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Bron stood in her kitchen. Her back was sore, as she loaded the tray up with caramel apples. Her house had been turned upside down for this party. All of Kaylin’s school friends were invited along with all the members of Kevin’s family. One hundred people were going to gather in the barns on the farm for the Halloween/Birthday/Adoption party.
Kevin had come up with the idea when he had spent the next day fishing with Kaylin, after she sought his permission to call him Dad. He wanted to make it official and so did Bounce. Bron was hesitant at first, not sure how it would go over with Kaylin’s family back home, especially her grandparents. Bounce’s birthday was the week after Halloween and the baby was due the week after that. With Kevin’s schedule and the baby due soon, they had to hold the party the week before Halloween. Two cakes were mandatory, one for Kaylin to blow the candles out for her Birthday and one for both Kaylin and Kevin to blow the candles out to celebrate her adoption. They both frowned at Bron when she suggested that they maybe she could just re-light the candles on the one cake instead of decorating two the cakes. “Nope, won’t do,” Kevin shook his head. “Two cakes, I said so.”
Two days before the court date for Kaylin’s adoption, Bron was fretting. This should be easy, Kaylin’s father was deceased, it was a simple ceremony before a Judge. Kevin could see Bron spinning her wheels and getting upset. That is when he stepped in and removed the decision from where Kaylin’s natural grandparents were involved. He flat out called them on the telephone and told them that this was how it was going to be. It was what Kaylin wanted and it was what was best for them, as a family. Kevin wasn’t shy about it, he had met them after the September 11th tragedy. The meeting was brief and he knew that if he didn’t come on strong, he would be sunk from the beginning. “You are still in her life if you want to be, but it will be on my terms and you will deal with me directly, not Bron. You upset my wife too much.”
“Honey,” Kevin called to her.
“What?” Bron snarled at him as she rubbed her back with her hand. Kevin calling her had brought her back to the task at hand.
Kevin’s eyes crossed and he frowned at her grumpy mood.
“Yes, I’m big, fat, uncomfortable, and bitchy.” She moved on to the next batch of food she was preparing.
“Three more weeks Darlin’, it’ll all be over with.” Kevin massaged her shoulders; she was tense. He didn’t think such a small woman could get so big, but damn, she looked like she was going to explode. Not that he was going to tell her that.
Bron, out of instinct, dropped her chin to her chest so Kevin could do her neck. “You make it sound so easy.”
“It’s not easy but you’re such a control freak. It’s all in the breathing, we are going to do great.”
“I am not a control freak,” Bron went rigid under his hands.
“Come on, you need to get dressed.” Kevin wasn’t about to go there tonight.
Turning awkwardly, she glanced out the window. “I’m not dressing up. I told you that. It’s a damn good thing you planned this while you were home because here comes the family.”
Bron was ceased in a massive hug. “Chill Witch, when you get nervous, I get nervous. This is a very big deal for her.” Bearded skin rubbed against her face.
“I know, I’m sorry, I’m just cranky today. I don’t feel good.”
Kevin’s lips were brushing against her ear making murmuring noises. “Come up with me and change. I can think of something that will help you relax.”
Curling her shoulders forward, she smiled. “No Kevin, not a chance in hell with this many people in the house, especially little people.”
“Okay, but come on, dress-up. If you dress-up, you might feel more in a party mood.”
Turning around she looked up at his green eyes. They were filled with as much happiness as Kaylin had been lately. “You’re so sweet to do this for her.” Her hand softly slid down the side of his face.
Kevin was fully aware of the hormone factor so he was watching where he stepped. If he wasn’t cautious, a crying jag would hit. “Please,” he asked with a soft smile as his hand covered hers, which was now pressed next to his cheek.
“What would possibly fit me? I’m pretty sure they don’t have a Shamu costume or Dumbo.”
“This,” Kevin ambled out to the dining room and back.
Bron squinted her eyes at the object, dangling from Kevin’s fingers. “What is that?”
Kevin took the garment of the hanger, “It’s a cape.”
“For what?” Bron looked closer.
“Because you are going to be red riding hood.” Kevin’s lips twitched nervously waiting for her response. He had intentionally left off the ‘Little’ part to avoid the hormones.
Fingering the material, she frowned, “Bounce should be Red Riding Hood.”
“I can’t Mom,” Kaylin laughed.
“Oh my God!” Bron scrunched down for a closer look. Tears began to trickle down her face. “You’re the woodcutter. You look like Kev...” Bron stuttered then corrected herself when they both frowned. “Your Dad!”
Both of the grinning now, Bron touched Kaylin’s face. “Love the goatee baby,” Bron gave her a big hug. Bron shrunk back since the beard scratched like the real thing. Bron touched the hair again. “That is so weird.”
