“My heart will be fine!” He retorted and pushed past him to get to his office.
“She’s so deep under your skin and you -”
“It’s not her!” He huffed.
“What? She’s their…”
He glanced outside and saw her keeping an eye on the boys. Her ponytail was crooked on her side and she was hunched, the wet towel still covering her knees and he guessed she meant to take it on the clothesline where the dry laundry was already waiting. That thing hadn’t seen day of rest since they arrived. It felt like gossiping, to tell him what he knew and had learned from the files. Laura’s words echoed in his his mind how people would lose their objectivity when they learned of their past while all they needed was a chance for future.
“My big brother is sweet on kids!”
He didn’t let him finish. “I’ve always wanted kids, you know that!”
His face twisted. “Oh, mama and papa would be so proud of you!”
It had never been a secret and despite they never discussing it at Sunday meals, there was no denying it. It was the business world, who thought he was ruthless man, who sacrificed his family life for career and he had no problem letting them believe it. Which is why it hurt to hear his own brother turn it into an insult like pickering little bastard he was.
He glared at him, fully aware how his red eyes must have looked to this spectacular example of masculinity, whose favorite pastime included jumping off from a mountain top to see if the tiny crook below would take his balls with it or not. He was so not in mood to do this dance around the bushes, so he took a slow step into his personal space and watched with glee how sweat broke off from his younger counterpart’s forehead.
“I don’t care what they think! I don’t care what YOU think! They left us to nannies and took off to end of the world parties just like you are doing with your wife! And now they live apart in two different cities, hating each other’s guts and I have the hold on our summerhouse, because nobody ever comes here! You really want to make that to your goal? Love that whizzles out because you share nothing more than champagne and prenuptial marriage agreement? I am sure Tess is very happy right now you two never conceived! Or she’d leave with the kid and I would help her every step of the way! Those kids have no mamas, no papas and most of them don’t even have brothers or sisters, so cut it out! You are thirty five! For once, act according to your age and stop picking on kids, who do not understand your sneering sarcasm! Or I will allow Victor to adopt that snake and tell Anton he can store his cones in your bed! And I will tie you down on them and we’ll have a scalping party with you as the honored guest!”
“What snake?” He asked in a whisper.
“And I am pregnant.” Came a quiet voice behind Maksim, making him choke on what he was about to say.
Alik stood, dumbfounded, his eyes diverted past him. Maksim winced and slowly turned around to look at Tess and her pained expression directed at her husband. The energy he’d just built up to toss his brother few rounds evaporated and he felt suddenly very, very cold. Oh god, was all he could think and immediately his mind started conjuring ways he could step up and help should he really need to keep his promise.
Instead, for now, he stepped back and made his way to the front door to give the two some space. He saw three sets of car keys on the plate and took them all. He closed the door quietly behind him and let out a long whooshing breath when he got to Laura’s side, his eyes wide and panicking.
She took in his expression in quick and straightened. “What happened? Is he still alive? Are you OK?”
“I want some milk!” Anton shouted over the ball game and without thinking, Maksim shot up from his spot and pushed his arms wide, stopping them.
“I-I think we…” He took a quick head count and saw Urmas slowly coming their way too. “Who wants ice cream? How about we get some ice cream.” He nodded, pleased of the idea and patted down his sides for a wallet while boys screamed with joy. “Urmas – you have twenty I could borrow? I’ll, uh, get it back to you later.”
“Sure, but why don’t you get your own?” Urmas asked, curious, but fished out his wallet and pressed the note into Joni’s stretched out hand, who gave it on to Kaspar and from there it made its way to him.
“Yeah, why don’t you?” Laura turned, worried. “Did something happen?”
“Nothing they need us to witness.” Maksim said vaguely, but instead she set the towel down, opting to take a new one later, and followed the boys, who were already making their way towards the gate. “Nor you, Urmas.” He warned as they passed the old man.
“Seriously,” he shook his head, “they need space. I think, uh, Tess is about to blow up on my brother and I think I’ll just bill him later on what she destroyed.”
“Wow, he’s thinking!” Urmas poked, but then glanced at the silent house with a sigh, turned on his heel and began his slow pace track back to his own place.
“Blinking is considered good to your eyes?” Laura said quietly and Maksim slipped his hand into hers automatically.
He blinked, realizing his eyes hurt. His other hand slipped in his pocket where the car keys were and he pulled out the one with large round key ring with his brother’s initials. At least he couldn’t skip the town while they were away.