Mike settled back into the couch as he flipped the remote hoping to find a good tit show. He glanced at the clock noting it would be at least a half hour before Andrea came home from her date. Not finding anything interesting on the set, he threw the remote on the coffee table and picked up his cigarettes. He drew in a deep breath as he lit one and started hacking.
“Dammit,” he sputtered as he coughed a few more times. He grabbed his can of Pepsi to ease the burn and set it down when he realized it was empty. Shit that burned. Why shouldn’t it? This was my thirtieth cigarette today.I guess I better slow down if I want to live to twenty. Getting up, he went to the freezer and pulled a Pepsi out. Mike shivered as the coldness went down his throat soothing the burn away. He glanced at the fifth of rum sitting on the counter. No, I better not. His mind flipped through the faces of his uncles, each of which had died from drinking.
Stepping back into the living room, he glanced around and saw the cans and overfull ashtrays. Shit, Andrea will kick my ass if she sees this! He set his drink down and cleaned the room, taking time to wipe down the coffee table. He had just sat down when he heard David’s Corvette pull into the drive.
Well, here we go, I hope she doesn’t invite the asshole in. He heard the engine shut off and sat back and waited. After a few minutes, Mike got up and chanced a look out the window. He jerked as he saw her head lifting from David’s crotch as she wiped her mouth with a tissue. His eyes burned as he went back to his seat and rested his head in his palms.
Fuck, why do I set myself up for this shit? I KNOW I’m eighteen and she’s twenty six. I know she thinks I’m too young to take care of her and Ronny. Yet, I put myself through this time after time. Mike took a deep breath to steady himself He wiped his eyes and lit another smoke. He had just finished it when Andrea walked in. He pasted a grin on his face.
“Hey, did you have fun?”
“Yeah, we went dancing for awhile then went to Angelo’s for a few beers.” Andrea grimaced as she limped toward the couch.
“Oh, I shouldn’t have worn these heels. I think I pulled a muscle dancing.”
“Lay down on the floor and I’ll massage your legs for you.”
Mike could see the idea turning in Andrea’s mind.
“You wouldn’t try anything would you?”
He stared at her. “Really?”
Andrea dropped her eyes. “OK”
Mike helped her to the carpeted floor and grabbed a small pillow from a chair and placed it under her head. “Just relax, I’ll be back in a second. He got up and went to the kitchen. Rummaging through a drawer he found a small hand towel and dropped it in the sink. He turned on the water and adjusted it until it was lukewarm. Turning off the water he wrung the hand cloth out and walked back into the living room and sat by Andrea’s feet.
“What are you doing?”
Mike smiled at her. “Wait and see.” He pulled off one of her high heeled shoes.
“Shh. Just relax and let me pamper you a bit.”
Andrea sighed in resignation and closed her eyes. Mike pulled off her other shoe and washed her feet, massaging each through the wet cloth.
Andrea moaned. “That feels soo good.”
“I’m glad you like it.” When he finished he tapped her foot with his finger. “Turn over.”
“Do I have too?” Andrea groaned.
Mike set the cloth on the coffee table. “How’s your back?”
“It’s ok, It’s my legs that hurt.”
Mike took a slow deep breath as he realized his hands were trembling. Damn, her ass is fine. I wonder? Stop it! Just massage her legs. Andrea groaned as Mike began to work tension out of her legs. He did allow the edge of his hand to graze the bottom curve as he worked the knots out of her thighs. I wish she wasn’t wearing jeans. Who am I kidding? I wish she wasn’t wearing anything.
“How was Ronnie?”
Andrea’s voice snapped him out of his reverie.”Umm, he’s fine he went to sleep about twenty minutes after you left and got up once to use the bathroom.”
Andrea started to groan again as Mike massaged her calves. She jumped when Mike pressed his thumb into one.”Ouch!”
“Sorry.” He went back to the softer, rubbing he had been doing. After about 10 minutes he heard light snoring. He stopped and shook her shoulder.” Hey, sleepyhead let’s get you to bed.”
“Whaah? I’ve got to take you home.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
He helped her up and led her down the trailer’s dark hallway to her room. Mike flipped on the light and pulled down the covers. He turned around and almost shat himself. Andrea had shucked her jeans off and was standing there in her shirt and pink panties with her arms held out to him in a child like manner. “Hug?”
He stepped into her embrace and pulled her tight, feeling her lithe body conform to his. He closed his eyes and luxuriated in the sensation and inhaled the apple blossom scent of her hair
“You always know how to make me feel better.” She whispered. Andrea gave him a tight squeeze and ended the embrace. She stepped around him and crawled into her bed.
