It had been a long day, and Chris was ready to relax. He descended the stairs to make sure one last time that the front door was locked and everything was secure. It was a nightly ritual, making sure the door was locked, the lights were out, the blinds were closed, and no candles were burning. Tonight, he had to cook, something he didn’t do very often. So, he put checking the stove and oven on his checklist. Once everything was verified, he grabbed a bottle of beer and headed back upstairs; grabbing the package from the hallway table that contained the latest script for his review. It had been delivered late in the afternoon, and he had not yet had a chance to open it up and even scan over it.
The house was quiet, a far cry from earlier in the day. He took a long pull from his beer bottle, pulled the covers back, then propped himself up on the bed. He opened the package, this script was from a major studio. He had fulfilled his Marvel contract several years ago and gone back to small independent movies. While he was one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood, the loss of his anonymity had been too much for him. He liked the idea of being able to blend into a crowd, and he was no longer able to do that. His turn as Captain America had made his life comfortable, and he could take care of his family. But he wanted some piece of his anonymity back. The tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend had not helped, either. While it had been kept out of the public eye, it was evident to everyone that saw him that he was dealing with something. The light was out of his eyes, and he was not the jovial, fun-loving guy everyone was used to.
He worked hard to repair his relationship with her; actually, they both worked hard at repairing the damage. So, with that in mind, he made the decision to change the way he approached movies and production shoots. He no longer wanted long shoots that sent him all over the world. Instead, he wanted shorter schedules that kept him closer to home. When they worked everything out and made the decision to settle down, he didn’t want his career to interfere, so the road of independent films with smaller budgets and friendlier production schedules appealed to him. His wife felt the same way, she had a successful business and made the decision to step away from the daily operations to focus on their marriage. They had been back together five years now, married four of those years and could not be happier.
Tonight, though, he was alone. His wife had been called away unexpectedly due to a problem with one of her company’s business deals. She was called in to try and fix it. She had flown out early this morning; he had plenty to do during the day to keep him busy. But now, it was quiet, he was missing her. When he went on location for his most recent films, she had traveled with him. He would have returned the favor and gone with her, but circumstances made that impossible this time. She had promised him that she would call and check in; glancing at his watch, he knew she would be calling in about half an hour.
He had just started to read the script when the approaching storm announced itself with a loud clap of thunder. Moments later, brilliant flashes of lightening illuminated the bedroom. He hoped the thunder would hold off for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, he heard several small rumbles. He wondered how long it would take before the peace in the house would be broken. He didn’t have to wonder for long, another burst of thunder rang out and then he heard faint cries coming from down the hallway.
Chris removed his glasses and then sat the script down on the nightstand. He got off the bed and used the glow of the hallway nightlight to light his path to the bedroom just down the hall from the master bedroom. He opened the door and turned on the small lamp on the dresser by the door. He found his little boy, in his leopard spotted pajamas, sitting up in the middle of his bed, tightly clutching his teddy bear and crying softly.
The sight made Chris’ heart hurt, he hated to see Jacob Thomas Evans cry. He made his way over to the bed and lowered the bed rail that kept his little one from rolling out of his big boy bed in the middle of the night. He picked him up, placing him on his lap as he sat down on the bed. He smoothed his soft brown hair over to the side and out of his face, “It’s okay, buddy. Did that mean ol’ thunder wake you up?”
The doe-eyed little boy wiped away his tears with the back of his hand. He nodded slowly and answered, “Uh-huh, I scared,” he stuttered his reply through his falling tears.
He hugged Jacob to him and kissed the top of his head, “It’s okay, Daddy’s got you now. I promise the storm won’t get you.” He was rubbing his back, and his son curled into him, placing his head on his shoulder, but never letting go of his teddy bear. After sitting there with him for a few minutes, Chris declared he was putting his son back to bed, “Okay, JT, I’m gonna put you back to bed. You go night-night, but daddy will leave the door open for you, okay?”
“NO!” Jacob screamed out, the idea of sleeping in the bedroom alone was suddenly too much to take, “I sweep wif you.”
Chris just looked at the little boy for a moment, struggling with what the correct answer should be. Realistically, he should stay in JT’s room until he fell asleep and then sneak back into his own bedroom. However, he could say ‘no’ to his son; he didn’t have the willpower.
“Okay, buddy, just this one time,” he stood up from the bed and then asked, “You want your favorite blankie, too?” JT nodded his head, so Chris reached down to pick it up. He then turned off the bedroom light and walked back towards the master bedroom.
He put his son on the bed and began tickling him and making him laugh. Just as they were having fun, the phone rang. Chris got his son to calm down, and he answered the phone, knowing it was his wife checking in. “Hey babe, how’s the trip going?”
“Oh, it’s fine. But I miss you and JT, terribly. Do you miss me?”
“That’s a silly question. Yes, we both miss you. JT, do you miss your mommy?” The little boy nodded his head in response.
“Chris, why is he up? He should have been put to bed hours ago, and with him being sick, he needs to be in bed.”
“Calm down, baby. He was in bed, and he’s been feeling better. His fever broke earlier today, and he’s been able to keep down some crackers and broth,” his voice was calm and soothing to ease his wife’s mind. “He’s up because we have a storm rolling in and the thunder woke him up. He was crying and scared, and I’ve brought him into bed with me.”
“Oh, okay, that makes sense. But you know you’re a sucker, right?” She started to laugh at him and then switched gears and took a stern tone, “You know he needs to sleep in his own room, though. If you let him sleep in there with you, he’ll want to do that every time, and he needs to get used to rain and storms.”
