Author Topic: Family Time  (Read 114 times)

Evan Lassiter

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Family Time
« on: September 20, 2020, 01:29:20 PM »
There is something uniquely peaceful about the end of the harvesting season; the calm week or two on the Brambles when there was nothing extra to do, before the storm that was pressing, storing, and packaging arrived. Even with a new baby on the property, officially adopted and growing like a weed, the harvest had gone off without a hitch. Now it was a case of just breathing in and preparing for the two weeks of absolute organized chaos that was looming. But it was times like this when Marin got to show off her skills with music to good effect, playing whatever instrument she fancied on any particular day to provide a welcome home for husband and son as they made their way back from the orchards together. Caleb would be back to school any day now, but he was determined to fill his time until then glued to his father's side.

There was nothing like an honest day's work to make a man hungry and longing for home. Thankfully, home was only a short walk from the orchard where Evan and Caleb had been working to prepare the trees for the coming winter. Even in winter, there was always something that needed doing on the farm. The work never stopped, but it was a good, honest way to make a living, and Evan was thankful for it. He ruffled the blond curls on his son's head as they stomped up the porch stairs, the sounds of Marin's music welcoming them home.

"You did good work today, Cal. Go wash up, and we'll have something to eat," he praised the boy, who beamed a proud smile back at his father.

The smell of Jodie's cooking greeted them as they entered, together with the sound of Jodie cackling along with Maggie, who was apparently helping with dinner tonight. In the main room, Marin was sitting at the piano, baby Jack propped on her lap as she played classical music from Earth.

It was soothing music, pretty music, happy music - the kind of music that made one feel good - just the kind of music that Evan needed after a hard day's work. It was Caleb who hurried over to greet his mother, flinging his arms around her neck and smooching her cheek, even as she continued to play.

"Oh!" A faintly discordant clang accompanied the unexpected tackle and kiss, Marin's quiet laughter covering the odd sound as she took one hand from the keyboard to hug her little boy fondly. "Look at you," she exclaimed affectionately. "You look like you've had a hard day's work!"

On her lap, Jack clapped his hands together, beaming at his big brother in delight.

"He's earned his keep," Evan remarked, with obvious paternal pride as he joined Caleb near the piano.

"We trimmed branches and raked leaves and did lots of other stuff!" Caleb told his mother, with a slight lisp they were confident he'd grow out of.

"Oh, goodness," Marin said through a bright smile. "You'll be running this place in next to no time, the speed you're learning all this!" She tilted her head back to offer Evan a softer smile of welcome, somehow managing not to laugh as Jack added an extremely wet raspberry to the greeting.

"Go on and get washed up, Cal. Dinner's almost ready," Evan urged the boy. No one had to tell him that. There was a routine in the house that everyone was aware of and abided by, or they'd answer to Jodie.

"'Kay, Papa!" Caleb replied, giving his mother another hug and tickling his brother before stomping off to find his hands for dinner. A shout of some sort went up in the kitchen as Jodie reminded the boy to take his shoes off. Like father, like son, after all.

"And how's my little man?" Evan said, rescuing Marin from her little bundle.

Jack went happily into Evan's arms, cuddling in with a burbling gabble of nonsense words and sounds from which only the words "papa" and "mama" were easily discernible. He was a little slow with his language development, but they had been warned he might be. There was no need to be too concerned just yet. Marin chuckled, carefully closing the lid of the piano and putting the sheet music away in the stool as she stood up.

"He's been an angel today," she told Evan. "Although it's time to get the baby gates out again - he got halfway up the stairs before I realized where he was earlier."

"That's my boy," Evan said, with a proud grin. It hardly mattered whether the little boy had been adopted or not; he was theirs now and just as much one of his children as Maggie and Caleb. "I'll get the gates out after dinner," Evan promised. It was one more thing to have to do before he could relax for the night, but he didn't mind so much.

"We can do it in the morning," she said. "It isn't as though he's going to be crawling around much after dinner, after all." The sacredness of the couch cuddles after dinner, complete with books and music and just being with each other, was something that the children had very much embraced. Even Maggie tried to make sure she was part of it, and for a teenager, that was something, indeed.

"If you don't mind waiting," Evan replied, willing to help in whatever way he could. "Reckon I should wash up for dinner," he admitted, touching a tender kiss to the little boy's cheek before handing him back to his mother.

"Yes, you filthy man," she teased, tucking Jack onto her hip with a grin. "You have to set a good example, or you'll risk a spanking from Jodie and her wooden spoon."

Evan laughed, leaning close to touch a kiss to his petite wife's lips. "I'd like to see her try," he said, though he wouldn't put it past the woman if he irked her enough.

