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AM 22Family conferences were never fun, but it was almost worse to be left out of it. Normally I didn't mind being in my room, in fact, I could stay inside and work at something for hours, but being stuck there was an entirely different story. It drove me insane to know that I couldn't go anywhere.
Anywhere but up. Adam wasn't the only guy in the family who could climb like a monkey, even though Cordy was probably the only person who knew that I could too. I pushed my window open and stared out of it, ducking my head back inside when Mai and her dad drove up, then again when Adam's family arrived. After I heard the front door shut for the second time, I leaned out of the window and climbed up onto the roof, making as little noise as possible. It was something I'd done thousands of times before, and the familiarity of it calmed my bunched up nerves.
It was a good thing, too, because if I'd been as jumpy and tense as I had been
AM 21"I can't believe he did that!" I moaned, we were in the car and on the way home, but I still couldn't bring myself to take my face out of my shirt. Dad tsked understandingly and reached back to pat the bit of my head that was sticking out. "He didn't do it to embarrass you, honey, he just he worries."
"And he's right to a certain extent." I heard Papa say, he was a little hoarse, "You do need to be careful."
I popped my head out angrily, "This is so stupid! I know guys who lost their virginity in ninth grade! And I have to wait till I'm ready to marry Mai?! It's so unfair!" I knew it wasn't Papa's fault, but I was humiliated and angry and I wanted to vent at someone. "Do you really mean to tell me you've only had sex with one person your entire life?!" my voice broke.
I could see Papa turn red in the mirror, and he swallowed, but he didn't avoid the question, "I'm afraid that's true."
"Afraid?!" Dad squeaked indignantly, and Papa turned even r
AM 20After Uncle Cayn made his speech, everyone looked much more relaxed. Daddy and Uncle Van looked appropriately penitent, and they even apologized, and Mama and Aunt Lyra exchanged looks that were a mixture of 'I told you so' and 'finally, some sense'. But Uncle Roman was suspiciously quiet, and I soon found out why.
Once all the apologies had been offered and accepted, and we'd all had a chance to voice relief that this hadn't snowballed into something horrible, he spoke up. "I know that both of you have been told already, but now might be a good time to reiterate the issue "
Oh shit. When Uncle Roman used words like 'reiterate', he was going to lecture. Or warn. His warnings were worse than his lectures, because he always radiated this feeling of great purpose when he talked, and warnings from him felt like warnings from God or something just as dire.
Apparently Uncle Van knew what was coming, because he turned whit
AM 19Aaah boy.
My face reached whole new degrees of ignition as all eyes in the room turned on me. I tried to focus on Mai, who was staring at me wide eyed, a little incredulous smile on her face. I wet my lips, then took a deep breath. "I I do. And there's nothing any of you can do about it. So don't even try." My voice was getting louder and more confident, "Even if you don't let me see Mai or be with her, or send her off to Japan I'll just wait. I've already waited fifteen years. I can wait another fifteen, but I'd really rather not." I looked each of them in the eye, lingering as long as I could on Uncle Dice without getting my eyebrows singed. Finally he hung his head, and I saw his fists clench, then he looked up at me, "Adam I love and trust you, but Mai is my most precious if she were to be hurt-"
"I've been hurt!" Mai burst out, "Daddy, it's my choice! You can't judge what'll hurt me because you don't know what I want!" there were tears in her voice,
AM 18I was seething. After all the times Daddy had blown things out of proportion before, it had been easy to just be embarrassed and forgive him, but this time was just too much. Even though I'd pleaded with him to just leave it alone and wait for Mama to get home, he insisted on calling Uncle Roman, and that always lead to organized drama. Ugh. For someone as irritatingly rational and levelheaded as Uncle Roman, he sure knew how to be just as dramatic as anyone else in our neurotic family.
But there wasn't a whole lot I could do, except sit in the backseat of the car and radiate annoyance like a floodlight. I'd tried cajoling and threatening, but the only thing that would have worked was the only thing I wouldn't do. No matter what embarrassment was coming, it was better than acting like it wasn't a big deal. It was, and Daddy knew it as well as I did.
Thinking about it made me tingle all over, I even had goosebu
AM 17I was actually worried I might start crying again, this time from relief. Papa was being reasonable, even more than reasonable, he was being understanding. I could tell it still hurt him that he was still irritated beyond belief. But at least he wasn't grounding me, or worse I let go of him and stepped back, unable to keep from smiling, I didn't know if all this would work out, but it was amazing to know that Papa was on my side. Even if he did look miserable about it.
"Van " Dad stepped forward, rubbing the back of Papa's neck, then he moved in to kiss him, probably trying to draw out some of his anger and frustration. I looked away out of habit; I'd gotten used to having parents with the sexual habits of bunnies a long time ago, but that did not mean I had to like it. "Come on guys !"
"Well, excuse me Mr. Kiss and Tell." Dad laughed over his shoulder, "Do you think there's one person in the family who doesn't know about your little accident by now?"
AM 16There had been a number of times that Van had come home to find Adam hiding from him, usually because he'd done something wrong. And that had not stopped as he'd gotten older, only the mischief had changed. But it never failed to make Van feel like dirt, and he had to work hard to keep from melting into a puddle of doting Papa. Even when Adam had been a toddler, Van had often had trouble disciplining him, and it made his insides crumble whenever he had to do it.
But damn him if he ever told anyone any of that. Usually he would just work at home, but some days, he had to go out and spend the entire day running errands. He'd finished up early and found time to pick up a pizza, but when he opened the door, he sensed that something wasn't quite right. The feeling he got when he knew Adam was hiding from him surfaced in his stomach and he swore under his breath, then sighed and stepped over a bundle of dropped knitting on his
AM 15I ran all the way home, feeling my heart beat in my throat, ohgodohgodohgodOHGOD!! I burst in through the front door, yelling, "Daaaaaddd?!!!"
"Adam, what is it?" He came out of the kitchen holding a pair of knitting needles and half a sweater, he looked at me worriedly.
"You have to hide me! Save me! Something!" I was incoherent even to myself, I could feel my cheeks and ears burning up, and I was breathing so hard my chest hurt. Dad dropped his knitting and his eyes widened, he hurried towards me, "Are they chasing you? Why didn't you just lose them?!"
He thought this was about a prank !
I leaned forward, placing my hands on the table and trying to slow down my breathing and my heartbeat, "No one's chasing me at least not yet. Dad, Uncle Dice caught me and Mai kissing!"
"He WHAT?!" Dad grabbed my shoulders, and the look on his face spelled out almost exactly what I was feeling inside. "How could you let that happen?!" His voice broke. I tried not to moan,
AM 14There was someone in my room. It wasn't exactly a sixth sense, it was just that I could hear him breathing. It only took me half a second to realize that it was Adam. Part of me wanted to sit up and start talking to him, pretend that nothing had happened, but I wasn't quite ready for that yet But I didn't want to be mad at him anymore. As often as he annoyed me or pissed me off, I hated being mad at him.
When I opened an eye to look at him, he was staring at something on the floor with his hand to his chest, looking for all the world like his dad did whenever Uncle Van gave him a really good present. I yawned and sat up, and then I saw what he was looking at.
He was so busy staring at it that he didn't even see me. Well, that was sort of the effect I had wanted when I'd first thought of it. I had wanted him to be speechless and now I just wanted to get rid of the stupid thing,
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