It started raining as Erin kissed Kirk’s cheek and his wife’s too. The valet walked over with the keys to her BMW.
“Drive safely Erin.” Marjorie said.
“Thanks, I will. Kirk, I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Definitely. Give my love to the family.” He nodded as Erin climbed into her car.
She started the engine and Michael McDonald came out of the speakers. She was heading for the expressway and home to Fairfax, Virginia. It had been a while since she had dinner with the Douglases. Back in the day she and Eli would dine with them at least once a month. Recently, it was she and Dave.
Those nights were always hysterical. This evening Erin was on her own. It didn’t matter; Kirk and Marjorie were always excellent company. They rarely talked about the FBI. They talked instead about books, movies, politics, music, and memories.
The food at Equinox was amazing and so was the extensive wine list. Tonight Erin showed off pictures of Noah, which Marjorie ate up. There was Noah at the petting zoo, Noah and the dog, Noah in the pool; Noah, Noah, Noah. It was possible that Erin was becoming one of those mothers…no one had called her on it yet.
Singing along as the music changed to James Taylor, Erin couldn’t wait to get home. It was good to go out with friends but curling up in bed this evening would be great. Ted was home for a few weeks this summer and his mother was happy to see him. His grades at Columbia were stellar and he loved life in Manhattan. Erin knew she couldn’t demand too much of his time, he wasn’t a little boy anymore, but she missed him when he was gone. Ted knew that and made sure his mother got a little extra attention when he made his way back to the DC area.
Traffic was terrible tonight, it was Saturday after all. Erin relaxed as she slowed the car down. The weather wasn’t helping; she actually hated driving in the rain. She was fine but it seemed as if those around her treated it like a phenomenon. They lived in a swamp…it was always like this.
The music helped soothe her as she thought about alone time with Dave. It was nearly nine o’clock which meant that Noah was asleep. She wasn’t sure if Ted was home. It was summer and many of his high school friends were home and ready to hang out. That was another thing that concerned Erin.
Those episodes of Dateline and 48 Hours where normal, All-American kids did drugs once at a wild party and died scared her witless. She needed to stop thinking about that. It was a concern but it had always been a concern. Ted was almost 20 years old; she had talked to him about those kinds of things.
Little Noah had just turned 3. Suddenly 17 more years of worry had dropped on Erin’s shoulders. 20 years if she was honest with herself. She might not cuddle with Dave when she got home. She might just kill him.
Erin was damp as she opened the front door and let herself into the house. Mudgie barked happily as he made his way to the foyer to greet her. She bent to pet his giant head.
“Hello sweetheart; hello hello.” She smiled when he licked her hand. “Where is everyone?”
Mudgie trotted toward the den and Erin followed. Sure enough all three of her boys were in there. The baseball game played on television. Dave lay on the couch with a beer as he watched. Noah sat on the edge of the couch resting against his father’s chest. Ted sat on the floor, feet under the coffee table, eating a bowl of popcorn.
“Hey.” They said in unison.
“David, it’s after nine. What is Noah still doing up?”
“It’s the weekend baby…he can hang out a little longer. He's enjoying the baseball game, right buddy?”
“Yeah.” Noah grinned.
“The Nationals are actually up by two runs.”
“That’s great, but your average toddler needs at least 10 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Did he at least have his bath?” she already knew the answer to that. Noah wasn’t dressed in pajamas.
“No Erin.” Dave did his best to hide his exasperation.
He wasn’t an expert on children but he could handle this. It was Saturday, he had the entire weekend off, and he wanted to spend it with his son and Ted. They were going to do as men do. Men didn’t take baths if they didn’t feel like it and men stayed up late.
“Did you guys have dinner?” she asked.
Erin heard his tone and she backed off. She didn’t need nor want to challenge his parenting skills. There was nothing wrong with staying up late or skipping a bath. Still, Noah had a regular routine. At his age routine was key. But Dave was his father. She would let him do it tonight as he wanted.
“We had burgers and fries.” Ted said passing the popcorn up to Dave.
“You didn’t overload on snacks, did you?” his mother asked.
“I didn’t have any other snacks. Did you have any other snacks, Dave?”
“No.” the profiler shook his head. “We indulged a bit with the burgers and fries…nothing more.”
