Sundays and Mondays are always my days off, which I am thankful for. I took Kenzie to my parent's house for the day on Monday to go swimming. It was hot, and Kenzie loves the water. I call her my little fish for a reason.
I changed her into her swimsuit, lathered her up with sunblock, and put her floaty on before she could escape me in the yard. She knows not to go near the pool without an adult, but I am always worried. I shimmied out of my shorts, then headed to the pool. Kenzie took my hand, and I carried her into the pool. "im, im" She chanted as her toes hit the water.
"Okay, you can swim with momma," I told her, letting her go. She floated and then began kicking her legs and arms as she treads water. Seeing her swim, you wouldn't know she was not two yet, but I taught her young to be safe around the pool.
"Look at her, go!" My mom called from the kitchen window. "She's like a mermaid." Kenzie beamed as she reached my arm and held tight.
"Gam, Gam!" Kenzie called, waving at the house. We climbed out of the pool and wrapped up in a towel. Kenzie tried to run to my mom but fell, scraping up her knee, causing her to cry out in pain.
I scooped her up to comfort her. Inside we cleaned it up and put a band-aid on her scrape. I gave the band-aid a quick kiss. "All better," I told her as she smiled at me with a tear-streaked face. I gently brushed away her tears before setting her on the floor.
My mom came over with a popsicle. "Such a brave girl deserves a treat." Kenzie took the popsicle happily and went to the living room to see my dad.
"Hey, little angel." He said, picking her up onto his lap. "Are you going to share with papa?" She turned and pointed to my mom, causing us all to laugh.
"That girl is so smart." My mom replied. "I can't believe she's going to be two next week."
"Are you ever going to reveal who her daddy is?" My mom pushed. "A girl needs her daddy, Mia."
"Mom, please don't start. I made my decision for a reason, and I'm not going to change my mind."
"I just hate the reputation you have now. No guy is going to want to be with a girl with such a bad reputation." My mom has always been worried about what other people think.
"Momma, please. If a guy wanted to be with me, he would come to me for the truth, not listen to the town gossip. I told you and daddy before, I do know who he is, but I don't want to say. He broke my heart and chose to cut me out of his life, so he doesn't deserve to know about her. Besides, I'm not looking for a man. My daughter is enough for me." I explained. I peeked into the living room, where Kenzie was now sound asleep on my dad's lap. "Why are you bringing this up again?"
"It's been two years, Mia; you could at least tell us." My mom was stubborn.
"Why, so when someone is talking about it, you can tell them all, and by the end of the night, the whole town will know? Momma, I love you, but you are the worst when it comes to gossip and drama." I respond, shaking my head.
"Mia Charlotte Tremaine. I have no idea what you are talking about." My mom huffed. "It's not nice to talk like that to me."
"Oh, come off it, Sue! You know she's right." My dad called from the other room. "You just can't stand the gossip at the hair salon. I told you to tell Leslie to mind her own damn business. Our angel is perfect. No one needs to know who her daddy is. Mia will find a nice man in time that Kenzie will call daddy. No need to worry about who her sperm donor was."
I was pleased to see my dad finally come around to see things my way. As for Leslie Miller gossiping about me, it was laughable. If only she knew the truth, I smiled to myself at that thought.
I got pregnant around my 19th birthday, and Ryan was 20. We saw each other off and on for almost 3 years, but he asked to keep it quiet. I obliged because I didn't really see the need to tell anyone my personal life anyway, so when I found out I was pregnant, I kept it quiet for as long as possible. Sarah was the first person I told because I needed support, and my best friend has always had my back.
I helped my mom prepare dinner while my dad took Kenzie outside. My mom barely talked to me for the rest of the day. Except for Kenzie giggling and trying to speak, the dinner conversations were none existent tonight. After dinner, I help do the dishes before heading home.
