There is nothing like waking up to someone for the first time. I wake up to find Jamie’s left arm flopped over my stomach protectively. He was still asleep. He looks like a larger, more handsome version of Pete. I lay there quietly, not wanting to wake him hoping to drink in at least five more minutes of him.
Last night wasn’t crazy–it was familiar. It was like finding someone in the night and coming home to them. It had all been far more gentle than I was expecting, but it was lovely and safe. We were still getting to know each other, there was plenty of time for wild and crazy sex later on.
I tried to stifle a giggle, but it was too late. Jamie yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“Morning,” he mumbled.
“Morning, ” I replied through a grin and curled up on his chest. He bent his neck in such a way that he could kiss my forehead.
“That was nice, last night,” he started.
“Yes, really nice,” I purred.
He traced delicate circles on my back with his left fingers. We lay there in silence, in stillness for several minutes.
“Come on,” he said suddenly. “I’ll get coffee going.”
He left for the kitchen and I bent down, retrieving my clothes, piece by piece, from the floor below. I got dressed and then went in search of my duffel bag to get new clothes for the day. There was no way Isabelle was going to see me in the same clothes as last night.
I went into the small bathroom and brushed my hair and teeth, throwing on a little bit of makeup. I threw on an outfit from my bag that was my most “librarian-y” for Pete’s benefit.
I had fallen asleep in my contacts, which were now suctioned onto my eyeballs. It took some doing to pry them off, but eventually, success! I riffled through my bag to find my glasses. Looking at myself in the mirror, I felt very academic.
I surveyed the bathroom. I liked this part of getting to know someone–seeing what shampoo they used, how they stacked their toilet paper, whether or not the guest towel was clean. The bathtub was populated with Pete’s bath time toys: boats, pirates, airplanes, water guns. There was an adult sized toothbrush in the toothbrush holder, right next to a child-sized one in the shape of a rocket. I picked up the rocket toothbrush and held it for a moment. Then I made rocket noises and flew it around the bathroom, making myself giggle yet again.
“Hey, that’s my toothbrush!” came a groggy voice in dinosaur pajamas.
“Oh, hi, good morning, buddy–of course, here you go,” I said hastily, taking it as my cue to exit.
I secretly watched as Peter meticulously frosted his toothbrush with toothpaste and adamantly brushed his teeth until his mouth foamed. I had never really thought about having children, but watching Peter, I felt sure that I could get used to having this specific kid in my life.
I put my bag in Jamie’s bedroom and followed the smell of bacon and eggs into the kitchen.
Three plates were being filled with scrambled eggs, crisp bacon and toast. Jamie had poured coffee for us and orange juice for Pete. I helped carry everything over to the dinning room table. This place felt like home, and I had a firm sense that I belonged here.
“Pete, breakfast!” Jamie called.
Dino PJs joined us at the table and it felt as though we had always been a unit of sorts. Maybe not a family unit, but something more fun like the three musketeers or the three stooges.
“So, buddy, are you ready for the field trip?” Jamie asked.
“Of couse, now that I have a real librarian with me.”
He looked in my direction and beamed proudly.
“Happy to help,” I answered, devouring my eggs. Jamie was an awesome cook.
“And then what happens after school?” Jamie asked, carefully.
“You and Dorothy will pick me up and then we’ll have dinner with mom. And then I’m going to stay with her for the weekend, but she’ll bring me to the theatre for my shows and will watch them, maybe.”
“And you’re ok with all of that, buddy?” Jamie was obviously concerned. Isabelle was a bit of a wild card, and Jamie was working pretty hard to keep Pete in a regular routine. But Pete didn’t seem to fazed by this new plan for his weekend.
“Yep. It will be fun. Can I have a snickerdoodle with my breakfast? Please?”
Jamie smiled and said, “Coming right up!”
The Lanesboro Public Library is nothing spectacular. It is one of the biggest buildings in the town, built in the seventies and has that classic older library feel to it. I didn’t know what I could add to this field trip for Peter, as the kind librarians had their field trip tour down pat. We toured the entire library, but spent most of our time in the children’s section of the library. They explained how anybody could get a library card and the number of books or movies you could borrow at a time.
