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Bron’s face flushed red, now she had to deal with the embarassement of them hearing this conversation on top of what Kaylin had instigated over the last few weeks.
“After dinner please, I’m humiliated enough, thank you.” Bron dropped her head.
“Fine after dinner. I don’t want any interference from you either,” Kevin warned her as he back-stepped down the stairs. Kevin was flustered as he walked back in the kitchen his mother and brother were glaring at him. Carlos and Jake were laughing.
Bron followed behind him, defending herself. “You haven’t had any interference from me. Have you?” she squawked at his back. She was close enough that if he turned around fast enough he would knock her over. Bron’s index finger was poking him in the back.
Kevin sat down as his eyes crossed over each person in the room. “Any ideas why?”
“She’s just testing your authority honey,” his mother told him from the seat she had taken across from him.
“This is a lot more than that Mom,” Kevin swallowed from the drink that was placed in front of him. Right now, he needed to calm down or there was going to be a kid with a sore ass for a week.
“I think so too,” his mother agreed with him but didn’t offer much more.
Bron started talking to Kevin, as she was getting ready to mash the potatoes, the water was boiling over. Anne and Tim went about setting the table. Jake and Carlos were enjoying the hell out of the fact that a six year old could raise so much hell in one house. “Kevin, she has given me a hard time since ten minutes after you walked out the door the last time you were home. She won’t listen to Jake or Andrew. I can’t get her to do a damn thing that I want her to do. God, she is driving me crazy.”
Tim cracked a smile and then checked it after Kevin threw him a glare.
“I don’t know where she gets it from,” Bron shook her head.
All the men in the room began to laugh.
“Are you saying something gentlemen or would you rather not eat?” Bron knew they were referencing Kaylin’s behavior to that of her Mother’s if she were ticked off or upset.
Shaking his head, Kevin questioned Bron. “What about school?”
“I made three calls to her teacher. She said that other than Bounce being unusually quiet and some homework problems, she’s fine.” Wiping her hands off, she turned. “Jake, could you go get Bounce for dinner?”
“I’ll do it,” Kevin slid his chair out.
“No, Jake will,” Bron countered him. She stood up and huffed up at the same time.
“Bron, dammit,” Kevin was getting angry again. It wasn’t that hard the first two waves hadn’t completely worn off.
Bron put a sulk face on, “After dinner, you promised.”
Jake had to get up and go get Bounce, if he didn’t he was in danger of being bopped on the head by Bron. This was so obvious to him and Suzie, but none of them were getting it. Bron stood like a pissed off cat, with it’s fur fluffed out trying to take on the pitbull named Kevin.
Everyone had taken their seats as Kaylin shuffled slowly into the kitchen.
The dinner table was unusually quiet and tense. Kevin watched as Bounce barely ate; she was pushing her food around on the plate. He started to say something when he felt Bron’s eyes boring into the side of his head and decided not to. Kevin couldn’t figure out what was eating at Kaylin. At first, he thought the baby, then September 11th, now he didn’t know what to think.
Casual conversation passed over the table but it was strained. Everyone seemed to be watching the rebels at work. Kaylin and Kevin psyching each other.
Bounce pushed her plate away and slid her chair back. Standing up, she started to walk away from the table.
“Kaylin, did you ask to be excused from this table?” Kevin was biting his tongue as he asked her in an unkind voice.
Silently Bounce returned to her chair.
Kevin was waiting for her to ask. A smiled tugged at Jake and Carlos; the kid was not going to ask as she sat there.
“Do you want to tell me why your mother has to call me on the other side of the continent because you are giving her a hard time and acting like a little monster?” Kevin folded his arms over his chest as he waited for Kaylin to answer him.
Kevin waited as Kaylin raised her head and looked at him with all the defiance her mother did the first time they had met. “May I be excused?” Bounce started to get up.
“No,” Kevin answered her. The thought that she was ignoring him just like her mother did when she was angry, was chewing on him like one of the dogs on a bone.
“Mom?” Kaylin whined.
“Your mother is not going to save you,” Kevin warned her, he had had enough. Mama bear wasn’t going to spare baby bear.
Bounce hit panic when she saw that her mother wasn’t going to intervene on her behalf. “Grandma!” Bounce wasn’t crying but the fear in her voice was recognized.
Kevin’s eyebrows arched and he smiled at his mother. Hearing Kaylin call her that made him feel warm and fuzzy, temporarily anyway. He was hoping his mother would give Kaylin the right answer.
“I’m sorry Bounce,” his mother answered quietly.
