A guy’s birthday is supposed to be awesome. I mean, I was turning 13, right? I wasn’t looking forward to the zits, angst and hormones, but I was looking forward to having more freedom, girls and hanging out with my friends. Unfortunately, my birthday kind of sucked.
But let me back up a bit.
My aunt Kindra moved into my house after my parents died in an accident in Africa. I wasn’t too sure why my mom and dad wanted her to be my guardian. It wasn’t like I didn’t have tons of aunts who would have done the job.
She was some hot-shot business woman in Bridgeport making tons of Simoleons and rolling with celebrities like The Donald and such. And her husband was in a band that was becoming more and more famous every day. Why would they want to come back to Twinbrook and stay with me?
I suppose my mom had her reasons. It actually turned out that my aunt was pretty good at being a guardian. I mean, at first it was hard. She tried to do the whole motherly thing like making me waffles in the morning before school and helping me with my homework and stuff. But she was pretty awful at cooking (the homework help was appreciated, though).
She was also pretty busy. She had to work long hours and attend lots of meetings. Eventually she gave up the waffle thing and we settled into a routine. Eating quick meals isn’t so bad…better than burned or undercooked food anyway.
Whenever Kindra had to work late and uncle Caleb couldn’t be home (he wasn’t home a lot since he and the band often toured and had gigs), I was left with my aunt Sam and my cousins. For girls, they were pretty cool. They didn’t mind playing at my house. Actually, Emma said I had the best house since I had my own Gnubb set, a sweet playground, and my own trampoline. When we weren’t playing on one of those, we’d often play endless games of tag. Totally fun!
Uncle Ronald and aunt Alana didn’t stay at my house for very long. After Kindra became my guardian, they decided to live in their own home in a more secluded area of Twinbrook. They actually had it built for them out in the middle of the swamp. Uncle Ron said it would be easier to avoid paparazzi out there. It was a huge house big enough for the band to practice jamming in since I didn’t have a music room in my house.
The house was built just in time for them to bring home my new cousin, Jett Fields. Cool name. I bet the kid will grow up to be a rocker, too.
I knew there was no way we would ever move to Bridgeport for sure when aunt Kindra became president of her company and then she and uncle Caleb became a partners in the local theatre where he played all the time. They called it a good investment, but I knew it was a sign that they had settled here for good. I hadn’t realized how scared I was of leaving my home until I knew I wasn’t going to have to do it.
Then we found out that Alana was pregnant again. Kindra was surprised, but happy for Alana. I wondered if she would ever have kids with uncle Caleb. I was an adopted kid, so I didn’t expect to have a brother or a sister, but I thought it would be cool. Kindra’s kid would be my cousin, but he’d live with me so I could treat him like a kid brother.
But when Kindra announced that she and Caleb were going to have a baby one night over dinner, I wasn’t as thrilled by the news as I’d originally thought I would be. I think Kindra thought I’d be more happy. She looked all concerned when all I said was, “Great.”
“Aren’t you excited about having a new cousin?” Kindra asked me after dinner. I was watching Daredevil Dan, so I didn’t really want to answer.
“It’s ok,” I said.
“He or she could kind of be like a brother or sister for you. Haven’t you ever wanted a little brother or sister?”
I shrugged. “I guess.”
“Well, I hope you get more excited. I’m pretty excited,” Kindra said as she got up. I could tell her feelings were all hurt. I knew I’d done the wrong thing. My mom, who was always good to everyone, would have been disappointed in me.
Since I’d been lying and I really was sort of excited about the new baby, I followed Kindra into the kitchen so that I could apologize.
“I’m sorry, Kindra,” I said. “I really am excited for the baby. I just…” I hesitated, looking down at my shoes. “I just don’t want you to leave me alone now that you’re going to have a kid of your own.”
“Oh Charlie!” Kindra turned around and hugged me. “We won’t ever leave you alone. We love you. Caleb and I will always be here for you. And this new baby will be here for you, too. We’re family.”
I gulped a little and wiped the tears I fought to hold back on the shoulder of Kindra’s shirt. Then I looked up at my aunt. “I hope he’s a boy,” I said. Then I patted her belly. “I’ll teach him to fish and how to throw a ball. Like a brother.”
“Yeah, like a brother,” my aunt murmured and ruffled my hair. Then she sent me off to do my homework and get ready for bed.
It seemed like I was destined to have a lot of new cousins. It turned out that not only were Kindra and Alana having new babies, so was aunt Sydney. Everyone was surprised by it.
