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Bounce came back in and handed Kevin the backpack. She began to take her seat.
Kevin grabbed Bron’s chair and pulled it next to him. “Sit here.”
The command didn’t sit well with Bounce. Kevin shot her a look as he unzipped the backpack and emptied the contents on the table.
Sitting next to him, she waited as Kevin read through her papers.
“Not bad Bounce, your math needs some work.” Kevin’s eyes scanned the papers.
“Math sucks…” Kaylin closed her mouth when she heard Tim and Anne sigh rather loudly.
“I’ll help you,” Kevin leaned down and whispered something to her. Kaylin smiled for the first time since he had seen her.
Bron was going to ask about the exchange between the two of them, but had a change of heart when Bounce had laughed.
Kevin went back to the first thing that had caught his eye. Noting the date at the top of the sheets, he set the papers aside, placing everything back into the backpack but the pile on the table. The backpack was placed on the floor.
Bounce suddenly lost interest in this whole idea.
“Is this your homework?” he turned and asked her as he tapped the paper.
“Yes,” her head dropped again.
He noted that this project had started two days before he had left. Now he was onto something, the big picture, he hoped. “What’s this about?”
“Stupid family units,” Bounce grumbled while looking at the tabletop.
Kevin read the papers and knew what had been troubling Bounce, it was many things, all family related. It was partly the new baby and partly this particular family unit that she was supposed to be working on. “Why don’t you explain it to me?” his voice was soft as he asked.
“You can read it,” Bounce didn’t want to explain it.
“Yes, I can read it, but how do I know you understand the material if you don’t explain it to me?” Kevin placed his head in his hand as he glanced at her. His elbow now propped up on the table. Nobody seemed to be in the room but them for the moment. This problem centered on who was in this room.
Bounce let out a long sigh knowing she would have to explain it; Kevin never let her off the hook. “You have to write a sentence about everyone in your family. Each week, you add a sentence.”
“Oh, I see,” Kevin glanced at the paper. The blank lines under the one name were practically smacking him in the face. He could see what she had written and had attempted to erase it. At this point, he didn’t want Bron to see what was in front of him.
Kevin began to read the work aloud. Bounce sat complacently and listened as Kevin read what she had wrote.
“My mom is a good cook…” Kevin smiled and turned to Kaylin, “You’re right she is.”
“Mrs. R said I could call her Grandma.” A smile played on his face. “You like that?” he asked Bounce.
Bounce’s head nodded up and down quickly as she looked at his mom with a big smile on her face. It was nice to have a grandma here.
“Uncle Steve lives at the boarding house. Uncle Jake lives with us. Uncle Mc has his own house.” Kevin laughed and looked at her. “Correct, but you do have a lot of uncles.”
“Kevin…” was the only word Bron spoke; that was enough.
“Now what is this empty spot?” Kevin’s finger traced over the lines and erased words.
“Mrs. Meegan made me erase it. She said that it wasn’t the truth.”
“What did you write that she said wasn’t true?” Kevin inquired gently, strictly for his own benefit and possibly Bron’s. For the life of him, he didn’t understand how they had missed this.
Bounce looked at him with eyes as big as saucers, “That I don’t have a Dad.”
“Kaylin!” flew out of Bron’s mouth from the other side of the kitchen.
Kevin leveled a look at her, telling her to shut-up immediately and don’t say another word.
“Mmmm, well that is not completely true. You do have a Dad; he’s just not with us right now.”
“I know, I miss him,” Bounce squeaked.
Placing an arm around her, Kevin felt terrible for her; his own feeling for his father still unsettled him to this day. “I understand, my Dad isn’t here either anymore and I miss him too.” His voice was full of compassion and not a hint of anger. A quick glance to Bron told him that Bron was on the verge of tears.
“Bounce, what do dads do?” Kevin asked her.
A perturbed look crossed Kaylin’s face, “Dad stuff.”
“Like what?” Kevin wanted more, so much more from her on this. He fully understood where it was going; at least he thought he did from what was erased and the drawings on the paper. The drawings represented two separate families, not one.
“You know dad stuff, help you with your homework, make sure you follow the rules, buy food and clothes and toys.” Bounce stared intently at him questioning him and waiting for his response to her answers to his question.
