After work, Kai offers to take Paisley home, so she won’t have to ride the bus.
“It’s okay. Thank you.”
“Come on in and wait. The bugs are getting nasty. They’ll eat you alive.”
She walked with him, back to the building. His mother was just coming out looking for him, when they walked up. Cody was behind her, grinning at his brother.
“There you are! I wondered where you’d wandered off to,” his mother said, as she locked the door.
“I saw Paisley at the bus stop, and offered her a ride. If you’ll take us to the house, I’ll see her home.”
“Sure.” His mother gave him a puzzled look.
“Shotgun,” Cody said, more from habit than anything.
“I don’t mind riding in the back,” Paisley said.
Kai opened the door to the red SUV, helping Paisley in. He hopped in after her, shutting the door. Cody pushed the seat all the way back, squishing his brother’s long legs.
“Hey! I don’t do that to you, douche!” Kai popped his brother on top of the head.
“Boys! Enough!” Their mother chided.
Cody pulled the seat up. “Just messin’ with ya, bro. Gotta give you some grief, or you’ll think I don’t love you no more.”
“I have to stop at the grocery store on the way. What did I need again?” she appealed to Cody. “He’s my memory,” she explained to Paisley.
“Eggs, milk, half & half, tampons and cheese. Weird list, Mom. Gotta tell ya.”
“Shall I add Saran Wrap and duct tape to that list too?”
“What’s that for?” Cody asked, puzzled.
“Silence is Golden. Duct tape is Silver,” Kai quoted his favorite T-shirt.
Paisley giggled quietly.
“Need anything while we’re here?” Nina Beecher asked as she pulled into the parking lot.
“Yeah, as a matter of fact I do. I ran out of coffee this morning.”
“I guess we’re all going in, Mom,” Kai said.
“Do you have to?” she sighed.
“I promise, I won’t ask for a thing. I’ll buy my own junk food and condoms.” Kai winked at her as she groaned.
“I swear, I don’t know where they get it from. I tried so hard to tame them, and make them socially acceptable.” She sighed again.
They got in the store and Kai took off with Cody while Nina and Paisley shopped together. The young men got fried chicken, mashed potatoes and salad for their contribution to dinner. Cody talked Kai into purchasing two half gallons of ice cream that were buy one get one free. With their purchases in hand, they waited for their mother.
Kai’s phone rang. “Yeah, Mom?”
“Where are you?”
“Checked out and waiting by the restrooms.”
“Thank God. I had visions of having to look for you, or have you paged.”
“Come on, we aren’t that bad. Where are you?”
“Finishing up now. Meet us at lane eight.”
They scuttled over to help their mother carry the groceries to the car.
“Lots more than was on your list, Ma,” Cody teased.
“Some of that’s mine,” Paisley said. “Your mom was kind enough to buy me some groceries, since pay day’s not until Friday.”
“It’s a house warming gift,” Nina assured her. “I don’t want you to pay me back.”
“Thanks. That’s so sweet….” She blinked hard and Kai knew she was trying not to cry.
They unloaded the car, putting the groceries away in record time. Nina invited Paisley to eat dinner, which she graciously accepted.
“Now, all of you scoot! Cody, get your sister to help me.”
“I’ll help, Nina….”
“Nonsense, you worked all day. Tempest can help.”
A tall, adolescent girl, who looked remarkably like Kai, followed Cody to the kitchen. Tempest smiled at Paisley, speaking quietly when she was introduced. She joined her mother in the kitchen, as the others went onto the deck out back. Kai popped open a couple beers, handing one to Paisley. She accepted graciously.
“I suppose I should ask if you’re old enough,” he teased her by pulling it away.
“I’m old enough, I promise. I turned twenty-one July first.”
“Kai was twenty-two on the Fourth of July,” Cody told her.
“No kidding? An Independence Day baby, huh?”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes