Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gabe Chapter 5

A few days after the trip to the Aquarium, Chris flew out to visit his dad for the summer. The invitation for another Sunday pool party and Thursday visits were put on hold until the end of the summer. Anna had arranged extra work in Chris' absence, taking advantage of the free time when she didn't need to be home to care for him. The first few days were always difficult. She usually cleared her schedule and took a mini vacation to get through the empty feeling that hit her whenever he left. After a few lunches out with friends and time to catch up on all the “mom” movies she had missed, she got to work; packing her schedule so she wouldn't miss him. The time flew by, she kept so busy.
Gabe and Sean usually spent their summers in Hawaii, except when Gabe had a project to film. This year Sean celebrated his thirteenth birthday. Suddenly having a teenager was more than Gabe was ready for. I'm simply not old enough for him to be that big. They celebrated with a helicopter ride around the islands and a marathon day of surfing. Rose and Doug flew over for a week and enjoyed their time relaxing.
Sean had a group of friends he met up with every summer and he fell right back in with them. Gabe planned a large party and all the friends and their families came over to their house. Family is most important in Hawaiian culture and any excuse for a gathering turns into a huge dinner luau.
They owned a little house on the north side of Kauai. There are fewer tourists and life is more on local time and pace. Gabe had always been curious about his biological parents. In the back of his mind, he felt that time on the island somehow connected him to roots, even though the roots didn't know he existed.
Chris and Sean kept in touch over the summer through social sites, and played online games that allowed them to chat or work together. Their parents were “old school” and texted, called and emailed occasionally. Once they got past their initial assumptions about each other, Gabe and Anna found they actually had quite a bit in common.
One Friday afternoon at the end of August Anna picked up a box of old clothes and shoes out of her car to deposit them in the donation box for homeless women and children. She had just finished another day helping organize a client's house. She enjoyed cleaning and organizing, she always had; cleaning for others held a lot more interest than cleaning her own house. She had worked with various clients for a couple years now and never could get over how people collect so much stuff. Closets full of clothes they never wear and linen cupboards full of old towels and rags. Plastic grocery bags and unopened packages of fast food utensils and napkins filled pantries and under the sink. All the old dishes meant something to someone, but sat around collecting dust, cobwebs, and usually spiders.
Anna didn't judge, their collections help her earn money, but it felt so nice to come home to open spaces and organized shelves. She was not Martha Stewart by any means, but it wore her out if too much clutter accumulated.
The phone in her pocket began to hum and she balanced a box on her hip against the car bumper and fished it out. She saw his name and number and smiled to herself. I wondered when he would call. “Hello,” she answered.
“Hi, it's Gabe. I'm just calling to see if you were planning on coming over Sunday for more swimming and dinner. The last time I had actually asked, you answered just 'maybe',” Gabe mockedg her tendency to change her mind continuously and live a bit more spontaneously.
She decided to keep the light heartedness going, “Only if you've learned some new diving moves. It was really sad how easily I beat you last time.”
“A few other friends are coming over, so maybe they will provide some competition for you. I do a mean cannon ball and that's about the limit of my diving talents.” Gabe countered.
“Other friends?” Anna asked.
“I do have a few of those,” He jokingly responded.
Anna smiled through the phone and added, “Yes, I pick him up Saturday afternoon, so, we'll be there Sunday, about 2pm, just after church.”
“Sean will be thrilled,” he said. I'm thrilled too. “See you then, bye.”
Anna also said good-bye and then hung up the phone. She dumped the box in the donations receptacle and wondered at why she no longer felt tired, but suddenly felt happy.
Sunday dawned overcast, but still warm. The first September weekend in Southern California usually is. As Anna and Chris pulled up a horde of children ran out the front door and down the block. Chris jumped out of the car and followed after them. They ran to the end of the block and turned the corner.
She collected her purse and the bag with their towels and sunscreen and headed inside. I should remember to offer to bring food next time. “What next time? I should stop assuming,” she actually said out loud.
The door had been left open by the scurrying children and she walked in calling “hello” and knocking on the front door as she did.
“Come in, we're all back here,” Gabe called. A head popped around the corner, but it didn't belong to Gabe. A medium height, light brown haired man stood in front of her.
