I settled down on the couch next to Arizona, wondering what I could do to lift her spirit. Her eyes lingered on me for a brief moment before dropping to the floor.
“Is he your dad?” I asked her softly.
She shook her head and lowly replied. “No.”
Oh thank God!
A huff of relieved breath sailed out of my mouth. But seriously though, I don’t wanna go through another painful heartbreak of finding a super hot guy that I’d just known with a daughter. It just hurts too much. Like when I first joined wattpad and came to know of this screaming hot Brazilian model called Francisco Lachowski only to find him with a wife and a son? Now two. I tossed and turned in my bed. God! I will never get over the pain.
And just so I know, it was going to be harder for me this time since I had also actually met this super hot, exotic looking, tan skinned PuddinPants in person.
“Oh. So, your mommy’s at work?”
Arizona slowly shook her head again as she stopped fiddling with her bunny’s ears.
“I don’t have a mommy,” she returned in the faintest voice while her big green eyes looked up at me.
No shit, Sophia.
My eyes squeezed shut and my teeth sunk into my lower lip at having asked a question I shouldn’t have asked at all.
“Sorry, ” I returned in a timid tone.
What now, Sophia?
This was harder than I thought. I’d never felt so nervous and awkward in front of a child before. Blame in on the way PuddinPants had threatened me of firing me.
“You have a very nice dress!” I complimented at the sleeveless light blue dress she was wearing with daisies printed on it.
And for the first time, Arizona smiled up at me. “It’s my new favorite. I love daisies.”
“Haa!” I gasped softly with my eyes brightening up with a wondrous smile. “You do? I do too?!” I lied.
Although I don’t hate them either. I just wasn’t the kind of girl who was that interested in flowers. I liked trees more. But anyway, I had to find or make common grounds to bond with Arizona.
“I would very much like to wear the same dress! Where did you get it?”
“I think it was last week when I went to the mall with August and Ro. I saw this dress at this pretty store. And then, I told August that I liked it a lot and then he bought it for me.” She smiled again over the daisies on her dress after speaking so softly like she was narrating a bedtime story to me.
“You are so lucky to find this dress. I have never seen something so nice. Guess only special girls get to wear them!” I beamed at her and she silently beamed back.
“Let’s see how many daisies you have.” I suggested and pulling on the side of her dress, we slowly began to count them together one by one. She could pretty count well.
“Eighteen. Nineteen. . .”
Once in a while, I lightly poked her in her stomach and she would laugh at how it tickled her. From then onwards, it went pretty easy for me to deal with her. She would hit me with one story after the other about daisies, her favorite dresses, where she bought them and how she found them. No doubt there that we belong in the same squad. Storytellers.
Twenty minutes later, we had kicked off our shoes and were sitting crossed leg on the couch waist deep listening to her stories. From upstairs, we heard the so-called Romeo come downstairs.
Radha on the dance floor
Radha likes to party
Radha likes to move that desi Radha body
He came down bobbing his head to the song. He was a young boy of fourteen, 5′7 feet tall - same height with me - with messy beach curls. Arizona and I watched him for a while as he danced down the steps. I smiled as I watched him dance off earnestly to his own singing. He had such a sunny aura about him and his brown eyes twinkled with a sort of light seemingly reflecting the radiance of his personality.
When he landed at the floor with a neat twirl on his heels, he called out to me. “Welcome to the castle, Miss Decent.”
“So, it’s you. MisterPuddinPants.”
“In this house, you can call me ‘The King’.” He said as he came towards us grandly and confidently. “But that’s only. . . when my brother isn’t home.” He shrugged passively and jumped into a single couch. “Go on with what you were doing. My job today is to assess your performance and see if you are eligible to further continue with this work as the Royal Babysitter cum Royal tutor to our highness, Princess Arizona de la chop chop Daisyqueen.” And then he winked over at Arizona with a mischievous smile on his face.
“You know I actually thought your brother was PuddinPants and I even called him. . . that.” I told him.
“August?!” He grinned at me amusedly.
He laughed loudly. “He’s not PuddinPants, of course. I can’t even imagine.”
“He seems pretty cool when I called him PuddinPants.”
“Yeah. After all it’s not like he has never had a funny name.”
“What does he have?”
“I don’t know if he still uses this account but, he had an email address that went like this - email@example.com.”
Pulling my eyebrows together, I garbled and broke out laughing. He didn’t seem like that type of a person to me it was funny to even think of it.
“He made it when he was in sixth grade I think. Don’t tell him I told you.”
Arizona slid down from the couch and went over to him. Romeo picked her up on his lap and kissed her on her cheek as she leaned into his arms the way she did with the elder brother. Strings of delighted laughter escaped from her as he hugged her tight and pretended to bite of her ear. I watched them play with each other for while with a smile plastered on my face. They were just too adorable.
“So, where did he go? Work?”
“Yeah. He goes to the gym. He’ll train some people, he’ll train himself, swim some, then come back. . . and that’s some.” Romeo nodded thoughtfully.
“Oh. A fitness freak.” I nodded too.
“Yeah. Sort of. But he does it mostly for us. I mean. . . that’s how he earns. He fights in the ring. He’s pretty good.” Romeo’s face lit up, pride for his brother gleaming brightly in his eyes.
