Blaine was settled behind a desk in an unoccupied office at the law firm sorting through computer files when he sensed someone just outside the open office door. He looked up from the computer screen to see Reese peeking in through the doorway.
"Hey," he smiled warmly at her. "I thought everyone had gone home for the night."
"I had a late meeting," she explained. "I just wanted to stop by on my way out and see how you were doing."
"Good," he said hesitantly. He nodded toward the door. Taking the hint, Reese closed it behind her. "In case anyone else is still around."
"I'm just getting started," Blaine admitted. "Mr. Lind thought it would be best if I did most of my work after hours so as not to draw attention. If anyone asks, I'm just doing routine IT maintenance, updating the computer systems."
"I'll remember that," Reese promised. "Did he explain the situation to you?"
"Yeah, it sounds like some serious stuff. Missing funds, hacked systems, forged checks. Someone is really out to take advantage of your firm. And Mr. Lind has no idea who's behind it all?"
"No, he has suspicions that it might be someone working at the firm, but he has no idea who. I think he would hate to suspect anyone. That's why all of this has to be kept completely quiet."
"Yet he trusted you," Blaine said. The way he looked at her with admiration made her blush.
"Only because I'm new. This has been going on since before I started here."
"Well, it's nice to know that I can confide in you about this."
"Sure," Reese said weakly as she rose from her chair. "I'd better let you get back to your work."
"Why don't you stay for a little while? We always worked well as a team."
Reese sighed and looked away anxiously. "I doubt there's anything I can do to help you at this point. But if anything comes up-"
"I'll let you know," Blaine said. As Reese started towards the door, Blaine frowned to himself. "Reese?"
She stopped and turned to look at him.
"Are you busy right now? Do you have to leave right away?"
"I guess not," she said, slowly walking back to her chair. Part of her wanted to make excuses and say she needed to get home, which was true, but a part of her had trouble saying no.
"We never really get a chance to talk with each other, alone," he started.
Reese just nodded. Her mouth suddenly felt too dry to speak.
Blaine hesitated before speaking. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say, but he knew he didn't want her to go just yet if she didn't have to. "I'm sorry about leaving the carnival early. I hope Natalie didn't mind."
"She didn't," Reese insisted. "We didn't stay much longer after you left. Natalie was ready to go home." Her voice trailed off as she hesitated to bring up the reason why Natalie had wanted to leave early, but she didn't have to say anything, Blaine's line of thought was following in the same direction.
"I'm sorry about Cassie. I hope she didn't upset Natalie. I know it wasn't her intention to do so. But you know how she is with the psychic stuff and she's been especially on edge lately for some reason."
"You don't have to apologize," Reese said, her voice deliberately even and cool. "Cassie already stopped by the house to apologize to Natalie herself."
"Oh, she did?" Blaine said. He seemed pleasantly surprised at that turn of events. "Well, that's good. I guess they got it sorted out then. So everything is okay between them?"
"As much as ever," Reese said with a shrug. She didn't want to say everything was okay, because she wasn't sure that it was, but she also didn't want to badmouth Cassandra, so she held her tongue. "Natalie's a reasonable girl. She's not easily phased or one to hold grudges."
"She's a great kid. Really smart. You did a great job raising her," Blaine said. His tone was proud, but there was also a underlying sadness that didn't go unnoticed and Reese looked away awkwardly. Trying to sound more upbeat to spare her feelings, Blaine added, "I think she and I have really hit it off and I'm glad I'm getting the chance to know her now."
"I'm glad too. For both of you. I always knew you'd be a good father."
"Then why in all of these years did you never tell me?" Blaine pleaded as he rose from his chair. She'd hit on a topic that had been bothering him ever since he had learned about Natalie's existence. "I just wish we could have gotten the chance to know each other sooner."
Reese sighed and tried to find the right words. "It wasn't you . . ." When she looked over at Blaine he was looking at her with confusion, waiting for her to explain, so she pressed on. "It was because of Cassie. I was going to tell you after Natalie was born and before we left town, but then you two were already dating . . .Over the years I'd think about getting in contact, but then I heard you were married and had a family-"
"I know you said you didn't want to cause problems with my family, but you wouldn't have," he said, gently touching her arm. "I appreciate that you were worried about causing problems for me. I just wish you hadn't felt that way."
"That's not it. I mean, that's only part of it," Reese admitted as she rose from her seat and started to pace the room. She had tried to keep her true feelings to herself to spare Blaine and to cause as little drama and disruption as possible, but she knew she couldn't keep it all to herself anymore. He wasn't going to let it go until she was completely honest. "I didn't want Cassie in Natalie's life."
Blaine backed away from her slightly and she made herself turn to look at him. Now that she had put it out there, she couldn't shy away from his reaction.
He looked startled, then confused. He was trying to piece together what to think.
As Blaine struggled with what to say, Reese was feeling emboldened and went on to explain herself, sticking to the same direct approach.
"I'm sorry, but I never trusted her. Cassie had her eye on you the entire time we were together and she would have done anything to break us up. If she knew we had a daughter together, she would have been desperate and frankly, I don't know where she would have drawn the line."
"That's not fair," Blaine insisted. His temper was starting to rise. "Cassie's not like that. She never would have used Natalie or hurt her or whatever you're trying to imply. That's not who she is and if you think that, you don't know her at all."
"That's not who she is to you, maybe," Reese said quietly.
"No, you're wrong about her," Blaine insisted, but a hint of doubt was starting to creep in and his defense sounded weaker than it had a moment before. As he started to pace the room, he changed his line of thought. "But it doesn't matter. This never should have been about Cassie. Natalie was my child too and I should have had a say in deciding who was in her life and who wasn't. Maybe I would have still stayed with Cassie if I had known and we would have worked something out or maybe we would have broken up over it, I don't know, but you should have given me the information and let me have the chance to make these decisions about my life and my part in my daughter's life. But you didn't do that. You just did whatever you wanted and you never gave me the chance to have any say at all!"
"I know," Reese said quietly, blinking back tears. "That was wrong of me and I've felt wrong about it for fifteen years. All I can say is, I'm sorry, but I know that doesn't mean much. I know you'll never get that time back."
Reese hurried towards the door, but Blaine stopped her. As quickly as it had risen, his temper had cooled and he immediately felt bad for raising his voice and lashing out at her. "Reese, wait."
She stopped, but she didn't turn around or lift her head. "I've made such a mess of things."
"No, listen, it's alright," Blaine said, soothingly. "I didn't mean to make you cry . . . You haven't made a mess of anything. Mistakes were made and I think we both had things that needed to be said, but now that they're out there, let's just keep moving forward like we have been. Okay?"
"Do you think we can we do that?" Reese asked quietly. She didn't trust herself not to start sobbing again. "Hasn't too much damage been done?"
"No, no, not at all," Blaine insisted. "Look, I can't say I'm not hurt about how things happened and clearly you've been worried about the whole situation, but it's nothing we can't get past, especially for Natalie's sake. We can't change what's been done in the past, but what matters is now and the future. Natalie and I have a chance to have a relationship from now on and I have Brooke and Doug too, who I couldn't imagine not having in my life. If things had happened differently, maybe they wouldn't be here, so maybe it's for the best things happened the way they did," he mused. "And, I promise you, you don't have to worry about Cassie. She's not the person you think she is or was back when we first knew each other. I mean, Cassie is always going to be . . . Cassie. She can't help the psychic thing, but it's harmless and she's been nothing but supportive of everything even though this hasn't been easy on her either. Can we keep on giving this a chance?"
Reese nodded and wiped away the last of her tears. "Yes, I think we can."