Alexa sat beside Kate on the edge of her bed, her arm around the hunched form of her friend.
“I would die if anything happened to Simon. I have to be there.”
“Don’t say another word. I know you have to go,” Alexa said. The timing couldn’t be worse. But somehow she’d figure it out. She’d done it before. She’d managed to graduate from high school and get into university while helping to raise six kids. This would be a piece of cake.
Kate’s eyes filled with tears again. “I do.”
“I can do it.” It was insane. “How long?”
Kate’s mouth thinned. “Two-and-a-half weeks.”
“And there’s nobody else that can do it?”
“Not… exactly.” Kate explained how her own parents were unable, and that Simon’s brother Will was away all summer.
“So that leaves me,” Alex said.
“And, because you’re at the office all day…” she hesitated, hiding behind her cup of tea. “And I know you can’t not do that. We need someone else to fill in.”
“Yeah…?” Alexa prompted.
“Bruce will have to do it,” Kate said.
“What? You must be out of your mind!”
Kate visibly deflated. “I knew you’d hate the idea. But he’s great with the kids, he really is. They adore him. And he’s the only person that’s flexible enough to fill in the gaps while you’re at the office.” She shrugged. “He’s already been helping me. And you know you’ll need back up. I trust Bruce completely.”
“I can’t imagine why. That player? How can he take care of the kids? He can’t even take care of himself. He’s like a big teenager. He won’t be any help at all.” As soon as the rant had left her lips, Alex wished she could take it back. That was no way to convince Kate to leave her kids and go rescue Simon.
“Someone has to be available and run the whole show while you’re working. I already feel terrible that I’m forcing you into this. This isn’t a good time for you with the big project and all. You know I wouldn’t if–“
“I know, Kate. It’s okay. Don’t worry about the kids, or me and Bruce - just go get your man and bring him home.”
“To be fair, you underestimate him. He’s a terrific guy and incredibly smart and talented. Resourceful. He knows how to do everything–”
“Except dress like an adult and behave civilly to women. Well. I’ll be damned if I’ll feed him and do his laundry,” she murmured with a smirk intended to soften her outburst with humour.
They all knew what Bruce was like, didn’t they? Ever since Alexa had met him again four years ago, she’d done her best to avoid him as much as humanly possible. He got under her skin like a thorn, a sharp prick and then hours of itching and irritation that made her grouchy as a bear.
She made it a habit never to be in his company that long. But what was the point of arguing? As annoying as he was, they had to make it work. They had to, for Kate.
“Bruce and I will be fine. It’ll give us a chance to get to know each other better. We’ll work it out.” Lord help her, she didn’t know how.
The doorbell rang.
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