She peeked at John’s face and saw his confusion and concern. Was he wondering what kind of a mother she really was? Or maybe he was concerned about her safety. Probably stuck on thinking she was a nutcase and he’d be better off getting some distance from her and this late comer.
“Damien, what are you doing here?” Her voice sounded shrill in her own ears, she could only imagine what it sounded like to John. Guilty and defensive, most likely. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
“Susan, do you think we could have a few minutes of privacy? There are some things I need to explain.”
“What could you possibly want to talk about? And how do you even know about Jesse? You disappeared months before he was born, weeks before I even realized he was baking! And now you show up here like you’ve been wronged somehow?”
“Excuse me, my name is John Havenarker. You can call me Officer Havenarker. I’m afraid that Susan and I are a bit busy right now. Perhaps you could leave your local information with the hostess over there and Susan can contact you when she’s got a minute.”
“Officer Havenarker, I do apologise for interrupting your tete-a-tete, but it is really very important that I speak with Susan privately. Now.”
Susan watched as John glanced at her, as if discerning how ruffled she was and could she handle whatever Damien had to throw at her. She nodded briefly, then after apologizing for the intrusion she followed Damien out of the diner.
It was soon obvious that Damien didn’t have any clue about where they were or where they could go to get a little privacy. She wasn’t about to invite him to her home, nor was she willing to go to wherever he was staying. Finally, she directed him to a nearby park where they sat on a dilapidated swing set. It was quiet at first, there was no way she was going to make this easy for him. Instead, she contented herself with admiring the bright blue sky and the wind that had a distinct autumn feel to it as it rushed along the ground. The lake was shining brightly in the background and she could hear ski boats and other water craft as they cruised and played on the lake.
“Susan, I am so sorry,” were the first words out of his mouth after a significant time had passed. He swatted at the occasional gnat, and said it again. “I am so sorry that I just disappeared like that. I certainly didn’t mean for things to end or to hurt you. Especially when I found out about Jesse, my conscious grew heavier knowing how difficult going through that all alone must have been. Please, give me a chance to explain. Susanna, (Really? He had to bring up that tired, old nickname? Although she found herself startled when she felt a warm tingling sensation in her thorn and thistle protected heart. He sounded so sincere.) I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness but I’m hoping for it anyway, once you know what has happened. Perhaps you’ll be able to see your way past my horrible neglect and remember what we once had. We were best friends, spending time together at work as well as before and after. Talking about anything and everything. Please tell me you remember how we fit so well together. I miss you. And now that I know we have a son together, I would really like to get to know him, be involved in his life and be a help to you. To be with you. Will you give me the time to explain?”
“I don’t know Damien. Yes, we had some good times, okay some really great times, and I thought maybe we really did have a future together. But that was a long time ago and lots has changed since then. Say what you have to say, although I doubt anything could make me forgive and forget what you did to me and to Jesse.” Susan felt herself begin to shake - with fear or anticipation she wasn’t sure. But she could feel the energy in the air and she knew that what Damien was about to share with her would rock her world. If only she’d known then what was coming, she might have never agreed to this conversation.
“One night about 15 months ago, I was driving home from work at Caesar’s. I saw some lights in the sky. Just for a moment… ”