If you haven’t checked out the PROLOGUE you can here.
Giving Me Fits
“Come on, Kaylee,” Walker said to his thirteen-year-old daughter. “I’ve got a stop to make before the office and an early morning interview.”
“I’m coming,” Kaylee said, running down the stairs as she threw her purple backpack over her shoulder. She was wearing jean shorts that seemed a little too short for him, but they did cover her thighs halfway down. She had an aqua T-shirt on that just touched the waist of those shorts. She was covered if she stood still, but if she lifted her arms her belly would be exposed.
He was ready to send her back to her room to change when she stopped in front of him. “What’s on your face?”
“What?” she asked and moved toward the mirror in the hall to look. “Nothing.”
He moved to stand behind her and pointed to the pink on her cheek with one hand and the soft shimmer on her eyelid with the other.
His daughter frowned. “Mom said I could start to wear makeup.”
“Mom is only one of your parents.”
“But, Dad. All the other girls are.”
“I don’t care,” he said. He was going to have words with Tiffany over this. They shared custody of Kaylee and had since his daughter stopped breastfeeding while he was starting law school. He’d gone around the block more than once with his ex over her allowing things like this without talking to him first.
“Can I wear just a little bit? Please? You like to negotiate.”
His daughter always had his card, but he liked that she wasn’t a pushover either. He had to get over the fact she was growing up before his eyes, but he wasn’t ready to let her be older than what she was. The thought of buying her first sports bra was still traumatic to him. Thankfully she was more into them than anything lacy and pretty right now.
“No eyeshadow,” he said. “Blush and lip gloss.”
“Cool. Mom said no lipstick.”
He paused. “I should talk to your mother,” he said.
“No,” she said, quickly running into the hall bath. He watched her take some toilet paper and wipe her eyes. “Lip gloss is different. It’s like Chapstick now. Can we buy some?”
He let out a sigh. Kaylee would be with him for the next few days. She spent half her time with him and half with her mother. He found lately it was more with him and wasn’t sure the reason but would have to find out soon enough. Just not this morning.
“If I’ve got time after work we can run to the store. I’ve got the final say.”
“Thanks, Dad,” she said, hugging him. Just like he thought, her arms went up and so did her shirt.
“Go change that shirt.”
“I thought the makeup would distract you from that.”
Like her mother at times, trying to play games. “I’m always paying attention. Shirt, now. Hurry up. We’re going to be late.”
Kaylee ran back to her room where she had more than enough clothes, but she did bring things back and forth all the time between both houses.
When she came back down in the same shirt he was ready to open his mouth, but she lifted her arms and he saw she had a tank top on under it in the same color tucked into the shorts. “I’m covered.”
He wanted to be annoyed but realized she’d make a damn fine lawyer someday if she wanted to be. She’d have a spot at the family firm if she did.
When they were finally in the car, Kaylee turned to him. “I like you in that suit.”
“Now you’re trying to butter me up.”
“Maybe,” Kaylee said. “But I do. It’s a nice color. More modern than your black and gray ones.”
“It’s because you picked it out and knew I didn’t want it,” he said. Somehow he’d let his daughter talk him into this dark blue suit that wasn’t navy but wasn’t a normal blue either. It was more muted but dark. With the white shirt and blue-and-brown-patterned tie and the brown shoes she’d made him buy too, he had to admit she had good taste.
“But you know you look good. Maybe now you can land a woman.”
His shoulders dropped. He dated on and off, but he never brought anyone home to meet Kaylee. Unlike his ex. Which made him wonder if that was the issue. “Why does it matter if I’m dating someone?”
“Because you’re always alone.”
“Not always and you know it,” he said. “You don’t need to meet everyone I go on a date with.”
“I know. But maybe I want to. They’ve got to be better than who Mom brings home.”
“What’s going on with Jason?” he asked.
Tiffany had been dating Jason for about six months now. He knew because even though Tiffany never mentioned a man in her life, Kaylee always did.
“Mom said he wants to move in. I don’t want to be there if he does.”
He ground his teeth. “She didn’t tell me someone was going to move in.” That was part of their agreement of joint custody for years. He wanted to know those details or he’d go for full custody and he’d win. Hands down and she knew it.
