In honor of Halloween, I have a moment with Noah, Shay, and Gennie for you. Enjoy!
Noah glanced up from his laptop when Gennie jogged into the kitchen ahead of me.
“Got my shoes,” she shouted.
At Noah’s arched brows, I explained, “We’re going to the fabric store.”
I worked hard at making that statement sound as cheerful and normal as possible. I wasn’t sure I nailed it.
He glanced at Gennie, sprawled on the floor and tugging her sneakers on in the most complex way possible, before looking back at me. “What do you need at the fabric store?”
“Fabric,” I said. Very normal, very cheerful. Very much not awakening the grump of Halloween lurking under my husband’s gruffly adorable surface.
For valid reasons, Noah didn’t love Halloween. He’d grown up with some wonky Halloween restrictions and back when we were in high school, this holiday was mostly an exercise in getting drunk in the woods. As far as I could tell, he’d never experienced a fun, simple Halloween. And I was trying to change that. Even if it was also driving him a little nuts.
He lowered the laptop lid. “Fabric for…?”
“I need a new costume,” Gennie said, her back now flat on the floor and her legs straight up in the air.
“What’s wrong with the costume you have?” he asked, giving me what the hell is going on? eyes.
“It’s dumb as f**k,” she said, stomping her foot against the cabinet to force her shoe on. “It looks like regular clothes, not pirate clothes. And it doesn’t fit anymore.”
He ran a hand down his face. “And you’re just going to—what? Make a new costume? In the next couple of days?”
“Yeah,” she replied.
To me, Noah asked, “And you’re going along with this?”
“It was Shay’s idea,” Gennie said.
I glanced at the little starfish of a child. “Thanks,” I muttered.
“I mean this with all the respect in the world but there’s no way for me to ask it without sounding like an ass—“
“Then maybe you shouldn’t.” I hooked my purse over my shoulder and shrugged.
“Wife.” He pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes as he laughed. “Do you even know how to sew?”
“Auntie Jamie does and when Shay called her, she said she could come early tomorrow to help make my costume less of a clusterf**k,” Gennie added.
“How do you even know that word?” I asked her.
She rolled onto her belly and propped her hands beneath her chin. “Noah says it all the time.”
“Should’ve seen that coming,” Noah said. “All of it.” He stared down at his niece. “Are you sweeping the floor with your shirt or is there some other good reason you’re rolling around down there?”
“It’s yoga,” she said, more than a little outraged. “See? Watch me do poses like we learned from Miss Abrahamson in gym.”
She contorted herself into a pose that was more circus act than yoga, her dark hair curtaining her face as she panted and grunted through this exhibition.
“Amazing,” Noah said. “I’m sure you’re feeling very centered. Now, go outside and run around while I talk to Shay.”
Righting herself, she asked, “Is this going to be the kind of talk where it takes a whole hour upstairs and then you say Shay needs to rest? Or is it a regular talk? Because if it’s a whole hour and then Shay needs nap time, the store is going to be closed!”
He stared at her for a long minute. “Have you checked the chickens today?”
She blew her hair off her face. “I’m gonna go run around outside.”
“Good plan,” he said.
When the door banged shut and the sound of small feet on the back steps faded, I crossed to Noah’s seat the kitchen table and said, “You don’t have to worry about this.”
“I don’t have to worry about this,” he murmured to himself. “I don’t have to worry about this. Right. Right. Of course. It’s not like we’re having a huge Halloween party here tomorrow night for several dozen children who will be sky-high on sugar because Nyomi made more caramel apples than there are kids in this entire town. And crazy rice crispy treats too. And then they’re going to get lost in Bones’s hay bale maze. Why not throw out the costume and start over at the last minute?”
I drew my fingers over the ridge of his shoulders, up his neck. The muscles there were tight and corded as always. I scraped my nails over his skin until he dropped his head against my belly. “Feel better now that’s out of your system?”
“It’s going to be great,” I said as his arms circled my waist. “And this growth spurt of Gennie’s means that the costume we loved last month now looks like it shrunk in the wash.”
“She’s growing like a damn weed. She needs new shoes every other month.”
“Yeah, we should really stop feeding her all those fresh fruits and vegetables.” He yanked my t-shirt out from the waistband of my skirt, pressed his cheek to my skin. “Husband. We can’t turn this into an upstairs talk. Not with the fabric store closing soon and a kid who will stop running around and come inside to holler at us any minute now.” He growled something indecipherable into my flank. “What was that?”
“I said we’ll have an upstairs talk when you come back.”
“Is that a promise?”
“You’re damn right that’s a promise. Tonight’s the last time I’ll have you all to myself for the rest of the weekend. As soon as Auntie Jamie and Auntie Grace show up, and then everyone coming to this party, I’ll be lucky if I get five minutes with you before Monday morning rolls around.”
He traced the band of my bra, his thumbs sweeping over me as if it was necessary to send me off with my high beams on. “I promise Jamie won’t jump into bed with us again.”
It had only happened the one time but Noah had reacted exactly as I'd imagined he'd react, which was to jump out of bed as if he'd been bitten and take refuge in the den. He fell asleep down there and I fell asleep with Jaime and…well, from that point forward, we haven't had a visit from Jaime without some toothless grumbling about her poaching all his time with me.
“It’s a good thing I like her.” He pulled me closer, brushed his to mine. “But I like you more.”
“Does that mean you’ve come around on my couples costume ideas?”
With that, he stood up and set me on my feet, saying, “I love you but we're not having that conversation again, wife.”
In case you missed it:
★ I'm working on something I can't talk about yet (I know, it's so annoying when authors do that, I hate it too) but I LOVE IT and I think I'll be able to tell you about it soon-ish. I'm terrible at following rules so I'll share this: Boston, surgeons, autumn.
★ In a Jam merch is available for a limited time through Novel Grounds (I swear to you the Naked Provisions goodies are still in the works though I am but one small writer lady and can only do so many things at once!)
★ Shucked will be narrated by Jason Clarke and Christine Lakin (dream cast!) although recording will not start until 2024 (sob).
Quickie Book Rec:
TheMarriage Gameby Sara Desai – banter, chemistry, and everything you could want from a romcom. I love a book set in San Francisco and I really love a meddling family who sets up their newly-moved-home daughter on blind dates. The only way to make it better is to force this daughter to share office space with a guy who “doesn't like her at all” but also finds it necessary to insert his opinions on all her dates. Of course. As one does.
Assistant to the Villainby Heather Nicole Maehrer – I devoured this book and I can't even explain why. All I could picture was General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) from Shadow and Bone as The Villain and Giselle (Amy Adams) from Enchanted as Evie, and those worlds added together and divided by The Office, complete with a dour Angela and a Muppet of a dragon trainer. Somehow, it makes complete sense. There is absolutely no steam or spice though the quiet pining is a delight. I didn't even miss it (I know! I can't believe I'm saying that!) It ends in a brutal cliffhanger and I'm drumming my fingers for the next book as we speak.
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