Jenna paces around her bedroom, hair a mess from where she’s been running her hands through it repeatedly. Her room is strewn with clothes lying on any surface she could find to throw them on. She can’t remember the last time she felt like this. It had been years certainly. Even when she was married to Todd she never got the butterflies in her stomach she’s feeling now.
She’s not sure how she feels about it. It’s exciting, sure. For a while she was sure she’d never feel like she again. Yet here she is, throwing clothes all over the place in search of the perfect thing to wear on her date. It’s like she’s a teenager all over again. Except she’s not. She’s 30 years old. And she’s a mother.
That’s part of the problem. She loves David, but this is about more than just her. She has Liam to think about now. It’s not that she doesn’t trust David with Liam, she’s just used to it being the two of them. It has been for years now, ever since Liam’s dad died.
While she’s grateful Liam was so young when it happened, Jenna’s still sorry he won’t have any real memories of his father except from the pictures and videos she has locked away. She knows there will be a day when Liam has questions about his father and she wants to be ready when he does.
For now, she has to worry about her upcoming date. It’s not as though she hasn’t been on a date with David before. She has. They’ve been dating for over a year. This feels different though. It’s Valentine’s Day after all. Not that she buys into all that crap the card industry pulls out each year. It’s not necessarily the holiday but the fact that they’ve been dating over a year and usually by now it’s time to decide whether the relationship is going anywhere.
That’s what worries her. She feels like it is. She certainly wants it to. If it were just her she would be jumping at the chance to make things more serious with David, but it’s not. As serious as things are now she can’t risk letting someone into her life for the long term only to have them leave again. Not only would that hurt her, it would hurt Liam as well.
Part of her knows it’s too late for that. David has been coming around for almost as long as they’ve been together and she can tell how much Liam adores him. He follows David around, tugging on his lab coat as he asks him questions about his job. David is great with Liam. He never talks down to him or makes Liam feel as though he’s not a priority. In fact it’s the opposite.
The first time they had met, Liam had studied David with a serious expression on his face before asking him what his favorite color is. When David had said blue Liam had nodded seriously and gone back to his coloring. A few minutes later he’d walked up to David and handed him a page out of his coloring book of a bright blue tiger. David had smiled, ruffled Liam’s hair, and thanked him for the picture. Liam had been so happy a few weeks later when they went to visit David at the hospital and David had the picture hanging up on his wall.
“Is everything alright Mama?” Liam asks, looking at her from the doorway to her room.
She turns to face him, a small smile appearing on her face as she beckons him over. When he reaches her she bends down and scoops him up into her arms, “Everything is fine, Liam.”
“Then why are your clothes everywhere?” Liam asks, frowning at the discarded clothing.
“I’m trying to figure out what to wear,” Jenna tells him. “I’m seeing David tonight.”
Jenna feels her heart ache at the way Liam’s face lights up at the mention of David, “You are? Will I be able to see him?”
Jenna shakes her head, tapping him on the nose. “Nope. You’re going to stay with the Hales tonight. Talia is coming to pick you up soon.”
“So I get to see Derek and Cora?”
“You do. Does that make you happy?”
Liam nods enthusiastically, “It does. I like seeing Derek and Cora.”
When he looks down, face pinched, Jenna frowns, tilting Liam’s chin up with her finger. “What is it sweetheart?”
“Will Theo be there?”
Jenna tries to fight the smile threatening to spread across her face at the mention of the boy. She heard all about him when Liam came home from kindergarten one day telling her all about the new boy in his class. He’d talked about how the teachers had told Theo he had to share the toys rather than collecting them all and keeping them for himself. Liam had felt bad when the boy wound up sitting alone and had lured him into playing with him.
The next part always makes her laugh when she remembers it. She hadn’t heard about it from Liam himself but from his teacher when she’d dropped him off one day. Apparently the teacher had heard Theo saying “mine!” again, and the teacher thinking Theo was talking about the toys had scolded him saying he had to share. The teacher says that Theo had been adamant when he said “No! No toys.” When she had clarified Theo had responded by pointing to Liam and saying “Mine!” Apparently Liam had nodded enthusiastically and pointed at Theo declaring Theo his too.
Seeing how the two interact she certainly believes it. Whenever she drops Liam off he goes right to Theo and when she picks him up he’s always by Theo’s side. He spends almost as much time with Theo as he does with Mason and those two have been inseparable since birth.
