*you can read the first part of this scene here*
A dark blue car pulls up to a white house outside of the city. A woman in the driver’s seat, Grace, looks towards the house in thought. She takes a moment before turning off the engine of the car. She closes her eyes for a moment; she looks towards the backseat and sees a car seat assembled. She takes a deep breath and grabs her purse from the side of the car seat, and gets out of her car.
Grace walks towards the front steps of the house; each step she takes is slower than the previous one. One she reaches the top, she rings the doorbell of the house. Bouncing her leg in place with nervousness, the door opens and turns around to see the person standing there. A tall, olive-toned man with brown curly hair stands at the front door.
Max: Hey, Ashmore.
Grace greetingly smiles at Max, who moves out of the way to allow her inside the house. She doesn’t say anything, and he doesn’t mention anything else to her; it’s as if they know what the deal is between the both of them.
Grace walks into the living room area and examines it; the room isn’t as tidy as it usually was when she used to spend time with him in his apartment back in the city. What was once a tidy bachelor pad is now covered in baby toys, baby gadgets and things that scream “dad life” to Grace.
Max follows Grace behind her.
Max: Sorry about the mess, I didn’t have time to clean up a bit in here.
Grace: Don’t worry about it, it’s fine.
Max: *clears throat* Would you like something to drink? To eat? She’s still taking her nap, I wouldn’t want to prematurely wake her. *laughs* You know she loves her sleep.
Grace smiles to agree, even though she fully doesn’t know that about the little person possibly sleeping in her room in this house. She politely follows Max into the kitchen.
Max and Grace sit across from each other in the kitchen. He’s drinking a cup of coffee while Grace plays with the rim of her mug. He stares at her carefully; clearly Grace is in deep thought.
Grace’s thought is broken; she instantly looks up at Max intently.
Max: I– How have you been?
Grace: *hesitates* I’ve been good. Just did some paperwork at the cafe near the office; the usual. *places her hand on the table* How about you? How’s life out of the city?
Max: *smiles* Very quiet. Definitely is the change I needed, y’know? It brings a little piece of home back into my life without going too far away.
Grace: Ah, the little suburban boy from the Southwest side of England feels back at home?
Max: I mean, without a doubt. *smiles* It’s less stressful that it was back in the city.
Grace: I can definitely understand that.
More silence. Grace takes a deep breath and drinks her coffee. Max still is looking at her; never taking his eyes off of her.
Max: Are you okay with taking Willow for the weekend? Do you need anything? Should I write you a list of things for her?
Grace’s mood shifts; she visibly looks annoyed at Max’s comment.
Grace: *coldly* I can take care of my daughter for the weekend, Max.
Max: *defensive* I’m just trying to be helpful and to make things comfortable for you and Olivia and for it to go as smoothly as possible.
Grace: *places coffee to the side of her* What does that suppose to mean?
Max: Nothing, I’m just saying, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed with her and have her become upset over the weekend.
Grace: Oh, is that it? Is that what being with her mother does? Get her upset for the entire weekend?
Max: You only see her once every two weekends, Grace. What am I suppose to think when she goes to you for the weekend?
Grace is visibly angry, she leans back on her chair and crosses her arms across her chest.
Grace: Stop treating me like I’m some loose cannon, Max. I’ve taken care of Willie plenty of weekends, so for you to just say that–
Max: *interrupts* How is that case going for you?
Grace blinks in confusion.
Max: I heard you got signed to your first official case as a defense lawyer. How’s that going?
Grace scrunches her eyebrows.
Grace: How the hell you know that? You don’t even work for the firm anymore.
Max leans back into his chair, never taking his eyes off of Grace. They just stare at each other.
Grace: Stay out of my work life. You have no right keeping tabs on me at my workplace.
Max: I’m not keeping tabs on you. You know I had other friends at that firm besides you, right?
Grace: Don’t give me that, bullshit. You know what you’re doing.
Max doesn’t say anything, he just takes a deep breath in.
Max: I’m just saying that you have to take care of yourself better. I remember how you were during our case as interns. It really took a toll on you and… *takes a deep breath* Things are different now. It’s not just us anymore.
