Jordan laughed lightly, grinning up at him. “As I recall, it was a pretty mutual thing. But she’s right. Self-control.”
Brian chuckled, shaking his head. “Yeah. That’s gonna happen.” He walked off.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jordan called after him.
Brian merely continued to laugh and shake his head. A pillow hit him in back of the head. That seemed to be Jordan’s major method of communication when she was angry with him. At least it wasn’t painful, even if it was annoying. Another pillow hit him, and another.
“How many of those damn things are there?” He whirled around and the next one caught him in the face. “Jordan, dammit!”
Whap! Another pillow.
“Tell me what you meant.” Whap!
“Dammit, Jordan!” He ducked the next pillow, catching it as it whizzed over his shoulder.
Apparently, she’d run out. The pillows stopped coming at him. Instead, she stood in the doorway, looking for all the world like she wanted to cry.
“I didn’t mean anything bad, jeez! What is this? Death by Stuffing?”
“You’re not funny,” she whimpered. “And you’re laughing at me.”
“I’m not—no. Not at you, silly. At myself.” He walked over, taking her hands in his. “I didn’t mean what I said before about not being attracted to you. You’re all kinds of hot, Jordan. If I were a different kind of guy, I’d be all over that. But we have to stay focused on whatever it is we’re supposed to do.” He moved a step closer, gazing down at her. “It felt good kissing you. And sometime, I’d like to do that again. But not in your parents’ house.”
Jordan nodded, biting her lower lip. Her dark eyes filled with tears. She came toward him, putting her arms around his waist. Brian held her close, arms around her back. She was so short, he could rest his chin on her head. Jordan pressed her cheek to his chest.
“I’m really scared, Brian. What are we fighting? How do we do it?”
“I don’t know, Jordan. We’ll read Dad’s papers today and see what we can find out.”
“Life was so much easier before.”
“Yeah, but it was boring as hell. Being a social pariah isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Jordan laughed, loosening her hold on Brain. She smiled up at him. “Speak for yourself, dweeb. I rocked being an outcast.”
Brian’s stomach growled, then Jordan’s. They laughed at one another and themselves as they headed to the kitchen.
Their parents sat around the table, sipping coffee and eating scones. Jackie had prepared three kinds—blueberry, cranberry orange and lemon. Brian heaped his plate with one of each. He put a couple on a plate for Jordan as she served them each a mug of coffee.
“That’s what I call teamwork,” Heath said with a grin. “Sorry there’s no school again today.”
“Ah, well,” Brian said, sighing. “I do miss the excitement of the classroom. All that learning. Blissful.”
Jordan nearly choked on her scone. Brian helpfully patted her on the back. Heath chuckled, raising his coffee in salute.
“I’m sure that it’s extremely enlightening and enervating,” Heath mused.
“Oh, Daddy. Using all those big lawyer words! How do you do it?” Jordan gushed, batting her eyelashes at her father, her tone sarcastic in the extreme.
“Jackie, my love, we have a smart-alec as a daughter.”
“Do you think so, honey? What gave you that idea?”She also batted her eyelashes at her husband.
Heath threw up his hands in defeat. “I swear, Maribelle, if you pull the same thing on me, I’m gonna retire.”
“Retire from what?” She asked innocently. Her beatific smile was as disarming as the fluttering eyelashes.
“That’s it.” Heath threw his napkin into the middle of the table. “I’ve officially conceded the battle.”
“What battle are you conceding, darling?” Jackie asked.
“The Battle of the Sexes. I’m out gunned. Brian, throw in the towel now before they gank you too.”
“Gee, golly, whiz, Heath. You folded awfully fast. If that’s the kind of backup I’ve got, I don’t stand a chance.”
“Pick your battles, son. It’s safer that way.”
Brian laughed at his mock defeat. It was exactly the same kind of thing that his dad would have said. Heath reminded him a lot of his father. They were only slightly similar in looks, but the way they viewed the world was very much the same. Their warm, bantering way with their wives and children, even the way they laughed. Brian suddenly missed his dad, so much that it actually hurt. His chest tightened and he thought he was going to cry.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
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