tagRomanceOkay Now What

Okay Now What

byMSTarot©

"Uncle Ashley!"

In line to get on the Freefall, I turn hearing my name. I know my face must look like I swallowed a trout as I see my nephew jumping up and down waving at me. I notice his mom at about the same time. She gives me a look, then I see her lip sort of quirk. She kind of half waves.

Leaving my place in line I walk back to where they are.

Smiling I wrap my Brother's son up in my arms.

"My god, Melinda, what are you feeding him?" I ask jokingly try to break the shell of ice I can see around her.

My Brother's ex just looks at me for a second then slowly smiles.

"He's eating me out of house and home." She says with a fond look towards her son.

"I can see." Giving my nephew a half lift like I can't pick him up I look at him and grin. "Been on the Mind Bender yet?"

"No! Mom won't take Me." he looks back at her. "She's chicken. Bwak, Bwak, Bwak."

"Bwak, Bwak! Bwak!"" kneeling down I make clucking noises with my favorite nephew. The fact that he is my only nephew not withstanding. I grin at his mom. "I'll take him if you let me?"

She gives a sigh and then nods.

"If he's tall enough!" She insists.

"He should be." I point to the height sign. "That should be the same for both rides."

I watch Cory run over and stand next to it. He just does clear the plywood man's finger.

He runs back over grabs his Mom's hand and then mine.

"Come on lets go!" he starts tugging us towards the large roller coaster.

"Whoa, Sport, What's the rush? The line still takes forty minutes to get through."

Laughing I let him drag me along.

I look over at his mom. I just do catch her looking over at me.

At thirty plus she's not the raving beauty I remember fantasizing about, after I saw her in her bikini one summer. But then I'm not the pimple-faced twelve-year-old I was when she and my brother Bobby got married.

I'm also not that geeky fifteen year old I was when they divorced.

She glances back over to me and I give her a smile.

She hesitantly smiles back.

"How have you been Ashley?" she asks after a moment, while we pause to let a guy with a trash buggy go past. Cory begins to bodily drag us both just seconds later.

"Just call me, Ash, now if you would. I've been fine."

"Ash? Okay I'll try to remember that, but I've known you as Ashley for so long I might let it slip. You out of high school yet?" she asks when we reach the back of the line. My prediction of the wait time is if anything underestimated.

"Melinda I'm twenty two. I didn't get held back but the one time." I tilt my head and pull a silly face. "Me's a dumb... but not that dumb"

She laughs then looks back at me.

"There is no way you're twenty two." She says after a moment.

"I was thirteen when Cory was born. He's what now?" I ask knowing the answer.

"Nine. Yea I guess that makes you twenty-two. Where have the years gone?"

"Yep. Just flying by now, huh. Wait if I'm twenty-two and Cory is nine that makes you...?"

"Shut up!" she says giving me a look. "I admit to no birthdays after number twenty nine."

"Oh so you're twenty nine? I would have said twenty four."

She just gives me a tsk'ing sound and a shake of her head.

I smile when I see that the compliment pleased her though.

"Cory!"

I jump at the shout behind me.

"Mitchell!"

Melinda jumps at the shout behind her.

My brother's son moves past his mom and me to join the little curly headed boy behind me.

"Mitchell this is my Uncle Ashley." He says to the boy after a second of secret handshakes that were known twenty years ago.

I smile as the little bundle of curls holds out his hand to me.

"Please to meet you, sir." He says very politely.

"Pleasure to meet you."

I look back to Melinda and she's grinning. I kind of quirk an eyebrow and she give her head a little shake.

Looking back to my nephew I'm about to say something but I see that they have begun an in-depth conversation about HALO4 and there is no way I could get a word in edge wise, even if I had a shoe horn.

Turning back to Melinda I can instantly see that she is board out of her mind. I look back at the gaming strategy going on behind me. Two more boys about the same age have joined in and a four-way war conference is heating up.

Ignoring the conversation about the merits of Warthogs verses Scorpion tanks I smile at my brothers ex.

"So Melinda...out of high school yet?" I ask grinning.

"Don't make me pop you!" she says pointing a finger at me.

I point mine back at her.

"Don't you threaten me with a good time."

She looks at me for a second then bursts out laughing.

"Ashle...Ash, you haven't changed a bit."

I shrug.

"One can not improve on perfecting and I'm so close it's dangerous to even try."

