeks had gone.
The two of them had eased into the relationship so comfortably it felt as if he’d been born for this role. Anytime she needed something, he hadn’t even blinked. He had no problem being or providing what she needed.
Whenever he had suggested they do something, she hadn’t resisted. Once or twice she asked if they could include her son and where it had been possible, he had agreed readily. It had quickly become clear to Terrence that she was trying to remind him that she wasn’t as carefree as some of the other women in the dating pool. She had a son and he came with the package.
A couple days ago he had told her outright that he absolutely loved spending time with Kendo. She had looked sceptical but it was true.
The boy was so full of energy and he always made the cutest chuckling sound when he was talking to Terrence. It made him feel as though they had a connection that not even language could deter. What he didn’t add was that he lived for the times that the child tried to say his name. It sounded like ‘Daddy’ and nothing would please him more than if he was given that responsibility.
Sometimes the intensity of those wishes alarmed him, but then it only lasted a short while until she smiled at him like he was the only man around. Then he knew he was in the right place and he would wait as long as he had to.
Terrence wanted to be the man who caused her face to light up and made her eyes sparkle. He knew that from the very beginning a part of him had envied the connection Kendo had had with Eve. Like he had said to her a while ago, knowing love as she had could only work in his favour when he finally decided to earnestly reveal his heart to her- she would know it was genuine. Something told him she was getting ready to accept another heart in her life. He wanted to be sure that it was his, because it had been longing for this for a long time.
For the moment, he was willing to bide his time and charm Kendo’s mother until she knew with certainty that he wanted to be with her for the rest of her days.
“Hey, Mr Matthews,” she waved a hand in front of his face. “Where did you go?”
“I’m sorry.” He smiled. “I’m right here. Is the little man done trying to eat you out of house and home?”
“Haha, for now he is.”
“So we can go now?”
“Yeah, the bags are by the door.”
“So give me KJ,” Terrence grinned, “I’m not carrying your handbag for you.”
Yvonne laughed out loud. “What happened to the statement you threw me the other day? About being secure in your masculinity?”
“I know you remember we were talking about sexual prowess, babe, and that has nothing to do with your designer purse.” He looked down into the face of the boy in his arms. “Am I right, Kendo?”
The boy returned the gaze and giggled.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Yvonne laughed even more and preceded her new man out the front door.
After putting Kendo in his car seat, Terrence got in the car and set off for Johnson and Avril Baker’s house.
The car slowed down as it rolled up the driveway.
Terrence parked where Yvonne told him to and cut the engine.
“Are you nervous?”
“Yes,” he admitted.
“I feel like a have real big shoes to fill,” he laughed drily.
“Well… in a way you do.”
Their eyes met. “How do you mean?”
“They want the best lover and friend possible for me. And the best possible role model for KJ, too.”
Terrence let out a breath. “Ok. There is no way to convince them of that.”
“No, there is nothing you can say that will prove that we’re meant to be together right now- or ever.” Pause. “But they’ll see it.” She leaned forward and kissed him softly. “The same way you’re constantly showing me and proving it to me.”
Before he could say or do anything else, Kendo shouted from the back.
They both turned to him with amused affection and started to make moves to get out the car. As they did this, her family all came out of the house.
Yvonne’s brother and sister were at home and the new couple had been invited to spend the afternoon with the rest of the family.
As always everyone was happy to see the baby, so they naturally crowded around Terrence who was holding him. As a result of this, his introduction to the family was a piece of cake. He was received with warmth and enthusiasm.
Just as they were heading inside, Avril asked, “Why didn’t Michael come with you?”
“I didn’t even know you invited him!” Yvonne shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”
She and Terrence exchanged looks as they entered the house but they didn’t say anything.
They were both probably thinking about the blow out from earlier in the week.
“Dating a single woman is different from being with a single mother.”
Michael and Terrence had been working late in Terrence’s office. They were taking a break, Michael was stretching his legs and Terrence had his forehead resting on his desk, when Michael had started the conversation about Yvonne.
“Yvonne has been through a lot. You can’t run games on her and expect it not to have repercussions.”
Raising his head, Terrence had frowned and sat back in his seat. “Dude, who’s running games?”
“You are seriously interested in her?” he challenged, an eyebrow raised.
“Is there a reason why I shouldn’t be?”
Michael clenched his jaw.
Terrence watched him and the struggle on his face was compelling. “Say it.”
Mike turned his back on him. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes, you do, Mikey. You’ve been in a bad mood on and off for a while now. What is it? You want Yvonne to be alone?”
“So you don’t mind her being with me?”
Michael took a deep breath. “That has nothing to do with me.”
“It does, Mike. She’s your best friend. I acknowledge that and I realise that me becoming the next man in her life has a ripple effect.”
Michael turned back to face his friend. His face was drawn in a frown. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. How you and Yvonne get along is between you two.”
“We’re dating now, man. That affects you as much as it did when Kendo was the man in her life.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about Terry,” Michael actually laughed a little. “This is nothing like how it was with Kendo.”
Pause. “Why? Because she’s not so blindly in love with me that she wouldn’t even begin to notice how much it hurt you?”
“She may not be as fiercely devoted to me as she was to Kendo, but she’s ready to love and be loved again. Yvonne chose to be with me and I won’t be the one to betray that choice. I’m ready to do what it takes for us to work. She is making space for me in her life.”
Michael made an irritated sound in his throat.
“But,” Terrence continued, “that doesn’t mean there is no room for you. I’m not trying to get rid of the one person who knows her better than anyone, cares for her more than she might realise and loves her so much that he’d rather carry her alone then let her risk getting hurt with someone else.”
Michael looked up, surprise registering on his face.
“I appreciate you Michael. I can’t tell you how much… even before I understood how I felt about her, I knew you were looking out for her.”
“Because I’m her best friend,” Michael pointed out.
“Is it just that?”
Mike gave another forced laugh. “What else would it be, man?”
“I don’t know,” came the simple response. “But I honestly think you don’t believe I deserve her and I don’t know what I did- in all the years you’ve known me- to make you feel that way.”
There was a long silence.
“You weren’t there, Terrence.”
“I saw my best friend, the only woman I’ve ever admitted to loving, on the roof of her house! She was ready to die to be with Kendo, man. How do you come back from a love like that and find it in yourself to try again? She didn’t want to get out of bed, talk to her family or me or anyone else from the moment she found out he was gone. For months after that she couldn’t even touch people without flinching. Do you know how many times she would arrive at work with swollen eyes from crying herself to sleep after she got back? Even after Kendo Jr was born, do you have any idea how difficult it was? She chose the name but for a few weeks she couldn’t even say it!”
Still Terrence said nothing.
“She came to work, did her job, but did you notice how she struggled?” Pause. “A man who can cause this much grief after death can’t just be forgotten. Do you ever think there will be room for you in her heart? Do you love her enough to date her without expecting anything in return?”
“Are you the expert on love and dating now, Mike?”
The question had come from a woman.