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“Door’s open,” Matt shouted from the bedroom where he was getting Aidan dressed. It was the second Saturday that Seamus was babysitting so Matt could study. He’d gotten a small taste of freedom the weekend before and now he was practically giddy in anticipation. The joy of an uninterrupted study sesh outweighed any worries or guilt he held about not being at the café or the fact Seamus was once again babysitting.
Seamus leaned against the bedroom door with his hands in his pocket. He wore the same thing he always wore, really nice jeans and a plain t-shirt that hugged his body. Today it was plum purple with a gray, unzipped hoodie.
“Looks like you’re ready to study,” Seamus tilted his head toward the living room.
“Yes,” Matt said with a little too much enthusiasm. “It’s so good. I can’t thank you enough for taking Aidan. Part of me wants to tell you that you don’t need to do this for me but mostly I want to sit in my living room, study my notes, and re-read my books. So, I’m not gonna ask you if you’re sure about this because if you leave that kid here I’m going to cry.”
“I promise I won’t leave the kid here,” Seamus smiled. When Matt turned to grab the diaper bag, Seamus picked Aidan up off the bed. “Hey, Squishy Thighs,” Seamus cooed and squeezed said squishy thigh as he walked back to the living room.
Matt smiled. “We call him Aido-potato because he’s chunky like a sack of tatas.”
“Aido-potato,” Seamus repeated, trying the nickname on for size.
“He ate about thirty minutes ago. Everything else is in the bag. Feel free to bring him back whenever.”
“But not too soon.”
Matt laughed. “Yes, not too soon.”
Seamus strapped Aidan in the car seat then slung the backpack over his shoulder. He gave Matt a salute. “Have a good study session.”
* * * * *
Most people hated studying. Maybe having a kid helped keep things in perspective because Matt savored every moment. He smiled the entire time he studied tax law and math equations and business statistics. He couldn’t get enough. Even with hours of uninterrupted study time, it only felt like five minutes had passed when there was a rap on the door followed by Seamus announcing himself.
“Wow, I thought you were studying, not having a rager,” he said as he eyed the books and notes that were fanned over the living room couch and coffee table.
“You know what they say, ain’t no party like an accounting degree party.”
Seamus closed the door and set the backpack next to the sleeping baby who was still buckled into his car seat. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before,” he laughed. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be hungry from all the studying but I ordered pizza. It should be here—” he pointed at the door a second before there was a knock. Seamus signed for the pizza and Matt followed him into the kitchen.
Matt was impressed. “How’d you know?”
“I saw him pulling up when I closed the door.”
They dished up pizza and sat at the table. Matt should’ve felt weird that Seamus was staying for dinner but he didn’t. “What’d you guys do today?” he asked.
“We spent half the day at my loft and then he shadowed me at work for a while. Pretty low-key day.”
“At the coffee shop?”
“Nah, I have other sources of revenue.”
“Source of revenue. Sounds ominous. Did he go to a drug swap with you or something?”
Seamus stopped mid-bite and raised his brow. “Drug swap? Is that like a bake swap where everyone brings their drugs to the community center then trades their goods for someone else’s? If you come with an eighth, you leave with an eighth?”
Matt wiped his mouth and smiled. “I’m not down with the drug lingo.”
“Did you bring pizza just so you could make fun of me? Because if that’s what this is about, then you can go home,” he laughed and pointed to the door.
Seamus smiled. “We didn’t go to a drug swap, though I’m tempted. I have a couple other businesses. We went and checked them out.”
“How old are you?” Matt asked in surprise. “You can’t be over thirty and you have multiple businesses? That’s crazy.”
“That’s most people’s reaction when they learn that I’m twenty-nine with five fairly successful businesses.”
“Five? That’s incredible. I can’t imagine. How’d you get started?”
“It’s not anything I did, not really. I got married when I was nineteen. Kelly was older and owned two businesses. He died two years after we were married. He came from a wealthy family and they did everything they could to make sure I walked away with nothing. It didn’t work. I think Kelly had enough foresight to know what they’d do if given the chance. Everything was airtight and in my favor. So, I turned two businesses into five as a giant F-U to them.” He flashed his middle finger and smiled.
“You got married when you were nineteen?”
Seamus laughed. “That’s what you got out of everything I just said?”
“It stood out, yeah.” Matt leaned back in his chair and pushed his plate away. He’d eaten too much. “How much bahis siteleri older was he?”
