Sam looked up when the door opened and Jason walked in. She watched as he slid off his ever-present leather jacket and hung it over the back of the desk chair. She watched as he rubbed his hands over his face and sighed. Then he turned to face the room and stopped when he saw her.
“What are you doing sitting in the dark?” he asked, flipping on the light.
Sam shrugged. “Just thinking,” she said. “There’s coffee in the kitchen and I had the bakery deliver some muffins and bagels.”
“Thanks,” Jason said as he headed into the kitchen. He knew Sam was behind him. Pouring a cup of coffee, Jason sipped the hot liquid and turned to face her. “Has Elaina been up yet?” he asked.
Sam smiled softly. “Not yet,” she said. “You know she’s generally a late sleeper.”
Jason nodded. From the beginning, Elaina had always slept through the night, waking once for a bottle and then sleeping until seven or eight the next morning, depending on when she got up during the night.
“How was your walk?” Sam asked as she grabbed a bagel and cut it open. She knew where he had gone that morning. She herself had visited Jessica last night, knowing Jason was going to need this morning with her.
“Good,” said Jason. He put his mug down and grabbed a bagel of his own. “I figure when Elaina gets up we can take her to Kelly’s for breakfast and then head over to Lorenzo’s.”
“Breakfast at Kelly’s? You know she’s going to love that!” Sam said with a smile as she spread cream cheese onto her bagel.
Jason smiled and nodded. His daughter was a very happy little girl and he was grateful for that. She was so much like her mother – and had Jason and Lorenzo wrapped around her little fingers. There was nothing the two men would ever deny her.
Jason thought about his newfound relationship with Lorenzo Alcazar. Never in a million years did Jason ever think he and Lorenzo would be on the same side. That they would be able to build a relationship and family together. That they would become business partners after a truce was settled between them. That Jason would trust the man with his life and the life of his daughter. If he weren’t actually experiencing it, he would never have believed it.
Jason smiled when he heard his little girl’s voice over the baby monitor. She was the light in his life. When things felt like they were falling down around him, all Jason had to do was hold his little girl in his arms and close his eyes. And it would all go away for awhile.
“Daddy! I wake! Want out!”
Sam laughed. “You know if you leave her too long she’s going to climb out of that crib on her own,” she said.
Jason knew that was true. He had first realized Elaina was getting too big for the crib when he woke up in the middle of the night to find his daughter curled into his side fast asleep. After that, he had talked to her about climbing out of the crib – not that that made too much of a difference though. Elaina was just like her mother – determined and independent. Jason had never thought he would have had to baby proof his home as much as he did once Elaina was mobile.
His little girl was growing up so fast, Jason thought as he walked up the stairs and to his daughter’s room. And there she was, standing in her crib, one leg over the side. Jason stopped in the doorway, crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe. She hadn’t seen him yet and he took this moment to watch her.
She was a beautiful little girl. Her dark hair framed her small face and hung straight past her shoulders. Jason had considered cutting it, but Elaina had pitched a fit. Her eyes were Jessica’s – an emerald green that lit up a room. And her personality was Jessica’s all the way. She was intelligent, curious about the world around her. She loved unconditionally. And there was always that independence. Once she had started crawling, Jason had a hard time keeping up with her, as she would dart over the floor in the blink of an eye. Then came the pulling herself up – and grabbing anything she could get her hands on. He still remembered when she grabbed the cord on the phone while he was on a business call and pulled it out – a huge smile on her face. There was no way Jason could be mad at her, but a gate soon went up in front of his office door – the only place where all his business stuff was kept. He never took meetings at the penthouse. That was done either in a warehouse or on Lorenzo’s property.
As he stood there, Elaina turned her head and saw her father. Busted. Her eyes widened a moment and then her face lit in a bright smile. “Daddy out!” she said.
“I can see that,” Jason said as he went over and scooped her up. “And what did I tell you about climbing out of your crib?”
“No like!” Elaina said as she shook her head and put her hands on her father’s cheeks. “No baby!”
Jason laughed. “I guess you aren’t anymore, huh?” he said, carrying her to the changing table.
Elaina made a face and pulled at her diaper under her purple nightgown. “No diaper! No want no more!”
