“Izzy’s down for her nap.” Nicky offered a smile before he collapsed in the chair across from me. His exhaustion beginning to show again as he eyed me.
“Good get some sleep then Nicky. She’s tired, you’re tired, get some sleep.”
“Nah, I’m fine Stephanie.” Even his voice said that he was exhausted. “Besides I kinda wanted to talk to you.”
“About?” I was a little shocked, Nicky and I never used the words I want to talk or I need to talk, we just did it.
“About what Isabella said.” The words hit like a ton of bricks as he spoke.
“W-What about it?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking, and maybe she’s right. Maybe it’s time we start a family.”
“Nicky,” I stopped to think about what had been said for a minute trying to decide how to respond. “I saw what Izzy went through not having her father around. It would kill me to have to put another child through that if something happened to us.”
The house stood silent before Nick’s voice broke it. “Alright.” Though his voice didn’t convince me of his position on it. “I think I’m going to lay down for a bit.”
“Okay.” I couldn’t help feeling like I’d let him down. Was this going to be what undid us? Would this be our end? In fact I found it a little funny because in the beginning Nick had been the one unsure of how he felt about kids and now here it was me unsure of how I felt about more.
The silence that followed him leaving the room killed me; this had to be the end, that I was sure of.
“Stephanie?” The house was quiet as I pushed the door open, bolstering Izzy up on my hip. She’d said she was going to run some errands but it wasn’t like her to be gone when it came time to find out what was wrong with Izzy.
Quinn came running ears perked, tail wagging telling me she was alone. Stephanie wasn’t here but where was she? The note on the kitchen table answered that though.
I’ve got some thinking to do and I hope you understand. Once I find the answers I’m looking for I’ll be back if I’m still welcome. Take care of Izzy as you adopted her, I know she’s in good hands. Please know this is hard for me to do. I love you, and I promise, I’m going to see someone we both trust to set me straight.
She’d left me, in search of answers, to what question I didn’t know though.
“Izzy, you want to go watch cartoons while daddy takes care of some things?”
The little girl nodded and when I set her on the floor she took off for the living room. It always amazed me how soon they learned how to use the remote.
The sound of Dora told me she’d figured it out.
Pulling the phone from my pocket I dialed Greg.
“Yea, listen Greggo its Nicky.”
“Enjoying the time off?”
“Oh you know, Isabella’s sick and Stephanie pulled a disappearing act.”
“She did what?” Greg was all business now. “You want me to see if I can track her phone?”
“If you don’t mind. I think I’ve got and idea of where she went but I’m not sure.”
“Well her phones of right now but I’ll keep trying and let you know if I find her.”
“When you go to get her, I’m going too…”
“I don’t think there will be a going to get her. Unless she wants to come home it wont help to bring her back.”
“Right, poor Izzy.”
“Let me know if you find her Greg.”
“Will do.” With that I flipped the phone shut letting my head fall into my hands. My thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing.
“No dear, it’s your mother.”
“Oh. I’m working on a trip to see you soon but,” My words were cut off by her next statement.
“I believe I have something here that’s very dear to you.”
“Yes mom you’re very dear to me.”
“Sucking up wont get you out of this mess Stephanie showed up in tears what happened?”
“I don’t know. When I left to take Isabella to the doctor everything was fine and I got home and she was gone.”
“I think maybe it’s time to come home Nicky.”
“I’m beginning to think so too.”
“Good, bring Isabella when you do. She’s gotten so big since I saw her last. Stephanie packed her a bag for you.” Oh how kind of her, I was beginning to feel like I’d been set up. “we’ll see you soon.”
Letting the phone fall to the table I let out a sigh. “As if you really left much choice.”
A light knock at the door told me my mother had gotten a new dog.
“Nicky!” My mother’s excitement wasn’t hard to see. “Oh my Isabella’s gotten so big.”
“Stephanie here?” It wasn’t that I didn’t love seeing my mother but I was worried about Stephanie.
“She was going to get a hotel room but we convinced her to stay. She’s still pretty shook up but I did tell her you were coming and she seemed ok.” Mom’s demeanor changed. “She’s been on the phone with another man Nicky.”
“I thought she called him Greg.”
“Oh. I work with Greg, they’re good friends.”
“Come in Nicky. Stephanie’s in the guest room, your rooms as you last left it, I’m sure you two can figure something out. She’s a wonderful girl you know.”
“I know, believe me I know. Izzy you want to go see Gramma for a little bit while I go see mommy?”
“No!” I’d never known a child as stubborn as Isabella and I could only imagine how Stephanie had been.
“Come on Isabella, we’ll go see the puppy.” Mom reached out to take her from me and hearing about the puppy she reached back.
Once I was sure she wasn’t going to play strange I started down the hallway. Letting out a sigh as I reached the guest room I knocked lightly. “Steph, it’s me.”
The terrified look face that met me at the door wasn’t one I was used to. “Nicky.” Stephanie whimpered. Her face reminded me of one that Isabella has made when she’d first met Greg. A look of absolute fear.
“Yea it’s me. Let me in baby, it’s ok. Whatever it is we can work it out.”
She pulled the door open, letting me in before she pushed it shut again behind me. I’d only seen her this broken once before but that was another story.“I’m sorry Nicky