A Taste of Summer(5)

By: Beverly Preston

Richard and Thomas greeted her with toothless smiles when she got out of her car. Carrie Ann wasn’t their aunt by blood, but it didn’t matter. Being Shayla’s best friend for fourteen years gave her the eternal aunt-privileges.

“What’s up boys?”

“Nothin’.” they announced simultaneously, throwing their hands on their hips, elbow to elbow, as if making a blockade for her to pass.

She clasped her fingers around her hip bones. “You’re gonna make me go through this again?”

Their hazel eyes twinkled mischievously, saying in unison, “Yep!”

Carrie Ann gave the identical boys an exaggerated eye roll. “Alright. Let’s see if I can get it right this time.”

“You’re never gonna get it right.” One of them held a Mason jar turned into a make-shift piggy bank. He gave it a shake making the coins jingle.

“I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance.”

“Choose wisely or you shall not pass.”

“Oh my gosh. Okay.” Her body shook with laughter wondering what movie they were quoting. Getting into character, she narrowed her gaze hunching forward to inspect their identical features. “Freckles? Check. Big round hazel eyes? Check. The tooth fairy informed me that Richard lost another tooth.”

The boys smiled wide, orneriness flickered in their eyes. Each hooked the corners of their lips with their index fingers stretching their mouths open as far as possible. Both were missing the exact same three teeth.

“I bet one of you yanked out a tooth while driving here from Las Vegas just to make a buck off me.” She received a round of giggles and another shake of the jar. Carrie Ann pointed to the boy on the left. “Okay, I think you’re Thomas.”

Judging by the obnoxious grin of victory gleaming in their eyes, she was going to have to ante up.

“Ha! Fooled you again, Aunt Carrie Ann!”

She ruffled her fingers through two heads of blond layers, placing smooches to the twin’s foreheads. Digging into her wallet, she asked, “What’s it gonna cost me this—”

“Five bucks,” rolled off Richard’s tongue before she could even finish her sentence.

“Five bucks?!”

“Infation, Aunt Carrie Ann.” The L lost to the missing gap of Thomas’s two front teeth.

“You’re trippin’ kid! How ’bout two bucks? And you can make the difference later if I accidentally say a bad word.”

The boys looked at each and shrugged. “Deal.”

She folded the bills and shoved them through the slot cut into the lid. Richard and Thomas hugged her around the waist before taking off in a gallop, trotting past their mom standing in the doorway.

Shayla leaned against the opening as the hem of her summer dress danced in the breeze.

“I had to pay homage to the Mason jar.”

“I was watching through the window,” Shayla chuckled, giving her a welcoming squeeze. “Yesterday it was a tarantula cage…today it’s a vault for all their loot.”

“What happened to the tarantula?” Carrie Ann’s eyes fell to floor beneath her bare feet, making a quick but thorough inspection of the tile.

Shayla frowned. “Casualty of war. It accidentally crawled under my tire.”

“You ran over their tarantula?” Her bottom lip protruded. “That had to be awful.”

“It was terrible, but they’re okay now. Optimus received a beautiful departing ceremony in the backyard.”

“You are going to have your hands full in a few years. Those two boys are too adorable for their own good.”

Linking arms at the elbow, they made their way inside, joining Shayla’s uncle Tommy and his daughter, JC at the kitchen counter. JC’s husband Reed was in the middle of talking, but all discussion came to halt, leaving Carrie Ann to assume perhaps she was intruding on an important conversation.

“Am I interrupting?” She questioned, cutting off the awkwardness.

Tommy greeted her with a warm, uncle-like embrace. “No, of course not. Come on in.”

JC nodded, slipping a strand of her long caramel hair over her shoulder. Struggling to keep her expression neutral, she chimed, “We were just talking about how excited we are about attending the premier. Weren’t we?”

“Yes ma’am,” Reed agreed sweetly. His Texan accent, muscular build, and ice blue eyes were warm enough to make every woman in a five mile radius swoon. A crimson glow burnished over the bridge of Reed’s nose.

Unable to shake the feeling she’d stumbled right into the middle of something, she wondered what could make a man like Reed blush. She observed the couple share a small timid smile. Carrie Ann’s brows lifted to a doubtful point.