Pete held tightly onto my hand the entire tour, as if he secretly possessed the key to what everyone else was missing in library knowledge. Me. A real librarian. Of course, the librarians giving the tour were as “real” as I was. They had to go through library science graduate programs as well. Although, judging by their age and demeanor, that was probably several years before I received my degree.
At the end of the tour, I helped Pete fill out his library card application and, once accepted, I helped him choose a few books to take home.
“I’m so glad you were here for the field trip. I wanted to have an authority in case they got anything wrong.”
I smiled and gave him a big hug. Jamie rolled his eyes.
Peter needed to get in line and join the rest of the class. We waved our goodbyes.
Jamie turned to me.
“Do you want to go over a game plan for tonight?”
“Do you think we need a strategy? I was just going to try and be nice.”
“Isabelle is…let’s just say she’s hard to be nice to. If you have any questions before we go into battle, I’d be glad to answer them for you.”
We left the library, hand in hand, and I began to think of questions that might be relevant to have before dinner tonight.
“Well, for starters, are you two divorced?”
“We haven’t lived together since Peter was two, and I’ve filed the paperwork, but she keeps stalling.”
“We can’t come to an agreement with the parenting plan. She thinks that it should be fifty fifty, but I can’t agree to that. She travels so much, and I don’t want to make Pete fly to a different place every month. We try to negotiate, but we always end up at a stalemate. So there’s no official custody arrangement. Which is why she shows up unannounced a couple times a year and demands to see him.”
“Wow, that’s rough.”
“Tell me about it. I try to emphasize the importance of stability to a kid his age, but she won’t buy it. She was a child actor, for commercials and things and she thinks she turned out just fine, and doesn’t see why Peter can’t have the life she did. She always tries to get him into auditions when she has him. I mean, Tiny Tim in Christmas Carol is one thing, it hasn’t really messed with his schedule and he really wanted to do it. Being an actor is not the easiest lifestyle. If he wants to do that with his life, I would totally support it, but I want him to be old enough to really make that decision for himself instead of having some stage mom foist it upon him.”
“That’s really fair. Have you thought about bringing in a lawyer to help mediate this?”
“Isabelle fights dirty. I’m afraid that she would bring in some big guns from LA or something and fight for full custody out of spite.”
“She’s really a piece of work. I have no idea how she could leave a kid as amazing as Peter. It shows a lack of heart.”
“Yes, it does.”
There is an awkward silence. We have gotten into dangerous territory. I take it upon myself to lighten the mood.
“So, we have some work to do. We need to get our stories straight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I told Isabelle that I was your girlfriend. We should probably create a backstory that’s longer than a week.”
“Pete has only known you for a week, he’s not so hot at keeping a secret.”
“We can say that we decided that it was important that we waited for me to meet Pete until we knew that we were really serious.”
“Are we what?”
I look up into his green eyes and gently take his face in my hands.
“Jamie, I drank scotch last night and kicked your almost ex-wife out of your house saying it was ‘our home.’ I have just gone on my first kindergarten field trip. If that isn’t serious, I don’t know what is.”
We both smile and he encircles me in a powerful bear hug.
“You really are amazing.”
“I know,” I chirp contentedly. “Now, how did we first meet.”
“Yes, I think that will still hold up, but it should be earlier, like two months ago.”
“So in September?”
“Sure, maybe opening convocation or something–are you religious? I didn’t even ask.”
“No, not so much.”
“Yeah, me either. I kind of avoid the religious stuff on campus. Hm…We could say we met at the library? I was working the reference desk and you came and asked me about…”
“Samuel Beckett. He wrote Waiting for Godot? He’s one of my favorite playwrights.”
“Ok, sure, Beckett. And I helped you check out some material about Beckett and you ended up checking out the librarian as well!”
“Sounds good to me.”
“So, does she know anyone you work with. At the theatre?”
“Not well. Why?”
“Well, if she’s trying to poke holes in our story, she might ask around. Maybe we could pick up donuts or something and you can introduce me around the office as your girlfriend?”
“That’s a really good idea.”
“I know. I’m full of them.”
We continue our walk down Lanesboro’s main street, in search of pastries and a fool-proof relationship story to fool even the most devious of actresses.