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“I don’t mean to sound pushy, but we’re going to be late.”
My words echoed off the walls of my girlfriend’s expansive living room as I called up to her. The distant sounds of her frantic attempts at getting ready to go out picked up steam.
“I’m just saying, you looked fine a half hour ago. What is there still to do?”
Again, my words reverberated through the room, but no answer came down from upstairs. I was about to open my mouth a third time when a blurry, blond-haired shape appeared at the top of the stairs and proceeded to take them two at a time coming down at a rapid pace.
“Jesus! Ruth! Slow down. You’re going to break your neck!”
“Sorry! I just wanted to look perfect. It’s not every day I meet my boyfriend’s parents,” she shot back skidding to a halt on the slick tile at the bottom.
She stopped to catch her breath, puffing in exertion. I wasn’t sure what she had been doing before she came down. Ruth had looked beautiful when I had last seen her as I left her bedroom, and to outward appearances nothing had changed. Her nervousness, though, was almost palatable and I stepped closer to put my hands on her shoulders.
“Everything is going to be fine. I’m sure they’re going to be thrilled to meet you.”
Her wain smile did nothing to alleviate the air of tension around her pretty head. Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to go, and I was more than a little nervous myself.
For the past five months I had been dating Ruth Hathaway, make that Ruth Bryant now, the former wife of my ex-company C.E.O. Richard Hathaway. We had raised more than a few eyebrows when we finally made our relationship public. There were several obvious reasons for people to wonder about us, not the least of which was the fact that Ruth was a wealthy divorcée with a family that had even more money while I was a poor young executive just starting to get on top of his student loans. The one that stood out though, and bothered Ruth the most, was the twenty-four year age difference between the two of us. In spite of my every effort to assure her that it made no difference to me, she was still often fixated on the issue.
This was one of the big reasons why I had failed to mention to her that my parents didn’t know.
I figured this omission could come back to bite me in the butt, yet somehow every time the opportunity had presented itself to bring it up with them I had let it go. It was partly selfishness on my part. My dad had been so thrilled with the sudden turn around of my moribund career that I hadn’t wanted to do anything to dim his enthusiasm. For the first time I could remember, he wasn’t comparing me unfavorably to my highly successful sister with every breath. I can’t say how wonderful it was not to have to feel like I was living in her shadow every minute of the day.
Then there was my mother. I strongly suspected that she was going to be less than supportive of my dating a woman who was only seven years younger than herself. If for no other reason, than because it would likely put the kibosh on her having any genetic grandkids assuming things continued to progress between the two of us.
Yeah, the bottom line was I had been a coward, and now I was going to have to reap the fruits of my silence.
“Are you sure this outfit is o.k.? I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard.”
“You look gorgeous. Just the right amount of sexy to charm my dad without being too slutty for my mom’s taste.”
“I’m honestly not sure how to take that,” said Ruth raising an eyebrow.
I just laughed. She did look great though in a conservative pair of long white shorts that hung down to her knees, but still showed off her muscular calves, paired with a nice dark blouse that matched her eyes. Her blond hair was pulled back in its usual ponytail, and her makeup was perfect accentuating her high cheekbones, and drawing just the right amount of attention to her creamy, full lips. I suddenly regretted that we were in a hurry because I would have been only too happy to scoop her up and head for the bedroom.
“We really should get going,” I said glancing at my watch.
We took my car even though it always embarrassed me to have Ruth riding in it. My clunky ten-year-old Volvo was undoubtedly a long way below the usual standard of vehicle that carried her around. I will say that it had never seemed to bother her, and she always talked about how my old car had so much character. Given Ruth’s excellent poker-face it was difficult to tell if she was just acting nice.
“I was going to start shopping for a new car next week,” I mentioned casually.
“Really? I always thought this car had such nice character.”
I coughed to keep from laughing.
“It’s just time for an upgrade. I’ve been driving this old beast since my freshman year.”
“Just because something is old doesn’t mean you should throw it out,” she said with a smirk.
“You of all people should know I don’t devalue things based on their age,” I replied taking one hand off the wheel to slip poker oyna it into hers. She patted the back of mine rubbing it gently.
“Have I told you today what a treasure you are to me, Peter Moran?”
