Can't Fight It - Kaylee Ryan
“Well, little man, it’s just you and me,” I tell my son, who is sleeping peacefully in my arms. I look around the sparse furnishings of our new home and sigh. I’ve been in the military since the day I graduated high school. I own nothing but the clothes that traveled with me. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing at this point in my life. It’s good because I have saved most of the money I’ve made. Bad, because here I am, a single father, with an infant son, in a house that’s well… bare.
And I’m sure this is no surprise, but kids are expensive. Diapers, formula, co-pays, clothes that he grows out of overnight. Toys and car seats, and I could ramble on forever. Kids are expensive, and it’s just me. His mother signed him over to me, and although I don’t understand it, I’m grateful she did. I always thought my life would be spent in the military. One trip home changed all that. This little man snoozing away in my arms changed it all. Not to mention, I’m going to be an uncle. My little brother got married and is going to be a dad himself. My parents are getting older, and I realize that life is passing me by. I’ve done my duty, served my country with honor, now it’s time to live for me, and Milo. Hence the reason it was time to man up and buy a place of my own.
This house is small but is set up with an in-law suite with a separate entrance. It’s a two-bedroom, three if you count the in-law suite. Nothing lavish, it’s actually perfect for Milo and me. The realtor convinced me that getting a tenant would be a good idea to offset some of the mortgage payment. The in-law suite is more like a tiny one-room apartment. There is a kitchenette, and a full bathroom, along with a small sitting area and room for a bed and dresser. Nothing huge, but definitely worth a couple of hundred bucks a month in rent.
I was starting to have second thoughts about the tenant. I don’t know if I want some stranger living here with my son and me. I mean, I can afford this place on my own, but having some help is always nice. I want to be able to give Milo the best in life, family vacations, the cool new tennis shoes that are ridiculously expensive. I know that’s all far away, but I’m a dad now. I have to think about these things.
Chase and Gabby were here last week after the closing, and Chase mentioned the door to the in-law suite could be locked both ways. Since it has its own entrance, I can lock the door from my side to prevent my new tenant from having access to our home. That sold me on the idea, and I posted an ad. Within hours, I had several inquiries, but one stood out. This guy named Hollis. His email was short and to the point. I don’t need much space, and I just need a new start. Can pay first and last month’s rent before moving in, and I’m willing to take any drug, alcohol, or background tests needed to be approved. He even attached a criminal background check from two years ago.
I messaged him back, we emailed back and forth a few times, and he sent me the first and last month’s rent on Monday. Now, here we are, Saturday midday, and he should be here any minute. Chase and Gabby are coming over too. Gabby is going to watch Milo, while Chase and I help the new guy move in. That’s the least we can do. Then we’ll probably invite him in for a beer after so we can get to know him.
“Knock, knock.” My brother’s voice echoes through the pretty much empty house.
“We’ve got company, buddy.” I climb to my feet, my son none the wiser, and head toward the kitchen. “Hey,” I greet Gabby and Chase.
“Aw, is my little guy sleeping?” Gabby asks, completely ignoring me. Not that I blame her. My son is handsome and hard to resist. He does get his good looks from his father. Just saying.
“He just conked out about fifteen minutes ago. What’s all this?” I ask, nodding toward the bags on the island.
“Oh, just some housewarming stuff. We stopped at the store and got some spices and condiments. Some kitchen utensils, potholders, a