~The Binding~

Chapter 12

Bron was suffering from a severe case of fuzzy head when she woke up; too much sleep did it to her every time, now it was almost five in the morning as she grabbed the baby monitor; after getting dressed very quietly in the bathroom. 

Putting on a pot of coffee, she heard a noise and turned to see that Andrew had woke up prematurely as well.  Bron poured two cups of the steamy liquid and handed him one.  “You are up way too early, you should go back to bed.”

“I’m not tired… “ Andrew blinked and stifled the yawn.  He was up until one but when he heard her get up, he wanted to spend some alone time with her.

Taking a sip as Bron sat down, she then stared at him for a very long time as he joined her at the table.  “You’re not going to follow me around like the rest of the stooges are you?”

Andrew shook his head no, as he swigged from his mug.

“Well, what time did you go to bed?”  She asked with her elbows propped up on the table and her fingers tightly wrapped around her coffee mug.

“Doesn’t matter,” Andrew drank quietly.  His mother had the knack and knew him pretty well; he was tired but not so tired he couldn’t sleep.

“When I’m done with my coffee I need to go down to the barn.  This house does not look like Christmas.  I have twelve days left and you know how much I love Christmas.  Start knocking off days for party planning and everything else, I have to have most of the decorating done today.”

Andrew groaned and made little fake sob sounds, “But Mom.”  He closed his eyes as she started to talk.

“I need the lights on the house, the reindeer and sleigh set up.  I don’t have a tree.  I’m surprised your sister hasn’t had something to say about that.  I have to decorate.”

He closed his mouth grimly when she said Kaylin hadn’t complained about the tree.  Kaylin hadn’t talked about Christmas. All she talked about was missing mom and wanting her back, that is what she wrote in her first letter to Santa.  Kaylin had shown him the letter and Andrew hid it away in his dresser so nobody could see.  While they were in Florida, Kevin had Kaylin write a new letter to Santa.  Since then, Kaylin hadn’t mentioned the first one to anyone but him.  Andrew told her that her Dad took care of it like he said he would.  Quickly changing the subject, “Don’t forget shopping.”  Andrew knew he would spend the entire day turning this house into a winter wonderland with a touch of Christmas past and Martha Stewart thrown in to boot.

“That’s all done and hidden away.”

“But how?  You left… There wasn’t time…”  Andrew’s now empty cup was taken from him and then refilled.  Somehow, he knew it would be done but he hadn’t found one single present when he and Suzie tore the house apart.

As Bron handed the cup back, she gave him a sly grin, “I shop all year, you know that.  I just hope I have everything covered on your sister’s list.  Then I have the company Christmas party, the family party, and your Dad’s birthday…”  The stunned look on Andrew’s face made her stop talking, she bit her bottom lip for a second.  “Oh shit, I’m glad that was you and not Kevin I just said that to.”

“It’s okay Mom, I don’t think Kevin would say anything if you had said that to him.”  Andrew could see the tension start all over again, just over one little comment.  Sliding back the chair and standing Andrew went to the toaster and placed four slices of bread in the machine. 

“That’s not the point, it was a terrible thing to say.”  Bron sat debating what the hell else she had to do today and prayed to a higher power that she wouldn’t screw up like that again. 

The son read the mother well as he opened the refrigerator looking for eggs to make both of them breakfast.  “Okay so we have decorations, lights, tree… you have the presents covered right?”

Bron laughed, “Stop fishing, I’m not telling you where I hid them.  I can’t believe they weren’t found with all the snooping everyone did in my house while I was gone.”

“If they did, they didn’t tell me.”  Andrew dropped butter into a pan.

“What are you doing?”  Bron questioned him as she began to get up.

Turning to the side he smiled, “Repaying one of the many breakfasts that you have made me.  I don’t think I have told you how much I love you.  How much I appreciate you and Dad adopting me and not letting me live with Mc.”  Andrew cringed when he saw the tears start.  “Don’t do that Mom.  I hate it when you cry,” Andrew grunted and turned back to the stove.

Bron sniffed, “You don’t have to say thank you to us for taking care of you.”

Andrew nodded but wouldn’t turn around, “You’re right, I don’t.  I just want too. ”

“I also have to go to Anne’s today and apologize for leaving you kids with her.  I’m sure Kevin will be crawling up my ass too along with the dynamic duo upstairs.  Then I have my baking and party planning.”  Now it was Bron’s turn to fish, she knew Andrew hadn’t gone to bed when she did.

“Mmmm,” Andrew flipped the eggs from the pan to the plate.

“You should be a chef not a teacher.”  Bron began to eat.

“Three months ago you were pissed because I didn’t want to take over the business.  Now it doesn’t seem so important does it?”