“No, but I loved to be showered with compliments so feel free to fire away.”
Her smile lit up her face like spring dawn, “How about I start with what a hot stud you are and work my way from there?”
“Careful, Lady. We have an appointment, and those kinds of compliments might force me to pull this car over.”
We both laughed as we left the city behind and drove out into the wooded countryside.
My parents still lived in the house my grandfather had built when he moved out here long ago. A pleasant family jumble that had grown along the way as additional family members had required expansion to the property it was at present a five bedroom, three bath, ranch style home sitting on a couple of acres of land about thirty minutes outside of town. When Ruth and I pulled up, I was surprised to see a brand new Mercedes sitting in the driveway. It took me a moment to put two and two together, and by that time the front door had burst open and a pint-sized bundle of joy came charging out.
My sister, like myself, favored mom’s side of the family in build and stature. A skinny little thing generously listed as being five-foot-four-inches tall, Susie Moran more than made up for her lack of size with boundless energy that could have powered a small town if someone were able to devise a way to harness it. I might sometimes have cursed her name, but deep down I loved my sister more than life and grabbed her up off the ground into a powerful hug as she lept into my arms.
“Susie! I didn’t know you were going to be here. I thought you were still in Dubai?”
“I took some time off to visit with Mom and Dad. I figured now that it looks like I’m going to be living over there for a couple of years I should stop in for a spell.”
“Well, this is a wonderful surprise,” I said setting her back on the ground.
“Who’s your friend?” asked Susie looking past me.
I figured it was better to rip off the band-aid come what may, so I didn’t even try to skip around the truth.
“Susie, this is my girlfriend, Ruth Bryant. Ruth, my sister, Susie.”
“I’ve heard so much about you! It’s so wonderful to meet finally,” said Ruth offering her hand.
Right off the bat, I realized that my sister had a poker-face just as good as Ruth’s because if she was the least bit surprised by the age of my girlfriend, it never registered.
“Oh, Honey! A hand-shake just will not do! Not for my brother’s girlfriend,” said Susie with a grin, and she pulled Ruth into a hug.
Ruth took it in stride wrapping her arms around my sisters smaller frame and holding her close.
While I observed the two women exchanging a greeting the sound of the front screen door opening and slamming back drew my attention the other way. As good as Susie’s poker-face was my dad’s was it’s equal only in the opposite direction. He stopped half-way to us raising an eyebrow and looking over at me. I had told him I was bringing my new girlfriend, nothing about her graduating high school two years behind him.
“You must be Peter’s dad. Ruth Bryant, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir.”
“Jack Moran…Um…Yeah…Likewise. Why don’t we all go inside, Carol made tea,” said my dad awkwardly.
Susie practically yanked Ruth through the door leaving my dad and me in their wake. He reached out to touch my arm in a clear signal to hang back.
“Something you want to tell me, Son?”
“There’s nothing to tell really. I met Ruth at Warners while I was shopping five months back, but you already knew that.”
“Yes, and you mentioned that she had money, but you failed to mention she was old enough to be your mother. What’s going on here exactly? You trying to be a gigolo or something?”
“I hope that was supposed to be a bad joke, Dad. I care about Ruth, and this is a serious relationship. Do I strike you as the gold-digger type?”
“I sure didn’t raise you that way. Still, you should have given us the heads up. It’s not fair to just spring her on us.”
He was right, and I knew it.
“I’m sorry about that, you’re right, I should have mentioned it. I guess I was just nervous about how you guys would react…”
“You should have a little more faith in us, Son.”
“Like you have always have so much faith in me? If Susie had shown up today with a boyfriend twenty-years her senior how would you have taken it?”
My dad rubbed his jaw in thought, then shook his head, “I see your point, but Susie has never given us any reason to question her decisions. You, on the other hand, have made more than a few strange choices in your life. I guess this is just the latest.”
“She’s a good woman, Dad. Age aside, I’ve been happier with her than I ever was with Lucille.”
“I’m glad to hear it. At the end of the day all a parent ever really wants is their child to be happy. canlı poker oyna That said we better get inside. I have a feeling your mother may not take the shock as easy.”
