***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***
Never in my wildest imaginings did I ever picture myself as the mother type. It's funny how life can turn on its head. I mean, I'd gone from high-powered businesswoman to divorcee to victim to single mother in less than eighteen months. I'd so wanted this new beginning to be done right, but it seemed I'd made a mess of things once again. But then, I chided myself for that kind of thinking every time I picked up my little son. He hadn't been planned and raising a child as a single mother wasn't my ideal situation, but I could never call him a mistake. Now that I had him, I realized I couldn't live without him. I loved him so very fiercely and he was all mine.
All those mom things that had sounded so awful before were now a part of my life. Sure, doing all of this alone was hard but how could I have ever thought it so terrible?
Nathaniel was a good-natured baby. He usually settled when I picked him up, and my heart squeezed with love every time he cooed or smiled at me. He looked at the world with such intelligent eyes. Nathaniel was my pride and joy, and I loved taking care of him.
I was still on maternity leave when Simon called me. Ever since that confrontation in his office, I'd done everything I could to avoid him. I only spoke to him when I absolutely needed to. Otherwise, I'd kept to myself.
"Hello, Simon," I said expressionlessly.
"Hi, Debbie," he said hesitantly. "I...um...how are you?"
"Fine," I said.
"Good, good. How...how's the baby?" he asked.
"Fine," I said.
"Are you going to keep answering me with one word replies?" he asked.
"Yep," I said.
"Come on, Debbie. Cut me a little slack, huh?"
I blew out a frustrated breath. "Why should I, Simon? I have nothing more to say to you. You made yourself very clear when you ordered me back into work while I was knocked up."
"Debbie, I didn't know. Then, when you told me about...everything, I just...."
"You just acted like a first class bastard," I shot back.
"I did. I admit it and I'm sorry," he said.
"I'm sorry isn't enough anymore. I have my son to think about now, and it's not healthy for my well-being to allow you to keep me on some insane roller coaster ride," I said. "You have your own family to take care of, so it's best you leave me alone so I can take care of mine."
He cleared his throat. "This is why I'm calling, Debbie. If there is a chance that the kid is my son--"
"The kid's name is Nathaniel, Simon," I snapped.
"Right. If there is a chance that Nathaniel is my son, we need to talk about that. I do have rights as a father, after all," Simon said.
This brought me up short. This was true, but this was also the first sign of interest he'd shown. "What do you want from me, Simon?"
"Could...could I come over?"
"That's not a good idea," I replied.
"I just want to talk, Debbie. Nothing more except maybe to see Nathaniel," he pleaded.
I hesitated, then huffed out a long sigh. "All right. Be here in fifteen minutes."
When he arrived, I could see that he was soaked through. It had been a gully-washer of a day and he'd gotten caught in the middle of it. I greeted him stiffly and invited him in. "I have some old things of Shane's you can borrow. You can wear that while I dry your things," I told him.
He nodded and took the flannels I'd offered him. When he was changed, he looked toward the nursery. "May I?"
I nodded and followed him into Nathaniel's nursery.
Simon picked Nathaniel up and smiled at him, making my heart tremble. As pissed as I was at him, I was still a little in love with him. Had circumstances been different, I would be Simon's wife and we'd be a loving family. But then, something tugged at the back of my mind. He hadn't been faithful to Ericka, so maybe I'd be the one cheated on if we were married. Still, seeing him holding Nathaniel made me want more for my son. He deserved both a loving mother and father, not just a bumbling mother who worked herself to the bone to make ends meet.
"He's a beautiful boy," Simon said, bringing me out of my reverie.
"That he is," I said, my voice filled with pride. "You wanted to talk, so we should get to it."
Simon put the baby in his swing and turned it on low. I led him to the living room where I beckoned him to sit. When he did, he looked at me for a long, silent moment, then cleared his throat awkwardly. "You're...unsure of who his father is." It was a statement, not a question.
I nodded. "It could be either you or Shane. With the timing, it could go either way."
Simon got up and would have folded me into his arms had I not stopped him. "Simon, don't. Just...don't touch me."
"I should have been more caring at the office. Debbie, I just didn't know what to say. You hit me with it out of the blue...that he attacked you. Then, seeing you pregnant...well, I was an ass." He dropped his arms and sat back down.
"Yes, you were, but there's no changing what happened. What's done is done. It's the present and future that I need to be concerned about now," I said.
"I'd...um...like to know one way or the other," Simon said.
"Are you saying you want a paternity test? Wouldn't that put a kink in your already tarnished life?" I asked bitterly.
Simon looked down at his lap, then looked at me with abject weariness in his expression. "Ericka knows. I told her. She...um...said that we'd have to go to marriage counseling or she'd divorce me and take me to the cleaners. She demanded that I find out if the kid...Nathaniel...is mine and then we'd go from there depending on the results."
