(This scene was cut from Chapter 6. Although the advance readers and I liked Chuck standing up for what he believes is right, even to Gavin, there wasn't enough new information in the scene to keep it.)
Thursday, August 9
The Bamboo Palace Buffet bustled with a brisk lunch crowd. Gavin took a seat and ordered an iced tea while he waited for Chuck. Although he and Glen met Chuck regularly for lunch to maintain the accountability he had promised Bobbi after they reconciled, there was much more at stake today.
Gavin intended to dissuade Chuck from any further involvement with Tracy or her son. He had to defend Bobbi’s interests, but he needed to present it wisely to keep Chuck listening.
Moments later, when Chuck strode back through the restaurant, Gavin stood and shook hands with his brother-in-law. “Glen got called to the hospital, so it’s just me and you today.”
“I hope he can do some good then,” Chuck said. The waitress stopped at the table, and after Chuck ordered an ice water, the two men helped themselves to the buffet. After blessing the food, Chuck said, “I filed paternity papers Monday.”
At least Chuck got right to the issue. “You said you were going to.”
“You don’t think that’s a good idea?”
“No, I don’t.” Gavin laid his fork down, and took a drink of tea. Careful now. “You’re forcing Bobbi back through the worst days of her life.”
“I’m not forcing her.”
“You never considered any other option but filing for paternity. Did you even ask Bobbi?”
“We talked about it.”
“You sure she didn’t just listen to you, and bury her objections?”
“She doesn’t do that anymore.”
Chuck was taking bigger bites, chewing harder, but Gavin didn’t let up. “
“That’s ridiculous. How is this an ego thing?”
“You’re not listening to anybody else. You’re defensive and you’re minimizing the damage you’re causing. That’s all ego.”
“Gavin, I don’t expect you to understand, because you’ve never done anything wrong.” Gavin rolled his eyes and leaned back in the seat. “I promised Bobbi and Phil and everybody else that after I cheated on her, I would make everything right. I have to keep that promise. I have to do the right thing, and that means being a father to Jack. I’m not causing damage. I’m trying to undo it.”
Chuck had rationalized bullying Bobbi, so Gavin tried another angle. “Tell me what’s going to happen when you realize you’re still attracted to
“I’m not attracted to her anymore.”
“Not this week anyway,” Gavin muttered. “Do you honestly think she’s not going to come after you and try to ruin you? She knows your weaknesses …”
“So do I, and I was counting on some support from you especially.”
“Getting involved with Tracy and Jack is a mistake, and I can’t go along with it,” Gavin said quietly.
“No, there’s much more going on with
“That alone should be a tip-off to keep your distance from her,” Gavin said.
“We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this, then,” Chuck said.
The rest of the meal passed in near silence. Gavin pushed his food around on the plate, disgusted with himself for failing, and irritated with Chuck’s patent refusal to hear any of his concerns. His heart ached imagining the firestorm that lay before Bobbi and Chuck, and knowing he was powerless to stop it or even lessen its impact.
Had he missed something in all this? Was he the one that was wrong? Was God doing something he hadn’t considered yet?
After the waitress dropped off their check, Chuck spoke up. “I don’t take it lightly that you and I are at odds on this. I respect you and I trust your judgment, but I know I’m doing the right thing.”
“I hope so. For Bobbi’s sake.”