“Did you get run over by the wild banshees running away?” he asked her with a welcoming smile. He extended his hand, “Hi, I'm Matt. I'm Gabe's oldest friend.” She shook his hand which he pulled closer to himself. “Well, not that I'm old, but I've known him the longest. I can dish all the dirt you want to know about our resident Pretty Boy Actor.” The last three words he enunciated loudly so that he could be heard in the other room.
Matt placed his hand on Anna's back and guided her into the next room where four other adults sat in various chairs and an infant girl played on the tile. “Don't you start telling her about all my skeletons,” Gabe joked, “I just barely have her convinced that I'm a decent human being.”
Matt started introducing the women sitting on the couch at his left. Both of them were beautiful enough and well dressed enough to be models in Anna's opinion. Jayne extended a well manicured hand explaining that she is the mother of two of the children now running amok and the baby on the floor. Jayne greeted Anna with a friendly smile.
Rana, a tall and slender woman with dynamic features, didn't say anything, but gave Anna a small smile and a nod. Her long legs crossed in front of her extended from a short, tight skirt. Her shoes probably cost more than Anna's whole wardrobe.
Adam sat in an upright chair across from the women. He explained that he was Jayne's husband and greeted Anna warmly as well, but with a look she felt unsure how to interpret. It seemed almost like he tried to size her up before he'd even met her.
Michael, the last friend introduced, draped in a lounge chair in front of the tv watching college football. He said hello but quickly returned to the game, ignoring the rest of the group.
Gabe came out of the kitchen and asked where the kids had run off to. Jayne answered, “They took off out the front door. The older boys were told to keep track of the littles.”
“They turned right at the corner. Should I go look for them?” Anna asked.
“They probably went around the block to come in the backyard from the bottom of the hill. I'll go look for them,” Gabe explained as he walked out the sliding door. Anna followed him to make sure Chris was with them and that they were no longer roaming the streets. “You can relax, I'll check on them,” he told her. When she hesitated he asked, “Don't you trust me?”
She paused and then realized she should relinquish control a little. She had become so used to taking care of everything herself that she didn't let others help her even when she could really use it. She smiled reluctantly and motioned for him to proceed. He walked away past the pool to the yard, but she decided against returning to the living room. She wasn't avoiding his friends but wasn't sure why she felt self conscious around them.
Matt walked out to join her on the patio. “Has our fearless friend abandoned you here?” he asked placing his hand on her shoulder.
“He offered to check on the kids himself, so I'm here waiting just enjoying the sunshine,” she tried to sound casual.
“He's as big a kid as they are. He'll probably be running around with them and forget all about you,” Matt teased. Matt offered stories of Gabe's antics with Sean and his friends. Anna laughed at this new side of Gabe he told her about. Matt definitely had a way with words. She momentarily forgot the kids and the other adults still in the house. A shout just below the patio brought Anna back to the moment.
Gabe came running up after the kids threatening to eat them if he caught them. He loved having so many children in the house. His home was often full as possible with friends, family and their kids. Even before Sean, whenever Gabe was around kids he felt like he could relax and just goof off in an innocent way you can't do with adults.
He slowed so that he didn't catch up to the littlest in the crowd, the four year old Ryan who tried his best to keep up with the big kids. Once they had climbed the grassy hill to the patio, Gabe headed straight for Sean. Sean, already dressed in his swim suit, made a prime target. Gabe picked him up by his arm and left leg and with a large heave let go of him over the water. Used to such treatment, his son turned in the air and dove in head first.
Chris came next and he landed feet first in the deep end. Then Sofi, Jayne and Adam's eleven year old daughter, were sent flying. Tyler, Michael's ten year old son watched the chaos and started to run. He made it behind a picnic table and ran around it as Gabe chased him. After the third circle, Gabe simply reached over the top of the table and picked Tyler up by his armpits. He lifted him over it and carried him back to the shimmering water. One, two, three and in he flew. Finally, Gabe caught little Ryan, who had seen Tyler's escape attempt and wanted one of his own. He tossed the boy to his waiting sister in the shallow end.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, Gabe turned to see Jayne, Adam, and Rana as they came outside to watch the kids play. Michael still sat inside watching tv.
Anna stood talking to Matt. Matt flirted shamelessly; Gabe knew him well enough to know when he took interest in a woman, and an expected knot developed in his stomach.
" their swim trunks with tighty whitey's over them and towels pinned around their shoulders..." Gabe overheard Matt telling Anna. She laughed and looked toward Gabe.
