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When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't find Dana in my bed. I could however, hear the water running in the shower in the ensuite, so I went down the hall to the main bathroom and gave Dana her privacy. I left a large terry cloth bathrobe on the bed for her to put on when she came out of the shower.
I came back down the hall after I was finished getting cleaned up in the main bathroom, and I was going to knock on the door of the bedroom in case Dana wasn't decent yet. Then I thought that was kind of silly, given our closeness last night. When I came into the bedroom, she was dressed in the bathrobe.
"Morning, gorgeous," I said as I took her in my arms and gave her a passionate kiss.
"I'm not sure about gorgeous, without makeup," she said with a big smile on her face.
The two of us made breakfast together, and afterwards were sitting close to each other on the living room couch with our cappuccinos. We were both content and reflecting on the new direction our relationship was now taking. We had some light conversation and both of us were avoiding what we really wanted to talk about.
There was a pause and finally Dana said, "We really need to talk about you and me."
I gave a big sigh as I gazed into her eyes and said, "Last night was wonderful, and not just for the obvious reason. I've missed that closeness with a woman I love. I need you in my life, and I hope you need me."
She leaned over and gave me a passionate kiss.
When we came up for air she said, "I love you too, Al, but I don't want to do anything that is going to compromise your relationship with the other new love in your life."
We talked about how Sean would take this turn of events and whether he would feel threatened. We agreed that we would start to date on a regular basis and see how Sean reacted.
"I guess it's better to be cautious, but I honestly don't think Sean will have a problem with us together. He adores you, and quite frankly, I think he'd be thrilled to have you as his Mom."
She gave me a big smile as she squeezed my hand, which led to another passionate embrace.
I wasn't sure when Sean would be coming home and it was now the late morning. Both Dana and I were a little tired, as we hadn't spent much time sleeping last night.
"I think I should be going now. We don't want Sean to find us like this," she said.
I dropped Dana off at her house and laid down for a short snooze on the living room couch after I returned home. I wasn't sure how long I had slept, but I was awakened by the noise of Sean opening the front door with his key. I didn't know if he had been ringing the front door bell or not, as I had been in a sound sleep.
"Late night, Dad?" he asked as I came into the front hall wiping the sleep from my eyes.
"I'm old, young man. I need my sleep," I said trying to be as nonchalant as possible.
We hugged and he looked at me with a sly grin as he took his bag upstairs to unpack. After about 20 minutes he came down and went into the kitchen to get a snack. I joined him at the breakfast bar and asked how his weekend went.
"It was cool. Dinner Friday was really good and the movie we saw was neat. It was 'Twilight: New Moon'."
"Isn't that the Vampire movie?"
"Yeah, but it wasn't hokey."
"That was a love story wasn't it? Let me guess, you liked Kristen Stewart's acting," I said as I laughed as he gave me one of his looks.
"How was your date?" he asked as he gave me a big smile.
I told him Dana and I had a good time and enjoyed the play and dinner with my business partners.
"It wasn't a real date, young man," I said not very convincingly.
"Sure, Dad. Whatever," he said with that same sly grin he had earlier.
"How did you like Katie and Marty's house?"
They owned a very large stately home in the Rosedale area of Toronto, which cost almost 4 million dollars 2 years ago.
"Jake and I had our own rooms that shared a big bathroom just like the new house. It was a pretty cool place," he said as he smiled.
He continued and told me that they went to the ROM1 Saturday afternoon and saw a really interesting exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls and then did some activities especially designed for kids. They then had dinner at Katie and Marty's house and saw the band 'A Fourth World' at a club, before going home with Carol and Kyle to the condo.
I was a little concerned when I heard they saw the band at a club.
"We didn't get any booze. My sisters made sure we were good," he said as he grinned.
"And how was Melissa?" I asked.
"Mel was fine, Dad," he said with a big smile.
He told me that was her nickname that everyone called her, except Suzie, her mother, who hated the male connotation.
I asked him if Jake had a good time and he told me he did. Jake really got into the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit and was fascinated by it. However, when they were watching the movie, he said that there was this 'older couple', as he put it, behind them and they were talking kind of loud, so Jake turned around and told them they were being rude and asked them to be quiet.
"You know Jake when he gets that look and starts to talk like a grown up," he said with an exasperated look on his face.
I asked him how Mara and Jake got along and he said that Jake was a little uncomfortable around her.
"He said she was like trying to get too close and talk about stupid girl and guy things."
I wanted to know more, but he said he really wasn't paying too much attention to them. I didn't need to ask why, and dropped it. I would have to ask Jake the next time I saw him, if he was willing to talk about it.
Monday morning when I got up Sean was just coming in from his run. Now that the better weather was here he ran about 5 kilometres each weekday morning on the streets around the town. He had a route that we had mapped out for him that minimized traffic danger and wasn't too difficult to run. I passed him in the hall as he made his way to the ensuite to shower. He liked my shower better than the 'boring one', as he put it, in the main bathroom. He was really looking forward to the new house and the multiple showerheads he would have in his shower.
"Now don't stuff your sweaty clothes into the laundry hamper in the ensuite. Bring them down to the laundry room and put them in the machine. I'll put a load on later."
He came down the stairs to the kitchen for breakfast after his shower.
"Dad, are you into something kinky?" he asked as he had Dana's earrings in his hand as he came into the kitchen.
"Where did you find those?" I asked as I blushed a few shades of red.
"In your bathroom," he said with a big smile on his face.
I sighed and said, "I think you know whose those are, and I guess I owe you an explanation."
I told him that Dana had stayed overnight on Saturday. I also told him that we were very serious about each other, and that indeed the two of us were falling in love.
"Duh! Like that's news?" he said as he laughed.
I grabbed him and tickled his ribs.
"Stop or I'm gonna pee my pants," he said as he giggled and squirmed to get away from me.
His reaction was what Dana and I wanted to hear. We were hoping that he wouldn't feel jealous or threatened.
"You know that no matter what happens you come first," I said as I brought him into a hug. He looked at me and gave me a big smile.
"Does that mean that Dana's gonna move in with us?"
Dana and I hadn't really talked about this so I said, "We have to make sure we're really committed to each other before that happens. We're going to do more exploration of our relationship first. Besides we don't want to set a bad example for you. We need to talk more, but you have to get to school now, so scoot."
After he had gone to school I called Dana.
"Are you missing a pair of earrings?" I asked.
"Oh my goodness! Tell me Sean didn't find them," she said.
I told her he did, and that we had a conversation about the situation. I also told her he was fine with it.
"He asked me if you were going to move in with us."
"He did, did he? And what did you say?" she said with a cagey tone to her voice.
I was a little thrown off by her comment and I really didn't know how to respond. After I fumbled around making some silly statements I finally said, "I told him that we didn't feel comfortable doing that at this point. Was that a good answer?" I said throwing it back into Dana's lap.
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to put you on the spot. Yes, that was a good answer," she said as she chuckled.
I had déja vu as I felt like an awkward teenager again. We talked some more and we agreed that we didn't want to move too fast, especially since Sean was involved. Both of us felt that we needed to talk to him some more and explore our feelings before we took any more giant steps.
"How about we go out this Friday to a movie and dinner?" I asked.
She agreed and we were going to talk about it Wednesday when she was up to clean.
That night when Sean was upstairs doing his homework I got a call from Dénis Bateaux, Stéphane's father and one of my hockey buddies. He was the minor hockey convenor and was calling to see if I would coach Sean's team next year. He found out I had coached the high school team some years ago, and since they were short a coach in the house league he thought he would ask me.
"Do you have your coaching certification?" he asked.
"I have my level 3 from the National Coaching Certification Program from 1979. I coached my girls in Softball, but I haven't coached hockey for 25 years though."
He said I was more than qualified, even though the certification had changed over the years. He was very persuasive and agreed that Jake could be on Sean's team as an incentive for me to say yes.
"I hope the kids won't think their grandfather's coaching them," I said.
He told me to stop being so sensitive about my age and thanked me for helping them out of a jam. He also told me that I was the type of person they wanted coaching, and he revealed that someone else had volunteered that they were very uncomfortable with.
