Charlie's Point of View.
The stares from onlookers bored into me as I carried my sobbing daughter to the parking lot.
What? You never seen a crying kid before?
Jeremy was already at the car, his lanky form slumped up against the frame.
"This angsty teen thing is getting pretty old." I commented as I sat the girl on the hood of the car. With a quick search of the purse, I managed to find some travel tissues. Carefully and gently, I dabbed at the tears that were rolling over her prominent cheeks.
"This Daddy thing is getting pretty old too." I sighed and pushed back my daughter's dark bangs before shifting my gaze to the boy.
"You know she didn't mean it. She's only four."
"Oh, so that's always going to be an excuse for her?" His voice cracked, giving way to a girlish squeak.
"Jere, we're not going to discuss this here."
"Well, when are we going to discuss it, mom?" I frowned.
"Can we please just go back to the course and have fun?"
"You can, I'm staying here." I was in no mood to deal with his crap. This was going to be an enjoyable evening, whether he likes it or not. He wasn't going to ruin our good time.
"Fine. You wanna stay here, then stay here," I fished through my purse for the keys before plopping them in his hand. "You want to wallow in the car for an hour, I won't stop you." He just glared at me as he unlocked the doors and stationed himself in the back seat.
"Jeremy doesn't like me anymore?" Jocelyn asked in a tear-strangled whisper.
"No, baby. He's just mad at me. Not you." I continued to dry up her soaked face with a tissue. She sniffled and wiped at her nose.
"He's mad at Patrick too, huh?" I nodded and tucked some hair behind her elfish ears.
"How about you and me go back with Patrick, finish our game, and then we'll go get some ice cream?" She gray eyes widened as she held out her arms, signaling she wanted to be carried. I scooped her up and headed back to Patrick...if he didn't run away yet.
The male was stationed on a bench with our discarded clubs leaning against the faded wood. He smiled upon seeing us.
"Hey, you're still alive." He commented as he stood. "Where's Jeremy?"
"He's not going to be joining us in the festivities. He opted to mope in the car." Patrick nodded slowly.
"Should I sleep with one eye opened?" I grinned and lowered Jocelyn to the ground.
"No. He's just being dramatic. Don't worry about him." He shook his head and smiled.
"Mommy, does Jeremy get to have any ice cream?" Jocelyn asked as she tugged on my jeans.
"If he wants some, he can have some." I said, grabbing my club and handing over her plastic one.
"We're getting ice cream?" Patrick asked as we headed toward the last hole we were on before we were interrupted. A grin spread across my face as his hand shyly reached for mine.
"Yep. We decided." Jocelyn chirped, swinging her club around. I nodded at the perplexed male.
"We did. You missed it." He sighed.
"It figures. I miss everything."
We finished up our game and for the sake of the child's ego, we declared her the winner. And as expected, she bragged and gloated the entire way to the car.
"You missed a really fun game, Jerm." Jocelyn teased as I buckled her into her car seat. The muffled sound of boisterous music blaring from the teen's headphones indicated that he didn't hear her taunts nor did he care to. "Jerm!" She screeched and reached for his headphones. He swatted at her chubby hands, expertly dodging them. She huffed and folded her arm over her chest.
"No more squabbling back there." I warned as I started up the car. Patrick just grinned and kept his focus on the passenger side window.
"Let's go to Dairy Delite, Mommy. I want a ice cream cone. With sprinkles. Rainbow ones!" I nodded as I slowly backed out of the parking space and headed for the street.
After a short drive, I turned the car into the small lot housing a worn ice cream cone shaped hut. This cozy little ice cream shop had been around for years, even when I was a kid. I could still remember when my mother used to cart my two siblings and me around in her beat up station wagon. Every Thursday, she would treat us to a cone of soft serve. Even to this day, the ice cream was made fresh. The only difference was the building's great need for a new coat of paint and the old woman behind the counter was replaced with teenage girls would needed to wash off a coat of paint from their faces.
I parked and helped my daughter out of her car seat.
"You want anything?" I inquired to the boy, but he just shook his head. I shrugged at Patrick as we headed over to the end of the rather short line to the counter.
"So, what am I getting you?" I asked the male as I placed Jocelyn on the pebbled parking lot surface. He cocked an eyebrow.
"No, Charlie, I'll pay for my own ice cream." I shook my head.
"You got golf. I got ice cream. Now what do you want?" He laughed.
"No, really. It's fine. I'll get it." I smiled at his nervous mannerisms. He tended to tug at the hem of his shirt when he was uncomfortable. It was a habit that had the potential of being quite irritating. But at the moment, I decided it was almost charming.
"I'm not taking no for an answer, Patrick." I whispered in low, husky voice. He simply smirked and adjusted the brim of his hat.
I ordered, paid for, and handed out our treats. Jocelyn head for the small playground, ice cream teetering in her tiny hand. Telling her to sit and eat would have been futile. Sometimes, a mother just has to let her babies make their own mistakes.
Patrick and I settled on a worn picnic table overlooking the little play area.
"She's going to drop that." The man warned before licking at his dessert.
"I know." I said plainly, letting the frozen delight melt onto my tongue. "And then she'll cry and I'll give her mine. How do you think I stay so svelte?" He chuckled and nodded.
"So that's your secret. Very crafty." I smiled and continued the impossible task of keeping the ice cream from dripping. We sat in silence for a few moments. And in those moments, all I could picture was the horrified look on his face when Jocelyn dropped the "D-Bomb."
"Look, I know the whole 'Daddy' thing is huge. And I would understand if you're completely freaked out. If you want to stop seeing me or whatever, I wouldn't harbor any-"
"It's OK. Really. She's just young. She doesn't know what she's saying." I frowned.
"Be honest." A smile broke on his full lips.
"OK, it's totally weird and it scares me shitless. But I don't want to stop seeing you. That's ridiculous." I let out a sigh of relief. I would hate to end a potentially good thing so prematurely.
"Mommy!" A deafening screech echoes through the dusk. Jocelyn came running with a scalped cone and a couple sniffles. I rolled my eyes as I exchange her headless cone for my slightly withered one.
"You have to stop doing this," I whispered as I gently wiped her sticky face with a napkin. "One day, I'm not going to give you my ice cream." That was a lie. I'd always gladly hand over mine and I think she knew it.
"Thank you Mommy." She skipped off, new cone in hand.
"You're a good mother." Patrick commented before biting into his cone.
"It's not always easy to give up that ice cream. Especially Dairy Delite." He leaned in and placed a small kiss on my forehead. "What was that for?" I asked, a silly, girlish smile on my lips. He just shrugged.
"I have no idea."