Chapter 11

 

After filing out what seemed like never ending paperwork on Wednesday, the official papers were filed with the family courts to award permanent custody to Dan, as well as to legally change Brenna’s name.

 

“Dan, are you going to eat here before meeting Mart and the rest of the boys for the bachelor party?” Helen asked as she was making dinner on Saturday night.

 

Walking around the kitchen with the baby hitched up on his shoulder, Dan answered, “I was thinking about bailing on the party.  It’s only been a few days, Mrs. B.  I feel weird leaving her.”

 

She had reminded him to call her Helen, or Moms, a dozen times, but finally gave up.  He’d call her what he was comfortable with and that was what was important.  Finishing the casserole, she washed her hands and turned as she dried them on the cotton dish cloth.  “Dan,” speaking softly and patiently. “Is there some reason you don’t want to leave Brenna?  I did raise four children; well, three and a half.  Bob is still in the works.”

 

Aww, that’s not it.  I trust you with my life, Mrs. B.  I just don’t want to impose on you and Peter.  You’re being so great to let us stay here while things get settled.”

 

Helen poured a glass of iced tea and sat at the table. “Dan, I don’t want us to be permanent baby sitters, but we don’t mind watching Brenna on occasion.  And I think that the commemoration of Mart’s loss of bachelorhood, as he’s calling it, is a perfect occasion.”

 

Dan moved Brenna from his shoulder to his arms as he sat across from his best friend’s mother.  “You’re right, but I’m relying on you so much already.  Without you, poor Brenna would still be wearing the same Onesie.”

 

Helen smirked at the dark haired man and then said, “I suspect it wouldn’t be that bad.  Just think, you know what a Onesie is and you’re a pro at swaddling.  But, Daniel, you cannot keep bathing that sweet baby with baby wipes and wet wash clothes.  She needs a baby bath tub.”

 

Helen laughed at the look of sheer terror filling Dan’s face.  “Mrs. B., she’s so little and tiny and squirmy…”

 

“Trust me, she’s not so squirmy.  She’s only six weeks old.  Talk to me when she’s six months old!”

 

“OK, baby tub is on the list.  We’re meeting the girls tomorrow afternoon to go shopping for necessities.”

 

“That sounds like a plan.  Now, are you eating before you leave?” Helen asked, ignoring the fact that Dan wanted to stay home.

 

Dan grinned, knowing he was defeated, and gave in.  “Nope.  I think we’re going to grab a bite before we go wherever it is Raoul has planned for us.”

 

“Oh my!”  Helen giggled.  “I forgot Raoul took over the planning.  You boys should have an, umm, interesting time.”

 

“Stop laughing, it’s not funny.”

 

She really did try and stop, putting her hands over her face, but her springy curls belied the fact that she was still laughing silently.  Taking a few deep breaths, she looked up and smiled.  “How exactly did Raoul get put in charge of Mart’s bachelor party?” she questioned, biting her lips in an effort to not laugh out loud again.

 

Jim ran a freckled hand through his hair, creating the disheveled look Trixie loved.  Resigned, he sat down next to her on the sofa, pulling her close to him.  “I’m still not sure how it happened.  Mart and Di went to get the tuxedoes and they were telling him about Brenna and Dan being the father.  One thing lead to another and Raoul volunteered to set something up.”

 

“You all could have told him no, he would have understood,” Trixie said, putting her legs across his lap.

 

Jim looked at her in disbelief.  “Have you ever tried to tell that man no?”  He began to rub small circles on her feet.

 

“OK then, look at it as an adventure.  You don’t need a passport, do you?” Trixie teased, running her fingers through his hair.

 

He leaned forward and pecked her on the nose.  “Just as long as I don’t see a tiger in the bathroom, wake up with a huge tattoo, or wind up in some topless bar.”

 

“Sweetheart, you should hope for a topless bar.  If you know what I mean,” Trixie said, waggling her eyebrows.