“When did you grow up on me,” Bron kissed his cheek as he poured her more coffee.

“Very recently,” he kissed her back.

A relative peace settled over the two of them as they ate.  “I had this idea of buying a living tree in honor of Kevin’s dad.  We could plant it out back in the windrow.  What do you think of that idea?

“For sentimentality, I would give it ten.  Financially, it’s stupid, you own over five hundred acres of trees.  We could go cut one down.”

“Mmmm Hmmmm and what do think Kevin would say if we cut one of his trees down?”

Andrew sighed a little dramatically.  “Okay I’ll keep him busy while you sneak out sometime today and get a tree with a ball of dirt attached to it.  I’ll help you drag it into the house so Bounce can decorate it.  You can yell at her for playing with the ornaments over the next two weeks and then we have…”

Woof, woof, woof.  “The dogs,” Bron laughed as she went to let the dogs in who no doubt would trudge back out with them. 

Andrew dropped a piece of toast on one side of the table and then another piece on the other side.

“You know you’re not supposed to feed the dogs at the table.”

“You let Kevin do it,” Andrew watched the dogs beg for more.

“I do not and if I catch him, I’ll kill him too.”  Bron picked the dishes up and placed them in the sink.  “Lets go down to the barn and get everything up here.  I think we should make Kevin test all the lights.”

“Yes!  Yes!  He’s so anal, he’ll be there for hours and leave us alone.”

“That is my plan son, that is my plan.”  Bron slid her coat on that hung by the backdoor.  Stopping she moved slightly to the side.  “I should leave a note in case he’s looking for me.”

“We’ll be done before he’s awake.”  Andrew grabbed the baby monitor and shoved it in his pocket.

The two of them ransacked the barn for over an hour, loaded up one of the pick-ups and drove up to the house.  All the cartons and crates were placed in the living room.  Bron began sorting the tubs into piles of lights, decorations, and the tree ornaments.

Andrew opened one of the tubs and began testing lights.  He was four for four when Kaylin came running down the stairs. 

“CHRISTMAS!”  Kaylin yelled. 

Andrew yelled shut up and Bron told her to lower her voice.  Then the questions started, “When are we getting a tree Mom?  When are we going to bake cookies?  When is the party?  Christmas is twelve days away.  Did Santa get my list?”  As she asked her questions, she followed Bron around the dining room and from tub to tub.

“Kaylin stop!” came from the bottom of the stairs after Kevin came down to the landing. 

“What?” she frowned at him.

“She’s just excited Kevin,” Bron reminded him.  “Children get that way.  Santa and all.”

It wasn’t the words, it was the tone she used, it clearly said back-off.  His hair was standing up on the back of his head as he stood motionless and took in everything that was strewn from the living room to the dining room.  Kevin’s lips began to curl and he perked up a little.  “Need a tree,” he grumbled as he went into the kitchen with Kaylin shrieking behind him about getting a tree.  “When are we getting a tree Dad?  Can we get a tree today?  Can I go with you Daddy? Can I? Can I?  I want to go with you!  What do you want for Christmas?”

Bron and Andrew laughed as she heard Kaylin chattering at nine-hundred miles an hour to a man that clearly was not awake and wouldn’t be for at least an hour.  For fifteen minutes, the talking went on and then it became completely quiet.  Bron and Andrew exchanged looks; worried ones.  Bron peeked around the corner followed by Andrew.

Kevin sat at the table with his morning paper and a cup of coffee.  A dog rested on each side of him on the floor.  Kaylin sat in her chair next to him, quietly eating a bowl of cereal but watching every move he made. 

Kevin set his cup down and turned the page of his paper, he wasn’t mindless to everyone watching him.  “If you feed her first thing, she calms down.  She gets that hyper shit from you.”

“I’m not hyper!”  Bron glared at him.

“Yeah right, it’s not even eight in the morning and the house looks like a department store display.”

“Kiss my ass!”  Bron left the doorway as Andrew snickered and Kaylin smiled but didn’t dare laugh. When Mom was mad, you never ever laughed, you could get in big trouble that way, even if she was just mad at Daddy.

Kevin looked over the top of the paper at Kaylin, “Don’t talk like your mother either.”  Folding the paper, he set it down, and called Andrew into the room.

Andrew stepped in as Kevin stood up and saw Bron in the living room.  Dropping his voice to a whisper, Kevin looked at him.  “You stay with your mother all day.  Kaylin and I have some things to do so we’ll be gone for awhile.”

“Kaylin!”  Bron called her daughter to her.

Kaylin bounced out of her seat and out the dining room door.  She went to her Mom.

Bron sat on the couch in the pit and told Kaylin to come sit with her. 

Kaylin being seven decided the shortest route was to jump from the floor down onto the couch. 

