Seeing Leila’s excitement over getting to spend the day with her two best friends was a delight. Apparently, the three of them were full of energy and usually got along just fine, no complications. I arrived at Kimmy’s house–ready to pick her and Sarah up–and ended up speaking to both their mother’s.
“You must be Jessica? Lovely to meet you.”
The pair, it seemed, were desperate to meet me and insisted on inviting me in for a quick chat, leaving me with no choice but to abandon Spencer and Leila in the car.
“I better not leave them for long. Leila’s insisting on blasting her Disney soundtrack and whilst Spencer can’t see, his ears work just fine.”
Georgia–Kimmy’s Mum and Danielle–Sarah’s Mum both laughed, amused by my casualness towards the situation.
“We just wanted to say thanks for today. The girls have been so excited.”
“Oh, that’s no problem. I’m looking forward to it myself,” I replied, seeing both girls enter the living room with their swimming bags attached at their backs.
They both wore huge smiles, ready and raring to go.
“You be good today,” warned Danielle, offering the two a kiss on the cheek.
She encouraged both girls out the front door and I found myself following, though turned at the sound of my name being called by Georgia. I could tell by her tone that she was moments away from mentioning yesterday’s news appearance and I began to panic. Thankfully, the two expressed their need to give no fucks and even commended me on my bravery for putting down that one reporter who insisted on questioning my love for Spencer.
“Honestly, Jessica. The way you handled yourself was amazing. Good for you.”
“Thanks,” I said, truly meaning it.
I shot the two a smile and waved to them as I left the house, agreeing to their suggestion of wine, ice cream and no kids one night next month. Then, quickly, I positioned both girls in the back of my car, making sure everyone had their seatbelts buckled before I re-entered and pulled away.
“Are we all ready?” I asked, purposely introducing enthusiasm into my tone.
I received three enthusiastic head nods and a chorus of yeses, the loudest coming from Leila. Spencer simply laughed and twisted in his seat, offering all three girls his attention.
“Who do you think will make the biggest splash when they jump in the pool?” he questioned, starting a thorough discussion between the three friends.
Spencer and I had hired a private pool for an hour, figuring we’d be more settled in an environment like that. This was my first time looking after multiple children and I didn’t want to run the risk of losing one of them. Besides, Spencer had voiced his concerns over attending a public pool, stating the entire ordeal as hell on earth. In the end, I got in touch with a woman five miles away who kept an indoor, heated pool on her property. Her rates were reasonable and her reviews, great. In the end, I didn’t mind the extra cost if it meant Spencer and I were more comfortable.
“I think you’ll make the biggest splash, Spencer. You’re the biggest here!” stated Kimmy, giggling instantly.
Her chuckles set the other two off in their need to laugh and before I knew it, all three girls were in hysterics. The noise was welcoming and I soon found myself laughing alongside them, their joy being somewhat contagious.
“Right then, Kimmy! You’re getting thrown into the pool first,” stated Spencer, playfully threatening her.
Sarah and Leila giggled even louder.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing, Sarah…you’re second. Leila, you’ll be going in right after!”
All three kicked their legs; excited, amused and above all else, happy.
“Don’t worry, girls. We’ll push Spencer in before he gets the chance, won’t we?” I asked.
Sarah nodded her head, seemingly in agreement with my plan, followed shortly after by Kimmy and Leila’s approval. Spencer simply sighed, knowing full well he was outnumbered and turned back around in his seat, reaching for my thigh.
“Thanks for this,” he whispered, happy in the knowledge that all three girls were too reoccupied to overhear our conversation.
“No need to thank me. They seem like a great bunch.”
“They are,” he insisted, sneaking a smile towards what seemed like an intense conversation about pet dolphins.
“Georgia and Danielle asked me around for drinks sometime next month. They seem lovely,” I explained, slowing down for the sake of an approaching roundabout.
“They are. They were both kind to me after my operation. They offered to have Leila a lot.”
I smiled, liking the fact they provided aid in his time of need.
“They mentioned our news appearance,” I added.
He seemed amused. “Oh, yeah?”
I nodded and squeezed his hand, the one he still had resting on my thigh.
“Everything is going to be alright,” I told him, truly believing it.
He smiled, nodded then shot me a wink. “I know, baby. Everything will be just perfect.”
Kimmy did another cannonball into the pool, once again, soaking us all.
“Ten out of ten!” yelled Leila, treading water as though her life depended on it.
All three girls wore armbands and were most comfortable in the shallow end, where if they wanted, they could touch the ground with their feet.
“Nice splash, Kimmy. Let see if Sarah can top it?” goaded Spencer, starting up a competition of sorts.
The man looked nothing short of scrumptious in his navy blue trunks. All olive-skinned and smiles galore, I was one lucky woman.
“Okay!” squealed Sarah, climbing up the ladders and getting into position.
Together, we all counted down from three and watched as little Sarah jumped in.
“Another ten!” shouted Leila, ever so generous with her scores.
I liked that she encouraged her friends and offered them equal praise. Often, in a group of three, there was always one that seemed to get left out. Not with this lot.
“Excellent, Sarah!” beamed Spencer, turning his attention to his daughter. “Your turn, bambina.”
Leila flashed him a grin and got straight to it, barely waiting for our countdown before hurdling into the water. Her splash was fierce and loud, gaining a high ten from Kimmy and Sarah.