Matt must be desperate if he's telling embarrassing stories about me, but she doesn't seem to mind his company at all. “Hey Matt,” Gabe called with a smile, “turn about is fair play. If you're revealing all my humiliating escapades I have a few stories of my own to tell about you.” Matt threw him a dirty look and finished telling her how Gabe and Sean had jumped off the brick wall pretending they could fly.
Anna countered both of them by admitting that she found it incredibly sweet that he would do something so obviously cringe worthy just because his son wanted to be a super hero. This point of view startled Gabe and he escaped the discomfort by going in the house to check on the food baking in the oven. Matt felt upset that his attempt at charming Anna had so clearly backfired. He took another approach and asked her about her interests.
They talked for a while about camping, hiking and running. Anna felt so boring. Her interests were actually sewing, what to make for dinner, and how do I keep the bathroom clean without having to actually clean it all the time. Making her own laundry soap and starting a garden rounded out any extra time she had in her schedule. None of these exactly interested a single forty-something guy with no kids.
Education came up when Anna disclosed she tutored and sometimes substitute taught. Matt didn't have much knowledge or interest in school politics, but Adam interrupted him and caught up the conversation.
Gabe returned outside and noticed Anna and Adam deep in discussion. He made a mental note to rescue her in a few minutes. Adam had a way of becoming overly intense when he found someone to talk to about any of his favorite subjects. Arguing had always been a past time and convincing others of his opinion ranked among his favorite challenges.
Gabe grabbed Matt's arm and asked in a whisper for his phone. Matt pulled it from his pocket thinking Gabe wanted to see something. Instead Gabe snatched it out of his hand and tossed it to Jayne. She caught it deftly as it bounced on her leg and into her lap. In that split second Matt realized Gabe's plan and began to fight back. Matt was taller than Gabe but not as muscular. They battled across the patio until they fell, still wrestling into the deep end. Tyler barely escaped out of their way.
Matt, not pleased, made a large production of exiting the pool, peeling off his shoes and socks and dumping the water out. Gabe simply threw his shoes off toward the back door and peeled off his t-shirt before wringing out the bottom of his shorts smiling the whole time. Anna found her eyes flitting toward him.
Matt sensing the opportunity waited until he saw Anna glance his way before he removed his shirt. He was much fitter than his slender build suggested and Anna found herself watching the whole production. She realized she was staring and returned her focus to the increasingly hostile conversation with Adam.
Gabe felt a flash of irritation with Matt for his obvious play for attention. He reminded himself though, that Matt was, in fact, a nice guy and his oldest friend. He deserves to find someone he cares about. He's been alone too long. I may not be involved with someone but at least I have Sean. Anna could do much worse, and she's not really the type he usually goes for, so maybe he's maturing a little.
All thoughts of Matt and Anna left his mind when Gabe caught movement from the corner of his eye and turned to see Rana. She had changed out of her clothes into a swimsuit, a very small black bikini. She stopped in the doorway, then walked slowly to the jacuzzi. The day was warm, so the heat wasn't on, but the jets were bubbling. She is definitely a beautiful woman. That suit leaves nothing to the imagination.
All three male heads watched her sit down on the side and slide into the foam. The younger, twelve year old heads followed her too, which made both Anna and Gabe a little uncomfortable. Jayne grabbed her shoe and tossed it at her husband hitting him in the arm. Adam smiled at his wife, blew her a kiss and continued the discussion that slowly became an argument with Anna.
The children continued playing and Matt went in the house to remove his wet clothing. He returned to the backyard clad in his own swim suit and began to rub sun screen over his chest, arms, and face. Once he rubbed the sun screen on all the body parts within reach, Matt walked toward the group and asked, “Anna, could you rub some on my back. I'll burn for sure without it.”
Jayne let out a strange cough that sounded a lot like a sarcastic “Oh, please!” and Adam rolled his eyes, but Anna agreed to do it. I know he's flirting and I'm not sure I'm interested, but it's flattering. It's been way too long. She also had sympathy for the 'solar impaired' as she called them, the poor folks who can burn if they simply think about going outside in the sun. Her sun exposure limit bordered on about 15 minutes. Any more than that and she would have bright red skin and the pain and peeling to go with it.
