Nothing Ever Happens - Completing the Family
Andrew was shocked when Aaron actively sought him out in the morning. Andrew had been deputized to take any kids for a walk, to get them out of everyone’s hair while they cleaned up or made lunch. He’d offered to take Stephanie’s kids too, but they were fussing and Colin decided to take them into the den for some quiet time.
Andrew knelt on the tiled hall floor, tying his shoelaces. He looked up as a shadow fell over him.
Somewhat awkwardly, Aaron smiled at him. “May we join you? Nate and Tessa want to see the lake one last time.”
“Sure,” Andrew stumbled as he got to his feet, cursing his weakness under his breath, and was unaccountably annoyed as Aaron steadied him. He thanked Aaron curtly, even though he knew he was being unfair and uncivil.
The kids hared across the lawn towards the lake, Tessa and Jessie shrieking as Dan and Nate chased them.
“They seem to get on well,” Aaron said, watching the four children run around.
Andrew nodded. “They’re good kids. It does Dan and Jessie good to act their age. Jessie’s too busy being a wannabe teenager.”
“Nancy’s furious with me.”
Startled, Andrew looked at Aaron who stared at the ground, refusing to look Andrew in the face.
“Her mom said that she wouldn’t hear any wrong talk as she called it.” Aaron’s face twisted and Andrew could tell what he was thinking.
“They’ve been very supportive,” Andrew said blandly.
“I can see that.”
Andrew didn’t know what he was expected to say, so he shoved his hands in his pockets and kept walking.
“My parents told me to forbid Nancy coming here this weekend. My dad said the devil lived here and he would fill us all with demons.”
Andrew was tempted to roll his eyes but he kept quiet.
“When I told her that last night Nancy said the only demon was sinful pride and no one judges except God, and my father ought to know better.” Aaron went quiet for a minute. “She also said that I couldn’t make her choose between me and her brother.”
“Is that what you asked her to do?”
Andrew snorted. “If I made Nathan choose between me and…,” He sought for an analogy, “the huge TV, he’d choose the huge TV to be contrary.”
It was Aaron’s turn to snort. “So would Nancy.”
“Yeah. But it’s not going to be easy.”
“What isn’t?” Andrew asked.
“My parents live a block away from us. They see the children every day.” Aaron watched his kids chase Dan and Jessie. “We are taught that homosexuality is sinful.”
“I was brought up that way, too.”
“I know you were. And you know what sort of world my family and I live in.”
“I know that, too; but you can choose to believe what they say, or you can choose to meet people and realize that indoctrination is misguided, if not dangerous.”
“Who’s preaching now?” Aaron asked with a wry smile.
Andrew dipped his head in acknowledgment. “I guess we are all guilty of that.”
“I can see you’re good people, and your kids are wonderful.”
It’s a start, Andrew thought. A small one but a start nevertheless.
A yelp distracted his thoughts. He looked up to see Jessie on the ground, hugging her knee. The other kids crowded around her, inspecting the damage and patting her back.
Dan waved at Andrew. “Jessie’s hurt.”
Andrew hurried over and knelt down next to them. “I can hear that. Miss Jessie made the ducks fly away with all that noise.”
Jessie made a sobbing/laughing/snorting noise. “My knee hurts.” She sniffled a little, obviously trying not to cry in front of the younger kids.
“Just your knee?” She nodded and Andrew inspected the damage. “Any blood.” The skin looked reddened but intact. “Any bruises, any brains leaking out?” All the kids groaned. “I think you’re okay.” He helped Jessie to her knees and in seconds she was running away laughing.
Aaron grinned. “Crisis averted.”
“Thank God… goodness. Jessie’s been known to milk a scraped knee for days, especially if Nathan’s around. He’s such a soft touch.”
“You’re very protective of each other.”
“With good cause, don’t you think?”
Aaron looked down at his feet again. “I can’t change my beliefs.”
“Then you’re going to have to make a decision; your beliefs or your wife’s family. You can’t have both.”
Aaron sucked in a breath. “You don’t hold back, do you?”
Andrew picked his way around a narrow place on the path before he spoke. “Guess not.”
“I admire you for that.”
Andrew’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He dug it out and read the message. “Lunch is nearly ready. We can go back now. Lunchtime, kids,” he bellowed to attract their attention. They waved and ran back toward them.
Aaron stood back to let them run past without falling in the water. “Careful,” he said as Nate got too close to the water. His son ignored him and chased after the others. Aaron sighed. “He’s not going to forget this weekend in a hurry.”
Nor was Andrew but not for the same reason. He was surprised when Aaron grasped his arm as they walked across the grass.
“I won’t let Nancy lose contact with her family, no matter what my parents or church says.”
Andrew nodded. “We know it’ll be tough. You know where we are. Call us if you need to talk, and if it gets rough set Nancy’s mom on them. She’s like a dog with a bone if anyone starts on her kids.”
Inside the house, Andrew took a deep lungful of the smell of good cooking. Aaron visibly relaxed. “That’s my Nancy’s potroast.”
“That’s her mom’s potroast,” Andrew corrected.
Teresa laughed as she overheard them. “You’re both wrong. This is my momma’s potroast and probably hers before her. It’s an old family recipe.”
“Nathan makes it for us,” Andrew said. “It reminds us of home when we’re in London.”
“When are you going back?” Aaron asked.
“Next week. We’re taking the kids back to their mom.”
Aaron frowned. “I thought Nathan was a teacher?”
“He is, but now he’s working in London. They have different school vacation times to us. That’s why we could come here this week. We’ll miss Thanksgiving here, but we’ll have a meal with Nathan’s ex, Alex and Evan.”
“And me. I’ll be there. I’m not missing your cooking.” Colin gave Andrew a one-armed hug as he walked past.
“And my son, who somehow always managed to turn up when food is available.”
Nathan came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. “Are we eating in the hall?”
Andrew grinned at him. “No, just talking about Thanksgiving.”
Nathan’s mouth turned down at the edges. “We’re going to miss Mom’s cooking.”
She reached up to kiss him. “Maybe Dad and I will come to you this year.”
Through the kitchen door, Andrew caught the hurt on Nancy’s face. “Maybe you’ll end up with other plans,” he suggested gently.
Teresa looked blank then she followed Andrew’s gaze. “Maybe we will,” she agreed, giving her daughter a smile.
“Nancy always does dinner at Thanksgiving. My mom is a lousy cook,” Aaron said. “You’d be welcome to ours for Thanksgiving—all of you.”
Aware of what a huge step Aaron had made, Andrew was about to respond when Nathan stepped forward, a broad smile on his face. He shook Aaron’s hand. “Thanks. We can’t this year but maybe next. I hope we’re home by then.”
Nancy rushed out to hug her husband. Then it turned into a hugging free-fest with everyone hugging and by the end, everyone looked disheveled and overwhelmed.
“You can keep hugging if you like, or you can have dinner,” Stephanie said.
Andrew grinned at her. “Can’t we do both?”
“Eat, then maul,” she said firmly.
“Yes, mom.” He saluted her. “The captain has spoken. Everyone wash their hands and head for the table.”
Adults and children groaned but they did as they were told, washing their hands and then sitting at the large table to wait for the food to be served.
Andrew looked around the table at his family, who were alternating between eating and laughing. He looked at Nancy talking to Nathan, seeing the resemblance in them as they talked, the exuberance in their gestures. He thought about that moment when he had been told, “I've found her,” and the joy and fear that went through him in droves.
Nathan saw him looking and smiled. “I love you,” he mouthed.
“Forever,” Andrew mouthed back.
Final part tomorrow