Cherish & Blessed

By: Tere Michaels



The next time he opened his eyes it was to the gentle beeping of his alarm and the sounds of someone going through his dresser.

“Shouldn’t you be gone?” he asked sleepily.

“No, I have time.” It wasn’t Matt but Danny, whose voice was getting perilously close to puberty. Evan tried not to freak out.

“Oh. Hey.” Evan sat up. Danny was in his top drawer, taking out a balled-up pair of sweat socks. He wore his regular school uniform—skinny jeans and a massive black hoodie with a graffitied skateboarder on the back—a shock of dark brown hair falling into his eyes. Katie had informed him this was “skater punk emo casual,” which just made Evan want to check out private Catholic high schools.

“Out of socks.”

“Matt’s doing laundry today.”

“Yeah, but he’s working, isn’t he? He might not have time.” Danny shut the drawer and pocketed the socks. “You want me to start it when I get home?”

Evan blinked in surprise. Quiet, surly—teenage behavior. Helpfulness? That was new. “Wow, that would be great, Danny—thanks. I’m sure Matt’ll appreciate it.”

Danny grunted a response. “I’ll do mine. Not touching Elizabeth’s.” He rolled his eyes dramatically. “She’s getting all weird about her clothes.” Like the others went unspoken.

Evan smothered a chuckle. “Well, we’ll let her handle that, then. And I’ll bring home dinner so Matt doesn’t have to worry about that either.”

“Can you go to that Peruvian place?”

“Done.”

“Awesome. Later.” Danny gave him a little wave, then jetted out of the bedroom. It was one of the longest conversations they’d had in forever, and Evan couldn’t help the warm feeling in the pit of his stomach. He worried so much about his only boy, assuming he would have had the biggest issue with Matt and their relationship. And while it had taken a while—he was still the quietest Cerelli by far—Danny and Matt got along fine.

Three out of four would be good if they were polling dentists about what brand of sugar-free gum they preferred, but when it came to his kids, Evan needed more. He needed to smooth things over with Miranda.

Evan waited until he was in his car and parked in front of the station before he dialed Miranda’s cell. He had twenty minutes before he needed to be at his desk, and this was her free morning—which meant they had enough time to start the dance of forgiveness and apology they seemed to do all too often.

It rang twice, three times, and a shuffling sound came through the line as she picked up.

“Hello? Miranda’s phone,” a male voice said.

Evan’s blood pressure spiked painfully. “This is Miranda’s father. Please put her on the phone,” he managed, using his best interrogation voice.

A flurry of whispering and the sound of the phone being passed over—Evan counted to fifty, one hand on the phone and the other gripping the steering wheel.

It was 8:20. This was Miranda’s free morning. He doubted Kent stopped by for breakfast.

“Yes?” Miranda asked. “Sorry about that. We were still sleeping, and Kent was closer to the phone.”

The baiting comment actually lessened Evan’s anger. It reminded him in how many ways Miranda was still immature and how much of her behavior was designed to push his buttons.

And this so did—he just wasn’t going to tell her that.

“I’m sorry to call so early in that case,” Evan said, brisk and efficient. “I was really just calling to let you know that we’re definitely on for Thanksgiving. You can go ahead and give Kent’s parents my cell number if they need directions or anything.”

The silence on the other end made him feel immature. And successful.

“Oh. Okay.”

“Great. Please let me know if there are any food allergies.”

“Su-sure.”

Evan needed a moustache. To twirl.

“We have the extra rooms if they want to stay over…. Hmmm. I think that’s it.”

More silence, but Evan could hear Miranda’s breathing through the line. “Anything you can think of?”

“No.” Her voice became cool again. “That should be fine. We’ll be there around three.”

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