Grace’s face softens. She remembers how much that last case took a toll on her health. She wasn’t eating, she wasn’t sleeping, and on top of that she had found out she was pregnant with Max’s child. Things got progressively worse to the point Grace found herself in the hospital for not eating for days on end; it was the day Max found out about the baby. She remembers how life was like when Grace and Max were working on this case and how their relationship started. She thought he was the one. She thought that this was the man she was going to be with and raise their child with and hold her career and do things different than the way her parents did things but now she’s finding herself going throught the same exact–
Grace bounces out of thought again.
Grace: I’ll take care of myself. Don’t worry about me. Don’t worry about Willie. I’m fine. This time is different. I’m more than capable of doing both.
Max: *worrisome* Are you though? You barely made it through the trial run, how do you expect yourself to get through this one? Honestly Grace, I think–
Grace gets up from her seat.
Grace: Don’t. *gathers her things* I have to get going, can you please get Willie ready?
Max: Grace, please.
Grace: *sternly* I need to head back into the city before it gets dark, can you please gather Willie for me?
Max doesn’t say a word, he just gets up from his seat and walks past Grace in the kitchen. She stands there, visibly angry and annoyed about the conversation. She knows what Max was going to say; it was the same thing everyone in her life has been telling her since she had Willow. She’s never going to allow anyone to tell her what she can and cannot do, no matter how right they may be. She has already lost all that she had, what more can she lose?
Max comes back into the kitchen with a sleepy 7-month old baby in his arms. She’s clearly a little grumpy from being woken up from her nap. Grace smiles and coos at the child while Max transfers her to Grace’s arms. Grace looks at Willow and while she’s happy to see her, she instantly feels sullen; she wishes that she was able to be the mother that she wants to be for Willow, but knows that she can’t. Like mother like daughter.
Max: Let me know when you guys get back to the city safely.
Grace nods and begins to walk towards the front door with Willow in her arms. She starts to whine and cry for her dad, and it literally is breaking Grace’s heart. She knows Willow doesn’t want to go; it happens every time it’s her weekend to take her. Max reassures Willow and waves goodbye to her as Grace leaves the house.
After Grace puts Willow in her car seat and hands her over her favorite stuffed animal. She hopes into the drivers seat and looks behind her towards her daughter.
Grace: Ready, munchkin?
Willow blinks in the mirror placed in front of her, holding her stuffed animal in her hands. Grace smiles and faces back towards the front. She quickly looks to her side and see the pile of papers on the passengers seat. She closes her eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath.
The next day
Grace is seen sitting at the table in the cafe that she typically sits. She’s surrounded by papers like usual, but this time has a baby in a stroller next to her. She’s flipping through pages as she checks on Willow, who is biting one of her toys contently. Grace’s focus is on the papers in front of her until she hears a familiar voice in close proximity. She looks up to see Jamie standing there; he’s wearing a beige beret, a black t-shirt and blazer, beige pants and Converse sneakers with glasses on. He smiles at her with two coffees in his hands.
Jamie: I figured you needed some fuel to get you through today’s work-in-the-cafe session.
Grace smiles as he sets the coffee down next to her. He looks next to Grace and notices the stroller.
Jamie: *smiles* And who is this cutie accompanying you today?
Willow looks up at Jamie and smiles, Grace is at awe.
Grace: This is Willow, my daughter.
Jamie’s eyes widen in awe. He kneels in front of the stroller and has a huge smile on his face; his eyes are even smiling.
Jamie: Well aren’t you the cutest little bean?
Grace watches the interaction between them two. She smiles, and is in awe at how calm Willow is with Jamie. She notices Jamie looking back up at Grace, smiles, and stands back up.
Grace: Thank you for the coffee, Jamie.
Jamie smiles and turns around to leave.
Grace: *instantly* Please, stay. Sit.
Jamie turns around and faces Grace. No one speaks a word until Willow coos loudly. The tension breaks and both Grace and Jamie laugh.
Jamie: Can’t deny the little bean’s request.
Jamie pulls out the chair and sits across from Grace, just like the day they first met. While Grace continues to put papers together, she looks back up to see Jamie pull out a book to read all while smiling and looking at Willow. No words are said, but nothing needs to be said. Things just feel right in this moment.