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Chapter Eleven

I woke up the next morning and smiled at the feel of an arm around my chest and a soft head pressed into the crook of my neck. Lauren had changed her mind. Things had just spiraled because we were both a little drunk. That was all.

"Mmm, baby," I mumbled. "Closer."

The hand that was on my chest slid up and tried to squeeze at my flat chest. It tried again.

A grunt of frustration filled the air. A very non-female-ian grunt.

My eyes flew open. Two things made me want to scream. First was the light pounding into my sensitive retinas.

The second was Brian Littrell cuddled up to me in bed.

"AHH!! Get off!"

His eyes flew open. I stopped screaming. We stared at each other.

"This is awkward," he said. I swiped at the hand still on my chest.

"Stop grabbing me!"

Once he realized what he was doing, he did a tuck and roll off the bed. I scrambled to my feet and held my head.

"What happened?" I asked.


"With the midget."

"There was no midget. It was a mop. I caught Danny pranking you in retaliation for you putting a dirty diaper on his bus. I was making him clean up."

"It looked like a midget," I mumbled.

"Anyhow, there was no way I was going to leave Bentley with you like...that. You passed out on the couch and I fell asleep in here on the bed so I could hear Ben if he started to cry. You must have staggered in here sometime during the night.

A foggy memory of Brian telling me I was a fuck-up for a dad surfaced. I scratched my stomach and looked towards the crib. A blue eye peeked at me from between the bars.


Brian whirled around at the sound of the happy baby laugh. "Hewwo Benner," he simpered. "Did you sweep well?"

I grabbed a pair of sunglasses and looked down at the floor. "It looks like Wood sweeped well," I joked. Bri gave me a look. Behind the darkened lenses my head started to throb less. I held up my hands.


"No, I need these."


Ben leaned forward, his right hand pressing into the blanket, his left reaching up towards my face to the glasses he had already yanked off four times.

"No, my eyes hurt."

"UNNNNNHHHH!" His face squinched up and his cheeks turned pink.

"Hey drunky, get that ball behind you," Bri commanded. He was doing something in the kitchen; I couldn't tell what. I turned around and grabbed a mini-basketball. I tossed it lightly at the baby. It hit his forehead and rolled a foot away from his chubby foot. Rok gasped.

"You idiot, you don't throw it at him!"

Ben froze in place for a second. Then he grinned.


I smiled. "Well, he likes it!" I shot back. I picked the ball up again and tossed it again. Ben watched as it hit his leg.

"HAHAHAHAHA!" He grabbed it with his fat fingers.

"Gimme," I said, wiggling my own towards his.

He paused for only a second before letting it go. I've got to say it was the best baby throw I've ever seen. And I've seen quite a few. Baylee had nothing on this guy. I caught the ball and grinned.

"Good job!"

Ben's hands smacked together in a clap, his face crinkling in delight as I hit him in the cheek at the same time.


"Who's hungry?" Bri called out.

I lifted my arm. "Me!"

"Not you," he responded. He came out of the kitchen. He handed me a black apron and smiled googly-like at Ben.

"I'm giving your daddy his first lesson in baby food. How bout it Ben?"

The future Celtics MVP grinned right at me.



Bentley sat in the highchair with wide eyes as Nick waved a spoon in front of his nose. "Eat Ben," he begged. He looked up at me, narrowed his eyes, then turned back to Bentley. He hissed the words under his breath, "Please, you're making me look bad."

I put my hand on my hip.

Nick had the freshly smashed veggies still in a pan and was waving around a Goliath-sized spoon. "Don't make me do the plane, Benny, please," he begged.

Ben stared at Nick, eyes almost crossed as he pushed the spoon against Ben's thick lower lip. He bounced the spoon and Ben's little lips wiggled unvoluntarily, but his gums didn't budge. His eyes were skewed as tightly in toward his nose as he could possibly get them, staring at the spoon in Nick's hand. Nick warbled the spoon. "Please, Bentley."

"Seriously, doing airplane noises is embarassing to you?" I asked for like the fiftieth time.

"Yes, actually..." Nick snapped. He pulled the spoon back.

"You, whose farts could cause tsunamis if you were in the ocean... You, who whines like you're younger than the kid you're trying to stuff food into... You, who... are you," I said, "Are embarassed to go vroom?"

