A Gods of P B & J Story
Hiding behind a bush, I felt my knee joints stiffen in the crisp late March air. I had somehow gotten roped into an early (annoyingly early) Saturday morning game of hide-and-seek with my children, Noah and Hannah, and my bestie Adam and his daughter Katie. Adam and I had forged a platonic bond since my ex-husband practically disappeared from our lives and Adam stepped in to guide me through the early stages of single parenthood, being a widow himself. The five of us spent a lot of free time together. Which I didn’t generally consider a bad thing. Adam was quite unaware of his attractiveness. All the moms in Noah and Katie’s kindergarten class admired his broad shoulders, his muscular build, his Romanesque features, his perpetually tousled, slightly longish brown hair, his chocolate colored eyes framed by thick, dark lashes. These were things I, of course, had never fallen victim to, being besties and all. I mean – awkward, right?
A cascade of water droplets from an overhanging tree branch rained down on my purple and grey beanie and broke me from my thoughts. “Gotcha mommy. This was so easy. You’re it!” Noah danced around while his animated voice rang out, calling everyone else from their hiding spots. I stood slowly, stretching my groaning muscles. Apparently, every single part of my body was in open rebellion because my first morning cup of coffee was still sitting on the kitchen counter, likely cold and the cream congealed. I silently mourned the loss of caffeine. The gods of peanut butter and jelly were clearly not smiling on me today.
We all gathered around the large oak tree in the middle of the park – base camp. Noah continued his dance, pleased with himself for getting the jump on me. I let him have his victory, telling him what a good hunter he would make. “You know kid, you could be an FBI agent. Track down the bad guys, find their hiding places. You’re a natural.” I playfully ruffled his hair and he beamed a bright smile at me. “Okay, I’m it. Everyone find a place to hide. And this is the last round. Then we go for breakfast.” Cheers erupted from the girls, who were already bored after the first round.
I closed my eyes, leaned into the tree and began to count. “One, two three.” I could hear footsteps scurrying away from me. There was no use in trying to figure out where the sounds led. Without my morning dose of caffeine, my mind was in a fog so concentration was pointless. “Four, five.” I let out a deep sigh and rested my forehead against the tree, wishing I was back in my warm bed, snuggled under the comforter. I loved my kids with all my heart but this single parenting gig was taking its toll. Doing it all, all the time, alone – that wasn’t in my life plan. “Six, seven.” Adam had been kind enough to watch my kids a couple of nights to give me some ‘me time’. Still, it wasn’t so much about having time to myself as having only myself to lean on. Well, except for my bestie. But I couldn’t impose on him forever.
“Eight, nine.” I jumped when I felt strong hands grasp my sides. I turned and, in one smooth movement I found myself encircled in Adam’s arms. “Shhh.” He put his finger to my lips and grinned then bent his head down and softly kissed me. My immediate reaction was to freeze. No wait, wrong game, this was hide-and-seek. Wait, this wasn’t a game. Was he serious? His lips felt warm and soft against mine, pressing gently with no sense of urgency. He was serious. I relaxed into it and my lips parted slightly, allowing the kiss to deepen. I let out a soft moan and felt a crimson blush creep over my face, which thankfully he couldn’t see since he was kissing me. I’m not certain how, but my hands ended up resting against his chest and for just a moment everything in the universe felt right. For just a moment.
“Mommy, you gotta count all the way to ten.” Noah’s voice called out from his hiding spot. Adam and I tried to fight the laughter. He kissed me again. “I’ll go hide. Come find me.” He winked and trotted away. I closed my eyes, silently thanking and cursing the gods of peanut butter and jelly. I wasn’t sure what kind of trouble they had just gotten me into but I was certain I was in for a wild ride.