Never let a fool kiss you, or a kiss fool you.Joey Adams
The boy sighed, then leaned up against the girl’s shoulder with an old familiarity.
“And you really are not going?” he groaned.
“No, Bren, I can’t. My parents are nice enough to help with Brentley so I can graduate high school, but there is no way I can swing college now. I know it has been done before, but I am just not like that. Academics don’t come easy to me, like they do for you, I have to work hard for the sorta okay grades I have now and I can barely keep them up as is – no way I can make it in university. I’ll get a job and raise my son. Maybe when I am 18 I’ll get my own place too – eventually.”
“This sucks! We were supposed to go to college together, so at least we’d already know someone there, and help each other study. Now I am all alone. Donovan changed his mind and is going to San Myshuno and Eli is all the way in Sunset Valley. Now you are ditching me too. I am the only one going to Britchester, since I couldn’t get into San Myshuno and no ten horses are getting my ass to Sunset Valley. Crap!”
“You’ll make new friends quickly. Soon you get to do all that fun stuff we heard so much about. You’ll have to give me detailed reports daily, so I can live vicariously through you. Just remember to be careful when it comes to girls. I am a prime example what can happen and I do not recommend it. I love my son, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of stuff happens to your body during and after the pregnancy that I wasn’t ready for. Seriously scary shit nobody tells you about. Let me be your what-not-to-do reminder. Even if you think it won’t happen, it can – and probably will – happen.”
“My dad already gave me the scary no BS sex talk, plus I know my sister and I both weren’t planned and came as surprises at really inconvenient times for my poor parents, so no worries, that message has been received. But you’ll come visit, right?”
“I’ll try.” Elise shrugged.
“Can’t his father take him sometimes?”
“I can’t ever get a hold of Marcello. He pays child support and that’s it. I think his father interferes, because I guess you heard, Marcello got married. Now I am just a dirty smudge on his past, when once I really thought he and I were the real deal. Promise me Bren, never do this to a girl. It is really the worst feeling ever.”
“You know I wouldn’t! And even if I were like that, my parents and my sister would kick my ass till I bleed. I’d kick my own ass too.”
“I’d help kick as well! Man, I wish I had an older sister. Younger siblings are so annoying. Especially when I finally have the baby down for a nap and they are loud and wake Brentley back up. Frustrating!”
“Now you sound like Ana. She hated me when I was little. Luckily she came around – mostly. Cos she can be mean! I used to be really scared of her, now I just think it’s funny to piss her off and watch her go. If I am not careful, I go back into her hate drawer. That’s a cold, dark place for sure!”
“I don’t think anybody could ever hate you, Bren.”
Their eyes met, Bren felt his heart pound and cheeks burn hot, even more so when her father walked up. Both of them jumped up.
“Hey Brendan. You kids do your homework yet?”
“All finished, Mr. McC. Just chilling now.”
“Kid, I told you many times I don’t like it when you address me like I was a DJ in some club. McCreedy is not that long, Brendan, you can manage.”
“Sorry, Mr. McCreedy.”
“No problem. But I think it’s almost dinner time and your parents are wondering where you are. Best get home. I’d offer you to stay, but you know we have a full house as is and my younger daughter has friends over that are eating with us. Sorry Brendan, next time again, but this time we’re just out of seats. Need me to drive you home, son?”
“No Sir, I got my parents’ car, thanks. I was about to head out anyway.”
Brendan took the hint and left right away, even though he wasn’t ready to. Ever since Elise had the baby they barely got to spend any time together anymore, and if, usually at her house or she’d have Brentley with her. Brendan liked the baby, cute and all, but annoying sometimes. They used to be spontaneous, just decide on something and go, often with his friends Donovan and Eli. Now it was always just Donnie, Eli and him, while Elise had to take care of her baby. Not fair!
Few days later Brendan was hanging around our living room waiting for me to finish dinner when Blaine walked in.
“Did you bring home a cat?”
“Did I what? No. Why?” Brendan wasn’t sure if Blaine was having him on or being serious, while his father sat down next to him.
