After setting three plates of macaroni and cheese with a side of peas on the kitchen table, I waddled out of the kitchen in search of the kids. It wasn’t hard to find them, I followed the sound of soft giggles to the bathroom of their playroom. The last time they’d gotten into mischief in there—less than a week ago—they’d used blue, pink, and purple bubble bath to paint all over the walls. We didn’t even keep the stuff in that bathroom. They’d somehow dragged all of the bath stuff from the one between the jack and jill bedrooms upstairs.
They definitely got their stealth from their daddy because I didn’t have a sneaky bone in my body. And I definitely couldn’t be quiet while I was walking when I felt as though I was about ready to pop any day now. By the time I made it to the doorway, three little faces were already turned my way. Caty, Casey, and Cory were the perfect blend of Patrick and me. Our daughter had my red hair and his blue eyes, while the boys had my green eyes with his blond hair. Caty was the only one with my freckles, and her brothers didn’t have a single mark on them. Until now.
Biting my lip to keep myself from gasping in shock, I took a few deep breaths before I asked, “What in the world are you guys doing?”
“I gettin’ a tattoo,” Cory explained with the wide-eyed innocence of a three-year-old who didn’t understand he was in trouble yet.
“Me, too,” Casey chimed in, never one to be outdone by either of his siblings.
Calling the black markings all over their arms “a tattoo” was a major understatement. Caty had her hands behind her back, but there was no doubt who’d been doing the drawing. Especially since she was the only one who didn’t have a speck of black ink on her skin. Swiping my finger down Cory’s arm, I frowned when I discovered the marks were already dry.
“All right, you two.” I nudged Casey and Cory out the door. “Go pick up the toys in the playroom please.”
“Okay, Mommy,” they replied in unison before making a break for it.
That left me alone with my oldest, who stared up at me with wide eyes as I turned back to her. “Is there a good reason you suddenly decided to draw tattoos all over your brothers’ arms?”
She shrugged her little shoulders. “’Cause Daddy said I could do anyting I put my mind to.”
“Uh-huh.” I gently wrapped my fingers around her arm to tug her hand out. Prying the marker—a freaking permanent one—from her grip, I asked, “What were you and Daddy talking about when he said that?”
“What I want to be when I growed up.” She flashed me a huge grin. “We talkeded about it at school.”
I heaved a deep sigh and shook my head. “You’re a very smart and talented little girl, and I’m sure Daddy is right. When you’re older and ready to tackle the world, you’ll be successful at whatever you choose to do. But I don’t understand why that means you needed to sketch on your brothers in black permanent marker.”
“I had to practice.” Her smile widened. “I'm gonna be the best tattoo person ever, just like Daddy.”
“Alrighty then.” Patrick and I were going to have a long conversation about watching our words around the kids because they tended to take stuff way too literally. “From now on, if you want to practice drawing tattoos, you come and find Mommy or Daddy to ask for supplies. Practice on paper, not people. Got it?”
She nodded. “Uh-huh.”
I wagged the marker in the air. “That means you never, ever take one of these again without permission.”
Caty seemed less than thrilled, but she nodded again. “Okay, Mommy. I understand.”
“Good.” I patted her on the shoulder before pointing toward the door. “Now get out there and help your brothers.”
She skipped out of the room without a care in the world, and all I could do was sigh. I was tempted to bang my head against the wall, but all that would get me was a headache. Instead, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and called my husband. “You doing okay, baby?”
The worry in his tone soothed some of my frustration. I knew he hated to be away from us, even if it was just for a few hours. And although he was only less than ten minutes down the street, it drove Patrick up the wall to be apart when I was this close to my delivery date. “I’m fine, but I need you to pick up some more baby oil on your way home.”
His voice had a sexy rasp to it when he asked, “You want me to rub it on your belly for you later, after I put the kids down for the night?”