Chapter 104


The next morning, Tess strolls into the kitchen. There's a bouquet of long stem red roses sitting on the kitchen table with a note. Tess picks up the note. "Sorry about last night. Let's go to the Outer Banks next weekend. We'll take Brayden. He'll love to watch the wild horses on the beach. Love-D.

Tess grabs a pen and scribbles on a piece of paper. "Sorry, I'm taking Brayden to LA to meet his father. I'll talk to you when I get back."

Regardless of what happens with Chase in LA, Tess is planning to break up with Damien after the way he behaved last night. She can't have a man like that influencing her son, she tells herself before putting the pen down.

Brayden runs out of the bedroom now. "Mornin', momma. Where's daddy?" Brayden rubs his eyes.

"He went to work."

"Did daddy give you those flowers?" Brayen leans in to sniff a rose. "They smell good."

"Yes, he did give me the flowers." Tess responds.

"Why?" Brayden asks.

"Because he did something that wasn't very nice last night and sending flowers is daddy's way of apologizing to me."

"Oh, what did he do?" Brayden asks.

"Never mind what he did, Bray-Bud. Come sit with me; I need to talk to you." Tess puts the flowers down and strolls over to the sofa.

"What, momma?" Brayden follows his momma. She sits down and scoops him up onto her lap.

"You and I are going on a little trip." She tells him.

"Where?" Brayden asks.

"We're taking an airplane to Los Angeles today to visit grandpa."

"What about daddy?"

"Daddy is going to stay here." Tess swallows. "But that's the other thing I need to tell you. You have another daddy who lives in California."

"I have two daddies?" Brayden looks up at his momma, surprised.

Tess nods. "Yes."

"Why do I have two daddies?" Brayden asks.

Tess swallows while thinking how to explain this to a four year old. "Because you're lucky." Tess tweaks his nose.

Brayden looks at her with wide, bewildered eyes. "Oh," he thinks a minute before asking. "Do other kids have two daddies?"

"Some kids do." Tess explains. "Some children have a daddy and a step- daddy. Damien is your step- daddy. Your bio daddy lives in California, near grandpa."

"What's my bio daddy?"

"Your bio daddy is the daddy who made you with me. But he lives far away so Damien took his place as your daddy."

"Oh." Brayden tries to process this information.

Tess adds "And they both love you bunches, so you see, you're a lucky little boy." Tess tousles her son's hair, hoping she's making sense to him.

"That's nice but I only want one daddy. I like my daddy. He's a good daddy."

Tess takes a breath. "Your other daddy is a great guy. You're gonna love him."

"What's his name?" Brayden asks.

"His name is Chase and we're going to see him when we go to Los Angeles. He lives there. Do you understand?"

"But I don't want a new daddy. I don't wanna go on an airplane to meet him." Brayden pouts.

Tess cups Brayden's chin in her hand and lifts it so she can look into his eyes. "I know it's hard to understand, Bray-Bud, but I want you to meet Chase. He can't wait to meet you."

"I like my daddy. I don't wanna meet Chase." Brayden pleads.

Tess squeezes Brayden's hand now. "Let's just meet him Bray-Bud. I promise you that you'll like him. He's a very nice man and he loves children." Tess tweaks Brayen's nose again in an effort to cheer him up but it doesn't work.

Brayden screws up his face. "I don't wanna go." Brayden folds his arms against his chest. "You can go. I wanna stay home with daddy."

"Daddy has to work, Bray-Bud." She tickles Brayden now to try and make him smile. "I promise you we're going to have fun in California and you're going to really like Chase."

Brayden giggles a little now from his momma tickling his belly. "Do you like Chase?"

Tess chuckles at that. "Of course I like Chase. I wouldn't have you if it wasn't for him. We had to like each other in order to make you."

"How come I don't know him?" Brayden asks.

"Because momma left Los Angeles while you were still in my tummy so your daddy never got to meet you, but he's real excited to meet you now."

Brayden concedes, "okay, I'll meet him if you want me to, momma, but I still want Damien to be my daddy. I like watching the Brave's games with him and he's my t-ball coach."

