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Mother Faker: Chapter 22

Beckett

I wouldn’t say I had much of a plan. All I knew was that I wanted to show up for Liv and her kids, just like Dylan told me to. On the way to her hometown, I racked my brain for ideas, but mostly came up empty. It was early evening in Paris, so I made a call to my best friend. He has experience winning over his wife as well as his own daughter. And when I called, he was on set, so he put my sister on.

“You want to cheer up her daughter?” I could practically see the hearts in Sienna’s eyes.

Jay laughed. “I did the Taylor Swift tickets, but Chlo was older.”

“I want to stick with simple,” I replied. “I don’t want to be another man who flashes money at a problem. I want her to know I care… about her.”

Because I really do. Throwing money at problems is easy, and our parents did a lot of that, but when Sienna was a little girl, a little quality time went a long way. We had all the money in the world, but what she always craved was time with our parents.

I want to give Winnie that—my time, my attention. I want Liv to know she can rely on me the way I rely on her daily, like her brother so aptly pointed out.

I’m not even mad about what he said. Since Liv pointed out the similarities between the way I spoke to her and the way her ex did, I’ve wanted nothing more than to go back in time to pummel my ass.

Not that I’ve changed, per se, but for Liv and her kids, I can try.

I’m beginning to think there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Liv.

“My uncle Dec is not happy with you, Bossman,” Huck says.

“No, Huck, he certainly isn’t.” I do my best to hold back my laughter. “That’s okay, though. We’ll get him to like me, right?”

“I don’t know… Aunt Delia says you’re a man, so not to expect too much.”

I frown. Fucking Medusa. “Plenty of men let people down, but not you and me, right, Huck? It’s important to be dependable, to take care of the girls around the house. Just like you do with your Nerf gun.”

Huck beams. “You gets me, Bossman. No one gets me but you.”

My heart tugs in a way it never has before. This kid is one of a kind.

I hold out my fist, but instead of bumping it, he tilts his head and studies it like he’s confused. With a smile, I grasp his hand, curl it into a fist, and push it against mine.

He grins wide. Tutus and Nerf guns; what’s not to get?

“So, who wants to make bracelets?”

Adeline is napping in a Pack ’n Play that looks strangely like it was already here. As in, Liv’s brother keeps it here. Does he have kids? I don’t remember Liv ever mentioning a niece or nephew, but I’m beginning to realize that I haven’t been quite as attentive to what’s going on in her life as I imagined.

Truth is, I’ve always liked Liv, a bit too much if I’m honest, so I purposely kept my distance. The more I knew about her, the more drawn to her I was, which is odd because her life is full of all the things I’ve always thought I didn’t want.

Complete and utter chaos 90 percent of the time. How the hell does she do it all?

Huck holds up a pink string. “Can we make matching bracelets, Bossman?”

I turn to Winnie, who is doing an excellent job of ignoring us while she watches television. “That’s up to Bear. She’s the artist. Think you can help us?”

Winnie glances in our direction tentatively, and a little flicker of light ignites in her dark eyes when she spots the pink box of supplies. “Um, sure.”

I have zero idea how to make bracelets, so I’m not even sucking up when I ask her to show me what to do. For the next twenty minutes, she walks us through how to string the beads and then how to tie it off.

“How do you spell Bossman?” Huck asks as he picks up another bead.

My lip twitches, and I can’t help but smile. “You making a bracelet for me?”

Winnie grins and holds one up. The word Duck is spelled out between pink and green beads. I laugh so hard tears fill my eyes. “Thanks, Bear,” I say, holding out my arm so she can slide it on.

She rolls her eyes, looking so much like her mother. “It’s no big deal.”

I lower my head and look her in the eye. “Is to me. Thanks for helping us make bracelets. We woulda been lost without you.”

Her freckled cheeks lift in a soft smile.

“How’s school going?”

Huck reaches for another bead, his tongue in his cheek. “Don’t goes to school. But if ya want, I’m a good worker, Bossman. I could works with you.”

Patting his shoulder, I nod, holding back another laugh. “I’m sure Langfield Corp would be lucky to have you. But I was talking to your sister.”

She eyes me from under her dark lashes as she strings another bead. “It’s okay.”

“What would you change if you could?”

She tilts her head and pulls her bottom lip between her teeth like she’s really putting thought into her answer. “We don’t have a lot of supplies for art class.” In a grumble, she adds, “And math. I don’t like math.”

I laugh. “Neither do I, kid.”

From the corner of my eye, I catch sight of Declan standing in the doorway. He’s got his arms folded across his chest and a scowl aimed in my direction. Beside him, Liv studies me, eyes wide.

“Everything okay?” I mouth.

She glances at her brother, then shakes her head, as if she’s clearing her mind or maybe talking herself out of something.

“Yeah. What are you guys doing?” She shuffles closer and stands over the table, watching Huck string another bracelet.

“Duh, Mom. We’re making bracelets.” He holds his up by one end and waves it back and forth.

Lifting my chin and shooting her a wink, I hold my arm out.

Her surprised laugh makes my chest tight. “Duck! Who made that?”

I nod to Winnie, noticing a slight blush on her downturned face. “The artist over there.”

Liv’s brown eyes caramelize as she looks warmly toward her daughter. She turns back to me and mouths, “Thank you.”

My chest tightens and I’m forced to look away.

“Want to make bracelets with us, Uncle Dec?” Huck asks.

Liv’s brother saunters closer, his hands in his pockets, but his hard gaze doesn’t stray from me. The man is pissed. Then again, I wouldn’t be thrilled with any man who drunkenly married my sister in Vegas.

“Yeah, I can take over from here. I’m sure Mr. Langfield has to get back to Boston.” His tone says he wants me gone.

I grin up at my wife. “Actually, I reserved a room at the Bristol Harbor Inn. Never been here before. Think you can show me around town tonight, Livy?”

Declan grinds his teeth so hard I can hear it from here, but he doesn’t speak.

Liv sighs, and her shoulders sink a little. “Yeah, I’m sure my mom would love some time with the kids. Do we need to go over something for work?”

“Nah, but you and I have an agreement when it comes to Friday nights.”

Declan’s eyes narrow, and he takes a step closer, like he’s ready to put himself between Liv and me. “What kind of agreement?”

She elbows him in the ribs. “Mind your business.”

“You got any Diet Coke?” I ask her brother.

He glares at me but tips his chin toward the kitchen. “Yes, in the fridge. Help yourself.”

With a ruffle of Huck’s hair, I stand and hand the green and pink bracelet I’ve been working on to Winnie. It says Bear.

“This for me?” she asks.

“Yeah, now we match,” I say, twisting my wrist so the little beads clack.

“Thanks, Bossman,” she says quietly.

As I make my way toward the kitchen, I’m practically floating. Putting a smile on Winnie’s face feels like a win to me.


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