Bring the Heat(8)

By: L. Wilder


“Good morning, sunshine.” She smiled as she gave me a quick once over. “I see you took my advice about fixing up today.”

Even though I’d chosen the outfit because I thought it flattered my figure, I rolled my eyes and grumbled, “I’m wearing shorts and a tank top, Jess. This isn’t exactly dressing up.”

“If you say so.”

“Whatever.” Ignoring her smirk, I poured myself a cup of coffee and asked, “What are you doing up so early?”

“I guess you were right about the scary movies after all.”

“Next time, I’ll pick the movies.”

“That’s probably a good idea.”

“Well, I’ve gotta get to class, so if there’s any paranormal activity going on around here, you’ll have to deal with it on your own.” I teased as I took my coffee and headed towards the door. “You might want to steer clear of any weird-looking dolls today.”

“Gee, thanks.”

Even though I was running late, I still managed to make it to class on time. After suffering through an hour and a half lecture on the deteriorating ethics of our American government, I headed over to the house to pick up Kaden. When I pulled up in the driveway, I was surprised to see that Mom’s car was still there. Worried that something might be wrong, I jumped out and headed inside. I’d barely gotten to the front door when she came barreling out.

“I’m late!” she shrieked as she rushed towards the garage. “Your father called.”

“And?”

She turned around and graced me with one of those smiles that I haven’t seen in quite some time as she said, “Looks like he might be coming home next week.”

Dad’s been gone for months, and while he called often, it wasn’t the same. We all missed having him around, and it was clear from her expression that my mother was tickled with the news. “Really? That’s awesome!”

“Don’t say anything to Kaden. I don’t want to get his hopes up in case something comes up. You know how things don’t always go the way we think they will.”

“I know. I won’t say anything.”

“Thanks for taking him to practice. I can’t remember when I’ve seen him so excited about anything.”

“I know, and wouldn’t it be great if Dad could be here for his first game?” I asked enthusiastically.

“It would be wonderful. Keep your fingers crossed!” She got in her car, and before she shut her door, she said, “I should be home around five, but Nana will be here.”

“Okay.” When I moved out, Nana, my mother’s mom, moved in. Mom was worried about her health and thought it would help to have her close by. Personally, I always thought it had more to do with Kaden than her health, but they all seemed to be adjusting to the change. I just hoped that Dad would feel the same way when he arrived home. “Have a good day at work.”

“I will. Love you, sweetheart.”

“Love you, too.” Once she pulled out of the driveway, I went inside the house and shouted, “Kaden! Let’s roll, dude!”

“Kaci,” my grandmother called from the kitchen. “I was just about to fix him some lunch.”

“That’s okay, Nana. There’s no need for you to go to any trouble.” I walked over and wrapped my arms around her. Like always, she smelled like fresh lemons as I gave her a tight squeeze. “I’ll grab us something on the way.”

“Are you sure?”

I loved my grandmother, but I wasn’t a big fan of her cooking. Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches seemed to taste a little strange. “Yeah, I’m sure. It’ll be faster if we just grab something.”

“Well, okay. Come on, Kaden. Let’s get your stuff together.”

“I got it, Nana.” He ran past her and grabbed his bag on the way out the door. “Bye.”

Shaking my head, I told her, “We shouldn’t be long. Let me know if you need anything while we’re out.”

“I’m fine, sweetie. You two have fun.”

“We will. Love you, Nana.”

When I got to the car, Kaden was already inside with his bag in the backseat and his seatbelt buckled. “Let’s go! I don’t wanna be late.”

I knew he was eager, so I decided to ignore his rude behavior and started my car. After I bought us both a quick sandwich for lunch, we headed over to the field. Before I got out, I took a quick look in my rearview mirror and fixed my mascara. Normally, I wasn’t one to care about those kinds of things, so it was no surprise when Kaden asked, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

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