Daddy, Daddy, and Me(3)

By: Sean Michael

Donny decided the gauze would work best and started wrapping Jeff’s foot. “What do you do?”

“I’m the head chef at Dejeuner.”

The restaurant was a famous enough Ottawa spot that Donny’d heard of it, though he couldn’t afford to eat there. “Wow, that’s cool. What’s your wife do?” He finished wrapping and used a clip to keep the gauze in place before settling back on his haunches to look up into Jeff’s face.

“I’m not married.”

Not married. Well, no wonder he was exhausted. Toddlers were hard work; throw in a baby and you could kiss a decent night’s sleep goodbye, especially if you were doing it alone.

Jeff shifted Kimberley, and the baby gurgled. “This has got to be the weirdest interview for you ever.”

“It’s more like a trial by fire than an interview, eh?” Donny grinned up at Jeff, patted the baby on the butt, and turned his attention to Robin. “And how about you—are you ready to help me show your daddy that I know how to do bath time properly?”

“Yes!” Water went flying, the little boy as joyous as he had been hysterical. It was a beautiful thing about that age: emotions were big and swift, and bad moods were usually easy enough to take care of. Even when the “terrible twos” lingered into the threes.

Laughing, he wiped the water off his face. It was too bad he hadn’t brought along a change of clothes. He would next time. If there was a next time; he was hoping like hell that he was proving his worth right here and now.

Between the two of them, they got Robin clean, dry, dressed, and sitting at the kitchen table with a snack of apples and cheese. Jeff fixed Kimberley a bottle and then offered him a tired smile. “Would you like some coffee? Water?”

“I’m good, man. I can feed her if you want, while we do the interview.”

“It’s okay. You’ve helped a ton already. Come on, let’s sit at the island, and you can tell me about yourself.”

“Sounds good. This is a gorgeous kitchen,” Donny added as he sat on one of the stools next to the island. Of course, Jeff was a chef—it made sense he had a great kitchen. This one was bigger than most kitchens Donny had seen, though. A table big enough for six sat next to a large window that opened onto a covered porch, which held another table with four chairs around it. The island was fabulous, but the corners hadn’t been covered and would probably do some damage to a little head if it careened into them.

The counters were light marble, and the cupboards were dark with gold knobs. A double oven sat next to the stovetop, and the fridge had one of those ice dispenser things. There was a door out to the porch. The whole thing was bright, and while it was fancy, it was inviting to sit in, and he’d bet to cook in as well.

“Thank you. I had it built just last year.”

“Must have been hard with a little one underfoot.” He gave Robin a grin, the little boy munching away on his apple slices.

“Oh, they just moved in… three weeks ago? Kimberley was only nine weeks old.”

“I thought she looked little-little.” This was clearly not your standard family here. The kids were definitely Jeff’s—they looked too much like him not to be—but Jeff wasn’t married, and they’d only moved in a few weeks ago. “I’m not prying, but I do need to know the family situation if I’m going to work for you.”

Jeff sighed. “The kids were…. God, this is complicated. Beth wanted babies, and she was my best friend. I… I was the donor for both.”

“Okay.” That was a pretty big thing, no matter how good a friend the lady was. He gave Jeff an encouraging look.

Jeff looked down at the baby, rocking her. “She was doing great, was getting ready to go back to work, when….” He stopped, cleared his throat. “There was a fire. She got the kids out. But….”

Oh God. Oh damn. That was… God. “I’m so sorry, Jeff. Man, that’s… I’m so sorry.” What could he say?

“Yeah. It sucked. And I’m their godfather. They came to live with me.” The godfather and the actual father. It made sense, given the circumstances, but at the same time, wow.