“Thirty-five years older than you!” Matt shouted and almost fell out of his chair. The outburst woke Aidan and before Seamus could respond, Matt jumped up and grabbed the still sleepy-eyed babe. He sat down and rephrased his question with more composure. “So, he was thirty-five years older than you?” He didn’t want to offend Seamus just because he married someone who was—very old.
“No. God no,” Seamus laughed and placed the wadded napkin on the plate in front of him. “He was thirty-five. Not thirty-five years older. Though I’m sure more than a few people would argue that there wasn’t much difference.”
“There’s a difference. I can’t imagine taking a fifty-four-year-old dick,” Matt widened his eyes. “No offense.”
Seamus laughed again. It was the most relaxed Matt had ever seen him and it was nice. “Why would I be offended? I’m not fifty-four nor have I ever ‘taken a fifty-four-year-old dick’.”
“A thirty-five-year-old dick is still, eh,” Matt seesawed his hand good naturally.
“Hey, that’s gonna be me in a few years,” Seamus tried to be serious but failed. When they stopped laughing Seamus was watching Aidan. “He’s probably hungry. I’ll make a bottle.”
“Nah, I got it. You’ve had him all day.”
Matt got up and juggled Aidan in one hand while making a bottle in the other, then sat back down and began feeding him. They both watched Aidan in silence. His coordination was getting better and he was trying to grab everything in reach.
When he was done eating, they went into the living room and hung out while Aidan worked his little muscles on the floor. They talked a little, Seamus fed Aidan the next bottle, then he sat on the toilet seat while Matt gave Aidan a bath. Then it was time to put him down.
“Are you planning on moving into a two-bedroom?” Seamus asked from the bedroom door as Matt laid Aidan down for the night.
“And give up sharing this cramped room with an infant? Where I’m afraid to set an alarm in the morning just in case he decides to sleep in and I can’t even reach the dresser without crawling over the bed?”
Matt slowly shut the door behind him and they walked back to the living room.
“Yes, I dream of a bigger apartment. I have my name on the list here and at the Crestview Apartments the next block over. Not driving and also having a baby to carry around means I have to be picky about location. Close to work, close to school, and hopefully close to whatever daycare we end up in.”
“Have you thought about a house instead of an apartment?” He asked.
“Sure. But we don’t all own five and half businesses. My rent will increase when I go from a one-bedroom to two and a house will easily add three to five hundred a month.”
Seamus nodded; he knew Matt was right.
“Well,” Matt sat forward on the couch and rubbed his thighs. “I think I’m going to cram in a little more studying before bed. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Seamus seemed to realize he’d imposed on most of Matt’s evening and quickly got off the couch. “Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Matt locked the door when he left and smiled. He was glad Seamus had stuck around. Denise was right, not nearly as intimidating as he comes off to be. Spending time with Seamus that didn’t revolve around dropping Aidan off and picking Aidan up helped Matt not feel so bad about the situation. As far as he could tell, Seamus was enjoying himself. Who was Matt to rain on his parade?
* * * * *
On Monday, Seamus grabbed Aidan and told Matt they were off to a drug swap which earned him a solid glare. They came back an hour after shift ended. Matt was starting to think Seamus did it on purpose so he had time to study. Seamus’ far-reaching generosity was confusing but appreciated.
Regardless, Matt was happy. Now that he wasn’t commuting to Victoria’s house every day, he had a few minutes to spend on campus. Amazing how far a little nurturing goes in making a friendship flourish. People he hadn’t had time to get to know before were now saving him spots and waving him over between classes. He was even invited into a study group.
“You have to come to the football games if you want to go to football parties,” Kase told Hilary. “It’s a package deal. That goes for you too, Matt.”
“How’d I get dragged into this?”
“Because you want to meet Jay.”
“No,” I corrected. “You want me to meet Jay.”
Kase smirked. “No, you just don’t know you want to meet Jay.”
Matt didn’t bother responding. It was flattering but unlikely that anything would come of it.
“Well,” Hilary brought the attention back to herself. “The only thing I like about football is the players. The games are long and boring. But—” she drew the word out. “If Matt goes with me—” she stuck her lip out and tried to look sad. Matt wondered if it actually worked.
“I can’t guarantee how long I can stay. That will depend on Aidan,” he said, not because of Hilary and canlı bahis siteleri her puppy dog eyes. Matt was ready to get out there and experience a little bit of college.
“There’s a party after, you guys should come.”
“I’m in,” Hilary said with a pep in her step.
“Sorry. The football game is one thing but an after-party at a frat house with a baby? No way.”
