“Did you enjoy your vacation?” he finally asked despite himself.
“Yes, I went to Disney World.”
“You went to Disney World for your vacation?”
“Yes. Have you been?”
“No, I’m too old for amusement parks,” he said, becoming irritated by her short answers. Most women would tell you everything before you could ask. However, getting information out of Casey was like trying to pull old wallpaper off: it wasn’t going to happen without hard work. Max wasn’t used to putting out any effort on women and wasn’t going to start now.
“No one is too old for Disney World. You should go and take your kids.”
Max snorted. “Their mothers wouldn’t let me take them out of the state, much less all the way to Florida.”
“Do they take the kids on vacations out of state?”
“Then, if I were you, I would get a better lawyer. You’re their father, and most judges give the fathers the same rights as the mothers, unless their mothers can prove they’re unsafe with you.” She stared back at him.
“I’m a good father!” He started to get angry until her hand covered his where it was lying on the table.
“I know you are, Max. I’ve seen you with them several times since our parents married. If they aren’t giving you the rights you deserve, take them to court.”
Max swallowed hard. “I guess the reason I don’t fight with them about it is because I remember the fights my parents had when they divorced,” Max admitted out loud for the first time.
“That’s why I suggested a lawyer. Try talking to them first away from the kids. If that doesn’t work, let them know that you’re going to fight for your rights. Maybe they just want a few assurances from you before giving you more time.”
“I’ll do that.” Max leaned back in his chair, feeling full. “If I don’t stop eating, I’ll have to undo my belt,” he joked.
Casey laughed, covering her face with her hand. “Please don’t remind me of putting my foot in my mouth. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. Did you see Renee’s face?”
Max laughed. “No, I was too busy watching you. I’ve never seen a woman turn that shade of red before.”
“I doubt that.” Casey rolled her eyes.
Max grinned, enjoying seeing the more playful side of her he had never witnessed before.
She stood, clearing the table, and Max helped by packing his own dishes to the sink. His eyes were caught by the pictures again as he turned back around. Pausing, he frowned.
“Does he live in Queen City? I’ve seen him somewhere.”
“You just don’t quit, do you? That’s my brother Cole.”
Memories of the boy flooded back. “I remember now. He’s a few years older than you. I saw him around a few times when Renee was married to Mason. He didn’t come to Mugg’s and your mother’s wedding.”
“No. He left town right before Mason and Renee divorced, and he hasn’t been back since.”
“He doesn’t see Renee? I haven’t even seen a picture of him in her house. There’s several of you, but none of him.”
“It hurts Renee that Cole won’t see her, so she doesn’t keep pictures of him to remind her. Would you like to watch some television? I have a few hours before I have to be at work.”
“Don’t start.” She stopped his protest about the job before he could open his mouth.
“I have some time,” Max told her, going to the couch to sit down.
The apartment didn’t have a lot of furnishings, and other than the two pictures hanging on the wall, there weren’t any of her personal things around the apartment. He knew she had to make some pretty decent money, certainly enough to pay for the apartment; as a result, the frugal life she led made no sense to him.
All the women he had been with loved to keep pretty things around them. Casey, on the other hand, was lifeless other than the red couch. He remembered her asking Mugg to come to her apartment to let the delivery driver in when she had bought it on sale.
“What kind of movies do you like to watch?”
“Action, but I can deal with comedy,” Max told her.
“I could have guessed that,” Casey said, sitting down next to him with the television control.
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing,” she said, flipping through the movies.
Max folded his arms across his chest, wondering if he had just been insulted. “I’m not stupid.”
Her shocked gaze met his. “I didn’t think you were.”
“Then how do you know whether I would like action movies or a comedy? Maybe I want to watch something else.”
“No,” he said grumpily.
“Okay.” She turned back to flipping through the movies. “How’s this one? I haven’t seen it, have you?”
He had, but he didn’t tell her that. He had enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind seeing it again.