Players, Bumps and Cocktail Sausages, page 1part #3 of Silence Series
“Everleigh!” I shouted. Jesus, my niece was like a fucking ninja! She just appeared and disappeared whenever she wanted to, and when I least expected it.
“It’s not funny anymore, come out. ” I walked into the kitchen again to see if she was hiding in a cupboard, although she didn’t like to hide in the same place too often. “Everleigh, I’ll give you chocolate ice cream. ”
My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I prayed it wasn’t my sister calling to talk to her daughter. I was running out of excuses as to why a three-year-old couldn’t come to the phone. If I told Oakley it was because I had – yet again – misplaced her only child in my house, she would flip the fuck out.
I sighed in relief when my wife’s name flashed up on the screen: Abby.
“Hey, babe,” I said.
“Hi. I’ve been invited to dinner with a few colleagues, is that okay? We don’t have anything on, do we?”
Great, I’ll fend for my-fucking-self then!
I frowned and replied, “Yeah, it’s fine. I’ll probably hang around Oakley’s until she feeds me when I drop Everleigh off. ”
Or eat alone. Again.
Abby laughed. “Lucky Oakley! How is Everleigh?”
If I could find her, I could ask…
“She’s fine,” I replied and opened the downstairs bedroom wardrobe to search for her. I couldn’t quite remember how long ago it was that she hid in her bedroom, so I wasn’t sure if looking here was productive or not.
“Is she being good? Didn’t Cole and Oakley say she was having a ‘no’ phase?”
She was. There was no getting her to do what she didn’t want to. I think it was Oakley’s fault; she had always told her she never had to do anything she didn’t want to. We all knew it was because of what she’d been through, but it did mean Everleigh got away with murder sometimes. Plus, all she had to do was look up at me with her big blue eyes, and I was done.
Everleigh’s high-pitched scream made my heart stop and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Shit! I turned on my heel and sprinted towards the noise.
“Everleigh?” I shouted as I ran to the living room, shoving the door open.
She jumped off the sofa, landing in front of me and shouted, “Roar!”
“What the. . . !” She burst into a fit of giggles and jumped up and down. “What was that? Why did you scream? You scared the sh-sugar me!” I scowled.
She shoved her hands on her hips – a mini diva. Oakley was never like that when we were kids, even before. . . “You were taking too long to find me. ”
I blinked, shocked. “So you screamed bloody murder to get my attention?”
“What does bwoody mean?”
Damn it. “Err, that doesn’t mean anything. I said… blonde. ”
“No, you didn’t. ”
“I did,” I countered.
“No, you didn’t. ”
“I did. ”
“No, you didn’t. ”
Sighing, I ran my hand through my hair. “If you pretend I didn’t and don’t tell your parents I’ll give you sweets. ”
She smiled and skipped out of the room, replying, “Deal, Uncle Jasper. ”
I just got owned by a three-year-old. Abby shouting my name made me realise she was still on the phone, which I was clutching in my hand, so now I was in trouble with my wife. I grimaced.
“Hi, beautiful. ”
“Jasper Dane, what on earth was that? Is she okay?”
Is she okay? I almost had a heart attack!
“She’s fine. I’ll see you later tonight then. ”
“I love you. ”
“Love you too,” she replied and hung up.
“Uncle Jasper, where are the sweeties?”
“Change of plan, we’re going out,” I called back.
Everleigh appeared in front of me, making me jump.
“Where?” she asked.
“You do realise you’re the child, and I’m the adult, don’t you? You have to do what I say. ”
She shook her head. “Nana said you’re as mature as a two-year-old. ”
“Did she now?”
“Yep, and she said I looks after you more than you looks after me. ”
I grabbed her coat off the bannister. “Well, I’ll be having a word with Nana later. Shoes on. Let’s go. ”
Everleigh was quiet in the car. She always looked out of the window, silently taking everything in. Sometimes I would take her for a drive just for a little bit of peace and quiet. As exhausting as looking after her was I wouldn’t have it any other way. I loved hanging out with her. Page 2
I pulled up at Cole’s office and noticed that Oakley’s car was there too.
“Are we seeing Daddy?” Everleigh asked.
“Yeah but only for a minute, he has to work. Mummy’s here too. ”
Everleigh cheered and pulled at her seat belt.
“Don’t take your belt off yet!” I said. “Remember what I told you could happen?”
“I fly out of the window, and my brains will fall out. ”
I nodded once. “Exactly. You want to keep your brains in, right?”
“Good girl. ”
I parked beside Oakley’s car and unbuckled Everleigh’s seat. Okay so telling a kid her brains would fall out if she didn’t wear a seat belt wasn’t exactly appropriate, but sometimes you had to use scare tactics to get the little buggers to play ball.
Cole had his own office, which Everleigh skipped to, waving and saying hello to her dad’s colleagues. She walked through the building as if she owned it.
“Come on, Uncle Jasper!”
“Sorry,” I muttered, rolling my eyes.
Everleigh pushed Cole’s office door open and skipped up to Oakley, shoving her arms out to her.
“Hey, baby,” Oakley said, picking her up.
