I could barely think straight, I was so tired. Babies really know how to take your heart and sleep. I put her in her carrier and I headed to the bus stop. Once I got the whole Joe's thing sorted out and officially made that restaurant Lulu's Pies, I'd buy a car. But right now I don't nearly have enough money to get one. I head to the bus stop wrapping Lulu tighter in her blanket. It was December, and it was absolutely freezing. Poor baby, having to come to work with her mess of a mama. I sit down and tighten my own coat, wishing for summer. I take my baby out of the carrier and wrap her up in my arms, trying my best to keep her as warm as possible.
"Wanna borrow my coat? She looks like she needs it more than I do."
I heard a familiar voice and snapped my head up to find Jim Pomatter. Oh dear. That man is just too damn attractive for mine and his own good.
"Are you sure? I'd hate to have you freeze."
"Really, Jenna, it's no problem."
What the hell did I do to get a man like that in my life?
"You really are too kind. Thanks, Doc."
He took off his jacket to reveal a thick grey sweater over a typical Jim Pomatter dress shirt. He handed me the coat and I wrapped baby Lulu up in it, making sure she's nice and warm. She coos and I heard Jim release a soft laugh.
"She is just adorable."
I laughed too. It felt good, better than I'd felt in weeks.
"I know, right? I can't stand how precious my little baby is."
"Good job, mama."
We both laughed at the silly nickname.
"Well, I think I prefer Jenna, but mama's alright."
He chuckled softly and then got more serious, as if remembering something.
"Jim? Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I just…"
He looked off and frowned.
"Seriously what is it?"
"The divorce was finalized yesterday. It just seems so real now."
My brain exploded. Divorced? Him and Francine? That must be so hard for him. Then why was I happy?
"You and Francine cut it off."
"Yeah well, she overheard Nurse Nancy scold me for getting lost in daydreams when she was trying to talk to me."
"Why would that lead to divorce?"
Although, deep down I knew why. The nurse knew of the affair, having walked in on us more than once. Of course she would give him the heat for it. Poor Jim.
"Well, it was before I left with my wife on the trip, so you weren't really showing yet. And um...Well she got mad at me for making out with a woman that I wasn't married to. Let alone a pregnant, married woman. Francine overheard a few words but never brought it up. After you had your baby though, she came to me and asked if it was true. If I had been screwing around with some pregnant lady named Jenna Hunterson. I didn't answer, because I was trying desperately to piece together how she found out. Then Nancy's lecture occured to me and I figured it out. I looked up and she knew. Francine she, she always knew what I was thinking. So, when I looked at her, my eyes full of apology, she got the hint. She looked hurt and first and then angry. She asked me what the hell I was thinking. I couldn't really help myself and I told her-"
After listening intently for so long, I jumped back when he stopped. I knew I was gonna have to tell him that I loved him, but I wanted to hear him say it first, I knew it's selfish but I just needed to hear it.
"Told her what, Jim?"
"Told her I love you!" He blurted out rather quickly, then he looked away embarrassed.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, it just happened. Even before we kissed for the first time. I just…" He stopped again. Looking both sad and mad at himself.
"Jim, I love you." I said loudly without thinking. It just felt like something I should do and I did it. Well not that I meant to say it, but I meant what I said.
"I love you. You were the only man to really ever care about me or about what I thought. You treated me kindly and appreciated what I did. You always told me to take care, but instead of instinct it was sincere. You were willing to risk a healthy marriage, a good job and life for me. A small town waitress who lost herself due to a demanding and abusive man. You showed me who I really was and that I didn't need that bastard in my life. You protected me and my baby girl when Earl got pissed that I was leaving his sorry ass." I sighed. "What I'm trying to say is...you were my hope and my light during a time of darkness that didn't seem to have a way out. When we, you know, touched, you were always worried about making sure I was okay and having fun. Never spending a single second worried about yourself. You are one of the best people in my life and the only man I ever really loved."
I looked over at Jim and saw that he was crying. He noticed me looking and turned his head to look at me. His eyes looked bright and I did nothing when he cupped my face with both hands. And then he kissed me. It was different, not like the stolen kisses in the doctor's office. It was real and powerful and felt like I was in heaven. We tried to deepen the kiss until we realized that I was holding a baby. Oops.
"Do you have to go to work?" Jim breathes out.
"I don't have work today, not until I figure out what I'm gonna do with the damn restaurant Joe left me. Do you have to go to work?"
"Not necessarily. Not if you don't want me to. What if we just...spent the day together? Nothing too sudden. Just us and that little bundle of joy. What do you say?"
"I think I would like that. I think I would like that very much."