"Oh, please do push your luck," Marin giggled as he kissed her. "I think we would all enjoy watching that." From the kitchen came the sound of Bill making his way in through the back door and Jodie immediately pushing her husband toward the sink to wash up.

"Speak for yourself, woman," Evan remarked with a smirk. He knew better than to push his luck where Jodie was concerned. And with a final peck to her cheek, he went to go wash up, making sure to first leave his boots on the mat by the front door.

The evening meal was, as usual, mildly chaotic but very enjoyable, ended with Jodie and Bill taking their leave for the day to go back to their own little cottage on the orchard, leaving the Lassiters to settle in for the evening. Maggie, as usual, took control of her brothers while Marin and Evan finished up the evening chores, and all too soon, they were gathered into the living room to while away an hour or so before the boys needed to be put to bed.

Bath time was finished, at least as far as the boys were concerned, and all the chores were done, so it was definitely time for the Lassiters to relax after a long, but productive day's work.

Evan Lassiter

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2020, 01:29:59 PM »

"How's school goin', Maggie?" Evan asked his eldest, once they'd all settled in the living room.

"It's real good," his eldest enthused, setting aside her homework to engage in the conversation. One thing they had discovered early on was when Maggie was enthusiastic about school, getting homework done on time was never a problem. "You know we did all the theory and the basics of stage make up last year?  Lily demonstrated this amazing thing with mortician's wax and corn syrup today, and she made a really real lookin' cut on Stanley's arm. Apparently that's special effects make up, and that's what we're gonna be doing this semester!"

Evan didn't know much about the theater, but he was glad his daughter was passionate about something, even if it wasn't farming. Most of what she was telling him was a little over his head, but that didn't mean he wasn't interested in what his daughter had to say.

"Special effects," he echoed, brows furrowing. "Like makin' someone look like they're injured when they ain't ... aren't," he added, corrected himself.

"Yeah!" she said cheerfully. "Things like injuries, and bruises, and monster faces, and things like that! And next semester, we're doing prosthetics, and I am so lookin' forward to that, it's unreal."

"Prosthetics?" Evan echoed clumsily. He wasn't stupid by any means, but he'd only heard of that word in reference to missing arms and legs. "Not sure what you mean."

"I'm not totally sure, but I think it's the stuff that you have to make separate and then glue onto people to make them look different," Maggie mused. "Like, with make up, you can change the color of someone's skin, but you can't give them a third eye that looks real in the middle of their forehead."

"A third eye?" Evan echoed, looking momentarily confused before remembering she was talking about the theater, which was all about telling a story. "I don't know what kinda story is about anyone with a third eye," he murmured to himself.

"You remember when we went to see Beauty & the Beast, love?" Marin offered, leaping in to help with understanding the concept of theatrical prosthetics. "The mask the lead actor wore to look like the Beast comes under the heading of prosthetics in theater."

Evan considered that a moment and then nodded his head. "Oh, I see. And that's what you're studyin' in school?" he asked, though that seemed to be the case. What had ever happened to just learning reading and writing?

"Well, you know, there's all the usual stuff, like English and Math and everything else," Maggie said dismissively. "But I'm really enjoying the makeup and costuming. There's so much to learn, and there's so much you can do with just little bits and pieces to make someone look completely different but let them still emote through whatever it is you've put on them, and it's awesome."

There was another word Evan wasn't too familiar with - emote - though taken in context with what else she was saying, he kind of got the gist of it. "Well, you're clearly enjoyin' it and learnin' somethin', and that's all that really matters," he said, glad his daughter was so excited about school. "And Master Mallory? Is he as excited about school as you?"

She snorted with laughter. "Rob loves school," she  told her father. "Apparently Mr. Granger - the actor one - is doing guest lectures for the acting students this year, and I swear, Rob nearly vibrated out of his seat when he found out."

Evan chuckled at the image that produced in his mind. "Well, so long as you're enjoyin' it and learnin' something useful," he reiterated. He didn't think the skills she was learning would be very helpful where farming was concerned, but maybe she didn't want to be a farmer.

It wasn't as though she wasn't learning practical skills for the farm as well, but that wasn't what she wanted to do with her life. "I am," she promised her father. "Hey, Cal, you ready to go back to school next week?"

"Mmhmm," Cal murmured with far less enthusiasm than his sister, while he scratched a drawing out on paper with crayons. "Mama says I'm gonna make some new friends," he informed his sister.

"Oh, I bet you will," Maggie told him cheerfully. "Just don't punch anyone in the first week, okay?" She grinned, winking at her little brother as Marin rolled her eyes.

"I think that sentence should have stopped at the word "anyone"," their mother said in a resigned tone.