I spent time playing with Kenzie at home, and before bed, I read her some bedtime stories. As I held my sleeping baby, I wished I could spend more nights like this, but it's not possible unless I get a day job, then I would lose my days with her. When I chose the job at the tavern, it was for hours. I would see all but two hours of her days, I would miss story times and cuddles, but I gained the days of learning, growing, and exploring. It was a clear choice for me to make.
I sighed as I laid her down in bed. I went into the living room to clean up her toys and wash my own dishes. The luxuries of being a single mom, I get to do all the housework. I did some laundry that needed to get done. As I sat folding laundry and drinking a glass of wine, a knock on my door made me jump. I looked at the time and saw that it was almost nine at night. Who the hell was knocking on my door at this hour?
I glanced out the window behind my couch to find Ryan standing on my porch. I rolled my eyes as I stood up. I don't have the energy to deal with him at this hour. "What?!" I snapped as I opened the door.
"I was in the neighborhood and saw your light on. I figured I'd stop by to see if we can chat." He replied hurriedly, knowing I was seconds from closing my door in his face.
"Why? What do you possibly have to say to me after all this time? Come to rub your pending nuptials in my face or something? I got your mom running her mouth about me and dragging my name through the mud to my own mother. Thanks to her, my mom and I are fighting. I don't want to be fighting with my mom this week. This is a week; I have enough going on I don't need to add more to it. Please just leave me alone." I said, closing the door.
Ryan grabbed the door to prevent me from closing it. "Mia, please, just give me ten minutes, okay? Ten minutes to talk without you being defensive, then I'll leave you alone."
I sighed, "Ten minutes!" I walked away from the door, sitting back down on the couch to finish folding my laundry.
Ryan followed me in, closed the door lightly behind him before coming to sit on my couch. He sat quietly for a minute, clearly watching me. I gave him a ‘well…' look before he started talking. "I know I should have ended things with you differently, Mia, and I owe you an apology. I could have been a man about it and reached out to you instead of basically ghosting you, but I didn't. I was stupid, and seeing you in the bar the other night, reminded me of what I had. I can't stop thinking about you, and then I saw you again at the store with your daughter, and I realized I really owe you an apology."
"Okay, so you're sorry. You could have saved us both the headache and just apologized already. You're engaged; she's charming. I can see your attraction to her. Congratulations." I forced a smile on my face as my heart was breaking all over again.
"Tell me you want me, and I'll call off my engagement. Tell me that you still have feelings for me." He surprised me, causing my mouth to fall open.
"You're not pinning that on me. If you want to call off your engagement, that's on you. Your mother already has labeled me the town slut because I kept my daughter's paternity a secret. I will not be labeled a homewrecker too." I replied. "You have some nerve… You know that. You come back, and follow me home, then continue to invite yourself over just to beg me to tell you not to get married. Good luck to her; she's going to need it. Though at least she's not being kept a secret." I knew that was a low blow, but I was pissed.
"You do not deny it."
"There's nothing to deny here. I was your fucking booty call for three years, and then one day, you were gone. Everyone started talking about how well you were doing, but I got nothing. It's been almost three years, Ryan… You should have stayed gone." I said flatly. It wasn't a lie; it was how I truly felt. His being here is only a matter of time before people start piecing shit together like Paul did.
Ryan looked around the room, and his eyes fell on Kenzie's baby picture hanging on the wall. Fuck! He got up walked over to it, looking closely at it, "she's going to be two on Saturday?" He asked, turning around looking at me.
"That's what it says. So, what?" My heart was racing. "Your ten minutes are up; you can leave now," I said, standing up.
He began looking at more of her pictures, and a lump began forming in my throat. "Are you doing a party for her?"
"I want to go."
"Not a chance." I snapped.
"I can do the math, Mia. I'm not stupid." He deadpanned, looking at me.
"What are you talking about?"
"She looks like my sister."
"You wish! She looks like me. She has her father's smile, but everything else is me." I argued.
"I want to be part of her life."
