A Broken Heart Ch. 03bycellophanesmile©
Heidi slipped into a tight red dress. It was one of the few dresses she owned, since she hardly ever had a place to wear them. She had gotten it for a friend's wedding, it was a splurge and she was glad she was having another chance to wear it.
"Mommy?" Fitzroy walked into the room as she was struggling to zip up the back. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going out to dinner, baby," she told him, picking him up and setting him down on her bed, "What do you think?"
"Mommy looks pretty," he told her happily, clapping his hands.
Heidi stared down at him. She loved him more than anything else in the entire world, but was she hurting him by not telling Jake about him? Jake could give him so much more, a nice house, a dog, college tuition. She couldn't risk it though, she couldn't risk losing him, or sharing him every other weekend. Fitzroy was hers and hers completely.
"Why are you going out?" he asked, picking at her bed spread and kicking his feet against the mattress. Heidi leaned close to the mirror to put her makeup on, watching him from in it.
"Just for fun. Mommies like to have fun sometimes too." Fun, ha, more like a nightmare.
"I'm gonna have fun too. I like Ginny," he informed her, referring to Fran's daughter of the same age as him. Fran had five children ranging from ages one to sixteen. This made Heidi feel guilty about giving her another one to watch, even for an evening, but Fran insists that one more doesn't really make a difference. Plus, she says, Fitzroy and Ginny keep each other entertained, and it's hard to even remember that they're there.
"I know you do," she said, glancing at the clock. She had to go drop Fitz off, then be back here before seven.
"Let's go now," she said picking him up off the bed and pushing him out of the room. "Where are your shoes?" she asked as she grabbed her keys.
"Right here," he said as he slid them on. He had just recently learned how to tie his shoes, and was now making a big production of it. He never let her tie them for him anymore.
"We're going to be late, sweetie," she said. Fitz stood up and walked out the door, Heidi following him.
"Fiz!" Ginny said running to the door when Heidi rang the bell to drop him off. The two children ran off together.
"Don't you look nice," Fran said smiling at Heidi, who hardly ever dressed up.
"Thanks for doing this. I'll be back as soon as I can," Heidi called over her shoulder as she rushed back to her still running car.
Fran was waving at the door as Heidi pulled out of the driveway. Almost ten to seven, she hoped Jake wasn't the kind to be early.
God, why was she even doing this? Heidi sped up the car as fast as she dared. All she had to do was sit through one dinner with him, that's all. She would nicely and politely tell him that there was no longer any reason to feel guilty, and that he should just kindly leave her alone. There was no need for things to get ugly.
Heidi ran up to her apartment and shut the door, and not a moment later, there was a nock on it. Heidi stifled a giggle at this perfect timing; she didn't want him to think she was crazy or anything.
"Hi," was all he said when she opened the door. What else did she think he would say?
"Hi." Heidi had the sneaking impression that he was waiting to be invited in, but she just didn't think she could risk it. What if he asked for a tour? What if he tried to find the bathroom and accidentally stumbled on Fitz's. And anyway, she didn't want to invite him in.
"I'm all set," she squeezed her way out of the door and locked it behind her.
"You look very nice tonight."
"Hmm?" Heidi questioned, looking up at him.
He cleared his throat, "I said you look very nice."
"Oh, thank you." Heidi stood waiting for him to lead the way, after all he was taking her to his car. He just stood waiting for her to go, though. Maybe he thought she should lead the way since, after all, it was her apartment building.
Heidi started to walk, but at the same time, so did Jake. Heidi stood back to indicate him to go first, and she rolled her eyes, wondering if the whole night would be like this. She was hiding with her annoyance, however, how she really felt. She thought he looked really nice that night, too. She was nervous and angry and strangely happy all at the same time.
Jake led her to his car, the same one he had been driving the other night. Heidi opened the door for her, and she felt like a phony. No one had ever opened a car door for her before, much less such a fancy car door. She just wasn't the kind of person that someone would open a car door for, and nor did she want to be that kind of person. She was strong and independent, and she didn't need a man. Jake was the kind of person who opened car doors, though.
Halfway to the restaurant, Heidi became painfully aware that neither of them had said anything since they had left her apartment. She had been too busy wrapped up into her own thoughts to worry about something to say, but now that she had noticed it, it was killing her.
Why didn't he say anything? He had asked her out, so it was naturally his responsibility to keep the conversation flowing throughout the whole evening, right?
"I hope you like Italian food."
Finally, she thought, and she was so relieved that she almost forgot to answer him.
"Oh, yes, that sounds perfect."
"So, what have you been up to since high school?"
"Oh, college, you know. I've just recently joined my father's company."
"Oh that's exciting."
Heidi couldn't believe the sad resignation in his voice. She had always pictured him has having his life all set, being happy he didn't have to work hard for anything, but he seemed to be unhappy with his life. She knew this shouldn't make her happy, but it kind of did. She guessed rich kids didn't always get what they wanted after all.
"You don't like your job?"