“We get it, it just sucks.”
“Tell me about it,” Matt mumbled.
* * * * *
Friday night was the big game. Well, Matt didn’t know if it was a big game but it was his first college game and that was a big deal. He spent more money on collegiate merchandise from the store on campus than he did on tuition for the entire year. But seeing Aidan in his little sweatshirt was totally worth it.
Neither him or Hilary knew what was going on. They followed the crowd’s cheers and boos. Aidan was awake most of the time and was happy to get passed around, definitely boosting Matt’s popularity.
Kase tried to rope Hilary into getting Matt on the field after the game so he could introduce him to Jay. Turns out the field was too chaotic and the meet and greet didn’t work. Kase was upset, Matt was not.
“What did you think of your first big game?” Matt asked Aidan, who was laying on the bed. “Something you might want to do again?” Aidan shook the toy too hard and accidentally dropped it. Matt quickly handed it back. “Well, we’re going back because that tiny little hoodie you wore was the same price as mine. Don’t they know that college students are poor?” Aidan was smiling, kicking his legs and wailing his arms. “Man, you’re hyped up. I wish I had your energy.”
Matt took a minute to tickle his belly and pinch his thighs. Aidan was so cute with his giant dimples and button nose. His light brown hair was getting kind of long but not enough to cut it. Matt wasn’t sure what protocol was for that. Did you pay a professional? Take a buzzer? Do it himself?
“Next week is Thanksgiving break. I still work but we’re gonna go to Grandpa’s for a few days. How does that sound?”
Aidan squeaked and tried, unsuccessfully, to rollover. “Whoa there. I said we’re going to go. We still have a few days left yet.”
* * * * *
Seamus brought dinner again on Saturday. He was a lot more personable when they weren’t at work. Matt understood it. At work, Seamus was the owner. Outside of work, Seamus was—his babysitter? Nanny? Friend? Matt didn’t know or care enough to label it. If he had to pick something, a friend was mildly accurate.
There was no class the next week and Matt had an early shift on Wednesday. Neither he nor his dad were excited about Aidan taking a long bus ride so his dad picked them up. They spent the holiday with his grandparents, his uncle, and his uncles family, which made for a total of ten people. Everyone loved Aidan and no one mentioned, or cared, that Aidan was his mom’s son. They took it in stride.
Matt was positive his mom’s family would not have reacted the same. Another reason Matt had a hard time grieving the way he felt he should.
His dad took them back home in time for Matt to work his eleven-am shift on Saturday.
It had been a while since Seamus and Aidan hung around the cafe. Matt kind of liked it. The cafe was pretty quiet since most people were gone for the break and wouldn’t be back until Sunday.
“Did you have a good Thanksgiving?” Matt asked Seamus during a particularly dead period.
“It was alright. I didn’t do much. My family lives in Wisconsin.”
“Do you see them much?”
“Not really. They expect me to do all the traveling. They think because I have money that it’s my obligation. I also have several businesses. I can’t just up and leave.”
“Yeah you can,” Matt called him out. “If you have time to watch Aidan five days a week then you have time to visit your family.”
Seamus raised his hands. “Wow, okay, no need to shame me,” he smiled. “Yes, I could make it out there more if I wanted to but—I don’t know.”
“I get it. I feel that way about my mom or felt that way about her. I love her but I didn’t love spending time with her. It didn’t matter what she did, she drove me crazy,” he rubbed his face. “I know I shouldn’t say that about her but, god, she was annoying.”
“I’m a pot and you’re a kettle. You’ll hear no judgment from me.”
Matt handed Aidan to Seamus. “And that’s why you’re the best,” he hollered over his shoulder as he made his way to the front register to help the incoming customer.
“Welcome to the Coffee|Bar, what can I get you?”
Matt tried not to stare. The guy was tall. The six-and-a-half feet tall kind of tall. And built. Holy crap the guy was built. All muscle. Everywhere. That wasn’t normally Matt’s type but it could be. Matt could make an exception. People made exceptions all the time.
The tall, handsome man stuck out his hand. “I’m Jay.”
Matt reached out and shook his hand. “Kase’s friend! Yeah, hi. Kase mentioned you a few times.”
Jay canlı bahis laughed. “Yeah, I bet he has. Anyway, I thought I’d pop in, get something to drink, and meet you. Two birds, one stone.”
“Kase didn’t mention how romantic you were.”
“Yes, well I did take a Sexual Dimorphism and Mating class during sophomore year so I’m kind of an expert.”
