ACT 1

The woman watched the scene unfold before her, standing silent and still at the window. She was exhausted, having travelled countless miles and hours along lonely stretches of road, in darkness and through storms, to reach this place – this moment. She had been so sure of her purpose since she had made the decision to return, but now, she found herself hesitating before taking the final step. She knew, without a doubt, that she would not be welcome, at least not at first. This hadn’t bothered her on her journey; if there was one thing she could say for herself, it was that she had a knack for turning hostile situations to her favor. She wasn’t always known to be the most patient person, but in this she could wait out any bad feelings. And yet, here she was, faltering as she reached the first meaningful checkpoint…

 Inside the warm house, Marina Cooper was hefting her son into his high chair, trying to hold back an undignified grunt at the strain. The boy was growing larger and more handsome every day, and she knew that soon she would be hard pressed to carry him around like she enjoyed to do. “All right buddy, time to start dinner,” she cooed, clipping the safety-belt and snapping the tray down into place. Henry, who Shayne had taken to occasionally calling Hank, nodded excitedly and laughed. No one would ever charge him with being a bad eater, that was for sure.

 Turning, Marina started as she caught sight of someone looking into the window. A knife was in her hand almost before she considered picking one up, and she moved forward, placing herself between the intruder’s line of sight and her son. Henry whimpered, startled by his mother’s sudden movement. “It’s all right buddy, it’s okay,” she assured him, looking back briefly before cautiously advancing.

 Reaching the curtains and throwing them back with her free hand, she got her second surprise of the evening. “Mom?” she asked, squinting in confusion. The older woman sighed, breath fogging up the glass, and nodded, pointing towards the front door. Frowning now, Marina inclined her head in agreement and moved towards the front of the house. “This had better be good.”

 Opening the door, Marina resisted the urge to shiver at the cold air that immediately blew into the house. The two women stared at each other silently for long moments, sizing each other up, until, finally, Eleni looked away. “Aren’t you going to invite your mother in?” The younger woman snorted, raising an eyebrow.

 “And just why in the world would I do that?” she asked, all but sneering. Taken aback, her mother blinked slowly.

 “I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye, but, the last time I was here we… weren’t exactly on the worst of terms…” she said, hesitating.

 “Not exactly on the best either,” Marina shot back, crossing her arms over her chest, mindful of the sharp edge of the knife.

 Now it was Eleni’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Are you going to stab your own mother, Marina?” she chuckled, shaking her head. The younger woman glared, just barely holding back a pout.

 “When it comes to Henry, there aren’t many people I can trust.”

 Eleni cocked her head, smiling genuinely. “Is that my grandson’s name?” she asked, pleased. “It’s a good, strong name.”

 “He’s a good, strong boy,” Marina allowed, unable to stop the pride from filling her voice and expression. “No thanks to his grandmother,” she added with another glare.

 “Can’t I see him?” the older woman asked, her gaze shifting from her daughter to the inside of the cozy house longingly. “I don’t want to impose, b-”

 “And yet, here you are,” the younger woman sniffed. Eleni scowled, jaw clenching in annoyance.

 “He’s my grandson Marina, I have a right-”

 “You have no rights here. If, and that is a big if, you get to see him, it’s because I decide to let you.”

 Nodding, the wind gone from her sails, the former Mrs. Frank Cooper Jr. swallowed hard. Shouldering a previously hidden duffle bag, she reached out with her free hand and cupped her daughter’s cheek. “I had hoped,” she murmured, slightly encouraged when Marina didn’t pull away. “That you would understand, now that you are a mother. I love you, sweetheart, no matter what happened before. And I love my grandson, even though we have never met.”

 “I find that hard to believe,” Marina grumbled, trembling from the cold.

 “So stubborn; you definitely get that from me. I’ll be in town for a while… if you decide you want to talk…”

 Jerking her head back, out of her mother’s hold, Marina shrugged, posture sagging a bit now that she was sure there was no danger of a confrontation. “Don’t hold your breath.” Nodding again, Eleni turned on her heel and walked away.

 Sagging against the door in relief, Marina stared into the distance long after her mother had gotten into her car and driven away; she shook slightly with both the cold and the loss of adrenaline. Henry’s crying broke her stupor, and she blinked rapidly, shutting the door and entering the kitchen once again. She would find out what her mother was after later; right now, it was time to take care of the most important person in her life.

 “Hey buddy, are you okay? Oh, you’re freezing! Mommy’s sorry, little man!” Removing the boy from his high chair and lifting him in her arms, she moved into the living room. Sitting on the couch, she grabbed the throw and wrapped it around them both, reaching for the phone once they were cocooned. She dialed quickly, fingers accustomed to the familiar pattern of numbers. She got an answer on the third ring. “Yeah, hi Shayne. Do you want to come over for some pizza take out…have a movie night with me and the little guy?” she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful. Pausing a moment, she smiled, holding Henry closer. “Excellent, I’ll see you in half an hour.” Hanging up the phone, she kissed her son on the forehead. “Hear that buddy, your daddy’s coming over for a family night. Let’s not let mean old grandma ruin a perfectly good evening.” Tomorrow…tomorrow she would find out what the woman wanted. Tonight, she would lose herself in two of her favorite men, and try to pretend that they really were a small happy family.

***