 

Eyes wide with dread, Jim replied, “Raoul knows us.  He knows we’re not strip club kind of guys.  I just can’t see Mart or Brian trying to stuff dollar bills into some stripper named Pinnacle’s g-string.”

 

“I can’t see any of you doing that, truth be told.  Well, maybe Dan.”

 

“Dan-the-man, maybe.  But new-daddy-Dan, no way.  I think he’s got a little too much on his plate currently to be stuffing bills into Summit’s panties,” Jim said.

 

Trixie smiled sweetly.  “I thought the stripper’s name was Pinnacle.  Where did Summit come from?”

 

Jim tugged on his favorite wayward curl.  “Pinnacle, Summit, Zenith…whatever.  My favorite stripper name is still Tri…”

 

The rest of his words were cut off as Trixie’s hand shot out and covered his mouth.  “Be very careful what you say there, mister.  Remember, I have a forensics background and I bet I’d be able to find a perfect place to hide a body.”

 

Jim began nibbling on the palm of her hand, sending tingles throughout her body.  Trixie stood and regretfully pulled her hand away from his talented lips.  She stepped carefully over a sleeping Sherlock and began walking out of the living room and down the hallway.  Turning back towards the sofa, she slowly began unbuttoning her blouse.  “I see you still have a few hours before the party, Mr. Frayne.  How about we have a little private show?”

 

Before she had finished unbuttoning the last button, Jim was up off the couch and rushing towards her.  He didn’t slow down; just scooped her up over his strong shoulder and fireman carried her quickly down the hallway. 

 

Laughing, she held on to the waist of his jeans for dear life.  “Hey, buddy, you’re not supposed to touch the performers.”

 

His left arm was securely wrapped around her legs.  “Who’s touching?” he asked.  Then he placed his right hand firmly on her shapely bottom and began rubbing circles.  “NOW, I’m touching.”  Reaching the bedroom door, he walked through, kicking the door shut with his foot.  Using momentum, he tossed Trixie onto the wide bed, where she landed, blouse flying open.  The sight of the lacy, light blue bra scrambled any remaining thoughts Jim had.

 

 

‘bob-bob-white… bob-bob-white… bob-bob-white’ 

 

Coming out of a very pleasant dream, Trixie reached to her nightstand and grabbed her phone before it could go to voicemail.  Glancing at the time on the screen, she didn’t know whether she was touched or ticked that her tall, supple boyfriend was calling her at quarter to five in the morning.  “Hello?”

 

“Hi, baby.  Ssorry to call sso late, but I wanted to check in,” Jim said, slightly slurring his S’s.

 

Hola Juan, I’ve been missing you,” she teased, hoping Jim wasn’t too smashed; she did not want to deal with red-headed temper in the event he thought she was serious.

 

“Mi amor, te amo más que las palabras pueden decir. Te amo más que estrellas hay en el cielo. Te amo más que los que hay peces en el mar. Tú eres mi vida, mi corazón, mi amor... siempre,” Jim said in perfect Spanish.** 

 

**My love, I love you more than words can say.  I love you more than there are stars in the sky.  I love you more than there are fish in the sea.  You are my life, my heart, my love...always.

 

“Jim??”

 

“Si, it is I.”

 

“Jim?  Umm, I thought you had a working proficiency of Spanish.  I don’t remember you being bilingual.”

 

“What are you talking about, Trix?  I don’t speak Spanish that well,” Jim said, perplexed.

 

Sitting up in bed and turning on the bedside light, she shook her head, making sure she was awake.  Giggling, she decided to just start over.  “So, how was the evening?  What did you do?”

 

“We had ssuch a great time.  Firsst, we went to dinner and ate a sshitload of meat.  Nexxt, we walked down 8th Avenue and went to Bowlmor.”

 

“What exactly is a ‘shitload’ of meat?” Trixie teased, sitting up cross legged on the bed, and scratching Sherlock on the belly.