I narrowed my eyes at Simon. "Sorry to be such a thorn in your side." Damn! There was that bitchy, sarcastic tone again. I hated myself for it, but at the same time, it was a small victory for me to see him squirm.
"Yeah...well, it takes two to tango," he said awkwardly.
"All right, Simon. All right. We'll do the paternity test and see what happens. We'll talk further once we know for sure." I stood up to retrieve Simon's clothes. "You'd better change and go," I said, handing him his things.
"Will I see you at work next week?" he asked.
I nodded. "We need to do something about that situation too, Simon. There's been talk...about us, you know. These things never stay quiet as I told you before."
"Yeah, I know. Look, if it makes things easier for you, I'll sign the cosmetics company over to you. This way, you'll be your own boss and won't have to report to me. You'll get your own office and be the one the employees for this company work for and report to. As you know, it's become quite successful, thanks to you. It'll mean more work for you, but you'll be able to do much of it at home."
"I can't afford to buy it, Simon. You know that," I said.
"You won't have to. I'm signing it over to you. Trust me, it won't break my bank to do it, and it'll be the boost you'll need. It's your baby anyway. It'll be the best for all of us," Simon said.
Well, how could I argue with that? I had been the one to push forth the company from the ground up. It had been my dream one day to buy it from Simon and take it over anyway. If Simon wanted to rid himself of the company to get rid of me as well, who was I to argue? At least it would solve the awkwardness of our having to work together.
"Okay, Simon, on one condition. The contracts are to be looked over by my attorney so there's no way for you to reneg on it and put me in a bad situation," I said. I didn't fully trust him, so I had to protect my own interests.
"Of course," Simon said.
Nathaniel got a little fussy a half hour after Simon left. I sat with him in the rocker, my head swimming from everything Simon and I had talked about. I'd know for certain soon if he was Nathaniel's father, which would put my uncertainly to rest. I was afraid to know, but I knew I needed to for both Nathaniel's and my safety. Also, Simon was signing over what I'd come to think of as my company over to me. I wasn't going to count my ducks until they quacked, as I knew anything could go wrong. If it did go through and if Simon didn't have a change of heart, it would mean much more financial security for Nathaniel and me. I had a feeling it would be a double-edged sword. He'd be getting me out of his hair at the same time he'd be letting the company go, which probably would mean that this would be his way of "doing right by the kid." I'd be a fool if I expected Simon to be a hands-on dad. At least with the company in my pocket, it was his way of doing for Nathaniel without getting his hands dirty, so to speak.
I wasn't one of those moms who sang hoaky little lullabies to her kid. Instead, I went back to my favorite song and sang it to my little son while the rocker glided over the floor.
"It is the evening of the day.
I sit and watch the children play.
Smiling faces I can see,
But not for me.
I sit and watch as tears go by..."
It was a sad song, one filled with regret at how things in life pass us by. The song had always made my heart bleed. As much as I wanted to shield Nathaniel from the hardships of life, I knew it was an impossible undertaking. Life was painful sometimes and I knew I'd have to be the one to warn him of that when he was older.
My little baby fell asleep in my arms, and I sat for a long time just holding him close. If only I could keep him little forever. "Mama loves you, kiddo. No matter what happens, I want you to always remember that," I whispered into his little ear.
I tucked Nathaniel into his crib and sat down to read the newest Lenora Landgraab romance novel. It was nice to lose myself in a world of beautiful, passionate characters. I always think that Lenora's books couldn't get any better, but as each new one was released, I was certainly glad to be wrong. When I opened one of Lenora's books, I was swept away in that world, so much so that I could see it vividly playing out in front of me. If there was one thing that was on my bucket list, it was to meet Lenora Landgraab for myself and get her autograph.
Before I knew it, it was time for Nathaniel's feeding. His hungry cries always came right on cue, for I did my best to keep him on a pretty good schedule.
I got myself into my nightie and went in to play with Nathaniel before his bath time. It always made me smile to hear his giggles when I made silly faces or blew raspberries at him or on his little belly. Oh, I hoped he'd never lose that beautiful laugh of his.
He giggled and splashed in the bathwater, making me laugh some more. I'd found a little rubber ducky, and Nathaniel loved it when I squeezed it. Every time I bathed him, I squeezed the little toy to make it squeak and sang "Rubber Ducky" to him.
I loved Nathaniel's little baby smell just after he'd had his bath. I held him close to me for a while before popping him into his crib and heading for bed myself. Tomorrow was another day, and I knew I'd have a lot to tend to over the next little while. I'd have to go back to work next week, arrange for a paternity test, and prepare to take official control of the cosmetics company I'd nurtured along. Things were starting to look up. At least, I sincerely hoped so.
Debbie is at level 5 of the Business Career Track, which means she is a Department Head.