Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 6
Shane took another bite of the pasta primavera Svetlana had prepared. Or maybe Addison had. Whoever had cooked dinner, they’d done a good job. If Ashlynn ever stopped talking, he’d say so.
“–a lot like here, on the outside,” Ashlynn prattled, “but there are birds everywhere! Some have blue feet, and–”
“Ashlynn, dear,” Svetlana gently interrupted, “perhaps someone else would like to talk.” Shane liked the matronly woman more by the minute.
The miniature Addison Harris pouted, poking at her half-eaten meal with a fork. “The Galapagrows are a lot more interesting than grown-up stuff.” Shane chuckled, both from the mispronunciation and statement.
“Galapagos,” Addison corrected, then turned to Shane with a grin. “Please, don’t encourage her. Ashlynn gets so wound up from field trips.”
Shane returned his lover’s grin. “You gotta admit, that’s a pretty cool field trip.”
The doorbell chimed, drawing everyone’s attention. Annoyance surged from Addison as she got to her feet. Meanwhile Ashlynn made a beeline for the door, cheering “Daddy!” Shane frowned, puzzled, then remembered who the girl referred to.
The door swished open, and Gibson’s voice carried from the living room. “There’s my favorite little girl!” The cognitive dissonance was almost more than Shane could stand. Judging from the look on Svetlana’s face, she felt the same way.
Addison strode around the table, muttering “Excuse me for a moment.”
“Addison!” Gibson called. “Where’s my favorite little boy?”
A fierce protectiveness consumed Shane. He stood, nearly knocking his chair over.
I’ll take care of this, Shane, Addison assured him from the other room. Aloud she said, “Daniel, I told you that I need a few days.”
“Right. I won’t stay long.”
“Why not?” Ashlynn piped up. “Jakey’s daddy’s here. My daddy can stay, too.”
Silenced stretched. Shane couldn’t decide who he’d like to strangle more: Ashlynn or Gibson.
“Daniel,” Addison began, her voice hard.
“Thank you, Ashlynn, but I don’t want to impose.” Gibson strode into view, holding a smiling Ashlynn’s hand. The man’s appearance made Shane blink. Dark circles shadowed Gibson’s eyes, and his skin was sallow. He gave Shane and Svetlana the requisite smile. “Please pardon the interruption. I didn’t realize Addison had guests.”
Svetlana rose to her feet. “Always a pleasure to see you, Dr. Gibson.”
Shane managed something resembling a smile. That was the best the bastard would get from him.
Addison moved to Ashlynn’s other side. Their eyes met, and Ashlynn didn’t like whatever her mother silently told her. Pouting, she hugged Gibson’s leg. “Bye, Daddy.” Then she stomped across the living room, presumably to her room.
“Good night, Ashlynn,” Gibson returned, easily meeting Shane’s gaze. “Congratulations. How is Jacob?”
Shane fought to keep his voice level. “Fine. Sleeping.”
“Excellent.” Gibson’s smile seemed genuine this time. “Another addition to the Triptych family.” Shane ground his teeth.
Addison moved between Shane and Gibson. “I’ll see you out now, Daniel. You did drop by unannounced.”
Gibson scowled for a split second before adopting his professional countenance. “I did.” To Svetlana and Shane he added, “Enjoy the rest of your dinner.” Then Addison herded him toward the door.
Out of the corner of his eye Shane noticed Svetlana take her seat again. Shane followed suit, although his attention was on Addison in the other room. Her shields were up, so he had no idea what was going on.
“She can handle him,” Svetlana said with quiet conviction.
Shane looked across the table at her, mildly surprised. “I know.” He mostly believed it.
“She can.” The older woman’s small smile reminded Shane of his adoptive mother’s. “You’ll keep him at bay.” Somehow he understood that “you” meant him and Addison.
Shane nodded. They would.
Addison rushed back into the dining room. “I’m terribly sorry. The arrogant git walzting in here like that–”
“It’s okay, Addison.” He got up and led Addison back to her seat. With her shields down, Shane felt her surprise and affection. The latter brought a smile to his face. “It’ll be okay.”