"Howie Dorough, meet Macie Ziegler. Macie, Howie. AJ--"
"Nice to meet you. Do you have any nail polish remover? These losers don't have any."
"Gee, sorry. Usually I keep my nail polish right next to my Summer's Eve but wouldn't you know I forgot to pack it?" Nick teased, a big grin spreading across his face. AJ punched him in his shoulder and looked at me. I held up my pathetically plain nails and smiled.
"Are you coming with us over to the venue?" Howie asked. He had warm eyes that reminded me of hot chocolate. I shook my head.
"I'm taking the kids to the playground," I said. "This is my daughter Rielynn."
Rielynn looked up from her Popsicle for just a second, long enough to waive. She looked a little like Heath Ledger's Joker. The entire area around her lips was stained red. She turned towards Parker and started to giggle. His blueberry Popsicle had created a similar effect.
"Surely you're going to see the show tonight though," Howie said.
"She's not going to miss it," Nick promised. "You know Park has to be right at the wings."
"He's an attention whore like you," AJ snickered. Nick returned the gesture.
"Who's the attention w-h-o-r-e," he spelled out the word. He pointed at AJ's hand. "Mr. Nail Polish Remover?"
AJ just laughed. He looked at me. "I thought I turned soft after my daughter was born, but this guy gives new meaning to the word."
I smiled. "I think it's sweet."
Nick puffed up. "Ha! See?"
We talked for a few more minutes. When they walked away, Nick grew serious. His hand slid into his pocket.
"I'm giving this to you," he said, pulling out the epipen. "If he gets stung don't waste any time. Just inject it and call me."
My heart tripped. My palms began to sweat as I took it, holding it like it was glass. "I promise I'll watch him like a hawk."
Nick smiled and I relaxed. "I know. That's why I asked you here." He licked his lips and ran a hand through his hair. "Okay, well, I better go." He knelt down. "Gimme a hug buddy."
Parker ran right towards him. Nick didn't flinch and wet, sticky hands pressed down on his neck and blue lips pecked his own. I was so lost in the moment that I didn't realize that Rie had inched towards them. She was holding out her arms. I stepped forward.
But Nick was quicker. He scooped Rielynn up into a similar, warm hug. "Bye for now beautiful," he said.
"Bye-bye! Bye-bye!" Rie repeated, kissing his cheek. Nick stood up slowly and looked at me. Secretly, even though I felt guilty, I kinda wished I could say the same type of goodbye. But I knew only toddlers could get away with so much free affection.
"Thanks, Midge," he said gently. I smiled.
Forty-five minutes into the park trip and I really wasn't sure how women with more than one child did it, especially women with twins. A grotesque amount of sweat was running down my back and between my breasts and I knew my arms would ache in the morning from hoisti myself up on the play equipment. The kids picked the narrowest nooks and crannies to squeeze their bodies into.
"They're adorable," a fellow mom said as I pulled Parker's pants up for the third time. She had a British accent and she was dressed more for a trip to the fashion shows of Milan than a playground. There wasn't a piece of her red hair out of place.
"Thank you," I said, hating the way I gasped for breath between the two simple words. "Which one's yours?"
She pointed a manicured nail at a little girl standing in the sand box. "Catherine."
The little girl looked over at her mom and immediately came running over. I did a quick child check for my two. "Rielynn! Parker!"
Did they listen? Of course not. Rielynn was looking practically up Parker's nose and they were giggling.
I almost ignored the question, sure it wasn't directed at me, but the accent pulled me back. I smiled. "Just the little girl," I said. "The little boy belongs to a friend of mine."
"Charming children," she said, even though it came out in a grossed out way. I couldn't blame her though; my own stomach turned as I watched Rie pull a booger out of Park's nose. She was bringing it closer and closer to her open mouth. My body acted on instinct as I lunged.
"How were they? You look exhausted."
Parker stopped hanging off my elbow the minute Nick walked into my hotel room. He ran to him, full of smiles. I wasn't sure that I could move even my small toe. My ass was planted in a chair and it was all I could do just to blink.
"Parkey, booooogeeeeeyyy!" Rie tried to explain. She ran around my chair, slapping the arm loudly.
"What?" Nick laughed. He looked like he had just gotten out of a shower. "I missed something, didn't I?"
I cracked a weak smile. "What has been seen can never be unseen."
He didnt buy the smile. His eyes surveyed me. I knew he scanned every inch because I got those goosebumps you can only get when being mentally undressed by another person. He stopped when he got to my knee.
"It's just the bandages. It's not really--"
"I just hit it hard. It's swelled."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"It's not a big deal. It didn't even begin to swell until we got back."
I didn't mention that it was now throbbing like a bitch. He put Parker down.
"You're getting it checked out."
He whipped out his phone. All he needed was a pair of superhero undies and a cape.
"No one gets hurt on my watch."