This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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After The Game

© 2012 Felix_P

Chapter Ninety

There was a very uncomfortable silence as we all digested the boys' revelation. I was feeling a range of emotions that I wasn't sure how to deal with. I wasn't happy that we had been misled and I wasn't sure how I should react to the fact that my sons were now sexually active.

Dana finally broke the silence and said, "I'm very disappointed that you boys and your partners felt the need to sneak around behind our backs."

Jake took exception to Dana's mention that they had done something sinister by being 'somewhat deceptive', as he put it and he eloquently defended his and Sean's position. He explained that all four of them had devised the plan, whereby all the parents and Katie and Marty were told the exam was in the afternoon, but it was really in the morning. They gave Katie and Marty the impression that they needed to be there in the morning to practice and that's why they asked to be dropped off 'early'. After they finished in the late morning, Melissa drove the four of them to her house, where they were alone for the afternoon, since Melissa's parents, Gary and Suzie, were away for the day. Afterwards, they went out for dinner. He said that both couples had been talking about taking the next step in their relationships for some time and they felt that this was a convenient opportunity. They thought it would be awkward if they talked it over with the parents beforehand.

"Besides, these were our decisions, not yours," he said, rather petulantly.

"I hope you remembered what Dr. Scott told you about being responsible and taking precautions. As much as we would love to have more grandchildren," I turned and looked at Marty and Katie when I said this, "for you two right now, the timing wouldn't be good."

By now, Sean was giving Jake one of his looks, as he was getting very embarrassed that his love life was being openly discussed. Jake immediately started to respond to my comment about precautions and I was afraid he was going to reveal things that we really didn't want to hear.

Dana beat me to the punch when she interjected, "I don't think we need detailed information, Jake. I'm sure you two were responsible and I think you've made your point, dear."

Katie was also unhappy about what had transpired and the fact that she and Marty had been deceived.

"Dad and Dana have entrusted us to chaperone you two when you're staying with us. We've been fair with giving you two space with your partners and although we wouldn't have given you a green light, we would've at least had some advice for you to think about if you had been up-front with us," Katie said.

I was surprised at her comment about giving them latitude and it was clear that she and Marty weren't as concerned that they had sex as they were about being deceived.

Both Dana and I were in a quandary at the circumstances and whether the other sets of parents knew what was happening with their daughters. Since Rachel was my great niece, I had this sense of duty to tell her mother, my niece, of what was going on.

"The next time we're together with Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, or Rachel's parents, it will be awkward," I told the boys.

"You're not going to tell them, are you?" Sean asked, with a horrified look.

I thought that maybe it was best Dana and I not bring up the subject when we were in their company, but I wasn't going to dodge the issue if this became a topic of conversation.

"We're not going to lie," I said.

Both boys weren't very happy at the thought of their love life becoming so public and they were starting to get a little agitated.

"I wish you had talked this over with us beforehand. We could've pointed out what a big step you were taking and that it was better to wait until you were older," I added.

"What did you want us to say? 'We're thinking of going back to Melissa's place to have sex. What do you think?'" Jake said, rather bluntly.

I suddenly realized that we no longer had two young boys in the house. They were now young men and with that came grownup responsibilities that I was doubtful they were ready to assume. It was obvious to the boys, from my reactions that followed, that I didn't have confidence in their decision. By now, Sean had mustered up some courage to stand up for himself, as he had been mainly silent to this point since he was embarrassed and feeling guilty.

"You said that I should wait and I would know when I was ready to... you know. Well Mel and I have waited and we were both ready."

I started to question his statement and the fact that he was still very young to be having a sexual relationship.

"I'm not a little kid any more, but you're treating me like one," he said, very annoyed.

It was clear that we all needed a cooling off period, because emotions were starting to heat up. We finished dinner and Katie and Marty left for home. The boys went to their rooms to do some homework for the next day and then we said goodnight to them. After they went to bed, Dana and I had a talk before we turned in for the night.

"They're responsible boys, as are their partners, Al. I know you aren't happy with the situation and neither am I, but we have to trust them to make their own decisions. If we've done our job, they'll make good ones, even if we don't agree with them," Dana said.

