They stood silently for a moment, Blaine obviously not sure where to begin.
"Maybe we should talk somewhere in private," Reese suggested.
"Maura was just showing me around the neighborhood," Natalie said. "Is it okay if we walk around for awhile? I'll meet you at the new house."
Natalie lingered a moment and smiled at Blaine, who still seemed dumbfounded, before heading off with Maura.
"That was a little weird, wasn't it?" Maura said quietly as they walked away.
"Yeah, it was," Natalie agreed, hoping Maura would drop the subject and start talking about someone else. Her mind was reeling from what had just happened.
As the girls walked away, the adults stood together in silence for another moment, Reese giving Blaine a chance to find his words as he was trying to let this all sink in.
"It's been a long time," he began.
"I know . . . I thought of getting in touch so many times, but . . ." she trailed off.
"She's fifteen . . . your daughter, Natalie?"
"Yes," she answered simply. She gave him time, waiting for him to put two and two together.
"So you must have been pregnant after you left town."
"No, actually before I left town. She was a newborn when we moved away."
"How did I not know?" he asked in disbelief. He was searching his mind for some hint, some clue that he might have missed at that time, but he was coming up empty.
"I hid it from everyone. I was confused at the time and I didn't want anyone to know I was pregnant."
"But I wasn't just anyone . . . was I?"
"No, of course not," she said firmly.
"Then . . . her father, is it-" he paused unable to finish.
"Then I just don't get it. Ever since Cassie told me you had a daughter, I've been wracking my brain, trying to figure this out, trying to figure out why you never told me. I assumed you'd moved on after we broke up and didn't feel comfortable calling on me because you'd had another relationship, because she was somebody else's daughter. But if you were pregnant before you left town, for months, and the baby was mine, I don't understand. What did I do?"
"You do? What do you mean?" Reese asked confused.
"I must have done something to hurt you, to make you not trust me, but I just can't figure out what I might have done to make you feel like you couldn't tell me. Even if we weren't together anymore, I would have done anything to help you if you needed it. I would have been there, just as a friend, if nothing else. I'm so sorry if I said or did something that made you think you couldn't tell me."
"No, you don't have anything to be sorry about," Reese said, struggling to keep her emotions in check. "It was all me. I made such a mess of things. I knew all along that I should have told you, but I always talked myself out of it. I'm the one who owes you an apology, but an apology isn't enough. You have every right to hate me after the choices I made."
"No, never," he said quietly as he shook his head. "Let's go sit down and you can tell me exactly what happened. I need to hear the whole story."
Cassie stood at the kitchen window, mindlessly wiping down its surface as she gazed out through the glass. Blaine and Reese were sitting at the patio table talking. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but she didn't have to try hard to guess what they were talking about. The serious, almost stunned, look on her husband's face said it all.
She slowly exhaled the breath she didn't realize she was holding in and reminded herself to keep breathing. She couldn't panic, but that was easier said than done.
"What are you doing, Mom?" Brooke asked as she walked into the kitchen, making Cassie jump. She leaned over and peered out the window. "Who's that woman Daddy's talking to?"
Cassie hesitated a moment. It was a simple question on the surface, but more complicated to answer than Brooke could have known.
"Our new neighbor, Ms. Burroughs . . . She's an old friend."
"A friend of yours, or just Dad's?"
Cassie couldn't help breaking a slight smile at her daughter's insight. "Mostly your Dad's, but I knew her too, a long time ago, before you were born."
"So she's the one moving into the house right behind ours?"
"Oddly enough, yes."
Brooke leaned up to get a better look out the window, before her mother motioned her to move back. "She's trouble, isn't she?"
"What makes you say that?" Cassie asked, shocked.
"Just a feeling."
"You don't have to worry. She's not trouble."
"I think she is."
When she saw Blaine walk past the window and heard the backdoor open, Cassie stepped back as if trying to distance herself from the conversation she'd just been having with Brooke and hoped to appear casual when Blaine entered the room.
Blaine gave Cassandra a long look before turning his attention to Brooke. "Did you get your homework done already?" he asked lightheartedly.
"Why don't you get started on it before dinner."
"Okay," Brooke grumbled and left the room.
Once Brooke was gone, he turned back to Cassie, "So, ummm, I was just talking to Reese outside. I guess she and her family are moving in today. She just happened to be driving by when the kids and I got home." He felt like he was babbling and over-explaining the situation. He knew he was stalling. He knew what he had to say might break the heart of the woman he loved.
"I know," Cassie answered. "I saw you both outside."
"Oh, so I found out something just now that we need to talk about . . ."