Exclusive Bonus Scene for use by: A Literary Perusal © Sloan Johnson 2016Jaggers Good Morning“Dad… daddy, wake up,” Jagger whispered. I groaned and scrubbed the sleep from my eyes. A sliver of light cut through the darkness of my bedroom. God, what time is it?
I reached for my phone and felt someone shifting behind me. That woke me up in a hurry. My eyes shot open and I saw my son standing on his tip toes to look over me. Busted.
“Hey buddy, why are you up so early?” I asked, trying to deflect his attention from the man in my bed. Unfortunately, once Jagger got his mind wrapped around something, he didn’t give up easily.
“Daddy, why is Dax sleeping with you?” he asked. I wanted to bat Dax’s hand away as his fingers curled around my hip, but that’d draw even more attention to the fact that I wasn’t sleeping alone.
Dax and I had talked about testing the waters with Jagger to see what he’d think about the two of us being together. We’d been planning to start today, in fact. But neither of us intended for Jagger to find out this way.
“Answer me, Daddy,” Jagger demanded. “Did Dax have a bad dream? He told me he has them sometimes.”
“He did, huh?” I asked. This could work. I could easily go with Jagger’s theory; tell him that Dax had indeed had a nightmare and that’s why he came in to sleep next to me. But I couldn’t. He might be young, but I refused to introduce the idea of Dax being something more than our friend from down the street by lying to him.
“Yeah,” Jagger confirmed. “He told me that one night when I had a bad dream. He told me that it’s okay because everyone has them sometimes. He said you probably do, too. Do you?”
“Sometimes,” I responded. The desire to roll over and kiss Dax was strong. He knew I worried that Jagger would wake up freaked out some night if I had a nightmare and found a way to explain it away ahead of time. He was a damn genius.
“So, is that why he’s in bed with you?” Jagger pressed.
“No buddy, he didn’t have a dream last night,” I told him. “Why don’t you go out to the living room and turn on cartoons?”
“Why can’t I watch them in here?” Jagger protested. I felt the bed shake and knew Dax was listening to our conversation and trying to stifle his laughter in the pillows. I pretended to stretch and elbowed him in the ribs. “We always watch cartoons on Saturday mornings.”
Either way, I was screwed. I could fight with him, force him to go to the living room, and have him in a shitty mood all day or I could give in and let him cuddle in between us. That felt twenty different shades of wrong, but why? He was used to curling up between us on the couch, even before anything was going on. And knowing that we weren’t alone in the house, we’d both put on shorts and T-shirts after showering the stench of sex off last night.
“Come on.” I sighed and held out my hands to him. It was a gamble, but if I wanted him to accept that I was with someone, with Dax, I couldn’t let him think there was something wrong with it.
“Yeah!” Jagger squealed as he bounced around on the bed. Dax groaned and doubled over, muttering for Jagger to watch where he jumped. Served him right after he failed to rescue me from trying, and failing, to explain why he was in my bed. “Dax, are you gonna stay in bed with us all day to watch cartoons? First, we watch Daniel Tiger, then Spiderman, then Curious George, then‑“
“Yeah, whatever you want, little man,” Dax groaned. He pulled the pillow over his head. Silly man had no clue that he was up for the day now.
Jagger yanked the pillow away from him and threw it to the floor. “You have to watch with me,” he insisted. “Daddy goes back to sleep because he works late at night, but you don’t. You were here with me.”
Dax pushed himself up and glared at me as I curled around my pillow. I had Jagger well trained. He fluffed the pillows behind his back and held out an arm for Jagger. “There, is that better?”
“Yeah, that’s good,” Jagger said gleefully. I was desperate to get a little more sleep, but I couldn’t stop worrying about whether or not we’d just totally screwed up my kid’s young mind. I’d almost managed to convince myself that he wasn’t going to require any further explanation when I heard him whisper to get Dax’s attention during a commercial break.
“Yeah buddy?” Dax responded, keeping his voice low as well.
“Why are you in my daddy’s bed?”
Dax took a few deep breaths. “Would it be okay with you if I tell you that I like your daddy?”
“Well duh, you’re best friends,” Jagger deadpanned. “Do you sleep with all your friends?”
I couldn’t hold back the snort of laughter. Dax cleared his throat and I sat up. He was right, this was something we needed to face together.
“No Jag, he doesn’t,” I responded. This was one of those times when an instruction manual would’ve been helpful. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have explained how to discuss having feelings for a man when you’d never considered yourself attracted to them in the past. Shit, this parenting stuff was hard. “You know how much I love you, right?”
“Yeah, you have to. You’re my dad,” Jagger responded, his eyes still fixated on the TV. I thought about turning it off, or at least muting it, but I couldn’t do that. His world was about to tilt and I wanted at least one thing to be normal for him.
“That’s true, but I’d love you anyway,” I promised him. “And Dax loves you, too.”
“He does?” At least something got a reaction out of Jagger. “Wait. Is this like that TV show Meemaw watches sometimes?”
“Which one?” Dax asked.
“The one with the two boys who love each other,” he clarified. Not that I had a problem with that tiny detail, but I did make a mental note to talk to Mom about what she was watching. “And they bought a baby because they couldn’t make one of their own. But they didn’t do a very good job shopping for one, because it doesn’t look anything like them.”
“Jagger Underwood!” I scolded. “You don’t say things like that.”
“What? She doesn’t. Not at all,” he defended himself innocently. “Wait, you guys aren’t going to buy a baby, too, are you?”
Somehow we’d gotten so far off the original subject that I couldn’t remember what in the hell we were talking about. Oh yeah, Dax being in my bed. At some point, we’d have to circle back to the topic of adoption versus black market baby purchases.
“No, Jagger. Dax and I aren’t going to buy a baby,” I reassured him. “But would you be okay if he’s here more?”
“Are you two going to kiss?” He scrunched up his face as if that was the most disgusting concept in the world. I’d have been offended, but he was at that age where he thought anyone kissing was gross.
“We might,” Dax responded bluntly. “But we’ll try to not do it in front of you.”
“Good.” Jagger settled back into Dax’s side and turned up the volume. “Does that mean you’re going to watch cartoons with me every weekend when Daddy’s still sleeping?”
“You bet,” Dax said with way too much enthusiasm. If I’d doubted what we were doing, those thoughts vanished as I watched the two of them negotiate the terms of Dax being allowed in my bed.
“And you promise you won’t buy a new baby?” Jagger pleaded.
“Not without talking to you about it first,” Dax promised him.
“Okay. Can we stop talking now? I’m missing my shows.”
Dax and I both laughed at the simplicity of a child’s mind. We’d been trying to go over all the different objections Jagger might’ve had, but it seemed he was fine with us being together as long as he got to watch cartoons and we didn’t buy a baby. I could deal with that.