"I just think they're making a mistake. They're so young," I said. "I wish they had waited."

She knew I was troubled over the incident, because I didn't take her up on going to bed, which was an invitation for a conjugal get-together.

"Things will work out, Al. They always do," she said, as she gave me a kiss and went off to bed without me.

I stayed up for a while, as I needed some quiet time to myself. I felt guilty that I wasn't doing enough to guide the boys and I hoped that Dana was right that we had done our parenting job well. I knew that I needed to have a heart-to-heart talk with the boys about this, but I just wasn't ready to do that, as I didn't know where to start and emotions were running high. This was new territory for me, because my first wife, Lorraine, took care of much of the heart-to-heart talks with the girls as they grew up. I didn't want to sanction the boys' behaviour and give them carte blanche, but I understood their need to be intimate. I also had flashbacks to my past when I hadn't been terribly forthcoming about my sexual exploits with my parents.

It was unfortunate that this upset was happening with it being so close to Christmas. But, even though some of the family dynamic had changed because of this incident, the after school sessions with Garth had not. He bounded into the kitchen from the laundry room one day after school and was more excited than usual.

"We had something really neat today," he said, as he sat down and started to stuff his face with the after school snack with Glen, Jake and Sean.

"I hope you washed your hands before you came into the kitchen," Dana said.

He shook his head yes, because his mouth was full, but since he wasn't finished yet he reached for some more cut up vegetables. He dipped them into the broccoli humus dip that Dana had made, which was one of his favourites.

"When you come up for air, can you let us in on the 'something really neat' that happened at school?" I asked.

Finally he was full, but he had to tell us a joke before he got to his news.

"Wait, I have a really neat joke and I have to tell it before I forget," he said, with a serious look.

"Aren't all your jokes neat?" Glen asked, as he gave him a big smile.

He wasn't fazed by Glen's remark and started into the joke.

"Sherlock Holmes and Watson were walking down the street and they stopped in front of a school," he said without breaking into a giggle.

That was usually a cue that the joke was a little longer.

"So Sherlock asks Watson to tell him what kind of school it was and Watson didn't know," he said, with the start of his patented giggle which didn't last long because he stopped and wasn't saying any more.

We were waiting for him to go on and finally Jake asked, "Is that the whole joke, or is there more?"

"You have to guess what type of school," he added, with the start of a more robust giggle.

"I don't think we could begin to guess the punch line, Garth. Why don't you just tell us," Dana said with a smile, as she ruffled his hair.
 
He straightened out his hair after Dana had messed it up and he said, "Elementary, my dear Watson!"

As usual, there was a mixture of laughter and groaning from us, which Garth didn't pay any attention to, since he was laughing.

"When do we hear about what happened at school today, Garthy?" Sean asked.

His face lit up like a light bulb, as he was getting excited about telling us about the event.

"These dancers came to our school today and they were teaching us about ballet," he said.

It was a travelling Canadian ballet troupe called 'Ballet Jörgen' that put on performances all over Canada and some places in the United States. One of the things they did when they were in a city for a performance was to go to a school and put on a demonstration, which was interactive.

"Mandy and a couple of other girls volunteered to go to this bar thing they had set up, but the man that was the head guy wanted some boys too," Garth said.

He and Derek went up with the girls. I was a little surprised that Derek went up with him, but I figured that Garth had volunteered for the two of them. Derek liked dancing as much as Garth but he was fairly shy, which Garth was helping him overcome... whether he liked it or not.

"Ronan and his friend Alex came up too," he added.

Now that was a surprise, since Ronan and his friend were 'jocks'. Garth said that the troupe leader, Bengt Jörgen, who happened to be the founder of the ballet company, was very persuasive and purposely chose them, as he guessed they were good athletes.

"They liked two of the girls that volunteered, so they wanted to show off," Garth said, as he chuckled.

That explained why they volunteered. I guessed that they were so desperate to impress the two girls, that they ignored the grief they would get from their buddies over being 'sissies'.

