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Home > Soaring (Magdalene #2)(14)

Soaring (Magdalene #2)(14)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Cillian’s eyes grew so huge at this offer I nearly burst out laughing.

“Miz…uh…hey!” Aisling called back to me. “You want me to finish frosting these?” She pointed at the unfrosted cupcakes.

“She’s good at that shit,” Mickey muttered, his voice sounding further away and I turned then tucked my chin to see him crouched by his box. He tipped his head back to catch my eyes. “Let her do it.”

“I…” I looked to Aisling and suggested, “How about we do it together?”

She beamed.

With nothing for it, I moved that way.

Cillian shoved a cupcake in his mouth, peeling back the wrapper expertly with his lips as he did it.

I’d never seen anyone do that so I noted on a smile as I made my way to the kitchen, “You got a special skill with that, kiddo.”

“Toad-ag-lee,” he said with his mouth full and kept going, “Prag-dis.”

My smile got bigger.

“Keister over here, boy, help your dad unload this stuff and tag it,” Mickey ordered.

Cillian dashed by me and toward his father.

At that moment, the oven binged.

“You do those, honey,” I said to Aisling, moving into the kitchen. “I’ll grab the last batch.”

Aisling nodded and nabbed the spoon from the bowl.

As I pulled the tray out of the oven, Mickey called, “Babe? Tags?”

An unusual-when-it-came-to-Mickey unpleasant sensation slithered down my spine.

Conrad called me “babe.” Conrad called me every endearment he could think of.

I’d later learned none of them were special since I’d heard him call Martine some of the same things.

And I knew the casual way Mickey said them was the same way, but worse. Any woman was “babe” to him. Or his other, “darlin’.”

It wasn’t just me.

It wasn’t special.

I’d never been special.

I just was.

With all the rest, I pushed that aside, put the tin on the cooling rack and looked his way, answering, “Up here.”

“Go get ’em, son,” he said to Cillian.

Cillian darted back my way.

I got the tags and markers out of their drawer and gave them to Mickey’s boy. He raced back to his dad. Thus began a lot of activity, which included Mickey and Cillian pulling stuff out of their box, tagging it and calling to me to ask where to put it, as well as Aisling and me frosting and sprinkling cupcakes while we tidied the kitchen.

As tired as I was, as much as I was fighting my attraction to Mickey, I couldn’t help but admit that it felt good to have company. To feel activity around me. To hear the murmur of voices. To exchange words or shuffle by a body and get or give a smile as you did it.

I hadn’t had that in a while. Not on a regular basis in three years and not even frequently for the last ten months.

I liked it.

And Mickey had good kids, though that part wasn’t surprising.

We were done in no time and when we were, I found that I wished we weren’t.

This was because the second we were, Mickey said, “Time to get outta Miz Hathaway’s hair.”

To which Cillian instantly replied, “Can I have a bag of Reese’s cookies before we do it?”

Mickey grinned at his son. “You’re costin’ me a fortune in food, kid.”

Cillian grinned back, unrepentant, probably because he knew he was but he also knew his dad didn’t care in the least.

“Just to say,” I butted in and got two sets of blue eyes, “for neighbors, the goodies are free.”

“Not gonna raise cash for the league, you do that,” Mickey told me, wandering my way, his son doing the same and doing it close to his dad.

He made it to the opposite side of the counter, scanned the signs I already had set up to announce the prices of treats, and he did this pulling out his wallet.

“Really, Mickey,” I said. “Aisling helped me frost and clean up. Goodies are payback.”

He looked to me. “Really, Amelia, Cill’s in that league so we’re chippin’ in.”

With his eyes on me, warm and friendly, I could do nothing but agree so I did this on a nod.

He tossed a five dollar bill on my counter, declaring, “Junior says this gig starts at seven. We’ll be here at a quarter to.”

My insides clutched in fear at this offer, but before I could get it together to politely decline, Cillian shouted in horror, “In the morning?” His face was wreathed in that horror as he finished, dread dripping from each syllable. “On a Saturday?”

Mickey looked down at his son. “You want new head gear, shoes and gloves next season?”

“Yeah,” Cillian muttered like he wished he didn’t have to.

“Then we’re up early and over here to help Miz Hathaway sell all this crap tomorrow,” Mickey decreed.

“That really isn’t—” I started but stopped when Mickey’s eyes sliced my way.

Point taken. Absolutely.

I’d seen Mickey Donovan’s eyes friendly, smiling, laughing, thoughtful, assessing.

But the look in them right then said that when Mickey talked, his children listened and no one said a word to the contrary.

The problem was I didn’t want Mickey over at my house first thing. In fact, Josie, Jake, Junior, Alyssa and their families were going to be there at six thirty so I didn’t actually need Mickey and his kids there.

I stared into his blue eyes and decided not to share that.

Mickey broke contact and looked from his boy to his girl. “Now, say goodnight to Miz Hathaway and then let’s get home.”

I got two goodnights, one disgruntled (Cillian), one quiet (Aisling) and gave them back as they headed to the door.

Mickey did too.

So I did as well.

At the door, Mickey stopped just outside of it and ordered his children, “Careful of the street, I’m right behind.”

“’Kay, Dad,” Cillian muttered, starting to trudge across my yard.

“Boy, path,” Mickey directed.

“Oh, right,” Cillian looked to me, changing direction and heading toward my front walk. “Sorry, Miz Hathaway.”

I wanted to tell him I didn’t think his feet would damage my grass simply treading on the turf and he could take the more direct path to his house, but I didn’t.

I said, “It’s okay, kiddo.”

He grinned at me.

Aisling silently put her hand between her brother’s shoulder blades and guided him down the path.

Mickey stood watching.

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