Friday, September 25, 2015

The Hidden Park, Part V

“Paul, I’ve been thinking.”

“Uh oh,” said Paul. “That’s when things start to get dicey.”

Bryan laughed. “Stop it, or I’ll put mayonnaise on your sandwich.”

Paul adopted a fearful expression. “You wouldn’t dare!” Then he sobered. “Seriously, what topic are you thinking about?”

Bryan paused in his sandwich making. “Hold on a moment.” He stood at the counter, with two sandwiches in progress, so he quickly finished them. He plopped them onto plates, added a dill pickle spear next to each, and brought them over to his husband, who waited at the kitchen table. It was just before midnight on Monday, and they were both comfortable in their bathrobes and shorts, but tired. They’d each been at their laptops, dealing with work concerns and necessary e-mails long into the evening. Bryan could feel the long day pulling at him, even as his stomach reminded him dinner had been hours ago.

“These look good,” Paul said, but he didn’t touch the sandwich yet.

“Thanks,” Bryan said. “I’ve been thinking about Annabelle and how she met that man over the weekend. It’s probably nothing, and the guy was just interested in Duchess, but there are bad people out there.” He thought about Annabelle upstairs, sleeping in her bed, with Duchess curled around her, and something clenched tight in his gut. He wanted to keep her safe, and let her grow up into an independent person. Sometimes the conflict between the two goals kept him completely off-kilter.

“And you think we should have a talk with Annabelle about being aware and not taking chances, and all that good stuff?” Paul asked.

“Yeah.” Bryan shook his head. “I hate that the world is so scary and dangerous and we have to have these conversations with her, more than once.”

“I know, but it’s a good reminder.” Paul ran his hand over Bryan’s forearm. “She’s a smart girl, and we can trust her.”

“Oh, I trust Annabelle. It’s all those other people out there that I’m not so sure about.”

“She’s growing up. We can’t follow her around all the time,” Paul said.

“We could try.” Bryan lifted an eyebrow and Paul laughed.

“Black trench coats and walkie-talkie wristwatches?” Paula asked. “Shall I put in an order for fedoras?”

“I look good in a fedora,” Bryan replied.

“Devastatingly handsome,” Paul said. “Now, let’s eat our sandwiches, and get to bed. Mornings are too busy, so we’ll talk with Annie tomorrow after school. Sound good?”


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