Aidan had a cookie in his mouth with maybe half of it actually getting eaten. The rest was falling in chewy chunks down his puffy red baby jacket and onto the wooden bench where he was pressed up against Roman in order to stay balanced. Roman had his own heavy coat on as he put his arm around one son as he watched the other skate onto the ice with the New Winslow High School varsity hockey team.
Abby sat on Roman’s other side, holding her hands over her ears as the crowd cheered the team on. Roman had his other arm around her, and she pressed herself as tightly against him as she could. Glancing down at her, he could see her own chocolate chip cookie was long gone, but the chocolate was still smeared over her mouth.
Down on the ice, Jamie was skating into position. The team all wore red jerseys, but Roman could see the BECKETT written across Jamie’s back. Maybe it was the padding, but God, he looked like an adult from here, didn’t he? Celine was working at the House of Pizza today while Roman brought the kids to Jamie’s game, but he was curious if she’d think the same if she saw it.
He’d have to ask. No, wait, if he asked her that, she might actually cry. And then Roman would feel like an asshole.
With one last blare of the horn that sent both children burying themselves in Roman’s coat, the game began. Roman paid attention to as much of it as possible while he wrangled the two little ones. He knew he most likely wouldn’t be able to stay the whole game, not unless a miracle happened. But Jamie understood. He’d probably want to go out with his buddies afterward anyway, going to a different pizza place that wasn’t owned by his parents. And it would probably be out of town, so Roman couldn’t help him, anyway.
Nope, he wasn’t thinking about the curse today. No, Roman was going back to focusing on making his life here as good as it could be. He was going to live his life and be happy with it. Just like he had before this whole mess began. Just like Minnie had for eighty years. If he got out, it would also be a miracle, possibly as big of a miracle as getting through an entire hockey game with two toddlers. But he wasn’t going to give up the miracle that was his marriage and family in order to get out of here. So he needed to just stop thinking about it. It wasn’t in the cards.
A squeaky little voice broke into his thoughts before they could go any further. Roman looked down at Abby, whose little curls were poking out from under her Frozen hat. “Baby?” he answered.
Her brown eyes were enormous and begging as she looked up at him. As she blinked, Roman felt his resolve to limit the kids to one cookie each begin to melt. “Pees?” she added.
Fuck. “Yeah,” Roman said, reaching around Aidan and into his coat pocket.
He pulled out the small bag of cookies and pulled another one out. Abby took it from his hand before he’d even fully removed it from the plastic. “Fank,” she said, cramming it in her mouth.
Now Aidan had noticed the treats and was holding a hand up for one too. He was nearly two, but he didn’t verbalize much yet, mostly using simple hand signs. There’d been some verbal language a few months ago, but it seemed like it had disappeared. Roman wasn’t too concerned about it yet, but he didn’t want his son to feel like Roman didn’t hear him. So he pulled out a second cookie and put it in Aidan’s waiting hand.
The game continued, New Winslow trailing the visiting team just slightly. Oh, he was going to hear about this tonight at the dinner table, wasn’t he? Hopefully Jamie wouldn’t be too upset about it if the team lost.
“No more cookies, sweetie,” Roman said, looking down at Abby again.
Then she settled her head against his side. Throat suddenly dry, Roman squeezed her tightly. “Love you too, sweetheart.”