“I know that Sophia is a teenager and this baby will be so much younger, but I am so happy!” aunt Sydney gushed to Kindra. I didn’t know that she and uncle Calvin had been trying to have another baby for a long time. I just thought that they felt that Sophia was enough.
Things didn’t really change in my house while Kindra was pregnant. We still did homework together every night and we’d play chess. She was super good, but someday I hoped to beat her. My mom and dad were both good, too, and they’d taught me well. I almost had her a time or two!
But then the babies came. Yep, babies. Two. Leslie and Dillon were their names. They cried constantly and pooped all the time and never let either Kindra or Caleb sleep. I didn’t sleep much either, but I didn’t have to get up and take care of them. And the worst part…the part I never really thought about…was that they took over my parents’ old room. My mom’s bed and furniture was moved out and their cribs and new furniture was brought in. I hated giving up even that little bit of my mom and dad, but where else would the babies have gone? My room?
So that brings me to my birthday. Kindra and Caleb threw a huge party for me and invited all of my friends from school. That was actually really awesome. But there were a few unexpected guests, too.
Now that Kindra was President of her company and Caleb and the band were so famous, we could hardly do anything without the paparazzi showing up. They even followed me around…I suppose I was a celebrity by association.
Kindra explained why she let the paparazzi hang around and photograph my party. She said that if we made them leave, they’d just take pictures secretly and then write unflattering and untrue things about us in their papers. She’d rather they wrote the true and nice things. I could see her point, so I tried to ignore them.
But the other unexpected guest I couldn’t ignore at all. He was a guy who worked with Kindra. Jack someone or other. She wasn’t happy to see him at the party, and they had quite an argument. They were arguing softly, though, so I heard only bits of their conversation.
“…boy is mine…didn’t tell me…”
“…reminder…didn’t want…sister’s son…”
“…your hair…my eyes…anyone can see…”
“…go away…not yours…nothing…”
I was very confused. What did the man want and why was he at my party? Kindra saw me watching her argue with the man, so she told him to leave, and she ushered me away to go play with my friends before blowing out my candles.
I allowed her to lead me off, but then she heard the twins crying so she had to go see what was wrong. I snuck back to where the man had been and found uncle Caleb arguing with him. I hid behind a corner and listened as hard as I could to what they were saying. The man had this look about him…I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to know what he wanted. Was he a good man or a bad man?
“Why did you come here?” uncle Caleb demanded. “It’s inappropriate to crash a party. It’s a kid’s birthday party, for Sim’s sake!”
“I wanted to see if it was true. I’ve heard the rumors,” the man said.
What rumors? I hadn’t heard anything about my family in the tabloids. I didn’t know we were being gossiped about. I mean, I knew people wondered if my parents’ had been murdered instead of accidentally killed, but those rumors had died down long ago. The African officials had analyzed everything and hadn’t found any signs of foul play.
I started to worry and missed a little bit of what Caleb and the man were saying, so I focused on them again and heard,
“If he’s my son, I want to know about it. I should know the truth!”
“He’s not your son. Even if you’re the father, he’s not yours. He shouldn’t know what you did to his mother. You are not his father!”
“An office romance is nothing wrong,” the man said.
This apparently made my uncle furious because he ordered the man to leave our property. He actually shoved the man out. I thought they might fight, but the man finally left.
“This isn’t over. You’ll be hearing from me!”
I watched as my uncle pulled himself together and then he called out for everyone to meet him by the cake so I could blow out my candles.
It wasn’t until I had made my final transition into a teenager, that some of what the man and my aunt and uncle were arguing about started to make sense. I turned around to face the crowd and proudly show off being a teenager and all of my aunts and uncles gasped.
“He looks just like him,” I heard Sam whisper to Sydney.
And then the flash bulbs were going off and the paparazzi were asking questions and the whole thing descended into my worst nightmare.
“So when did you find out that Kindra Fields and Jack Osborne were your birth parents?”
“How come you gave up your son, Ms. Fields?”
“Does Mr. Osborne pay child support?”
“Did you sleep with him to become President of the company?”
“Was the baby an inconvenience on your road to success?”
“What did you say when you found out you’d be raising your wife’s love child, Mr. Fields?”
The questions and flashbulbs blurred together into a maelstrom of lights and noise. I needed to get away from all of the questions and the answers that I didn’t want to face. I needed comfort and something that was familiar. I ran up to my room.
I just hope that none of the other guys find out that I needed my bear. I may be 13, but my birthday was the worst! Sometimes it’s ok for a guy to cry, right?