“Because there is a cat outside your room sounding like it’s being skinned alive, but that sucker won’t leave nor let me get near it to help it leave, cause I am about ready to launch it into the sky! Keeps hanging out at your room crying as if you’re hoarding tuna cans. I need to finish my recording, but that damn cat ruins every take. I need the window open so my brain don’t get fried because it gets hotter than two mice fucking a wool sock in that damn studio this time of year! Do me a favor and see if you can deal with that damn cat. If not, I am gonna let Obi out and he can explain to that noisy little bastard that we don’t have any vacancies while he plucks its fur out of his teeth!”
“Okay. I’ll check it out.”
Followed by Blaine, Brendan walked around back of our home.
“Holy shit! Pickles?” Brendan exclaimed.
“Nah, kid, looks like a cat to me. You need glasses.”
“That’s the McCreedy’s cat, Pickles. Here girl, come here.” Brendan made cooing noises and called the name again and sure enough, the cat hurried straight to him.
After some more meowing she jumped into his arms before he was even ready. Clumsily he caught her, while the cat purred happily and contently got comfortable in his arms, while Blaine frowned.
“Which idiot names a female cat ‘Pickles’? If I refer to a pickle I guarantee you, it ain’t anything feminine. Before that comes up: we are NOT keeping that cat! Anything new moves into this house, I am moving out!”
“Of course not! I have to bring her back to Elise! Dad, can I have the car to take Pickles home?”
“No, but I will drive you over. We don’t have a pet carrier for that furry sound machine and I am not letting my scatterbrained teen son drive while that freak is bouncing around the car. It’s our only car.”
“Not to mention that I am your only son …”
“Well, your mom is still fit, we could probably make another batch of kids. I’d have to verify with her, but pretty sure she can’t pop out a new car though and I know for certain we definitely can’t afford to buy one.”
“Ha ha … very funny dad. Glad to know I am loved. At least Pickles loves me, don’t you, girl?”
“How heartwarming. I am hungry and have a deadline looming, so my lovey-dovey mode is muffled currently. In other words, quit screwing around back here and get in the car, I’ll get the keys. Don’t bring that animal inside. Obi hates cats, would eat that sucker whole – and I would let him!”
Blaine came inside and I heard
“Hey babygirl, YOUR son is making me drive him over to Elise’s because her pussy hunted him down.”
“Excuse me!?” I exclaimed while staring at my husband.
“Get your mind out of the gutter, baby! Her damn cat found Brendan’s room and fucked up my recordings with her constant screaming. She came right up to him, so now YOUR son is making me drive him to Newcrest to hand deliver that damn cat!”
“Well, that’s kinda sweet that she found him all the way out here. And very sweet of Brendan to take her home. And sweet of you to drive him, Grumpy. I can take him if you want to finish your …”
“NO! Your happy butt stays put to finish dinner, or you’ll think grumpy. I am half-starved to death and am still not done with work, but instead I get to play Uber driver for other people’s cats on YOUR son’s behest. For what it’s worth, the way Brendan acts around girls that cat may be the only pussy that boy will get near for a long time. Hope he enjoys it on the drive, if I weren’t so hungry I’d take the taxicab route to make it last a little longer.”
“Oh Blaine, for heaven’s sake!”
Winking and smirking he waved and left. Blaine and I were both still not too crazy about the fact that our 17 year old son spend so much time with a single teen mom, mostly because it was very obvious how much he liked her as more than a friend and I wasn’t so sure that feeling wasn’t mutual. Lucky for us, neither of them had acted on it thus far.
Blaine’s joke wasn’t all wrong. Brendan could talk your ear off and was very outgoing and borderline obnoxious even around perfect strangers, but enter a cute girl and he got tongue-tied that it wasn’t even funny anymore. Girls really liked him too, which made things worse. He had two ex-girlfriends by now, but Blaine and I both guessed he hadn’t gone all the way with anyone yet. We both were prepared to have grandkids one day in the very distant future. Our appearance and the way we felt luckily hadn’t caught up with the scary numbers that were now our ages, and we definitely didn’t feel grandparent-ish. Not for many years, please! This included step-grandkids. No thanks.
Speaking of, you know the old adage ‘Be careful what you wish for’? Blaine and I got a lesson in that, when we had been carefully wondering about all of Anastasia’s friends in steady relationships or married, some of them expecting children, while she didn’t even have a boyfriend. We thought she was working too hard and too much.
