An extract from Loving Lydia showing the moment I knew who my next heroine was going to be.
It wasn’t until breakfast the next morning when Jack’s partner and deputy sheriff, Bill, had called to pick him up for duty that Lydia’s quieter child decided to open his mouth and reveal to the world several matters Lydia would have preferred remain private.
Just as Sam poured himself another cup of coffee, Aaron’s quiet, gentle voice interrupted the adults.
“Do you need Mummy to give you another kiss to keep you from falling off the horse today, Sam?”
He didn’t quite bobble his coffee so much as spill a little of the hot liquid over the side, scalding his hand as he turned to face the youngster. Lydia was engrossed in ripping up a slice of toast on her plate. Kate stared at her younger sister, one cool eyebrow raised in case she caught her eye. Bill snorted loudly.
“Hell, I haven’t heard that one since I was ten or so. My grandpa used to say it to all the little girls, and then burn ’em with his whiskers.” Sam calmly slid a look across the room at Lydia, well aware of Bill’s sudden interest. As he did, Lydia glanced up at that precise moment and smiled bright and saccharine sweet around the room.
“I think Sam has enough good luck to last him several months, Aaron, so I’m sure he doesn’t need me to kiss him ever again.”
Bill snorted a little louder and muttered under her breath, “Boy’s a goner if you ask me.”
No one needed to ask Bill, although how she knew anything about love was a mystery. With a man’s name and a teenage boy’s attitude, closely protected by her all-male cousins, Bill seemed to lead a solitary life, and as far as anyone knew, she had never so much as dated.
Sam had to admire Lydia’s quick recovery and listened with amusement as his brother tried to distract the room at large away from the subject of kissing habits.
Jack launched into the problems their cousin was having with their fourteen-year-old daughter, who was desperate to have a tattoo emblazoned on her butt.
“So, Shelly says to her, ‘When you’re old enough to know what it is you want, where you want it, and why you want it there, then we will have this discussion again. In the meantime, you don’t go near a tattooist, or I will ground you until you are old and gray.’” Jack chuckled as he glanced around the room, but Sam noticed Kate was silent, rubbing her stomach as she studied her glass of milk. Lydia tore up another piece of toast.
“Mummy has a tattoo.” Aaron’s sweet little voice piped up again in the quiet of the room. His mother heaved a sigh, and his twin sister pulled herself up straight to attention.
“It’s a pretty picture,” Rosie said, smiling proudly, looking at her mummy from under her eyelashes.
Sam cocked his head to one side and contemplated Lydia from across the room.
Bill hooted with derision.
“What you got there, honey? You got yourself a little tattoo?”
Lydia glanced up at her, and then shook her head and gave a shy smile as Rosie bounced with excitement on her chair. Curious, Sam stared at Lydia, who looked as though she’d just resigned herself to a fate worse than death. He thought it might be fun to give the child a little push in the right direction.
“I reckon a cute little butterfly, right on your shoulder,” he guessed.
“I think a little fairy just at the top of your a…”
“Bill!” Jack warned.
“No, my mummy has a big picture.” No longer able to contain her excitement, Rosie leaped up from the table with enthusiasm, arms spread wide to grab everyone’s attention.
Lydia glanced at Kate, shook her head, and slowly closed her eyes as though she waited for the axe to fall.
“It’s really big,” Rosie declared in a deep, serious voice, much to Sam’s amusement. Running her left hand from under her left armpit, she smoothed all the way down her body, over her skinny little hips and the top of her thigh, across the left side of her bottom, and back around to the center of her belly as she wriggled like a little snake while her hand wound its way down her body.
“It’s really pretty too, isn’t it, Mummy?”
Staring in disbelief, Sam’s entire body stilled. Believing Lydia would brush the subject off like she had earlier, he waited. He heard her heartfelt sigh as she stared at her plate, licked her lips, and opened her mouth.
“You gotta be shitting me!” Bill declared in amazement.
“Not in front of the children!”
“I gotta see this…” Sam murmured, not taking his eyes off Lydia. He stepped toward her, his hands reaching out with every intention of lifting her T-shirt up to take a peek. Lydia jumped up, swiftly stepped back from the table, and almost overturned her chair. The panic in her eyes stopped him dead.
“Don’t you dare come near me, Sam. I mean it. You’re never going to see this.”
He had other thoughts about that, but in the face of her fear, he considered here and now may not be right. There was always another day. He twitched his eyebrows at her, unable to stop the grin from spreading wide across his face. Who would have thought Little Miss Prim and Proper had a big ass tattoo?
Looking around the kitchen, Sam realized the children had already occupied themselves with pens and paper. Jack was frantically preoccupied with fixing himself another coffee, his back to the room and his shoulders shaking, while Bill stood with hands on hips and scrutinized Lydia with narrowed eyes as though she could see straight through Lydia’s T-shirt to that tattoo.
“Well,” Lydia tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, smiling desperately at Rosie and Aaron, “should we go and play in the yard?”
“I got to go.” He stepped back, gave a lazy grin, and sauntered out of the kitchen