He swatted her hand away. “I can grow up as well. Sometimes chasing women can get a little boring.”
“I don’t believe you,” Dale said, speaking up. “You were all over every single girl in school.”
“Apart from me,” Molly said.
“And me,” June said.
“You two were special, and wouldn’t have given me the time of day.”
“Very true,” June said.
“Yeah, I only had eyes for one jerk,” Molly said, winking over at Dale.
“I’m your jerk.”
“That you are.”
“Who would have thought this would have been us, looking back at high school,” Trey said. “I keep doing that a lot. Remembering, thinking about how our lives are turning out.”
“That’s because you’re married with a baby on the way. When you’re a single guy like myself, you only think about moving forward.”
Molly took a sip of her coffee and looked at Max. “Where does Aria play into your scheme of only looking forward?”
“You’ve been at the bakery more often in the past week than the entire year, and I know because I’ve worked there.”
“I also know that he likes walking her home,” Trey said.
“Look, we’re in your and Dale’s home. Let’s talk about you guys and when the wedding’s going to be.”
“Nope, you’re not going to get out of it that easily,” Dale said, serving up their kids two burgers.
Molly watched them sit down in the grass and eat. They were both great kids.
“Something is going on between you and Aria, but you refuse to say what it is,” Trey said. “You like walking her home. Last time I heard, you kick women out of your bed. You’re always nice to her. You’ve got a reputation for being the world’s biggest asshole.”
“And he’s always asking about her,” June said.
“Look, I like Aria. It’s not a big deal.”
Dale served them steaks.
“I’ve also got guilt.”
They all listened as Max told them what he’d done to her in high school. Molly couldn’t recall it, but after being yelled at and pointed at for her own pregnancy, she’d always avoided the cafeteria at school, and ate lunch either in the library or in the tall grass.
“That was cruel. No wonder she doesn’t want anything to do with you,” Molly said.
“I know, okay? I didn’t say I was a perfect guy, and I intend to make it up to her.”
Working in construction was great when there was work and it was long, warm days, but once the cold weather began to bite at him, he began to make up his work at Trey’s tattoo parlor.
In the evenings, he’d also begun the proper training to become an electrician. They were always in demand, and they were always needed on building sites, but also in homes that were already built, and with the future he hoped to make, steady work was essential.
Trey had taken the day off, and between him and Max, they were working through the day’s clients. They were booked for basic ink work, or touch-ups. He and Max had trained together, and had a certificate where they could fill in ink, and do some designs. Trey was the real artist, being able to put flair into his work.
Dale wasn’t much for drawing, and he preferred to color in the tattoo.
“I’ve got to head out at three to pick the kids up,” he said to Max as his friend came out of the other room.
“No problem. I’ve got everything handled here. I bet Trey would never have to work again if he played his cards right with June’s father.”
“Trey would never take a paycheck from his wife’s father, nor would he slack off either. This was his dream.”
“Yeah, I know.” Max sucked on a lollipop, moving toward the window to spy on the bakery across the street.
Molly was working the front desk while Aria baked for the day, and rarely did she pop out.
“Molly looks happy, and she hasn’t taken that ring off, man. That has to be a good sign.”
He didn’t talk about the ring, and she’d not asked him to propose, so he was taking everything easy, and not getting his hopes up.
“Were Sasha and Luke always so … welcoming with you?”
“They’re still not calling you Dad?” Max asked, looking toward him.
“I hear them sometimes saying it, but they’ve not actually called me Dad. It’s … strange. I thought they were happy.”
“They are happy, man. Don’t ever think for a second that they’re not.”
“Then what do I do? They ran toward you and hugged you. They hug me as well, but they were happier to see you.”
“They’re used to me being around.”
“Yeah, about that, do you have feelings for Molly?” Dale asked.
“What the fuck, man? No, I don’t have feelings for Molly.”
“The only time you ever do something nice is when you’re getting something.”
“Look, she helped me out at school and never said a word to anyone, okay? She helped me with my math. I was flunking real bad, and I didn’t understand a fucking word. She could have been a bitch, made my life hard. She didn’t. She’s one of the few women that I care about and have respect for.”
Dale felt like a bastard for putting his friend on the spot. “Shit, man, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. We all know who Molly loves. She’s not been with another man at all. Those two babies are yours, and the way she looks at you, I hope one day I find a woman to look at me like that.”
“You’re the only man in her world. You both look at each other like that. It kind of pisses me off that you’ve both wasted so many years, and neither of you really needed to.”
“Lots of shit got said, Max. I wouldn’t have let her get away, you know that.”
“I do know that. It’s nice to hear what an ass you are, letting her raise your kids.”
“Yeah, well, I was young, and I made a great deal of mistakes. I’m not going to be making anymore. Molly and the kids are my entire world. I’ve just got to get her to marry me.”
“You know, out of all of us you and Trey were supposed to be the brightest, but right now, you’re not showing a lot of sense.”
Dale folded his arms and stared at his friend. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that Molly is wearing your ring. You’re living with her. You both have a life together right now.”
“She didn’t say anything about you not preparing a surprise wedding.”
Dale looked across the street, seeing his woman as she put some items in the fridge again. She always liked to keep busy, never standing around doing nothing. He’d noticed that about her, even at home. There was always something that needed her attention.
“I should plan a surprise wedding?”
“What if she says no? I don’t … I love her, Max. I don’t want to lose her.”
“She loves you, and you’re in love with her. You’re bot
h being royal pains in the ass about this. Everyone who looks at you two together can see what a great couple you can be. I’d start planning, because it’s going to happen one way or another.”
He wanted to marry her.
Dale wanted not only to do the right thing, but he wanted to claim her so the world knew that she belonged to him. He didn’t just want to be her boyfriend.
He wanted to be her husband.
“What would you do?” he asked.
“Do you need all the fancy shit? The dress, the honeymoon, and whatever goes on in planning this kind of thing?”
“No. I just need her.”
“Then I’ll help you plan a small get-together. You pick the perfect place and I’ll make the necessary arrangements.” Max slapped him on the back.
“This is going to be a lot of fun.”
They didn’t get time to speak again as two customers came in for a touch-up. Max took one, and he did the other, thinking about the wedding that he and Max were about to plan.
“You really need to stop waiting for me,” Aria said.
Max chuckled, sucking on his lollipop and holding one out for her. He’d discovered they were a weakness that she couldn’t deny, and it often meant he got to walk home with her. Of course, he also loved watching her suck on the thing, as it gave him a glimpse of what it would feel like to have those same lips wrapped around his dick.
“How are you at keeping secrets?” he asked.
“The kind that can bring happiness to two of my favorite people in the world.”
She unwrapped the lollipop, and he contained the groan as her lips sucked on it. They’d look so pretty wrapped around his dick. He needed to focus, and not think about sex, or her lips.
“I can keep a lot of secrets.”
“Good, because I was wondering if you’re busy, and how long it would take you to make a wedding cake.”
“You’re getting married?”
“Nope, not me. Dale and Molly.”
“Oh, wow, I had no idea.”
“She doesn’t know yet.”
Aria laughed. “What?”
“Exactly what I said.”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?” she asked.
“It’s my idea, and I’ve been around Molly and Dale, and I know they’re both pining away for each other, and this is my gift to them.” He stepped closer. “I know they’re both in love, and I know that Molly has turned down every single proposal of his. They’ve wasted too much time, and I’m going to be the one to fix that.”