Short Story: Uncle Brodie
Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Rose and Conner were rolled up like tiny little rainbow-zebra-striped baby burritos, each in a bassinet parked beside the couch in Trent’s bright green living room. There was entirely too much color in here, especially with the snow bright wintry sunshine streaking through the large front windows.
“How can I tell which is which?” I asked Trent, nodding at the babies. “Both blankets are the same.”
“The one that fusses all the time is Conner. And also, if you get really desperate to know which is which, you can just wait for one of them to wet a diaper. It takes all of twenty minutes.” He smirked, the sunlight glinting on his blond hair. He had dark smudges under his eyes and a slight stoop to his shoulders that weren’t even this pronounced when he was waddling around pregnant.
“So, you’re going to the grocery store?” Nervously, I glanced at the sleeping babies. Rose—Or was that Conner?—snuffled and pursed her lips like she was dreaming about a bottle.
Trent rested a hand on my arm and I nearly jumped out of my skin. “And the bank. We want to take out a loan to do some fix-it things around the house this spring, so Law and I have to talk to the loan lady together. He wants a car port.” Trent muttered something under his breath about not needing anything that fancy, and I hid a smile behind a cough.
“And how long will all this take?”
He ran a hand up the back of his head and blew out a long breath, eyes closed. He opened them so slowly I thought about asking him if he needed to sit down. “If you don’t want to do it, I’ll just wait for Mom.”
That’s all I needed. Mom to start harping on how I gave up a good job and couldn’t even help my brother out while I looked for another one. “No, no it’s fine. If I’m only working at the bar on the weekends, I can do this. Besides, the little chipmunks are cute.”
Trent chuckled and gave me a hug. He was warm, and friendly in a way no one else on earth could be. I’d missed my brother while I was away. “You’ll have your own someday.”
“Nah. Not after Kit.” A real shudder shook me and he glared.
“What was wrong with him anyway?”
I opened my mouth to tell him and then the horror of Mom finding out stopped me. I pointed a finger into his surprised face and he narrowed in on it, going cross-eyed for a few seconds. “You promise on a stack of twelve-dozen perfectly good pancakes not to tell our dear mother?”
“Do I look that cruel?” He grinned and I rolled my eyes.
“I went away for work. This is when I was still working for the IRS.”
“God, don’t remind me. People like the talk about cops.”
“Anyway, I went away to Nebraska because there was a business there that hadn’t paid their taxes in three years and the local branch had requested help. I missed Kit’s heat that month, and I don’t think he ever forgave me.”
Trent’s mouth fell open and he winced. “Yikes.”
“Yeah. To make himself feel better, he ran up all my credit cards.”
“And punish you.”
Trent absently ran a hand over one of the bassinets, peeking in on the baby. “And then what?” He walked around and did the same to the other one, and I paused for a second, struck by what a good parent he was turning out to be. So careful. Was that the omega in him? Would I be able to do the same someday? “Brodie, and then what?” He fixed a curious look on me.
“Well, I paid them down once and he ran up every credit card I had, again, emptied our shared bank account, and flounced. All that took about a year.”
Trent let out a low whistle. “He dragged it out for that long? Cruel.”
“And you two… during that time? You know?” He winced and made a face.
“What are you twelve? Yeah, I was still on heat duty.”
“Wow. I… that’s crazy.”
Trent gave me a smug grin that made me want to sock him. “So Mom was right?”
“Mom doesn’t think anyone is good enough for us.”
“I know, she’s great, isn’t she?”
We laughed together, but now I just felt sad with the reminder of all the shit I’d lost and everything Trent was growing right before our eyes with his cute little family. He’d done the right thing, settled down here, worked hard. He had an alpha who was perfect for him because he’d waited until he found someone worth having instead of looking for Mr. Right Now. My annoying, perfectionist little brother had checked all the boxes, and now he had this homey little chunk of the world carved out for himself.
“So how much are you in for?”
He startled me back into the moment. Sunshine slanting in the windows glinted in his curious blue eyes.
“You don’t want to know.”
“Come on. Tell me.”
Holding up a hand I ticked off what I’d done with my fingers. “I liquidated some of my stocks and took a hit to take out some of my retirement money, worked two jobs until I moved back home to save money, tried to work a third job and started burning myself out, considered being an alpha for hire”—Trent choked on a snort and started coughing—“and still owe about fifteen grand.”
“What the fuck?”
“Shh….” He waved me off. “I’m trying not to swear in front of the seahorses.”
I laughed and shook my head. “They’re kind of small to repeat things, aren’t they?”
“For now,” he grumbled grimly.
“You better get going.” Trent nodded and kissed each baby, showed me again, compulsively, where the bottles and diapers and all the changing stuff was, and I nearly had to shove him out the front door.
Conner set up a huffing little wail the second Trent set foot out of the house, almost like he could sense his papa leaving, and Rose furrowed her tiny little blond brow, blinking her deep blue eyes open. I froze.
“Umm… You are my sunshine…” I started singing, but Conner cried louder. I glanced frantically toward the door, but Trent was already gone, so no way was he saving me. Carefully reaching in to pick up Conner, my heart thumped hard like I’d been running. This was the first time in my entire life that I’d ever been alone with a nugget the size of him and Rose. Cradling Conner, I frowned and rocked him. His little body was rigid with his upset. “Your papa said you were fed right before you came. So you can’t be hungry.”
He cried louder for a second and then wound down and pouted as I talked to him. With sad little whimpers, he snuggled closer. Rose let out a shrill bleat of protest, and I froze. What would I do if they both started crying? I rocked her bassinet with my foot and she shushed, but then Conner opened up with a real wail.
“How does Trent do this?”
Two hours later, I was done. Done with this whole baby business permanently and forever. I’d changed about a dozen diapers, given them both a bottle while the other cried pitifully, and we were laying on our stomachs on the floor for “tummy time”, whatever that was supposed to be. It seemed pointless because the kids were like little cute sacks of flower who could barely hold their heads up. I laid there between them while they stared, bug eyed and chubby at the brightly colored blanket I’d laid on the floor under them. Eventually they rested their little cheeks on the floor and stared at me. For a while I made faces at them, but then I shuffled back enough to see them both and rested my chin on the floor.
A gentle kick to my butt had me cracking an eye a while later, and I sat up with a jerk. The babies were gone. Trent cackling like an idiot had me sitting up completely to look around. He and Lawson were on the couch, each with a baby, and incredibly enough Conner and Rose were both eating another bottle.
“Don’t they ever stop? All they do is eat.”
“And poop.” Lawson added cheerfully. He only barely looked better than Trent did. “How was your first time babysitting twins?” His wry grin let me know he already knew the answer.
I twisted my neck around and it twinged from the weird angle I’d fallen asleep at. How long was I out?
“Painful,” I grumbled, and they both chuckled together, a warm look passing between Trent and Lawson that I definitely wasn’t jealous of. “Guess I’ll do it again sometime, though.”