Several hours later, after spending more time in each other’s arms and Jesse later picking Ellie up from school, The Hubbards were sitting down for dinner. Ellie told her parents all about her night with Frankie and Madison and her day of school. Turns out her teacher had given her class a big science project and had also placed them in groups of 3s.
“So, who are your partners?” Angie asked.
“Ashlee and Wyatt. I asked Ms. Montgomery if she could put Ashlee in another group, but she said no. She said we have to learn to play and work with others,” she replied sadly.
Looking up from his plate, Jesse asked, “Why don’t you want Ashlee in your group?”
“She’s mean, daddy. Like really, really mean… She’s so mean she makes Mr. Hayward look like an angel,” she explained, getting chuckles from her parents. As mean as Mr. Hayward was to others and as much as her father hated his guts, Ellie felt the exact opposite. He was always nice to her and had even bought her toys. She actually loved him!
“Well that is pretty mean,” Jesse added, still laughing.
“Has she ever been mean to you?” Angie asked, wondering if her child had become a victim of mean kids and if she had to go down to the school and talk to the teacher.
Shaking her head, Ellie explained to her parents that Ashlee never really spoke to her and only picked on the other little girls. “They say it’s because daddy is a policeman, but I don’t know really.”
“Daddy’s the chief of the policemen and does not have a problem arresting little kids who mess with my little girl.”
“Jesse, now you know you can’t do that,” Angie spat, hoping he hadn’t put any ideas in their daughter’s head.
Sometime after dinner, while Angie was checking over Ellie’s homework and Jesse was washing dishes he took this time to finally call Cedrick and deliver the good news. Well, judging how it came about he wasn’t so sure if it was as good as it really was.
“Seriously?” Ced yelped on the other end.
Jesse rolled his eyes. “Yes, but… But, I’m not signing anything until I know all of the details of this job. You said it was a desk job, but I need to know everything I’ll be doing. Afterwards, I’ll give my real answer and sign the paperwork if it looks good.”
Not wanting to fight with him for he feared Jesse would change his mind and Ced couldn’t go back to his boss and tell him no, he relented. “Okay, no problem… How soon can you fly out?”
“Saturday morning. I’m still taking care of my wife and I want to be sure she’s on the up and up before I leave,” he explained. “Plus there are a few things I need to take care of this week.”
Jumping to his feet, Jesse cupped his hand around his mouth and called out. “Alright, Anthony!!!!”
“Go, baby boy!” Tania called out, right alongside him.
It was Thursday evening and as promised Jesse was in attendance for Tania’s nephew basketball game. “That boy is good!” Jesse yelped, 100% sure by the time the young boy graduated high school he would have a full ride scholarship and all kinds of professional ball scouts begging for him to play.
By the time the game ended, it was well after 10pm and Pine Valley High School had scored an amazing 127 points. Jesse helped Tania down the bleachers and met the boy near the door who was flirting with a few school girls. “I got this,” Jesse whispered to Tania who sighed. Coming around the back, Jesse leaned against the wall and cleared his throat. “Chief of Police can’t be bogged down with grandbabies,” he said.
Anthony and the 2 girls flirting back, jumped and turned. The girls giggled and looked away shyly. “Hello, Chief Hubbard,” one of them greeted.
“Jesse, man, you messing me up,” he whispered back, raising an eyebrow.
“No, son… I’m saving you. See, young Denise here, her father is a cop as well and he’s very trigger happy when it comes to his only baby girl. I guess I should also mention she has two brothers in the military and the other one in a police academy in Texas,” he explained, getting a knowing smile from the girl.
Nodding, Denise looked at Anthony. “It is true, very true. Since my mother is no longer around they have put all of their attention on me.”
“Well, in that case,” he coughed, gripping the back of his neck. “Should we be heading out, Uncle Jesse.”
Laughing loudly, Jesse grabbed the young man’s shoulder. “We should. Ladies, do you need a ride home?”
“No sir, my daddy is outside waiting,”
“Boy, I’m saving you at every turn,” he teased, knowing that if Highland had come in and saw him talking it up with his baby girl it would have been pandemonium. “Goodnight ladies,” he called over his shoulder as he maneuvered Anthony over to Tania who was waiting with her hands on her hips.
