Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 12
Addison sang softly as she rocked Jacob in his bassinet. The Little Prince’s eyelids fluttered shut the third time through “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Addison was tempted to join him. Thanks to Ashlynn she’d been up since 5 a.m., and the day had gone downhill from there. Shane’s heavy-handed attempt at discipline–the thought of which raised her blood pressure–had made matters worse. Not only had the tantruming princess received negative attention, but she was now resentful of the man. Sodding git.
Addison turned to find Ashlynn standing in the doorway to the bedroom. Her expression and tone were all penitence. Some was genuine, Addison was sure. “Yes, moppet?”
“I’m hungry. What are we having for dinner?”
Addison couldn’t suppress a smile. Her daughter was adorable. “Fish and chips, if you help me.”
Ashlynn’s eyes lit up. “Yay! I’ll help!”
“And broccoli,” Addison added. The fried food was an indulgence, but there was no reason not to sneak something healthy in.
“Do I have to–”
“Yes, Ashlynn. You will eat the broccoli.”
Ashlynn frowned. “Can I put butter on it?”
“Okay.” Addison felt her daughter’s spirits deflate a bit. “Is Shane coming back? He’s mad at us, and I don’t like him anymore.”
Addison shook her head. “I’m not happy with him, either.” Since she didn’t want to think about the wanker at the moment, she left her daughter’s question unanswered. “Let’s start dinner,” Addison suggested, heading for the kitchen. Ashlynn bounced with delight, then scampered after her.
Dinner was a smashing success. The fish and chips were near restaurant quality, and Ashlynn ate her broccoli without protest. Afterwards they snuggled on the couch and watched “Ratatouille.” Addison and Ashlynn enjoyed every minute. It had been too long since they’d had mother-daughter time.
Ashlynn dozed off halfway through the movie. Before Addison nodded off herself, she got her Little Princess ready for bed and tucked her in. Jacob was still asleep, so Addison had her quarters to herself for the first time in–
The digitized door chime sounded. Scowling, Addison lunged for the nearest control panel to silence the damned thing. The kids slept through it, thankfully.
Addison sensed ahead as she stalked to the door. Her mental fingers slid off of a cool slickness–Shane’s alien half. Still hiding, she sniffed. When the going got tough, the man ran away. Rather human of him, really.
Addison opened the door to find Shane wearing one of his yawn-worthy dress shirt and trousers ensembles and a neutral expression. “You changed the passcode.”
“I did.” She added silently, You attacked my daughter. Again.
Emotion flickered across Shane’s face, then disappeared. Can I come in? We need to talk.
Agreed. Addison stepped back. Shane entered without giving her a second glance, which irritated her further.
He stopped in the living room, frowning at the plasma screen TV. “What’s this?”
At least he had the sense to keep his voice down. “‘Ratatouille.'”
“Rats in a kitchen? That’s disgusting.”
Addison shook her head. “It’s a good movie. If you’d stop being so judgmental and relax for once, you might enjoy it.”
Frustration replaced Shane’s eerie calm. “I don’t have time for cartoons.” He swiped two of Ashlynn’s toys off the armchair and sat down.
“Please, make yourself comfortable,”Addison sniped. Still standing, she added, I meant what I said earlier about harming Ashlynn. I’m dealing with her tantrums. Ignoring does work– Shane snorted. –with time and consistency. You buggered things up.
Shane’s eyes flashed. “I–” He took a breath. Addison felt him rein in his temper. I can’t do this.
Addison suppressed the pang of hurt the words prompted. Instead she scowled down at him, crossing her arms. Can’t or won’t?
Anger surged from Shane as he jumped up. Both! I wanted a son, not all of this other crap!
I never should have told you about Jake, Addison shot back. So bloody immature. You don’t deserve him!
Shane closed the distance between them, lording over her. His ire was intimidating, but Addison refused to back down. Her children’s safety came before their laughable excuse for a relationship. You spoiled little bitch! Who are you to tell me what I do and don’t deserve?
I’m– Shane’s chest brushed against Addison’s still-crossed arms, bringing his emotions into focus. Hiding under his outrage and frustration was fear. Fear of losing his son, of being a father, of losing his lab, and of losing her. They shared a bed more often than not now, and she’d had no idea how deep his trepidation ran.
Shane’s anger melted away, leaving shell-shocked apprehension. He gulped, then stepped back and broke eye contact. I have no fucking idea what I’m doing.
You’re doing fine. Shane’s scornful look said how much he believed that statement. With Jake. Not so much with Ashlynn. His sheepish grin was endearing. Which isn’t surprising. She’s difficult.
Shane’s grin turned ironic. Like her mother.
Addison swatted at him. Cheeky.
Shane caught her hand and pulled her close. Addison slid her arms around his lanky frame, enjoying the feel of him and of his arms around her. Everything seemed simpler somehow. “Now what?” he murmured.
Addison felt Jacob’s discomfort, followed by his cries carrying from the bedroom. She and Shane exchanged a bemused, if weary, look. “Now we check his diaper, then feed him.”
Shane smiled. “Okay.”