Twice The Charm Ch. 04bycassandraharper©
Sharing wasn't an easy task and Scott wasn't making it any easier either. He left her with the biggest pangs of jealousy that she had yet to experience in her entire existence. And for the life of her, she didn't know if it was due to his attentiveness towards their daughter or his lack of attention towards her. Nevertheless, it was all working out for the past two and a half months, even with the high demands of her new job. Therefore, she shouldn't complain even if it was only inside of her head.
Scott opened the front door after Manni had rung the bell three times. He appeared before her disheveled and out of breath, but nonetheless appealing. "You're here already?" he greeted somewhat disappointed by her arrival.
Manni frowned up at him trying not to take it to heart. "I'm running late by two hours and you greet me with that? You're acting as if I purposely came early to cut your time short."
He stepped back giving her entrance into his two story home feeling his hands twitch with the need for skinship after a strong wind of her scent wafted to his nostrils. "Did you think about what we discussed the last time?" he asked redirecting his wayward thoughts.
"About Star spending the weekend with me," he clarified leading her into the living room where his mother was busily helping her make a bridge with her building blocks.
"How is she today?" Manni asked keeping her eyes focused on his fragile mother whose hands were trembling far too much to properly set down the letter block K.
"She was great. Ran around naked after her bath and I couldn't get her to put back on her underwear. I finally had to bribe her with a new book for her to put some clothing on," Scott reported with a warm smile.
Manni shook her head grasping his arm to lead him into the kitchen, not wanting her daughter to end her time with her grandmother. "I meant your mother, Scott. How is she doing? Is she getting better? The last time, you told me that her doctor was trying to convince you to hire an at home nurse."
He leaned his slender, tall frame against his counter pushing back a few locks of red hair. He looked stressed. "Mom is fine," he told her nodding his head before he had even finished his sentence. "She didn't try to bludgeon me with anything today so maybe I'm still in her head somewhere."
"Scott, you know if you ever need help with her, I'm here."
"No, I couldn't ask that of you."
"What are you talking about? You're acting as if we've just met. Have you forgotten that we were once engaged. Besides, we practically grew up together," Manni said not hiding the fact that she had taken offense to what he'd said.
"Which is exactly why I couldn't ask that of you. You know that my mother's pride is strong. She wouldn't want you to see her this way. I guess that it's a good thing that she doesn't remember you," he said on a weak laugh.
"Hell, she hardly remembers you either." They locked eyes for a brief instant until she looked away. She shouldn't have said that and she told him so when he had turned away from her. Manni reached for him bringing him back to face her then gently touched his cheek to give him comfort.
"Don't," Scott said gently grasping her hand to remove it from his skin.
"Don't do what?"
"Don't comfort me or I'll want more. I'll misunderstand your good intentions and I'll take advantage of you," he told her not breaking eye contact. "If you do this again, I won't be held responsible for my actions."
Manni cleared her throat, dropping her brown eyes down to the mixed colored linoleum tiles of his kitchen, burning red, beige, and black into her corneas. "Star can stay the weekend. I guess this works out great for the both of us since I have a photoshoot scheduled that I have to help out with. Not that I was going to say no if I had the weekend off."
"Thank you. It must be hard for you giving up so much of your time with her because of me."
"Scott, doing the right thing should never be hard....with that said, I should have taken my own advice long ago."
"Would you like to stay for dinner?" he asked knowing that she was about to get Star's belongings to leave. That was the part of the day that he hated the most. When she left. Not that he didn't want his daughter to stay either, it's just that he rarely spent time with Manni. And it was becoming harder and harder to pretend as if he didn't want to.
She shook her head apologetically, "I'm sorry, I still need to pack a few things for this weekend and I also need to call my parents and inform them that Star will no longer be going to their place. They'll be disappointed."
"Aside from being disappointed, how are they?"
"Angry," she told him truthfully. "You know that I don't hide anything from my parents, don't you?"
"So I take it that that they know the whole shabang?"
