Meeting a girlfriend’s parents is a defining moment in a relationship; theoretically, you’ll make a lasting impression on your honey’s parents that won’t make them go for the shotgun. Yes, ma’am. I do think your daughter is a lovely, talented young woman and I think the world of her. No sir, I wouldn’t consider for a second bringing her home even a hair past eleven. Not that easy, of course. Oh hell, no. Every gesture is significant and every facial expression speaks a thousand words, none of them good. Is there a hint of disapproval in that quirked eyebrow? Or is it a trace of suspicion in what sounds like an awfully pointed question?
Or I could just take that storm cloud on Mrs. Reed’s face as a giant-sized clue. Jahn decided, as his girlfriend’s mother got a good look at just what Jen was wearing and made the logical deductive leap on the significance of where she was wearing it. He couldn’t think of a single thing to say, and from the palpable surprise on Jenny’s face, he understood that her mother’s return had not been announced.
Not that Mrs. Reed’s comings and goings required broadcasting. He understood from Fiona that their mother had turned over the title to the house for a token sum that would ensure financial responsibility on their part, and security on hers. What otherwise might be converted a guest room was reserved for their mother when she took a mind to visit and she had her own key. According to what he’d been told, those visits were infrequent, as the woman had taken a liking to travel and spent most of her time going cross-country. And here she was…
“Ummm. Hi. Mom.” Jen squeaked out awkwardly, a touch of panic clear in her wide blue eyes. Bruising momentarily forgotten, she gave an odd little sideways wave of her hand and said. “I need to change, I’ll be right back.” In the harsh light of the kitchen and living room, the reason was abundantly clear – the outfit his girlfriend wore could only leave anything to the imagination in a shadowy room. All of her goods were on display.
“Please do,” the silver-haired woman said frostily as her daughter hurried away to find something more decent. Turning her attention back to Jahn, she now examined him with greater scrutiny. Her stare was not like Donovan’s. No idle curiosity; her brown eyes were knives that pared the flesh from bone like skin from a potato. Likely the only question in her mind was where to dispose of his body when those sharp brown eyes finished eviscerating him.
“Mrs. Reed, this really isn’t how it seems…” he began awkwardly, before realizing that the explanation might be even worse to her than what she already thought.
“Do tell,” Mrs. Reed said coldly, and he started to continue. She cut him off. “On second thought, don’t. I’d rather have the explanation from my daughter.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Bug on a windshield, yep, he thought as he waited silently with the silver-haired Fury staring bloody death at him
Jen returned a few minutes later, clad in a loose-fitting sweatshirt and jogging pants, greeting her mother somewhat lamely, bright spots of pink on her cheeks, “Hadn’t heard you were coming home…”
With words that seemed able to cut stone, Mary Reed addressed her daughter. “I hadn’t planned on it, but I got a call last month from Fiona about a charming young man she’d been seeing for the last few months. Given that I can’t recall either of you girls having had a boyfriend that lasted more than a week or two, I thought I’d drop by and meet the special man that caught my daughter’s eye. A young man named Jahn Halvers,” she said, anger still providing an edge to her words. Her daughter winced. “My question should be rather obvious. Does Fiona know about _this_?” Mrs. Reed said, gaze shifting to the clothing Jen now wore
“Well, yeah.” Jenny hedged, shifting around on her feet, trying to work out her next words. “Jahn’s my boyfriend.”
Uncertainty crossed the silver-haired woman’s severe features, and she asked. “Pardon? Fiona was rather explicit about this young man being her boyfriend, even describing him in depth for me.” Mirth very briefly touched her lips, and died there. “She’s not prone to telling stories.”
“No, she’s not.” Jen agreed, still refusing to meet her mother’s gaze. “We’re both going out with him.”
From the thunderstruck expression on Mrs. Reed’s face, Jahn guessed her ready to keel over, and he reached out to steady her elbow... only to be completely ignored. Having raised two daughters on her own, surviving one husband and the imprisonment of another, Mary Reed was made of far sterner stuff. No heart attack, no fainting.
“I… see. Fiona will be in tonight, or is she gone for the weekend?”
”She’ll be back later. Choir at that rest home,” Jen said, still shifting around on her feet.
Gaze still sharp, Mrs. Reed paused for a moment then said, “Stop fidgeting, Jenny. I’ll make dinner and we’ll have this conversation when she gets home.” Grudgingly, she extended invitation to Jahn. “I suppose you should be here for that discussion as well.” ***
Fiona had the benefit of some forewarning; she saw her mother’s car in the crowded driveway when she pulled in, and took a noticeably long time to get in the house. Obviously not enough warning, though, and with light rose coloring her cheeks, she came into the kitchen looking like a deer caught in the headlights. “Hi, Mom. It’s good to see you again; I didn’t expect you’d be dropping by again so soon.”
