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Can't Text This (Page 3)

“Coming right up.”

I pull open the freezer door, grab the bag of pre-made waffles, and begin preparing them. I used to spend my Sunday nights in front of the latest gaming console with a burrito in one hand and a joint in the other. Now I use them for meal-prepping and making lunches.

Parenthood does weird things to a person.

The doorbell chimes and Xavie hops off his stool, running to the front door as fast as his little legs can carry him. “I’ll get it!”

“Make sure you look out the peephole so you know it’s not a creeper.”

One of the biggest selling points for this apartment was how kid-friendly it is. They have an adult-level peephole and one for kiddos—that shit is brilliant.

“Is Uncle Zach a creeper?” The kid’s voice is full of excitement because he is in love with my best friend.

In a weird turn of events, I met Zach the same night I got my ex-girlfriend pregnant.

I ran into the back of his way-too-expensive car at the stoplight outside a strip club. Instead of being mad, Zach took me inside and bought me a lap dance because he’d had a good damn day at work.

Sure, it was only one of those eighteen-plus clubs, and it was only four in the afternoon on a random Thursday so the best of the best wasn’t in the lineup, but we bonded over titties like you wouldn’t believe.

Haven’t looked back since.

Xavie wouldn’t be here without him either, not only because Zach is the best support system in the entire fucking world, but because that lap dance he bought me led to some crazy sex with Xavie’s mom.

Life is strange.

“The biggest one I know. Don’t let him in.”

“I’m not a creep. I’m awesome,” Zach says once Xavie opens the door. “What’s up, buddy?”

I chuckle every time he says this because he sounds exactly like Pauly Shore. One day when he’s older, I’ll have to introduce my son to the actor that ruled my childhood so he can finally understand why his Uncle Zach is both the coolest and lamest guy ever.

“It’s weird not having to pick up your dirty socks. You should come hang with me and Delia sometime soon, maybe give your dad a break from your special brand of crazy.”

He’s not wrong. It’s been a few months now, but I’m still getting used to living on my own. We were roommates up until recently when Zach met “the one” and kicked his first love—me—to the curb.

Kidding…mostly.

In all fairness, when I noticed Zach was ready to take the next step, I opted to move out. Besides, it was time. I’d spent too many years living with him, and if I was ever going to start taking my adulthood seriously, I needed to fucking scoot.

So, here I am: twenty-six and in my very first two-bedroom apartment with my seven-year-old son. We’re making it work, and I’m doing a damn good job…most days.

I mean, I did just almost have sex with a stranger in a bathroom four days ago.

It’s called balance.

“I’m not that crazy,” my son argues back.

“I beg to differ,” I say.

“Keep it up and I’m gonna move in with Uncle Zach.”

As they stroll into the kitchen, I pull the waffles from the microwave and plate them, then grab the peanut butter and strawberries from the fridge. I place them out on the counter with a butter knife and point a finger his way. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“Worst. Dad. Ever,” Zach says, taking a seat at the bar. “I’ll take two, please.”

“You’ll make your own.”

“Come on, be a good sport.”

“Yeah, Dad. Uncle Zach drove all the way over here to have breakfast with us and you won’t even feed him? I thought that’s what dads are supposed to do—give toys, food, and love.”

“To kids.”

“Uncle Zach is the biggest kid I know.”

Zach fist-bumps him. “Right on, little man. Right on.”

I stare at my best friend, mouth hanging open in shock. “You’ve turned my own spawn against me? That’s messed up, man.”

He shrugs and reaches across the counter to grab two waffles. “Can you pass the peanut butter?”

“I hate you,” I mutter as I slide it his way.

He opens the jar and begins slathering the creamy substance on his waffles, grinning. “I love you too.”

“Aww,” Xavie teases, and I throw a hand towel at him.

He giggles and dives into his own breakfast.

“So, how are things? I haven’t talked to you in days, man.”

