Charlie and Patrick go out to lunch. *Patrick's POV*
I closed the front door and peeked out the window to watch her car pull away. A genuine smile appeared, refusing to leave as I turned off the TV and all the lights before heading to my room. My laptop sat on my desk, wide open, glaring at me with its black screen. I sat down on the squishy desk chair and pressed the on button, like I'd done a million times before. It welcomed me with a friendly tune before giving way to the desktop. With expert finger work, I guided the curser to the icon featuring a tilted guitar. Ah, GarageBand. You're my only friend.
My phone vibrated violently, slowly moving in jerky motions across my desk. I smiled at the name and number that illuminated the orange screen.
"You just can't get enough, can you?" I asked before flipping open the phone and greeting her.
"Why are you on my son's wall?" I froze. Busted.
"What?" I questioned, hoping to buy myself some time to think.
"You. In a bear suit. On a poster. On my son's wall. Why?" Her voice was steady, yet a tinge of anger laced her words.
"Listen, I'll explain everything. I just...I want to do it in person. What are you doing tomorrow?" She sighed in the phone.
"I'm working until 3." I nodded.
"Can I take you out of lunch or something? Ya know, for your break. My treat. "
"I usually bring my daughter to work after she gets done preschool at 11." I lowered the lid on my laptop and ruffled my hair with my fingers.
"Is that a problem?" There was a brief pause before she spoke.
"I don't know. Is it?" I rested my chin on my hand and rolled my eyes.
"Charlie, I'd love to take the two of you out for lunch." Through the receiver, I was convinced she was smiling.
"Alright. Show up around 12:30. You have a lot of explaining to do." I nodded. She had no idea.
"I'll be there. Goodnight, Charlie."
"Night, Patrick." I flipped my phone shut and placed it on the desk. Just as I reopened my computer, the cell phone rang again. I laughed as the same name as before appeared.
"Yes?" I said into the small device.
"You're not a fetish freak, are you?" I sniggered to myself while my head shook.
"No. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Bring the bear suit." She cackled. We said our goodbyes again and I resumed my masterminding via GarageBand. The familiar polyphonic ring filled the air and danced around my eardrums. She's so insatiable.
I grasped my phone and flipped it open without bothering to look at the name of my caller.
"No, I'm still not a drug dealer." I greeted with a smile upon my face.
"Good to know." I winced at the voice on the other end of the connection; it didn't belong to Charlie. A sour feeling settled into the pit of my stomach.
"Sorry, I thought you were someone else." She remained silent for a moment.
"Someone else?" She asked, almost sadly.
"Yeah. Someone else." I sat there in silence, waiting for her to state the purpose of the call.
"Listen, I know I'm the last person you want to talk to right now, but can you at least hear me out?" I frowned and shut down my laptop. I had a feeling that this conversation might take a while.
"What could you possibly have to say to me?" There was a pause.
"Patrick. I'm pregnant." I closed my eyes and placed my cell phone on the desk. I could hear her faint voice calling me, asking me to say something. But I couldn't. I didn't have words. My brain could barely wrap itself around the idea of having a child with a woman I despised let alone form a sentence. After what may have been an eternity, I opened my eyes to see the cell phone sitting there, staring up at me.
Call ended: 3minutes, 12seconds
The sky was a luminous shade of blue, which was rare for Los Angeles, and the clouds were almost nonexistent save for the occasion fluffy, cotton-like structure that lazily floated by. My watch read 12:23pm as I strolled up the busy downtown sidewalk to meet Charlie and her daughter for lunch. My stomach tossed and turned as I approached the bakery. Though she was only 4 years old, she scared the living shit out of me. Children are a good judge of character and if she didn't like me, her mother could very well decide I wasn't boyfriend material. In theory, whether or not I continue to see this woman depended solely on the opinion of a small child.
