~The Binding~

Chapter 13

Bron snuck upstairs to Kevin’s old bedroom with the portable phone to call him.  She had tried the house and he didn’t answer.  Next, she tried his cell.  “Yeah babe,” chimed in her ear. 

“Where are you?  I thought you would be home by now,” Bron stood for a minute in the hallway. 

“I’m cutting through town and I’m heading home now.”  Kevin slowed for the light that was yellow.  In the old days he may have tried it, but not now.  Kaylin was singing along to Britney.

Bron couldn’t help but hear the music playing thanks to the speaker phone.  “Nice tunes there buddy.”

“You didn’t tell me that seven year olds listen to the same CD over and over again.”  Kevin moved along with the flow of traffic as the light turns.

“I really didn’t appreciate having Carlos tag along for my apology to your mother,” Bron spoke as she walked down the stairs.

“Everywhere you go, he goes.  Billy’s orders.”  Kevin’s eyes were on the road.

“Where is Billy?”

“Sitting right here,” a voice sounded in on the conversation.

“Oh,” Bron sighed, she didn’t like it but couldn’t fight it.  She knew that Mc, Jake, and Stevie had to know she was back in town.  The fact that they hadn’t broke down the front door to see her was slightly suspicious.  She would have to talk to Kevin about it later but not now, not when Kaylin could hear her on the speakerphone in Kevin’s truck.

Bron stood in Anne’s kitchen and smiled.  Carlos and Andrew were recruited to make Christmas cookies.  “I thought you had a Master’s in guilt Kevin but…”  Bron stopped talking when Anne narrowed her eyes on her.  

“But what?”  Kevin knew what she was going to say, after all, his mother had raised him.  He heard his Mother yell for her to get off the phone and get back to work.

“Your Mother has a freakin’ PHD in it.  Hurry home, I have a surprise.”  Bron hung up quickly, the last thing she wanted was Kevin coming over to help her out.  Not when there was a huge Christmas tree with it’s roots intact and wrapped in burlap sitting on the top of her van.

“You can talk to Kevin later, it’s not like you won’t see him.”  Anne pointed a finger at Bron.

Bron rolled her eyes at her, “Yes Mother.”

“Don’t you do that.  Kevin does that to me and I cannot stand it.”  Anne folded her arms over her chest.

“Yes Ma’am.”  Slowly Bron turned around to see the corners of MeeMaw’s mouth slide up into a grin.  “You just love it when she gets on me, don’t you?”

“Yes.  Well young’un, you won’t be doing that again.  Next time you’ll come to family to fix things proper.”

Bron’s eyes scanned Carlos and Andrew for a reaction of any type.  Andrew opened his mouth only to have a cookie shoved in it by Carlos. 

“Yep, that is what family is for,” Bron closed her mouth as the bile rose in her throat.  “That is what family is for…”

The conversation started again about the grand Richardson Christmas party this year and Kevin and Bron were hosting it.  Bron wasn’t quick enough to stop the flow of conversation but the look on Carlos’s face showed his displeasure.

“Do you have any Tylenol, I’m getting a headache,” Bron pinched the bridge of her nose.  Obviously, Kevin hadn’t spoke to Carlos or Billy about the party.

Anne laughed, that mannerism had been picked up from her son.  “Above the refrigerator dear.”

“They say if you are married long enough you do everything alike and that you might end up looking alike.”  Andrew looked at his mom, who was mindless over what she had done.

“If I end up looking like Kevin, it wouldn’t be so bad.  I wouldn’t need a step stool to get the damn Tylenol.”  Bron stood waiting for Andrew to get it for her and he did.

“The unibrow might be a problem,” Bron laughed as she tossed the water down the sink from her glass. 

They all began to clean up the kitchen; Bron wanted to get home to decorate the tree with Kevin.  It would take at least an hour to clean the mess up that they had made and pack all the holiday baking away.  Bron made a mental note not to let the prune cake make an appearance at her party or her house.  After cleaning up, she rushed Andrew and Carlos out the door.  She wanted to beat Kevin home with her surprise.

Kevin slowed down at the nursery on Sandersonville Rd.  Pulling into the lot, he turned the truck around and backed in.

“Why are we stopping here?”  Kaylin was out of her seatbelt and out the door of the truck.

“Bounce!”  Kevin yelled as he nearly strangled himself trying to get out of the truck without unbuckling his seatbelt first.

Billy moved quicker and grabbed her by the back of her jacket.

“Hey!”  Kaylin turned around and started swinging. 

Billy backed up a little so his kneecaps didn’t take a beating.

“Stop right now,” Kevin bent down to fix her jacket.  “What is wrong with you?  You know better than to do that.  You could have been hit by a car.” 

