Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Fourteen:

Joey Grace (Morning of September 9, 1983)

A few days ago, Liv told me to step up and take some disciplinary action with Addie. However, I’m finding it a lot easier said than done to play bad cop. I can see why Liv hates it so much now. Anytime I try to tell her not to do something, I see those sweet, puppy-dog eyes begin to tear up, and the sense of guilt cascades over my entire body.

For example, last night, while Liv was out, getting drunk with girls, Addie had asked if she could have a molasses cookie before dinner. It was as if I was physically incapable of saying the word, “no.” Therefore, Addie had gotten her way and had gotten me into even more trouble with her mother, the following morning.

“But you let me have one last night,” Addie whined after I had refused to give her a cookie today, before breakfast.

“What is she talking about?” Liv asked, rubbing her temples. I wasn’t quite sure if that was because of her hangover, or if she was genuinely just that tired of my bullshit.

“I may have given her one before dinner,” I regretfully confessed.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Liv said, infuriated.

“Language Liv!” I raised my voice at her. “I realize that you’re angry with me, but please, not in front of the little angel.”

“Little angel? Do you hear yourself right now? How could you possibly be that delusional?” Liv then laughed hysterically, in my face. “This little brat of ours has been picking fights at school with both her teacher and classmates. It’s only the first week, Joe. We need to take charge. She needs to learn the word, ‘no’ from someone other than just me.”

“Liv, I’m trying, really, I am,” I explained.

“But you can’t,” Liv sighed. “I don’t know if this will work if you can’t pull it together.”

“Don’t know if what will work out?” I asked, afraid of what her answer might end up being. “Liv, what are you saying?”

“Don’t make me spell it out for you,” Liv said, bowing her head, staring at the tiled floor.

“Liv, please,” I uttered softly, choking on each word as they left my mouth.

“Addie, Sweetheart, would you mind going to your room for a bit? Your dad and I need to have a talk, alone,” Liv told Addie, who had been sitting at the kitchen table, minding her own while coloring a picture.

“Did I do something wrong?” Addie asked, looking up at her mom with her precious and innocent-looking face.

“No, not necessarily. It’s more so something Daddy did,” Liv, for once, in all the years we’ve had Adeline, sounded like a caring and nurturing mother.

“Is Daddy in trouble?” Addie asked, now looking directly at me.

“No, Sweetie, we just have some things to discuss,” I explained, trying to ease her concern. “I’ll be alright, now go up to your room. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Addie did as I had asked and left the room. Olivia then told me about how she was planning on taking Addie to her mother’s this upcoming weekend. I started seeing nothing but red. What came out of my mouth next had been a complete blur.

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