Day 8! How are we all? Still with me on the love train? I'm just trying to write everyone happy. Even the crazies...
La Vita Loca © Billy London
Tao forced his eyes wide open, trying not to fall asleep. It’d been a few hours since his son’s godfather had abandoned the party, and Tao really resented the ease with which he’d left. Morten had dutifully showed up with presents and cupcakes from the artisan bakery down the road. He’d made conversation with Tao’s mother, Wen, girlfriend Catherine, and then announced, “I’ve had my fill of babies for the day. See yous later.”
“You can’t leave!” Tao huffed, practically chasing him down the corridor, little Jiang in his arms.
Morten had frowned in the direction of the bitching match taking place between Tao’s mother and mother in law. Could you have a mother in law if you never married?
“I’ve had enough of the Vita bashing. I’ve got a party to go to. Even if I didn’t, I’d invent something to go to. I’m not here for people to take down someone who can’t defend themselves.” As Tao felt a blush of shame heat his face, Morten bent down and kissed Jiang’s fat cheek. “Happy birthday, little dude. At the very least when you’re older this day will have so much more to give you.”
His friend saluted him and left the house. Jiang looked up at Tao with a frown. He looked like his mother when he made that face. When Tao returned to the living room, Vita’s mother and his own were still going at it. Tao detoured into the kitchen, not wanting Jiang to be witness to any more fighting. He placed the baby in his high chair and placed a cupcake in front of him, cut up into manageable pieces. Jiang picked one up, examined it and threw it at his head. Catherine bent down to kiss Jiang’s cheek, but he moved swiftly to the side, his face contorted in horror. She leaned up and gave an embarrassed shrug. Jiang was still very attached to his mother, despite her three month disappearance. He felt bad that his son’s birthday happened to be on Valentine’s Day, and wished he could have done something nice for her as well. They had decided on having a nice quiet dinner on Sunday, watching the Awards Ceremony while Jiang was asleep. It also didn’t involve asking either of the insane women next door to babysit.
“I got us a chicken for tomorrow,” Catherine said, turning back to the dishwasher and turning it on. “And a card.”
He had a card for her upstairs and a small gift. Considering he’d spent everything on Jiang’s birthday. If only he’d met calm, serene Catherine before the insanity wheel that was Vita.
“Sounds good,” he offered. “Let me just see if it’s calmed down next door.” He got to his feet and Jiang threw his arms up towards him. Obligingly, Tao picked up his son and entered the living room. The two women had come to some sort off standoff. Neither of them were talking to or looking at each other. Tao sat down with Jiang in his lap. The little boy wriggled off and started playing with the scattered wrapping paper. “I’m waiting,” his mother snapped.
Tao lifted his eyebrows. “For what?”
“You to tell this woman that she can’t just make demands on little Jiang.”
“He needs as many people in his life as possible,” Tao said tiredly echoing what his solicitor had said to him. He hadn’t intended his son’s first birthday to turn out like this at all. At the most, he’d hoped that he and Vita could have come together and have something different, something memorable. Instead of a battleground with missing generals.
“And what about Catherine? What do you think she makes of all of this?”
“She’s my girlfriend.”
“She’s going to be your wife. Jiang’s mother,”
Vita’s mother stormed to her feet. “If you say that once more, I’m going to knock you out. My grandson already has a mother.”
“I don’t see her here,” Wen spat. The doorbell rang and rather than stop the fight train, he picked up Jiang again and answered the door.
There wrapped in furs, a tumble of glossy black curls framing her face and a blaze of deep red lipstick, looking like a Dallas extra stood Vita. Jiang immediately reached for her.
“Happy birthday, flower!” She cooed, burying her lips into Jiang’s ecstatic, chubby cheek.
Tao stared at her. “What...”
“Am I doing here?” Vita asked, rubbing the lipstick marks from Jiang’s skin. “I wasn’t going to miss his birthday.” She indicated the presents beside her. “He’s looking so beautiful, aren’t you?” Vita tickled Jiang and he glowed in her arms, laughing loudly. Tao glanced behind him, hoping that neither Catherine nor his mother would see her.
“You need to go.”
Vita made a face at Jiang and said, “I suppose so. Can’t keep him out in this cold. In any case, I wanted to give you fair warning.”
She sent him the look that had led him into her grasp in the first place. “I’m going to get him back.” Tao opened his mouth and Vita placed their son firmly into his arms, simultaneously pressing the most fearsome and deadly kiss on his lips. “You too.”
“I’m engaged,” he growled at her, wiping his mouth. “You don’t get to upturn my life. Or his.”
“Well, he’s my son, so I get to be in his life to upturn it as and when I please.” Vita placed all the presents inside the doorway. “As for you, it’s never stopped me before. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
With an arch smile, she waved to Jiang who sensed her abandonment and burst into tears. Tao took him upstairs, with the presents from his mother. They all strangely were things he needed. Clothes for him to grow into, a little suit for occasions, jeans, jumpers, t-shirts, swimming trunks with arm bands as well, and a certificate holder for all his vaccinations. She had also enclosed a bracelet engraved with his date of birth.
Catherine knocked on Jiang’s bed room door and entered. “Didn’t see you come up. Everything all right?”
Tao looked up from Jiang’s tear stained face and nodded. “Of course. I just need a few.” She smiled and backed out of the room, closing the door.
Inside one of the gift bags, sat a card addressed to him in Vita’s curvy, incendiary writing: I love you. Always and forever. Xxxxx Vita.
Jiang took the card from his grasp and examined it carefully. “Mama,” he gurgled.
“Is a pain in my arse,” Tao added. “And now we’re both in trouble.”