“Mummy, what does bwoody mean?”
Oakley looked up and scowled.
“You’re not getting those sweets now,” I told Everleigh.
“Jasper,” Oakley said sounding just like our mum when she told me off. “Stop using inappropriate language around my daughter. And stop bribing her not to tell on you!”
Everleigh stuck her tongue out, and I glared. We were usually a team. I was cool Uncle Jasper, and she usually sided with me. Traitor.
“Slip of the tongue. Anyway, I wanna take the little angel swimming. That okay with you?”
She bit her lip and looked torn.
“You promise you won’t leave her for a second?”
“You know I won’t. ”
“She’ll love it,” Cole said, looking at my little sister in a sappy, loving way that made me want to throw the hot drink he held in his face.
To say I was overprotective of my grown-up, twenty-four-year-old sister was an understatement. After what happened to her as a child I never wanted to let her out of my sight. I looked hard into everything, making sure there were no signs I was missing again. Cole was all right though. We’d been friends since we were kids, and then there was that him being pathetic and pining after her when we moved to Australia for four years thing. Anyone else and their tea would be scolding their face right now.
Oakley nodded. “Yeah, she will. Do not let her–”
“Out of my sight,” I said, holding my hands up and finishing her sentence. “She’s safe with me. You know that. ”
“I know. I trust you. ”
Trust was a huge thing for Oakley. For me, t
“Good. ” I sat on the desk. “You wanna go swimming, Everleigh?”
“Yeah! And Auntie Abby?”
My jaw tightened.
“No, Auntie Abby’s at work. ”
Then she was going out, again. I was all for her spending time with colleagues and talking about whatever boring teaching things they talked about, but I was getting tired of spending quality time with the T-fucking-V.
Oakley gave me her there’s-more-to-this-you’re-not-saying look, and I knew I was telling her all about it, whether I wanted to or not.
“Cole, why don’t you take Everleigh to get a biscuit from the staff room?” she said.
Subtle, Oakley. . .
“Uncle Jasper, is Mummy making me leave so she can talk to you?” Everleigh asked me.
I smiled. I had taught her well.
“Yep, exactly. Mummy wants to talk to me, so she’s getting you and Daddy out by secretly bribing you with a biscuit. ”
“Is it about you saying bwoody?”
“Okay, off you go,” I said gently pushing her shoulders. She skipped out with Cole.
“Kids, huh?” I shrugged, grimacing.
“I’ll let that one go. What’s going on with Abby? That’s five Fridays in a row she’s cancelled plans with you or just gone out. ”
I shrugged. “Nothin’ really. She’s just going out with work people. ”
“Right, but you’re not happy with that. ”
“I’m not one of those bunny boilers, Oakley. If Abby wants to go out, I’m not gonna tell her she can’t. ”
“I know that. You know we’re going to get to it soon so let’s skip the ‘I’m a good husband’ bit – because I already know you are – and get to the part where you’re honest. ”
My breath left my lungs in a rush, and the words came out.
“What if she’s…”
I nodded. I forgave her the first time; we were teenagers, and she was stupid. After five years apart we’d grown up, and I thought she was ready to be serious. She was the only girl I had ever been serious about, and now she was my wife. Getting over a cheating teenage girlfriend was one thing, getting over a cheating wife was another. And no way in hell was I going to forgive that again.
“Do you honestly believe she is? After last time? I’m sure she wouldn’t be that stupid to risk losing you again. ”
“I don’t know what I think. All I know is that’s she’s going out more and is distant at home. We haven’t had sex in–”
She held her hands up. “Okay, that part you can speak to Cole about!”
“Prude,” I muttered under my breath.
Oakley shook her head.
“Jasper, if you’re worried you need to talk to her. ”
“I can hardly come out with are you fucking around again, can I?”
“Maybe be a little more grown up about it… If that’s possible. ” Oh, ha fucking ha! “You should be able to talk to her about anything. ”
“Well sorry my marriage isn’t as perfect as yours. ”
“Mine’s not perfect. I want to kill Cole fifty per cent of the time, but I’d sure as hell ask him if I thought he was cheating. ”
It was easy for her; she knew Cole would never cheat. The guy had been in love with her since they were kids. He waited four years for her. They were each other’s firsts. They were pathetically perfect for each other. Me and Abby had hot sex and then we fell in love. And then she cheated and turned me into a whore; which was fun through my twenties but now I was twenty-seven if I had to be single again, sleeping around would just make me feel like a sad old man. A fun sad old man, but still a sad old man.
“Maybe I should do some snooping. ”
“No, Jasper, just talk to her. ”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna snoop first. ”
She sighed. “If she finds out you’ve been checking up on her rather than just–”
“La la la. I’ve made up my mind. ”
“Oh my God my daughter’s more mature than you. ”
“Mummy, I got two chocolate biscuits, and Daddy said I don’t have to share with Uncle Jasper,” Everleigh announced as she strut into the room. She was three going on fifteen.
“Well Daddy’s a–”
“Do not finish that sentence,” Oakley snapped. I grinned.
