“Door’s open,” Matt shouted from the bedroom where he was getting Aidan dressed. It was the second Saturday that Matt was going to study uninterrupted. Courtesy of Seamus. He’d gotten a small taste of freedom the first Saturday now he was practically giddy in anticipation. The joy of a kid free study session outweighed any and all guilt he felt for not being at the café or that Seamus was watching Aidan on the weekend.
Seamus leaned against the bedroom door with his hands in his pocket. He wore the same thing he always wore, really nice jeans and a plain t-shirt that hugged his body. Today it was plum purple with a gray, unzipped hoodie.
He tilted his head toward the living room. “Looks like you’re ready to study.”
“Yes,” Matt said with a little too much enthusiasm. “It’s so good. I can’t thank you enough for taking Aidan. Part of me wants to tell you that you don’t need to do this for me but mostly I want to sit in my living room, study my notes, and re-read my books. So, I’m not gonna ask you if you’re sure about this because if you leave that kid here, I’m going to cry.”
“I promise I won’t leave the kid here,” Seamus chuckled. When Matt turned to grab the diaper bag, Seamus picked Aidan up off the bed. “Hey, Squishy Thighs,” Seamus cooed and squeezed said squishy thigh as he walked back to the living room.
Matt smiled at the pair. “We call him Aido-potato because he’s chunky like a sack of tatas.”
“Aido-potato,” Seamus repeated, trying the nickname on for size.
“He ate about thirty minutes ago. Everything else is in the bag. Feel free to bring him back whenever.”
“But not too soon.”
Matt smiled. “Well, yes, not too soon.”
Seamus strapped Aidan in the car seat then slung the backpack over his shoulder. He gave Matt a salute.
“Have a good study session.”
Maybe having a kid helped keep things in perspective because Matt enjoyed studying more than ever and he was savoring every moment. The smile wouldn’t leave his lips the entire time he spent reviewing tax law and math equations and business statistics. He couldn’t get enough.
Even with hours of uninterrupted study time, it only felt like five minutes had passed when there was a rap on the door followed by Seamus announcing himself.
“Wow, I thought you were studying, not having a rager,” Seamus deadpanned as he eyed the books and notes that were fanned over the living room, couch, and coffee table.
“You know what they say, ain’t no party like an accounting degree party.”
Seamus smiled as he closed the door. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before.” He set the backpack next to the sleeping baby who was still buckled into his car seat. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be hungry from all the studying but I ordered pizza. It should be here—” he paused for a beat, then pointed at the door. On cue, there was a knock. Seamus looked smug as he signed for the pizza.
Matt watched Seamus dish a few pieces onto two different plates. “How’d you know he was there?”
“I saw him pulling up when I came in.”
Matt shook his head and smiled as they sat and ate. He should’ve felt weird that Seamus was staying for dinner but he didn’t. He wanted this. Matt wanted to know something about the man who was being so generous with his time. “What’d you guys do today?”
“We spent half the day at the loft and then Aidan shadowed me at work. Pretty low-key day.”
“Was the café busy?”
“Oh no, not the café. I have other sources of revenue.”
“Other source of revenue. Sounds ominous. Did he go to a drug swap with you or something?”
Seamus stopped mid-bite and raised his brow. “Drug swap? Is that like a bake swap where everyone brings their drugs to the community center then trades their goods for someone else's? If you come with an eighth, you leave with an eighth?”
Matt wiped his mouth and smiled. This was the kind of interaction he was hoping for. “I’m not down with the drug lingo.”
Seamus raised his brow playfully. “Drug lingo?”
“Did you bring pizza just so you could make fun of me? Because if that’s what this is about, then you can go home.”
The babysitter continued to smile though it was obvious he was trying to hide it. “We didn’t go to a drug swap, though I’m tempted. I have a couple other businesses. We went and checked them out.”
“How old are you?” Matt asked in surprise. “You can’t be over thirty and you have multiple businesses? That’s crazy.”
“That’s most people’s reaction when they learn that I’m twenty-nine with five fairly successful businesses.”
