Unedited Refrain Excerpt
©2019 Anne Mercier
I’m hopeful for a world with more
love, acceptance, and compassion for others.
“Uncle Linc?” Kadi prompts.
“You remember the day I wanted to ask you a question, but you had to go training with Jabber Jaws?”
I laugh out loud. Best nickname ever. Jabs is gonna never live this one down.
“Can I ask them now?”
“Sure. Do you want to go in another room?”
Kadi tilts her head, considering. “No. I think here is okay.”
She takes a seat across from me at the breakfast table. The table is no more than a very long picnic table with long moveable benches.
“Ask away, Tiny Dancer.”
She smiles at that. The kid’s barely seven and she dances like a pro.
“The other day, I saw you and Uncle Ethan kissing.” She quickly turns to her dad, Jace, and says, “I swear I wasn’t spying.”
Jace nods an okay and, holy fuck, just what has that girl seen? More than a few of us shift uncomfortably.
“Mommy Summer says you’re only supposed kiss like that if you love someone a whole lot.”
“Do you love Uncle Ethan a whole lot?”
Well, fuck me sideways. Except for Ethan choking on a bite of waffle, not a sound can be heard. We haven’t even had much of a discussion. I pat him on the back, so he doesn’t choke. We just got used to saying, “I love you”. It’s not awkward or weird. Why would it be? We’ve been in love with each other for years, though we didn’t say it much until I moved here. I don’t know why.
Maybe just in case we’d never be together.
I run a hand over my face and chuckle. “Nothing like putting your Uncle Linc on the spot, huh?”
She just stares at me. Waiting for an answer.
“Of course I love Ethan a whole lot.”
“Like, love like you love Jesse or love-love like Daddy loves Summer?”
I give Jace a glance and he’s over there grinning like the tool he is. I point at him. He’s just been put on notice.
“Definitely love-love,” I tell her, looking at Ethan and giving him a wink. He’s next to me nervous as fuck, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. I hope the wink set him at ease. He hates being in the spotlight.
“So… how does that work? Can two boys get married?” she asks.
“Lord have mercy on my soul, this kid,” I mumble as I drop my forehead to the table and roll it back and forth.
She pushes my head up with her tiny hands, pulling my skin and hair back. Jace laughs out loud and Summer coughs to cover hers. The rest of the family, well, they’re trying not to be loud, but I can hear them laughing.
I sit up and look down the table at them. “At least Summer had the decency to try to hide her laugh. Fuckers.”
Kadi looks at me with dollar signs in her eyes, and I point at her.
“No way, kid. That’s a freebie. You’re asking me some pretty hard questions here. I get some freebies,” I tell her.
She shrugs. “But you didn’t answer.”
“Yes, two men can get married. They just adjusted the law a few years ago,” I tell her.
She climbs up onto the table top and sits cross-legged in front of me. Just staring. I don’t want to know what’s coming next. This kid kinda scares me.
“If you love Ethan a whole lot and he loves you a whole lot, why aren’t you married?” Kadi asks with a smile.
Ethan spits his juice out and it hits Jace in the face. Serves the fucker right for letting his girl keep on like she is.
“Aren’t you just full of questions today,” Lucy asks with a snicker.
Kadi nods, but it wasn’t even a question. She’s the one who has all the questions.
“Kadi, we just haven’t talked about getting married yet.”
“Well, why not if you’re in love? Weddings are romantic. I could be your Best Girl—you know, instead of a best man.”
I can’t help but laugh. She’s relentless. “When the time comes, Tiny Dancer, you’ll be my Best Girl. I promise.”
Ethan’s still choking on the juice he swallowed wrong at the word “married” so I pat him on the back.
Who can blame him? I’ve been keeping things to myself, keeping him at a distance, and he really has no clue how I feel about things, about the future. For that matter, neither do I. Looks like we’ll have to have a talk later.
Kadi looks at me with a twinkle in her eye.
“What about babies?”
“Fuck this. I’m outta here,” I mutter, getting up and leaving the kitchen. I hear everyone laughing behind me. I turn and meet Ethan’s gaze. He’s smirking in that sexy way he does, and I smile back.
“That’s a freebie, Kadi,” he tells her, and I send him a wink before I head to the gym.
Holy fucking hell. Everyone’s worried about Kiki aka the She-Devil. Not me. Hell no. I’m more worried about Kadi the Inquisitor. That kid. She’s going to be the death of me. I know it