When I walked in the house, Terran was all cuddled up under a blanket and dozed off on the couch in the living room. Hannah was setting up the table for dinner. On an instinct, without thinking I strolled up to her and kissed her forehead. She looked at me and smiled. I sat on the edge of the table. “How was your day? You must be tired.” I sympathized with her.
“Not at all. There was hardly anything to do.”
I chuckled. “Now that’s an understatement. I’m sure he’s kept you on your toes.”
“Not a bit. We spent some quality time together.”
“I’m sure you did. When did he sleep?”
“About 15 minutes back. He asked me to wake him up once you were in.”
She continued doing something around the kitchen.
“Your mom called.”
“Oh! And?” I was afraid to hear the rest.
“We just shared a quick hello, she thanked me for looking after Terran and then she was talking to him.”
Thank you mom!
When she came near the table, I held her hand and was about to pull her close to me when we heard Terran. I left her to finish the rest of the work and went to him.
“Hey Champ! Did you have fun today?”
I sat on the couch and took him on my lap.
“Yes dad, a lot.”
He had his arms around me and I was listening to his chatter while I mussed up his hair.
“I even ‘ead a story and Ms. Hannah gave me a sponge bath.”
Hannah was looking at us from across the kitchen counter. “I should have asked you but he was enjoying it so…..”
She trailed off embarrassingly.
“Hannah. I trust your decisions completely.” I put her at ease.
She clapped her hands and said cheerfully. “Okay father and son, will you both please come over for dinner?”
“Yes Ma’am.” I matched her tone and carried Terran to the dining table.
Hannah had made egg pudding for Terran and he was thoroughly relishing it. We didn’t want to give him anything spicy as of now. Dinner was filled with warmth and Terran’s chatter. Just then Hannah said,
“Terran, those choco chip cookies were really yummy. Will you teach me how to make them?”
Terran was all smiles from ear to ear.
“Hey, I have an idea!” He yelped.
“Tomorrow we’ll make it together, after b’eakfast.”
“Okay, then I’ll come in early. Should I bring something?” Hannah asked.
Terran was suddenly crestfallen. He lowered his head and paused with a sad pout on his face.
Hannah and I exchanged a baffled look. What had put him off?
“Terran, Ms. Hannah is talking to you, answer her Champ.” I peered at him.
“Ms. Hannah, please don’t go. Sleep here, with me.”
What was this?
“Terran, Ms. Hannah has to go home. She was here with you the whole day. She must be tired now.” I reasoned with him.
“But she can sleep here. She will go, again she will come. She’ll be more tired.” According to him, his reasons had more weight.
Hannah held his chin and said gently, “Terran, baby I’ll come back early, just like today, before you wake up. Promise.”
“But I want to sleep with you. And it’s ‘aining outside.” He was persistent.
“Terran. Ms. Hannah has to go.”
I was trying to be firm. He got up from his chair, hugged her and snuggled his face in her neck.
“Please.” He murmured. Hannah put her arms around him and we were both looking at each other helplessly.
She averted her eyes first. I took a sigh and was playing around my food on the plate.
“Terran, don’t cry baby.” She was trying to pacify him. I bit my lip and said.
“Hannah you can stay the night if you’re comfortable. You can sleep with Terran in his room.”
“Yes, yes. I will tell you a sto’y.”
He wiped his tears with the back of his hand and tried to entice her expectantly. I laughed at his innocent nobble.
“Please say yes.” He urged her.
“Okay, yes.” She kissed him on the cheek.
The rest of the dinner was finished happily. Hannah wanted to help clear the aftermath, but I just ordered her to go and sit with Terran. She had done enough for the day. While they were chatting and giggling in the living room, I cleared the table, the kitchen and finally put the dishes in the dishwasher with the rest of the utensils. I rested my hands on the counter and announced,
“How about some hot chocolate?”
“Yippee! Thanks dad, you’re the best.”
He had thrown his hands up in the air.
“Hmm, I know.” I quipped.
With three mugs of hot chocolate, I went and sat with them. Terran showed me the Aladdin puzzles which he had made earlier. I could see that in just one day, Hannah had accomplished so much with him. It actually made a huge difference to have a woman in the house. A loving, caring woman. I accepted this fact, at least to myself.
I had still kept some of Hailey’s clothes. Those which had fond memories and I didn’t have the heart to give them away. I showed Hannah to her closet and asked her to pick whatever she found comfortable for the night. While she showered and changed, Terran and I solved one more puzzle together. He had definitely made progress and was quick to understand the tac-tics.
Seeing Hannah in Hailey’s clothes steered a lot of emotions. I kept them all in check with a poker face. With last good night wishes, Terran and Hannah went to his room and I proceeded to mine.
A lot was changing in our world. A lot was changing within me. I wanted these new feelings to stay. What was I scared of? Hannah was a wonderful person. She had proved it time and again.
What we had experienced in the last two days, our rest of the lives could be a replica of the same.
Was I depriving Terran of this happy life, because of my fears, or because of my love for Hailey?
I could distinctly see that mom and Justin were right. Especially after today, it almost felt like a complete, happy family.
Terran’s love for Hannah and vice versa were not allowing me to stay alone with Hailey’s memories.