JC took the stairs two at a time as he called out for Kyle.  "Hey buddy, what are you up to?"

            "No."  Kyle said from his room just before JC got to the door.

            "No what?  Are you oh -?"  JC pushed the door open the stopped in his tracks.  "Oh man…"  He tilted his head to the side to get a good look at Kyle's predicament.

            Kyle sighed and looked gloomy for a second,  "Howp."

            "Help?  Dude… Kyle what'd you do?"

            "Naasing."

            "Nothing?"  JC tried not to laugh.  Somehow Kyle had gotten his sucker stuck to the back of his head and tangled in his hair.  "If you did nothing how did you get your sucker stuck back here?"  JC smiled and gently touched the white stick poking out of the hair.

            Kyle sighed again, "I doe no."  JC covered his eyes with his hand and laughed quietly as his body shook.  "I sorry."  Kyle said quickly.

            "No, no, no… it's okay."  JC patted Kyle's back to let him know he wasn't upset.  "It's okay buddy, we've just uh… we've gotta figure out how to get it out."

            "No daddy, is suck."

            "Yeah, I see it's stuck.  We have to get it un-stuck."  He placed his hands on his hips and looked at Kyle.  "Okay you know what?  I'm gonna call my mom, come with me."  He took Kyle's hand and led him to the master bedroom where they sat on the bed and JC called his parent's house.

            It rang five times before the voice mail picked up.  "Hey mom this is Jace… uh, we've managed to get a sucker stuck in Kyle's hair and I uh… I have no idea how to get it out without mutilating his hair.  If you get this anytime soon can you give me a call and help me out here?  Thanks.  Love you, bye."  He hung up and tried his second choice.

            "H'lo?"

            "Hey Chris."  JC sighed.

            "If you're calling to tell us we have to be at rehearsal tomorrow, hang up."  Chris said quickly.

            "No, no I've got a little problem over here and I thought you might be able to help me out a little."  JC smiled and put his hand on Kyle's ankle to keep him on the bed.

            "Daddy is Chris?"  Kyle asked.

            "Yeah, it's Chris.  Shhh, just a second."

            "What kind of problem?"  Chris asked with caution.

            "Kyle's got a sucker stuck in his hair.  I mean it's like all wrapped up and… stuck."  JC bit his lip to keep from laughing.

            "And the first person you thought of was me?"  Chris tried to sound insulted.

            "Well yeah, I mean you had that hair incident thing."

            "That was gum, that's different."

            "I know, but do you have any ideas?"

            "Cut it out."  Chris shrugged.

            "It's stuck like, all the way down to his head though."  JC reached over and parted Kyle's hair where the sucker was stuck, trying not to make it worse.

            "Yank it."

            "Chris…"  JC sighed.

            "Do you have any of the goo-gone stuff?  That shit'll get anything sticky out of anything."

            "I'm not putting goo-gone on Kyle's head."

            "Well then I don't know.  I cut my hair off."  Chris sighed.  "What's it say in your book thing?"

            "I don't know, I didn't look.  Do you think it'd be in there?"

            "Beats me, it's worth a look though don't you think?"

            "Yeah, true."  JC sighed.  "Okay, I'll go have a look.  Thanks."

            "No problem.  Good luck man."  Chris laughed and hung up the phone.

            "Okay dude, let's go figure this out."  JC lifted Kyle off the bed and set him on the floor so he could go downstairs and get his book.  Kyle walked a few steps in front of JC and it was all he could do to not laugh at the image.  A bright red sucker was stuck right in the back of his head with the little white stick bobbing with every step he took.

            "I just wan sucker out."  Kyle said sadly when they got to the kitchen.

            "I know kiddo, we're working on it."

            "Jus take it."

            "I can't just take it out.  I wish I could."

            "Yeah."

            "I can't.  That would hurt a lot and I don't want to hurt you."  JC flipped the book open to the index in the back to see what he could find.  Ten minutes later Kyle was getting antsy at JC's feet and JC hadn't found anything that might help him get the sucker out of Kyle's hair.  He put his hands on his hips again and looked down at Kyle,  "Well, buddy… it looks like we're going to have to cut it out."

            "Cut hair?"  Kyle asked as he brought his hands to his head.

            "Yeah."  JC sighed and frowned.  "I just…"  He looked at the back of Kyle's head.  "I just don't know how."  The phone rang just then, so JC reached behind him to answer it.  "Hello?"

            "Hi honey."  His mom smiled.

            "Hey mom.  Did you get my message?"

            "Yes, just now.  Did you guys get it out yet?"

            "No, not yet.  I have no idea what to do with it, I mean… it's stuck."

            "Well that's what happens with you put something that sticky in your hair."  She laughed.  "What have you tried so far?"

            "Calling you and Chris."

            "I mean what have you tried to do as far as getting it out?"

            "Nothing, I don't even know where to start.  I mean, with gum it says you can freeze it or whatever, but that won't work with a sucker."

            "No."  She shook her head.  "Honey, you might have to cut it out."

            "But it's all the way down to his scalp.  If I cut it he's going to have a big bald spot back there."  JC whined.

            "Well what's worse?  A little bald spot of a sucker poking out of his hair?"

            JC sighed, she had a point.  "I'm going to butcher it if I do it though."

            "You can always take him to a kid's salon and have them cut it out, that way it won't look as bad."  Karen suggested.

            "Yeah right, I'm not about to walk him into a salon with a tootsie roll pop hanging off the back of his head."  JC rolled his eyes.

            "I'm sure they've seen worse."

            "Daddy have it out."  Kyle complained as he reached for the sucker.

            "Hang on buddy, don't pull it."

            "Owie."  Kyle frowned.

            "I know… just hang on a second."  JC gently removed his hand from his head and sighed into the phone.  "So you think cutting it out is the way to go?"

            "You're going to have to."  Karen nodded.

            "Dangit.  Okay, we'll go do that then."  JC pouted.  "Thanks for calling back so quick."

            "No problem, I was just outside getting the hose all wrapped up."  She smiled.  "Let me know how this goes."

            "I will." JC smiled.  "Thanks mom."  He hung up the phone then looked at Kyle.  "Well buddy, it looks like I'm going to have to cut your hair."

            "No daddy, no cut."

            "I have to cut it or we won't get the sucker out."  JC reached into the cutlery drawer and pulled out the only pair of scissors he owned.

            "No."  Kyle whined.  "Is my hair."

            "I know it's your hair, but it's also your sucker and I can't get it out without cutting it." JC explained as he held the scissors to his side.  "You're going to get your hair cut really soon anyway so…"  JC sighed and looked defeated.  "So come on buddy, just let me cut it out."

            "No daddy, I cut."

            "You can't cut your own hair, it's all the way back here."  JC jiggled the protruding stick.