“Five? That’s incredible. How’d you get started?”
“It’s not anything I did. I got married when I was nineteen. Kelly was older and owned two businesses. He died two years after. He came from a wealthy family and they did everything they could to make sure I walked away with nothing. It didn’t work. I think Kelly had enough foresight to know what they’d do if given the chance. Everything was airtight and in my favor. So, I turned two businesses into five as a giant F-U to them,” he flashed his middle finger and smiled.
Matt was stunned. “You got married when you were nineteen?”
“That’s what you got out of everything I just said?”
“It stood out, yeah.” Matt leaned back in his chair and pushed his plate away. He’d eaten too much. “How much older was he?”
“Thirty-five years older than you!” Matt about fell out of his chair, waking Aidan with the commotion. Seamus laughed and moved like he was going to help the little guy but Matt beat him to the still sleepy-eyed babe.
He sat down with Aidan in his arms and calmly rephrased his question with more composure. He didn’t want to offend Seamus just because he married someone who was—very old. “So, he was thirty-five years older than you?”
Seamus was still smiling over Matt’s reaction. “No. God no.” He placed the wadded napkin on the plate in front of him. “He was thirty-five. Not thirty-five years older. Though I could name a few people who don’t see the difference.”
“There’s a difference. I can’t imagine taking a fifty-four-year-old dick,” Matt’s eyes widened. “No offense.”
Seamus laughed again. It was the most relaxed Matt had ever seen him and it was nice. “Why would I be offended? I’m not fifty-four nor have I ever taken a fifty-four-year-old dick.”
“A thirty-five-year-old dick is still, eh,” Matt seesawed his hand good naturally.
“Hey, that’s gonna be me in a few years.” Seamus tried to be serious but failed. When they stopped laughing Seamus was watching Aidan. “He’s probably hungry. I’ll make a bottle.”
“Nah, I got it. You’ve had him all day.”
Matt got up and juggled Aidan in one hand while making a bottle in the other, then sat back down and began feeding him. They both watched Aidan in silence. Matt was noticing how much better Aidan’s coordination was getting. Not only that but his personality was really coming to life. Aidan hadn’t been this expressive when he held him the day their mom died. He wasn’t just a baby anymore; he was becoming a person. It was mindboggling what a little miracle he was.
When Aidan was done eating, they went into the living room and hung out while Aidan worked his little muscles on the floor. They talked for a while. Well, Matt talked while Seamus fed Aidan the next bottle. Then it was bath time and Seamus sat on the toilet seat while Matt did the work.
“Are you planning on moving into a two-bedroom?” Seamus asked from the bedroom door as Matt laid Aidan down for the night.
“And give up sharing this cramped room with an infant? Where I’m afraid to set an alarm in the morning in case he decides to sleep in and I can’t even reach the dresser without crawling over the bed?” Matt slowly shut the door behind him walked back to the living room. “To answer your question, yes, I dream of a bigger apartment. Not driving and also having a baby to carry around means I have to be picky about location. Close to work, close to school, and hopefully close to whatever daycare we end up in.”
“Have you thought about a house instead of an apartment?” He asked.
“Sure. But we don’t all own five business. My rent will already increase when I go from a one-bedroom to two and a house will easily add another three to five hundred.”
Seamus nodded; he knew Matt was right.
“Well,” Matt sat forward on the couch and rubbed his thighs. “I think I’m going to cram in a little more studying before bed. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Seamus seemed to realize he’d imposed on most of Matt’s evening and quickly got off the couch. “Yeah, of course. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Matt locked the door behind Seamus and smiled. Denise was right, not nearly as intimidating as he comes off to be. Seamus didn’t seem put out by any of it. It was a fact Matt had a hard time coming to terms with but he wasn’t going question his good luck.
On Monday, Seamus grabbed Aidan and told Matt they were off to a drug swap which earned him a solid glare. They did come back until an hour after Matt’s shift ended. He was starting to think Seamus was doing it on purpose so Matt had time to study. Seamus’ far-reaching generosity was confusing but appreciated.
