The smoke detector starts beeping while I’m in the middle of changing my son’s diaper.
“What the . . .” Then, I remember who is back in town and asked to borrow our microwave.
No time to finish the job properly, I grab a burping rag and wrap it around Baby Rex. He looks like a baby frat boy on his way to a toga party.
Making sure I’m securely holding his towel-covered bum and supporting his head, I race toward the kitchen as fast as I can.
As suspected, smoke is billowing out of the microwave.
“Darn you, Axel! You . . . idiot.”
Even though I have a bunch of other words to describe him—and the situation—going through my head, I bite my tongue. I know Rex is only a few months old, but I’m really trying to watch my language about him. I took a class about children and how they absorb language, and . . .
I so don’t have time to get into the science of it. Throwing open windows in the living room, even though it’s freaking February, I place Rex in the bouncy seat Dawson’s mom gave us.
Taking a deep breath, I head back into the kitchen through the smoke. Covering my face with a dish towel on the counter, I hit “stop” on the microwave.
I grab the fire extinguisher that my husband has put in place, because “you never know,” as he pointed out on more than one occasion. Drawing another breath, this one for courage, I shakily open the microwave and spray it.
I turn to find my brother standing behind me.
“Hey. Watch your language,” I sneer.
“I left for one minute.” He frowns at me. “Did you really need to use a fire extinguisher?”
I raise it. “I don’t know. Did I?”
He throws up his arms. “Careful there, slinger. I’m unarmed.”
I glare at him for a moment. He really does deserve to get a face full of whatever is in here. But I probably shouldn’t waste any more of it. With my brother living next door, and his habit of leaving things in microwaves and ovens, there will probably come a time—sooner than later—when I’ll need to use this again.
I lower the fire extinguisher.
“You did it again.” I jab a finger at his chest. “Didn’t you?”
“My bad.” He winces. “I must have forgotten to take the twist tie off of the loaf of bread I was defrosting.”
“How could you do that?”
“It’s an honest mistake.”
“You’re a freaking firefighter.”
“Firefighters make mistakes.” He lifts a shoulder.
I shake my head, because, really, I can’t believe this.
“It’s bad enough you’ve killed two of your own microwaves and torched your oven—”
“Technically you killed one of the microwaves and torched the oven.”
I narrow my eyes into slits, effectively shutting him up. He is not going to turn that around on me. While my fingerprints might have been on the microwave and oven that day, he was the real culprit behind both offenses.
“It’s bad enough”—I repeat, this time with noticeably more ice in my tone—“that you’ve ruined your microwave—again—and have now ruined ours. But there’s a baby in the house.”
Axel’s face goes pale. “Shit. Is Rex okay?”
“He’s fine. Though, he’s going commando right now, because we were rudely interrupted by the smoke detector.”
“I’ll go put a diaper on him.” Axel rushes over to where the baby is watching our little show play out. “Then I’ll come back and clean up this mess.”
It bothers me that he has to think about the correct answer for more than a second.
“I’ll get your microwave fixed.”
I raise the fire extinguisher and take aim. “AND?”
“Refill the fire extinguisher.”
“Well, okay.” I set the fire extinguisher aside this time. “I suppose that’s fair.”
Scooping up Rex and coos. “Hey, stud. How’s it going?”
It’s hard to stay mad when he’s so sweet with the baby.
The towel falls. I start to call out a warning, but it’s too late.
Rex’s little firehose is already spraying Axel right in the face.
I cover my mouth, but a snort comes out. He turns to glare at me, which only makes my shoulders shake more with repressed laughter.
Axel swears under his breath. I don’t tell him to watch his language this time. Because, having been peed on by Rex before, I don’t blame him.
It’s into this chaos that Dawson steps through the door from the garage. Glancing around, he carefully sets his his duffel bag down and comes to slide his arm around me.
Despite everything happening, my heart flutters a little, just like it does every time he touches me.
“What’s going on, Babe?” he asks.
I beam up at him. “Karma.”