Kate stared at the door Rick had just slammed as he left. Their argument had been so stupid. She wondered how it had escalated to that slamming door. She knew he'd be back eventually. Right now she had 2 kids to worry about.
Kate turned around with the kitchen as her destination. Ian was standing with Bunny in his arms and tears on his face. "I'm sorry, Mommy. It's all my fault. I'm sorry, please, get Daddy to come back." Ian buried his face into Bunny's soft head and sobbed.
Kate knelt in front of her son and embraced him tightly. "No, baby, it is not your fault. Daddy and I had a disagreement about how to deal with the school. He will be back soon, so he and I can talk without yelling. You know what we do when you get very angry and have a tantrum?"
Ian nodded his head, "You send me to my room to calm down."
"That's right. Daddy needs to calm down, so he went to The Old Haunt to be alone. He'll be back soon." Kate hoped she wasn't lying to her son. "What would you like for dinner?"
Ian wiped at his face and smiled, "It's too early for dinner, Mommy. We can wait till Daddy gets home." Ian ran off to his room with Bunny trailing behind.
Kate sighed and mumbled, "I hope so, I really hope so." Kate walked into Rick's office and peeked into the pack and play at her sleeping toddler. She was amazed that Hannah had slept thru Rick's tirade. "Well, baby girl, I guess sleeping thru Daddy's tantrum is just as easy as sleeping thru one of Ian's," Kate whispered.
The laundry and Hannah's awakening kept Kate busy for the remainder of the afternoon. She kept her phone close, hoping that Rick would call. While Hannah was engrossed with her toys, Kate asked Ian what he wanted for dinner.
"Mommy, do you know how to make Mac and Cheese like Daddy?" Ian looked hopefully at her.
"I can make Mac and cheese, but maybe not exactly like Daddy does," Kate responded.
Ian walked to Kate and held his arms up in a child's universal signal for 'pick me up'. Once Ian was hugged and safely sitting on Kate's hip, he laid one hand on her cheek. "Mommy, if you and Daddy get a divorce, you are going to have to learn to cook and how to be silly." The earnestness in Ian's voice and demeanor startled Kate.
"Daddy and I had a disagreement, Ian. I know it was louder than we usually disagree, but nobody said anything about getting a divorce. Why would you think that?" Kate managed to keep her voice calm, despite the pain she felt at her son's fear. "Plus you know, I can be silly." She wiggled her eyebrows and crossed her eyes. Ian giggled a little.
"You are not as good at silly as Daddy. Nobody is, not even 'Lexis." Ian informed her. "Jeremy said his Mommy and Daddy had fights, and his Daddy left. Then they got divorced, and his Daddy doesn't live with him anymore. I don't want Daddy to leave, please Mommy." Ian started to cry.
"Oh, sweetie. Daddy and I love each other very much. We are not getting a divorce. You don't have to worry about that. I promise." Kate gave Ian a kiss and a hug. "Now go play with your sister. I'll make us some dinner." Kate lowered her son to the floor and sent him off to play. After checking on the kids, she told Ian she had to go to the bathroom, and she'd be right back.
Kate walked into her and Rick's bedroom and called Brian at The Old Haunt, "Brian, hi. This is Kate Castle. Is my husband there?"
"He was down in his office, but he left a short time ago. He seemed upset when he came in, but he was acting like himself when he left. I asked him if he needed me to call a cab. He said he had errands to run, and he had called the car service. Is everything alright, Kate?"
"Everything is fine, Brian. I'm sure he'll be home soon. I just didn't want to disturb him, if he was busy. So how are things at home? Isn't the baby due soon?"
"He's due in 2 weeks. I am so grateful that you and Rick are giving me paid paternity leave. Before Rick bought the bar, I didn't get any paid days off. Now I have health insurance, vacation days, and even sick leave. It makes life so much easier for Beth and me."
"You do a great job managing the bar. Rick likes to take care of his people, and we are lucky to have you working there. I have to go check on the kids. Tell Beth to call if she needs anything. Bye."
After Brian bid her goodbye, Kate left the bedroom to check on her children. Ian had one of Hannah's dolls in the back of his dump truck, and Hannah was playing with a T-Rex. Her kids were fine. She surveyed the kitchen to see if the ingredients for Mac and Cheese were on hand. Rick's version was creamy and fast, but Kate thought she would make her Mother's recipe tonight. While she put the pasta in the boiling water, she heard the front door open and Ian shrieked with joy, "Daddy, Daddy, I am so happy you're home." Ian ran to Rick, and Hannah toddled after him calling "Daddy, Daddy" just like her brother.
"Hang on a minute, kiddos. Let me give these to Mommy first." Kate heard her husband say. She turned towards her family. Rick was holding a pot of purple hyacinths and a cellophane wrapped, single red rose in full bloom. He smiled sheepishly for her. Hannah was wrapped around one leg, and Ian had his arms around Rick's thigh.
Kate laughed and walked briskly towards her trapped husband. She took the potted plant and the rose. She inhaled the fragrance of the sweet flowers and waited as Rick lifted a child in each arm. He gave each child a loud kiss on the cheek. Kate leaned in and kissed him. She also planted a kiss on each child's cheek. "Go play, kiddos, while Daddy and I finish cooking dinner," Kate instructed her children while smiling at her husband.
