Copyright © 2016 Cynthia D’Alba
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The first thing he noticed when he pulled into her drive was that grass had begun growing and needed
to be cut. The weeds in her flower beds seemed to have sprung up overnight. He looked down at his
khaki shorts and nice polo shirt. He was not dressed for yard work. Maybe tomorrow.
The sound of a children’s movie seeped through the door. He smiled and knocked.
“I’ll get it,” a little voice said.
“Don’t open that door,” Lydia yelled. “That’s dangerous.”
The door flew open and Ellery and Annie stood there. “Uncle Jason,” they both cried.
“I told you not to open the door,” Lydia said, marching up behind them.
“But it’s Uncle Jason,” Ellery explained.
“But you didn’t know that, did you?”
Ellery’s face took on a stubborn expression before she held up her arms for Jason to pick her up. Annie
did the same. He lifted both girls into his arms, one on each side of his body. Jasper had followed the
family to the door and was now on the porch butting Jason for a scratch.
“Good afternoon, princesses. Have you both been good today?”
Both girls nodded in the affir
“Welcome to chaos,” she said.
“Girls, I need to have a talk with Lydia. Want me to start your movie over?”
He did and the kids sat down to watch a movie he was sure they’d seen no less than a million times.
“Come on in the kitchen. You want some wine? A beer?” Lydia said.
“A beer would be great. I’ll get it.”
Lydia put Levi into his high chair and got out some baby food jars. “I’m going to feed him while we talk.
“Sure. Let me do it,” he said.
“You don’t have to, Jason. I know this isn’t your scene.”
He frowned. “Not my scene?”
“You know, babies and bottles and diapers. I get that.”
“No, no. Really. I get it.”
He turned Levi’s highchair until it faced him. “I swear, Levi. Women are so complicated. Trust me.”
Levi gurgled, a drop of drool running down his chin.
“Exactly,” Jason said. “That’s what I’m talking about.”
Lydia laughed and shoved the baby food and spoon over to him. “Knock yourself out.”
He would never admit it, but feeding Levi was a little scary. He’d never fed a baby like this. When he’d
had the kids for the day, feeding Levi had consisted of handing him a bottle and letting him handle it
from there. This…this was totally different. But law school had taught him to fake it until you make it, so
he jumped in, uncapping the jars.
He sniffed the first one. It didn’t smell bad at all. Strained prunes. Yeah, that didn’t sound so great. Still,
he put a little on the spoon and held it up to Levi. He opened his mouth like a baby bird, and Jason
deposited the icky-looking mess in there. Levi immediately spit it out, splattering Jason’s clean polo.
Risking a glance at Lydia, he found her resting her chin in the palm of her hand, her elbow on the table,
and the cutest grin he’d ever seen on her face.
“Let’s try that again,” he told Levi.
This time, the prunes stayed in, even if a little oozed from the corners of his mouth. Levi slapped the
highchair tray and grinned.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said, spooning in another bite.
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“How would you like a babysitter and a night off?”
She straightened. “I don’t know. These kids are just getting used to me. I’m not sure about bringing a
stranger into my home.”
He shoveled another tiny spoonful into Levi’s mouth.
“Not a stranger. My parents.”
“Oh, Jason. That’s so nice but I––”
Before she could finish her sentence, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Ellery yelled.
“Good God. That girl is going to let in a serial killer one day.” She sighed. “Don’t open the door until I get
there,” she called back. “Not that she’ll listen to me,” she added, standing and hurrying out of the room.
Jason had a good idea who might be at the door. When he heard his father’s booming, deep voice
talking to Ellery, he knew he was right. Now, if Lydia didn’t kill him for arranging this without her