"They are just curious about you," she said. "I'm surprised they aren't sniffing at you, Patience. They don't seem to even notice you."
"Hey Harriet," said Mike. "Didn't you just say you needed some more potting soil or something?"
"You'll never know how surprised I am that you heard that much of what I said," she replied. "But yes, I do."
"Let's run over to Lowe’s and get it."
"Well, I have the quiche halfway done."
“Patience can finish that up for you," said Mike, looking at his girlfriend for, and seeing in her face, confirmation. "You and I can run to the store."
"I thought real men didn't eat quiche," said Jack.
"Real men eat whatever the hell they want to eat," said Mike, managing to keep most of the derision out of his tone.
"Come on Daddy," said Harriet.
Father and daughter took a quick drive down the block to the neighborhood home improvement store. Mike hadn't really wanted to help pick out potting soil. What he wanted was more reassurance that his daughter was not bothered by his relationship with a robot. She was very reassuring. She seemed as happy that Patience was in her father’s life as he was. Their conversation on the topic ended just before they reached home again with pound bags of planting soil.
"One more thing Dad," said Harriet, who only called Mike 'Dad' when she was angry or serious. "Try to be nicer to Jack. Don't talk to him like he's a moron."
“Well he is a...”
“It's his house, Dad."
"Yeah, alright," conceded Mike.
Mike tossed the two bags of soil over his shoulder and followed Harriet through the gate and around the house to the back yard. He tossed them down beside the flower bed and dusted the dirt off of his shirt.
"Why don't you go see if Patience needs any help," said Harriet. "I want to get these last two Verbena in the ground before dinner."
Mike walked in and found Patience standing by the stove and Jack leaning on the counter nearby. Patience gave him the kind of smile most people reserve for someone they thought lost at sea or perhaps for Hunter Tylo when she was carrying an oversized novelty check for ten million dollars from Digital Clearinghouse. There was something shifty in Jack's expression though. Mike asked what was going on. They both spoke at once.
"Jack fondled me."
The look of shock had not even completely registered on Jack's face, when Mike grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him through the kitchen and out the door into the garage. Calling for Patience to stay and finish dinner, he shut the door after him. Jack was beginning to square his shoulders. Mike shoved him back against the wall of the garage.
"Hey, don't get all jealous," Jack began. "She's just a sexbot."
Mike grabbed Jack's face in his right hand and slammed it once again into the wall, this time making a large, round dent in the unfinished wallboard. He squeezed his fingers together until Jack looked as though he were doing an imitation of a fish.
"You don't get it!" hissed Mike. "This isn't about Patience! This is about Harriet! This is about my daughter."
Jack's eyes got rounder.
"If you ever hurt my little girl, if you ever cheat on her, I will kill you."
Once more, Jack's head slammed against the wall.
"If you want to leave. Tell her. Get a divorce. Now is a good time. There aren't any kids yet. But if you stick around and then cheat on her, I will kill you.
"I... will... kill... you." said Mike. "It won't be quick. It won't be painless. And you know what? I'll even get away with it. Look me in the eye. See if you can tell if I'm serious or not."
Jack's round eyes rolled over in his head to focus on Mike's close, way too close, face. A look of recognition crossed those eyes. Mike crinkled his nose, then looked down at the spreading wet spot in Jack's pants and the widening puddle of urine forming on the floor around Jack's shoes. Mike let go.
"Get cleaned up," he said, heading back into the house.
Harriet was in the kitchen with Patience, washing her hands in the sink.
"What were you two talking about in the garage?" she asked.
"I was just apologizing for being such an ass before," said Mike, as he heard Jack enter behind him. "But, uh, Jack spilled his drink. So he needs to go change his pants."
"That's fine," said Harriet. "Patience and I are just getting ready to set the table.”
Mike thought that it was the best quiche that he had ever eaten. Sautéed green beans and fresh fruit completed the meal. Harriet was a little concerned that Patience wasn't eating anything, but Mike assured her that this was completely normal. He also pointed out that Jack wasn’t eating much either. Jack apparently didn’t feel well and everyone agreed that he looked a little green around the gills.
“I heard you speaking to Jack in the garage,” said Patience on their way home.
“You could hear everything?” asked Mike.
“Are you upset with me?”
“No, Mike. I could never be upset with you.”
“I just thought that you might be disappointed that I wasn’t more jealous over you.”
“You’re not feeling jealous yourself? Or upset that I love Harriet more than I love you?”“I would expect you to love her more than you love me,” said Patience. “You have known me for only a few days. You’ve known her all her life. Your love for your children is just one of the many things I like about you, Mike.”