A Bradford Easter
An R.L. Mathewson Chronicle
“No,” Charlie murmured around a sniffle as she pointedly looked away.
“I’ll make this up to you after the baby’s born,” Devin said, leaning over to kiss his wife’s cheek only to have her turn over as much as her large belly would allow so that she could bury her face against the pillow with an incoherent mumble.
Sighing heavily, Devin stood up and-
“You don’t love me,” came the sadly mumbled words that had Devin dropping his hand away so that he could narrow his eyes on the woman that was driving him crazy.
“Because I won’t let you out of bed so that you can see the Easter Bunny?” Devin asked, only to feel his lips twitch when Charlie nodded against the pillow.
“I love Easter,” Charlie mumbled sadly against the pillow, only to follow that up with a sniffle, another nod, and a shuddering sigh as she turned her head so that she could stare up at him as her bottom lip trembled ever so slightly and-
“No,” Devin said, watching as that bottom lip stopped trembling seconds before her eyes narrowed dangerously on him.
“You’ll regret this, Devin Bradford,” Charlie bit out with one last glare before she moved to turn over onto her other side so that she could glare at the other wall, only to end up grumbling, jostled a bit, and then, finally, sighed heavily before she raised a hand and gestured for him to get on with it.
“You really are a pain in the ass,” Devin said with a fond smile for the woman that he adored more than anything as he reached down and carefully helped his heavily pregnant wife turn over onto her other side so that she could continue pouting.
“We are no longer speaking, sir,” Charlie said with a sniffle as she shifted to get more comfortable.
“Would it make you feel better if I told you that I already hid the eggs around the house, put the kids’ Easter baskets on their beds so they’re the first things they see when they wake up, and have everything ready to make Easter dinner?” Devin asked as he made his way around the bed and-
“What are you doing?” he asked as he watched his wife text something.
“Getting a second opinion,” Charlie said with a sniffle, making him sigh as he reached over and plucked the phone out of her hand. “You’re not leaving that bed,” Devin murmured absently as he looked down at her phone and sighed.
“You asked Ben to clear you so that you could go see the Easter Bunny?” Devin asked, looking up to find his wife glaring at him.
“He’s not a doctor,” Devin pointed out.
“Yet, he’s willing to make sure that I don’t miss seeing the Easter Bunny with my babies,” Charlie said with a sniffle as a chime drew his attention back down to her phone.
“Are you sure about that?” Devin drawled as he read Ben’s response.
“Very,” she said with a firm nod.
“According to this text, your best friend is on my side,” Devin said as he looked up to find his wife holding her hand out in silent demand.
He handed the phone to Charlie, watched as she read the text, grumbled, and tossed the phone behind her with a mumbled, “I need a new best friend.”
“What you need to do is listen to the doctor,” Devin said as he made his way over to the mini-fridge he bought when she started having chocolate pudding cravings in the middle of the night and grabbed a small bottle of chocolate milk.
“He doesn’t understand my Easter Bunny needs,” Charlie mumbled sadly as he handed the chocolate milk to her.
“I’m pretty sure he does after that email you sent him last week,” Devin said dryly.
“I felt that he needed to have all the facts,” Charlie said, nodding solemnly.
“And I’m sure that Aidan appreciated it,” Devin murmured as he headed back to the mini-fridge, deciding that she was going to need chocolate pudding to get through this.
“I even added sad emojis at the end to help my case,” Charlie said with the cutest little pout as she took the pudding from him.
“I’m sure they moved him to tears,” Devin said absently as he watched Dustin walk into the room in his tighty-whities, hugging the stuffed bunny that Charlie ordered for him against his chest. That was followed by climbing onto the bed next to Charlie, placing his bunny on the bed next to him before turning his head and opening his mouth as Charlie held up a spoonful of chocolate pudding for him.
Once the chocolate pudding was gone, Dustin picked up his bunny and hugged it against his chest with one arm before pointing a damning finger at him. “He hid all the eggs wrong.”
“Why am I getting blamed for the Easter Bunny?” Devin demanded as he took the empty pudding cup from Charlie and tossed it in the small trash bin next to the mini-fridge.
“Because he never would have placed an egg on my pillow,” Dustin bit out with an accusing glare.
“He also placed one in my Easter basket,” Abbi said with a sad shake of her head and a heartfelt sigh as she walked into the room with the large German Shepard that followed her everywhere not far behind.
“This is why you were left out of Dustin’s plans for world domination,” Charlie said with a sad shake of her head.
“It really is,” Dustin murmured in agreement, earning a glare.
“I would have made an invaluable addition,” Devin bit out, only to have his seven-year-old twins send him pitying looks.
“You put an Easter egg in the middle of the floor,” Abbi said with a sad shake of her head as she shifted aside so that Bradford could jump onto the bed and curl up by her feet.
“The Easter Bunny wouldn’t do that,” Dustin said with a glare.
“He’s done it every year since you were born,” Devin pointed out.
“Not last year,” Abbi pointed out. “Last year, he put our baskets on our nightstands instead of our beds and hid the eggs throughout the house. You just placed them on top of things and left them all over the floor. He also left a trail of chocolate eggs to the kitchen, where he left us pancakes in the shape of the Easter Bunny with extra creamy chocolate milk like Mommy makes.”
“The Easter Bunny really brought his A-game last year,” Charlie said with a heartfelt sigh.