            "Yeah."

            "It'll only take a second."  JC set the scissors down, then pulled Kyle onto his lap.  "Just hold still for a second and I'll have it out."

            "Have out?"

            "I will in just a second."  JC reached for the scissors and tried to work them behind the sucker.  "This is really stuck in here buddy…"  He snipped away carefully at the hair that was stuck to the candy, getting his fingers sticky in the process.

            "Isa mess."

            "Yep, it's a big mess."  JC pulled the sucker to the side to snip the hair under it, but in the process he stuck more hair on the side.  "Shit."

            "Uh oh."

            "Uh oh is right."  JC sighed.  "I'm just making it worse."  He mumbled to himself.  "Okay, I'm sorry about this buddy, but I'm gonna have to just cut it all off."

            "My hair?"

            "Yeah."

            "No!"  Kyle wiggled to get away.  "No daddy!  Not all!"

            "No, no, no… not all of it.  Just all of it that's stuck on the sucker.  I'm leaving the rest alone."

            "Have my hair?"

            "You'll still have your hair, I promise."

            "And Jessi cut?"

            "Sure, maybe Jessica can take you to get your hair cut when she gets here."

            "My cool?"

            "Yeah, we'll have someone else cut your hair and it'll look cool."

            "No daddy?"

            "No."  JC laughed softly.  "I won't be the one cutting it."

            "Now?"

            "I'm going to cut the sucker out now… then we'll have someone else make it look cool."

            "Kay."  Kyle pouted and held still in JC's lap.

            "Okay, here we go."  JC wedged the scissors under the sucker and snipped a few times, freeing the hair covered sucker and leaving a two-inch area of super short sticky hair.

            "Ow daddy."

            "I know, that tugged a little, but look… I got it out."  JC put the scissors down and held the sucker up for Kyle to see.  "It's a mess."

            "I can have?"

            "I don't think so."  JC laughed and tossed it into the trash at the end of the counter.  "I think you need to take a bath and get all this gack out of your hair."

            "Yeah."  Kyle reached up and touched the back of his head.  "Daddy isa mess."

            "Yep.  Actually you know what?  Why don't we have dinner first?  Then you can take a bath after."

            "No isa mess."  Kyle whined.

            "It'll still be a mess after dinner."  JC tried to rationalize.

            "I wan out daddy."

            "The sucker is out."

            "No."  Kyle reached back and pulled at the sticky hair that remained.

            "Just don't touch it and you'll be fine.  Let's make a sandwich or something first."  JC lifted Kyle off the counter and set him on the floor.  "Do you want turkey or chicken?"

            "I doe no."

            "Okay, turkey it is."  JC got the lunchmeat out and made a few sandwiches for them.  He grabbed a big bag of chips and an orange and sat at the table.  "Come on kiddo, let's eat then we'll go get washed up."

            Kyle sighed and climbed into his seat.  "Kay."

            They ate their small meal then JC put the chips away and they went upstairs to give Kyle his promised bath.  When he was done he still looked sad and grumpy.  "What's the matter buddy?"

            "I just wan my Jessi."  Kyle sighed as JC pulled his pajama bottoms on.

            "I know you do kiddo, she'll be here tomorrow."

            "Now?"

            "Tomorrow after you go to school, that's when we're going to go get her."  Kyle's eyes welled up with tears as his bottom lip trembled.  "Hey… what's wrong?"  JC pulled Kyle onto his lap and held him close.  "What the matter?"

            "My hair cut."  Kyle sniffed as big alligator tears slid down his cheeks.

            "You're sad about your hair cut?"

            "Yeah."

            "It doesn't look that bad."  JC tried not to laugh.

            "Yeah."

            "No it doesn't.  It doesn't look bad at all.  Besides, we're going to have someone fix it before we go."

            "My Jessi cut?"

            "Yeah, maybe Jessica will take you."

            "Daddy I wan."

            "You want Jessica to take you?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle sniffled into JC's chest.

            "Okay, I'll see what I can do, okay buddy?"  JC kissed the top of Kyle's damp head and rested his cheek against his hair.  "I think you're tired though."

            "No."

            "Yeah, you're acting grumpy like a tired little boy."  JC yawned.  "I'm tired too.  Why don't we finish getting you pajamas on and read a story?"

            "Kay."  Kyle peeled himself away from JC and let him get the shirt over his head.  "Go nigh moon?"

            "You bet."  JC smiled and reached to the floor for Kyle's favorite book of the moment,  "Goodnight Moon."  He read it through twice, then switched Kyle's light off and left the room while Kyle snored softly under his covers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

            The next morning Kyle was in a much better mood.  He ate his breakfast and got dressed without an argument and seemed excited about going to school.  He didn't ask about Jessica at all until they were almost to his classroom.  "Day my Jessi here?"  Kyle asked as they walked up the tiled hall to Kyle's class.

            "Yep, today we get to go pick up Jessica."  JC nodded.  "You have to go to school and then when I come and get you we'll have a snack then go get her at the airport."

            "Kay."  Kyle nodded, then looked up at JC.  "We can go now?"

            "Nope, not now.  You have to go to school first."

            "Lato?"

            "Yep, in just a couple hours."  JC nodded.

            "Kay."

            "Okay, I'll see you later, okay?"

            "Kay."

            "Bye bye."  He leaned down and kissed Kyle's messy hair.

            "Bye bye daddy."  Kyle giggled and ran across the room to his little group of friends.  JC watched for a minute and tried not to cringe at the wide bald spot on the back of his head.  He glanced at his watch and sighed; he still had some errands to run before Kyle needed to be picked up from school and Jessica got there.  JC left the school and ran to the store to pick up the cake they had ordered the day before, as well as some little food things to eat for the couple days they'd be home before they left.

           

            JC returned home with the cake balanced precariously in his hand and two bags of groceries threatening to tip him over in the other.  Thanking God for his quickness, he kicked the garage door open and slid inside before it could begin to swing shut, then carefully walked the length of the house to the kitchen.

            The cake looked great, a perfect green and yellow beetle looking bug, with little antennae's drawn on in icing and everything.  He laughed as he imagined Jessica's face when she saw it was a bug cake, then he went about putting the rest of the groceries away.  When he was done with that he still had more than an hour to kill so he ran the vacuum over the carpet and swept the tile.  JC changed his clothes before he went to get Kyle, and ran a brush though his hair.  If he had an extra five minutes he would have shaven off his morning stubble, but he didn't so he let it stay and left to go to the school.

 

            "Daddy!  Jessi is?"  Kyle asked as he ran over to JC.

            "We're going to go get her right now."  JC nodded as he scooped Kyle up in his arms.  "Are you ready to go?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded and wiggled down to get his backpack.  "Daddy I have."  He handed JC a large piece of construction paper with torn colored tissue pasted all over it.

            "Wow, check it out."  JC admired the artwork.  "That's really cool buddy, we'll have to put it up on the fridge."

            "Yeah."  Kyle sighed and dragged his backpack to JC's feet.  "Have Jessi now."

            "You bet."  JC picked up the backpack and waved to his teachers, then took his hand and they headed out to the car.  "We have to go get Frank first, then we'll be able to go."  JC explained as he put Kyle into his car seat.

            "Daddy mine."  Kyle reached for the paper.

            "Okay, here."  JC handed it to Kyle and slammed the door shut.  He jumped into the driver's seat and they took off for the compound where Frank was waiting for them

            "No daddy, no."  Kyle whined when he saw where they were parking.  "No work.  Jessi."

            "We're just picking Frank up, we're not staying."

            "No."  Kyle whined as he kicked at the back of the driver's seat.

            "Hey, don't kick my seat."  JC scowled over his shoulder, then beeped the horn.

            "No work, we go bye."

            "We're going in just a second.  We have to get Frank first or we can't go get Jessica."  JC explained as he honked the horn again.

            Frank emerged from the rear of the compound and trotted up to the car.  "Hey, how's it going?"  He asked as he got in.

            "No Fank."  Kyle kicked at the seat again.  "Is bad."

            "I'm bad?"  Frank asked JC.

            "He wants Jessica."  JC shrugged.

            "We're going to pick her up right now."  Frank smiled over the back of the seat at Kyle.

            "No."  Kyle frowned and stuck his bottom lip out.

            "No?  Do you want to go home instead?"  JC asked as he met Kyle's eye in the rear view mirror.

            "No!"  Kyle shouted.  "Go see Jessi!"

            "Kyle, we're going to go get her right now, you need to calm down."  JC turned onto the main road from the driveway and sighed.  "If you keep this up I'll let Frank go get her and you can go home and take a nap."

            "No nap daddy.  No!"  Kyle landed a solid kick in the back of JC's seat.

            "Hey!"  JC pulled the car over three houses down from the compound and turned around in his seat.  "Do not kick the seat."  He said slowly.  "I told you we're going to go get Jessica right now, so relax.  If you keep acting like this I'm going to take you home.  So just cool it."

            "Jessi?"

            "Yes, we're going to get her."

            "Now?"

            "Right now."  JC nodded.  "Now are you going to stop kicking my seat?"

            Kyle just sighed and looked at JC.  "We go?"

            "Are you going to behave?"  JC asked.  That began a short staring contest between father and son.  JC finally broke the silence,  "Okay.  Frank, I'm going to take Kyle home, can you go get Jessica?"

            "No!"  Kyle shouted from his seat as a fresh round of tears started.

            "Then are you going to be good?"

            "Yeah."

            "Promise?"  JC asked.

            "Yeah."  Kyle sulked.

            "Okay then, no more kicking my seat."  JC shook his head and turned around to put his seatbelt back on.  Frank laughed softly in the seat beside him as they pulled back out onto the road.

            Kyle was silent for the rest of the ride to the airport and didn't say anything until they were inside the terminal.  "See a pane?"   He asked softly.

            "Yep, we're going to go see a bunch of planes."  JC nodded and pulled his hat on over his hair.  They followed Frank into the airport and quickly located the right gate.

            The three of them stood off to the side by the wall as they watched other visitors weaving in and out of the crowd.  "Daddy see Jessi?"

            "She's not here yet."  JC tugged his hat lower over his eyes and lifted Kyle up onto his hip.  "We've got another couple minutes before her plane gets here."

            "She ina sky?"

            "I think she's landed already, but yeah right now she's on the plane."

            "Ina pane?"

            "Yep."  JC smiled and took a step closer to the windows.  Frank watched every move he made and moved himself two steps closer to them.

            "Daddy we have a cake?"

            "Yep, we have the cake."

            "At home?"

            "Yep."

            "Isa bug?"  Kyle giggled.

            "You bet, it looks just like a bug.  It's white and green and yellow, just like you asked."  JC nodded and looked down at Kyle.  "But I saved the licorice and the suckers and the candles for you to put on there when we get home, if you want to."

            "Yeah."  Kyle licked his lips and reached up to brush his hair off of his forehead.  "Daddy I have a cut."

            "I know."  JC sighed.  "We'll get you a haircut before we leave.  We've gotta clean up that mess back there."

            "My sucker?"

            "Yep, your sucker left a mess."

            "Yeah."  Kyle sighed and looked out the windows.

            "Hey."  Frank said softly as he gently bumped JC's arm.  "There she is."

            JC turned away from the window quickly and scanned the crowd.  He spotted Jessica looking misplaced among the business suits and old ladies getting off the plane.  JC raised his arm and waved, then leaned over to whisper to Kyle,  "Here comes Jessica."

            "My Jessi?"  Kyle's eyes lit up as he wiggled to get a better look.  "Daddy I see?"

            "Here she comes."  JC smiled as his pulse quickened.  It'd only been 3 weeks, but he felt like he hadn't seen her in months.

            "Hi guys."  She smiled as she walked up.  Kyle pounced on her legs and raised his arms to be picked up as he giggled.  "Hey there cutie, how are you?  Are you watching the planes?"

            "I see you pane."

            "You saw my plane?"  Jessica looked surprised,  "Wow, that's awesome."

            "Yeah it high."

            "I bet it was."  She laughed then used her free arm to give JC a half hug.  He kissed her quickly then blushed as he looked over at Frank.  "I wasn't expecting to see you here."

            "I wouldn't miss this."  He smiled and scanned the crowd.  "We've gotta move though."  JC adjusted his hat on his head as he took her hand and followed Frank toward the baggage claim area.

            Jessica grabbed her small bag from the carousel and they headed out to where JC's car was parked.  Frank climbed in the front seat at Jessica's request, and she sat in the back with Kyle as they drove Frank back to his place.  When they dropped him off JC thanked him for hanging out with them that afternoon, then they headed home with Jessica sitting beside JC in the front seat.

            "Jessi have a cake."  Kyle giggled in the backseat as they turned onto the highway.

            "You what?"  Jessica turned around in her seat to look at Kyle.

            "Have a cake."  He said again.

            "We got a cake for you, it's at home."  JC explained as he looked in his mirror.  "Kyle picked it out and everything."

            "You did?"  She asked Kyle with a big smile,  "Oh I'll bet it's yummy, did you taste it?"

            "No, we wait."  Kyle shook his head.

            "Cool, we'll have to have some when we get home."  She smiled, then her heart skipped a beat.  "To your house."  She added quickly as she turned back around in her seat.

