The weekend ended on Monday morning.
In Newark, Belle boarded a plane to head South.
Twelve hundred miles to the west, Marcus boarded a plane to head East.
Later that day, Madeline and I spoke.
She had broken one of our agreements.
We had agreed that Marcus would not meet her children on his trip to see her.
But over the weekend, her two-year-old son Jack had been hospitalized suddenly with an infected knee.
In all that ensued, Marcus not only met the children, but her parents as well.
He stayed with the family at the hospital on Sunday night until he departed on a pre-dawn flight.
In truth, this was not simply a rule that I imposed. As all of us are parents, the three of us agreed that it would be too complicated for the boys to meet Marcus on this outing. He was there to take a step forward in his relationship with her, not to initiate a relationship with them.
But as parents, we also knew that in moments of crisis, all other considerations are discounted.
She asked if that bothered me. Heck no, I said. I’m glad Marcus was there. He is great in a crisis—cool headed and very comforting.
We talked about how this weekend might affect our relationship.
At the time, Madeline had yet to post her experiences with Marcus, which begin here. I didn’t ask about specifics; I knew I would hear—or read—those in time. (In truth, you read them as I did, gentle reader.)
The night he left, she told me, they had had The Talk—where is this going, what do we want, all that.
Seems too soon for resolutions, I ventured.
It is, she agreed. But I wanted to be clear. I have feelings for you, Jefferson, and he needs to understand that. And while it is still so new with him, it’s really good. I could come to have strong feelings for him too.
Are you confused by all that?
Yes, she said. It’s confusing, but it seems . . . right. But are you okay?
I’ve thought a lot about this, I said. And I am truly fine with this. I’m glad we all seem to be making each other happy. I am in no rush for anything, so I am happy if we give this time to see what comes of it.
Me too, she said. Good.
Later, I spoke with Marcus.
It was really amazing, Jefferson. I mean, we really connected. Maddie and I were . . . I mean, I knew I had feelings for her when I went there. What I was surprised to learn was how deeply she feels for me. There is really something there.
He asked, now, are you okay?
I’m okay, I said. As long as we are honest and take this slowly, I’m very good.
Good. I love you, Jefferson.
I love you Marcus. Glad you are home safe.
I put down the phone.
Well, I thought. I hope this doesn’t get complicated.