"Don't make me have to make you do a DNA test. I know she's mine. The simple fact that you kept it quiet confirms that." He argued. "You have been so on edge since I saw her at the grocery store. I know you enough to know when you're hiding things. I knew her smile looked familiar; when I was at my mother's house, I saw a picture of me as a kid, and I noticed."
"Please lower your voice. I can't fight to get her back to sleep. It's a pain."
"Then stop denying it." He said, lowering his voice again. "Let me be part of my daughter's life, please, Mia."
"This is exactly why no one knows the truth. I know your mother will try to take my baby from me, and I can't afford to fight her."
"I won't allow that to happen. Just please, let me be part of her life." He begged. "I know you don't owe me anything, and asking this is a lot, but just think about it. I won't ask for custody, I won't say anything to my mother, I just want a chance to get to know my daughter."
"You can't attend the party. When Paul saw you at the bar last night, he noticed. He came up to me and pointed out how much your smile looks like Makenzie's. If you're at the party, everyone will notice."
"Makenzie? That's pretty." He commented. "Can you please think about my request?" He moved closer to me, holding my gaze as I tried to wrap my head around everything. His lips brushed against mine before I even noticed he was moving in for a kiss. "We made a beautiful little girl." He whispered before taking my mouth in his. His tongue slid into mine as he wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me closer to him.
I swear I'm dreaming because I'm having trouble breathing. He's here, in my house, making out with me, with our daughter sleeping in the other room. I wanted this for so long until I gave up hope. That's when reality hit me. I pushed away from him. "You're engaged to someone else. This is wrong. You need to leave, go home to your fiancé." I stammered, backing further away from him.
"How can you say it's wrong when we've always felt so right together?"
"It's wrong because you have a fiancé. It's wrong because whenever you and I were together, we had to be together in secret. She happened because we were careless one night, but she isn't a secret. I thought long and hard about my decision to keep her paternity a secret because we were a secret. You and I never happened." I explained. "You can't just show up, see me, and expect me to sleep with you again. You can't just show up after almost three years and ask to be part of my daughters' life. As far as I'm concerned, you are her sperm donor. You have no claims or responsibilities to her or me. If you try to take me to court, we'll have a problem since your name isn't even on her birth certificate, and I will never consent to a DNA test for a toddler."
"I won't do that to her or you. Your right; I understand. I'll leave now." He walked towards the door. "Let me give you some money or something."
"I want nothing from you. I told you, you have no responsibilities to her. Just please leave; I need to get some sleep."
"Okay. Good night Mia." He reluctantly said as he walked out the door.
I went over to the door to lock it before sliding down to the floor, holding myself. A simple kiss shook me to my core, and I called Sarah. "Hello?" Sarah answered, sounding sleepy.
"I'm sorry I know it's late, but I need to talk to someone." I sobbed into the phone.
"Mia, what's wrong?" Panic is evident in her voice.
"Ryan was just here, again. He was talking crazy about calling off his engagement if I asked him to. Then he saw Kenzie's baby picture with her birth date on it. He knows the truth… He says he won't tell his mother but wants me to let him be part of her life, and then he kissed me. Full-on made out with me in my living room until I stopped it."
"He didn't… That asshole. He has a lot of nerve even coming to your house. I'm so sorry that happened." Sarah said.
"I pointed out how bad it sounded when you really think about it. He and I never happened since we kept it secret, so how would he explain Kenzie to people. Sarah, what am I going to do? Paul discovered the truth just by seeing Ryan smile at the bar. He needs to leave soon before more people start connecting the dots."
"Breathe, Mia. Everything is going to be okay, I promise. If he says he won't tell his mother, you know better than anyone that he won't. That being said, he also knows how much she looks like him. Meaning he'll more than likely avoid being seen near her in public." Sarah pointed out, which helped calm me down a bit. "Now, go get some sleep."
"Thanks, Sarah. I'll see you tomorrow night." I said as I hung up the phone. Talking to her always helps calm my nerves. I put my empty wine glass in the sink, shut all the lights off, and went to bed. Curling up as I drifted off to sleep.