“Pays to do some videos,” Kevin laughed as he left the room.
“Okay so what is your Dad, the wolf? How appropriate.”
“Can’t tell,” Kaylin’s smile was a mile wide and leaning towards the ‘I Got A Secret’ face.
“Okay, don’t tell,” Bron put her finger over Kaylin’s mouth. Just as she did, her back shook with a spasm again. Grabbing onto the table, she righted herself slowly.
“Are you okay Mommy?” Kaylin watched her Mom. She looked funny
Bron nodded, “I’m fine. Take these down to the barn for me.” Bron waited until Kaylin moved out of the way. Picking up the tray, she placed it in Bounce’s hands.
Kaylin carefully balanced the tray as Bron held the door open for her.
Bron had been holding her breath until Kaylin left. “Damn that hurt,” she exhaled and worked her lower back. “I don’t remember feeling this shitty with Kaylin, this far along.”
Going to the sink, she grabbed a glass from the dishwasher. Feeling warm, she cranked the window open. They had a beautiful warm fall night for the party. Bron could recall that the kids back home would be Trick or Treating in the snow with boots on. “I’ll take this any day.” Filling the glass, she took a long drink and felt refreshed.
Setting the glass on the counter, she moved on to her next treat. Bron spooned the pudding for worms and dirt snack into small cups. Bron felt something tickle her cheek; it was fuzzy and warm. “Knock it off Kevin.”
A paw brushed her face; she pushed it away. The paw returned. “Kevin I told you no, now stop it.” Bron slapped at the fuzzy mitt.
The hairy hand left and she felt fake fangs on her neck. “So help me God, don’t even think about it, you won’t get any for a long time. Remember what Gabe said, you are getting cut off early because of my history. Tonight is your last night, don’t screw it up for yourself.”
Bron never turned around when she heard him walk away and the screen door shut. “I have to fix that screen door, it’s going to drive me bonkers.”
“You can’t do that. We’ll never know when Kaylin is sneaking out.”
Bron turned towards Kevin’s voice, which wasn’t behind her but in front of her. “You are becoming a pain in my ass,” Bron stopped talking, checked Kevin out, once up and once down.
Kevin stood before her dressed as the Grandma. “What the hell?” Bron set the bowl down and walked to the back door. Standing at the wooden screen door, she began to open it.
Bron shrieked and grabbed for her wooden spoon. She stopped when she heard Kevin laughing and then the familiar laugh of Nick. “You die Carter!” Bron yelled. “So do you Kevin!”
Nick pulled the mask off, still laughing.
Bron was still steaming. “What are you doing here?”
“Like I would miss this,” Nick rolled his eyes.
Kevin was picking though the fruit salad with his fingers. His bounty of a strawberry earned him a hand slap with the spoon.
“Does she know?” Kevin popped the strawberry in his mouth.
“Nope, total surprise for my lady and Kevin’s new heir.” Nick checked out the table for goodies.
“Suck up,” Kevin dived for another strawberry but stopped when Born pointed her spoon at him.
“You suck it up. I’m the Godfather.” Nick stuck his finger in the pudding. “We have to do TRL, The View, and the United concert next week. I figured I would crash at Suzie’s until we leave.”
“Who said you were the Godfather?” Bron swatted at both of them. Kevin was going for another. Bron eyed Nick daring him to stick the finger that he had just put in his mouth back into the bowl.
“Said Kaylin. Right after Uncle Nick promised to take her deep-sea fishing. You know how much my daughter likes to fish.” Kevin’s cheekbones were showing high, he was smiling his ass off. Nick was in trouble.
“I told her no. Kevin told her no,” Bron fought to get the two of them to stop eating the food.
“Uncle Nicky said yes.” Kevin laughed even louder.
“Take this down to the barn before you two clowns eat it all.” Bron snarled at him.
“Bite much?” Nick wiggled his eyebrows at her as he put his mask back on.
“Yes she does, trust me on that one.” Kevin fixed his wig. “But she doesn’t leave marks like you and I do, if she shows her teeth, you know it.”
Kevin reached for two of the big bowls. Just as he hit the door the first wave of Kaylin’s school friends arrived.
“Here we go,” Bron grunted more or less. She dropped in a chair once Nick and Kevin had left.
At least they had a plan and a schedule and they were going to stick to it. Kevin would greet everyone. Suzie was going to keep an eye on the family kids. This was a family gathering and they were going to treat it that way. Mc was out at the driveway checking invitations with Jake. Andrew was in charge of the games.
Sitting in the chair, quietly in her kitchen, she tried to catch her breath. The baby seemed a little more active today; Bron chalked it up to excitement of the day. She still had to ice and decorate two cakes.
