Chapter 7

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Art got his chance to take Jen out for a birthday dinner after Steven had called and cajoled her. Steven picked up his sister, and the three of them met at Riverview Restaurant on Harrisburg's west shore. The four-star eatery sat atop a bluff with a commanding view of the city skyline located across the Susquehanna River.

It disappointed Art that Jen's husband, Greg, declined to come. He suspected his daughter's marriage was in real danger. He had a tendency to interrogate his children when he wanted to know what was going on and knew he needed to dial it back when speaking with his daughter tonight. He wanted to know more about what was happening in her life, but if he got too aggressive or overbearing, she would just clam up.

Art would consider it a real accomplishment if he could at least reinforce the undeniable truth that he loved her and would be in her corner no matter what. Losing her baby had been a crushing blow. Losing her husband might be too much for her to bear. She needed to be reassured.

After their main course and before dessert, Jen sat up in her seat and pursed her lips. Art knew his daughter well. The change in posture meant she had worked up the courage to tell them something. Steven also took note. He set down his water glass and gave her his attention.

"I asked Greg to move out," she said, "for a while at least. Maybe we can learn to appreciate each other again if we separate for a while."

Steven laid a hand on top of his sister's. "Ah, Jen, I'm so sorry."

Art didn't know what to say.

"The thing is, he's being an ass and won't go," Jen continued. "He told me if I wanted to break up the marriage then I should be the one to move out."

"Are you sure this is what you want?" Steven asked.

"He blames me for what happened." She dabbed the corner of her eye with her cloth napkin.

Steven let his hand drop to the tabletop. "That bastard. How could he think such a thing?"

"He wants to try again for a child. I'm not ready. He accused me of never wanting a baby in the first place and says somehow my mental attitude caused the miscarriage."

Art felt disgusted. No wonder Jen had been so depressed.

Before he could express his anger, Jen continued to speak. "It's not true. I wanted a baby more than anything. I still do. It's just that I need a little time to get over what happened."

"Of course, I understand," Steven said. He looked at Art. "Dad, you're quiet. What are you thinking?"

Art swallowed. "You will always have a home with me, Jen. Doesn't matter how old you are, you'll always be my little girl. If you want to move back, I'll help you. Just say the word."

With tear-rimmed eyes, she said, "Thank you, Daddy. I'll let you know if it comes to that."

None of them were in the mood for dessert, but Art ordered a round of decaf coffee to top off the evening. He remembered his encounter with Natalya at the Starbucks. This place, being a real, down-to-earth restaurant, he didn't have to specify tall, grande, or venti or any other such pretentious terminology. All he had to say was "coffee."

After the waiter delivered their drinks, Steven said, "I've been preparing your defense, Dad. I'm hoping you'll change your mind and let me try to make a deal with the prosecutor."

Art sipped his coffee and set down his cup. "It may not be necessary. Natalya, uh, Mrs. Henson wants to drop the charges."

Steven's jaw hung for a moment. "Dad, please tell me you didn't contact that woman. Please tell me you didn't break your promise to me to stay away from her."

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