I pick you, p.27

I Pick You, page 27


I Pick You

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  Even when bad things happen, life goes on and days turn into weeks. I did absolutely nothing for New Year’s Eve. Rydell tried like hell to get me to sing with her at her brother’s bar, and Gabriella Pierce offered to keep Bay, but I just didn’t want to. I wanted to be home with Bay.

  With one more failed attempt, Rydell begged one last time. “Please, Brantley. Come with me. We never do anything.”

  “We don’t? We just went out to eat and to a movie last night.”

  “To a Disney movie with Bay. I’m talking about an adult outing. Please, baby. It’s a new year. I want to bring it in with you. I promise to get drunk enough to dance on the bar.”

  That brought a smile to my face and it did make me think about it for a quick second, but I still wasn’t interested. “Stay here. You can get drunk and dance on my island.”

  “I have to play tonight. Come on. You have a reliable babysitter and everything.”

  All joking aside, I let her know for the last time I wasn’t spending my New Year’s in a bar. “Ry, I’ve been in a bar on New Year’s since I was eighteen years old, but I have never spent one with Bay. Honestly, I just want to stay home tonight.”

  “Fine, whatever. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

  I pulled her into a hug and lifted her chin to look at me. “You can come back here. I don’t care what time it is.”

  Rydell was stiff in my arms and her voice reflected the tension. “Nah, I’m good. I’ll talk to you later.”

  “Seriously, Rydell? You’re going to be all pissy because I want to stay in with Bay?”

  “No, Brantley. I’m getting all pissy because it’s always Bay. Where were you this time last year? Not with Bay, not by her choice.”

  I looked behind me, hearing Bay call for her titty. “Wow, Rydell. We’re throwing punches below the belt now? You’re jealous of Bay?”

  Her hands went into the air and fell to her legs with a loud crack. “I give up. You’re turning this into something it’s not. Just forget it, Brantley. Stay home and build blocks and watch the same movie for the one-hundredth time. I’m going to have fun with a bunch of drunk adults.”


  Nothing. Her only response was the slamming of the door.

  “Dell go?”

  “She’s going to a party and you and me are going to have our own party. What do you say, Bay Berry Jandt? You want to play some tunes with your dad?”

  “S and titty.”

  I groaned and picked her up. “We talked about this. You have to give your kitty a name like Phil.”

  “I titty Phil.”

  “You want to call it Phil?”


  “But she’s a girl. She needs a girl name. How about Pearl?”






  “Come on, work with me here. How about Jasper.”

  “No. Titty.”

  “Oh, I got it. Casper. Remember Casper the friendly ghost? Your kitty is white like Casper. Can you say Casper?”


  “Yay, can we name kitty, Casper?”


  I tossed Bay into the air and danced around, singing with her, hoping she would stop running around my house calling out for titty. “Let’s go eat some pork and sauerkraut.”

  “I no wike it.”

  “You don’t like anything anymore. What happened to you?”

  “I no wike it.”

  Bay didn’t like it. She gagged when I forced a taste in her mouth. She ended up eating mac and cheese, and I ate her share. I was so full, I didn’t think I would ever be able to move again. After wobbling my way to the sofa, I talked Bay into watching her new Pooh Christmas movie from her mom. With her between my legs, and the stupid fur ball cuddled up to her side, we settled into our very first New Year together.

  My mind did go to Rydell a few times, and I did wish I was there with her, but I was honest with myself. I picked the right choice.

  Bay interrupted my thought choice when her attention span wandered off Pooh for a second. I slid my hand between my legs when she crawled up my chest and kissed me for no reason at all, solidifying my picking choice. “I pick you, Bay Berry Jandt.”

  “I pick you, Daddy.”

  My heart was so full. “I love you, baby girl.”

  “My mommy go?”

