Lizzie poked at her dinner. She wasn’t sure exactly that she liked dinner tonight and her mind was also very busy. Jarred was working late on some project again so it was only Kalani and Lizzie at the dinner table.
“When is daddy coming home,” Lizzie stabbed at the chunk of meat on her plate with little enthusiasm.
“Soon baby. He has work things that kept him later,” Kalani reminded her for the tenth time tonight. It was not that she minded taking care of the little girl but nights like this Kalani missed Jarred too. Not for his company but more to manage dinner. They had been a family for about four months and a few growing pains had resulted in this time but nothing that wasn’t expected or typical. However, dinners without Jarred were Kalani’s downfall. Mainly because Kalani wasn’t fussy. She ate just about anything. Lizzie however, when she was alone with Kalani, tended to want to change her mind fifteen times and only pick at each selection. “Can you eat just two bites for me,” Kalani asked which was her first mistake. You never give a child an open-ended question.
“No, I don’t like it. When is Daddy coming home,” Lizzie asked again to get the topic on something other than broccoli? The deep sigh by Kalani showed the same question over and over wearing Kalani down.
“After he gets done with his work things,” Kalani repeated getting up to clear the table off.
“So he is going out with his friends,” Lizzie said remembering one time where Jarred went out with a few friends and Kalani had turned that night into a girl party for them.
“No that is adult things. He is doing work things,” Kalani tried not to scream. At times kids were like a broken record. They didn’t mean to make you nutty but they just got stuck in a scratch so they repeated the same line over and over.
Lizzie wasn’t sure exactly what that meant except that it usually used to mean her daddy and Kalani were going to do things that did not include her. Tonight, Lizzie decided to get a real answer to what adult things were.
“So he is doing things with other people that he does with you that I can’t be a part of,” Lizzie asked innocently. “What sort of things do adults do that kids can’t?”
Kalani’s eyes got wide and she wore that expression that said ‘um oh sheet what do I say now.’ A few seconds later Kalani answered with “adult things are when your daddy is up all night fixing my vivarium.” Lizzie knew her daddy spent a lot of time working on the answer made sense.
Two hours later when her Nana called and asked where her daddy was, Lizzie, said “doing adult things with Kalani’s vivarium.” Her Nana’s response was to say she loved her but had to go right now. Ten seconds she heard her Daddy’s personal communicator ring.
“What do I owe the pleasure mom?” Jarred asked as he sat on the couch. He had felt a bit rough and ragged as he yawned a bit as he wanted to see what she was going to ask.
“Her vivarium,” Samantha Alidor said. The tone of her voice indicated Samantha probably had her hands on her hips and was looking at him like he was a small child. “Is that what the kids are calling it these days.”
“Her what? Kalani? Did she tell you about that? I imagine she would she has been telling everyone. She is trying to cram as much in there as she can. I keep telling her I can only work my magic for so long and something is gonna escape. Plus when she wants the wet stuff it becomes even harder. Honestly mom it’s insane what expectations she has but I promised her before I even began dating I would give it to her however she asked me to… can’t break that promise.”
“Well no more,” Samantha said in a sharp tone, “unless you want your daughter to keep telling everyone that her Dad is plugging holes in Kalani’s drain pipes. I am serious Jarred. This is not the first time when we have called that Elizabeth has said she can’t give the communicator to you because you are tending to your girlfriend’s aquatic needs. Do you know how bad that sounds? Lucy and Peter spent two hours telling me how bad it sounds. What if she tells that to anyone on the ship Jarred. You need to watch what you say and do all the time,” Samantha sighed a bit frustrated.
“I am not sure why anyone would care”
“Why would they care,” Samatha half squeaked feeling her temper rising.
“I mean half the engineering staff has helped me at some point work out the kinks and get things running right. Even the Captain has to sign off in giving us two decks for us to have enough room in case she wants to expand. I mean is it really so odd that a biologist has a vivarium? I think you are being a little short sighted if you think she shouldn’t be allowed to study on ship like that.” Jarred said, a bit surprised his mom was so shocked about something so simple.
“Wait you mean like animal tank vivarium,” Samantha posed the question with a hint of confusion to her voice.
“Of course, what else do you think I would be talking about? That think has taking most of my time up outside of work cause I just wanna be done with it.” Jarred said, unsure why this would ever have been a bad thing for them to do for Kalani.