Jayne took advantage of the distraction to start her own conversation with Anna. They talked easily about kids and husbands. It became clear that Jayne and Adam were well off. Comments about her house cleaner, private schools, and a trip to Costa Rica earlier that summer spelled that out. Anna on the other hand had saved to take a trip to Sacramento to visit her cousin. But rich or poor the sleepless nights and chaotic days of a mom are very similar and they spoke for quite a while.
The afternoon passed and soon it was time to throw the chicken on the grill. The game had finished and Michael emerged to help, while he waited for the next game to begin. “I have to take advantage of Gabe's excellent entertainment set up,” he justified his obsession. Adam went inside to lay a sleeping Ryan on the spare bed and stopped in the kitchen to talk to Gabe.
“I hope you're not actually interested in Anna,” Adam said bluntly.
“Why?” Gabe drew out the word skeptically.
“I know you've always been on the conservative side of politics, but she is completely wrong about so many things and I think she's prejudice,” Adam stated matter of factly.
His friend's assessment of her surprised Gabe. Those were some pretty harsh accusations. Gabe started to defend her and considered maybe his friends had discovered something he hadn't. Gabe and Anna had been talking and keeping in touch via text, calls and email for almost three months, but that is not a substitute for real life interaction. He thought about everything he didn't actually know about her and wondered if any of it mattered as much as the topic at hand.
Adam started to recount the previous discussion. They had spoken about education reforms and challenges facing lower income neighborhoods and families. “She had the audacity to say that it is not an issue of money, but rather a systemic failure in community culture. She basically stated that the culture is creating its own poverty and lack of education. She's completely racist.”
Gabe knew his friend well and so he asked, “Are you interpreting her comments or did she really say that?”
“It's what she meant,” Adam countered.
Gabe nodded and made a mental note to ask Anna about it later. Adam had a tendency to take any deviation from his own political viewpoint as prejudice against the disadvantaged.
“I gathered you aren't actually dating her or I doubt you would have allowed Matt to monopolize her like he did today,” Adam added, “I wouldn't get any ideas about her if I were you.” Gabe knew Adam was actually trying to be a protective, helpful friend and he nodded in agreement. His two cents given, Adam went back outside.
A few minutes later Anna entered the kitchen to see if she could help. She walked into the modern rustic kitchen and Michael passed by her carrying a plate of chicken outside. Gabe stood at the island mixing a pasta salad. Rana stood draped over Gabe. That's the only word I can think of to describe her. She obviously vyied for his attention and he seemed to be struggling within himself whether or not to give in. They are both so gorgeous, they would look very good together. I wonder if they ever have dated, it's clear Rana wants him. Anna felt her chest tighten as she watched them.
Gabe looked up from the wooden mixing bowl to meet Anna's gaze. His eyes widened slightly and he took a half step away from Rana. He couldn't really move much farther away and keep the bowl on the counter. “Would you please go see if Matt needs any seasoning?” Gabe directed his request to Rana. She gave him a suspicious look, but walked out of the kitchen.
“I'm glad to get a chance to talk to you,” Gabe directed to Anna. “I haven't seen you all day more than to say 'hello.'”
“You've been busy with the kids and I've been getting to know your friends,” Anna responded.
“Adam has quite an opinion of you,” Gabe hinted.
“Was any of it good?” she questioned dubiously.
“Not really, although I've heard worse from him,” Gabe answered, grasping at a way to repeat Adam's harsh opinion in a less offensive manner. “He definitely loves to argue,” Gabe admitted, “and he always has facts to back up his positions.”
“We certainly didn’t see eye to eye on anything. It’s difficult to converse when he’s obviously so much more intellectual than I am. I can’t remember my name half the time, let alone obscure facts from history, even if I minored in History at school.” Her attempt at lightheartedness fell a little flat as Gabe studied her responses for a hint of what Adam saw. “My position that we are all equal because we are all children of God, falls a little flat when he doesn’t believe in a deity.”
Gabe smiled at her words, “He can’t ever argue against religious belief because it isn’t logical. He has to measure it or count it or it doesn’t exist. Adam doesn’t understand how a person can believe all people are equal if we are born so obviously unequal in talents and abilities. No wonder he didn’t approve of you. Don’t worry. He’ll warm up once he sees if you mean what you say.”
Suddenly the emotional and intellectual exhaustion caught up with her and she spaced out for a second forgetting her offer to help with the food.
Interrupting her thoughts Gabe suggested, “The first inning should be starting right about now, why don’t you go in and sit down. Michael won’t say anything to you and you can veg out for a few minutes.”