Regardless, Matt was happy. Now that he wasn’t commuting to Victoria’s house every day, he had a few minutes to spend on campus. That little time was going a long ways in nurturing his campus social life. People he hadn’t had time to get to know before were now saving him spots and waving him over between classes. He was even invited into a study group.
“You have to come to the football games if you want to go to football parties,” Kase told Hilary. “It’s a package deal. That goes for you too, Matt.”
“How’d I get dragged into this?”
“Because you want to meet Jay.”
“No,” Matt corrected. “You want me to meet Jay.”
“You just don’t know you want to meet Jay.”
Matt didn’t bother responding. You couldn’t reason with the man when he was like this. It was flattering but unlikely anything would come of them meeting.
“Well,” Hilary brought the attention back to herself. “The only thing I like about football is the players. The games are long and boring. Buuuuuuut—” she drew the word out. “If Matt goes with me—” she stuck her lip out and tried to look sad. Matt wondered if it ever actually worked.
“I can’t guarantee how long I can stay. That will depend on Aidan,” he said, not because of Hilary and her puppy dog eyes. Matt was ready to get out there and experience a little bit of college.
“There’s a party after, you guys should come.”
“I’m in,” Hilary said with a pep in her step.
“Sorry. The football game is one thing but an after-party at a frat house with a baby? No way.”
Now both of his friends were pouting.
“Tell me about it,” Matt mumbled.
Saturday night was the big game. It wasn’t actually a big game but it was his first college game and that was a big deal. He spent more money on collegiate merchandise from the campus store than he did on tuition for the entire year. But seeing Aidan in his little hoody was totally worth it.
Matt and Hilary followed the crowd blindly as they cheered and booed. Aidan was awake most of the time and happy to get passed around. The little chuck was definitely boosting Matt’s popularity.
Kase tried to rope Hilary into getting Matt on the field after the game so he could introduce him to Jay. The field was too chaotic and the meet and greet didn’t work. Kase was upset, Matt was not.
“What did you think of your first big game?” Matt asked Aidan, who was laying on the bed. “Something you might want to do again?” Aidan shook the toy too hard and accidentally dropped it. Matt quickly handed it back. “Well, we’re going back because that tiny little hoodie you wore was the same price as mine. Don’t they know that college students are poor?” Aidan smiled at his super big brother then kicked his legs and wailed his arms excitedly at the attention. “You’re hyped up. I wish I had your energy.”
Matt took a minute to tickle his brother’s belly and pinch his thick thighs. Aidan was so cute with his giant dimples and button nose. His light brown hair was getting kind of long but not enough to cut it. What was the protocol for that? Did you pay a professional? Take a buzzer to it? Do it himself? These were the questions Matt struggled with.
“Next week is Thanksgiving break. I still work but we’re gonna go to Grandpa’s for a few days. How does that sound?”
Aidan squeaked and tried, unsuccessfully, to rollover. “Whoa there. I said we’re going to go. We still have a few days left yet.”
Seamus brought dinner again on Saturday. He was a lot more personable when they weren’t at work. Matt understood it. Seamus was the owner. Outside of work, Seamus was—his babysitter? Nanny? Friend? Matt didn’t know or care enough to label it. If he had to pick something, a friend was mildly accurate.
There was no class the next week, Thanksgiving, and Matt had an early shift on Wednesday. Neither he nor his dad were excited about Aidan taking a long bus ride so his dad picked them up. Three hours on a bus or one hour in the car. It was a no brainer. They spent the holiday with his grandparents, his uncle, and his uncle’s family. Everyone loved Aidan and no one mentioned, or cared, that Aidan was his mom’s son. They took it in stride.
Matt was positive his mom’s family would not have reacted the same. Another reason Matt had a hard time grieving the way he was expected to.
His dad took Matt and Aidan back home in time for Matt to work his shift on Saturday.
