"This is beautiful, but is it safe to be in a park at night?"
"This park is safe, trust me."
For a girl who was used to seeing her local parks close by dark, the sight of people leisurely milling around as if they never had to leave was a new experience. There were a few families, but for the most part it looked like young couples were keeping close by the fountain, either sitting on the grassy knoll or stopping along the beautiful curving walkway. The centerpiece was a giant fountain. Even though there were people around, they were being quiet enough I could still hear the water ripple.
"Swim?" Rielynn asked. "Swim?"
"Wawa," Parker added. "Wawa!"
"No swimming tonight party animals," Nick said. He turned suddenly. "Up here."
He headed up a fairly unoccupied grassy hill. My leg muscles initially protested, confused at the awkward elevation combined with holding a baby, but I kept up and he stopped about halfway where there was a surprising spot of level land.
"Parker, man, you stink." He announced. Parker started to giggle.
"I guess we'll have to go," I said. "I didn't bring--"
"We're not leaving yet," Nick said. He pulled a diaper and a plastic Baggie of wipes from his shorts pocket and gave me a boyish grin. "I came prepared."
I laughed loudly and sank down in the grass. In my pre-mommy life, a guy would have pulled out a condom while saying that. Instead, it was a diaper-carrying daddy.
"Poop tinks! Poop tinks!"
Parker grabbed his legs and kicked them up, flashing the world the least of his worries. Nick worked quickly. Rielynn watched the scene unfold. She looked up at me frowning.
"What?" I asked.
Rielynn pointed at Parker. "Dat."
I still didn't understand. "That's Parker. He's getting his diapey changed."
Rie frowned at me. "Dat."
"I think," Nick slid the new diaper under and over, securing the tabs with expertise. "she noticed the difference."
"The difference?" I stared at him blankly.
"All done!" Nick smiled down at Parker. The little guy scrambled up to his feet as Nick yanked up his pants. Nick turned to me. He was smiling. Amused.
The lightbulb didn't come on. Nick laughed.
"Aww Midge, you are married to a doc, right? Surely you know what I'm saying," he teased.
Suddenly, I realized what he meant. My face burned. Rielynn was still staring at Parker warily. "Oh, that."
Nick laughed. "Yeah that."
"Parker's a boy. You're a girl," I said. "Boy. Girl."
"Bo." Rielynn repeated. "Bo."
I wasn't sure exactly how or how much to explain to a two-year old. Fortunately, I didn't have to. It had grown even darker in the short time we had been on the hill. All of a sudden, music started to play. I looked around for its source. "What-"
Nick pointed out in front of him. I followed his finger and saw what he meant. My eyes widened.
"That's beautiful," I breathed.
The large fountain, minutes ago quiet and serene, was alive. A beautiful water and light show timed to music delighted the senses. Large streams of water shot up in the sky in blues, reds, and greens.
"Petty!" Rielynn shrieked.
The little ones got up. Rielynn started to dance, or at least her attempt at dancing, anatomy woes all but forgotten. She swung her arms out in front of her and stomped her feet from side to side. Parker, I noticed, had much better rhythm. He brought his hands together, clapping to the beat.
Nick's hand was in front of my face. I felt like I was giving new meaning to the term 'dumb blonde.' "What?"
"When in Rome...." He looked at the kids. "Do as the munchkins do."
I laughed. My heart fluttered. "We're not in Rome. We're in Kuala Lumpur."
"Tomato, tomahto," he countered breezily. "Please?"
Rielynn and Parker were having the time of their lives. The lights danced in front of my eyes and I knew I'd never forget the sight as long as I lived. I took his hand.
"When in Rome..." I repeated.
He pulled me up. The music was exotic and lively. He began moving his hips and I pathetically tried to follow. It was ridiculous and crazy and exhilarating. He took my hand and I spun around and for the first time in a very long time I felt carefree, my ponytail whipping my face and smiling so bad my face hurt.
"I don't have the moves like Howie does," Nick said loudly. "You'll see what I mean tomorrow."
He pulled me closer and our eyes met. His moves seemed plenty fine to me. His hand felt warm on my side as our bodies brushed before pushing back again. He spun me a second time and I felt breathless. His hand skimmed my ponytail and ever so gently he tugged it. My mouth opened and his eyes darkened. My mind went cloudy. Time, place, rationalization dissolved. I was dancing on a hilltop in a foreign country with a guy still wear one half of his pajamas and he was gorgeous and touching me. His face inched towards mine and there was a thought, a warning, but it was trapped in the back of my mind. His fingertips grazed the nape of my neck and his lips parted---
The name coming so loudly from him broke the spell. He pulled away, his eyes wide with some emotion that I understood but couldn't put into verbal meaning. He scooped her up and smiled.
He spun her around and she shrieked in happy delight. I scooped up Parker slowly, trying to refit the pieces of my brain back into their proper places. Parker laughed, wrapping his arms around my neck. He smelled like baby powder.
Even as I danced, a smile on my face, anger was bubbling in me. It was anger at myself. Nick had been the one to pull away. What the hell would have happened if he didn't?
Jetlag, I told myself as a new song began to play. I glanced over at Nick. He caught my eye and gave me a sheepish smile. 'I'm sorry,' he mouthed.
I nodded and swallowed hard. As I continued to dance with Parker I couldn't help but think that it wasn't Brian I had to watch out for. I mean, he was so in your face it was obvious.
Nick was dangerous.