We’d drifted off momentarily and I glanced at the clock as I began to stir and roused Jon. It was nearly ten and we had just two hours to shower, dress and pack before Stephanie was due to arrive.
“Shit. We’d better get movin’. It’s almost ten” he said following my eyes to the clock.
He rolled off of me and pulled me along with him as we were still entwined in each other’s arms and we rolled right off the bed onto the floor in a heap.
“Owwwww!” I yelped as we hit the hard floor, Jon landing on top of me.
“Are you alright?” he asked, scrambling to get up and pulling me to my feet.
“A little dazed, maybe, but not necessarily from the fall!” I laughed.
“Yeah, I know what you mean! We better get in the shower and wake up before we hurt ourselves” he chuckled.
We showered together, hurrying now as the last thing we needed was to be half naked if Stephanie came early. I was determined to make the bed, too, as she didn’t need to see evidence of our passion.
“Why are you making the bed?” Jon asked, helping me anyway.
“Because your twelve year old daughter doesn’t need to see how her father spent his morning!” I giggled.
“Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right. I hadn’t thought about that” he said, thinking. “I guess it’s a good thing we got that out of our system first, huh?” he grinned.
“Yes, and we should try and behave ourselves while Steph is with us. I don’t want her to be upset. And I’m pretty nervous about meeting her” I added, smoothing the bedspread and fluffing the pillows.
Jon came around to my side of the bed and slipped his arms about my waist, smoothing my still damp hair back off my shoulders. “Don’t worry darlin’. Steph will be okay and I do want her to know how I feel about you. I’m not going to hide my feelings from my daughter” he said soothingly.
“Just don’t push her, Jon. Let her get used to the idea for a while” I cautioned. I was far less certain of Steph’s ability to accept her dad’s moving on than he was.
We finished straightening up and got dressed and I began packing. Jon tossed a few shirts and jeans my way and I managed to squeeze everything into my suitcases since I had decided to leave a number of things here. I went over to the closet and took out Jon’s leather vest and folded it to go in the suitcase.
“Why are you packing that?” he asked, watching as he threw a couple ties in the suitcase.
“Because I like it” I said, winking.
“I see. Is there anything else you’d like me to wear?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me.
“As a matter of fact, there is” I said, rifling through the closet and finding the Live 8 leather pants towards the back.
“Those? You like those?” he asked, surprised.
“Mmmhhhmmmnnn. Uh-huh. Very much” I replied, licking my lips. “It shows your, uhm, assets very nicely.”
“Perhaps I should let you pack for me? I’m curious now to see what else you’d choose” he prodded me.
“Okay. Where’s the brown leather shirt with the designs on it? And the body glove, the silver one?” I asked, making a mental inventory of his wardrobe I had nearly memorized.
“This?” he asked, pulling the shimmering silver thing out of a drawer.
“That’s the one” I said, snatching it away from him and putting it in the suitcase.
“I’m not sure which leather shirt you mean. Is it one of these?” he asked, holding up a couple. I shook my head and he held up another couple and I spied the one I wanted.
“That one” I pointed to it and he handed it to me.
“Anything else, babe? I could dig up my spandex, I think” he said, teasing.
“No, no. Not necessary” I said, wrinkling my nose. “But maybe some shorts and socks, and a suit, just in case” I suggested.
Jon scrounged around in another drawer, and tossed me a pair of cut offs, jogging shorts and a couple balls of socks. He held up two suits, one casual and one more formal. “Both” I nodded as he laid them on the bed and searched for a garment bag.
“Oh, and the thermal shirt! In case it gets cool” I added, trying to downplay my excitement at the image. He caught the look on my face and raised his eyebrows again.
“There is a few in the bottom drawer there. You really have my wardrobe memorized, don’t you?” he commented, still searching for the garment bag.
“Well, it’s not like every picture of you is a different outfit, you know!” I said defensively. “Besides, I’m being selective as I’m running out of room. If I left it up to you, there’d be little else besides jeans and t-shirts in here.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. I could wear the same thing everyday if I had to” he shrugged. “I’ve got a carry on bag if you need more room.”
“Nope, I think we’re good now, if I can just get this closed” I said, pushing the lid shut and yanking at the zipper.
“Here. Let me. I’m good at this” he said as he pulled the zipper closed.
Just then the doorbell rang. Jon answered and Stephanie bounced through the door, looking like a typical twelve year old, IPOD in hand with earphones attached. I heard a car beep as Jon waved and Dot pulled out of the driveway. Jon hugged her from behind and pulled the earphone out.
“Hi honey! It’s so good to see ya! C’mon! There’s somebody I want you to meet” Jon said as he led her towards where I stood waiting between the kitchen and the living room.