"Ain't gunna punch no one 'less they deserve it, right, Papa?" Caleb asked, looking to his father for backup.

Evan rubbed his neck, a slightly chagrined look on his face. "You probably shouldn't punch anyone, Cal," he told his son.

"But Pa ... What if someone's bein' a bully?" he asked with wide-eyed innocence.

Maggie's eyes turned to Evan with the same curiosity. "Ain't that why you taught me how to throw a punch, Pa?" she asked, almost as innocent as her brother.

"Uh, yeah, but that don't - doesn't - mean you can go around punching whoever you want," Evan pointed out. He was pretty sure Maggie knew where to draw the line, but he wasn't so sure about Caleb.

"It should always be your last resort, and you should never be the first one to punch," Marin told both of them, though she knew Maggie understood that. This was for Caleb's benefit. "I don't ever want you to be the kind of people who think they can solve their problems with their fists."

Caleb rubbed his nose as he took all this in, a thoughtful look on his face. "But what if it's a bully? What if they're pickin' on other kids?" he asked, at an age where one question usually led to another.

"Darling, if things have got so bad that there's a bully who is physically hurting other kids, then you have to get an adult involved," Marin told him quite seriously. "You can't solve everything yourself, however much you might want to."

"Okay, Mama," Caleb was quick to agree, saying no more on the subject.

Evan Lassiter

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2020, 01:30:35 PM »
Evan exchanged a glance with Marin, before turning back to their son. "Is someone bein' a bully at school, Cal?" he asked his son.

Caleb shrugged, as he went back to his coloring. "Not no more."

To be fair, they knew that, even if Caleb had thrown a punch, he hadn't been caught, or they would have been informed. Marin rolled her eyes over a faint smile, promising herself she would talk to Cal about this another time. In her lap, Jack lolled, cuddling his stuffed horse as he watched his siblings at their disparate tasks.

Evan frowned, secretly proud of his son for standing up to a bully, but also worried the boy didn't become a bully himself. "I was thinkin'," he started, looking around at his small family, "since Maggie is goin' to school for theater, maybe we should go to a show sometime."

"Really?" Maggie lit up hopefully at this suggestion, her expression echoed in the hopeful smile that brightened Marin's face as well.

"Sure, why not?" Evan replied, beaming at his family, pleased to see the hopeful smiles on their faces. "What do you think we'd like to see?" he asked, the question directed at Maggie, as she was the most likely among them to know something what shows were coming up.

"They're doin' The Wizard of Oz soon," Maggie said, rummaging through her mind for the hints Rob had given her. "And at Christmas, they're doing How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Evan furrowed his brows. He'd heard of both Oz and the Grinch, but only because Maggie had read both those books. "The Grinch?" he echoed, unable to imagine just how that might be adapted for the stage.

"It's a musical on stage," Marin offered. "The Shanachie are very good at putting on shows like that. But the Wizard of Oz would be a good one as well."

"Which one would you like to see, Caleb?" Evan asked, attempting to draw the boy into their conversation.

Caleb shrugged. "We can't we see both?" he asked, never taking his eyes off his drawing.

Marin glanced at Evan, not entirely sure how to answer that one. It wasn't as though they couldn't afford it, but it felt strange to go to the theater regularly when, for both of them, anything even slightly similar had been a rare treat.

Maggie grinned at their faces. "How's it gonna be special, Cal, if you go see everything?"

Caleb lifted his head from his drawing, wrinkling his nose as he seemed to think that over. "Can we see the Grinch then?" he asked hopefully. "That's a funny one."

"That sounds like a very good idea," Marin agreed, reaching over to stroke his hair out of his face fondly. "We can make it our Christmas treat."

"Okay, Mama," Caleb beamed a smile back at his  mother, happy she'd agreed with him. "Is that okay with you, Mags?" Evan asked, wanting to make sure they were all in agreement before he asked her to buy some tickets.

Maggie grinned, nodding. She already had an invitation to go and see The Nutcracker with Rob and his family, too. "Sure," she agreed. "Can we invite someone to come along with us?"

Marin bit down on her smile, knowing exactly who Maggie would invite. Caleb was a wild card there, though.

"She wants to invite Rob," Caleb interjected. "'Cause they're all googly eyed around each other."

Evan coughed to hide a chuckle at his son's remark.

"I did say we, Cal," Maggie pointed out, her eyes sparkling teasingly. "Or do you want me to pick someone to come and be your guest on the night? What about that Nina girl you gave all your cookies to last year?"

"Girls are gross," Caleb replied, without missing a beat. "'Cept you an' Ma an' Jodie," he was quick to add, just in case. He made no mention of Nina, but whether it was because he didn't like her anymore or was just trying to keep it a secret was hard to say.