“Oh my god,” Matt burst out laughing. “That’s awesome. What can I get you?”
He wasn’t sure what he expected or what he wanted but they talked a bit more before Jay left. They didn’t make any plans but Matt was pretty sure he’d see him again soon.
“You’re smiling,” Seamus said an hour later. Yeah, Matt hadn’t stopped smiling since Jay left.
“I’m always smiling.”
“Sure, but you’re really smiling. Wouldn’t have anything to do with that roadblock that came in earlier?”
Matt continued cleaning while Seamus stood in the way. “Roadblock, huh?” he laughed and Seamus stepped to the side. “You mean Jay?”
“If you say so.”
“Kase has been trying to introduce us. I think Jay came to size me up or see if he was interested.”
“Is he? Are you?”
Matt thought about it. “I don’t know. I guess it depends on what he’s looking for. He’s hot and funny. I bet he’d be fun to, you know, hook up with. But as far as dating goes, I don’t think I’m in any position for that. I can’t imagine some popular football player is looking to date someone that has a baby.”
“Where’s Aidan gonna be while you’re hooking up with random guys?”
Matt stopped cleaning. “I don’t know. With a sitter? It’s not like I’d take him with me.”
“I won’t watch him so you can go hook up with guys.”
Matt took a calming breath and faced him. “Did I ask you to? No. I didn’t even say I was going to. I was just talking. Let’s face it, this is just another thing I don’t get to do because my mom died and left me a baby. I know this. It doesn’t mean I can’t dream.”
Matt looked at the clock. Close enough. He went to the back and changed then grabbed Aidan’s stuff from the office. He tried not to storm around but it was hard. He was pissed…and hurt.
“Thanks for watching Aidan. I’ll see you Monday.”
Seamus was supposed to watch Aidan so Matt could study. “Nah,” Matt tried not to sound like an ass even though he wanted to. “I got it.”
* * * * *
They barely spoke Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. If Matt could’ve found someone else to watch his brother he would have. Instead, he kept his interactions with Seamus to a minimum.
Seamus had overstepped. It was ballsy of him to assume that Matt would ask him to babysit so he could go hook up with someone. It had never even crossed his mind. Hell, he barely wanted Seamus to watch Aidan during working hours, let alone personal ones. Mostly he was pissed that Seamus tried to make him feel guilty about it. That was a low blow.
He was off Thursday and Friday which was a nice relief because ignoring the person who was watching Aidan four days a week out of the goodness of their heart was really hard. How does he balance trying to appreciate someone’s generosity and kindness while not tolerating their disrespect? Matt didn’t have that answer.
By Friday afternoon he knew he had to let it go. He wasn’t even that mad anymore. Even if Seamus was being an asshole on purpose, which he didn’t think was the case, Matt made his own choices. If the opportunity arose where he could have a fun night while Aidan was tucked away safely somewhere, then he’d take it and not feel guilty.
* * * * *
“Good morning,” Matt said as he walked in the cafe. Aidan had spent all morning in a bad mood. He wanted nothing to do with his car seat which made the walk to work a long one. His damn arm was dead.
Seamus was waiting. His eyes tracked Matt. Matt knew his cheery demeanor wasn’t going unnoticed. He walked right up to Seamus and handed Aidan over like a peace offering. “He’s been in a mood all morning. He won’t let me put him down. I think he’s teething so I packed one of those frozen chew toys. No clue if it will work. His stool has been soft. I read it could be from the teething.”
Seamus watched Matt for a beat then turned his attention to Aidan, who was on the verge of crying.
“Hey potato brains. You got some chompers coming in?” He ran his finger along Aidan’s lower gums and then his upper gums. Aidan grabbed his hand and started chewing on his finger, drooling everywhere. “Yeah, I’d say you’re growing some chompers.” Seamus smiled then looked at Matt. “Since he’s not feeling well, I think we’ll stick around here. Did he sleep much last night?”
“If by not much you mean, was he awake more than he was asleep? Yes.”
Seamus looked like he wanted to say something, it was right there, Matt could see it in the way Seamus looked at him, but it never came. Instead, Seamus kissed Aidan’s cheek and walked to the back but not before Matt heard Seamus tell Aidan how much he missed him.
“I’m officially jealous,” Hilary declared. “I’m the one who appreciates how amazingly stunning he is yet you’re the one that gets to play house with him. Oh, our baby is not feeling well and has diarrhea, blah blah blah,” she mocked.
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