"Out like a light," she said quietly, meeting Nick at the door and pulling it almost closed behind them. "He must have been exhausted."
Leading the way into the kitchen, Nick motioned for Hannah to take a seat at the table and busied himself rummaging in the refrigerator.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, pulling out a plastic container and lifting the lid. "There's half an apple pie here."
"I'd love a piece," Hannah replied. "And a coffee would be great if you have some."
"Still addicted?" Nick asked, reaching for a knife to cut the pie.
"Re-addicted. I gave it up while I was pregnant with Jack and kept it down to a cup a week while I was breastfeeding - it was my Tuesday afternoon indulgence."
Nick placed a slice of pie on a plate and handed it to her. He couldn't recall a day he'd spent with Hannah that hadn't included a trip to the coffee house on the corner of her block. She'd known all the staff by name and could recite the coffee menu backwards.
"I can't imagine you going without caffeine. You must have been cranky as hell," he said, putting a plate of pie on the table for himself and turning to pour two cups of coffee. "We only have filter. Mom refuses to get a proper machine."
"Filter is fine," Hannah replied. "I had bigger things to worry about than when I could drink coffee again, Nick. I had to find you, for one."
Nick crossed the room and opened the refrigerator again, reaching for the milk.
"How did you find me, Hannah?"
Hannah's chuckle caught him by surprise and he arched an eyebrow as he added milk to their drinks.
"I Googled you in the end," she said, taking the cup he held out to her. "Well, at least I Googled who I thought you were. I only had to look through nine pages of guys called Nick Cartern before I found you... I wish I'd thought of it sooner. But it still didn't help me all that much. You probably would've been much easier to get hold of if you really were Nick Cartern, stockbroker."
Nick returned the milk to the refrigerator and sat down opposite Hannah at the table.
"Had you had Jack by then?"
Hannah shook her head and took a sip of her coffee.
"No, thank God," she replied. "I would've had the wrong name on his birth certificate."
"You named me on his birth certificate?"
"Of course I did. Why wouldn't I? He wasn't anybody else's son."
Hannah watched as Nick scooped up a spoonful of apple pie and chewed it thoughtfully. She knew he wanted to ask her again if she was sure Jack was his son. Nick swallowed and put down his spoon.
"So then... How did you find my mom?"
Hannah breathed an internal sigh of relief, unsure if she would've been able to keep her composure had he pushed the DNA test issue again.
"I called your record label and tried a few things. They didn't make it easy but eventually they gave me a post box number I could send a letter to your mother at," she explained. "I have a friend at the postal service who looked up the box holder details."
"Aren't there laws against that sort of thing?" Nick asked, nudging what remained of his pie with his spoon.
"I'm sure there are but what else could I do?" Hannah responded. "You needed to know."
Nick looked at her in silence, trying to absorb all the ways she had changed since he left her in New York. Somewhere along the road to being a mother, she'd picked up a strength he hadn't seen in her before. She'd never been a weak person, but now he felt she was truly a force to be reckoned with.
The sound of his mobile ringing cut through his wonderings and Nick sprung out of his seat to disconnect it from the charger on the counter. His heart began to pound at the sight of his home number flashing repeatedly on the screen.
"Cass, baby... Thank God you called. I..."
"Nick, it's me," Brian interrupted.
"Brian? Why are you calling from my house?" Nick asked, leaning back against the counter.
"It's Saturday afternoon. I thought we were going to play golf."
Nick cursed under his breath and Hannah, still seated at the table, feigned a sudden interest in the morning newspaper.
"I meant to call you," Nick continued. "Things have been so crazy... I just forgot."
"Yeah, it looks like things got crazy," his friend replied. "Do you want to talk about it? Where are you, anyway?"
"I'm at Mom's. It's a long story. What do you mean 'it looks like things got crazy'?"
Hannah picked up a pen and began to tackle the crossword as Nick moved towards the front door.
"I mean I'm standing in your living room and half your furniture is missing. It looks like you've been robbed."
Nick's heart began to pound again and he stepped out onto the deck, closing the door behind him.
"Where's Cassie?" he asked. "Is she there? Put her on."
"I don't think she's here," Brian replied. "I haven't looked in the garage, but her car wasn't in the driveway. And I called out when I let myself in. Nick, what the heck is going on?"
Nick slumped down onto the deck, his back against the wall of the house.
"Can you look for her?" he asked, running a hand through his hair.
"Well, sure, but..."
"Look for her, Brian," Nick repeated. "Go upstairs."
Letting his head fall back against the wall, Nick listened to Brian moving around the house.
"Cassie? Are you home?" Brian called but the question went unanswered. "Nick, she's not here."
"Did you look everywhere?"
"I looked everywhere," his friend confirmed. "She's not... Hang on..."
"Hang on what? Brian?"
"There's an envelope with your name on it on the bed. Do you want..."
"Read it," Nick instructed and waited impatiently, listening to the sounds of paper rustling. "Shit, Brian, hurry up."
"Nick... It says she's left you."