“Soon, droves of children start to show up, keeping us rather busy. We start tallying up the number of Trolls, Batmans, Lego men, and princesses we see. The most popular costume? Batman and Superwoman with the fabrics and accessories varying from child to child. But my favorite so far is the girl who dressed as Little Debbie, but then again, I may be biased.
“I think she might be my new favorite,” Emma says as a little girl dressed as a nurse walks away.
“That’s because you’re a nurse, but you can’t play favorites,” I say, reminding Emma of the rules.
She levels with me. “This coming from the guy whose favorite child was dressed as Little Debbie.”
“Come on.” I lean back in my chair and motion to my head. “She had the rim of blue on her hat. That’s attention to detail.”
“And good fucking parenting,” Tucker chimes in, and we clink our beer bottles together.
Amelia chuckles next to me as Emma shakes her head. “Ridiculous. What about you, Amelia? What costume has been your favorite so far?”
“Hmm, it’s been a tough competition. There has been some real winning costumes and some absolute piss-poor ones.” She shakes her head. “Just because you put a scarf around your neck and call yourself Jack Frost doesn’t mean you dressed up.”
“Ugh, that costume was dumb.”
“It shouldn’t be referred to as a costume, but that’s beside the point.” I like how much Amelia is getting into this little pretend competition. She’s a far cry from the girl who first came home earlier. I love that having Tucker and Emma over has given me more time with Amelia, getting to know the woman she is today, but also managed to put that beautiful smile back on her face.
“So who takes the cake for you?” I ask, nudging her leg with mine.
Smiling up at me, she says, “Hands down it’s the little boy who dressed as Dwight Schrute from The Office. I think I giggled for five minutes straight after he left. That costume was spot on.”
“Oh shit, you’re right,” I reply as Emma and Tucker agree with me. “He even had the watch calculator.”
“And the small nose Dwight always complains about.” Emma chuckles. “Yeah, he has to be the winner.”
“Now, now, now, let’s not get too hasty. Little Debbie is still in the running,” Tucker points out.
Amelia leans forward, seeming incredibly comfortable, and says, “There is no way Little Debbie beats Dwight. Sorry, dude.”
The shocked look on Tucker’s face is comical. He’s just been put in his place and the old Amelia has returned.
I fucking love it.”
“Kids are spoiled these days. Tootsie Rolls are gold.
Fuck the rest of the candy. Tootsie rolls are where it's at.”
“Hey beautiful,” Trey answers, sounding exhausted.
“Hey you.” My heart clenches in my chest from the sound of his voice.
He breathes heavily. “I’m sitting here, shirt off, beer in hand, TV on, and I feel so fucking empty.” The image of him lying on the couch we bought together, his beautiful body stretched out across the cushions, makes me ache in places I haven’t ached in a long time. I want him so bad. “I’m missing my girl tucked against my chest.”
“I would give anything to be there right now,” I answer honestly.
Sighing, he asks, “Remember that piece of spaghetti I threw on the ceiling the night before you left?”
“Yeah.” I smile to myself, thinking about that night. Trey insisted upon making spaghetti and meatballs for me. He came home with a grocery bag full of pasta, spaghetti sauce, and pre-made meatballs. When cooking the noodles, he told me an “old wives’ tale.” He said if you throw the noodles to the ceiling and it sticks, then the pasta is done. What he didn’t realize is if that pasta never comes down, you overcooked it.
“It fell this morning. Scared the shit out of me. I thought it was a spider trying to bury itself in my hair while I was making eggs.”
A laugh bursts out of me as I think about Trey bouncing around the apartment, spaghetti in hair thinking it was a spider. “Oh no. Miss Pasta-relli finally fell?”
“She did and that squirrely bitch knew exactly what she was doing, too. Trying to scare the crap right out of me.”
“Seems like she did.” I chuckle.
“But I got the last laugh when I turned the trash compactor on. Her little pasta self squiggled down the drain. Revenge never felt so sweet.”
Still laughing, I shake my head. “Is this what your life has come to? Fighting with old, overcooked pasta?”
“I’m telling you, Amelia, with you gone, I’ve lost my damn mind.”
“Sounds like it”
“I love what you’ve done with your hair. No doubt the whole bullseye on top of your head is fun for birds when you’re outside.”
“You can’t trust a man with a curly mustache. It just screams deviant.”
“What does he have planned?”
“He said it was a surprise, but apparently it includes all my favorites things about the city.”
“That’s cute. Maybe it’ll be the refresher you guys need. It’s hard being apart for so long, especially when there is a super-hot ex-boyfriend living next to you.”
I give her a pointed look.
“And speak of the devil. Look whose truck just pulled into the driveway.” Amanda puts her drink on the coffee table and crawls on top of me, her knees digging into my stomach as she tries to catch a view of Aaron.
“Will you please get off me?”
