"Oh my goodness, isn't he just too cute for words. Aren't you a handsome little guy?"
I was standing at the pharmacy counter, waiting for the clerk to get Ben's prescription. One long night and one early morning's visit to the doctor proved that I had caught Ben's bug early.
I couldn't help but be a little proud.
As the feminine voice continued to coo, I turned around, my eyes going right to Ben strapped chilling out in his carseat in the car. A pretty girl with light brown hair was leaning over talking to Ben.
"I think that means good morning," I said.
The girl, no woman, whirled around. She was even prettier from the front.
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you," I said.
She smiled. I saw her gaze drift to my toes and back up. Ha, she SO checked me out! "No, you didn't. Is this your son?"
It was the first time anyone had ever asked me that. I hesitated for a second. I hadn't been kidding when I had told Brian he and Leigh would make better parents. But then he had called me dada. Even now he was looking at me, gnawing on a soggy blanket and sniffling.
"What's his name?"
"Aww like Maci's son on Teen Mom?"
"Does everybody watch that show?"
The woman laughed. "Probably. Does your wife watch it?"
Wife. That was a scarier word than dad.
"I'm not married."
"Nope," I glanced over at Bentley. He was making eye contact with the woman's boobs and I swear his drooling had increased. I looked back at her with sad eyes.
"No, his mom just left him."
Jackpot. Her face softened. "Oh my god, that's so sad."
"Yeah, it's been rough." That wasn't a lie. I held out my hand. "Nick."
She smiled. Her hand felt all little as she put it in mine.
"Mr. Carter, your prescription is ready."
I dropped her hand and turned to look at the pharmacist. I don't know how many people remember the game, but there was a Nintendo Tetris game called Dr. Mario. The dude looked just like Mario.
"Thanks," I said. I took a step away from the cart and Kelsey. I paid for the prescription and watched as she continued to coo over Bentley. As Dr. Mario went back to his word of red and blue colored pills, I had inspiration.
"Kelsey, how would you like to have lunch with the two of us?"
"Foo!" Bentley squealed as she ran her fingers over his stomach. For good measure, he sneezed on her hand. She didn't flinch or run for the antibacterial soap. She looked up, her eyes sparkling.
"I'd love to."
"I can't believe he all but handed you the baby and you said enouraged him to keep him," Leighanne complained, almost in tears. She stared out the window of the car. Baylee kicked the back of my seat in a steady drum beat. Thump, tha-thump-tha-thump...
"It's not like he's ours to try to comandeer, Leigh," I answered, steering through rush hour traffic to the restaurant we'd selected out of the book at the hotel. I gripped the wheel.
"But what is Nick going to do with a kid?" Leigh whined. She looked at me, her lower lip protruding sadly. She wiped at her eyes, then turned away again.
"You didn't see his face when Bentley said dada, Leigh," I said back, "It was like the sunshine got turned on in the dead of night or something. His eyes just lit up and -- Baylee, knock it off," I said, glowering at him in the rearview mirror. Baylee's eyes leveled with mine and crossed his arms, but his legs dropped and my back had some relief.
"What do you need a stupid baby for anyways?" Baylee demanded, "We don't need another kid. You've got me."
Leighanne turned in her seat, "Of course we have you, sweetie, but wouldn't you like a little brother?"
"Leighanne, seriously, we're not gonna get Bentley because Baylee agrees to it," I said. "Look, really it's Nick's choice, it's his kid. How would you like it if you had a kid and --"
"I'm a mother," she said, "Nick's -- Nick's a playboy. What happens the first time he realizes he can't go partying because it's Thursday and the little guy's favorite TV show's on Thursday? What happens the first time Nick's got a woman over and he can't ---" she glanced Baylee's direction, "---play Monopoly with her because Ben's still awake."
"I'm like practically nine mom, I know what sex is," Baylee groaned.
Leighanne's eyes widened. "WHAT?"
I gripped the wheel even tighter as Baylee explained about the health textbook's write up and Leighanne's face turned several shades of puce. He started kicking the back of my seat again. Thump, tha-thump-tha-thump..
By the time we'd arrived at the restaurant, I was almost too exhausted to eat. I followed Leighanne and Baylee through the doors nonetheless, though, and once the smell of steak and potatoes hit my nostrils my stomach growled. I was starving, I was gonna eat a half of a cow! I was gonna --
"Oh. My. God." Leighanne's voice was awestruck and angry at the same time.
I looked up and promptly wished I hadn't.
"She smells like soap Brian," Nick said two minutes later. We'd walked into the restaurant and found Nick at a booth with a leggy brunette wrapped around him, Ben chilling in his seat next to Nick gnawing on a cloth napkin, and Nick's tongue halfway down the chick's throat. Leighanne's point proven, I knew I'd be forced to listen to her complain the entire way back to the hotel.
"So you felt the need to inspect her tonsils with your tongue?" I demanded.
Nick looked bashful.
"Seriously Nick," I leaned against the sink counter and crossed my arms. "Where the hell did you pick her up from?"
"The pharmacy. I was getting Ben some meds and --"
"Ben's still sick and you're here? Nick, Ben needs to be home, resting, not out gallavanting across the --"
"Ben IS resting," Nick argued, "How much work does it take to sit there in that lil carry-aroundy-chair?" he demanded.
"Leighanne's right," I muttered, running a hand across my face.
Nick raised an eyebrow. "Right? Right about what, exactly?"
I didnt' know what to say, because I didn't really mean to say the Leighanne is right part. I swallowed. "Nevermind," I stammered, and I quickly made my way out of the bathroom.