Home Run Page 32

“Ya!” Sam added. “You special.”

The tears didn’t hold back now. She scooped up Sam and held him tightly as Ali hugged her legs. This was her family and that included Christian.

Sam lifted his head from her shoulder and held out his arms. “Cwis! Hug!”

She watched his eyes grow moist too as he moved in to hug their little family. Yes, she knew it was theirs.

Not only had they planted her flowers, but the kids had also helped Christian with dinner. Ali had been in charge of stirring the pudding and Sam had been in charge of sprinkles. He wasn’t sure if there was a limit on too many sprinkles, but Tori didn’t seem to mind.

“I just set your laundry on your bed,” he said. “I didn’t want to go through your drawers.”

She looked at him with a sweet smile on her lips. “You did my laundry?”

“Yep,” he said as he poured more milk into the special cup Sam drank from that didn’t spill. “I vacuumed the van too when I got gas. I’ll take it to work with me next week and get the oil changed if that’s okay with you.”

“Sure,” she choked out.

He gave her a wink. He could see she was a bit overwhelmed, but he wanted her to know he’d handled it. The kids had been picked up, the van had been gassed and vacuumed, dinner made, laundry done, and even flowers planted. The kids were healthy and happy and he’d done it with a smile on his face. They could do this—if she could just forget about how stupid he’d been.

They had a routine. After dinner they always took a walk. He’d walk next to Tori, but he’d never taken her hand. Until tonight, he’d made sure to stay physically away from her. He didn’t want her to think that only the physical was driving him as it had the night of his brother’s wedding.

But tonight he had a change in mind. “Let’s take a drive.”

“A drive? Where?”

“I have something I want to show you guys.”

They agreed and as a family they piled into the van. He started the van and they drove. No one questioned where they were going. The air wasn’t thick enough that they had to have the air on, so they rolled down the windows and took in the early evening sounds. Twenty minutes later Christian pulled up to the fenced off lot.

“What is this?”

“My office.”

Tori narrowed her eyes. “Your office?”

He smiled. “This is the project I’m in charge of. It’s a baseball stadium.”

“It’s dirt!” Sam shouted from the back trying to see, but restrained in his seat.

Christian turned and smiled at him. “It’s going to be a baseball stadium. Do you want to go see?”

Sam nodded his head and that was a good enough answer.

They walked around the orange fencing at the mound of dirt. He was sure that was all Tori could see and he had to admit to himself a few months ago that was all he could see too. But now, standing in front of it, he could imagine the parking lot, the stands, the scoreboard, the concessions. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t already see. He assumed this was how his brother and uncle saw the world—full of possibilities yet to be built.

Christian took his phone out of his pocket. “Here this is what it will look like.” He’d knelt down next to Ali and Sam and pulled up a picture of the drawing. They both looked at it and then out over the dirt.

“I wanna play,” Sam looked him directly in the eye.

“You want to play ball.”

“On a team. Like daddy.”

He saw Tori turn away—obviously to collect herself. Christian cleared his throat. “Well, at your age you start with T-ball. Does that sound good?”

He nodded with excitement. “You be my coach.”

Now he was going to have to compose himself. Tori had turned around as if she needed to see his reaction. He noticed her hand had rested on her stomach and that made his head spin.

It was here. It was now. This whole world was spinning around him and he wanted to scoop it all up and keep it just like this.

“You want me to be your coach?”

Sam nodded.

“Okay, then. I’ll be your coach. That means I have to keep hanging around, is that okay?”

“Where else would you go?” Ali asked.

That was the final moment he knew he couldn’t live his life without them. “Ali, if you’ll have me, I’ll never go anywhere else again.”

“We like having you around and so does Auntie.”

Christian shifted his eyes toward Tori who was wiping tears away. “You like having me around?”

“It wasn’t my plan to not have you hanging around.”

Chris stood and moved toward her. He rested his hands on her hips. “Can you forgive me? I didn’t know this was exactly what I wanted.”

“Are you sure this is what you want? You can’t play ball again, Chris. You won’t be in the majors. I have them and I can’t take off on a moment’s notice and be anywhere you want to be.”

“You are where I want to be.”

“Is it enough?”

“It always was, I just lost sight of that.”

She rested her head on his shoulder and he pulled her in close.

“Chris, I’ve never stopped loving you,” she whispered in his ear and that was when the first tear broke free and ran down his cheek.

He pulled back so that their foreheads touched. “I’ve been thinking about the plans we had once. You were supposed to have my name by now.”

She tucked in her lips and held back her sob. “I know.”

“Maybe we could consider making those plans again.”

She rested her hand on his cheek and then looked at the children who were collecting rocks from the mud. “I’d like that, but…”

He didn’t like that. He didn’t want a but.

“Let’s talk about this next week. I’m very overwhelmed right now and I’m even a little light headed.”

“You’re still not feeling well?” He wished she would tell him about the baby. It would all be easier if she could just tell him that she was carrying Scott’s baby, but if that was the case, she’d probably want to see what Scott’s plans were before she included Christian in on it. That was how she worked. He understood that, but it wasn’t making things any easier.

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