“Out by the pool!”
AJ made his way through the living room and out onto the patio. His mother and stepfather were having coffee and reading the newspaper in the lounge chairs positioned by the small in-ground pool.
He leaned down to kiss his mother on the cheek and then gave Tony a hug.
“Hi sweetie. How are you?”
“Good.” he replied and stretched out on another chair.
Denise stared at him for a few seconds. “Is that a good or a very good?”
He laughed. “Very good.”
“And why is that?”
Tony saw Denise’s eyes cloud over with concern and decided that he would leave mother and son alone to talk. He offered to make some breakfast for everyone and slipped back into the house quietly.
AJ noticed it too and called her on it. “Why the look?”
“There was no look honey.”
“Yes there was. Something flashed in your eyes just now.”
Denise sighed. “It’s a look of concern. I’m your mother and it’s my place to be concerned about you.”
“But you haven’t even given me a chance to say something. You’re already to give me a whole list of reasons why I shouldn’t do something. No offense Ma, but you and the guys have a tendency to do that to me.”
“Sorry.” Denise said quietly. “I don’t mean to make you feel like that. Tell me what you wanted to.”
“Why bother? You’re not going to listen.”
“I promise I will.”
AJ cocked his eyebrow. “No looks?”
“No looks I swear.”
“I got to spend some time with Max the last few days.”
“Yeah, we went on two dates and I got a chance to actually sit down with her.”
“Where did you take her?”
“I saw her crying on the beach one day so I came the next day with a picnic to cheer her up.”
“That was very sweet of you. What did she say?”
“She really seemed to like it. I got her to smile and open up about why she was crying.”
“Why was she upset?”
“She said she was missing someone. And before you ask, she didn’t say who.”
Denise stayed quiet and waited for him to continue.
“I also took her to the drive in the other night.”
“How did it go?”
“We got along well but she was so tired that she fell asleep halfway through the double feature. I told her next time I take her out, it’ll be somewhere she can’t fall asleep!”
AJ gave a chuckle but it was short lived when he noticed how quiet his mother was. She looked away from him for a minute before she spoke.
“So these were dates?”
“Yes.” AJ snapped. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because I’m confused. Usually when people go on dates, they learn something about the other person. Other than her missing someone, is there anything else you know about her now that you didn’t before talking to her?”
“Why does that matter so much to everyone?” he shouted and jumped up. “I met someone who I’m interested in getting to know and instead of supporting and encouraging me, everyone’s telling me what a bad decision it is!”
Denise stood up slowly and put her hand on his arm.
“I’m not telling you it’s a bad decision. All I’m saying is please get to know her a little better before you get too invested.”
“Who said I was really invested?”
“I know you and I know you wouldn’t be fighting me about this if you hadn’t already become interested in more than helping her out. I want to support you honey, I really do.”
“Then why aren’t you?”
She waited for a few moments before she answered.
“I’ll make you a deal.”
“What kind of deal?”
“You find out at least five things about her and I promise to be more open about the whole thing.”
AJ thought about it. “Fine, you’ve got a deal.”