“Boy, what I tell you? Focus on your books them girls will always be around,” she fussed.
“Auntie, I was just playing!” He laughed, pulling her short frame into his sweaty chest.
“Ewwww, get off, you stink.”
Laughing, Anthony turned to Jesse who had taken him under his wing after getting into some trouble awhile back and asked. “So, what you think? Did I do good?”
“If the NBA don’t try to pick you up after you turn 18, I’ll just have to create my own basketball team and make you a star. You were tearing up that court! Plus I see you added a few of the moves I taught you,” he hinted.
“Hey, we’re going to grab some pizza, would you like to join us?” Tania asked a little while later.
Jesse loved him some pizza, but unfortunately he had to decline. It was already late and he knew Angie would be up waiting for him. “Sorry, I can’t this time. You remember I told you Angie was injured at work, well I think I’ve left her alone for long enough. It’s only so much Ellie can do by herself.”
“What happened to Mrs. Hubbard?” Anthony asked. He had met her a few times when she would come to the school for their health fair and had found her to be a pretty amazing woman. “Would you be mad, if when I turned 18 I took your wife from you?”
“Anthony!” Tania gawked. “What I tell you about respect?”
“Boy, she wouldn’t give you the time of day,” Jesse teased, letting Tania know he knew the boy was teasing. He always teased about taking Angie from him. “Anyway, Anthony that was a good game. You keep it up and let me know when your next home game is, maybe I can talk Angie into coming. Y’all get home safe.”
As he turned and started for the door, Jesse heard the boy ask his Auntie. “So, are you going to tell me what happened to Mrs. Hubbard or not?” Jesse could only laugh and shake his head. The minute the boy found he was married to her, he always asked how she was doing and a few times rushed to the station after school just to eat with him when he knew Angie had cooked. The boy had a crush on the woman like no other. “And who could blame him,” Jesse mumbled as he removed his phone and called his wife to let her know he was on his way.
“Hurry home, big daddy. I got a surprise for you,” Angie purred, before hanging up.
Before both of them knew it, the time for Jesse to board his flight to Chicago had arrived and as they stood in the middle of the airport, Jesse did his best at consoling his distraught little girl. “Baby, I’ll be back before you know it,” he promised, kissing the top of her head. When they first told Ellie that he had to go out of town for a few days she started packing her bags to go with him, only to have her bubble burst when they told her she couldn’t go. She had been a puddle of emotions the whole week and today was really no different.
“Why can’t I go?” She sobbed into his chest. “I’ll be good, I promise daddy! I’ll be really good.”
“I know you will, baby,” he replied, looking up at Angie for help. When it came to seeing Ellie or Angie in tears, Jesse was at a lost because it just broke his own heart and now for him to be the reason for his little girl’s tears shattered his soul.
Placing her hand on her daughter’s shuddering back, Angie came around to face her. “Ellie, daddy has to go away for a job, but he’ll only be gone a few days and guess what,”
“What?” She whimpered, picking her head up.
“He’ll call us every day and every night… We can even do the video chat, so we can see him. Sound good?”
“Maybe,” she whispered. “Will you do that daddy?”
“For you and for your momma, I will do anything. And hey, you be a good girl, I might just bring you back a little something.”
Ellie looked between her parents before nodding. It wasn’t enough to make her happy again, but it would do for the moment. And it was a good thing because they were starting to call his flight.
“Alright, that’s my flight, I have to go. You be good for mommy and you get started on that project,” he said, putting her down and kissing her cheek and later turning to his wife. “And you be good too, I’ll call you when we land,” he finished, hugging his wife tightly and giving her a kiss that would have to tie them both over for the next few days.
“Go,” Angie whispered, lightly pushing him away. “If you don’t, you never will,” she hinted, giving him a knowing look. The night before they had made love well into Saturday morning and one more time while in the shower. He was going to be back in a few days, but to Angie, because they hadn’t spent that much distance away from each, it felt like a lifetime. A few moments later, Jesse grabbed his carry on and headed for his gate, after getting checked out by the ticket attendant, he turned to look at his wife and daughter and waved. “Love you both,” he mouthed.