Ronnie gave Andrea an extra cuddle and a tiny kiss on her cheek then placed the baby in her basket before looking around.
“Looking for this?” Sophie said, holding up a fluffy, pink baby-sized blanket.
“Yeah, thanks,” he said, watching her curiously. “You okay?”
“Yep,” she said, pressing her lips together and looking anywhere but at Ronnie.
“How come I don't believe you?” he said, taking the blanket out of her hands.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you're here and you hate babies, and ...yikes! there's a baby right there!” he said, placing the blanket over the baby, tucking it in around her. “Quick, run for it before she spits up on you!”
“Very funny. I never said I hated babies,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her.
“Hmm...think ya did,” he said, turning back to the baby who had started to fuss again. “Aww...wassamatta now, Andrea?”
“Cassie said she might want a nap,” Sophie said. “She said I should sing her to sleep.”
“Don't think that's a great idea,” Ronnie said, picking the baby up again which made her perfectly happy again. “Is that all you want, for me to hold you all the time?”
“Apparently,” Sophie said. “You're gonna spoil her doing that.”
“You can't spoil a baby,” he said. “We all crave attention. If babies don't get enough of it, they get all weird in their adult life.”
“My goodness, have you been taking motherly lessons from my mom?”
“Doesn't take a genius,” he retorted. “Little Andrea won't lack attention with me around, that's for damn sure. No sister of mine's gonna be weird, right, Andrea? You're gonna be perfectly normal...whatever that is.”
Sophie watched him with the baby while shaking her head in astonishment. “Why shouldn't I sing to her? My singing's not good enough for a baby or just your precious baby sister?”
“I mean she shouldn't take a nap,” he said. “If she sleeps now then she'll be wide awake during the concert and then she'll get fussy and ruin it for us.”
“Okay,” Sophie said watching him cuddle the baby, talking sweetly to her. “You look like my dad when you do that.”
“Holding the baby, talking to her as if she understands everything.”
“She does understand everything!” he insisted. “Babies have the wisdom of the ages, all knowledge of the universe inside them...they're just not willing to tell us what it is, cuz they know we can't keep a secret!”
“Sure they do,” she laughed.
He shook his head and whispered to the baby, “She just doesn't get it, Andrea. Poor, ignorant girl.”
Sophie laughed again, but her smile slowly faded as she watched him holding the tiny baby which seemed even smaller in his massive arms. He held her with such gentle care and the child smiled and cooed and reach up her little hands to touch his face. What was it about babies that melt most people, even big burly guys?
“She loves you, doesn't she?”
“Seems to, but a lot of babies like me. Don't know why,” Ronnie said.
“Just like my dad. Babies always loved him.”
“You weren't jealous, were you?” he asked seeing the strange expression on her face.
She frowned slightly, thinking back. No, she hadn't been jealous at all when her father played with his nephews and nieces or even the kids he coached. She did, however, feel a tugging of jealousy now. She couldn't exactly tell Ronnie that, though, so she shook her head.
“I knew my dad loved me best,” she said, sighing.
“Even more than Kevin?”
“Kevin, you're brother.”
“Kenny. My brother's name is Kenny,” she said.
He frowned. “Why can't I ever remember that?”
“Why do you have to?”
“Because we're gonna be...”
“Don't say it....not again,” she grumbled.
“Okay,” he mumbled, giving the baby a look which clearly said, “What's her problem?”
“So, if you're not gonna let her take a nap, um...what are we gonna do with her?”
“Well, I'm not gonna stick her in a closet, if that's what you think,” he said, sounding more annoyed than she'd ever heard from him.
“I never would do that! I'm not a monster,” she huffed.
“Whaddaya think, Andrea? Does she look like a monster?” he asked the child who giggled. “I think that's a no, but...I'm not so sure....anybody who hates babies...”
“I don't hate babies! Okay, so, I'm not all motherly and all that,” she said, irritably. “Doesn't mean I wanna wipe them off the Earth. I'm sure when I have kids I'll be crazy about them. I'm just not in love with every single baby I see. That a crime?”
He shrugged, and pulled off the baby's booties, then he sang, ♪ ♫… one little, two little, three little piddies, four little, five little, six little piddies, seven little, eight little, nine little piddies, ten little piddy toes…♩ ♬
Sophie burst out laughing as the baby squealed in delight. “What in the world is a piddy?” she asked.
“Don't ask me, I didn't make it up,” he said. “My grandma used to sing it to me. Like you can do better?”
“Think I can,” she said, sitting beside Ronnie, looking at the baby, trying to get her attention. When at long last she did, Sophie sang ♪ ♫… as I was walking up the stairs I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again to today, oh how I wish he'd go away. I wonder if he won't be there the next time I go up the stairs…♩ ♬
Ronnie laughed. “That is the silliest song I ever heard!”
“True, but she seemed to like it,” Sophie said, and sure enough the baby was all smiles.
“I guess. No accounting for taste,” he said, which earned him a half-hearted punch on the bicep.
“We should fix that,” Sophie said. “We should teach her what good music sounds like.”
“Never too young for that,” Ronnie agreed.
“But first...Okay, how about this one,” she said, leaning against Ronnie to get closer to the baby. “Are you listening, Audrey?”
“Andrea! Her name is Andrea,” he snapped.
“Hmm,” Sophie said with an impish grin. “Wonder why I can't remember that?”
“Very funny,” he said, but he laughed, too.
