Home > To The Single Dad in the Store

To The Single Dad in the Store
Author: J. S. Cooper

 

Chapter One

 

 

“I’ve got the bread, the Nutella, strawberries, chocolate, melon, potatoes …” I checked off the items on my grocery list as I looked in my cart. “Oops, I nearly forgot the steak.”

I’d nearly forgotten to pick up the one item I’d come to the grocery store to buy in the first place. There would be no cookout if I didn’t have any steaks. Shelby and Ashley, my two best friends, would kill me if I invited them over for steaks, and then didn’t have any. What fun was a steak and wine night to talk about boys if there was no steak, no wine, and no boys?

My phone started ringing then. Shelby. She most probably had some sort of telepathy. I only hoped she wasn’t going to ask me to find some boys to invite over. There were no guys I wanted to invite. I was fed up with college guys. If I had to hear about another football game, I’d score a touchdown myself for the other team.

“Hey, I was just thinking about you,” I answered the phone with a laugh.

“Oh, yeah? Were you thinking about how badly I need to go to the spa and get a massage?”

“No, but that does sound amazing.” I pushed the cart to the side and decided to leave it where it was so that I could run quickly to grab the steak. “Ow!” I cried out as a cart ran over my foot. “What the hell?”

I turned and looked down to see a little boy pushing my cart. I slapped my hand across my mouth and looked around to make sure no one had heard me cursing in front of a kid.

“Oops.” He grinned, a mess of brown hair in his eyes. “Sorwy.”

“No worries.” I carried on with my conversation. “So did you want a ribeye or a filet mignon?”

Shelby tut-tutted into the phone. “Neither. You know I love New York Strip steak. I might be a little late, though. I have to finish some economics homework for tomorrow.”

“Okay, do you know what … ouch!” Something hit me in the back and I turned and my gaze met the laughing blue eyes of the little boy again. “Hey kid, can you be careful? Where’s your mom?”

“Oops.” His eyes widened and he looked behind him guiltily. I could see a man with two other kids strolling through the produce section, his attention on the conversation he was having on the phone. I stared at him for a few seconds, willing him to make eye contact with me, so that I could give him a scathing look. But he never once looked up from his phone.

“You need to be careful with the cart.” I looked down at the little boy and gave him what I hoped was a friendly but firm smile. “It’s not nice to hit people.”

I waited for him to apologize, but instead, he blinked at me and then ran away down the aisle.

“People really need to pay attention to their kids,” I muttered into the phone loudly enough so that the guy behind me could hear.

“What’s going on?” Shelby sounded confused.

“Oh, not much. I’m just being attacked by some little hooligan!” My voice got louder, and I stared at the man on his phone. He looked up for one brief second, his dazzling hazel-green eyes taking in my angry face and then looking away. He continued to talk on the phone.

I was incensed. No wonder this guy’s kid thought he could do whatever he wanted. “Hey, Shelby. Let me call you back.” I quickly hung up the phone, hurried after the man, and tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, sir.”

He cocked his head to the side and frowned a little. “Yes?” His voice was dismissive.

I couldn’t help noticing he was one of the most handsome men I’d ever met in my life. With his dark brown chocolate hair and hazel eyes, he looked like a dead ringer for Henry Cavil, and I absolutely loved Henry Cavilll.

But that was beside the point.

“Your son just hit me with a shopping cart. Twice.” I gave him my best pointed look. The little girl sitting in the man’s cart looked up at me with big doe eyes, and I swallowed hard. Maybe I’d been a bit aggressive in my approach. “I was thinking maybe you should be paying attention to your kids and not your phone,” I said in a gentler tone and smiled at the little girl before turning to look at the guy again.

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Okay, Karen.”

“What did you just say to me?”

There was no way. There was just no way he had called me a Karen! I could feel my body heating up. I was going to let this man have it. I was going to let him have it good.

“I said, okay, Karen.”

“I know you’re not calling me a Karen.” I glared at him. “You, who’s on the phone while your kids are assaulting people in the store, are going to call me, a good citizen, a Karen?”

He gave me a derisive look. “Excuse me, ma’am, do you even know what assault is?” He shook his head. “I think not.”

“Well, your son hit me with the shopping cart not once, but twice. He actually ran over my foot. In fact, he may have broken some of my toes. What do you have to say to that?”

“I would say that’s battery and not assault.”

“Really? I think you’re wrong. I think because the cart actually hit me it’s assault.”

“It’s battery, not assault. An assault would just be a threat, and it was more than a threat if there was actual contact.”

“What do you know?” I glared at him.

“I’m an attorney, and we learned the difference between battery and assault in first-year torts.” He looked smug. “What’s your background?”

“Well … you’re an asshole that shouldn’t have kids.” I didn’t have anything better to come back with. I didn’t want to tell him I was a senior in college.

“Really, Karen?” He raised an eyebrow at me. “A little kid accidentally hit you with his shopping cart by mistake and you’re coming to me to complain?”

“Because you should be checking up on him to make sure he’s not hurting other people. That’s your duty as a father. I mean, where’s his mom?”

“His mom is not here.” His voice lowered, and he looked down at the two kids that were standing next to him. “And I think you’ll find, Karen, that I don’t need your interference with how I’m raising my kids.”

“Well, maybe your wife needs to—” I paused as I saw the little girl’s lips trembling and realized that I’d taken it too far. I mean, yes, he should have been watching his kids, but accidents happened, and little kids were hard to keep track of. Not that I had kids and not that I wanted kids anytime soon, but I knew that. I’d babysat a little bit when I was younger.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to shout at your daddy.” I looked at the little girl and smiled warmly. “I was just a little upset that your brother ran over my foot with the cart, but it wasn’t his fault.” I smiled again and then looked up at the dad. “But maybe, sir, you should watch him just a little bit more. Maybe don’t be on your phone.”

“Really?” He raised an eyebrow at me again. “You’re telling me not to be on my phone when you’re discussing steaks with some rando on the phone yourself?”

“I wasn’t discussing steaks with a rando and—Wait.” I paused. “How’d you know what I was talking about? Were you listening to my conversation? And I’m the Karen?”

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