I reach the bathroom and lean against the door. If I had known everything that would happen just because I allowed Allison to drag me out of my apartment for a night out, I would have never left. What’s done is done, now, though.
All I can do is keep going forward and hope that everything will work out okay.
Part of me feels like a coward for running away while Jessica was sleeping, but I couldn’t bear the thought of facing her. Besides, it’s not like she hasn’t done it. She ran off this morning while I slept on the couch in the staff area, not even bothering to leave a note. She’s lucky I remembered that she had to pick up her son – our son – before I left so that I could set an alarm for her.
Other than that, I don’t owe her anything at all. I don’t owe her explanations or discussions about what’s happening between us. If she doesn’t want to tell me the things she owes me, then there’s nothing else for the two of us to talk about. From now on, the only thing I want to talk to her about is Owen. He will be all that will link us together.
I throw open the door as I step into my messy apartment, bad-temperedly kicking aside a pair of pants as I shut the door behind me a little harder than necessary. That’s easy enough to say, but prior experience has already taught me that Jessica and I, for some reason, can’t be alone before we’re jumping each other. The only way this is going to work is if we only ever see each other while Owen or someone else is in the room with us.
And I’m going to put my foot down on this, I decide. Jessica and I, we’re done for good. She left me without an explanation, and couldn’t even be bothered to tell me about my own son so that I could be part of his life. I no longer give a damn what she wants.
It’s with this thought in mind that I head into the kitchen and flick the switch on the kettle, glad that I don’t have work tonight. Fiona works the Saturday shifts while I work the Fridays. Then, on Sunday, another bartender, Graham, comes in to work that single day since the bar closes early. This gives me an entire weekend off, and I’ve never been more grateful for it than right now. I’m going to need the entire weekend to get my head in order after all the revelations of the last two days.
In my pocket, my phone vibrates, and I pull it out to see a message from Kyle.
Poor Kyle has no idea what, exactly, is going on, but he’s picked up enough to know that it isn’t good. I close my eyes. Even to my friends I can be closed-off and refuse to give explanations, which is why even Kyle and Ethan don’t really know what happened between Jessica and me, or anything about my past. It’s the way I prefer it; I don’t want anyone to look at me with those accusing eyes ever again.
I lean against the counter and sigh. It’s a little lonely. If Kyle knew a little more about what’s been going on, I wouldn’t have to explain myself. I suddenly feel the intense need to tell him everything. I imagine what his reaction would be and snort. He’d never forgive Jessica for it.
Though maybe he’s already guessed. I already thought, before, that Kyle understood that Owen might have been my kid long before I did. Slowly, I raise my phone and type in a message.
“The kid is mine.”
There’s a pause, and then the phone vibrates with another message.
“That sucks. What now?”
I can’t help but laugh at the reply. That sucks… The understatement of the century.
“Going to see him.”
Kyle’s reply doesn’t come straight away this time, as though he’s thinking about what he wants to say. I know he’ll be fine with me having a child; he loves Lily, after all. But he might be wary of me involving myself with Jessica again.
“Have to bring my new nephew for a visit.”
I stare at the message. And then, finally, a genuine smile spreads across my face, and I feel myself relaxing my tensed shoulders.
“Yeah, I will.”
I put my phone down and stretch, feeling better, now. The kettle has already boiled, but I flick the switch again before I fish a mug out of the cupboard, wanting some coffee to clear my head. I still have to figure out what to do next, but at least the tightness in my chest has loosened and my thoughts have stopped circling around uselessly.
The first thing I’m going to have to do, even if I really don’t want to, is get in contact with Jessica. I won’t do it tonight, I decide. I’ll wait until tomorrow, when I’m calmer. She’s already promised to introduce me to our son, and I’m determined to set a day for that now before too much time slips away. I’m not giving her the chance to either change her mind or disappear on me. She’s already done that once, after all.
And then…I have to get to know Owen.
I make my coffee and carry it over to the couch. Just the thought makes my heart pound in excitement and fear. I don’t know how to be a good role model; fuck knows I haven’t had many myself. But I’m going to try my best for my son’s sake.
I’ll show Jessica just how wrong she was to keep him from me for so long. I can be a good father.