“So, I’m told,” Mrs. Reed returned coolly, glancing at Jahn and Jen, who were busy setting the table. “I just had to meet this young man you spoke so enthusiastically about. Imagine my surprise.”
While the sisters had made it an unspoken rule to not be in the house for each other’s “dates”, Fiona knew perfectly well what her mother was referring to, and wisely didn’t ask, though she did shoot her sister a few questioning glances. Jen nodded grimly at her while Mrs. Reed’s back was turned and Jahn gave her an apologetic shrug.
Jahn was granted the dubious honor of being seated directly across from Mrs. Reed at the four-cornered table and kept his head down as much as possible, keenly aware of her withering gaze on him. The hot seat… this was going to be great, he thought bleakly. Just swell. The lasagna, while delicious, went down like cold clay and sat like it in his gut.
When they’d finished eating, the silver-haired woman turned her attention to Jen. “So, I’ve heard all about Fiona’s boyfriend, and how they met at Vander & Porter,” she commented acerbically, referring to the sisters’ shared employer. “Perhaps you should tell me about your new boyfriend and how you met.”
“Ah, heh heh.” Jen hemmed, in response to her mother’s request, diverting a glance towards Fiona. “You’ve probably heard all about Jahn from Fiona, no need to go into all the gory details.”
Mary Reed’s smile could have frozen the fires of Hell over. “No, I’d really like to know _all_ about it. Perhaps it would shed some light on this … arrangement,” she finished, gifting Jahn another shot of that penetrating stare.
She got the whole story, of course. It was never in question, and both Fiona and Jen had rather hunted looking expressions on their faces when she was through interrogating the pair. He could empathize; he was dead certain the next target on the woman’s shooting range was him. Sure enough…
“So, Tommy,” Mrs. Reed began, the nickname setting Jen’s face to scarlet, and Fiona’s to an unhealthy mahogany, “from what the girls are telling me, I understand that you’ve made quite the … impression on them. Do you make it a habit to encourage arrangements like these for yourself? Live the playboy lifestyle?”
Well, he reflected inwardly, if I were that damn sexy, it might have occurred to me…
Fiona jumped in. “Now mother,, he’s nothing like that. Jahn’s wonderful: considerate, sensitive, intelligent…”
Jenny rattled on in similar vein at the same time, interrupting her sister, “…totally hang around with, not a jerk like the guys at V&P. Daddy doesn’t hate him, either…”
Color rushed into his cheeks at the flood of virtues that the two sisters each attributed to him. He understood that they both felt strongly about him, but neither of them had really put it into words before now, other than Fiona’s offhanded ‘I love you.’ His chest felt uncomfortably warm beneath the outpouring.
It might have been his imagination, but Mrs. Reed’s expression seemed to soften as her daughters talked over each other in a rush to assure her that she was totally wrong in her impression of Jahn, and that bit about Donovan caused a definite flicker of… something… in her eyes.
The matron forestalled any further praise with, “Yes, girls, I understand that you’re infatuated with him, but I want to hear what he has to say for himself. You have the floor,” she said to Jahn, tone challenging.
“Right, okay.” Jahn began hesitantly, first telling her a few things about himself and his family, how he’d come to date Andrea while vying with Greg for her attention, and expressing some regret about how he’d handled the breakup. Jahn noticed that she was paying very close attention to his explanation of the situation with Greg, and wondered how that information boded for him, given how it in some ways mirrored his arrangement with Jen and Fiona.
Continuing, he told her about his initial meetings and impressions, first with Fiona, and later Jenny, explaining the strange and heady brew of emotion and reaction to receiving the attention of two lovely young women who were both equally interested in him. Going on to detail all the things he found fascinating and special about each of them.
“I do understand why you might find this situation unacceptable, ma’am. I might have accepted the situation with Andrea, but I hated Greg, and hated sharing her with him. If I thought for a moment that they felt about each other and this situation the way I did about that… I couldn’t keep doing this. I respect them both too much for that. I… love Jen and Fiona a lot, and would even marry them both someday if I could.”
The revelation of his feelings made Jen’s eyes widen and turn suspiciously wet around the edges, but Fiona merely radiated satisfaction and wore a content smile. From the bottom of my heart, lady, he thought as he stared back at Mrs. Reed, attempting to broadcast his sincerity.
She traded stares with him for a while, unconsciously touching her cheek in a way that reminded him of Jen, before sparing a glance for her daughters.
“You seem to have genuine feelings for both my girls, and they feel the same about you,” Mrs. Reed finally said. “You have something special, and I hope you keep remembering in the future just what it is you feel right now. Understand this - if you break their hearts, I’ll cut your balls off.”