Garth told us how the dancers from the company showed them the basics and helped them with the steps. We could tell that Garth really enjoyed it and it appeared that Derek did too. Dana and I were not surprised, because they always liked when we arrived early to pick up Mandy from her ballet lessons, so they could watch. Every Tuesday either Dana or I would take Garth and Derek to voice lessons after school and when they were finished we would drop by the dance studio to get Mandy and take her home. The studio was on our way and we were helping out Mandy's parents, who had trouble getting there in time after work.

"The guy was really surprised with Mandy," he said, with a big smile. "He called her the preemee ballerina."

"Don't you mean the prima ballerina?" Dana asked.

"Yeah, that's what I meant."

Bengt Jörgen was apparently also very complimentary in his remarks about how the boys did during the session.

"He said all us guys could become just like this famous dancer, bar something, if we practiced hard," Garth said, with a big smile.

"You mean Baryshnikov," I added.

He shook his head yes and then tried to pronounce the name, but gave up laughing. Dana and I knew that was going to be a tall order for Derek and Garth, since both fathers had expressed their displeasure at the thought of them taking ballet lessons. A while ago, the boys had asked if they could join Mandy's class if they could rearrange their voice lesson time. I wasn't surprised at my niece's husband, who was a macho kind of guy, but I was a little surprised at John's reaction, since he was usually supportive of both boys' artistic endeavours.

"The guy said he was maybe going to make a movie about boys and dancing and he asked if any of the guys wanted to audition to be in it," he went on to say.

He told us that he and Derek had told him they would be interested and Bengt promised to send information about the auditions to the school if and when he secured funding for the project.

"You'd have to make sure you tell Mom first before dad finds out," Glen said to Garth.

I wasn't sure if Bengt was serious or not, but if he was and the information did come to the school, there would be some interesting negotiation that would happen if the boys were serious in pursuing the audition. There was enough conflict in the family at the moment and Dana and I weren't eager to wade into any more.

The boys had polished off their snack and made their way down to the media room for some after school 'chilling' time, as Sean called it. After about ten minutes, Garth reappeared in the kitchen.

"They made me go upstairs, but that's Ok, because I didn't want to stay. They were talking about girls and... 'sex'," he said, as he whispered the word sex and then put his hand over his mouth to stifle his giggle.

It was clear that John and Susan had 'fleshed out' our talk we had with Garth the year before, as he was aware of what teenage girls and boys did together when they were alone. And, we had no doubt that his older brother had filled in any gaps that weren't covered by his parents, as Glen had had some experience in that realm that he could pass on. We also guessed that the boys didn't want any of their discussion repeated to the parents, so they banished Garth.

All was not lost, though, because Garth had remembered a 'quick' joke, as he put it, that he had forgotten to tell us.

"I heard on the radio that the police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest," he said, as he tilted his head and he put it on his two hands like he was going to sleep.

After he finished laughing at his own joke, he got distracted when Barney jumped up on his leg and wanted him to play. They took off into the living room with Garth teasing Barney with one of his squeaky toys. After a few minutes we heard Garth calling out Barney's name and laughing away and we knew that Garth lay down on the carpet and Barney was licking his face. Garth loved to play with Barney and this was one of his favourite things he liked to do with him.

"Maybe we could send that little mutt home with Garth," Dana said, with a smile.

I was not happy that the older boys were downstairs talking about their exploits.

"I was a father of two girls and I've seen the other side of this," I said.

"And I also raised two girls," Dana countered. "I'm sure that you've boasted about a conquest before in your earlier life. And, just for your knowledge, boys aren't the only ones who talk about these sorts of things with their friends."

Dana always had a way of bringing clarity to a discussion and I calmed down.

"I don't think they're boasting at all, but I think they're talking about something that's very important to them," she added.

Over the course of the next few days, I still avoided having the heart-to-heart talk with the boys that I knew I needed to have. I was a little distant with them, which wasn't on purpose and was something I really was unaware of.

It didn't affect Jake very much, but Sean was having a rough time dealing with me and was blaming himself for the strained relationship. He didn't say as much, but as was his custom, he kept his feelings to himself.

I didn't help the situation one night, when I accused him of spending too much time on Skype with Melissa instead of studying for his accounting test. He had only managed to get 70%, which was way below his abilities. Dana had smoothed that one over and took me aside later for a frank discussion.

"You've been distant with the boys the last few days. You may not think so, but those boys can read your body language, very well," Dana said. "I hope this cold war you're having with them ends soon."

She had a great idea how the boys and I could re-establish our good relationship and start bonding together again. She suggested that I play the piano in the ensemble with the boys at the Christmas carol night that the theatre company put on each year in the old town hall. When I say suggested, it turned out that she had volunteered me to the ensemble.

"Playing in front of an audience!" I said, aghast at the thought.

"You played with them before, dear, and it's only two numbers," she answered.

"That was in a rehearsal. This is in front of a whole bunch of people," I said, as my anxiety level grew.

"You're just one player out of eight," she said, as she gave me a big smile and a hug.

"When was I going to find this out?" I asked, a little annoyed at the backroom dealings that were going on.

"If you hadn't been so presumptuous as to accuse Sean of slacking off studying for his accounting test, I was going to raise the subject," she said. "But instead I had to do damage control."

"What happened to Stéphane?" I asked.

"He isn't around that evening, so they needed a piano player. Jake hinted yesterday that maybe I could ask you. This would be a perfect bonding opportunity for you and the boys," she said.

"Why didn't they ask me themselves?"

"You haven't been very approachable the last little while, dear."

I was going to make a comment but she didn't give me a chance.

"The boys were very happy that you were going to join them and they left the music for the two numbers they're... excuse me, you're all going to do downstairs on the Clavinova," she said, as she smiled and gave me a kiss.

I was going to refuse, but I thought about what she had said about me being distant and not very approachable. I thought that maybe this would motivate me to open up the lines of communication with the boys.


It wasn't just at home and at school where the dynamic had changed between the boys and me. Sean in particular was also showing signs of the strained relationship between us on the hockey rink.

The next day we had a hockey game and I was going to try and watch myself at how I dealt with Sean and Jake during the game. The team was waiting by the door to the rink for the Zamboni to finish flooding the ice before our game. The door was a few steps from two of the dressing rooms that were occupied by the men's team that played before us.

The coaches and I were going over game strategy and were the last ones out of our dressing room, which was around the corner. When we came out and lined up behind the boys, there was some commotion at the front of the line and a lot of the boys were laughing very loudly.

"This doesn't sound good," Mark Depew, Charles' dad said.

"Why don't we make our way up to the front to see," I said.

The boys were now clustered around one of the closed dressing room doors, where the men were undressing and getting ready to shower after their game. The boys weren't even paying attention to the Zamboni on the ice.

"What's going on?" I asked Charles.

Before he could answer, the dressing room door flew open and Darren the jokester ran out. He was soaked from the top of his helmet down to his skates.

"That'll teach you," one of the men said from the dressing room with a towel around his waist, as he slammed the door shut.

Darren was being typical Darren and had bumped against the dressing room door which opened into the room exposing the men, in various states of undress, to the cold and the view of the parents in the stands across the rink. The first time they were tolerant, as Darren faked having been pushed by one of the other players. It was the third time he did it that was the problem, as two of the men grabbed him and pulled him into the room and pushed him into the shower.

"That wasn't too smart, Darren. Even if you weren't soaked from head to foot, I wouldn't let you play for that silly stunt," I said.

I wasn't very happy with him, but at the same time Mark and I were trying to keep from laughing at him along with the boys. He looked like a drowned rat. His poor parents, who saw what was happening and came down from the stands to get him, were exasperated, but resigned to having to deal with his antics once again. I gave them the key to the dressing room and they were going to take him home. I was confident between the embarrassment of being centred out, not playing and incurring the wrath of his parents that he had been appropriately punished for his stupidity.

That did leave a problem, though, as we now had only two centre icemen and three lines. Sean and Brandon would have to double up and go out every second shift, which was going to take its toll as the game wore on.

The game was a well played close one, which was tied with a minute to go. Sean had just finished a shift, but we had a faceoff in our end.

