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Buying Beth (Disciples 3) Izzy Sweet 2022/8/8 14:58:56

And at this moment, something has changed. The dynamic has shifted, and it’s all thanks to Charlie.

I can’t exactly be angry or throw a childish tantrum because Charlie is reaching out to Johnathan for the same kind of protection and affection that he gets from me. Nor can I drop his hand or pull away.

So I have no choice but to follow along as Johnathan leads us into the house, the three of us hand in hand, like we’re some kind of fucked up family.

“What do you think of this room?” Johnathan asks, shoving his open laptop into my face.

I blink down at the picture of a blue living room displayed on the screen.

“It’s nice, I guess….” I say hesitantly, not sure if this is somehow a trick question.

Johnathan scowls and yanks the laptop back.

Balancing the computer on his lap, he grabs his bottle of beer and throws his head back, drinking deeply from it.

I turn back to the Star Wars Lego set spread out on the dining room table that I’m helping Charlie build.

Johnathan sets his bottle back down with a clink. “What’s your favorite color?”

“Purple,” I respond right away as I struggle to separate two pieces I locked together incorrectly.

“Purple?” Johnathan scoffs. He reaches for his beer again and mutters quietly, “I’m not living in no damn purple living room.”

“Wait? What?” Did I just hear him right?

“What’s your second favorite color?”

“I don’t know… I guess red…” I frown at him, and then curse at the two Legos as I bend the tip of my nail painfully back.

Shoving my finger in my mouth, I try to suck the pain away until Johnathan’s eyes light up with heat.

With a blush, I pull my finger out and wipe it off on the skirt of my dress.

“Brown it is,” Johnathan grunts, and then jams a button on his laptop with a flourish.

“What’s going to be brown?” I ask, not sure if I really want to know or not.

“Our new living room,” Johnathan answers with a satisfied smirk.

“You mean your new living room,” I correct him, waving my stuck Legos at him.

Both of his brows slide up and he gives me a look that pretty much says: Really, Beth? You’re going to say that in front of the kid?

I open and close my mouth, struggling to find the words that correctly explain what I mean but in way that won’t freak Charlie out.

“What’s your favorite color, buddy?” Johnathan asks, angling his laptop towards Charlie now. “Any characters that you like? Star Wars? Spider-man? This… Minecrap.”

“It’s Minecraft,” Charlie says with a smile, gently correcting him.

“Ah, sorry about that,” Johnathan squints at the screen. “Minecraft,” he drawls out correctly, earning him another smile. “So you like it?”

Charlie eagerly bobs his head up and down.

“You want your room like this?” Johnathan leans closer to Charlie so he can better see what he’s looking at.

Charlie nearly shoves his little nose into the screen. “Yeah!”

Johnathan jams the button again. “Done.”

Charlie leans back with a beaming smile on his face, and I’m torn between ruining the moment or just letting it be.

Maybe I should speak up more. Maybe all this pretending that something really fucked up isn’t going on is just going to hurt Charlie more in the end.

As if he knows exactly what I’m thinking, Johnathan’s eyes narrow and swing to me.

I chew on my lip, staring back at him. How long can we go on like this? How long can we avoid the giant fucking elephant in the room?

Johnathan breaks eye contact first, glancing back down at his screen. “Our new stuff should be here tomorrow.”

Glancing back up, his eyes meet mine again and my heart starts to race. Oh god, he’s really doing this. He’s going all in on this farce.

Snapping the laptop shut, Johnathan sets it on the table and downs the rest of his beer. “Time for bed, buddy,” he says, rising from his chair.

“Aw, but I’m not tired,” Charlie protests and immediately tries to hide a yawn.

Johnathan chuckles and ruffles his hair. “Yeah, sure you’re not.”

Reluctantly, Charlie sets the fighter jet he’s been working all night on down and stands. “Will you tell me a bedtime story?” he asks hopefully, turning his big blue eyes on me.

I force a smile for his sake and nod my head. “Of course. How about the story of the brave little prince, the beautiful princess, and the big, mean bear?”

“Big mean bear, eh?” Johnathan grumbles, forcing me to come up short as I walk into the living room.

I spent over thirty minutes dragging Charlie’s bedtime story out, and another thirty minutes more lying beside him while he slept before I worked up the nerve to face Johnathan down.

I had every intention of starting this confrontation off with the upper hand. I was prepared to point out every single detail of this situation that is fucked up and wrong.