[College. That is all I have to say.]
I trotted across the road while Murph relocated to the backyard. Pretty sure he was more nervous than when he had to meet Peter. In an odd way he should be - Elizabeth might be more difficult to win over than the previous adults.
Though if he pushed her on the swing he might have a chance.
She and Izzy were waiting on the porch. El - With no shoes on, of course - came immediately to give me a hug and say, "Carry me?"
"Of course." I swung her easily onto my hip, waved to my sister, and started back toward my side of the double yellow line. Once on the grass she took off for the backyard and her sudden reappearance as I was drawing level with dad's truck told me she'd found Murph and was confused. "It's okay."
"Pick me up?"
With a twenty-something pound child on my hip, we headed 'round to the playset, Murph standin' between the house and the swing looking sufficiently lost.
"Elizabeth, this is Murphy." She looked from me to what probably seemed like a giant and back again. "He's one of my good friends." Understatement much?
"Morephy? Like my Morephy?" she asked, squirming to get down.
She walked over to him and looked up. "Push me?"
"Sure," he said, unsure what to do.
"Ask her what swing," I fake-whispered, toeing off my shoes and then stuffing my socks in them. He looked at me like I was crazy and then asked the small child, who pointed to the baby swing. Murph picked her up like she was made of glass and she conned him into letting her snap the shoulder straps.
One of the most striking images I will ever remember whether or not Murphy and I stay together is him pushing my two-year-old niece on the swing set. A six foot one football boy and a small child.
The two loves of my life, right there together.
I sat on the regular swing next to El and put blades of grass between my toes, listening to Murph and El have a conversation...Well, as much of a conversation as a college student and a toddler can have. It consisted mostly of "Hear that?" "What?" "Plane!" And two heads looking upward trying to find the plane when it was a motorcycle on the road out front.
Not that it mattered, but, damn, it was both priceless and absolutely adorable.
Even better was when she got out of the swing and demanded - by cajoling of course - that he take off his shoes and socks. How could he deny a blue-eyed Karizslowski descendant? He couldn't. Which brought me to the conclusions that I'd never before seen him in bare feet.
He looked at me shyly. "I'm a little...Not a big fan of my own feet."
Toes are toes. Mine are...Okay, they're not roses but there's no fungus on 'em. With one eye on El, I shuffled through the grass and lined my big toes up with Murph's. It was then I realized I'd lost my left big toenail through some combination of practice, games, and a culminating hot shower. Oops.
"I could probably give you the best lookin' toenails on the football team. If you want me to."
He smiled. "Probably not."
El came from the right, grabbed one of my hands, took one of Murph's and planted a bony foot each on one of ours, pink toenails on display.
"Your toes are pretty," he said.
She grinned at him. "My mommy does them."
So, contrary to Murph's first impression, he and the small child got along like a house afire. Especially when she cracked open the sandbox. He sat on the FisherPrice crab's leg, knees around his ears, and let El bury his feet up to his ankles.
Dinner was a less than interesting affair. My brother-in-law Dean sized up my boyfriend upon entrance into the kitchen, but other than that and El's apparent potato strike, it was pretty tame. Goodbyes were eventually made, and with a bag of monster cookies and one last comment about how El likes "Ollie's Morephy" we were in the car and headed back toward the other end of the lake.
By way of Dunkin Donuts, of course.
"Do you want anything?"
I snorted and leaned over for a quick one before ordering a medium iced coffee and two vanilla frosted donuts (because Murph really likes them, as I'd just found out) and a couple donut holes were thrown in for good measure by the night staff. They were good like that, sometimes.
"Your family is awesome," he said once the lights had faded into the rearview. "And El...She's absolutely adorable."
"They like you." They did, too. Izzy had sent me multiple texts to this effect.
"I could tell." He shifted in the seat. "I like them, too." He shifted again, enough to stretch across the back of my seat again and rub the nape of my neck. His other hand turned on the radio and Brad Paisley crooned through the speakers. "I'm not sure how we'll do at Liberties."
Which was a polite way of saying his season was going to come to an end and mine...Well, mine might go on for a bit. Possibly to mid-December. Or maybe no. Depended on how we did during the opening rounds of the tournament, which depended on how well we did at Liberty Leagues.
And that would be determined by how we did the rest of the season.
Which would make life interesting.
"What are you doing on Halloween?"
I slowed my bucket of bolts down - sixty instead of sixty-five was much better. "I dunno. I'll probably wait and see what my boyfriend does." We were most likely going out, which is why my pirate costume was on the bottom of the pile of clean clothes in the backseat.
"Your boyfriend's thinking of taking his girlfriend to Colby's costume party."
Which sounded much better than going to a frat.
"I can handle that." Then had another thought. "Murph?"
"What year is Colby?"
"Sophomore, same as us. Colby was a transfer from the University of Albany. When he got here this summer, they didn't have a place to put him, so he was temporarily housed in the mini quad. Then some of the senior football boys needed another housemate after one of them bailed. So he took that."
Which reconfirmed that dealing with Res Ed was anything but pleasant. "Oh."
"He can't live off campus senior year because he's already doing so." And our school only allowed off campus housing to happen one year out of your four.
"How's this week lookin' for you?" he asked.
I'm not much for planning, but this week might take some actual writing down. "Kinda rough." Any week with physics was automatically difficult. Considering it was a MWF class, well, life was grand. "It'll be okay, though."
Because in five days it would be Friday again.