“Are you crying?” Kelly gasps, looking down at me in horror because she’s my sister and she’s also a couple of inches taller than me.
“Sweet ride,” Kevin says at the same time then adds belatedly, “I mean, are you okay, Misty?”
“I’m fine,” I say. “I, umm, just got sacked.” I know it’s not true, but I’ve just made up my mind. I’m going to resign tomorrow. I don’t think I can last another day at Moretti Inc. after this. I’ll always remember being made a fool by its CEO, the fracking jerk.
I pretend to brush my hair off my face so I can wipe the tears away from my eyes.
We all pretend my ploy is working.
When I’ve recovered myself sufficiently, I say brightly, “So, why are you two---” My voice trails off as I remember the answer to my question.
“What are we going to do?” Kelly starts biting her fingernails, which currently flaunt the colors of Brazil.
She’s the most emotional of all of us. It’s another reason I think the twins are Italian. And Kelly totally loves pizza, too, so there.
Squeezing her shoulder reassuringly, I say, “We won’t let her adopt another one so don’t worry, okay?”
Kevin snorts. “I hate to pi---rain on your parade, but how exactly do you plan on stopping Nanette from doing that?”
I belatedly notice he’s already in his nurse uniform. “Let me worry about that. You should just go to class. You can’t afford to be late anymore.” Kevin works in a nearby grocery during the day, but lately he’s gotten in trouble in school because of the hours he’s been spending working overtime.
“Don’t worry about it. I get this all figured out.” Not. But they don’t have to know that.
Kevin’s eyes bore through me. “You haven’t a clue about what you’re going to do, have you?”
“Of course I have. I’ve decided that…” Inspiration strikes and I finish winningly, “I’ve decided that we are going to prove to Nanette she won’t get away with this anymore. We’re going to ignore the baby and let her do all the work until she gives up and return it to Social Services.”
The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. “Yes, that’s it. We’ll ignore the baby.”
Kevin’s flabbergasted. And that’s an understatement. He rakes a hand through his rather longish dark brown hair, exclaiming, “That’s it?”
“Trust me,” I insist. “It’s going to work.”
“It’s not going to work,” Kevin bursts out. “And you know why? It’s because you’re a sucker for emotional blackmail!”
Fifteen minutes later, I’m 99% sure Kevin was right.
All six of us are in the living room, which actually doubles as the dining room as well. If you have to be technical about it, the area also serves as the kitchen. Andy is crying, and Nicole’s trying to hush him. Kelly’s lips are trembling but she does her best to distract herself by staring at the TV, which is tuned to SpongeBob.
The wails of the infant continue to punish me. It’s been fifteen minutes since the baby started crying. Kevin doesn’t stop glaring at me, his way of keeping me glued to my seat.
Nanette doesn’t say a word but the smug look on her face says it all.
If you give the baby back to Social Services, do you really think its life is going to get better?
Do you think people would pick him up the moment he starts crying?
Can your conscience bear turning your back on this poor little soul?
The baby’s cries turn hoarse.
I lose the battle of wills.
“I’m sorry!” I run to the crib at the opposite side of the room, tears in my eyes.
I am such a wimp.
I cradle the baby close, making soft and soothing noises while ignoring Kevin’s heartfelt groan at the same time.
“I’m off to Social Services.” Nanette’s almost singing her words out. There’s even a spring to her step, which is saying a lot since she’s gained almost a hundred pounds since she adopted me fourteen years ago. She fluffs her hair, cut in a stylish bob that would have looked pretty if she was two decades younger. “I may be home late so do save me some for dinner, okay?”
When the door closes behind her, Kevin growls, “Misty.”
“I know,” I say miserably. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it.” I look down at the baby, and for a moment I just see rows and rows of numbers instead of his cute face. Baby food never comes cheap, but you can’t put infants in a South Beach diet. Diapers cost a fortune, but infants don’t get potty-trained until they’re maybe two or three.
I want to kick myself. Now I feel such an idiot for asking Domenico Moretti for a public performance of his virility when I could have access to his bank account. Shick. Would I have changed my mind if I knew this would happen? If I’m honest with myself – no. Shick.
When Kevin leaves for class, we divide baby care duties among the three of us while Andy plays with the baby. I frown, momentarily distracted. I’ve forgotten to ask Nanette about the baby’s name.
“I’m home first so I’ll care for the baby until Kelly gets back,” Nicole says.
“Have Andy help you when you have homework to do,” I say.
We don’t even include Nanette in the equation. Been there, done that, and I have the faint green line on Andy’s forehead as a painful reminder of why trusting Nanette to look after a baby is a huge mistake. Andy had his first stitches when he was just 18 months old.
Everyone says I’m so nice, but they don’t know that sometimes I hate Nanette so much I want to kill her.
It’s almost eleven when I get everyone settled down. With Kevin back home, I feel it would be safe enough to leave for a quick jog around the block.
“Can’t you just go for a run tomorrow? It’s kind of late,” Kevin says while I carefully lay the baby down on his bed. Since he’s studying for his midterms tomorrow, I don’t feel like I’m imposing when I temporarily delegate babysitting duties to him.
“You know I’m not a morning person.” Bending down to make sure my shoelaces are tightly knotted, I study my sneakers morosely for a second. It’s worse for the wear, and I’ve promised myself I’ll have a new pair next month. But with the baby? It would be more practical not to jog next month unless I want to risk coming back home in my socks. This Adidas baby of mine is already on its dying days.