“Oh my God!” I said as Claire fell to her side of the pillow. Our chests were pounding. My heart raced. We had been going at it for almost an hour. I looked over at her, “I can’t believe we did all that.”
“I can’t believe we did either.” She said sucking in air. We were both sweaty, out of breath, and grinning. She looked over to me, “So, about that question.”
Great. I knew she wasn’t going to forget that I proposed. “I’m sorry. That was totally insane.”
“It was, but I liked it all the same.” She replied. “Although, my answer was more insane.”
“Oh? I just thought I was just giving you a nice . . . you know.” I smiled. She had screamed “yes” repeatedly just after I proposed. At first I didn’t know if she was answering me or if it was because she was having way too much fun on top of me.
“You were, but my answer remains the same. . . under one condition.” I perked my body up on the bed and scooted closer to her. “I want to meet your family. Your dad, mom, sisters, brothers. Everyone.”
“Brothers? I. . um. . . I don’t have any brothers.” I said honestly.
“Parker and Jake? They said they were your brothers.” She gave me a curious look.
I started to laugh. “Really? Both of them said they were my brothers?” I could see Jake saying that as a joke to get with Claire himself, but Parker, that caught me off guard.
“Yea. They aren’t your brothers?”
I shook my head. “Jake is my uncle. My grandfather married his second wife when my father was in his twenties and the two had Jake a few years later. I am only two years younger than my uncle, that’s why we are so close.”
This is where I bit my tongue. Parker said he was my brother without any motive. I could keep our secret, or I could come clean and tell her that I had a son. “He’s my. . .” I wanted to be honest. I needed to be honest. I could see on the nightstand the picture of him and I. “He’s my son.”
“Long story short, when I was sixteen I knocked up my girlfriend. My father is raising him now.” I bit my lip. “You still want to marry me?” I proposed again.
“Yes.” She kissed me softly. I climbed on top of her. “I want to meet them though.”
“You will.” I whispered into her ear as I started to nibble on her neck. “My dad, my son, my stupid uncle, my sister. All of them.”
“And your mother.” She said pushing me away. I stayed silent. I wanted to go another round, but she was waiting for my answer. I hadn’t spoken to my mother since she kicked me out of her life.
“No.” I said, shaking my head. She pushed me off of her after hearing my answer. She crossed her arms and gave me a dirty look. “It’s not that simple. I haven’t spoken to the woman in over ten years.”
“I want to meet everyone Travis.” She stared me down. “Please.”
“Okay.” I gave in. “I’ll call them, all of them, tomorrow.”
She smiled, happy that she won this argument and we went another round.
The next day I found my bed empty, with a note on the end table. “Went home early to get changed. See you at work. Claire.” I picked up my phone and called her, she didn’t answer her cell. I looked at the time, it was almost eleven, she would be at work, so I called my own office. “Landgraab First National Bank, Travis Rain’s Office, how may I direct your call?”
“Hey, it’s me. Why’d you take off?” I asked. I was hoping to wake up to the woman I really loved.
“I do have a job you know. And speaking of work, you have a meeting in ten minutes.”
“CRAP! Spellman, huh? Tell Ray I will be there soon.”
“You better hurry Mr. Rain.”
“I will. Oh and Claire, I love you.”
She giggled a bit. “Stop saying that. See you when you get in.”
I jumped in the shower and dressed. As I was heading out I found Jake drinking a beer. I waited for the perfect moment before telling him my news.
“I’m marrying Claire.” He sprayed the entire wall with his drink.
“You’re not serious?” He asked as he choked on the rest of his drink. His laughter had died down a bit after the initial shock and the fact the alcohol went down the wrong way.
“I’m serious. I asked her last night while we were. . .” I allowed my sentence to hang. Jake laughed some more.
“Dude, that isn’t a real proposal. And anyways, you haven’t even gone out with this woman. How the hell do you know you love her or want to even marry her? Travis, as an uncle, I am advising you to reconsider and start out small. You don’t want to end up like your old man, heart broken.”
I nodded my head. What he said was true. I needed to really get to know Claire. All we ever have done was fuck. “I’ll think about it.” I told Travis and then walked out of the apartment.