“Really? So why does my baby have powdered sugar all over his face?” Erin smirked as she picked Noah up in her arms.
“Oh um…” Dave didn’t even know how to answer.
“You're both horrible liars.” She was smiling as she rolled her eyes. “I love you very much for that.”
“I'm actually a pretty good liar when I remember to be.” Dave said.
“Well I suck.” Ted pointed to himself.
“David, put down your shovel.”
“Yes ma'am.” He nodded and winked.
“C'mon sweets,” she kissed Noah’s cheek. “Are you ready for bath time?”
“Yes ma'am.” He nodded.
Erin took him upstairs with Mudgie in tow. In his room, she got Noah down to his underwear, which happened to be Batman today, and sat him on the bed.
“I'm going to run your bathwater. Hang out in here sweetie.”
“Can I pick out my pjs, ma'am?”
“Yes but don’t leave the room. Do you want bubbles?”
“Yes!” Noah climbed down off the bed and ran over to the dresser. Dave put his pajamas and play clothes in the lower two drawers so he could pick them out himself. He grabbed the Transformers set, running back to the bed with them.
In the bathroom, Erin wiped out the tub and then turned on the water. She grabbed the Mr. Bubble, pouring a capful in the tub as the water ran. When Dave came in he scared her.
“I'm sorry.” He said.
“It’s alright. I'm sorry too, by the way. I would never undermine your parenting skills, David. I hope you know that.”
“I do know that. There is one thing that disappointed me though.”
“What's the matter?” Erin asked.
“I didn’t even get a hello kiss.”
Smiling, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. Dave slid his hands down from her hips to cup her ass. He felt Erin smile against his lips.
“How was dinner with Kirk and Marjorie?” he asked.
“It was wonderful as always. I'm afraid I went a little crazy on the Noah pictures.” Erin laughed. She moved out of Dave’s arms and turned off the water. “I could tell Kirk wanted to say something, he had that look in his eye, but he managed to keep it to himself.”
“Say something like what?”
Dave couldn’t help himself; Erin bent over the tub did something to her. He came up behind her and molded his body against hers.
“Yes baby?” his hand caressed the curve of her hip.
“Noah’s bathwater is going to get cold.”
“You just turned it off.”
“Back away slowly, Agent Rossi.”
Dave did as he was told. Erin turned around and smiled at him.
“Do you want to give Noah his bath or should I? I know you guys were all having a special men’s day.”
“He always likes it better when you do bath time.” Dave said. “So you get him all clean and then I’ll read him Peter Pan. I think he's going to love that.”
“It’s a big adventure; I'm sure he will.” Erin walked into the bedroom, Dave behind her, and looked at Noah. She couldn’t help the smile that spread across her face. He lay on the bed, curled up with Mudgie, and clutching his Transformers pajamas. Noah was sound asleep.
“O-K.” Dave said. “Maybe I did keep him up too late.”
“It’s fine, I’ll just get him in his pajamas and put him to bed.”
“Do you need help?”
“Nope, I'm old hat at dressing sleeping children. Anyway, I have an assignment for you.”
“I'm worried and worked up at the same time.” Dave said.
“You can drain Noah’s bathwater and then run some for us. How does that sound?”
“It sounds like a good way to end the day.”
He kissed her, kissed Noah, and left the bedroom. Erin sat down on the spaceship bed. She pulled Noah into her lap, which didn’t wake him at all. Mudgie gave her some space but didn’t get up from the bed. It took Erin a bit longer than she thought to get the pajamas on. The truth was it had been a long time since she dressed a sleeping toddler. Then she lay Noah down and put the sheets over him.
“Sweet dreams, pumpkin pie.” She kissed him.
Before leaving the room, Erin made sure to adjust the thermostat so he wouldn’t get cold in the middle of the night. She left the door cracked like always and then went to the back room to check on Ted.
“Are you alright, sweetheart?”
“Yeah.” he nodded, looking up from his laptop.
“Do you have plans tomorrow?” his mother asked.
“Well I know you and Dave love to sleep in when you can on Sundays and have breakfast in bed so I'm gonna get Noah up and we’ll head into DC for breakfast and then the Dinosaur Museum. We’ll come home for lunch and naptime. Then it'll probably be light saber battles and building something with Duplos that'll be fun to knock down. We might have time for a little TV before I head out for the evening. I'm meeting up with Amy and some friends for a movie. On Monday I'm having lunch with Dad.”