He didn’t want to be an ass, but he’d been played enough by Tiffany in life and he didn’t want that influence on his daughter. But a daughter needed her mother at times too.
“He stays there now but doesn’t live there. I heard them talking last week about it. Jason wants her to talk to you. He’s pissed that he can’t just move in without you knowing.”
“I don’t give a shit if he’s pissed or not,” he said. “You’re my daughter.”
“I know. Mom said she wasn’t ready yet for Jason to move in. So maybe it’s just him being pushy. She never likes that. She’s libel to push him away soon.”
His ex had a habit of wanting her way and calling the shots. It didn’t work the way she planned with him and it never would. “You know I’m here to talk to if you need anything.”
“Thanks, Dad,” she said. He pulled into the parking lane to drop her off. She leaned over and kissed him and he was thankful she didn’t feel the pressure to distance herself from him like so many her age did. “You’re the best.”
“That’s only because you got your way this morning.”
“Half my way and half yours. Compromise. Have a good day. Remember, lip gloss tonight.”
“You won’t let me forget.”
He pulled out and went to Fierce Engineering to pick up some documents for work and then had to get to his office for the interview that was set up first thing by his assistant.
He made his way to the fourth floor. It was barely eight, but he knew Grant and Garrett would be in. They always started early like his father did.
The receptionist wasn’t at the front desk so he made his way to the wing where Grant and Garrett had their offices and saw the twins talking in Grant’s.
“Morning,” he said.
“Walker,” Grant said. “We were just talking about you.”
“All good I hope,” he said.
“Always,” Garrett said. “How is that sweet girl of yours?”
“Giving me fits like a typical teenage girl,” he said.
“Grant never had those headaches,” Garrett said. “He got lucky with all boys.”
“You love Jade,” Grant said. “She’s your baby and your little girl.”
He knew the Fierces well. He’d been friends with Bryce all through high school and college. The two of them roomed together for their last two years before he went to law school. He’d moved into an apartment for those two years.
“She is,” Garrett said. “And now she’s going to have a baby of her own in a few months. I can’t believe all my children will have children before the year is over.”
“Just like you, Grant,” Walker said. Sam and Bryce both had boys around one. Ryder, a ten-year-old and he’d heard Marissa was pregnant. He’d never thought he’d have a kid at twenty-three, but shit happens in life. He wouldn’t change a thing.
“Kids are the best part of our lives,” Grant said. “Here are the papers. We are sitting here talking your ear off and I’m sure you’ve got to get to work.”
“I’ve got an interview scheduled soon, so I should hit the road.”
“Good luck with it,” Grant said. “I’m glad to hand over that task to someone else now.”
“I wish I was so lucky,” he said, “but this is a person that will be working more with me, so I’d like to have somewhat of a say.”
He left a few minutes later and drove to his office fifteen minutes away, parked his Mercedes sedan and made his way to his office.
“You look nice today,” Amelia said. She was his assistant and had been since he started at his father’s firm. She was married with a few kids in high school and one in college.
“Thanks. Kaylee is taking credit for the suit.”
“She has good taste,” Nicole said, turning the corner toward her office. Nicole was one of the law clerks that worked with him the most. She was young and eager and flirting more than he cared for at work. He just kept it professional though.
“Compromise,” he said, remembering his daughter’s word. It was better to let his daughter pick out one suit for him and get her away from the clothes she wanted that he felt were too old for her.
Since Kaylee’s mother was so cheap, most of Kaylee’s purchases fell on his shoulders and gave him some of the control. The only time Kaylee got things he didn’t know about was when Tiffany was playing her games again.
“I’ll let you know when your first interview is here,” Amelia said.
Nicole was still standing there watching him with a big grin on her face. “First?” he asked. He’d seen his calendar blocked out for ninety minutes and didn’t realize there was more than one.
“Yes. There are two candidates that it was narrowed down to. One of these should be great. Either one,” Amelia said.
“Okay,” he said, turning and moving to his office. He heard Nicole sigh when he did that and pretended he didn’t.
At least he’d have a choice in the decision. Which was more than he felt he got other times in his life.