“Wow.” I breathed, impressed.
“Yeah. It’s just the three of us in this family if you’re curious. August, Princess and me. August is our parent.”
To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. To learn that their brother was looking after them was beyond amazing and heart-warming. The fact just smitten me inside out. Who would have thought that someone who looked that frightening on the outside could be a family guy who lives each day for his siblings. We never know.
“I bet he’s a great parent.” I smiled with a completely smitten heart.
“He’s the best.” Romeo smile back. “Right, Princess?” He looked down on her.
“Yes.” Arizona moved her little head up and down.
“Three is a. . .” Romeo prompted.
“Happy number.” Arizona added right away.
“Small family is a. . .”
“Happy family!” Arizona returned with a little leap on Romeo’s lap.
“Awwwweeeee!!” I couldn’t help it. I awed out loudly. It was just too adorable to handle. I could swear I had melted to a puddle.
With each second I spent with them, I became more and more smitten and intrigued to know more about them. I wanted to hear their story and be more smitten, everything starting from their parents and their brother, his work to every little detail of their everyday life. Suddenly I was beyond glad that I had got this job. For some reason, I couldn’t be happier.
However, I didn’t ask for more than what Romeo had told me. I figured I’d get to know better in time and apparently, it wouldn’t be that comfortable for me to interrogate them about their parents on the first day of work, which was actually to babysit their Princess. But God, I am a curious soul.
Around six in the evening, I was wrapped up in Romeo’s furry bear suit with a play sword in my hand. Romeo was fighting me off with his own sword as a pirate captain, Captain Ringo, who is trying to protect the Princess of Chopchopland from the zombie-bear, which is me. Arizona was perched high up on his other arm, with a tiara on her head, and squeaking in fear and delight as I reached over for her and mocked swordsplay with Romeo.
Costumes, it was.
Grimacing and making different guttural noises to sound like a zombie, Romeo and I clashed our swords in the spacious area of the living room away from the couches. Romeo was chanting a lot of pirate slogans and slangs. While busy in the middle of the play, the door clicked open and in came the one I called Mr. PuddinPants. When we turned to look at him, he was standing there at the door, holding the doorknob and watching us curiously. Soon enough, he turned his face down and snorted before laughing out.
When he looked back at us after closing the door, his face was illuminated with his laughter, chuckling lowly without a care, and I could hardly stop staring at how good and happy he looked.
Arizona called from Romeo’s arm, “August!!”
Romeo set her down on the floor and she ran up to PuddinPants. He took her in his arms with a welcoming smile.
“Hey, Princess. You’ve been a good girl?”
Arizona nodded and whispered something in his ear again. PuddinPants returned in the same way. He seemed like her own father and I involuntarily sighed like some grandmother in fairytales.
He hung his key on a peg next to the door and came forward. I pushed back my bear hood and exhaled a heated breath. With the August heat and the furry suit, I was boiling underneath and close to passing out from the heat. He chuckled again when he looked at me.
Throwing his backpack down on a couch, he said to me with a small amused smirk, “You look hot.”
“Thank you very much. I am really hot. Literally.” I huffed as I zipped down the suit and stepped out of it, almost sweating.
“Come have a drink.” He offered as he walked towards the kitchen.
I followed and sank onto a stool at the island. He opened the refrigerator, pulled out a bottle of coca-cola and poured it into three glasses. He offered one to me, then called Romeo to come have a drink.
“Oh, this is great,” I breathed in relief after I gulp down the first sip, the chill washing my throat.
I had been so into the mood of the play I hadn’t realized I’d been this thirsty. PuddinPants set Arizona on one stool and gave her a bit of Apple juice mixed with plenty water on a pretty pink open-cup. He settled down next to her with one of his hand holding her to his side so she wouldn’t fall off.
I watched as he helped Arizona drink. When she set the cup down with a bit of mess around her lips, he carefully wiped them off with a tissue.
“You go to the University, don’t you? Coasuta.” He said suddenly, looking down at Arizona.
“Huh? Oh, yeah. How’d you know?” I replied. “Do you go there too?”
“Yeah. I saw you during the freshmen orientation. You’re a freshman, right?”
“I’ve started my third year.”
“Wow. I love everything about the cosmo but I don’t have the brain for it. I can’t even remember a single equation. Like, Physics is my doom.”
He just smiled and asked, “What’s yours?”
He nodded. “That’s great. It has a lot of scopes.”
I shrugged and sipped from my drink again. Romeo came into the kitchen singing again.
Radha on the dance floor
Radha likes to party
Radha likes to move that desi Radha body
I didn’t stay long after their brother returned home. He told me I could go earlier since he was back home.
At the door, Romeo said matter-of-factly, leaning onto the door frame next to his brother, “You got an A for today’s performance but, you can always improve. I can see the potential. Goodluck.”
I grinned at him. “Thank you very much! So happy to hear that. I’ll try my best. See you tomorrow.”
“Very well, then. Ciao, sister!”
I smiled, met his brother’s eyes once and walked back towards the bus stop. The sun hadn’t set yet and I could feel his brother’s eyes on me for a while. I felt good. At least I was quite certain he wasn’t going to fire me so soon.