It had been a while since Seamus and Aidan hung around the cafe. Matt kind of liked it. The cafe was pretty quiet since most people were still gone for the break.
“Did you have a good Thanksgiving?” Matt asked Seamus during a particularly dead period.
“It was alright. I didn’t do much. My family lives in Wisconsin.”
“Do you see them much?”
“Not really. They expect me to do all the traveling. They think because I have money that it’s my obligation. I also have several businesses. I can’t just up and leave.”
“Yeah you can,” Matt called him out. “If you have time to watch Aidan five days a week then you have time to visit your family.”
“Wow, okay, no need to shame me,” he smiled. “Yes, I could make it out there more if I wanted to but—I don’t know.”
“I get it. I feel that way about my mom or felt that way about her. I love her but I didn’t love spending time with her. It didn’t matter what she did, she drove me crazy,” he rubbed his face. “I know I shouldn’t say that about her but, god, she was hard for me.”
“I’m a pot and you’re a kettle. You’ll hear no judgment from me.”
Matt handed Aidan to Seamus. “And that’s why you’re the best,” he hollered over his shoulder as he made his way to the front register to help the incoming customer.
“Welcome to the Coffee|Bar, what can I get you?”
Matt tried not to stare. The guy was tall. The six-and-a-half feet tall kind of tall. And built. Holy crap the guy was built. All muscle. Everywhere. That wasn’t normally Matt’s type but it could be. Matt could make an exception. People made exceptions all the time.
Matt eyed the man he’d never seen before. “Yeah?”
The tall, handsome man stuck out his hand. “I’m Jay.”
Matt reached out and shook his hand. “Kase’s friend! Yeah, hi. Kase mentioned you a few times.”
Jay laughed. “Yeah, I bet he has. I thought I’d pop in, get something to drink, and meet you. Two birds, one stone.”
“Kase didn’t mention how romantic you were.”
“Yes, well I did take a Sexual Dimorphism and Mating class during sophomore year so I’m kind of an expert.”
“Oh my god,” Matt burst out laughing. “That’s awesome. What can I get you?”
He wasn’t sure what he expected or what he wanted but they talked a few minutes more before Jay left. They didn’t make any plans but Matt was pretty sure he’d see him again soon.
“You’re smiling,” Seamus said an hour later. Yeah, Matt hadn’t stopped smiling since Jay left.
“I’m always smiling.”
“Sure, but you’re really smiling. Wouldn’t have anything to do with that roadblock that came in earlier?”
Matt continued cleaning while Seamus stood in the way. “Roadblock, huh?” he laughed and Seamus stepped to the side. “You mean Jay?”
“If you say so.”
“Kase has been trying to introduce us. I think Jay came to size me up or see if he was interested.”
Matt thought about it. “I don’t know. I guess it depends on what he’s looking for. He’s hot and funny. I bet he’d be fun to, you know, hook up with or whatever. But as far as dating goes, I don’t think I’m in any position for that. I can’t imagine some popular football player is looking to date someone with a baby.”
“Where’s Aidan gonna be while you’re hooking up with random guy?”
Matt stopped cleaning. “I don’t know. With a sitter? It’s not like I’d take him with me.”
“I won’t watch him so you can go hook up with guys.”
Matt took a calming breath and faced him. “Did I ask you to? No. I didn’t even say I was going to. I was just talking. Let’s face it, this is just another thing I don’t get to do because my mom died and left me a baby. I know this is my new reality. It doesn’t mean I can’t dream.”
Matt looked at the clock. Close enough. He went to the back and changed then grabbed Aidan’s stuff from the office. He tried not to storm around but he was pissed...and hurt.
“Thanks for watching Aidan. I’ll see you Monday.”
Seamus was supposed to watch Aidan so Matt could study. “Nah,” Matt tried not to sound like an ass even though he wanted to. “I got it.”
They barely spoke Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. If Matt could’ve found someone else to watch his brother he would have. Instead, he kept his interactions with Seamus to a minimum.