"Who would you like to invite, darling?" Marin said quickly, cutting off whatever it was Maggie might have been about to say. The teenager loved to tease her little brother, but sometimes she went too far, and at this time of night, that was a temper tantrum no one wanted.

Caleb kept coloring, his crayon making a scratching sound on the paper, even as he shrugged. "Dunno, but I like Rob. I don't mind if he goes." He glanced up again as another thought came to mind. "Can Jack go, too?" he asked, curiously. It was no secret he adored his baby brother. Then again, he adored his big sister, too, except when she was teasing him.

"Jack's a little bit too young to go to a theater yet," Marin told him gently. "But maybe we can bring something close to a theater to the house sometime soon, so you guys can watch some things together."

Caleb furrowed his brows, unsure what his mother meant by that.

"Close to a theater?" Evan asked, curiously. He'd remained silent throughout the exchange, but now Marin's comment had piqued his curiosity.

Marin grinned over at her husband. "Oh, that purchase we made a couple of days ago," she said, hoping to remind him without telling the children outright. "Not quite theater, but definitely something close."

"Oh," Evan murmured, mirroring the look on Caleb's face. He still wasn't sure how he felt about that purchase, but he was slowly getting more comfortable with modern amenities. "It's a surprise," he added, for Maggie and Caleb's sake.

"Sounds like it's a good one, too," Maggie said cheerfully, glancing over at Jack lolling on Marin's lap. "Want me to put him to bed?" she offered.

"A surprise?" Caleb echoed, looking surprised. It wasn't even Christmas or anyone's birthday yet.

Evan reached over to ruffle his son's blond hair. "Yep," he replied simply, the hint of a smirk on his face. "I can take him," he said, regarding Jack. "Unless you really want to."

Evan Lassiter

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2020, 01:30:51 PM »
"I kinda really want to," Maggie admitted. She didn't often volunteer to fully engage with caring for the baby, but every now and then, she'd do it just to have private snuggles with her baby brother.

Marin chuckled, bending her head to kiss Jack's soft curls. "We should say goodnight to him, then."

"All right then," Evan agreed, waiting for his turn to say goodnight to their youngest. He wasn't about to discourage Maggie from spending some quiet time with her baby brother.

Lifting the rather floppy baby boy across the couch, Marin gestured for Caleb to come and say goodnight to his little brother as Jack groaned in complaint. No one really liked to be jostled while they were sleeping, after all.

Caleb wrinkled his nose again as saying goodnight to his baby brother was interrupting his drawing time, but he did as his mother said. "Night, Jack!" he told his little brother, a little too enthusiastically.

Jack jumped, eyes blinking open to give his brother a wounded look for the unexpected yelling, grumbling nonsense as he cuddled into Evan's arms to say goodnight for himself. Maggie giggled, rolling her eyes as she scooted to the edge of her seat, waiting for her chance to steal her baby brother away.

"Easy, Cal. He's tryin' to sleep. You wouldn't want someone yellin' at you when you're sleepin', would you?" Evan told his son, as he cuddled the younger one and tried to soothe him back into sleep.

Marin smiled, reaching over to stroke Cal's hair affectionately. "Did you decide which book you want to start tonight, darling?" she asked the middle child. His reading was coming on faster than either of them had expected, resulting in a bookshelf rather more stuffed than his sister's had been a few years ago.

Caleb frowned a little at his father's scolding, though Evan hadn't raised his voice. In fact, Evan rarely got angry at his children and rarely had to scold them.

"What do you say, little man?" he asked the little boy in his arms. "Are you ready for bed?"

Meanwhile, Caleb turned to his mother, almost forgetting his father's scolding. He shrugged. "Can I go look?" he asked. He'd been too busy drawing to think much about reading.

"Of course you can," Marin assured him, glad what could have been an exercise in tired temper had been averted. "Story time is my favorite part of the day."

Jack was easily mollified with cuddles and a soft voice, sighing as he let him head drop against Evan's shoulder.

Maggie grinned. "Looks about ready to me, Pa."

Evan glanced Caleb's way, a small frown on his face. Thankfully, Cal had a short memory, but he told himself he'd make it up to the boy later. "He does, don't he?" he asked, as he carefully handed their youngest to Maggie.

Tucking Jack gently onto her shoulder, Maggie's smile softened as she hugged her baby brother. "Guess Cal must have tuckered him out today," she said, turning that smile onto her other little brother. "Hey, you wanna come and pick his jammies while you're getting a book, Cal?"

Caleb shrugged again, as if it hardly mattered. "Mmkay," he replied. "How 'bout the ones with the ponies?" he suggested. It was no secret how fond the boy was of horses.

