“Four more months, then this boy’s got to come out. He’s a killer on my back.”
Jeremy laughed. “Dibs on naming him Jeremy the Second.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s not your call. And he’s obviously going to be named Max.”
Joe patted me hard on the shoulder, chuckling. His voice was deep and booming, and his hands still smelled a bit of grease from working in his garage all day. “Nice try,” he said, “but the little guy’s going to be named Joseph and that’s that.”
Terri clicked her tongue. “Yeah, that’s not happening either.” She turned to me and asked, “Did you get the invite to our cousin’s wedding?”
“Greer? Yeah, I got it in the mail this morning.”
“You going to go?”
“I mean, I don’t know if I can get the time off to fly all the way to Vegas.”
Terri giggled. “A Vegas wedding, can you believe it? And it’s in October, too. I wonder if it’s going to be Halloween themed?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s kind of rushed.”
“Rushed? Greer and Tristan have been together since college.”
“They met in college.”
My sister shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, I guess. I think I’m going to go. There’s actually a ton of shows I think Hayley and Joe would like to see.”
I scratched behind my ear, mulling things over. “I have to think about it. Work’s been crazy.”
“Work, work, work. You need a break, hermano. Think of it as an excuse to take a mini-vacation.”
At that exact moment, Jeremy’s ears pricked up. “Did someone say vacation?”
I patted him on the shoulder and shook my head. “Maybe. We’ll talk about it later.”
We all took a seat, catching up with one another. It had been a crazy past month, and I hadn’t been able to meet with Terri in a long while. This lunch date was long overdue.
Upon noticing the last chair was still vacant, Hayley adeptly pointed and asked, “Is someone still coming?”
Jeremy nodded. “Auntie Alice is still on her way. She’s just finishing up an exam at school.”
The little girl crinkled up her nose. “I thought grownups didn’t have to take tests when they were older.”
Joe ruffled his daughter’s blonde locks. “Sometimes they do, honey.”
“I don’t want to grow up if I have to take tests.”
I chuckled. “She’s a smart one.”
Terri nodded in agreement. “You have no idea.”
“What test is she taking?” inquired Hayley.
Jeremy placed Hayley down on his knee. “Auntie Alice is going to college.”
“Like Mommy did?”
“Exactly right, missy. Alice is studying to be a businesswoman.”
“You’ve got it, sunshine! How’d you get so smart?”
“Daddy says I get my brains from Mommy.”
“And her looks, too,” I quipped under my breath.
Joe, who was sitting directly to my left, nudged me in the ribs with his elbow. “I heard that. When’s your girl going to get here, anyhow? I’m excited to meet the gal who finally put a leash on you.”
Hayley snickered. “You can only put leashes on dogs, Daddy.”
Jeremy stifled a boisterous laugh behind his hand. “Yep. That’s exactly right.”
“Actually,” I said, clearing my throat, “Alice isn’t just my girl.”
Terri raised an eyebrow at me and tilted her head. “What do you mean by that? Are you two not exclusive yet? Does this mean I have to go easy on my questions?”
“No, no. I mean, we are exclusive. It’s just–”
“I’m dating her, too,” Jeremy piped up.
The look of confusion that passed over Terri and Joe’s face was one for the books. Hayley was obviously none the wiser. She was too distracted by the colorful birds flying overhead, resting on the branch of a nearby tree.
Terri mumbled, “Wait, what?”
“It’s complicated,” I stated.
“But it works for us,” added Jeremy.
Joe simply shrugged. “As long as you like her, I guess.”
Terri eventually shrugged, as well. “Cool. I mean, yeah. Whatever works for you. I mean, I’ve definitely seen crazier. I heard from a friend of friend that their friend got married to royalty. Talk about crazy, right?”
“I’m so sorry I’m late!” exclaimed Alice as she maneuvered around the tight arrangement of patio tables. She had a little red bag with white polka dots in her hand, stuffed with something inside. Jeremy and I rose, each kissing her on the cheek before Alice turned to shake hands with Terri and Joe. “It’s very nice to finally meet you. Max is always talking about you guys.”
Joe chortled. “I find that hard to believe. The guy’s trap is as tight as a clam.”
Terri smiled brightly at Alice. “It’s very nice to meet you, too.”
Alice then turned to Hayley, crouching down so that she was eye-level with the little girl. “I was late because I wanted to get you something,” she explained, pulling out a Barbie doll still in its package. “This is for you,” she said as she handed the toy to Hayley.