“Wedding?” Sam says.
Wedding? I think. He hasn’t even officially proposed yet, but it’s exciting none the less.
“Can you take Bailey while I finish loading my bags into the truck?” Deacon says to me.
“Of course.” Bailey holds her arms up when she sees me walking toward her. I lift her up and settle her on my hip.
When Deacon leaves, I’m stuck alone with Sam. The room fills with an awkward silence so thick you could cut it with a knife.
I can’t take it anymore. “I wish you would give me a chance before you start comparing me to Deacon’s ex. That’s not fair. I really want my child to know his or her uncle. I want us to be a happy family.”
He stares at me so long it’s like his face has frozen that way. Just as I’m about to ask if someone had turned the lights off in his head, he looks down at the carpet. “You mean that? Because Karen was always trying to get between me and my brother right from the beginning. When I bought this house from Deacon, she tried getting him to sell it to me for far more than they paid for it. She was a snake. I’ve always wanted a relationship with my brother. When he moved in with me, I thought that’s what I was going to have with him. Until now …”
“I would never try to get between brothers. I’m an only child. I’ve always wanted siblings. Karen was a horrible person, but I’m not. I would love to have a brother in law.”
He sighs. “I want that too.”
Deacon comes back in the house. “You ready?” he asks me.
“One second,” Sam says.
“No, I’m not going to sit here and listen to you berate the mother of my—”
Instead of letting Deacon finish what he was about to say, Sam walks up to Deacon and gives him a hug. When Sam steps back, Deacon looks as though Sam had struck him, arms out, mouth hanging open. “What …”
“I’m happy for you,” Sam says. He looks at me. “For both of you. If you need help moving into your new place, let me know.”
Deacon’s brow furrows, again looking similar to Sam. “Um, yeah, actually I could use the help.”
“I’ll help too,” I say.
“No way,” Sam says. “You’re not lifting a finger. Not while you’re growing my niece or nephew inside of you.”
Deacon looks at me in shock and shakes his head. “Thanks, Brother,” he says.
When we’re in the truck, Deacon shakes his head. “Are you some kind of sorceress or something?” he asks.
“What do you mean?”
“Or maybe a surgeon.”
I laugh. “What on earth are you talking about?”
He pulls into a nice older neighborhood lined with weeping willows. It’s the kind of neighborhood one would feel safe raising a family in. Lots of sidewalks for children to run and play. To stroll along with a couple of babies. There’s a small park on the corner and bicycle trail. I’ve always dreamed of living in a neighborhood like this.
“How did you get that stick out of Sam’s ass when I’ve been trying my whole life?” Deacon says.
I smile. “Sam is a good guy. He just wants a relationship with his brother and I told him I’m going to make sure he gets it.”
“You really are the best.”
He pulls the truck into the driveway of a large house painted light gray with darker gray trim and a red door.
“Wow, is this it?” I say, excited. It’s a beautiful home with a manicured lawn, a huge flower garden, a towering oak with a tire swing out front and fruit trees on the side next to the driveway. I can picture us sitting on the porch with iced tea in the summer, watching Bailey play in the yard while I nurse our newborn. This is my dream.
“This is it. I think you’re going to love it,” Deacon says.
“It’s beautiful,” I say, “but it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s your house.”
He gives me a strange look. “It’s your house too. You’re moving in with me.”
I don’t know why this shocks me. Of course we’ll live together, I just didn’t know he meant us to live together so soon. Leaving my mom alone in that big house makes me sad, but at the same time I’m ready to start my own family, have my own house, and make my own memories. I think the reason she never had the men that she dated over to the house was because she was afraid of them intruding on our little family. But now that I’m not there she can start having some fun. She won’t have to worry about me anymore. Maybe this is best for the both of us in the end.
“I love it,” I say.
He hands me a key with a key ring that says ‘hers.’ He lifts up his own key ring that says ‘his.’ I throw myself into his arms and squeeze the air out of him.