Halloween was a ridiculous day in which Americans yet again stole something from someone else and changed it until it was almost unrecognizable. But Harriet didn’t care because candy was good and Lani made the cutest Pebbles the world had ever seen. Sure her hair wasn’t red, but she looked perfect.
Harriet had forgotten how fun it was to wander around at night in weird costumes, banging on people’s doors and demanding candy. People fawned over Lani and gave her lots of candy which Andrew and Harriet were eating as they went, though with Quinn’s sticky fingers there wasn’t likely to be any candy left by the time they got home. He was trailing behind them dressed like Dino. Andrew admittedly looked pretty stupid in his Fred costume, but apparently Andrew thought she looked sexy as Wilma.
They’d gotten over their fight from last month and Andrew had started feeling better. They’d given Lani to Em a couple weekends ago and spent some time alone together for the first time in months. They got home after dropping her off and fell right into bed together…and took a long nap. That had almost felt better than the sex that came later. Harriet had gotten her tubes tied finally and put herself back on the pill just in case. Andrew still didn’t know that she hadn’t been on it before and she decided he really didn’t need to know. It made her sad to know that this was it, but they had Lani and that’s all they really needed.
“Should we head back now?” Andrew asked. “The bigger kids are starting to come out now.”
“A couple more?” Quinn asked. He gave them big puppy-dog eyes and then smiled a bit when Harriet shrugged and Andrew rolled his eyes but said nothing.
Quinn was doing well too for the first time in a long time. Really good actually. He’d been staying overnight at their house for a couple days now and it had been fun. They’d made cookies and Lani got frosting in her hair. They’d gone for lots of walks and went to the drive-in and even took Quinn skating though he was now covered in bruises. Harriet knew he’d have to go back to his home at Marie’s soon, but they were having fun just hanging out. She missed doing normal stuff like that.
“How about we go for pizza after this next house?” Harriet asked. “I heard the one down on Main is still open tonight.”
They all agreed and quickly found the next house with a porch light on. Quinn took the candy bucket and held the handle in his mouth while Andrew put Lani up on his shoulders. It made Harriet’s chest tight with fear to have her up so high, but Quinn had a tight hold on her legs and Lani was clutching his hair and drooling a little bit. Harriet stood right behind, just in case, as Andrew rang the doorbell. They waited a moment before they heard footsteps and a young woman with a round belly opened the door with a bowl of candy in one hand.
“Trick-or-treat.” Andrew and Harriet said together and Lani just opened her mouth and gurgled. The lady laughed at the sight of Pebbles on Dino’s shoulders and put a few pieces of candy in the bucket that Quinn held with his mouth.
“She’s so cute.” The lady said to them, talking about Lani who was now sucking on her fingers which were sticky with the baby lollipop they’d let her have earlier. “I can’t wait to dress mine up.”
“Boy or girl?” Harriet asked.
“Boy, just found out yesterday.” The woman smiled with that kind of internal glow that mother’s always got. Harriet almost envied her.
“Congratulations.” Harriet told her. “And good luck. Boys are a handful.”
The woman laughed and waved them goodbye. Harriet felt her shoulders droop as they made their way back to the sidewalk. She knew she was being stupid. The pain, both physically and emotionally, that she’d gone through with Lani was enough to make her swear to never even try again. But still. Andrew seemed to read her mind and when she looked up he was smiling at her, though a bit sadly. She huffed a sigh and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
“Don’t cry Wilma.” He said in a pathetic Fred Flintstone voice.
Harriet snorted and shook her head. “I’m not crying. Who’s ready for pizza?”
“Me!” Quinn shouted and turned in a couple circles with Lani still on his shoulders. “Superior too.”
Harriet almost stepped forward, but Andrew held her tight. Lani was laughing with her mouth open and a big puddle of drool was falling onto Quinn’s head but he didn’t seem to mind or even notice. He loved his niece and they always spent hours playing together. Quinn was Lani’s favorite person on the planet which was slightly insulting, but at least he could preoccupy her long enough for Andrew and Harriet to nap or do whatever else it was they felt like doing. He couldn’t do diapers though and spit up scares him, so at least Harriet was somewhat needed.
