"Wanna go for a walk with daddy?" he asked, putting him back in the crib so he could dress.
"Hello?" he asked, not recognizing the unknown number.
The caller cleared their throat. "This is Butch, the head fitness instructor at the Stadium. We'd like to see you reach the pinnacle of your athletic perfection. Your challenge is to attain the most muscular body shape possible through careful sculpting and unbroken fitness regime."
"And...?" Jason pressed.
"There's a large cash reward if you're able to pull it off," Butch admitted. "Think of the advertising!"
Jason considered it quickly and agreed. He had a stake in the stadium & if there was anything he could do to punch up business - he was all for it!
"Should I learn a new skill today?" she asked out loud, carefully shaking the ball.
Nadine walked away. "I'll go get lunch ready," she called over her shoulder.
"So, 10 years together! That's pretty huge!" Jason said with a grin. "I always knew you two were perfect for each other!"
"If you want to celebrate your Anniversary, let me know. I'll take the kids for you for a long weekend," Jason offered.
"Thanks, Jason!" Rio said, cuffing his boyhood friend on his shoulder.
"Caitlin..." Rio cautioned, sending his daughter a stern look. "Be nice."
"Lacie!" Jason called out, "Stop!"
"Don't worry, Jason. The girls are all going to have fun together," Nadine assured him. "Aren't they, Rio?"
"Yeah, definitely," Rio agreed.
"I'm looking forward to it!" Nadine said, then reached out and touched Rio's hand. "We really consider you and the girls family. I'm glad the girls are going to get more time to know each other."
He headed downstairs to start a load.
Liz stopped watching Jason's game and turned towards her husband.
"Ouch!" Moudy said, twitching when her hand grazed a particularly sensitive spot.
She grimaced. "Are you okay? Should we go to the hospital?"
"Well, I could use some help washing my back in the shower," he said, wiggling his eyebrows.
To celebrate their victory, the team made plans to meet at a local dive bar.
August made a face. "It takes a team," he said, slightly defensive. Years of playing second fiddle to Jason was beginning to make him cranky.
Jason glanced towards the entrance and blanched. "Ashley?" he gulped with dismay. What were the odds that the mother of his child and he would wind up in the same town, the same bar at the same time? "Plumbbob," he muttered darkly.
He shook his head. "No way," he said, feeling childish and spiteful. But, plumbbob, he'd loved her and she'd broken his heart. What was he supposed to say? "I don't want anything to do with her." No way, no how was he going to talk to...
Jason's eye twitched. "So, how's the stripper?" he heard himself asking bluntly.
Ashley pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. "Ancient history," she told him. "So this your new girlfriend?" she asked, nodding towards Cheri.
Jason shrugged. He didn't want to let Ashley any more into his life than she already was.
No longer interested in celebrating his win, Jason pleaded with Cheri. "Come on, let's go back to the hotel." He completely missed the look rejection that crossed Cheri's face after declining to introduce her to his ex-fiance. He was just focused on getting away from that viper!
Cheri shook her head. "It's not that," she frowned, pausing to sniff indelicately. "It's just that.. you... I..." A tear appeared near her eyelid that she furiously wiped away. "Nevermind. It's stupid," she ended firmly, turning away from him.
Jason rolled over next to her. "It's not stupid if you're upset," he told her. "Tell me. Was it Ashley?"
"No!" Cheri burst out. "You didn't tell her we were dating! You're embarrassed of me!"
Cheri nudged him away again, annoyed by his response. "I told you I didn't want to talk about it."
Jason scrambled to pull her back toward him. "Why do you think I'm embarrassed?" he pressed.
Cheri turned around in his arms. "Why didn't you tell her I was your girlfriend?" she demanded, tears gathered on her eyelashes. "It hurt my feelings."
"I didn't want to tell her anything! Just seeing her took me back to those hellish months after the girls were born. Nothing I did was right, nothing I said was right - it sucked!"
"Are we?" she asked softly.
Jason felt lost in the conversation. "Are we what?" he asked, bewildered.
"Girlfriend, boyfriend?" she asked, hurriedly adding, "I don't want to push you or anything, but... I just want to know where I stand with you," she said in a rush.
Jason felt his heart thudding in his chest. He kinda already considered them a serious couple. "Of course, if that's what you want," he told her. "You know I love you!"
"Nuh uh," Cheri said, shaking her again, her breath catching in her throat. "You've never said it!" she accused him softly.
This took Jason by surprise. "I haven't?" he asked, thinking back. How could he not have said it a hundred times by now?! He'd known he was in love with Cheri when she went on a date with him and the girls!
Cheri wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you, too, Jason!"
"I'm such an idiot!" he told her. "I love you. I love you. I. Love. You!"