“I’d like that,” I say softly.
It’s just impossible. I need Grant, and I don’t know what to do now that I’ve finally pushed him away for good.
“No worries, Jessica! I’m happy to help!”
“Thanks, Hazel,” I say into the phone with an attempt at a smile. “This really means a lot to me. Tomorrow, either Allison or I will come and get Owen. How is he?”
“He’s fine!” Hazel says, and I can almost hear the young woman bursting with excitement. “He’s really excited for a sleepover. Apparently, there’s a toy truck that he wants?”
My heart clenches. Owen had wanted to take the truck to daycare this morning, and I almost got a tantrum when I told him he couldn’t take it. He doesn’t quite realize the importance of the very first gift his father has ever gotten for him, but he loves that thing almost as much as the little green car he carries everywhere.
“Yeah, it’s a new toy and he loves it,” I say. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
“Don’t worry so much,” Hazel says. “But, if it makes you feel better, my mom is visiting this week. We’ll look after Owen tonight between us. She’s really excited to spoil Owen rotten since she doesn’t have any grandkids yet.” She huffs, and I know she’s rolling her eyes. “Though now she’s going to start dropping hints…”
“Sorry,” I say, hiding a smile, even though she can’t see me. It does make me feel better that Hazel has backup if she needs it. Owen is a good kid, but I know how difficult it can be to look after a toddler all on your own. “Thanks for this, Hazel. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Don’t sweat it! See you!”
She hangs up and I sigh. Allison looks up from stirring a sauce in a pot and smiles at me.
“All good?” she asks.
“Yeah,” I say with another sigh. “Thanks, Allison, I think I need this.”
“It’s fine,” Allison says with a shrug. “Kyle does this for Ethan every now and then, too; sometimes, you just need a night off.”
“Ethan’s the one with the ten-year-old?” I ask, making my way to sit at the table.
“Yeah,” Allison says. She laughs. “Last month, Grant and Kyle actually kidnapped him when he kept refusing to leave the house. They called his friend to ask her to babysit for three nights, accosted him on the side of the road, tied him up and took him out to a hotel several miles away.”
I grin. “I’ll try not to get that bad.”
After the coff
ee outing with Allison, I hadn’t been able to bear the idea of going home. I felt too raw and upset, and I didn’t want Owen to see me like that. But I had no other choice. Who else was going to pick up my son?
There was a part of me that thought Grant could do it, but I was ashamed to call him. He might not have even been free. Then there’s the fact that he would ask questions, and I wasn’t ready to answer anything. I didn’t want him to know what was going through my head right now.
Allison was the one who came up with the solution. Hazel is always on call for me, and she totally loves Owen. Maybe she could take Owen for the night? Then I could stay at Allison’s place and decompress for a night. It was a nice idea, and I hesitated for only a moment before calling Hazel. She’s had Owen for sleepovers at her place before, though I normally collect him late at night so he has mornings at home.
Naturally, she was thrilled to be asked and was more than happy to accept. It’s a good bit of money for her, after all. I knew I could trust Owen in her hands and, as a bonus, she didn’t once question why I needed her to take my son until tomorrow.
I’ll tell her something tomorrow. I’m not sure what, yet, but she’s been with my small family long enough to give her some sort of explanation. I still haven’t even told her that Owen’s father is back on the scene, though I have the feeling Owen will take care of that at some point tonight.
I sigh. Even Hazel would have a lot of questions tomorrow.
“You alright?” Allison asks.
“I’m just considering whether I should have told Hazel about Grant before Owen lets the cat out of the bag,” I tell her. “Hazel is going to be shocked when she finds out. I told her a long time ago that Owen’s dad wasn’t around.”
“Technically, that wasn’t a lie,” Allison points out. “I think she’ll be fine. She might be a little worried about losing her job, though.”
“No way,” I say instantly. “Hazel is amazing. I’ll always have a job for her if she wants it.”