On Tuesday night, Lucas drove to meet old friends at the Outback steak house. The idea of a great sirloin made him drool. Add a lobster tail, and he’d be happy.
He’d gone to grade school, middle school, and high school with these four guys. They’d played on the football and basketball teams together, then scattered during their college years, but still kept in touch. Now, they were tight again. They got together once a month.
They were all married—with kids—but him. When he joined them at the table, Tim looked him up and down. “It looks like you still have balls, but I’ve heard you’ve turned into Mr. Mom.”
Lucas snorted. “Like any of you have room to talk. The only reason you get to come out and play is because your wives want to get rid of you for a night.”
Rich laughed. “Not so. Deb and I take turns getting away from the kids. It’s nice to remember you have a life outside of being Mommy and Daddy.”
“It’s only an illusion.” Ian took a gulp of water. “Man was put on Earth to procreate. We didn’t get lucky like most males in nature. Cats and elephants get frisky with a female, then ditch her to raise the offspring. We stick around and end up thinking about our kids twenty-four/seven.”
Josh laughed. “How long are you going to be kid sitting?” he asked Lucas.
“Until Dulcey comes home, and it looks like that’s going to take longer than she wanted.”
Rich shook his head. “Sorry to hear about Garrett’s dad. It sucks that Garrett can’t get home to see him before he dies.”
“He’s still trying. He’d like to be with his dad before the funeral.” Lucas scanned the menu. The surf and turf was on special. The heavens were being nice to him tonight.
The waiter came for their orders, and then they settled into serious catching up. Lucas always enjoyed hearing what they were doing, but this was the first time he felt jealous when they talked about their wives and kids.
Ian let out a long sigh. “All three of my girls have the flu right now. So does my wife. She told me to run for my life before I circled the porcelain throne with them.”
“It went through our house last week,” Tim said.
“It took out my wife two weeks ago, my son last week, and my daughter and I are next,” Josh said.
“It’s part of raising kids,” Rich told him.
“Jordy and Beth had it Sunday when they stayed with me,” he said.
They all looked at him and laughed. “Friend, you’re about to learn how well kids share. You have to pry a game controller out of their sticky paws, but germs? They’re happy to pass them along.”
The talk turned to sports, gossiping about old friends they bumped into, and recent happenings at their houses.
Rich raised an eyebrow at Lucas. “Heard Mariah popped into town for a day.”
“Yeah, we got together at the Gas House for supper.”
“Are there still any sparks?” Tim looked concerned. “You’re not still carrying a torch for her, are you?”
“Nope, I met her and there was nothing, nada. It’s been too long. I’m over her.”
Ian slapped him on the back. “It’s about time. She was pretty full of herself, always made us feel like she was doing us a favor if she showed up anywhere with you.”
Lucas thought about that. “I didn’t see it at the time, but yeah, I see it now.”
Rich grinned. “If you’re ready to move on and hook up with someone else, man, we have plenty of tips to share with you.”
“Like I’d trust any of you guys.”
They all laughed again.
By the time Lucas left to drive home, he was tempted to stop at Miss Doore’s house and ask her on a date. But how weird would that feel? He’d never been turned down before, and she might be the first to put him in his place. He decided to tuck his tail and run home. He’d had a great night with his friends. And he wanted what they had. But he didn’t think he’d have any success with Miss Doore.