Billy stood awkwardly to the side watching the two stare at each other.  He had retrieved a sleeping Cooper, who was bundled up warmly in his car seat carrier from the truck.

“What are you going to buy here?”  Kaylin stared back and questioned him.

“We’re going to get a tree.  I told you we needed a tree this morning.”  Kevin wasn’t sure what was going on in Kaylin’s mind; she was as moody as her mother some days.

Kaylin frowned, her mom was getting a tree too, but she couldn’t tell Daddy because it was supposed to be a secret.  “I want to get a tree with Mommy and Andrew.”

Kevin bent down in the light dusting of snow, the dampness quickly soaked through the knee of his jeans.  Pulling the tab up on the zipper of her coat, he moved the zipper up the coat, closer to her chin.  “I understand that sweetheart but with your Mom’s unscheduled vacation we are running behind on the to-do list.  We have to get the tree up because we are having the big party.  Your mother won’t rest until all the decorating is done.  Only then will she find something else to obsess over.”

“What party?”  Billy interrupted him. 

Kevin’s head slowly turned to towards Billy and then back to Kaylin.  The intent was clear to Billy, it was the ‘We’ll talk later about this’ face.

“Besides if we don’t get a tree, Santa won’t come.  You want Santa to come don’t you?”  Kevin could feel the coldness begin to seep into his pants as he kneeled in the snow in front of her.

Kaylin’s face reflected a slight sadness as she looked back at him with her blue eyes.  He began to explain; “We’re going to get a different tree this year.  It’s called a Living Tree.  We buy them in honor of people we love and then we plant them in the yard, so that we can always remember them and the memories from that Christmas.  I brought you here because I thought that you would like to get a tree in honor of your Dad.”  Kevin waited for the whoop or something but nothing came right away.  He watched her think, and could see she was definitely concentrating intently.

“I’m freezing,” Billy announced.

Kevin frowned at him as he held his hand up at Billy.  Turning back to Kaylin, he could have sworn he saw the Christmas spirit she was carrying around begin once more to dance her eyes.  “Santa only comes if you have a tree.”

“Of course,” Kevin smiled at her.

Kaylin’s actions became animated rapidly.  “Sweet, this is going to be so cool!”  Kaylin grabbed Kevin’s hand and began pulling him towards the trees.

“I wonder what the hell that was all about,” Billy chuckled as he followed along with the sleeping infant.  He had to laugh when he looked down, you could barely see a child was in the carrier.  He was wrapped up so securely and still sound asleep.  “You’re a good baby.  You don’t even cry much.”

Kevin and Kaylin went from tree to tree to find the perfect one.  Finally, Kaylin did find the perfect one.  The tree was huge, at least ten feet tall.  Kevin chuckled, “Go for it kiddo,” he went to pay for the tree and fill out the memory card while Billy waited with Kaylin.

“Wow Kaylin!  That is a really big tree,” Billy saw the height of the enormous tree but figured it would fit in the huge house that they had without a problem.

“This is going to be so cool, wait until Mom sees this.”  Kaylin touched the needles on the tree with her finger. 

After paying for the tree, two men came out to wrap up the branches and help Kevin and Billy hoist it onto the roof of Kevin’s truck.

Cooper began to wail half way home.  Kaylin was yelling at him to be quiet.  Billy gave Kevin a look of sympathy. 

Kevin took it in stride, “Don’t yell at your brother, he’s just a baby.”

“You said I could torment him,” Kaylin chirped from the backseat.

Billy burst out laughing.

Kevin shook his head as he adjusted the rearview mirror.  “I meant when he is older and knows you are tormenting him.”

Kaylin pulled the blanket up under her brother’s chin, “How old will he be then?”

Billy was fighting for control; this was pretty damn funny to him.  He was used to it from his own family but seeing Kevin the Almighty Control Freak going through it, it was hilarious.   

“I’ll let you know.  Now stop poking at him, you’re just making him mad.”  Kevin’s brows furrowed together as he made his point.

“Really?”  Kaylin smiled back at her frowning father.

Kevin could see her little fingers jabbing and prodding at her younger sibling.  “You’re so much like your mother.”

“I am not!”  Kaylin frowned back.  “Everybody says that.”

Turning up the dirt drive they headed for the house.  Kevin pulled up to the front door, next to Bron’s van.  Kaylin didn’t dart out of the truck this time, she waited.  It struck Kevin as rather odd, but only for a minute as the porch light came on.  The front door opened and Bron yelled, “Surprise!” 

As Kevin looked in the foyer he saw the tree sitting there with its limbs still bound.  Kevin looked at Kaylin once he had the car seat.  Kevin turned and yelled, “Surprise.”

“Oh damn,” Bron started to laugh.  “A Living tree?”

