Kevin let the phone ring, and ring, and ring as he sat at his desk. He was refusing to answer any calls. He had set a goal and he was going to achieve it, he was finishing all of his foundation’s paperwork without one more interruption. He stared at the large stack of paperwork on the corner of his desk, the more he actually did, the larger the pile seemed to get.
He was as nervous as a fox in a hen house. Annie was coming for a visit with him in two days, just Annie. She was going to fly alone on the company jet. Everyone re-assured Kevin that his little girl would be fine. After all, it was a direct flight and she was their only passenger.
The phone rang again and he glanced at the caller identification, it showed Chase Jackson’s office telephone number. “What’s wrong?” Kevin barked into the receiver as he answered the phone.
“Not a thing but you need to get out here, right now. You should work on your phone manners but it beats hearing ‘This is Kevin Richardson…. Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys.”
“I ain’t in the mood Chase. You’re my attorney, not my Mother. Why do I have to come out there right now? Is Annie okay? Is Cassie okay?” Kevin was perturbed now.
A small chuckle escaped from Chase, which made Kevin frown. “You still call her Cassie, nobody has called her Cassie since Gage.” A long sigh came from Chase and he continued, “But it’s appropriate.”
“Is there a point to this call?” Kevin bemoaned.
“Yes, you need to come out here.” Chase’s voice again on the soft side.
Playing games on the telephone was not Kevin’s forte’. He lacked the patience for the game. “Why again?”
“You really are thick… You’ll see when you get here… You need to be here by tomorrow.”
Kevin could tell the receiver was being covered. “But Annie is coming here…”
“Just come and get her. You need to come here.”
Kevin heard the click of the phone and then nothing but dial tone. “Okay this is not amusing.” Kevin punched Chase’s number in and waited for someone to pick up, there was no answer. Continuously for the next half hour, he tried to reach him. Then he called the ranch. No answer there either, just the answering machine kicking in on each try.
Kevin sat back in his chair. “Why the hell do I have to go out there?” A few thoughts bubbled to the surface along with some memories that weren’t so distant. Cass and Annie had gone back to Montana six weeks ago. He had enjoyed their stay with him in California, as well as the trip to Lexington. Now Annie was going to visit him for a couple of days in Florida before school started. She was starting school late due to her surgery and therapy but they all felt that she was ready to start back now. Kevin had promised her a trip to Disneyworld and a teacup ride. Cass was okay with it, so he was all for it. He had the plans made before she left California, just in case Cass had a change of heart. Cass would never break her word to Annie.
Sighing heavily, he picked up the phone and made his flight reservation, he ordered a car as well. “The red-eye, great,” Kevin hung up the phone. “I hate red-eye flights,” he mumbled as he trudged off to pack a bag for a couple of days.
He grabbed some of the paperwork and tossed it into his carry-on bag. At least he would be held captive to finish some of the work that he had planned on finishing before Annie arrived. Kevin wanted to focus on her for the few days that she would be with him, not work.
Disembarking from the plane, he gathered his one bag and carryon. He headed straight for the car rental counter. The process took only a few minutes as he traded his credit card for a set of keys with the clerk. Signing off, his credit card was handed back to him. Kevin mumbled that five in the morning was good if you were coming home to go to bed. He stopped at the airport cantina and grabbed the largest cup of coffee they had. Frowning when it was handed to him in a Styrofoam cup. He was going to lecture them but judging by the time on the clock on the wall, he didn’t have the time.
Finding the vehicle, he turned the ignition over. His hand dropped a CD in the player as his other rolled down the window. His ass was dragging and he needed to stay awake. Fresh air would help. He sang and drove all the way to Chase’s office.
Kevin was leaning on the door when Chase Jackson showed up for work. Chase smiled, “I knew I could count on you.”
“Fuck you Chase,” Kevin mumbled as he rubbed his bleary eyes.
“Rough night buddy? Need a cup of Joe?” Chase was happily going about his business.
“You had better have damn good reason for haulin’ my ass out here in the middle of the night. This ain’t exactly across town.” Kevin followed him into the office.
“I do. Don’t get comfy, we’re going to breakfast.”
“I don’t wanna go to breakfast! Tell me why you wanted me here!” Kevin was now shouting.
“Kevin stop hollering. I wouldn’t have called you if I didn’t think it was necessary. I have your best interests in mind.”
“I don’t like being dicked around,” Kevin’s patience was now gone.
“Come on,” Chase shoved Kevin out the door and towards his truck.
After two left turns, Kevin finally spoke. “Why are we going to the ranch? I asked you if everything was okay, you said it was.”
“It’s fine,” Chase turned the radio off as they headed down the road to Cass’s place.
“Fine whatever,” Kevin’s fists were balled up as he gazed out the window. He stared at the mountains that soon would be covered with snow. It was peaceful here, at Cass’s; at least he hoped it would be.