“Okay, Andrea, listen up,” Sophie said, talking directly to the child, completely ignoring Ronnie even as her chest was pressing into his arm. “This is a very special song with a hidden meaning. If you know the wisdom of the ages you'll get it, but it'll go right over your big brother's head. If you truly love him, you should explain it to him, okay?”
Ronnie gave her a strange look when she reached over and tickled Andrea's tummy to get her attention.
Then she sang. ♪ ♫… My name is Sophie, I got a nickel, I got a nickel shiny and new. I'm gonna buy you all sorts of candy, that's what I'm gonna do. My boyfriend Ronnie, when we get married we're gonna have a baby or two, we're gonna let them visit their grandma, that's what we're gonna do, lala-lalala, lala-lalala…♩ ♬
Ronnie stared at the top of Sophie's honey blonde head, bent down over the baby. He could smell vanilla and some unnamed flowers. Was it her scent or the song making his head spin? Perhaps it was because she was too darn close and the words of that seemingly childish song were clearly speaking to his most secret desires. He couldn't tell, but when she looked up at him, still singing softly, ever-so-close, those gorgeous blue eyes pulling him in, he lost his mind and kissed her slowly.
“Sophie...” he whispered, reaching up to caress her cheek and he might have kissed her again, had they not been rudely interrupted.
“Guys, we should get...oops,” Cassandra said, stopping in her tracks. “Um...sorry.”
“It's okay, Cassie,” Ronnie said, springing to a standing position so quickly he almost knocked Sophie off her seat. “We should go...gonna be late...”
“Need help putting the baby's snowsuit on her?” Cassie said, cautiously eying Sophie who sat looking down at her lap, not uttering a word.
“No...uh, yeah... uh...can you do it? I gotta go...uh...do something,” Ronnie said, thrusting the baby at Cassandra and fleeing the room before she could reply.
“What...what did you do to him?” Cassie asked. “Sophie? What happened?”
It took a minute, then Sophie looked up her eyes over-bright and watery, but she was smiling too. “He kissed me. Cassie, he kissed me!” she gushed. Then she stood up and hugged Cassandra, not at all caring that the baby was being crushed between them.
“Uh...that's...nice,” Cassandra said, again being very cautious. Her friend might be overflowing with joy, but Ronnie looked anything but happy. “Maybe ...um...”
“What? Didn't you hear me? He kissed me,” Sophie said. “That means he likes me and from there I know I can get him to...”
“Sophie, take it down a notch,” Cassandra said, laying the baby gently on the table and starting at her legs, pulling one into the snowsuit and then the other. “Ronnie didn't look too thrilled about it.”
“Wh...what do you mean?”
“You know...he just...” Cassandra grimaced. Sophie was not going to like what she had to say, but someone had to dowse her flame before she got burned. “You know what he was like at school, Sophie. Every few weeks—days sometimes-- he was with another girl. No one could keep him interested for long.”
“That's cuz nobody was good enough for him...except for me,” Sophie said, triumphantly. “You'll see, we were made for each other.”
“On the surface, maybe you are perfect for each other. I've even said as much, but..but what I just saw was a guy who couldn't get away from you fast enough.”
“That's just cuz...he's got some stupid notion that we're already siblings, which is totally ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous or not, Sophie, I don't understand what it is about him that gets you so...I dunno... you're not yourself around him. You become this needy, stalker kinda person. Dare I say it? You turn into Antoine!”
“Oh, please!” Sophie said. “Give me some credit. I never bothered him at school as you well know.”
“Exactly. With every other guy who was falling at your feet, begging you to go out with them you laughed at them, insulted them, or just ignored them, but every time Ronnie passed by and you like... you got twisted into knots, you froze, you turned into an incoherent puddle of mud.”
“Yeah, and it got me nowhere. He never noticed me,” Sophie said.
“I'm pretty sure that was impossible. He definitely noticed you,” Cassandra sighed.
“Whatever. High school doesn't matter anymore, so now I have to up my game and get him interested any way I can.”
“You know, we talked a lot about you,” Cassandra said.
“No, I mean back in school, during classes.”
“Oh my God! What did you say? What did he say?”
“I told him how you liked none of the guys who liked you, that you were waiting for someone extra special,” Cassandra said, lifting the baby to pull up the snow suit over her bottom. “I asked him why he didn't ask you out, cuz I thought you might like him, because he was so nice and different from the stupid guys that were constantly drooling over you.”
Sophie gasped. “And what did he say?”
“What I told you from the start but you refused to believe me. That Antoine was telling the whole school that you and he were...you know, and he said any girl who liked that jackass was not the kind of girl he'd wanna be with.”
Sophie hid her face in her hands and mumbled a few choice curses aimed right at Antoine, the bane of her existence.
“Dammit! Ronnie told me that, but I already explained that Antoine was lying, that it was definitely not true!”
“So, now you're throwing yourself at him and you expect him to just...Sophie, please be on your guard and don't...”
“Wanna know what I think, Cassie? I think you want him for yourself and you'll lie to accomplish it. Well, get in line, sister...far behind me, cuz I'm gonna make him mine.” Sophie snarled then stomped away.
“Sophie, you know I don't...” Cassandra sighed and let her go. "And you turn into a jealous shrew, too." She turned back to the baby and struggled to put one squiggly arm in the snowsuit and then the other. “Andrea, what do you think about this tangled mess?”
The baby merely blinked up at her. That was all the answer Cassandra was getting out of this particular Mistress of the wisdom of the ages.
©2015 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved