The Baby Sitter

With little more than a month left before my book, Between Octobers, is released I thought I could give everyone a little teaser!

This is a scene from Evans point of view. So, this was never going to be in Octobers, but it’s a cute tidbit that gives you an idea of who Rhys Matthews (Evan) really is.


The Babysitter

“Do you mind watching Caleb while I go to the store?” Grace sat beside me, setting a hand on my knee.
“Am I not invited?”
“Do you want to come with me to buy tampons?”
“Pass,” I squirmed at the thought.
“Big baby,” She nudged playfully. “I already tucked Caleb in. So, you behave yourself.”
Her gaze was soft. I pulled her closer. She leaned her head on my chest then hopped up.
The keys jingled in the door as she locked it. A low roar of her Jeeps ancient engine rumbled through the night air as she started up the dinosaur.
It was my intention to speak with her as soon as everyone left, but there’s something to be said for good timing. And the discussion—my extended excursion next month—could definitely be put off a bit longer. We’ve barely passed ‘hello,’ I don’t want to start on ‘goodbye’ already.
I silenced the thoughts I didn’t care to have and closed my eyes. Knowing Caleb was down for the night left me free to nap.

“Mommy?” His small voice rang through the quiet.
I sat up and looked around. The room was lit by a single lamp on the table beside me. I saw his little form come into view from the hall.
“You’re mum will be back in a few minutes.” I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
“Mommy?” He called again, sounding more anxious.
“Come here.” I plucked him from the floor where he stood forlorn. “Mum will be right back. You can sit with me until she gets here, if you like.” I tucked him in next to me with the throw from the back of the couch.
He reached for the remote and flipped the telly to his favorite cartoon channel. “What’s a mum?”
“You know, a mummy,” He looked at me, confused. I spoke the word again, elongating the sound to a proper ‘ah.’ In American accent. “Mommy.”
“Mummies are scary. I don’t like those things.”
“Then, it’s a good thing there aren’t any of them here.” I yawned and put my head back.
“Where’s my mom?” His suddenly small voice sounded so lonely.
Caleb was growing more fretful with each question. In all the time I’ve spent with him, we had never been alone together without Grace somewhere in the house. It had escaped my notice, but apparently not his. I might’ve overestimated my effect on him.
“It will be just a few minutes, you’ll see.” I encouraged. “Why don’t you try going back to sleep?”
“I’m gonna ask Noah.” He started to climb from the couch.
“He is at the party down the hill, remember?”
He looked at me, the tears welling again in his big brown eyes. “Where’s Marcus?”
“He’s at the party with Noah.” I combed his hair down with my fingers.
“I’m alone?” He squealed before bawling like a calf.
“No, silly. I’m here with you.” I said in a nervous chuckle. The panic level was rising. I had no idea what to do if he really started going.
I looked at the clock; it had only been maybe twenty minutes since she left. She was probably not even at the store yet.
“Caleb, please don’t cry.”
I tried to take hold of him, to lift him onto my lap, but he squirmed away. He balled up his fists and covered his eyes. I patted his back as my mind scrambled. Other than offering sweets, which were forbidden at this hour, I had nothing.
He got louder.
“Caleb?” I placated, “I’ll give you ice cream if you stop crying.”
“I want… my mom.” The words came quivering through his half open lips in between the sobs, barely decipherable.
“Caleb, settle down.” I tried sounding authoritative—the last card I had.
He turned around, plopping his short legs onto the floor. With a jerk of his arm, he threw a pillow as well.
Judging from his expression, I suspected a fit of temper. Without further warning, he arched his back, flinging his body onto the rug. I reached to stop him, but he was on the floor in a flash. One shrieking wail erupted before he went silent.
And limp.
The horror sent me into a frenzy. A million different scenarios rushed through my mind. The first and most gruesome was that there may actually be something wrong with him and it would be all my fault.
“Caleb? Caleb?”
Assessing the situation, I caught sight of the pillow under his head and suddenly understood.
“Caleb, what the hell was that?”
He didn’t move. I waited.
“I want my mom!” He commanded, suddenly kicking to life. His stubby legs wagged at the sofa.
“Are you throwing a fit? Is that what this is supposed to be?”
He shook his head, confirming my suspicions. I wanted to laugh but the opportunity for distraction had to be seized before he went back into another paroxysm.
“Well, you had me,” I sat up, nonchalant. “For about two seconds. That was not a proper fit.”
“Yes it is!” He disagreed, kicking at the sofa once more.
“I know tantrums, Caleb, and that was poorly done, mate. Believe me, I have seen and participated in hundreds of them.” I raised my eyebrows, hoping to distract him out of this mood.
“If you’re going to make a scene, it should be entertaining. You’ve got to draw your audience in, make them care about what you want, not scare them off.”
He looked up at me, utterly clueless.
“Move over, mate, let me show you.”
He quietly obeyed, inching away from my feet and waited for me to continue.
“See, you don’t want to injure yourself in the process, it defeats the purpose if you end up in the emergency room. So, don’t throw yourself back like that, hoping you land on the pillow. It’s just irresponsible. Lay down, quickly, but carefully, like so.” I lay on the floor next to him, keeping a respectable distance.
“Now,” I continued, “the next part is proximity. You’ve got to check your boundaries; make sure you have enough space to work with. You have to really go for it, or it won’t work. So make sure your hands and feet are clear of any objects that you can knock over on top of yourself.”
Caleb looked around, copying my moves as I stretched out my arms, reaching in every direction. He stretched up, using his feet, pushing away from the couch.
“The next step is the tantrum itself. Start slowly, alright? Remember: safety first. You’ve got to kick your legs around.” I squirmed, making large slow kicks into the air, being careful not to disturb the furniture. “Come on, get a wriggle on.” I urged him.
He duplicated.
“Good. Now, get your arms moving.” I displayed a flailing motion and watched him reproduce.
My arms thrashed up and down.
Caleb laughed and did likewise.
Encouraged, I continued with the lesson. “Combine the moves, add in a bit of rolling if you feel like it, and yell. Keep everything going at the same time. Arms, legs, and rolling. But be careful not to hit yourself.”
I showed him what I meant: kicked my legs and threw my arms around, jerking my body. The same way I used to as a child, barely older than him. I started rolling from side to side, yelling, “I want it! Give me what I want! Give it to me right now!”
Caleb giggled at the ridiculous display. I kept going, really getting into it. it’s been years since I’ve had a proper fit. It felt good.
Once Caleb launched into a full belly laugh, I stopped and sat up. “And that, my friend, is how it’s done.”
I looked over at the empty spot where Caleb had been a second before, then lifted my head to see Grace peeking over the back of the sofa.
She was smiling, holding Caleb on her hip. “You see how dumb he looks?” He shook his head, still giggling. “Now you know why I don’t want you throwing fits.”
She winked at me before walking off, shaking her head.
I cleared my throat, calling out after them. “People pay me a lot of money for this stuff, you know. A lot of money! I’m good at it.”
I heard more laughter.

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