~The Binding~

Chapter 10

“Damn it’s hot out here,” Nick stood next to Kevin at the grill, which was refusing to light for Kevin.  Nick glanced down and saw that the gas valve was turned off.  Reaching under the grill, he turned the gas on for him.

Kevin just shrugged as he yelled for Kaylin to stay away from the pool.  “Go play on the swingset that you had to have!”

“I don’t want to, I want to go swimming.”

“It’s December, you’re not going swimming.”

“I’m bored....”

Kevin needed something to keep her occupied while Bron and Suzie yelled at each other in the house.  The stucco was nice but their voices were still carrying.  Kevin slipped through the patio door that led to their bedroom while Kaylin sat on the swing digging her feet into the ground in a pout. 

Coming back outside carrying a tablet and a pencil, he set them on the patio table.  “Write a letter to Santa Clause, he needs to know what you want.  Christmas is in two weeks.”

Kaylin dashed from the swingset to the table.  “It’s going to be a great list!”  Kaylin scrunched herself up over the tablet and began to write.

Nick laughed as the page filled rather quickly.  “Can I add to her list for Santa?”

“No,” Kevin barked at him. 

“So what’s the deal Kev?  Why did she do this?  What letters and what’s this shit about her family?”  Nick looked over his shoulder to make sure Kaylin wasn’t eavesdropping on the conversation.  The little girl was intensely wrapped up in her project.

“I dunno Nick,” Kevin left him to grab two chairs and pull them over to the girl and away from Kaylin.  “Somebody has been threatening her, we both thought it was Lenny and the letters appear to be from him, and the envelopes are all post marked from her hometown.  It’s just the information is not stuff he would know about.  There are private details in them.  It is someone who is around us every day.”

“That sucks.  Who do you think it is?”  Nick sat back in the chair.  Florida seemed unusually warm for December.  If Kevin’s pool wasn’t covered he might even entertain the thought of going swimming. 

“I’m Clueless.  There is not one single event that was mentioned that a particular person was at every single time.  There is no common denominator with any of them.”  Kevin stopped when he heard the patio door slide open that led to their bedroom.  Turning Kevin saw Andrew standing there, waiting to see what would happen. 

Kevin motioned him over to them; Andrew joined them.  “Grab a chair and sit with us, we need to talk.”

Andrew looked at Kevin then to Nick and back to Kevin.  “Andrew, if I can’t trust Nick, there isn’t a person in the world that I can trust.”

Kaylin covered her paper with her entire upper body when Andrew approached.  “Don’t look Andrew!”

“I’m not going to look Bounce,” Andrew’s eyes made a fast trip down the page as he grabbed the chair and carried over to the girl.  Sitting down he looked at Kevin.

Kevin smiled back hoping Andrew would clue him in on the big list.

Andrew turned his head towards Kaylin and then back to Kevin, “Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, horse stuff, Barbie, Barbie, horse saddle.”

“Good I have just about all of that covered,” Kevin laughed. 

“Knowing Mom that was covered ages ago Kevin.  Trust me, Christmas is a big deal at our house.  I mean your house...  I mean...”

“I understand,” Kevin nodded trying to calm the man.  “Look, you know about the letters and Tim told me that you read them.  Who do you think it is?”

Andrew’s expression grew sad, “Thanks for not thinking that it’s me.”

“Andrew please, enough,” Kevin paused as the yelling in the house reached a new higher pitch.  “I don’t have much time before I have to go in there and break that up.”

“You’re gonna do that?”  Nick questioned Kevin’s sanity as he looked at the two women having a screaming match behind the sheer drapes.  What he really wanted was more information but he didn’t want to push without a signal from Kevin that it was okay to do so.

“Not unless I have too,” Kevin heard the cussing and yelling reach another crest. 

“I think it’s my brother,” Andrew ground the words out.  “He has always interfered and I think now that things are different for him...  He’s kicking himself in the ass because he set my Mom up with you.”

“Nick what do you think?”  Kevin turned to him.

“I can’t think Kevin, I still don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ ‘bout.”  Nick was never going to understand this.  However, he was impressed as hell with himself that Kevin would ask him for advice, for years it had always been the other way around.

