I'm baaaaaaaaack...

"So what are you going to do about it?" Emily asks me as we sit with glasses of iced tea in her living room.

I shake my head. "Nothing. Pretend it isn't happening. Ignorance works well for me." We had decided to hang out and watch the Real Housewives show tonight. Guilty pleasure, so sue us. I love Emily's house; you'd never believe a psychology professor lived here. It's more suited for a frat boy or a bachelor pad; has big comfy furniture laid out in the living room, a big TV, and car stuff all over the place, car magazines stacked in the corner and some laid out on the coffee table. I love it. I have seen her office before and it's the complete opposite: totally organized with a big desk, some armchairs and tons of books, but it's the only spot in the house that seems serious.

"But this woman is going to be in and around Trenton."

"And? She's not my problem."

"Sure, except that he loves you and you're reluctantly in love with him and she was a contributing factor in the demise of your relationship. It sounds like she has him in her mind as some kind of goal."

I roll my eyes, "I don't love him. I loved him. Past tense. And I don't care what she wants. She can have him."

Emily doesn't respond but the silence is loaded. She scoots off the couch and onto the carpet where the babies that are crawling around our feet on the big blanket she spread over her rug. "Tove, why are you eating your fist? Silly boy!" She squeezes him and kisses his cheek. "You know," she says to me, "I'm going to offer this advice, which your stubborn streak will implore you to ignore. Maybe you should forgive the guy."

"I have forgiven the guy."

"No, you're pissed at him still but you're ignoring your anger, putting it on the back burner. But the problem is that you can't because you're stubborn and you can't get over him."

"I hate you," I scowl. "Stop shrinking me. I hate it."

She smiles kindly. "I know. Listen, I'm not saying to start a romantic relationship with him, but why not let the Lisa thing go? It has to be making this civil-for-the-sake-of-the-kids thing pretty hard."

It's been 2 weeks since Ranger told me about his 'friends' coming into town and the news has taken a noticeable toll on our friendship. I can't help but be bitter about it. I know Emily is right and I have no claim on the guy but let's face it: Ranger told me he loved me, got me pregnant then disappeared for almost 2 years with this woman and I heard him telling her I was nothing to him. And now she's back?! It's a bit tough to just 'let things go'. One thing is for sure – I can't ever be with the guy again no matter what he says. I don't trust him in that sense and no actions from him have proven me wrong so far.

I think he understands that but it's not like I can ever tell what he's thinking with his damn stoic faces. Not that I care...

What I would give for the ability to drown my anger in tequila right now.

"Anyway," Emily continues, "I thought you were going to tell me how things at the church went."

That earns another scowl from me, even though I'm grateful for the subject change. It seems getting a kid baptized in a Catholic church isn't as easy as walking in, pouring a bit of water over his head and walking out. There are about a hundred steps to take. "Well, first, they wanted to make sure I was Catholic, and they want records of my own baptism and my confirmation and they're asking details of my divorce. Then they asked about the father's religious history. I haven't gotten around to asking Ranger about that yet."

"Well, at least it will give you something to say to the guy."

"I talk to him on a regular basis."

"Like you talked to him before his confessed his undying love for you? You turn into a monosyllabic drone when you talk to him now. It's like your phone company is charging you by the word."

"Not to sound redundant, but I hate you."

Emily smiles again. "You'll thank me later."

"Don't be too sure about that. Besides, he's done the same thing to me for years now."

"Oh, so that makes it okay?" she says. "I'd say that you should call him now and put this whole awkward episode behind you but I'm predicting that you're about five seconds away from finding an excuse not to do that."

"It's late."

"Damn. That was only two seconds."

"Hate. You."

"No grandson of mine is going to wear black leather to his baptism!" My mother says with a stomp of her foot.

"So you'd have him wear a white dress? That's so boring! These are boys, they shouldn't wear dresses!" Grandma Mazur responds in a fury.

I don't think I can deal with it anymore. We're at the mall in a fancy baby store that has everything you could possibly want for your baby: toys, themed room sets, outfits galore and even what I can only imagine are Halloween costumes. I've given up on trying to referee between my mother and my grandmother as they pick out things for the twin's baptism. There are way too many choices in this store and my headache has been building since we got here an hour ago. The twins are asleep in their double stroller and I'm eyeing them with envy. I'd give anything to sleep through this torture.

