Part 2163 – “Let’s Go Inside!”

Darius pulled into the church parking lot just as Elsie and her mom entered the building. He parked the car and pulled the keys. “All right! We’re here. Everyone get out of the car and stick together.”

All four boys started talking and wrestling and yelling and slapping all at once. The youngest one let out a piercing wail.

Darius exchanged a look with his wife.

She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned to face her children. “Oi!” She rattled out a whole long flowing sentence of pure Spanish ire.

The four boys stopped their ruckussing.

She pointed at the two oldest ones and told them where to and what for.

Darius didn’t even try to throw in his forty-eight cents. He could generally tell when she needed backup and when she could handle a situation on her own.

This was clearly a situation she could handle on her own. So, he let her have at it.

She finished her tirade with a strong imperative sentence.

All four boys said, “Yes, Mom.” and filed out of the car.

Arabella turned forward and quick-kissed her husband. “Let’s go inside, mi corazon.”

Darius curled his hand around the back of her neck and guided her into another kiss.

I love the familiarity of her lips. Their shape. Their softness. Their taste. Their eagerness. I don’t want to stop. I want to keep kissing her. I…

He imagined their unsupervised kids running amuck in the parking lot and reluctantly broke off. “Yeah. Let’s go inside. But let me go grab my weapon out of the trunk first.”

She shook her head and said teasingly “Es muy loco.”


Hildreth closed the doughnut hole box as Jeff pulled into the parking lot. “mmm.” He licked the powdered sugar off his fingers. “So much delicious goodness.” He looked down at Jeff’s untouched cup of coffee. “Hey. You gonna let that chill into cold?”

Jeff parked the car. “Nah.” He picked up the cup and removed the lid. “I don’t like drinking coffee when I drive. I like being able to take the time to enjoy it.”

“Oh. Well, that makes—-”

Jeff raised the cup and chugged it all down.

Hildreth’s train of thought fell apart.

“mmm.” He put the emptied cup into the cupholder. “That was good.” Jeff smiled. “Come on. Let’s grab our weapons and get you inside.”


“Well.” Clarice closed the door to the women’s bathroom and contemplated Elsie’s mess of frizzy hair. “It is tempting to just stick it all into a braid, but that would be a fail.”

Elsie shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind.”

“Of course, you wouldn’t. But! This is your wedding! You need to look amazing and trust me on this: a braid is not amazing.”

“It’s practical. It keeps my hair from getting into my face.”

Clarice flapped her hands in a dismissive gesture. “Practical is likewise not amazing. Hmm.” She walked around her daughter, taking in the whole view of Elsie’s hair.

There’s so much to work with. It’s overwhelming.

A memory flashed…

Clarice felt overwhelmed. She had never cut anyone’s hair before, especially such frizzy hair.

What if I cut it too short and it looks like he’s about to join the Marines or something?

Gerald turned his head to the side. “Are you all right back there?” 

But it will grow back. No matter how badly I botch it up, it will still grow back.


“I’m fine.”

I can do this.


“I’m fine.” Clarice straightened her shoulders. “I can do this.”

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