  I looked up to the clock and thought about something Harry Potter had told me with a smile. Bay was just like Pavlov's Dogs. Dogs don’t learn to salivate whenever they see food. This reflex is ‘hard wired’ into the dog, and just like Bay. She didn’t need to learn when she was tired. The story was about how Pavlov used a bell as his neutral stimulus, just like Kit did every night at eight. Whenever Pavlov gave food to his dogs, he also rang a bell. After a number of repeats of this procedure, he tried the bell on its own. As you might expect, the bell on its own now caused an increase in salivation. Just like when Bay got tired. She had learned over the last five months that one went with the other. Her mommy called at bedtime.

  “It’s almost time. Let’s go get a bath.”

  “I go women.”

  “No way. You’ll freeze your fingers and toes off. It’s cold out there.”

  “I hate it.”

  I laughed out loud at Bay’s silly response and scooped her up. “You’re crazy. You know that?”

  “You cwazy. Titty.”

  “Noooooo, Casper, remember? We named kitty, Casper.”

  “No, me no wike it.”

  “Then learn your K’s girlfriend.”

  I bathed Bay, letting her scream in my ear while I dumped water over head, rinsing the soap that didn’t burn. “Hurts, Daddy. My eye burned.”

  “It does not. I tried it. One more time.”

  Again the screech that nearly broke the windows. “My eye hurt.”

  I turned and reached for a towel below the empty cabinet and groaned. After pulling the plug, I pointed a straight finger at Bay and ordered her to stay. “Don’t move. I’ve got to go get you a towel out of the dryer.”

  I sprinted away hearing Bay stand up and call for her titty. My head and eyes rolled at the same time in frustration. “You’re going to love this, Bay. This towel is nice and warm—.” My words froze and I gasped, hunching my shoulders while I watched her trip on a whale and fall forward. She almost caught her footing, but not quite, and I wasn’t close enough to stop her. Bay face planted right into the cold water knob.

  I snatched her up in the towel and looked, expecting to see a bloody face. She had a nice goose egg already over her right eye, but no blood. For a second I panicked, wondering what the hell was wrong with her. Her mouth was wide open, but no sound came out. Her face turned red and her body froze like she couldn’t get a breath, and then she got it. Holy shit, did she get it.

  Bay screamed like I had never heard her scream before. I carried her around the house, bouncing and soothing her with quiet songs while I looked for the stupid Bay Bible again. It wasn’t in Bay’s sock drawer like it was the last time.

  “Hush little, Bay Berry, don’t you stew, Daddy’s gonna find out what to do.”

  Her cries were gasps of breaths blended with whimpers. “My, my, my mommy go? My, my, mommy go?”

  I realized at that moment it was time for her. “Oh no. Your mommy is going to hurt Daddy.”

  Bay raised her head up from shoulder, her crying stopped when she heard the ring, just like Pavlov’s bell. As soon as we sat in front of my laptop and Bay saw her mom, she started crying all over again, holding her boo-boo, and telling her mom all about it. “Hurt, I a fall, my hurt, baftub.”

  “Oh, baby. What happened? What did you do, Brantley?”

  I didn’t tell her I left her alone to get a towel. She didn’t need to know that, and I was sure it would never happen again. Had I been right there by her, she would have never fallen. “I didn’t do anything. She
did it. She stepped on a whale and tripped while I got her a towel. She’s a drama queen. She wasn’t even crying anymore until she saw you.”

  “Did you put something on it? Where is her boo-boo buddy?”

  “I buddy, Daddy.”

  “Okay, sit here with Mommy. I’ll go get it.”

  I moved her to the chair, covering her bare shoulders with the towel and went after the monkey in the fridge. “I should have gone to the bar,” I audibly said, head shaking from side to side.

  Once I had the gel filled cold pack, Bay’s warm pajamas, and Titty, I went back to Bay. Thank God she was over it, but she did have a nice little bruise that made me feel horribly guilty.

  Kit didn’t help that at all. “Why didn’t you get her buddy right away?”

  “She just did it, Kit. Right before you called, and I don’t know these things like you do.”

  “All you have to do is look in the notebook. It’s all right there. I hate this. I want to hold her and kiss her boo-boo away.”

  She didn’t need to know Bay hid the book again, either. “She’s fine, Kit. You’re going to see her in a couple weeks. She’s already over it.”

  Deciding the kitten needed the cold buddy, Bay tried to place it on her back. “Titty, boo-boo.”