“Theo will be there,” Jenna smiles, brushing a hand through Liam’s hair. “I talked to his Mom and she’s dropping off both him and his sister. You all are going to have one big slumber party.”
“Yay!” Liam shouts, jumping out of her arms and doing a little dance in the middle of the room before running towards the door. “I need to go grab some toys!”
“Not too many!” Jenna calls after him. “Talia has toys for you to play with there. So just grab one or two.”
Jenna smiles fondly after him before directing her attention back to the issue at hand. She still has no idea what to wear. Sighing, she picks up one of her favorite black dresses. She knows you can never go wrong with a black dress but there’s also the message such a dress could send. Jenna shrugs, discarding the clothes she’s wearing in favor of slipping into the black dress and zipping it up. She’s a grown ass woman and has been dating David for over a year. Screw it.
Once she’s done she examines herself in the mirror. She still has her mess of a hairdo to deal with. After brushing it she decides just to leave it down. She’s in the middle of applying her lipstick when Liam slips back into the room.
He steps up beside her, looking up at her in the mirror. “You look great Mama.”
Jenna smiles, ruffling his hair. “Thank you sweetheart. Did you pick out what toys you’re bringing? Talia should be here soon.”
Liam nods, holding up two toys. The first one is a stuffed wolf that Liam has had since he was a baby and brings with him everywhere, the second one is a toy ambulance that David gave Liam for his birthday.
“You’re bringing your ambulance with you?” Jenna asks.
Liam nods, “If I can’t see David I gotta bring my amblance with me so it’s like he’s there with me.”
Jenna takes Liam’s hand and leads him over to her bed. She sits down on the edge and then brings Liam up into her lap. “You like David, don’t you?”
“Yeah. He’s nice to me, and to you. He makes you smile. I like when you smile.”
Jenna smiles, brushing the hair off his forehead. “So you wouldn’t mind if he came around more?”
Liam shakes his head, “No. I want him to.” Liam is silent for a moment, his face scrunched together in a way that lets her know he’s thinking. “Mama?”
“Can David be my daddy?”
Jenna feels her breath catch in her throat at the unexpected question, momentarily stunned speechless. Of all the questions she expected Liam to ask, that hadn’t been one of them.
“Do you want him to?” She asks, tone soft.
Liam nods, his own voice soft when he speaks. “Yeah I do.”
Jenna honestly isn’t sure what to say. She can’t just tell him yes because she’s not certain it’s the truth. She knows David loves Liam, but it’s one thing to love him. It’s another thing completely to consider being a parent to him. She knows it’s something that’ll have to be talked about. She just hadn’t expected it to be so soon. With Liam asking questions now she doesn’t really have a choice.
“It’s not up to me sweetheart. David has to make that choice.”
“Do you think he’ll want to?”
“I know he loves you Liam,” Jenna says. “That’s what matters, okay? And no matter what you’ll have me. You know why?”
Liam giggles when Jenna reaches down and starts tickling his stomach. “Because I’m your sunshine.”
“That’s right. You’re my sunshine. And don’t you forget it.”
“I won’t,” Liam says, nodding his head firmly. “Will you sing it for me, Mama?”
Jenna smiles softly down at Liam, her hands moving through his hair as she starts singing.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away
The song had become a tradition of theirs. When Liam was younger she would sing it to him when he was sad or upset, and that tradition still holds. It worries her a bit that he would ask her to do it now.
She sighs, eyes tracing over Liam’s face. At only 7 years old he’s already experienced so much loss. She knows he’s missing having a father figure around, and she’s not surprised he would try and put David in that position.
She just hopes it all works out, not only for her but for Liam’s sake as well. She loves David and wants a future with him, but she also wants what’s best for Liam. Sometimes she thinks that could be having David around on a more permanent basis. She just has to hope that would be something he’s interested in.
Talia shows up 15 minutes later. Jenna smiles when she opens the door and sees her best friend on the other side. “Hey Talia. And oh! I see you brought someone along.”
Talia shakes her head as she fondly looks down at the boy beside her, “Theo here wanted to come with me to get Liam. I think he wanted to make sure I was actually picking him up.”
“Theo?” Liam asks, peeking around Jenna’s legs. His face brightens when he sees the other boy. “Theo!”
“Yes Theo came with Aunt Talia to pick you up,” Jenna tells him. “Do you have your things?”
Liam nods, running back into the living room. He returns a moment later with a small backpack and his bear and ambulance tucked into his arms. Theo steps forward, grabbing the backpack from Liam, “I’ll help you.”
