Kai goes home for a nap, waking when the family comes in. He and Cody put up groceries while Nina tells Paisley about the steamy romance novels she bought.
“I love when she reads them,” Brad said, putting his arms around her from behind as he kissed her neck. “Cause then I score.” He nibbled her neck more, concentrating on the curve of her shoulder.
“Dad! Jeez, get a room!” Cody yelled, throwing a roll of paper towels at his parents. “Old people—sheesh!”
Kai laughed, pulling Paisley close in front of him, imitating Brad’s movements.
“Dammit!” Cody threw another roll at his brother, and stormed from the room.
“What’s wrong with him?” Nina asked the room in general.
The men exchanged a look, saying nothing.
“Guy stuff, Mom. He’ll be okay after a long shower.” Kai winked at Brad, and finished putting the groceries away as his step-father laughed.
“Guy stuff,” Nina sniffed primly. “I don’t want to know, I’m sure.”
“No, baby, you don’t,” Brad assured her, kissing her neck again. “So, how was work?” He asked Kai over Nina’s shoulder.
“It was okay. First day was rough, but it got easier. Thad was talking about firing Greg, but now that Randi’s pregnant….”
“She’s what?” His mother interrupted. “God, I just had one leave for that. They usually come in threes. You two—no fooling around. I’m serious. I can’t lose anymore personnel.”
“Mom, we haven’t even been out on a date yet. Would you not panic.”
“I know how the men are in this family.”
“Oh? And how are we?” Brad asked, trying not to laugh.
“I believe she’s insinuating that we’re naughty, Brad. I think I’m offended.”
“You set the precedent,” his mother said angrily, shaking the roll of paper towels at him. “With what’s her name—the lunatic.”
Kai blushed, looking at his feet. He swallowed hard, unable to meet her irritated gaze.
“There’s no way of knowing if that kid was even mine,” he said quietly. “For your information, I’m always very careful. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any little mistakes out there with my genetic code.”
He rushed out of the room, hitting the deck at a dead run. His mother tried to apologize, but he slammed the door to her words. Hands on his knees, he gasped for breath. The sliding door opened and shut behind him. He didn’t turn around. If it was his mother, he didn’t want to talk, and he didn’t think he could face Paisley.
“She didn’t mean to upset you,” Brad said quietly, lighting a cigarette as he sat at the table. “That was a tough time for your mother.”
Kai started to protest, but Brad held up his hand.
“I didn’t say it was easy for you, either. She didn’t want to see you make a mistake like she did. Not that you’re not a great kid, Kai. And she doesn’t regret having you. She regrets how it changed her life, having a child so young. It hurt, losing her grandchild. It hurt more, nearly losing you. She didn’t deal with those emotions any better than you did. I reiterate my opinion that you both should talk to somebody about it.”
“I talked to counselors, Brad. You know I talked until I was blue. All they said was I shouldn’t have had sex so early. None of them offered any real advice on how to cope. All they wanted to do was tell me how to run my life. I was hurt physically and emotionally. I didn’t need a lecture.” He sat across the table from his step-father.
Brad nodded, taking a drag of his cigarette. “So, Paisley…. She said you’re planning to go out tonight?”
“Afterward I’ll take her home. This isn’t gonna turn into a lecture on my behavior, is it?”
“I’d hate for it to. I think at your age you know everything I’m gonna say, anyway. Can you promise me you’re not going to go too far?”
“How can any man promise that? I promise to show restraint. If she gives me the proper encouragement, I’m not backing down.” Kai’s anger was rising. It irritated him that everyone was making comments about his ability to control himself. He’d shown restraint plenty of times.
Brad heaved a heavy sigh. Shaking his head, he rubbed out his cigarette. “Son, we’re men. As such….”
“I know, okay? You never bothered to give me this lecture before. Why now?”
“You never dated a girl like Paisley before. She’s—delicate.”
Kai gulped down a sob, running his fingers through his hair. “What do you want from me, Brad? Do you want me not to date her?”
His step-father said nothing, merely lit another cigarette.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes