As the sun shone through the curtains early the next morning, Jessica's arm reached out to the far side of the bed.  She was met with cool sheets and an empty pillow where JC should have been.  She crawled out of bed and tip toed down the hall to Kyle's room where she slowly pushed the door open and smiled.

            Curled up on the tiny toddler sized bed was JC with Kyle sound asleep against his chest.  The little boys' head was nestled between JC's elbows, which didn't look comfortable at all but somehow they both looked content.  Jessica smiled and carefully nudged the door shut to let them sleep a little longer.  With Kyle beside him in such a small bed, she knew that JC probably didn't get much sleep.

            Jessica went downstairs and walked around in the warm silence of the house, pretending it was her house and she was home alone on a lazy Saturday morning.  She walked barefoot into the living room and sat in the single sun splash on the couch by the window.  The cushion was warm as she curled her feet up under her and reached for an old issue of Entertainment Weekly on the end table.

            She didn't get very far before there was a thump upstairs and footsteps on the stairs.  "Shh, we have to be quiet Kyle.  We don't want to wake Jessica up."  JC whispered as they walked into the kitchen behind her.

            "Where she?"  Kyle whispered.

            "She's upstairs, so we have to be quiet down here."  JC pulled the refrigerator open and resettled Kyle on his hip.

            "No daddy."  Kyle said in a normal voice as he spotted her on the couch.

            "Shhh, we have to be quiet."  JC held his finger to his lips.

            "Daddy see Jessi."  Kyle pointed to the living room and wiggled to be set down.  "I have pankay and nana and gapes?"  He asked as he ran over to where she was sitting.

            "Good morning."  She smiled as she looked up at JC.

            "G'morning."  He nodded and smiled slowly.  JC watched as Kyle crawled up on the couch beside Jessica, sidled up to her side and made himself comfortable across her legs.  She put her magazine down on the floor and wrapped her arm around his waist to give him some support then asked him what he was going to put on his pancakes.

            "Put nassing."

            "Nothing?  You're going to eat them plain?"

            "Yeah."

            "That's pretty silly."  Jessica made a face at him and tickled his sides.  "You're a silly boy."

            "No you!"  Kyle laughed and tried to tickle her under her chin.

            She laughed and tried to duck away from his fingers and said, “No you are!"  They tickled each other in a mini wrestling match on the couch surrounded by a chorus of giggles.

            "You guys are both silly."  JC smiled and leaned on the counter.

            "Daddy silly."  Kyle laughed and looked up at JC; he'd forgotten he was there.  "Have pankays and nassing?”

            “You bet.”  JC nodded and looked in the pantry to get the things out to make breakfast, while Kyle and Jessica continued their tickle attack on the couch.

 

            They enjoyed breakfast outside on the patio table and talked about how much fun Kyle was having at school and all of his little friends.  He told Jessica all about how Chad comes over to play sometimes with Joey and how Katie and Cassie are twins, “They same.”  Kyle explained.  He ran inside a dozen time to find projects he’d done to show to Jessica, forgetting that he’d shown her already twice in the week she’d been there.  But she showed just as much enthusiasm and listened to his toddler speak babble with genuine interest.

            After a while Kyle and JC took to digging holes under the bushes lining JC’s security wall while Jessica went back inside to start to get her things packed.  Her flight left early the next morning and she’d already put it off as long as she could.  She knew it would take at least an hour to get all of her things located and back in the suitcase, she only hoped they all fit back inside.

            When she was done she set her suitcases against the wall and looked up at the bookshelf in the guestroom.  She hadn't taken the time to notice the books when she got there and hadn't spent many nights in the room after that.  The books were in alphabetical order by author for the first two shelves, then shoved haphazardly onto the bottom three shelves.  On the shelf at her eye level she found a row of Patricia Cornwell books, several of which she hadn't read yet.  "JC?"  She asked over her shoulder, not sure if he was even in the house.

            "Yeah?"  His voice grew closer as he walked by the room.  "Jess?"

            "In here."  She said as she pulled two of the books out.  "You like Patricia Cornwell?"

            "Hmm?  JC stepped into the room and saw her looking at the books.  "Oh, yeah.  I love those kinds of forensic investigation type books."  He nodded and put his hands in his pockets.  "You?"

            "I love her stories.  Kay Scarpetta is like a close friend of mine."   Jessica laughed.  "But I haven't read these two, would you mind if I borrowed them?  They'd be perfect to read on the plane."

            "Sure, of course.  You can borrow any book you want."  JC looked at the shelves.

            "You've got a wide variety here."

            "Yeah.  My favorites are the true crime stories though.  With the pictures in the middle?" He laughed.  "It's morbid, I know."

            "I know what you mean, I love seeing the crime scene pictures, even if they're black and white.  It's gross, but I love it."

            "We'll get along just fine."  JC laughed and sat on the bed.

            "Have you read the Sue Grafton series?  A is for Alibi,  B is for Burglar… that whole alphabet series?"

            "No, is it good?"

            "I loved it."  Jessica nodded.  "It's about this private investigator, and each book is another case that she's working on.  Kinsey Milhone is kind of like Kay Scarpetta.  I mean, they're addicting characters."

            "Cool.  I'll have to check them out."

            "I can bring some on the road if you want."  Jessica smiled as she thought about heading out on the road with JC.

            "I doubt I'll get much time to read."  He sighed and made a face.  "But yeah, go ahead and bring some, hopefully I'll get a few minutes at night."

            "Okay."  Jessica leaned down to kiss him quickly while he sat on the corner of the bed.  "Is Kyle napping?"

            "Yeah."  JC nodded and tried not to yawn.  "That actually sounds like a good idea."

            "It does."  Jessica covered her mouth and crawled up onto the bed that had been empty most of the week.  She fell on top of the cool blankets and gently kicked JC's behind, “You're in my way."

            "Mind if I join you?"

            "Not at all."

            "Good."  JC fell over sideways and bent his knees so they were touching Jessica's.  They lay on the bed facing each other in the half darkness, then let their eyes drift closed.  "You're really leaving tomorrow?"  JC murmured softly.

            "Yep."  She paused and smiled as she fluffed the pillow under her head.  "We're going to have so much fun in Europe.  It's hard to believe this is my job."

            "I wish this was your job."  JC opened his eyes and let them trail down her face to her neck as he reached out and scooted her closer to him.  "I'd give you a raise and let you work all kinds of overtime."  He laughed softly.

            "Oh really?  Maybe we can work something out, you know… so I can do this on the side?"

            "I might be able to pull some strings."  JC kissed her softly then sighed and relaxed into the feather pillow under his head.

            They dozed in each others arms for more than an hour before Kyle stumbled down the hall calling for JC.  "Daddy?  Daddy?  I potty.  You go bye?  Daddy?"  He opened the hall closet in search of JC, then stepped into the guestroom.  "I see daddy, no hide.  Daddy?  Hi!"  He crawled up onto the bed and over JC's legs.

            "Hey buddy."  JC's groggy voice woke Jessica from her deep nap.

            "Daddy a nap?"

            "Yeah, I was taking a nap."  JC pushed himself up onto his elbow.

            "I potty."

            "You have to go potty?"  He woke up a little more.

            "No I go!"  Kyle giggled and bounced on the bed.

            "Oh God."  Jessica rubbed her eyes, “Where did you go sweetie?"

            "Oh no."  JC closed his eyes, waiting to hear that Kyle had gone in the kitchen or something.

            Kyle just sighed and shook his head, “Ina potty."

            "You went in the potty?"  JC opened his eyes and looked at Kyle with a surprised expression.

            "Yeah."

            "By yourself?"

            "And Lello."  Kyle nodded and crossed his legs indian style on the bed between JC and Jessica's legs.  "We go ouside."

            "Sure, yeah we can go outside." JC grunted as he sat up and rolled his shoulders.  "What do you want to do outside?"

            "Swing!"  Kyle threw his hands up and fell back laughing.

            "Right on."  JC yawned and leaned over Jessica's legs to grab Kyle off the bed.  "Let's go."

            "Jessi too?"  Kyle looked down at Jessica as she stretched out her legs.

            "Sure."

            "Have a possick?"

            JC checked his watch and nodded, “Yeah we can have a popsicle too."  He smiled and looked back at Jessica, “Cherry?"

            "Cherry."  She smiled as she pushed herself up to a sitting position.

            They took their popsicles outside and sat on the play set with their feet dangling over the side.  "Daddy what dow?"

            "Hmm?"  JC sucked on the bottom of his popsicle to keep it from dripping down the stick.

            "What dow?"

            "What's down?"  JC asked, licking his purple lips.

            "Yeah."  Kyle bit the end off and chewed on the frozen treat.

            JC looked down between his feet, “Just grass."  He shrugged.  "Grass and dirt."

            "And bug?"

            "I'm sure there are some bugs down there, sure." JC nodded and licked a drip off before it could reach his hand.  "Maybe even a worm."

            "A tato?"

            "A potato?"

            "Ina dirt."

            "A potato in the dirt?" JC gave him a weird look.

            "Potatoes grow in the dirt."  Jessica smiled.  "We had a discussion about that the other day when we were eating french fries."

            "You what?"  JC laughed and looked from Kyle to Jessica.

            "I don’t know, I said something about french fries being potatoes and we started talking."  Jessica laughed and sucked at the side of her popsicle.

            JC's eyes crinkled at the sides as he laughed and swung his feet, “You guys are nuts."  He shook his head and looked at Kyle, “We don't have potatoes in our dirt, nope."

            "Maybe?"

            "Nope, not at all."

            "Maybe lato?"

            "Later?"  JC asked.

            "Yeah lato we have."  Kyle nodded.

            "Sure, I don't see why not.  Maybe when we get back from Europe we can plant some vegetables or something."

            "A tato."  Kyle nodded.

            "You bet."  JC smiled and licked his thumb as the popsicle juice dribbled toward his wrist.  "Hey."  He swung his foot over and tapped Jessica's.  "You busy tonight?"

            "I don't know… am I?"  She smiled slowly and kicked him back.

            "I made reservations at the Yacht Club."  He nodded.

            "Really?"

            "Uh huh."

            "Do you have a yacht?"

            "No."  JC shook his head.  "But you don't have to own one to have dinner."

            "I didn't know you were a member of a yacht club."

            "I'm not.  But I know a guy."  JC laughed softly then kissed her.  "So do you want to go?"

            "Is this our date?"

            "Yep."

            "I'd love to go."  She nodded.  "Did you call Lance and Amy?"

            "Yep.  They're expecting Kyle at five."  JC bit his popsicle and ate it all in a few small bites.  He chewed as he made a face, then said, “Brain freeze, hang on."

            "I see Laaance?"  Kyle asked as his popsicle dripped juice on his legs.

            "Yep, you get to go see them tonight, you'll get to play with their dogs too."  Jessica smiled.

            "Can feed?"

            "I don't know you'll have to ask."  She shrugged.

            "Our reservations are at six thirty, so we'll miss the sunset… but I figured this way the timing will be good.  We can drop Kyle off just in time for dinner there, then go out to Cocoa Beach, and by the time we get back, he'll be asleep."

            "Cocoa Beach?"

            "Yeah."

            "Isn't that far?"

            "Eh, about an hour."  JC smiled.  "It's worth it, really."

            "Okay."  Jessica licked around the bottom of her popsicle and smiled with bright red lips.  "I can't wait."  She added softly.

            "Jessi we go ina pool?"  Kyle asked as he chewed on his popsicle.

            Jessica looked at JC and raised her eyebrow, “Can we go in the pool?"

            "Sure, of course."  He nodded as he licked the last bit of popsicle from the stick.  "That way you can get all that sticky popsicle off of you." JC laughed and poked at Kyle's side to make him laugh.  "You're all sticky, eww."

            "No you."  Kyle laughed and poked back at JC.

            "I'm not all sticky."  JC shook his head, “Gross."

            "Jessi is."  Kyle laughed and leaned forward to look at Jessica.

            "No way Jose, I'm not sticky."  She shook her head and stood up as she finished the last of her popsicle.

            "Yeah you."  Kyle laughed.

            "No you."  She laughed and lifted Kyle up off the floor.  "Come on sticky boy; let's go get your swimsuit on and go swimming."  They both laughed as she tickled his sides and sat at the top of the slide on the far end.  "Are you ready?"  She positioned him on her lap, then pushed off and soared down the yellow plastic slide.

            "Wow!"  Kyle shouted as they hit the grass below.  "Gan Jessi."

            "We'll do that again after we get this sticky mess off of you."  She laughed and bounced him on her hip.  "What kind of swim shorts do you want to wear today?"

            "Hey wait for me."  JC held onto the railing of the little bridge they were sitting on, and jumped to the ground.  "Come here buddy."  JC reached out his arms for Kyle as he walked up.

            "No Jessi."  Kyle held tight to Jessica's shirt.

            "Denied."  JC shook his head.  "Do you like Jessica more than you like me?"

            "I like."  Kyle nodded.

            "You don't like me any more?"  JC pretended to pout.

            "Yeah."

            "You don't?"

            "I like daddy."  Kyle nodded.  "And Jessi."

            "Yeah but you don’t want me to carry you?"  JC's bottom lip protruded as he pretended to sniffle.  "You never let me carry you anymore."

            "Yeah daddy carry ina nigh."

            "I carry you at night?"

            "Yeah."

            "What about during the day?"

            "Ummmm."  Kyle thought for a minute.  "No now daddy.  Now Jessi."  Kyle explained as they walked into the house and up the stairs to his bedroom.

            "Maybe you can carry him down the stairs when we're done."  Jessica said over her shoulder as they stepped into his room and went to his dresser in the corner.

            "Daddy can carry dow."

            "Gee thanks."  JC rolled his eyes and laughed.  Jessica sat Kyle on the floor and opened his drawers to let him choose his swim shorts.

            Kyle chose his shorts with surfers and waves all over them, “Daddy?"  He asked as he took them to the bed to sit down.

            "Hmm?"  JC sat on the bed beside him and tugged his shirt over his head.

            "Like and love you."  Kyle sighed.

            "Aww, well I like and love you too kiddo."  JC dropped Kyle's shirt on the floor and pulled him close for a hug.

            "And Jessi daddy."  Kyle said softly into JC's shoulder.

            "And Jessi."  JC whispered back as he glanced over to where she was standing by the closet.

            “Okay.”  Kyle sighed and stood up so that JC could get him in his swim shorts.  “Now we go simmin?”

            “Well I need to put on shorts, but then yeah, we can go.”

            “Go get short now.”  Kyle tugged his hand toward the hall.

            “We’ll meet you downstairs.”  JC said over his shoulder.

            “Okay.”  Jessica laughed, then bounced down stairs to change into her own suit.

 

            They spent the afternoon in the pool, then bathed and got themselves cleaned up and ready for their night out.  Kyle was excited about seeing Lance, Amy and the dogs again, so he was more helpful than ever when it came time for him to get dressed.  "I have a pant."  He said as he handed his overalls to JC.

            "You want to wear those?"

            "Yeah Lessi likes."  Kyle nodded with a sigh.

            "Lexie likes them huh?"  He laughed.

            "Yeah."  Kyle put his hands on his hips, then went back to the dresser to choose a shirt.  "Daddy I have no shirt."

            "You have lots of shirts."  JC put the pants on the bed then went to stand behind Kyle, “Check it out."  He lifted three shirts out of the drawer and held them up for Kyle, “How about one of these?"

            "No."  Kyle shook his head.  "Is no right."

            "It's not right?"  JC laughed.  "You sound like Jessica, kid."

            "Where she?"  Kyle looked up at JC.

            "She's… well she's downstairs."

            Kyle sighed and made a face, “I sink I need."

            "We don't need Jessica to get dressed."  JC smiled, Kyle was always surprising him.  "We've been getting dressed on our own for a while now.  One of these shirts will be fine."

            "No, geen."  Kyle shook his head and reached for the green camouflage t-shirt.

            "Cammies huh?"  JC shrugged.  "Okay."

            "Is geen."  Kyle nodded and took the shirt back over to the bed so that he could get dressed.

            JC helped him into his clothes then tied his little boots onto his feet and brushed his hair.  "You look hot."  JC smiled.  "High five."  He held his hand out for Kyle to slap.

            "I hot."  Kyle giggled and slapped JC's hand.  "Okay we go now."

            "I have to get dressed still."  JC sighed.  "Why don't you come over to my room and I'll turn on a movie for you to watch while I get ready."

            "Kay."  Kyle shrugged and slid off the bed to follow JC down the hall to his room.  JC put a Veggie Tales video on and dropped Kyle in the center of the big bed then went into the closet to find something nice to wear for his date with Jessica.  He chose a nice new pair of jeans and a short sleeved button down shirt, and then sat on the bed to lace his shoes.  "What do you think buddy?"

            "Good."  Kyle nodded without turning around.

            "You have to look at me you goof, how do you know if Iook good if you don't look?"  JC smiled.

            Kyle pushed himself up from the bed and looked at JC, “Is good."  He nodded, then lay back on his stomach.

            "Thanks."  JC rolled his eyes and headed for his bathroom.  He ran his fingers through his still damp hair and tilted his head to the side.  As his hair got longer more curls seemed to appear.  Pretty soon he'd be rivaling Justin in the "curls" department.  "Oh well."  He mumbled to himself as he reached for his aftershave and splashed some on instead of opting for the cologne that always managed to smell too strong.  "Impressive."  He said to his reflection.

            "I like carrot daddy."  Kyle said from the bedroom.

            "You like carrots?"

            "Yeah."

            "Cool."

            "I have dino and carrot?"  Kyle shimmied down from the bed and walked to the bathroom door.  "I go potty."  He looked up at JC and shrugged.

            "You have to go?"

            "Yeah."

            "Right on."  JC carried him over to the toilet and fumbled with the little boys overalls so that he could do his business.  "Thanks for telling me, that's awesome."  JC smiled.  "If you keep telling me you'll be all potty trained by the time we leave."

            "And go ina pane?"

            "Yep."

            "Cool."  Kyle finished and looked up at JC.  They cleaned up and washed their hands, then Kyle headed for the stairs, “Daddy get star."  He shouted as he hopped down the stairs.

            "Yep, let's go get a star."  JC followed him and got the stars from above the fridge.  "Right on, what kind do you want?"

            "Geen."

            "A green one huh?  To match your shirt?"

            "Yeah."

            "Right on."  JC dug around in the stars and came out with a neon green one.  "Check it out."

            "Yeah."  Kyle smiled and held out his hand for his dad to place the sticker.  "Jessi?"

            "She's in her room."  JC said as he put the stars away.  "But we've got to go."  He added as he saw the time.  "Wanna go get her?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle laughed and ran down the hall to the guestroom, “Jessi?  Jessi we go bye."  He shouted through the closed door.  "I have star and we go bye."

            "Just a minute."  Jessica said from the inside.

            "We're going to be late."  JC said from the kitchen.

            "Is late Jessi."

            "Okay…"  Jessica put the final touches on her hair and hoped for the best as she pulled the door open, “Well don't you look handsome."  She smiled.

            "Hot."

            Jessica laughed, “You sure do look hot."  JC walked up with his keys in his hand, “So do you."  She smiled.

            "Are you ready?"  He asked.

            "Yeah."  She nodded.

            "Right on, let's go."  JC took her hand and they headed out.

 

            JC drove them over to Lance and Amy's house and dropped Kyle off with his backpack and a small selection of star stickers.  “He’s getting better about telling you he has to go.”  JC said as he handed everything over.  “But uh, be careful.”

            “Okay.”  Lance laughed as Kyle took off for the back door to play with the dogs.  “Where are you guys headed?”

            Cocoa Beach Yacht Club.”  JC watched as Amy opened the backdoor and let Kyle out.

            “Nice.”  Lance nodded then glanced over at Jessica.  “You’ll love it there, they’ve got good food and great view.”

            “So I’ve heard.”  Jessica laughed softly.

            “We’ve gotta get going though, we have reservations at six thirty.”  JC tried not to look at his watch for the third time since they stepped in the door.

            “Alright, well get out of here then.  Have a good time and all that.”

            “We won’t be too late.”  JC said as he stepped out the front door.  “We should be back by like, ten.”

            “Don’t worry about it.”  Lance shook his head.  “We’ll be up.”

            “And he hasn’t had dinner yet.”

            “I promise to feed him.”

            “But no ice cream, he doesn’t need to get wired up before bed.”  JC added as they walked down the walk to the car.

            “Right, got it.  No ice cream.”  Lance saluted with a smile.

            “I’ll have my cell phone on in case anything happens.”  JC shouted from the driver’s side door.  Lance just nodded and laughed as JC hopped in the car.

            “They’ve baby sat him before, right?”  Jessica asked as they pulled onto the street.

            “Yeah.”

            “Okay.”   She said softly as she looked out the window.  “You don’t think they’d know to feed him?”  She tried not to laugh as she kept her eyes on the passing houses.

            “No, I know.”  JC smiled.  “But see, when I first got Kyle I didn’t know shit.  I would never remember to feed him or change him or anything like that.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Well I didn’t get into the habit of doing those things till he’d been around for a while and for Lance and Amy they aren’t around him very often so it’s like… it’s like they’re beginners still.  Like I was.  Kind of.”  He shrugged.

            “Ahhh.”  Jessica smiled and looked sideways at him.  “Okay.”

            “It’s a dad thing I guess.”  JC laughed and reached for her hand as they headed for the coast.

 

            Their table was waiting when they got there and they were seated in a corner right by the window.  A small candle burned in the center of the table illuminating the deep blue table cloths the reflecting off the window.  JC and Jessica ordered their food and made small talk while they ate; the restaurant wasn’t very busy so their little corner was quiet enough for them to talk softly.

            By the time dessert came around, they’d covered the basic small talk and moved on to the ‘getting to know you’ part that most first dates came to.  "You know, for as long as you've worked with us, I don't know very much about you."  JC said as he leaned his elbows on the table.

            "There's not much to know."  Jessica shrugged and set her fork down beside her plate.  "Working your tour is about the most exciting thing that's happened in my life.  Other than that, my life has been pretty blah.  I grew up in Plainville Connecticut, which ought to tell you something."  She smiled and dropped her eyes to her plate.

            "Well you grew up working in your mom's tailoring shop, that must have been interesting."

            "My grandma's tailor shop."  Jessica corrected him.  "It was alright.  But after a while it got old, you know?  I wanted to have friends over after school, but I couldn't because grandma didn't want a bunch of kids running around the shop and I couldn't go home alone."  She shrugged, “Besides, I had work to do."

            "They put you to work that young?"

            "Well it wasn't like child labor or anything like that, I liked to help and I did it just to have something to do.  They didn't make me do it."

            "No, I wasn't saying it like that."

            "My options were just pretty slim."  She smiled at him over her food to show it was all right.  "My mom had me when she was really young, so it's always been kind of weird.  She was still growing up at the same time I was and grandma was set in her ways."

            "Really?  See, I didn't know that."  He smiled with a whole new interest in her.

            "Why would you have?"  Jessica laughed.  "It's not like I walk into wardrobe fittings and say, 'hey guys, I'm Jessica, my mom had me when she was 17, I'm allergic to shellfish, I've lived in Connecticut my whole life, I had six wisdom teeth and I'm here to hem your pants'."  She smiled and shook her head.  "If you want to know stuff about me you'll have to ask.  I never know what to say when people say they want to know about me."

            JC laughed lightly and used his spoon to stir his coffee, “What size shoe do you wear?"

            "Eight and a half, sometimes nine."

            "Hmm."

            "I've got big feet."

            "Me too."  He nodded.  "Any annoying habits?"

            "Nope."  Jessica laughed and shook her head.  "Of course not."  She said innocently.

            "Any pets?"

            "Nope."

            "No?  You seem like the kind of person that would have pets."

            "Well, we had pets when I was growing up, and I had a cat when I moved out."  She shrugged, “But the building I live in now doesn’t allow pets so we don't have any now.  Well, actually we do have a fish.  A plain old feeder goldfish that cost ten cents or whatever.  I don't think I'd consider that a pet though."

            "Cool."  JC smiled, “Does he have a name?"

            "Vicki."

            "Oh it's a girl?"

            "No, it's a boy. Actually, I don’t know if there's a way to tell, but we think it's a boy."

            "And you named him Vicki?"

            "Yeah."  She laughed and blushed quickly, “Have you ever seen 'So I married an axe murderer'?"

            "With Mike Meyers, yeah."

            "Okay in the movie when the go to Alcatraz the guy who's doing the tour - "

            "Phil Hartman."

            "Right." Jessica nodded, “Anyway, he's doing the tour and he does his introductory spiel 'everyone here was once a guard at Alcatraz' blah blah blah and at the end he says 'my name is whatever, but everyone here calls me Vicki.'"  She blushed even deeper and wiped her mouth with the napkin.  "So that's it.  That's how he got the name Vicki."

            "That's classic."  JC laughed.  "Great movie by the way."

            "Yeah, that's one I can watch over and over again and never get tired of it."

            "Oh me too."  JC took a sip of his coffee, “That one and "Shawshank", I could watch that one too."

            "Oh man, I practically wore the tape out on that one I watched it so much."  Jessica laughed.  "But the one movie that I could play every day and never get tired of it is "French Kiss".  Honestly, when I'm home I put it on when I'm going to sleep every night.  I had the tape with me on the road for a while but I left it in some hotel room."

            JC tilted his head back and laughed even more, “My ass is twitching, you people make my ass twitch."  He quoted in a bad French accent.

            "Shut up, you've seen it?"

            "It's one of the few Meg Ryan movies I like."  He continued to laugh, “Man, now I want to see it, do you think the video store is still open?"  He checked his watch, though he had no intention of leaving.

            "I'll see if I can find another copy somewhere and bring it on the road with us."

            "Their VCR's over there aren't always compatible with our tapes."

            "Really?"

            "Yeah."  JC made a face.  "But I'll see if we can bring a VCR or something.  Maybe… you know, see how that would work."

            "Okay."  Jessica smiled and picked up her fork again to take another small bit of her thick chocolate cake.  "What's your favorite place to visit in Europe?" 

            "Wow… I don’t know.  Everywhere we go over there has something really amazing to see."  He shrugged.  "But I've got to say, we went to Stonehenge last time we were over there?  That gave me the chills for like, the rest of the day.  The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up and it was… well it was just really creepy."

            "I can imagine."  She smiled.  "What about in America?"

            "New York."  He said without even thinking.  "The Big Apple."

            "Really?"  She laughed and resisted the urge to lick the creamy frosting from her fork.

            "Oh yeah, without a doubt.  That's the one place in the world where I can go and be completely anonymous.  No one cares who you are; there's always a crowd of people everywhere you go.  They've got white Christmases and hot summers.  There's something for everyone in the city, whether you like art or music or food or running or whatever.  Anyone who goes to New York can find something to do, even if it's just people watching."

            "Wow."  She smiled, she wasn't expecting a complete monologue, but she loved listening to his voice.  "You've given that some thought, huh?"

            "Definitely."  He laughed and removed his spoon from his mug.  "Eventually I want to move there.  Maybe when… after we're done with Nsync or whatever.  I know that won't be for a while, but New York isn't going anywhere." 

            "Very true."

            "You live pretty close to there, don't you?"

            "Yeah, pretty close.  I can drive to Manhattan in just a couple hours."  She nodded.

            "How can you be that close and not want to live there?"

            "It's easy.  I've been that close my whole life.  I like my little town I live in; I'm not really a city girl.  I like to visit… but…"  She shrugged.

            "You're insane."

            "You're insane."  Jessica smiled back and him and took one last bite of her dessert before she pushed the plate away for good.  "That was excellent, thank you."

            "You're welcome."  He said softly.  "This was fun, I've learned a lot about you."  JC smiled and folded his napkin on the table.

            "Have I scared you?  Are you going to kick me out at the airport on your way home?"  Jessica laughed lightly and watched him sip his coffee.

            JC shook his head before he answered, “Nope.  I think I'll keep you around for another day or so."

            "Thank you."  She laughed and sat back in her chair as she sighed.

            "You're welcome."  JC nodded.  He had to bite his tongue to keep from reminding her that she could always stay for another few days… or weeks.  She knew well enough that she could stay, and he knew that she had to go home.

            JC set his cup of coffee aside and wiped his mouth with his napkin, “Are you ready to head back?"

            "Yeah, whenever you are."  Jessica smiled up at him and he thought about saying he would never be ready to go.

            "Okay."  He lowered his eyes quickly and reached for his wallet.  The bill sat at the end of the table so he slid the cash in the leather folder and stood up.  He waited for Jessica, then took her hand and wove their way back through the restaurant and out the front door.  A breeze came off the ocean sending a chill through their bodies as they crossed the small parking lot.  Jessica pulled her cardigan closed with her free hand then held tighter to JC's.

            She smiled up at him as the breeze swept her hair over her cheek.  It was strange for her feel the hand in hers and know it was her boyfriend.  It'd been a while since she was able to do that, and JC's hand was still new to her.

            They talked all the way back to Lance and Amy's and were surprised at how smoothly the conversation flowed when they didn't have Kyle's little voice interrupting ever couple minutes.  JC stopped the car in front of the house and killed the engine, “I almost wish we could just park here and talk for a little longer.  This was nice."  JC smiled in the dark.

            "Yeah, it was."  Jessica turned to look out the window at the house.  "Thank you."

            "You're welcome."  JC nodded.  "Thanks for coming with me."

            Jessica laughed softly, “Like I could say no to you."  She glanced back at JC, then leaned in to kiss him quickly.

            "I should have had them keep Kyle overnight."  JC said softly as he moved his hand up to the side of her neck.  "I didn't think this through very well."  He smiled and tilted his head to the side to look at her in the light from the garage in front of them.

            "It's fine."  Jessica smiled.  "Let's go get Kyle."  She opened her car door and slid out as JC walked around the front and took her hand.  He led the way up the front walk then rang the doorbell, sneaking in one last kiss before Lance opened the door.

            "Hey."  JC smiled as Jessica followed him in the door.  "Thanks for watching him."  He said softly as he spotted Kyle asleep on the huge bean bag in the center of the family room.

            "No problem, we had fun."  Lance smiled and picked Lello up off the floor by his feet.  "He was cracking me up all night."

            "Really?"  JC laughed, “He's a funny dude."  He looked down at Kyle to try to decide how to pick him up without waking him.

            "Did you have a nice dinner?"  Amy asked Jessica as they stood off to the side.

            "Yeah."  Jessica grinned and watched JC circle Kyle's sleeping figure.  "We're going in reverse, so it's kind of nice to get to this step, you know?"

            "What do you mean?"  Amy laughed softly.

            "Well instead of getting to know each other and going on a few dates and then… you know.  We went right to the 'you know' and didn't bother with the rest of it."

            "Yeah."

            "I mean, what was I supposed to think if all it was, was the 'you know'?"

            "The sex."

            "Yeah."

            "Well it's not like that'd be too terrible."  Amy gave her a sly smile as she watched JC pick Kyle up and cradle him against his shoulder.

            "Well no, of course not."  Jessica blushed slightly, “But he's a great guy and I'd like to see that side.  I want to be more than just a bed buddy to him and I want him to be more than that to me.  I'm just glad we were able to go on this date to see if we actually have anything in common."

            "Do you?"

            "Yeah."  Jessica smiled as JC rubbed Kyle's back and said whispered something in his ear.  "More than I expected.  It's weird to think we worked together for almost a year without knowing each other, you know?"

            Amy shrugged, “You knew him."

            "No."  Jessica shook her head, but kept her eyes on JC and Kyle.  "No, I knew the 'him' that he puts out there for everyone… but I didn't know him."

            "Do you now?"

            "A lot better than before."  Jessica laughed lightly.  "It's a good start."

            "So now you'll feel better about having all the 'you know'?"  Amy giggled softly as JC and Lance passed them on the way out to the car.

            Jessica laughed and blushed even deeper, “Uh huh."

            "Good."  Amy smiled as they followed the guys out to JC's car.  JC got Kyle situated in his car seat as Jessica climbed in the passenger side.

            "I'll see you in a couple weeks."  Jessica said softly as Lance dropped his arm around Amy's waist.

            "Bye guys."  Lance waved and shoved his free hand into his pocket.

            JC shut the back door then waved over the hood of the car, “Thanks again."

            "No problem."  Lance shook his head and waved again as JC started the car and they headed for home.

 

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

 

            When Jessica awoke on Sunday morning she stretched leisurely and rolled onto her side to face JC.  His bare back was facing her and one leg was out of the blankets that only covered up to his hip anyway.  She knew that beneath the blanket he was only wearing his plain black boxer shorts and that she would miss waking up beside him for the time that she was home.  For a moment, she thought about waking him up, but in the end she decided against it.  She carefully slid out from under the covers and walked around to his side of the bed.  He slept with a sort of half smile on his lips which made her heart skip a beat as she leaned down and kissed his sleeping lips.

            Jessica peeked into Kyle's room on her way down to her room downstairs and saw that he was sleeping sprawled out across the center of the bed.  She smiled then continued down stairs where she packed up her clothes then hopped in the guest shower to get ready to leave.  When she stepped out a half hour later she dried off in the bathroom then dressed quickly in her comfortable shorts and a t-shirt.  It was still early in the morning, but it was already warm outside.  Before she could finish tying her shoes she heard JC's voice in the kitchen and she assumed that he was talking to Kyle.  She smiled to herself then tied her shoes and stepped out into the hall with her backpack.

            "No, I've gotta take my girlfriend to the airport."  JC said into the phone.  Jessica stopped just outside the guestroom and listened to JC's half of the conversation.  "Okay.  Yeah, that's fine.  I should be back in a couple hours, can I call then?  Okay, you bet."  He hung up the phone and leaned against the kitchen counter.

            "So who's this girlfriend you have to take to the airport and should I be jealous?"  Jessica smiled as she walked around the corner and dropped her backpack on the floor.

            "Absolutely."  JC's face broke out in a smile as he met her eye.  "She's pretty amazing… she'd be hard to beat."

            "Oh really?"  She raised her eyebrow with a smile.

            "I'd even go so far as to say she's almost perfect."

            "Almost perfect huh?  Wow, that's a pretty tough act to follow."  She walked over and casually dropped her arms around his waist before she looked up to kiss him quickly.  "What time do we have to leave here?"

            "I've changed my mind."

            "Oh really?  About what?"

            "About going to the airport."  JC grinned then kissed her again.

            "That's not an option, my flight leaves in a couple hours.    You may not have to go, but I do."

            "No you don’t."

            "Yes I do."

            "No you don't."

            "JC, it's my flight that’s leaving, I have to be there."  She shook her head.

            "You don't have to leave though, you could just stay here."  He sounded almost hopeful as he smiled.

            "No I can't."  She smiled back, but shook her head.  "All of my stuff is at home, and I've got work to do there still.  I can't just go to Europe with a weeks worth of clothes and no games or things like that."

            "You're so high maintenance."  He rolled his eyes and laughed.

            "Oh, I so am."  She rolled her eyes right back at him and pinched his side.  "Seriously, what time do we have to leave here?"

            He glanced at his watch and shrugged, “Twenty minutes?  Something like that."

            "Okay."

            "Hey do you want me to see if you can leave from here when we go to Europe?  That way maybe you can come down a couple days early and hang out before we have to go?"

            Jessica paused for a second, she hadn't thought that far in advance and she wasn't sure how things were going to go once they got on the road.  "Yeah."  She said softly.  "Yeah that'd be cool.  I can hang out with Kyle and help you guys get ready to go and do last minute wardrobe checks or - "

            "Or you can just relax by the pool with us and not worry about anything, especially the stressful tour we're leaving for."  JC pulled her closer and leaned his forehead against hers.

            "You think it's going to be stressful?"  She asked with a frown. 

            "It's a tour."  JC shrugged.  "Tours are stressful.  But this is in Europe, where we don't speak the language and are a whole ocean away from anything familiar."

            "Well yeah, but you can pretty much tell yourself you're in Missouri or something when you're driving.  I mean, countryside is countryside, right?"

            JC laughed softly, “In a way, yeah.  But at the same time you don't want to miss out on the fact that you're seeing Italian countryside, or German countryside."  He smiled and took her hand, “You can't make yourself think you're not in Europe, because that's awesome.  Europe is amazing and you're going to want to experience all of it, even if the hills look like something you'd see in Montana or whatever."

            "True."  Jessica smiled then sighed, “Where's Kyle?"

            "Kyle?  Who's Kyle?"  JC grinned and kissed her softly.

            "JC, really.  Where is he?"  Jessica asked after she let him kiss her for a minute.

            "He's getting dressed upstairs."

            "By himself?"

            "He wants to."  JC shrugged and looked toward the stairs, “Maybe I should go check on him."

            "Yeah, I think so."  Jessica laughed.

            "So do you think you'll come out?"  JC's voice became muffled as he walked up the stairs by the front door.  "Before Europe?"

            "What?"  Jessica raised her voice to be heard through the house.

            "Hey buddy."  JC pushed Kyle's door open and stopped.  "Wow, hey… what are you wearing there?"

            "Socks."  Kyle wiggled his foot at JC.

            "Yeah I can see that."  He tried not to laugh at the little boy's choice of attire.  Kyle had dressed himself in an inside out and backwards shirt, a pair of shorts that were almost too small for him; the elastic waist was stretched to the limit, tube socks that went to his knees and one sandal.

            "I'll have to see what Sean says about me leaving from here."  Jessica said as she hopped up the stairs and into Kyle's room.  "Ouch."  She raised her eyebrows as she saw Kyle's outfit.  "JC…"

            "Hey."  He shrugged.  "He dressed himself, I'd say that's awesome."

            "I have socks."  Kyle laughed and reached for a sneaker to put on his other foot.

            "I uh… I see that."  Jessica smiled and leaned on the door.

            "You're lookin' good Kyle."  JC smiled and knelt on the floor beside him.  "But here, why don't you put your shoes on instead of your sandals?"

            "I have two?"

            "You're shoes need to match."  JC reached for the other sneaker that was halfway under the bed.

            "Oh his shoes have to match?  You've seen the rest of his outfit, right?"  Jessica laughed softly from the doorway.  Kyle's dark green safari shorts didn't exactly go with his bright purple t-shirt that had a silk-screened Mickey Mouse on the front, which was now the back.

            "I think he looks great."  JC smiled.  "Not all of us can be fashion wizards."

            Jessica laughed and shook her head, “Do you like what you're wearing Kyle?"  She asked the little boy as he let his dad tie his sneakers on over his socks.

            "Yeah."

            "Well okay then."  She smiled and watched from the door.  "Do you have Sean's number?"

            JC laughed, “Do I have it?  Of course I do, don't you?"

            "Not with me, no."

            "407-886-1208."  JC pulled Kyle to his feet and straightened his tight shorts as well as he could.  They followed Jessica back down the stairs to the kitchen where JC pulled a container of yogurt out of the fridge and set Kyle at the table with a spoon.

            "What’s the number again?"  Jessica shook her head, the number already gone from her mind.

            "Speed dial 2."  JC smiled.  "What do you need it for?"

            "Well now you got me all excited so I want to see if I can leave from here.  If the reservations haven't already been made I mean.  If they have then I'll just leave from New York."

            "It's like, three weeks away.  The reservations have already been made, just see if they can be changed."  JC shook his head.

            "I don't want them to have to go changing everything."  She frowned.

            "It's not that big of a deal.  Sean will call our travel coordinator, who will call the airlines and say 'Jessica is leaving from Florida instead of New York' and that'll be that."

            "But what if the tickets are non-refundable?"  She asked.

            JC just looked at her with a raised eyebrow and smiled, “So what?"

            "So that's like an extra fifteen million dollars or something."

            "Jessica… just call." 

            She sighed and hit the speed dial for #2 and listened to it ring, “It's Sunday, I doubt he'll even be - "  She stopped mid sentence and said, “Hi Sean, this is Jessica Height.  Hi."  She smiled.  "Yeah, I'm down here in Florida actually, I did some wardrobe work with the guys.  I've had a great time, yeah.  Oh really?  Well maybe next time… no I haven't been there before.  Okay.  Thank you."  She nodded and blushed.  "Yeah, actually I was calling to see if the plane reservations have already been made."  She paused, “Yeah, for our trip to Europe.  Oh, well I was just going to see if maybe I could fly out from here with the guys and the Florida crew."  She paused and nodded, “Oh, okay.  That'd be great, thanks.  Oh yeah, everything is the same, I just… well I wanted to get a few more days of sun and relaxation in before we go so I'll be flying down here a couple days early.  No, that's okay.  I can get it.  Really… I don't - "  He must have cut her off, insisting that they pick up her ticket from Connecticut to Florida, because she blushed even deeper and licked her lips.  She couldn't let him pay for her tickets when it had nothing to do with work.  "I really don't mind."  She shook her head, “But thank you for arranging that for me; it'll be a lot easier I think.  Okay.  Thanks.  Okay, I'll see you in three weeks then.  Bye."  She hung up and tossed the phone at JC.

            "What?!"  JC laughed and caught it in one hand. 

            "What?"  She rolled her eyes.  "You've got like, the nicest boss ever."

            "He's your boss too."  JC smiled.

            "Well yeah, but…"  She shrugged and smiled.

            "So the ticket isn't a problem?"

            "No."  She shook her head, “No, the ticket isn't a problem."

            “Yay!”  JC smiled down at Kyle as he dribbled yogurt down the front of his shirt.  He sighed then laughed softly, “See?  So instead of leaving today you should just stay here and leave with us in three weeks.”

            “JC, we’ve gone over this.  I have to go home and get all your clothes all prettied up and everything.  I’ll be back here before you know it.”

            “Yeah but… but… but…”  JC whined and imitated Kyle.

            “But nothing.”  Jessica shook her head.  “We’ve got to get going.”  She said softly as she looked at the clock on the microwave.

            JC nodded and grabbed a napkin out of the holder on the table and wiped Kyle’s shirt, “Yep.  Are you ready to go buddy?”

            “We go bye?”  Kyle asked as he licked his lips and put the spoon back in the container.

            “Yep, we’ve gotta take Jessica to the airport.”

            “No you.”

            “Me?”

            “You go port.”  Kyle explained.

            “I’m going to the airport too, we’re all going.”

            “No you go.”

            “I am going.”  JC chuckled lightly as he leaned back in his chair.

            “I say.”

            “You want to stay here?”

            “Yeah.”  He looked up at JC with the same stubborn look that had been passed from father to son.

            “You can’t stay here.”

            “Yeah.”

            “No, you can’t Kyle.  You have to come with me.”

            “Jessi go.”

            “Jessica is going too.”

            “No you and Jessi.”

            “Kyle…”  JC sighed as Jessica smiled on the other side of the kitchen.  “You have to come with us; we can’t leave you here by yourself.  It’ll be fun.”  He looked over at Jessica who was trying not to laugh, “You wanna help me out here?”

            “You’re doing fine.”  She shook her head and tugged on her bottom lip.

            “Come on buddy, we’ve gotta go take Jessica to the airport.”  He said again, “And when we’re done there we can go get some lunch at Mc Donald’s, how does that sound?”

            “Have gogurt?”

            “They don’t have yogurt there, no.”  JC shook his head.

            Kyle heaved a deep sigh and rolled his eyes as he slid out of the booster seat, “Kay.”

            “Okay?”

            “Yeah, we go bye.”  He pulled at his ill-fitting shorts and walked past Jessica towards the front door.  “Daddy drive Jessi ride.”

            Jessica laughed and looked over at JC, “My God he’s so much like you its scary.”

            “I know, I don’t know how that happened.”  JC shook his head and smiled as he followed Kyle down the hall, then stopped in the guestroom to pick up Jessica’s bag.

            “I can’t imagine how.”  She laughed and followed him to grab her backpack.

            They walked out to the car parked in the driveway and JC loaded the luggage into the back as Kyle climbed on the running board.  "Gross, who ordered the crappy weather?"  Jessica looked up at the odd shaped clouds hovering high across the sky.  "It looks like it's going to rain.  Does it rain in Florida?"

            "Occasionally."  JC nodded as he looked up at the threatening sky.  "I ordered the weather; I thought maybe if the weather was bad you wouldn’t fly."

            "I've flown in weather worse than a little rain."  Jessica squinted and followed his gaze.  "How is it possible for it to be 85 degrees out here, and raining?  That's unnatural.  Mother Nature is messing with your head here."  Her shorts clung to her legs as thunder rumbled through the sky.

            "This is normal."

            "This is freaky."  Jessica shook her head and took Kyle by the hand to pull him off of the running board so JC could open the door.  "Let’s go, the rain will only make traffic worse."

            "Yeah yeah yeah."  JC sighed and lifted Kyle into the backseat where he strapped the little boy into his car seat and handed Lello to him.  "After this we're going to go get some McDonald's, how does that sound?"

            "And toys?"

            "Yeah, you'll get a toy with your lunch."  JC smiled and slammed the door shut as Jessica climbed in the passenger's side.  He slid behind the steering wheel and reluctantly started the car, then they headed for the airport forty minutes away.

            It started to rain harder as soon as they hit the freeway and didn't let up at all as they drove along the slick pavement towards the airport.  They talked about what they'd be doing during their final three weeks of vacation before they met back up to get back to work, and about how they were going to do the whole 'dating at work' thing.  "I don't think we really have to say anything."  JC shrugged.  "I mean, who cares?"

            "Well…"  Jessica frowned and thought for a minute.  "Sean won't care?"

            JC laughed and shook his head, “Sean won't care, Johnny won't care…the guys won't care.  As long as our work gets done and you don't go running to the tabloids or whatever, no one will care."

            "How do you know I won't go running to the tabloids?"  Jessica gave him a sideways smile as she teased him.

            "I guess I figured if you were going to make shit up for publicity, you would have done that already."  He grinned over at her and shrugged, “Besides, you don't seem like the type that likes to draw attention to yourself."

            "Not at all."  She shook her head.

            "Then there ya go."  He looked over at her and smiled, then returned his attention to the wet road in front of him.  They got to the airport later than they expected and were met with a crowd of traffic and people scrambling to get into the terminal and out of the rain.

            "You guys don't have to go in with me."  Jessica released her seatbelt and reached for the handle as JC rolled to a stop outside the terminal.  "It looks pretty crowded."

            "Okay."  JC nodded as Kyle kicked at the back of the driver's seat.  "Call me when you get home, so I know you made it."

            "I will."

            "Have a safe flight."  JC reached over and tucked her hair behind her ear, letting his fingers linger on her cheek.  "I'll see you in a couple weeks."  He added softly.

            "Yep."  Jessica smiled then leaned into the back seat, “Bye bye Kyle.  I'll see you in a couple weeks, okay?"  She kissed his cheek then made a face at him.  "Be good."

            "Bye Jessi."  He nodded, “I good."

            "Okay sweetie, I love you."  She blew him a kiss then sighed; she really was going to miss him.

            "Love too.  Bye Jessi."

            "Bye Kyle."  Jessica faced forward in her seat then leaned over to kiss JC goodbye, “Bye JC."

            "Bye Jessi."  He smiled as he imitated Kyle.

            "Can you pop the back so I can get my bag out?"

            "I can get it."  JC reached for his handle.

            "No, I'll get it.  It's raining, there's no reason for us both to get wet."  She smiled and opened her door, “Just open it so I can get it out."

            "This is your last chance to stay."  JC gave her his million dollar smile and waited for it to take affect.

            "Thank you, but no."  Jessica slid off the seat and shut the door to keep the rain from getting inside.  She ran around to the back and pulled the hatch open to reach in and get her suitcase.

            "Jessi?"  Kyle asked as he tried to turn around in his seat.

            "Yeah buddy, I'm just getting my bag."

            "I go?"

            "No, you have to stay here with your daddy.  I'll see you in just a few weeks though.  Then we'll go get on an airplane together, okay?"

            "Ina pane?"

            "Yep, for a long, long trip."

            "For long?"

            "Yep, a long trip."  She smiled.  "Okay guys, I'll see you in a few weeks."  She slammed the hatch shut and ran around to the driver's side window.  JC rolled it down for her to lean in and kiss him again, “Bye."  She said quickly as she ran back to the sidewalk where her luggage was waiting in the rain.

            "Bye."  JC said as he rolled the window up and watched her get her bags.  He waited until she was inside the automatic doors before he pulled away from the curb and they headed home.

 

            When they got home JC and Kyle headed for the kitchen to make some lunch after deciding in the car that they wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of happy meals.  "Daddy ouside?"  Kyle stood at the backdoor staring longingly out the window.

            "We can't go outside buddy, it's raining."

            "Peese?"

            "Nope, not in the rain.  We're going to stay inside today."

            "Have kacket?"

            "It's not cold enough for a jacket.  Besides, everything's wet out there."  JC shook his head and spread peanut butter on the piece of bread in front of him.  "Maybe it will stop raining later."

            "We can dry?"  Kyle looked over his shoulder at his dad.  "I have nakin?"

            "We can't go outside right now Kyle.  Come on, let's have some lunch then maybe we can put on a movie?"

            "No I go ouside."  Kyle jiggled the handle to the door.

            "I already said no buddy.  We need to stay inside this afternoon."

            "Peese?"  He whined again, hoping to have a different effect than before.

            "Nope."  JC shook his head and sighed.  "Here, I made you a peanut butter sandwich."

            "No."  Kyle frowned and slapped his hand against the glass.

            "Hey."  JC gave Kyle a stern look as he stopped in his tracks, “Don't hit the window, it could break and you'd hurt yourself."

            "No hurt." Kyle slapped the window again and cringed as it shook.

            "I don't think so."  JC set the sandwiches down and grabbed Kyle's wrists, “Do not hit the glass.  Come and sit down and eat your lunch, we're not going outside today."

            "Eat ouside."

            "No, inside."

            "No!"  Kyle shouted as JC picked him up and set him in his booster seat.

            "Damn, what's going on with you?  You were a normal kid yesterday and today you're like a psycho demon child."  JC frowned and set half of a sandwich in front of Kyle.  "Eat up."

            "No."  Kyle threw the sandwich on the floor then wiggled out of the booster seat and ran back to the door to slap the glass again, “I go."

            "Hey!"  JC jumped up and grabbed Kyle's hands again, “I already told you 'no', now stop it."  He knelt to Kyle's eye level and spoke loudly.  "Are you going to eat your lunch?"

            "No."  Kyle scowled.

            "Fine, then you can go up to your room and sit there."

            "No."

            "Yes."

            "No."

            "Yes."  JC half laughed as he realized he was arguing with a child.

            "No."  Kyle kicked his feet as the tears started.

            "You're going up to your room now."  JC picked Kyle up and held him tight as he walked up the stairs then dropped Kyle on his bed.  "When you're ready to act like a human you can come back downstairs and eat your lunch."

            "No ouside."

            "I'm not even gonna go there kid."  JC shook his head, then left the room and shut the door behind him.  As soon as the door shut, Kyle screamed at the top of his voice.  "Damn kid."  JC uttered under his breath as he bounced down the stairs.

            JC sat at the dining room table and ate his sandwich as Kyle continued to scream and cry upstairs.  He cringed with every new shrill sound, but he knew that he had to let Kyle cry himself out every now and then.  After almost fifteen minutes, the cries subsided and JC crept back up the stairs to listen at Kyle's door.  Inside he heard the muffled sobs of an upset little boy, but no more crying.

            The door made a soft click as JC pushed it open and poked his head in, ”Are you ready to come eat your lunch now?"  He asked softly.

            "No."  Kyle said as he kicked at his pillows and cried.  "Go bye!"  He shouted at JC.

            "All righty then."  JC shrugged and closed the door again.  Just like before, as soon as the door shut Kyle let out a piercing scream to follow JC down the stairs.

            JC picked up the kitchen and wrapped Kyle's sandwich in saran wrap for him to eat later, then made a new pitcher of orange juice.  He paused as he stirred and listened for any sound coming from upstairs, but heard none.  He frowned to himself, then trotted back up the stairs to check on Kyle.  The paternal feeling of worry appeared out of nowhere and suddenly JC was aware of how suddenly the crying stopped.  Images of the Lindbergh Baby story flashed through his irrational mind as he pushed Kyle's door open.

            Before he even got a foot in the door JC stopped and laughed softly to himself.  Kyle was sound asleep on top of the covers with his feet on his pillows and Lello tucked under his tear stained cheek.

 

            More than an hour later JC was sitting in his lazy boy chair reading when he heard Kyle thump out of bed upstairs.  The tiny footsteps made their way down the carpeted stairs one at a time, then down the hall to the kitchen.  Kyle pulled himself onto his chair with his booster seat and carefully unwrapped his sandwich without even glancing at JC.

            "Daddy have juice?"  He asked in his little tired voice.

            JC smiled, it was still amazing for him to watch as Kyle just automatically knew his daddy was within earshot.  "I made some orange juice, do you want some of that?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle pulled the crust off of his bread to eat it first.

            "Okay."  JC nodded, looking for any hint of the cranky child from before.  He got Kyle a sippy cup of juice and set it on the table beside his sandwich, then got a box of crackers out of the cupboard to have them too.  "Did you have a good nap?"

            "Yeah."  Kyle yawned and nibbled on his sandwich.

            "Good." JC whispered as he rested his chin in his hand and watched Kyle eat his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

            Kyle sighed and put his sandwich down, “Go bye ona pane."  He mumbled.

            "Yep."  JC bit his lip as he watched Kyle stare at his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Kyle missed his Jessi... and so did JC.

 

Next... 

 

Copyright � 2002, Amy Lynn