He shrugged. "No, not really. The sad part is that my father's not even pressuring me to take over the business or anything. I can do whatever I want. I just don't have anything I would rather do."
Heidi felt guilty about gloating inwardly earlier. It must take a lot for him to admit such an aspect of his life.
"And what about you? What have you been up to?"
"I've been working at the restaurant, you know," she sat bat a little in her seat and tried not to sound "too proud of herself as she said, "I've also just gotten my associates degree in business administration."
"Heidi, that's great!" he said with genuine enthusiasm, and Heidi felt even guiltier about being happy that he was disappointed with his job.
"So what are you planning on doing with that degree?"
"Well, I just got it, so I haven't really had a chance to look for a new job or anything yet. Once I find one, though, I'm planning on saving some money so I can one day own my own business."
"You sound like you've got it all figured out," he smiled over at her. Heidi couldn't help but smile a little back at him, she did have it all figured out. She felt like after all this time, her life was finally going the way it was supposed to.
"What kind of business are you thinking about?"
Heidi wasn't sure if he just wanted to keep the conversation rolling or if he genuinely cared about what she wanted to do with her life, and for some reason, it mattered to her which one it was.
"I was thinking about owning just a little store, maybe a used book store, or an antique shop."
"That's perfect. That sounds like you."
Heidi smiled inwardly at the compliment. To tell the truth, she had been a little bit worried about whether she would be able to pull it off or not, but now after talking to Jake, she was completely confident.
Jake pulled into a nice Italian restaurant, and Heidi didn't wait for him to open the door. She knew the place was more expensive than she could afford, and she wondered if he was expecting her to split the tab. After all, guys only paid when it was a date, right? And this wasn't a date.
"This is a really nice place," she said when they were seated.
"I'm glad you like it."
The menu didn't have prices. What kind of menu doesn't have prices, she wondered.
Jake and the waiter talked about wine for a minute and then he ordered a bottle.
"What are you looking at?" he asked her, while he glanced over his own menu.
"Oh, I think I'll just have a salad," she said, stressing out over the prices. If they didn't put the prices down, that could only mean they didn't want the customers to see them, and that could only mean that they were outrageously expensive. Or it could be that the people who ate here were so rich that they didn't bother with such crude things as the prices of meals.
"Don't tell me you're one of those girls who don't eat?" he asked in a teasing tone.
"I eat!" she denied.
Jake just chuckled and looked down at his menu. The wine came, and Jake automatically poured some into her glass. He better not expect me to pay for this, she thought grumpily.
"How do you like it?" he asked gesturing toward the wine, although it was obvious she hadn't drunk any yet.
Heidi picked up her wine glass and delicately sipped it.
"Very good," she said obligingly, although she didn't really know anything about wine.
"I don't really care about wine either," he chuckled, "To tell you the truth, I took a class just to know enough so I could get by ordering some at these fancy restaurants."
Heidi couldn't help but grin at him. "Most people are snobby about wine," she agreed.
"Even waiters," he added, leaning in a little closer to her and talking softer, as if some waiter might overhear and spit in their food or something, "They get so snotty if you don't know what kind to order. And then they insist that the most expensive bottle is the only one that will do what you ordered justice."
Heidi laughed. She didn't feel uncomfortable at all; it was like they were friends.
"You have such a nice laugh."
Heidi looked down sheepishly and refused to meet his stare, "Thanks," she squeaked out.
"I'm sorry if I'm making you uncomfortable. It's just that I'm having a nice time."
A tone in his voice made Heidi look up at him. His eyebrows were pushed together in the exact way Fitz's would go when he wanted to be completely earnest about something.
"Me too," was all she managed to say. If things continued like this, she might be persuaded to tell him about Fitz, but then what would happen? He would just be angry that she had kept it from him for this long, and he would have a right to be. No, she had to stay strong and keep her secret.
"What can I get for you?" a waiter came and asked politely.
Jake ordered a chicken pasta dish, and Heidi stuck with just a salad.
"What are you not hungry?" he asked.
"What is it?" Jake asked with genuine concern. "Do you not like Italian food? You should have said something, we could have gone somewhere else. We still can—"
"It's not that," Heidi cut him off, "I like Italian food."
"What is it then?"
"Well, it's just that I'll bet everything here is kind of expensive, and I really need to save my money right now."
Jake laughed, which made Heidi bristle.
"It might not seem like a lot to you," she spit out quietly but angrily, "But to me-"
"Relax," he told her, placing his hand on top of hers. "I just assumed you knew that of course I'll pay for you."
"But-" Heidi sputtered out, confused, "Don't guys only pay if it's a date?"
"And what do you call this?"
"This isn't a date!" Heidi said, completely surprised.
He pulled his hand off of hers. "Then what is it?"
"I don't know," Heidi said, groping for something, "Isn't it just two people saying goodbye?" That sounded right--dramatic and elegant.
"What do you mean saying goodbye?" he asked now, a questioning frown on his face. Obviously they had not been on the same page earlier, she thought.
"I don't know. Didn't you want closure or something?" she said helplessly.