“I want to see what he looks like. I want to see these muscles you speak of.” Amanda reaches the window, but I yank on her body so she can’t sneak a peek. “Hey, stop that, I can’t see.”
“Exactly. He’ll catch you looking, and I don’t want him thinking it’s me.”
“Don’t be paranoid. He won’t think that. Now let me catch a glimpse.” Pushing down on my head, trying to climb over me, she reaches for the blinds, but I hold strong and grip her around the waist, using my legs to hold her down as well. “Stop it.” She swats at my head. “Just a little looksy.”
“No, he’ll see you.”
We still, our heads snapping to the front door.
“Is someone at the door?” Amanda whispers, one of her hands holding on to my ponytail.
“That’s what a knock usually means,” I whisper back.
“Is it him?”
“I have no idea.” I hold still, trying not to move in case the person on the other side of the door can hear us.
“Answer it,” Amanda scolds.
“Because if it’s Aaron, I don’t want you anywhere near him. You’ll embarrass me, I know it.”
Amanda scoffs. “Don’t be ridiculous.” She pushes off me, her hand palming my face for a brief second. “I’ll answer the door.” When she places one of her feet on the floor, I hold her in place.
“Oh no, you don’t. You’re not answering that door. Just be still, the person will go away.”
“You’re being rude,” Amanda says as she plows her elbow into my thigh, causing me to buckle over in pain. She frees herself from my grip and rushes to the door. Right before she opens it, she fluffs her hair. You’ve got to be kidding me.
I don’t even have to ask if it’s Aaron because that’s just my luck. Also, Amanda makes a low whistle sound when she opens the door.
“Amanda?” Aaron’s voice floats into my house.
“Aaron Walters, look . . . at . . . you.” I sit up just in time to see Amanda give him a very slow once-over. “You were right, Amelia, he has gotten sexier.”
I hop off the couch, limping ever so slightly from the dead leg Amanda gave me. “I didn’t say that.”
Amanda waves her hand. “It was in the realm of that. Come in, come in. We need to catch up.” Amanda wraps her hand around Aaron’s arm and pulls him into the house. When she passes me, she winks and squeezes his arm while mouthing, “He’s huge.”
I shut the door behind them and bang my head on it a few times before joining them in the living room. I knew Amanda’s visit was going to be interesting”
“When we get closer, he pushes out both of the chairs across from him. He nods at them and says, “Take a seat.”
I raise an eyebrow at him. “Am I going to have to woo you before I get my slice?”
He smiles over the pizza that he’s about to bite into. “Yeah, I do believe you’re going to have to.”
With zero self-respect, Amanda takes a seat and says, “That’s no problem with me.”
Honestly. Does she not know how to avoid showing all her cards at once?
When I take a seat, he holds out his hand. “I’m Aaron.”
I take his hand and notice how rough it is. It’s a working hand, one that experiences strenuous hours on the jobsite, day in, day out. “Amelia, and this is my friend, Amanda.”
Aaron nods at Amanda. “Nice to meet you.”
“Pleasure is mine and just so you know, Amelia is single and definitely on the market. Want me to give you her number?”
“Amanda, what the hell are you—?”
“I would love it,” Aaron says, leaning back in his chair while sipping his drink.
Slowly turning toward him, a little stunned, I ask, “You would?”
He nods with all the confidence in the world. “I would.”
“But you don’t know me. I could be a shovel-wielding rabbit killer.”
He leans forward, his chest flexing under his shirt with the movement. “I’ll take my chances.”
Now feeling a little skeptical, I fold my arms over my chest and ask, “Why do you want it?”
He bites down on his straw and studies me for a second before saying, “Can’t let a girl walk out the door without getting her number who’s that passionate about Buffalo chicken pizza. It’s just not physically possible.”
“Aw, he likes you for your crazy; he’s a keeper,” Amanda chimes in with her mouth full of pizza. “It’s 607—”
“Amanda, just be quiet for a second.” Looking at Aaron, I say, “Three Buffalo chicken pizza slices in exchange for three veggie and my phone number.”
“No way.” He shakes his head. “You can’t take all my Buffalo.”
“But I thought you wanted my number.”
“I do.” He leans forward some more, his fresh scent hitting me hard in the chest. “But we both know if I give you three slices, you will have zero respect for me because no man in his right mind would give up three Buffalo slices. No matter how hot the chick is.” Eeep, he thinks I’m hot. “But I will counter you with one and a half slices and a number.”
I sit back now, watching how his smile starts to spread. God, he’s just so . . . yum. He looks like he’s quite a few years older than me. Not just because of his face, but there is something in his eyes that makes him seem older. He’s definitely not in his second year of college like me. Not wanting to fold so quickly, I counter. “Two slices, my number, and a guaranteed date this Friday.”
He sits back, his eyes widen, and that smile gets even bigger. “Fucking deal.” He holds his hand out and we shake.”
