Jon stood up and gave me his hand, pulling me to my feet. My legs were still shaky, but I was standing. He shook the sand off the blanket as we packed it into the shopping bag along with the vase and our other purchases. It was almost five o’clock as we began heading back to the boardwalk.
“I know a great place for seafood just a little ways from here, if you’re in the mood for it? And they have lobster. You must be hungry, you didn‘t eat much for breakfast” he offered.
He was right. I was hungry.
“That sounds fabulous. I am actually really hungry and that workout gave me quite an appetite” I grinned.
We climbed on the HOG and rode a short way until we reached the restaurant. It was a small place, right on the ocean, with a beautiful view and tables set up on a patio extending onto a pier. We walked in, arm and arm, and the host seemed to recognize Jon right away and greeted us with a broad smile.
“Table for two?” he asked.
“On the deck, if there’s room” Jon replied and we were escorted to a table out back on the pier.
“Wine, sir?” our host inquired and Jon nodded, handing me a menu.
“I’m guessing you want the lobster, babe?” and I nodded readily.
We looked at the menu and the scallops marinated in lime juice caught my eye. I’d had that only once and had never seen it since and it was many years ago. I pointed it out excitedly. The host returned with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and two glasses and poured for us as Jon ordered two lobster tail dinners and the scallops for an appetizer. The sun was low in the sky, but not setting yet and there was a light breeze blowing off the ocean. As I gazed out onto the water, I breathed deeply and closed my eyes, taking it all in.
“This has been such a wonderful day. It is so beautiful here and I feel so lucky to have had you all to myself for the whole day!” I sighed.
“It feels so good to have the day off and just relax. It’s usually so hectic when we’re touring. We’ve got tonight to ourselves and nothing tomorrow until the show at eight o’clock. What would you like to do tonight? We could go to a club or just relax at home” he asked.
“I’m good with either. I feel a little selfish having you all to myself, but I wouldn’t mind getting a movie and just staying home with you. I’m sure we could find a way to pass the time together?” I said suggestively.
I didn’t really want to go out, but I didn’t want Jon to feel restless either.
“Dinner and a movie? Sounds perfect to me. It’s nice to take it easy when I get the chance to spend the time with you. We’ve got the party on Wednesday, too and another show Thursday and Friday and then there’s a Soul game on Saturday. And I’m guessing we’re heading for Buffalo on Sunday? Let’s stay home and make love tonight.” he said as the waiter, not the host, arrived with the scallops.
I blushed as a tingle ran down my spine hearing those words. Jon saw me lower my eyes as the waiter set the plates and the dish in front of us. After he left us, Jon took my hand.
“Sorry, babe. Didn’t mean to make you blush again” he said with a devilish grin.
“Mmhhmm, Hhhmmnn. I’ll just bet you didn’t. Making me blush is your hobby, I think” I said eyeing him.
He lifted a forkful of the tender scallops to my mouth and I took it, letting the fork slide slowly out of my mouth and licking my lips as I squeezed his knee.
“You should talk” he said hoarsely.
I followed suit and lifted a mouthful for him to eat. He took it and savored the taste.
“I’m starving. Let me get through dinner, woman, before you take advantage of me” he mumbled and I laughed then, releasing his knee.
“Do you like the scallops? Aren’t they wonderful like that?” I asked as he swallowed.
“Yeah, they are good. I never had them before. Where did you have them?” he asked, trying to focus on something other than the growing erection in his pants.
“At a french restaurant I had gone to on my wedding night” I answered.
“You were married too?” he asked, curious.
“Yes. For about seven years. We were divorced, thankfully, in ’92” I explained, but he looked confused then, not understanding.
“But you said you were never in love. You weren’t in love with your husband?” he asked.
“No, not really. I loved him, yes, but in love? No. I didn’t even understand what that was back then and I’m not sure I would have been capable of feeling it. My ex-husband and I had been good friends since high school and then we shared an apartment together to split expenses. Eventually it became sexual. He joined the military and in order to get certain benefits, we figured it made sense to get married. It was a practical decision rather than a romantic one. It’s a long and rather dull story, truthfully. We tried to make it work, but it didn’t, and we acknowledged that and parted as friends. I still hear from him occasionally. He’s remarried and happy now.” I explained and Jon just looked at me as I waited for the next question.