  “I thought you named her Mitten?” Kit questioned.

  “No, that was last week. We decided on Salt after that and Casper today.”

  “My titty.”

  Kit snickered, amused by our daughter. “Well, I guess we have a pet named Titty.”

  “Put your foot in, munchkin. I give up, too,” I said, while dressing Bay in warm footy pajamas. The smile prominent as soon as I zipped her up in them. She looked so darn cute.

  “Um, where did she get those?”

  My smile turned into a frown, eyes darting away from my cute kid to her not so cute mom. “I bought them. It’s cold here. What’s wrong with them? She looks adorable.”

  “Did you read anything in that notebook? Is she going to get them off in time to make it to the potty, is the question. I told you that in the Bay Bible.”

  “You did?” I questioned, with nothing else in mind. That dilemma never crossed my mind, but made perfect sense.

  “Yes, but she does look adorable. What did you do today?”

  “I sovel shit.”

  I blew out a puff of air and shook my head.

  “You guys went to the horse rescue place? I love it that you do that, but I wish you would call it something else.”

  “Yeah, well believe it or not, I haven’t said that in a very long time. Weeks. She won’t forget. Will you, Bay? Do you want to go shovel poop tomorrow.”

  “S. Wif Dell. I sovel shit, Mommy,” Bay said, as she moved close to the computer, explaining her plans to her mom.

  “Ahh, her little friend Dale goes there, too. That’s cool.”

  “Dell sovel shit, and Daddy.”

  I stepped over the Dale comment once again and then wondered why. Life would have been much easier had I just come clean, but I didn’t. “You’re better off just ignoring her. The more you try to correct her, the more she does it. Have you gotten your flight plans yet? I need to know what’s going on for work.”

  “Oh, yes. I’m getting in on Friday and you’re coming to me. We’ll stay there Friday and have a get together at my mom’s on Saturday. After that, I’m free to go. We can still do Bay’s party at your house.”

  Her words knocked the wind right out of me. How the hell was I supposed to pull that off? Rydell and Kit at the same place, at the same time? Bad idea. “Okay, that works,” I said, as if it was perfectly normal. It was good, and I was glad this happened. It gave me the opportunity to tell Kit about Dale before the party. I mean, it wasn’t like I could uninvite Rydell. Could I? Even though the thought crossed my mind, I didn’t act on it. This was a long time coming. Time to stop playing games and grow up. Rydell wasn’t some slut I had picked up for the weekend in Nashville like Kit was. I wanted to know Rydell from the first time I laid eyes on her. I wanted to fuck Kit. Big difference.

  When Kit wanted Bay to sing her the alphabet song, Bay ran off to fetch her little guitar.

  I picked up mine, wearing a huge smile. “Wait until you see what I taught her.”

  Bay crossed her little leg, one over the other, and tapped her footed toes on the tile. Our expressions matched, hers mimicking mine while we sang the alphabet song, only we did it to the tune of Adele’s, Hello, song.

  Kit listened the entire time with her hand covering her mouth, her eyes full of admiration. Her hands came together and she stood as Bay and I finished the last line.

  “Next time won’t you sing with meeeee, eee, ee.”

  “Oh, my God, Brantley. That is the cutest thing ever. You have to record that so I can show the crew. I love it so much.”

  My pride beamed from Kit’s excitement. “That was a handful of times. I swear the girl’s a natural born performer.”

  “She should be,” Kit said, again feeding my ego. I knew she got it from me, and my heart overflowed with joy. This was way better than a drunk party.

  I stayed on the call with Kit way after Bay passed out. It must have been an hour later when I realized she didn’t have Phil. “Kit, look. She went to sleep without Phil.”

  “Ahhh, take a picture and send it to my email. I told you that kitten would help.”

  I stood over Bay with my phone and took her picture. “Yeah, if she’d stop calling her titty. Wait. What am I supposed to do with it when I go there?”

  “Bring her. I thought you said you weren’t flying.”

  “I’m not, but I’m not driving with that thing.”

