Kate walked back to the living room and cleared her throat. She didn’t sit back down. “I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for kicking you out last time. Since then, I’ve had time to think about things and have realized I’m not doing the right thing by Sarah.”
Spencer stood up and walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. “Apology accepted. I’m here to help anyway you need, okay?”
Kate nodded. “I’m still a little mad at you, you know.”
“I figured as much. I was between a rock and a hard place as they say.”
She nodded. “Can I get a hug?” Kate felt a little emotional thinking about the next chapter in her life and all it would involve.
“Of course,” Spencer answered. He stepped closer to Kate, pulling her into his arms. He wished once again, the circumstances were different. Maybe someday they would be able to hug each other with love rather than sadness. He held her there for several minutes, one hand on her head, the other across her shoulders. Her shampoo smelled flowery.
Kate squeezed him back, needing the reassurance and strength he gave her. Her cheek rested against his soft polo shirt he wore with shorts. His hand on the back of her head felt tender and something else….like it belonged. She would have to give that more thought later.
“I’m glad you’re rethinking things about Sarah,” Spencer spoke into Kate’s ear.
After a brief moment, which Kate thought could go on longer, she moved back and said, “Thanks. I needed that.”
“How was your trip?” Kate moved back to the sofa. Spencer sat in Jen’s vacated place in the chair opposite her. They talked about his trip and the training he did and then Kate offered him something to drink which he declined.
Kate cleared her throat again. “Spencer, before we go any further, just how long did you know about Sarah?” Kate leaned back in the sofa, her arms crossed.
“Kate, this isn’t—” Spencer started to answer.
Kate put up her hand and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t even. Don’t give excuses for John and don’t sugar coat it or I’ll get up and leave. Tell me what I want to know.” She meant business. She was almost back to her take-charge-independent self.
Spencer sighed and gathered his thoughts. “Kate, after John made his last rank, a bunch of us went out, and I was the designated driver. You know I don’t drink much. He met a girl, and somehow ended up with her somewhere. Apparently he and she…you know…”
Kate nodded in silence, waiting for him to finish.
Spencer cleared his throat. “Anyway, he didn’t know anything about the baby until she was a year old. The Red Cross had to locate him, because by then he and I were at different bases and he and the girl didn’t exactly exchange phone numbers. I warned him, but you know how he can be when happy and a little drunk.” Spencer took another deep breath and glanced at Kate before continuing. “Honest to God, Kate, he didn’t even tell me until last year that the mother was dying and that he may get custody later. He had to fly home and get a paternity test before he signed papers for child support. I had no idea though that he might die and actually leave Sarah with you until a few months ago when he updated his will. So, I’ve only known a few months about the will and you being named Sarah’s legal guardian.”
“So you didn’t know anything about Sarah until she was a year old?”
“No. I didn’t know he had…you know..” He made gestures with his hands and added, “It wasn’t any of my business. And he didn’t have custody.”
Kate absorbed this information, not speaking. After a few minutes with only the soft snoring from Buttons the only noise in the room, she finally said, “I can’t believe he never told me! What did he think I’d do?”
“He thought you’d run away, because he knew you never wanted to be a mother.”
“But this is different!”
“How so?” Now Spencer was confused. In his mind, a mother is a mother, what’s the difference?
“Because she isn’t mine. She doesn’t have my lifeblood in her and I won’t abandon her. I could never do that.” Kate spoke adamantly before leaning her head on her hands while resting her elbows on her knees.
“John didn’t know that, Kate. You were always so definite about not ever being a mother, and he didn’t know how you’d react if he ever had to tell you. You two never discussed kids if you got serious. He just knew you didn’t want to be a mother. Ever.” Spencer spoke in quiet tones, his voice full of regret. Regret for John, Sarah, Kate and himself. What a mess.
“Did he really think that I would take care of her, and raise her, knowing I didn’t want to be a mother?”
“He knew you would try, out of love for him. And only if he died, which he didn’t plan on doing, of course.” Spencer smiled at the irony. He knew Kate, in all her stubbornness would be a fine mother. He had no doubts. She’d always put her mind to whatever task that was before her. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all. And if he could help her, all the better. He’d always wanted a little girl.
Kate got up to find the envelope from John. It had gotten buried under mail and magazines on her end table. She never did read the other papers in it the first time.
Spencer asked, “Did you read all the papers in there?”
“No, not yet.” Kate pulled them out and unfolded them.
“Why? What now?”
Spencer didn’t answer. “I’ll just wait for you to read them. I think I’ll get that drink now.” He got up and left the room, giving Kate time to digest the other papers in the envelope.
Kate started scanning the other papers. “What?! Are you kidding me?” Her voice level woke up Buttons, who growled. She shushed him and told him to be quiet. He settled back down.
Kate did not. “Spencer!”
Until next time,