“Unca! Unca! Unca!” Regan crowed in delight, dancing in place by his father’s feet, trying to worm his small hand out of Richard’s grip.
The father in question cast a canted smile down at his son, who didn’t notice.
“Uncaaaa!” The boy called one more time.
After what seemed a small eternity in the toddler’s estimation, the door of Roscoe St. James’ strange slanted house swung open.
“Who’s making all that racket?” Roscoe’s gruff voice was evident before the man himself. If Richard aged a few years in quick succession, he might end up looking like his brother. They had the same sandy hair, green eyes, square facial structure. But Roscoe had a slight gut from his years of retirement, a few more lines filled his cheeks.
Regan made a sound that could only be a squeal, and his father finally let him go. He dashed forward, grabbing handfuls of his uncle’s pants in an attempt to climb up.
Cracking a grin, Roscoe heavily leaned over and scooped the boy up. While he babbled happily in his uncle’s arms, the two elder St. Jameses shared an openly amused look.
“Well, guess I’ll be going,” Richard said.
“Bye, Daddy,” Regan chirped as Roscoe carried him inside.
No separation anxiety for the St. James men. Shaking his head wryly, Richard clapped down the stairs and headed off.
Inside Roscoe’s ski-cabin-like home, Regan was still breathlessly filling in his uncle on the various exploits he’d been up to since the last time he’d seen him.
“Hey, Regan,” Roscoe began seriously when the boy stopped for a breath. “Mind if I ask you an important question.”
Regan shook his head eagerly.
“Good boy,” Roscoe said. “Do you know who the cutest little three-year-old in the whole world is?”
The boy’s face scrunched as he gave the matter honest thought. Finally he turned his hazel eyes up at his uncle. “Me?”
“Of course it’s you,” the man laughed. He leaned into Regan’s ear and whispered, “But don’t tell any other three-year-olds. They might get jealous.”
Giggling, Regan was set down with the instruction, “Go play with your cousin.”
Without a backward glance, Regan pattered off to the den, where Harley usually took up residence.
The older boy was lounging on the couch, flicking absently through the channels. Looking at him, it wouldn’t be readily apparent that he wasn’t closely related to Regan’s kin. His hair was a sand-brown not too dissimilar from Richard and Roscoe’s. Harley’s eyes were even hazel like Regan’s, though his were a fey splash of blue and yellow. He was just starting to take on the gangly limbs of a teenager, and Regan was desperately jealous of his cousin’s growth spurt.
He came around the end of the couch, “Hiya, Hawley.”
Harley’s flickered from the screen briefly. “Hey, Little R.”
“Just watching TV.”
Stretching his arms out in front of him to grab the cushions, Regan managed to wriggle himself up onto the sofa. He sat up and peered intently at the screen.
“Nothing, there’s nothing good really on,” Harley said.
“Oh,” Regan replied. He fidgeted for a minute. “Wanna go outside?”
“Unca says we have to wait ‘til after lunch,” Harley grumbled. “Already asked.”
“We could play blocks?”
Shaking his head, Harley said sagely, “Regan, I’m ten. That’s way too old to play with blocks.”
“It is not,” Regan protested. “I’ll always play blocks. I’ll play blocks when I’m five!”
“Ten is older than five,” his cousin sighed.
“Oh.” After a beat the boy said, “But I’ll always play blocks.”
“You’re such a baby.”
“I am not!” He crossed his arms. “I’m just a little kid.”
“Boys,” came a rough voice. “You be nice to each other or get an ass whoopin’.”
“See what you did,” Harley muttered.
Incensed at the injustice, Regan hissed back, “You stawted it.”