At work I went to the meeting I was supposed to be at over an hour ago. I apologized to everyone and we went to work. After the meeting I headed up to my office and waved to Claire. She was on the phone, telling off someone for calling my office. I had a no-call list. I walked in my office and sat down. I looked over at the phone and waited for Claire’s voice to come over the com, “Mr. Rain, he wants to speak to you.”
“Of course he does. Tell Jack I am too damn busy to deal with his financial problems and if he keeps gambling, I’ll have to drop him as a client.”
“Okay. I’ll give him the message.” Two minutes later Claire buzzed me again, “He said he wants to talk to you, but I told him that unless he cleaned his language up he won’t get past me.”
“Thanks Claire, you are a life saver. Oh and can you come in for a sec, I need to talk to you.”
“Right away.” She walked in soon after she got off the phone “Yes?”
“We need to talk about last night.” She grinned. I took her by the hand and told her of my concerns about marriage. She understood that it was a bit brash for us to get engaged while we were having sex.
“I want to marry you, but I don’t want to for the wrong reasons.” I started. She nodded. “Claire, will you go out with me?”
“Yes, but just so you know I don’t put out on the first or second or even third date.”
I started to laugh. “Really? But you’ll blow a potential boss at an interview?” I joked.
“I do what I have to. Jobs are tough, dates are not.” She smiled back. “I’ll draw up a schedule for our dates for the next few months, and let you know.”
She kissed me just before walking back out of the office. I loved her, I knew it in my heart. This was something real.
I nodded, still grinning. I knew it was against the policy to date co-workers, but I also knew of ten secret couples in the bank and two of them were CEO’s. The CEO’s were both dating different people. My boss was engaged to a maintenance worker. The other one was dating a bank teller. I never understood why they kept the no-dating policy, but they did.
Two weeks later Claire gave me the “date” schedule. Our first date was on a Saturday. I picked her up from her apartment and we headed to a dance club. We danced and partied. I bought us a few drinks. After her third one she laughed, “Are you trying to get me drunk so I will sleep with you?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “It’s worth a try.” We hadn’t slept together since I asked her out. I was needing her in my bed again.
“Nice try Travis.” She kissed me lightly on the cheek, “But I told you we weren’t going to sleep with each other till at least the third date.” I nodded and stole a kiss from her lips.
Our second date was at the movies. I thought by taking her somewhere dark I could win her over. In the dark theater I wrapped my arm around her. Her eyes stuck to the screen like glue as we watched Jake in a romantic comedy. She chose the movie because Jacob Right was her favorite actor. I just bit my lip and watched. She and I cuddled on the hard theater chairs. I kept staring at her. She was loving the movie. I whispered in her ear, “I love you.” She shh’d me. I tried kissing her, but she kept her gaze. The love scene was on screen and she bit her lip. She was in love with my uncle’s body. “He waxes.” I whispered a huge lie. “And in real life he is so much fatter.”
Her eyes gazed over at me and she rolled them. I laughed and smiled. “You keep telling yourself that Travis.” She patted my leg.
Over the next few months we didn’t really go out much. We saw each other mostly at the office. Going to work was the highlight of my day. When I walked in and saw Claire sitting at the desk I couldn’t help but smile. We kept the relationship a secret, but everyone knew. How could they not? We were practically giddy. During those months we talked about my whole life and she shared about hers. She grew up in foster care. Her parents died in a car accident when she was just a toddler. When I told her about Parker she stopped speaking to me for a week. She even called in “sick” for two days.
She finally spoke to me a week ago. Now we were on our third date, and the only reason we were, was because I insisted we go out again.
Our third date I took her out to a romantic picnic under the stars. We sat there and looked out on the black sky across the water. “Can I say it now?” She nodded to me in answer. “Claire Morris, I love you.” I said. She told me I wasn’t to say those three words, not until she was also ready to hear them.
“I love you too Travis.” She kissed me softly.
We cuddled under the stars for a while. Her head rested on my chest. I played with her hair. “Claire, do you still want to meet my family?”
