“Boys,” Elizabeth said as she came down the stairs of her house, “hurry up and get your things together. Your dad will be here any minute.”
“Mom,” Jake asked as he put his toy motorcycle in his backpack, “did you pack my Spiderman pajamas or my Batman?”
Elizabeth pulled her head out of the closet looking for the shawl that she planned on wearing that evening and looked at her blond haired son.
“I packed your Wolverine pajamas Jake,” she told him. “You know the pajamas that I stayed up late last night to wash because you wanted to wear them when you spent the night with your dad.”
“Oh,” Jake said, zipping his backpack. “I changed my mind. I really want to wear Spiderman.”
“Jake,” Elizabeth said, taking on the mother tone that Jake hated as she came down the stairs of the landing into the living room, “you’re going to wear the Wolverine pajamas and you’re going to like them.”
“But Mom,” Jake said, pleading in his eyes, “Dad’s seen me in the Wolverine pajamas and I realized that he hasn’t seen me in Spiderman.”
Elizabeth let out a huff of frustration and looked toward the ceiling to calm her nerves. Jake was the king of changing his mind at the last minute. She loved that he got many of his traits from his father including his looks, but unfortunately that one little trait he got from her.
“Jake,” Elizabeth reasoned. “Can’t you wear Wolverine this time and the next time you stay with him, you wear the Spiderman.”
“But Mom,” Jake implored, “We’re watching Spiderman tonight. Dad said we could. And you can’t watch Spiderman wearing Wolverine pajamas.”
Elizabeth glanced at her watch and saw that her date would be picking her up in five minutes. Jake and Cam’s father would be there any minute. She didn’t have time to figure out where Jake’s Spiderman pajamas was or whether they were even clean.
“Okay Jake,” she told the six year old. “Here’s the deal. If and only if the Spiderman pajamas are in your pajama drawer in your room can you wear them instead of the Wolverine pajamas. If you can’t find them, then you’re stuck wearing the Wolverine pajamas. Now go upstairs and check.”
Elizabeth watched as Jake left his backpack on the coffee table and hurried upstairs to his room to check his drawers. Elizabeth walked back over to the closet to look for the shawl again when she caught her oldest son Cameron coming out of the kitchen playing the videogame that his father bought him for Christmas last year.
“Cameron,” she asked. “Are you packed and ready to go? Your dad will be here any minute.”
“Not yet,” Cameron said absently as he continued to play, “but it’ll just take me a minute.”
Elizabeth walked over to Cameron and took the game away from him, shutting it off.
“Mom,” Cameron said, shock on his face, “I was at level 5. Do you know how long it took me to get to level five?”
“Cam,” Elizabeth said. “I need you to be ready when your dad gets here.”
“And I told you I would be,” Cameron snapped.
“Cameron,” Elizabeth said sternly. “You will change that attitude. Do you understand me?”
Cameron looked at his mother and realized that he had gone too far and her patience was on its last leg.
“Yes ma’am,” he said mollified.
“Now go upstairs and pack for spending the weekend with your dad,” Elizabeth told him. “Then and only then will you possibly get your game back.”
Cameron began to make his way up the stairs the same time the doorbell rung. Cameron detoured from the stairs and opened the door, a smile coming on his face.
“Hey Dad,” Cameron said excited, as he was picked up and hugged before placed back on his feet.
“Hey Cam,” Jason said as he looked down at his son, “what did I tell you about opening the door without asking who it was?”
“But I knew it was you,” Cameron reasoned.
“Cam…,” Jason said, quirking an eyebrow.
“I know, I know,” Cameron said, “don’t open the door without asking who it is before you do it and only when you know who that person is.”
“Thank you,” Jason said to his son as Elizabeth came up behind Cameron.
“Cam,” she said running her fingers through her son’s curls, “why don’t you go finish packing and tell Jake that your dad’s here.”
“Okay,” Cameron said, looking up at his mother, before turning his gaze back at his dad. “I’ll be right back Dad. Why don’t you come in and take a load off? And while you’re at it, talk to Mom about giving me my game back.”
“Cameron,” Elizabeth said in her motherly voice, “upstairs now.”
Elizabeth and Jason watched as their son ran up the stairs before Elizabeth took a step back and let Jason make his way into her house. He turned as he came off the landing taking a good look at her. She was wearing a spaghetti strap black dress and black heels, her hair piled on the top of her head with a few curly strands framing her face. She looked damn good, the dress showing off her gorgeous figure and nothing like a woman that was planning on spending a quiet evening at home.
