"Sh! People are still sleeping!" Moudy said quietly as he juggled his tackle box and his son's lunch bag before turning to lock the front door after them. "Hold up, Jax!" he said.
Jackson turned around and grinned up at his Dad. "I'm holding! I'm holding!" he said, in still loud of a voice.
Moudy couldn't hold back the grin. His boy was growing up so fast and he couldn't be any prouder. And to think - he'd been so conflicted about having kids! He remembered how floored and worried he'd been when Liz had found out she was pregnant. Now, he couldn't imagine his life being able to turn out any better than it was!
"Come on, I'm ready now," Moudy said, tussling Jackson's hair as he walked by him.
Natalee wiped the sleep from her eyes, looking at the alarm clock. "I don't know what to do!" she said worriedly. "How do I turn it off?"
"I'll get it! Don't worry," Macy said helpfully, rolling up her sleeping bag. While her little sister was in town, she had given up her bed. She tapped the alarm, silencing the shrill beeping.
"Oh thank plumbbob!" Lacie grouched, throwing the pillow down at Macy. "I thought my eardrums were going to burst!"
"She's not much of a morning person, is she?" Natalee asked cheekily as they left the room.
Macy gasped, glancing back to see if Lacie heard. Poor Natalee, she needed to learn not to say things like that within her twin's hearing. Putting her hand on her half-sister's shoulders, she gently hurried her out of the room.
She didn't want to chance Lacie being mean to her little sister!
"Looks good," Moudy remarked.
Jackson handed his Dad his catch. "Can you take him home for me?" he asked. "I've got to get to school."
Moudy nodded, dropping the little fish into the bucket they'd set aside. "I'll take care of it," he promised, kissing the top of Jackon's head. "Have a good day at school."
"Jackson! Your lunch!" Moudy called out, grinning when Jackson circled back around and grabbed his lunch bag, before loping back to school grounds.
"Sure. I got in late last night, so I'm wiped," she told him, dropping into her seat heavily.
"You still enjoying the bar?" Jason asked curiously.
He looked back down at his cereal and stirred his spoon around. It kind of hurt to see Liz doing so well fulfilling her dreams. Not that he wasn't happy for her - he was! He was just upset that he'd made such a mess of his life...
Without a wane smile, he turned back to his cereal and finished his breakfast as quickly as possible. "Gotta prep for the game," he told her as an excuse, hopping up and leaving her at the table alone.
"No worries. I'm headed to the bar," she called to his back.
He had a baby boy...
He squeezed his eyes shut tightly, willing it all to go away. He swallowed thickly and took a long, shallow breath, attempting to calm himself down.
Thankfully all the women claiming he'd had affairs with them had reversed their claims after his attorney sent out notices. There was no truth to their claims and wouldn't hold up in a court of law. And soon after, the media moved on to another scandal by a local politician.
But, he was very aware of how quickly the media could, and would, turn on him.
Coach Powers put his hand on Jason's shoulder. "Actually, I'm glad I caught you alone."
He took a deep breath.
"I've known you a long time, kid, and you know I think the world of you. Your arm has won us many games!" Coach hedged.
Jason felt a big "but" coming...
"But," Coach continued carefully, "the owners feel it would be best if Tommy played this game."
"Just for the game," Coach said gently. "Gotta give the Rookie a chance, right?"
Jason could read between the lines. "Sure," he said without feeling.
Coach looked for a moment like he would say something more before shaking his head and heading out. "Take a moment, then come out and support your teammates," he called over his shoulder.
Natalee glanced towards him and shrugged. "I guess."
"Do you miss your Mom?" he asked again. He couldn't imagine having to live with his parents separately. Would he want to live with his Mom or his Dad? He frowned as he considered that thought. Thank plumbbob he didn't have to choose!
Natalee glanced away. "Yeah," she told him. "Can I tell you a secret?"
"Yeah!" Jackson said eagerly. He loved secrets!
Natalee smiled sweetly. "I'm going to get my parents back together again!" she promised.
Macy glanced in the mirror at her reflection. "What's wrong?" she asked with a frown.
"Girl, let me do your hair and make-up," Lacie said, popping her hand on her hip. "Or I'm not letting you go!"
Macy rolled her eyes. "Fine!" she said, knowing she wouldn't win this fight with her sister.
Jackson checked his watch and stood up. "Keep working," he told the kids before heading to the door.
Hasan Gaither shuffled nervously, taking a small step away from Lacie's date.
Jason and Liz were going to regret missing this.
"Damn, I missed it," he swore softly. He'd been meaning to make it home after the game. But Brenda's text and his benching had completely wiped it from his mind.
A sound at the door had him turning around.
"It's okay, Miss Liz," Natalee told her anxiously, glancing towards Jackson as he sat playing.
Liz's heart melted. She'd changed this girl's diapers and rocked her to sleep at night and it was clear Natalee hardly remembered. She wanted to hug the sweet little girl good night, but Natalee was acting very stand-offish. "Sleep well," she told her, patting Natalee's shoulder.
Natalee watched Miss Liz as hugged Jackson. It made her miss her Mom. But, when she lived with her Mom, she always missed her Dad, too. She hated being split between her parents! Jackson was so lucky he had both of his parents!
But, like she told Jackson, she was going to get her parents together again!
Natalee unrolled her sleeping bag. "Night."
Brenda smirked. "Very generously!" she interrupted him.
"...If his birth certificate remained 'father unknown'," Jason continued.
"And?" she teased. Oh, she knew why Jason had rushed over after his game. But, she just wanted to hear him say it. Really, he was too easy. He tried so hard to do the right thing all the time. She'd worked pretty dang hard to get him to be a bad, bad boy. And now she was set for life!
"I just wanted to see him," Jason said.
Brenda laughed. "But why would you want to see my fatherless child?" she teased.
Jason's lips thinned as he stared at the woman he'd had no business getting involved with. "Can I see him?"
"By all means!" she said, leading him down the hall.
Hector was so crazy for her, he asked her to go steady twice. As if! She was never going to belong to any guy!
She'd totally seen through Hector's lame-ass attempt to kiss her. But, he wasn't that bad for a first kiss!
When the principal approached the microphone and announced the Prom Queen, she preened, ready to accept her award.
That's bullshit! she seethed angrily as she watched people fawning over her sister. Oh, Macy was going to regret ever being born!
"Quit it, Lacie! It's mine!" Macy said defensively.
Lacie stomped her foot. "It should have been mine!" she screamed shrilly, not caring at the crowd that was gathering around them.
Macy shook his hand off. "No! I'm so tired of her taking things that belong to me! I thought we were friends!" she shouted at her sister. "Why can't you be happy for me?"
"Friends? With you? As IF!" Lacie sneered. "Give. Me. The. Crown!" she demanded, fixated on the Queen crown. A symbol of her popularity. It should have been hers!
Macy lifted her chin regally. "You'll have to take it from me."
Lacie sat for a moment on the floor, seemingly stunned silent by her loss. She glared from her bottom at the boys that were now laughing at her. Even her date, Hector. Oh, he would pay...
"What'd you name him?" he asked, reaching in to pick him up. It bugged him that he didn't even know the name of this child who would never be his. It was probably better that way. He'd screwed up enough lives as it was. No way was he going to screw his son's up, too.
"Rashawn," Brenda informed him.