“Don’t you think that’s something you should have told me right up front?” Ian seethed, uncharacteristically running his hands through his hair, grabbing a handful and pulling. “Hello, we’re your neighbors and half your house is missing!”
“Right, next time I’ll add that to the list.” Colton deadpanned. “Hello, I’m your new neighbor, your biological father and half your house is missing.”
“Uhm…and don’t forget.” Jesse added. “…You knocked your girlfriend up with twins.”
“Jesse, honey, I don’t think you’re helping any.” Tippy tried to rub Ian’s shoulder, but he immediately pulled away. “Technically, it’s not missing, Baby Doll, it’s still there, just walled off so no one can get to it.”
Ian shot her a look.
“Don’t think that’s helping much either.” Reese said under his breath. Jesse couldn’t help but giggle.
“What’s so funny?” Ian snarled.
“Sorry, but I’m kind of enjoying watching you unravel.” He smiled then took a step behind Ripley to protect himself. “You know, the calm cool collected Ian Justyn comes apart at the seams. It makes you wonderfully human, Superman.”
Ian put up his hands and took a deep breath. “Okay, okay. I’m not angry at ya’ll.”
Tippy smiled and Ian pointed his finger at her. “Don’t push it.”
“Sorry, Baby Doll, but we all know when you’re tired because that Southern drawl rears its head. When you’re angry, well honey, it sits up, wags its tail and barks ‘ya’ll’.”
He had to smile at that. “Forgive my diphthongal changes, but back to the initial question. Don’t you think that in the past oh six, seven months at one time or another one of you might just have mentioned that there was entire floor and a half of the house hidden somewhere behind door number three?”
“Son, forgive us, but we thought you knew.” Colton shook his head. “Miss Elizabeth was always extremely detail oriented. We just assumed that when she sold you the house she explained that to you.”
“Obviously she skipped that little detail.” Ian resigned.
“And we thought that’s why Billy was getting both sets of blueprints.” Tippy said. “So you could see what was hiding…well…above your head…and beyond your master bedroom.”
“Actually, behind the closet of the master bedroom.” Jesse interjected and took another step further behind Ripley.
Ian nodded his head. “Tell you what, when they prove that Al Gore actually won that Presidential Election and the country gets a do over, I’ll write a note on the back of my hand to ask Elizabeth Elysian if by any chance there’s anything behind all the solid walls in the house before I sign on the dotted line.”
“See now, that’s pretty simple.” Jesse quipped.
“Still not helping.” His father looked at him.
Reese took a tentative step into the defense foray. “And quite frankly Ian, Mr. Anal Retentive, I’m surprised that in the past oh six, seven months you didn’t notice a huge discrepancy between where your terrace ended and the rest of the house beyond it.”
“Not to mention all that, you know, space above it.” Jesse nodded in agreement, shirking further behind Ripley when Ian gave him yet another dirty look.
Ripley cleared his throat as he reached behind himself, grabbed Jesse and shoved him in full view. “In Ian’s defense, the size of the house is extremely deceptive. I never noticed myself until someone pointed it out…about fifteen minutes ago.”
“I guess unless you knew it was there, you just don’t notice.” Colton shrugged.
“Maybe, maybe not.” Ian frowned. “With all that’s gone on, I’m just gonna chalk up this new discovery as another in a series of I probably would have noticed if something more spectacular hadn’t jumped in front of the car.”
“It does seem like every time one thing comes up another pops up right behind it to take your attention off what you wanted to look at from the first…” Tippy struggled along.
“…Bomb?” Jesse helped.
“Don’t say that!” Ian snapped. “That’s the only thing that hasn’t gone off in this house since January. Let’s not encourage fate, karma, God or Harry Dresden with something they may not have thought of.”
Ripley nodded. “Probably a good idea.”