Ben decided the best way to break the news to Sofia was over dinner in a public place so she wouldn’t be able to escape. It was probably the coward’s way out but maybe it would force them both to keep cool heads. She insisted they take Cole with them. He didn’t mind really. He didn’t get to spend near enough time with him anyway.
They sat down and settled Cole into a high chair with a half of sandwich while they waited on their orders.
Once he was busy eating, Sofia confronted Ben. “Okay. I know something is up. You have not been yourself all morning.”
Ben’s smile faltered. She already knew him so well. He had been twice blessed, he just prayed this wasn’t going to be the end. They had been through so much already. “I spoke to Nick this morning,” he said, trying to keep his tone light.
“Oh…” she said and her face fell, “He hasn’t called. It must have gone badly.”
She looked so sad. Ben took a breath wondering how to ease into it. “Well, it took some talking and explaining to make him understand that what we have is real.”
“So why hasn’t he called me?”
“Well….because.…” Ben hesitated. How can he tell her. He had no choice. Big boy pants.
Sofia cocked an eyebrow. “Well what?” she asked.
Ben closed his eyes for a moment gathering courage. “Well, he wasn’t convinced that you really love me. He thought you were rebounding and that I took advantage of you. So I tried to explain how we were attracted to each other before Jesse left you and that our shared experiences had brought us together….and I started tell-”
Sofia cut him off mid-sentence, “You told him. You. Told. Him…. About Jesse.” The last two words barely audible.
Ben closed his eyes and inhaled. “I didn’t exactly, he guessed.”
Sofia put her head in her hands trying to maintain control. “I just wanted it to be over. Now…I won’t even be able to look him in the eye. Things will never be the same between us.”
Ben leaned back and spoke his next words softly. “Baby, he was concerned but I assured him you were okay.” He paused and let out a little laugh, “I told him I gave him a black eye and Leroy beat the holy hell out of him.”
“Howy heww,” said Cole.
They both immediately looked at Cole, trying not to laugh. At the attention he gained from the adults, the little boy grinned and said it again, “Howy heww.” Then he burst into a fit of giggles.
“No Cole, that’s not nice,” said Sofia softly. The she turned to Ben shaking her head. “I swear he knows that’s a word he isn’t supposed to say.”
Ben said a silent thank you to Cole for easing the tension. “Maybe because it’s a new one?” Ben shook his head slowly. “I have no idea.”
He hoped the love he had in his heart for Sofia was evident on his face as he brought the conversation back to where they left off. “Sweetheart, you don’t have to worry about Nick. Yes, he was upset, but he was better at the end of the call. I asked him to let me tell you, because I promised you I wouldn’t tell him. Pia, secrets are bad. If anyone should know that, it’s me. Sometimes the truth is harder, but in the long run, it’s worth it.”
Sofia seemed to be digesting his words as she looked down at the table and chewed her bottom lip. Ben worried she might be trying to decide if she was going to tell him she was done with his ass and all of his baggage. Lord knows he had already messed up so much in the short amount of time they had actually been a real couple.
She finally looked up at him with a sad smile, her head in her hands. “I guess I should tell my parents. Put on my big girl panties and just do it.”
Ben couldn’t help the relieved laugh that rolled out him.
Sofia looked at him horrified.
“I’m sorry,” he said between laughs, “I just told Nick that I hated having to put on my big boy pants to tell you I fucked up.” He quickly clapped his hand over his mouth at the use of profanity.
Sure enough Cole parroted him, “Fruck, fruck,” said the little boy and squealed with delight at saying yet another new word.
“Coleman Ramsay Murdock!” said Sofia, this time trying to be stern, “That is not nice!”
Cole’s bottom lip started to quiver and he reached out to Ben. “Daddy….”
She immediately softened. “It’s okay baby. That’s a grown up word that little boys shouldn’t be saying.” Then she looked pointedly at Ben and added, “or Daddys.”
The memory of Grace testing out Cole’s name by scolding their unborn child washed over him while he watched Sofia scold Cole. Instead of making him sad, he was overcome with love for the woman sitting there with him now. “I love you so much Sofia,” he thought while he watched them interact.
She looked up at him surprised and smiled. “I’m scolding your son, almost making him cry, and you say you love me? And like that?”
Ben was embarrassed. “I didn’t know I said it out loud. I was watching you and thinking how lucky both of us are to have you in our lives.”
“Lucky that I’m here to discipline Cole for repeating after his father?” she asked. “Yes. You are,” she said, answering her own question. Then her face softened and she smiled warmly at Cole. “Or else this gorgeous little guy would be spewing all kinds of naughty words in preschool.”
Ben relaxed. He was pretty sure this was going to end okay. “Oh, I asked your brother to stand up for me.”
Sofia’s eyes went wide. “And he agreed?”
Ben chuckled. “Yeah, he did. You act surprised.”
“He wasn’t exactly singing your praises when I called him last week,” replied Sofia skeptically.
Ben smirked at her. “We kissed and made up.”
Sofia shook her head violently. “No….no, no, no. Me or him…not sharing.”
Ben roared with laughter. “Okay, I may have exaggerated, there was no exchange of saliva, but we did get past our differences and made up. If we weren’t on the phone, there may have been some manly hugs. Nick’s a good man.”
“Yes,” agreed Sofia, the love she had for her brother clearly written all over her face, “he is.” Then she gave him a look that made his heart skip a beat. “But, Ben, so are you.”
“So you aren’t pis…mad at me?”
Sofia let out a soft sigh and the corners of her mouth slowly curved upwards telling him everything he needed to know. “No. It was bound to happen. I’m just glad you put on your big boy pants and told me. Maybe now it really will be over.”
Ben took Sofia’s hands in his. “I love you Pia. Let’s promise to always remember our big boy pants and big girl panties from now on. No more secrets. Deal?”
“Deal,” she replied with a smile.