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Today we have another chapter for Wind in White Birch and our word prompt is "Giggle". Don`t forget to visit the other talented Tuesday Tales authors. Thanks for stopping by!
When we pulled into my apartment complex, my heart dropped into my knees. Jonah`s truck was not in the slot beside my battered old jalopy. Rhett was a bubbling fount of feeling good. He had babbled non-stop since his discharge, his mouth running steadily as we waited for his antibiotic prescription at the hospital pharmacy. It was amazing how quickly the child bounced back. If only I could be so rubbery with the terrible curveballs life threw at me.
“Thanks for the ride." I yawned right in Rhick`s face. He was too exhausted to care. Rhett was already unbuckled and halfway out the door when I snapped at him to be patient. “I`d invite you in for coffee but you need to go home.”
“Yeah, I`m headed there now. I`ll call this evening to see how he`s doing,” Rhick replied then leaned over to kiss my cheek. I stiffened and blinked at him like an owl before I exited stage left, my son`s clammy hand in mine. Rhett waved brightly, his cheeks pink from cold and illness. I tugged him to the stairs. Up we went my eyes and mind on that kiss. Sure, it was just on the cheek but it was steeped in familiarity. Was my ex trying to tell me something? Should I listen to the subtle hints? We had been happy for a very long time and I was so very tired of being alone. Maybe he had seen the error of his ways. People do change and sometimes--
“Jonah!” my son yelped and pulled from my grip. I froze on the steps.
“Hey little man,” Mr. Big Deer smiled, standing then sweeping my boy from his feet. “You look lots better than you did the last time I saw you,” Jonah said, holding Rhett on his hip with ease. I slowly climbed the last four steps, my keys suddenly very heavy in my hand.
“Dana,” Jonah said tentatively as I slid past him to my door.
“I thought you went home when I didn`t see your truck,” I said, not looking at him or my son, just concentrating on getting the key into the lock smoothly.
“I had to move it. Your neighbor below came up and explained how you don`t pay for a guest slot. Must be they sit up all night waiting for parking infractions to occur,” he teased, getting a small giggle from Rhett.
I stopped turning the key in the lock and looked over my shoulder at Jonah.
“How long have you been sitting out here?”
“Not so long.”
I didn`t believe him. I got them both inside as quickly as I could. The apartment felt overly warm to me and had a faint stink of sickness about it. I needed to get that dirty bedding into the wash as soon as possible. Jonah dropped my son on the couch.
“So are we going to go to the --”
“Whoa, slow down slick,” I said as I pulled my right arm out of my coat. “The doctor said to rest.”
“But I feel good. Jonah, tell her I feel good. You said I look better!” the boy wheedled. Jonah wisely sidestepped the puppy eyes and quivering lower lip act.
“Your mom`s the boss,” he said. I nodded then made my way down the hall after getting Rhett situated on the coach with some snacks and juice and SpongeBob on the TV.
I was exiting the bathroom with dirty towels, washcloths and my ruined dress when I saw Jonah in the doorway. His arms were folded over his chest, his head was tipped downward slightly, and his eyes were unfathomable onyx lakes.
“I wanted to apologize about the hospital,” he murmured. Childish laughter rolled down the corridor. I felt oddly exposed in just my slip so I bunched up the laundry to hide my breasts. He noticed the subtle shift in attitude because his shoulders stiffened slightly.
“Yeah, you probably should do that,” I said, shuffling from one foot to the other, my toes growing chilled through my pantyhose.
“I know you’re mad,” he said softly, never moving forward or back nervously as I was. The only sign of his unease was the tapping of his fingers on his biceps. “I was out of line.”
“Yes, you were.” Funny how there are times you want to throw yourself at a man while also wanting to kick him right in the balls. “I know there`s bad blood between you and Rhick,” Jonah snorted and began to study the floor tile yet I carried on," but you need to be the better man, Jonah. Rhick is dealing with a lot at the moment and-”
His head snapped up. “Rhick is dealing with a lot? What about what we`re dealing with, Dana?” he asked, waving his arm to indicate him, me, the apartment, Rhett, and the whole world I suppose. “We`re trying to make something here and his bullshit is not helping!”
“You need to keep your voice down,” I spat. He filled the tiny bathroom then closed the door with a soft push. “Despite what happens Rhick is still Rhett`s father.”
“I`m well aware of that fact, trust me,” Jonah snapped. His emotions were broiling out of him now. “I`m fond of the boy too, Dana,” he admitted on a rush of breath. “I`m just getting tired of being treated like I`m some sort of disposable thing when the ex is around.”
“What? What the hell are you talking about?” I asked heatedly. He ran his hand over the back of his neck and sucked a huge breath in through his nose then released it slowly. “Rhick is his father, Jonah, there is no changing that. I don`t make the rules. If it were up to me, I would have had you back there with us. I just can`t have you two going at each other like that, not in front of Rhett.” I moved my head so that I could look up at him. Deep lines of unease were hugging the corners of his mouth. “Rhett loves his father and he`s damned fond of you as well. I am doing my best to raise my son to use peaceful methods to resolve his problems. Seeing the two men he admires most throwing punches is not the way to win my heart, Jonah.”
“I know, I`m sorry. I just lost it. Where does he get off trying to manhandle you?” the man ground out through clenched teeth. I hugged the dirty linen closer to my chest.
“I think you overreacted. Rhick has never raised a hand to me, ever. If you would have just stayed in the visitor`s lounge--”
“Where I belonged? Is that what you were going to say?” he asked in a monotone. I wasn`t sure I wouldn`t rather face his anger. My denial never had time to be spoken. Jonah was out of the bathroom faster than I could gather my wits. The sound of the front door closing with force jolted me from my stupor. I hurried out into the living room to find my son sound asleep on the couch and Jonah gone. It was right there with vomit-stained clothing and bed sheets in my arms that I started to cry silently.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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