“Yes.” She turned over and faced me. “I would love to meet your family, and that includes your mother.”
I sighed and looked away. “Travis, she’s your mother.”
“She also kicked me out of her life.”
“You did the same with Parker.” She pointed out the similarities. “If you don’t call her, I will.”
“And how are you going to get her number?”
“Your father.” She pointed out.
“Fine. I’ll call her, but only if you and I do something tonight.” She smiled at my hint.
That night we made love under the stars. It was the most beautiful night of my life and I hoped that it was for her as well.
The next day I headed to work. Claire buzzed me just as I walked to my desk. “Mr. Rain, a Mrs. Dean is on the phone.”
I hit the button to the com on my phone, “Did you call her Claire?” I asked angrily.
“Just talk to her!” She yelled back. “After I’ll come in and calm your damn nerves!’
“Fine! But you owe me more than you can imagine.” I told her. I punched off the com and clicked line one. “Mom?”
“Travis, is that really you?”
“Yea its me. Look, I have to talk to you. My girlfriend wants to meet my family, and she really wants to meet the woman who tossed me out on the street.”
“I see. How far along is this one? Three-four months?”
“She’s not pregnant” hopefully. “I want to marry her mom, but she insists she meets my family and like it or not your my mother.”
“Marriage? You’re going to marry her? Travis that’s. . . Wow.”
“So will you and Mike come and meet her with the rest of the family?”
“We will. I love you Travis.”
“Goodbye mother.” I hung up without returning her rehearsed sentiment. I picked up the phone and dialed my father and son. “State your biz, who are you and what do you want?” Parker answered rudely.
“Does grandpa know you answer your phone like that, Parker?” I asked in an angry tone. “And since when do you call my your brother?”
“Oh its you.” He said just as rudely.
“Parker! You are two steps away from a serious grounding, you understand me young man?”
“I’m already grounded dumbass. Now, what do you want? I have so little to do, so hurry up and state your business.”
“Parker Rain! Get your grandfather on the phone and if you talk to anyone like that again I swear I will drive over there to kick your ass, do you hear me!”
“Fuck you.” He screamed and then hung up. I called back and my dad answered. “Hello?”
“Where’s Parker?” I yelled. I was furious.
“He’s about to doctor a red ass when I get through with him.” I heard Parker scream something incoherent. “SIT DOWN NOW!” My father yelled back. “Sorry, Travis its not the greatest time. Can I call you back when I get your son under control.”
“Sure. I just called to tell you that I plan on getting married, but my girlfriend wants to meet you and big mouth.”
“WHAT!” My father screamed. “Married? Who? What’s her name? Is she nice? Do you love her? Does she love you? Does –”
“Dad, slow down.” I told him. He kept asking questions and I had to stop him. “Her name’s Claire and we are in love. She wanted to meet you before we tie the knot.”
“Oh my God, I am so happy for you Travis. We’ll come whenever you want. Just keep us posted.” I heard some yelling over the phone, Parker wanted to say something. “You hear him?”
“Yea, put him on.” I answered Parker’s pleas.
“YOU CAN’T GET MARRIED!” He yelled. “I don’t need a mother!”
“Parker, I’m not marrying her for you. I love her and I am marrying her.”
“She better not be pregnant! I am not going to compete with a sibling who will be loved more than me!” He started to cry. “That’s why your marrying her, huh? So, that you and her can raise a family and love your kid more than me! I am just a fucking mistake that you hate and now you get to do it right this time and I’ll never be loved!” He hung up the phone before I could reply. Within seconds my dad called and Claire came over the com to tell me.
“Dad,” I said crying, “Please tell him that’s not true.”
“He knows. He’s just having a really hard time, Travis. The school is having a father-son camping trip this week and he couldn’t go. One of the kids teased him in front of the teachers that he didn’t have a dad, and he went after that kid and gave him a fat lip. So, he was suspended and I was told even if you came down Parker couldn’t go on the camping trip.”