“Because Elizabeth is always saying that you are working on Kalani’s vivarium as the reason you are busy as a catch-all. That or dealing with adult things. Please tell me that adult things are picking out the nights dinner,” Samantha said frustrated. It was hard giving her granddaughter back to her son. Yes, it was the right thing to do but that didn’t mean she didn’t miss her granddaughter every hour of every day.
“I mean yes I spend time with Kalani in certain ways… not sure what that would be your concern. I am not sitting around trying to flaunt anything I know how to take care of Lizzie. Well I know most of the ways, I certainly know what not to do!” Jarred said his tone sounding exasperated as he couldn’t believe his mom thought he would do something like that with his daughter in the quarters.
“Daddy,” Lizzie tugged at his shirt.
“One sec little one…” Jarred said softly as he kissed the top of her head.
“Maybe moving in Kalani the same Elizabeth moved in wasn’t the smartest move,” Jonathan yelled in the background.
“Oh don’t you start too, you never liked anything I did but I got by… and I do know what I shouldn’t be doing.” Jarred said miffed at his dads butting in.
“Are you sure,” his dad’s simple statement spoke volumes. It was rhetorical and Jonathan didn’t expect an answer yet he knew it would force his son to reply.
“Daddy I brushed my teeth and I am ready for bed,” she said pulling at this shirt again not caring if he was talking. She couldn’t hear what they were saying but she did hear her PaPa. A few times she had heard her daddy and PaPa talk like this and the best thing to do was stop it.
“Okay sweet pea… go sit on your bed and I will be there in five minutes… pick the book you want out and I will come get you.” He said, his voice soothing but he still couldn’t quite hide the on edge feeling he has just then.
“Come with me now,” she said tugging at this shirt again.
“What you should be doing is spending time with Elizabeth and not fiddling with where you need to point your welding torch,” Jonathan said gruffly. His wife had their son on speaker whether Jarred knew it or not. Part of Jonathan felt sick at saying these things to Jarred. The boy was a good father. There was no denying it. Jonathan just knew how bad he had been as a father at times with Jarred growing up. Age and illness tended to make people focus on what they could have done better in life. Jonathan had both against him. Elizabeth was Jonathan Alindor’s way to make up for so many things. He could be a better father, or in this case grandfather, to her than he had been to any of his three children. Elizabeth could also mend the tears and cracks in Jonathan’s relationship with his oldest child. Jonathan had no business being a father when Samantha got pregnant with their first born. He was only concerned about his career and while he loved his family, Captain Jonathan Alindor at that time thought being the best marine possible was how he showed he was a good father and husband. Retired Colonel Alindor knew that showing up made you a good father and the rest would fall into place around that. While the conversation was going south quick, Jonathan only cared that his son learn a lesson far earlier than he did.
“I got the book,” Elizabeth said running in front of her daddy as he seemed to be pacing the room. She darted right in front of him as Jarred was making an about-face putting her squarely underfoot. “I got the book,” she held it up as high as she could so that Jarred was not able to miss it.
“And why is she still up when it is 2000 hours on a school night,” Jonathan said gruffly before feeling a coughing fit come on.
“Dad, she isn’t your daughter and she isn’t your responsibility anymore. I got this.” Jarred said abruptly sighing deeply as he looked back over at his little girl.
“I actually have two,” she said showing Jarred the second one that was hidden behind the first.
“You know what I will hang up and help you figure out what you should be doing right now and that’s focusing on my granddaughter,” Jonathan barked out clicking the call off.
“That you do pumpkin, come…” he said with small huff as he picked his daughter up and began carrying her , “… on let’s find out what wonderful story you picked baby girl.” He said softly as he kissed her cheek as he got to the bed.
Stopping right in front he grabbed the book from her hand as he placed it on her nightstand, he knew Lizzie knew what to do next as he made it so her position in his arms moved as he grabbed her by her legs.
“And here comes Elizabeth for a landing she is clearing the runway” he said as Lizzie would grab the covers and push them back one by one before Jarred flipped her right side up as he caught her to land safely on her mattress.
Elizabeth giggled so much her body shook. She loved when he tucked her into bed.
Carefully he began to pull each blanket back and tucked her in carefully before laying next to her bed. Grabbing the book he gave it to her as he smiled down looking at her.
“So what did you pick today buttercup?” He asked, he could see a bit of the cover but he knew she loved to tell him before he began to read it to her.
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