"Mommy, it hurts!" Sage wailed, tugging at his ear.

"I know it does, baby," I said. "But it's gonna be all right."

A few minutes later, a nurse appeared and took Sage's temperature. "A hundred and two," she announced.

"Poor baby!" I exclaimed. "No wonder you feel so bad!"

The nurse finished checking Sage's vitals. "The doctor will be with you shortly," she told us.

It was a very long time before the physician finally arrived. Sage drifted into a fitful sleep, the pain awakening him every so often. As desperately as I tried to stay awake, I found myself nodding off after awhile. Mischa put his arms around me and let me rest my head on his shoulder.

At last the physician arrived and examined my son. "He has a raging ear infection," he announced. "He must be started on antibiotics right away, and I'm also going to give you a prescription for pain relief."

It was in the early morning hours when we finally left the hospital. Mischa drove us home.

"Thank you so much for driving me to the hospital, and for staying with us," I told him.

"It was no problem at all," he replied. "I was happy to help."

"I'm sorry our first date had to end this way," I said.

"That's all right. There will be other dates. Are you going to be all right?"

"We'll be fine," I assured him. I watched as he walked back out to his car, feeling a bit sad to see him go. Then I got Sage settled and, exhausted, went to bed myself.

The following morning, I called the hospital and told them I wouldn't be coming in that day, then called Jeff's mother and told her about Sage. She offered to keep Meadow for as long as I needed her to. I thanked her, checked on Sage, and then went back to bed.

After several days on the antibiotic, Sage was feeling much better, and I returned to work. At lunchtime, Mischa hesitated only a moment before sitting across from me. "How's Sage?" he asked.

"He's fine. They both are."

"I've got a great idea for our next date," he told me.

"Really? What?'

"Not gonna tell." He grinned and winked at me. "It's a surprise, but it's nothing you'd have to get all dressed up for."

Our next mutual day off was not too long after that. Having no idea how long we'd be out, I arranged for an overnight babysitter.

Mischa was wearing jeans, a polo shirt, and sneakers when he came to pick me up. I was so glad I'd decided to wear flats instead of heels.

For dinner he took me out for chili cheese fries and milkshakes, but he told me that wasn't the surprise. After dinner, he drove me to the goofy golf course.

"So this is the surprise?" I asked.

"I hope you're not disappointed," he said. "I just wanted to do something different for a change."

"I think it's neat!" I exclaimed. "I haven't played goofy golf since I was a teenager!"

"Great!" He grinned. "It's about time, then."

I had a blast over the next couple of hours. Mischa won, but only by a couple of points.

"Congratulations," I told him as we left. "You played really well."

"So did you," he told me. "I'm so glad we came. You know, I never could do this type of thing with Tina. All she ever wanted to do was hang out at bars."

When he took me home, I invited him in for a few minutes. He saw my CD player with my Tchaikovsky CD sitting on top of it. "Hey!" he exclaimed happily as he picked it up. "I didn't know you liked Tchaikovsky!"

"Swan Lake's pretty cool," I told him. "We went on a field trip to see a performance of it in fifth grade."

"My great grandmother saw the Tsar's former mistress perform in it a few years before the Revolution," he told me.

I slipped the CD in and then went into the kitchen and got a couple of bottles of wine for us. As we sat together on the sofa drinking our wine and listening to the music, he kissed me.