I was glad that Aaron and Eric were off having a guys’ weekend together. I truly hoped it was the first of many. They deserved that bonding time with each other. After all the years that had been missed, I wouldn’t be offended if they took off every other weekend. I would definitely enjoy the quiet time. Well, mostly quiet time since I had the puppies to look after. They were getting bigger little by little. Janis was still cute but she was a barker. She was also starting to jump on people, so that was something we were going to have to work out. When I took Charlie to get him fixed so we didn’t have any puppies running around, one of the handlers there at the shelter explained to me that Janis’s breed was pretty well-known for jumping, but it with dedication and training, we could break her of that habit.
The hard part was going to be getting her giant companion to go along with it. He liked when she jumped all over him. Our house guests weren’t so ecstatic about it, and we couldn’t have it both ways.
Since the boys were out of town I decided to invite Jessica over for dinner. She didn’t have a very good relationship with her father either, but hers was a physically abusive asshole. She’d literally run away from home on her eighteenth birthday and never looked back. She met James in New Orleans when she was waiting tables. Kind of like Eric and me, they were only dating for a few weeks before his number got called. They got married fast and she waited for him to come back from the war.
Every day it still shocked me that James ended up hurting her the way he did. It just wasn’t him. If ever there was proof that a war had long lasting effects on a person, they could be seen in what James did.
I was in the process of putting some toothpicks in the chicken rollups I was making when Jessica let herself in through the slider off the dining room.
“Hey,” I smiled at her. I was happy to see her. She’d met Eric, of course, and immediately took a liking to him.
“Hi,” she smiled back. “It’s so quiet here today.”
“I know. It’s almost creepy. I even turned the music on Aaron’s room and shut the door earlier,” I admitted with a laugh. The longest I had been apart from him since he was born was a weekend camping trip with his cub scout pack when he was nine.
“That’s silly. You should enjoy the silence.”
“The silence is weird to me. I’m used to having someone home besides me. Eric still hasn’t made a lot of friends here. His friend Hoyt is coming down for the fourth of July, so that’ll be nice. You should come by. We were thinking of having a clambake down on the beach.”
“I could do that. I don’t have anything else planned. It’ll be nice for him to have someone he’s comfortable with close.”
“That’s what I thought too. I hope you like cheesy chicken wrapped in bacon.”
“Anything wrapped in bacon is delicious,” she answered. “Do you need help with anything?”
“No, I think I have it under control. The little potatoes are already roasting in the oven and the chicken is just about to go in. Oh, if Janis tries to jump on you tell her to get down. I’m trying to get her to knock that off.” I put the last toothpick in place and then went to the sink to wash my hands.
“Will do. So how are things going with Eric around?”
“It’s going better than I could have expected, to be honest. Aaron could be way worse. I think he’s just worried that Eric’s going to change his mind and take off,” I said.
“I don’t blame him. The guys you’ve dated in the past aren’t much to go by,” she said. “I think it’s good they’re on a boys trip.”
“Me too. You know Aaron will have fun at the Braves game tomorrow. I don’t know how he’ll feel about going to the races, but I know Eric loves cars and that kind of stuff, so maybe they’ll find they have something else in common.” I couldn’t really see them going on father/son fishing trips, but I could see them working on a car someday.
I dried my hands and went back to the island to get the chicken into the oven. Dinner would be ready in less than forty minutes. I grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge and then got a corkscrew out. I should have had Eric uncork it for me the day before. Corks were my damn nemesis.
“Want me to get that cork?” Jessica offered with a little giggle.
“Oh, you don’t like little cork bits floating in your wine?” I snickered and handed the bottle over to her.
“Fiber is good and all, but…” Jessica laughed as she pulled the cork.
“Showoff.” I turned and got a pair of glasses down from a cabinet. I held them out so she could pour.
“Mom was a wine drinker,” she shrugged. “How is Eric doing with Stan?”
“He doesn’t talk too much about his counseling sessions, but he’s still going once a week and it seems to be making him feel better. As long as it’s working, I think it’s great. I’m glad he’s found something that’s helping him. He’s definitely sleeping better than he was before he came down here.” Eric was sleeping like a rock. It was easy to see where Aaron got it from.
“That’s good. I’m glad he’s still going and is accepting that he needs the help. I wish James would have… you know…”
“I know,” I said with empathy. “Do you ever think about seeing someone else?” I knew it was still kind of soon since James passed, but eventually she had to move on. She was too young to just give up.
“I’ve thought about it. It’s hard to look at someone like that. I’m not ready to go out and meet someone yet. I’m not even sure how to meet a guy.”
“When you’re ready you’ll know. Then they’ll find you,” I laughed.
“Maybe. I’m so tall. Most guys probably think I’m too manly.” Jessica had long, gorgeous legs and a supermodel body. She was insane.
“Too manly? I don’t think so, sweetheart. I’d kill for those legs instead of these little stumps.”
“I’d rather have stumps than my gigantor legs.”
“Pfffffft no you wouldn’t. You can reach stuff. I need a step stool to get my casserole dishes down. My twelve-year-old is taller than me.”
“Well his dad is an actual giant,” she laughed.
“That’s true. God, could you imagine if you had kids with him?”
“They’d be born taller than you.”
“Seriously! It’s not fair!”
“It is not. I got my dad’s height. Eden is shorter like you. It sucks.”
“Well, I guess the grass is always greener on someone else’s lawn, huh?” I clinked my glass to hers and then took a drink.
“Here, here. Dinner smells delicious, by the way.”
