After about two months of dating, Ethan and Grace finally decided to proclaim their status as a couple officially.
Both thought it would be best to wait until after Blake’s 6th birthday and him attending grade school, even though Blake seemed to like having Grace around.
While he apparently didn’t look at her as a mother figure per se, both got along well.
And here they were now, officially girlfriend and boyfriend.
Then one weekend during one of Blake’s scheduled weekends with his mother, her husband and his new half-brother, Ethan and Grace went out to dinner and a movie.
This is where Ethan asked her to stay over for the very first time.
His hands were shaking, he was nervous like a boy in high school asking his crush to a dance.
Not surprisingly, she said yes and just gave him that smile that made everything better. Apparently his surprise wasn’t really so surprising, as Grace had scheduled her grandmother’s caretaker for the entire night, anticipating his invite.
The night was romantic and enjoyed by both. He was worse than nervous as he carried her up to his bedroom.
It was as both had hoped for. Sensual, romantic, and in a way long overdue.
Afterwards, in bed next to Grace, Ethan couldn’t help but resound his father’s words in his head about taking it slow. He sat up careful not to wake Grace.
He had been right.
And as much as Ethan felt Grace could be ‘the one’ he was not going to rush into anything. Not this time.
Despite the fact that he missed having someone other than his son around the house with him. Sure, there were his family and friends, but most of them were in steady relationships which only reminded him more how much he missed this.
Grace moaned and stirred slightly in her sleep, Ethan looked at her in the semi-dark room, only illuminated by the street lights, then slipped under the covers and snuggled up to her.
How could this even work? He had Blake and she had her grandmother, who needed round the clock care. While Grace had managed to sneak away sometimes, she couldn’t always afford to pay the caretaker overtime, nor did the nurse want that.
He wouldn’t be able to ask her to move in, even if they were serious. And what if later down the road they decided to get married? Maybe have a child together. Would Grace want children? Did he want another one? He loved Blake but life had been extremely rough as a working single dad even though he had a network of family always available to help.
Eventually the pondering made Ethan sleepy and he dozed off into a dreamless sleep.
A few weeks later, during dinner together.
“Dad? How did you meet mom?” Blake asked in between bites.
“At work. I told you.”
“No, dad. MOM, not Aunt Grace.”
“Oh, right, sorry Blake. I ran into your mom, literally, when we were 16. Fell in love right away.” Ethan felt awkward. Yikes.
“So why did you fall out of love?”
“I don’t know, kiddo.”
“Is there a cure?”
“To fall back into love.”
“Oh, look Blake, sometimes mommies and daddies just need to go their separate ways. We both still love you and now you have two more people who love you, your mom’s husband and Grace. Along with grandma and grandpa …”
“No, dad, she doesn’t. And he doesn’t either.”
“What? Your grandparents adore you, kid!”
“Not them. Mom and her husband. But I would like to have a mommy who loves me, like all the other kids. Like Ally and Colin .. and you … But mine doesn’t even like me and her husband hates me.”
“BLAKE! That is NOT true.”
“Yes, it is. They love Parker, but hate me. Even though all he ever does is sleep and cry.”
“No, they don’t. Nobody could hate you, Blake. Why would you even think that?!” Ethan was horrified.
“Because when I am there, I am always send to a room, nobody wants to play with me, I am not allowed to be alone with Parker and they always get a nanny and go away. I am too big for a nanny! I am never allowed to come with. And one night, I was scared when there was lightning, I went into their bedroom and Carson got very mad at me. I almost cried. Not really, but almost…” Blake’s voice became shaky, then he jumped up and ran to his room.
Ethan stayed calm, followed and comforted his son, but was fuming on the inside.
He’d have words with Amy and Carson this weekend when he had to drop off Blake, so much was certain!
“Thank you for dropping him off.” Amy smiled after beckoning Ethan and Blake inside.
“Blake, why don’t you put your bag down and get settled in? I need to talk to your mom for a few minutes alone, please.” Ethan asked his son.
“Ok, dad.” Blake immediately did as requested.
“Uh oh, sounds serious.” Amy attempted a smile.
“It is. Amy, why the hell do you want Blake if all you and Carson do is stick him with a nanny and leave?” Ethan was upset and wanted her to know.
“Is that what he told you? He is so dramatic. It’s nothing like that.”
“My son does not pull that kind of accusation out of thin air, Amy!”
“No, but he likes to embellish things. Carson and I maybe went out to dinner a few times …”
“… and you couldn’t take Blake? I take him almost everywhere with me!”
“Sure and the baby, too, huh? No Ethan. Unlike some others, Carson remembers that we are first and foremost a couple. Then parents.”
“Your priorities are messed up! You are parents first. Everything else is secondary!”
“Then why did you call me a few weeks ago to trade visitation days?”