He shook his head. "That was just something I said so I could get you to listen to me. Heidi-" and he stopped for a moment as if searching for the words he wanted to say, "I've thought about you a lot since high school ended. I know it might be unreasonable for me to ask you, but I thought we could get to know each other again. I thought we might start some sort of relationship."
Heidi stared at him in complete shock. She thought about earlier. One dinner, that was all. Now he wanted to have a relationship. She could hide Fitz for one dinner, but not for an entire relationship. So she had two choices here, either she could admit that she had lied about their son and agree to his plan, or she could tell him to get lost and go on with her life.
She knew she should do the latter. Everything was going so perfectly in her life right now. She had the most amazing son, wonderful friends, a degree, a plan, a future. Then on the other hand, the way Jake was looking at her was melting her heart...but did he really mean it? She could just be some passing fancy, a need to resurrect the past, which would soon pass.
"I don't know, this is all going so fast. I need more time," Heidi said hopelessly.
"Of course, of course," Jake agreed, gently. "It was unfair of me just to show up like this. I expected too much too soon out of you, we'll just take it slow. Okay?"
"You're not mad?" Heidi asked hopefully.
"No, of course not," he smiled gently, though a little sadly.
Could it be possible, Heidi wondered, that he actually liked her? She vaguely heard him call the waiter and order another dish of what he was having.
"I'm sure you'll like this," he said, resuming their dinner. Heidi couldn't believe that he could just calmly sit there and eat like that. What was he thinking? Wasn't this as strange and confusing to him as it was to her?
But of course it wasn't, he didn't know about one little boy who would complicate matters a whole lot.
"Heidi, are you okay?" he asked suddenly.
"Um, yes, why?"
"You just have this pained expression on you're face."
Heidi tried hard to relax her face. "Sorry, I'm fine. Um," and she racked her brain for something to talk about, "Remember high school?"
He grinned as if he knew she was just trying to change the subject, "Yes."
Now that she had brought it up, she needed something else to say about it. "What a time."
"I would have sworn that you hated high school."
How did he know? "Yeah," Heidi said sheepishly, "I was one of those moody teenagers who hated everything and everyone."
"I thought so," Jake said knowingly. "But you don't anymore?"
No, Heidi thought, having a child changed all that. "I think I was just going through a phase."
Jake nodded knowingly, "I think we can all relate to that, high school was a weird time for everyone."
"Not for you," Heidi announced, "You were on the swim team. You got perfect grades. I'm sure you loved high school. I'm sure you were one of those people who think they were the best years of their lives." As soon as Heidi said it, she felt really stupid. He was being so nice and considerate, and here she was judging him. And if that wasn't bad enough, she just told him that the best years of his life had past.
Though to Heidi's relief, he didn't seem that offended, he just grinned sheepishly like she was an old friend teasing him. "I think everyone thinks other people have it more put together than they do, but in reality, everyone is just lost and confused. I admit I was bit arrogant and a bit of a jerk in high school."
"And you're not anymore?" Heidi asked him teasingly.
"Oh," Jake said laughing, "You've become a bit sassy," he said smiling at her. "Anyway, now that I've admitted my past faults, you have to admit yours. It's only fair."
Heidi shook her head, "I've already admitted that I hated high school."
"Everyone hates high school, that doesn't count," Jake said, waving his hand dismissively.
"I don't know," Heidi shrugged, thinking about how hard it was for her back then, made worse by the people she was surrounded with. "I used to smoke."
"Yes, I remember," Jake said, "I'm glad you've given that up."
Heidi smiled shyly.
When their food came, Heidi was infinitely grateful that Jake had ordered a plate of past for her, it was delicious. They talked comfortably for the rest of the evening, and Heidi was surprised that the conversation flew so naturally. They carefully avoided the subject of how they first met and what happened that night, and Heidi was glad that they did. It was so easy to just forget the rest of her life and just be with him
That might be why at the end of the night she just threw caution to the wind and let him kiss her. He had gotten out to walk her back up to her apartment, and when he had leaned in, he gave her more than enough time to refuse the kiss. He gently kept his face close to hers, slowly leaning in so that she would be more than aware of his intention.
And Heidi, despite herself, rose up to meet the kiss. It was hesitant and sweet. At first all that touched were their lips, but then Jake lifted a gentle hand to press against her waist. He didn't put any pressure on her, just let it rest there against her skin.
After a moment, Heidi pulled back, feeling a bit light headed.
"I'm sorry," Jake said, not sounding sorry at all, "I know I said we would take it slow."
"That's okay," was all Heidi could think to say.
"I'll call you and we can do this again?" he asked her hopefully.
No, Heidi thought. She had promised herself earlier that this would be the only time. "Yes," was what her lips said, though.
"Goodnight," he pressed a brief kiss to her lips before turning and leaving the building.
Heidi unlocked her door and stepped inside. She couldn't believe that just happened, and as she couldn't suppress a squeal of delight, she felt like a teenager again.
She waited a few moments until she was sure he had enough time to drive out of the parking lot, and she left her apartment to go pick up Fitz.