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Everyone had already arrived by the time Brenda got there. They knew about Jake before they came but they were all waiting when she arrived.

 “Well this I uncomfortable.” Brenda mumbled under her breath as she got Jake out. Everybody was watching her and she didn’t exactly know what to say. She hadn’t seen anyone, except for Nick, since last Thanksgiving.

 “Hi Bren.” Nick said hugging her. “Where’s Kat?”

 Brenda was sure that you could hear a pin drop as everyone waited for her answer.

 “Um, she’s sleeping.”

 AJ looked at her strangely. “I thought you said she was out running errands?”

 “Yeah she was. She pulled in as I was leaving and asked if I would still take Jake so she could take a nap.”

 Brenda could only hope that sounded convincing. This lying thing was getting harder and harder.

 “Liar.” Nick said quietly with a smile.

 “Shut up.” Brenda mouthed.

 “Do you want to stay Brenda?” Denise asked.

 “Um…I should probably go home….”

 “You should stay. Come and hang out for a bit.” Nick added.

 “I want to make sure Kat’s not by herself for too long.”

 “I understand Brenda.” AJ said. “But I was hoping you could stay for a few minutes. I wanted to talk to you and Brian together.”

 Brenda really hated her friend at the moment. Not only was she uncomfortable being there but now AJ wanted to talk to her.

 “I guess as long as I don’t stay too long it’s ok.”

 Brenda handed Jake to Denise and followed AJ and Brian into the den.

 “What’s up?” Brenda asked quietly.

 “I wanted you to answer some questions for Brian. He had a similar hole and had his repaired a while ago. He understands the situation better than I do and I was hoping we could come up with some kind of plan.”


 “A plan for convincing Kat to do something.”

 Brenda burst out laughing. “A plan for Kat to do something? I love you AJ but seriously? Do you not remember how stubborn she is?”

 “I know, but I’m worried.”

 Brenda stopped laughing when she saw the look in his eyes. He truly seemed nervous about what was going on and it was definitely bothering him.

 “I’m sorry I laughed AJ.”

 “I understand why you did but this is important to me. She’s Jake’s mom and everyone wants her around for a long time.”

 Brenda noticed how he referred to her as Jake’s mother and how he said everyone wanted her around. Maybe Kat was right and AJ was just concerned for Jake’s sake.

 “I want her around too but I don’t know how to make her do anything.” She turned to Brian. “What made you do it?”

 “Leighanne.” he answered. “She threatened to leave me if I didn’t slow down and take care of myself. I was scared of the surgery but the thought of losing Leighanne petrified me. I called my doctor and figured out what I needed to do.”

 “What did you need to do?” Brenda asked hesitantly.

 “Kat never talked to you about it?”

 “No.” Brenda said shaking her head. “She won’t even let me go to the doctor’s with her.”

 “Well, it’s open heart surgery. They had to make incisions and place a patch over the hole to prevent any more blood coming through.”

 Brenda shuddered. “How dangerous is it?”

 “As dangerous as anything else. Surgeons are much more skilled at it now than they used to be and most of the time there aren’t any problems.”

 Brenda looked over at AJ. “Did you know all of this?”

 “Not until the other day. My mother suggested I call Brian and ask him to explain it to me and to help me see what she’s going through.”

 “I’d really like to talk to her but I don’t want to overstep by bounds.” Brian added.

 “I have no idea how I can convince her to talk to you. She won’t even talk to him.” Brenda said, nodding her head in AJ’s direction.

 “She won’t talk to me?”


 “But you said….”

 “I know what I said. I lied. She won’t listen to me when I tell her she should talk to you.”

 “So she’s been there when I’ve called and come by?”

 Brenda nodded. “I’m sorry AJ but she’s my best friend.”

 AJ let out a long deep breath. “I know but this has to stop.”

 “Yeah, well when you figure out how to get through to her, let me know.”


 Brenda stayed for a few more hours before taking Jake home. Everyone loved him and had agreed that he was just like his dad. It was sad to know that Kat wasn’t going to be coming and spending time with everybody. They had all missed her and really wanted to make peace after they found out what happened with Michelle. No one wanted to push her further away than she already was.

 “It sucks that Kat didn’t come.” Nick said to AJ quietly.

 “I know. I can’t believe she’s been refusing to talk to me.”

 “Well you guys kind of went at it the other night.”

 “I know but I had my reasons!” AJ said raising his voice.

 “And they would be?”

 “She’s the mother of my child Nick!”

 “And that’s it. She’s just the mother of your child. Nothing else?”

 “Damn Nick! You already know I love her. It’s not like I stopped when she left. Why do you keep at it?”

 “Uh maybe because I’m not the one you need to be telling over and over again. I’m not going to love you.”

 “Thanks Nick.”

 “You know what I mean J. You’re in love with her and everyone around here knows it. The problem is the person you’re in love with doesn’t know it.”

 “Well how am I supposed to tell her? She won’t even answer the damn phone!”

 “I think you may need to get creative.” Nick paused. “J this isn’t going to get any easier or any better unless someone goes out on a limb and says something.”

 “What if I go out on that limb and it gets chopped off?” AJ asked quietly.

 “Then it gets cut AJ. Are you going to keep walking around in denial and just letting her not have anything to do with you? That’s not the AJ I know. If it was anyone else, you’d be out there every second making them see your point.”

 “But she’s different.”

 “I know she is and that’s the problem. You’re going to have to try something to get her to talk to you.”

 “I know. I just don’t know……..” AJ trailed off. “Think it’s too late to call Brenda?”

 “No why?”

 “Good.” AJ grabbed Nick’s phone and dialed Brenda’s number. “I think I have an idea but I need some information first.”