Seamus had overstepped. It was ballsy of him to assume that Matt would ask him to babysit so he could go hook up with someone. It had never even crossed his mind. Hell, he barely wanted Seamus to watch Aidan as it was, let alone for personal reason. Mostly he was pissed that Seamus tried to make him feel guilty about wanting to be a normal person. That was a low blow.
He was off Thursday and Friday which was a nice relief because ignoring the person who was watching Aidan out of the goodness of their heart was really hard. How do you balance trying to appreciate someone’s generosity and kindness while not tolerating their disrespect? Matt didn’t have that answer.
By Friday afternoon he knew he had to let it go. He wasn’t even that mad anymore. Even if Seamus was being an asshole on purpose, which he didn’t think was the case, Matt made his own choices. If the opportunity arose where he could have a fun night while Aidan was tucked away safely somewhere, then he’d take it and not feel guilty.
“Good morning,” Matt said as he walked in the cafe. Aidan had spent all morning in a bad mood. He wanted nothing to do with his car seat which made the walk to work a long one. His damn arm was dead.
Seamus was waiting, his eyes tracking Matt cautiously. Matt knew his cheery demeanor wasn’t going unnoticed. He walked up to Seamus and handed Aidan over like a peace offering.
“He’s been in a mood all morning. He won’t let me put him down. I think he’s teething so I packed one of those frozen chew toys. No clue if it will work. His stool has been soft. I read that it’s probably from the teeth.”
Seamus watched Matt for a beat then turned his attention to Aidan, who was on the verge of crying.
“Hey potato brains. You got some chompers coming in?” He ran his finger along Aidan’s lower gums and then his upper gums. Aidan grabbed his hand and started chewing, uncaring that it was Seamus’s finger. “Yeah, I’d say you’re growing some chompers.” Seamus smiled at Aidan then looked at Matt. “Since he’s not feeling well, I think we’ll stick around here. Did he sleep much last night?”
“If by not much you mean, was he awake more than he was asleep? Yes.”
Seamus looked like he wanted to say something, it was right there, Matt could see it in the way Seamus looked at him, but it never came. Instead, Seamus kissed Aidan’s cheek and walked to the back but not before Matt heard Seamus tell Aidan how much he missed him.
“I’m officially jealous,” Hilary declared. “I’m the one who appreciates how amazingly stunning he is yet you're the one that gets to play house with him. Oh, our baby is not feeling well and has diarrhea, blah blah blah,” she mocked.
“Diarrhea is pertinent information. He needs to know what he’s up against.”
Hilary hummed, clearly not believing him.
“Where’s Kase? Is he not working today?” Matt looked around the cafe just as Kase came out from the back carrying a load of clean dishes. Kase was relieved when Matt helped him put everything away.
“How are you guys feeling about finals? Less than two weeks left and I’m nervous as shit.”
Hilary made a big show of crying because she too was not looking forward it them. Matt shrugged. “I think I’ll do okay.”
“You better. You ditched out on Saturdays,” Kase complained. “That was our day. Now I work with Yonk and he does that weird eye thing.”
Both Matt and Hilary laughed. It wasn’t so much a weird eye thing as a terribly uncomfortable habit of staring. Matt didn’t think it was anything the guy did on purpose but it could clear a room. He definitely wasn’t a favorite to work with.
“If you need a break from the frat house you can come study.”
“Is study code for gaming?” When Matt shook his head, Kase laughed, “Nah, I’ll pass.”
When the end of shift rolled around, Matt changed and headed to the office to grab Aidan, only no one was there. They probably left on errands.
Denise snuck up on Matt as he turned to leave the office. “Are you looking for Seamus?”
“Yeah, I think they left. I’ll just hang out front and wait.”
“Actually, I think they’re in the other office, at the end of the hall on the right,” she pointed.
Matt slowly opened the door and smiled. Seamus was sitting awkwardly on the couch with Aidan on his chest. They were both passed out. Matt looked around. What surprised him the most was the portable crib in the corner and the small shelf that had diapers and a few changes of clothes.
“Isn’t that the cutest?” Denise whispered over his shoulder.