Fiona and Jen seemed unfazed by the announcement, but … holy shit, the threat was testicle-shrinking in delivery. Mrs. Reed had the look of a kindly woman well on her way into her senior years, and the same diminutive height of her daughters, but the cold finality of the threat seemed even more intimidating than Donovan’s had and the man had to be nearly four times her size.
“Yes ma’am,” he said meekly.
For the first time, she smiled with something like warmth. “Call me Mary.”***
Mrs. Reed’s acceptance of his role in her daughters’ life seemed to be the switch-breaker that opened up the better half of her personality; Jahn found over the course of the following weeks that she was a genuine pleasure to be around. All of the traits he found most appealing about both Jen and Fiona were present in their mother. The woman was charismatic to a fault, with a skewering wit, and could be counted on for a seemingly endless mix of alternating hilarious and touching stories about her travels. In fact, she seemed only to have acted so reserved and chill due to the circumstances in which they’d met. Couldn’t really blame her for that, he supposed.
When they had the opportunity to talk without her daughters present, Mrs. Reed was more than willing to open up with all sorts of well-intentioned, though occasionally embarrassing advice. He suspected she offered the outrageous lines she summarily dropped on him because she liked to watch his face turn red.
“You three are using protection, I hope. It’s a bit soon for grandkids.”
Right out of the blue sky. Thanks, Mary. It wasn't like they did much of that with her around, too awkward. He wasn't inclined enough to exhibitionism to take pleasure in the idea of her catching wind of Jenny screaming his name or some other sexually-oriented profanity, or walking around with a blush to match Fiona's should she happened to take note of their post-sex afterglow.
Still, she had the occasional gem of good advice or wisdom to offer, and had already set Jenny straight on the subject of her daughter’s ‘first dibs’ mentality towards Jahn and Fiona, reasoning that being treated as equals meant equal time. Strangely, that attitude adjustment cut down a lot of the petty bickering they’d been prone to since they’d worked out the accommodation. He didn’t get it, but it seemed to make sense to Mrs. Reed, and brought positive results, even if both girls had been terribly embarrassed by the regurgitation of a sensitive subject.
She also gave him a verbal boot to the rear on the subject of their living arrangements. While out shopping, he’d asked her advice about matching jewelry and birthstones. Neither of his girlfriends had shown Andrea’s inclination towards that sort of stuff, but he wanted to do something special, and wanted to make it just right. Mrs. Reed offered him some insight, then took the conversation in a totally different direction.
.”Jewelry’s nice, but sometimes the intangibles are more substantial. Have you thought about asking them to move in with you? You spend enough time together that it wouldn’t be too forward.
Blinking in surprise, he turned his thoughts back to ideas he’d had about the situation before, but eventually shook his head. “My apartment’s way too small for that, and both of them seem really attached to the house.” He can’t even begin to fathom the reason for her change of heart. A change like this could make or break the relationship. Maybe that was what she was up to - sink or swim.
“There are two guest rooms if you include mine, and an unused bathroom,” she said reasonably.
“Doesn’t feel right to ask to move into their home,” he said, uncomfortably.
“Of course, of course,” she said reassuringly.
In hindsight, it wasn’t terribly surprising that both sisters hit him with a two-sided siege the very next day, insisting that it was time to move things forward, that he should totally move in and take the spare room upstairs, that he could contribute by helping with some of the repairs the house really needed. Jahn suspected his contribution was going to have to be with a credit card rather than a hammer and nails. Mr. Fixit, he was not.
With their combined enthusiasm, even had he voiced an objection, he’d never have stood a chance. ***
Jahn stared at the unfamiliar ceiling with wide, unblinking eyes, arms outstretched on a bed he’d never slept in before, thinking about a future he might only have considered in fantasies.
//Laughing children playing on an open lawn as their mothers and father watch over to ensure that no harm befalls them. Breathing life into a once quiet and depressive neighborhood that has known too few families and too many isolated adults.//
A pretty blonde lies on one arm, hair tied back in a ponytail. Pale skin almost luminescent in the dim light of the room, along with a snub nose and almost terminally cute features give the sleeping woman a cherubic appeal. She is almost weightless on his arm, a cushion of feminine softness, between which the only barrier is a long and loose-fitting t-shirt.
A lovely brunette lies upon the other arm, her shoulder-length locks spread like a mane over the pillow. Dusky skin cast in shadows makes the high curve of the sleeping woman’s cheekbones similar to a crescent moon where it reflects the room’s dim light. She too, is almost weightless on his arm, a cushion of equally feminine softness despite her lack of generous curves, between which the only barrier is the downy flannel of well-worn pajamas.
There is something sexual in this moment that brings him to hardness, yet so pure and chaste that he can’t even summon a fantasy.
Warmth, and peace, and love abide here.
This is home. … to be continued…
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/sweet-dreams-are-made-of-this-ch05.aspx">Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, Ch.05</a>