Kevin stood up in time to hear Bron telling Suzie to shut the fuck up, she didn’t understand anything.  “Uh-oh,” Kevin’s lips twisted as he looked at the two women with their arms crossed, well one of them had their arms crossed.  Then Suzie's arms started flailing around in the air.

Suzie yelled back, “Hell no!  You won’t let anybody understand!”

Kevin shook his head, this argument was going to wake Cooper very soon if they didn’t work it out.  Kevin stepped quietly into their bedroom and came back with some papers, he handed them to Nick.

Leaning back in the chair, Nick’s eyes scanned each sheet then his fingers flipped them over.  “Sick bastard to say things like this, threaten the kids and you.”  Nick sat the letter down and looked at Kevin and Andrew.  “I think it’s either Jake or Stevie.”

“What!”  Kevin and Andrew both looked at him.

“Those two wouldn’t even speak those words to my Mom.  They are almost her own personal pets for crying out loud.”  Andrew shook his head back and forth.  “There is no way.  Kevin had to get Mc to fire Jake just so he could hire him and know that he is doing the job he is supposed to be doing.  Stevie left Mom alone and Kevin invaded her hotel suite.”

Kevin blinked, “You know a hell of a lot more than I thought you did.” 

After staring for a second Nick spoke up, “Andrew, Stevie still loves your mother.  How come Jake is never with a woman, maybe he loves your Mom too?”

“Stevie does still love your mother Andrew,” Kevin watched the door to the living room slide open. 

Bron came out and slammed a plate of steaks on the side of the girl.  “Don’t burn them!”  Bron marched back in the house and slammed the patio door shut.

Kevin couldn’t jump fast enough to get the steaks on the grill.   

“Damn, cat fight soon.”  Nick laughed.

“Don’t count on it, they just need to get this out of the way, and they will be fine.  So back to what we were talking about.”  Kevin stood by the grill and tended to dinner while they continued to discuss the problem at hand.

“Stevie has always loved mom, he loved mom when my dad was alive but Stevie isn’t capable of the level of violence that my brother is and you know it Kevin.” 

“Just how much of a bad ass was your brother?”  Nick looked at each man for an answer.

Kevin provided the answer, “Three times in ICU, twenty-three broken bones, concussion, broken ribs, collapsed lung, broken nose, crushed cheekbone, the list goes on and on.  Come on Nick you know this shit already.”

Nick leaned in closer to Kevin, “All I’m saying is don’t narrow the field too much.  What about people in her company that she is close too?” 

“J.D. and Hank,” Andrew named two of them.

“Webster too, there is something fishy about a guy who just up and moves from one town to another and says it because he was ready to move but he baby-sits your Mother’s case like it was his own child.”

“And Suzie,” Nick tossed the words out and then waited.

“Are you nuts?  That is the stupidest fuckin’ thing I have ever heard.”  The words came out of Kevin before he realized he had said them.

Nick’s shoulders move up and down.  “They’re close.”

Kevin’s eyes rolled around in his head.  More yelling from the house made him lick his lips, his mouth and throat were parched.  “Damn I’m thirsty.  I need a drink.”

“Yeah me too,” Nick’s head motioned his agreement. 

“Tell ya what Nick,” Kevin started to laugh before he could even finish the sentence.

“No fuckin’ way man, you can kiss my ass if you think I’m walking into the middle of that so you can have a drink.”

Kevin’s head swung towards Andrew who smiled at him, “I’m not that thirsty.”

Nick snickered, “There’s always the garden hose.”

“Uh,” Kevin frowned.  “I can remember that taste from when I was a kid.  I will not suck water from a rubber tube.”

Kevin was flipping the steaks on the grill when Kaylin began to tug on his shirtsleeve.  He looked down at her and smiled, “What baby?”

“I’m done.  Should I mail my list or give it to you to give to Santa?”  Kaylin smiled that wicked little grin that usually meant trouble was ahead for somebody.

“Why would you give it to me baby?  I’m not Santa,” he checked the smile and then watched her frown. 

Kaylin was no fool; she knew that if her parents took care of the list, Santa would get it.

“I always gave my letter to my Daddy.”  Kaylin’s eyes began to look watery to Kevin.