            JC smiled and looked at her sideways, it was good to hear a female voice again.  He'd forgotten how that sounded when he was around the guys and Kyle 24 hours a day.  They talked about the impending tour while they drove across town to their house.  JC pulled up into the garage with Kyle chanting in the backseat,  "Out daddy, out daddy, out daddy!"  He giggled.

            "Can I get you out?"  Jessica asked as she hopped out and opened the back door.  JC circled to the back of the car to open the back and get her suitcase out.

            "Yeah!  Out Jessi, out Jessi."  Kyle laughed and tried to get his strap undone.

            "Okay, hang on."  Jessica reached over his lap to release the straps holding Kyle into the seat.  As soon as he was out, Kyle bolted for the door leading into the house and shook the handle.  "Just a second sweetie, let your daddy open it."  Jessica said as she reached across the seat for her backpack.

            "Here, let me unlock it."  JC carried Jessica's bag at his side as he armed his car.

            "Hey there Kyle, what happened to your hair?"  Jessica smiled and gently ran her hand over the back of his head.  "Jace?"  She looked over her shoulder as JC walked up with the keys.

            "He had a run in with a sucker."  JC gave her a small smile and leaned over Kyle's head to unlock the door and push it open.

            "A sucker huh?"  Jessica laughed softly.  "Nice."

            "Sucker ina hair."  Kyle frowned and reached up to touch his hair.  "And daddy cut."

            "You cut his hair?"  She asked as she followed Kyle into the house.  He took off for the living room while JC lugged Jessica's bag into the hall.

            "I cut the sucker out, yeah.  I need to take him to a professional to clean it up though."  He shut the door behind him and glanced at the stairs, raising his eyebrow in the silent question.  Was she going to stay upstairs in his room?  Or in the guestroom.

            "Here, I can take that up."  Jessica smiled and reached for the bag.

            "I've got it."  JC grinned widely and carried the suitcase up to the master bedroom with Jessica right behind him.  "Are you going to unpack?"

            "No, we won't be here long."  She shook her head and leaned on the doorjamb.

            "Is this all your taking to Europe?"

            "Not hardly.  I loaded up a footlocker as well.  Of course it's mostly my supplies, but there are some clothes in there too.  Basically I'll be living in jeans."

            "Works for me."  JC set the suitcase on the large bed then walked over to Jessica and kissed her slowly.  "I'm glad you're here."

            She blushed and smiled, enjoying the feeling of having him close again.  "Me too."  She kissed him again then asked,  "So where's that cake?  I'm starving."

            JC laughed and released her from his embrace; "I'll go get it ready for you while you get settled in here.  Give us like, five minutes."

            "Okay."

            "Okay."  JC nodded, then leaned in to brush his lips over hers again before going back downstairs.  He bounced into the living room with a smile on his face and clapped his hands,  "Okay buddy, are you ready to decorate the cake?"

            "Isa bug?"

            "Yep, let's get your bug cake."  JC dropped his voice and picked Kyle up off the floor.  He set the toddler on the island in the kitchen and pulled the cake out of the refrigerator.  "Look at that, that's a pretty cake."

            "Isa bug cake!"  Kyle giggled and covered his mouth with his hands.  "And a candy?"

            "Yep, we've got the candy too."  JC produced a back with the candies in it and poured them onto the counter.

            "Rad."  Kyle stuck his tongue between his lips and reached for a sucker.

            "So, you think we should put the candy on the cake?"  JC asked as he looked down at the immaculately designed cake with the flawless icing.

            "Yeah."

            "You don't think we should leave it like it is?"

            "No.  We have ona cake."  Kyle shook his head.

            "But isn't the cake pretty just like that?"  JC frowned.

            Kyle sighed and looked at the bug shaped cake,  "No."

            "Okay fine, put the candies on there."  JC gave in.  After all, it was Kyle's cake for Jessica, not his.  He opened the bag of M&M's and popped a small handful into his mouth.

            "Kay."  Kyle unwrapped the sucker and stuck it stick first into the back of the bug.  "And lickris?"

            "Yep."  JC sighed and opened the box for him.

            "Thanks."  Kyle took two pieces and lay them across the top of the cake, getting his fingers in the icing as he went.

            "This is gonna be a mess."

            "No is candy."  Kyle corrected him.  "Can eat a mess."

            "Okay well hurry up, she'll be back out here in a minute."  JC said softly.

            "Kay."  Kyle reached for another sucker and stuck it in the tail end of the bug.  "You wan?"

            "No, you go ahead and do it."  JC shook his head.  "You're doing a great job."

            "Yeah."  He sighed and pondered the cake for a second before putting a line of M&M's by the bug's mouth.  JC placed a few candles sporadically around the cake with Kyle's approval and found a book of matches from some Caribbean Club in a drawer.  As he added one last piece of licorice to the middle of the cake, they heard Jessica bounding down the stairs, undoubtedly making more noise than necessary.

            "Here she comes." JC whispered as he swept the remaining candy back into the bag and placed it on top of the refrigerator.

            "Hey guys, what's going on down here?"

            "Say surprise!"  JC whispered to Kyle.

            "Prize!"  Kyle threw his arms up and giggled.

            "Oh my goodness!  What's this?"  She laughed and placed her hand over her heart.  "You scared me!"

            "Isa cake.  Isa bug!"  Kyle giggled and brought his legs up onto the counter to sit on his knees beside the cake.

            "Wow… look at that!"  Jessica beamed at the funny looking cake in front of her.  "Did you decorate it by yourself?"

            "Yeah and daddy and we have candy!"  He bounced up and down on his heels and pointed to all the different suckers and candies on the cake.

            "I see that."  She laughed.  "You did a great job, I love licorice."

            "Me too!"  Kyle giggled and pointed to the candle.  "Have a cado and you blow."  He demonstrated and waited as JC struck a match and lit the three candles in the center of the cake.

            "Wow, candles too.  You guys went all out, I sure feel special."  Jessica blushed and smiled up at JC.  "Thank you."

            "This was all Kyle's idea."  JC smiled and shook the match out.  "Make a wish."

            "It's not my birthday."

            "It doesn't have to be your birthday you goof, just make a wish and blow out the candles."  JC laughed and put his arm around her waist.  "Don’t be a party pooper."

            "I don't know what to wish for."  She said softly as she looked up into his smiling eyes.  She was standing in the presence of what she'd wish for, what more could she want?

            "I'm sure you can think of something."  JC laughed and licked his lips quickly.

            "Have a wiss."  Kyle cheered as the candles dripped wax onto the cake.

            "Okay, okay."  Jessica turned back to the cake, closed her eyes and made a wish as she blew the candles out.

            "Yay!"  Kyle giggled and clapped his hands.  "Gan!"

            "Again?"  JC laughed.

            "How about if you blow them out?"

            "Isa wiss?"

            "Sure, you can make a wish and blow them out."  JC nodded and reached for the matches.  He lit the candles again and grinned, there were three candles on the cake and on his next birthday he'd have three candles as well.  "See?"  He pointed out the candles.  "When your next birthday comes you'll be three."

            "Yeah. And you?"

            "I won't be three."

            "How?"

            "How old will I be?"  JC laughed, "I'll be old."

            "You won't be old."  Jessica laughed.

            "I'll be 25."

            "When?"

            "Like, in a week."  He looked up at her then at the cake.  "You'd better blow those out buddy or we'll be eating a wax cake."

            "Nassy."

            "Yep, that'd be nasty."  JC laughed as Kyle took a deep breath and blew the candles out.  "Okay, that's enough candle blowing for today I think, why don't we eat it?"

            "And a candy?"  Kyle eyed the licorice.

            "Sure."  Jessica laughed and took a piece of licorice off the cake.  She handed it to Kyle then took a piece for herself.  "JC?"  She reached for the third piece.

            "No, I'm good."  He smiled and shook his head as he got a knife out to cut it.  "I hope you like chocolate cake, I wasn't sure what you would want."

            "You can never go wrong with chocolate."  Jessica smiled and chewed the licorice.

            "I'll have to remember that."  He smiled flirtatiously and held her stare for a minute, then returned to cutting.  He served up three pieces of cake and they all sat around the island eating the cake and candies.

            When they were done with the cake Jessica sighed,  "Ugh, I ate too much."

            "We need to go work some of it off I think."  JC nodded.  "Wanna play tag in the back yard?"  He raised his eyebrow at Jessica, daring her to play.

            "Sure."  She stood up and placed her hand over her full stomach.  "I don't know how quick I'll be."

            "Then you're going to spend a lot of time being 'it'."  JC smiled and got up to hold the back door open.

            "We can sim?"

            "Hmm, maybe we can do that tomorrow."  JC nodded.

            "No, day."

            "No, I don't want to go swimming today.  It's starting to get late and we'll be having dinner here in a little bit."

            "Ugh, I don't think I could eat anything else.  You should have saved the cake for dessert."  Jessica laughed and stepped off the porch onto the grassy lawn.

            "Heck no, we wanted it to be a special cake, eaten before dinner."  JC smiled.

            "Oh, I see."  She looked around the big backyard and smiled.  "I have a better idea."

            "Better than what?"

            "Better than tag."

            "What's your idea that’s better than tag?"

            "Swinging."  Jessica walked quickly over to the swings and sat down on the closest one.  Kyle followed her and tried to climb into the toddler seat on the swing next to her.  JC helped him in then gave him a big push.

            "How is this more fun than tag?  You guys are the only ones swinging."  JC whined as he gave Jessica's back a soft push.

            "It's more fun for me."  Jessica laughed and looked over at Kyle.  "Is this fun?"

            "Yeah."  He answered with a big grin.

            "See?  We're having fun."

            "I guess that's the important part."  JC shrugged.

            "Well if you would have gotten the play thing with three swings…"

            "Yeah, yeah, yeah it's all my fault."  He laughed and shook his head.  "I get it."

            "So what are we going to do on Saturday?  Are you all packed, or is that something we have to do?"

            "You came out so that you could relax, not pack my bags."  JC sighed and pushed her again.

            "Yeah, but why do I have the feeling that I'll be doing that as well?"

            "Nah, I'm almost all packed, I'll get that done tonight.  I'll need to pack Kyle's things tomorrow though, I need to get him some more shorts though I think."

            "Okay."

            "But on Saturday it's going to be all about hanging out."  JC smiled wistfully.  "Our last real day of freedom.  No meetings, no phone calls, no nothing."

            "You should run away."  Jessica whispered.

            "We should."  He whispered back.

            "Yeah."  Her face broke out into a big smile,  "We should run away and never come back."

            "Where would we run to?"

            "Paris."

            "We're going to Paris."  JC laughed.

            "Oh yeah."  Jessica laughed and sighed.  "Okay nevermind then."

            "We run?"  Kyle asked as he swung back and forth.

            "Yep, we're running away on Sunday."  JC nodded.  "But seriously, on Saturday we should do something.  Maybe Disney?"

            "No, not Disney."  Jessica made a face.

            "You've got something against Mickey?"

            "No, but if we go there we've got like a 80-20 chance that you'll get recognized and bombarded and we'd have to take a security crew."

            "True."

            "And Kyle wants to swim…"

            "Yeah…?"

            "Maybe we can go to the beach."

            "You think I won't get recognized on the beach?"  JC laughed and gave both her and Kyle another push.

            "I think you have less of a chance of getting recognized."  Jessica looked over her shoulder at him."

            "Okay, you've got me there."

            "And Kyle loves the beach, right Kyle?"

            "Isa ossin?"

            "Yeah, do you want to go to the ocean on Saturday?"  She asked.

            "Kay."  He shrugged, and held on tight to the chains.

            "That'll be fun, we can get a little sun before we go sit on a tour bus for eight weeks."  Jessica sighed.

            "Oh stop, you won't be on a bus the whole time.  You'll have all kinds of free time to sunbathe."

            "Is that what you think?"  She laughed and dragged her feet on the ground to stop herself from swinging.  "You're crazy."

            "You're crazy."

            "No, you're crazy."  She shook her head and stood up.  "There, your turn."  She scooted out of the way and let JC sit on the swing.

            "So you wanna go to the beach on Saturday?"  He asked.

            "Yeah."  Jessica laughed.

            "Yeah."  Kyle laughed with her.  "Ina ossin."

            "It'll be fun."  She smiled and tickled JC's back when he swung back.

            "Hey, you don't have to convince me."  JC kicked his legs out to get some speed going, which was hard because the chains were so short.  "I'm all for the beach."

            "Cool."  Jessica smiled and gave Kyle a big push, then they discussed which beach they would go to and all of the other plans they would need to make for the day.  After a while on the swings they got off and played on the playset for a while.

            Kyle's new favorite game was running around yelling,  "Get me!"  while everyone else chased him.  Without trying to, Jessica was suckered into a game of tag with Kyle while JC watched from the sidelines.

            When the sun began to set they all headed back into the house to catch their breath,  "I'm gonna make some dinner, why don't you guys run upstairs?"  JC smiled, secretly wanting just a few minutes to himself.

            "Oooh, you're going to make dinner?"  Jessica raised her eyebrow at him.  "You've become domesticated."

            "Yes, I have." JC laughed.

            "What are you going to make?"

            "It's a secret."  JC laughed and kissed her quickly before he rubbed Kyle's head,  "Why don't you go show Jessica your new doghouse for Lello?"