Jenna bends down until she’s level with Liam, “You behave for Aunt Talia. I’ll be by tomorrow to get you, alright?”
Liam nods, “Okay Mama. I will.” Liam’s eyes light up when a familiar car pulls up on the street outside their house. “Mama. David’s here!”
“He is,” Jenna says, watching as David gets out of the car and starts towards the house. He’s wearing a suit and tie and Jenna has to admit it fits him perfectly. She smiles when he reaches them and ruffles Liam’s hair.
“Good evening,” David says, smiling down at Jenna. He turns to Liam and bends down in front of him. “And good evening to you too. You going somewhere Liam?”
Liam nods, grabbing Theo’s hand. “I’m going to have a sleepover at Aunt Talia’s. Theo is coming too.”
“Is that right? Well you two have fun.”
“I will,” Liam says, “I’m bringing my ambulance.”
David smiles, “I can see that. Excellent choice.”
“It’s my second favorite besides my bear because you gave it to me,” Liam says. He bites his lip as he looks up at David through his lashes. Jenna feels her heart speed up, afraid what Liam could be about to say next. “David?”
Liam squares his shoulders, mouth set into a line far too serious for a 7 year old. “I want you to be my Daddy.”
Jenna watches as David’s eyes widen momentarily. She’s about to open her mouth and say… well she’s not sure. Something, anything to resolve this situation but David is speaking before he gets a chance. “Is that so? And what does your Mama want?”
“She wants you to, too.” Liam says. “She said it wasn’t up to her. It was up to you.”
David’s eyes flick over to meet hers, filled with so much love and understanding that it makes it hard for her to breathe. “It’s something your Mama and I need to talk about. But Liam, you are important to me. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to stick around and watch you grow up into the great man I know you’re going to be one day.”
Jenna’s eyes move up to meet Talia’s. Talia seems to understand what she’s asking because a moment later she’s clapping her hands and drawing attention to her. “Alright boys. We need to go.”
Liam looks up at her before looking back to Jenna. Jenna smiles and pulls him in for a hug. “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Love you too Mama,” Liam pulls back and pats her cheek before moving back towards Theo. His hand finds his instantly and it has her lips twitching up into a small smile. The two of them really are adorable.
Talia moves her hands to their shoulders and starts walking them towards where her van is parked. Jenna stands up and watches as they load in, waving at the three one final time before Talia drives off. When they’re gone it feels far too quiet. She’s almost afraid to look at David after what just happened.
Sighing, she walks back inside, knowing full well David will follow her. Sure enough, she hears the sound of the door softly closing and then footsteps moving into the living room. She stands with her back to David, hands wrapped protectively around her middle. She’d had a plan for this. She was going to bring it up on her terms. She can’t be mad at Liam. He was just trying to help in his own way. It still has her feeling off balance.
“J?” David says, moving closer to Jenna. She relaxes slightly when she feels his hand on her shoulder, moving her own up to cover it. “Will you turn around and look at me please?”
Jenna takes a deep breath before doing as he asks. When she looks up she sees the same expression from before and it makes it hard for her to think.
“I’m sorry,” she says, “I had planned to talk to you about it myself but Liam apparently had other ideas. I’m sorry if it’s too much. I know…”
“Jenna,” David’s tone is exasperated when he speaks, eyes now sparkling with amusement. “Do you really think I would still be here if I wasn’t in this for the long haul? I love you and I love Liam. I want to be in your lives. I… he’s your son. I never wanted to overstep in any way so I’ve been waiting for you to come to me. But I would love nothing more than to be a father to that little boy.”
Jenna feels her eyes watering a bit as David speaks. When he’s done she launches herself at him, kissing him fiercely. When she pulls back she lets out a watery laugh, wiping at the lipstick now smeared on David’s face. “I love you. I do. We both do. I couldn’t think of a better person for Liam to have as his father.”
“Well since we’re on the same page,” David says, smiling down at her. “What do you say we go to dinner? I made a reservation at your favorite restaurant.”
Jenna’s brow furrows, “My favorite restaurant is Elie’s Diner.”
“You don’t need reservations there.”
“I know that too,” David says, ushering her towards the door with a hand on her back. She stops at the door to grab her sweater before allowing herself to be led out of the house. “But I had them save us your favorite booth.”
“We’re really going to the diner?” Jenna asks. “On Valentine’s Day?”
David glances over at her, nervousness starting to cloud his expression. “If that’s okay. I could always…”
Jenna shakes her head, leaning up to place a quick kiss to his lips before opening the door to the car and climbing in. “It’s perfect. Though we are a bit overdressed.”
