Remember the foolish, misguided preschooler who told Mackenzie that penises were better than baginas, a lifetime ago? Yep—that Johnny Fitzgerald.
He lives one floor down. Ever since preschool, he and Mackenzie have been connected at the hip. His dad’s an old-money ass**le—his mom’s a functioning alcoholic. Alexandra has him over as often as possible so he can gain exposure to a normal family unit.
Mackenzie pokes her finger at Johnny. “You can help—but you have to do what I say. I’m in charge.”
I throw a smirk my sister’s way. “Boy, does that sound familiar.”
On cue, James squawks from the corner. “Mine! Is mine!”
Alexandra lifts an eyebrow. “So does that. Must be genetic.”
Then Mackenzie and Johnny’s newest battle of the sexes begins. “Hold on a second, Kenzie,” he says. “I should be in charge. I’m a boy and they’re boys.”
“So, I can show them how to do things you can’t.”
My niece’s hands fall to her hips, imitating my sister’s stance perfectly. Talk about genetics. “Like what?”
“I can show them to throw a baseball.”
“So can I.”
“I can play cars with them.”
Mackenzie scoffs, “So can I.”
Johnny goes in for the kill. “I can show them how to pee standing up.”
There’s a heavy pause. Mackenzie frowns.
Johnny starts to think he’s won. So young, so dumb.
Until Mackenzie smiles. Triumphantly. “They wear diapers—they don’t use the toilet yet.”
Johnny lowers his head in submission. Might as well get used to it now, kid. “Okay—you can be in charge.”
Mackenzie smiles wider. Then she taps her fingers together, not unlike Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. “Excellent.”
Ten minutes later, Jack O’Shay shows up. He’s wearing a smart, light blue button-down and casual slacks. His red hair is cut short and gelled within an inch of its life. Jack’s the last of my single friends. The lone wolf. A desperado. He’s still living the life I always thought I’d have. Spontaneous. Irresponsible. Uninhibited. He takes great pleasure in ragging on us about all the great nights—and wild snatch—we’re missing out on.
Not going to lie; I get a kick out of his stories—because I remember how much fun a random hookup can be. But I wouldn’t trade places with him in a million years. The grass doesn’t get any greener then Kate Brooks.
We’re all gathered in the kitchen now, where my mom and sister have laid out a continental breakfast. Jack chews on a fresh-baked croissant and chats with my mother. “You’re looking lovely as always, Mrs. Evans.”
She giggles like a cheerleader talking to the star quarterback. Ewww. “Thank you, Jack. That’s sweet of you to say.”
“Just being honest. Now tell me—how often do you get mistaken for the nanny when you’re out with these little guys? ’Cause there’s no way anyone would believe you’re a grandma.”
It sounds like he’s coming on to my mom, but he’s not. When you’re a player, this is just how you talk—to all women. Remember that the next time some hotshot is dazzling you with his verbal diarrhea. You’re not special—he doesn’t mean it. It’s just his nature.
My father doesn’t seem to appreciate this fact, however. See how he moves closer to my mom? How he scowls in Jack’s direction? “Don’t talk to my wife, O’Shay.”
Jack instantly sobers and steps back. “Yes, sir.”
“Don’t look at her, either.”
My old man may be getting on in years, but he still knows he’s at the top of the food chain. The last thing Jack wants is to get chewed up and spit out. He segues the conversation toward something safer.
“So, Mr. Evans, you’re not coming with us this weekend?”
My dad shakes his head, and his tone is filled with regret. And longing. “No, not this time. Though I wish I could go with you boys. So much.”
My mother’s head whips around. “Oh, really, John?”
He coughs. And clears his throat. “Yes . . . well . . . you know . . . for the sports betting. You know how I enjoy sports betting, Anne. And we don’t have that . . . here . . . in New York.”
Nice save, Pops. Nice save.
My mother nods skeptically. “Uh-huh.”
At which point the old man deflects my mother’s negative attention toward a more obvious target. Which would be me, of course.
“You boys have fun this weekend, but be safe. Remember the last time we were in Vegas, Andrew? Let’s not have a repeat.”
When I was seventeen, my father had business in Vegas. He and my mother thought it would just be a wonderful idea to make a family trip out of it. But I was seventeen. A time in a guy’s life when he doesn’t even want to admit that he knows his family—let alone spend time with them. So, while my parents, Alexandra, and Steven were off visiting the Hoover Dam, I was forced to occupy myself with other . . . activities.
“I’ve said it a thousand times, Dad—I didn’t know she was the ambassador’s daughter.” They should make them wear dog tags or tattoos on their foreheads or something. I roll my eyes and say to no one in particular, “One international incident and they never let you forget it.”
Kate appears at my side. Her gorgeous face is contemplative, digesting what she has just heard. “Do I want to know?”
Don’t even have to think about this one. “It’s probably best if you don’t.”
She nods. “Good enough for me.”
Next to arrive is Erin Burrows. She’s still my secretary, but in the last two years she’s become much more. At times my schedule is so packed, Kate talks to Erin more than she talks to me. At other times, when clients want both members of the dynamic duo at the conference table, Erin takes over James duty. Even though she’s technically an employee, Erin calls it like it is. In other words, she’s a friend. One of the gang. And cool to hang out with. So when this soiree was slapped together, Kate and I couldn’t imagine not inviting her to come along.
After greeting James, Erin joins the rest of us near the kitchen table. She’s changed her hair. It’s shorter, straight, and has tasteful honey-colored streaks.