"We can now tell him that we have a full complement of coaches without telling a fib," he said.
We also talked about who would help me, and I had a suggestion that he whole heartedly endorsed. After we hung up I made a call.
"Ricky, I need an assistant coach to help me next season with Sean's team. Are you available?"
He was flattered, and after we talked about how we could work around his University classes and his hockey, he agreed.
"I've never coached before, but I'm willing to learn," he said enthusiastically.
"You'll be fine. We have our work cut out for us. Sean's friend Jake is also on the team and neither one have played hockey for a few years."
After we hung up I went upstairs to tell Sean the news and I was hoping he was Ok with it. When I walked in his room he was on his computer using Skype to talk to Melissa. I could see Melissa's face on the screen as they were just saying goodbye to each other.
"Say hello to Melissa... sorry Mel, for me," I said as he looked around to see me in the doorway.
After they had signed off, I asked him if he had finished his homework, and he assured me he had. I sat down on his bed and told him my news that I was going to coach him next year.
"You're not going to yell at us, are you?" he asked with a concerned look on his face.
He told me the last year he played hockey the coach yelled and screamed at the players when they did something wrong. I assured him I wasn't that type of coach.
"Neither is Ricky," I said as I gave him a big smile.
He was really happy, especially when I told him I managed to get Jake on the same team. I left his room as he was emailing Jake to tell him the news.
I came up later to his room to say goodnight to him. I noticed that Teddy was wrapped under his arm. I wondered how long it would be before Teddy would no longer be his bed partner.
"Does Melissa know about Teddy yet?"
"No!" he said with a horrified expression on his face.
"Just asking," I said as I smiled at him.
It was obvious that he wasn't ready to give up is security blanket just yet, and in a way I was happy the little boy in him wasn't totally gone.
"I'm glad you aren't bothered by Dana and my relationship. I also hope you understand the difference in what we did and why I would be disappointed if you and Melissa were to do the same thing at your age."
"I know," he said with a serious look. He paused and then said, "If you two, like you know, live together or get married, does that mean Dana's my Mom?"
I smiled at him and said, "You'd like that wouldn't you?"
He gave me a big smile as he shook his head yes.
"You never know, Son. You never know."
I tucked him in and said goodnight.
Friday night Jake was staying over as the three of us were playing golf at the club the next morning. The boys would play the short course by themselves while I played the long course, and then we would hook up in the afternoon and play another nine holes together on the short course. I had signed the both of them up for junior memberships as the cost was relatively inexpensive at their age.
I had arranged with Ricky to baby sit the two of them while Dana and I went out to dinner and a movie. I realized that Sean had told Jake about our love interest in each other as soon as he came in the door.
"Going on a date, Pop? Do you need a couple of chaperones?" he said as both he and Sean laughed.
When Ricky arrived, they greeted him at the door. He had some DVD's, PlayStation game cartridges and junk food. I looked at the junk food with a critical eye.
"This is a guys night and we need some junk, not that health food stuff," he said as he looked at me, then the boys and laughed.
"Hey coach," Sean said as he and Jake high-fived with Ricky.
"What PlayStation games did you bring?" Jake asked.
"Maybe you shouldn't ask until the head coach has gone," Ricky said with a big grin.
I didn't want to know as I could hear my daughters' voices in my head telling me to lighten up.
I picked up Dana and as usual she looked great. Dana and I loved the same Italian restaurant in the city, and we had been there many times on our theatre nights with my business partners, over the last couple of years. We decided that it would be fitting to go there on our first 'official' date.
After we had finished we made our way over to the theatre. We were going to see the movie Marley and Me with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. I had expected a comedy, and for the most part it was. However, it turned too real for me as the dog in the movie had to be put down in its old age. I had that unpleasant task some years ago with our one and only dog. I was really choked up, and Dana was very concerned. We ended up staying until the end, but I would have been more comfortable leaving about 15 minutes early.
"I'm sorry, Dana. I'm just an old softy at heart. That brought back some very unpleasant memories," I said as I blew my nose and wiped my eyes.
We were walking arm in arm as we left the theatre. I had recovered and we talked about the movie as we walked to the car.