"He's got jammies with ponies on?" Maggie asked, leading the way up the stairs with Jack clinging to her shoulder. "Did you and Mom go shopping again?"

Marin chuckled as the voice faded, rolling her eyes as she leaned back. "Why is it always me who gets accused of going shopping?"

"Reckon it's 'cause you're always the one goin' shopping," Evan pointed out with a smirk. He was glad tempers hadn't gotten out of hand. Caleb had a way of getting cranky when he got tired sometimes, just like his father.

She snorted with laughter, letting her body slide until she was leaning against him comfortably. "This time it wasn't me, believe it or not," she insisted. "Josephine and Will maintain they accidentally bought a set of pajamas that are too small for their boys."

"Mmhmm," Evan murmured. "Why don't they just admit that they bought it for Jack?" he asked,  not really understanding the logic behind the fib.

Marin shook her head with a smile. "I think it's something about gift giving and etiquette from their eras," she hazarded a guess. "I don't know. The pajamas are cute, though."

"Mmm," Evan murmured again, a small frown on his face. "You reckon I'm too hard on Cal?" he asked, of his most recent scolding, though it had not been too harsh.

"No, I don't think so," she murmured. "You just need to work on how you say things a little, maybe. Instead of just saying what's wrong, maybe suggest a way he can make it better as well?"

"He's a good boy," Evan said. "Just a little ... excitable, I guess." He was a normal, active boy, after all.

"He has a lot of energy, and he's nervous about going back to school," Marin said in a thoughtful tone. "And like his father, he gets grumpy when he's tired."

"Is he?" Evan said, arching his brows. This was the first he was hearing about that. "What's he nervous about?" he asked curiously, only smirking a little at the grumpy comment.

"He had a lot of trouble settling in last year," she reminded him quietly. "I think he's a little scared he's going to have to go through all the trouble of making friends again, and no amount of reassurance is getting through to him."

"Maybe we should have one of his friends over before that," Evan suggested, though he wasn't sure if they'd be in the same classroom.

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2020, 01:31:07 PM »
"That's probably a good idea," she agreed. "The kids around here all tend to work on the farms with their parents, so they don't hang out much during the vacation."

"No reason he can't have some friends over sometimes," Evan reasoned. "He likes helpin' with the farm, but he should spend more time havin' fun with his friends."

She nodded in agreement. "We can work it," she assured her husband. "We're allowed to make mistakes, you know. Perfection is overrated."

"Good thing 'cause I'm far from it," Evan said, smiling and leaning close to brush a kiss against her lips. "Have I told you lately how much I love you?" he asked her quietly.

"Not since I fell out of the attic yesterday, I think," she teased fondly, answering his kiss with her own smiling lips. "And I think that was more along the lines of bribery to stop me from going back up there."

"Bribery?" he echoed. "I would never," he added, though he couldn't hide the grin from his face that told her otherwise. "You never told me what you were after in there."

"And I'm not going to," she laughed, kissing the tip of his nose. "It's a see-krit." Her eyes sparkled with impish delight at keeping a secret from a husband who was ridiculously good at reading her no matter what she did.

He arched a brow at her, even as she kissed his nose. "A secret or a surprise?" he asked, knowing there was a slight difference between the two, though they could be one and the same thing.

"Could be one, could be both," she answered impishly. "Who knows?" Laughing, she cuddled into him with warm affection. "Nothing bad, anyway."

From above, they heard the quiet sound of Maggie and Caleb laughing over something as they came out of Jack's nursery.

Evan furrowed his brows at his wife, suspiciously. It wasn't often she had both a secret and a surprise to share. "You ain't ... you know?" he asked with a pointed look at her mid-section.

She snorted with laughter, shaking her head. "No," she assured him. "I wouldn't do that to you, not after what happened last time."

"I just worry," he said, still frowning, despite her laughter. As much as he adored their children, he had almost lost her when Caleb had been born. It was why they'd chosen to adopt Jack instead.

"Trust me, love," she said gently. "I'm not pregnant, and I'm not going to get pregnant again. I'm happy with our family as it is."

"So am I," he said, touching another soft kiss to her lips. He seemed to relax a little at her reassurance. It wasn't that he didn't want more children, if that's what she wanted, but he didn't want to take a chance on losing her either.

She smiled into his kiss, relaxing as he relaxed. "I love you, you do know that," she reminded him affectionately. "So trust me when I say that this secret surprise is a good one."

"I know, and course I trust you," he assured her, brushing her hair back from her face just because. Why wouldn't he trust her? She'd saved his life once upon a time and she hadn't even known him from Adam then.

"Good." She grinned, brushing the tip of her nose to his once again. "I solemnly swear I will try very hard not to fall out of the attic again."

