Marriage Terms(7)

By: Barbara Dunlop

Daniel exited the pro shop and headed for the locker room. Misty had said Cullen’s tee time was six-thirty. That meant he’d be coming up on the ninth hole about now.

At his locker, Daniel hung up his suit jacket, his tie and his dress shirt. Then he tugged the new golf shirt over his head and straightened the collar. He left the clubhouse through the terrace café.

Normally he’d check out the dining room, maybe exchange an informal word with some of his business associates. But not today. Today he marched straight down the shade-patterned pathway.

Cullen had some explaining to do.

Five minutes down the path, he spotted Cullen on the ninth green, lining up for a putt. He turned and angled toward him, not caring in the least about etiquette.

“Hey, Dad.” A hushed voice to his left stopped him in his tracks.

He turned to see his older son. “Bryan?”

Standing at the edge of the green, Bryan sported a sling to protect his injured shoulder.

He nodded to Daniel.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Daniel hissed.

“I’m golfing,” said Bryan.

“You’re injured.”

Cullen looked up from the putt. “Will you two shut up?”

Daniel clamped his jaw until Cullen’s ball had disappeared into the hole.

“Hey, Dad,” said Cullen, sliding the handle of his putter through his fist as he paced toward them. He handed the club to his caddy.

“You just got out of the hospital,” Daniel said to Bryan.

Bryan headed for his own golf bag. “It was a superficial wound.”

“It was a bullet hole.”

“In my shoulder.”

“You were in surgery for three hours.”

Bryan shrugged his good shoulder and accepted a putter. “You know those doctors.

They eke out every billable minute.”

Daniel rounded on Cullen. “You actually brought him golfing?”

“I’m taking the drives,” said Cullen easily. “He’s only putting.”

“And he’s cheating,” said Bryan, lining up his one-handed shot.

“Like I need to cheat to beat a cripple,” Cullen called.

“I can’t believe Lucy let you out of the house,” said Daniel. Bryan had always been the daredevil of the family, but this was ridiculous.

“You kidding?” asked Cullen. “Lucy paid me to get him out of the house.”

“Apparently I’m not a good patient,” Bryan said, swinging at the ball and missing the hole.

“That’s five,” said Cullen.

“Yeah, yeah,” Bryan returned. “I’ll get you next week.”

“Next week we’re skydiving,” said Cullen.

“I do not want to hear this,” said Daniel, hoping against hope that it was a joke.

Bryan finally sank the golf ball. “Relax, Dad. It’s an easy jump.”

“I knew we should have resorted to corporal punishment,” said Daniel.

Cullen laughed. “Where are your clubs, Dad?”

Daniel squared his shoulders. His sons might be grown men, and he might not have control over their hobbies, but he was still their father. “I’m not here to golf.”

Bryan returned the putter to his caddy. “Yeah?”

“And I wasn’t at Boca Royce to swim this afternoon, either.”

After a silent pause, Cullen raised an eyebrow. “Uh, thanks for sharing that with us, Dad.”

He pasted each of his sons with a significant glare. “I was there to talk to your mother.” Then he dropped his tone an octave, giving his voice that steely undercurrent he’d used when they were teenagers and got caught drinking beer or breaking curfew. “She told me about her law practice.”

He paused and waited for their reaction.

Cullen glanced at Bryan, and Bryan shrugged.

“Her defense attorney practice,” Daniel elaborated, trying to crack their poker faces.

Bryan turned to leave the green. “Is something wrong, Dad?”

“Yeah, I’d say something was wrong. Your mother is working for criminals.”

Cullen followed his brother, cocking his head to one side. “Who’d you think she was working for?”

Daniel stalked through the rough. “Executives, politicians, little old ladies writing wills.”