Edward narrowed his eyes on Jeff. “What the hell is wrong with you? You’re really going to break their hearts like that?”
Dana put a hand on his chest, trying to calm him down. “It’s okay, Edward. I’ll handle it,” she said soothingly. He looked down at her and nodded. Before she could say another word he led her to the couch across from Jeff and sat her down, keeping a firm grip on her hand.
“Okay, Jeff, there’s something more. Spill it,” Dana said.
“Well, it’s just that we were thinking, you know since we live in Massachusetts and I can only really afford to see them once a year,” Jeff started to say.
“Jeff, you get three weeks of paid vacation a year, you don’t pay child support or alimony and I take the kids to New England at least three times a year to see family, and all three times you were too busy to see them,” Dana said tightly.
“Why should he have to pay child support? You’re rich,” Bea said bitterly.
“Bea, I really think we should allow Jeff and Dana work this out with as little interference as possible,” Edward said calmly. Bea didn’t respond, but stared at him openly.
“Well, see Bea likes it if I take my vacation time so we can spend time together. As for money I have a wife to support now so I won’t be able to come out here again.”
Dana pulled her hand free from Edwards and dropped her face into her hands. “Oh my God, please tell me you’re not doing what I think you’re about to do.” Edward put his arm around her shoulders. He didn’t know what she thought, but he was suddenly nervous for her and the kids.
“Jeff and I think it would be better if he were to sign over his rights since he is not an active part of their lives. We live so far away and we feel it’s not fair to the kids to keep this up. A clean break is best for everyone,” Bea stated in a bored tone.
Dana dropped her hands into her lap and stared at Jeff. “You are really willing to give them up? Never see them again for her?”
Jeff didn’t speak, but Bea sure as hell did. She pulled out a packet from her oversized purse. “Here, we already filed for termination of rights. It’s all set,” she said coldly.
Edward reached out and took the papers, ignoring Bea’s fingers caressing his. He looked at the papers and felt a punch in the gut, this was no joke. “What the hell is wrong with you, man? Those are your kids! They’re great kids!” Edward said, coming to his feet.
Jeff stood up and shrugged indifferently. “I never wanted kids in the first place,” he said casually. “They were all her idea.”
“You son of a b***h!” Edward snapped, taking a step forward. Dana’s hand was the only thing that held him back. She placed a hand on his bicep and gently pulled him back.
“Jeff, think about this very carefully because once you leave through that door that’s it. I won’t put those kids through this hell. I told you when we divorced I didn’t want any drama,” Dana said calmly.
Jeff took a step forward and reached out to take Dana’s hand. Edward shot his hand out protectively and stopped him. Jeff stepped back and sighed. “Look, Dana, you’re doing a great job with them. I have to be honest, I never felt like a father and never wanted them. I can’t go on pretending for their sake. I know it sounds selfish, but that’s how I feel.”
Dana bit her lower lip. “You know what? You’re right. You are selfish. You can leave now. Do you want to say good bye to the kids?”
He shrugged. “What’s the point?” He took Bea’s hand and left without another word, leaving Dana and Edward stunned.
“Oh my God,” Dana mumbled as her legs gave out.
“Whoa.” Edward grabbed her around the waist and led her to the couch.
“I….I can’t believe he just did that,” she muttered.
He put his arm around her, expecting her to break down. What he didn’t expect was for her to take a deep breath and stand up. The look of determination on her face was awe inspiring. “I’m sorry you had to see that, Edward. Thank you for coming by, it was a nice gesture.”
Edward stood up. “Hey, it’s okay.” He reached out for her and she didn’t back up when he took her hand into his. “What are you going to do?”
She shook her head gently. “Move on and help them get through this.”
He watched her for a long moment trying to figure her out. She was strong, unbelievably strong. His heart broke for those kids. He couldn’t imagine the pain they were about to experience. He was thankful that he never had to experience anything like this, if his father had abandoned them his heart would have broken instantly.
Edward pulled Dana into his arms and hugged her. She reluctantly hugged him back. “It’s okay. You’re not alone,” he whispered in her ear.
“Thank you,” she said against his shoulder.
“Where’s Daddy?” Cole asked.
They broke apart and watched as Cole and Elizabeth walked into the room. Cole’s face was covered in chocolate, giving the illusion of a goatee. Elizabeth’s expression was stressed as she looked past them, searching for her father.
“He left, didn’t he?” she asked softly.
Dana dropped to her knees in front of Elizabeth. “Yes, sweetie, he did. I’m sorry.” She kissed her small cheek.
Edward watched the little boy take it all in. A small tear rolled down his face. “That’s fine, Mommy. I don’t like that woman.” He was trying to sound brave for his mother. Edward realized this little three year old boy was trying to be the man of the house for his mother and sister. It wasn’t fair.
He dropped to his knees next to Dana and took Cole into his arms. “You know what I was thinking, buddy?” he asked the little boy.
“What, Uncle Edward?” he asked, taking a deep breath to calm himself down.
“I was thinking it would be fun to go to the carnival over on Maywood and then maybe go for some burgers and fries. Does that sound like fun?” he asked.
“What’s an ‘arnival?” Cole asked.
Edward laughed softly. “Well, they have lots of fun rides, games and junk food!”
Cole smiled for the first time since Edward walked into the house. “Really?”
“Yes, would you please go with me to the carnival?” he asked, knowing they needed a man to want to spend time with them.
Cole looked to his mother. “Can we?” he asked excitedly.