“That was a one time thing! Grace and my 6 months dating anniversary.”
“This is not the rule either, but an exception. Carson travels so much for work, so when he is here, we want to be a couple sometimes. And other people have anniversaries too. Blake is just bitchy, maybe because he didn’t get something and this is his payback.”
“Clearly, you do not even know him.”
“Neither do you! He is not all ponies and rainbows, Ethan. He likes to give me a hard time. I am already more than patient, and so is Carson!”
They traded accusations and blame some more until Blake returned. Ethan kissed him goodbye, gave Amy the stink-eye and left. He didn’t like leaving his son, never had, much less now.
While the relationship between Ethan, Amy and her new husband had never been the stuff dreams were made of, it seemed to progressively end in friction points. The latest one now after Carson found out that Blake was signed up for Drama Club in school, per Blake’s own request. He had literally begged his father to sign to consent form.
Carson had a lot to say about that, none of it good. According to him was Ethan turning Blake into a feminine softie. Not the word he used, his terminology was even worse and they ended up having words.
And Blake walked in on his father arguing with his mother and step-father, again.
Which upset Ethan, as this was the very last thing he wanted his son exposed to.
Blake was a thinker and often asked questions about his mother and their relationship before and after the split, about Ethan’s relationship with Grace and why he couldn’t have a mommy and daddy like his cousins Ally and Colin and most of his friends. All that just tore Ethan’s heart into a million pieces.
On top of all that the not exactly easy dating situation with him and Grace. So far, they had not dared to have her stay over when Blake was around, only during weekends he spent with his mother and step-father. It was obvious that Grace didn’t like the peek-a-boo. Especially since Blake had seen them kiss before.
One evening, Ethan was playing a video game with Blake when out of the blue he asked
“Are you and Grace going to have a baby?”
Ethan immediately jerked at that question, crashing his virtual racing car, causing Blake to squeal for joy about his win.
“Uh, no .. why would you ask that?” Ethan asked while trying to hide his shock.
“Because mom and Carson did. So you don’t want another kid?”
“I don’t know Blake. Not right now, anyways. You have to be married before having a child …” Ethan tried.
“No, I have a kid in my class who does not even know his daddy. Neither does his mommy, he says.”
Ethan cursed in his head. MOM, DAD, HELP! he thought. So, what would his parents have said in this situation? His dad would have deflected with a joke. Nothing funny came to mind. His mom would probably use a gentle approach, with honesty, digestible enough for a 6 year old.
“Well, sometimes that happens, but we do not want that.”
“So when are you going to marry her?”
“Uh … I don’t know, Blake. Would you like me to marry Grace?”
“I don’t know. She seems nice. But her grandma is creepy. Not like my grandma at all. And she smells funny. Yuck!”
“Blake! That is not nice to say. And your grandma is much younger than Grace’s because Grace is a grown up.”
“Great-grandma does not smell weird. She smells nice. Like a garden. And she is funny .. and does not talk strange stuff that makes no sense like Grace’s does.”
“Well, some people are different. Still not nice to say.”
“Fine, I’ll lie like everybody else.” Blake pouted.
“BLAKE! No, you will not! And I do not like your tone. Nobody is lying to you.” Ethan was horrified at Blake’s remark.
“I know you kiss Grace. I have seen you. Make her marry you, move in, so I don’t have to go to mom’s anymore.” he whined.
“Blake, you are going to your mom’s because she is your mom. She loves you and misses you … ” Ok, we do lie to him… Ethan thought bitterly.
“She does not! She only wants me so you come over.” Blake retorted, still pouting.
“That is not true! Your mom and I have moved on. She loves Carson now and I … have Grace.”
“Then why does mommy always dress up and draw on her face so much and spray so much perfume on when you come to pick me up?” Blake’s slight smirk at him knowing he was right reminded Ethan of his father KC.
“That’s for Carson. She wants to be pretty for him.”
“He was travelling the last times and wasn’t coming back for days!” Blake insisted.
“Ummm … oh look at the clock! Someone better get to bed, tomorrow is a school day. You have your bag packed? Yes? Okay, let’s get you tucked in – NOW!” Ethan deflected.
WTH? was all Ethan kept thinking for hours afterwards.
The clarification to all those questions in Ethan’s mind came quicker and in a much different form than Ethan would have wanted.
Just a few days later, to be exact.
Friday night, almost 10 pm.
Blake was spending the night with his grandparents and cousins, when someone came to the door. Grinning Ethan anticipated a surprise visit by Grace, after he had dropped enough hints at work all day, even though she kept saying that she didn’t have a caretaker that night.
But it wasn’t Grace.
“Amy?! Oh my God, Amy what happened to you?!” Ethan couldn’t hide the shock and horror when he saw her face.
“Ethan … I need help …” she sobbed.
-to be continued-