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Bron glanced at her watch; Kevin was due home in an hour. Her mother-in-law had come over for dinner. Bron didn’t mind the company, especially lately. Between Kaylin’s behavior and the threatening letters, she was under too much stress. Bron had grown closer to Anne over the last few weeks. Suzie of course was always there, but Bron didn’t want to dump on her friend who seemed to be leading the fairytale life with a blonde haired prince named Nick. Suzie had been kind enough over the last few weeks to take Kaylin with her on errands when she was home. Now Suzie had taken a couple days off to be with Nick. Ever since the baby shower Kaylin, the spoiled brat one, was back in full force.
“I’ll be right back,” Bron spoke to Anne as she turned and headed up the stairs. Bron hadn’t heard a peep out of Bounce since she had returned from school. Kaylin had been giving her a hard time since Kevin had left after the Luau. Then after the baby shower Bounce, she was worse. It had been five weeks of living hell. She refused to do anything she was asked to do and was mouthing off to everyone.
Bron even broke down and called Kevin last week needing reassurance and guidance. This was something she had never relied on. Kaylin was making Bron feel inadequate as a parent and raising hell whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Kevin was aware of what was going on at home and not just from Bron. Not only had he received a few calls from his mother, but Andrew as well. Coupled with a few things Nick had dropped on him that Suzie had told him, in confidence naturally. All of that, along with his own personal experiences of Kaylin hanging up on him several times when he was calling home during a break in his schedule to speak to them. The last time she had hung up on him, he called back. The phone was answered but nobody spoke on the other end. Kevin knew it was Bounce, he barked into the phone, “I’m gonna whip your butt if you do that again!” Kevin heard laughter and then a dial tone right after that. Successive tries to call back after that went unanswered, until he called the office line and Suzie picked up the phone finally.
“What the hell is going on there?” Kevin had two minutes to talk before he had to go.
“Just listen...” Suzie sighed. Suzie had an idea what was bothering Kaylin from her own personal experiences but she was keeping her mouth shut. She had thought about telling Bron what she thought was going on but Bron’s hormones didn’t always make her rational either.
What Kevin heard nearly made him feign to be sick and fly home. The only thing that stopped him was Suzie jumping back on the phone after she had closed off the intercom to the kitchen. Kaylin was screaming and Bron was screaming back. “Don’t come home but be prepared when you do.” Again, he heard the infamous dial tone and he was getting damn sick of it.
Bron found Bounce in her room playing video games. Surveying the room, it was a disaster. Beanie Babies and toys were strewn across the floor. Clothes piled in the corner and on the dresser, her bed was still not made.
Walking over, Bron snapped the switch off on the video game and stood there glaring at her daughter.
“MOM!” Kaylin yelled back.
“I told you to clean this room yesterday, this morning, and when you got home from school.”
Bounce dropped her head and looked at the floor.
“He will be home in one hour. If he sees this, you are going to be in big trouble young lady. He knows what you have been up too.”
“So what if he comes home,” Bounce yelled right back at Bron.
Bron sighed as she went and sat next to her on the floor. This was a great feat since she was so large with the baby due in four weeks. “Kaylin, what’s bothering you so much?” she asked as she spoke quietly.
“Nothing,” Bounce looked at her mom.
It cut through Bron like a knife. Kaylin had given her the same damn answer that she had given her for the last three weeks. “Fine! You deal with him then,” Bron made her way up from the floor, yanking the paddles out of the game, and marched to the door. “Clean it UP!” Bron yelled for what seemed to be the thousandth time and left her in her room.
Anne stood in the kitchen and heard Bron yelling, she shook her head at the anger and defiance in the little one.
“Still giving her a hard time?” Jake inquired from the door as Tim followed him in.
“Yes, I’m afraid so. I just wish I knew why.” Anne looked at both of them.
Bron stalked into the kitchen and threw the game controllers on the table. Not acknowledging the presence of the two new comers, she went directly into the pantry, grabbed a pot and the bag of potatoes.
