It Happened One Night

Chapter 4

It had been a long week. Sherrie was glad when three o’clock rolled around Friday. She stepped into Max’s office. “It’s three. I’m going to head out. I’ll see you at home?”
“Yeah, I’m just going to finish up with this and then I’m headed out too.”
She threw a smile at him, “Ok, I’ll see you at home.”
She headed out and climbed into her little aqua Toyata 1984 MR 2. She knew it wasn’t really practical, but she fell in love with it. Max had surprised her with it for her twenty-fourth birthday. He’d also bought a van that year for the three of them to share. It drove like a dream and she turned up the radio for the drive home.
She got home and finished packing for her, Celine and Hayleigh. She managed to get everything in the one suitcase with minimal trouble. She double checked her list, making sure she had everything, and headed to the kitchen.
“Hey,” she said when she saw Max in the fridge, “I thought we were going to eat out?”
“Yeah,” he said, stuffing a piece of meat in his mouth. “That’s the plan but I’m starved. I missed lunch today.”
“You know you can always send me out to get something.”
“yeah, but you were working hard too. Didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Well, thanks for that.” She smiled at him. “The girls are ready to go. Let’s load up and go eat.”
“Lead the way.”
“Celi, Leigh, it’s time to go!”
Hearing their running feet, she headed out to the van. The built in DVD player and extra room would make the four-hour drive easier for them all.
“Can we watch Frozen first?” Celine asked.
“I want to watch Little Mermaid.” From Hayleigh.
“You’ll get to watch both, girls. As long as there is no fighting.” Max told them.
“Alright, Dad. We can watch Frozen first.”
“Thanks, Leigh, for understanding.”
Once on the road, Frozen playing in the background, Sherrie settled in to worry about the visit with her dad.
“Stop brooding.” Max told her after they had driven for a half hour in silence. ]
“I’m sorry. I just can’t stop thinking about the things he did to me.”
“Do you want to change your mind?”
“Yes, but I won’t” she told him. “I just wish it was Sunday and this was over.”
He grabbed her hand for a comforting squeeze. She felt the shock of it all the way through her body. When did his touch start affecting her so much? What was she going to do about it, if anything? The bulled into a diner and sat for a meal. She felt so much like this was her family. Yes, they were going to see her father, but this, the four of them, were all the family she really needed.

After a near sleepless night, Sherrie got up at six and headed for the bathroom. Triggered by memories of the past she stepped in the shower and let the hot water warm her.
A knock on the door startled her from the memories assailing her. “Yeah”
“Sher, are you OK? You’ve been in there a half hour.”
“Sorry, I’ll be right out.”
“But are you OK?”
“Not really. Give me a few minutes.”
She dried off and dresses in jeans and a long sleeve sweater. Knowing her dad he wouldn’t want to have the heat on. Hair in a towel, she headed back into the room.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
She sat beside him, dropping her head onto his shoulder. I was up all night with flashbacks. That’s why I was in the shower so long. I was trying to get clean.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really. At least, not now. Maybe when we get home.”
He put an arm around her and gave her a squeeze. “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here.”
“Thank you, Max.” She said as she dropped a kiss on his cheek, surprising them both. She wasn’t one to give affection to often to anyone but Celine. Never to Max beyond a hug.

He stared into her eyes, getting lost in the dark blue depths. It would be so easy to close the distance between them and kiss her. He leaned toward her, intending to do just that, when the door to the adjoining room opened and Celi’s voice broke them apart. “Mommy, I’m hungry.”
With a guilty start they pulled away from each other, “Let’s go down and get breakfast while Mommy finishes getting ready?”
“OK, Uncle Max.”
“I don’t know if they will let you go in pjs.”
“I’ll go change.” She said, dashing back through the door.
“Sher, I’m sorry.”
She shook her head, “For what?”
If she didn’t know he wasn’t going to tell her. “That you’re going through all this. Just know that you are never alone.”
She gave him a smile. “I know, Max. Thank you.”
“I’m going to take the girls to eat. You take your time getting ready.

Sherrie took a deep, steadying breath. That almost kiss with Max had her senses reeling. She headed to finish getting ready.
Thirty minutes later Max and the girls showed up with breakfast for her. She ate, pushing the food past the knot in her throat.
“I guess I’m ready.”
“Mommy, where we goin?”
“We’re going to go see my dad.”
“You have a dad?”
“I do. I haven’t seen him in nine years. He’s very sick so this is your only chance to meet him.”
Celi’s head bobbed her understanding sending her curls into riotous bouncing.
“Are we ready to head out?” She asked
“Not until you eat.” Max told her handing her the yogurt and banana they picked up.
“I can eat in the car.”
Max gave her a stern look. “No you may not. Eat. Now.”
“Yes, sir.” She gave him a salute and sat down to eat.