"Good, 'cause I can't follow you around all day long to make sure you're okay," Evan said, smiling as she brushed her nose against his. As much as he might like to, he had too much work to do. A farmer's work was never done - not even on the weekend.

"No one on this farm will let me anywhere near even a hammer, so I think you can lay your mind to rest on that point," Marin said with a low giggle.

"That's only 'cause you hit everything except the nails with hammers, Ma," Maggie interjected from the stairs, where she and Caleb were on their way back down.

Caleb was a few steps behind Maggie - literally - and jumping down them, one step at a time with a thump. Evan smirked at both his son's antics and his wife's remark. "She's right. You're all thumbs with a hammer."

"I hit myself in the forehead once," Marin protested, but there was a smile on her face. Not everyone was suited to tool work, after all.

Evan winced at his wife's remark, unsure how she had managed that. "Remind me to keep you away from farm tools," he told her.

"Keep me away from farm tools," she said with a cheerful grin, straightening up to open one arm toward Caleb. "So what are we reading tonight, sweetheart?"

"Pooh!" Caleb announced enthusiastically, as he settled into his mother's embrace, thankfully easier on her than he was on the stairs. The book was a little above his reading level, but he knew his mother would help him along the way.

"Oh, wonderful!" Marin's enthusiasm was not feigned - she held a deep love for the books of her childhood, and Winnie the Pooh had been one of those. Hugging Caleb into her side, she let him wriggle to get comfortable, happy to wait until he was ready before they started to read together.

In the meantime, Evan rose to his feet,  nodding his head at Maggie to follow him in to the kitchen. He didn't want to interrupt Caleb's reading time, but thought he'd fetch them some lemonade.

The teenager grinned as she followed her father. Caleb's reading time was practically sacred. Maggie leaned back against the counter, looking at her father thoughtfully. "Say, Pa? Are you gonna learn to drive?"

"Learn to drive?" Evan echoed as he gathered the items he'd need to make lemonade. "You mean, like a truck?" he asked curiously. "What's to learn?" He knew how to ride a horse; driving a truck couldn't be much harder than that, could it?

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2020, 01:31:26 PM »
"Lots?" she countered, more gently than she would have done had she been talking to, say, Rob. "There's steering, and gears, and road safety, and how to look after the vehicle, and all that stuff."

"Rob been teachin' you to drive?" he asked, with further curiosity. As it happened, he'd been thinking about asking Marin to teach him. He was slowly becoming more comfortable with modern contraptions, but he was still a bit leery of motor vehicles.

She shook her head. "No, but he's learning," she said. "I was just wondering ... if you wanted to learn, maybe we could do it together?"

"You think your Ma could teach us?" he asked, as he went about squeezing lemons to extract the juice. It really wasn't so much a question of "could she" so much as "would she".

"I don't see why she wouldn't," Maggie mused. "If she doesn't want to, then there's always Bill or Carla. They can both drive, too."

"I reckon so," Evan replied, without looking up from what he was doing. "I s'pect it might be helpful for me to learn," he said, with a shrug of his shoulders. It would be faster and easier to get to town and fetch supplies, not to mention take Maggie and Caleb back and forth to school.

"You're not gonna stop me learnin' how?" she asked curiously. She knew she was a little young to be making that decision, but it wouldn't be too much longer before it would be legal for her to be in charge of a vehicle.

"Why should I stop you?" he asked, looking over at his daughter with a puzzled expression on his face. "If Master Mallory can learn to drive, why can't you?" he pointed out.

"Pa, why are you calling him that these days?" she asked with a sudden laugh. "He's still Rob. I mean, just because he's my boyfriend doesn't mean you have to go all formal."

Evan shrugged, a smirk on his face. "It has a certain ring to it though, don't it? Master Mallory." He gestured to the cupboard. "Fetch me the sugar?"

"Does that mean I'm Mistress Lassiter?" his daughter asked, pushing from her lean to open up the cupboard and lift out the sugar jar. "'Cause that just sounds like I'm really old."

"No, you would be Miss Lassiter, until you're married," he explained. "Although perhaps Robert is getting a bit old to be addressed that way," he reasoned, mostly to himself.

"I prefer to be called Maggie," she pointed out, setting the sugar jar down beside him on the counter. She considered her father for a long moment. "Pa ... don't you like Rob?"

Evan furrowed his brows at his daughter as he scooped a large cupful of sugar into a pitcher. "Course I like Rob. Why wouldn't I?" he asked, unsure where that question came from.

"It's just ... you've been a bit weird about him and me spending time together the last few months," she said awkwardly. "I know all about the birds and the bees, we're not doin' that."