Elizabeth was doing her own perusing of her ex-husband. It had been months since she’d seen him in anything besides a business suit. Usually he picked up the boys after he came from work and Elizabeth picked them up from after school care so they didn’t see much of each other. But here he stood wearing a dark blue buttoned down shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Yes, her ex-husband was handsome in his business suits, but it was something about him in casual clothes that just bumped him up to gorgeously amazing.
Elizabeth looked in his face after perusing his body to notice that he had been saying something.
“Excuse me,” she said breathlessly, “I was distracted.”
A smile came to Jason’s face as he took in the blush that came over Elizabeth’s face.
“I was just commenting on your outfit,” Jason said amused, “evidently you’re not staying at home for a quiet night without the boys.”
Elizabeth looked down at herself and then back at Jason.
“You got me there,” she said with a smile on her face.
“So are you going out with the girls,” Jason said curiously.
He realized that he hadn’t seen Elizabeth dressed up in a long time. Usually when he came by to get the boys for the week or the weekend, she was dressed either in scrubs after a day at work or wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He realized that he missed seeing her dressed up. Especially when she wore a dress like the one she was wearing now, that was sexy but left a lot to the imagination. But then again he missed a lot of things.
“No,” Elizabeth said hesitantly, as she made her way back to the closet, “I have a date.”
“A what?” Jason said in disbelief, as he made his way over to her.
“A date,” Elizabeth said, her voice firmer as she pulled her head back out of the closet. “You know that thing that a man and woman go on to get to know each other.”
“Elizabeth, I know what a date is,” Jason said testily, “I’m just wondering why you’re going out on one of them.”
“Well,” Elizabeth said teasingly, “that’s what single people do. They date. And after all, that’s what I am now. A single woman.”
Not of my choosing, Jason wanted to retort. She had no business being single. She should still be married to him. He still should be living in the house with his family and they still should be raising the boys together instead of him keeping them every other weekend and for a week every three weeks. But that hadn’t been what she wanted. She had wanted a divorce. Hadn’t even discussed or clued him in that they were having problems in their marriage. Instead she had just sent divorce papers to his office.
“So you decided to wear this for your date?” Jason said conversationally.
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Elizabeth said uncertainly, looking down.
“It’s just that it’s getting chilly out there and you’re on the cold natured side,” Jason said nonchalantly. “Wouldn’t want you getting hypothermia in the middle of your date.”
“I think I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth told him sarcastically as he finally located the shawl she was looking for.
“Do you think that that’s going to keep you warm?” Jason asked skeptically as his eyes landed on the shawl. “Cause I have serious doubts.”
“Good I didn’t ask you for your opinion,” Elizabeth told him as she closed the closet door and returned to the living room.
What was taking the boys so long, she thought? She didn’t like staying in rooms with Jason for long periods of time. It almost managed to go one way. With them sniping at each other. She didn’t want that tonight. She wanted to be in a good mood for her date. They had been divorced for eight months. Her friends had decided that the mourning period was over and that she had to get back on the horse and get back into the dating ring. Elizabeth wasn’t exactly eager to get back on that horse, but she had to face facts. Jason and her eleven year old marriage to him were over.
“Just making an observation,” Jason said, breaking into her thoughts. “After all, we wouldn’t want you catching a cold, and then spreading it to the boys, who would eventually spread it to me.”
“No Jason,” Elizabeth said snidely, “we wouldn’t want you to get sick. God forbid you have to miss work or take time out to take care of your sick children.”
“That is not what I meant,” Jason told her irritably, his blue eyes flashing with repressed anger.
“Well you don’t have to worry your little head Jason,” Elizabeth said. “If I get sick, I’ll make sure I throw up the quarantine sign and ship Cam and Jake off to Grams so that you won’t have to worry about your health being in jeopardy.”
“Elizabeth,” Jason said, his anger rising, “that’s not what I mean and you know it. I’m quite capable of taking care of my children if you get sick and taking time from work to make sure that they are looked after if they get sick.”
“So noble of you,” Elizabeth said mockingly. “You’re a saint among men.”
Jason was about to retort when the doorbell rung and Elizabeth turned and walked over to the front door. She turned the knob and opened the door.
“No wonder Cam is so irresponsible when it comes to not asking who it is,” Jason muttered under his breath.
Elizabeth shot him a dirty look, indicating that she had heard him before turning a smile to the man that was standing on the other side of the door.
“Elizabeth, I’m sorry I’m late,” Lucky Spencer said as he walked into the room.
“You’re late,” Elizabeth echoed, looking down at her watch to clearly see that he was indeed 10 minutes late. “I hadn’t noticed.”