I apologized to dad and hung up. Claire walked in, though her attitude shifted when she saw the tears in my eyes. “My son hates me.” I cried to her. She walked over and hugged me. I told her about my phone conversation with Parker and my father. Claire wiped my tears. “I love him. I really do. I made one mistake, Claire, and I’ve regretted it since I left. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.” I cried and Claire took me into her arms.
For a while she just held me and soothed me. She kept telling me all was going to be okay. When I felt more calmer she smiled and spoke, “Why don’t you talk the rest of the day off and I’ll rearrange your schedule.”
I nodded. “Thanks Claire.” I paused and looked back, “Will I see you tonight?” She nodded with a small smile. I gave her a soft kiss and walked out the office, holding back the rest of my tears.
At home I tried calling my son repeatedly. My dad finally answered his cell phone and told me that Parker wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone for a month and that he was grounded until further notice. I asked if my son had a red ass. “No, not yet.” Was his reply.
“Dad, please let me talk to him.”
“PARKER!” Dad yelled and handed off the phone.
“Hello?” Parker answered.
“Parker, I’m sorry. . . I’m sorry for everything I have ever put you through. I just want to tell you I love you more than anything and even if I were to have another child, he or she would never, and I mean never replace you.”
“I know. I’m sorry too dad. Now, here’s grandpa. He’s really mad at me.”
“I know. Keep your head up. No more swearing or acting out. I don’t want to hear that you earned a spanking like I once did.”
“Okay.” The phone was passed and dad got on it. “Alright son. I’ll talk to you later. Parker and I need to have a long talk.”
“Okay pops. Have fun.” We said bye once more and I hung up.
Later on that evening Claire came by with a movie. We were on the sofa cuddling when my uncle decided to come home. He walked in, grabbed a beer and sat down next to us. On the television was another one of his movies, “Invisible Love” it was corny, but funny to watch if you knew why Jake actually took the job. “Oh God, Travis. Haven’t you made fun of me enough with this dumb movie?”
It was in that second that Claire noticed who was sitting next to her. Her mouth dropped, but nothing came out. I looked over at her expression and laughed. “Told you this movie was dumb.” I said to her, ignoring my uncle.
Jake looked over at her and smiled. “You must be the mystery woman that Travis keeps telling me about. It’s Claire, right?” She nodded with her mouth still wide open. “Jake Right. We’ve talked on the phone.”
“Claire, this is my uncle Jake.” She turned to me for an explanation. “I told you he was fat.”
“I AM NOT!” He yelled out. Claire still hadn’t said a word.
“Claire, sweetie, say something.”
“Why’s he here?” She whispered.
“He lives here.” I laughed. She turned looked at him and then turned to the movie and clicked play. Both Jake and I looked at each other and then to her. “You guys are jerks, just so you know. Tricking me, is so not cool!”
“We didn’t trick you.” I honestly said.
“You planned all this to see my reaction dear.” She looked at me. “You had him come over when you knew we would be watching a movie with him starring it.
“Um, no. I didn’t even know he was going to be here.” I then looked over at Jake, “Why are you here?”
“Eugi’s kicked me out when I took a swing at a paparazzi. The same one that crashed my proposal.”
“Ah!” I nodded my head and went back to watching the movie. Claire shh’d us. The three of us sat there and watched the movie. After it ended, Jake went to bed.
You want to head to bed?” I asked her.
“Actually I was thinking about heading home.”
“But, it’s Friday! Stay, please.” I pleaded. “Claire, stay here with me. Wake up with me for once. I love you and in the morning I want to feel your body lying next to me.”
The next morning I woke to her in my arms. I kissed her lightly on the shoulder blade and whispered, “Morning beautiful.”
She rolled over and kissed me, “Morning.” She moved my hands off her waist and climbed out of bed. She started to dress back into her clothes.
“Where you going?” I asked.
“I have to get home.”
“Because I have a life outside of your arms. I’ll call you later.” She gave me a final kiss and walked out my bedroom.
A month later I found myself at a park awaiting the arrival of a few people, one being Claire, the others being my family. Dad and Parker arrived first. Parker was in a mood. “Why do we have to do this grandpa?” He spat out. “I don’t want to meet her.”
