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Leaning back against the kitchen counter, Kevin’s arms were crossed and tucked under one another. He stared at the floor trying to compose himself. His house had been turned upside down and he had no doubt whom had caused ninety percent of the problems. Nick and Suzie merely coped their way through it.
Bron banged around the kitchen and then the pantry. The noise level was increasing with each object she picked up and set down.
Kaylin sat, waiting, not sure of how much trouble she was in. She heard her mom scream and knew it would be a lot. Kevin was furious with her, he had that face on that he had when she got in trouble at school.
Suzie sat with visible tension on her face. Things hadn’t gone terribly wrong, they were all alive and uninjured. Her eyes fell on Kaylin, well almost anyway.
Nick was programmed to wait for Kevin to speak after all these years. He had more than once been put in this position. He knew how to explain his way out of most it, most of the time. There was one exception, the time that he intentionally switched Kevin’s toothpaste with Preparation H. The guys hung him out to dry on that one. He wasn’t happy about it either, they were all for it when the idea came up.
Kevin’s head swung to the side as he glanced to the open pantry door. Bron was hanging off the pantry shelf trying to reach the top shelf. Mental note, I need a step-ladder before she kills herself. Walking in, he steadied her with a hand on the small of her back. Reaching up, he grabbed the box she was trying to get. Under normal circumstances, he would have argued with her but he felt she needed it right now. His eyes closed as he felt the lightness of the object. This is going to get nasty.
Helping her down, he handed the item to her. She shook it when she felt the lack of weight. Walking back to the table, she slammed the empty carton on the table. Maneuvering around the puppies, they had picked the spot in front of the refrigerator to take a nap, Bron frowned, “One, Two,” she exhaled loudly.
Exasperated, she felt like the world was spinning and had left her behind. A snake in her house, Kaylin’s doing no doubt. Her room stunk, not to mention her bedding was still missing. She liked those sheets, it was a luxury she couldn’t afford for a long time. Grabbing a wooden spoon from the crock on the counter, she slammed it with all the force she could muster onto the countertop, part of the spoon broke off.
A shared gasp came from the table as she spun around and pointed the spoon in Kaylin’s face.
Kevin’s eyes were wide, brows arched. Kaylin was cruising for a bruising and it looked like Mom was gonna deliver it. Of course, if she didn’t, he would, better her because I don’t think I could show this kid any mercy right now, Kevin thought.
“SPILL!” Bron barked.
Kaylin knew better then hesitate or ask what, it would only make it worse. “Nick broke the vase in the dining room. He bought me the puppy because he felt sorry that he hit me with the ball. Logan and were I playing in your room and I broke your perfume on the bed. I wanted to smell like you. I missed you…” A sniffle and a tear followed the confession. “I’m sorry mommy. Oh and Suzie at your candy. We had pizza and Chinese, not chicken. Nick and Suzie we’re kissing on the couch and they yelled at me when I asked for a glass of water.”
Kevin shifted, both hands on the countertop, his back to them. He sighed heavily. It was his only source of control right now. After seeing the shock register on Nick and Suzie, he knew Kaylin was not telling the truth.
“You’re excused. Go to your room. We’ll be up later to talk to you.” Bron was harsh but she had gathered that Kaylin was out right lying.
“Both of you?” Kaylin gulped when Kevin turned around.
“What did your mother just say Kaylin?” Kevin growled but Bron saw his face. If she didn’t move and move now, she was gonna get it for sure. Dark Boy versus a six year old could be dangerous.
Kaylin ran from the room like she had been shot out of cannon.
Nick giggled as he looked at Suzie, “I used to run from his like that too, he’s worse than my Dad. Once in Germany…”
Kevin cleared his throat, tilting his head to the side he looked at the two adults. “Begin.”
Suzie opened her mouth to speak. Nick’s hand closed over it. “I’ll do this, you don’t what you’re dealing with,” Nick frowned.
Nick sat up in the chair very straight. “I didn’t hit her with the ball, she ran into it being a ball hog. Yes, I got her the dog but they were going to put it to sleep. Kaylin was very upset and we think that is why she acted like a monster. I just did what I thought you two would have done.” Nick paused for effect. He saw Bron soften, Kevin didn’t.
“They escaped a couple of times on us…,” Kaylin dished him, it was his turn to dish her. “She wrote all over the living room walls with crayons and markers, Suzie cleaned it up. Sorry about the snake, but at least we found him. He was lost in here yesterday.” Nick waited to see if he would get the reaction he was looking for, he did.
Bron’s eyes immediately dropped to the floor, she shook slightly, Goosebumps forming on her skin. A smile was tugging at Kevin’s lips. He would’ve laughed but his shoulder still hurt. He still owed Bron for that one.
“She did get in your room and I’m really sorry. She’s umm... ummm…”
“A brat,” Susie muttered.
Kevin’s eyebrows shot up. Bron didn’t make a comment.
Nick dropped his head slightly; he truly was upset about this one item. “I did break your vase and I’m sorry. I hope it wasn’t an heirloom and I’ll replace it.” Nick sighed loudly, confession over. He waited for the judge and jury to make a decision. Nick waited for Kevin to say something.