“He really did,” Abbi murmured in agreement as she petted Bradford.
Narrowing his eyes on his children, Devin pointed to Charlie’s large belly. “I gave you a baby brother.”
Frowning, Abbi glanced over her shoulder at Charlie before looking back at him. “No, you didn’t. Mommy did.”
“It’s not nice to take credit, Daddy,” Dustin said with a disapproving sigh as he climbed off the bed and made his way over to the large wardrobe that Devin built for Charlie.
“It’s really not,” Charlie murmured in agreement with a heartfelt sigh as she watched Dustin open the doors and grab the large Easter basket that he made for Charlie.
“Look what we got for you, Mommy,” Dustin said with that shy smile that his wife was a sucker for as he carried the large basket over to Charlie and placed it on the bed next to her, noting the watery smile on her face.
“You got this for me?” Charlie asked with a warm smile as Devin stood there, glaring as she gave Dustin the kiss that should rightfully be his.
That was followed by giving Abbi a kiss when she said, “I helped too, Mommy!”
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Charlie said, only to send the dog a warm smile when Abbi added, “Bradford helped, too!”
Since he’d anticipated this, Devin didn’t say anything as he gestured to the small card taped to the front of the Easter Basket. “You should read the card,” Devin said as he stood there, not even bothering to hide the smug smile on his face as he waited for the moment that his wife read the card and turned that adoring smile on him before-
“Thank you, sweetheart!”
-he was forced to watch as his wife gave Dustin all those kisses that were rightfully his.
©Rerum Carta Industries, Inc. 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpt from Finally: A Neighbor from Hell Novel
“This isn’t fucking happening,” Devin said as he stood there, forced to watch as the woman that he hadn’t been able to convince to give this another chance tore out of his driveway, leaving a cloud of dust behind.
What the hell was he going to do now?
He was going to panic. That’s what he was going to do, Devin decided as he walked back inside his house, pulling his phone out as he went and began scrolling through his contacts, trying to figure out how he was going to convince his mother to put off her vacation for another day so that-
“What’s your favorite dinosaur?” he heard Dustin ask as he opened the kitchen door and found the small woman that he’d spent the last five years avoiding gently working her fingers through his son’s soapy hair only pausing long enough to add more shampoo before she continued.
“That’s a tough one,” Charlie said with a thoughtful frown as Dustin, who never sat still, calmly sat in the large kitchen sink, waiting for her to answer him.
“I’m going to put down T-Rex,” Abbi, his baby girl, said from where she sat on the counter, wrapped in her favorite Mickey Mouse towel with her wet hair neatly combed and a clipboard with one of the rental applications that he’d printed for the in-law apartment on her lap.
He’d been putting off renting out the in-law apartment for a while now, but with the kids getting older and Bradford Creations growing, Devin didn’t have much of a choice. He needed help, which was why he’d been hoping to rent the apartment to a college kid or a middle-aged woman in exchange for low rent and a few hours of babysitting a week. What he hadn’t expected was for her to show up.
He didn’t know what it was about her, but since the day that she showed up for an interview wearing an Indiana Jonestee-shirt and the cutest fucking smile that he’d ever seen, Devin hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. Within the first thirty seconds of meeting her, he’d realized that hiring her would be a mistake. He’d planned on thanking her for coming in and tossing her resume in the trash as soon as she left only to find himself sending her a text, telling her that the job was hers before she made it to the front door.
It had been a mistake, one that he’d been regretting for the past five years and it had nothing to do with her job. He wanted her. God, did he fucking want her. It didn’t matter how many times he reminded himself that he couldn’t have her, he couldn’t stop thinking about her. It was the reason why he’d turned the second-floor storage room into her office and avoided the break-room when he knew that she was in there because he wasn’t supposed to want her.
He’d made a promise to his children when they were born and he planned on keeping it. That meant avoiding the small woman that never should have caught his attention in the first place. She was nothing like the women that he used to date. She was a short, plump little thing with an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter and the bluest fucking eyes that he’d ever seen.
“That’s a good idea,” Charlie said with one of those warm smiles that he tried not to think about most days as she finished working the glitter out of Dustin’s hair and gestured for him to cover his eyes.
“What’s the next question?” Dustin asked, obediently covering his eyes so that Charlie could rinse his hair.
Frowning, Abbi glanced down at the application and said, “What’s your favorite ice cream?” making him smile.
“Hmmm,” Charlie said, pursing her lips up, looking thoughtful before adding, “that’s a tough one, but I think I’m gonna have to go with chocolate chip cookie dough.”
“That’s Daddy’s favorite, too,” Abbi said, nodding solemnly as she scribbled something on the application with a green crayon.
“Are the brownies done?” Dustin asked, reminding him of the reason that they were in this mess in the first place.
“Almost,” Charlie said, glancing over at the oven as the scent of warm brownies caught his attention.
“What about the muffins?” Abbi asked, making him frown.
She’d made muffins?
God, he fucking loved muffins.
“Five more minutes,” Charlie said, making him realize how much time he’d wasted trying to convince the babysitter that hadn’t lasted the week to come back.
“Are you going to take the apartment?” Dustin asked as Charlie picked up a facecloth and began working on removing the glittery-paste mess from behind his ears.
“That’s up to your dad,” Charlie said, rinsing the facecloth as Devin stood there, thinking of all the reasons that this was a bad idea, but one look at his smiling children’s faces had him doing something that he already regretted.