“Kenna just laughed,” Gray said in the kind of voice you use at the zoo when you don’t want to startle the animals. His gaze was warm and filled with a silent thank-you.
Aidan’s too. “Looks good on you, babe,” he said to Kenna.
Kenna rolled her eyes. “I smile.”
“Yeah, when you’re planning the slow, painful death of one of us,” Aidan said.
Kenna threw a donut hole at him. It bounced off his chest and into his hand. Not one to waste an opportunity, Aidan tossed it into his mouth and winked at Kenna.
“Time for the board,” Gray announced, and everyone groaned.
“The board?” Jacob asked.
“Wait. I smile and now we have to do the board?” Kenna asked. “Remind me to never smile again.”
“What the hell’s the board?” Jacob repeated.
“Each week there’s a list of jobs that none of us wants to do,” Gray said.
“We handle the situation with a process that would’ve made our founding fathers proud of their hard-won democracy,” Aidan said. “We play darts.”
Gray slapped a handful of darts onto the table and gestured to the wall behind Jacob. It’d been divided into three categories: Asshat-ery, Craptastic, and Shit Even Yo Mama Don’t Wanna Do.
Gray spun Aidan in his chair three times and handed him a dart. Aidan threw and got Craptastic.
“Tough break,” Gray said when Aidan groaned.
Gray pulled a sheet of paper from the Craptastic section and handed it to Aidan.
“What did you get?” Kenna asked.
“I’m in charge of the fifty preschoolers coming to learn about living green on the mountain,” Aidan said with a frown. “Fifty? Who in their right mind would want to handle fifty preschoolers?”
“You,” Gray said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Oh, and I wouldn’t feed them too much. At that age they still need help with the paperwork in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.”
Aidan stood and pushed Gray into the chair. With huge enthusiasm, he whipped Gray around three times and then slapped a dart into his hand.
Gray threw and got Shit Even Yo Mama Don’t Wanna Do.
Aidan gleefully handed him a piece of paper, which Gray read out loud. “Make a sweep of the employee locker room—Shit,” he muttered.
“Sorry,” Aidan said, clearly not looking sorry in the slightest. “But we’ve been told that the room smells like skunk, so someone’s broken the no-drugs rule. The stash has to go, and if we let Hud do it, he’ll have to arrest the idiot.”
Gray sighed again, then pointed at Jacob.
Jacob craned his neck and looked behind him.
“Nice try,” Gray said. “But you’re a part of this family, like it or not, so move your ass.”
Jacob sat in the chair, and Gray spun him while the words sank into his head.
Like it or not…
Fact was, he did like it.
When Gray finally stopped his chair, Jacob narrowed his eyes on the board, but aiming the dart Gray had given him wouldn’t help. First, he was dizzy as shit. And second, he didn’t know which of the jobs were the shittiest. And the truth was, he was actually enjoying being included.
When his dart landed on Craptastic, Aidan grinned. “Nice,” he said, and slapped a piece of paper to Jacob’s chest. Jacob pulled it away and read, “Bring in a new load of firewood for the weekend bonfires.”
Aidan whistled. “Tough break,” he said, not sounding sympathetic in the least.
“This doesn’t look so hard,” Jacob said.
Aidan snorted. “We’ll talk when you’re done.”
He looked at Kenna, who explained, “We can’t get anyone to deliver firewood because it can’t be driven in past the parking lot. It has to be carried in from there to the fire pit by wheelbarrow, which as you know, is a good hundred yards.”
Jacob pocketed the paper, and when the meeting was over, he started thinking maybe this whole family gig was like getting back on a bike. Not easy, not always a good fit, but worth the trouble. “I can do more than load wood.”
Kenna immediately claimed him. “Me! Me! I need his help. I’m in over my head and losing my mind.”
“Spoiler alert,” Aidan said. “You lost your mind a long time ago.”
This caused a momentary rubber band fight. When they each had at least one welt, they got back to it.
“No, but seriously,” Kenna said. “It’s summer season, so you guys all have it easy right now. I’m the only one doing the work of five people—so I claim Jacob.”