“Don’t you dare screw this up for your father!” I heard him spat back. I told both of them what I had planned for the afternoon.
“Fine.” Parker turned his gaze to me. “She better be nice to me!” He yelled at me.
“Listen to your grandfather, Parker. I love this woman and you better be nice to her.”
A car rolled up and two more people got out, gaining my son’s attention. It was Alice and her husband. Alice ran towards me. “TRAVIS!” I picked her up and hugged her.
Ally! God, I missed you.” I kissed her. I looked over and her husband was standing there. I put my hand out, “You must be my brother-in-law, Rod.”
“Yes, and you must be the brother I hear about. Travis is it?”
I nodded. I looked at my sister again and grinned. It had been years since I saw my little sister. She looked amazing. “I’ve missed you.” I poked her.
“Same to you big jerk.” She joked. Ten minutes later another car strolled up the curb. Mike and my mother got out with my little sister in hand. Dad straightened up and walked behind me.
“I thought you said she wasn’t coming.” He whispered through gritted teeth.
“Mom said she wasn’t.” I told him.
Mom walked up to me and was expecting a hug but knew she wouldn’t get it. “Travis it’s good to see you.”
“Mom.” I said back to her. “And this must be my bratty little sister?” My youngest sister stuck her tongue out at me.
“BITCH” Parker screamed towards her. “I’m gonna kill you!”
“PARKER” My father, mother, and I all screamed in unison. I stepped up as a father for once, “Parker apologize to your aunt, NOW!”
“Not until she apologizes first!” Parker spat at me. “She’s a bitch.”
“PARKER!” My father yelled from behind me. “What did I tell you before we drove here?”
“Sorry.” My son mumbled to Susan. Susan had a smugness about her that I already hated. Parker and her eyed each other with hatred.
“Get over here, now!” I yelled at my son again. I pointed at my foot and waited. He just looked at me and then back to my dad. “NOW PARKER!”
He slowly walked towards me. Dad was letting me have this battle with him. He backed away and ignored the fight that he knew I was going to have with my son.
“What is going on?” I asked him. My mother looked on at both of us. She knew, my dad knew, I was left out on what was going on between my son and my little sister.
“Your sister has been spreading rumors about me! And thanks to her I was suspended for two more weeks and have to go to counseling for anger management.”
“Why were you suspended Parker?”
“Ask the bitch over there.” Parker pointed to Susan.
“Parker.” I sternly warned him. He bit his tongue.
My mother decided to butt in. She placed her hand on my shoulder and looked on at Parker. I kept my eyes on Parker, but listened to her explain my son’s actions.
“After Parker overheard a rumor being spread around him he went to Susan. She laughed at him and called him a nickname, and it spread like wildfire. I told her numerous times not to call him it, but she won’t stop. So, he punched her and then he took a bat that was next to her friend and started to swing at anyone who came up to him. He broke one kid’s leg. After your father and I begged the principle to not expel him, Parker was sent to psychiatrist.” She sighed at the end and looked over at Susan, “Your sister is also grounded and if she ever calls Parker that nickname again, she will have to donate her toys to a few foster homes I know about.”
“What was the nickname?” I asked Parker furious. I was pissed at my son. He could have killed someone.
“Orphan Annie.” Parker cried out. “Thanks to Susan, everyone in school calls me that now.” Susan tried hard to keep her laughter under control, but she couldn’t hide the hideous grin on her face.
No one noticed Claire had arrived. Everyone was looking at Parker, including me. I got on my knee to face Parker, still not noticing Claire standing behind him. “Parker, you can’t hit people, especially with a bat.” He nodded, stifling the tears. “If you have a problem you need to tell grandpa or me.”
“I did!” He cried. “I even told grandma.”
“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked him.
“Because its true, I am an orphan! Once you propose to that lady today, I will be all alone.” It was the revelation about my intentions that I noticed Claire as she gasped.
“You were going to propose?” She asked with her hands up over her mouth.
Parker turned and looked at her. He felt horrible. He gasped and looked at me. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He backed up. “Please don’t hurt me daddy.”