My mother was far too polite to say something right to Ruth’s face, but when my dad and I walked inside, there was tension in the air. Ruth was standing next to Susie while my mom, all five-feet-two inches of her stood gazing up at Ruth like she was a particularly strange zoo animal on exhibit.
“So…You’re Peter’s girlfriend? Hm…I have to say I was expecting someone…”
“Taller with bigger boobs?” offered Susie with a grin.
“Bigger boobs?” echoed Ruth looking down with a frown.
“Peter used to have a thing for girls with big knockers when he was younger. It’s good to see he matured out of that phase. Not that there is anything wrong with your boobs, Ruth, their fantastic! I hope mine look that good when I’m your age,” added Susie.
“I was going to say…Well…Susie is right that you’re not the type Peter usually brings home with him.”
“Yeah…They usually look like he should pay them fifty bucks when he drops them back on the street,” said Susie.
“Susie Moran!” snapped my mother with a disapproving look.
Ruth just laughed though taking the comments in stride, “All I can say is that Peter has been nothing but a perfect gentleman to me. You folks raised him right.”
“It’s gratifying to know a few of our lessons are finally sinking in,” said my dad as he joined the conversation.
“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Moran. I do interior design, and I love your choice of style,” said Ruth trying to change the subject.
“Thank you. This house has been in our family for generations, so there is a lot of family history on these walls.”
I was happy to see the conversation turn away from Ruth’s age. We managed to stay off the subject as my mom gave Ruth the ten cent tour of my old childhood home. Ruth was very polite, and I think it helped that she was so complimentary about how my mom had decorated. Things turned a bit awkward though when we sat down to dinner.
“I noticed that you have a Tolliver High School letter jacket on the coat rack in your foyer. I didn’t know Peter lettered in a sport,” commented Ruth.
“That’s mine. I keep it for sentimental reasons. I played running back for Tolliver High back in 84,” replied my dad.
“Well, then you and I are old rivals. I went to Carver High School.”
“Is that right? We played them in the state championship game that year.”
“I remember. I was on the cheerleading squad at Carver. You guys sure whipped us in that game.”
There was a sudden uncomfortable silence that followed that exchange. It occurred to me that it was highly possible that my dad might have checked out my girlfriend at that long ago game given her looks, and perhaps it was just a quirk of fate that they didn’t meet and start dating and…O.K. my mind can go weird places sometimes.
The look on my mom’s face spoke volumes. I could only imagine what she was thinking.
This woman at her son’s side once led cheers at a football game her husband played in?
What the fuck?
“Hey! How about that new job, Peter. I hear you’re jet-setting all over the world these days?” said Susie.
Once again, I was grateful for a change in the conversation.
“Yeah, I just got back from Finland. I’m due for some vacation now, as a matter of fact, Ruth and I are going to be taking a trip to the Caribbean next week.”
“That sounds exotic.”
We talked for a while about our favorite vacation spots while my mom served one of my childhood desserts, chocolate cake with walnut sprinkles.
“Wow! This cake is so moist! What’s your secret?” asked Ruth.
“Hershey’s syrup in the batter, and lots of heavy whipping cream. Don’t think too much about the calories, or the guilt will kill you,” remarked my mother.
Ruth graciously offered to help with the dishes, and I thought it might have raised her a notch in my parent’s eyes. While her and my mom went into the kitchen, I took advantage of the break to get some fresh air outside.
The night was cooling off, and I stood in the semi-darkness watching the swaying of the old elm tree in our backyard where it stood caught in the moonlight.
“As usual, you know how to stir things up around here,” said Susie from behind me.
“It wasn’t my intention to create controversy, but I admit I didn’t do much to avoid it.”
She walked over to stand next to me.
“When I heard about you and Lucille I was worried about you, but it looks like you landed on your feet. Ruth seems very nice, and clearly, she dotes on you.”
“You think so?”
“I’ve been watching her all evening, and she looks at you the way Grandpa used to look at Grandma.”
My grandfather’s devotion to his wife was something of a family legend. The kind of romance people aspired too.
“Her age doesn’t bother you?”
“It’s not a problem for me. I’m not dating her,” said Susie with a laugh.
“Very internet casino funny, but seriously I’m worried it’s going to be a big deal to Mom and Dad.”
“They worry about you, and it’s fair to be concerned about the obstacles of a May/December romance, especially if things get serious. Are they? Serious?”
