Micaela’s Big Bad by Tijan

1

Jay Happened

The only thingstanding between me and me getting drunk was a naked four-year-old.

He was my best friend’s nephew, and he was swinging his little penis in the air, staring at it, smiling and giggling, and clapping his hands with glee. He was also standing just inside the door, and I was standing on the doorstep, a full bottle of whiskey needing to be drank, and he wouldn’t let me in.

“Heya, Bud.”

More laughing.

He clapped.

He was shaking his little hips as if it were the first time he’d learned how to shake those hips.

“Bud.”

That was actually his name.

“What?”

I nodded to the doorhandle. “Let me in.”

“No.” He hit the lock—shit, my hands were full, but why hadn’t I just grabbed for the handle, anyway?—and took off running.

Crap.

I had a bulging backpack on me. Three grocery bags were hanging from one of my arms, the same one I had my coffee in. My other free hand held the whiskey. I knew my priorities. Also, the grocery bags were filled with my clothes, or at least what I had been able to grab in a desperate speed-round of packing.

I went so fast. If there was a speed packing race, I could’ve been a contender.

Not a winner, a contender. After all, I was realistic about my abilities.

The most extraordinary thing about me was my long hair. I had long dark hair.

Jay used to whisper how he liked to twine it in his hands when he—nope. Not going there.

But this was me. Micaela Nadeem, an energist who didn’t use my energist side. Middle of the road. Some might say boring. I played everything safe. No risks in life. Not great at anything, but not bad at anything either.

Even leaving my boyfriend, I half-assed it. I took what I could, and bolted.

And I threw a fork.

I should’ve thrown a knife. At least a knife? Why not go totally lame and toss a spoon instead? Nope. A fork. I was a fork girl. A fork non-energist energist.

My car was full of blankets, what bathroom toiletries I’d been able to grab, and all my schoolwork, because this fork girl still needed to finish two courses before I had a bachelor’s in communications. What I planned to do with that? I hadn’t a clue. See my theme here.

I barely knew what I was going to do past tomorrow, so the future was totally up in the air.

I was not, what someone would call, a planner.

Who are those people?

They’re a species I’ll never understand.

I tried hitting the doorbell with my elbow.

Nothing. I chafed against the wall instead.

I tried a second time.

Rin—

It cut out.

Great.

I had two options. Put my stuff down, find my phone (I had no idea which bag I’d stuffed it in) and try her that way. Bud was here, so chances were high that Nikki was babysitting, but her phone always seemed off so the probability of that working was nil.

My other choice: “Nikki! Nikki! NIKKI!”

She came out from the back hallway, her shirt hanging down one arm, doing up her pants, and her hair was all frayed everywhere.

I—

I couldn’t.

Not at all.

Her eyes went wide seeing me, and she cringed.

Her face was all red and splotchy.

Her lips swollen.

She came over, cursing under her breath, and unlocked the door. She opened the door, stepping back. I stepped in, and hissed under my own breath, “You just got laid! While you’re babysitting!”

More cringing from her, but she shut both doors and swung around to me. “I—” She took in my bags, and surmised the contents in my bag, and her eyes got round all over again. “Oh no, Cale.”

I wrinkled my nose at her. “Don’t ‘Cale’ me in that tone. Babysitting. You! Bud locked the door on me.”

“Bud?!” She whirled around.

And Bud decided to come running back down the hall, yelling at the top of his lungs, arms in the air. Still naked.

“Bud!” she gasped, rushing to him. “What are you doing here?”

She lunged right.

He jumped left.

She jumped left.

He dodged, then climbed up on a chair.

“BUD!”

Still giggling, he got up on the kitchen counter, and ran the length of it. He was fast approaching the point where he’d be caught or have to jump because across from him was the refrigerator.

I heard Nikki draw in a swift breath of air, at the exact same time as I held mine.

He launched—

“BU—”

He was caught mid-air by two muscular arms.

He was curled up to a very manly and shirtless chest, and he was carried the rest of the way into the living area where I was still standing, still holding all my bags, still clutching that whiskey because I was still hoping to crack this sucker open tonight and drown every last sorrow.

“Uncle Cream!” We were still on the high-pitched theme here. That was coming from Bud, and he was pulling with all his might at his Uncle Brad’s hair.

There was a story behind why Brad was nicknamed Cream, but I never heard it—actually, I never wanted to hear it. I was hoping to go through my entire life not knowing…and now onto the weird family awkwardness here.

Brad and Nikki were not boyfriend/girlfriend, or at least I hadn’t been updated on an official relationship status.

What they were, though, were siblings to Bud’s parents. Nikki’s sister married Brad’s brother, and their first shindig that resulted in my best friend having to do up her pants happened the night their siblings were married.

Do the math.

Bud was four.

Nikki’s sister didn’t get preggo until the honeymoon.

Brad ending up in Nikki’s bed, on and off, had been going on for a long-ass time. I say it like that because there are always after-shocks whenever Brad comes around.

Then, he would leave.

Nikki had tried closing up the bedsheets to him, but he could charm and seduce her and say all the nice words to her to get those sheets back opened pretty much any time he deemed her worthy.

He’d hotfoot out, and Nikki would get a text from one of our other girls (we had a lot around town), and there’d be a picture of Brad curled around another girl.

They were back and forth so much, and it’d been going on for almost four years.

This wasn’t my drama, but I was her best friend, and I was pulling the best friend card and admitting only to myself that I was tired of the Brad-drama. Also, not shocked that he’d bring Bud around when he was hooking up with Nikki. How he got Bud into the house without Nikki seeing him before the bed-capades was something I also didn’t want to know all the details about because Nikki was all looking shocked at seeing her nephew naked.

And in her house.

“What’s up, Nadeem?”

I grimaced. “Don’t speak to me.”

Uncle Cream was the most real-life version of someone who reminded me of Billy Hargrove from Stranger Things. The difference was that Uncle Cream had straight hair, not curly hair. That was it. He could’ve been his twin, both physically and personality wise.

“Brad,” Nikki snapped, but my best friend wasn’t paying much attention to her recent lay. She was back to looking at me. Studying my bags. Studying the booze in my hand.

She noticed before, but got distracted. She was back to noticing and she was figuring it out.

My best friend was catching up here.

“Jay?” she asked.

Nope. That most definitely wasn’t a frog in my throat. And it hadn’t doubled in size when I nodded back.

“Yeah,” I rasped.

Another cringe from her, mixed with a pitying look. I hated the pitying look.

The frog just did a loud-ass ribbit.

I looked away, and shuffled back because I knew what was going to happen. She would herd Uncle Cream and Bud, no—she’d make sure Bud got clothes on first—and once they were gone, she’d take my whiskey from me. She’d go to the kitchen. She’d pull out some drink glasses, put in some of the nice cubed ice she always keeps on hand for me, and we’d pour ourselves a drink. After that, it’d either be a veg-out night, which I was now wondering how that phrase came about? Because we’d sit, talk, fill each other in, and we’d drink. Pizza would either get ordered, or we’d go the other way.

We’d drink. Talk. And decide we needed to go out.

It was Halloween, a night we both avoided because we were usually insulted by how humans viewed us, but… Jay happened.