When Skeet and Mitch finally arrived for the family dinner, Gene pulled him aside at the first opportunity. Avery was acting funny today and he wanted to know why.
“Did you and my sister have a fight or something?” Gene asked, speaking discreetly low.
Skeet shook his head. “No. Everything was fine when I left the house this morning.”
“Everything doesn’t look fine now.” Gene noticed Avery cutting her eyes at Skeet even now.
“I know,” Skeet replied with concern on his face. The greeting he’d gotten from Avery was lukewarm and she’d barely hugged him when he came through the door. On top of that, her chestnut pools had been full of questions when she looked at him. Questions Avery hadn’t gotten up the nerve to ask Skeet yet.
“Got any idea what could’ve ticked her off?” Gene knew how hard it was to get Avery upset. As children, he’d had to keep poking her in the same spot to get even the slightest rise out of her. Who’d nettled Avery today? And about what?
“I don’t have a clue, man.” Skeet scratched his head. “But don’t worry. I’ll deal with the situation as soon as we get home tonight. See what I can do to make things right again.”
Gene nodded his approval of that plan. Then he left to go mingle with everybody, except Kylisha, whose very presence was causing Gene undo pain…and pleasure.
* * *
Skeet, Avery, and the kids didn’t get home until well after 9pm. The family gathering had lasted longer than usual on account of all the extra people Mitch invited today. He’d had members of Skeet and Lance’s family there to help celebrate Skeet’s appointment as deacon. With so much good food and good fellowship present, no one had been ready to leave until they absolutely had to.
As soon as Skeet opened the door to the house, he and Avery went their separate ways. Not because she was still behaving a little standoffish, but out of necessity. They had to get the kids ready for bed and take care of next-day preparations.
Since Tweety was old enough to bathe herself, she occupied the main bathroom. Avery used the master suite’s bathroom to bath Skyler Jr. As for Skeet, he was in the kitchen fixing extra milk bottles for his son and getting his stepdaughter’s lunch ready for tomorrow. He and Avery would have their baths later. Afterwards, Skeet intended to have a little talk with his wife.
By 10pm, all baths were done and Skyler Jr. was firmly settled in his nursery. While Avery did her nightly routine of changing out the nail polish on her hands and feet, Skeet went to Tweety’s room to oversee her nightly prayers.
Skeet earned this privilege with his stepchild after the new baby was born. Not only couldn’t Avery be in two places at once, but Tweety specifically requested that her stepfather join her for nightly prayer. She liked the way Skeet’s deep voice sounded when he Amen-ed her prayers at the end. Pete never prayed with her at his house.
As always, the little girl prayed what was on her heart. Tonight Tweety’s heart was very full. What she said next would spill out all over the place and affect several lives.
“Dear God, Mommy said to always pray for what I really want and, Lord, I really want Daddy Skeet and my baby brother to keep living with us. My other daddy says they can’t when he and Mommy get back together and that makes me sad. So please answer this prayer as soon as You can, because I don’t want to be divorced. In Jesus Name, amen.”
Skeet’s eyes bucked with shock as he listened to Tweety’s prayer. He couldn’t believe what he just heard.
I knew that punk was still trying to get my woman. Still trying to find some way to break up my happy home, Skeet mused. He wanted to wring Pete’s neck for this.
Later for that, Skeet decided. Right now he needed to bring Avery in on the situation.
Failing to say his usual amen, Skeet kissed Tweety on the forehead and left the Tweety Bird themed room. He turned on the yellow bird nightlight on the way out.
Upon entering the master suite, Skeet noticed how meticulously Avery kept looking at her figure in the full-length mirror on the east wall. She kept turning from side to side, checking out her profile in the long animal print lounger she wore.
She’s never done that before, Skeet mused. He’d also never seen Avery with only half of her nails done before, either. The red nail polish was still unscrewed on the vanity where she’d left it in order to prance in front of the mirror.
Before Skeet could say a thing, Avery turned around and asked, “Do you still find me attractive, Skyler?” Her eyes were full of doubt as she looked at him.
“Huh? What?” Skeet genuinely looked confused. Last night’s passion should have answered that question. Their union had never been sweeter.
“I said do you still find me attractive?” Avery reiterated in irritation. What was taking him so long to answer her question?
“Of course I do,” Skeet replied. “But, baby, I really can’t get into that right now. I need to talk to you about…”
“Nothing is more important to me right now than this conversation!” Avery interrupted, putting her hands on her hips.
Suddenly the air inside the house was thicker than the humidity outside the house. Which storm would be the fiercest?
Where is all of this coming from? Skeet thought. Somehow his household had been turned completely upside down in less than twenty-four hours.
Known for thinking fast on his feet, Skeet swiftly took Avery by the shoulders and ravished her mouth until she was panting and pulsating with desire. “I hope that answered your question,” he said, staring down into her passion-glazed pools. “Now can we please discuss what’s going on with Tweety?”
“Tweety? What’s wrong with her?” Avery asked, taking in a deep breath to regain her composure. That was some kind of kiss Skeet laid on her just then.
Skeet wasted no time disclosing the details of his stepdaughter’s prayer. The more he spoke, the angrier he got. Now he really wanted to wring Pete’s neck.
“Now it all makes sense,” Avery said when Skeet finished recapping. Her passion had long since weaned in light of the current situation. “No wonder Pete tried to fill my head with thoughts of me being overweight. He even insinuated that you might not find me attractive anymore on account of my extra pounds. Suggested that you might even return to your old playboy ways.”
“What?!” Skeet was furious. Now he knew for certain who was responsible for this mess. “The next time I see Pete, I’m going to put my foot in his…”
“Skyler!” Avery stopped him before he went any further.
“…derriere,” Skeet quickly amended. “I’m sorry for my mouth, baby, but that man needs to be dealt with once and for all. I let Pete get away with a lot of things out of consideration for you and Tweety, but this is one thing I’m not going to let slide.” Skeet ran angry hands across his short haircut. He needed to do something with them, lest he take a nighttime drive over to Pete’s house for some rewarding fist action.
Avery nodded. “I agree that something needs to be done about Pete, but not violence. After all, if he deserves a swift kick in the rear, then I do, too, for falling for his nonsense.” She blew out a breath of frustration. “But that’s neither here nor there now. Right now we need to go and fix things with our little girl.” She started towards the door.
Our little girl, Skeet mused, loving the sound of that as he followed Avery out the room and down the hall.
If Tweety was his biological child, he definitely wouldn’t be having this problem. And she definitely wouldn’t be allowed around someone as sneaky and as mean-spirited as Pete Judson. No matter how much Pete pretended to be the world’s greatest dad, to deliberately get a child’s hopes up that high for nothing was just cruel.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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