The sight of her ass showcased in sheer pink panties inflamed him. His erection pushing against his jeans sent a twinge of pain through him. Oh Shit! He turned to the side and grabbed the blanket and pulled it up on her. He turned the light off and leaned down and kissed her forehead.
“Goodnight.” Andrea said as she stifled a yawn.
Mike turned towards the door, “I love you.” he whispered as he walked out.
Andrea’s scream woke Mike. His shin slammed the oak coffee table as he jumped to his feet.”OW, shit!” Mike stumbled across the dark living room. He caught his balance as his head rocketed towards the wall. He scrambled down the hall and burst into Andrea’s bedroom. Andrea was closed in on her self and sobbing.
Mike sat on the bed and hugged her to himself. “What’s wrong?”
“G ... g ... eorge was hurting me.”
“Shh, shhh, George isn’t here. He’s not in your life anymore. You’re safe. I’ve got you.” He whispered.
Her crying softened, She nestled into him and laid her head on his shoulder. Andrea drew a ragged breath. “I’m scared will you stay with me?”
“Of course, here, lay back.”
Mike got under the blanket and pulled her close. “Go to sleep I’ve got you.” He stroked her hair as he listened to her breathing. Eventually, it slowed and deepened. She shifted position and put her leg across him and mumbled a moment before starting to snore. He lay awake and watched her sleep. How could anyone ever hurt her? She’s so beautiful. It was first light when he drifted off.
Somebody was shaking him.
“Mike wake up.”
He opened bleary eyes to see Andrea staring at him, her face contorted with anger.
“Why are you in bed with me?”
Mike pushed himself into a sitting position and stretched. “You had a nightmare and asked me to stay with you.”
Surprise and realization darted across her face as she blushed and face palmed herself. “Oh, I did. Didn’t I.”
Mike snickered at her. “Yep, I told you one day you’d invite me to your bed.”
Andrea smacked his arm. “Stop it. You have to get up before Ronnie sees us in here.”
Mike yawned and pointed at her. “You snore.”
“I most certainly do not!”
“Yes you do. In fact, I can see I’ll need to invest in earplugs.”
Andrea snorted “I don’t see why. You’ll never need them. Now, go get dressed and I’ll get Ronnie up and make breakfast.”
Mike was sitting at the table when Ronnie padded in carrying crayons and paper. “Will you color with me Mike?”
“Sure pardner”, Mike lifted the five year old into his lap, “We can color while Momma gets breakfast ready and then we’ll have to put it away, OK?”
“Why was momma crying last night?”
“She had a bad dream and it scared her.”
“I don’t like it when Momma cries.”
Mike hugged the little man. “I don’t like it either. That’s why we have to take good care of her.”
Ronnie got quiet and colored for a few minutes. He looked up at Mike. “Are you going to be my daddy?”
Mike gulped. “I don’t know. I’d like to be.”
“I’d like you to be too.”
“Boys, it’s almost time to eat.” Andrea called from the kitchen.
Mike tickled Ronnie “Okay, let’s put this up and help momma set the table.”
After breakfast, Andrea pulled out her IPAD. “Here Ronnie, Mike and I have to talk. Why don’t you take this to your room and play?”
“ALL RIGHT!” He grabbed it and zoomed away laughing.
Andrea went and poured a cup of coffee and grabbed another Coke for Mike.
She sat across from him, a serious look on her face.
“I heard your conversation with Ronnie. It isn’t fair to give him hope like that.”
Mike glanced at the table and turned his gaze to her. “Why not? I have hope.”
Andrea sighed,”MICHAEL! I’ve already told you that you’re too...”
“Stop.” He raised his hand, his voice hard as steel, “Do NOT talk to me like that. I am here anytime you need me. I treat you better than any of those “men”,” He made air quotes, “that you go out with. I have never spoken down to you or hit you. I love you and want to to be YOUR man AND Ronnie’s DAD. If you don’t want me fine. But don’t insult me.”
Andrea shrugged. “Mike, I’m not insulting you. The truth is you are eighteen years old and still in high school. How are you supposed to support a family in college?”
Mike started to speak.
“Don’t you dare tell me you’d not go to be with me! I would lose all respect for you and respect for myself if I let you do it. You have a bright future ahead and one day you will find a woman to share it with you. I’m not her.” Andrea folded her arms and sat back.
Mike lit a cigarette and stared at the table, watching smoke dance across it as he exhaled.
After a few moments he spoke. “I’m sorry if I raised my voice. You don’t understand. Yes, I’m starting college in the fall. I spoke with my academic counselor last week and he’s arranged for me to get an internship with Lloyd Technologies that I’ll start my second semester. I’ll work 20 hours a week and every summer until I graduate. It pays $20 grand a year and I’ll be making $40 grand a year starting when I graduate. I do have money or will in about six months.” He risked a glance at her. “Please, don’t shut me out.” He turned his face away as he felt a tear sliding down his cheek. “Please.”