Chase pulled up to the ranch. As he cut the engine, he turned to Kevin. “Thank you for being understanding and doing this my way.”
Kevin walked up the steps and slid the key in the lock. He never imagined that Cass would give him a key when he gave her the key to the farm in Lexington.
Chase never verbalized the thought that Kevin belonged here with them as he followed him into the house.
Kevin hung his coat up on the banister as he had always done. Annie was in the living room, so engrossed in a cartoon that she didn’t hear them come in. Kevin watched for a moment, her eyes were focused on the new large screen television. The closed caption device was not on and she was laughing along with the show. A bowl of cereal sat next to her on the floor. Cass had told him that sometimes Annie used the CCD to read. “Hello,” Kevin leaned on the entrance to living room.
“Daddy,” Annie whispered. She popped off the floor and ran to him. He caught her in his arms and picked her up. They squeezed each other tightly. “I missed you Daddy,” she hung on to him around the neck.
“I missed you too princess,” he hugged her back and set her down. “Where’s your Mom princess?”
“Mommy is upstairs. She doesn’t feel good, she’s sick again,” Annie frowned. “Guess what?”
“Hey Annie, Ferdie doesn’t look well, let’s go see.” Chase had her out the door with a jacket on over her pajamas. He was carrying her since she didn’t have anything on her feet.
Hearing Annie’s words, seeing Chase’s quick exit, and the emergency calls; Kevin ran up the stairs three at a time. Reaching Cass’s room, he slammed open the door. Cass wasn’t in her room. His heart dipped to his feet and back again. A gagging noise from Cass’s bathroom pulled him in that direction.
Cass was on her knees in front of the toilet. A cloth lay on across the back of her neck. “Baby, Mommy just needs a few more minutes. Hand me one of those crackers please. Please stop banging the doors honey…”
Cass’s arm reached out as she rested her head on the cold porcelain. When her hand connected with the hand that was holding the crackers, she fell backwards on her ass. “Chase!” she yelled. As she turned, she saw Kevin standing next to her. “Aww shit! You? You son of a bitch, you are the last person I want to see right now!”
Kevin had a smile on his face that made her want to stand up and punch him in the gut. Better yet, she wanted to go downstairs and load up her shotgun. She wanted to shoot him, right in the crotch.
It took all of twenty seconds for Kevin to figure it out. The calls, Annie’s excitement, Chase’s insistence that he get out here, the crackers, and the barfing. When Cass stood up, she tried to ignore him but her body confirmed it. She was showing all ready. The look she shot him was enough for him to cover up his groin as she walked by him. Cass let out a little rumble when he did.
Crawling back into her bed, she yanked the covers up, she still hadn’t spoken to him.
Kevin walked to the other side of the bed. He slipped his boots off and lay down next to her. Lacing his fingers together, he placed them behind his head; poking Cass in the head by accident with his elbow as he did so. He would wait, he had all the time in the world. Excitement and all things glorious and wonderful were pumping through his brain. Once yes, twice and he would be pushing it with his family. “You want a boy or a girl?” His eyes focused on the ceiling.
“Damn you!” Cass barked back. “What is it with you? Nothing works… condoms don’t work, the pill obviously doesn’t either. I took them, every single one of them, like clockwork. Then they tell me that the pill isn’t one hundred percent effective.”
Kevin grinned at the ceiling, “A boy would be nice, we already have a girl.”
The next thing Kevin saw was a flash of red hair, on him, and she was beating him with her closed fists. Grabbing her arms, he shoved her over. Pinning her to the bed, he smiled. “You need to calm down. This is a blessing.”
“A blessing!” Cass raged at him, as she twisted and turned underneath him.
“You’re cute when you’re mad red,” he leaned down into her face. “Marry me?”
“No!” Cass shouted back as she continued to try to free herself.
“Okay but don’t say I didn’t ask,” Kevin rolled off of her and let her go.
Cass willed herself calm. “I have a problem,” her voice sullen.
Kevin knew the financial mess of the ranch was eating at Cass. She tried to make a payment to him but couldn’t swing it. Kevin actually had a proposal to discuss with her but it would wait until she was a little more level-headed. “Bills are covered.” Rolling on his side to face her since she had rolled to face him, he stroked an errant red curl out of the way. “Did you go to the doctor?”
“Just once… I owe them… I have an appointment today.” She sighed when he pulled her close.
“What time?” Kevin brushed his hand up and down her arm.
“Two,” she closed her eyes.
“Rest, we’ll take care of it then,” Kevin eased from the bed as Cass’s eyes closed. “Some day Cassie…. Some day you’ll marry me.”
Cass heard the words and mumbled back, “Not unless I’m really, really drunk.”
She heard Kevin laugh as he closed the door.
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