Lochlan asked me out for a brunch picnic on the lawn, with one caveat. Could I ask that PJ help carry out the tray precisely at eleven? No sooner, and no peeking.
The kids are out with friends, roaming the neighborhood. Half the boys are still asleep. PJ is wandering in his namesakes around the house. Caleb has called a dozen times, Ben hasn't called at all.
That's a deal but only if I can make whatever I want.
Done. See you at eleven. He jams a kiss against my face and smiles and is gone.
PJ mutters under his breath. Elevensies and I laugh. We're the hobbits. The smallest.
At eleven sharp I collect PJ and the trays. I made breakfast. Fried eggs, sausage, toast and fried potatoes with apple slices and grapes. There's even a tiny vase with daisies on one tray. Napkins too and PJ has the big beach umbrella tucked under his arm with the worn quilt.
You're the best. I kiss his cheek as he opens one of the patio doors and then backs out to hold it for me. I have the lighter tray but it's still heavy and there are a lot of stairs involved. At the last second Keith swoops in and takes the tray because I would have dropped it anyway when I stepped outside.
Loch towed the camper all the way around the top of the point and brought it across the yard to rest parked at the edge of the cliff just west of the telescope platform on the rock wall dividing our property from Daniel and Schuylers. Technically the pool is in their yard as well. It's huge, all grass, stretching hundreds of feet from the house toward the cliff. Ours is smaller and juts out straight, forty feet of grass past the patio to a steeper, more abrupt cliff. Caleb has no backyard at all, for the boathouse is perched overlooking the cliff on the steepest side.
He did it so carefully you can't see tire marks. The truck is gone, parked back in the driveway. The door of the camper and all three windows are open, and he's set out the tiny bistro table and chairs, though we will spread the quilt and eat on it on the grass instead. There is room. The lower rock wall affords a better view than the tall wooden fence around the back of our yard.
We walk down. The food is probably cold. I don't even care.
PJ and Keith excuse themselves the moment they let go of their items and tells us to enjoy the afternoon. PJ winks at Lochlan. He is so glad I haven't lost my shit yet.
We get the quilt spread out quickly, umbrella set up easily and Loch begins to unpack the food. I dish up brunch and he asks if I like the view.
I nod. I'm focusing on getting the food on plates. Getting coffee into mugs. Making sure we both have napkins, forks. The same amount of potatoes.
He takes everything from me and puts it down.
I look at him.
No, look at the water.
Look behind you.
Yes. The camper by the sea. What else?
Yeah. Me and you. Complete with rings. And what else?
A girl and a boy.
A girl and a boy, you got it, Baby. (His voice breaks here. He's been so tough up until this minute. Henry is going to be signed over to his guardianship, at Henry's own request. Second generation, no less, to be in the care of this man. Hard to believe.)
I let out a long breath and burst into tears.
Let it out, and let it go, Bridgie. We made it.