By the time the evening rolled around, Maxxie had relaxed back to his usual self. Or at least he seemed to. Mom had bought a whole mix of booze; Fosters for me and Dad, Budweiser for John, red wine for John’s wife and rosé for Mom and Maxxie was welcome to have whatever he liked. She’d also snuck in some stuff for Hads and Caleb but I didn’t see what it was.
John showed up with his wife, a beautiful little girl in his arms. Weirdly enough, she looked nothing like John but not entirely like her Mari, her Mom. John came over to me and Maxxie with the kid and a smile pressed on his face. I had my arms around Maxxie’s waist and I felt him tense up a little as John walked over.
“Hey guys” John said brightly, shifting the girl in his arms slightly.
“Hey” Maxxie said, looking up.
“Aww, it’s baby Ocala” I said, suddenly turning into Momma Cayden.
John smiled. “Baby Ocala has a name, you know”
Maxxie smiled but I think it was more at the little girl than at John.
"Well I wouldn't know, you never told me" I said, smiling at her as well.
"Did so. I said earlier that I promised I'd take Beau to the park"
So this was Beau. Oh come on, Cayden, who did you think Beau was? Regardless of who I thought she was, she was here now and for some reason she couldn’t take her eyes off Maxxie. She’d glance at me every now and again but her gaze was firmly on Max.
"He did, y'know," Maxxie said to me before turning to Beau and smiling, "hey cutie,"
Beau giggled and reached out towards Maxxie, determination set in her eyes.
"I think she likes you" John said, almost in shock.
Maxxie reached up for Beau and John handed her over, meaning I had to take my hands away from his waist.
"You better go say hi to Mari otherwise she might freak out" John said, laughing a little.
Maxxie gave her a hug and kissed her forehead before giving her to me. The look of disappointment on her face spoke volumes. "I'll be right back. I have to go say hi to your mum."
"Eww, baby germs"
Maxxie laughed and went over to say hi to Mari, who was talking to Hadley. He could’ve at least made it a little less obvious he was staring at her boobs. I turned to John while I tried to keep hold of his squirming offspring. I frowned as she wriggled around again to get into position to bite my hand.
“I don’t think your spawn like me” I said, still frowning.
“Maybe you don’t like my spawn”
“I’d like your spawn a little more if she stopped trying to give me rabies”
John smiled. “Beau, we don’t bite people”
Beau frowned but released her grip on my hand, choosing instead to body slam my chest and cross her arms grumpily. Ooh, rejected much? John just laughed at it so I tried not to let it bother me.
“How’ve you been, Smithy?”
“Good. But what about you, eh? Married and a kid”
“I know, it all happened so fast as well. I met Mari, proposed three months later, we got married the next month and then like six months after Beau came along”
“I feel ashamed it took this long to find Maxxie” I chuckled.
John smiled at that but something seemed off about it. He opened his mouth to say something but cut it short as Maxxie came back over and Hadley took his position staring at Mari’s boobs again.
"About time. Baby Ocala's getting bitchy" I laughed and handed her back to Maxxie. Why is it everyone here seemed to prefer Maxxie to me?
"Smithy, watch your mouth" John said sternly.
"Baby Ocala's too cute for that." Maxxie said, smiling down at Beau who grinned back at him then laughed and poked her tongue out at me.
"John, do you have any opposition to me getting Baby Ocala extremely drunk so she has to deal with a hangover tomorrow?" I asked, pouting slightly and kind of frowning at Beau.
"Surprisingly, yes I do. And I don't think Mari would be too happy about it either"
"Thought you were s'posed to be good with kids, Cay." Maxxie laughed.
"He nearly dropped Hadley"
"I was four, I had nubbly arms"
“Still nearly dropped him"
I looked at Maxxie who was doing his best not to laugh. Beau seemed to find the whole thing funny because she was giggling away at it all.
"Watch it, you" I said, trying to be serious and holding back a laugh.
Maxxie smiled. "Suck it, Gayleb" drifted over from the other side of the room and I had to laugh.
"Told you it was suspicious" I said with a sly grin.
"Yeah, well, I didn't think for one moment he would go from being totally homophobic to accepting without a little... help."
John laughed all of a sudden. "You think Hadley and Caleb...? They kissed each other once by accident and freaked out over it, I don't think Hadley's been getting any mouth action"
"Y'never know." Maxxie shrugged.
"Reckon he gives good head?" The words were out of my mouth before I had time to register them. Maxxie elbowed me in the ribs. How the fuck did he manage that with a two year old in his arms? "What? I'm allowed to wonder, aren't I?"
"He's Hadley's plaything, not yours," Maxxie laughed and I pouted. "What? I'm not boring you yet, am I?"
"Oh c'mon, you have to admit a threesome with the barely legal bisexual guy sounds fun" I laughed. Besides, what little of Caleb I’d actually seen was pretty cute.
"Mmm. Okay, I admit it, but leave him for Hadley, eh?"
"Yessir" I smiled.
John and Baby Ocala both laughed. "You guys are so cute together it's almost disgusting"
"I'll tone down the cute," Maxxie said, laughing slightly.
"It's okay, I was like that with Mari"
Maxxie smiled. Maybe the two of them would actually be friends by the end of this.
"Speaking of which, I think I saw my other love over there" John said, pointing at the Bud and chuckled. "Good luck with Beau, you've got her til she falls asleep now"
"I think I can manage." Maxxie laughed and Beau snuggled against him.
John slipped off to go get a beer and I looked at Beau again. She seriously looked nothing like him. She had Mari’s hair and eyes, hazel in colour with gold streaks here and there, and their face shape was pretty similar but the nose and lips were a mystery.
"Why's she so small?" I asked absent-mindedly. I don’t ever remember being that small.
"Umm... because she is?"
"It's weird. Especially the tiny shoes. Baby shoes creep me out"
Maxxie laughed. Did he think I was joking? "Why?"
"Because they're so small!"
He bit back another laugh and I pointed at Beau’s creepy tiny little baby shoes. "Seriously, what isn't creepy about that?"
"There's nothing creepy about that. she can't help having little feet."
Maxxie giggled and said to Beau "My boyfriend's being mean about you. Don't listen!" and covered her ears, which once again she found absolutely hilarious.
"You're just like a mom" I said with a smile.
"I'd make a rubbish parent," he giggled "I wouldn't know what to do if they started crying."
"I'm sure Beau'll give you some practice tonight" I said, kissing him and heading off to get a beer and say hi to Mari. I hadn’t seen her in a while, it’d be nice to know what she’d been up to.
"You're not supposed to abandon me with her!" Maxxie whined but I just laughed and carried on walking. "Meanie."
I’d just taken a swig of one of the many Fosters when John stood next to me, putting his arm round my shoulders. He was too drunk to have only had one bottle of Bud and I glanced over at Hadley who was shaking a half empty bottle of tequila at the pair of us. Nice, my not old enough to be drinking brother was doing shots in the kitchen. John shook his head and smiled at me.
“I’ve got a secret” he whispered happily.
“Yeah. Baby Ocala…” he hiccupped, “Baby Ocala isn’t even an Ocala” he whispered again and laughed before slinking off to the kitchen again.