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Author's Chapter Notes:
Sorry it's been so long. I hope you're all still with me, on this one.
Just as I predicted, the slumber party was given the green light and before I knew it, Baylee and I were back to the hotel, where I was staying. We had decided the pool was first, on our list of things to do, and wasted no time getting changed into our swimming trunks. For the first time, in two months, we had genuine smiles on our faces and the laugher to go with them. Once we got to the indoor pool, we found it deserted, and were immediately throwing ourselves into the deep end like we didn’t have a care, in the world.

“I bet a whole bag of Skittles that I can make a bigger splash than you!” Looking up to where Baylee was standing, at the edge of the deep end, I smiled. So he wanted to make bets, huh? Well, we’d see about that!

“Oh you are so on, little man! Your cannon ball has nothing on mine!” I lifted myself out of the pool and stood beside him. Setting my hand on his shoulder, I glanced down at him, and my mind started to wander some. My heart still broke for him, but tonight I couldn’t let that show…I wouldn’t. Tonight I had to put all my concerns, my worries, my heart ache aside and just focus on giving him a carefree night, to just be a little boy.

“Too bad you’re gonna LOSE!” His grin widened as he stepped back, several feet, before running across the warm tiles, launching himself into the air. I had to admit…the runt had some serious splashing skills! Oh yeah…me and Bri taught him well!

“Alright Bay…you better watch out now…cuz I’m the master splasher!” I stepped back as he swam to the side of the pool, watching me closely. Rubbing my hands together, I wiggled my butt just to make him laugh, and then I followed his previous actions throwing myself into the deep, warm water. Just before my feet lifted off the tile, though, I ‘accidentally’ slipped some, causing my cannon ball to be more of a pathetic belly flop.

“That was laaaaaaaaame!” Baylee was cracking up, shaking his head, knowing a little too well that he had won the bet. “You SO owe me a bag of Skittles, Uncle Nick!”

“Yeah,” Shaking the water from my hair and wiping my face, I gave him a defeated smile. “I guess I do, huh? I’ll get it for you after we eat our pizza ok? You know you can’t have junk before junk!” His mom always hated Baylee eating foods that weren’t healthy, and usually I do my best to respect that. I have had my own health problems, in the past, because of bad eating habits and unhealthy choices…I didn’t want to see him go through that too. Not to mention the heart problems he and his dad had in the past…I know junk food doesn’t cause a hole in your heart or Kawasaki disease…but in general, grease and stuff isn’t good for your heart and Baylee’s heart will always be a concern for me.

“Pizza isn’t really junk…is it? As long as you don’t have too much, it’s ok…right?” He was climbing back out of the pool, most likely so he could just jump right back in. Let me tell you one thing…I don’t know if it’s from Leighanne home schooling him or if he’s just naturally smart…but Baylee is a very intelligent kid. What eight year old knows junk is okay in moderation? At least I didn’t know it, when I was that age…then again, I was in my late 20’s before I learned that valuable lesson.

“Yes, pizza is junk, Bay…it’s got a lot of grease and stuff that isn’t healthy, for your body. But you are right…pizza and all other junk food is okay, to have…sometimes. As long as you don’t have too much, of it, it’s just fine.” I leaned my back against the wall, of the pool, propping my elbows up on the edge as I watched him jump back in the pool. It was nice to see his bubbly energy again. The poor boy had been so drained, ever since the accident, and his energetic personality had been pretty non-existant. Sure, it’s understandable that he wasn’t full of energy after what had happened, but I still missed it.

Another hour of goofing around, in the pool, and we were headed back up to my room, looking like shriveled up prunes. Prunes are gross, by the way. Once we got changed and hung up our wet swim trunks, in the bathroom, I ordered up our pepperoni and extra cheese pizza. Hanging up the phone I dropped to the floor beside him, leaning my back against the couch.

“Can we play some video games, while we wait?” Did he really need to ask that? Since when have I ever turned down that kind of offer? Of course we could!

“Sure Bay. Which one do you want to play? Mario?” That was another unneeded question, since I knew Mario was his favorite. He knew that I knew, too, because he just rolled his eyes and gave me that ‘duh’ look. “Mario cart it is then.”

It didn’t take long for me to get the game up, handing him a controller. Taking the spot right next to him, again, with my own controller in hand, we started up the game. We were racing around the tracks, expertly, for a good twenty minutes, before the knock on the door announced the arrival of our pizza. I don’t think either of us had ever hopped to our feet so fast, before, in our lives! We ran to the door and he took the pizza, while I paid. Just the smell was making my mouth water and once we opened that box, seeing all that cheese…oh man!

“Mmm! This looks sooo good, Uncle Nick! Can I have two slices? Please?” The moment he looked up at me, with those begging blue eyes, I was a goner.

“Sure thing Baylee. Tonight is a special night, and I think I’ll have two pieces too! So what should we watch, while we eat?” Grabbing us each a plate, I dug out my own pizza since I was letting Baylee help himself. I didn’t miss the fact that he took the two biggest slices, out of the whole pie, but, just like everything else, I was letting the rule on portion size fly out the window, too. One night of splurging wouldn’t hurt him any…well…he might get a bit of a stomach ache after the Skittles were gone, since we were having soda with our pizza…but hey, at least I got Sprite and Root Beer for our choices, and both are caffeine free….just allot of sugar.

“Hey, Uncle Nick?” Plopping on the couch, with his pizza, he picked up the remote and started to flip through the channels. “Can we, maybe, rent a movie or something?”

“I guess that depends on what movies we have to choose from.” After grabbing us some napkins, I took my seat beside him, letting him continue to look for something we wanted to watch.

“Hmm. Oh look…the Chipmunk movie is on!” There was that lopsided grin that he got from his dad. Anyone who was a sucker for Brian’s smile…would faint from Baylee’s. He’s got more charm than any of us…probably more than all of us guys put together. “It’s one of my favorites! Can we watch it?”

Letting out a long sigh, I tilted my head, to look at him. As soon as his grin started to fade, fearing I was going to say ‘no’, I smiled at him. “You’re in luck, Bay. It’s one of my favorite movies too! We are so gonna watch it!” His smile instantly returned, even bigger than before.

With that settled, we got comfortable and ate our pizza while we watched the movie. I have to admit that I watched him, more than the movie. Every once in a while his eyes would light up, like they always used to, and his smile would grow to its full size. You never really know how much you love those things about a child, until they are taken away. A young one’s smile and laughter…especially his…are able to light up any room and bring warmth into your heart; and you can’t help but smile when you see that special twinkle of the eye. It’s a very sad thing when you see those things fade from a child’s face. I knew, in this case, it was temporary. I just wished there was no need for it to fade, in the first place.