He turned to his daughter again with that same look on his face, mostly at the mention of the birds and the bees. "I should hope not," he said, leaving no room for argument there. If Rob wanted to poke his daughter, he'd have to marry her first. He reached for the faucet to turn the water on and fill the pitcher, a thoughtful expression on his face as he considered her question. "It ain't that I don't like the boy. You're just growin' up too fast for my liking. That's all."

To her credit, she didn't mention that it had been his decision to miss out on so much of her childhood, holding her tongue on that point now and forevermore. "I'm always gonna be your girl, Pa," she pointed out.

She didn't have to mention it; it was something that had laid heavy on his heart for a long time. He'd tried to talk to her about it before, but it had always seemed the less said the better. The past was the past and couldn't be changed. There was no doubt he loved her, after all, and had always had her best interests at heart. "Someday you are goin' to get married and be someone else's girl, Mags," he pointed out.

"Mama says that ain't how it works," she countered stubbornly. "She says I'll always be your girl, just that I'll be someone else's girl, too. She says my heart's big enough for everyone I love."

Evan couldn't help but smile at that. "Your mama says that, does she?" he asked. Of course, Marin wasn't Maggie's mother by birth, but Maggie had never seemed to mind that fact, having lost her real mother at an early age.

"Sure she does." Maggie nodded firmly. They might not be related by blood, but she adored Marin all the more for that fact. "She says that if she can love everyone she loves, being so little, then I can definitely love even more people, because I'm bigger than her."

Evan turned off the water and reached for a towel to dry his hands. "And does she say you're too big to hug your old Pa?" he asked, the hint of a smirk on his face again.

Maggie grinned. "Nah, she says no one's too big for hugs," she said, taking the hint and wrapping her arms around her father's waist to hug him tight for a long moment.

Relieved she got the hint, he closed his strong arms around her to return her embrace. It wasn't every day that he got a hug from her anymore, now that she was a teenager and no longer a little girl. "You know, I ain't never stopped lovin' you, and I never will, darlin'," he told her quietly, resting his cheek against the top of her head.

"I know, Papa," she whispered. "I ain't goin' anywhere, not for a long time. Always gonna be your girl, even if I marry, like, a hundred boys in a row."

Evan chuckled. "A hundred boys is a lot. Maybe you should just marry one," he suggested, though he didn't mention names. Maybe it would be the Mallory boy; maybe it wouldn't. Time would tell.

She giggled. "Not gonna tell me which one I'm allowed to settle on?" she asked teasingly. "Like he's gotta be tall, and he's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be ready for a fight?"

"You want me to?" he asked with a chuckle, the song lyrics completely lost on him. He rarely listened to any music, other than what Marin played on the piano.

She snorted. "Like I'd listen," was her disparaging response. "You got more sense'n that. S'why you're an awesome Pop."

He snorted in return. "I dunno about awesome," he said, kissing the top of her head and pulling away so that he could finish making the lemonade before Marin and Caleb were done reading.

Evan Lassiter

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2020, 01:31:44 PM »
"Yeah, well, you don't get an opinion, you are the Pop," was his daughter's logical answer as she drew back, turning to pull out cups for the lemonade once it was done.

He chuckled as he grabbed a wooden spoon to stir the lemonade mixture while she grabbed the cups. "I can't very well argue with that," he said. "You know I just want the best for you, Mags. I want you to be happy."

"I know, Pa," she assured him. "Like you know that's what I want for you, right? I love you, 'course I want you happy. It's like, I might not like everything you do, but I know you got reasons for it. Right?"

"Right," he murmured. He furrowed his brows again, unsure if he understood what she was saying. Had he done something she didn't like lately? Was this her way of telling him that?

Seeing his frown, Maggie rolled her eyes. "I'm not making hints, Pa," she told him. "You're doing good, okay? Stop freakin' out over every little thing."

"Freakin' out, right. I'll try to stop freakin' out," he said with a nod of his head. It was a strange way out putting things, but he understood her meaning.

She giggled, rising onto her toes to kiss her father's cheek. "You're never gonna manage that," she predicted. "But it's okay. You're my Pa."

"So, it's okay if I freak out then?" Evan teased, smiling at the display of affection from his daughter. He had missed too much time with her; it was something he'd never stop regretting.

"A little bit," she allowed, flashing him a grin. "No moping, though. Ma gets worried when you mope, and she looks weird with a frown."

"I don't mope," Evan remarked, just a little defensively. At least, he didn't think he did. He just had a tendency to be serious, more often than not.

Maggie's grin didn't fade. "You totally do," she informed him cheerfully. "Practice broodin' more - the girls say that's a whole lot sexier than mopin'."

Evan furrowed his brows at her, a skeptical expression on his face. "I didn't know there was a difference."

