Friday, May 1, 2020

Playing House Preview Scene



I'm so excited to share my upcoming novel is called Playing House.

Mack feels like he is barely getting by on his own with his four year old son, Brady. Each day looks like the next, but he tries to appreciate the small moments thanks to help from his parents. He's not looking for love after the death of his young wife, but when he hears the deep rumble of an '82 corvette belonging to the enticing elementary school teacher in his apartment complex, he feels a little more alive.

Selena grew up in a large family and feels the silence closing in on her as she lives on her own for the first time. Revving the engine of the car she worked on with her dad helps her remember where she comes from and that she is not alone. When she meets Brady and his charming father, she finds herself drawn to the love they have for each other and realizes that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Enjoy this preview scene from the opening of Playing House.

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Brady swims like a fish and he’s only four. I watch him kick across the pool like an Olympic medalist amazed that he hasn’t even had proper swimming lessons. I have to hand it to my mom, she’s always taught him what mattered in life, just like she did for me.

The Carolina heat makes me sweat and it’s only May. Even in the pool, it’s almost to hot to stand in the afternoon. I am thankful my son likes to swim. It takes the edge off.

“That’s great, Brady,” I call to him as he reaches the far side. His smile fills his entire face and reflects on the water. It’s a good day. It’s nice to have a day off where we can just play. I can’t think of a better way to spend it than soaking up these little moments in the sun.

“I’m going to swim back even faster,” Brady shouts before he pushes off the side of the pool.

“Let me see,” I encourage, but his arms are already splashing. Pride wells up inside of me watching him so happy. He’s gone through a lot in his young life with his mom passing away last year. It’s moments like this that I wish Sarah could see.

I shake melancholy memories out of my head as Brady splashes next to me to grab the pool’s edge. “Was it faster?” Brady asks.

“I could barely see you. You moved so fast like the Flash in water.” I commended.

“That fast?” His eyes bugged out of his head, “I want to try again.”

“You can, but first, I need to use the bathroom. Why don’t you come with me.”

I could see his face drop. “I don’t need to pee,” he pouts.

I get it. The last thing anyone wants to do when they’re having a good time is stop, but nature calls. “That’s okay, but I do, so come on with me.”

“Can I sit on the chair?” He asks pointing to where our towels lay by an umbrella.

I look over and back, “What?”

“I know you want to be with me while I’m in the water, but I don’t have to pee and it’s cold in that bathroom. Can I sit on our chair and you go to the bathroom?”

Those big blue eyes look up at me. I see his mother on his face in that moment and shake my head. When did he get so big? “You sure?”

“Yes. Dad, please.” He begs.

“You won’t go in the water?” I ask seriously.

“No. I’ll sit with Gwen. Even though she’s a penguin, she doesn’t like the water.”

I chuckle at the reference to his favorite stuffed animal sitting on their lounge chair. It amazes me how much he understands about the world at four. Maybe he can give me some tips. He seems to have a better grasp on it than me some days.

“Okay,” I relent, “Come on over and dry off with Gwen for a few minutes. Want to fly out of the water?”

“Yes,” Brady exclaims.

I pick him out of the water with as much splash as I can muster and plop him feet first on the concrete.

“Perfect landing,” he cheers with his arms up in the air.

Laughing, I lift myself out of the water next to him. Everything is so exciting for kids. It makes me wonder if I take life too seriously. I’m only twenty-two, but it’s felt pretty serious the last few years. I’m glad I have Brady to remind me to enjoy these little moments.

I grab the Paw Patrol beach towel and wrap it around Brady’s small shoulders. He sits in the chair and I hand him Gwen and see him with new eyes. He’s growing up faster than I thought possible. It seems like only yesterday he was born. A lot has happened between then and now. I mess up his wet hair, “I’ll be right back. Love you, Buddy.”

“Love you, too, Daddy. Now go pee before you pee in your shorts.”

I laugh and turn towards the bathroom, struggling not to run on the poolside concrete and set a bad example. I look back once to witness Brady intently conversing with his stuffed penguin.

