Let's Get Textual (Page 32)

“Your pajamas!” she shouts, nearly dropping the platter.

“Here, babe.” Jack stands, helping Rose with the meal. “You grab the knife?”

She waves him off. “Who cares about that? She has Ryan Gosling on her PJs. Hey girl! I need them. Buy them for me.”

Jack sighs and turns to me. “Where’d you buy them, Delia?”

“My friend Zoe had them made for me, but I’ll talk to her about hooking you up with a set, Rose.”

She claps her hands together excitedly and Jack mouths a thank you as she bustles back through the door, returning shortly with an electric knife. Jack stands at the head of the table as Rose takes her seat at the other end.

“Delia, I know this is your first Thanksgiving with us, but we like to go around the table and discuss our goals before we carve the turkey.”

“Goals?”

“Yes. Which side—or sides—do we want to finish off first, and how many plates do you intend to eat?”

“This family is the best,” I say, amazement clear in my voice.

“Goals, Delia.” Zach snaps his fingers. “Let’s hear them.”

“I think we should eat the casserole first, less carbs.”

“And plates? How many are you contributing to this meal?”

“My goal is…three plates.”

“What a wimp,” Shep says.

Zach sits back in his chair. “I’m so disappointed.”

“What? That’s a lot of food.”

“That’s child’s play. We’re a five-plate minimum family.”

I slide my eyes toward Zach, who’s sitting there with a frown on his face. “I told you not to eat this morning.”

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

“Probably, but I promise to make your funeral fun.”

“Since it’s your first time, we’ll let you go with three, but next time, you need to step up and put your best effort in like the rest of us,” Jack teases.

I laugh. “Deal.”

Rose promises five plates, Jack six, and the boys each commit to seven.

“Seven? How will you eat seven plates?”

“Three or four right now and then three or four later,” Zach explains.

“You’re allowed to split them up?”

“Yes, dear. The only rule is that the food must be gone before midnight tonight. We begin eating at noon, giving us twelve hours to complete the challenge,” Rose explains.

“And you make all this food for the challenge?”

She nods. “Every year.”

“But why?”

“Because it’s fun! What else are we going to do?”

“Excellent point. Okay, I’m game for five plates then.”

Jack’s grin grows wider. “Way to be a team player, Delia.”

He carves the turkey and we dive in, loading our plates up.

For several minutes, the only thing we all do is eat. To my surprise, no one is shoveling food into their mouths. They’re taking it nice and slow.

“So how did you two meet?” Shep asks, pointing his fork between me and Zach.

“Sex addict group.”

“Zachary!”

He chuckles. “Fine. I texted her thinking she was a client and she responded thinking I was her brother. Eventually we figured out the screw-up and kept talking after that.”

“Caleb mentioned you had moved on rather quickly,” Shep comments.

The remark stings, but I push it aside.

“Onward and upward is what I say.” Zach throws me a wink.

“Do you often meet up with random guys you text with?”

“Hey,” Zach shouts, dropping his fork. “Don’t be an a*s. I will throw a punch on Thanksgiving, I don’t give a s**t.”

The boys eye each other, and I see the anger building inside Zach. That’s the second rude remark to leave Shep’s mouth within the last minute. I don’t know what his deal is, but I don’t like it.

“Watch it, Slug,” Jack says sternly.

“Why do they call you Slug?” I ask.

Zach scoffs. “Because he’s a slimy little s**t.”

“Because they said my newfound baseball fame was getting to my head. I was eight when it started.”

“Hey, we didn’t start calling you Slug until you were fourteen and walking around like your s**t didn’t stink,” Jack corrects.

“I’ve watched a few of your games, and you have a reputation around school. My friend Zoe said she knows you.”

His eyes fall to slits and I know he knows exactly who I’m talking about. “Zoe, huh? I don’t know a Zoe. Must be another one of my fans.”

“Huh, must have you confused with someone else.”

“Did Zoe describe him as being a jackass? If so, it’s definitely Slug.”

Shep smirks and eats his food, giving me weird stares throughout the rest of the meal.

Two plates later and I’m done. I couldn’t eat another bite, not even if someone stuck a plate of brownies in front of me, and I f*****g love brownies.

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Jack and Rose are out too, but the boys keep eating, each on their fourth plates.

“How? How can you even stick another bite in your mouth?” I question, watching as Zach takes another bite.

“Years and years of practice.”

His speech is slower and I can tell he’s getting full. The full belly is making him tired; I foresee a nap in our future.

After polishing off everything on his plate, he finally pushes it away.

“I can’t. I’m done. I’ll have to come back later.”

“How later?”

“Hours. Many, many hours.”

“I’m out too. Dad, game?” Shep asks.

“I’m watching the game. You’re helping your mother clean up.”

Shep grumbles but grabs his plate and takes it into the kitchen. Zach and I follow, our plates and others in hand.

“So what are you kids doing the rest of the day?” Rose queries as we help her cover a few of the dishes and put them in the fridge.

“I was thinking a nap sounds great,” I say.

“I’m with her.”

“And the rest of the weekend?”

“I plan to take Delia to the diner for a milkshake, maybe walk the riverfront, show her around a bit.”

“It’s a beautiful town,” I tell Rose.

She nods enthusiastically. “I couldn’t agree more. I actually grew up here. When Jack earned his promotion and the kids were old enough, we moved back. I love it even more now.”

“What’s so special about this diner?”

“Their milkshakes make my—”

Rose raises a brow at her son. “Go on, Zach. What do they do?”

“I completely forgot what I was going to say.”

“Uh huh,” she says, shaking her head and heading back out to the dining room to grab more plates.

Zach turns to me. “They make my dick hard.”

“Heard that!” Rose calls.

Zach’s eyes go wide and he hangs his head, mortified. I chuckle at his defeat.

“Don’t laugh at that, Delia.”

“But it’s hilarious.”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“Oh, please. I bet she picked up many of your stiff socks throughout your teen years. She knows you get boners, Zach.”

“She does!” Rose says through the door. She pushes it open and I go to her, helping grab one of the heavier dishes. “I like this one, Zach. She keeps it real.”

“I’ll probably keep her around.”

“Probably?”

“Maybe?”

“Zachary…”

“Yes, yes. I’ll keep her around.”

“I think I should tell you that you’re the only person he’s ever allowed to call him that. He used to come home from school so angry because his teachers would insist his name wasn’t just Zach. I had to write a note and everything. He’s always hated anything other than Zach,” Rose tells me.

I eye my boyfriend. “Why do you let me call you Zachary?”

“Because you have a really great a*s.”

Rose laughs. “Yep, just like his dad.”

“So you’re telling me this will be the best milkshake I’ve ever had? Is there a lady boner in my future?”

Zach shakes his head. “Don’t say lady boner. It’s weird.”

“C**t-on?”

“No. No, that is way worse.”

“Lady stiffy?”

“Keep trying.”

“Moist.”

He shudders. “Aaand you’re officially the worst person ever.”

“Here are your Mega Shakes. Your fries are coming right up.”

“Thank you.”

She ambles away and Zach shakes his head.

“I can’t believe you ordered fries. How can you eat after yesterday? After six plates?”

“It’s a gift.” I shrug and grab for my straw, sticking it in my shake. “I’ll be rather disappointed if this doesn’t end up being something magical.”

“Trust me, it is.”

I take a sip…then another…then a longer one. Then I discover I’ve already demolished a fourth of the shake.

“It’s that good, huh?”

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