I took a deep breath as I reached out for the door handle. The familiar resonance of a bell sounded as I stepped through the threshold. Immediately, my eyes found the diminutive woman behind the counter. She was immersed in the task of kneading dough with the assistance of a tiny girl perched on a crate, allowing the child's head to rest just under her mother's chin. The two were laughing as their hands went to work on the sticky material. A smile worked its way onto my face.
Customers littered the tables and some stood at the counter as a young, dark-haired woman waited on them. Despite her gothic attire, her eyes seemed warm and inviting while she conversed with the patrons. Her gaze met with mine, causing her to grin knowingly, which led me to believe she knew who I was.
"Hey Charo, your man is here." She announced, a hint of amusement in her voice. Charlie looked up and flashed me a brilliant smile. She whispered something to her little girl, causing her to step down from her perch. Her mother playful swatted at the child's behind as she toddled into the back of the store. The jovial woman emerged from behind the counter to greet me.
"You're a little early." She commented as she wiped her soiled hands on her apron. "I'd hug you, but I'm a tad messy."
"Sorry. I just didn't want to be late."
"Well, we're just gonna clean up and then we'll go, OK?" I nodded and watched her hurry to the back room as well. A few minutes went by before the two appeared from the rear of the building.
"Patrick, this is my daughter, Jocelyn." I peered down at the youngster, who seemed to be studying me closely. She resembled her mother, from her dark curls and fair skin to the slathering of freckles on her button nose.
"Hello, Jocelyn." I reached out my hand. Her gray eyes examined my palm intently before an earth-shattering smile streaked across her cherubic face.
"Hi, Patrick." She gently shook my hand. "Nice to meet you." All my apprehension seemed to melt away.
"Nice to meet you too. Are you ready to go?" She nodded vigorously.
"So where are we going?" Charlie asked as she affectionately ruffled her offspring's hair.
"I was thinking McDonald's." The woman grinned.
"I thought while this one's running around in the Play Place, we could talk." She nodded knowingly. Charlie let her coworkers know she was going to lunch and we were on our way. Once outside, the older Connelly went into mother mode and grasped her daughter's tiny hand in hers. The child chirped and chattered the short walk to the fast food joint. We quickly ordered-McNugget Happy Meal complete with My Little Pony toy for the little one, Chicken Selects for the lady, a Big Mac for myself-and sat at a table just outside the coveted Play Place. It seemed Jocelyn was more intrigued by the ball pit and endless amount of tubing than her over processed and deep fried lunch. She joined the large, rowdy group of children who felt the same way, leaving Charlie alone to chat.
"I'm a little disappointed." She said before taking a swig of her soda.
"And why is that?"
"I thought there was going to be a bear suit involved." I laughed.
"Not until the forth date. I'm no hussy." Her smile was infectious.
"So. Tell me. What's up with that creepy poster?" She placed her elbows on the table and cradled her chin in her hands, giving me her undivided attention.
"You know I'm in a band. We're kind of..."
"A big deal?" I nodded sheepishly.
"I didn't want to say anything. I liked that you didn't know." She closed her eyes and laughed.
"I guess I'm out of the loop." I shrugged.
"So, you're not mad?" She shook her head.
"Not really. I'm just...surprised. I mean...what are the odds?" More likely than she thought.
"You can't write this stuff." Once we were finished eating, she gathered our trash onto our tray and emptied it into a nearby receptacle.
"I'm gonna head to the bathroom, would you keep an eye on my ankle biter?" I grinned and nodded before she walked off to the restroom. Jocelyn emerged from a purple slide and hurried over to our table. She climbed on her chair and took a sip of her strawberry shake. Her gaze fell upon me, making me smile at her.
"Can I tell you a secret?" She asked in a small voice.
"Sure." She hopped down from her chair and quickly climbed onto the one next to me. With tiny hands, she cupped them around my ear.
"I like your face hair." I let out a chuckle.
"Why thank you." Shamelessly, she rubbed the coarse hair with one of her hands and giggled.
"It feels like carpet." This kid was a riot.