Lucky looked past her at Jason who was approaching behind her. “I can see why,” he said.
Elizabeth followed Lucky’s gaze over her shoulder to find Jason standing next to the landing, leaning on the banister of the staircase with his arms crossed.
“Lucky,” Elizabeth said, feeling the tension in the air between the two men. “I would like you to meet my ex-husband Jason. Jason, I would like you to meet Lucky.”
Lucky stepped down off the landing into the living room to shake Jason’s hand. Elizabeth bit down on her bottom lip as she saw Lucky wince when Jason’s grip came too much for him.
“Jason is here to pick up the boys,” she told Lucky. “And now that I think of it. It’s taking them a long time to come down. Maybe you should go check on them Jason.”
“What’s the rush Elizabeth,” Jason said conversationally as he continued to stare down Lucky. “Let the boys take their time getting ready. We wouldn’t want them to leave anything behind. We wouldn’t want to have to come back later on tonight and scare you when we have to come in to get something that one of the boys forgot.”
“Elizabeth doesn’t look like a woman that scares easily to me,” Lucky said, looking at Jason.
“Well,” Jason said mockingly, “you know how it is. A woman in her house alone might get jumpy if she hears noises late at night.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at the unspoken suggestion that Jason was making. What right did he have to dictate whether she was let a man stay over at her house or not. True, this was her first date with Lucky and she was in no way interested in getting physical with him, but Jason still didn’t have the right to tell her what she could or could not do.
Elizabeth was about to speak up when she heard the sound of her sons coming down the stairs.
“We’re ready Dad,” Cam said as he jumped down the last step.
“Daddy,” Jake yelled as he finished running down the stairs to be swept up in Jason’s arms. “I have my Spiderman pajamas to show you.”
“You do,” Jason said as he took the overnight bag off his son’s shoulders. “I can’t wait to see them.”
“Dad,” Cam said as he picked up Jake’s backpack that he kept his toys and coloring books in, “did you talk Mom into giving me my game back?”
“We hadn’t managed to get that point yet,” Jason told his son. “But I’m pretty sure that your Mom wouldn’t mind giving you the game back.”
Elizabeth shot Jason a look of contention as she walked over to the bookcase and grabbed Cam’s videogame that she had put there. He was always making it come off as if she was the bad guy. She hated that about him.
“Who are you?” Jake asked Lucky as Elizabeth handed Cam his videogame.
“Remember Jake,” Cameron said cynically, “he’s the guy that’s taking Mom out on to eat.”
“But Mom can eat with us,” Jake piped up before looking at Jason. “Can’t she Dad?”
“Tonight is a guys’ night,” Jason told Jake. “So your Mom needs to occupy her time while we’re having a good time.”
Elizabeth gritted her teeth in anger, shooting daggers at Jason. He made her date with Lucky seem like she was using Lucky so that she wouldn’t be bored while they were gone.
“But he doesn’t look like he’s any fun,” Jake said eyeing Lucky.
“Jacob Martin Morgan,” Elizabeth said sternly. “That’s enough. Apologize to Mr. Spencer.”
“I’m sorry,” Jake said contritely. “But Mom always told us to tell the truth and I’m sorry but you just don’t look like you’re any fun.”
Elizabeth watched as Lucky’s face turned red with embarrassment before she looked at Jason who she could clearly see found the whole situation amusing. She knew he wasn’t going to be of any help so she knew she was going to have to take the reins of the situation.
“Okay,” she said. “That’s it. Cameron, Jake, and Jason. Good night. Have a wonderful sleepover. Lucky, we should be going. Our reservation is waiting for us.”
“Do you mind if I ask where you guys are going,” Jason asked nonchalantly, “Just in case one of the kids gets sick.”
“You have my cell,” Elizabeth said the same time that Lucky blurted out the name of the restaurant.
Jason smiled smugly as he began to lead Cameron out the house still holding Jake.
“Well you kids have a good night,” he told them, before turning to look at Lucky. “And you young man, make sure you have her home at a respectable hour. After all, she’s a mother. She needs to take advantage of moments where she can get her beauty sleep.”
Elizabeth watched them walk out the door, all the while gritting her teeth. She wanted to pummel Jason until he either begged for mercy or ended up in the hospital.
“So,” Lucky spoke up, breaking into her daydream of Jason laying bloody and bruised in a hospital bed, “are you ready to go?”
Elizabeth looked at her date for the night and pushed her anger down, forcing a smile on her face.
“I’m all yours,” she told him as they also made their way out her house.