“For what it’s worth, she did the same thing to me,” Hannibal said in sympathy to Frank.
The two of them were watching Face back out of the driveway in his vintage Vette. Riding shotgun was Sarah, Hannibal’s daughter, Frank and Face’s stepdaughter. Sarah was smiling and chattering a mile a minute with Face laughing along. He was driving her to pick up an order of Chinese for hers and Frank’s dinner. Everyone needed a break.
Face would drop her and the food back off at the house then head to his and Hannibal’s home. It would be tight. He would need to hurry to get ready for the newly fledged Ranger’s mixer the two men were attending that evening.
He had been called into action this afternoon to help diffuse a bomb ticking away in Ann and Frank’s home. The initial blasts had already occurred, but Hannibal, even with his explosives training, wouldn’t turn down an offer to bring in the big guns. It wasn’t how Face had planned to spend his Saturday, but there he was nonetheless.
Earlier Hannibal had received a call from an hysterical Sarah. He couldn’t quite put together what she was saying, only her repeated references to Frank. It was something to do with Frank, football and someone named Duane. Her repeated insistence she couldn’t believe what her stepfather had done had Hannibal swearing to himself if Frank had done anything to harm his girl... Well let’s just say, if it came to it, he was prepared to spend the rest of his days on the run from the law.
When Frank swung the door open Hannibal could feel a wave of fury emanating from the man. “What are you doing here?!” Granted they didn’t spend much time together, but they had never been anything than cordial with each other.
“Sarah called me. She said there’s some trouble over here.” Hannibal uncrossed his arms. No invitation had been issued to enter. He instinctively prepared to force his way in.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Frank’s color deepened in his already red face.
“No I’m not. Is Ann here?” Hannibal’s voice was becoming decidedly flat. Anyone who spent enough time with him knew this wasn’t a good sign.
“No. She’s not. She won’t be back until tomorrow afternoon.”
“You gonna let me in?”
The question broke through to the man blocking the doorway. “Yeah. I’m sorry Hannibal. Come in.”
“What the hell’s going on over here?” Hannibal’s arms were once again crossed over his chest.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on. Sarah is what’s going on. She was suppose to be on her way to a school football game.” Frank felt the need to close his eyes, breathe deep. The tightness through his chest was clenching once more. Hannibal waited. “Her ‘ride’ came,” he continued, using air quotes. “Her ride looked to me suspiciously more like a date than a ride. We’ve told her no one-on-one dates until she’s sixteen. So he’s honking his horn out in the driveway and Sarah made a dash for the door. I told her I wanted to meet this guy. She tried to blow me off by saying they were running late. Told her I didn’t care.” Hannibal could see the steam again building in this pressure cooker named Frank.
“So to make a long story short, it turns out it’s a college game and her ‘ride’ is one twenty-year-old Duane Cooper, college junior.” He waited a few beats to let that sink in. “I told Duane it was nice meeting him, but my fifteen-year-old daughter would not be joining him today or any other day in the near future without law enforcement being involved. I suggested he may want to consider sticking to someone closer to his age. Get this! He apparently was under the impression our little sweetheart is eighteen. When I asked her if that was true she rolled her eyes at me.
“He left. She‘s been throwing a temper tantrum for the, let’s see,” he checked his watch, “past two hours and twenty minutes. And you are now up-to-date.” Frank also crossed his arms. Hannibal thought he could see the man vibrating.
“I should probably talk to her. You know, since she called,” Hannibal said thinking now he knew what the situation was he didn’t really want to talk to her anymore. He’d faced down the enemy on three continents, but wasn’t at all sure he had the wherewithal to confront a thwarted fifteen-year-old girl.
After having Sarah’s own brand of Gatling gun opened up on him when Hannibal informed the raging girl he agreed with Frank, he had returned to the kitchen. Frank was sipping from what looked like a milk glass. On the counter beside him was a bottle of bourbon.
Turning his attention to the beaten soldier he noted, “It’s five o’clock somewhere. Want one?”
Hannibal nodded as he answered his phone, “Hi Face.” His eyes moved from the floor to Frank as he listened. “She called you, huh?” Shaking his head lightly he said, “No, that’s not necessary. I’m already over here.” He listened again taking the liquor extended to him. “Well, if you’re close by...let me see if that’s alright with Frank.”
He didn’t need to explain, Frank just pulled a third glass from the cupboard, figuring it would be needed.
“Yeah, Face. I think it would be good for you to come by. I think we’d both appreciate it.”
Face stood with a knee cocked. Shirt billowing from the waist of his jeans, hands on his hips, pinkies curled in while the fifteen-year-old shouted and flung her arms about. He didn’t remark. He didn’t interrupt. Frank and Hannibal sipped their drinks as they watched from behind the glass doors leading to the backyard.
When she had finally run out of steam, it looked like Face asked a question. Her response was a nod. Hannibal correctly guessed he asked the girl if she was finished. As he continued on he would hold one index finger up anytime she tried to break in. Hannibal knew the gesture well. It had been used on him. He was telling her she had her say, now it was his turn.
He only spoke for a few minutes before soliciting a head nod as it hung forlornly to the ground. Arms held open encouraged the girl forward to be enfolded into Face’s solid form. Frank and Hannibal watched as he said a few more words before taking the girl’s face between his hands to plant a kiss on her forehead. Slinging an arm across her shoulders he walked her back to the house.
Frank opened the door as they approached. Face stepped aside allowing her to enter first. Once inside she stood staring at the floor. Face nudged her toward her two other dads.
Voice contrite she addressed both, “I’m sorry I made such a big deal. I know you’re only looking out for me.” She glanced at Face who pointedly tipped his head and lifted his eyebrows. “And I will never ask one of my parents to overrule another one again.” Face again lifted a brow. “And I’ll never lie about my age again either.” With one more glance Face’s way she used her nickname for him and announced, “Pup says I’m grounded for two weeks for behaving ‘like a proper shit.’”
As they watched Face and Sarah head down the street Frank asked, “How does he do it?”
Hannibal lightly huffed before replying, “I don’t know, but he just saved both our asses. I hate to think what Ann would have done to us if we couldn’t manage one teenager while she had a weekend away with the girls.”
Thank you for following along!