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.The dart had hit the eighteen instead of the four, which pushed his score over the line and cost him the game.“Oh, now that’s just playing dirty.”She batted her eyes at him.“Well, I did learn from the best.”He looked at me.“You see this abuse I take?”I held up my hand, rubbing my thumb and forefinger together.“And this is the world’s tiniest violin—”“Oh, fuck you.” He laughed and rolled his eyes.“Daddy!” She scoffed, putting a hand over her mouth.“You shouldn’t swear like that around me.”“Right, like you’ve never heard it before,” he said.She gave an indignant sniff.“You’re going to warp my fragile little—”Eric and I both burst out laughing.“You know what?” she said.“Fuck you both.”Eric glared at her.She put up her hands.“What? You say it, don’t you?”I patted his shoulder.“Father of the Year, right here.”Eric snorted.“Yeah, that’ll be the day.”“No kidding.” Marie chuckled as she stood and picked up her empty glass.“I’m going to get another drink before we start the next game.”As soon as she was gone, Eric sat up and put his hand on my arm.“Hey, you all right? You’ve been kind of quiet all evening.”I forced a smile.“I’m fine.Why?”His eyebrows knitted together.“You sure?”“Yeah.” I leaned in and kissed him gently.“I probably should get going, though.Some of us have to work tomorrow.”He grinned.“And some of us get to sleep in and slack off for a few more days.”“Very funny.” I kissed him again.“But seriously, I should get out of here.”He touched my face, and his brow furrowed a little.“You sure you’re all right?”I nodded.“I’m fine.”He eyed me skeptically but let it go, and we both got up just as Marie came back into the room.“Well,” I said.“You two have fun.”“Aww, you’re leaving already?” she said.“Yeah, I have to work in the morning.” I gestured at her father.“Do me a favor and make sure you beat him soundly on every game tonight.”She touched her hand to her forehead in a mock salute.“I so will.”Eric snorted.“Yeah.We’ll see about that.”“Bring it on, old man.”“Hey!” Eric and I both said.She laughed.“Hey, if the shoe fits…”“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I said.I gave her a quick good-bye hug.Then Eric showed me to the front door.“You guys have plans tomorrow?” I asked.He nodded.“I’m taking her up to Nakijin Castle, and then, I don’t know, probably check out the Pineapple Park in Nago while we’re up there.”“If you do go to the park, grab another bottle of that pineapple wine.” I winked.“We can drink it when we have a night to ourselves.”Eric grinned and wrapped his arms around me.“I will definitely make sure to stop by, then.”“Good.” I kissed him lightly.“You could always grab some of the pineapple sake too.”“Pineapple sake?” He raised an eyebrow.“You trying to get me drunk or something?”I shrugged.“Well, you are kind of fun when you’re drunk.”“So are you.” He kissed me, drawing it out for a moment.When I broke the kiss, I glanced toward the living room before meeting his eyes again.“I guess I should let you get back to your game.”His amusement faded, and his earlier concern crept back into his expression.“You sure you’ll be all right tonight?”I ran my fingers through his hair.“Eric.I’m fine.” Cupping his face in both hands, I said, “Now go enjoy your evening with your daughter, and we’ll catch up on spending time together this weekend.”He smirked.“Is ‘spending time together’ a euphemism?”“You’re damn right it is.”“Good.” He pulled me to him and kissed me.We both started to pull away, hesitated and sank into a longer kiss.After a moment, I drew back, and our eyes met.Like that kiss, the eye contact lingered, and I caught myself drawing in a breath like I was about to speak, but I wasn’t sure what I’d thought to say.Finally, Eric cleared his throat and dropped his gaze.“Anyway.I guess Marie and I will see you tomorrow night?” His eyebrows rose.I smiled.“Of course.”He kissed me once more, briefly this time, and after we exchanged one last lingering look, I left.As I drove, I couldn’t stop thinking about the way Eric and his daughter interacted.Admittedly, something about what I felt was jealousy, but not in the sense that I wanted to get territorial or that I was looking forward to Marie leaving so I could have Eric to myself.Not even close.I would never have dreamed of wanting to get between a parent and child.But there was something.Something I couldn’t put my finger on.A knot that tightened as the two of them carried on with their rapid-fire banter and easy conversation.A heavy feeling that sank a little deeper when Eric ribbed Marie about her taste in boys, or they both teased each other about their respective bad habits behind the wheel, or he deadpanned a few cutthroat suggestions for methods of eliminating competition for the varsity softball team next year.About halfway home from Eric’s apartment, as I sat at a red light, a piece fell into place, and I suddenly understood what it was about them that threw me.I envied them.They bantered.They had the same sense of humor, enjoyed the same video games, and knew exactly how to playfully jab at each other.They knew each other.And, with that heavy, sinking feeling in my gut, I realized I didn’t know my kids like that.If I was honest with myself, I didn’t know them at all.I saw them so rarely it was like interacting with my nieces and nephews, not my own children.After watching Eric with his daughter, I couldn’t help realizing the twins were strangers to me.I loved them more than life itself, but I didn’t know them [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]