“I’ve downed two shots and a tumbler of whiskey by the time Racer and Tucker show up. The House of Reardon, our go-to bar, isn’t very far from where we all live, kind of in the middle, but given my race to get some alcohol into my system, I’m a few drinks in already.
“I brought reinforcements,” Racer says as he tosses a box of Swiss Rolls in front of me. I can always count on Racer to bring Little Debbie snacks, our sacred lover. “Your text made it seem like you needed to suckle at Debbie’s teet tonight.”
“I do.” I rip open the box, tear open a wrapper, and pop an entire roll in my mouth in seconds.
“I guess so,” Racer says, a little astonished.
“Right here,” Tucker says, pulling up a chair next to me at the bar. He pats my shoulder and tosses a box of Zebra Cakes in front of me. My boys know me well.
“Zebra Cakes? Dude, I brought Swiss Rolls. Zebra Cakes are piss when it comes to times like this.”
“It’s all I had left. Emma’s been eating all my Nutty Bars.”
“Why even buy Zebra Cakes? You know that frosting turns into a paste.”
From the corner of my eye, I see Tucker run his hand over his face. “Emma got them. When she shops, she literally doesn’t consider which ones she buys; it’s just a sweep of her arm over the shelf. Can’t complain about that.”
“I guess you can’t.”
“After that, we don’t talk, instead we get hammered. Shot after shot we down, chasing each one with a Little Debbie snack. Before we know it, we’re hanging on to the bar counter floating around in a sugar and alcohol coma, just the way I like it.
“There’s my girl,” Racer shouts as he topples off his stool and onto the floor, laughing hysterically. Georgie stops in her tracks and looks over at Emma, who’s standing next to her, both holding two boxes of Little Debbie snacks each.
“Emmmmmmmma,” Tucker drags out, waving his glass in the air. “You brought the snacks.”
“Oh, Jesus,” Emma mutters as she approaches us.
I point to my mouth and say, “Feed me. Daddy needs sugar.”
Racer is beside me, tangled in the pegs of his bar stool, still laughing. “Did you bring Oatmeal Pies, George? Please tell me you have the pies.”
“Uh, I think you’ve had enough for tonight,” she says, looking down at her boyfriend.
“Never!” Racer struggles to get up and finally knocks the chair over to free himself. “Fucking bitch chair, digging into me with its claws.” Talking to the stool directly he says, “I’m taken, warm someone else’s ass.”
“He’s going to propose, chair, leave him alone,” Tucker announces, causing me to cringe.
“Dude, don’t say it out loud.” I punch Tucker in the shoulder. “Georgie is right there.” All three of us turn to Georgie, who’s shaking her head in humor. Hopefully.
“I’ll take Aaron,” Emma tells Georgie. “Seems like Racer is more of a handful.”
“Hell yeah, I am.” Racer stumbles while cupping his crotch. “A giant handful.”
Georgie rolls her eyes. “And that’s our cue to leave.”
“But we didn’t eat our snacks.”
“Seems like you had enough.” Georgie grabs Racer by the hand. “Come on.”
As they walk away, Racer asks, “Want to have sex in the car?”
“Not even a little.”
“Here, you two, you can have your boxes of snacks.” Emma hands Tucker and me both a box of Oatmeal Pies that we clutch to our chests.
“You’re the best,” I admit.
“She is, isn’t she?” Tucker says. “I love her so fucking hard. Best wife ever.”
She pulls on both of our hands to get us moving. “She wins wife of the year award,” I announce. “Best wife goes to Emma. Can we get a round of applause?”
Tucker breaks open his Oatmeal Pies and starts spraying them like confetti. “Emma. Emma. Emma.” He chants, getting the three other patrons in the bar to join in.
I pump my fist as well, forgetting everything from earlier. I knew I could count on my guys.
“Emma. Emma. Emma . . .”
And then, everything fades to black. Emotions and feelings are non-existent as I pass out, just the way I like it. Just the way I need it.”
“When she drifted off, she was thinking of Ryne, strangely. A pity if he was afraid of her, now. A great pity if he turned out to be a Darkfriend. He was charming, and quite pretty, really. She did not mind a man wanting to see her unclothed, only his telling others about it.”
“I don't know how you persist in being so stubborn-"
"It's a superpower. I was bitten by a radioactive mule.”
“Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University Laurentian毕业证公证【加Q微744043126】加拿大办理劳伦森大学毕业证#制做成绩单#做加拿大大学毕业证#代办真实文凭认证Laurentian University”
“And I suggest we get there before nightfall, ‘cause that’s when the monsters come out.”
“Yeah, monsters. And my boyfriend? He’s the scariest one.”
“depressing. I asked myself: ‘Where is God?’ I came to detest the sanctimonious attitude of people toward violence, always saying ‘it’s God’s will’.”
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