His eyes stay glued to me, not blinking, while his feet stay firmly planted. “I’m clearly saving you from men in suits who are only after one thing.”
I scoff in disbelief that this is where our conversation is heading. “Not that it’s any of your business but I was waiting for Lena, and he was just making small talk, he’s a lawyer.”
“A man giving his card to a woman looking like you do in that dress is not making small talk.”
“What’s wrong with my dress?” I step closer to him and poke his chest with my finger. “You have some nerve.”
He is quick to defend. “When it comes to you, yeah, I do.”
I could cut the air with a knife. He knows how to break down my defenses because I cherish the idea that he feels he has a claim to me.
I drop my finger and blow out a breath as I gather my thoughts, and I realize that I still don’t have my answer. “Why are you here?”
He pinches the bridge of his nose, clearly agitated. “Would you have taken his card?”
I fold my arms over my chest. “What? I don’t know. Maybe. To be polite.”
It’s the truth, maybe he would be the key to forgetting about you.
Ford scrubs his face with his hand. “Don’t be polite.”
I shake my head because we’ll go in a circle. “Answer me as to why you’re here.”
He tilts his head to the side and licks his lips. “I’ve been thinking about what Connor’s teacher said.”
“Oh.” My heart pinches.
“I think it’s a point we needed to hear, maybe we should be putting in more effort.”
“What more can we do?”
“Summer vacation, we should spend time together, the three of us.”
My eyes grow big, and my mouth opens but no words come out. I feel my throat go dry, and I swallow. “Like a family trip or something?”
“Something like that. Why don’t you come stay at my place after Connor’s hockey camp finishes? A little lake time, all three of us.” There is so much conviction in his voice that I know he believes his suggestion is a plausible solution.
A gasp escapes me. “You’re serious?”
I step to the side as I take in the last minute. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
It’s really not.
It would mean more time with Ford, memories of our younger selves, and the confrontation that Ford is no longer married to hockey.
Ford is quick to grab my arm to draw me back to him, ensuring our eyes meet. “It’s an excellent idea. We’ve had family dinners together, but this is something more and for him. Showing Connor that we are all one team.”
“One team.” I huff a laugh because this isn’t what I imagined calling my dream family.
“He needs this, Elle,” he pleads.
“I… I don’t know.” I’m doubtful. Very doubtful.
There is a pause as we both stand there as two former lovers trying to find our road forward.
We both promised to always put Connor first, and that’s my inner turmoil at this very second. Do I ignore the warning signs if it means putting Connor first?
“Margo… it’s her birthday, and she’s asking that you visit.” He adds fuel to the fire.
“Ford…” What do I say to that? Margo did so much for us. She stood up for us when nobody else would.
“We owe her.”
I blow out a long breath. “I know.”
“Is it so bad that we give a little time for Connor and Margo?”
I look at him like he’s crazy. “You know it’s not just that.”
Do I need to spell out all the reasons this is a bad idea? His heated look is reason one, and my jumping heart is reason two.
“Come on, Elle, neither one of us will be able to sleep knowing we could give Connor a week to help ensure he knows all is okay.”
“You’re right. It’s just…”
He catches my gaze and places his hands on my shoulders so I can’t escape. “You can have your own room… if you want.” Ford’s swaggered-mischief ways cause me to smirk, but I still give him wide eyes. “You can study and relax whenever. We can take Connor to places together on your breaks.”
I should be more focused when studying, but Ford is presenting an offer to consider.
“I mean, I guess a little family time would be reasonable.”
I puff out a breath. This isn’t going to be my smartest move, but it’s for Connor. “Okay.”
Ford’s long finger brushes my cheek. “Good.”
My face is blank. “You hunted me down instead of calling?”
He grins. “Of course, you’re easier to sway when we’re face to face.”
It’s because I melt a little inside every time I see you.
“Is Lena driving you home or do you need me to drive you?”
My thighs tighten from the thought of being stuck in a car with him. I know he would walk me to my door, and because I hate the idea of him driving back in the dark, then I would offer him the sofa and drive myself crazy.
My voice nearly croaks. “I’m good.”
I kick a small pebble on the ground and cross my arms over my chest, shaking my imagination away and focusing on his request for family time. “But Ford, let’s just remember that… we had a plan.” Agreed on long ago.
He exhales loudly. “Plans can change.”
His statement stirs something inside of me, hope mixed with fear.
Gently I tip my head up to acknowledge that I heard him. “Night,” I say.
When I walk away, every ounce of me knows he is right. Plans can change. But that doesn’t mean they should.