Obscene Gestures

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Chapter 20

Sunday. BBQ day at the Dakiedes residence. The brothers who were still in town were there, pulling their usual antics and sibling rivalry. Both teams had been invited. Damon did that on purpose to give the players the chance to get to know each other off the ice. Karina brought her boys, Jax and Roan. The twins were in hockey heaven, talking the ears off anyone who would listen. Apollo was standing next to the grill, his arm around Tess, laughing at his brother Julian’s hijinks. His phone buzzed in his pocket. Kissing Tess on the temple, he made his way to the front door. Throwing it open, he greeted the Cliftons with a broad smile.

“Come on in! I’m so glad you guys made it.” Shaking his head, Jasper grunted.

“Man, this ain’t a house. It’s a friggin’ country!” Laughing, Apollo guided them to the backyard. Jordan and Jake were speechless when they saw the players.

“Oh. My. God….DAD!!” Jordan exclaimed. “There’s Max Sidorov! A-and Nikolai Volkov! Dude! It’s Blake Reinholdt!” Jasper let out a low whistle as he took in his surroundings. Celia smiled but she seemed a bit put off by the crowd.

“Come on, I’ll introduce you guys.” Celia bit her lip, hanging back.

“Apollo I don’t know,” she muttered. “We don’t belong here. This is too much. I mean, I figured you had money but this is…wow.”

“Of course you belong here, Celia. All of you do. I told you. There’s no social class here. We don’t care where you live or how much money you make. You’re good people. That’s all that matters.” Jasper gave his wife a tender kiss on her temple, putting his beefy arm around her shoulders.

“Come on, babe. Let’s show these rich people how to party Franklin Park style.” Celia giggled and wrapped her arm around Jasper’s waist. Jordan and Jake had already made a bee line for Blake and were currently embroiled in a heavy conversation about hockey. Getting the Cliftons a beer, Apollo led them over to Tess and his father.

“Holy shit, it’s the Destroyer,” Jasper laughed. “Man I never thought I’d be in the same room with you, much less having a beer in your backyard.” Damon threw his head back and laughed. He shook Jasper’s hand and slid into easy conversation. Apollo knew Jasper would get along with his dad. Damon was as down to earth as Jasper and both were good fathers. Listening in, they were currently swapping stories about raising boys.

“Apollo tells me you build furniture,” Damon said, taking a pull off his beer. Jasper nodded his head and gave him a quick synopsis of his hobby.

“It’s a damn shame it don’t pay the bills,” Jasper sighed. “But once I get the rugrats raised, I might can do something with it. At least enough where Celia doesn’t have to work so hard anymore.”

“Oh hell no, babe,” Celia huffed. “We’re a team. If you don’t get to retire, then neither do I.” She turned to Damon, a hand on her hip. “He’s always been a hands on kind of guy, in case you haven’t figured that out by the lumberjack look. I really wish he could make a good living doing what he loves.”

“I’d love to see some of your pieces, if you don’t mind showing me sometime.” Jasper’s eyes went wide.

“Uh, yeah sure. You’re welcome anytime. I’d be glad to show you.”

“Here Pop. Take a look at these pictures.” Apollo shoved his phone in Damon’s hand. Damon flipped through the pictures, his eyebrows raised.

“Wow, man these are beautiful. You made all these?” Jasper nodded. “The workmanship is incredible. All I can do is spin a puck around a circle of ice. This takes real talent.” Jasper guffawed, holding his stomach in mirth.

“That puck spinning set you up for life, man so don’t belittle your accomplishments. You’re a legend, a household name. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. Not everyone can spin a puck. I sure couldn’t, despite my size. I could skate and I was decent on defense but nowhere close to your caliber. So we both got talents. They are just as impressive because we are the shit.” Damon laughed again, handing Jasper a fresh beer.

“I like you, Jasper. You remind me a lot of my father. He would have liked you. He was a tradesman to his core, loved nothing better than working with his hands. He worked three jobs to pay for me to play hockey. Drove Mom nuts. He refused to let her get a job. So, she did what every obedient Greek wife would do.”

“Let me guess,” Celia giggled. “She did it anyway.”

“She did. I remember the arguments they would get into. Me and Dom would do our best not to laugh but it was hard. Pop never could keep her on a leash but she sure had his short.”

“You have to watch out for Yia Yia,” Apollo chuckled. “She’s totally old school and pretty slick for an old lady. She’s still trying to get into my sister’s house so she can roll a fat baby on her bed. She’s dying for Meda to have a baby.”

“Why in the world would she do that?” Celia asked.

“If you roll a fat baby on a marriage bed, it’s supposed to guarantee the bride will get knocked up. She rolled my cousins Stella and my brother Julian on my parents’ bed and voila! Mom got pregnant with twins.” Celia burst out laughing at the image of a short little round grandmother type woman rolling two fat giggling babies all over a bed.

“Oh that’s priceless! She sounds wonderful!” The group talked a bit more, Tess just hanging back and listening. Today was her day to relax. Finally, Celia turned to her with unshed tears in her eyes.

“Tess I have to thank you for what you’ve done for my boys. I know I’ve said it before but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Jordan is doing well in school now and Jake is no longer failing. They don’t argue as much and they aren’t getting in trouble. I don’t worry about them so much now, thanks to you. Add Apollo to that mix and this mother is beside herself with gratitude.” Tess smiled and hugged Celia tight.

“Oh honey you don’t owe me anything. Your boys are amazing and I’m just the lucky girl who got to meet them. They are really special, so sweet and loving. I am so glad I’m in a position I can give them an option, you know? Besides, once I took one look into those big blue eyes, I was a goner. Gonna have you some real heartbreakers on your hands, girl!” Celia giggled as Jasper groaned.

“Damn woman they are already girl crazy,” Jasper said. “Jake is ten. TEN! And he’s already talking about sweet honeys and romancing the ladies. Jordan has a new girlfriend just about every week. It’s insane. I mean, when I was their age I was still trying to figure out how to burp the damn alphabet.”

“So, did you ever learn? To burp the alphabet?” Tess was trying her best not to laugh but she was fast losing the battle. The thought of this big brutish looking man doing something so childish was almost more than she could handle.

“Hell yeah I did,” Jasper laughed. “Then I learned to burp Bohemian Rhapsody with my buddies.” That was all it took. Tess burst out in belly laughs, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Oh my God!” she squealed. “That’s epic!”

“Dude, now that I have to hear,” Apollo was laughing. Jasper shrugged his big shoulders, a lopsided grin on his face.

“So, when you gonna dump pretty boy here and get with a real man?” Jake’s voice broke through the laughter. He had snuck up beside Tess, a lopsided grin on his face matching his father’s.

“Ouch!” Apollo clutched his heart. “Whatever happened to the bro code, little man?” Jake rolled his eyes and wrapped his skinny arm around Tess’s waist.

“That was before Tess, bro. I mean, have you seen her?? She’s a smokin’ babe! Besides, I got a thing for older women.” Jake winked at Tess, causing her to dissolve in laughter again. She hugged the little cutie because how could she not? He was just too adorable.

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