Because Nina is gone, Kai ends up teaching the baby swim class. One of the mothers, a girl he knew from school, is there with her son. He’s not happy until Kai takes him. He keeps calling Kai Dada.
“His daddy and I aren’t together anymore. We broke up about a month ago. It’s really hard when he sees some man, and calls him Dada.” She started to cry.
Kai put his arms around her, letting her cry on his shoulder. He might never understand women, but he knew that sometimes the best thing to do was stand there, be supportive and do towel duty. Eventually, she calmed down, thanked him and took Ronnie home.
“So, what was that?” Cody asked his brother.
“Someone I knew from school. Bad breakup.”
“Kid called you Dada, huh?”
“No. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. You got a weird look on your face, there for awhile.”
“Weird? How?” Kai put his hands to his cheeks.
“Kinda like you wished he was yours,” Cody said softly. “What happened between you and Paisley this morning? Was it my fault?”
“No, man. Wasn’t your fault. A misunderstanding. She knows you like her, by the way.”
“She told you? Oh, my God! Now I have to kill myself, before you take my balls off.” Cody turned away.
Kai took his shoulder. “It’s okay. She has that effect on me, too. You know Toby’s got some pretty hot cousins, right? They hang out at his folks’ house on weekends.”
“So, I know for a fact a couple of them think you’re hot.”
“How could you possibly know a thing like that?”
Kai shrugged casually, not saying anything. He didn’t really know that, but his brother was attractive, and well built. No doubt at least one of the girls thought he was hot.
“Bro, if you’re just saying that to make me feel better, I am gonna cut off your balls while you sleep.”
“Don’t take my word. Go down there this weekend. We have a standing invitation from his folks. Besides, with the new baby home, don’t you figure at least half the clan’s gonna be there? Good food, hot chicks—who are in no way related to you…. Just sayin’.”
“Why are you being so nice all of a sudden?”
“I’m always nice.” Kai frowned.
“No, usually you’re a sarcastic prick. I’d think you were playing me, but there’s really nothing for you to gain, except my total humiliation. Even you aren’t that mean. So why?”
“Because you’re my brother, and I’m usually a sarcastic prick. And maybe I should have done something to help you out a long time ago.”
“Thanks,” Cody said. “‘Preciate it.”
Kai punched his shoulder. “Get back to work, you slacker.”
Cody laughed, punching him back. “Now there’s the Kai we all know and love!”
It was nearly noon before Nina got back to the pool. Paisley wasn’t with her.
“I left her at the house,” she said. “I want you to go stay with her.”
“Because it’s your fault.”
“My fault? Mom, come on! We had a little argument. A misunderstanding.”
“You need to go talk to that girl, and figure out what you said that upset her so much. She was just about hysterical when I took her to the emergency room. The doctors thought she’d been abused. I told them it wasn’t like that, but she was really freaked.”
“Maybe I’m not the best person to sit with her then.”
“Then take Tempy with you.”
“Yeah, that’ll go well. If I take her from her friends, she’ll pitch a fit. I’ll take care of it.”
“See that you do.”
Kai grabbed his things and drove home, muttering angrily. When he got there, he found Paisley sitting in the family room, her leg elevated on a pillow. She had a thermal cup of water next to her, and the TV remote in her hand. She looked away as he sat down next to her.
“I told Nina I’d be fine on my own.”
“She worries. Be happy it’s me. She almost sent Tempy.”
Paisley gave him an ugly glare, then looked away again. “At least she wouldn’t treat me like a possession, or tell me I’m overreacting….”
“I never said you were!”
“But you thought it! I could see it in your face! You thought I was acting like a spoiled brat.”
“I swear, the thought didn’t cross my mind. Paisley, I don’t want to fight about this. I said I was sorry. You aren’t a possession, and I promise I won’t treat you like that. You’re truly amazing and wonderful!” He had so much he wanted to say to her, but he was afraid he’d either make her angry, or scare her again. “I love you….”
“And does that mean that you think you own me now?”
“Where’s that even coming from? Did what’s-his-ass tell he loved you?”
Paisley wouldn’t look at him. One hand went to her lips as she tried not to cry.
“Did he tell you that because he loved you, that you were his?”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes