*A short one today. The next few will all be part of the same day.*
Rosewood Short – Part 7
“Baby. Honey…” Delta counted to ten in her head, and folded her arms across her chest. Patience, she reminded herself. She’d been born with none, but was acquiring some. Slowly. She had to. “Do you remember what time the guests are supposed to arrive?”
Her husband was on his back in the middle of the great room rug, their oldest held suspended above him. Evan’s favorite game was “Superman” and he was laughing delightedly, as usual. Sitting beside them, Danny was sucking on a cracker and waiting for his turn. Somehow, she’d obtained this pack of boys she had no idea what to do with.
Mike shifted Evan to the side and glanced up at her. “Two. Right?” He grinned, and she had the distinct impression he was looking up her dress.
“Uh-huh. And do you know what time it is now?”
“Yeah.” His head turned and his eyes went to the mantel clock. “It’s…oh.” He set Evan down on his stomach.
“Daddy,” he protested.
“It’s ten till two,” Delta said smoothly. “Which means…”
Mike cocked a blonde brow. “We gotta clear out?”
She smiled. “Exactly.”
“Alright, boys. Mom’s giving us the boot.” He rolled to his feet, catching a kid in each arm before he stood, and made it look effortless. He was one of those great big, bull moose, invincible dads, like his own father. And, like Randy Walker, his shirt had come untucked and was now stained with coffee or God knew what. “I don’t know why you’re putting this on,” he said, adjusting Danny higher against his shoulder. Delta reached and smoothed Evan’s dark cowlick, sweeping it off his forehead. “You’re not getting paid for it.”
“I’m doing it as a favor.” She wiped a smudge of gummy cracker off Danny’s cheek with her thumb. “It’s a party; I’m the party planner of the family. And your sister is pregnant…and your other sister is about as adept as a raccoon when it comes to these things.” She plucked at the stain on Mike’s shirt with a little frown. Whatever it was, water wasn’t going to get it out.
“Baby,” he said, “that’s not fair to raccoons.”
Delta rolled her eyes…but bit back a smile. “Well, I like Jade. So I don’t mind helping.”
Mike made a show of an incredulous face. “Did you hear that?” he asked the boys. “She likes someone.”
“Out.” She swatted him. “You can come back later when there’s cake.”
“Cake?” Evan asked as they headed for the door.
“Yes,” Delta said over her shoulder, distractedly. She was already back in party mode, eyes doing a sweep of the room. Mike had shoved aside one of the coffee tables. She spotted one of Danny’s little shoes under a chair. The tidy pile of gifts wasn’t so tidy anymore. It was a glorious room – marble fireplace, hardwoods, white paneling, flood of sunlight – but it looked decidedly less neat than when she’d last left it. She sighed…
She turned and found Mike lingering in the threshold. He’d put the boys down and they’d gone ahead without him. He had a hand propped against the heavy door casing, and his eyes moved over her in a way they didn’t when the kids were around. “You look pretty today,” he said, and like it always did, that simple compliment tightened her chest. Then his grin stretched, and he added, “Hot too.”
He’d never had a way with words. She loved that. “Go,” she said, but was smiling.