“Talk about what?” Ari hated the way Marisol was look at him expectantly, as though he was about to tell her that the roof was leaking, or that the car needed a new tire. Something that could be fixed with money or a wrench. Without taking his eyes off hers, Ari spilled his confession. There was no pretty way to put it that would make the words better. With every word he spoke, he could see the cracks forming in Marisol’s eyes, in her posture, in her mouth, twisted with confusion and disbelief.
“No…” she kept whispering, shaking her head. “You wouldn’t…”
But he had. And there was no tool in existence that would fix that.
“I want us to keep this baby – my baby,” Ari said. “We can raise him as our own – yours and mine. Just think—”
“Think?” Marisol’s voice rose several octaves. “Think of you having sex with some other woman every time I look at this baby? A living reminder of what you’ve done, staring me in the face every single day? Think?” They spent the rest of that afternoon arguing, pleading, and shouting, before at last Marisol finally dropped into bed, and Ari collapsed onto the living room sofa, where he continued to sleep for the next several weeks.
Marisol tried to hide how deeply hurt she was by Ari’s betrayal, but he could see her struggling. One evening, they entertained members from her jazz band, celebrating the release of their first album. Ari and Marisol put on their best clothes and best faces, and somehow managed to pull off a great party. None of their guests appeared to suspect that under their shiny surfaces, a dark tempest still brewed. But later that night, after the last guest had left, Ari locked himself in the study to read alone, and Marisol dissolved into tears.
As the autumn air grew as crisp and cold as the Milito-Paz household, Ari began to pace anxiously around the house, waiting for the phone call that would announce his new status as a father. But no such call came. Finally, one night, Ari and Marisol ran into Jessica Hawt at a community Halloween party, where Marisol had been entertaining with her band. From the change in Jessica’s figure, Ari knew that the baby had been born. He demanded to know where the child was.
“He’s at home, sleeping,” said Jessica with a shrug. “I figured he’d be fine there for a little while.”
“He’s there now, alone?” Ari’s horrified expression was hidden by his Halloween mask.
Marisol’s eyes flashed like lightning. She seemed angrier than Ari had ever seen her before. “How could you leave a defenseless little baby all by himself? What kind of self-centered narcissist are you?” They both turned and hurried away from Jessica, and drove almost recklessly fast toward her house, where they found the doors unlocked and a very tiny, adorable newborn baby boy crying in his crib.
“My son,” Ari whispered. For a moment, he just stood and stared, forgetting that he still wore a scary hockey mask. But he quickly recovered, approached the crib, and gently cradled his baby boy in his arms.