The Empath's Mate

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Dinner for 3

Veronica POV

I successfully avoided Nikola and I being alone for the rest of the day. It is now time to go home and I was waiting to hear him leave the office first. I gathered my wits about halfway through my team meeting. Luckily, I was great at focusing my energy. Belle is a dream come true; she is more fun when Peter is not around. I gladly asked her at the end of the meeting to be my assistant and she accepted with a shining aura.

Nikola showed up as expected with his team members, we all broke, and I excused myself right away for a phone call. When I was finally back in my office, I decided to take some personal time. I called my brother who has a few rental properties. I gave him a brief explanation of what was going on, he was happy to help (and take my money).

There were two available at this time, one was closer to campus, the other would turn my commute into 45 minutes. The further house was in the country with around 2 acres of land. I didn’t like living in heavily populated areas, it made shutting other’s out difficult. I wanted to stay close to campus and with my new raise, it shouldn’t take long for me to find a new home.

I chose the one closer to campus and agreed to pick up the keys from him on my way home. I texted my son and daughter having them meet me for dinner. We are close, my daughter, Tovi, is also an empath. She turned 18 a few months ago and will be graduating at the end of the semester in December.

Tovi has been taking dual enrollment classes for the last 2 years in high school. Since she applied and was under early acceptance, she decided to start classes early. I talked her into walking with her classmates at the end of the year. She was just the teenager who didn’t enjoy high school. I knew it would be easier telling her than her brother.

Jessie turns 17 next week. He is also a senior at the school, but he will be finishing his year there. He plays football and basketball, gets good grades. He seems to have a new girlfriend every other week, but I try not to judge. He does remain friends with most of them after. He will be leaving after graduation to attend Alabama.

He has always been close with me, but he also idolizes his father. I didn’t want the next few events to sway them one way or another. I figured I would just take them to dinner and let them know my plans. They are old enough to decide where they want to go and when.

I noticed I needed to leave before I was going to be late. I grabbed my bag before exiting the office. I quietly opened and closed my door locking it behind me. If Nikola was waiting to hear me, I wanted to avoid that. I gently pulled the key from the lock and took a deep breath.

“Are you avoiding me?” His breath tousled my hair slightly and I jumped.

“What are you doing?! Don’t!” I said flustered and angry I failed.

He laughed, “I couldn’t help myself.”

“Well I don’t find it funny.” I said pressing past him.

“Wait, what’s wrong?” He said reaching for my elbow.

“I don’t have time for this, I have a lot to do this weekend. You should enjoy karaoke. I likely will miss out.” I said taking another step back.

“What? Why? I thought…” He said confused taking another step forward.

“I am moving.” I said cutting him off. “It’s a lot to do, if I can make it I will.” I turned on my heels and rushed out of there.

I heard him call my name as I bolted but I couldn’t stand there. I had pushed so many emotions down throughout the day. I wanted to just sit down in the hallway crying. Not because my husband was having an affair, or because I was about to tell my children their parents are divorcing. Because I wanted this stranger to kiss me, and he didn’t.

I was not some love-sick teenager. The way my body was behaving was strange and I didn’t like it. I decided I would just push through my evening and while I packed and unpacked this evening. I reached the car and threw my bag in the passenger seat while I jumped in. I took a moment to calm myself before driving. I sent a text message to Jeremy asking if he could meet me tomorrow morning with his truck to help me move some things.

He responded right away saying that he would meet me at my current house by 7. I smiled knowing I could always count on him. I drove to my brother’s office where his secretary waited for me with the keys to the townhouse. I signed the paperwork and grabbed the keys leaving her with a check.

I arrived at the restaurant and saw Jessie and Tovi sitting at a table. I gave them each a hug before sitting down. The server came right over, I ordered myself a glass of wine. The kids both looked at my knowingly.

“Have you guys spoke with your father today?” I asked casually.

“Not since last night, he was gone before we left for school this morning.” Tovi answered her eyes fixed on me.

“Stop trying to figure it out and just let me do this please.” I said to her emotionally exhausted.

“Mom, just tell us.” Jessie said reaching over to take my hand.

“I’m moving, I decided it’s time. I would never take you away from your dad, but here is a key for each of you to the new place.” I said bluntly.

“Wow, okay, when is this happening?” Tovi spoke first.

“This weekend, I will be staying there tonight. It’s already furnished, Jeremy will be by in the morning to load his truck with whatever else we want to take over.” I explained.

“How far is it from campus?” Tovi asked.

“Only 15 minutes walking or about 10 driving.” I answered.

My eyes were fixed on Jessie. He hasn’t said anything yet and I was expecting him to be upset.

“I am coming with you.” Jessie spoke but I hardly recognized his voice, it was full of anger.

“You can float between both, but you are always welcome anywhere I am, you both know that, right?” I asked my voice cracking at the end.

“Mom, I am not staying there. I am sorry, but I’ve known. He promised it would never come out, I told him he should have done this the right way.” Jessie’s voice still low but close to a snarl.

“Things happen. We move on.” I said smiling at them both.

We ordered our food and chatted about our days. Tovi laughed at her brother when she told me about jumping his car after school. He left his lights on in the car and when they went to leave his battery was dead. Apparently, the football team thought his sister coming to his rescue was entertaining to say the least.

I was returning to the table from using the restroom, bobbing my head, dancing to embarrass the kids. I earned a few chuckles from other groups of people sitting close to us and Tovi ducked her head into her shoulders. Jessie laughed as I sat back down.

“Would you guys like desert or are you to excited to help me pack?” I said laughing as I sipped my water.

“Fancy seeing you here.” The husky voice said behind me. I jumped startled and looked at Tovi’s eyes that were almost leaving their sockets.

I turned around slowly, blushing slightly. Nikola stood behind me with Peter just behind him. I jumped out of my chair almost knocking it over. I took a step backwards and Jessie shot up out of his chair.

“Mom, are you okay?” Jessie said worried, he was staring daggers into Nikola.

“Yes, sorry sweety I am fine. This is Nikola, he is a colleague of mine.” I used my hand to gesture towards him before moving my hand to Peter. “This is Dr. Peter Chapman, the new department head.”

“These are my children, Tovi and Jessie.” I said feeling my cheeks getting darker every second.

Jessie shook each mans hand before sitting back down. Tovi stood shaking their hands. There were some mumbles of nice to meet you mixed in.

“We didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner.” Peter spoke as Nikola took a step behind him. “Do you recommend anything?”

I enjoyed him taking the conversation, it made everything less awkward. I thought about the times I had eaten here over the years and figured I would tell him my favorite.

“Jessie loves the burgers here. Today is Friday, their fish fry special is the best.” I put a huge smile on my face.

The server came back over setting the check book down and smiling at me. I thanked her and went to grab it. It was snatched from in front of me. Peter looked at me with firm eyes causing me to stay quiet.

“Your dinner is on me tonight. I will take care of it all.” Peter spoke and his voice caused a chill to run down my spine.

“I would like to protest, but I will just say thank you.” I said with a small smile.

“That is for the best.” Peter winked at me. “Have a good weekend Roni. Nice meeting you two.” Nikola mumbled some goodbyes but never spoke again before following Peter.

“Mom, he is gorgeous, is he single?” Tovi asked excited as we stepped outside.

“I think so, but I think he is a little old for you sweety.” I said back to her.

“Ew! Gross! What about you?” She said still pushing.

“That is never going to happen. There is a better chance of Gerald Butler becoming your step-father.” I said giggling.

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