Font Size:  

“Yeah, well, have a great few days off. This guy and I are off to wolf down some ice cream and then grab a pizza.” Leena gives me a soft smile. Hopefully, my attempt at a smile isn’t as awkward as I feel right about now.



I’m in the kitchen freshly showered, a pair of sweatpants on. The first thing I did when I walked into the house was kick off my work boots, strip in the laundry room, and enjoy the hot water. Now I’ve got a beer in my hand, ass to the counter, waiting on my boy to get home when I hear the jingle of keys and the lock of the front door clicking over. A smile spreads on my face knowing it’s Jace and my sister, Leena. We’ve been swamped with work, more so than normal. The money might be nice, but not being around my boy as much is getting to be too much.

“Dad, Dad, Dad!” Jace runs through the foyer of our home, an old craftsman-style house that became available shortly after my son was born and while we were living with my parents. It was a good thing, too, because this place needed a fuck ton of work.

“What’s up, bud? Have a good day?” I barely have a chance to set my can of beer down before he’s up and in my arms, wrapping his around my neck, holding his sticky hands there to make sure he has my undivided attention.

“The best. School was the greatest. Miss. M. is teaching us to write sentences, and Aunt Lee Lee thinks you and Miss. M. should date. Then we went out for ice cream, a movie, and then rounded it out with pizza.” The remnants of his day are all over his clothes, hands, and face. He’s definitely in need of a bath, and when he’s is in the tub, I’ll deal with my sister.

“Seems like you’ve been as busy as your old man, though I’m thinking the only person who hasn’t showered is you.” I wiggle my nose, getting the reaction I’m looking for when he throws his head back, giving me a full belly chuckle.

“That’s the price of doing business when Aunt Lee Lee has him. At least I’m not going to teach him how to pick up babes.” She places her purse on the counter, walks up to me, kisses my cheek, and then makes herself at home at the bar.

“Not so sure about that.” I arch my eyebrows. Leena doesn’t say a word and instead gives me a hand gesture to say whatever.

“We’ll talk when the munchkin is washing off the four pounds of sugar and carbs down the drain.” Leena clearly isn’t having this conversation with Jace around; that, we can agree on.

“You two aren’t being very nice. I think I’ll tell Nana tomorrow just what you said. Hmph.” He wiggles his feet, the universal sign to let him down.

“You do that, and she’ll probably agree with us, bud. Keep the door open, okay?” Most of the time, I’m in there with him, sitting on the toilet or outside the door while he talks a million miles a minute. Then there’s times like tonight when Leena is ready to do her own version of talking and it won’t be good for little ears.

“I know, I know. Thank you, Aunt Lee Lee. See you later, tater,” he states. That boy, he’s old beyond his years. Sometimes I wonder if that’s my fault, being a single dad, probably not giving him as much time to be little. Always talking like an adult and showing him the things in life that most kids his age aren’t seeing. Not that it’s bad, but not very many kids can operate heavy machinery like Jace can either.

“You want to tell me why you’re talking about Alana and me dating in front of Jace?”

“Oh, you’re on a first name basis with her? Boy, does this make more sense now. So, it seems you have some explaining to do.” Leena settles in, and it seems she’s not leaving anytime soon.

“Not your business. I don’t get involved in your dating life. Don’t go badgering me.”

“Well, if that’s not a lie. You’re looking like Pinocchio over there with that smugness you’re wearing and your nose growing. You want to play dumb, that’s fine by me. Makes sense you did something to hurt her, though.” She shrugs, stands up from the barstool, and grabs her purse. Shocks the shit out of me that Leena is ready to tuck tail and run.

“Why’s that? It wouldn’t be the first time a woman has hurt me.” I play into her words.

“Yeah, I think it’s time you put that excuse to bed. No one is going to want the woe-is-me act with a side of pity party. Women know, Keller. The look she gave me tells me you fucked up whatever you had with her. I’m thinking it was so bad Alana slammed the door, bolted a few locks, and threw that key away.” Leena walks towards me. My can of beer is at my mouth as I guzzle it down, hating that my baby sister probably isn’t wrong and needing the alcohol to squelch the burning inside my chest on the lefthand side.

Articles you may like