Gage smiled. Jase should have seen him suck Cory the handyman off a few hours earlier. That was decadent, at least compared to ice pops. “The first lady will just have to get over it. I haven’t seen my kid in a week and I think he deserves an ice pop.” Of all things, Gage thought. All the poor kid wanted was an ice pop, not a vodka stinger. And from what Gage could see, Hunter was a normal, nice-looking kid, with almost all of Jase’s handsome features. The kid was far from being fat. If anything, Gage thought he could use a few extra pounds. Poor Hunter was probably so thin because of all that fucked-up organic food Luis had been forcing down his throat. “In fact,” Gage said, turning to Hunter, “if you want, you can have two ice pops.”

Hunter blinked. “Before dinner?”

Gage smiled. “Let’s live a little, kiddo,” he said.

“Thanks,” Hunter said, as he crossed to the refrigerator. “I promise I’ll eat all my vegetables tonight at dinner. I swear I will. I’ll even eat that white stuff you make me eat sometimes.”

“White stuff?” Gage asked.

Jase laughed. “He’s talking about the tofu.”

Gage frowned. The poor kid sounded as if he’d been brain washed by aliens from a creepy organic planet. “Don’t worry, Hunter. We’re having pizza for dinner. I’m not feeling well and I decided we’re getting take out tonight.” Too bad Gage couldn’t cook. If he had been able to cook, he would have fed them both huge portions of Southern fried chicken and biscuits. Jase, in Gage’s opinion, could stand to gain a few pounds, too.

When Gage mentioned they were having pizza, Hunter smiled so wide Gage saw every tooth in his little mouth. “You never let us have pizza. You say it’s bad for us. You always say it will make me obese and it will make Dad’s blood go crazy.”

Gage had to think about this for a moment. A kid that age shouldn’t even know the word obese. When he realized Hunter was talking about Jase’s blood pressure, he laughed. “Well, I’m breaking all the rules this weekend because I’ve missed you so much. I don’t think the occasional pizza is going to kill any of us.”

“Can I have soda with the pizza?” Hunter asked.

Jase sent his son a wary glance and said, “You’d better not push your luck, Hunter. You know how he feels about sugary drinks of any kind.”

Gage laughed. The way Jase had looked at his son anyone would have thought Hunter had used foul language. The poor starved kid looked as if he needed a big glass of cola to go with his pizza. “What the hell? We’re celebrating this weekend. You can have all the soda you want.”

“And no vegetables at all this weekend?” Hunter asked.

Gage smiled. “Go get your ice pop before I change my mind.”

While Hunter went to the freezer, Jase plopped the big black leather suitcase on top of the kitchen table and unzipped it. Before he reached inside, he frowned at Gage and said, “Luis, promise me you won’t get upset about this. My grandmother wanted to give you this because she loves you. She’s not trying to insult you and she’s knows nothing about being politically correct.”

When Jase looked at him this way, Gage experienced a rush of adrenaline. What on Earth could be inside the suitcase that would hurt or offend his finicky, politically correct twin brother, Luis, so much? So he clasped his hands together and said, “I’m sure she meant well. I can’t wait to see it.”

Jase fumbled for a moment and dug to the bottom of the suitcase. He slowly pulled out a coat. But not just any old coat. This one was made out of some type of fur, with a brownish, reddish color.

Jase lifted the coat and handed it to Gage. “I know how you feel about wearing dead animals and how strongly you feel about animal rights,” Jase said. “But this is vintage beaver. It belonged to my grandfather long before it was against the rules to wear fur coats. My grandmother says it dates back to the l930s, when wearing fur in Alaska was all about keeping warm, not fashion. She said my grandfather wore it to work every day when he had to walk two miles to get there. She specifically said she wanted you to have it. I know she meant well and I didn’t have the heart to tell her how you feel about wearing fur. You don’t have to wear it. You can put it in the back of the hall closet and never look at it again. Actually, I almost decided not to show it to you.”

When Gage felt the soft fur, he ran his right hand down the back and smiled. Oh, this would absolutely kill his politically correct twin brother, and Gage couldn’t have been more pleased. If this had really been Luis, instead of Gage pretending to be Luis, Luis wouldn’t have even touched the coat. He would have dropped it on the floor and shrieked, ordering Jase to pick it up and remove it from his house immediately.

But Gage only smiled and slipped his arms through the sleeves of the vintage beaver coat. Gage wasn’t fond of real fur either. But he’d never worn real fur and he’d always wanted to see how it felt. This coat was a three-quarter-length affair, and he knew the reddish-brown color would look wonderful with his new dark hair color. It would have looked even better with his bleached blond hair. Oh, he was missing his blond hair more than he thought he would.

Jase’s expression remained serious. “After my grandfather died,” he said, “my grandmother kept it in cold storage, had it cleaned and glazed regularly, and said she was keeping it for me. But it’s way too small for my shoulders. Besides, I’d never wear real fur. She said you were exactly the same size as my grandfather and she wanted someone in the family to have it.”

Gage ran both palms down the soft fur and turned sideways so he could gaze into a mirror near the walk-in fireplace. He wanted to scream and shout; he wanted to throw his arms around Jase for bringing this coat back to Luis, knowing how Luis would react to real fur. But he knew that would have been way out of character. So he smiled and said, “I’m okay with it, Jase. Next time I talk to her I’ll be sure to thank her for it. And, as you said, this coat was made long before it was unfashionable to wear real fur and it’s a shame to think those poor little beavers died in vain. You don’t have to worry. It’s all good. I’ll call and thank her tomorrow.”

Jase exhaled and reached out to hug Gage. “Wow, I was so worried I wasn’t even sure if I should show you the coat. Thanks for being so understanding. This is one of the reasons why I love you so much. You truly are one of a kind.” Copyright 2016 - 2024