Macy finally texted him. It was a rare happiness Dustin could hardly contain, but he did his best to keep straight lipped as he stood on the balcony of his step-father's apartment with Henry while they waited for the girls to get ready for the night.
It was dark and the city air was so foreign to Dustin. It was a little hectic here, but they'd decided to see the nightlife of the Eiffel Tower. They'd made the rounds earlier, but it felt impossible to get too. Still, Henry was excited while Dustin's feet were dead tired.
He was tired of a lot of things. Nothing seemed to be going right with Halie. They'd fussed far too much.
She thought Marco's apartment was awfully ancient. She liked nothing about the atmosphere of Paris. It was true. She hated it.
"Well, just try to act like you can stand it, for a day or two. Your friend and her boy are in love with it." He pointed out that he knew she wanted to do something with Josie.
But as he looked at Henry now, he thought Halie wanted to spend time with only Josie. She'd had her own itinerary that Josie neglected when she got here. They didn't make it to the fair nor the little music fest going on. This was what Halie had in mind. But that never happened.
He couldn't bring it up now.
He wanted to get back to hearing from Macy. Was she really OK? So many things he couldn't wait to ask her, but he guessed he wasn't suppose too.
This trip was such a burden. Even his eyes were burning from not enough sleep. Granted it was Halie who kept him awake. She was too hot. The bed was too small. Then they had one row after another.
He was beginning to think it might already be over.
He slipped his phone in his pocket just as Halie opened the glass doors. They were ready. Dustin smiled, but it didn't have anything to do with Halie in her new dress.
Josie could tell Halie what a good mom she was ..JUST SO MANY TIMES. Still it didn't feel right to Halie to be here in Paris while baby Alec was with Gage.
Halie couldn't stand it. She was going stir crazy. Her nerves were getting the best of her.
Why did that little bugger have to be so nice around Gage? She'd gritted her teeth so, she was afraid she might have to wear a mouth guard, all the time. Not just at night.
Of course, the baby showed his true colors with her. He could cry and cry, like an Academy Award winner. It was not going at all liked she planned.
Now to hear it from Gage himself that ..this wonderful Macy of his was coming to join him, Halie was in a bad mood.
She wanted to be happy. She was trying. She was doing her best to keep it together, just like Dustin said. "Do it for Josie's sake."
Of course, what did it matter? There was Henry and they were so awfully happy. Halie envied them.
But they were soon on their way. Another restless night, she guessed, as she and Dustin followed the happy couple.
Halie did her best not to fret. She looped her arm around Dustin. At least, she had him.
"Why are you doing this?" Gage never called her Mom. Clare was waiting to hear it, but it never came. He sounded a little upset about her paying Macy's airfare.
"She was so distraught. I..I thought it might do her some good. She's bringing her grandmother's ashes." Clare told Gage over the phone.
"Her Mom is OK with this?" He was far more worried about anyone, but Clare. It was plain to see, and Clare held back the tears as long as she could.
"I wanted to do it for you. I thought you needed her." Clare couldn't think of anything else to say. "I could do it. So I did."
"OK." He was quiet, thinking it over. "Thanks. I owe you."
"No. You, don't owe me a thing." She was serious. She did want to see Gage happy. "Some day, I hope I can see Alec."
"You'd really let him call you grandma?" She could hear a smile in his voice.
"Lets go for grand." She sighed with a smile.
"He might call you Gammy..maybe Grandy." He told her Alec could pretty much say Gammy. Perhaps it was more like Gum and Halie was just mummy.
Clare was glad Gage was picking up on these things.
"What does he call you?" She asked.
"Pretty much nothing. He just stares at me. And pulls my hair when he can. I'm not waiting for him to call me daddy." He told her he was pretty sure Alec would forget him, soon enough. He was barely a toddler. Clare could tell Gage was sad, already. He didn't know when he'd be back to England, again.
Clare was teary-eyed when she got off the phone with Gage.
There was Easy with a cup of hot herbal tea.
"What's up?" He asked.
"I wish Gage could bring him back. Here." She tried not to let it show, but she thought Gage was a better parent than either Chevy or her. "Ever wish you'd been closer, to your kid?" She didn't know if he even had one. They'd never talked about that.
He'd told her he was trying to get to know his real father, but that was a lot like pulling nails.
"I was there the first three years." Easy nodded. "I was a stay at home dad. Then everything turned sour. She found someone who could really take care of her and said I was just using her. Will and I try to do Christmas. I send him some money when I can, but its frustrating. Its never enough." He shrugged.
Clare smiled, thinking Will might be five or six.
"You, should send for him this summer," She said.
"I dunno. He's a teenager now." Easy told her Will lived between Austin and San Antonio.
"Haven't they had some bad weather, this summer?" Clare winced.
"Flash flooding is quick down that way." Easy sighed. His ex didn't like him talking to Will, anyway.
"Call him." She ordered. "Call her. Find out something." She was serious.
"All right." He reached in his back pocket for his mobile.
Jess could barely live with the silence. There was nothing said when the miscarriage happened. Perhaps, it was best that way. It might become invisible. Transparent. Nothing.
But the tears were bitter. Seriously, she would ask nothing of Clive. Especially, if she did have the one thing she wanted all along, at least for a little while. Her own family.
It would be just the one. They'd somehow suffice. Life wouldn't be so empty with a baby. She could take care of it, on her own. Of course, it would be hard. She intended on going to nursing school. In fact, the nursing schools had been calling her for a good long time now. Yes, she'd passed this test with flying colors. She'd be excellent, according to their data bases.
Naturally, her folks didn't quite believe it in the beginning, but once they figured out the test scores, and seeing how she got a full scholarship..well, it was her ticket to adulthood.
One less thing to worry about, she kept telling herself. But she cried most days now, even if the doctor informed her she could have a dozen or so kids if she wanted. She was fine. Really.
Maybe physically, but not emotionally. She'd always had Slater to lean on. He was a good friend.
She knew now, that was all he'd ever been. Maybe they'd actually never dated. She'd made it all up, inside her head.
Of course, he was nowhere in sight. He was like a ghost of some kind.
They hadn't kept him down at juvie. She didn't press charges. She still wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. She didn't blame him for any of it.
They told her he was long gone. Or so they said down at County. And they said it was confidential when she wanted to know where he went.
His phone was disconnected. His grandmother wouldn't even come to the door.
Jess felt as if she'd let two worlds slip away. All she had left was to pack up and move on to Kansas City. She hadn't even told her cousin Irma any of this. Of course, she doubted Irma wanted to hear from her, anyway.
Jess had cut all family ties with her. Or was it all Irma's doing? Jess couldn't exactly remember now.
But when the phone rang, late one night when Jess was in the kitchen, making herself a banana and peanut-butter sandwich, she reached for the yellow house phone on the wall.
"Hullo." Her words were instant.
But it was quiet. Too quiet.
"Is anyone there?"
Evidently, there wasn't. The cold reality came hissing back. Jess was alone. Always alone.