"Okay, Bray-Bud." Tess pats his knee. "We need to get ready for our trip. Go brush your teeth." Tess watches him run into the bathroom. This is going to be a lot harder than she thought. Tess picks up the phone to call Chase.

"Hello?" Chase answers the phone.

"It's Tess; I just wanted to let you know Brayden and I are flying into LA later today. We should get there around 9 pm."

"Good. I'll pick you up at the airport. I can't wait to see you both." Chase smiles into the phone.

"I don't think that's a good idea. It'll be past Brayden's bedtime. He might be cranky. My dad will pick us up." Tess is worried about how Brayden will react to meeting Chase for the first time. She wants it to be a good experience. "How about we meet tomorrow afternoon? This way Brayden can meet you after he has a good night's sleep."

"Tomorrow afternoon will be fine." Chase agrees.

Tomorrow is a Sunday, Chase has been going every Sunday to visit Michelle's grave at the cemetery for the past month. Chase is aware Tess doesn't know yet that Michelle passed away. Maybe if he shows Tess Michelle's grave she'll be able to forgive her for holding onto the letter. "Can you meet me at 2pm at the cemetery?"

"Which one?" Tess thinks it's odd he wants to meet at a cemetery.

"Falcon Pointe. It's the one that has a large park and playground bordering it on the street."

"That's fine." Tess wonders why they don't just meet at the park but she chooses not to challenge it.

"I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at two."

"Same here." Tess says before hanging up.


It's after midnight, Charlotte can't sleep after Chase just gave her the news about meeting Tess and Brayden at the cemetery tomorrow. Charlotte thought it was a strange place to meet but Chase explained that the kids could play at the park next door while he talked to Tess. He asked Charlotte if she would bring Harper and the boys along to help melt the ice with Brayden. Charlotte pulls her robe on and makes her way into the kitchen. She's surprised to find Ruby sitting at the table eating a piece of chocolate cake.

"I didn't know you were officially moved in yet?" Charlotte asks.

"It was late when the movie Drew and I were watching ended. He said I could stay in Andies's old room instead of driving home so late on my own."

"Does your father know that you're staying here tonight?"

"My father's in New York on business. He has no idea where I am tonight."

Charlotte can't help but feel sympathy for this girl who tricked her son into becoming a father. She doesn't like it but at the same time she understands it. This girl is screaming out for someone to love her.

"What are we eating?" Charlotte looks at the rich desert.

"Chocolate Blackout Cake. I had a craving so Drew and I picked it up at the market earlier. Care to join me in a bite?"

Charlotte reaches for a spoon and digs into the cake. "This is just what I needed."

"What are you doing up so late?" Ruby asks.

"Excitin' day tomorrow; meeting another grandchild of mine."

Ruby takes another bite of cake. "I heard Chase had a son, how exciting for you."

"Thank you." Charlotte nods her head. "How are you doing?"

Ruby licks her spoon and she looks like a little girl to Charlotte when she does, a lonely little girl. "I've decided to attend that school Andie told me about the other day. I faxed my dad the papers to sign."

'That's great." Charlotte takes another spoonful of cake.

"Thank you for letting me stay with your family while I'm pregnant." Ruby takes a sip of milk. "I promise not to be a bother."

"You're not a bother. I kinda like having you around." Charlotte licks the icing off her spoon. "I'm outnumbered by all the testosterone in this house."

"Really?" Ruby seems truly surprised. "You don't hate me for getting pregnant and making your son a father before he turns seventeen."

Charlotte responds. "It wouldn't be the first time it happened around this house."

"Drew doesn't know how lucky he is to have you and Dr. Cooper for parents." Ruby looks directly at Charlotte.

"You have us too, Ruby. We're here for you too."

Ruby swallows and feels the tears come to her eyes. This is all she needed to hear. "Thank you, Dr. King."

Charlotte stands up to bring the dishes to the sink. "Call me momma, if you like."

"Yes, I like that." Ruby looks at Charlotte. "Thank you...momma." Ruby tries it out.

"Goodnight, Ruby." Charlotte gives her a soft kiss on the top of her head before heading back upstairs to the bedroom. She doesn't think she did much but she changed a lonely girl's world tonight.


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