Rick squatted to place the kids on the floor. Hannah grabbed his collar and pulled. "What do you need baby girl?" Rick asked her.
"Kissy, Daddy. Me Kissy Daddy." Hannah answered him. Rick pointed to his left cheek and leaned close to Hannah's face. She grabbed his face with her chubby, little hands and kissed the spot Rick had indicated. Rick tickled her tummy, and she laughed. "Play, me play." Hannah pulled away from Rick and waved as she walked back to her toys.
"I suspect there's more to these flowers than just random choices," Kate started the conversation.
"The purple hyacinths mean, "I'm sorry", and a single rose in full bloom symbolizes "I love you," Rick explained his choices. "I am deeply sorry, that I acted like an ass."
"I happen to be very fond of your ass," Kate pinched Rick's butt to emphasize her point, while being careful not to damage her rose. "Where did you find purple hyacinths?"
"I know a guy."
Kate giggled, placed the plant on the nearest flat surface and wrapped her free hand around Rick's neck to pull him to her. After a long, deep kiss she smiled as she said, "You still always know a guy. Thank you, they are lovely."
"I'm sorry I over-reacted. Alexis was never suspended from school, and Ian is only in kindergarten. He would never hurt anybody," Rick explained. "When I was small, we carried pocket knives all the time."
"Babe, I agree that suspending him was a bit harsh. It was really cute, that he wanted to use the scissors in his Swiss army knife at school. However, they have a zero tolerance policy for knives at school, even if the knife is only an inch and a half long," Kate reiterated her points from their earlier argument. "We aren't going to be able to change that, no matter how illogical it is."
"You're right. My big problem was seeing my little boy treated like a criminal for an innocent, childish mistake. Don't you think they treated him much too harshly?"
"Yes, I do. He's suspended for 3 days, followed by the 2 days of the weekend. We have 5 free days to spend with our kids. Let's go consult with my favorite attorney. He might have some ideas about how to help the Principal see he spoke too harshly to Ian. We can visit your parents, too," Kate bribed her husband.
"That's a wonderful idea." Rick punctuated his agreement with a kiss. "Wait. Do I smell something burning?"
Kate ran to the kitchen, screaming profanities in her mind. Rick detoured through the living room to check the kids, and then joined Kate next to the sink. She had moved the smoking pot of macaroni noodles there and was cooling it with cold water.
"No fire, just burned noodles." Kate pulled a bud vase from the cabinet, filled it with water and placed her rose in it. "Your son told me earlier that I needed to learn to cook and to be silly," Kate shared with Rick.
"What brought about those insights?"
"He thought that since we argued and you left, that we would get a divorce."
"Why would he think that? I know I was a bit louder than normal, and I slammed the door. But we rarely argue," Rick stopped upon seeing the sarcastic smirk on Kate's face. "In comparison with my experiences with previous wives, our frequency of arguments is minute, Kate, absolutely minute."
"I am happy to hear that you feel that way. I love you, and I hate it when we argue. Ian has a friend whose parents divorced. Apparently he has told Ian about their fights. I'm surprised that you didn't latch onto his list of my shortcomings." Kate draped her arms across Rick's shoulders and tucked her nose into the junction of his neck and chest. He was warm, and she loved the mixture of the scents of his after-shave, their fabric softener and the essence of ruggedly handsome husband.
Rick wrapped his arms around his wife and pulled her close. He brushed his lips across her forehead. "You can cook wonderfully, Kate. You were just distracted this evening. Ian might have a fair point about being silly, though." Rick followed his statement with a chuckle.
"True. He said no one is as good at silly as you are, not even Alexis. I am inclined to agree with our son. Now, Captain Silly, what are we going to do about dinner? Ian wanted Mac and Cheese, and your distracted wife has burned the pasta," Kate used her position to pepper Rick's neck with a few kisses.
"I think, if we bribe him with pizza and a trip to visit his grandparents, he'll be fine without the Mac and Cheese. Throw in a movie night, and we might get the little monsters to bed early."
"I like the way you think, husband of mine. You order the pizza, and I'll call my Dad. I'll even start packing, while you call your parents. If we manage our time right, we can kiss and make up more than once tonight." Kate smiled wickedly at her husband.
"You are still the woman of my dreams. I love your plan, Mrs. Castle, especially the making up part." Rick wiggled his eyebrows for Kate, and she laughed.
"See, Mommy, Daddy is really good at being silly," Ian interrupted his parents. "I'm hungry. Will you make Mac and Cheese, Daddy, please?"
Hannah echoed her big brother standing just behind him, "Pease, Daddy."
"Mommy and I have a surprise for you. We're going to have pizza tonight."
"Even better than that..." Rick paused to get the kids full attention. "Tomorrow we are driving to the Lake to see Poppa, and Gram and Gramdaddy."
The two munchkins celebrated while Rick herded them back into their play area. Kate picked up her phone to call her Dad. She could see Rick bouncing Hannah on his knees, while he was on hold with the pizzeria. Kate felt her heart glow with the warmth of her love for her husband and her children. Later that night, Captain Silly would turn into her talented lover. She was a happy, lucky, woman.
A/N: Hopefully, this hasn't given anyone cavities with the sweetness. The divorce quote is verbatim from my son when he was six. Silly Daddies are the best.