Emma huffed and rolled her eyes at both of the men before she looked at me and said, “Come on, Chloe. You can come see the nursery that Luke finally finished while they get the grill going. You know, since the peanut butter and pickle Nazi over there is being an asshole to his pregnant wife.”
I laughed and followed her upstairs. We went into the nursery, which had previously been a guest room. It was done up in pink and brown polka dots and was so absolutely adorable, as well as definitely baby-chic. Not even born yet, and already completely spoiled!
I smiled fondly over at Emma but my smile faded when I saw her rummaging through the closet in the baby’s room. “What are you doing?” I asked her.
She rifled around a bit more before she spun, yelling ‘Ah-ha!’ gleefully as she held a jar of peanut butter aloft.
I quirked a brow at her and said, dryly, “You keep peanut butter in your daughter’s closet?”
“Just my emergency jar. I’ve moved on from tacos to the peanut butter and pickles. It was cheese slices wrapped around pickles for a few days but then I had a peanut butter sandwich with a pickle on the side and some of my peanut butter touched my pickle and that’s all she wrote!” Emma said, leaning toward me like it was a big secret. Which it apparently was, considering the fact that she’s hiding foodstuffs around the house.
“Really, Emma? Pickles and cheese slices…Weren’t you the one who told me that was disturbing not too long ago when everyone was razzing on Allie for eating them on pizza? So, what about the pickles, you have a jar of those stashed around here somewhere?” I asked, jokingly.
Her face fell. “No,” she sighed. “Pickles have to be refrigerated and I think Luke would be suspicious if I smuggled a mini-fridge into the house.”
I shook my head at her and gave her a hug, smiling fondly. “It’s okay, Emma. I’ll go get you a pickle and we’ll go hide outside so you can eat it.”
She smiled, her entire face beaming with joy and we beelined for the kitchen, Emma all but dragging me along behind her. Moral of the story? Never get between a pregnant woman and her pickles and peanut butter…yikes.
We got lucky; Calland had shown up with a new flavor of the month, and Allie and Jackson, lured back by the temptation of a cookout and bonfire, apparently, were walking in the door so Luke was occupied greeting everyone.
As Emma scurried behind them, dropping to the floor to crawl behind the cabinets (which was hilarious…have you ever seen a very pregnant woman crawl on the floor?) I ran interference by hugging and talking to everyone in the living room, making sure to engage Luke as much as possible so he wouldn’t glance into the kitchen to see the refrigerator door mysteriously open and close on it’s own.
Allie, on the other hand, noticed. She opened her mouth and I hugged her to me again, having to almost bend in half to do it because of her belly, whispering in her ear, “She’s crave-obsessed and Luke’s being a pickle Nazi.”
She guffawed in my ear and then cut off her laugh so hard she choked. Immediately, Jackson was there, almost shoving me out of the way as he patted her on the back and frantically tried to get her to tell him she was okay.
She waved him off, but the damage was done. Calland had piped up.
“Where’s my sister? I want her to meet Legsy.”
Luke started to look around but at my frantic look, Brandon, even though he glanced at me like I’d lost my mind, started to say something to distract Luke again. But then what Calland said trumped it and he lost his train of thought.
“I’m sorry—what was her name? I think I misheard you,” he asked Calland.
Calland answered again, an unmistakable twinkle in his eye. “Legsy. Her name is Legsy.”
Brandon fought hard against his grin and politely held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Legsy. That’s a very…unusual name.” (Luke was definitely distracted now. Good thing too, because I could see hands moving carefully along the counter until they connected with a plate, dragging it over the edge to disappear.)
She simpered. “Oh! Thank you! My Daddy, bless his heart, he’s not a very good speller. When I was born, see, he was writin’ the paperwork out for my poor, exhausted Momma, she said to name me Lexi. You know, like with the ‘X’. But her words were a little slurred, well, from the drugs and all, and it came out like Legsy. So that’s what he wrote and my Momma didn’t see it until a ‘lil bit later but by then it was too late. So that’s my name, Legsy. You know, like I’m all legs, Legsy!”
Crickets. I swear I heard them. That’s how stunned we all were, with the exception of Calland, who had more than likely already heard the story. We were all just staring at her, varying expressions plastered on our faces, while she grinned and…well…you guessed it. Simpered.
Where the hell does he find these girls? Good Lord, the boy has found some doozies just since I’d been in town, and I couldn’t even imagine the ones before that!
Brandon cleared his throat but still didn’t manage to think of anything else to say. Just then a muffled crunching sound, followed by a low ‘mmmmmmm’ sounded from the kitchen. I gave a mental ‘eek’ and opened my mouth to say something but it was too late.
Luke’s eyes narrowed and he glared at me. I looked away, a flush creeping up my face at being caught red-handed helping the pickle bandit. He reached out and snagged my arm, pulling me behind him after motioning everyone to be quiet.
They followed us, every single one of them tip-toeing as best they could. We all peered over the counter, Luke shaking his head with resign and a touch of exasperation at the sight before us. Emma was sitting on the floor, leaning back against the counter with her legs splayed in front of her. The open jar of pickles was sitting beside her, and she had the jar of peanut butter in one hand, dipping a pickle spear into it with another.
A louder crunch sounded as she took a bite and then froze with it hanging out of her mouth as she noticed her audience. She finished her bite, chewed slowly, and then, rather defensively, said, “What the hell are you shaking your head for, Lucas? It’s not a pickle butter milkshake, so get the fuck over it!”
Luke just sighed and went to help his wife up while we all laughed. There’s never a dull moment around here…
A couple of hours later, bellies full of perfectly grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and all the other requisite cookout fare, we were all relaxing by the fire, enjoying each other’s company and laughing at the antics of the dogs. All three of them had been chasing each other around the yard until the pups tired Doug out and he collapsed in a heap at Luke’s feet, panting and grinning his doggy-grin at everyone.
Grady and DJ followed suit, although DJ chose to lay on top of Doug while Grady clamored up into Jackson’s lap like he was still a tiny little thing.
While Emma broke out the s’more fixings, Luke caught my eye and motioned for me to follow him. I did, and Brandon, shooting me a curious look, did the same.
We walked into the kitchen and Luke turned to look at me. “Chloe, I hate to do this tonight since we’ve been having such a good time, but I don’t want to let it go without telling you. If I know my brother,” he glanced wryly at Brandon, “it won’t be too much longer before he’s trying to sneak you off.”