“TEN!” I yelled, clapping my hands. “Now, how about all three of you jump in at the same time? We have to get dried soon.”
They all pulled sad faces at my mentioning of the time but agreed nevertheless. As they got to it, Spencer leisurely swam towards me, pulling on my hips in a playful manner.
“Have I mentioned how sexy you feel today?”
“You haven’t, actually,” I teased, grabbing his waist. “Tell me now…”
“You feel sexy,” he shared, kissing my wet lips.
I smiled at his compliment and slyly squeezed his bum, making sure our audience couldn’t see.
“Shall we take the girls for some food after this? Swimming always makes me hungry.”
Spencer nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
Before I could so much as reply, the air filled with shrieks and water covered my face, taking me by surprise.
“Thirty points!” delighted Spencer, charging at them like a shark in the water.
I laughed at their reactions and took myself out of the pool, readying their towels. Eventually, when Spencer made them by pretending to eat their legs, all three girls exited the water and grabbed their towels, trotting off towards the direction of the changing rooms. Spencer took himself into the men’s cubical and I quickly set about drying myself off before helping the girls.
“Put your wet swimming costumes in this bag,” I instructed, holding out a plastic carrier.
Sam would kill me for having one of these in my possession but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
“Jessica, please could you help me dry my hair?” asked Kimmy, pointing towards her dripping ponytail.
“Of course,” I replied, unhooking the hairdryer off the wall.
Once I’d done all three heads, I told the girls to wait in the front lobby whilst I collected their belongs, making sure we left nothing behind. By the time I joined them, Spencer had them all entertained with stories of mermaids and various mythical sea creatures.
“Do mermaids exist?” asked Sarah, once we were all back inside the car.
There was a McDonalds not far from where we were and knowing how well those happy meals went down, I decided to take us there for lunch.
“Oh, absolutely,” replied Spencer, using enthusiasm. “They’re gorgeous things.”
“Have you seen one?” asked Kimmy, certainly intrigued.
“My daddy can’t see things,” explained Leila, resting her hand on Kimmy’s.
She turned suddenly red from embarrassment. “Oh. I’m sorry. I forgot.”
The fact that these girls saw Spencer as just any old person was nice. They didn’t think of him as limited in anyway. To them, he was just Spencer; Leila’s Dad.
“That’s okay, Kimmy. I used to see and I’ve certainly seen a mermaid before. That’s how I know they’re gorgeous.”
“What do they look like?” asked Sarah, completely bewitched.
“Well, the one I saw had bright red hair that tumbled all the way down her back. Her skin would shine brilliant white against the sun and her eyes–a fierce green–were the kindest eyes ever.”
All three mouths hung open as they looked to me, no doubt noticing the resemblance.
“Is Jess a mermaid, Daddy?”
“Shhh, you can’t tell anyone my secret,” I replied, winking in the rear view mirror.
Spencer smiled and turned around in his seat, allowing them each a moment to digest this information. Before long, a discussion regarding my true identity began.
“What have you started?” I whispered.
He simply shrugged. “I wish I could’ve seen their faces when the penny dropped.”
“They looked shocked, that’s for sure,” I informed, slowing down for the McDonalds entrance. “You up for a cheeseburger?” I asked.
He nodded. “Heck yeah. You’re right, swimming makes you hungry.”
“Have you worked up an appetite, Mr. Michaels?” I laughed.
He smirked. “So it would seem.”
I knew what that smirk meant.
“Later,” I promised, turning off the engine and facing the girls. “Right then! Who want’s cheeseburgers?”
I received three ecstatic faces in response, happy for their eagerness towards such a simple meal. Throw a free toy into anything and you’ve got yourself a marketing success.
“Can we get milkshake too?” asked Leila, ever so sweetly.
We each got out of the car, mindful of the many vehicles.
“Of course,” replied Spencer, holding her hand as a way to manoeuvre himself safely around the busy carpark
Inside, they each took a seat by the large windows whilst I went up to order, making sure everyone got their fair share of cheeseburgers and milkshakes. The happy meal toys went down a treat with the girls, their excited smiles making the trip completely worthwhile. I made sure I sat next to Spencer and brushed my foot against his leg as a way of letting him know I was nearby. Whenever he had a spare hand, he’d feel for my thigh beneath the table and squeeze down, conveying his true thoughts.
“Today has been the bestest!” declared Leila, waving her toy mid-air.
“Yes, it has!” agreed Kimmy, smiling wide.
Sarah nodded. “Can we go swimming again, please?”
Her politeness was adorable and I could do nothing but nod in the face of such kindness.
“Soon,” promised Spencer, smiling in her general direction.
With that, all three girls offered their utmost appreciation and guzzled up the rest of their milkshakes, enjoying the sensation of too much sugar and a brain freeze all in one combination. Their energy was contagious and before I knew it, I was slurping on my own straw, unbothered by the noise it was making. Spencer laughed at my actions and proceeded to squeeze down on my thigh, positioning his mouth closer to my ear.
“All I’m picturing is you sucking that hard on something else later.”
My eyes bulged as I almost choked on my drink, mindful of the innocent eyes looking my way. Spencer was outrageous for whispering such dirty thoughts in my ears with three young girls present. Then again, I loved outrageous. I craved it and if anything, I enjoyed the scandal of it.
“Just you wait, Spencer. Just you wait…”