It was a bit of a walk back to the hill where they now lived, their house sprawling at the top like a castle. Harriet had spent a BIT more than she’d intended, but it was worth it. This was their forever home, wasn’t it? One to pass down through the generations like the Hampton house? It would go to Lani and then her kids and their kids. Harriet wondered for the millionth time what Lani would be. Doctor, lawyer, dentist? Business person like Andrew, a painter like Quinn? She was too young to have any skills or particular talents other than walking a tad but early. She’d taken her first official steps just days after her ginger incident and was moving quickly to running.
Still, Harriet couldn’t help but day dream about all the things they’d do together as a family.
Andrew had been without pizza for too long. Sure it wasn’t the same quality as the pizza from the Wharf, but it was greasy with lots of cheese and that was all that mattered. Quinn got his own pizza because he was the skinniest fat@ss Andrew knew and had four pieces down by the time Andrew started on his second. Harriet was tearing pinkie-nail size pieces of cheese off her pizza for Lani who was fussing in her booster seat. She’d already dropped a couple pieces onto her bare belly and was covered in sauce, the exact reason they’d taken off her green, leopard print shirt.
There were a few other families here and there, but for the most part the place was empty, everyone off collecting candy. Andrew and Quinn were people watching as they ate, something they hadn’t done in a while. There was an elderly couple in one of the booths in the corner who had a tiny artichoke pizza and were speaking quietly. At a tall table were four teenagers who had the “too-cool-for-free-candy” look about them. They had a vegetarian pizza and one girl was dressed in a crop top and tube skirt like it wasn’t fifty degrees outside and the other had way too much denim. The boys…well, boys don’t know anything anyway.
In the other booth was a blonde woman and a middle-easternish looking man with a boy in a Hulk costume and a little boy with almost white hair who was dressed as Mickey Mouse. They had a meat pizza. Yeah, Andrew was seriously regretting not paying the extra fifty cense for the bacon topping. White-haired Mickey was drifting off to sleep in his chair unlike Lani who looked wired. Her hair had fallen out of its ponytail on top of her head, but it was still standing up straight. Poor kid.
They talked about random little things like how there was a single accidental slice of salami on the pizza, and they talked about big things like the deaths of Princess Diana and, the admittedly less important, but still sad murder of Gianni Versace. Lani signed with Harriet about how she wanted more food and Andrew stared because having an eight month old speaking (sort of) understandable sentences was strange.
It was a lazy night, happy and slow. When they got home Andrew threw Lani in the bath and then to bed where she fell asleep almost immediately. Quinn spent some time in the office reading until Andrew sent him up to take his meds and go to bed which he did with only minor protest. Andrew was yawning when he finally crawled into bed beside Harriet where she was already sitting up reading.
“Look what I saved,” Andrew told her and grabbed a couple Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups out his side table drawer. “I had to snatch them before Quinn ate them all.”
Harriet put her book down and grabbed them both only to give one back after Andrew stuck out his bottom lip. He unwrapped it and they clinked them together like wine glasses. Andrew stuffed the whole thing in his mouth and worked at chewing while not choking. Harriet nibbled at the edges until she was left with only the chocolate and peanut butter center. She held her hand out to him and he put the wrapper in her palm where she threw them into the trashcan on her side of the bed.
“This was a fun night.” Harriet said and traced a finger down his bare chest. “And there’s still time for fun.”
Andrew smiled and kissed her. The candy reminded him of the way she used to taste when she ate chocolate chip and peanut butter pancakes almost every morning back a million years ago. He brushed his hand over her breast and she pushed closer to him. They kissed until Andrew had to pull away, breathless.
“I have to get some sleep,” He said, but he wasn’t able to convince even himself. “I promised I’d be at work early tomorrow and you have to go to…”
Harriet grinned and slithered under the blankets, her book falling to the floor. Andrew grunted and laughed as she began to pull hos pajama pants down. His breath became heavy and his head flopped back against the pillows. Everything was warm and he could feel his own heart beat and Harriet’s warm breath and…
Well, uh…coming back from that ending, the first chapter of the other book I mentioned is up. It’s called The Harkener’s Lair and as I said is a spinoff of a different book series that I won’t put up because I don’t want it to get stollen. Even putting this up makes me nervous, but it’s up nonetheless