“Mike, having a family is a heavy responsibility and I’m not sure you’re ready for it. How can I be sure you wouldn’t get tired of it and walk away?”
“My name’s not George.” Mike muttered.
“No, he is. You know the life I have. I work 30 hours a week for $200 and give all but thirty of it to my mom to pay bills with,” He held out his hand and pointed to a thin, red scar on the meat between his thumb and forefinger, “Do you know how I got that? Two years ago during that snowstorm our heat went out and I had to go into the woods to cut firewood. It was fourteen below and I didn’t have any gloves. My hand slipped and I cut it with the ax. I was bleeding kinda bad but I didn’t stop because my mother and sister needed me.” Mike tapped the table, “I’m not a quitter and I want in.”
Andrea frowned and shook her head. “Mike, it’s not happening. Please, can we drop it? I have to get Ronnie dressed so I can drive you home. I have some shopping to do before I pick dad up at the truck yard.”
He heard them again.”Mike, I think you need to take a break. Please don’t call me for awhile, at least a few weeks.” The first night, Mike took his mother’s Jack Daniels from its hiding place in her closet and drank himself senseless. She found him passed out on the living room floor when she came home from her “date”. Her and her “flavor of the night” boyfriend had carried him to his bed before continuing their party in her room. She reamed his ass the next morning, but he didn’t care.
The only thing that stopped him from binging was his dedication to school and work. When not busy with them he locked himself into the cocoon of his room. In the quiet darkness, he lay on his bed staring at the ceiling as her words stabbed him again and again. Only one other thought sat vigil with him. Why did I ever tell her?
Ringing from his cell phone woke him. He fumbled for and nearly dropped it before bringing it to his ear. “Uhh, hello?”, he mumbled. The only response was hard, racking coughs. “Hello?”
“Mike, I need you.”
“Ronnie and I are really sick,” she sobbed. “I can barely walk. I need help. You said you wouldn’t runaway if I let you in. If you can’t come now don’t ever come back.”
Mike jumped out of bed and threw his clothes on as he talked. “It’s gonna be alright. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Can you unlock the door for me?”
“OK, see you in a minute.”
Mike ran across the hall and pounded on his mother’s door. “MOM!”
“What do you want? It’s almost three in the morning?”
“Andrea’s sick. I need the car. Where’s the keys?”
“On the kitchen counter by my purse.”
Mike spun and darted into the kitchen. He flipped the lights and snatched the keys. He snagged his book bag from the kitchen table as an afterthought on the way out.
Mike walked into the trailer. Andrea was curled up in the leather recliner with her head on the arm. Vomit had fouled her sweats and the floor in front of her. He knelt beside the chair, careful to keep his knee out of the putrid mess. Her face was flushed and sweaty. She opened her eyes as his hand brushed her forehead.
“Baby girl, you’re burning up. Let me check on Ronnie and I’ll come back and help you.”
Mike found Ronnie burning with fever and his pajama bottoms soaked in piss. He stripped Ronnie and threw the bedclothes into the hamper along with the blanket.
“I know buddy, we’ll get you warmed up in a moment.” Mike picked up the feverish child, who fell back to sleep the moment his head hit Mike’s shoulder, and held him as he gathered clean night clothes from the boy’s dresser. Picking up a towel from the hall closet, he headed to the bathroom where he bathed Ronnie.
After the bath, he carried the boy to his Grandfather’s room where he grabbed a folded blanket from the foot of the bed and a pillow. He took his load into the living room and got Ronnie tucked in on the couch.
He turned to see Andrea peering at him with listless, blood shot eyes. “He’s OK. He had an accident so I had to clean him up.” Her only response was a minute nod of her head.
He stepped over to Andrea and grabbed her hands. “C’mon it’s your turn. She struggled to get up but couldn’t manage it. So Mike scooped her up and carried her to the bathroom and set her on the toilet.
She protested when his hands grabbed the hem of her sweatshirt.
“Shut up and raise your arms.” He worked the sweat shirt up her torso carefully as he tried to prevent more vomit from getting on her. Her bra soaked with sweat and vomit stunk so he pulled that off as well.
Andrea’s eyes widened. “Urgh, I’m gonna...”
Ronnie turned her head as vomit erupted from her and plastered the blue bathroom tiles above the tub. he gently rubbed her back until she finished. He snagged a pink washcloth from the shelf above the toilet and wet it in the sink. Using it, he washed her face and gave her a small hand bath.