“Steph, this is Trish. Trish, this is my daughter, Stephanie” he said giving her a push towards me.
“Hi, Steph, I’m so glad you’re coming to the game today. It’s great to meet you!” I said enthusiastically.
“I always come with my dad when he goes to a game” she replied, not really acknowledging me. I decided to ignore it and offered her a drink instead.
“Dad, do you still have my pop here?” she said, turning back to Jon.
“Yeah, babe. There’s diet coke in the fridge” he said looking at me disappointedly as she bounced off to the kitchen to peer in the fridge. I looked at Jon and shook my head that it was okay and we followed Steph into the kitchen.
“Are you hungry? I could make us a snack” I tried again.
“No. We have to get going, right, dad? Besides, we always go to Chickie & Pete’s when we’re there” she said, finally acknowledging me.
“Oh, I’ve heard about that place. I’ll be anxious to try it” I said pleasantly. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“She’s coming with us? I thought it was just you and me and all I had to do was meet her!” Stephanie said angrily, turning to Jon.
“No. We’re all going together. I wanted you two to get know each other and I figured this was a good opportunity. Now stop being rude” he said, getting annoyed.
“It’s okay, Jon. Maybe another time would be better. There’ll be other times” I said, trying to let him off the hook.
“No, we’re all going. I want both my girls with me” he insisted. “It’ll be fun” he said reassuringly. I was not so sure.
“The limo will be here in about twenty minutes. Why don’t you finish up the packing and I’ll be there in a minute” he said, hinting for me to leave him alone with his daughter.
I nodded and went back to the bedroom and started packing up the toiletries and hair dryer, thinking this was going to be really awkward. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I wasn’t about to argue with Jon either. He knew his daughter and I would just follow his lead. I had just finished putting all our supplies into the travel case when he came in behind me and slipped his arms about my waist, kissing my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, babe. She’s being a little difficult, but it’s okay. Once we get there, it’ll be fine” he said softly.
“I understand. She’s not used to sharing her dad with another woman and I don’t blame her. Don’t worry about me, love. I’m a big girl, she needs you more” I said, trying to be the adult.
“Thanks for understanding darlin’. Let’s take the bags out, the limo will be here any minute” he said, hoisting the suitcase off the bed.
“Rick’s here!” Steph called as we brought the bags out. “Are you going home?” Steph asked, looking at the bags and then at me, smiling for the first time since I’d seen her.
“Yes, we’re leaving for Buffalo after the game tonight” I explained.
“You’re leaving too?” she said, looking at her father and Jon nodded.
I wondered just how little he’d shared with her and suddenly felt sad for her. This was going to be a big change. Jon had a habit of sharing details only when necessary and I knew that didn’t help.
“It’s only for about a week or so. It’s a holiday next weekend and we thought we might go to Florida and see our folks, but maybe we’ll come back here” I offered, trying to explain as much as I knew so far.
“Are you coming back, dad? What about Jesse and Jakey? And Romeo?” she said looking at Jon. He looked sad then, realizing all the questions that would be coming that he didn’t have answers for. The man who could handle a gaggle of reporters was caught off guard by his own daughter.
“Of course I’ll be back. We haven’t got it all figured out yet, Steph, but we’ll be back and forth between here and Buffalo until we do. And you can come and visit anytime once school’s out” he said, wiping a tear from her cheek.
“Daddy, I don’t want you to leave. Stay here” she pleaded and my heart broke. Jon hadn’t expected this and his eyes were moist as he hugged her, looking at me over her shoulder.
“Honey, it’s okay. I love you and we’ll still see each other a lot. It’ll be okay. I promise. I’ll miss you too” he said in a choked voice. The limo beeped to let us know they were here and Jon straightened up. “C’mon, girls, let’s go” he said, trying to sound more cheerful than any of us felt at the moment.
He dragged the suitcase out and I carried the travel bag and stuck an extra diet coke in my purse for Steph. Rick’s eyes lit up when he saw Steph and gave her a big hug.
“So, how much are the Soul going to win by today?” Rick asked Steph.
“Lots! At least seven points” she said, and I was struck by how mercurial her mood was, much like her Father.
We climbed in the back seat and I was glad that Rick had replenished the supplies as Jon pulled a bottle of chilled wine out of the little fridge. “Drink, babe?” he asked as he poured his glass. I nodded. It would be a long afternoon.
“I forgot my soda” Steph said and I reached into my purse and pulled out a fresh one, glad I’d thought of it. She took it wordlessly and then looked up and met my eyes. “Thank you” she finally said and Jon smiled. Perhaps it would be okay after all.