I laughed. “It’s okay.” And since I was already on one knee I pulled out the ring and proposed. “Claire Morris, this is my crazy family. Family this is Claire Morris. Now Claire, will you do the honor in marrying me. . . ” I paused and looked over at Parker. He was the only one that knew my last intention. He nodded. “Today?“
A gasp escaped Claire’s mouth. “T-t-today?”
I nodded. “Please, make me the happiest man today, Claire. Give my son something he has been needing his whole life, a mother.”
“Okay, I will.” She said between a sob.
I stood and took her hand. “Claire Morris. Our relationship started out different than most. I found not just a great friend and lover in you, but someone that I could see being with for the rest of my life. I have loved you even before I asked you to marry me the first time. Now, I give you this ring as a sign of my love for you. I also give you my heart and my promise to always be with you.”
Claire cried through my entire vow. She sniffed her nose and wiped her two eyes before saying her own. Unlike mine which were rehearsed, hers was not. “Travis, I came to you for a job and I didn’t expect to find love. It didn’t take long for me to see your heart and to fall in love with it. I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
After exchanging two rings I had bought, I kissed her.
The wedding ended.
My wife spent a great part of her time the rest of the night with Parker. She wanted him to know that she would always be there for him, even if I wasn’t available.
I spent my time with my sister and my father. I learned that my sister and her husband were adopting a small child soon. She found out she couldn’t have children. My dad and I talked a bit about Parker.
We looked on at Claire and Parker sitting at a bench. “She’s a beautiful woman, Travis.”
“Thanks dad. She’s also an amazing woman.” I said with a smile. Claire caught me staring and she waved at me. I waved back.
My mother walked over towards dad and I. “That was a lovely service, Travis.” She said.
“Yea not bad at all Trav. I say it was even more romantic than my crappy wedding.” My dad smacked me on my shoulder, happy for me.
My mother smacked him on the back of his head. “Our wedding wasn’t crap.”
“Yea, just our marriage.” He spat back. I laughed.
“Oh screw you David.” She went to walk past him, but turned and looked at me before she left, “I do hope you make a better lover than him. If you want to know why our relationship was crap, just look to our bedroom.”
“OH!” I yelled and looked at dad.
“Are you sure you didn’t mix up our bedroom with that hotel room you used during that time?” He asked with a bit of a smile.
“No. I remember a good lay. Yours not so much.” She walked off, grinning. I was laughing hard at both my parents.
“Damn, dad. She got you good there.” I laughed.
“Oh shut up.” He said walking back towards Parker. “Parker, time to go home.”
“But I haven’t even spent time with my dad.” He whined. “Please can’t we stay a bit longer?”
“No can do. We have a three hour drive and I want to get home before the evening traffic hits.”
“Dad, please? Can’t I stay with you for the rest of the week?” Parker begged, ignoring my dad altogether. I had other plans in my head for the next week, and it didn’t involve my almost-eleven year old son. “I’m sorry Park, but Claire and I have to. . . uh. . . work. Maybe some other time.”
“Of course.” I looked over at Claire, “What do you say, maybe soon we can have a visitor over for a week?”
“As long as Parker doesn’t get into any more trouble, he can stay for as long as he wants.” She answered.
“Do you hear that? Stop fighting and talking back, okay.” I told him. Parker nodded. I gave him a hug, and Claire followed in suite. Parker whispered thank you to her before giving her a kiss on the cheek.
After the two left I looked over at Claire, “What did you two talk about?”
“Well, I told your son that orphans didn’t have parents, and sine he had two loving parents he wasn’t one. He shook his head at me and said he had only one parent, because his mother didn’t love him. I told him, that I loved him.” I smiled, knowing where she was going with that sentiment. “I then told him, that he would never be alone. That’s why he’s so angry. He feels alone in the world. He feels as no one loves him. He thinks you left him because he was just a big mistake. That his mother left because he was a burden on her. And he feels that the only reason his grandpa keeps him is because he’s just as lonely. I told him that anyone who’s a brother are never alone in the world because they have their siblings.” She smiled at me, trying to convey a message that I clearly got.