His teenaged daughter didn't look at him as she tried to explain. "Mopin' is all depressing and boring, but broodin' means you're thinking masterful thoughts and your lover will totally want in on that."

"Okay, so next time someone accuses me of mopin', should I tell 'em I'm broodin'?" he asked, uncertainly. He wasn't sure who was likely to accuse him of such a thing, other than Maggie though. Not even Marin seemed to mind when he turned quiet and thoughtful.

She snickered. "Nah, just Ma," she said. "Cal won't understand, and you're not supposed to brood at women you're not married to."

"You're just pullin' my leg now," Evan said, moving past her to pick up the pitcher of lemonade and fill the glasses. "Your Ma has never accused me of mopin'. Or broodin' either."

"Would I do that?" his daughter asked innocently, batting her lashes just a little too sweetly to be entirely trustworthy.

"Uh huh. That's what I thought," he said, a smirk on his face. "You wanna help me carry these glasses into the other room?" he asked, hoping to give her something to do.

"Sure!" Grinning now he was more relaxed with the conversation, Maggie picked up a couple of the glasses, stepping back to let Evan go first. After all, he was the one who had made it.

Hopefully, he'd made it right. He hadn't thought to taste it first, distracted as he'd been with the conversation. "Did Jack settle down okay?" he asked, changing the subject as he led the way back into the living room.

"Out like a light as soon as his diaper was clean on," Maggie assured him, nodding toward the baby monitor she had left on the table beside the couch. "Don't tell Ma, but those new jammies are really cute, too."

"Why shouldn't I tell your Ma?" he asked curiously, keeping his voice down to a whisper so Marin wouldn't over hear their conversation.

"Because she'll go and buy more!" Maggie answered, somehow managing to choke down on her laughter. It was fun to tease her father, especially when she could dress it up in teasing her mother via him.

"And why's that a bad thing?" he asked further, unsure where his daughter was going with this. Was she worried Marin would spend too much money on Jack or that she'd buy him too many pajamas he wouldn't have time to wear before he grew out of them? But before she was able to reply, they had reached the living room.

Marin and Caleb were totally engrossed in Winnie the Pooh, curled up together in a corner of the couch as they worked their way through an adventure from the Hundred Acre Wood. Maggie's smile softened, ever so slightly envious of those interactions that she was too big for these days.

Evan glanced toward his wife and son and paused momentarily to whisper at Maggie. "You didn't answer the question," he reminded her.

The teenager's grin resumed its cheeky edge. "No, I didn't," she agreed, giggling impishly to herself as she moved further into the room to set one of the glasses down on the coffee table for her little brother.

He frowned over at her, not moping or brooding, just a little perplexed. He exhaled a sigh, resigned in knowing he'd probably never understand women, no matter their age.

Marin glanced up as he came closer, smiling at the look on his face. "I think your sister has been teasing your papa again," she murmured to Caleb in amusement. "That little dent is back in between his eyebrows."

Thankfully, Evan didn't quite catch that, but Caleb glanced over at his father and smiled, knowing how much his sister enjoyed teasing their father. "That's his worried look," he murmured back to his mother.

Evan Lassiter

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Re: Family Time
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2020, 01:32:00 PM »
"What do you think she told him this time?" she whispered to her little boy, trying not to smile too widely and give the game away. Evan was learning, but Maggie knew far too many tricks to tease him with.

"Dunno," Caleb murmured back, with a shrug of his small shoulders. He wasn't really sure what his father might be worried about, but he hoped it wasn't about him.

She kissed his hair, hugging him a little closer as she turned back to the book. "So where were we? Oh, yes ... Owl's house just blew down!"

"Poor Owl!" Caleb said, turning his attention back to the book and snuggling into his mother, feeling just a little bit sleepy.

"I made some lemonade," Evan said, as he set the glasses down on the table nearby.

"Thank you, darling." Marin offered Evan a warm smile, though she was quick to get back to the story at hand, describing Piglet's very brave escape from the fallen tree house and the ensuing rescue with quiet enthusiasm. Maggie sipped her lemonade, enjoying listening to the story herself.

Once the lemonade was distributed, Evan claimed a chair for himself and took a tentative sip, hoping the lemonade didn't taste too sweet or too sour.

It seemed to be just right, given the way none of his little family made any faces about what they were tasting. It was just a normal evening for them, quiet and relaxing, a perfect way to wind down after working on the farm, going to school, keeping their home in order. A far cry from the almost dilapidated orchard Evan had first collapsed onto years before.

They'd come a long way in a few years. Not only had they rebuilt their home and the farm, but they'd built a family. Both were accomplishments to be proud of, and Evan couldn't be more happy or proud of the little family he and Marin had made together.

Who needed perfect, when you could have home?