Kevin moved by Carlos and Andrew with Kaylin and Billy following him.  He was a little pissed; he thought his idea was an original one.

“Yes a Living Tree, mine was for C.W.”  Kevin unbuckled the crying infant and handed him to Bron along with a receiving blanket for her to cover herself up with after he removed all of the layers of clothes the baby had on.  “Are you hungry buddy,” Kevin cooed at him the screaming baby.

Once Cooper settled, Bron spoke, “Oh, mine is for your Father.” 

Kaylin stood by the tree Bron had purchased.  “Nice tree Mom.  Our’s is better.”

“Freeze young lady,” Bron barked as she pulled out a chair from the dining room table to sit at.  “You knew I was buying a tree.”

Kevin stopped for a second as he knocked the snow off his boots on the sisal mat.  Slowly his head came up and he glared at Kaylin.  “You knew Mom was buying a tree?”

Kaylin nodded her head up and down, “Yep.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”  Kevin walked up to her, not very happy with her.

Kaylin moved a little closer to her mother.  “Cuz she said it was a secret.”

Kevin’s glared now rested on Bron.

Bron swallowed, gave him a faint smile, and then spoke, “She is such a blabbermouth and I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“I see,” Kevin looked outside to the tree sitting on the top of his truck.

“Dad said Santa only comes if you have a tree.”  Kaylin elbowed Andrew, “Now we have two trees.”

It took about ten seconds for the adults in the room to understand what Kaylin was truly saying by that statement.

Kevin pulled a chair out to sit on simply because he didn’t want to fall over laughing, he looked at Bron.  “We have two trees Witch.”

Bron fought the giggle that rose, “I see that.  I hope Santa doesn’t get to confused, two trees, twice as many presents and all.”

Kaylin’s eyes danced, “That was what I thought.  But if he brings to many, I can always give them to kids who didn’t get any.”

Kevin shook his head, at first he thought greed was the cause of this.  Well this and Bron’s secrets, which he would talk to Bron about later there would be no more secrets, good or otherwise.  Even though Kaylin was spoiled, she wasn’t greedy, she would give away the excess.  “Good thinkin’.” 

Sizing the little dilemma up, Kevin leaned his head on Bron’s shoulder.  “What do we do with these monsters?”

“The trees or the kids?”  Bron’s brow creased.

“I think we have to keep the kids,” Kevin pretended to bat her on the head with his glove.

“Hmmm, well I guess if we move the hutch and sideboard down a little bit, we can put one tree up in here and one up in The Pit.”

“YES!”  Kaylin jumped up and down; loud enough to disturb a nursing Cooper again.

“Get your coat on boys, we have two trees to put up.”  Kevin looked at the three men standing in the room. 

As the men wrestled and grunted with the trees, root balls and all, Bron’s cell phone rang after she refused to answer the house phone.  “Hi, This is Bron.  I’m not available right now to take your call.  At the sound of the beep, please leave a message.”

Kevin heard her talking like a machine.  He quickly grabbed the phone and said, “Hello.”

“Kevin is that you?”  Mc snarled into the phone.

“Yep, it’s me,” Kevin answered back.

“Put her back on the phone, I want to talk to her.  I know she has been home since last night.”  Mc had been pacing the better part of the afternoon waiting for her to call and explain to him what she had done and why.  It had taken much more patience on his part since this wasn’t his normal way of dealing with his business partner.  So much had changed, Suzie wasn’t back from wherever she had gone so he had no access to the house.  The codes no longer worked to open the doors.  Then he discovered that Backstreet security was present in the house.

“She can’t, she’s feeding Cooper.  All you want to do is chew her out anyway and I have sufficiently covered that for all of you.”

“I want to know...” Mc

“You don’t need to know anything.  Bron has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, then you can come over here.”

“You’re really a pain in my ass Kevin.  I have not been able to get into that house or the offices since you left.  I have a business to run.”

“See ya tomorrow.”  Kevin hung up.  He wasn’t dealing with any of them tonight.  This was his time with his family.  They were going to decorate the tree, have hot chocolate, and enjoy themselves.

“I didn’t know I had a doctor’s appointment tomorrow,” Bron commented with enough attitude to make Carlos snicker from behind the tree that he was holding.

“I forgot to tell you.  I called Gabe for you since you seem to put that stuff off.”  Kevin stood back and eyeballed the tree for straightness. 

“Little to the right,” Bron snapped and went into the kitchen. 

Then Kevin heard Billy mumble something “Wanting to get back in the saddle.”

Kevin parted the branches of the tree with his two hands and looked at Billy.  “I’ve already been back in the saddle,” he whispered with dissatisfaction as he let the branches fly back and smack his friend in the face.

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