"Vroom," Nick said, in a very matter-of-a-fact voice, "Is not a plane, it is a car."

I raised my eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Yes, for your information," he answered.

"And what do planes do?"

He opened his mouth, about to answer, when Bentley said, "Phooo."

Nick looked at Bentley. "Did he just call me a foo'?" He looked at me.

"Probably," I answered.

Nick's eyes widened. "His first words to me is to call me a fool?!" His cheeks pinked and he looked at me, panicked.

"Relax, Nick," I said, "He was just babbling."

"But his first word was fool!" Nick stood up, taking the spoon and pan with him. Bentley's fat arms reached up after him, waving his fingers like June bugs toppled over on their backs. "His first word was to make fun of me." Nick looked devastated.

"Po me noppffff!" Bentley cried, but not loudly. He kicked his feet, trying to make contact with Nick.

"His first words weren't to make fun of you, will you please calm the H- E- double hockey-sticks down?" I said, "He didn't say fool. He made a sound like fool."

Nick leaned against the counter, completely out of Ben's range of motion now. That didn't stop Benny, though. He reached as hard as he could, practically folding himself over the side of the highchair. "Baaaahhh!" he begged.

"Just 'cos he can't say the word, doesn't mean he doesn't have the emotion!" Nick said dramatically as he waved the pan. "I knew this would happen. The kid resents me."

Bentley's fingers jiggled and his lower lip quivered.

"I don't think he resents you," I said, "Other than for taking the food away."

Nick looked at Ben and realized he'd migrated away. "Oh." He sat down on the chair in front of Ben's high chair again and stared at the kid. "Sorry," he added awkwardly. He held the spoon up to Ben's mouth but, once again, Bentley clamped his gums shut and all Nick succeeded in doing was jiggling Benny's lips.

"Fine," he said, "Ok. Fine. Here. Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnn-rooom..." Nick waved the spoon around in the air, "Heeeeeeere comes the plane," he said, waving the spoon around, "Open up the tarmac, lil man." Ben opened his mouth, giggling as Nick made the noise, and Nick brought the spoon down...closer... closer... and into Bentley's mouth. Ben took the bite, gnoshed it with his gums. He looked happy for point oh-two seconds, then pulled a face and violently spit the food onto the high chair's tray.

"BEH!" he cried.

Nick smashed his face against the tray.

"BWAHHAHAHAHAHA!!" Bentley clapped.

Nick looked up. "You enjoy torturing me?" he asked, "Dude, if you don't eat, you're gonna look like one of those kids in Eat-me-ophelia --"

"Ethiopia," I corrected.

"-- with the distemper."

"Distemper? What? Dogs get distemper."

Nick looked up. "Maybe he juts doesn't like the food?" he asked.

I rolled my eyes. "Please," I said. "I made this stuff for Baylee every single day. He loved it."

Nick looked at the pan. "It looks like throw up. Chunky throw up."

"It's cucumbers and squash and --"

Nick lifted the spoon to his mouth and swallowed a large mouthful of the food.

"NICK!" I yelled, "That's for Bentley!"

Nick chewed for point oh-two seconds, then pulled a face and spit. "BEHis right!" he shouted. Bentley laughed and clapped in utter delight. He grabbed the spit up cloth from the counter and, ignoring - or not noticing - the fact that there was bright white spit up marks all over it, rubbed it across his tongue, which he'd stuck out like he was Gene Simmons or something. "Ughhhh," he groaned. He threw the pan onto the counter and used the spoon to push it further away. "No-the-fuck-wonder!"

"You are being ridiculous."

"RIDICULOUS?!" he wailed. He pointed at it, "YOU eat it, then, you think I'm being ridiculous!"

I grabbed the spoon from his grasp and spooned a large mouthful of the concoction into my mouth. Chewing. "Oh Lord," I gasped. I spit into the pan. I looked at Nick. Bentley's face was screwed up in laughter. "Okay so he doesn't like the taste of the food."

Nick grinned and looked at Ben. "High five, lil dude." He held up his hand and, amazingly, Bentley pressed his palm to the center of Nick's and gave a great guffaw of joy.