I yanked my sundress out of the dryer with one hand, trying to calm my nephew with the other. Static crackled. I should have used a dryer sheet, but my sister was so organized I couldn’t find a thing. They were probably in a cabinet in a labeled bin, but who had time to hunt through cabinets when pandemonium reigned?
My nephew rubbed his eyes and continued to cry. Most of his time was spent eating, pooping, or crying. Were all seven-month-olds this way? No wonder my sister needed a break.
“Shhh, Nathan. I’ll look for your blanket in a minute.” I slammed the dryer shut and carried my wadded dress toward the stairs. As soon as my sister walked through the door, I was leaving.
Kids were wonderful but exhausting. My good deed had zapped me of every last ounce of energy.
Nathan pounded on my shoulder, sobbing. If the blanket was so important to him, why did he keep dropping it everywhere?
“Natalie, are you almost ready?” I peeked into my niece’s room.
She twirled in her princess dress. “I can’t find my sparkly panties.” She said it as if I was supposed to know which pair she meant.
I’d been here two days. In all that time, I had not taken the time to inventory her underwear drawer. “Wear a different pair. They might be in the dryer.” I didn’t care which pair she chose, just so long as she wore some. “Have you seen your brother’s blanket?”
Singing emanated from her room. So much for getting an answer.
Never again would I volunteer to watch my sister’s kids overnight. And the next time my sister sweetly requested that I have the kids ready to go out for dinner, I’d laugh. This took as much energy and patience as the rest of the stay.
And that was no small accomplishment. In less than forty-eight hours, the kids had managed to spit up or spill stuff on everything I’d packed, and I’d had to wash my clothes. Eager to help, Natalie had tossed in her clothes also. Now I had to sort laundry before I could race out the door. I didn’t want to end up taking sparkly panties home with me.
Scanning the halls for Nathan’s blanket, I answered when my phone rang. “Hello?”
“Yikes. You sound stressed. Still on kid duty?” Daisy was my best friend and could read me by the tone of my voice. It took only a single word.
“Martha should be here in fifteen minutes. Hopefully, before she walks through the door, I’ll have time to get my laundry out of the dryer, separate out all that my niece threw in, and get dressed. I might be a few minutes late, but I’ll meet you at the restaurant.”
“I’ll wait. It’s not like I have anything better to do.” Daisy sighed. “Don’t you ever want what she has? The husband, the house, the kids?”
“Not today.” I set Nathan in his crib right next to his blanket. “Ask me in a week . . . or a year.”
Daisy laughed. “That bad, huh?”
“Yes, it was that bad. Which makes me sound horrible.” I ran back to Natalie’s room and made sure she was fully dressed. “Put your shoes on, okay?”
“Okay!” Natalie continued to spin.
My sister could deal with that.
With Nathan safely in his crib, I ran back down and tossed clothes into my bag straight from the dryer. Everything would be wrinkled, like the dress tucked under my arm.
I still needed to get dressed. “Get a table. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Will do. And relax. It’s almost over.” Daisy laughed. “Almost.”
“The good thing is, after the day I’ve had, it can only get better.” I ended the call as Daisy’s laughter flowed over the line.
After tossing Natalie’s clothes into a basket and stuffing mine into my bag, I ran to the downstairs bathroom. Slightly bigger than a changing stall, that room had a lock on the door, a treasure when I was changing clothes.
With Natalie knocking on the bathroom door, I pulled the dress over my head. What a wrinkled mess! But the big streak of spit up on my shirt necessitated changing. I’d rather look like I rolled out of bed than smell like puke. “I’ll be out in a second.”
“I can’t find my shoes.”
“I put them next to your bed.” Hadn’t I? Hopefully, I hadn’t put them in the crib with Nathan.
Worried, I shoved my dirty shirt into my bag, dropped my bag beside the door, and darted up the stairs. There were no sparkly shoes in bed with Nathan. He held his blankie in front of his face, then giggled when he pulled it down. He had his cute moments.
“Come put your shoes on.” I set the pair at the top of the stairs. “Your parents will be here any minute.”
Natalie ran up the stairs, grinning. Apparently, those were the magic words. “I can put them on by myself.”