Everleigh and I swam for an hour – well, I raced around after her and constantly had to wipe the water she splashed at me out of my eyes – and then I dropped her home.
Oakley had told me to be grown up about things and speak to Abby, but let’s be honest, where did that ever get you? Pussy-whipped and fucked over, that’s where. Not a place I wanted to be, so I was snooping. Abby was in the shower, possibly getting ready to screw another man, so I reached into her jacket pockets and found just a lipstick.
Her bag was on the kitchen table. I got told off for leaving stuff on there, my surf board mostly, but her bag, new shoes, make-up and umbrella was fine – inequality at its bloody finest. The bag was open. If she left it open she was inviting people to look, and if I didn’t touch anything, technically, I wasn’t going through her things.
I peered in and saw the usual crap women kept in bags and a watch box. Armani watch at that, not a shabby one. My stepdad, Miles’ birthday present no doubt. I hoped.
Standing back, I took a swig of my beer. There was nothing incriminating. Maybe it really was all in my messed up head.
“Babe, I’m going now,” she said, grabbing her bag off the table and kissing my cheek. “You’re sure you don’t mind? Perhaps we can do something the day after tomorrow? Or we can stop off in a bar after Miles’ party tomorrow? I feel like we never spend time together anymore. ”
Oh, whose fault is that!
“Sure. Day after tomorrow sounds good. I volunteered us to look after Everleigh tomorrow night. ”
Abby smiled. “Yeah? That sounds great. We can rent a Disney film and make popcorn. Let her have a late night. ” Abby loved having Everleigh over. She wanted a kid as much as I did; we couldn’t wait to be parents but recently she’d spoken less about it.
“She’ll love that. ”
“Good. I gotta run. Love you. ”
“Love you too. ” I watched my wife walk out to spend her Friday night with people who were not me again and sighed. I didn’t care that she was going out. I cared that her going out made things different between us. I was now the one that she fit into a tiny slot in her schedule, rather than her friends. She might as well be married to her job and colleagues.
What the hell was I doing waiting in every night while my wife is out having fun? Shaking my head at how whipped I really was, I pulled my mobile from my pocket and dialled Brad’s number.
“Wanna go out and get shitfaced?”
He chuckled. “I’m in. I’ll drop Ben and Cole a text and meet you at the pub in thirty. ”
I snorted. Like Cole would go.
I hung up and went to have my own shower and spend the night getting wasted with the guys. I love my wife, but I sure as hell wasn’t sitting around for her. If she didn’t give a crap about our marriage, which was clearly in trouble, then why the hell should I?
I walked into the bar and Cole, Ben and Brad sat on a table in the corner. Well fuck me, the pussy came out! “Let you out then, did she?” I said to Cole as I sat down and took the unnatural green-coloured shot that was waiting for me.
He rolled his eyes. “So what’s Abby done that’s caused me to leave my horny wife
“Cole, I swear to God if you finish that sentence…”
He lifted his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head.
“My sister’s clothes stay on. ”
“Yes, Jasper. Everleigh was an immaculate conception. ”
I nodded my head. “That’s what I thought. ” I was even more protective with my little sister than my mum, but then I had never caught Oakley and Cole, so it was easier to pretend it didn’t go on. I shuddered at the future therapy memory.
“Seriously, what’s going on?” Brad asked, checking his phone again.
“Who’re you sexting?” Ben asked.
My eyebrow arched. “Did you just say sexting? Are you fifteen?”
Ben held his hands up. “That’s what it’s called. ”
“Stop trying to keep up with the kids, man, it’s over. ”
“Alright!” Brad said. “I’m not sexting anyone. My sister’s home from uni for summer and doing my head in. She’s bored and apparently has no friends here any more. Well, not any that are in the country until next week. ”
“Invite her to join us,” Ben said.
“I don’t think I’ll be doing that. ”
“Either invite her or keep replying to her all night,” he replied.
I was going to point out how this was a boys’ night, but we technically hadn’t said anything about it only being us guys.
“Is she even old enough to get in?” I asked.
“She’s twenty, Jasper. ”
“You’re shitting me! Holly’s twenty now?”
“I shit you not. ”
I sank back in my chair, feeling like a grandad. The last time I saw her was shortly after I met Brad when we moved back to England, about five years ago. She was a teenager that wore too much eyeliner, spent her life glued to her mobile and was so painfully shy she barely spoke to anyone outside her friends and family. Now she was twenty and at uni.
“She’s coming,” Brad said as his phone beeped again.
I turned my nose up.
“Great, we’re babysitting tonight. ”
“She’s twenty, Jasper,” Cole said.
“Right, five years older than my sister was. ”
“What the fuck does that have to do with Holly?” he asked, shaking his head.
“It has everything to do with everything whenever I want to bring it up. ” He laughed and took a swig of beer. “Now can we please get me shitfaced?”
“What’s going on with Abby? Kerry said you’re pissed off she’s always out,” Ben asked, eager to change the subject.
“Your wife talks too much,” I replied. Did everyone know about Abby barely staying at home in the evenings anymore?
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving FateThe Cabin
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