It's been way too long since I've seen him. The Christmas before last, I think. I'm pretty sure he has a new, young girlfriend keeping him busy. He still works, but we're all on him to retire. That way he could spend more time out here in LA with all of us. And I'm sure Colton and Sophie are going to start popping out kids soon enough.
"What's her name?" I ask him.
"You look way too fit and happy. There's gotta be a woman."
He gives me a sly smile and looks from me, to Collins and back again. "I plead the fifth."
"Just tell me she's older than me at least."
"How old are you again?"
"Twenty-five," I say.
"Don't worry about it, son. Now point me in the direction of this lovely Sophie I've heard so much about."
Collins and I lead him across the yard to meet his future daughter-in-law. Sophie wins my dad over instantly, which is really no surprise. She's sweet, kind, down to earth and easy to get along with. As we chat and make small talk with the family my eyes keep straying to Kylie. She's holding Max against her chest as they twirl around in the grass, his squeals of joy audible even from here. I get a strange look from Colton when he catches me watching them. I decide to go now, while he's busy with Dad, and before he can interfere. The cock-blocking asshole.
Since Max is the only child here, and Colton's home isn’t exactly kid-friendly, Kylie's brought her own toys for him to play with. Smart. They've already littered the yard with trucks and balls in various sizes and colors.
When I get closer, Max is pushing a green tractor toward her with chubby outstretched hands.
"Raising him up right, I see." I nod toward the John Deere tractor her son is driving.
She looks up at me and smirks. "I didn't know you were familiar with anything outside of BMW and Mercedes."
She's called me out and she doesn’t even know it. I drive a BMW M3. "A man can still appreciate fine machinery." I sink to the ground on bended knees. "It's all about the details. See?" I lift up the secret hatch under the seat.
Max begins to clap as I drop a couple blades of grass into the hatch and close it once again. He's delighted to sit here in the grass, opening and closing the new found secret compartment while I talk to the beautiful girl in front of me.
Kylie sinks to ground, and crosses her legs, since she's in a dress. We sit in silence for a few minutes, just watching him play.
Her son doesn't look like her. He must get his olive skin tone, and dark hair from his father. But his mannerisms are all her. The way he breaks into a wide smile and squeals with delight reminds me of her own bright smile and hearty laughter. The way he stands and surveys his surroundings with a curious expression is Kylie's too. They're both so calm and grounded and there's something I like about that.
"Do you want something to drink?" Kylie does some type of sign-language to him as she speaks and a moment later, he repeats the move back to her. She hands him a blue plastic sippy cup from inside her bag. He brings it to his mouth and tilts his head so far back that he falls into the grass and just lays there, drinking like he's been travelling through the desert and deprived of liquid. I crack a smile. While he lies there quietly, I take a moment to look at Kylie. To really look at her.
The sun brings out her hair's reddish undertone. Her skin looks incredibly soft and her mouth is full and has a natural pout that women spend thousands to achieve via plastic surgery.
Her bare shoulders are delicate and tanned. Sticky fingers reach out for her, and she doesn’t hesitate, lifting him into her arms and letting him plaster her cheeks with wet kisses. I wouldn’t know what that felt like – to have a little body clinging to me and so happy just to be near me. Watching her interact with her baby, it's hard to look away.
Max tosses down his juice cup and wanders from her lap to where I'm sitting. "Hi buddy," I say, meeting his intense stare. He's silently watching me, but I can see the wheels turning in his little head. He's trying to piece together who I am and what I'm doing. I like your mom, little dude, so be cool. Holding out my hand, I ask him if he can give me five and he does, smacking his sticky palm against mine with a squeal. Then he lunges toward me and begins climbing me like a tree.
"Max, don't do that…" Kylie reaches for him, but I wave her off.
"He's fine. Unless you're not okay with this?"
She opens, then closes her mouth, thinking it over. "No, it's fine. He doesn’t often play with men, so I think this might be good for him. I'm just happy he's not shy. I've been waiting for that stage to hit."
I look down into giant bright blue eyes. "You're not afraid of me, are you buddy?"
He squeals and slaps a chubby palm against my face. Okay then, that settles that.
I spend the next fifteen minutes flying him like an airplane around the yard, hunting for frogs in the garden and letting him dip his fingers into the pool while I hold onto him.
Kylie watches everything with a neutral expression that makes me wish I knew what she was thinking. And even though she mingles a bit and greets the other guests, her eyes are never far from us.
Once Max tires of me, he reaches for her. "Mumma," he says in a little gravelly voice.
I place him in her arms, my hands sliding against her bare shoulder as we make the exchange. Her skin is warm and petal soft and her eyes dart up to mine. "Thank you."