 

Jim groaned.  “Baby, Raoul brought us to this Brazilian ssteakhouse, Churra-ssomething or other.  And they just kept bringing meat and meat and more meat.  Even Mart had to throw in the towel.  We ssat there and drank and ate.  Afterwards, we decided to walk because we were feeling like we were going to ex-ex-explode.”

 

“So after stuffing yourselves like Moms’ Thanksgiving turkey, you all walked to a bowling alley?”

 

Trix, babe, this is not Ssleepyside Lanes.  Bowlmor has mini-golf, a huge bar, pool, arcade, bocce ball on top of the bowling lanes.  It was great!  Raoul had them sshow Sspaceballs.  They projected it at the end of the lanes; it was the coolest bowling ever.”

 

“Well, handsome, it sounds like you guys had a great time.  Do you realize it’s almost five o’clock?  It’s a good thing today’s Sunday and I don’t have to go into work.”

 

“It iss?  I wanted to call and ssay no sstrippers.  Jus you, babe.” 

 

Chuckling to herself, Trixie replied, “Jim, sweetheart, you’re at the penthouse?”  Hearing his affirmative mutter, she continued, “Are your shoes off?  Are you in bed yet?”  She walked him through a checklist making sure he wasn’t going to be sleeping on a chaise longue on the patio fully clothed.  “OK, baby, Tom’s coming by to pick you all up at noon.  I’ll meet you at the Manor House for a late lunch… that is, if you can eat by then.”

 

“Night, ssweetie, I love you, you know,” Jim slurred.

 

“Now and forever. Night, Jim.  Love you,” Trixie answered, waiting for her phone to disconnect.  “Sherlock, I sure hope they don’t hork.  Maddie would have a fit if her new floors got soiled.”

 

The dog rolled over and looked questioningly at Trixie. 

 

“I know it’s crazy early, but what do you say we get up and go for a run, grab a shower and I’ll make us pancakes.”  Trixie threw back the covers, climbed out of bed and got ready for an early run.  “Let’s go, little girl.  We’re up and raring to go and I bet your daddy is sawing logs.”

 

Once dressed, she grabbed the leash from beside the door, clipped it to Sherlock’s collar and the two set off into the pre-dawn morning. 

 

 

Carefully maneuvering through the crowed parking lot, Dan looked around for familiar vehicles.  He wasn’t sure if the girls were coming together or if they were driving their individual cars.  Details that he would have paid attention to previously were slipping his mind as he learned how to care for the new little life he was carrying gently in his arms.  He walked into the huge baby superstore and stood with his eyes wide, looking around at everything.  Holy hell, I thought I just needed diapers and a bathtub for the kid.  She needs a bouncy cow?  He was still lost in thoughts when a perky girl with short spiky brown hair came up.

 

“How can I help you today?”  Not waiting for an answer, she steamrolled along.  “Oh, isn’t she precious.  Tiny one, aren’t you?” she said.  Looking at Dan, she asked, “May I?”  She gestured as if to touch Brenna.  Seeing Dan’s affirmative nod, she delicately touched the baby on her curled up fist.  “They’re so special at this age, aren’t they?”

 

“Guess so.  She’s my first,” Dan admitted.

 

“Fantastic!  Now how can I help you today?  I’m DeeDee.  What are you all looking for?”  The sales associate blinked several times as she looked up into the clueless dark eyes.  “Will her mother be joining us?”

 

Dan was not sure how to answer that; it really was a personal question, but not unexpected.  “Umm, well, umm, no,” he stammered as the wide doors opened behind them and Mart came rushing inside.

 

“There you are!  I was looking all over the parking lot for you.  I thought you were gonna wait for me,” Mart blurted.  Seeing DeeDee, he added, “Hi.  Glad we have someone who knows what to do.  This one is helpless.  No idea what he needs.

 

Looking at the two men together, she jumped to an alternative conclusion.  “Welcome to Baby Boutique.  I’m DeeDee and I’ll be happy to help you two shop for your little one.  Shall we start in strollers?”

 

She started walking briskly down the wide aisle.  “They’re right his way.”