“You mean, like all the stuff I do for you?” he returned her gaze, giving her silent permission to take it to wherever she wanted to go with it. Kaylin was highly intelligent, she would figure it out, he was sure of it.
“Yeah, I guess so,” as she shifted around in the chair becoming uncomfortable.
Kevin inhaled and exhaled deeply. He looked at Bron who seemed scared to death right now.
“So Bounce, are you angry at me for something I did? Or do you think that you might want to ask me something and you don’t know how to ask and maybe you are afraid of how your Mom and I will react?” Kevin turned the conversation to a different direction, trying to get her to open up and say what she wanted to say.
“No, I’m not mad at you.”
“That’s good because I didn’t think I gave you a reason to be mad at me. But I know that you are upset.” Kevin leaned down into the small child’s face. He would have to let her know he knew and it was fine, “You can ask.”
“She’ll get mad at me… I know it.” Bounce whispered only to him and then quickly glanced at her mom. She wasn’t suppose to whisper in front of people, mom said it was rude.
Kevin’s nose wrinkled up, or as Bron called it, ‘weasel face’. “No she won’t. Besides, I won’t let her get mad at you.” Kevin smiled at the blonde haired waif sitting next to him.
Bounce’s face lit up like a Christmas Tree. “Is it okay with you?” She needed to ask him first, she couldn’t ask her mom if he didn’t say yes.
Kevin chuckled and leaned over to give her a big hug. “I would love that.” Tears were springing to his eyes. She didn’t even ask the question, just if it was okay.
“Does somebody want to explain this to me please?” Bron hissed not understanding the obvious, as always.
Kevin was still hugging Kaylin when he whispered in her ear, “You better ask her or we won’t get any of that pie on the table. I promise you, I will not let her get mad over this.”
Kaylin’s head backed up as Kevin let her go. “Can I call Kevin my dad?” she stammered slightly.
“Yes you can baby, he is a true dad to you and has been since day one.” Bron smiled as a tear slid down her face.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Carlos and Jake exchanged looks that basically sent the same message, ‘It was about time.’
Bounced jumped up and ran to Bron’s side. She hugged her mom as best she could. “Thanks Mama.”
Bron bent down and spoke to her firmly. “I wish you would have just asked. You have made all of us miserable for weeks.”
“I’m sorry Mom,” as she kissed Bron’s cheek. Kaylin ran back to her spot. She grabbed the papers from Kevin and started out of the kitchen.
Leaning back in the chair, Kevin was wearing the fattest smile he had worn in a long time. “Hey, where ya goin’?” Kevin turned in the chair, his arm hanging over the back of the chair.
“I gotta finish my homework, it’s Dad’s rules,” she smiled.
Kevin bounded up and grabbed the papers from her, “Later, we got tickling to do little girl.”
Bounce laughed and ran from the man that she now called Dad. Kevin hot on her heels.
Bron heard the capture and squeals of delight come from ‘The Pit.’ Everyone stopped to listen as they heard Bounce giggling and laughing. “Dad stop! Please! Daddy!”
“Oh no, you lose, you wrote all over my sheet music with crayons. You are not getting off that easy.” Laughter seemed to fill the house that night.
Carlos had to laugh; nothing was simple in this house and straightforward.
Bron sighed and looked at the family that was gathered. “My life is so damn good right now. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop,” she smirked.
“Hello,” came from the side door.
“And that would be it,” Bron chortled. Bron rolled her eyes and looked at Jake, “He wants something.”
“Hey Little girl,” he walked up behind her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Bounce came tearing into the kitchen huffing and puffing, “Dad wants a drink.”
Mc’s head spun around, as he looked at Kaylin with shock and disbelief, “Dad?”
“Daddy! Uncle Mc is kissing Mommy,” Kaylin yelled not moving from her spot.
Tim was chuckling as his little brother appeared at the doorway in a flash.
“Get your lips off my wife,” Kevin frowned. “You have your own woman, these women are mine.”
“I heard that,” Mc winked at him. “Raising a little narc, are we Bron? ” Mc cracked.
Bounce ran to Mc and reached up for her hug. “You shouldn’t kiss mom anymore, daddy doesn’t like it.”
Mc set Kaylin down and glanced at Kevin. “I guess we know where her loyalty lies now.”
Kevin smirked, he was damn happy and didn’t care.
