“Um…yeah. I just need to use the restroom.” My dad lets me out of the booth, and I navigate my way to bathroom, ignoring the people who are trying to get my attention. As much as I have tried to put Ainsl
ey behind me, I’ve been unsuccessful. I’ve compared the few women I’ve dated to her, even though we’ve been over for months. But now that I’ve seen her name, I have to know what she wants.
I press her name on my phone once I’m down the hall and away from people.
“Hello,” she says in a voice that I’ve missed.
“Hi, Cooper.” Fuck, the way she says my name, it’s like it was yesterday that I had her beneath me, tangled in my sheets with my hands all over her body.
“Look, I know you probably don’t want to hear from me, but I’m in Boston and I need to see you.”
I don’t care what the reason is. I don’t care to know why she’s here. The fact is that she wants to see me, and I’m going to go.
As luck would have it, my father is Wesley Wilson, the current manager of the Boston Renegades, making him Cooper’s boss. I waited a month before I started to look for my father, and when I found him, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders while a boulder was sitting on my chest. The moment I saw his picture pop up in my search I knew. We have the same eyes, cheekbones, and smile. The only difference is our hair color, but there is no mistaking that this man is related to me.
And now I’m currently in Boston so I can meet my father. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but my expectations are low. I had to call the Renegades office to set up a meeting, using my position at the zoo to discuss the future of media day there. I need to see him, come fact-to-face with him, so I can at least say that once in my life I met my father.
I chose a restaurant close to the stadium so I could meet with him and Cooper, albeit at different times, and not mess up their schedule. Last night when I spoke to Cooper, I thought my heart was going to burst. I had a long spiel planned, promising that I would only take up a few minutes of his time, but he agreed so quickly to meet me that I stammered through my words, giving him the time and location before hanging up. I thought I would be okay, hearing his voice, but I’m not. I miss him. But I know that things won’t be the same for us. He’s likely moved on. I’ve seen pictures of him with different women, and having a pregnant lady hanging around will cramp his style. I’ll say what I have to and get on my way, letting him decide if he’s going to be in the baby’s life or not.
As for my father, it’ll be his decision, too. I can’t force a relationship, especially since I don’t know if I want one or not. I may meet him and determine that he’s an asshole and we’d never get along, except my heart is set on liking him, and I hate that it already seems to have made up its mind. Being here is such a risk, and any more rejection will likely send me into a tailspin.
I text Stella, letting her know that I’m at the restaurant and waiting for Wes. She begged me to let her come, but this is something I have to do by myself. My hand rests on my stomach, feeling the butterfly kicks that are currently going on inside. Finding out I was pregnant was a shock, but the real heartache came when I found out how far along I was. I had been neglecting my body and feared that I had hurt the baby, but all my tests have come back with glowing results, and the baby is thriving. I just wish my mother was here for all of this or that she at least knew before she passed that she was going to be a grandmother.
The hostess escorts Wes down the aisle toward my table. I know it’s him because he looks just like me and I him. He’s dressed similarly to the way Cooper dressed when I saw him away from the ballpark, with a red polo, khaki shorts, and a baseball hat.
“Mr. Wilson, I’m Ainsley from Naples Zoo. I was up in the area so I thought we’d meet and discuss next year’s plan.”
We shake hands, and he offers me the same smile that I’ve given him. “It’s nice to meet you.”
We sit down and give our drink order to the waitress: water for me, and a diet soda for him.
“I know that Cal Diamond used to do this event.”
“Actually, this year was the first. The turnout was amazing, and the children really enjoyed getting to know the players.”
“That’s great.” He lets out a chuckle mixed with a huff.
“Mr. Wilson, I’m going to cut to the chase.” I pull out a picture of my mother and him from the time they knew each other and slide it over to him. It’s a small snapshot that has faded over the years. “Do you remember her?”
He picks it up and rubs the scruff on his face. It reminds me of Cooper and the five o’clock shadow he always had.
“That’s Janice Burke,” I blurt out, not giving him a chance to answer me. “You are the Wesley Wilson that played for the Minnesota Twins?”
He nods. “I am,” he says, without taking his eyes off the picture of him and my mom.
“And that’s you in the picture?”
“It is.” He pauses, and I shake my head, growing frustrated. Why can’t he say something about the picture? About knowing my mom? I really wanted this to go smoothly and have a fairy-tale reunion, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.