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I baked oatmeal raisin cookies today. Mallory baked this kind for her ex-husband, Toby, one Saturday morning, when she learned about his visit. He’d called to say it was important that he talked to her. The excerpt starts where she’s just learned that he’s plans on doing legal work in June for a fraternity brother, Jeff.
“I need to settle some things for Jeff. He fired his accountant and a few other employees,” Toby said. “They’re threatening to sue him. I’ll be leaving for Las Vegas as soon as I finish my present cases.”
Toby can’t go to church with us, but he can fly to Sin City to help a loser fraternity friend. Maybe she wouldn’t send any cookies home with him. “I’m guessing you’ll need me to keep Josh on a weekend. That’s no problem.”
He stood and walked to the counter. While refilling his cup, he said, “It might be for a month. I’m just not sure.”
“Are you sure it’s for legal work and not to gamble?” Toby had never been a gambler, but maybe he had acquired the gambling habit since their divorce. She knew what a sickness it was since her dad had been a gambling addict. He’d left them to go to Las Vegas for that purpose only.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said, irritated. “I’m not your dad. You know I don’t gamble. I’m going to be working the whole time.”
“I’m surprised you’d leave Josh for a month.”
He returned to his chair. “I’d like Josh to fly to see me over a weekend.”
She clenched her jaw. “He’s too little to fly by himself.”
“I wasn’t planning on him coming by himself.”
A thrill went through her body because she knew he meant for her to fly to Las Vegas with Josh. Thank you, God, she prayed silently. She wasn’t crazy about going to Vegas for a family vacation, but knew it would make Josh happy to spend time with both parents together.
“That’s good. If I book the flight soon, it won’t cost as much. When do you need─”
“I’ll pay for the tickets for Samantha and Josh.”
For a moment, her mind couldn’t grasp that he hadn’t meant for her to go on the plane. Instead Toby wanted his girlfriend of a few months to travel with their son.
He frowned. “I hope you aren’t going to put up a fuss about Samantha bringing Josh. She adores him.”
Her stomach tightened. No way was his girlfriend taking their little son to another state. “They barely know each other.”
“Samantha is going to spend time with us after the movie. And I’m going to have her come over more often on the weekends. He’ll be fine with her on the plane.”
Samantha being with Toby more wasn’t something she wanted to hear. Obviously, Toby cared for his girlfriend more than he’d indicated before. How could Toby move on so quickly with a new relationship? “I’m sorry but he’s not going. For one thing, he’s still in school and the trip will tire him out too much.”
“I was planning on a June visit.”
“You know he’s going to the lake house with your mom and dad in June. And his birthday’s in June.” How could she have her surgery if that trip was cancelled? Unless Toby planned on keeping Josh longer than a weekend in Vegas which she never wanted to happen.
“Well, June’s a big month and Josh’s birthday is only one day,” he said in a sarcastic tone. “He can come later and still go visit my parents.”
“A casino is hardly an appropriate place for a child.”
He drummed his fingers on the table. “So you’re saying that our son can only spend time with me in Las Vegas if you are with him?”
“You have to admit that I was being generous to bring him to you. I shouldn’t be expected to have him fly for the first time with a stranger.” She saw his eyes darken with anger. “Okay, Samantha’s not actually a stranger, but what does she know about kids? She doesn’t have any. Or does she have one hidden somewhere?”
“She doesn’t have children, but she’s great with kids. I’ve seen her with her nieces and nephews.”
She bit her lip instead of calling him a liar. He’d said that his relationship with Samantha wasn’t serious. Meeting the relatives meant their relationship might become permanent. And now he wanted Samantha in Vegas with him. Was he in love with Samantha? What other reason could he have for making sure she spent time with Josh? Of course, she knew he’d get married someday, but was hoping it’d be much later. She was not ready for Josh to be part of a new family. They hadn’t been divorced very long. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for Josh to travel to Las Vegas.”
He glanced at his watch. “I better go. I hope you’ll change your mind. Please think about it. You know I always take good care of Josh.”
Her stomach turned when she heard the door shut behind Toby.
He’d never planned on inviting her to Vegas. Was spending time with her so undesirable? She wanted Josh to see his parents as being friends and doing activities together.
She forgot to give Toby his cookies. If she hurried, maybe she could catch him. Running to the front door, she hit her knee hard on the corner of the end table. She ignored the pain and jerked open the door.
Toby stood outside his car, talking on his cell phone. Without a doubt the person on the other end was Samantha… the woman he wasn’t serious about… yeah, right.
And she knew then he wasn’t getting the cookies. He didn’t deserve them. She couldn’t stand liars and cheaters.