Friday night in her room, changing out of her work clothes into a comfortable denim skirt and a shimmery silver blouse that she hadn’t worn in years, Jodie wondered what on earth she’d been thinking. She shouldn’t have been going out to dinner. She should have been cooking supper in her kitchen and watching TV with her children, like she did almost every night.
Instead, she was in her room dressing like a woman going on a date, while Shari, one of her neighbors, played with the kids in the living room. She couldn’t deny that she needed time to decompress. For the past two days, she’d had to deal with complaints and lectures at work. Gina’s teacher had sent an email saying Gina had been disrupting the class, and Matthew had refused to talk to his mother most of the time. Going out with Todd would give Jodie a much wanted and much needed break, but she still felt guilty about leaving the kids.
Todd should arrive in fifteen minutes. She checked herself in the mirror. Her hair looked fine, brushed and tucked neatly behind her ears, and so did her light green eyeshadow, mascara, and blush. She almost wished she’d find something wrong with one of them, because fixing it would have given her something to do while she waited for the doorbell to ring. If she’d believed herself able to sit still, she would have gone into the living room to spend a few minutes with the kids before she left. As nervous as she was, she was afraid they would notice.
She couldn’t just spend the next fifteen minutes in her bedroom. With a final look at the mirror, not really seeing her reflection, she went out to the living room.
Gina and Matthew sat on the floor with Shari, playing a board game that Royce’s brother and sister-in-law had given Gina for Christmas. Jodie pasted a smile on her face and sat on the couch. “Are you guys having fun?”
“I like this game,” Gina declared. “We should play it all the time.”
“Not all the time,” Matthew grumbled. “I still think it’s girly. Mom, when are you leaving?”
“In a hurry to get rid of me?” Jodie tried to make a joke of it to cover how much her son’s words stung. She hadn’t expected the children to want her to leave.
“No. You’re cramping my style by watching us play.”
Jodie laughed. “Cramping your style, huh? I didn’t think you had a style to cramp.”
He frowned. “I do when I’m trying to win the game.”
The front doorbell rang, and Jodie’s heartbeat sped up. Todd was here. To pick her up for their date.
“I’ll get it.” Matthew stood and hurried over to open the door. He led Todd into the room. “Mom, Todd’s here.”
“I see that,” Jodie replied.
She looked at Todd. He wore a maroon sweater under his unzipped leather jacket, along with gray slacks and shoes that Jodie hadn’t even realized the man owned. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him wear anything on his feet other than boots or sneakers.
Her heart skipped, and something lower down in her body tightened. She’d never seen him look so attractive.