“We haven’t talked about it exactly, but we’ve been together for five months and seem to get happier the more time that passes. If we continue down this road then, yeah, I could see things getting serious.”
Susie leaned closer slipping her arm around mine and pressing her head to my shoulder.
“At the end of the day it’s your life, and the only opinion that matters is how you and Ruth feel. I wouldn’t worry about Mom and Dad. Do what makes you happy.”
“You’re a smart lady, Sis.”
“Yeah, well, I liked Lucille and look how that worked out.”
“True…Ruth is no Lucille; that’s for sure.”
My dad called to us from inside the house, and we turned to rejoin the party.
“Five bucks says Dad breaks out the video of the Yosemite trip,” said Susie.
I winced, “He just thinks it’s hilarious that I fell in the same river twice.”
“You had the reflexes of a ninety-year-old when you were a teen,” said Susie patting my arm.
“That’s why I don’t have a letter jacket hanging in the foyer.”
Susie and I walked back into the house shutting the door behind us. My dad and Ruth were standing in the living room together.
“Hey, guys! I was telling Ruth she would enjoy seeing the video of our family trip to Yosemite.”
“Five bucks,” whispered my sister jabbing me with her elbow.
The rest of the evening went by without incident, but I couldn’t help but feel that my mom spent a good chunk of it staring at Ruth. I was thrilled when it got late enough for us to excuse ourselves to go home.
“I’m glad I finally got to meet you both,” said Ruth to my parents.
“It’s been a real pleasure, Ruth,” answered my dad.
“Yes, thanks for coming,” said my mother with a good deal less enthusiasm.
My sister walked us out. The night sky was blazing with stars this far out away from all the city lights. Susie hugged us both leaning in to whisper something in Ruth’s ear that made her laugh.
“I want to do lunch while I’m here Peter so free up that schedule.”
“I will Susie. Call me tomorrow.”
I got back in the car and gave Susie a final wave as Ruth, and I pulled away.
“What did my sister say to you that was so funny?” I asked as we drove back to Ruth’s house.
“I think it should remain between us girls. It would just embarrass you anyway.”
“I’m sure it would. I withdraw the question.”
“Can I ask you something, Peter?”
“Did your parents not know how old I am? I got the feeling they were surprised by it when we showed up.”
“What? No, I think maybe it was just seeing us together that drove it home you know?” I said lying and praying it didn’t show.
“Your mom didn’t like it, not one little bit.”
“She needs to get used to the idea. It will be fine,” I said hoping that was true.
“Your mom may be right, Peter. Have you really given any thought to where this is going? We might be doing o.k. now, but how about in twenty years when I’m seventy and you’re forty-six? What about then?”
“We can cross that bridge if and when we get there. I’m just happy for every day we have together now.”
Ruth went back to staring out the window, and I didn’t think she was convinced.
TO THE ISLAND AND BACK –
Ruth may have vacationed all over the world, but for me, this was going to be my first time on a tropical island, and I was giddy with excitement. We sat in the departure terminal at the airport with me reading an article on my Kindle while Ruth flipped through a design magazine.
“It says here that some of the oldest Spanish missions in the Caribbean are located not far from our hotel.”
“You know, Peter, you don’t have to try to impress me by taking me on tours of architectural marvels that you will find horribly boring,” commented Ruth.
“Boring? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just trying to open myself up to new experiences.”
Ruth chuckled and rubbed my arm.
She was sporting her typical casual look which included jeans that looked sculpted onto her tight ass, a comfortable t-shirt, and the ponytail through the baseball cap affectation which always made her look hot in my opinion. Her lips shined with my favorite lipstick on her, frosty pink. I had been unable to resist tasting her lips multiple times since leaving the house causing her to admonish me that she was going to run out of the shade if I kept kissing it off.
As she laughed at my attempts to plan a vacation we could both enjoy a gaggle of young twenty-something girls went by clearly headed for a similar locale as us. They were all dressed somewhat scantily, and from all the giggling I was willing to bet they had spent a fair bit of time in one of the airport lounges before coming to the gate.
Ruth sighed as they passed.
“I used to have a body like that…” she lamented.
“You still do,” I said placing my Kindle in my carry on.
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