“Kids?” came the response.
“No. But he introduced me to cats, and I’ll always be grateful for that. I still have the first one we had when we were married. I got custody!” I laughed.
Jon nearly choked on the last mouthful of food, as our dinners had arrived while we were talking. He took a drink of wine and I could see he was mulling this all over, trying to decide where to go next. I waited. I could see he was struggling. I’d been avoiding this subject and it felt like now or never. I took a deep breath and went on.
“I never wanted children, to be honest. I never had the desire and I would never have had the time. I was very focused on my career and I think, truthfully, whatever maternal instinct I had was channeled into my clients. I am deeply devoted to them and that worked for me.”
There. I said it. If anything was ever going to come between us, there it was. I had never wanted to be a mother and I still didn’t, but I could handle being a step-mother.
“Wow. I don’t know what to say. I couldn’t imagine my life without my kids. Do you ever regret not having children?” he asked thoughtfully.
“No. I don’t regret it. It was the right choice for me. I know how much your kids mean to you and I know they will always come first. And they should. And that’s okay with me. I fully realize that any life we have together, Jon, will involve your kids and I have no issue with being involved with them if you want me to be. I would feel left out if you kept that part of your life separate from me so I was glad that you wanted me to meet them when they’re ready. But I also won’t push it and I can accept whatever role you decide you want me to play. I’d like to get to know them and have a relationship with them, but I would never try to replace Dot in their lives, or in yours. She’s their mom, I don’t need to be. Are you okay with this?” I asked, needing to know now.
Jon sat thinking and was quiet for a few moments.
“I guess I’m relieved, truthfully. I don’t think I quite knew how I felt until now. I admit I avoided asking any questions when we gave up being careful after the first time we made love, as I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I sort of took the easy way out and figured we’d handle whatever came. I love my kids more than anything in the world, but I don’t really want more children. If you got pregnant, I mean it wouldn’t be awful and I wouldn’t be unhappy either. But having babies isn’t something I’m needing from you, or expecting from you. I have my four kids and that’s enough. I want you to love me and make room for my kids when they are with us, because they will be at times. I want you to be a part of their lives, but I think that they will have the major piece in deciding how much. As long as you don’t expect me to give up my kids and they don’t expect me to give you up, we’ll make it work. I love them and I love you and I’m selfish. I’m not willing to give up either you or them” he said, reflecting on how he felt.
Now it was my turn to be relieved. He didn’t expect me to have children or to be another mother for his kids. Thank God.
“Jon, I would never expect that and I would never ask you to give up anything that made you as happy as your kids do. You wouldn’t be the man I love if you weren’t also a father who loves his kids” I said.
He breathed deeply then and sighed.
“It’ll work out, babe. My kids are good kids and they want me to be happy too. Once they get to know you and they know how happy you make me, they’ll come around. Even Steph. She’s older and it’s harder for her. It’ll take more time. But we’ve got forever, darlin’” he said, reaching for my hand.
“You weren’t the only one avoiding this subject, you know. I was afraid you’d think I was selfish and horrible because I never had any children. And if you had wanted another child, I think with you I would have been willing to have a baby” I confessed.
His eyes were glittering with tears now as he squeezed my hand.
“I would never think you were selfish. There aren’t many people who could do what you do, or touch so many lives as you do in your work. You know, at the conference, when I was alone with Colin briefly, he told me something. He told me that he hasn’t met many other people like you who are as devoted to healing people or as willing to sacrifice for their clients as you are. He said you never give up and are able to reach people no one else ever has and that when it gets really rough, you don’t back down or run away. I know he made a point in telling me that to make sure I knew how important what you do is and to make sure I wasn’t screwing with you, but it only made me respect you and want you more. Baby, I know you aren’t selfish. We just made different choices in our lives about how and to who to give our love. And I love that you would even consider having a baby with me, but I won’t ask that and I don’t need that with you. You’re all I want” he said as the waiter came to ask about dessert.
I looked down, hiding my tears, until I heard Jon answer him.
“No thanks, my dessert is sitting right here” he said and I looked up then, no longer embarrassed, and smiled at him.
“Let’s go home” I said, looking deeply into his eyes, darkening with desire, as he returned my gaze.