“Thanks. The boys will probably be a little jealous I made this while they’re out of town, but they’ll get over it.” Charlie came trotting into the kitchen looking for pets. “Go bug Jessica. I see you enough,” I told him.
He did exactly that. As Jessica leaned down to pet him she said. “What the boys don’t know can’t hurt them.”
“That’s very true. So how are you doing?”
“I’m doing a little better every day. Seeing you so happy gives me hope.”
“That’s good. I’m sure there’s a guy out there for you, Jess. You’re a great person and I know you deserve a happy ending after everything you’ve been through,” I said.
“I hope so. For now I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’d ask if Eric had any cute friends or a brother but I know he doesn’t really know anyone here.”
“Hoyt might be cute. I haven’t met him so I can’t say. He’s got a brother but he’s living in San Diego, so I don’t think that would work out so well.”
“Probably not,” she chuckled. “I’ll make sure I look extra pretty on the fourth just in case.”
“Just wear a bikini.”
“Uh, you have a twelve-year-old son. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she snickered.
“Oh yeah, about that? The little goober stole my new Cosmo out of the mail before I got to read it. Then when I found it, I didn’t want to anymore,” I told her.
“Oh, ewwww. Maybe you should get him his own Playboy subscription?”
“Uhhh I don’t think I’m that cool of a mom.”
“It would save him from stealing your magazines,” she shrugged.
“Maybe, maybe not. I’ll run it by Eric, but I don’t think I can do that for him. It would probably freak Aaron out if I did.” For the sake of each of our sanity there was a certain level of denial we needed to operate under.
“That is more of a dad gift.”
“Exactly. I’ll let that be one of their father/son bonding discussions. If I so much as mention that I know what a penis is, my son loses it.”
“Well, you’re just Mom. You don’t have a penis so you don’t know the first thing about them.”
“Oh and of course I should never touch one, look at one or even think they exist. You know, since I don’t see them regularly at the hospital or anything.”
“No one wants to think about their parents knowing the first thing about a penis.”
“That’s true. I still don’t want to think about my parents doin’ it,” I admitted with a cringe.
“See. I hope you and Eric aren’t loud. I’m sure Aaron is horrified if so.”
“You know, he’s louder than I am? I’m used to having to be quiet but he’s not,” I laughed.
“That’s strange, isn’t it? I hope Aaron gets some earplugs.”
“He sleeps like a rock. If he’s heard anything I’d be surprised.”
Aaron had never complained about hearing us. Of course our sex life wasn’t as active as it was when we were first together. I had a job and other responsibilities so some nights there was just no energy for it. When I said I was going to bed, it was to sleep and not to fool around. Eric was learning that, not that he was especially fond of us. With the inheritance he’d gotten from his grandfather I probably could have quit my job for a while and we would have been okay, but that wasn’t very realistic. Besides, if we were serious about having more kids someday I’d be crazy to quit. Maybe after there was a new baby in the picture, but until then it was off to the mines for me. I loved my job. I wasn’t anxious to leave it. After all the hard work I had to do in order to even be considered for it, I wasn’t going to walk away just for a more active sex life.
I hoped the boys were off having fun. I was enjoying having Jessica over without Aaron’s stereo blaring down the hall or Eric whipping the puppies into a frenzy in the living room. It was nice. Quiet. I could get used to it. I would also miss my boys if they stayed away too much longer.
When I got home from work on Monday evening Eric’s car was back in the driveway. I was happy to see it there. I knew from his phone call the night before that the races had gone well, and Aaron actually loved it. He was anxious to go again sometime, which made me happy. I was glad to hear there was something they both liked.
I parked in the carport and then climbed the stairs to go inside. When I walked in the boys were playing with the dogs in the living room.
“Hello!” I called over the yips and barks of the pups.
They all stopped to look at me.
“Hey, beautiful.” Eric got up from the floor so he could walk over to me. “How was work?”
“It was good. We got to discharge a baby today,” I answered. “She was six weeks premature and we weren’t sure her little lungs were going to pull through, but she’s a little warrior.” I hugged him when he was close enough. “How was the drive back?”
“It was good. We made a pit stop on the way home so Aaron could drive the Camaro,” he grinned.
“I didn’t go too fast,” Aaron added quickly.
My eyebrow quirked. “You let him drive the Camaro?”
“It was a back road and he was very careful.”
“Eric showed me all the right things to do like check all my controls and to put on a seat belt before I start the car.” Aaron looked way too excited.
“Did he teach you how to shift? Wait, I thought cars were lame.”
“They’re not lame, Mom. I just didn’t know anything about them. Eric said he’s going to teach me how to change the oil and brakes and he told me all about how they run… oh and tires. He’s going to teach me how to change tires so if I see a pretty, or not pretty girl, with a flat tire I can pull over and help them out. Be a real gentleman, you know?”
I was impressed. My eyes shifted to Eric, who had a geeky smile on his face.
“That’s great, Aaron. So, I guess you don’t want me to scrap the Mustang when it’s time for you to drive a car of your own…” He didn’t know it yet, but that Mustang was going to someday be worth some money.
“I’d drive it. Or Eric’s Camaro since I already know how to drive it,” he grinned.
“You’ve created a monster,” I informed Eric.
“I’ve created a young boy that is getting into cars. Not a monster.”
“Well either way, I’m glad you two had fun. I’m going to go change clothes and then I want to hear all about it while I get dinner going,” I said to them. I paused to hug Aaron before I went on to the bedroom to get changed.
I was happy to see that the trip had been a positive thing for both of them. It was nice to see that they had something in common they could build a relationship on. We were one step closer to being a family, and it felt incredible.