“What,” Chelsey exclaims, “the hell is that?”
With a wide smile spreading across my face, I shove my hands in my pockets like a teenage boy and look at her. “A Christmas tree.”
“Are those . . . penises?”
“Like real ones?” She jerks her alarmed gaze to me.
“No. Just plastic.”
She flicks her tongue across her lips. “Uh-huh. Why do you have penises across your Christmas tree?”
“Because he’s an immature little bastard,” Leila answers for me.
“You didn’t stop me,” I shoot back.
“Hell no I didn’t. I cannot wait to see Mom’s face when she sees this!”
“When she sees what?” Mom’s voice creeps through the house ominously, and the close of the door after her sounds like the signal that I should run away.
“Uh . . . I’m just gonna go . . .to the store. . . .” I shuffle toward the door that connects the front room with the kitchen.
Chelsey lifts her eyebrows in amusement, and Dad grabs the back of my shirt so I can’t escape.
You wouldn’t think I was twenty-four. For numerous reasons, obviously.
“Kye Burke, why are there tiny penises on my Christmas tree?”
Her voice is calm. Really calm. I’m even more convinced that I should run. “Merry Cock-mas?”
Mom’s expression is somewhere between insane amusement and extreme frustration.
“I’m just gonna come back later . . .” Chelsey whispers, edging toward the living room door. “When there are less . . . cocks.”
“Good idea! I’ll come with you.” I wrestle out of Dad’s grip and dart behind him, through the kitchen, and into the hall.
Chelsey laughs and grabs my arm, dragging me back into the room. “I said I was going. I didn’t say you were escaping this cock-up.”
“Great choice of words,” Dad chuckles.
Mom pinches the bridge of her nose. “I should have known that when three boys left, one boy would have to make the impression of three,” she says, mostly to herself. “I should have known that the one who never left his little peep alone at two would one day decorate my tree in cocks.”
“Mom! What the hell?” I sputter.
“I should have known that his ball-hoarding obsession at six was a sign of things to come,” she sighs heavily and drops her hand. “After all, there’s one in every boyband. I thought I was ready for this.” Then, she turns to me. “Kye, son, we love you anyway, but I have to ask. Are you gay?”
Chelsey lets go of me, and laughter rips from her. Leila laughs, too, her book falling to the floor. Dad covers his face with his hands, and Mom just stands there in the middle of the room, her eyes wide. Her hands are now clasped in front of her sympathetically, and the tiny upturn of the right side of her mouth explains it all.
“Well played, Mother,” I say reluctantly, walking back toward the front door. “Well. Played.”a Rafflecopter giveaway