“I know, baby,” Mitch replied. “I saw.”
“And he pointed at us!” Faith cried from their other side and Mitch looked to her to see her head tipped back and her arm pointed up. “Look! We’re on the big screen!”
Mitch didn’t look. This was because he caught sight of Billie and saw her eyes on him. They were bright.
Mara’s eyes, filled with love and trust.
He grinned at her.
Her grin was wonky when she grinned back.
Seeing that, not for the first time in thirteen years and probably not the last, Mitch wondered about Bill Winchell. The first time he saw that grin in a Stop ‘n’ Go he knew it was worth fighting and dying for. Exhausting yourself. Running yourself ragged. Bleeding yourself dry.
The last time the kids saw Bill was when he was drunk and high after they’d spent the day running away from him. He’d been true to his word. He’d relinquished all claim then and forever. He was alive, Mitch knew, out of prison and living with his Mom in her trailer in Iowa. Mara’s mom died of heart disease two years ago. Her friend Lynette shared the news and they did not attend her funeral. Lulamae lived on. Neither of them nor Bill had darkened Mitch and Mara’s door again.
So Bill had kept his promise.
So had Mitch.
And, Mitch figured, that was the best thing Bill Winchell had to give to his kids. Mitch’s promise to give them a good life and unfettered access to Mara’s love.
Therefore, in the end, not entirely an assclown.
Mitch’s mind moved from these thoughts as his gaze dropped.
Jesus, Billie’s man-boy had his arm around her waist low, his fingers close to her hip.
He took in the hand then he looked to Ridge.
Ridge caught his look, his head jerked and his hand shifted up to the acceptable zone of her waist.
His work done, looking away, Mitch caught Billie rolling her eyes at Mara. He’d seen this a lot and it didn’t faze him. Never did. Billie perfected the eye roll at age seven.
They sat with the rest of the crowd as the next batter took the box.
Mara dropped her head to his shoulder.
It was after the batter fouled out that Mara’s head shifted and her lips came to his ear.
“I knew it,” she whispered.
Mitch turned his head and, up close, looked into his wife’s unusual but beautiful blue eyes.
“Knew what?” he asked.
“That you’d build a beautiful family.”
Mitch felt that in his gut and it felt good, like it always did when Mara hit him with her sweetness.
He lifted his hand and cupped her jaw. “Sweetheart –”
“Thank you, honey,” she kept whispering.
“A good life and a beautiful family.”
“You had a hand in that,” he reminded her.
“I know. We’re a team. Thank you for giving me that too.”
Fuck, he loved his wife.
He couldn’t think of a response so he decided to smile.
Mara smiled back, Billie’s wonky smile, the smile his wife had given their daughter and he couldn’t help it.
He bent his head and kissed it off her lips.
And he kept doing it even as he heard Faith announce with practiced exasperation, undoubtedly to Ridge, “They do this a lot.”
And he kept doing it through Billie’s softer, much sweeter and not exasperated at all, “And they always have. As long as I can remember.”
The Dream Man Series will continue with Motorcycle Man, the story of Kane “Tack” Allen.