I smile seeing her making a gagging sound at my brother's favorite line. After a moment she sighs.

"So how is the Idiot?" she asks with a grimace.

I glance back to the boys, there are now six of them in a hot debate. My god they are multiplying!

Leaning in I hide my mouth with my hand.

"Fucked if I know." I say in a whisper. "The less I can have to do with him or that feather head he's dating the better."

Her face flashes through a half dozen emotions in a half dozen seconds. It settles on one that indescribable.

"So he's hooked him another twa...twit?"

I grin at her to show I know what she just about said. I nod.

"Her name is Tina. She's a junior fitness instructor... in training." I shudder. "When the two of them get to talking my brains cells start to cry."

Melinda laughs till she's clutching her sides. Several people in line look back at her and that seems to only make her laugh harder.

She wipes away a tear.

"So...Ash, since you're out of high school what are you doing for a job? I do hope you moved out that dreadful little basement room."

"What? I liked my Dungeon. It was nice and cozy and no one bothered me." I say in mock offense

"Yes but your chances of ever getting a girl to go there were slim and none." She says with a quirky grin. Her eyes flash past me to the boys.

I half glance back then turn and keep my eyes front. Ten...no maybe eleven. The horror is growing.

I look at her and we exchange a look.

"On that subject I must say that you are right." I tell her with a shrug "The Dungeon was no place for the fairer sex, but...that's why God gave my girlfriends their own bedrooms." I wink.

She gives a chuckling blush then a naughty grin. She slowly shakes her head.

"That may be so but then God also gave girlfriends parents that come walking in and catch you."

"Only if you date the ones that have parents that don't go out of town and leave innocent daughters behind" I look up at the coaster as it goes roaring past. "Well she was innocent...okay... they were."

"They?" she asks with a raised eyebrow.

I glance back into Halo hell. When I look back I hold up three fingers.

"Three? No way!"

I huff.

"Well not at one time! I don't even get that kind of fantasies in my dreams." I say with a whisper. I lean in to next to her. "By the way why are we discussing my sex life?"

She blushes. Her hand raises in half strike. I look for the pop to land but she lowers back down.

"Because your didn't answer my question!"

I think back.

"Oh where am I working?" I shrug. "Well I'm a self made millionaire.... What... not buying that one? Okay I'm a dancer for Chippendale's."

"Be serious!" she says with her eyes rolling.

"I do my best to never be." I take a deep breath. "I'm currently working as a bouncer at a night club."

"Ash, I said be serious." She turns to look at one of the TV's hung up to keep board people occupied.

"I was being. As serious as I get in this life anyway." She turns to look at me and I shrug. "I'm a bouncer."

She after a second looks me up and down, then shrugs.

"Well I guess you don't get the 'I thought you would be bigger' line."

"Oh, now were back to my sex life again." I say smiling.

The lady in the row in front of us snorts. I grin at her when she turns to look.

Melinda is blushing.

Pop!

I make my face go all serious. I point a finger at her.

"Miss, you do that again I'll have to escort you out of here." I tell her in a deep voice. She quirks her eyebrow.

"Young man you better bring Patrick Swayze."

I let my eyebrows climb.

"He's kind dead, Melinda. I didn't know you were into ...that kind of thing." I make my mouth grimace. "Oookaybe..."

Pop, pop, pop!

I fend off the rain of slaps to my chest.

"Would... you... stop... hitting... me? You're setting a bad example for the children." I turn to look and want to run screaming.

The Horde has doubled!

When I look back to her my eyebrows climb. I kind of motion for her to look behind me. She leans around and looks at the growing mob.

She just shrugs like it's nothing. When she looks back at me I see her mouth the word "HALO"

We move forward with the growing Zombie Apocalypse, the miniature version, right on our heels.

"So what are you doing?" I ask after we move forward another dozen feet. "Besides standing in line!"

She smiles. She had been about to say that.

"Still grading papers and pushing information into young minds." She says after a moment.

I glance over my shoulder again. I notice then the intermingling of watching adults. They have the look of...teachers.

But then so does she.

I gesture over my shoulder with my thumb.

"They're your class?"

"Some of them." She agrees nodding. "School field trip."

I stand dumb struck for a moment.

"To Six Flags?"

She nods.

"Oh now that sucks! All I ever got to do was go to the flight museum."

Melinda shrugs.

"Paid school, Vs Public school. It makes a difference. Next semester we're taking them to the Smithsonian."

