I got out of my car to help Victoria out as soon as we got home. When we got in the house, the boys were no where to be found.
"Michael! Prince! Come down here! I have a surprise for you!" Victoria yelled as she sat down on the couch. I sat close beside her. It's been a while since I've seen her, let alone be close to her. The boys hurried down and raced into the living room to find me. They've grown so big since the last time I've seen them.
"Daddy!" Prince smiled and hurried toward me and hugged me tightly. Michael stood in place and looked at me as though I was a stranger.
"Hey, Mike. Aren't you going to give me a hug?" I asked him. I think I've upset him since I've been gone. I understand he's the oldest, but I expected him to embrace that I've come back as well.
"Mom, where's Joshua?" He asked and he shifted his attention toward Victoria. He's gotten so tall.
"Not right now, Michael. Say hello to your father." Victoria urged him.
Michael looked back at me, "come on, Prince. Let's finish playing." He instructed his brother and hurried back upstairs. Prince followed close behind him. I don't know how to respond.
"What did I do wrong?" I asked Victoria.
"Is that a rhetorical question?" She rolled her eyes.
"He's six years old acting like he's-"
"He's seven. You missed his birthday."
"So that's what this is about?!"
"Yes. He wanted you to come, but I told him you were busy with your friend. Which you were..." I leaned back against the sofa. How could I forget my first borns birthday?
"I'll be back." I went upstairs and went to the boys room. Prince looked back at me, but Michael kept his eyes on the television as he played his game. "Turn the TV off, Prince." He did as he was told and turned it off. "Come here, Michael." I instructed him. He turned around and looked at me. He contemplated getting up, but in the end, he came over to me. "We have to talk."
"About what?" He asked me as he followed me out the room.
"Don't worry about it." I told him as we went downstairs. "Put on a jacket."
"We're going outside?" He asked as he went into the closet. I ignored his question and opened the back door. As soon as we were a great distance away from the house, I started talking to him.
"I'm sorry I missed your birthday, son." I began. Michael looked up at me, but did not respond. "I know you're mad at me."
"It's no big deal." He mumbled and shrugged his shoulders.
"Yes, it is. I can tell that it is bothering you."
"Did you forget my birthday?" He looked up at me with questioning eyes. "You did, didn't you?"
"You have to understand, Michael. Your mother and I were going through a lot at the time-"
"No, you were too busy with your girlfriend. Mom told us."
"She wasn't my girlfriend. She was a friend. That was true, but-"
"Is she more important than us?"
"No, of course not!"
"I think you spend more time with them than you do with us." I stopped and looked at him.
"Michael, all those 'friends' aren't my friends anymore. I let them go a long time agao. They're weren't good friends."
"Then why were you with them so much?"
"Because..." I looked away. Michael looked at me. "Son, they were not more important than you all. No one is more important than my family."
"Even the new baby?"
"Even the new baby." I smiled.
"I was talking about your girlfriend's baby. Is that family too?"
"Who told you that?"
"Why would she tell you that?" Michael shrugged. "That other girl was never my girlfriend. She isn't having my baby. Your mother is having a baby."
"She is?!" Michael's eyes grew wide with excitement.
"She didn't tell you?"
"Am I having another baby brother or a baby sister this time?"
"We don't know yet."
"Is it a surprise?" Michael was so excited.
"I don't know yet." I laughed. "Calm down. Tell me what you did for your birthday."
"Uncle Josh came. Auntie Janet came. Both Grandmas came, but they were very angry at each other. Eveeryone came over and we ate cake. We played games. We watched movies. We went to drive the bumper cars. It was fun... I just wish you were there..." He said a little quieter.
"I'm sorry." I hugged him. "I promise, you and I will do something together."
"Can Auntie Janet come?"
"Sure, why not?"
"What about Grandma?"
"So, can everybody come so I can have another birthday party?" He smirked.
I laughed, "you're really pushing it, kid. We'll see about all that."
"Thanks, dad!" He smiled and hugged me tightly. "I love you so much."
"I love you too." We walked back to the house and went inside.
"How is everything?" Victoria asked from the living room.
"We're having another birthday party!" Michael jumped on the sofa.
"Oh, really? For who?"
"Me! Daddy said we could since he missed my last party. He said we could invite everybody! Even Uncle Josh!"
My eyes grew wide, "Michael, I never said Joshua could come."
"Yeah, you did. You said everybody could come."
"Yes, I did, but-"
"So that means Uncle Josh too, right?"
I looked around. I don't want him to be here. In fact, this is the time Victoria and I need to bond. "Do you really want him to be here?"
"Yes, he's my best friend..." Michael said. I looked up at Victoria.
"He's not allowed here anymore, Michael. We talked about this." She answered.
"He's just not allowed. Okay?" Victoria waited for a response.
"Okay..." He groaned. "Hey, dad, are you staying here with us?" He came over to me
"No, Mike. I'm not."
"Why not? You're moving?"
"No... We have to get some things back in order before I try to move back in."
"Well, for one, I have to spend more time with you guys and your mother again. I just need you guys to trust me again."
"I trust you!"
I smiled, "yeah, I know, little man. Yeah, but your mother must be able to trust me too. Okay?"
"Yeah," he looked down. "But, where are you staying then?"
"I have a place in mind."
"There's a house just for me."
I had to laugh, he's too eager. You can definitey tell he missed me. "Don't worry about it, Mike. I'll be here to spend time with you and your mother."
"Promise." I kissed his forehead. "Now, go play with Prince. I have to speak with your mother."