            Jessica gasped and looked at Kyle, "Lello has a dog house?"

            "Yeah!"  Kyle giggled and took off running for the stairs.  "Come Jessi!"

            "Well you'd better go."  JC smiled.

            "Have fun making dinner."  She smirked as she followed Kyle up the stairs.

            "I will."  He laughed back, then went into the kitchen to get everything ready.

 

            Kyle stood at his door waiting for Jessica to get up the stairs so he could show her.  "Jessi see?"  He led her into the room to a corner where there was a cloth dog carrier on top of his dresser.  His familiar floppy dog was half hanging out of it with his sly, stitched on grin tilted sideways.

            "Wow, that's a great little house!  Are you going to take that with you when we go on vacation?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded and pulled it down.  "See?"  He used his tiny hands and shoved Lello all the way into the carrier, practically bending him in half.  "Is in we go."

            "That's pretty cool."  Jessica smiled.  "He fits all the way in there so you can take him with you places.  That's awesome."

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded, and tossed the dog, carrier and all onto his bed.  "No mosser ina bed."  He shook his head and looked at his bed.  There was a new bedspread on it that was covered with jungle animals and huge green leaves.

            "No monsters?"

            "No.  They go and say bye."

            "Oh… well that’s good.  Monsters don't belong in the house with us."

            "No."  Kyle shook his head.  "Daddy cawin mosser cops."

            "That's right, he calls the monster cops."  Jessica laughed lightly.  She'd forgotten that whole incident, but obviously Kyle hadn't.  She wondered how many times the monster cops had had to come out to secure Kyle's room since she left.

            "Uh oh."  Kyle pulled her hand and looked worried almost.  "Go?"

            "What?"

            "I go."

            "You go where?"

            "Now."  Kyle pulled at her hand again and stomped his foot.

            "Where do you want to go Kyle?"  Jessica stood up from the bed and looked down at him.  "Do you want to go outside?"

            "No, potty."  Kyle let go of her hand and ran down the hall to the bathroom.

            "Oh!"  Jessica gasped as she ran after him,  "I'm sorry sweetie, I didn't know what you meant."  She shook her head and opened the bathroom door to find Kyle fighting with the snap on the front of his pants.

            "Howp."

            "Okay, hang on.  Just hold it for one more second honey."  She knelt in front of him and unsnapped his pants.  She quickly shimmied them down and aimed him toward the toddler sized plastic toilet in the corner.  "Go for it."

            "Yeah."  Kyle shuffled over to the potty with his pants around his ankles, sat down and went about his business.

            Jessica snuck out of the bathroom and went down to the kitchen where JC was getting dinner ready,  "JC, he's completely potty trained."

            "I know."  JC carefully cut a carrot into little coin sized pieces.  "Well, no.  Not completely.  He still has accidents at night sometimes so we still use pull ups, but during the day he's cool."

            "That's amazing."

            "How is that amazing?"  JC laughed.  "It's what happens, everyone is potty trained."

            "Yeah, but he's so young.  Boys usually take a little longer.  My godson wasn't potty trained until after he was three.  You've got an exceptionally bright little boy there."  She smiled and leaned on the counter.

            "Yeah, well, that runs in the family."  He smirked and popped a carrot piece in his mouth.  "When he was sick a few weeks ago he was home from school for a couple days so we had all kinds of free time to work on the whole potty issue."  JC shrugged and returned to cutting vegetables.  "I wanted him to be prepared when we go to Europe, just to cut down on the diaper duty and stuff."  He laughed and slid the carrots into the large wooden bowl with lettuce and tomatoes already in it.

            "True."

            "So see?  We're set.  Kyle lets us know when he has to go and we take him.  It's a cool system really."  JC glanced to the hall as Kyle walked into the kitchen.  "Right buddy?  When you have to go potty what do you do?"

            "I say I go."  Kyle grinned as Jessica knelt in front of him and snapped his pants.

            "Who do you tell?  Do you tell a grown up or another kid?"

            "Tell any."  Kyle giggled and climbed like a mountain goat up onto the barstool beside the counter.  "Tell daddy and Jessi and Jussin and Fank."

            "Or Joey or Chris or Lance."

            "Tell Jaxo."  Kyle laughed.

            "No you silly goose, you don't tell Jackson.  Jackson is a dog!"

            "Tell Jaxo I go."  Kyle giggled again and tried to climb up on the counter.

            "Stay down Kyle, I'm cutting here with a knife."

            "Is owie?"

            "Yep, knives can cut you, ouch!"  JC nodded.  "So I need you to stay there on your seat and just watch, okay?"

            "Kay."

            "You like cucumbers?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded and slapped his hands on the counter as he sat back down.

            "Cool."  JC slid a few pieces over and winked at Kyle.  "He likes his vegetables."  He smiled over at Jessica as Kyle nibbled on the cucumber slices.

            "Uh oh daddy."

            "Uh oh what?"

            "I no have star."  Kyle looked at the back of his hand, then at his shirt.  "No star."

            "Uh oh."  JC smiled and reached above the refrigerator for a small brown bag.  "Lets see, what kind of star do you want today?"

            "Ummm…"  Kyle peered into the bag.  "This."  He reached in and pulled out a green glitter star.

            "Good choice.   Where do you want to stick it?"  JC took the sticker and peeled it off the backing before affixing it to Kyle's shirt, right where he pointed.  "Good job buddy.  We're going to have to buy more stickers before we go on our trip."

            "Yeah."  Kyle sighed and JC went back to cutting.

            "He gets a star when he goes in the toilet.  We go through a lot of stars."  JC smiled and reached for the celery.  "They were a great teaching tool, but now it's like, how do I stop?  He'll be the only kid in high school that still wants a sticker when he pees."  He laughed and chopped as he spoke.

            "Do I get one?"  Jessica asked with a smile.

            "A star?"  JC looked up quickly.

            "Yeah."  She laughed and sat beside Kyle.  "Can I get a star too Kyle?"

            "You go?"

            "I - "  She stopped and tried not to laugh,  "I didn't go just now, no."

            "You go and have star."  Kyle nodded.

            "That's right."  JC laughed and scraped the celery into the bowl with the carrots.  "You have to go in the toilet to get a star."

            "Does your daddy get stars?"  She asked Kyle.

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded then frowned.  "Daddy you have?"

            "Nope, I don't get stars.  They're only for kids, not daddies."

            "Jessi?"

            "Jessica can have one, sure.  But she has to go in the toilet."  JC smiled as the doorbell rang.  "I'll get it."

            "Are you expecting company?"  Jessica asked.

            "Not exactly."  JC smiled over his shoulder as Jessica and Kyle followed him to the door.  He pulled it open and was greeted with a grinning kid in a pizza delivery outfit holding two steaming hot pizza boxes.