She nodded and slowly left the room, but instead of the game she walked out to see what the boys were doing. They were still in the pool splashing and throwing a ball around with the other kids. Ryan, a life vest on, enjoyed being in the middle of the chaos. Anna found some shade, but as she sat down Chris sent a large splash of water at her. Sean followed his example thoroughly soaking the front of her shirt.
“I will avenge thee, me lady,” Matt announced with a bow in her direction and he jumped in the pool. He swam over to Sean and pretended to drown him. Chris came to his friend’s defense and was dunked as well.
Ryan wanted to be in the middle of the fun, but Matt pushed him toward the shallow end and told him he was too young to be playing rough with the big boys. Ryan became visibly upset. Anna walked to the pool steps, stripped down to her suit, and got into the shallow end with him. She pushed him down in the water but because of his life vest he sprang right back up, launching a little way into the air. For him, this new game entertained and delighted much better than the battle of the big boys.
Jayne came outside carrying a glazed blue bowl of potatoes, followed by Gabe holding a large platter of buttered corn. The table set and the children persuaded to leave the water, everything appeared in order to start eating. Anna wrapped a large towel around her waist, then helped dish up a plate for Ryan and Tyler and situated all the kids at a small picnic table of their own. The older children served themselves and then the adults were able to select their food and sat outside under the umbrella to enjoy.
The conversation flowed and the group began to discuss the trip they were planning for Thanksgiving. They painted a picture of idyllic Aruba and were all familiar with the ins and outs of life there. Only Gabe would be missing out because he would be with his family at his Tahoe cabin like usual. In his plans the slopes were calling, but imagining the cold, soft snow felt nearly impossible with the warm sun shining all around them.
For Anna's benefit, they progressed into stories of how each of them met. Gabe and Matt were boyhood friends having spent years getting into trouble together. Jayne and Adam met Gabe at the University. Adam and Gabe were in the same fraternity. Jayne had been in several of Gabe's classes, since they had the same major, and she and Adam hit it off the first time they were introduced. Gabe had actually brought her to a party as his date, but she and Adam were so perfect for each other that they had started dating the next week. Michael was actually Gabe's investment accountant and their boys regularly got together to hang out and play.
Gradually, the stories turned to college football and then World Series contenders. Gabe became impressed by Anna’s knowledge of the baseball season. Her favorite team, the Dodgers, could always be counted on to start a losing streak at the worst possible time. Being closer to Orange County, she was also a fan of the Angels, unless of course they ever played against the Dodgers.
By the time the adults finished eating, baby Sara slept on her dad’s shoulder, and the rest of the children played off somewhere in the yard. Gabe gathered an armful of food and dishes and headed into the house. Anna filled her arms and followed him. Matt jumped up to help as well, which made Adam snort at his obvious attempts to impress, but Anna didn’t hear him.
Gabe smiled as he saw Anna walk around the corner, her arms full. He grabbed dishes out of her hands so she could set down the rest. He touched her arm and stopped her from putting the mayonnaise in the fridge.
You have a few flower petals in your hair, from the tree on the patio,” he informed her and reached to brush them out of her bangs. She closed her eyes as the petals fell in front of her face. At that moment Matt came in carrying a few items. He stopped dead watching Gabe and Anna. Matt's emotions inflamed at the two of them, standing there, inches apart, Gabe's hand in her hair, and her eyes closed, waiting. Matt spent the afternoon making his move, but it seemed obvious that she was already taken. Frustration multiplied that Gabe had not told him he was interested in Anna. He felt like an idiot, spending the whole afternoon flirting, when she was taken.
Gabe saw the flash of jealousy in Matt’s eyes and, at first, wasn’t sure where it came from. Only a second passed before he figured out that Matt thought Gabe and Anna were more than friends. Gabe quickly pulled his hand away and stepped back until he crashed against the counter behind him. Matt steeled his gaze toward Gabe for a moment, but then focused on Anna with a wide smile. As far as Matt was concerned, the competition was on. Gabe remained on the sidelines while Matt stepped close to Anna and engaged her in conversation.
Gabe had been watching Matt put the moves on girls and women since they were boys. It was usually hilarious. He pulled out all the stops this time. Matt rattled on about his career, his second house in Brazil, and a few of his more famous friends.