So during one of her visits at home while Blaine and Brendan were out, I sat her down with a glass of Moscato wine, had a woman to woman talk with her, she actually opened up to me and told me some cryptic wishy-washy things about being in love with someone she couldn’t be with, but refused to give me details, was deeply affected and constantly fighting with her emotions while she spoke about it, so I thought she meant she had fallen for a married man, maybe a coworker or something. Not once did I make the – in hindsight pretty obvious – connection that she could mean Riordan.
So, my motherly advice to her was to count her losses and get herself out there into the dating pool.
That proved to be a mistake.
She was, after all, Blaine’s daughter. It was either all or nothing with her.
So she got out there all right, and she power-dated, not even a slight exaggeration, she went on dates with different men nearly every other day, most were one hit wonders, but finally boiled it down to four who seemed to have some staying power, as she went on repeat dates with them and even talked about them with us.
We learned about a guy named Grant Stewart, a successful businessman in his own right, initially he sounded gallant and almost perfect.
Imagine our surprise when by sheer coincidence we happened to run into them at the Myshuno Meadows Park during a date night out and realized he was at least our age, if not older, so obviously way too old for our 22 year old daughter! Blaine and I felt like kicked by a horse, naturally Blaine gave her – and Grant – an unfiltered piece of his mind, as did I, but we might as well have been talking to a wall.
Then there was her charming across-the-hall neighbor, Damien Lambert, whom we met briefly while visiting Ana at her apartment.
Overall Damien was a sweet guy in his late twenties or early thirties, an artist of sorts, painter, I think Ana told us, who basically lived from peddling his work to tourists and barely was able to make rent each month, meaning whenever they would go out, Ana was always the one picking up the tab. Every time. Finding out that bit caused simultaneous eye-rolls from Blaine and me, we tried to talk some sense into her about that.
Not to be old-fashioned, but there should be a balance, especially with a man that age. Both Blaine and I filed that guy under ‘dud’ immediately. Nice as a neighbor, but reject as anything more with our little girl.
Next on the menu we had someone we were actually really introduced to over dinner and a walk.
A freckle-faced red-head with glasses, young, around Ana’s age, by the name of Daniel McCormack, who was absolutely not Blaine’s taste at all, too nerdy, according to him, while I really liked him.
He had a well-paying job in some IT branch, was educated, well-mannered and well-spoken plus he was very gallant with Ana, opening doors for her – and me.
Still Blaine couldn’t help comparing him to nearly every cartoon out there on our drive back home to Windenburg.
I truly think that was a jealous father and husband talking, we all knew about the thing with fathers never liking the boys their daughters bring home, and I may have referred to Daniel as an ‘adorable nerdy hunk’ which immediately darkened Blaine’s facial expression.
Did I ever mention Blaine was the jealous type?
And then last but not least there was another guy that she seemed really fond of, a 27 year old aspiring musician this time, Deacon Johnson.
Deacon was a really nice guy with lots of charisma, and would have gotten a wholehearted thumbs up from me, but when he told us himself how he was struggling to get his name out there and barely made any money and had been evicted twice before now, Blaine just facepalmed himself and told him to get the f*** out of the entertainment business if he wanted to date our daughter.
Deacon didn’t take too kindly to that, neither did Ana, but I understood Blaine. So I tried the more courteous approach, but Deacon just stubbornly rambled on about how music was his calling and blah blah blah. I quit listening, just thinking to myself about the foolish delusion of youth. Sigh.
Look, I get it, I would be the first to admit how easily a girl head over heels in love with a handsome, charming man would drop her own career to support his dreams and follow him to the end of the world for his. I was that girl once. Which was precisely why I would not want for either of my kids. Sorry Deacon, you are lovely, but I really do not want my daughter to follow that closely in my footsteps.
Yes, of course it would ultimately be Anastasia’s choice and of course would be be as supportive as we could be even if she chose one of the guys with the parental reject stamp on their foreheads, as long as she would just pick ONE.
Oh, in case you were wondering why I would complain about my daughter dating those admittedly nice men, I should point out that she was dating them all simultaneously.
Yeah. Now you get it, right?