After Swimming Naked…
“Where’s Liam?” Lina asked.
Phil shifted his gaze from the mirror as he finished knotting his tie. “He’s right…” he trailed off when he noticed the bedroom door open. “I’ll find him.”
Moments later Phil scooped Liam, who was banging on Logan’s door, up into his arms. “Come on. Logan’s sleeping.”
“No! Lolo,” Liam protested as Phil carried him from Logan’s room. “Lolo!”
“You can see him when he wakes up.”
“No! Lolo!” Liam slapped Phil’s shoulder. “Down!”
Phil stopped his forward movement, staring down at Liam. “Did you just hit me?”
Liam glared up at his father. “Lolo!”
Liam struggled to get out of his arms. “Down!” he demanded.
“Down!” Liam was once again glaring at him.
“You need to distract him,” Lina said as she approached from down the hall. “There is no reasoning with them at this age.”
“He hit me.”
She took Liam from Phil, pulling him into her side. “What’s the matter handsome boy?”
“I just told you. He hit me.”
“I’m not talking to you,” Lina said dryly.
“Lolo.” Liam pointed toward Logan’s door.
“Logan’s still sleeping. Why don’t we let Knight back inside and give him a treat?”
“Knigh eats.” Liam pointed toward the stairs.
“See.” Lina paused beside Phil, brushing her lips over his. “You just have to distract him.”
“Knigh, Mommy,” Logan demanded.
“Okay. Let’s go find Knight.”
Phil snagged her around the waist before she could walk away. “Do you know how amazing you are?”
“No, Daddy.” Liam pressed his hand against Phil’s chest.
Phil clasped his hand. “If you try to keep me from touching Mommy again, I’m going to keep your hand.”
“Mine.” Logan pulled his hand back.
“Ignore, Daddy,” Lina said. “He’s not taking your hand. Let’s go find Knight.”
Phil watched them walk away a surge of feeling expanding in his chest. “Hey?” He waited for Lina to turn back before continuing, “I love you.”
She blew him a kiss before disappearing down the stairs.
He stared after her for a long moment thinking how fucking lucky he was.
“Dad?” Megan, clad in pajama shorts and a tank top, had come out of her bedroom.
“Good morning, sweetheart.” He slipped his arm around her as she saddled up beside him. “Was it nice to be back in your bed?” She’d arrived home from college the night before.
“Yes. Do you have to work today?”
“Of course. It’s Friday.”
“But we’re leaving today.”
“Our flight isn’t until 8 p.m.”
“I wanted to run with you this morning.”
“We’ll run together in Greece. I have to finish getting ready.” He pressed his lips into the top of her head.
“Who’s watching Liam?” Megan asked as he began to walk away. “When we’re in Greece?”
Phil turned back to her, a frown marring his features. “No one is watching Liam. He’s coming with us.”
“To Greece?” Her eyes widened.
“Yes to Greece. What did you think we were going to do with him? We’re going to be gone ten days.”
“I know, I just…” she trailed off. “Is it safe to have him on the yacht? What if he fell overboard?”
“The yacht? Oh.” He remembered the original plan had been to charter a small yacht and visit the various islands. “We’re not renting the yacht.”
“Then what are we doing?”
“Hotel or Airbnb. I don’t know.” He looked at his watch. “I have to go. Talk to Mom. She made all the arrangements.”
“He’s coming to Greece with us,” Megan fumed moments later as she joined Lina in the kitchen.
Lina paused with her coffee cup at her lips, meeting the eyes of her eldest child. “Who?”
She nodded toward Liam who was in his highchair, stuffing a handful of cutup watermelon into his mouth. “Him.”
Liam smiled at Megan.
“He has a name.”
“He’s going to ruin the trip. He already is. Dad said we aren’t renting the yacht,” she whispered.
“Why are you whispering?”
“Because I don’t want Dad to hear. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
“That’s nice of you,” Lina said dryly. She took a swallow of coffee.
“I’m serious,” Megan hissed. “There’s a reason this is the first time we’re going there. We were all too young before. It’s not a child-friendly place.”
“We’ll be fine.”
Megan glanced toward the front of the house before continuing. “Why can’t his mother watch him? Wouldn’t that be a perfect solution?”
Lina felt a surge of anger at the thought of Kim. “Considering she hasn’t called once to check on him in the two months he’s lived here, that’s not even an option.”
“You could call her,” Megan insisted. “She is his mother.”
“That’s not an option,” Lina repeated.
“Then what about grandma?”
“What’s going on here?” Phil asked. His gaze shifted between Lina and Megan.
“Daddy!” Liam held out a piece of watermelon, his earlier frustration with his father clearly forgotten.
“Megan thinks our trip will be more pleasant if we leave Liam behind.”
Megan’s face reddened. “I just thought it would be easier. How are we going to go cliff diving in Santorini. You said—”
“We’ll go,” Phil interrupted. “I’m sure we can find a babysitter.”
“Daddy, piece?” Liam continued to hold out the fruit.
“Thanks, Buddy.” He took the chunk of watermelon and tossed it into his mouth. “Where’s Kathy?” he asked referring to the sitter.
“She’s running a little late,” Lina said.
“No—go. I’m not ready to leave anyway.”
“Daddy, more.” Liam was holding out another piece of watermelon.
“No. That’s yours.” Phil stroked his hand over Liam’s head. “Daddy has to go to work now.”
“Say bye bye,” Lina said.
“Bye bye Daddy.” Liam waved.
“I should be home by three.” Phil paused beside Lina’s chair, his hand sliding over her back as he leaned down and brushed his lips over hers.
“Lolo!” Liam screamed as Logan shuffled into the room.
“Was he banging on my door this morning?” Logan asked.
“Lolo!” Liam began to bounce up and down in excitement.
“Make sure you help your sisters and mother with their bags if I’m not home in time to pack the car,” Phil said to Logan, patting his back as he stepped past him.
“Okay.” Logan pushed his hair back from his eyes. “Did I dream the banging.”
“I’m sorry. We tried to stop him,” Lina said.
“Lolo, piece?” Liam held out a squished-up piece of watermelon.
“I really think you should call his mother,” Megan said as soon as her father was gone. “He shouldn’t only be our responsibility. It isn’t fair.”
“Megan, drop it. He’s coming with us.” Lina shook her head. She attempted to reign in her annoyance, knowing Megan had been away at college for the past two months and hadn’t really spent any time with Liam.
“The whole trip is going to revolve him,” Megan said. “Did you know he was coming?” she asked Logan.
Logan shrugged. “What else would he do?” He took the piece of fruit from Liam’s outstretched hand.
“Spend time with his real mother.”
“I’m the only mother he has,” Lina said shortly. “His real mother has abandoned him, so please stop talking about her in front of him.”
“He doesn’t understand me,” Megan said.
“Maybe not, but he will one day.”