Cautious (Disastrous 2) - Page 42

Jimmie snapped one eye opened. After a few seconds, he collected his thoughts and opened both eyes, “What’s up, guys? How was Philly?” He kept his head back against the chair.

“It was good.” Mia answered.

I quickly looked around the porch and then back at him, “Where’s Elle?”

He let out a heavy sigh, ran a hand over his face, and then sat up straight in his chair. “She’s with Mom. She’s also mad at me because she’s being punished.”

Laughing once, I arched a brow, “Your punishment for her was sending her to Mom? Mom spoils her rotten.”

He raised both brows as he chugged the rest of the beer. After he finished, he placed it on the floor beside four other empty bottles. Reaching into the cooler, he twisted open another one and leaned back. “Yeah, well, she called Mom after I punished her and said, and I quote, ‘Grandma, Daddy is not being a fair father, and I want to run away.’” He took a long pull on the fresh beer and then shrugged, “So, of course, Mom came to the rescue. After Mom and I talked, well, more like argued about my parenting skills, she took Elle out to calm her down. That was forty minutes ago.”

“Yep, that sounds like Mom.”

Mia bunched her brows together. “Sorry, Jimmie. She’ll come around. Little girls can be a bit dramatic.”

“You think?”

Mia pulled out from my arm wrapped around her and gripped the bag in my hand, “I’m going up. I’ll see you in a bit.” She glanced meaningfully at me then tilted her head towards Jimmie, indicating for me to stay and talk with him. I nodded in understanding. “Oh, Jimmie, how about that group date this weekend?”

Jimmie shook his head. “Nah, things didn’t work out with Jessica and me.”

Mia’s face fell sadly. “Oh? I’m sorry.”

“It’s good.”

Mia gently smiled and then made her way into the house after saying her farewells to Jimmie. I was tired, but knowing I’d never seen Jimmie in that state, I reached for a beer and slumped into a chair beside him. We both sipped on Samuel Adams, our gazes straight ahead, overlooking the front landscaping.

The silence lasted long enough. I spoke up first, “Why was Elle punished?”

“She kicked some kid in the balls at the park yesterday.” He shook his head when I chuckled.

“What did the kid do?”

“Why does that matter?”

“You know Elle. She’s not violent. The kid had to have done something pretty bad to make her go to that extreme. Maybe she was defending herself? Did you ask?”

His jaw slightly tightened as his lips smacked to the side. As if trying to control his anger, he took a long sip on his beer. When his jaw relaxed, his gaze dropped to the bottle in his hand. “The kid asked her where her mom was, and when she told him that she didn’t have a mom, that she only had a father, he made fun of her. She got angry and kicked him in the balls.”

“Good. The little fucker is lucky I wasn’t there. Making fun of my niece? He would have been eating dirt.”

Jimmie blew out a heavy sigh. “As a parent, I have to set an example, Marcus. Jeez, I can’t let my kid walk all over me.”

I didn’t understand. Maybe that was a little harsh of me to say, but what the fuck? “Please don’t tell me you yelled at her and didn’t even talk it out with her?”

“No, first, we started talking. She asked about Cynthia. She wanted to know more about why she was the only kid in her class that didn’t have a mom. I told her that her mom was in a better place and that . . .” He paused as he continued to focus on the bottle, twirling it around in his hand. “I didn’t know how to tell her that sometimes people in your life, no matter how much you love them, are taken away.”

Turning his head toward me, his eyes saddened, he pulled his brows together. “How was I supposed to look into my little girl’s eyes and explain something like that? I tried, but then she asked, ‘I won’t ever lose you, Daddy, right? Promise me.’” As much as he wanted to, I knew he couldn’t make a promise like that, especially with the work we did. He tore his eyes away and chugged the rest of his beer. “So, yeah, it didn’t go so well. Mom said I should have promised her or told her I wasn’t going anywhere, that she’s only a little girl and she doesn’t understand things like that.” He laughed once. “If only she knew . . . Elle’s smarter than Mom thinks.”

“I know it’s not easy with Elle, even though you have Mom and me. I know it’s still hard raising a little girl on your own.”

“It’s not all that bad. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but there are times where I want to rip my hair out. There’s going to come a time when she won’t be able to talk to me about certain things. And dating? Fuck, when she gets to that age, I’ll be hunting dudes down if they get near her.”

“I’ll be right along with you on that one.” We both burst out laughing at the thought. I could just imagine the two us all over Boston, spying as she went on her first date. It would definitely be good times.

After our laughter died down and we finished chatting about what we would do if we were to ever catch a guy touching Elle, we sat in silence and sipped our beers. It was a good silence. I was sure he was reminiscing about Cynthia, and my mind eased for the first time in a long time. Even all the shit I had to deal with in the upcoming week didn’t race through my head.

“You know the first exchange at the club is next week, right?” Jimmie poked through my thoughts.

And just like that, within minutes, my eased mind was fucked by Lou, again. “Yep, what are your thoughts on that? You didn’t speak up about it when he made the suggestion.”

Jimmie raised a brow sarcastically. “We’re all screwed anyway. Sooner or later, it’ll just come crumbling down, and before we know it, we’re all fucked.”

“I’m going to need you to hop onto the fuckin’ optimistic train. What’s gotten into you? You’ve been acting differently—even before this little shit with Elle.” Jimmie burst into a hard full gut belly laugh. “What?” I asked alarmed by his reaction. He laughed even louder at that. Standing up from his chair, he slightly bent over, holding on to his stomach as tears began to form from laughing so hard.

“What’s gotten into me?” He barely got that sentence out through his laugh. “Me?” He pointed a thumb at his chest as his laughter erupted throughout the front porch. Like a fucking maniac.