The little girl’s mama looked at my hand and smiled. She was real pretty. Her blonde hair was piled up on her head, and when she smiled, her blue eyes sparkled like stars. “Well, now, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cade Calley. My name is Lady Parrish, and this here is Indigo Blue.”
“But don’t be calling me that,” the little girl interrupted with a frown. “My name is Indy. Only my mama calls me Indigo. If you call me that, I won’t answer, you hear me, Cade Calley?”
“I can see you two have already made friends,” Lady said. “We were just on our way to meet you, Mr. Calley.”
“You can call me Cade,” I reassured her.
Again she smiled. “Well, Cade. Shall we go see your mama? I believe she makes a great cup of coffee and I’ve just baked a beautiful pecan pie.”
“Pecan pie is my favorite. We have a pecan tree in the backyard,” I declared.
“You do? Well, now. I’ll make a deal with you, young man, when you pick the pecans, I’ll make the pie. Deal?”
I nodded. I liked Lady Parrish.
“Shall we go?” Mrs. Parrish asked.
I tightened my grip around Indy and helped her along the side of our house to our front porch. She tried standing by herself, and because her ankle didn’t hurt as bad anymore, she could walk up the steps to the porch. But I walked behind her just in case she slipped. Because that was what a best friend did.
And we were going to be best friends.
Just like Batman and Robin.
I woke up to blinding sunlight. I was lying across my bed with one arm over my eyes. My throat was dry and my mouth felt like a wad of cotton balls had been shoved into every available space. I hadn’t gotten to bed until dawn thanks to a solid drinking effort in Jackie’s honor, and I’d forgotten to draw the blinds before falling in a drunk heap on my bed, and now I was paying for it.
I sat up and the bedsprings wheezed and groaned beneath me as I rubbed my eyes. I looked around. I wasn’t in my room at the clubhouse, I was in my bedroom at my mom’s.
I sighed, trying to shake the fog that filled my head from lack of sleep and too much damn bourbon. The smell of bacon hit me and I groaned. No matter what happened, today was going to suck.
I pulled on jeans, a white tee, and a flannel shirt, then clipped my wallet chain to my jeans and shoved my wallet into my back pocket. On my way to the kitchen, I stopped quickly to brush the taste of hangover out of my mouth and wash the sleep out of my eyes, then headed downstairs to face the day.
Not surprisingly, my mom’s house was already full of people. Mom and Red were busy fixing breakfast, while at the twelve-seater dining table, Lady—Jackie’s widow—was being comforted by my younger brother Caleb and his girlfriend, Brandi.
Lady’s head was in her hands. I gave her a comforting rub on her shoulders as I walked by, and she looked up at me with eyes that were raw from crying. At the end of the table, my cousin Isaac’s son, Braxton, let out a loud giggle. At four years old he was the spitting image of his father with his blonde hair, blue eyes, and dimpled chin. He was playing with his cereal while his mom, Cherry, tried unsuccessfully to convince him to eat it and not play with it.
I sank down in the chair next to him. I love kids. I wanted a whole tribe of them. But I was nearing thirty, and so far kids hadn’t even come close to my radar. There’d been no one serious to have a family with. Besides Indy, there’d only been one other girl I’d considered getting serious with. Krista. Dark and beautiful. We had dated for almost a year but it just didn’t work out. Why? Because no matter how hard I tried—no matter how hot or beautiful the chick was—my heart still belonged with the girl I gave it to when I was five years old.
Braxton looked at me with his big, adorable eyes and when I winked at him, he winked back. So, with a jerk of my chin, I gave him the biker’s nod, and he gave me a tough biker’s nod back. I snarled my top lip and growled, and he snarled his right back. I couldn’t help but grin and he burst out laughing, Christ, the kid was so damn cute. Grinning, I ruffled his hair.
“What are you up to today, big guy?” I asked him.
“I have swimming lessons.”
“You do?” As I replied, my mom sat a cup of black coffee in front of me. I smiled up at her but kept my attention on Brax. “You’re doing pretty well with those lessons, huh, buddy?”