We walked a while until we reached his house. It was big, and beautiful. With a white marble walkway and one smooth column on the porch. We walked in through the door, after Jim unlocked it. I took my shoes and placed them on the shoe rack with his. No other women's shoes. Just mine.
I placed Lulu in her carrier on the ground, going to take off my coat. I felt strong but lean hands grab it and pull it down as I feel Jim's warm body get closer to mine.
At that moment I discovered that I had dressed up. Without realizing it, too. I guess I subconsciously decided that since I was going out for the first time in forever, I might as well look cute. I was wearing a flowy blouse that exposed a little cleavage, and skinny jeans with heeled boots. My hair was up in a high ponytail, with a piece of hair curled down both sides of my face.
I felt my coat leave my arms and heard it get hung up on a hook. I then felt his strong arms wrap around me, pulling me even closer as he placed his head on my shoulder, leaning into my neck. I lost my breath as he kissed the spot a little under my ear. He had found that sweet spot the morning I had brought him pineapple upside down pie. And he ate it off my stomach and kissed all the way up to that point. God, those were the days.
"Oh Jenna, I missed you. I missed you since you had Lulu. I missed you every time you left my office to go to work. I missed you especially when Francine left me. And I missed you even more when she was here."
He sighed and I lost it. I turned around quickly and kissed him. I meant it to be quick and meaningful, but we both kinda melted into it. After a bit of making out, we pulled away gasping for air. Lulu began to cry and we took her to the couch. I sat down with Lulu in my arms and Jim asked if he could take her. I sat with my head on his shoulder as he held my now sleeping daughter.
"She's a cutie." He says softly.
It filled my heart with joy seeing him be so kind and gentle with my daughter.
"She is indeed." I respond.
"You look beautiful today." He whispers gently.
"Thanks, I thought I might as well try if I was going in public today."
"What makes you think you need to try to be beautiful?"
I laughed. "My face in the morning."
He turned his head to look at me and I lifted mine up too.
"Even when your hair was a mess, and your uniform was wrinkled, and your lipstick was smudged, you looked gorgeous."
"Man, those were the days, huh? Making out while we were both married on your gynecological table."
"Remember when you came in, pissed at Earl, shoved me down on the table, put the extenders out, strapped my arms in them, unbuttoned my shirt and kissed my chest down to my pants?"
"Ugh don't remind me of my horny stupidity."
We laughed like maniacs for a while.
"Oh and you weren't much better, doc. As I recall, I came in one morning, and you were tired of Francine and her perfectionistness. So you lifted me up, placed me on the table and shoved your head in my chest."
"Oh dear." He laughed.
"That's not even the best part! You ripped my uniform trying to unbutton the damn thing and you weren't even embarrassed. At all. Oh and then-"
"Well I don't think I can stand listening to how hormone driven I was."
"Just you wait, doc. Then, you had me seated at the edge of the table and practically thrusted another baby into me!"
That was when I lost it and was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. The couch was shaking as me and Jim laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Lulu started giggling and then began to cry. I got up quickly and went to go change her diaper. As I was walking back, I noticed Jim staring at me.
Lulu had fallen asleep so I gently placed her into the carrier with her blanket.
"You're a good mom."
"I mean it. I don't know anyone else who could pull through such a shitty relationship with a man who used her and still come out happy and whole."
Whole. Jim had just described me as whole. Dear God, if only, He noticed my expression and took my face in his hands, forcing me to look at him.
"Hey. I'm serious. You really are amazing, Jenna Hunterson."
I kissed him gently. Man, he really is the best.
He deepened the kiss and we began to make out as we had done a hundred times in the morning at his office.
His hands moved up and down my body while mine moved through his hair. We pulled each other closer and began to kiss more intensely.
I woke up to Lulu's crying and realized with a start that I was in a bed. Naked. Well, I guess I know how yesterday ended. I heard someone singing a soft lullaby and I went to go inspect. After I had put on one of Jim's large t-shirts that I found, of course. I walked into the front room to find Jim in some sweats rocking Lulu back and forth to stop her crying. He had the cutest puppy dog smile in place which only brightened once he saw me.
"Good morning!" He said softly.
My heart swelled with love for this man at the sight of him genuinely happy to see me, and rocking my baby back and forth.
"Nice shirt." He joked, smirking. His face fell. "Hey, are you okay with what happened? I felt like I was pushing but didn't care and I don't want to force-"
"Jim." I cut him off sternly. "What in the name of God makes you think I didn't enjoy and didn't want that."
He looked relieved and I went to embrace him, as he was still holding my baby girl. And I thought, maybe just maybe we could do things right. Turn this bad idea into something more permanent. A real family with loving parents. Who knows?