Chapter 13: Mid-day Conversations

I carefully lifted Lily into the child seat of the grocery cart. My mother had left her car and a list of groceries, and after spending most of the morning with Lily, I decided to take her out for a couple of hours.

By the time I placed her diaper bag and my purse into the cart, there was little room for groceries.

Lily immediately began to fuss, which I was immediately prepared for. I removed a stuffed pink elephant from her diaper bag, and a plastic baggie filled with graham crackers. I placed one in her hand, and she was immediately distracted.

Even so, I knew this was going to be a short shopping trip.

As I wandered down the first aisle, I removed the mangled shopping list that my mother and I had hastily put together.

I knew I was jumping the gun with this shopping trip; there was still a couple of days worth of food in the house, but keeping myself busy kept my mind off of what was going on between Isaac and I.

To make matters worse, Taylor’s check was still sitting in the top drawer of my dresser, waiting for me to muster the courage to cash it.

I needed the money, and entirely understood Taylor’s motives; he was only trying to help in the only way he could without his wife knowing.

I grabbed an arm load of random items from the shelves, watching Lily carefully.

She was looking around eagerly, trying to take in her new surroundings. However, the cracker in her hand was not forgotten, it was still partially shoved into her mouth; although she appeared to be merely sucking on it.

“Lily? Do you think we should get some animal crackers?” I asked, showing her the bright yellow box.

“No!” She cried, but took the box from my hands and dropped it eagerly into the cart with a giggle.

I laughed and kissed the top of her head. “You’re silly.”

I grabbed a box of macaroni and cheese, and let Lily drop the box over her shoulder and into the cart. She giggled further.

I smiled at her. Perhaps shopping was going to be a little easier than I thought it was going to be.

~*~*~*~*~*~

I turned the corner onto my mother’s street with a car filled with groceries. As soon as my eye fell onto the house, my mouth literally fell open.

Parked in the driveway was a familiar large black SUV.

My heart started to beat faster, as I slowed the car to a crawl, wanting to buy myself some time to come up with something to say.

Isaac was standing next to his car, leaning casually against the driver’s side door. His arms were folded firmly over his chest. He looked almost angry for a brief moment. I couldn’t gage his expression behind the set of dark sunglasses which were perched on his nose.

It wasn’t until I carefully turned the car into the driveway that his expression changed, and his face broke into a massive grin that made my heart skip another beat.

I returned his smile and carefully parked next to him, and shifted the car into park. Before I could even turn off the engine, Isaac strode around to my door and yanked it open.

“I have something for you.” He said with a grin.

“What? What do you mean?” I demanded in confusion. With the way we had left our conversation three days before, I assumed it was some kind of medieval torture chamber. “You didn’t have to do anything!”

Still grinning, he opened the door to the back seat.

Lily recognized him immediately, and reached out frantically for him. “Ikey!” She cried, struggling to reach him under the constraints of her car seat.

“Silly Lily!” He greeted her, and made quick work of lifting her from the seat. “I have something for you.” He grinned to her, lifting her into his arms. He balanced the majority of her weight on his left forearm, keeping his right hand firmly on her.

“Isaac, you really didn’t have to do anything…” I began.

“Too late.” He grinned. “Come on, it’s in the back yard.” He grabbed my hand excitedly, and began pulling me around the side of the house.

“But Lily doesn’t have a hat on.” I glanced up at the threatening sun. “Or sunscreen!”

He smiled at me. “You worry too much, you know that?”

Before I could even respond to this, we were in the backyard. For the second time, my mouth dropped.

“Isaac…” I breathed.

“Come on! Check it out!” He said excitedly, dropping my hand.

Lily was already squealing with delight as he carried her toward her new gift.

In the center of the yard, there was now a large play center, which I assumed Lily would have a couple of years to completely grow into. There was a sandbox on the bottom, a platform with two big yellow slides, a rope ladder on one side and some complicated monkey bars leading to the platform. Branching out from either side of the unit were two long arms. One side held three swings, for each stage of her development. The other side held heavy monkey-bars.

My hands covered my mouth in complete shock. “It’s beautiful… Isaac…” I breathed.

He was already helping Lily down one of the yellow slides. She was giggling and kicking her feet eagerly.

“You shouldn’t have done this!” I cried, following him as he carried Lily around to the swing. He secured her in the child harness and pushed her carefully.

“What do you mean? She loves it!” He grinned as he pushed her.

I stood next to him, “It’s too nice… I mean, after all I’ve put you through…”

“Listen.” He sighed, turning away from Lily. He placed his hands on either side of my body, gripping my be the upper arms. He forced me to look directly into his eyes.

I briefly wished he wasn’t wearing sunglasses so I could see his beautiful chocolate eyes. My heart fluttered in my chest none-the-less.

“I’ve done some thinking… this is a very complicated situation… I came to an epiphany last night around three am.” He smiled softly. “After my fourth cup of coffee or so… but I’ve been thinking that none of this is your fault. You did the best you could with the options you had before you. You raised a beautiful little girl with the best you had to give.”

I felt tears well into my eyes.

“As complicated as it is, dating the woman who had a child with my brother… he seems really okay with it… I mean, he’s a mess, but he’s trying to make due, and I think so should I. I don’t hate you for the decisions you made. I can’t hate you for your past.”

“Isaac…” I breathed.

“I’ve got to be the bigger man here… and what it all boils down to is that… I’m crazy about you…” He pulled me closer rather abruptly. “And I’m crazy about that little girl.”

A tear escaped my eye and slid slowly down my cheek.

“Did I upset you?” He asked, horrified.

“No! No!” I sniffled. “Happy tears… I think…”

He smiled softly, and used the back of his hand to lightly brush the tear away. His hand moved around the back of my neck and pulled me into a soft kiss, which entirely caught me off guard.

I stood stunned for a moment, forgetting to breathe. My arms hung limply at my sides.

“Ikey! Ikey!” Lily screamed. “Play!”

He pulled back gently and smiled.

“I think you’ve got a fan.” I teased.

“I hope I’ve got two.” He released my face from between his hands and turned back to Lily to push her on the swing a little more.

I couldn’t hide a large grin on my lips. “This is too perfect. Thank you… thank you so much.” My eyes scanned the play center again. “How did you ever afford this?”

Isaac shot me another grin over his shoulder. “Taylor owed me some money… a bet from a long time ago… I was actually happy when you left this morning, I called some friends and we put it together in less than an hour.”

“That’s so sweet… thank you…”

“I knew you were talking about putting something back here, so I hoped I made the right decision…”

“You did.” I placed a hand on his shoulder warmly. “It’s absolutely perfect.”

He grinned again and drew my arms around him. “You might want to watch that rope ladder for a bit though… Zac put that together.”

I laughed, burying my face into his t-shirt.

Isaac softly stroked my hair. “I have something for you too…”

Reluctant to release him, I looked up to his face in alarm. My eyes were wide.

“What?”

“Do you think you can slip out tonight? I’d like to take you to dinner before I give it to you.” He was grinning again, but his eyes were on Lily.

“Isaac, you didn’t have to! You’ve done enough!” I protested, still studying his face.

He smiled and bent to kiss my nose gently. “I hope you don’t say that tonight.” He teased.

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