David shrugs, closing the door to the car after he gets in. “Doesn’t matter. I love that dress on you anyway so I’m not complaining.”
Jenna smirks, leaning over the center console to grab his tie and reel him in. “I know you do. And I love you in this suit.”
“Quick dinner?” David asks.
Jenna chuckles, “Super quick. I’m more ready for dessert.”
Jenna had thought David had been kidding when he said he reserved her favorite booth but she was wrong. When they walk in, she sees a paper card sitting on her favorite table near the back with the name Geyer written on it. She has to laugh when she sits down, picking up the card and examining it. “How did you manage this?”
David shrugs, “I called and talked to Elie. I explained my plan and she was more than happy to help out.”
“It’s because I want you two to get married already,” a young woman says as she walks up to the table. “Anything I can do to aide in that, I will.”
Jenna smiles over at her, “Hello Elie, I’m surprised to see you working tonight.”
Elie sighs, “My boyfriend wound up having to work tonight so I figured I’d take a shift and give anyone that actually had a shot at getting lucky the night off.”
Jenna laughs, “Well that’s nice of you.”
“I do what I can,” Elie says. “Now what can I get you? Your usual?”
“That’s fine for me,” Jenna says, glancing over at David.
“Me too,” David says, closing the menu Jenna hadn’t even notice he picked up.
Elie smirks down at them, “You two in that big of a hurry to get out of here then?”
Jenna shrugs, “Well Liam is at Talia’s for the night.”
Elie nods, “Understood. I’ll make sure the cook gets this done as fast as possible.”
She’s gone before Jenna or David can say anything else. Jenna looks over at David to see him smirking at her, “What?”
“You’ve had your own plans for tonight all along, haven’t you?”
Jenna shrugs, leaning her arms on the table. “I have. Don’t act like you haven’t been thinking the exact same thing.”
David leans across the table, lips barely ghosting against hers. “I never said I wasn’t.”
They’re startled out of the moment when a drink hits the table to Jenna’s left. She pulls back and looks up to see Elie grinning down at her. “I stand by my earlier statement that you two should just get married.”
Jenna shakes her head, smiling as she watches Elie walk away.
“She’s not wrong,” David says, voice soft as he looks over at her.
Jenna’s head jerks back in his direction, “What?”
“She’s not wrong,” David says again. “We’ve been together over a year, Jenna. I love you and Liam, and you said yourself that you love me. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you as we raise Liam together.”
“What are you…?”
It’s not a question, more a statement. It leaves Jenna’s head spinning all the same. She runs through all the reasons why she shouldn’t but can’t find a single one good enough for her to say no. It surprises her. She’s always been so careful and level headed, especially after Todd died and she was left alone with Liam.
She thinks of Liam and what he would want, of what would be best for him. The answer is clear and obvious and sitting in the booth across from her. She finds herself letting out a disbelieving laugh as she gives David her answer. “Okay.”
“Really?” David asks, looking relieved by her answer.
“Yeah,” Jenna says, her heart pounding in her chest. But she’s not afraid. She’s once again filled with the nervous butterflies she felt earlier. Ones she hopes will never go away. “I’ll marry you David Geyer.”
David laughs, leaning across the table and kissing Jenna. It’s not the best kiss, both of them are smiling too much, but to them it’s perfect.
“I have something for you,” David says when he pulls back. Jenna is surprised when he pulls a ring out of his pocket and shows it to her. “I didn’t want to pull this out before and risk you saying no. But since you said yes...”
He grabs her hand, looking up at her with a small smile as he slips the ring on her finger. There’s a shriek to Jenna’s left and the sound of plates crashing to the floor before Elie’s excited voice reaches their ears. “I can’t believe this is happening. This is the best day. Dinner is on me.”
Jenna and David share a look before the two of them bust out laughing at the absurdity of it all. They finish their dinner quickly before moving back to Jenna’s place for dessert. All in all, Jenna would say this has to be her favorite Valentine’s Day.
It’s made even better when her and David pick up Liam the next day and tell him the news. Liam is all too happy to find out he really is getting David as his Daddy. Jenna can only smile fondly when he seriously tells the two of them that one day he plans to marry Theo. When she tells him he has to ask first he just stares at her a moment before telling her he did ask and Theo said yes. She looks to David who just shrugs. No matter what happens in the future she’s definitely going to have to remember this moment.