  “Oh, stop it. She’ll keep Bay company. Besides the kitten, what is her favorite toy from Christmas? What does she play with the most? I hate missing this stuff.”

  And once again, I lied. I couldn’t really tell her about the playdough Rydell bought for her, and I didn’t want to be a snake and say I bought it. “Her kitty for sure, and her guitar, and that noisy tool thing you bought her. She plays with that a lot.”

  “I knew she would love that.”

  Needless to say, I brought the new year in with Kit. We talked until she said she had to leave, but I wouldn’t let her.”

  “Seriously? You have ten minutes until it’s a new year here. Don’t you want to bring it in with Bay?”

  Kit smiled, her head tilting to the side. “Yes, I can wait.”

  I messaged Rydell once I’d closed my laptop and wished her Happy New Year. Only, she didn’t message back. That led my mind to think the worst. Surely she wouldn’t cheat. My head shook back and forth, trying to shake the ridiculous thought while I carried Bay to her bed, a fluffy white ball following close behind. I lifted the little ball of fur to her bed and smiled while the kitten did two circles and curled up to Bay’s tummy. I covered them both and kissed Bay’s head, placing Phil next to her, just in case.

  Thoughts about what Rydell was up to crossed my mind again as I laid on the sofa, propping my head with one hand. I thought for sure she would have gotten a ride to my place. I loved sex with drunk Rydell. That’s when she was at her best, comfortable with her body, and anything I wanted her to do. My eyes looked up to the ceiling while I thought about my neighbors, wondering if they were bringing in the New Year with a bang. I talked myself out of climbing up the attic steps, but too many sexual thoughts had entered my brain not to do anything. I slid my shorts down and covered myself with the blanket from the back of the sofa, stroking myself to a full blown erection.

  My eyes closed and let the fantasies take over. Crazy hot illusions that would never happen. Not in a million years. It involved Rydell— and Kit. The things my mind concocted was the best pornography I’d ever seen, Rydell on her back with my dick in her mouth while Kit stroked her wet sex with her fingers. I did dirty things to both of them, and my mind made them do dirty things together. I even made Rydell sit on Kit’s face, and Kit brought her to orgasm the exact same time m
y hand brought me to mine. What a fantasy.

  Bay woke me around nine the following morning. She stood right in front of me with her kitten’s poor little body, hanging by its head. “I pee, Daddy.”

  I lifted the helpless kitty from her arms and looked down at the zipper in her new pajamas, stuck, halfway down. “Yes, you did. Let’s throw these things in the trash. Did you pee in your bed, too?” I questioned, while I placed the kitten on the floor.

  “Her Mavis.”

  Him Mavis, him Mavis, I repeated over in my head, trying to decipher her words when like the switch of a light, I got it. “Mavis! You want to call kitty Mavis?”

  “S, on a hoe hell wif dwaka.”

  On, Hotel Transylvania with Dracula. That’s what she said, and it was perfect. “Mavis Jandt. I love it, Bay. Come on, Mavis,” I called, for no reason. She followed Bay everywhere. It was funny in a peculiar way, like Mavis knew Bay was just a baby, too. For the first time, I was happy she had the dumb little thing, and I was happy she got it from Kit and not Rydell. That made me feel extremely guilty, but I wasn’t sure why. I guess I knew how much Rydell wanted to give it to her, but Kit was her mom. That’s all it was about, nothing else. Had it been anyone but Kit, I would have said no way.

  I tried calling Rydell before noon, wanting to see if she wanted to go get some lunch with me and Bay, but she never answered. We’d already gone to the grocery store, had lunch at Subway, and was down for a nap on the couch when she finally showed up.

  “You look like shit,” I said, announcing the truth.

  She did look like shit. Her lips didn’t glisten with gloss like they normally did, her eyes weren’t darkened by eye makeup, and she wore sweats. Rydell didn’t leave the house in sweats. Ever. Not even to walk on the beach. “I’m dying. You can have my clothes,” she whined, while plopping to the opposite end of the sofa as Bay.

  I laughed at her and kissed her head. “Coffee?”

  “Please, and a handful of pain pills. Why didn’t I just stay home with you?”


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