Throwing the pot and bag on the counter, Bron huffed. “That kid is going to drive me to drink.”
“Considering how tequila gets to you, I don’t think that’s a good idea Bron. Do you still have Kevin’s leash hangin’ around?” Tim thought he would lighten the mood.
Bron spun around and shot over to Tim. “I’m not in the mood.” As Bron glared at him, he smiled right back at her. “You and Kevin are so much alike,” she clucked at him.
Anne was snickering as she watched Bron stare down Tim. Tim was a good substitute for Kevin and he took most of Bron’s remarks in stride. He had been through his own wife’s pregnancy; he knew what it was like.
Bron started peeling the potatoes and was promptly joined by Anne. Bron heard a noise and stopped to listen. It was Bounce sneaking down to the entertainment room. Bron shook her head and stood up.
Anne quickly placed her hand on Bron’s arm, “Let her go.”
“But,” Bron looked at her.
“If she wants to test him, let her.” Anne smiled at her daughter-in-law.
Bron searched the older woman’s face for a clue. “Do you think that is what this is?”
“I think it is part of it, but I think there is much more to it than that.”
Bron opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted with a voice from the side door.
“Hey darlin’, miss me?” he smiled.
Bron couldn’t jump up fast enough to get to him. Reaching up and grabbing his face, she kissed him fiercely. Seeking what she had missed so much over the last few weeks.
“I guess you did,” he whispered to her. “I bet I’m better than that bed buddy.”
“I did and I’ll show you how much later because I know how much you like to come home.”
Setting his bags down, Carlos came in the behind Kevin.
“Yes I do,” Kevin winked in amusement.
Kevin walked to his mom and gave her a hug. Inhaling deeply, he closed his eyes, she smelled like home too.
“Welcome home dear,” Anne gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Thank you Mom.”
Tim watched his over-tired and skinny younger brother from his seat. “Hey Bro.”
Kevin gave him a glance as he leaned back on the counter. “Tim, are you mooching another meal out of my wife?” he chuckled.
“I’m trying, Tracy is visiting her folks with the kids.”
“Good I want you to stay. I missed you.”
Moving to Carlos, Bron gave him a quirky grin, she was surprised but delighted to see that he had come home with Kevin. “Hey big guy I missed you too.”
A kiss on the cheek flustered the large man. He made a quick recovery, “You’re forgiven for Kevin’s birthday prank. Suzie and Nick weren’t too pleased having me ride with them.” Carlos laughed, “I think I screwed their plans.”
Bron smirked, “Boy did you ever.”
Carlos shook his head, “What’s for dinner?”
“Don’t ever change Carlos. Just for you chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, and biscuits.”
Kevin would only be home for two days before he headed to Denver. An appointment with Gabe was another reason he was home. If Kevin could get off and be home for all of Bron’s obstetrical appointments, he would be.
Kevin licked his lips and patted his stomach. Picking up his bags, he left to go upstairs. His luggage would be deposited in the laundry room and repacked in the same room.
Secretly Bron was hoping he would not go to Bounce’s room but she knew better. Kevin had made a habit of checking on her when he came home. Bron had watched the pattern develop over the last few months.
“KAYLIN!” echoed and bounced off the walls of the house.
Bron sighed and looked at Anne. “So much for a peaceful couple of days, here we go.”
Bron heard the game room door open and knew Bounce was at least smart enough not to ignore him. From her spot in the kitchen, she watched Kaylin slink to the bottom of the stairs. Kevin was hot and it wasn’t in a nice way either.
“Get up here now!” Kevin yelled as he pointed to her then to the top of the stairs.
Bron’s head shook as she put the pot on to boil, “I told her to clean up her room.”
Coming back downstairs, Kevin walked directly to Bron, “Did you see her room?”
“Yes, and I told her to clean it up yesterday and twice today.” Bron looked at him apologetically.
