Home > At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(9)

At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(9)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“Violet’s uptight! I’m here five minutes and she’s lecturing me,” he shouted and I shoved him through the door, turned toward Joe’s and started shouting myself.

“Sorry, really sorry, show’s over!”

“No probs!” the woman shouted back good-naturedly.

Joe seemed to be staring at me and he didn’t say a word.

I scooted inside and closed the door.

“He texted me!” Kate told me practically before the door closed. “At school, said he was coming to town and wanted to surprise you.”

“Took a long time gettin’ home, Vi-oh-my, waited frickin’ forever,” Sam noted. “What, you live at that garden center?”

“I was doing overtime,” I answered as I shrugged off my corduroy coat. I turned to put it on a hook by the door, an action which served double duty of allowing me to avoid the look Sam gave me.

“Uncle Sam made his world famous spaghetti carbonara,” Keira announced. “I was lookout. We shut off the lights when I saw your car on the street.”

I turned again to look at the kitchen and saw that my brother did make spaghetti carbonara and he also made the mess that came with it.

Kate rushed up to me and grabbed my forearm, pulling down on it, informing me, “He’s staying a couple of days. He’s gonna meet Dane.”

Lucky Sam, he was going to meet the awesome Dane.

“If that’s cool with you, Vi,” Sam said.

Like he had to ask.

It was cool with me. It was cool he stayed a couple of days or a couple of years. That wasn’t loneliness speaking. That was how much I loved my little brother.

“That’s cool.”

“Excellent!” Keira shouted.

“I’ll get the stuff for the pull out,” Kate offered then ran from the room.

“Keira, honey, set the table,” I told my other daughter.

“Sure,” she agreed, moving to the cupboard and Sam got close to me.

“We’ll talk about overtime after dinner,” he said quietly.

My eyes shifted to the side and up, caught his; I nodded and walked into my house.

* * * * *

We ate spaghetti carbonara at the dining room table and I only felt a twinge of hurt when Sam sat in Tim’s chair instead of beside Keira where he usually sat one of the million times he was around for dinner when we lived close to him in Chicago. I wondered if my girls felt this same twinge but watching them through dinner, I figured they were too excited by Sam’s visit to notice.

Sam made garlic bread and a big Caesar salad to go with the spaghetti and the whole thing was delicious, not only because it wasn’t dinner for one or I didn’t have to cook it but because Sam’s spaghetti carbonara could be world famous if the world was lucky enough to get a taste.

I was sipping my wine as the girls were finishing up eating. Both had been talking about their new school, their new friends and Kate, of course, shared a great deal about the fabulous Dane. Therefore they weren’t paying a lot of attention to their food.

I watched as Sam got up and walked to his bag which was on the floor by the couch in the living room. Bending at the waist to paw through it, he came back to the table with something in his hand as Kate popped the last piece of bread in her mouth and Keira finished her last bite of spaghetti.

Sam moved to stand beside Kate, slapped something on table and said, “One for you,” he slapped something else down and went on, “another for you.” He moved around the table as Kate picked the somethings up, inspected them, her eyes got huge and her mouth dropped open. Standing beside Keira, he repeated this process using the same words. “And one for you, another for you.”

“Oh my God,” Kate finally breathed, the cards held close to her face as if she could not believe her eyes and needed close proximity to the wonders she was viewing for them to be real. Her eyes were huge.

Sam came to me, put something by my plate and finished. “And for you.”

I looked down at the gift cards next to my plate as Keira shouted, “Five hundred dollars at Lucky!”

“And two hundred at MAC!” Kate put in on a yell, waving her two cards around.

I looked down at my gift cards. One was for five hundred dollars on a disposable credit card; the other was two hundred dollars at MAC.

In shock, I looked up at Sam but the girls had sprung from their seats and were jumping up and down again with their arms wrapped around him, jostling their uncle as they jumped.

“You gotta earn ‘em, babies,” Sam said, holding them close in his arms and kissing the tops of their heads. I watched him give them a squeeze before he ordered, “Clear the table and do the dishes, yeah?”

Kate didn’t mind chores. The minute she was asked to do something, she did it, didn’t procrastinate, she got it out of the way and moved on. Keira hated them and would procrastinate as long as humanly possible then bitch the entire time she was doing it. But for seven hundred dollar gift cards to her two favorite stores, she’d do the dishes. Hell, who wouldn’t?

Therefore, they both agreed on shouts, “Yeah!”

Then they raced around the table, grabbing plates and Sam grabbed me. He took my arm and lifted me out of my seat, nabbing the bottle of wine from the table as he did. I snagged my glass and Sam’s hand slid down my arm to curl around my fingers. He picked up his glass with practiced ease, carrying it and the bottle as he guided me to the study.

I’d put Tim’s old desk in there with our old computer and the girls sometimes studied in there at their Dad’s desk. I’d also put the two recliners Tim had in his man cave at home in there at angles in the corner and that’s where Sam took me. I curled into a recliner, my feet in the seat, knees to the armrest and Sam topped up my glass then his own then sat in the other recliner.

“Sam, the gift cards –” I began, knowing he didn’t have that kind of money.

Sam cut me off, saying, “Dad.”

I felt my mouth go tight.

“Vi, don’t,” Sam warned, “just take it and use it for somethin’ stupid. You know that’d piss Mom off most.”

It certainly would. Mom hated anything frivolous, most especially frivolous spending, and trendy clothes and makeup, for that matter.

“She know Dad gave you the money to buy those cards?” I asked.

“She will when she balances the checkbook.”

“Dad’ll catch it.”

“Dad doesn’t care.”

I looked Sam in the eye. “And I don’t care either. Too little, too late.”

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