Jonathan and Skyla retreated to the break room after a lull finally interrupted the hectic lunch rush. They usually did not steal away so easily, but he saw something weighed heavy on her mind. Before dinner, the previous night, they resolved not to discuss their impressions of Aubrey and Julio until after they got home, but it was clear she had trouble waiting.
They plopped on the couch and got comfortable for the discussion.
“So… Dinner was nice, huh?”
Her eyes drifted away. “Yeah.”
“Sky. Come on. I’ve been watching you all afternoon. Tell me.”
She sighed. “I just…I’m trying to keep an open mind, but…”
Jonathan looked surprised. “He’s a nice kid.”
Her eyes met his directly. “He’s Tony’s son.”
He sighed as he struggled with the thought. Despite how positive he tried to be, it was on his mind as well. “Ok, yeah, but…I mean, his dad did terrible things, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad apple.”
“I know. I keep telling myself that. But, the apples never fall far from the tree, Jonathan.”
He turned away from her and took a few moments before answering. “I know. Look, I think about it all the time, but Aubrey’s growing up. She’s gonna do what she thinks is right. You know how independent she’s always been.”
Stray tears streamed down Skyla’s face. “I’m just so worried, Jonathan. She’s my baby! I don’t want her to get swept up in something dangerous! She’s so sweet! What if he ruins her?”
Jonathan grabbed his shaking wife, squeezing her tight and kissing her forehead. “We have to give him a chance, Sky. I know it’s hard, but we owe him that.”
She tore away from him. “We don’t owe him anything! He owes us!”
That was the first time Jonathan realized how Skyla had struggled all those years. All that time, she focused on him and helped him become a better, healthier man lest the anger and guilt overtake him. But, she still had her own hurts to overcome. Had she helped Jonathan lay his burdens down so she could bear them as her own? It was his turn to talk her off the ledge.
“He’s not Tony, Sky. We shouldn’t punish him for what his father did. Besides, things may not go anywhere.”
She cocked her head. “Are you kidding? Have you seen how she looks at him?”
“She’s a teenager. And this is her first crush…I think.”
“It’s more than a crush, Jonathan.”
“I don’t think she knows that yet.”
“Yeah, well, if she continues to see him, she’ll figure it out very quickly.”
When Jonathan had his young adult birthday, he and Skyla stopped seeing each other until she finally had her birthday. In their day, it was considered improper for a teenager to date a young adult. No one really enjoyed the unspoken rule, but everyone complied. But, times had changed, and people of his generation grew tired of complying with a suggestion that did not make sense. Many of them allowed their children to stay together after one aged up. Despite their more liberal parenting, Jonathan couldn’t erase the concerns he had. Yeah, Julio was a nice kid, but underneath those preppy clothes was a man. Jonathan remembered how quickly a young man’s mind could change in the 30 seconds of a birthday spin. They were going to have to trust Aubrey to keep her wits and stay safe.