 

Dan looked sideways at his friend.  “Man, I think she thinks we’re a couple.”

 

“No, she’s…you think?”  Mart’s eyes were wide with wonder.

 

“Now, dads, this model is the Britax…” Her sentence was cut off midstream by both Dan and Mart shaking their heads and sputtering.

 

"Whoa!"

 

"We're not together. Well, we're together but we're not together..."

"Yeah, I'm engaged…to a girl," Mart said loudly and felt the color rise on his cheeks.

Taking a deep breath, Dan said quietly, "DeeDee, we're not a couple.  So the 'dads' is inaccurate.  His fiancée, his sister and another friend of ours will be here shortly."  Glancing around, he noticed the other shoppers staring at them and whispering.  Embarrassed, Dan ran his free hand through his hair as he requested, "Maybe we can really start when they get here."

 

“Umm, OK then, I’m going to let you guys look around for a minute, I’ll be right back.”  Embarrassed, DeeDee walked rapidly away towards the stock room.

 

“Well, dear, that was interesting.  I don’t know whether to be honored or not.  I mean, I suppose you are tall, dark and handsome; the girls always said so, but still, I don’t think you’re my type.  I like my sweethearts a bit on the more delicate, artistic, side,” Mart teased.  “So, sweetie, what are we here for?”

 

“You do know, if I didn’t have Brenna in my arms, I’d punch you right now, right?”

 

“This is why I am taking full advantage of the wee one.  Let’s go, the girls should be here any minute and then we’ll have to ooh and ah over clothes.”

 

“Crap, you’re right.  Your mom said we need a bath tub.  I’m not to come back without one.”  Dan shifted the sleeping baby to his shoulder.  “Where do you think they are?”

 

Moving toward the aisle, Mart looked around and spying a large bear sitting in a wash tub with fake bubbles.  “I am willing to hazard an educated guess that infant bathing accoutrement is this way.”

 

Looking at shelves filled with small towels, floaty ducks, boats and sea creatures as well as plastic of every imaginable color, Dan was once again overwhelmed.  He was literally turning in a slow circle, not sure where to start. 

 

Mart, unused to seeing his streetwise friend in such a state, quickly grabbed the first pink bathtub off the shelf.  “What about this?  It’s pink.”

 

“I don’t want to force her into specific gender stereotypes.”  Watching Mart’s mouth drop open was priceless. He laughed, startling Brenna.  “Man, I’ve been saving that one for days.”

 

“OK, smart ass, you pick one out.”

 

Dan walked down a little bit and saw a modern, European-looking plastic pale yellow bath.  He grabbed it with his free hand.  “What do you think about this?”  

 

“Dude, that’s a bucket.  I don’t think you’re supposed to bathe your kid in a bucket.”

 

“It’s not a bucket; see here, it’s called a WashPod.”  Dan tried to defend the bath.  Looking at the picture on the side of the large plastic baby item, he gave in.  “Crap!  It is like a bucket.” 

 

“Here, get the spongy frog.  Moms had something like this for Bobby.  Keeps the kid from rolling around,” Mart said, grabbing the soft, over-large sponge.  “And…it’s gender neutral.”

 

From out of nowhere, both men heard a sharp bob-bob-white whistle.  “The girls are here,” Mart said and without thinking, replied with his own whistle.  Seconds later, Trixie, Honey and Diana rolled into the bath aisle with a huge purple cart. 

 

“I told you they didn’t get a cart.  Here, give me Brenna and we’ll put her in the baby seat.” Diana rushed forward, scooped the baby off Dan’s shoulder and secured her in the built in padded baby seat. She tucked the light-weight blanket around the tiny baby, and clicked the belts in place.  “Ready?  We’ve got some shopping to do.”

 

 

Three hours later, DeeDee was exhausted but thrilled.  Dan was just numb.  The over-sized cart was overflowing with bedding, clothes, accessories, toys and stuffed animals.  “Mr. Mangan, the crib, changing table and glider will be delivered to your condo no later than the 25th, that’s two weeks.  Will that delivery date work?”