“Suz?” Kevin rocked back on his heels.
“You do not pay me enough to baby-sit that devil. Never, ever, ever, again,” she huffed.
Squaring her shoulders she shot Nick a shitty look, “You didn’t tell me you broke the vase.”
“Slipped my mind,” Nick mumbled. It was bad enough having Kevin pissed at you, Suzie was an entirely different ball of wax. God forbid if Bron was, he might as well just hang it up now. These women that hung together showed no mercy and took no prisoners.
Kevin was the first to laugh, Bron joined in.
In between the astonished faces of Suzie and Nick Bron giggled. She did manage to ask a question. “Who ate my chocolate covered peanut brittle?”
Suzie giggled an, “I did.”
Bron stopped laughing as her eyes narrowed, “Do it again, I’ll kill you.”
“Sorry,” her mouth slid sideways. “I guess we got carried away.”
“Okay you survived Kaylin One-Oh-One. Now I’m going to clean the bedroom.” Swinging the door open under the sink, Kevin grabbed for cleaning supplies. “When you two get married and have kids you’ll make great parents.”
Suzie looked at Bron, “MARRIED!”
Nick looked at Kevin, “KIDS!”
“Yeah kids,” Kevin chuckled. “The little liar upstairs we’ll gets what’s coming to her later. You’ll be good parents.”
“Kids?” Nick looked confused. “I didn’t even say we were going out yet.” An elbow to the stomach brought his attention to his mistake. Suzie was going to kill him. By the look on Bron’s face, she was going to hang around and watch Suzie do it too. “You need help?” he gulped at Kevin.
“Yep you can help me flip the mattress; my shoulder is killing me.” Kevin handed him some things to carry. Absently rubbing the tender spot.
“Is that the tree shoulder?” Nick looked at him.
Bron laughed loudly, “Yep!”
“What happened?” Nick wanted to know, and by the sound of Bron’s laugh, it was good.
Kevin pursed his lips tightly and scowled at Bron. “None of your damn business.”
“Nick, what time does your flight leave? I’ll make an early dinner,” Bron smiled.
“Three hours,” he gave her a sheepish smile.
“Plenty of time to make chicken, since none of it was eaten while we were gone.” Standing in front of the fridge, she couldn’t open it. “Move mutts!”
"It’s Britney and Justin, Bron,” Suzie giggled. Bron would love it but she was waiting for Kevin’s reaction.
Kevin looked back over his shoulder from the doorway. “You’re kidding,” he glanced to Suzie and then back to Bron. “Your daughter is just like you. I will break her of it, one of you is all I can handle. Some days I can’t even do that. Come on Nicky, my shoulder is bugging me.”
“What did you do dude? Hit a tree again?” he laughed, but Bron’s laughter drowned his out.
Kevin’s silence clued Nick in, definitely a tree involved. “Hey Kev?”
Suzie and Bron became quiet listening to them walk down the hall.
“Did this tree just appear out of no where like the last one?” Nick howled, followed by a loud ‘Owww’
“Watch it Little Man!” Kevin’s yell pealed through the house.
Bron busied herself in the kitchen trying to absorb everything. Suzie ambled around trying to help. “I’m sorry Suz. I owe you one.”
Suzie laughed now, “It’s okay, but that kid should come with a warning.”
“Kevin says I spoiled her.”
“You did, but I think I would have done the same thing,” Suzie understood, she really did. Bron had had a hard time over the last year.
A devilish glint in her eye, Bron licked her lips before she spoke. “So did you?”
“Did I what?” Suzie shrugged her shoulders as she stuck a piece of bread in the sauce. Her hand was slapped away by Bron. A silent, ‘Don’t do that and pay attention to me.’ “Umm, ah,” Suzie stuttered.
“Suzie!” Bron had her hands on her hips.
“Yes, okay,” Suzie rolled her eyes.
“And what?” Suzie surveyed Bron; too cute she’s starting to get a tummy. I bet she doesn’t even see it yet.
Tossing the dishtowel from her shoulder to the back of the chair, Bron begged, “Come on.”
“How did Kevin hurt his shoulder?” Suzie figured she just wait a little longer before giving out the details.
“Don’t change the subject,” Bron whipped around the table.
“I’m not,” Suzie replied innocently, she was stalling. “How mad is Kevin?”
“He’s not mad at you guys. He is pissed at Kaylin and I’m sure he is going to let her know how much after dinner,” Bron chuckled.
“She is a hand full,” Suzie laughed good-naturedly.
“Only if she knows she can be,” Bron sighed.
Nick’s remarks about Kaylin came back to Suzie, “Nick says she needs more Uncles that do security, like an army..”
“Wait until Uncle Carlos gets a shot,” Bron snickered.
“I don’t see that happening, Carlos would kill her before Kevin. That would be brutal.” Suzie picked at the pasta.
“Are you going to tell me before they come back down here? It doesn’t take that long to steam clean the mattress." Bron slid closer and gave her an elbow. “Come on, you know you want to tell somebody! It might as well be me.”
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