“Good morning, Mr. Sweet Face.”
Poor Kaiden. He sounded so gruff and listless. What happened to her joyful little boy? Why had life beaten him down so much? She knew what it was about but between her personal feelings and his attitude each time she broached the subject, she wasn’t sure how to talk to him about it. Her Mr. Sweet Face wasn’t as sweet anymore. Hopefully, it was just a phase.
“You’re up early. Everything ok?”
“Yeah. Couldn’t sleep.”
Ugh! When would it end? She didn’t enjoy seeing her son that way. Usually, she was not one to shy away from tough conversations, but he was already bothered and she didn’t want to add to his troubles. Still, she had to try. “Anything you want to talk about?”
His eyes rolled to the back of his head, and a heavy sigh escaped his nose. That was her cue to leave it. What had she done to make him shut down like that? He didn’t treat Jared that way, not that Jared asked him about it much.
“Ok. I’m going to get some breakfast going. What do you feel like?”
“Just eggs and bacon.”
She snickered. Ever since he started seeing results from working out, he added more protein to his diet. His muscles were so big, they looked like they’d burst out of his beautiful, brown skin. If he bulked up so much as a teenager, what would he look like as an adult?
She patted his knee. “Eggs and bacon it is.”
Off to the kitchen she went with concerns for her son in her heart. Though it was natural for a mother to want to ease her child’s pain, she knew this was something he needed to work out on his own. But, if he would only entrust her with just a tiny bit of information, she could impart some wisdom.
The other kids came down and joined Kaiden for breakfast before they all trudged out the door for school. Soon, only two of them would go. Thinking about Kaiden growing up and moving out was exciting, but it also gave her pause. She hoped this trouble with Breanne would be resolved by then otherwise he would be trapped.
Jared had finally gotten used to sleeping in despite his schedule changing weeks ago. He got up just as the children walked out, and Asia had her breakfast with him instead. Thinking about Kaiden, she eyed her husband as he joined her at the table. Though he didn’t work out as much as he used to, he was still every bit as strong as when he worked out twice a day. She could tell because he could still pick her up with ease and carry her to bed.
“Are you checking me out?”
“You like what you see?”
“Your son wants to look like you.”
“And how is that?”
“Handsome…” Her eyes drifted down to his waist and met his eyes again. “Strong.”
“Girl, don’t you start anything you can’t finish.”
She giggled and enjoyed working up her husband.
“You better be glad I need to go to work soon.”
“I am strong. I would wear you out.”
If it didn’t take him so long to get ready, she’d follow him upstairs and start a little trouble. They definitely needed to revisit that conversation later.
After seeing him off to work, she cleaned the kitchen before paying Mary a visit. A few days had gone by the dreadful HOA meeting; she was still so mad at Eliza. Everyone at the table beside the Pancakeses knew about Mary’s marriage, so it wasn’t a case of being embarrassed but more betrayal. A violation of privacy. A display of true colors. Asia knew Eliza was egotistical and controlling, but this was flat out evil; she didn’t know Eliza had that in her.
She knocked on the door, suddenly remembering she wasn’t sure which days Mary had off and hoped she answered. After a moment, the clacking of high heels echoed through the house, getting louder as Mary approached the door.
“Asia! Hello!” She opened the door. “What a pleasant surprise.” She stepped aside, inviting her in. “What brings you by?”
“Oh, just…I wanted to check on you.”
Mary blinked rapidly a couple of times before plastering a forced smile on her face. “I do appreciate it though it’s highly unnecessary.”
“I know. I just wanted to come by.”
“That is good of you.”
They stood in an awkward silence, trying to figure out which direction to take the conversation next. She and Mary had what she thought was a solid friendship, but there were still times the old Mary would slip in and show her face. Instead of trying to figure out why, Asia simply skirted around it. In those days, she had become an expert at skirting around things.
“So,” Mary said a bit louder than before, “how are things with Kaiden and Breanne?”
Asia glared at her.
Mary giggled. “I’m sorry. I promise I’m not laughing at you. I just,” she continued giggling, “That family spreads sunshine everywhere they go.”
Asia couldn’t help but laugh. “Poor Bob. That man is a saint, and I don’t know how he does it. I hope the twins don’t turn out to be two more Eliza mini me’s!”
“Those poor girls.”
“I wish I could tell you what’s going, but I don’t really know. He doesn’t talk to me anymore. I do know he’s not happy. I just wish I knew why he continues to go on with this!”
“Oh, Asia. I’m so sorry.”
“I just don’t know how this happened. One moment, they were just friends hanging out in the basement and the next moment she’s practically trying to marry my son!”
Mary giggled again. “But Asia, you know what happens in basements.”
“Good heavens, Mary! You’re going to make me toss my breakfast!”