Jason raised an eyebrow at her. Man, this was getting to be too much for him. “What do you mean no more diaper?” he asked as he changed her.
“I big girl! No want this!” she said, pointing to the fresh diaper Jason had just put on. “Want undies!”
Jason couldn’t help laughing. “How about we hold off on that for today? Do you know what today is?”
Elaina nodded happily. “Two today!” she squealed and threw her arms around her father’s neck. “Daddy have present?”
Jason laughed again. “You’re present is a surprise. You’ll see it later,” he said.
“See Poppi?” she asked, bouncing in Jason’s arms as he carried her out of the room.
“After breakfast,” said Jason.
“YAY! Go to Poppi!” she said as they went into the kitchen. “Hi Aunt Sammy.”
“Good morning sweetie,” Sam said. “Happy Birthday!” she said, taking Elaina from Jason. “Did you sleep well?”
Elaina nodded. “No crib. No diaper!” she said.
Sam raised an eyebrow at Jason.
“Later,” he said.
Sam nodded. “Okay, let’s get some breakfast and then go and get dressed.”
“And go Poppi’s!! See Deego and Sye!!!”
Sam laughed. “And I know they can’t wait to see you.”
Lorenzo looked up when he heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairs. He looked at his watch in confusion as he put his cup of coffee down. “What are you doing here?” he asked his son.
Diego headed over to the table where his father was sitting and poured himself a cup of coffee. “I live here,” he said with a shrug.
“Good one,” said Lorenzo, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms over his chest. “Shouldn’t you have left for classes already?”
Diego sat down and grabbed a bagel from the tray. “I’m not going today,” he said. “And before you start with the lecture, I already cleared it with my professors and set up to have a friend tape record my classes so I don’t fall behind. I wanted to be here today for Elaina’s birthday. And for you.”
Lorenzo nodded and relaxed. He should have known his son would make sure to have all his bases covered. Diego was intelligent and always thought ahead, figuring the consequences of his actions before making a decision.
“You had an early day today, right?” Lorenzo asked. He knew his son’s school schedule and knew that he would have been out of classes with enough time to spend the afternoon with Elaina.
Diego nodded. “I know, which is why it was easy to set up the recording of the lectures,” he said. Then he looked at his father. “This is an important day Pop. A day for family. That comes first.”
Lorenzo nodded. His son was right. Today was a day full of mixed emotions. But he was determined to make it a great day for his granddaughter. He took his time earlier this morning to mourn for and remember his daughter. He had already visited her grave that morning. And now, the rest of his day was dedicated to the little girl that kept him going.
While Sam was giving Elaina a bath and getting her dressed for the day, Jason went into his office to make a couple of calls. His first call was to Stan, his technology expert. He knew it was still early, but Stan would be up and have some information for him. When the line was connected, Jason sat at his desk and clicked on his computer.
“What do you have for me?” he asked when he heard the other man’s voice on the line.
“No movement,” said Stan as he looked at his own computer screen. “I sent you the latest surveillance photos and data. It’s been quiet on both fronts the last few days.”
Jason looked at the pictures. “What about calls? Have they been in contact with anyone or each other?”
“No. Phones have been quiet. No emails or file transfers either,” Stan said. “But there have been quiet days before this.”
Jason nodded. “Keep up the surveillance and have the team swing by the properties. Do a general sweep and make sure we’re not missing anything.”
“Will do,” said Stan as he plugged in the information to send to the team. “Done.”
“Good. Keep me posted if anything comes up,” said Jason. “I’ll be out most of the day, call my cell.”
Stan smiled. “How’s the munchkin?” he asked.
Jason leaned back in his leather chair. “Climbing out of her crib and telling me she is too big for diapers,” he said.
Stan laughed. “You know if you don’t go with that, she’ll be pulling those off next.”
“I know. I just don’t even want to think about that today. It’s another step she’s taking in growing up too fast,” he said.
“Believe me man, I know what you mean.” Stan had married a year and a half ago and had a six-month-old son. “Reggie has already been showing signs of getting ready to crawl.”
The two men talked another minute and then Jason ended the call. Enough business for today. Today was his daughter’s day and that’s where he was going to be focused today. Stan knew to call only if it was important.
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