She blinks when the man lowers the board in front of her.

"Next car Miss." He tells her.

Looking around I realize that we have gotten to the front of the line while we talked.

The coaster rolls away and down onto the track.

For a half-hour plus wait, that the ride only lasts about two and a half minutes just seems wrong.

I grin when I feel the little shiver of fear tingling inside me.

We wait behind the bar as the disembarking passengers, their faces flush, hair wind blown, some laughing, others not, get up.

"Alright please be careful as you get into you seat." Says the guy with boarded enthusiasm. He lifts the barrier out the way and the scream of delighted kids makes me jump two feet. I move away as they rush for seats. Some of the teachers walking with them and taking places next to some of them.

I catch Melinda's hand as she goes to walk through and out the other side.

"Come on. Ride with me." I give her hand a tug back in towards the seat.

"Ah, NO!" She says with a shake of her head.

I look at her, my eyes meeting hers.

"I know your scared." I say softly. "But that's when you look fear in the eye and just do it anyway. Come on...ride with, me." I look to the kids, most of them already in a seat. "Don't let them see you're afraid."

"Miss, on or off?" asks the attendant.

She swallows and lets me pull her to the seat next to me.

The lap bar comes down and she starts to look around for the shoulder bar.

"Where is the one that comes down here?" she asks holding her hands up by her jaw. I shake my head and lean back into the seat.

"But this thing does a loop!" she says here eyes going wide.

The car starts forward onto the track.

"No...it does three."

We start up the hill and I see her eyes widen, then shut. I reach over and take her hand.

"Melinda!"

She turns at my tone and her eyes open looking at my face. I give my head a shake.

"Don't close your eyes." I tell her my heart starting to pound. "You're never more alive than when you're this afraid. Don't miss a moment of it!"

As the car tops the hill I tighten my fingers in hers and she does the same.

Over the growing roar from the front cars and passengers we start around the corner and down. I hear her scream as I lift my hands from the lap bar, taking her right hand with me!

"Ashley! No!"

With a wind-rushing roar we drop from the top of the hill.

I have to fight my bodies fear responses to grab and hold onto something. I do however give my fear an outlet. I scream!

So does Melinda!

Through the loop! The trees whipping past us we go up and over. Turning, twisting, then the screaming as the next hill is reached starts in the front and makes it's way back to us and passes to the last car.

I glance over at her just before we hit the next loop.

Her eyes are open. I give her fingers a squeeze. She looks over at me.

"Let go!" I mouth just as we start to arch up.

If she does it intentionally or not the g-forces pull her left hand up and with our arms raised we go through the loop whooping and screaming.

Around the corner and we are slowing. Our arms slowly sink as we come rolling to a halt.

Panting she turns to look at me.

"I ought to beat the hell out of you." She says between pants.

I start to laugh and give her hand a squeeze. I lean over towards her face.

"You have never been more alive or looked more beautiful than you do right now." I tell her with a grin.

Her gaze moves away from me then comes back. A slow smile comes to her lips.

I have to turn her hand lose when the lap bar lifts.

"Alright people please watch your step getting out of the car."

Her legs are unsteady and her hands are shaking.

Her's aren't the only ones.

"Miss Clayton, were you on the ride?" asks one of the little boys his eyes going from her to the car we just got off of. His bright red hair is doing the Don King look.

"Yes I was, Stevie. Did you have fun?" she asks him smiling.

"I did but I was scared. I had my eyes closed after the first loop." He says a bit shame faced.

I watch Melinda kneel down in front of him. She lets her hand come to rest on his shoulder.

"Stevie, it's okay to be scared but don't close your eyes." She looks up at me. "You may not be this afraid again for a long time you wouldn't want to miss a moment of it."

"Wow that was so awesome!" screams Cory coming up to us in a rush. "That must be what riding a Banshee into battle feels like."

I look up at Melinda and a grin splits my face at the flushed look on her face.

"It's what riding something feels like." I say looking her in the eye.

She blushes quickly looks around at the kids scattering off with their teacher escorts, then with a look at me that speaks volumes gives her head a shake.

"I was right, you haven't changed a bit." She says a grin slowly appearing.

"I want to go again!" begs Cory tugging at her hand.

Tilting my head I give a shrug, then I grin.

"I'm game. How about you?"

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

"Hey Ash!"

I just do hear my name being yelled over the lawnmower. Looking at the back patio I see my brother, Bobby, waving at me.