“Should I wake them?”
Denise shook her head. “Aidan sounded fussy. I think they’re both tired.”
“You don’t think he’ll be mad? He spent all day with a fussy kid. I imagine he wants to get the hell out of here.”
“I think he’ll be fine. If I’m wrong then I’ll tell him I told you not to wake him.” Denise pushed Matt out of the room and closed the door. “Go study.”
An hour later Seamus and Aidan came out. They both wore the same sleepy expression and ruffled hair. Aidan had sleep lines on his face and his brown hair was sticking straight up. It was adorable. Judging by Hilary’s lusty stare, Seamus’ nap hair looked sexy, too.
“Sorry, I wasn’t sure if I should wake you up or not.”
Aidan looked half asleep when Seamus handed him over. “It’s fine. He needed the sleep.”
“It looks like you did, too.”
“I guess I did. I was out.” Seamus couldn’t finish the sentence without yawning. When he finished, he glanced around. They were alone-ish. Seamus kind of motioned for them to move away from the counter. Matt followed his lead. “Hey, I want to apologize. I, um, I was rude the other day. I’m sorry.”
“You were rude.”
“I never said I was going to go hook up with him—or anyone else.”
“But I could if I wanted and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it.”
“I know,” Seamus repeated again.
“You buy Aidan and I dinner and I forgive you for being an overstepping asshole.”
“That’s it? I buy dinner and all my transgressions are forgiven?”
It had been a long shift and Matt was hungry. “Just this one transgression.”
Matt was thinking somewhere along the lines of McDonalds or Subway. Panera if Seamus was feeling fancy. Not Cavalier. That place was way out of Matt’s league. He was still wearing his work clothes for Christ’s sake. Cavalier had white linen tables and seven-dollar sodas. He couldn’t afford to look at the restaurant let alone eat there.
Seamus ignored Matt’s grumbling.
“Fine, then you can get Aidan.” It wasn’t much of a punishment but getting the damn car seat out of the backseat of the coupe wasn’t an easy task. “I don’t think this is a family friendly restaurant anyway. They probably don’t even have a high chair.”
“Aidan doesn’t use highchairs.”
“They’re going to turn us away.”
Again, Seamus ignored him and held open the front door. The restaurant was classic-contemporary and very expensive looking. Matt made sure to note the lack of high chairs by the front door. Seamus again reminded him that Aidan was too small to use them anyway.
A beautifully put together woman with a bun and flawless makeup greeted them. “Hello Mr. Ryan. Just the three?”
Seamus nodded and they followed her through the restaurant until they were seated. A waiter came, greeting Seamus as Mr. Ryan then read them the specials, most of which went right over Matt’s head.
“So, Mr. Ryan—” Matt mocked as soon as the waiter left.
“Don’t. Don’t do that. It’s not cute.”
“But Mr. Ryan,” Matt teased. He quite enjoyed irritating Seamus. “Is this one of your other sources of income?” Seamus nodded. “Does this mean I can order whatever I want without guilt?”
“I wouldn’t take you somewhere and then get mad cause you got the lobster.”
“Oh, they have lobster?!”
“The best lobster. I recommend the Kholdaar Machli Biryani.”
“Kolndal what?” Matt grabbed the menu and found whatever the hell it was that Seamus was talking about. “I don’t know what any of this is.”
“Well,” Seamus leaned forward with his elbows on the table. “That makes two of us. Don’t ask me what the Kholdaar Machli Biryani is, I just know it tastes good.”
“You’re telling me that you own this place and you don’t know shit about it?”
“First—watch your language in front of the baby. Secondly, I know everything about this place that matters.”
“You’re saying the food doesn’t matter?”
Seamus thought about it for a second then smiled. “Yeah, I don’t know that much. But I hire people that do.”
They had a great dinner, which Aidan knew nothing about because he slept through the meat of it. Matt didn’t get the lobster, too many weird ingredients for his young and inexperienced taste buds. The menu was out of his comfort zone so Seamus told the waiter for a sampler. It sounded simple but it was actually a multi-course meal which was a treat in and of itself. It was delicious. Hands down the best food Matt had ever had.