Bron laughed when she landed with a big poof on the overstuffed leather couch.  “Please don’t do that.  You’re going to crack your head open on the coffee table one of these days.”

“I won’t, I don’t miss.”  Kaylin moved closer when her Mom crooked her finger.

Bron turned back to make sure that Kevin wasn’t watching her.  She leaned down to Kaylin’s ear.  “I’m going to go get a tree today.”

“Yeah!”  Kaylin yelled a little too loud.

“Sssh,” Bron smiled.  “You have to do me a big favor and if you do, I’ll take you shopping tomorrow so you can buy your Christmas presents okay?”

“I can’t go with you, can I?”

Bron winced, “I need you to keep Daddy busy today.  I’m going to buy a special tree, in honor of his Daddy.  Next year, I thought we could buy on in honor of your Daddy.  They’re called living trees.  We bring them in the house like regular trees and decorate them.  They have a big tub that they sit in.  Then when Christmas is over, we plant them because they still have the dirt and roots on them.  This way we will always remember them.  What do you think of that idea?”

“You’re going to take me shopping?”  Kaylin questioned.

Bron shook her head knowing for sure the concept and thought was not being understood.

“The tree would be for Daddy’s daddy?  Grandma R’s Mister Jerald that she talks about?”  Kaylin thought about all the stories grandma R had told her about Mister R.

Bron again nodded her head yes.

“Okay but you promised to take me shopping.  You can’t break your promise.”  Kaylin’s eyes squinted up.  “I have a bigger list this year.  I have to buy for Daddy, Grandma R, MeeMaw, Uncle Tim, Aunt Tracy… “

“Okay I get the point,” Bron placed a finger over her daughter’s mouth.  “But you have to keep it a secret and you can’t tell Daddy.  Do you promise?”

“This is a good secret.  I can keep this one.”

Bron’s heart thudded in her chest for one second.  “Yes baby, it’s a good one.”  Bron gave a kiss and motioned off her lap.  “Go finish eating breakfast.  Remember keep Daddy busy and don’t tell him.”

“Daddy when are we going?  I want to go now?  Daddy?”  Kaylin smiled a mega smile to her Mom. 

Andrew had heard what his Mom has said as he sat at the table testing even more lights.  He had to smile when he heard Kaylin, he had to give his sister credit for being as smart as a whip some days.    

“How are you doing on that?”  Bron questioned as she leaned over him.

“We’re going to need more lights,” Andrew winked.  Then he turned his head, “He’s going out Christmas shopping.  We don’t have a thing to worry about.”

“YES!”  Bron clapped her hands together just as Kevin came into the dining room with a seven year old attached to his hand.  Stopping in front of Bron, he frowned.  “I had her quiet. She’s yours until I’m out of the shower.  I’m taking Cooper with me today too.”

Bron’s head backed up, “You are?”

“Yeah I am,” Kevin pried Kaylin’s fingers from his.  “Go get dressed and then we’ll go.”

They watched the little one zoom up the stairs like a rocket, the dogs right behind her.  They in turn ran into the two burly guests as they tried to get down the stairs.

Kevin laughed as he watched Billy dance around the two huge dogs and the very excited and fast Kaylin. 

“This house is nuts; nothing like I would have expected from you Kevin.”  Billy shot Kevin a look.

“It utter chaos, upside down and backwards.” Kevin kissed Bron on the cheek and pulled away.  He shook his index finger at Billy.  “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The baby at the other end of the monitor let everyone know he was awake.  Bron looked at the mess that was lying around.

Kevin let out a puff of air that made his bangs blow up in the air.  “I got him as long as you pumped.”

“I did,” Bron grinned.

“Ayyyyee,” Billy walked away as Carlos slapped his back.

 “Don’t worry Bill, once dinner hits the table you’ll forget about the craziness that goes on around here.”

Bron smiled at the compliment.  “Any requests for dinner C?”

“Yeah, Chicken fried steak,” he laughed.

“Mashed potatoes, real ones dammit,” Kevin spoke from the kitchen as he heated a bottle. 

“Oh, With biscuits and gravy baby?”  Bron knew that would have to be on the table as well.

“Do you have to ask?” Kevin laughed as he walked up the stairs to shower and feed Cooper. 

Bron took a deep breath and headed to the kitchen.  She needed to talk to Billy and Carlos now or she never would.  Bron’s feelings were a jumbled mess for many reasons.  Carlos was an outsider but not as much as Billy.  Bron had little contact with Billy while they were on tour.  “What would you like for breakfast gentlemen?”

“Too talk,” Billy answered her as he sat down.

“Okay,” Bron grumbled but began to assemble a breakfast anyway.  It eased her mind to be busy as Billy and Carlos shot questions at her.

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