She listened dutifully impressed, but wondered what Gabe thought of the name dropping. How impressed could I be by all of these “important” people when we are standing next to a genuine movie and tv star who he has been friends with for years? Famous people are people too, well most of them anyway.
A call from outside drew Anna’s attention away. “Mom, where are my dry clothes?” Chris called to her and she moved toward the door, excusing herself. Outside she grabbed her bag and fished through it for Chris’ clothes, then slipped her shorts back on over her now dry suit.
Gabe watched Anna close the door and then slowly turned back to clean up the kitchen. He met Matt who had a conspiring grin on his face.
“So, you and Anna?” Matt asked. “She’s not as hot as most of the women you have dated but she’s not bad.”
Red faced, Gabe responded quickly, “It’s not like that. She’s honestly a friend. It hasn’t gone beyond that.”
“But you want it to,” Matt was not asking.
“No, I like her, but our sons are friends. She’s a friend and nothing more,” Gabe tried to convince him.
“Then you don’t mind if I ask her out,” again Matt was making a statement, tempting Gabe to disagree with him.
“I…I don’t mind if you ask her,” Gabe stuttered, “but she’s not the kind of woman that you can play around with. I don’t want her hurt and I don't want you to do anything that will make her uncomfortable around us.”
“I am always a gentleman,” he smirked. “Besides you’re right, she’s different. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about her I want to figure out,” Matt added in a moment of sincerity.
Anna returned with the last of the items from off the table outside and Matt immediately grabbed them out of her arms, nearly tossing the dishes in the sink. Gabe started to feel like a third wheel and made an excuse to leave when Matt suggested going to see a play his friend starred in. Wow, he hates the theater, he must really like her to be willing to sit through that.
Anna misunderstood Matt’s intention and turned to Gabe, “That sounds great. We should pick a night we can all go.” Turning back to Matt she asked, “Is it something that would be appropriate for the boys?”
Gabe nearly spit out the water he had just sipped when he looked at Matt’s expression, the complete disbelief that Anna had just invited other people along on what Matt had intended as a date. Anna still seemed oblivious to Matt’s discomfort and watched Gabe, now choking into the sink.
Anna rinsed out a sponge and stepped back outside to wipe off the table. “Pick a night that works and let me know,” she called over her shoulder.
Matt watched her disappear unsure what to do next. Gabe clapped a hand on his friend's shoulder and reassured him, “I bet you anything she wasn’t turning you down, she just never considered the fact that you were trying to ask her out.” He laughed at his friend and turned to the sink to fill it with soapy water. Gabe threw a dish towel at his friend, “All right, Don Juan, make yourself useful and dry these.”
An hour later, Anna dragged a whining Chris out to the car. He had school the next day. Rana and Adam both shook Anna’s hand good-bye. Michael, still engrossed in the television, didn’t notice anything. Jayne half embraced Anna and Matt did the same. He felt more confident when he felt her hug him back. He kissed her cheek and she blushed. She hadn’t brought up the idea of the theater again and Matt let it drop still trying to determine if she was really interested in him or just leading him on.
One by one the guests left until just Matt remained. “I have to get Sean in the shower and he’s still in that pre-teen, avoid bathing at all costs stage,” Gabe announced while searching the house for his son. Gabe found him hiding on the couch in the tv room. Sean complained when his father told him to get in the shower, but walked into his bathroom. Gabe waited until he heard Sean get undressed and the water start to run.
With Gabe busy in the other room, Matt decided he needed to be proactive about Anna. Spotting Gabe’s phone on the table he scrolled to her number and copied it into his contact list. He called to Gabe down the hall that he was leaving and he’d see him at their basketball game on Thursday.

Standing in the hallway outside Sean’s room, Gabe wondered why Matt’s attitude bothered him. Can I trust him? He never does anything hurtful with the women he dates, he is just so persuasive that they sometimes regret it or get so fed up with him, they leave. I have commitment fears, he just avoids it like Sean avoids showers, he’ll never grow up. Although, maybe he’s right and Anna is different enough to change him. She certainly put me in my place when she thought I was out of line. He walked back down the hall to double check on Sean. He laughed to himself as he opened the bathroom door, saw an empty shower with the water running. Sean sat on the toilet, already in his pajamas, playing a video game. Sean looked up at his dad with the look of a man resigned to his fate. He started to remove his clothes and actually get into the streaming water.

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