“Things are…” I start, memories of Monty flashing before my eyes.

I should talk to him about her. Zach’s a female whisperer or some shit like that. For being such a huge nerd, the dude has game that makes even me swoon.

“Xavie, how about you take your waffles into the living room.”

His little eyes widen to twice their normal size. “The living room? With food? And TV?” His voice is about two pitches higher than usual because I never let him watch TV while he eats his breakfast.

Today I’m making an exception. I need help getting a certain ginger out of my head, and I need my best friend to help me. The last thing my son needs to hear is details of the weekend I had while he was at his mom’s.

“Yep. TV too. Just this once though.”

“Can I have some juice?”

That’s where I draw the line. “Out there? No way. Juice stays in the kitchen.”

I grab a cup from the cabinet and the orange juice from the fridge, pouring him half a glass. He chugs it down quick.

“Thanks. I’ll come back when I want more.”

Then he grabs his plate and takes off for the living room. I’ve never seen a kid walk so cautiously before. He knows he better not drop a single crumb on the floor.

Zach chuckles. “You’ve got that turd trained.”

“Someone needed to.”

“What’s up? Why’d you kick him out?”

“Well…” I rub the back of my neck, trying to figure out how I want to phrase this.

“You got someone else pregnant.”

I cross my arms over my chest and glare at him. “No. Stop it, you ass.”

He presses his lips together, trying to hold in his laughter. “Right. Sorry. What then?”

“I met someone.”

“What about Holly?”

Up until two months ago, I thought Xavie’s mom would be my endgame. I thought me finally getting my shit together and getting a place of my own was the icing on the cake. We’d stop our back-and-forth, on-and-off bull and take a real stab at being a united front for our son, maybe even fall in love and get married.

But that’s not how it happened, and I’m done trying.

Holly and I aren’t destined to be together, and I’ve finally accepted that. As much as I don’t want my son to grow up with a broken family, I can’t force things with his mother. That’ll be worse for him than if we just call it what it is and do our own thing.

We promised we’d stand united, even went back to court and reworked the custody agreement so our time with our son was split right down the middle. So far, it’s worked out great.

“We’re done for good.”

Zach’s lips tilt up in the corners, and then a full smile spreads across his face. “I’m happy to hear that.”

He was never a fan of Holly. Shit was bad when Xavie was first born, and we were both so young that we didn’t deal with anything in a healthy manner. Zach’s never forgiven her for it, which is crazy because he isn’t really one to hold grudges.

It’s his love for my son, who truly is practically his nephew, and for me that keeps him angry at her.

I kind of love the moron for it, but I also wish he’d just get over it and be friendly with her since she’s still such a big part of our lives.

He takes a bite of his waffles and chews before saying, “This girl then—what about her?”

“We sort of…hooked up.”

He mumbles something, but I can’t make it out through the food jammed in his mouth.

“In the bathroom at Lola’s.”

He sputters, choking on his breakfast. Loud coughs fill the room and I grab a bottle of water from the fridge, sliding it his way.

He nods and cracks it open, taking a drink.

“Is Uncle Zach dying?” Xavie calls out from the living room.

“We hope so! I think I’m in his will.”

“Yay, money!”

Laughter bursts out of Zach and water covers the counter.

“What in the hell are you teaching your child?”

I shrug, grabbing a new towel and cleaning up the mess. “I don’t know where he gets that shit.”

“Uh huh.” He takes another drink. “Okay, now details. I need details.”

I rest against the counter and lean his way so we can talk quietly without little ears hearing all this.

“I got her with a one-liner, man. We clicked, she said she wanted to kiss me, I took her into the bathroom, and…yeah. Shit happened.”

Zach squints. “What does ‘shit happened’ mean exactly?”

“It means…” I can still remember the way her legs quivered around my waist as she came, the way she squeezed her eyes shut—all of it. Can’t get it out of my head. “It means we, you know, fooled around.”

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