“I’ll see you Thursday night, Jess,” Jack Maguire said to his wife. He wiped a smudge of baby food from her cheek before pressing his lips to hers.
It was their usual Sunday night routine. Saying goodbye.
Their youngest, baby Ella, bounced in her mother’s arms until her dad leaned over and planted a raspberry on her cheek eliciting squeals of delight.
Jessica’s lips curled despite the heaviness in her heart.
As a pharmaceutical sales person, travel was a part of Jack’s job description that she’d grown to accept. But it didn’t make saying goodbye any easier.
After smothering their other two kids in hugs and kisses, Jack hopped into the waiting hired car with a wave and a smile. Jessica’s stomach clenched as she thought about how exciting his life on the road must be—business meetings with doctors, dinner at new restaurants every evening, nights spent in luxurious hotels.
After their oldest, Connor, was born, Jessica made the decision to quit her job as a nurse and stay home full time. Now with three kids under five, she still loved every moment of her time at home. But that was her. Whenever she said goodbye to Jack she couldn’t help wondering if he found their home life dull compared to his travels.
Did he look forward to getting back on the road?
Jessica felt a tug on her pant leg pulling her back from her worries.
“Can I have a drink?” asked three year old Zoë.
“Of course, Sweetie,” Jessica replied as she patted the girl’s curly blonde head. She grabbed three plastic cups from the cupboard, and as she poured a round of apple juice for the masses her concerns about Jack were quickly forgotten.
On Monday night, the phone rang at precisely six o’clock. Jessica’s heart pounded with anticipation. Whenever he traveled, Jack always managed to sneak away and call home at the same time. No matter what.
When she picked up the phone, Jessica could barely hear him over the raised voices and clinking of silverware on dishes. He was at dinner with clients.
The kids jumped at her legs anxious to talk to Daddy. After each had their turn, Connor passed her the phone. “It’s your turn, Mommy.”
But as soon as she raised it to her ear, she heard Jack say, “Sorry, hun. Gotta go.” He was practically shouting to be heard. “Dr. Watts is about to leave, and I haven’t gotten a commitment from him yet. I’ll call you tomorrow. Love you.”
She let out a heavy breath but told herself she could wait until tomorrow to tell him about Zoe’s attempt to dress the cat in a princess gown and tiara.
But on Tuesday evening, Jessica returned home at six-ten following what was supposed to be a quick stop at the grocery store—an impossibility with three kids in tow—to find a message from Jack.
“I won’t be able to call back tonight,” his voice rang out. “The only time Dr. Bryson can meet with me is this evening. Kisses and hugs to everyone.” He sounded distracted, as though he was in a hurry to get off the phone.
Her heart sunk.
The tiara story really isn’t that exciting anyway.
On Wednesday evening, six o’clock came and went with no phone call. Even though she knew he was due home the next night, disappointment weighed heavy in her chest. Her first instinct was to worry. He’d never missed a call before. Had something happened?
Calm down. He’s probably busy with a client, her common sense told her.
But then that meant he’d gotten too busy or just forgot to call.
Either option caused her heart to tighten uncomfortably. But she tried to ignore the sensation as she joined in the kids’ lively dinnertime conversation.
A few hours after the kids were asleep Jessica heard a noise at the front door. Her heart thudded in her chest. Who could it be? She wasn’t expecting anyone.
Wiping her dish soapy hands on a towel, she walked cautiously to the front window to check it out.
But before she reached the foyer, the door swung open and Jack walked into the house. Jessica’s breath caught in her throat, and she rushed to her husband throwing her arms around his neck.
“You’re early!” she mumbled into his shoulder. Her heart sped like crazy—partly from surprise but mostly due to the thrill of seeing Jack.
“I couldn’t stand the thought of being away for another night, so I squeezed all of my appointments into three days. That’s why I’ve been so busy.”
And he couldn’t call tonight because he’d been on a plane, she realized. A pang of guilt gripped her stomach. How could she have doubted him?
He dropped his small suitcase and returned her embrace with both arms. “I’ve had enough stuffy business dinners and lonely hotel stays to last a life time.”
“I thought you liked traveling,” she said tentatively.
Jack pulled back and looked into her eyes. “The only part I like about being away is coming home to you and the kids.”
A wave of relief washed over her leaving a warm glow in its wake. Feeling closer to Jack than ever before, Jessica leaned in and pressed her lips to his.
When she pulled away, she couldn’t help smiling. “Do you want to hear what Zoë did to the cat on Monday?” she asked.
And as they cuddled up on the couch together, the sparkle she saw in Jack’s blue eyes as she talked about their life, their children left no doubt in her mind.
Home really is where his heart is.
Learn more about Marcy Bassett-Kennedy at her SHOWCASE PAGE.