 

“That would be fine,” Dan replied blandly, rubbing his hand on the baby’s back through the new Baby Bjorn that DeeDee had strapped on him at Diana’s insistence. 

 

Diana knew the men were beyond bored.  So she pulled the salesclerk aside to finish up the shopping extravaganza. 

 

DeeDee’s perky voice was starting to grate on Dan’s nerves.  Am I imagining it, or is her voice getting higher?  In an aside to Mart, he asked snarkily, “Is she starting to speak in octaves only dogs can hear?”

 

“She is getting a bit pitchy.”  Mart reached into the over-filled shopping cart and picked a lacey purple fabric circle.  Placing it on his finger, he whorled it around and then mocked shooting it at his friend.  “Dude, why is there a garter in the buggy?”

 

Snatching the item, Dan tossed it back into the cart.  “It’s a headband, Einstein.”  He decided to take full advantage of Brenna being secured snugly against him and he punched Mart in the arm, hard.  “Think I’m gonna like this snuggly thing.  Keeps my hands free for important things.”

                  

Moving his sore shoulder in a circle, Mart said, “I think I liked when you kept her in your arms; less painful for me.”

 

 

On Monday afternoon of the week prior to Mart and Diana’s wedding, Dan received a call from the clerk for Judge Josiah Capps notifying him that a hearing on his petitions for custody and name change would be held in the Judge’s courtroom on Wednesday at 10 a.m.  The clerk instructed him to bring Brenna, all pertinent documentation and indicated that she had already notified his lawyer.  After speaking with Honey and Mr. Rainsford, he informed Helen of the court date.

 

“I’m surprised that they’ve already scheduled me with the Judge,” Dan said, walking around the kitchen rubbing a fussy Brenna on the back as he bounced her in his arms.

 

“Honey did ask for an expedited hearing.  Look at it as a good sign, Dan,” Helen advised.  “I’m sure it will be fine, dear.  Please don’t worry.”

 

“I just don’t have that good of a track record, Mrs. B,” Dan replied worriedly.  “I just hope there’s no problem.”

 

 

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Authors’ Notes:

 

Onesie is a brand name for infant bodysuits

 

Churrascaria Plataforma serves meat, mostly grilled, and Rodizio is a method of serving different cuts of meat that originated in the south of Brazil in the early 1800s.  The concept is to serve a wide variety of different cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc; in succession, to each diner individually right at their table, thus there is not a traditional menu.

 

Bowlmor really does have all the fun games listed in our story plus food and nightlife. It’s a full-service fun experience.

 

Spaceballs is another Mel Brooks classic movie.  Of course, the guys love it.  “May the Schwartz be with you!

 

Britax manufactures car seats, strollers, baby carriers and booster seats to care and protect your child.

 

WashPod is designed to be a safe and secure place to wash a newborn to 6 month old baby.  It may look like a bucket but it is supposed to make the baby feel like it is back in the womb.

 

“Spongy frog” is another name for Safety 1st Playsafe Comfy Bath Cushion.  This bathing sponge is textured and contoured to cradle a baby or protect an infant as they are bathed allowing the caregiver to use both hands at bath time.  

 

Baby Bjorn is an ergonomic baby carrier that may be worn as a backpack or on your chest to keep your child comforted, protected and warm but it’s safe enough to allow you to have both hands free.

 

Calling someone “Einstein” can be the ultimate compliment or insult, depending on voice inflection and eyebrow position.   In this case, Dan was calling Mart a lamebrain.  In case you didn’t know, Albert Einstein was an absolutely brilliant theoretical physicist. 

 

We couldn’t write a word without our marvelous editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee.  They provide the best edits and suggestions.  If there are boo-boos left in this story, they belong to us, Jenny and Jo.

 

Special thanks to Kelly for providing “legal aid” to us for the story.  If we ever go to jail, we’re calling her.  

 

Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com

 

Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo

 

Word count – 3198