He sets the photo down and readjusts his hat. I’m trying not to cry but so desperately want him to remember my mom. “Please look again,” I beg, my voice breaking. “You would’ve met her in Florida when you were playing.”
He picks up the small photo again and studies it. I don’t know if it’s to appease me or if he’s really trying.
“She had the prettiest hair I had ever seen. I remember it was red.”
“Yes! Like mine, only darker.”
Wes nods, rubbing his chin again. “I called her Janie. I always wondered what happened to her.”
“What do you mean?”
He hands the photo back to me. “She disappeared on me. We were supposed to meet up one night, and she never showed. I was going to ask her to marry me.”
“You were?” My voice cracks. I’m trying to remain composed, but my emotions are getting the best of me. “Then how come you didn’t remember her when I showed you the picture?”
“I haven’t seen her face in a long time. It just took a minute to jog my memory. How is Janie?”
I lean back in my chair and wipe away my tears. “Janice, or Janie, she’s my mom.”
I nod and continue. “And she died a couple of months ago, and that’s why I’m here.”
His face turns to stone; his charisma is now gone. “You came to Boston to tell me that some girl I was in love with twenty-some years ago is dead? Why would you do that?”
“Because you’re my father.”
I let those words sink in before I risk looking at him. His eyes are wide and his head tilts from side to side. He looks at the picture again, then back at me. I feel insecure and start to question whether or not he’s truly my father. But deep down in my heart, I know he is because I can see him when I look in the mirror.
“Well, ain’t that something,” he says, leaning forward and taking my hand. “I have a daughter.”
* * *
My meeting with Wes ended up going better than I had anticipated. He didn’t question anything and didn’t accuse me of having ulterior motives. We talked about life, what I was like growing up, and how his baseball career never took off as a player, but he’s found his niche as a coach and manager. He apologized for not being there and added that I would’ve never been fatherless had he known.
I asked about his girlfriend, the one my mom spoke of, and he said he had fallen in love with my mom almost instantly and had broken things off with this girlfriend days after meeting my mom. He regrets not being able to say goodbye.
Deep down, I know my mother would’ve wanted this reunion, and part of me is angry that she never tried to make it happen. If she had made the effort, her life could have been filled with happiness, and I would have had a dad. But there isn’t anything that can be done to change the past. It is what it is, and now we can only move forward.
When Wes asked about my husband, I wanted to cry. I never thought I’d find myself in this position, yet here I am, in a similar situation to the one my mother went through. I’m not sure if I should call that irony or not, but it seems like the past is repeating itself. The one difference is that Cooper will know about the baby; what he does with that information will be up to him.
Wes stayed at the restaurant until I told him I had another meeting and prayed that he wouldn’t run into Cooper. I have no doubt he’d ask Cooper what he’s doing here. He’d be able to put two and two together easily, and I need to be able to tell Cooper without any outside interference.
Before Wes left, he told me that tickets will be available at the will call window if I want to catch a game while I am in town, and I was under strict orders, per my newly found father, not to leave without saying goodbye. That was something I could easily promise him.
My cheerful mood turned sour when I stood to meet Cooper as he came down the carpeted walkway toward my table. He was smiling until his eyes landed on my bulging stomach, and his steps faltered. Maybe I should’ve told him on the phone that I was pregnant, but the words weren’t there.
“It’s good to see you,” I say as he comes forward to kiss me on the cheek, always a gentleman in my presence. I sit back down, thankful that the table can cover my belly, and he won’t be inclined to stare at it.
“I only have an hour or so,” he tells me. “It’s game day, and I have to be on the field early.” His words are matter-of-fact. Cooper doesn’t want to be here. That much is evident by the way he looks at me.
I was a fool to think he’d be able to spare longer than an hour, leaving me no choice but to put us both out of our misery.
“As you can see, I’m pregnant.”
“Yeah, that was pretty noticeable. I hope you’re happy with him.” He appears to seethe as he leans back in his chair. There’s something different about him from the last time I saw him. He seems almost cocky, too self-assured. The man I knew questioned everything, and this one in front of me seems to have all the answers.
“The baby is yours,” I blurt out, never taking my eyes off of his. For my own peace of mind, I need to see his reaction, even though I have no doubt that it’ll break my heart. Of course I want the fairy tale. I want him to swoop me in his arms and profess his undying love, promising me a grand future, but that scenario is only a dream of mine. It’s not my reality.