“Only me,” Preacher said.
“Don’t look so happy to see me.”
“I am. I’m sorry. Bishop and I, we had another argument.”
She nodded. Taking another mouthful of burrito, she watched him.
“I’m going to go and heat me up one of those. It looks way too good to turn down.”
By the time he returned, she’d already finished hers and was drinking some water.
“Do you want to tell me what the argument was about?”
She gave him the rough details.
“If that’s what you want, I’m happy to do it. I’ve taken care of a baby before.”
“Did you really take care of Bishop as a baby?”
“My ex was a nightmare. I took care of him for most of his early years. When he got older, some of the club women did it, and after that, well, I don’t really know what happened. Between you and Rebecca, I think it’s safe to say he pretty much raised himself. He’s doing a good job so far.”
“I feel so bad.”
“Because he’s struggling. Do you think I’m being selfish wanting to be this baby’s mother? I really want to be there for her.”
“Would you think it more selfish to give her up?”
“I don’t know.”
“I know Bishop’s my son, but you’ve got to do what you’re comfortable with. If you can’t handle this baby, then you can’t handle it, and I’ll take care of it. You can always count on me to be there for you.”
“Thank you.” She took his hand that wasn’t holding the last of his burrito. “You’ve been so kind to me.”
“Robin, you’re not a stranger to me. So, what have you been doing today?”
“I’ve been painting the nursery. Come and see.” She got to her feet and took her plate to the sink to wash it.
Preacher followed behind her, doing the same, and she waited until he finished, taking him by the hand, and leading him upstairs to their daughter’s bedroom.
“What do you think?” she asked.
She’d blended pink with the white and cream.
“It looks good. Bright.”
“I want it to be a happy room. You know, our girl to grow up surrounded by love and happiness.”
“You’ve thought a great deal about this.”
“I know you don’t want to show me, but how would you feel about drawing something on the wall? You know, for our little girl to see. She can see it when she wakes up and falls asleep.”
“You’ve never seen my artwork. You don’t even know if it’s any good.”
“Come on, it’s you, it has to be good.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“You wouldn’t have told me about it if you hadn’t been impressed.” He didn’t agree, and she put her hands together. “Please, please, let me see. It’s not for me, it’s for our little girl. Pretty please.”
“Fine. Fine. Just stop begging. Come on.”
She clapped her hands and followed him to his bedroom. He was rummaging around in the closet when she realized she sat on the very edge of his bed, and they were alone.
Don’t get any ideas.
It’s not worth even thinking about.
Robin was struck by a couple of dreams she’d been having lately. With Bishop spending more time at the club than in her bed, she was alone a great deal of the time, and her nights were confusing to her.
She wasn’t pregnant in her dreams, but Preacher, he visited them, regularly.
It’s the hormones.
Stepping out of the closet, he held the book. “Here is one. No one has seen this, and they don’t know what I like to do in my spare time.”
“So this is absolute secrecy.”
“The highest level of secrecy.”
“I will guard it with my life. I promise.”
He held the book out to her, and she took it as he sat beside her.
Opening the first page, she saw sketches of trees. Bare branches with no leaves. There was no splash of color, but it looked amazing. The definition within each piece was exquisite.
She turned the page and was shocked to see one of Bishop as a boy. He was asleep in his crib.
“This is … I can’t believe you’ve never told anyone about your work.”
“I don’t talk about this kind of stuff with anyone.”
“It seems crazy to me for you to hide this. You’re really talented.”
There were some pictures of naked women, and she didn’t like how it struck her to see other women within his notebook. She quickly turned the page, not wanting to see any more of the women in his life.
What is with you lately?
She ignored her own question, looking through them. When she got to the end, she closed the book and turned to him. “Please tell me you will paint something for our daughter. I would really appreciate it.”
He sighed. “If I do, I won’t take credit for it.”
“Of course. But you’ll do it?”
“Yes, I’ll do it.”
She threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly to her. “Thank you so much.”