Over the next three days, there wasn't a waking moment when Deacon wasn't asking Erica about his new buddy Mark. From the time he woke up until the time he was tucked it, he managed to ask one hundred times when Mark was coming over to their house. Today was no exception.
"Mom, when's Mark coming over?" Deacon asked around a mouth full of pancakes.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," Erica said, hoping Deacon would forget his earlier question. Deacon swallowed audibly before continuing his questioning.
"You see him everyday, can't you just ask him?" Deacon asked. Erica sighed as she leaned against the sink. How could she possibly explain to a five year old how hard it was to have someone pop your perfect little bubble when you knew that everything would just end up badly. She knew he wouldn't do it on purpose, but if she let him in, Mark would destroy her and Deacon both.
She knew his type, knew about his man-whoring ways. And when he was done with a woman, he would just toss them to the side. She couldn't let the happen to her, and more importantly, she wouldn't let that happen to Deacon. He needed stability in his life, and she was going to make sure he had that as a promise to her sister.
"Mark has things he likes to do to. Sometimes he's just as busy as I am."
"Nu uh," Deacon interrupted, looking up at his mother.
"What do you mean "nu uh?"
"Mom, you're a heart doctor, he fixes people's faces, there's a difference," Deacon stated surely. Erica let out a slight chuckle at the five year old's audacity. He sure did pick up on her sarcasm.
"I'll talk to him today, but I can't promise anything."
Erica had literally gone out of her way to avoid Mark Sloan today, just so she could tell Deacon that she hadn't seen Mark without it actually being a lie.
She made her way over to the surgical board, checking out her schedule for the rest of the day. As she let her guard down for a split second, Mark was on her like a bee to honey.
"How's Deacon?" he asked her, his eyes trained to the board in front of him.
"He's great. He hasn't stopped asking about you," she said, not looking in his direction.
"I know you're not my biggest fan, but I really do like Deacon. He's a great kid," Mark said as he turned his body in her direction, studying her profile.
"Look, its not you, it really isn't. It's just... I need to keep some things constant in Deacon's life, and I can't have you coming in and turning everything upside down. There's a reason why I don't bring men in and out of my life," Erica said turning to face him.
"I'm not like every other guy you've met.""Oh come on, Sloan. I've heard about you."
"Just because you've heard something about me, doesn't necessarily mean its true. Let me prove myself. Go out to dinner with me," Mark said.
"I can't," Erica said as she started to walk away. Mark grabbed her arm, effectively stopping her in her tracks.
"Don't use Deacon as an excuse. Now, if that's the reason why, then drop it, go out with me. But if that isn't the reason, then I'll drop it,' Mark said. Erica looked up at him, her blue eyes meeting his.
"I'm free Saturday," she said before pulling out of his grasp and walking down the hall.
Erica smoothed the front of her dress as she looked at herself in her full-length mirror. She couldn't believe she was actually going through with this. Her heart leaped into her throat when she heard the doorbell, followed by the sound of tiny feet running across the floor.
"Mark!," Deacon yelled as he pulled the door open.
"Hey, buddy," Mark greeted, ruffling the boy's hair.
"I heard that you're taking my mom out," Deacon said, his arms folded across his chest as he looked up at Mark.
"Yea, is that okay with you?" Mark asked, smiling. Deacon was just as protective over Erica as she was with him.
"Don't tell her I told you, but I think she really likes you," Deacon whispered.
"Well, I really like her too."
They both looked up as Erica stepped into the main hallway.
"How do I look?" Erica asked, a light blush crawling over her cheeks.
"You look real pretty, mom," Deacon said as he walked over to her and pulled her down so he could kiss her cheek. She kissed the top of his head before standing back up and looking over at Mark.
"You look beautiful," Mark said, not attempting to hide the smile from his face.
"Thanks," she said, turning a brighter shade of red.
"Are you two just going to stand there all night?" Deacon asked, looking between the two adults.
"You, little man, need to be getting to bed. Brianna's already upstairs," Erica said, her color returning to normal.
"Aww, do I hafta?" Deacon pouted.
"Yes, now upstairs," she said, ushering the little boy up the stairs. She turned back to Mark when Deacon had disappeared into his room.
"You ready?" he asked, offering her his hand.
Dinner went a lot smoother than either of them had thought. Conversation came easily, and wasn't awkward between them. They found out they had a lot more in common than they originally thought. And for both of them, it was over too soon.
"I had a lot of fun tonight," Erica smiled as Mark led her to her front door.
"I had fun, too. See, I'm not so bad am I?" Mark asked as he leaned against the door frame as Erica pushed the door open and started inside.
"I wouldn't want to inflate your ego anymore," Erica said, offering him a smile. Her eyes locked with his and she could feel her breath hitch in her throat as he leaned in close to her. Her eyes fluttered close as his lips ghosted across her cheek.
"Good night, Erica," he whispered before turning and walking back to his car.