Capturing Peace
Page 26

 Molly McAdams

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“THIS IS THE coolest, ever!” Parker yelled. “Coen’s the coolest, isn’t he, Mom?”
I glanced over at Reagan and she rolled her eyes at me. “Yeah, he’s pretty cool, buddy.”
“And this one comes off because I’m not old like you?”
I barked out a laugh and kept pressing the wet paper towel down on Parker’s arm. “That’s right, bud. It’ll come off in a few days.”
I held the paper towel there for a few more seconds before removing it, and then removed the hard back for the temporary tattoo and watched as Parker’s eyes lit up.
I’m positive cool was his favorite word, and the extent of expressive words at that. But I had to steal his word. This kid was pretty damn cool.
“What do you think?” I held out his arm so Reagan could see, and even though she shot me a look, a smile crossed her face.
“Mom, isn’t it cool?”
“So cool, Parker.”
“I can’t wait to show Jason!” he said excitedly before tearing out of Reagan’s kitchen to go back to playing in the living room.
My lips slowly curved up into a smile as Reagan fought and lost with biting back her own smile, and I pulled her close. “You mad at me?”
She looked up at me and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Mad? Are you kidding? I’m furious,” she whispered.
“You look it,” I murmured against her lips and she smiled against my kiss.
“That was really sweet of you,” she said when I pulled back. “He doesn’t even remember they’re called tattoos, but all he talks about are the stars on your arm. They’re the only ones he remembers. This was . . .” she floundered for something to say as she looked over at Parker. “This was fun for him. I already know he’s going to talk about that tattoo, and who gave it to him, until it washes off.” Looking back at me, she shrugged. “Thank you.”
“Not a big deal. He spent the whole night talking about it the other night, had to get one for him.”
Her hazel eyes held mine, and her lips tilted up on one side. “That’s just it. You didn’t have to.”
“Okay, I wanted to. Better?”
I leaned in, and had just barely brushed my lips against hers when we heard, “Ew, you’re kissing a girl?”
Reagan froze, and I held back a laugh as I turned my head to look at Parker. “Yeah, why, do you want me to kiss a boy?”
Parker made a face. “Gross! No! But girls have cooties!”
“Yeah? Says who?”
His mouth opened and his eyebrows pinched together for a few seconds before he sputtered, “Everyone.”
I unwrapped my arms from Reagan, and crouched down so I was his height. “Girls your age do have cooties,” I whispered loudly, and tried so hard not to smile when he nodded quickly. “But you know how I’m old so my stars don’t wash off?” Parker looked at his star, then my tattoos before nodding again. “Well, when you’re this old, girls don’t have cooties anymore. So they’re safe to kiss.”
Parker looked at me like he was trying to memorize every word I was saying. “How will I know when they’re safe?”
I glanced up at Reagan, and her face fell into a look of horror. “He’s six,” she mouthed.
“Just trust me on this, bud,” I said when I looked back at Parker. “You’ll know.”
“ ’Kay,” he replied, and looked up at Reagan. “It’s okay, Mom. You’re safe, you won’t give Coen cooties.”
My head dropped so he wouldn’t see how hard I was trying not to laugh, but I knew my shoulders were shaking from trying to hold it back.
“Thanks for that, buddy. Why don’t you go wash your hands so we can eat, all right?”
I straightened, my body still shaking from the laughs I’d been trying so hard to quiet, and Reagan punched my shoulder as soon as I was upright.
“Hey! At least I told him the girls his age had cooties.”
A laugh bubbled past her lips before she could contain it, and then her stern expression was back. “But now what if he avoids women until he’s like thirty?”
“He won’t. Trust me, once puberty hits you’ll be wishing he would avoid them until he was thirty. At least I bought you a few years. I could’ve told him cooties didn’t exist and you’d have the principal calling you because he was kissing all the girls in his class next week. I know from experience.”
A sly grin crossed her face. “Coen Steele, did you terrorize all the girls by kissing them?”
I shrugged as I grabbed the food and started walking toward the table. “Someone had to do it. I took one for the team.”
“Ah, must have been such a hardship.”
“You have no idea.”
Reagan just smiled and shook her head as she leaned up to press her lips to my jaw. “And are you still terrorizing them all?”
“Just one,” I whispered.
“Good answer.”
REAGAN SHUT THE door leading to Parker’s bedroom, and smiled up at me as she easily fell into my arms where I stood leaning against the wall.
“He is out,” she whispered, and pressed her lips to my throat as she wrapped her arms around my neck. “Tonight was fun for him.”
“It was fun for me too,” I said honestly.