Mark walked into his house and called out. "Sloane?" "Are you awake?" asked Mark. He glanced at his watch and realized that it was 6:00. He needed to get a shower and get ready to head over to Callie's house for dinner.
Sloane walked into the living room from the kitchen. "Hey! I was wondering when you would get here." "Callie called earlier and asked if you told me about dinner at her house." "I told her that you woke me up early this morning to tell me about dinner." said Sloane. "And by the way she thinks you are crazy too." "Oh I got a couple of letters from some of the colleges I applied to." "I was thinking we could open them over at Callie's house." said Sloane with a worried smile.
Mark smiled and said "I just wanted you to be ready for dinner tonight. I didn't know what time I would make it home from the hospital." "And since Sophie is joining us for dinner it can't be too late." He smiled and said "I am sure you got into all of them kid." He said "Okay it is time for me to take my shower." Mark headed to his room and showered. He looked at his scruffy face and shaved. Mark walked out of his bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist and got dressed. He put on the cologne that Callie bought him. Mark found himself wearing it all the time. He often wondered if she noticed that he wore it all of the time. Mark finished getting dressed and grabbed his wallet and keys. He walked out of his bedroom.
Sloane smiled and said "I am ready to go. You do not have to ask me again." Sloane walked out of the house with Mark and climbed into his car. She put on her seatbelt and moved in the seat uncomfortably. The closer she got to her due date the more agitated she became.
Mark drove them to Callie's house. "So is there a school you are leaning toward more than the others?" "I'd really like you to go to University of Washington." said Mark with a chuckle.
"I really want to get into the University of Florida." "I feel like it would be a great place for me to start over. You know just because I might go far away for college…I will still come back to visit." "Thanksgiving, Christmas, some random weekends."
He chuckled. "I know that you will come to visit but it won't be the same. But I want for you…whatever you want." Mark pulled into Callie's driveway. "Okay we are here." said Mark. Mark turned off the car and chuckled seeing Sophie's little face in the window.
By the time Mark and Sloane were walking up to the front door it was already swinging open. "Hi!" said Sophie standing at the door with Callie.
Mark laughed and picked her up. "Hi munchkin. Were you good for your mommy today?"
Callie chuckled and said "We discovered that drawing with markers on the wall is a bad thing." Callie kissed his cheek. "Hi Mark." "Hi Sloane." "Come in dinner is ready and waiting. I am sure you are both hungry."
Mark closed the door behind him and locked it. "Aww munchkin. Writing on the walls already?" He chuckled and said "Was it at least pretty?"
"Was?" asked Callie. "It is still on the wall. I haven't been able to get it off yet." "I might have to repaint that area."
Sophie said "But I made a pretty picture for you Uncle Mark."
Mark smiled and said "Well, I am sold…let's see this picture."
Callie laughed and shook her head. "You are not helping the situation Mark."
Mark grinned at her and said "I try to help when I can but how can I resist a picture made by Sophie?" "Sophie this is my daughter Sloane." "Sloane this is Sophie."
Sophie looked up at Sloane and said "Hi!" "You want to play with my dolls?"
Sloane smiled and said "Hi Sophie. Maybe we can play dollies later okay?"
Sophie smiled and said "Okay."
Callie looked over at Sloane. "How are you feeling today?"
"Come on! We gotta see my picture. It is pretty." said Sophie.
Mark chuckled and said "Sorry Cal I have to see this picture." "Come on Soph show me the picture." Mark set Sophie down on her feet so that she could lead the way.
Sloane watched them run off and laughed. "I am feeling like I am ready to pop. It feels like I have been pregnant forever. Some days it feels like I will never stop being pregnant. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do once the baby is born…I think I want to give the baby up for adoption…but I am scared that…my dad will change the way he feels about me if I do. I know how much he wants me to stick around and raise the baby…but this is my chance you know? Is that selfish? "
Callie chuckled and walked with her into the living room. She picked Nicolas up and rocked him. "This is Nicolas. But I just call him Nicky and so does Sophie." "Well, I know it seems like a long time right now but these last few weeks will fly by and you will be ready to give birth before you know it." "Has Mark talked to you about college?" "Sloane you are not being selfish. You are 18 years old and you have so much life ahead of you. You just want to be able to live it. And Mark loves you he isn't going to turn his back on you just because you make the choice that is best for you. He is your dad he is always going to love you."