Kevin looked down at the floor suddenly, studying the veins of color in the slate. “Bron, what is going on with her?” he asked her as he crossed his arms and brought his head up.
“I don’t know Kevin. I really don’t know.” Bron shook her head in disgust. “I have tried.”
Suddenly music blasted through the house and Bron started to laugh.
Kevin’s teeth were grating against each other when he spoke. “That kid.”
Turning his body around, he strutted to the foot of the stairs. “Knock it off Bounce! Turn that shit down!” Kevin screamed at the top of his lungs up the stairs.
Kevin walked back in the kitchen to see both his wife and mother as well as Carlos, Tim, and Jake trying valiantly not to laugh in his face. “She is so much like you,” Kevin glared at Bron.
Jake started laughing along with Anne. Kevin shot his mother a dubious look.
“I don’t think so,” Bron answered him with a grin on her face. “I don’t have the guts to play ‘Bye, Bye, Bye,’ when you are that pissed at me,” Bron giggled. “I don’t think I would have the guts to play it if you were in a good mood.” She wasn’t helping the situation much but it was damn funny watching Kevin’s reaction to Kaylin yanking his chain.
“I’m going to the studio,” he barked out at them and left. He needed to put some space between everyone and himself.
As soon as he left the room, everyone in the room burst out in laughter. Bron shook her head. “Man, she is really pushing him now. When we were coming home from Florida, I thought he was going to let her have it. She was a smart ass then too. He told her he was going to spank her and she laughed at him and told him, ‘Mom won’t let you.’ I just don’t know why she is doing this.”
“Brave little girl,” Tim smiled
“I don’t know Tim. Brave or incredibly stupid,” Bron chuckled as she checked dinner.
“BRONWYN!” she heard Kevin screaming from the third floor.
“Oh no, now what?” Bron looked at Anne, “He’s using my whole name now. That is not a good sign.”
Bron began to get up and go see but she heard Kevin’s feet thundering down the stairs.
“Shit,” Bron exclaimed as she went and stood by the sink, bracing herself for the worst. “I’m not ready for another temper tantrum already.”
“BRONWYN! What the hell is this?” From Kevin’s hand, a folder was thrown on the table. Sheet music came tumbling out of the folder and across the table.
Bron took two steps to the table and scrutinized the sheets. “Bounce you are gonna get it now, and you deserve anything he gives you,” she internalized her thoughts.
“Well, what is it?” Kevin fumed at her.
“Umm, your sheet music from the studio?” Bron blinked innocently, or at least tried.
Kevin spoke in a controlled rage, Bron was being coy and it was just winding him up some more. “Yes it is. Do you notice anything different about it?”
“Ah… Ummm… I thought you had graduated from using crayons,” Bron muttered.
“That’s it Bron. I’ve had enough. This is going to stop right now.” Kevin turned to head to Bounce’s room. “I’m gonna straighten her out the old fashion way.”
Glancing cautiously to Anne and then Tim, Bron’s jaw dropped open when she saw Jake make an ‘O’ with his lips.
“Oh shit,” Bron chased after Kevin as fast as she could. “Kevin!”
Two people in the kitchen were a tad curious. Carlos shrugged as he watched them sneak over to the doorway. They watched the adults argue on the stairs.
“Kevin, what are you going to do?” Bron stood in front of him, her belly giving him the advantage on the stairs. Kevin wouldn’t move quickly in fear of her falling.
“I’m gonna straighten her attitude problem out the same way I did yours’.” Kevin spoke as he tilted his head to the side.
Bron’s eyes bulged, “No you’re not.” Kevin was wearing a big cheesy ass grin.
“Yes I am,” Kevin placed a hand on the banister and started up the stairs.
“No you’re not, that hurts.” Bron stood frozen to the tread; she wasn’t budging, not when he was this mad.
“Oh, yes I am. You are so much alike, it worked for you, I’m sure it will work for her.”
They both turned when Anne’s sharp, ‘Oh Lord’ drifted up the stairs.
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