"Did you want to come in for a nightcap?" she said as she smiled at me.
I ended up spending another hour at Dana's place; however, both of us agreed that we would cool our passions.... somewhat.
"I really had a great time, despite my meltdown in the theatre," I said as I was leaving.
She smiled then gave me a passionate kiss.
"Say hello to the boys and tell them we behaved ourselves," she said as she laughed as I left.
When I came into the foyer of the townhouse it was midnight. I could hear loud voices coming from downstairs. I knew something must have been exciting as Sean and Jake's voices were cracking.
"Why am I not surprised that you guys are still up?" I said as I was coming down the stairs to the Media room.
"We're just having the finals of MotorStorm," Ricky said as Sean had the controls.
I watched for a bit, and there were cars running into things and people.
"How about we wrap that up soon and you guys get to bed. We're leaving the house tomorrow at 8 to go to the course," I said as I turned and went upstairs.
The next morning, to no one's surprise, the boys were tired and moving very slowly.
"You guys are paying the price now," I said as I laughed.
We had a great day of golf, and I fully enjoyed playing with the two of them, even though I had done a full 18 holes beforehand.
When we got home there was a message on the answering machine for Sean to call Melissa. When he heard that he took off upstairs to boot up his computer and Skype, leaving Jake and me in the Den.
"Well I guess we know where we rate, eh Jake," I said as I laughed.
Melissa was inviting Sean to her birthday party the next weekend, and Jake as well. Both Jake and Sean were excited and talked about what they were going to get her.
The next day we took Jake to his first soccer game at the field near his home. Pietro was coming later and going to take him home afterwards.
Jake was quite a player, and his quickness was responsible for him scoring 1 of the goals during the game. I didn't know much about Soccer, but I knew enough to know that Jake was quite a good player. As a matter of fact he was the best player on his team and without him they would have lost.
Pietro arrived half-way through the last half of the game. I could see he was very proud of Jake and was a real Soccer fan.
"I used to play in Italy, but I haven't had the chance to play in Canada," he said.
He told me he had played semi-professional Soccer and that he couldn't find the time here to play on a team because of his work.
"Giacomo and I sometimes kick the ball around. I show him things I learned in the old country," he said as he smiled.
Sean and I arrived back at the townhouse after we left Jake and Pietro. We were having a snack in the kitchen when Sean asked, "Could Uncle Dave take a picture of me like Melissa's."
"I guess I know what you want to give her for her birthday," I said as I smiled at him.
We arranged for the sitting with Dave to take his portrait. When we got back the proofs, Sean was really pleased. He chose the one he wanted and had it framed and wrapped. I also had one framed and put it with the portraits of the girls.
I decided to drive Sean and Jake to Toronto for Melissa's birthday party the next weekend. Anne and I were going to go out for a coffee to catch up on things and to clear the air, as I felt I owed her an explanation.
It was a fairly sunny and warm day for the middle of May and I decided it was time to show the boys the mystery that they had been asking me about that was in the other bay in the garage, covered by a tarp.
"Help me pull this tarp off the other car, boys."
Their eyes opened wide as they looked at the jet black BMW M6 Cabriolet.
"Hope you've got lots of hair cream in your hair, boys," I said as I laughed as we took off out of the complex with the top down.
There were 10 kids when we arrived at Melissa's party, including the boys and her. I felt a little sorry for Sean and Jake, as there was only one other boy out of the ten. Anne and I left after about a half hour and went to a Starbucks 10 minutes away.
"I'm sorry if I misled you in Naples Anne, but I really am fond of you," I said.
"Al, I understand, and I'm not mad. I'm just sad it didn't work out for us, but I can see that Dana and you really care about each other," she said as she smiled.
She told me that she had met another man at a widow and widower's club and that they had been dating off and on for about a month. She didn't seem too enthusiastic about him, but she said he was companionship.
When we got back to the party it was just wrapping up. Sean and Melissa were sitting right next to each other and were holding hands as they were talking and making eyes at each other. Jake was talking to the other boy, and Mara was sticking close by joining in on their conversation when she could. I could see the presents that the boys had given her, and needless to say the picture of Sean took prominence over all the other presents.
Jake got her the latest Harry Potter book as he knew she didn't have it and she liked to read. She just didn't have a lot of time during the winter because of her hockey and she was looking forward to reading it during the summer when school was finished.
On the way home it was Sean's turn to ride in the back and Jake was in the front. It had turned a little cooler and I had the top up. Shortly after we left Toronto, Sean dropped off to sleep.
"Did you enjoy yourself, Jake?"
He said he did, and when I got to the topic of Mara, he was a little reserved.
"I like her, but she makes me... uncomfortable," he said with a reflective look on his face.
He told me what Sean had said, that Mara was a little forward and didn't have the same interests that Jake had.
"You mean her conversations are a little lighter than you want," I said as I smiled at him.
He confided in me that he really liked my niece Rachel, which wasn't a big secret to me. I could see from the last gathering that he felt very comfortable in her company.
"I don't have to keep thinking about what to say all the time. We just know what to talk about. She's cool," he said as he smiled. I was happy at that revelation, and would have to see what I could do to help the relationship along.
I had made arrangements to fly down to the house in Naples for the May 24th weekend, or the May two four weekend as the young people called it, referring to the number of beers in a case. The actual name of the holiday was Victoria Day, in honour of Queen Victoria. It had become a drinking weekend as this was usually the first long weekend of the year with good weather for camping and 'whooping it up' in the outdoors. My days of 'whooping it up' were long gone. We left on Thursday night as I pulled Sean out of school for the Friday.
I was a little selfish and didn't invite anyone to join us as I wanted to spend the time alone with Sean. With our busy lives we hadn't had some of the quality time together that we had experienced in the first few weeks that he was with me. Jake couldn't join us as he and Pietro were invited to a BBQ at one of Pietro's friends on the Monday.
We managed to get the same flight crew that we had back in March, on the flight down.
"Where is my friend Jake," Robert asked with a big smile on his face.
We told him that Jake was occupied this weekend, but we would pass on his best wishes.
"I'm disappointed. I was looking forward to the entertainment," he said as he laughed.
We also had Captain Moffat as the pilot, and when we got in the air he called Sean up front to the cockpit. He let him sit in the seat beside him and gave him a quick course on all the instruments and how the plane flew. Sean was really interested and asked some more good questions. I was very pleased at the attention Captain Moffat and Robert gave to Sean.
The weekend was a restful one and the weather was great. Sean needed some downtime as he had gone through quite a change in his life in such a short time. Between school and his activities I could see he was pretty tired some nights over the last few weeks when I was putting him to bed. He slept in and didn't run in the mornings as was his usual routine at home. We also had mid morning tee times and swam and played in the pool afterwards.
Of course, he was a typical Generation Y teenager and had to keep in electronic contact with his peer group. He emailed Jake and Stéphane on Friday, as well as using Skype to talk to Melissa on Saturday night after we had dinner at the club. Melissa was going up north on Sunday and Monday with her parents to Anne's timeshare in the Muskokas. I knew he was relaxed as he didn't look at his computer after Saturday. He had even sent a couple of messages via email to Dana, which he wouldn't let me see.
"I was just emailing about a couple of dishes I ate at the club. I asked Dana if she had the recipes," he said as he gave me a big grin.
I was getting the feeling that Dana and I were going to be getting increasing pressure from Sean to move our relationship forward.
"I think you're cooking up something more than just food," I said as I smiled at him.
Our flight back was uneventful but it was a different crew. They were good, but they weren't as personable as Captain Moffat and Robert. We ate dinner on the plane and by the time we got through customs and driven home in the limo it was after 7 p.m. Monday night.
We took our luggage upstairs to unpack. Sean stayed in his room to boot up his laptop to view his email, while I went down into the Den to do the same thing and check phone messages on the answering machine. I had just finished listening to the messages on the machine when I heard Sean call down to me.
"Dad!" he yelled from upstairs.
He ran down to the Den and stopped in the doorway. I had my hand up for him to be quiet as I was on the phone.
"Katharine, it's Uncle Alan. I need your help!"
1 The Royal Ontario Museum. http://www.rom.on.ca/programs/rom_kids/