"Answer the phone." I whispered to myself as my ear listened intently for the line to click and her raspy voice to answer.
Great. Now you're talking to yourself.
"Hi, you've reached the Connelly's. You know what to do." I frowned at the sound of her answering machine, which was followed closely by the beep.
"Hey you. Guess we're playing phone tag. Call me when you get a chance. Miss you." I pressed my finger into the "End" button.
Miss you? You are a sad, sad man.
I redialed her number and waited for her answering machine.
"It's me again. Um...when I said I missed you. I meant that in a totally non-obsessive way. I know we've only known each other for a little while, but I miss hanging out and stuff. Uh...I'm not trying to rush anything, I just..."
Hang up the phone. You're embarrassing yourself.
"I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you and I...uh, well..."
The line clicked.
"She's staying late at the bakery." Jeremy's gruff voice interrupted my pitiable message from hell.
"Oh." I sighed. "Well, just tell her to call me, OK?"
"I think your messages speak for themselves."
"Yeah. About those. Um...could you...maybe...just-"
"Delete your pathetic-ness? Yeah, sure."
"Than-" The line clicked again, signaling the hang up.
Of all the woman to pick up in that supermarket, you choose Satan's mother.
I sighed and plopped down on my bed. My throat was sore and my fingers throbbed, signaling a good day in the studio. A smile overtook my face as I thought about the new record. It was coming along nicely, which was a welcomed surprise. Pete was on top of his game as far as his contribution went, which meant I didn't have to strangle him. Andy was a madman behind his kit, adding some of the best beats I had ever heard from him. Joe required some coaxing, but his riffs were nearly flawless. It was all coming together, the pieces falling exactly in place. Great new album, great new girlfriend, great new life. What more could I ask for?
I'm on fire. And now I think I'm ready to bust a move. Check it out I'm rocking steady
My eyes fell upon my gyrating cell phone. I grinned as Charlie's name flashing on the illuminated screen.
"Hello, you've reached the office of Patrick Stump. How may I help you?" Her airy laugh reverberated through the phone.
"I think you can afford to hire your own secretary." I smirked and lay back on my bed to get a good look at the ceiling.
"Did Jeremy tell you I called?" She laughed.
"Sort of. He told me I had some messages." Oh God. That little prick.
"Really? And you listened to them?" She hummed into the phone.
"He played them for me." Before, at least I could shroud myself in a cloak of denial and pretend her son wasn't out to get me. Now, it would crossover from denial and into delusional.
"Oh. Well, I'm thoroughly embarrassed now." My face burned at how desperate I must have sounded. I could picture her cheeks getting red and sore with laughter, Jeremy rolling on the floor, barely able to keep from wetting himself.
"Don't be. It was kind of cute in a weird sort of way." Great. I'm weirdly cute.
"Thanks, I guess." She laughed.
"You sound awful. Are you OK?" I nodded as I rolled onto my stomach.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I did a lot of vocals today."
"Oooh, how professional. Did it go well?"
"It went really well, actually."
"Are you almost finished with the album?"
"Not really. There's still a ton of stuff left to do. But that's not important."
"Well then, what is important?"
"What you're doing tonight is what's important."
"Oh, is it? What if I already have plans?" She teased, an audible smile in her playful tone.
"Then I'll just have to settle with one of my many female admirers." A gasp echoed through the earpiece.
"Is that so?"
"Yep. But it won't be as fun as hanging out with you and your brood. I was thinking putt-putt, but if you have other plans..." I trailed off.
"I haven't gone miniature golfing in years."
"Then beating you won't be much of a challenge. I'll be over around 7?"
"Alright. I'll be waiting." We said our goodbyes and hung up our respective phones.
"I call pink!" Jocelyn squealed as she charged toward a bucket of multicolored golf balls. Charlie, an unenthused Jeremy, and I trailed after her.
"Mini golf is so stupid." The teen muttered, just loud enough to be heard.
"You're 13. Everything's stupid to you." The woman countered flawlessly. I paid for admission and we picked out our clubs and golf balls. Jocelyn of course got her pink while Charlie picked out a neon yellow ball. I chose light blue, leaving Jeremy to select black.
"Me first!" The rugrat called out, placing her bright pink ball down at the starting point of the first hole. With the expertise and grace of a four year old, she swung her club, sending her pink ball rolling along the faux, faded green grass. Her little legs scampered after the ball to swing again.
"She can't do that. She has to wait her turn." Jeremy whined, looking down at his mother. She simply patted his shoulder.
"If you want to explain mini golf semantics to a little girl, then be my guest." I discreetly snickered and turned my attention to Jocelyn, who was currently tapping the ball toward the hole. The tip of her red tongue stuck out from the side of her mouth as her brow furrowed in concentration. She squealed upon the brightly colored orb hitting the bottom of the cup.
"I got it! Patty, look!" The child hurried over and grabbed my arm. Normally, I'd be the first to correct anyone who referred to be by anything other than Patrick, but it was almost endearing when she said it. She could call me 'shithead' and my heart would probably melt.
"I saw. Awesome." She beamed and quickly collected her ball. We quickly took our turns, as Jocelyn was ready for the next hole. About half way through the course, the holes began to get harder and incorporate water. Number 9 consisted of a small bridge with no walls to stop the ball from rolling into the murky liquid. Jocelyn fell victim to the set up. Her ball splashed into the depths, only to emerge and float on the questionable water. Just before the bridge, nets attached to poles were stationed in a long bucket. Apparently, the girl wasn't the only one who lost her ball.
"Here, I'll get it for you." I played the hero as I grabbed a skimmer and fished out the pink, dimpled sphere. The small child clapped her hands as I reached into the sopping net. The water left a greasy feeling on my hands that wiping on my pants couldn't get rid of.
"Thank you, Daddy." Her eyes quickly widen as she covered her mouth with her hands. Her mother's expression of shock matched hers. Jeremy's jaw visibly clenched, causing me to laugh nervously. The title of father was a nerve wrecking one.
"What did we talk about, Joce?" Charlie whispered, trying not to be too specific.
"I know Mommy. It just slipped out." Jeremy dropped his club to the ground.
"I'm gonna wait in the car." He began to walk off toward the parking lot.
"Jere!" His mother called after his shrinking form. Her sympathetic eyes fell on me.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." The child croaked, her gray eyes filling with tears as her lips quivered.
"It's OK. Mistakes happen." I tried to console her. Charlie dropped her club to and scooped up the crying girl. The tot immediately burrowed her head into the woman's shoulder before letting all of her tears out in muffled sobs.
"I'm really sorry, Patrick. About all this." Charlie whispered as she soothingly patted the child's back. I wanted to run away and hide from the truly terrifying and weird experience. But something told me to stick around, not to give up on them.
"I know. It's alright." She shook her head.
"No, it's not. I'm just going to have a little talk with my kids and we'll be back." I watched as she walked off after her son with her weeping daughter in her arms.