The most surprising part of the evening was Seamus. He was actually a good conversationalist. So much so that it was almost strange that he was ever uncomfortable around him or worried about him watching Aidan. Now he couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it. Seamus was such a natural. Even at the end of dinner, with Matt there, Seamus prepped and fed Aidan when he woke up. He even carried him out to the car.
“Now I’m curious, what are your other sources of income? And does Coffee|Bar count as one or two businesses? I mean, it’s a coffee shop by day but it’s a pretentious lounge at night.”
Seamus drove with one hand on the wheel, one on the gear shift, and a sly smile on his lips. “It’s one, unless I’m trying to annoy Kelly’s family, then it’s two. There’s Cavalier, Dough Guppies—”
“What?! I love their pizza.”
“Holden’s Chevrolets,” he continued, ignoring Matt’s shock.
“You own car dealerships? As in, more than one?”
“And Purple Canary.”
“Purple Canary! Holy shit. I need to sit down.”
“You are sitting down,” Seamus laughed.
“You’re right. I need to lay down.” Matt tried to recline the seat but immediately hit Aidan’s car seat. He turned and glared at the small backseat. “You couldn’t spring for something bigger? I mean, you own multiple dealerships.” Matt annoyingly adjusted his to emphasize how ridiculous the coupe was. “God, this is crazy. Those are all landmark businesses. Tell me more about them. Which two were Kelly’s and which three did you start?”
“Holden’s Chevrolet and Cavalier were Kelly’s. We were working on Purple Canary before he died. Coffee|Bar was the first one I did from the ground up. I bought Dough Guppies recently. It was a failing business but we’re turning it around.”
“That’s impressive for anyone, let alone someone under thirty. It’s almost unbelievable.”
“I wish I could take more credit but it’s all Kelly.”
“You kept them going. That’s a big deal.”
“I’m hardly the driving force behind their success. But I do stop by frequently, ask Aidan. My staff is what keeps them going.”
Matt wasn’t going to argue. He respected that he put the success of the businesses on his employees. It was actually incredible. He had to hand it to Seamus, he wasn’t nearly as cocky as he imagined a few months ago.
When they got to the apartment, Matt made sure to glare at Seamus as he tried to get the damn car seat out of the car. “Multiple dealerships, dude. Multiple dealerships.”
They were once again hanging out at Matt’s apartment. Seamus showed up a little early on Saturday. Was Matt curious why he was slowly spending more time there? Absolutely! Did he care? Not at all. He was starting to enjoy the company. His schoolmates were busy and Seamus genuinely enjoyed Aidan. Matt needed someone in his life that he could spend time with who accepted that his brother would always be there.
“Are you busy this afternoon?”
Seamus eyed Matt suspiciously as he slowly picked Aidan up off the floor.
“I’m not going to murder you, calm down,” Matt laughed. “If you weren’t busy, I was going to see if you might take Aidan and I to the mall. Aidan’s clothes are about to rip at the seams and the mall is on the other side of town.”
“Yeah, I could do that.”
“I’ll buy you dinner. Anywhere you want as long as it’s cheap.”
Seamus shook his head and smiled at Matt’s teasing. “What time?”
Matt looked at his watch. It was nine in the morning. Finals were creeping up and he needed to study. “Five? Six? The mall closes at ten.”
Seamus nodded. “Okay.” Then packed Aidan into his car seat and took off so Matt could do his thing.
The day passed quick. It always did when his nose was in a book. He found forensic accounting interesting which made it easy to get lost in his assignment. By the time Seamus came back, he was almost completely finished. It only took him fifteen minutes and then he was grabbing his jacket off the back of the chair; ready to head out.
“Would you look at this,” Matt whistled at the giant dark maroon SUV with dealer plates sitting outside his apartment.
“Aidan picked it out.”