“You know Kaylin, if it wasn’t for me giving your mom to your dad, they wouldn’t be together. Did you know…” Mc felt the dull throb of Bron’s elbow firmly planted into his ribs.
“What do you mean?” Tim was being nosey.
“Never mind,” Bron glared at them.
Kevin cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable. “Come on Bounce, time for bed.”
“It’s early,” the whine kicked in.
“I know but you and I are getting up early tomorrow.” Kevin was making the time to do this. He had been waiting and hoping that this would happen some day. The day finally came and they were going to celebrate in their own special way.
“Why?” she asked as she walked over and grabbed his hand.
“Hugs and kisses first,” Kevin reminded her as his finger tapped her arm.
Bounce ran around the room at lightening speed, saying, goodnight, I love you, and delivering her kisses and hugs. Coming to a dead stop in from of him, she again asked “Why?”
Lifting her up into his arms, he kissed her, “Because tomorrow we are goin’ fishin’.”
“Really?” her face danced with delight.
“Yep, you have to bait your own hook,” he laughed as he swung around and headed upstairs to put her to bed.
“I will, my Grandpa and my Dad use to take me fishing all the time. I’ve been fishing since I was two.”
The chuckle that came from Kevin was priceless, now he had an expert fisherman too. “Yeah, me and my dad use to fish too…”
The conversation could no long be heard.
Mc finally let go of Bron, “Dad?” his eyebrows questioned.
Bron smiled back, “Yeah, dad.”
Mc gave her another hug, “Congratulations Mommy.”
Bron looked at him, Mc was up to something or wanted something, he was hanging off of her, which was not Mc’s normal demeanor. Janey had lightened him up but he wasn’t a lovey dovey sort of guy.
“Let go of me before he comes back down here. You do that shit to bug him. Bounce has done a pretty good job of that over the last few weeks.”
“Okay,” Mc smiled and stopped away. “It would bug him more if I were Stevie.”
Kevin walked back in the kitchen with a hurried pace.
“Nervous Kev?” Mc was grinning his ass off. He could only provoke this kind of reaction out of Kevin when Kevin was in a particular mood. This was the mood.
“No,” he answered him smoothly, trying hard not to let it show.
“Liar,” Mc called him on it as Kevin walked over and wrapped his arms around Bron.
“Relax Kev. I can’t take her back. I’d be an Indian Giver. Besides you went and knocked her up too.”
Kevin’s laughing wasn’t helping Bron with the situation, the jerk was actually bringing up something that she had fought long and hard to forget, unfortunately her child was conceived that night as well. “Smart asses,” Bron spun away from both of them. Bron looked at Tim, “Don’t even ask; it’s private.”
“Kev will tell me later,” Tim smirked.
“No I won’t,” Kevin answered his brother.
“Why are you here anyway?” Kevin stopped and looked at Mc.
“Dropping these off,” Mc handed Bron some envelopes. Holding her composure, she smiled. “Thanks.” She slipped them in the drawer.
“One for Kaylin, One for Andrew, and one for the Kentucky kid.” Mc knew that the business that was just transacted was between Bron and him. He doubted that Kevin knew about it from the look on Bron’s face.
“See ya,” Mc ambled out the door. He snickered on the way out, Kevin hated being out of the loop and this was just another case of that.
Tim and Anne made their leave. Anne stopped at the door and pointed to Kevin, she uttered a command to him. “I want you at my house sometime tomorrow, by yourself. We need to talk.”
Jake announced he had a date. Bron was chasing him up the stairs asking all sorts of questions to which Jake was not giving any answers. Carlos sat at the table looking at Kevin. “Well Dad, I guess we are doing dishes.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Kevin shook his head. “I can’t believe she just didn’t ask.”
“You are an intimidating son of bitch, why would she.”
“I am not,” Kevin began to clear the table. Pausing as he picked up the dirty plate from the table.
“Oh that’s right, you’re the sweet innocent Kentucky Mama’s Boy.” Carlos was in a fit of giggles. “Brian is the bad ass.”
“Yep,” Kevin nodded as he smirked at him.
“Did you ever wonder what would have happened if Mc had picked Brian instead of you for Bron?” Carlos was asking.
Kevin was laughing, very loudly. “Brian? Brian… Shit, she chew him up and spit him out.”
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