Preppy the life amp deat.., p.22
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       Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two, p.22
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         Part #6 of King series by T. M. Frazier
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  him on his shoulders, hanging onto his knees. Bo wrapped his little arms around Preppy’s head, covering his eyes with his hands. Preppy lifted them so he could exchange a knowing glance with my father.

  “What’s going on here?” I asked. “What am I missing?”

  “Your dad didn’t lose his store,” Preppy said.

  “He didn’t?”

  Dad shook his head. “Nope. I was bought out. Some big bookstore made me a more than fair offer and I jumped on it. They don’t even want to take it over, they just paid me to close up and get out of the way. Either way, now I’m debt free and my schedule has been cleared up to spend more time with my beautiful daughter and her new family.”

  “And you knew about this?” I asked Preppy who was leaning to one side as far as he could without Bo falling off.

  “Maybe?” he said, but it came out like a question. He set Bo down on the grass and the two of them took off across the yard, chasing one another through the small crowds of people who happily made way for the new father and son.

  “Us boys. We chatted,” Dad said, slyly.

  “When?” I asked.

  “The day you came back from Logan’s Beach...and every other day since,” Dad said. He pointed to Preppy who caught Bo in his arms and was twirling him around, his feet barely missing King and Bear who jumped back and pretended to have been hit. “That Samuel. I don’t know what to make of him. Frankly I don’t understand half the shit that comes out of his mouth, but I know one thing and it’s the only thing that matters in my book.”

  “What’s that?”

  “That he loves you. He looks at you the same way I looked at your mom, but I didn’t need to see it to know it. I heard it in his voice long before that,” my dad said, wrapping his arms around my shoulders.

  I wiped my eyes, sniffling.

  “No more tears, kid,” my dad said with a laugh. “This is a time to celebrate!”

  “Wait,” I said, realizing something. “So between their money and the money from the sale of Mirna’s house, you’ll be okay, then? At least for awhile I mean?”

  My dad nodded and took a swig of his beer. “Kid, your old man will be set until Bo there is ready to go to college. And that’s just with the money from the store sale. I never touched the money you put in my account from Mirna’s house. I transferred it right back down here into an account in Bo’s name. You can use it for his college or whatever else he’ll need growing up. Trust me, kids are expensive,” he said with a smile. Dad gave my shoulder another squeeze. “I’m going to go find the little boys room.”

  I watched him walk toward the house. I pulled at my imaginary sleeves. Preppy came up beside me and put his hands on his knees. He was out of breath from running around with Bo who was now happily chasing Max and Sammy around the yard.

  I pressed my lips together, trying not to laugh. “I’m not out of breath, your out of breath,” he said, standing upright and pulling me against his chest. He gave me a quick peck on the cheek and was off again, heading toward all three kids making monster noises.

  “Penny for your thoughts?” Ray asked, sauntering over with one hand in her back pocket and a beer in the other.

  “My dad, he never used the money from the sale of Mirna’s house,” I said, still not quite able to believe what he just told me. “The money, he put it in an account for Bo.”

  “I know,” Ray said.

  “I’m happy he did it, but I wish we would have known sooner. Wait, you know...”

  “Yeah, I know,” she admitted. “Sooner when? Like before you sold the house?”

  “Yeah,” I agreed, more confused than ever. “But oh well, I guess things happen for a reason. I mean, I can’t believe my dad got such a great offer on the store when it was failing so miserably. Whether they only paid him to close or not it seems odd that a company would pay so much money for a failing business.”

  “It is odd, because it never happened.”

  “Huh?”

  Ray rocked back on her feet. My dad came out of the house and I officially introduced him to Ray. “Mr. Capulet, Dre was just telling me about the sale of your business, congratulations. Tell me, do you remember the name of the company that bought your store?” she asked, chewing on her lip.

  My dad looked up and twisted his lips. “Let me think. Oh yeah, now I remember. Bow Tied Books.” He pointed to Preppy. “Fitting isn’t it?” he asked, not making the same connection I had.

  I spit out my beer and Ray chuckled.

  “You okay?” my dad asked.

  “Yeah, this beer is skunked. That’s all.”

  One of the GG’s came over to introduce themselves to my dad. “Told you so,” Ray sang in my ear. “And here, these belong to you,” she said, tossing me a set of keys that I recognized them instantly by Mirna’s green lucky rabbit foot keychain. “I already signed it back over to both you and Preppy.”

  “How?” I asked.

  Ray shrugged. “It’s a long story.”

  “I’ll pay you back. I’ll...”

  “No,” Ray said, closing my hand around the keys. “This is what family does.” She looked over to Preppy who now had Bo on his back and were chasing King and Sammy while Max shrieked around them, hiding behind Bear’s legs. “And like it or not, you’re family now.” And with that Ray sauntered over to King and stood on her tip-toes, planting a small kiss on his mouth. He returned her kiss with one of his own that wasn’t nearly as PG.

  “Dre, do you know if there is any wine around?” My dad asked. “Sandra isn’t such a big fan of beer.”

  I smiled at the grey haired lady my father had his arm linked with. “I’m on it. I think there is a bottle of red inside.” I ran up the porch and it only took me a minute to find a bottle of wine which had dust on it. I was trying to find a wine opener when I realized that it was a screw cap. “Hopefully Sandra doesn’t mind old cheap red,” I said to myself.

  With a beer bottle in hand I turned around and stopped just short of crashing into Bo who had a frown on his face where only moments before he was smiling from ear to ear.

  “Hey Bo! What’s the matter?” I asked, crouching down and inspecting him for any play session injuries. He vigorously shook his head from side to side. He looked up at me and his eyes went wide. Sheer terror was written all over his perfect baby face. When I realized it wasn’t me he was looking at, but something over my shoulder, it was already too late.

  I was already too late.

  A strong hand holding a rag came over my nose and mouth, the other gripping the back of my neck. Before I could even think to fight off whatever or whoever was behind me, my limbs went numb. My brain floated around in my skull. Bo’s frightened image turned blurry, and then sideways as I crashed to the floor.

  My heart broke. Bo was scared I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t protect him. Only a few days in and I’d already failed him as his mother. As the blackness claimed me I heard a strangled cry. A beautiful yet painful sound. I drifted off into somewhere unfamiliar, grateful that the last thing I might ever hear was my son’s little voice for the very first time.

  Even though he was screaming.

  “Mooooooooommmmmmmmy!”

  THE END

  (FOR NOW)

 
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