Andrea gave a little nod as Mike dried her using hand towels. He grabbed some mouthwash and made her wash out her mouth.
He picked her up and carried her to her bedroom and got her under the covers before finding a teeshirt for her.
Holy Shit! What a mess. After a moment of taking stock he decided to start a load of wash. He gathered all of the soiled clothes and blankets and got the first load started. He checked on Ronnie, who was sound asleep, and went looking for Andrea’s cleaning bucket. It took almost twenty minutes of hard scrubbing to clean the living room carpet. The bathtub tiles and tub were much easier.
After he started the second laundry load he sat down in the recliner to rest a minute.
He woke to loud knocking on the front door. He opened his eyes to the morning sun filling the room. His watch read 8:17. He had slept about three hours. He rubbed his face, stood up and stretched. He opened the door to find his mother.
“I need the keys.” She held her hand out, “I expected you back last night.”
“Hi Mom.” Mike dug the keys out and dropped them into her hand. “Sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t get me to work. Give me five dollars. I had to pay Linda to bring me over.”
Mike pulled out a five and gave it to her. As soon as her hand closed around the bill she walked away.
He called after her. “I love you, too”
“Don’t be a smart ass.” She growled.
He sighed and went back inside. The next two days held to a simple formula: hand feed two sick people, help two sick people to the bathroom, refill the glasses of two sick people with juice or water. Mike borrowed Andrea’s car to go to the store for more supplies and smokes. When he was not busy he studied.
He started smoking outside, rather than expose them to it. The third morning, he checked on Andrea after stepping out for a smoke. Andrea was sitting up and resting against her pillows. Her hair was freshly brushed.
“Good Morning! I see you’re back. How are you feeling?”
“Weak, but a lot better. How’s Ronnie?”
Mike sat on the bed facing her, “About the same, He asked me for cereal this morning.”
Andrea smiled. “Thank you.”
Mike returned the smile.”No problem.”
Andrea gazed at her hands for a moment before looking at Mike again.”Why?”
Mike took her hand.”I told you. I love you and Ronnie and this is what love does. I told you I wouldn’t run when things are tough and I didn’t.”
Andrea pulled his hand to her face and rubbed the back of it with her cheek.”No, you didn’t.”
Mike’s heart skipped a beat. Andrea had never shown him such tenderness. He took a chance. “M.m.may I kiss you?”
Andrea’s eyes widened.”I’m still sick.”
“I’ve waited four years. I don’t care about the flu, besides by now, I either have it or I don’t.”
Andrea nodded her head.
Mike leaned forward and caressed her face with his free hand.
“Why are you trembling?”
Mike gulped, his face flushed. “I’ve never kissed a girl.” He whispered.
Andrea cracked a small smile as a look of surprise swept across her face. “What? Why?”
“Because there’s only one girl I’ve ever wanted to kiss and she wouldn’t let me.”
Andrea’s smile grew bigger and she seemed to glow from within. “C’mere.”
Mike went home the next day. Three days were spent making up hours on his job, school, and listening to his Mom bitch about his new girlfriend. Every night the last thing he did was to speak with Andrea. When it became possible to spend time together they took Ronnie to play in the park or cuddled while watching movies.
A few times, they lost track of the movie as cuddle sessions became “make out” sessions. Mike learned that blue balls had a whole new level of meaning. Andrea would not allow one article of clothing to come off of either of them, except their shoes.
One evening Andrea wore an old threadbare white T-shirt that clung to her small perfectly shaped breasts. He could see the dark quarter size circles of her aureoles through the thin material. Her hips held a gentle sway that promised so much as she came toward him.
They didn’t even pretend to watch the movie when they got to the couch. Andrea simply pulled him on top of her and began kissing him. As they kissed, Mike moved to pull up her shirt. Her hand gently covered his. “Unt uh”, She whispered. Mike pushed himself up and looked down at her. She pulled her other arm from around him, her thin fingers traced the contours of his face and lips.
“I know you’re frustrated. In a few days, Daddy will be home. He told me today that he wants to take Ronnie on his next run. They’ll be gone three whole weeks. I want our first time to be special. I promise we’ll do it.” She smiled as she slid his hand under her shirt. “Now, kiss me.”
Mike was sitting on the couch when he heard the distinct rumbling of Dave’s Corvette coming up the drive. He got up and looked out of the window. “Andrea, Dave’s here.”
“What’s he want?”
“I don’t know. He’s still outside.”
“Well, let him in. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Mike met Dave at the door and they went to the living room and made small talk while waiting for Andrea.They turned as Andrea walked in.
“Hey babe, what’s up?”