“Great. Thank you for being a good helper.”
“I put Nathan’s blanket in his crib. He always drops it, so I took it from him and put it where it was safe.”
That explained all the tears.
Keys jingled outside, and I bolted down the stairs, leaving Natalie to put on her other shoe.
Right on time, the front door opened. “We’re here!” Martha opened her arms as Natalie ran down the stairs.
Nathan screamed from upstairs. The poor kid felt left out.
“All three of you lived!” Martha laughed as she ran up the stairs.
Owen, my brother-in-law, pressed his hands together. “I cannot thank you enough. It was such a treat to talk to my wife. We had entire conversations. It was amazing.”
“You’re welcome.” I picked up my purse and bag. “I should go. Daisy drove up from San Antonio and is waiting for me at a restaurant.”
He stepped out of the way. “I won’t keep you from your friend. Martha and I really appreciated the getaway.”
I didn’t have to ask why.
“Have a great night.” I leaned toward the stairs. “Bye, Martha!” Without waiting for an answer, I ran to my Honda and headed to the restaurant.
The stars were smiling on me because I found a spot right next to the door. After parking, I ran inside, smoothing the wrinkles in my dress. Somehow, the rubbing only made the static worse. My dress stuck to my legs in a most unladylike way.
Daisy sprang up off the bench in the waiting area. “You made it.”
I’d never been so thankful to see my friend. “I did. You get a table. I’m going to run into the ladies’ room and see if I can somehow fix this dress.”
She crinkled her nose. “You’ve got a little static cling going on there.”
“A little.” I walked into the restroom, happy it was unoccupied. The only solution I could think of was water. That got rid of static, right? After getting my hands wet, I rubbed my legs. Even if I couldn’t get the dress to stop sticking to itself, I could stop it from clinging to me.
After achieving mild success, I stepped out and scanned the room. Daisy waved from a booth on the far side of the dining area. I made my way over.
Restaurants were interesting places to people watch. At one table, a woman talked, and the guy across from her looked like he was almost asleep. At the next table over from ours, a man sat alone. I couldn’t see his face because he had his back to me, but he had a nice line to his shoulders.
As I passed his booth, I wondered how he looked from the front. Just when I contemplated stealing a look, something brushed my leg. Had he rubbed my leg? That thought sent my creep-o-meter into the red zone.
I whipped around, made a second of eye contact, then slid into the booth across from Daisy. “Don’t look behind you, but I think that guy touched my leg.”
“Then maybe you should say hello.” She held up her phone.
“He’s facing this way. If you are trying to use your camera to see him, he’ll know.” I glanced over her shoulder, and his gaze dropped to the floor.
He’d been looking at me.
“Is he cute?” Daisy clearly wasn’t taking me seriously.
I leaned halfway across the table. “Yes, very.”
“Seriously, Daisy? Don’t you think touching me is a little bit creepy? Just a little?”
“I doubt he touched you. Want me to ask him?”
“No! I don’t want you to ask him. I felt something brush the back of my leg. He’s the only one that was anywhere close to me.” I tried my best to keep my voice down, hoping he couldn’t hear me.
“Tell me what he looks like.”
I was practically laying on the table, so I was close enough to whisper. He’s got dark hair, dark brown eyes with little flecks of gold near the edges, and a little facial hair.”
“He’s sitting down.”
“You noticed the flecks in his eyes.”
“He looked at me.” I froze when I heard someone approach the table.
The mystery guy cleared his throat.
I slid back into my seat. After the day I’d had, I didn’t want to make a scene at a restaurant fighting off a creep. I shifted, watching him out of the corner of my eye. I nonchalantly laid my hand on my fork. In an emergency, that utensil could be useful.
The good-looking, creepy stranger stared at the carpet and held out a folded napkin that matched the ones on our table. “You, um . . .” He rubbed his forehead. “You dropped this.” He set the napkin in front of me, then hurried back to his table.
Those good shoulder lines continued all the way down. Why was I even looking? He was a total weirdo.
“Clearly he has problems because I didn’t drop this napkin.” I picked it up to emphasize my point, and little sparkly princess panties landed on the table.