Sloane had a seat on the couch. "Oh yeah…he has made it clear that he prefers University of Washington but would settle for anything on the west coast. I want to make him happy because he has been there for me. I mean when my mother threw me out I didn't know what I was going to do." "But at the same time I want to be able to spread my wings and enjoy college life. I want to go somewhere sunny where no one knows me and I can be whatever version of myself I want to be. A different version than I have been."
"Well, that is understandable. I am from Miami and I love my family but I like being here in Seattle. I like who I am here. I have this life here and I don't have to accommodate anybody's expectations. It is a freeing experience. Mark is going to love you no matter what you decide to do. That isn't something you have to worry about. He adores you Sloane. You know…he had a pretty bad childhood. He never really had a family of his own...you are his family now. He is just a little scared of losing that." said Callie.
Sloane smiled and said "Well, I like to think that we are a little family. We spend more time over here than we do at his place. I brought a bag just in case you guys decided that he was staying over. I think the two of you love each other more than either of you are willing to admit. You might as well be my step-mother."
Callie smiled a little. "Well, Mark is a good man. He tries to be at least and I think…that is what counts. Some men are naturally good men…and that is easy enough. But you have to admire a man that has demons but struggles against them to be the best version of himself that he can be." Callie looked surprised at the step-mother comment.
"Don't look so surprised. Whenever something goes right or wrong with me…you are the first person he calls." "When my dad can't make it to my doctor's appointments you make sure you are there and then the two of you discuss how it went. I brought my college acceptance letters over here so we could open them as a family. What more do we need to be a real family?" asked Sloane.
"I guess you have a point there. I had not really thought about it. I care about your father a lot. He's helped me through a lot of hard times. And you are very important to me too. So in a way we are our own little...dysfunctional family." said Callie.
"Aren't all families dysfunctional?" asked Sloane.
Callie laughed and said "That is definitely true. I know my family is."
Mark and Sophie came back into the room. Mark chuckled and said "I am going to have to repaint that wall but the munchkin and I had a good talk about where we should draw from now on."
Sophie said "I should draw on paper so that you and Uncle Mark can take them to work."
Callie smiled and said "That is exactly right. So Sophie no more writing or drawing on the walls, please."
"Okay mommy." said Sophie. "Is it time for dinner? My tummy says it is hungry."
Callie laughed and said "Alright, we can have dinner." Callie put Nicolas in his play pen and took the baby monitor with her and they all went into the kitchen.
Callie, Mark, Sloane, and Sophie had dinner and dessert together. Afterward Callie excused herself to get Sophie and Nicolas ready for bed. She came back downstairs and went into the living room where Mark and Sloane were waiting for her. Callie had a seat on the couch. "So are we ready to open these letters?"
Sloane smiled and said "I am nervous."
Mark wouldn't admit it but he was nervous too. The idea of Sloane going far away to college didn't sit well with him. "Well there is no time like the present." Mark reached for the four envelopes sitting on Callie's coffee table. Mark handed them to Sloane.
Callie looked over seeing the look on Mark's face and reached over taking his hand. She gently squeezed it letting him know that she was there for him.
Sloane opened all of the envelopes and read the letters inside. She looked up with a grin. "I was accepted to all of them!" said Sloan excitedly."This is so awesome. I was worried that none of them would let me in!"
Mark chuckled and said "I knew that wouldn't be the case. You are smart kid." Mark got up and hugged Sloane. "I am so proud of you."
Callie smiled and said "Congratulations Sloane. I am proud of you too. You are going to be amazing at whatever school you choose."
Mark sat back down with Callie and this time took her hand. He squeezed it.
Sloane looked between them and said "I think…I really want to give the baby up for adoption. But I want to make sure that he ends up with a good family. A family that I know will love him and always be there for him." Sloane looked at Mark. "I'd really life for you to adopt the baby…give him a good life. Knowing that he is okay and loved…will make starting my new life easier."
Mark look shocked. "I thought…I thought you wanted to let someone you didn't know adopt him?"
"I changed my mind…he should be with family…you are my family…you are his family. And maybe when he is old enough to understand it…you can tell him about…who I really am…I don't want to give him to strangers. I want to be able to keep track of him growing up…I just can't raise him myself." said Sloane. "So…will you adopt him?" asked Sloane
Mark blurted out. "Of course I will." In the back of his mind he was wondering how he would be able to pull this off. He was a single man that worked as a surgeon. He would be living alone once Sloane went off to college and he didn't want his grandson…son being raised by a nanny. Mark's mind was racing but in the fog of all that he felt something on his hand. He looked down and realized that it was Callie's hand. Callie had laced their fingers together. And in that moment that simple gesture made him believe that he could do this.