Their trip plans made, Kyle feels better about his vacation. He knows he’s been distant, grieving over his wife’s death. Now, before it’s too late, it’s time to show his children that he’s something more than an automaton they call Dad.
They finished their movie marathon around 10:30. The older two children went to get ready for bed while Kyle and Carmelita cleaned up the paper plates and napkins from the living room.
“I’ve got a question for you, Lita.”
“I’m not marrying you, Mr. Scott.”
“No, it’s not that. However, it would entail your moving in here.”
“I beg your pardon?” She looked like she wanted to bury him alive.
“I need you to move into the apartment, Lita. I need more help around here, full time. My boss gave me a raise and told me to hire a nanny, but I can’t think of a single person I trust with my family but you. Would you be interested?”
“Be here full time with my babies?” Her eyes filled with tears. “Oh, you precious man! I can’t think of a thing I’d rather do!” She kissed his cheeks.
“How about we move you in this weekend then? Save you next month’s rent?”
“We’ll get those big, buff neighbors of yours to help. The Simmons brothers. I can give them all a few bucks to help.”
“They’d do it for food, if I’m cooking. You lay in the stuff for a barbecue, I guarantee the work force.”
“Great! Set it up and let me know what you’re cooking and I’ll leave cash for it. Oh, do you like ships?”
“What are you talking about now? I swear, Kyle, you’ve done gone crazy all of a sudden.”
“We’re going on a cruise, Lita. A family cruise. The kids are going to be occupied so you and I can work on our tans.”
“Am I expected to sun with the redheaded step child?” She raised a curious eyebrow.
“You can sun wherever and with whomever you want. I don’t expect you to babysit unless you want to and I won’t cramp your style if I can help it. I realized a little while ago, you’re a part of this family too and I couldn’t see going on vacation without you.”
“Where are we going?”
“No idea. I told the travel agent, ‘kid friendly’ leaving sometime after Monday.”
“You don’t give a girl much notice.”
“I didn’t get much myself. Forced leave, remember?” He pursed his lips. “I’m gonna have fun if it cripples me.”
“I’d love to go.” She patted his cheek again. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go to bed. I don’t much feel like making that drive.”
“Take the guest room. The beds in the apartment aren’t made up right now. Since Margo’s mom left, everything is covered up.”
“I still don’t understand why that woman came down, lived here three months and left. That made no sense at all. What was she thinking?”
“She wanted to be around Margo.” He shrugged. “But she left us in the lurch, you and me.”
“That she did, the selfish bitch. Has she even called you since she left?”
“Once. She forgot something and asked me to send it.”
“Please tell me you didn’t.”
“I can’t even remember what it was and she hasn’t called back.”
Carmelita yawned loudly. “I’m goin’ to bed, sugar. I’ll cook us a nice breakfast after the kids head out. You gettin’ up with ’em?”
“That’s my plan. Thanks, Lita. You’re the best.”
“I know.” She winked. “Too bad my ex-husband didn’t figure that out.”
“I always told you he was an idiot. If I had a woman like you, I’d never let her go.”
“She called over her shoulder. “G’night, Kyle. Sleep well, baby.”
“Night, Lita. You too.”