“Fine,” I say with a shrug. “It’s Monday, so it wasn’t too busy during the day. Fiona looks damn sick though. I might have to pull some extra shifts for her soon.”
“What about the Sunday worker?” Jessica asks.
“Graham has another job,” I say. “He’s only still working Sundays as a favor to Fiona and I. He won’t be able to pick up too many shifts. Maybe I’ll ask some of the guys if anyone wants a little extra money.”
“As long as they have the right qualifications,” Jessica laughs.
“That’s a given,” I say wryly. “I might have to ask Ethan; he got a license years ago, so he at least know what he’s doing.”
“Wouldn’t it be expired by now?” Jessica asks.
“I’d rather he do it with an expired license then some shitty idiot that has no idea,” I reply.
Automatically, I look up. It’s become common practice to look for Owen the moment a swear word slips loose, though I’m getting better at catching the words before they leave my mouth. Luckily, Owen is nowhere near the kitchen right now.
“Couldn’t the owner get in trouble if someone figured it out?” Jessica asks, frowning.
“If they figure it out,” I say. I shrug. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t think the owner would be happy taking on a temp, so I’ll probably fill in, and the bar will open later on the days I can’t do.”
“Fair enough,” Jessica says. “I guess we should get as much time out of you tonight as we can if you’re going to be a rare sight over the next few days.”
She grins to take the sting out of her words, and I know she’s joking. One month ago, she never would have been comfortable making a comment like that.
But things have changed in the last four weeks. It’s hard to believe that I’m standing here now, especially after everything that happened between us. A month ago, I was so certain that there was no way Jessica and I could be in a relationship ever again.
Yet, here we are. I’m standing in her kitchen, telling her about my work day, and she’s teasing me while our son plays in the living room. Everything feels so simple now, and my mind still sometimes struggles to comprehend how easy everything is.
Was it like this three years ago? I honestly don’t remember. I know we worked well together, I know we loved each other, but did we have this easy familiarity with each other that speaks of all secrets told and a ready acceptance of each other? I honestly don’t think we did.
But we have it now. In some ways, our relationship now is far stronger than the one we had then. Jessica is making the extra effort to tell me as soon as she’s worried about something. I’m making sure she knows where I am and if I’m going to be late. We’re both doing our best to find the rhythm of our relationship while taking care of our son.
We aren’t quite there yet. It isn’t going to happen overnight, or in a week or even a month. There’s still a lot of hurt from both of us. There are still nights when I lie beside Jessica and wonder if she’ll still be there in the morning. Some days are harder than others.
But we’re still here, in this kitchen, and that has to count for something.
“Do you have the onions?” Jessica asks. “I can start chopping them.”
“Thanks,” I say gratefully; I despise cutting onions. “I’ll start dicing the steak then.”
We fish out knives, and then we’re standing side-by-side, cutting ingredients for dinner. Jessica playfully nudges me with her elbow and I nudge her back, grinning widely. Today is a good day, without the still creeping thoughts. Today is a day when I can look at Jessica and be reminded of just how beautiful she is and how much I need her.
I like these days, and they’re happening more and more often. One day, I hope, the bad days won’t happen anymore. I think that will be a reality sooner rather than later.
“What did you get up to today?” I ask.
“Owen and I went shopping with Hayley,” Jessica says. “I don’t get it; Owen adores her. She doesn’t seem to get it either, and she gets all flustered, which is kind of cute, to be honest. She keeps trying to do this tough guy act with him, but he just giggles and she melts into a pile of goo.”
“Seriously?” I ask incredulously.
I’ve never seen Hayley as anything other than tough and mean. She fits right in with the guys, and can drink some of the far larger club members under the table. It’s a running joke among us that she should be wearing our jacket too, despite the fact that she doesn’t ride a motorbike. Sometimes, she feels like a better fit for the group than Alex, who is quiet, proper and focused.
“Yeah,” Jessica says, grinning. “You’ll have to come see. Then you can tell Alex about it. He’ll never let her live it down.”
I snort. “You’re not buying into that ‘mutual hate’ relationship, either?”
“Come on, they’re totally fucking,” Jessica says, rolling her eyes. “She went on for nearly half an hour about how Alex bought the last packet of chips that she wanted when they ran into each other at the store the other day.”
“I’m surprised she didn’t brawl him for it,” I muse.