“Are you telling me that if you looked at this precious face, you’d send him back to his room?” He waited for her to answer, but when she didn’t immediately respond he spoke up for her. “You know you’d give in. Especially since he’s sick right now. So, don’t tell me I’m a softie. Besides, I considered making him stay in his room, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He looked over and noticed his son was staring at him. “JT, your mommy is silly, you know that?” Once again, the little boy nodded his head in agreement with his dad.
“Fine, you can think I’m nuts all you want. But the next time we want some privacy, and he’s trying to get in the bed with us, expect me to say I told you so.”
“Oh, don’t blame this on me, sweet cheeks,” he decided this might be a good time to change the subject, “So, when do you think you’re coming home?”
“Hopefully, tomorrow afternoon. We made a lot of headway today, even met over dinner. So, I think our meeting over breakfast in the morning might wrap it all up. Or at least I hope so. Then I’ll catch a flight back, I’m hoping I’m home before dinner.”
“Great, we can’t wait to have you come home. I know JT misses you.” He turned and looked at his little boy, “You want to say hi to mommy?” JT nodded and put his hand out to grab the phone, Chris held it to his ear and coached him, “Say hi to her.”
“Hi, Momma,” he whispered into the phone.
“Oh, hi sweet boy. Are you being good for daddy?”
“Uh huh. I gonna sweep wif him,” he proclaimed proudly, “I wuv you,” the little boy pushed the phone away from his head.
“I’m back. Evidently, our boy doesn’t like the phone. He seems to be proud that he’s sleeping in here tonight,” he couldn’t help but laugh, knowing it was driving his wife insane. “I love you, please travel safe and hurry home.”
“I love you, too. See you tomorrow.”
As Chris put the phone back on the nightstand, he picked up the script and decided to start reading it again. The thunder had subsided, but the rain was coming down and pinging against the window. Jacob was still scared, and he cuddled up next to his dad, his ever-present teddy bear still tucked under his arm. It took no time at all before the little guy was fast asleep. Chris let him lay there for a while, loving the fact that he was cuddled with him. Knowing that moments like this don’t happen all the time and in a blink of an eye, they would be gone forever.
Chris’ eyes were getting tired, and he was ready to put the script down for the night. He placed it on the nightstand and then went about untangling JT from his side. He gently moved him to the pillow next to him and covered him up. He kissed his head and once again smoothed his hair. This little boy was just perfect in so many ways.
For years, Chris had always said he wanted a family and children of his own. He had a niece and nephews that he spoiled and loved spending time with, but he always longed for when he would have kids of his own. He thought he knew what to expect. But he was so wrong. When his wife told him they were pregnant, Chris almost passed out. They elected to not find out the baby’s gender ahead of time. And when the doctor announced he had a son, he thought his heart would burst.
That was nothing to the pride he felt when the tiny bundle was placed in his arms for the first time. He found out later that his friends had all made bets as to whether he would cry or not. For the record, he did. This boy was, even more, the reason for him to not do long production shoots on location. Chris didn’t want to miss any part of JT growing up, and he didn’t want his life to consist of jetting off to sets for his dad to film a movie.
Chris turned the light off and drifted off to sleep. It wasn’t restful, though. He kept waking up every few minutes to make sure that JT was okay and he had not rolled out of bed. At some point, he had gotten a restful enough sleep, because he was woken up by little hands patting his face, “Wake up, daddy, wake up.”
Chris slowly opened his eyes. JT was staring at him and then used his little fingers to pull his dad’s eyes open wider, “Wake up,” he whispered softly and then planted a kiss on his cheek.
“Morning, buddy. You sure are bright-eyed and bushy tailed today,” Chris slowly sat up on the bed, noticing that once again JT held onto his teddy bear and this time he had his blankie across his lap. “Come on, let’s go potty and then have breakfast, okay?”
Chris changed JT, he was potty-training but wore trainers during the night. He took him downstairs and made him some breakfast and sat on the couch with him afterward to watch shows on the Disney Channel. After a few minutes, the TV had sucked JT in, and Chris felt it was safe to leave him for a few moments to clean up the kitchen. He checked his phone and saw that his wife sent a message saying she was on her way to the airport. Great, she would be home soon.
Once the kitchen was clean, he took JT back upstairs with him and put him on the bed. “I’m gonna let you watch toons on the iPad, okay? Daddy needs to take a shower. Don’t get off the bed, do you hear me?” JT nodded his head, his chocolate brown eyes were wide and his face fully animated as he looked at his dad. Chris kissed his son and then darted into the bathroom for what he hoped would be the fastest shower on record.
When he stepped out, he quickly looked out the door to make sure JT was okay. So far, so good. He quickly dried off and got dressed and then stepped out of the bathroom. His son was so entranced by the iPad that he didn’t even notice his dad standing there. Chris took out his phone and snapped a photo, sending it to his wife with a text message that read, “See, you can trust me, I’ve been able to keep the kid alive!”
He took JT into his own room to get clothes and then into the bathroom to give him a bath. He was in the process of getting him dressed when he heard the front door open. “JT, I think mommy’s home.” The little boy began to clap and tried to run off before Chris was finished dressing him.
“Chris, where are you?” He heard her yell from the base of the steps.
“In JT’s room, Sabrina. I just gave him a bath, and I’m getting him dressed.” As he finished dressing him and stood to walk out the door, he saw his wife standing in the doorway, “Well, Mrs. Burnham-Evans, how nice it is to see you again.”
But before Chris could kiss his wife, she had scooped up the precious toddler from the floor and was showering him with affection.