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Chapter 5

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Jake entered the house. In the living room, he found Bobby with Tom's kids; Lindsey, Emma, and Hunter. Jake was pretty sure that Lindsey was fourteen, Emma was twelve, and Hunter was eight years old, but he wouldn't want to put money on it.

"Where's Mary?" Jake asked.

"She went upstairs to freshen up," Bobby said. "She said she'd be back in a minute."

Hunter sat slumped on a couch, his brown hair in need of a haircut. He was engrossed in a hand-held video game. Next to him, Bobby watched Hunter play with more amusement than Jake would have expected.

On the opposite couch, Lindsey tapped on her phone furiously with two thumbs. She looked so much like her mother when Mary was that age it scared Jake. In fact, both girls looked like their mother with the blonde hair, easy smiles, pixyish noses, and long legs. Not that Tom was a bad looking guy, but he had outdone himself landing Mary.

Across the room, Emma stared off into space as she rocked her recliner too hard. Its springs squeaked loudly in protest. Her red-rimmed eyes made Jake's heartache. He would've liked to give her a hug, but decided against it. Instead, he threw himself on the loveseat next to Lindsey.

The charger for Lindsey's phone was plugged into an extension cord. It stretched across the room, a foot off the floor. Jake frowned, "Lindsey, I think we need to move that cord."

"Why?"

"Because someone could trip over it, like me."

"If you do, it will be Emma's fault. She won't trade spots with me."

"I was here first," Emma hissed.

"So what. Move."

"No. Your phone's battery isn't that low,"

"It's almost down to forty percent."

Jake said, "Come on, guys. Your dad wouldn't want you to fight, would he?"

Both girls regarded like he was bubble gum they found on their shoe. Lindsey unplugged her phone and charger from the extension cord and stomped up the stairs. A door slammed shut. Emma avoided Jake's stare and went into the kitchen. Hunter didn't look up from his game.

Jake rubbed his face and exhaled slowly. He felt terrible. The escaping air sounded like a hole in an inner tube. He should know how sensitive girls can be, he had a daughter of his own. And he was always saying the wrong thing. He pushed himself off the couch, wrapped up the extension cord, and set it carefully on the arm of the sofa and sat back down.

Bobby cleared his throat and shrugged. His chins doubled up on his neck. "You should see Hunter play this game. He's really good."

"What game are you playing, Hunter?"

Hunter mumbled, "Super Smash Bros."

"He wins every time," Bobby said.

"That's cool," Jake said, inching forward in his seat. "I think I should go say something to the girls."

Bobby closed his eyes and shook his head. "Even I know that's not a good idea. How about you let Mary handle it."

Shrugging, Jake said, "Okay. You're probably right."

"I'm always right."

"Shut up."

Mary came back downstairs with her face freshly scrubbed and a new shirt and loose fitting yoga pants. She pulled at her blouse. "Hope you don't mind, but I didn't dress up for you."

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