“So, when do you have to be at work? Monday?” he whispered as he nibbled on my ear.
“Actually, I’m on vacation all this week, but the sitter was expecting me back tonight. What did you have in mind?” I said as I stroked his inner thigh.
“The sitter? Do you have kids?” he asked, suddenly realizing how little he really did know about me.
“No, the cat sitter, babe” I explained and he paused, not quite expecting that answer.
“I was thinking I could show you around New Jersey and that we could spend the night at my place as we do need to leave the hotel eventually. I also wondered if you might be able to meet my kids before they read about you in the paper.”
Meet his kids? I hadn’t prepared for that. It seemed too soon. I hesitated and he read my mind.
“I know. It’s really sudden, but I want them to meet you and to know I’m serious, you know, not just screwing around. I don’t want Dot telling them before I do and it’ll be in the papers today after last night. I’m so sorry” he said, explaining the suddenness. I was startled, but flattered.
“I’d love to meet your kids. Are you sure about this?” I said with more confidence than I felt.
I highly doubted that his children would be as eager to meet me as Jon was to introduce us. He thought for a moment.
“I’ll call Dot and ask. Chances are she read the papers and will be calling me to see how I’m planning to tell the kids and why I didn’t tell her and them first. She’s usually really cool when it comes to the kids, but she ain’t gonna like this news much. It’ll go better if I call her before she calls me” he said as he anticipated the phone call and the exchange.
I felt so sorry for him then. This wasn’t going to be easy at all. His casual tone was for my benefit and I knew he had to be far more uncomfortable than he was letting on. I wanted to say something to make it easier, but I didn’t know what to say. So I hugged him.
“Jon, I’m so sorry you have to go through all this. Anything I can do to make it easier, I’ll do. I love you” I said simply.
He smiled, but his eyes were already far away, contemplating how the scene would unfold.
“Let me call her. Why don’t you jump in the shower and I’ll find out if she’ll let me do this my own way. I’ll be okay, really” he said in response to the worried look I was giving him.
I headed for the shower to give him his privacy and a chance to think it through. I stepped into the shower alone for the second time today and turned on the water. I had second thoughts. It was too soon to introduce the kids to me. He couldn’t just spring it on them that way. They needed to hear it from him alone. But they didn’t need to read about it in the papers either or hear it from someone else either. I turned up the hot water, hoping the heat would relax me as I felt a knot forming in my stomach. What if they hated me? What if they just hated anyone who stood between their Mom and Dad reuniting? Kids always wished for their parents to reunite. It had been over a year since the divorce, but still…
My thoughts were interrupted as I felt Jon slip into the shower behind me. I turned towards him and he buried his face in my shoulder, hugging me to him. He held me tightly, rocking me gently from side to side. It was comfort he wanted, not sex. It hadn’t gone well and he was obviously upset. He hugged me tighter and I stroked his hair. My heart went out to him.
“Baby, what happened?” I asked, but he didn’t reply.
He was struggling to collect himself. I was glad he came to me for comfort but I felt so helpless. I didn’t want to push him; he’d tell me when he was ready.
“It’s okay. It’ll be okay. I’m here, honey” I just said in a soothing tone.
After what seemed like a long time he sighed.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. She knew already. Her friend saw it in the paper and called and told her. I should have told her myself. I owed her that. She wants us to tell the kids together, alone. And she wants to meet first to talk over some things. I don’t know. She’s right about telling the kids alone first and then letting them decide whether they want to meet you. I’m sorry. I messed this up. I just wasn’t thinking.”
His pain was hard to hear. She’d made him feel guilty for the impulsive disclosure to the press. As much as I understood what she must be feeling, did she have to make it harder? But she was right about the kids. They should hear it from him, at least, and be given the choice to decide whether and when to meet me.
“You don’t owe me any apologies at all. I understand and actually I have to agree. The kids need to hear it from you and have time to ask you questions and decide when and if they want to meet me. You can’t rush them, much as you may want to. You’ve got to go at their pace. There’s no rush. I’ll be here when they’re ready. When are you going to tell them?” I wondered.
It was Sunday and if it was already in the papers, he needed to do this sooner rather than later.
“She wants me to come over as soon as I get cleaned up. She wants us to talk first. And then tell the kids together” he said numbly.
My heart was in my mouth. I was prepared for soon, but right now?
“What did you tell her?” I asked thickly.
“I told her okay. I want to get this over with now. I don’t want it hanging over me like a cloud. Are you okay with that, babe?” he asked, almost apologizing again. I wasn’t okay with it at all, but it wasn’t about what I needed. I swallowed hard.
“Of course I’m okay with it” I lied.
I was thinking about what it all meant. She wanted to talk to him first. Was it just about how to tell the kids or was she having second thoughts? Did she want him back now that he’d found someone else? What would Jon do if given that choice? I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest. Suddenly I needed this to be over with soon almost as much as he did. He kissed me then.
“Don’t worry, lady. It is really over between me and Dot. I will always love her; she’s the mother of my kids. But I haven’t been in love with her for a long, long time” he said intuitively.
How did he read my mind so easily? I let out my breath finally, realizing then I’d been holding it in ever since I said I was okay. It was my turn to bury my head in his shoulder.
“Thank you, I needed to hear that” I said, grateful for the reassurance. He patted my back and lifted my chin to kiss my nose. “I guess you’ll have to show me New Jersey another time?” I said at last.
“Well, it’s a bit of a ride to Rumson from here and I’m not about to leave you here alone in the hotel. I’ll call Rick and ask him to take you around shopping or something while I’m at the house. It won’t be that long and I’m gonna need you right there when this is all over” he smiled.
He needed me. He really needed me. I was beaming then. Nothing else he could have said would have made me happier at that moment than hearing him say he needed me and I hugged him hard.
“I want to be there for you more than anything!” I told him. We finished our shower and prepared for the next hurdle.