“Of course, I’ll get your letter to Santa.”  Kevin was now kicking himself in the ass for the off-handed remark.  “Kaylin would you do Daddy a favor?  Go in the house get Daddy a beer.”  Kevin shot Nick and Andrew a cheesy grin.

“No way, Mom is really yelling.  I’m not going in there.”  Kaylin’s blonde curls whipped from side to side as Nick and Andrew laughed at him. 

The patio door slid open slowly, “Are they done yet?”  Bron leaned on the frame of the door.

“Are you?”  Kevin winced.  Bron’s face was red and streaked from crying, the two of them really had it out with each other.  On one hand, he was relieved and on the other, he was insecure until he could judge the outcome for himself. 

“I think so,” Bron smiled as her arms crossed over her chest. 

Tossing the meat on the platter, Kevin entered the door hesitantly to find Suzie sitting at the kitchen table.  Her face was just as red as Bron’s and just as tear stained.  “You okay?”

“Your wife is an ass.”  Suzie smiled to Kevin as Nick hugged her.

“No, I’m a pig headed ass.  Ask my husband, he gave me that label a long time ago.”

“What’s a pig headed ass?”  Kaylin looked at her Mom.

“A word you aren’t supposed to be sayin’ and you know it,” Kevin frowned as he pointed to a chair she was to sit in.

“I did my letter to Santa Mommy.  I can’t wait for the Christmas party,” Kaylin smiled.

Bron bit her lip nervously and then looked at Andrew, they both were thinking the same thing.  “How the hell can I be in the same room with whoever this is at the Christmas Party?”

Looking at the clock, Bron was thankful that it was as late as it was, Kaylin would be going to bed in a couple of hours and they could talk.  Sticking her fork in her steak, she cut the meat into bite size pieces. 

The meal was started with silence hanging heavily in the air, until Cooper let out a wail loud enough to make them all jump.

Bron let out a flustered gasp, “See, he knew I was going to get a hot meal.”

Kevin never budged as he watched her get up and retrieve their son. 

Bron re-entered the kitchen with a blanket tossed over her shoulder.  “He’s getting a hot meal, I’m getting a hot meal.”

Nick groaned and looked at Suzie. 

“Grow up you big baby,” Bron laughed at his expense.  “Someday Suzie will be doing this for your kids.”

“Wanna bet,” Suzie shot Bron a look that she was treading on more thin ice with her.

“Thank you.  Thanks to all of you for taking good care of my kids.  Andrew thank you for taking care of your brother and sister as well as Kevin.”

“Did you and Suzie have a fight?”  Kaylin looked at her Mom.

“Yes we did and now it’s over with and your Mom owes Nick and I a very expensive vacation.  Your Mom calls them GG’s.”  Suzie wore a shit eating grin knowing that she would get that vacation.

“Oh I got one of those,” Kaylin smiled.  “I got a new Beanie when Mom yelled at me.”

Bron snorted, “Trust me, a Beanie isn’t going to cut it this time.”

Nick cleared his throat, “There is no GG needed Bron, you needed help and that is what people do for each other.”

Bron smiled thinking how sweet, Suzie gasped and kicked Nick’s leg under the table.  Kevin coughed the words, “New boat.”

“I’m not buying him a new boat for babysitting.”

“It was Kaylin we were watching, remember?”  Suzie played the guilt card.

Kaylin frowned, “I wasn’t bad.”

“No you weren’t,” Nick gave her a thumbs up.  “She’s my first mate now.  We’re going sailing and fishing.”

“And snorkeling too!”  Kaylin was as pleased as punch.

“What is Suzie going to do while you guys are so busy?”  Kevin thought that maybe Kaylin was just a little overeager. 

“Get seasick,” Nick laughed.

“Are you friends again?”  Kaylin looked at Suzie.

“Yes Kaylin, we were never not friends, we were just angry because your Mom did something that was not necessary.  She should have talked to us and your Dad first.”

Bron’s eyes narrowed as she looked at her friend, “Change the conversation.”

“So we’re friends just like always,” Suzie reassured Bron’s mini-me.

“Cool because the Christmas party is coming and I want you and Uncle Nick to be there.”  Kaylin stuck her fork into her food not noticing the quiet that had overtaken the meal again. 

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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
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