I hummed the melody of Once Upon a December from Anastasia while I rocked Logan. He’d been a little fussy the last hour, but now he was settling down and looked like he was headed back to sleep. He’d had a big day for a two-week-old – meeting his Grandma Anna and his cousins. I thought a little fussiness was allowed.
Brianna peeked into the room, smiling. “Is he asleep?” she whispered. I was still struggling to get used to how grown up she looked now. It made me realize how little I’d been seeing Anna and my half-siblings.
I settled him down in his bassinet and nodded. ‘He’s tuckered out.” I stepped out of the room with her and returned to the living room where I found Anna and Blake on the couch. “Where’d Bradley go?”
“I think he said something about scrounging in the kitchen,” Anna said.
“Ah, I thought I might’ve seen the fridge door open.” I sat down in a chair. “I can’t believe I missed your thirteenth birthday, Bri. I’m so sorry.”
My little sister smiled at me. “It’s okay, Lor. You were kind of busy.” She did have a point – she’d turned thirteen when Logan was just four days old.
“Still. I’m going to get you a really good present to make up for it.”
She grinned at me. “Cash is the best present.”
I laughed. “I’ll think about it.”
Anna rolled her eyes at her daughter. “Don’t tell people what to give you for your birthday, belated or not.” She returned her attention to me. “Logan is precious, Loralee. He looks so much like Tommy.”
I smiled broadly, always happy to talk about my son. “Doesn’t he, though?” My smile dimmed a little. “I’m sorry we didn’t call when he was born. I’ve just had so much lately.”
The older woman shook her head. “No apologies necessary. I know how it is. And I wasn’t even dealing with a move when I was pregnant!”
I smiled gratefully at her before looking over at Blake, who had his nose in a book. “What are you reading, Blake?”
“A book.” He looked up at me. “Sorry, habit. People at school ask me that a lot. It’s A Clash of Kings.”
I started to respond when the doorbell rang. I frowned. “I don’t know who that would be. Excuse me.”
I got to my feet and went to the front door where I found my parents on the other side. “Mom, Mama, what are you doing here?”
Mama smiled at me. “We came by to see how you’re doing. And check on our grandson.”
I laughed softly and stepped back to let them in. “You were just here two days ago.”
“Was it that long already?” Mom said teasingly.
“I’m afraid I just put Logan down. And Anna is here with the kids.” It was getting hard to call them “kids.” Bradley had turned eighteen a few months ago, and Blake was fifteen now.
“Oh that’s alright,” Mama said, already heading into the living room. “We can wait and chat a while.”
“Thank goodness we have a real living room now,” I said with a laugh as I went back inside. I never could’ve crammed so many people into the old house.
I kept my head down as if I were still reading, but instead I just listened in on the conversations around me. Camille had sat down next to me and was telling a story about a confrontation she’d had at work a little while ago before her latest Witchly game came out. I loved those games. I mean, I had lots of computer games that I played, but the Witchly series was my favorite, even though I had to hide it from Dad.
The conversation shifted back to Logan, and I suppressed a sigh. How much could really be said about a little squishy baby? He was too young to do anything. He just slept and ate and pooped and cried. All of which he’d done while I was there. It wasn’t that special. I mean, he was cute and all, but he wasn’t at an interesting age or anything.
“How have you been, Blake?”
I looked up to find Camille’s eyes on me. It had been a while since I’d spoken to her, at least since Loralee’s wedding, maybe longer. I put my book down on the coffee table. “Oh, I’m good. Working at Simmie’s.”
“Oh yeah? Is that going to become a tradition in this family?”
I laughed a little. “I guess. Maybe I’ll pass my apron on to Brianna.”
“Your parents must be proud of you for getting out there and getting a job.”
Well, Mom was. I think Dad was glad that I had a job but not that job. “Yeah. I love your Witchly series, by the way. I saved up for months to buy the new game.” One paycheck would’ve been more than enough, but, now that I had a job, Dad had insisted that I pay my part of the cellphone bill. He did the same thing whenever Bradley got a summer job.
Said brother chose just that moment to walk back into the living room. “You’re not talking about video games again, are you?” He snorted derisively. “Quit being such a pussy and get into man stuff, already.”
“You better watch your mouth,” Camille said, eyes narrowed on Bradley.
“Whatever. You’re not my mom.”
“But I am.” Mom rose to her feet, anger on her face. “You don’t talk to your brother like that, and you really don’t talk to Camille that way. Apologize. Now.”
Bradley looked between our mom and us mulishly for a minute, like he was wondering if he could push it even further. Finally, he muttered a sorry.
Mom took his arm and dragged him out of the room. “I think we need to talk.”
“Well,” Camille said, while Loralee and Shirley looked wide-eyed at us. “Is he always like that?”
I shrugged, hoping that would be the end of it, but Brianna just had to open her mouth. “Yeah, pretty much.”
Loralee frowned at her. “Does he treat you like that?”
Because I was the disappointing son and Bradley knew Dad never did anything about it. He usually agreed with him. I grabbed my book and got up. “Loralee, can I go hang out in your room?”
“Sure, Blake,” she said softly.
“Thanks.” I retreated to her room and sat down on the side of the bed. Opening the book, I re-entered the world of Westeros and forgot about my shitshow of a family.