“How did you know I was going to ask about Dad?”
“You always ask. You're a good mother.”
Those words made Erin smile. She had her doubts about how good she did raising her kids. They were intelligent, cultured, and wonderful human beings. Erin still wasn’t sure how much of that was due to any sort of superior mothering skills.
“Can your mother have a hug?” she asked.
Ted smiled as he got up from the bed. He wrapped his arms around her and then kissed her cheek. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too. I'm really glad you're home and happy you're getting along so well with Noah.”
“Oh he's awesome.” He sat back on the bed. “I've always wanted to be a big brother and now with Gabriel and Noah I'm that times two. I couldn’t ask for more. Noah must be an adventure for you too.”
“Adventure is definitely a good word for it.” Erin laughed. “Sweet dreams, honey.”
“You said something earlier.” Dave said.
“I can't understand you.” Erin sighed and then laughed. “You're going to have to pick one David, conduct a conversation or seduce my neck.”
The couple was relaxing in the tub. Dave went all out with bubbles, Riesling, and strawberries with cream. It seemed he preferred to feast on his lover instead of dessert.
“You said something earlier.” He reluctantly moved away from her neck. To compensate, Dave took her hand and kissed her fingertips.
“What did I say?”
“I want to see if you remember what you said.”
“Really?” Erin laughed. “OK, this might be fun.”
“You asked us if we’d eaten anything else; both Ted and I said no. Then you said…”
Erin really thought about it but couldn’t remember. She sure knew she was being lied to about the snacking. Both Dave and Ted took care of their health and bodies very well. But something happened when they got together, when their powers combined. They turned into snacking machines.
It must be a father and son thing though Ted never did it with Eli. Of course Ted didn’t do the things with Eli that he did with Dave. They went to ball games, watched ball games, enjoyed over the top action movies and video games. Watching them play foosball or air hockey was a real event. Junk food went with that kind of relationship. At least that’s what Erin saw.
“I have no earthly idea what I said.”
“You said, and I quote, then why does my baby have powdered sugar all over his mouth.”
“I said that?”
Dave was surprised when Erin turned in the tub and straddled him. It was awesome but still surprising. He could nearly feel the electricity coursing through his fingers as they traced across her back. He was sure that wasn’t the only part of her that was wet.
“Are you OK with that?” Erin asked.
“OK with what?”
“Well I surely don’t know what kind of relationship you had with his mother in the past and I never want to step on her toes…”
“Lanie is gone, Erin. Lanie’s gone and she thought I was the best person to raise Noah if anything happened to her. I'm positive that if anything happens to me that I want you to take care of him. He’s our son…you're his mommy. Well, you're his ma'am.”
“I find myself smiling these days when random people call me that.” Erin said. “It makes me think about him.”
“We can make it official you know. We should make it official.”
“I'm not talking about marriage.” Dave shook his head. He knew how Erin felt about that. At this moment she had no desire to become Mrs. Rossi #4. He hoped one day she would change her mind but that day was not today.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“You should adopt Noah. You should become his mother.”
“Where do I sign?” Erin smiled.
“Are you serious?”
“What, you thought you would have to twist my arm?”
“David, when I made the decision to stay here with you and Noah, I meant it. I'm here and I'm here to be with you and to take care of him. Its not just because I love you…I love him too. I know he had a mother and I'm sure he loved her very much. If I can be a maternal figure for him that would make me very happy.”
“It would make me happy too, baby.”
“So we’ll do it.”
“I think you just said the magic words.” Dave smiled.
“And I think this conversation just turned from our son to something else completely.” Erin ran her wet fingers through his hair.
“We’ll have a little fun and talk about the serious stuff in the morning.”
“Ted’s taking Noah to breakfast and the museum so we can have a little time alone.”
“Have I told you lately how much I adore your son?” he asked.
“You mean my oldest son?”
“Yeah, I meant your oldest son.”
They kissed and Erin held on tight. The roller coaster was reaching the top and she didn’t know how her stomach was going to feel when it fell. But Erin was ready. She was strong and this was the happiest she’d been in years, even with the insanity. She was in love with Dave Rossi…insanity was usually the name of the game.