            "You ordered pizza?"  Jessica laughed.  "I thought you were making dinner."

            "I made the salad."  He said defensively as he handed the kid a twenty and told him to keep the change.  He shut the door then carried the boxes to the kitchen.

            "Oh daddy!  I have cheese?"

            "Yep, we've got a cheese pizza here for you."  JC set them on the counter and opened the first one.  "Plain pepperoni."  He looked up at Jessica;  "Can you please get some paper plates down?  They're in the pantry on the top shelf."

            "Sure."  She smiled and shook her head as she got the 'fine china' off the shelf.  JC dished everyone up and set the plates on the table then got out salad bowls and forks.  He made a small bowl for Kyle and dribbled ranch dressing over it and set it at his place.

            "Did you want salad?"  JC asked, holding the wooden bowl out to her.

            "Of course, I'd love to test your cooking."  She laughed and dished herself up some salad.  She poured the dressing on then sat beside Kyle, leaving the end seat for JC.

 

Jessica was impressed with his salad making skills and raved about it all through the meal, just to give him a hard time.  When they were done Kyle wanted to watch a movie so they put a cartoon on and sat around the living room just kicking back and relaxing.  After the movie Kyle stumbled upstairs and let JC bathe him before he got ready for bed.  Kyle insisted that Jessica read him a story before bed, so JC left them alone and Jessica sat on the little bed with a handful of books.

            Kyle scooted close to her and rested his head on her arm, then wrapped his tiny arms around her waist.  She stared at him for a second as her heart did cartwheels in her chest.  Something inside her wanted to grab Kyle and just never let him go, and she wasn't used to that kind of feeling.  She'd loved Kyle since the beginning, but this was something more and she wasn't sure what to do about it.

            "I love you sweetie."  She whispered as she hugged him and kissed is cheek.

            "Love too."  Kyle smiled, then settled against her so she could read the stories.

            Jessica read three stories and was halfway through the fourth when she noticed that Kyle was asleep. She carefully slid out from under him and tugged his thin blanket up to cover him.  "Good night Kyle."  Jessica knelt over him and ran her hand over his head, as the feeling continued.  "Wow…"

            JC glanced in as he passed by the room and smiled.  Jessica had the look of awe on her face, and he knew that expression well.  It was the same one he had when he first watched Kyle sleep, knowing he belonged to him.  He tapped on the door softly and nodded toward the master bedroom to let her know that he was heading to bed himself.  She nodded in response, then kissed Kyle's sleeping cheek again and followed JC to his room.

 

            JC stood in the corner of the room to undress while Jessica went to the bathroom to wash her face and get ready for bed.  When she was done they traded places and she pulled the sheets back on the bed.  "Are you excited about Europe?"  She asked as she slid under the covers, watching JC brush his teeth in the bathroom.

            JC spit into the sink, then rinsed his mouth with tap water.  He wiped his mouth on the towel and turned to her,  "I'm excited about spending eight weeks with you." 

            "Yeah?"

            "That'll be the best part."  JC smiled as he turned the light off and lifted the sheet on his side.  He slid under the sheet and pulled her close to him.  "Too bad we have to work and stuff."

            "Yeah, we'll have to talk to Sean about that.  See if he can get someone to cover for you or something."  Jessica laughed as JC kissed her.

            "We'll just dress Wade up again."  He smiled and nuzzled her neck before kissing it softly.

            "Do you want me to pack - "

            "Shhh."  JC placed his finger on her lips.  "The only thing I want you to do is stop talking and let me do this right." He whispered with a sly smile.  When he kissed her next he took a moment to trail his fingers from her lips, down her neck to her chest.  He could feel her heart rate quicken with each move he made and that only made him react quicker.

            Jessica's arms went around JC to hold him closer and deepened their kiss, keeping him there till they were both breathless.  The whole afternoon she'd thought about JC and wondered if it would be the same as when she left.  They'd been apart longer than they were together and she wasn't sure they could pick right up where they left off, but the pressure of his hips on hers let her know that they could, and would.

            JC worked as slow as he could, to savor every minute he had with her.  Once they were on the road he knew private time would be hard to come by, so he would need these last few days and hours to think back on.  Their underclothes were kicked to the bottom of the bed under the sheets and then completely forgotten as they lost themselves in each other.  They paused only briefly for protection, then continued on with their original plan.

            The sex was like candy, once you have a piece you want a handful.  When they finally collapsed into each others arms it was after two in the morning and they had long since shed the sheets.  JC crawled to the bottom of the bed and pulled the sheets back up slowly, kissing Jessica from her toes on up to her hip, where he stopped to avoid any further action.  His body ached and he just wanted to curl up next to Jessica and sleep until noon, but he knew Kyle would be up long before that.

            JC pulled the sheet up around his shoulder, covering Jessica in the process, then wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes to join her in sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

            Shortly after eight the next morning, JC's alarm clock went off beside the bed.  IT was unusual for the alarm to wake him up before Kyle did, and it took a minute for him to recognize the sound.  "Oh man."  He extended his arm behind him and searched blindly for the snooze button.  By the time he found it, he considered himself awake.

            Jessica stirred slightly against his chest and he smiled as the warmth of her bare body radiated between them.  "Hey."  JC whispered softly.

            "Hrm."  Jessica barely made a sound, and didn't move at all.

            "Do you want to shower first?"  JC mumbled as his warm breath tickled the back of her neck.

            "No, you can go."  She said without opening her eyes.

            "You can if you want."  He just didn't want to have to get out of bed.

            "Really, it's okay."  Jessica yawned and snuggled under the sheets.  "I'll wait."  She smiled; she knew his plan.

            "You suck."  JC laughed lightly, and slid out from under the covers.  He went into the bathroom without a word and started the shower.  Jessica got another twenty minutes of snooze time before JC came out all cleaned up and ready to go.  His hair was still a little damp and the curls were barely under control.

            "You should always have wet hair."  Jessica mumbled as she cracked her eyes open.

            "Oh yeah?"  He waggled his eyebrow at her and leaned down to kiss her cheek.  "I'll keep that in mind.  Do you want breakfast?"

            "No, I'm okay."  She stretched her arms over her head.  "I'll be down in a minute."

            "I have to leave in a half hour."

            "Okay.  I'll take a power shower."

            "A power shower?"

            "You don't want to know."  Jessica smiled and gently kicked him off the bed.

            "Okay, I'll see you down there in a few minutes.  Don't dawdle."

            "I won't."

            "That means get out of bed."

            "I'm going, I'm going."  Jessica sighed and threw her legs over the side of the bed, keeping the top sheet pressed against her bare chest.  When he was satisfied that she was awake enough to make it to the shower he shut the door and went down to Kyle's room to get him up.

