He quietly approaches the playground with a feeling of excitement. A happy excitement. This time of day was generally his favorite, of course except when he didn't get the chance to have it. He opens the gate to the play ground and walks until he reaches a bench. He stops to talk to a young twenty-something woman with blonde hair.
"Where is she?" he asks with a smile on his face.
"She's over by the slide," she replies while pointing toward the slide.
"Thanks. I'll see you,"
"Have a good weekend,"
"You too," she smiles as she gets up off the bench leaving behind a messenger bag.
He picks up the bag, throws it over his shoulder and heads toward the slide.
"Finley," he calls out.
All of the kids continue to play.
"Finley," he repeats.
No one responds. He watches a little girl climb the stairs to the slide again. He waits at the bottom for her. He catches her when she comes down.
"Finley Grace why didn't you answer me?"
"Sorry. I didn't hear you," she admits as she brushes some hair out of her eye.
"Did you miss me?" he asks as he holds her hand as they walk away from the slide.
"Are you sure?"
"This much," she tells him as she reaches out her arms as far as she can.
"Will you pick me up?"
He nods. He bends down and picks up the petite three year old. She lays her head on his shoulder as they walk toward their destination.
"Is mommy home?" she asks.
"No. I don't think so,"
"Why does she always have to work so late?"
"So you can always have what you need,"
Finally they arrive at an apartment building. He uses his key to get in, and walks through the lobby to the elevator.
"Do you want to push the button?" he asks her.
She pushes the number 3 and the doors close. Finally the doors open on the third floor and father and daughter get off. They walk down the hall just a hair more than halfway and then stop. He uses his key to open a door to the left of him, never once putting the girl down. Once they get into the apartment he takes the girl to her room for her afternoon nap. He gently lays her down in bed and takes off her shoes. He tucks her into bed, and gives her a big kiss.
"Have a good nap,"
"When will mommy be home?"
"I don't know, but I do know the quicker you get to sleep the closer it will be to the time she gets home,"
"Sleep tight," he tells her as he shuts her door leaving it cracked so that he can hear her.
An hour later Finley is still fast asleep when her mother arrives home. She quietly enters the apartment and finds her husband in the kitchen cooking dinner.
"How was your day at work?" he asks.
"Ok I guess,"
"How was it really?"
"It was long, and these shoes are not comfortable at all,"
"Don't you know that by now?"
"Yeah. So is Finley still asleep?"
"Good," she sighs as she collapses on the couch.
He turns off the stove and puts the lid on the pot he was cooking in. He sits down next to his wife.
"How are you feelin' mama?"
"Tired," she admits.
"You're almost there,"
"Four more months until July,"
"Yeah only four, yesterday it was five,"
"Aren't you ready for a break?"
"So how's my son?"
"Quiet, unlike your daughter,"
"I think that he's going to be a lot more mellow,"
"I think that he'll be quiet,"
"Let's hope so. That girl came out talking,"
"She takes after you,"
"I'm sure," he sighs while furrowing his brow.
"Do you think that we can handle this?"
"What do you mean?"
"All of this. Family, and marriage, and keeping it quiet?"
"I mean it's worked so far I don't see why now would be any different,"
"I don't know. I just think that we owe it to them,"
"In order to protect our family we gotta do what we gotta do,"
"I know. But it's so hard not to share. I mean I want to tell everyone about her,"
"Do you think that she's going to be excited?"
"To be a big sister?"
"I think that she's going to be very jealous of someone else monopolizing all of your time,"
"But I hope that she'll figure out that her baby brother is a pretty cool cat,"
"I doubt it. I'm sure she'll ask why he doesn't do anything,"
"So are you sure on the name?"
"Yes I'm completely sure,"
"So you're definite on Landon Cassidy?"
"And you aren't going to decide on a name and then when you see him change your mind like you did with Finley are you?"
"No. You were right. I didn't like the name Ella for her. It's just didn't fit her personality,"
"I'm glad you changed your mind and didn't name her Ella Harper,"
"Because she's already got two last names she doesn't need a middle name that sounds like a last name,"
"So are you saying that his middle name shouldn't be Cassidy?"
"No. I like that name for him. I just never liked the name Ella Harper,"
"It was too girly,"
"She's a girl,"
"Do you like the name Landon Cassidy?"
"It's fine? You don't like it?"
"I didn't say that,"
"What do you want to name him?"
"I was thinking Jamal," he says to test her.
"You don't even like that name,"
"I know I was just testing you,"
"You'd think after nearly four years of marriage you would know me better,"
"I do know you. And I also know that our anniversary is on Monday,"
"What did you get me?"
"I can tell you,"
"Answer the question,"
"Mommy!" a little voice calls out from the doorway. Within seconds the girl is situated in between her mother and father. She snuggles up against her mother's chest.
"Will you braid my hair?"
Her mother quickly puts the girls brown locks into a braid. Without being asked her husband hands her a pink pony tail.
"There you go," she smiles at her three year old daughter.
"That you mommy," the little girl smiles back at her.
The little girl stares up at he with big brown eyes. Her mother pets her long, thick, semi-curly hair.
As their daughter sits on her mother's lap they hold one anther's hands. Neither wears a wedding band on their fingers. Hers is on a necklace around her neck hidden under her shirt and his is also on a chain around his neck.
"Did you guys put bad guys away today,"
"Uh huh," her mother answers her with a smile on her face.