"Mother, it's a traditional baptism ceremony that will be held in a church, not a biker bar." She adds two more white christening gowns onto the piles of nearly identical ones she is already carrying.

Grandma Mazur has slightly different taste. "Some traditions are meant to be changed. I don't think God will mind if we dress them like boys."

"Boys have worn gowns for baptism since the idea was created."

"They didn't have pants when the idea was created. Have you ever seen Jesus in trousers? No. Because they didn't have them back then. I'll bet if he was around today he'd put on a good pair of slacks."

My mom ignores her and lays out all her options across a stand, analyzing them all. "Come here, Stephanie. Which do you think suits them?"

I glance up at them both. "Oh, you want my input now?" I ask with an edge to my voice.

"Personally, I think the lace is nice," she says, oblivious to my annoyance.

Grandma Mazur rolls her eyes. "Sure, that works. And for a gift, I'll get them their first lipstick. We'll have little cross-dressers. Fun!"

I bite back a laugh in spite of myself. "I'm going to look around. You two keep up your shenanigans if you must." I leave the stroller in their capable hands and head out to the food court to get some coffee and a donut and walk back to the store leisurely while I fish out my cell phone.

"Hello?" Lula answers.

"Hey you. What are you up to?"

She sighs, "Trying to get Mooner into my car, but he can't be bothered to leave his playstation game."

"Did you bribe him with chips?"

"Mm-hm. He's got Fritos so he don't really care about my chips. You think I should use some chocolate?"

"Can't hurt."

"Hold on," she says to me before having a muffled conversation with someone on else. "Chocolate worked, but not until he finishes this round."

"Grab yourself a Sprite from the fridge and relax. That's what I used to do."

"Anyhow, what are you up to?"

"Oh, I'm at the mall."


I shake my head, "You didn't let me finish. I'm here with my mother and grandmother."

"Oh," She says in a much less enthusiastic tone. "What are you looking for?"

"Christening outfits for the twins. It's all going very well," I say sarcastically.

"Well, it sounds like you need to party."

I roll my eyes again, "Is that your answer for every problem? No, I don't."

"Oh. Well then it must be me that needs to party. We really need to go out soon but first I need to get some cash in my pockets. Want to help me bring in my last skip?"

"I don't know," I say, "I'm kind of tired and I really don't feel like being shot at or blowing up my car. Who do you have to bring in?"

"Bob Frodoman. Know him?"

"Name sounds familiar but no."

"I'll buy you dinner and drinks when we finally go out if you help me. I have to drop my car off at the mechanic's after I drop Mooner off."

Now, I feel really bad saying no because Lula could use the help but… "Not happening – especially not in my car. Not only do I have two babies, but I really like my car so I don't want it to explode."

Lula sighs, "Nothing will happen to your car. But, fine. I'll try to get him on my own. If I can't, I'll be asking for your help again. Man, I could really use a party."

I hear Mooner shout in the background, "Party? I could go to a party?"

"You ain't goin' nowhere if I don't get you in to reschedule. Get your ass in my car and we'll talk."

I can't help a grin. "Is he moving?"

"You bet your ass he is. I'll call you later to let you know if I'll need your help. Try to get a sitter."

"I'll try but I'm not promising anything."

When I get back to the store, my mother and my grandmother are surprisingly calm. "So? Did you pick one?"

My grandmother is standing in front of a line of identical white cloth. "How do you feel about a christening suit?!"

And here we go again…

"Hello?" I say as I pick up my phone.

Ranger's voice sounds annoyed on the other line. "You called?"

"Yeah," I say, thrown off by his mood. "We need to go over the baptism stuff when you get a chance. They gave me a bunch of paperwork for you to fill out and then we both have to go to the church and meet with the priest."


"I don't know, I haven't made the appointment yet but most likely sometime in the next month," I tell him. "I can have my mom drop off the paperwork tomorrow since she'll be babysitting and in your next of the woods."

"You don't come into Trenton anymore?"

I frown. "I'm so not going to RangeMan any time soon."

"Fine," he says after a while. "Tell her to leave it at the front desk." He doesn't give me a chance to respond before hanging up.

"What the hell?" I say to no one in particular. How did I become the bad guy here?

More coming up :)