            "Hey buddy, are you awake?"  JC asked as he looked into Kyle's room.

            "Daddy?"  Kyle asked and JC opened the door all the way.

            "Kyle?"  JC looked around, but it sounded like Kyle's voice was far away.

            "Daddy here."  Kyle said louder from the stairs.  "We go?"

            "Oh hey there you are.  I didn't know you were awake already."  JC smiled.  "And uh… dressed."  He looked at Kyle's attire.  "That's what you're wearing?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle nodded and looked down at his flip-flop sandals, sweat bottoms on backward and a sweater vest that JC didn't remember buying.

            "Oooookay."  JC laughed and followed Kyle down the stairs.  The little boys hair stuck out at every angle, accentuating the bald spot on the back.  "What do you want for breakfast little man?"

            "Eggs."

            "Eggs and what else?"

            "Cheese."

            "Eggs and cheese.  Like in a omelet?"

            Kyle shrugged and climbed up onto a barstool.  "Yeah?"

            "Right on, how about an orange or something?"

            "Umm."  Kyle thought for a minute.  "Have a pie appo?"

            "Nope, we don't have any pine apple."  JC shook his head and opened the fridge.  "Actually, all we have are oranges, so why don't I cut one up for you?" 

            "Kay."  Kyle sighed and leaned onto the counter to watch JC make their breakfast.  He cut up the orange and set it on the table where Kyle's seat was, when they sat down to eat it'd be ready for him.

            Just as JC finished making their omelets, Jessica walked in wearing shorts and a t-shirt but no shoes.  "Good morning."  She smiled, much more human-like after a shower.

            "Good morning.  Are you sure you don't want anything?"  JC held up his plate to show the omelet.

            "I'm fine."  She shook her head and sat at the table.  "What are you having Kyle?"

            "Eggs and cheese."

            "Sounds good." Jessica yawned again and rolled her shoulders to stretch them out.

            "Come on buddy, you need to sit at the table."  JC balanced two plates in one hand and helped Kyle off the stool.  "Climb up in your seat please."

            "I eat it all?"  Kyle asked when JC set his plate in front of him.

            "You need to eat as much as you can, it's good for you."

            "No cheese?"

            "The cheese is inside."  JC cut Kyle's omelet into bite sized pieces then started on his own.  "It's good, you'll like it."

            "Kay."  Kyle shrugged and took a tentative bite.  "I like cheese daddy."

            "I know you do tough guy."  JC smiled.  "Did you want to come with us today?"  He asked Jessica as he took a bite.

            "Actually, I was thinking about taking Kyle to get his hair cut and maybe hit the park or something."  Jessica said as she looked over at Kyle nibbling on his orange slices.  "That way you won't have to try to find time to do that before you go."  She explained.

            "Yeah, he's got that whole bald spot thing going there.  Can you just have the buzz it like before kind of?  Like a mini-Justin?"  JC reached for the pepper for his eggs.

            "Yeah, no problem."  Jessica nodded.

            "So you're going to do that all day?"

            "No offense, but I'm sure he could use a change.  He's been with you at the studio for two weeks now."  She reached over and took an orange from Kyle.  "Are these pretty good?"

            "Yeah.  Have two?" Kyle handed her another one.

            "Thanks."

            "Wecome."  He nodded and took a bite of the peel.

            "You like the peel?"  Jessica made a face.

            "Yeah."

            JC shrugged.  "He's a weird kid, but I guess there's vitamins in that too."

            "I'm sure there is, but doesn't it taste bad?"  She looked over at Kyle as he chewed on the peel.  "Isn't it gross?"

            "No, yummy."  Kyle giggled.  "Yummy ina tummy."  He laughed again and rubbed his stomach.

            "Well okay then."  Jessica laughed and peeled the orange slice away from the peel before she ate it.  "Do you want to go get a haircut today?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle wiped his juicy mouth on the napkin at his side.  "My sucker isa mess."  He ran his sticky hand over his hair.  "And get shoe?"

            "Shoes?"  Jessica looked at JC.  "Does he need shoes?"

            "He might."  JC shrugged and took a bite of his toast.

            "Do you want me to pick some up?"

            "Yeah, if you don't mind."

            "I don't mind at all."  She shook her head.  "Is there anything else you guys need for Europe that I can pick up?"

            "I think we're covered."  JC shrugged.  "I've got all my jeans and t-shirts and stuff all packed up already, then you're taking care of the wardrobes, right?"

            "Yep."  Jessica took a bite of the orange, then wiped her mouth.  "Is there anything else Kyle needs?"

            "I don't think so.  He still fits in most of his clothes.  I can't believe how many of his old clothes don't fit anymore, I didn't know kids grew that much that fast."

            "It's crazy huh?  And by the time we get back from Europe, some of the clothes he has now may not fit."

            "I can see why they say raising a kid costs twice as much as your mortgage payments a month."  JC laughed.  "I'd have to agree."

            Jessica looked around at her surroundings and laughed,  "Do you deck him out in Baby Armani?  Because I'm betting your mortgage payment is huge on this place."

            "You know what I mean."  JC smiled.  "It costs a lot to raise a kid, I don't know how Lori was able to do it."  He added softly.

            "You'd be surprised at what you can do when you have to."  Jessica smiled and looked at Kyle.  "Speaking of Lori… has she called or anything?"

            "Yeah, she called last week to say hi.  She's all settled into her new apartment now and is talking about getting a car I think."

            "That's good."  Jessica nodded, and she meant it.

            "Yeah it is."  JC took a drink of his juice.  "We're going to go see her the week we get back from Europe, so Kyle will get to see her pretty soon."

            "The week you get back?  That's a lot of flying for the little guy."

            "We're flying straight through to LA on the way back, instead of stopping in Florida.  Then we'll be there for I think four or five days to visit, and then we'll be home."

            "Wow, that's gonna be crazy."  Jessica's mind numbed at the thought of what would add up to be days on a plane she was sure.

            "Yeah but that's better than coming home for a week and leaving again." JC shrugged.

            "True."  She smiled.  "And you've got a couple months to think about it."  She added as she stood up and took her plate to the sink.  "So Kyle, how would you like to go shopping today?"

            "Yeah!"  He threw his hands over his head and laughed, then took another bite of his eggs.

            "Right on!"  Jessica laughed.

            "Yep, you guys can go shopping while I go work my butt off."

            "Daddy you work and Jessi and me sop."

            Jessica and JC laughed out loud,  "Typical."   JC rolled his eyes and for a spilt second saw what a 'normal' family life would be like.  Dad heading off to work, mom and child going shopping.  He sighed and shook his head slightly; he was living the 2001 version of a Norman Rockwell painting.

 

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Copyright � 2002, Amy Lynn