Suzie flew in the back door breaking Bron’s peaceful interlude. Taking in the fabric of Suzie’s attire, Bron drew the conclusion that her assistant had dressed up as a Princess.
Suzie questioned Bron, “Who is the wolf? Do you know him? Is it one of the guys? He keeps sniffing me.”
Bron smiled, “He’s been sniffing you for awhile now. Everyone thinks he’s a real dog, but he’s just a big puppy.”
“Nick made it!!” she squeaked and ran out the door she had just come through. She did manage to turn the porch light on, which was the reason she had come up to the house to begin with.
“Yes he did,” Bron struggled to her feet as her back ached even more. “Damn, damn, damn...” Bron muttered all the way into the pantry.
“Dear, really with the kids around you should watch your language.”
“I know but I screwed up my back yesterday,” Bron stood up a little straighter.
“I thought you were taking it easy,” Anne reprimanded her.
“I am Anne, but I had to wash the dogs.”
“Bron,” Anne snapped at her. “You have three weeks left, I swear I will sit on you.”
Bron sniffed the air to see if the scent still lingered, “They smelled doggy.”
“Nothing worse than smelly dogs.” Anne shook her head.
“Yes there is, wet dog.” Bron babbled.
Anne nodded in agreement, as she studied her un-steady daughter-in-law.
Bron began to putter around the kitchen, stalling more or less to ease off the spasms. She had begun to think that maybe something beyond Braxton-Hicks was going on.
Anne watched Bron as she made coffee, filled the punch bowl, and reorganized a tray, twice. Basically, she was keeping a watchful eye on her. When Bron went into the pantry to grab cake-decorating supplies; Anne grabbed the phone and headed to the other side of the house.
Tim came in with MeeMaw calling out for Bron on his way in. Kevin wanted her down at the barn with the cakes.
“I’m here, just a minute,” Bron grabbed onto the metal shelving that lined her pantry walls and gritted her teeth. “This sucks,” she groaned quietly.
“What sucks?” Tim had heard her as he stuck his head in the pantry. He thought about going to get help but by the look on Bron’s face, he thought twice about it. There was no doubt in his mind what was going on with his sister-in-law.
“What’s so interestin’ in the pantry?” MeeMaw creaked into the room. “Good Lord girl! You’re in labor!”
“No I’m not,” Bron pushed by the people who had crossed some type of internal line with her. “This is Kaylin and Kevin’s party. I’m not in labor. I’m not due for three weeks.”
“It don’t work that way young one. Tim, go find your Mama.” MeeMaw was grabbing the decorating supplies and filling the tube as she talked to Bron.
Tim had turned to search for his mother. Tim found her at the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room. Anne hung up the phone, unnoticed by Bron.
“She’s in labor,” Tim whispered and pointed at Bron.
MeeMaw chuckled at him.
Bron gave him a, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about look’. “Who MeeMaw?”
MeeMaw cackled with delight, “Not at my age.”
“Bron’s not in labor, it’s just Braxton-Hicks.” Anne took the icing from Bron and without much fuss from her either. She began to finish one cake while MeeMaw decorated the other one.
Bron could see they had experience and they had almost finished them.
Anne winked at her, “Years of practice.”
Kevin stomped in the house, “Come on, We’re all waitin’.”
“I know but Kevin.” Bron was fumbling for an answer. She had people who understood why she wasn’t telling him anything.
“Bron is a little uncomfortable Kevin.” Anne finished off one cake and pulled the decorating tube from MeeMaw’s old hands. Anne finished off the number seven and set the tube down. “Here take this one down to the Barn. Tim, why don’t you go with Kevin and keep the kids out of trouble for awhile.”
“Oh – Kay,” Tim spoke slowly.
“Wassup with you?” Kevin questioned Tim, a little perplexed. Tim was acting weird, well as far as Tim acted.
“Nothing, he’s fine. Right Tim?” Anne shot Tim a motherly look that he had seen many times when he was little. It was the ‘Don’t open your mouth or you’re going to get it.’
“I just want to sit a spell Kevy, now go down to the barn like good boys.” MeeMaw winked at Anne.
“Okay,” Kevin chirped like he was eight when grandma spoke to him. Kevin picked up one cake and looked at Tim. “Get the other one stupid. The kids are climbing up the barn walls.” Kevin was out the door with one of the sheet cakes.
“You have all lost it,” Tim gave up. They weren’t budging and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
Anne turned her glare on Tim, “No we haven’t. We are going to sing Happy Birthday to Kaylin, two times. Once for her birthday and once for her adoption day. Then we’ll take it from there.... Understand?”
Tim rolled his eyes, he had been told to stay out of it. The command was issued and he must follow the general’s orders, the general known as Mom.
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