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Jesse hated the dark.
Rebecca Matalon had learned to hate it, too. Her five-year-old son's cry in the night had woken her the evening before, and she'd spent hours trying to convince him that no monsters lurked in the shadows.
The insufferable sudden blackout that had hit Boston last night had continued into the day. So had Jesse's crankiness.
She stared outside through the fifth-story window of the Ritz-Carlton, stunned that it was already 2:00 p.m. and the power still had not been restored. Never had she seen the city such a madhouse of chaos and ill tempers. Useless air conditioners, accidents due to nonfunctioning traffic lights and vandalism had turned normal decent people into irritable, aggressive, paranoid, violent citizens.
If she were in L.A., she'd be at work reporting the mess.
Instead, she was trying to keep her five-year-old son entertained and happy without the joys of television, electronic games-or his father.
Ethan hadn't even been able to go to the Red Sox game with her and Jesse yesterday. And Ethan and Jesse's common love of baseball had assured her they'd always remain close.
In spite of the fact that she'd moved thousands of miles away.
She dressed in the coolest linen skirt and cotton blouse she'd packed, swept her long blond hair into a chignon and clipped silver loops in her ears. A simple assessment in the mirror assured her that she looked fine. Not that she was primping for this dreaded rendezvous with Ethan, her soon-to-be-ex, but she hated to face him looking like a bedraggled sleep-deprived maniac. After all, she was the mother of his child and had been his lover.
And they had had a solid marriage once.Truth be known, they still remained friends. They just couldn't live together.
Memories assaulted her, launching her back to a time when they'd first met. They'd shared an instant attraction, fallen in love overnight and married a year before he'd enlisted in the military. She'd survived the separation, but when he'd returned he'd been wrapped up in building his now-megamillion-dollar computer software company. On top of that was the covert work he did for Eclipse. Secret missions that he couldn't talk about. Dangerous jobs that sent him all over the world. She'd never quite known if he'd come home dead or alive.
Her heart raced at the realization that she had liked that dark, dangerous side of Ethan. The mystery, excitement, suspense had been a turn-on. But it was no way for a family to live.
Besides, she'd put her own career aspirations on hold for too long. After having Jesse and practically raising him alone, then working in menial jobs, she hadn't been able to turn down the L.A. job. A TV journalist-her life's dream.
In a bicoastal marriage, she and Ethan had drifted apart till she'd filed for divorce.
Now it was time to sign the damn papers and finalize the end of their marriage.
Rebecca's heart squeezed at the sight of Jesse's big brown eyes staring up at her. Ethan's eyes.
Could she really do this today-sign those longawaited papers and put Ethan out of their lives for good?
No, Ethan would always be a part of Jesse's life. Just not hers.
"I'm hot." Jesse shoved his hand through his short blond hair, which was sticking out in a thousand directions. In his other hand, he held the glow-in-the-dark lighted wand that she'd bought him at the ballgame. Jesse had held on to it for dear life during the night, using it for light when he'd awakened in the dark.
"I know, sweetie. Maybe the electricity will be restored soon."
"I don't wanna stay in the hotel anymore. I wanna go play."
Rebecca knelt in front of her son. She hadn't explained about her meeting with Ethan yet, but eventually she'd have to. Jesse would be upset. Apparently half the kids at school came from divorced homes, and Jesse had already announced quite vehemently that he didn't want to be one of them.
His declaration had broken her heart. "Tell you what." She took his hand and guided him to the window, then lifted him so he could see outside. "See over there in Boston Common. That's Frog Pond. There are a lot of kids out there. Would you like for Miss DeeDee to take you wading in the pond while I'm at my meeting?"
"Uh-huh." He bobbed his head up and down, and she gave him a hug. Outdoor exercise would do him good. Maybe put him in a better mood and help him expend some of his restless energy.
She had to tell him the truth when she returned. She just prayed that one day he'd forgive her for tearing apart their family.