“You said tattoo,” Harrison quips. “I’m always up for some ink.”
“And yet you didn’t get any,” I point out.
He shrugs. “But I have an idea for one, so there’s that.”
I knock my hand on the door and tell him I’ll see him later. We’re planning to go shopping for the wives and kids later in the week, hoping that we can come up with some inspiration for presents because neither of us have a bloody clue what to get for anyone. It’s hard when the people you love have everything they could every want. I turn towards my home. It’s a two-story house with a wooden door and a two-car garage. It’s nothing flashy by any means, which was precisely what Jenna wanted. She didn’t want a house with a fence or gate where the paparazzi could hang around at all hours of the day or night. She wanted to feel as normal as possible. This house gives my wife what she wants. The best part is the view of the Pacific Ocean at our back door. By all accounts, according to entertainment industry standards, our house would be classed as small, but I don’t care. It’s perfect for the three of us, and it allows Eden to surf whenever she wants. You’ll never see our house in one of those celebrity magazines or on some ridiculous TV show though, and I’m absolutely okay with that. The only thing it does lack is privacy with the neighbors being almost on top of us, but they’re cool. Every now and again, Jenna has them over for dinner or cocktail parties where I get to play bartender, which I find amusing. I’ve even started creating my own drinks, although Jenna doesn’t really like them. I should probably take that as a sign that I’m not quite an expert yet.
Inside, the house is quiet, except for the sound of the sea lapping against the shore. Usually there’s music playing, the TV is on, or dishes are rattling around, but not today. I walk to the back of the house which is my favourite. There’s a wall of bifolding doors which open
completely and stay that way most of the year. I do make sure to close them at night or when there’s a storm, but it’s one of the best parts of our house.
I step out onto the veranda and rest my hands on the railing. Even though it’s December, the temperature is higher than normal, but there’s a nice breeze, making the day almost perfect. I stand for a minute and watch Eden as she rides a wave back to shore. It’s not the best time to surf, but keeping Eden out of the water is not a fight that Jenna nor I are willing to put up with. Eden needs to practice and has the determination to be the best. I can’t fault her for trying to achieve her goal.
I’m not sure how long I stand there, but the desire to be with my wife and daughter is far too much to bear. I make my way back through the house and down the steps which lead down to the beach. Luckily, I’m still wearing my combat boots and they easily trudge through the sand.
“Hey, Sweet Lips,” I say as I approach Jenna. She turns around and smiles, either because I’ve used my favourite term of endearment for her, or simply because she’s happy to see me. Or maybe it’s both, sometimes I can never be too sure. I lean down and place my lips to hers, in need of a kiss.
“What did you get?” she asks when we part. Jenna pats the spot next to her on the blanket, and I happily sit down. I shrug out of my jacket and roll up the cap sleeve of my shirt to show my wife the sugar skull I had inked on my shoulder. It hurt like a bitch, but I’m a man. I can deal with it.
“Wow, white gauze and tape. Very original,” Jenna says, laughing.
I roll my eyes and start to peel away the medical tape. I purposely didn’t tell her what I was going to have done because I wanted it to be a surprise. Having said that, I probably should’ve taken care of this in the house and cleaned my arm ahead of time, so she could see what it was. Too late now. After the gauze is off, I turn ever so slightly so she can see my arm.
Jenna’s mouth drops open, and her finger moves towards the freshly-inked spot. “That’s my drawing,” she says breathlessly. Her eyes meet mine. They’re watery, and a single tear spills over her lower lid. “Jimmy.”
It’s not going to matter what I say in this moment because the likelihood is that whatever I say will not sound as smooth as it does in my head. I’m sarcastic and use humour to deflect from any situation. Instead, I lean forward and press my lips to hers. “I loved it so much,” I tell her when we part, “and I always want to remember what it looks like.”
“I love it,” she says. “And I love you.”
We kiss again and continue to do so until a rather aggressive clearing of a throat interrupts us. Without removing my lips from my wife, I side-eye my daughter.
“Seriously, Dad. Ugh.” Eden slams her board down into the sand with a huff. “You know, none of my other friends’ parents act like this.”
“That’s because most of them are on their third or fourth spouse.”
“Jimmy.” Jenna backhands my chest, causing me to flinch, which is her hint that I should tone it down a little.
“I love your mum. You should be happy that we’re in love and not fighting.”
“I am, just not in public,” Eden says. Mind you, we’re on a private part of the beach, and there isn’t a soul near us.
“Fair enough, Eden,” Jenna says. “Are you done? We need to have a family meeting.”
Eden’s eyes widen dramatically, which makes me think she’s done something at school. Dread fills the pit of my stomach. When Eden was little, things were easy. When she started talking, I knew I was in for a rollercoaster ride. She is a walking, talking, Jimmy Junior, which no one should have to experience.
“What happened?” I ask.
Jenna places her hand in mine. I stand and pull her to her feet. “Nothing. We have a proposition to discuss.”
I catch Eden’s face relax and wonder what was worrying her. It’s something I’ll have to discuss with Jenna later when we’re alone and allowed to make-out without our teenage daughter telling us we’re gross. I offer to carry Eden’s surfboard, but she declines, which I expect her to do. Long ago, we set the ground rules. Much like my band equipment, I’m responsible for its upkeep and making sure it’s always properly stored. I stressed this with Eden and her boards. They’re expensive, and she needs to understand the value of them.
Jenna and I hold hands, and Eden walks next to her mum. When we get to our stairs, I stay with Eden while she puts her board away, and Jenna carries on ahead. With Jenna out of earshot, I ask Eden what’s going.
“What do you mean?”
“I saw your face back there when Mum said we were having a meeting. Is there something going on that I need to know about?”
Eden shakes her head. “Just girl drama at school is all.”