At home again, Austin runs the gauntlet down the hall. His floor is home to two (of three) brothers, all of whom have twins or triplets. It’s apparently bath time and the dads are having trouble keeping track of their children.
The naked child ran across the hall again, trailing bubbles and water. His father made a grab and missed because the other child clung to his leg.
Austin scooped up the child before he could make a break for the elevator. His father picked up the one attached to his leg.
“Thanks! He got away from me when I went after his brother.”
“Mum’s out, then, Owen?”
Owen chuckled. “How’d you guess? Girl’s night out. I might live through it. Ewan’s out of town, so we’ve got his as well. And Aiden’s on the injured list.”
His brother appeared at the door, a crutch under one arm. “Stepped on Legos in the dark. Turned my ankle. You’d think I’d know not to go in their room after light’s out.”
Austin chuckled. “What shall I do with this, then?” The child dangled from his hands, swinging back and forth, pulling at his toes. He flipped nearly upside down, but Austin caught him.
“You’re good at wrangling,” Owen said. “Want a job?”
“Got one,” Austin replied.
“Oh, hey, you’re on tonight, aren’t you?” Aiden asked.
“Am I? I don’t watch it. Is it good?”
“Dude, it’s awesome,” Aiden replied, bending over to keep one of his daughters in the apartment. “There are websites and forums devoted to you—and your ass.” He winked.
“Really? Then they’ll be disappointed to know I’m keeping my pants on for a bit.”
“The American public will cry with woe,” Owen said dryly.
“The women will—and the gay guys,” Aiden said.
“What?” Austin held the twin awkwardly as he spun around. “Gay guys? My bum?”
“The topic of more than one board. Lots of speculation about which way you swing.”
“Me? That’s insulting, that is. Not that there’s a thing wrong with being gay,” he rushed to say. “But it’s not me. Jesus!” He handed off the twin and went home.
His phone rang and he answered absently.
“Austin?” His manager, Babs. She handled models and actors.
“You’re a hot commodity, it seems. The local sci-fi con is calling to see if you’ll come for a visit. They’re inviting a couple of the companions, and a few of the writers.”
“Yes, of course. When? Where? Do you need to talk to Dwight?”
“Already did. He said you’d say yes and send the schedule to him. He says you have a new companion and she’s staying? Dish. Tell me all.”
He did. Babs fired off questions, demanding detailed answers.
“Also, the local talk shows want you on. I’ve been approached by City Today and Late Night Ladies.”
“I don’t even know who those are. Why all the interest?”
“You’re number one across the nation. Everyone’s talking about you. Do you live in a bubble?”
“Mostly? Why don’t I know any of this?”
“Most of the calls came in today. I heard there was a big stink over one of the directors. He walked out?”
“He was fired for being a beast,” Austin said, setting her straight. “He might think he’s someone special, but Elaine did not.”
“The producer? You met her?”
“Yes. Lovely lady. Just got back from dinner with her and the rest. We ate with Naomi and Dexter, the caterers. At their cabin.”
There was a stunned pause. “Really? You know Naomi owns the island?”
“The um. . . . Island? That bit in the middle of the river?”
“Yes. Their cabin is an exclusive lodge. Very high end. They live on the island in a smaller cabin. Her family has owned it for years.”
“Hm, the things you learn.”
“Do you think your new companion would be interested in joining you for the shows and conventions?”
“You can ask her.”
“Do you have her number?”
“Uh, no, actually. Dwight—”
“Dwight will.” She chuckled. “You’d better have him give it to you too.”
“I’ll let you go. I’ll get her number and call you back tomorrow. Bye, honey!”
“Right. Yes. Goodnight.” He hung up.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes