Chapter 11: The Parent Trap – part 1
Teague stood in front of the mirror in his bedroom, frowning at the few wrinkles in his button-down shirt. He briefly considered ironing it, but dismissed the notion. Procrastinating wouldn’t make dinner with Addison and her children any less of a crap shoot. Satisfied that his appearance was casual yet professional, Teague teleported to Addison’s quarters.
He appeared just in front of the door, as he had for the last two dinners. The small foyer opened into the living room, where Ashlynn knelt at the coffee table doing homework. She looked up and gave him a polite smile. “Hi, Teague.”
“Hello, Ashlynn.” She had a hint of her mother’s accent, and looked much like her. Teague presumed that Ashlynn’s teenage classmates were vying for her attention. Those who weren’t afraid of her, anyway. The 16 year-old already matched Addison’s strength in psionics. “Revision?” he asked.
Ashlynn nodded. “O-chem. Pain in the arse.”
Teague grinned as he entered the living room. “I can imagine.”
“You don’t want to. Trust me.”
“Right,” Teague agreed. He glanced around for his likely adversary. “Where’s Jake?”
Ashlynn rolled her eyes. “In his room. And in a mood.”
“Ah.” As much as he valued Addison’s friendship, if this turned out to be a repeat of the first dinner, she’d owe him big time.
Teague, Addison, and Ashlynn had finished their salads when Jake decided to grace them with his presence. The 12 year-old, who was reedy like his father, took his seat at the table and nodded a hello at Teague. He returned it. Perhaps dinner would go smoothly after all.
“How kind of you to join us, Jacob,” Addison said. Between her tailored work clothes and her seat at the head of the table, she was every inch a matriarch.
Jake met her eyes and shrugged. Judging from his T-shirt and jeans, this dinner wasn’t a special event for him.
Pursing her lips, Addison got to her feet. “Jake, help me bring out the main course.”
They returned moments later with a huge plate of basmati rice, a basket of naan, and two serving bowls with different curries. Ashlynn made room for the dishes on the table. “Mum, this smells fantastic.”
“It does,” Teague said. “It’s not often that I get homemade curry.”
Addison grinned at him. “We’ll have to do this more often, then.”
Jake sniffed, but said nothing. Teague was grateful.
The boy remained quiet while Addison, Teague, and Ashlynn kept up pleasant small talk. All in all it was going well, so Teague nodded at Addison. Spooning more rice on to her plate, she said, “Teague and I are thinking of going skiing next weekend. All four of us.”
Ashlynn shrugged and speared a bit of lamb. “Okay, sure.”
“That’s Dad’s weekend,” Jacob stated.
Addison met her son’s eyes. “No, this weekend is your father’s weekend. Next week is your father’s week, and the weekend is mine.”
Jake scowled at his plate. “I don’t want to go.”
Addison put down her fork. “It’s a family holiday, Jake. We’ll all be going.”
“If it’s a family holiday, why isn’t Dad invited?”
Silence fell over the table, and Teague considered teleporting. He didn’t mind playing male role model occasionally, but this was getting too intense.
”Jeez, Mum!” Ashlynn blurted. “If he doesn’t want to go, don’t make him. He’s just going to ruin everyone else’s fun.”
“That’s not the point, Ashlynn.”
Jake leaned forward in his chair. “What is the point? You think you can bring him here so we can play house and pretend to be a normal family? Where does fucking my dad fit in?” He rounded on Teague, his eyes flashing. “Bet you didn’t know about that, did you? You’re just a substitute. And not even a good one because Mom goes off–”
Addison stood, knocking her chair over. “Jacob Allen Myers! Shut your gob right this moment!” The table shuddered, and her ire made her children gasp.
Jake gulped, then donned teenage indifference. “Whatever. I’m outta here.” He stalked away from the table and disappeared down the hallway. Moments later a door slammed.
Addison stared after him with frustration plain on her face. Ashlynn looked from her, then to Teague. After giving him a sympathetic half-smile, she followed after her brother.
I’m sorry, Teague. She righted the chair and sank into it.
He tried to catch her eye, but she avoided his gaze. Addison’s shields had slammed up as soon as voices were raised, so he wasn’t sure what tact to take. He chose straightforward. I’ve never expected monogamy–
Teague blinked. Pardon?
Addison looked up. He’d never seen her close to tears before. I’ve stayed away from him for six months.
Teague didn’t know what to say.
S’not healthy, me and him. It’ll almost work out, then come crashing down. So I’m staying away. Better for everyone.
I suppose. Teague walked over to his friend and sometimes lover, laying a hand on her shoulder.
Addison leaned into him for a few moments, then took a deep breath and straightened. “Right.” She gave him a forced smile and got to her feet. “I’ll clear the table.”
Teague nodded toward the living room. Why don’t we just sit down for a little while? Watch a movie?
Addison looked in the direction of the living room, then down the hall, and then to Teague. I think it would be better if you go. Weariness colored her words.
All right. He wasn’t pleased about being dismissed, but he was in hostile territory. Come to my place, if you like.
Thanks, but I’ll be fine. She gave him a peck on the cheek.
“Good night, Addison.” He took a step back and teleported.