“I’m sure he did,” Matt laughed as he walked around the Suburban, checking it out. “He couldn’t have picked anything smaller?”
“First my car is too small, now it’s too big. Will you always be this difficult to please?”
“Probably,” Matt laughed. “Can I drive?”
“I thought you didn't drive?”
“I have my license but I don’t have a car.”
Apprehension rolled off Seamus in waves as he looked at the keys. He resigned to his fate and tossed the keys to Matt.
“Seriously?” Matt stood, mouth agape. He never expected him to say yes, not with a brand-new SUV.
Seamus rolled his eyes and nodded for Matt to get his ass in the front seat. He didn’t need to be told twice, he handed Seamus the car seat and practically slid across the hood as he rushed to the driver’s side.
“My low income upbringing is about to shine real bright because holy shit this is nice.” Matt ran his hand over the mahogany brown leather seats. The inside of the SUV was as luxurious as it came. “Aidan has good taste. His throw-up is gonna look real nice against this leather.”
Seamus smiled as he locked the car-seat in the back. “Well, that was one of the deciding factors.”
Matt spent most of his life in dumpy cars. His mom was not great with money and was never able to save up enough to get a decent car and car payments weren’t an option. She was constantly jumping from one piece of crap to the next. His dad drove a decent truck, nothing like the one he was currently driving but it was nice. Matt had no clue that driving something so nice could make him feel so good but as he drove to the mall, he felt like a million bucks.
He parked pretty far from the entrance because he had never driven something so big and he was afraid of hitting another car. Seamus was smirking at Matt as they walked across the parking lot. Matt knew he’d been caught staring at the sweet ride a few too many times.
“Sorry. It’s so nice. I’m green with envy right now,” he blushed as he ducked into the shopping center.
Matt had never shopped for a baby before. Aidan came with a bunch of stuff that had worked just fine. It didn’t seem like Aidan was growing but his clothes were sure getting smaller and smaller.
They walked from store to store while Seamus dutifully carried Aidan. Matt thumbed through the racks, trying to figure out what was important and what was a waste of money. He was hardly a trendy person but some of the baby clothes were hideous. Seamus recommended a multipack of plain colored onesies.
“Why? So he can dress like you?” Because they both knew that while Seamus was well dressed, his style was simple.
“Less is more. In thirty, fifty, or eighty years he won’t look back on his baby pictures and think what the hell did they dress me in.” Seamus didn’t wait for Matt, he grabbed a couple packs and tossed them in the cart along with plain stretch pants and socks.
“What about jeans?”
Seamus looked at Matt like he was crazy. “He can’t move in those. He's a baby.”
“He’s a baby, he can’t move period. Besides, jeans are classic.”
“He can wear jeans when he starts walking.”
“What about jeggings?”
“What are jeggings?”
“Leggings that look like jeans.” Matt pulled a pair off the rack so Seamus could see.
“No, those are terrible. You’re terrible. I’m firing you. You don’t get to shop anymore.” Seamus handed Aidan to Matt then walked around the store, throwing various outfits of different sizes into the cart. When he was done, he came back and gestured for Matt to take a look. “I probably went overboard. If it’s too much, I’ll pitch in. Consider it an early Christmas present for Aidan.”
Matt lazily shifted through the clothes. Seamus definitely went overboard but he’d done a good job. No way Matt was letting Seamus pay. Not after watching Aidan free of charge. There was money from his mom’s life insurance so Matt made sure not to cringe when he saw the total. The money was there for this. Aidan needed clothes.
Feeling good from the shopping trip and the new SUV, Matt drove them to a local restaurant instead of the food court at the mall.
Seamus side eyed him but didn’t say anything as they entered the restaurant. It was more than he expected and didn’t fall in the category of ‘I’ll buy you dinner anywhere you want as long as it’s cheap’.
Aidan was awake this time, which was fun. They ate, talked, and played keep away from Mr. Grabbyhands.
Spending time with Seamus was becoming normal—comfortable even. He no longer felt like a burden. In fact, it kind of felt like a partnership.