I trust my son can handle himself, but I still worry. I want to go quickly, but the whole time I try to make the warm liquid come out all I can think is Brady slipping and drowning or getting snatched by some person while I can’t see him. What kind of world do we live in that I can’t even trust that my son is safe within a gated apartment complex for a few minutes.

Finally, after having to work way too hard to concentrate, I wash my hands and walk hurriedly out of the bathroom. I scan over to our lounge chairs and realize there is a person kneeling by my son. My heart jumps into my throat. What's wrong?

I forget about not running by a pool and race up to Brady. The plastic chair engulfs him as the small boy sits holding his elbow. I’m distracted by the beautiful, tanned lady in a navy blue bikini kneeling next to him. Her dark hair is pulled back in a ponytail and the motherly look she is giving Brady makes my heart do a double take.

An image of a powder blue ’82 corvette pops in my head and I realize I recognize her from getting out of it the other day. I remember thinking then I wish I could meet the woman who drives a car like that. “It’s you,” I murmur, not realizing I opened mouth until she rises away from Brady.

“Me?” She looks from Brady to me and back again.

I shake my head coming out of my daze and focus on my son who managed to hurt himself and attract a gorgeous woman all in the matter of minutes. I kneel in front of him where Selena was and take the arm he’s holding. “Are you okay, son? What happened?

With a face staying strong and no tears in sight Brady explains, “I fell over reaching for the crackers. Gwen and I wanted a snack, but I didn’t get up and I tumbled out of the chair.”

I inspect the wound, a scrape with only a little blood welling up from the center. It is amazing how resilient kids are.

“That’s not too bad. How do you feel?” I ask trying to be sympathetic without making the situation feel too traumatic. Thankfully, Brady is a tough kid.

Brady nods, “I’m okay.” He lifts his stuffed penguin up and says, “Gwen is okay too.”

“Good, as long as you are both okay.”

“Selena came over to help when I fell.” Brady points to the brunette, “she has a pretty smile.”

I look over my shoulder at the Corvette owner and smile. She responds with a little wave. I stand and turn to her, suddenly nervous. “Hi, I’m Mack. Thanks for checking on my boy.”

“It’s no problem.” She grins, “I’m Selena.” She reaches out her hand.

I take it, surprised by her firm grip.

“I have band aids and Neosporin in my apartment just over there,” she points to the set of buildings past the pool gate. “I can help you get all cleaned up.”

Brady nods and stands up.

Selena continues, “If it’s okay with your dad.”

I look from Brady back to this intriguing lady who exudes a little bit of electricity in her touch and nod. Brady beams and takes Selena’s hand looking up at her like she is the sun. They begin walking to the gate with Gwen tucked in the crook of Brady’s other arm.

I watch them for a moment talking as they walk. My heart aches a little knowing that would be Sarah if she were still here, but she’s not.

Something about Selena feels warm and inviting. It’s been just over a year since I became a single dad, maybe it’s time to stop being afraid of that butterfly feeling in my stomach. There’s definitely no denying it is there.

Of course, maybe I’m just imagining things in the summer heat. I pick up our towels and toys, tossing them into the pool bag. After slinging the over-sized tote over my shoulder, I follow the entourage up the walkway towards Selena’s apartment.

We climb one flight of stairs and stop at the second door.

“You have a watermelon on your door?” Brady bounces with excitement. I consider the brightly colored wooden watermelon shaped sign that reads “Sweet Summertime” with a big pink and green bow to match.

“Yes, I do. My sister made that for me. She makes all sorts of signs like this. I have one for every season.”

“What do you have for Christmas?” Brady asks as Selena unlocks her door.

“Rudolph the Reindeer with a big red fuzzy nose.” She answers as she waves us inside.

Brady’s eyes get big as he walks into the cozy room. I follow them shaking my head. Somehow, I can already feel that this meeting is going to spark a change I didn’t know I needed.

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More to come soon on this story, stay tuned! Playing House is scheduled for release in April 2021.

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