I just smile and nod that I see him.

He gestures for me to come over.

With a sigh I steer the mower towards the patio. I shut it off wishing for the first time in the last hour that I didn't have to.

"Hey little brother."

Oh god his 'I need something' lead in.

"How's it going." I ask.

My eyes jump from his face to the glass back door as it slides open. Tina comes bobbing out her ponytail dancing from side to side. Inside my head I hear my brain cells sound the air raid sirens and starting to duck and cover.

"Did he say yes?" she asks Bobby as she slides up beside him.

"I haven't asked him yet, Honeybuns." He looks at her face and smiles

Trying not to visibly shudder, I step to the patio table and grab up my half drank bottle of Dr Pepper.

"Ashley I..." he pauses noticing I've moved while he was looking away. I can see the fact I'm not where I was has derailed his whole train of thought.

"What do you need Bobby?" I ask hoping I can get him to go away from me as quickly as possible. Like pulling a Band-Aid you want to do it quickly.

"Can you watch, Cory, Saturday? I'm suppose to be keeping him but Tina and I want to go see a movie."

"Why not take him with you?" I ask then kill the rest of my soda while he figures out that question.

"Well we were going to go see Skyfall and he would be bored to death with it in no time. He doesn't know James Bond."

"Yea and a nine year old would hate to go see a shoot um up action movie." I say sarcastically.

"Exactly." Says Tina smiling.

Five of my brain cells that had been thinking of crossing the barbwire and attacking go screaming back into the trenches. They huddle in the mud with the rest, afraid for their lives.

"So will you watch after him for me, Little bro?"

"Sure why not." I agree. Anything to get them away from me.

"That's great! Can you pick him up at my ex's?"

I give him a look for a half-second and then nod.

"Oh thank you!" squeals the bobble-head.

I stand petrified as Tina hugs me! I don't move till she goes back and together they walk away all snuggled up together.

In the mud filled trenches the all clear is sounded and brain cells visibly relax. One starts to cry and the others try to comfort him to no avail

He wet himself.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I notice that my Brother's old place needs some work.

As I pull into the driveway that's my first thought. I turn off my truck and just sit looking at it for a second. Old memories of when I was a young teen coming over here to visit... annoy...come back. Okay mostly I came over to use the pool.

The one that looks like a frog pond now.

Yea... it needs some work.

Walking up onto the side porch I lift my hand to tap on the screen.

"Shit!"

My eyebrows jump.

I've never heard Melinda cuss in the whole time I've known her. I give the wood screen door a tap.

"It's open, Bobby." I hear her call out. "Cory, your dad is here!"

Stepping through the door I look into the kitchen and smile seeing Melinda half in half out the cabinet under the sink.

I'm about to say something when I hear my nephew coming at a run.

"Uncle Ash!"

I wince when I hear Melinda hit her head on something under the sink. She crawls out rubbing at her forehead. She gives me a look.

"Not the Wilson you thought. I'm the more handsome one." I say making a grand pass in front of my face. "Not to mention witty and charming."

She smiles at my grin.

"Hello Ashley. Sorry Ash! I will get that right at some point."

"See that you do or I'll start calling you Lindy. Hey, Sport!" I ruffle my nephew's hair making his rooster like comb disappear.

He huffs and starts to slick it back up.

I reach to do it again and he backs away.

"Stop that!"

"You look like, The Miz!" I tell him knowing he likes wrestling.

'That's the idea. I'm the Miz and I'm..."

"AWSOOOMMMEE!" I say with him. I laugh "Get your board, I'll take you down to the Skate Park."

"Cool!" he tears off at a full run.

I kneel down and look up under the sink.

"So what's the problem up under here?"

She sighs.

"The sink is clogged. I've tried three different drain cleaners and it's not budging. I thought I might take the U drain thingy there off and see if I could clean it out."

"U drain thingy? Okay that's a new one. You should write those down. So why the so out of character cussing I heard?" I ask with a grin.

She looks embarrassed for a second then frustration shows.

"I can't get it to turn."

"Okay that's easy. Out the way girly girl. Let, Muskuls, try."

Crawling past her when she moves I grab the wrench and get a grip.

"Uncle Ash I thought we were going skating?" I hear Cory say with disappointment in every word.

"We are, Sport, just give me a second to help your Mom out." I tell him as I start to apply pressure.

"But you're not a psychiatrist."

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