Bounce was stuck and she knew it. She glared openly at Kevin and he glared back.
Bron snickered inside her head and told herself, “Talk about a battle of wills.”
“What’s your problem?” Kevin barked at the little girl.
Kaylin’s reply was just as angry as his, “Nothing!”
“Hmm…. Well, now you are grounded, no television, no playing video games or tapes. No riding the horses but you still need to take care of them and the dogs.” Kevin answered in a tone that left her no room to argue with him.
Bron watched the interplay and still was trying to figure out if Kaylin was that stupid to run up against him full force or just mad as hell at him.
“YOU CAN’T DO THAT! YOU’RE NOT MY DADDY!” came blasting out of Kaylin.
“Bounce!” Bron warned her only because she knew that whatever Kaylin said beyond this point would only make matters worse. Not to mention Kevin’s feelings.
“It’s alright Bron,” Kevin slid the chair back from the table. Stretching his legs out, he folded his arms over his chest once again. “I’m not your father, but this is my house, my rules. I can do what I want here, including grounding you if I think you should be.”
“You and your rules,” Bounce muttered.
Kevin had heard it but not clearly. “If you have something to say, say it so I can hear it.” Kevin leaned back in his chair. At this very second, he would haul her upstairs and teach her a lesson she would never forget. Kaylin had more mouth than he had ever dared show his parents, it wasn’t flying well with him either.
“Kevin,” Bron whispered. She had seen the tick in his cheek and the nervousness began to stir in her. He was going postal, but quelling it just as quickly.
Kevin looked at her and Bron dropped her head. She was now stuck between the two.
Kevin watched Bounce closely. She was angry with him, big time, but it wasn’t just that. Something was eating at her and he had to get to the bottom of it before she turned the house upside down over it. “Did you finish your homework?”
“No,” she answered but met his gaze, face to face.
“Why not?” he asked her. Now he was getting a measure of satisfaction from this.
“It’s Friday! Nobody does homework on Friday.” Bounce looked at Kevin with disgust.
“What’s the rule Kaylin?” Kevin was amused in a sick sort of way. A six year old was coming at him with more guts than most of the lawyers he had met.
“Do your homework everyday, even on Friday, just in case we have to go some where.”
Bounce paused and Kevin thought she was finished but she continued on, much to his amusement. He was glad that all his preaching had not gone unnoticed.
“Keep your room clean, listen to mom, listen to the adults in the house, don’t go in the studio, don’t touch anything in the studio… No phone calls during dinner. Don’t go anywhere without someone, don’t talk to strangers…”
Kevin stopped her, “Amazing you know them all, you just don’t follow them.”
Anne started to smirk looking at the two facing-off against each other. She wondered why the hell her son had so many rules for such a young child. “I’ll have to talk to him about that,” she spoke to herself. “We’ll be talking about how he straightened out Bron’s attitude too.”
Bron promptly stood up and went to the fridge. Grabbing the dessert and smacking it on the table. She had heard enough and wanted it to end.
“Go get your backpack. I want to see your school work.” Kevin commanded her.
“But,” Bounce looked at him.
“Do it now,” Kevin glared at her. The vein bulging in his neck was a clear sign of how angry he was right now.
As soon as Bounce was on the staircase, Bron launched into Kevin. “Look you.”
“Shut up. You are not to interfere…” Kevin’s jaw slid from side to side.
Carlos was enjoying the show. He had seen this played out many times with different players. Kevin the authority figure and his subordinates. Only back then, it was usually A.J. or Nick on the receiving end.
“That’s my kid,” Bron ground out at him as she clenched her teeth.
“No,” Kevin shook his head. “When we got married, she became our kid and she is being disrespectful and disobedient on purpose. I need to know why.” Kevin’s tone was as nasty as they had heard in a long time, a very long time.
Anne and Tim sat quietly watching the drama unfold.
Bron slammed the dessert plates on the table; she was fuming. Bron and Kevin talked about presenting a united front as far as discipline goes. After C.W. died, Bounce was basically left to do whatever she wanted to do. Bron felt guilty about C.W. and spoiled the hell out of Bounce. Time and time again since they were married, Kevin had assumed the role of disciplinarian, since as he so aptly put it, “You suck at it Witch.”
Kevin couldn’t stand this. Bounce was a sassy little six year old that treated adults as her equal. The time that Bounce had originally spent with his mother back in February and March had helped. When they moved into the house, she seemed to lose most of her attitude and penchant for swearing. Now it seemed that they were back to square one again and nothing was resolved.
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