"I can stay out," Sean said, as he was at the door ready to come into the bench to let Brandon take over.

Everyone knew that Brandon was not the same calibre and Sean was a more reliable face off man, but he was exhausted. I went against my better judgement and told him to stay out, because I was sensitive to him thinking that I was picking on him if I had sent out Brandon instead. I didn't want to strain the relationship any more than it was.

Unfortunately, my decision backfired. He lost the face off and was too tired to get to their best player who got the puck and put it in the top corner of our net before Jake could react.

He was very angry and he was blaming himself for losing the game. He had broken his stick against the boards after the play in an unaccustomed display of anger. I decided that I would not take him to task, which I normally would have. I found out later from Dana that he took my silence as another sign I was disappointed in him.

"I guess I can't win these days," I told her.


The weekend of the rehearsal for the Christmas Carol concert was coming up and the boys asked Dana if it was alright if they took the LX to the show on the Friday evening with the girls. Melissa was in for the weekend for the practice session on Saturday at the Old Town Hall and was staying with Rachel. Glen was also going with one of his many girlfriends from school, but he was driving Susan's car with his date, because the restrictions on the boys' driver's licences didn't allow them to have any more than four people in the car at a time. Glen didn't seem to mind and we guessed it was because he wanted to be alone after the show with his date.

I found it curious that they didn't ask me, since it was my vehicle that they were taking, but things were still not resolved between the boys and me, so they took the path of least resistance and approached Dana.

"They were going to ask you, dear, but I was there and I knew you'd say yes," she said, with a smile.

They were going to see the new James Bond film, 'Skyfall' and they left about 6 pm to pick up the girls at Rachel's house, which was in the neighbouring town. They were going to meet Glen and his date at The Swiss Chalet for dinner first, then go to the late show. We reminded them that we wanted them to be home around 12:00 am.

Dana and I were watching our own Bond films that were on the movie channel and by the time the last one was finished we looked at the clock and it was 12:30.

"I wonder what's happened to them?" I asked.

My body language was obvious and Dana went to their defence.

"I'm sure it's not what you're thinking, Al. Why don't you call Sean's phone and remind them of their curfew," she said.

After ten minutes of calling and texting with no answer, we were very angry, as well as being concerned. My niece called as she thought they were at our house and we told her that we didn't know any more than she did about their whereabouts. We waited a little while longer and I was just about to call John and Susan to see if Glen was home when we heard the garage door opener engage as it opened the door. We got up from our chairs in the living room and met them in the hall.

"What happened to the midnight curfew, boys?" Dana asked, as she crossed her arms.

"We lost track of time," Sean said.

"Lost track of time? It's 1 am in the morning and the show was out at 11. We've been calling and texting your cell phones, as have Rachel's mom and dad," Dana said.

"I think I know why you lost track of time," I said, as I glared at the two of them.

"It's not like you think," Sean said, as the two of them looked at each other with a funny look.

There was a very awkward silence as Dana and I were waiting for them to fess up. Finally, Sean spoke.

"We had a bit of a problem. We had to get the LX out of the impound garage."

There was a deafening silence as Dana and I were speechless.

"Oh my! I have to sit down for this one," Dana said, as she moved to one of the arm chairs in the living room after she recovered.

It was strange that Jake had not taken much of the conversation to this point and we quickly found out why. Sean told us that Jake was driving to the show and let the girls and Sean off at the front then parked the LX. It wasn't until they got out of the show and all walked to the vehicle that they realized that Jake had parked in a place on the street that was only good until 10pm and was in a tow away zone.

"I guess I got distracted and didn't see the sign," Jake said, with a very sheepish look.

They got there just in time to see the tow truck driver finish hooking up the LX to tow it away.

"He told us that he couldn't just put it back down, because he had to finish the call," Sean said, as we could see the daggers flying from his eyes towards his brother.

The driver waited until the cab arrived that the boys called, so it could follow him to the impound garage in the east end of the city. Two hundred and fifty dollars later, plus the cab fee and they were on their way home with Sean driving.

I was relieved that the LX was back in the garage safe and sound as well as the boys, but my suspicions about them having another love session didn't go over well with them. This was going to make an interesting rehearsal the next day and I was a little concerned as to how this was going play out.