"Yup. My father wants a one on one with you, he swears that he's still a professional boxer. I told him that you could probably tip him over with your big toe so now he really wants a match," she teased giving him a small smile.
"I don't expect them to be happy with my sudden disappearance nor my sudden reappearance. Especially if they knew about how things ended between us. I would like to see them and clear the air if possible."
Manni gave him a wide-eyed look of disbelief. "Are you sure about that?"
"Yes. Now that I'm a solid part of Star's life, I think that it would be beneficial for me to have this conversation with your parents and beg or grovel, if need be," he said folding his sleek yet muscular arms across his chest. "I mean, I can say that I'm a solid part of Star's life, right? I am, am I not?"
Manni smiled nodding her head. "Yes, you are and you've earned it. I guess that we should head out and give you some time to get your work done."
"It's already been completed since before lunch time. I'm a fast worker, remember?"
"Even with that said, I need to get her home and get her fed then put to bed."
"Actually, do you know what I've been thinking of?"
"No," Manni answered shaking her head.
He looked at her wryly continuing his explanation despite her interruption. "I was thinking that Star could just spend the night on days when I pick her up. That way, you won't have to rush over in the mornings to send her off to school or at night when you're already as tired as it is. I'll feed her, bathe her, get her ready, and drop her off. All you'll have to do is get to work on time. I know that it could be a big change for the both of us, however; I was thinking that if things worked out better than planned this weekend, we could sorta make it official." He looked down at his feet like a shy teenage girl on her first date, hoping that she wouldn't flat out reject him.
"I don't see why not. I have to admit that it was getting a bit tiring having to drive all over the place and spending all of that gas money," Manni told him.
"Did you think that I would say no?"
"Kinda," he confessed nodding his head.
"Look, so far we've both been comporting ourselves as adults. Let's continue to do that. How will we know what will work or not if we don't take heed of each other's suggestions?"
"Valid point," Scott commented increasing his nods as if Manni were a politician and he was a hundred percent in aggreement with her candidate speech.
"I'll pack a bag of her things and bring them by next time--"
"Actually, I've got clothing of my own. I've been buying stuff since the moment you told me that she was mine."
"No," Manni corrected holding up a finger. "She is ours."
"Then I'll rephrase that. Since you told me that she was ours. At first I thought it was a bit ridiculous, but the more I thought about her and all the years that I had missed was the more I knew that I had alot to catch up on. And after a while, I couldn't stop myself from picking up things that reminded me of her. Her room is already fill with teddybears."
"She has her own room already?" Manni asked surprised.
"Yeah, I hired a decorator to come in and get the job done." She stared at him in amazement. "I told you, I couldn't stop myself."
"I'm not going to deny that I'm a bit wary and weary of all of this, but this is something that we have to do. I can't be selfish and keep her all to myself now that you're in the picture. I want to commend you on your efforts and um...I'm proud of you."
Manni ignored his smile that was turning her legs to jello and continued her train of thought before it disappeared. "If you would like, we can start this idea of yours next week. It would work well being that she will be spending the weekend with you. That way she'll be habituated to staying here." She cleared her throat exiting the kitchen to scoop her daughter up for a big hug then grabbed her things. "Say goodbye to Daddy and Grandma, baby. We have to go home."
"I'll see you soon," Scott told her raining kisses all over her face, while she giggled and tried to squirm away, before letting her go.
"So you pick her up from school this Friday and drop her off Sunday night. Ok?"
Scott nodded his head watching her gently hold his mother's hand and stroke her hair finally giving her a kiss goodbye on the cheek to walk towards the door. "Ok. And Manni."
"Yes?" she answered turning back to him though one foot was already outside.
"Thank you. I really appreciate this."
"I owe you, after all," she reminded him waving goodbye as she disappeared down his driveway to her car with their daughter then drove out of viewing distance. Scott heaved a sigh, leaning against his closed front door as he stared up at his ceiling. His thoughts all along were correct. He was still in love with Manni.