Beth had to roll her eyes. This was a Samuel plan if she had ever seen one. He might try to pass it off as a James idea, or even a Richard idea in a pinch, but it just had Samuel written all over it. Nate, being the older of the two toddlers, seemed to have taken charge. He was standing up in the “crow’s nest” of the little play area, calling out orders in that strange little language of his that none of the adults seemed to understand. Obviously Drew could though, because he was running around the grounds shouting back at Nate, pulling on different spots on the play ground structure.
“What in the world is going on here?” she asked with half a note of exasperation in her voice. The three grown men watching the two boys play, turned to face her, all with well practiced and almost identical looks of sheepishness.
“It was James’ idea.” Samuel immediately spat out. James slapped Samuel upside the back of the head with a quick, well practiced, motion, not even faltering in his sheepish ‘I’m sorry I got caught’ look that he was still sending Beth’s direction.
“Beth, Angel, I thought you were going to the bookstore. I thought you’d be home later.” Richard started damage control mode.
“They were having one of those really annoying book club meetings where no one shuts up long enough to have a proper discussion, and certainly isn’t very conducive to writing, so I thought I’d come home. Even if I was going to be home later, how in the world were you going to keep me distracted from the new wooden play ground that had been constructed in our back yard?”
“I–” Richard paused, before finishing lamely, “would have thought of something.”
“Or at the very least he would have gone out and bought you some chocolate as a peace offering,” James assured her, probably hitting closer to the truth than Richard really felt comfortable with.
“Welp. I am tired. I think it’s getting late. It’s–” Samuel stopped to check his watch, “Almost two in the afternoon! Wow, about time for me to hit the hay. Goodbye, all.”
“Wait!” James’ voice was just on the side of desperate, “I’m coming too!” James scooped Drew up, who laughed at the impromptu ride and yelled buh-bye to Nate. James followed at Samuel’s heels, eager not to be around if Beth was going to explode. Nate was completely undeterred by his loss of a first mate, and kept yelling out orders, pointing at imaginary people around his “ship.”
Richard stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans, his face shifting from the teenage troublemaker’s look of sheepishness to a husband’s apologetic smile. “So, are you really mad? Do you hate it?”
“How much is this going to cost us?” Beth asked.
“Not a thing. It’s Samuel’s gift.” Richard reassured her quickly.
“Then I love it.” She smiled. Richard let out a sigh of relief. “It’ll be good for the boys to have some place to run around and play, I think. It’ll keep them from completely destroying my living room over and over again.” Richard smiled sheepishly again, knowing that more than once it had been under his watch that Drew and Nate had destroyed her living room. But then he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed her on the top of the head.
“Pillow forts are fun.” He offered as a way of an explanation.
“I don’t remember ever ripping pillows apart to build my forts as a kid.” Beth countered
“Well, then I guess it’s very clear that you didn’t have too many awesome pillow forts as a kid.” Richard laughed.
“I beg your pardon. My pillow forts were completely awesome, Richard Micrada, way cooler than yours could have ever been, and don’t you forget it.”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t dream of it.” Richard kissed the top of Beth’s head again, and Beth smiled in spite of herself. “What do you say to bringing our little ship’s captain inside and getting plans started for dinner?”
“Sounds like a plan to me. But you’re the one who has to drag him inside kicking and screaming. Good luck.” Beth turned and headed inside, while her husband gaped at her with his mouth open. How was he going to get their two-year old inside without him screaming like he was being tortured? Beth wasn’t sure, but she was eager to find out.