The boys didn't get up until 10 the next morning as we let them sleep in to recuperate and we had our rehearsal time booked for the afternoon at the Old Town Hall. It was a building that had been built in 1851 and was only used for meetings, events and weddings these days. It was a perfect venue for the annual Christmas carol night, as the hall was decorated for an old fashioned Christmas.

This event was something the theatre company had done at Christmas time for the last ten years. Usually it involved some of the cast from the fall show and it was a mixture of performances of Christmas carols and songs followed by a carol sing where the audience was involved. Afterwards, there were Christmas treats and cider as people milled around before going home.

The girls had arrived before we did and Charles came with the boys and me. The girls made their way over to the boys and gave them a kiss on the lips and an affectionate hug, which was a new development. This was the first time they had done that in front of me or Dana. The boys were a little reserved, but certainly didn't object. Melissa was her usual calm self-assured self and Rachel was as bubbly as usual. It was a little hard for me to picture Jake and Rachel being intimate, as the only time they stopped talking when they were around each other was when they were playing music. However, playing music was now apparently not the only time they didn't talk in each other's company.

"I hope you watched where you were parking today," Rachel said jokingly to Jake, trying to lighten up his spirits.

"I drove," Sean interjected, glancing at Jake with a frown.

The boys were very subdued as they were still getting over the tow truck incident the night before and my accusation of them having another tryst. Much of that was soon forgotten as we got into the music and the arrangements for the evening performance that Tuesday.

What was interesting to me was the musical dynamic of the group. It was clear the two best players were Rachel and Melissa, but the leader of the ensemble was Sean. He took control right from the start, but diplomatically, so as not to ruffle the girls' feathers and they were content to let him lead.

I was focussed on what I was playing, but I also paid attention to the dynamic between the two couples and I was impressed. These were not passing fancies for any of them and it was clear that love, not lust was the basis of their relationships. They were at ease and respectful with each other as they interacted and I felt as though my feelings about their relationships were becoming clearer.
 
Things livened up later when Garth and Derek arrived to rehearse their song with us, as we were providing the musical background for their number. Susan dropped them off and Glen was going to take them home, as he had John's car. Glen was running the sound board for the event and he had also done the art work for the night's program that was printed and would be handed out to the audience.

The rehearsal went reasonably well, as we all had learned our parts and didn't have too much trouble with the arrangement for the two songs we were doing. I had a bit of a problem with my anxiety and the Yamaha baby grand piano that was in the hall, but I managed to get through the rehearsal with a measure of confidence.

Erin, the director of 'Oliver' and the boys' musical mentor, was supervising the rehearsals. She was in charge of putting on the event for the theatre company and she came over afterwards to touch base with us.

"I liked the changes you made in the arrangement," she said, addressing all of us.

The kids were polite and didn't tell her the changes were made because I wasn't very confident playing the piano part as it was written.

"I'm also very surprised at your talent, Al. Why haven't you been coming out for band auditions over the years?"

I just smiled and told her that I had been too busy. I also deftly side-stepped her suggestion that I come out and audition for the spring show.

The Carol night came all too quickly for me and I was somewhat nervous as we got set up for the performance. Melissa picked up on this very quickly and decided to give me some friendly advice.

"My mother always tells me when I get nervous before a performance to take a deep breath and imagine the audience is naked," She said, with her lovely smile.

I had to laugh at the juxtaposition of our roles and I thanked her for her advice. The first song we did was 'The Christmas Song', written by Mel Tormé. I was very happy at the choice, as this was one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time. Most of what I played on the piano was chording, as the arrangement had Sean on his acoustic guitar and Rachel, Charles and Melissa played a wonderful background part as Jake sang, while he played his electric bass.

As usual, the kids did a terrific job and I managed to keep up with them on my part and not get in their way. Jake's voice was silky smooth as he was able to adjust to the crooner style of voice that Sinatra and Nat King Cole had made famous with the song.

Erin then introduced Garth and Derek who were going to sing 'Walking in the Air', from the animated short film, 'The Snowman'. This was a fitting song for the two of them, as it had cute lyrics, which they enjoyed singing. The two of them came on stage with elf hats and scarves on and they were chuckling away. However, when the music started they launched into the song with gusto and sang it with an English accent, like they had used in 'Oliver'. The voice lessons were paying off, particularly for Derek, who was becoming a more confident singer.

The two boys alternated the verses and sang the last part together and while they were singing, the clip of the film was being projected on the screen behind them. Glen had that task, as well as running the sound board. They were a big hit and when we finished we all got a very large ovation. I was very satisfied and I was really happy at the experience of playing with my sons.

Afterwards Dana and I got some cider and cookies and made our way over to the Morgans. I wasn't sure how this conversation was going to go and I was a little anxious. As it turned out they brought up the subject of the kids' rendezvous and they told us they had had a long discussion with Melissa about it. They suspected something and Melissa affirmed their suspicions willingly.

"We had a humdinger of a family talk, and as usual, Melissa's views were not quite what mine were," Gary said.

"She is a very strong-willed young lady, who gets her stubbornness from her father," Suzie said, as she gave Gary a smile.

In the course of our conversation it came out that Suzie had put Melissa on the birth control pill the year before, as she knew it would be a matter of time before Melissa would become sexually active. I also had a strong suspicion that Suzie knew about the plans and was complicit by making the car available when they were away.

"My daughter is smitten with your son," Gary said. "We think a lot of Sean, but we hope for their sake that they slow down the sexual part of their relationship."

We said that we had told the boys the same thing and were in agreement that we didn't want to become too heavy-handed. By now my niece, Janet and her husband Bob had joined us.

"We couldn't help but overhear the conversation and we'd like to add that we had the same sort of discussion with Rachel," Janet said.

They weren't forthcoming on how the discovery came about and Dana and I weren't going to ask. We were happy that this was not turning out to be an unpleasant event and that neither family had overreacted.

"We know Jake's family and he comes from a good home," Bob said, as Janet and he chuckled.

I don't know if it was the ambiance of the night, or the conversation we just had with Rachel and Melissa's parents, or the view of the three couples together (Ronald had now joined Charles) that got me thinking about my ambivalence towards this whole notion of teenage sexuality.

I did some soul-searching on the ride home and I made up my mind that I was going to resolve the impasse between the boys and me. I came to the realization that it was my problem, not theirs and that I needed to solve it. When we got home after the performance, I asked the boys to come into the den and Dana understood why.

"I'll make us some tea," she said, as she smiled and went into the kitchen.

The boys were a little quiet as they didn't know what I had in mind.

"I'm not adhering to one of my fundamental rules I expect you boys to live up to. I'm not being the best person I can be, the way I've been treating you two this last little while."

I could tell from the look on their faces that they were a little perplexed as to where this was going.

"I'm not blaming you for what the four of you did, because that's as natural as breathing. If there's any blame to be doled out it should be on me. I don't know what standard I'm holding you two boys up to, but whatever my unconscious mind is telling me that standard is, it's too high. My fear was that this was just a conquest with you two, but I saw over the last couple of days that I was wrong."

Sean broke in and said, "Mel and I love each other. We're not just fooling around."

"And Rachel and I love each other too," Jake added.

"I know boys. It took me a while, but I now know that."

I wasn't surprised by Jake's statement, but I was surprised at Sean's, as he was always very guarded with his emotions. I told them that Dana and I weren't about to sanction a full blown sexual relationship and I asked them to use some restraint. They understood from my term 'restraint' that I wasn't saying don't do it again, though.

There were some more things that I was going to say, but I could see from their faces that this is what they had been hoping to hear from me. I was also feeling at peace for the first time in quite a few days, so I decided that enough was said and I opened my arms up for the boys to join me in a hug, which they did willingly.

When we broke the hug, I asked, "Was it everything you thought it would be?"

They didn't speak, but the big smiles on their faces said it all.


Ballet Jörgen

Walking in the Air by Peter Auty

Walking in the Air by Aled Jones

The Christmas Song by Frank Sinatra

The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole


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