Aubrey headed up the prom committee and asked Maya to be one of the chaperones. She figured it would be a good idea for many reasons. The venue was hot and promised an epic party, and she knew Maya would want to attend. She also knew Maya wouldn’t be strict on them…if she took the role seriously. Her friends thought she was cool which of course elevated her own social standing–not that she needed help in that area. Aubrey had everything in place and couldn’t wait to see all her work enjoyed by her classmates.
Thinking about that night, however, brought other activities to mind which were supposed to take place. The confident smirk she once had was replaced with worried eyes. Her father was still looking forward to meeting her date, and she hadn’t figured a way out of it yet. It was happening, and she couldn’t stop it. Maybe everything would be fine. Maybe he wouldn’t ask many questions. She could have been worried for nothing and really hoped she was but somehow knew she wasn’t.
“You’re mighty quiet over there, Aubrey. Everything ok?”
She was making a salad. There would be amazing food waiting for her at the venue, and she didn’t want to ruin her appetite. She and Maya stayed up late the previous night for the purpose of waking up late to prepare to stay up even later that night.
“Are you sure? You seem…far away.”
“I’m fine, daddy. I’m just…thinking about tonight.”
She practically inhaled her salad and busied herself on the computer before Jonathan could inquire about her thoughts. “I need to check on some things before we go.”
“I think I’ll have some of that,” he said and went into the kitchen. “Thanks for making enough for everyone.”
Skyla came inside from painting and joined Jonathan for dinner. Maya finally emerged from her bedroom too and followed suit. Just as Jonathan and Skyla sat down to eat, an old familiar face walked through the door.
“Hey, cousin,” the visitor said.
Jonathan whipped his head around. “Hey, Derek! How come I only see you when you have good news? One might begin to think you only want to gloat.”
“Whaaaaat,” he said in a voice two octaves higher. “Why would anyone think that?”
Derek greeted the ladies, and Aubrey saw an opportunity to keep the spotlight off her and Julio that night. This unexpected intrusion was perfect for she knew Jonathan hadn’t seen him in a while and would want to catch up. Surely he wouldn’t concentrate on her while Derek was there.
It was almost time for them to leave, so she retreated to her bedroom and hoped her plan would work.
# # #
“Congrats on your new addition,” Jonathan said.
“How does it feel to have a son?”
A warm smile softened Derek’s face. “It feels awesome.”
Jonathan returned the tender smile. “That’s great. Hopefully he’s nothing like you!”
Derek’s jaw dropped. “What’s wrong with me?”
“Are you serious? You were a little terror! You and your sister!”
Derek swatted at him.
Jonathan turned to his wife. “Do you remember my aunt, Callie?”
“She was the nicest person. And, Uncle Graham was just cool. I don’t know where these two little hellions came from!”
Skyla laughed. “Be nice, Jonathan.”
“What? They terrorized everyone!”
“Derek, feel free to put him in time out,” Skyla said and got up from the table.
Jonathan sucked his teeth. “You’re no fun, Sky.”
She turned back to him with a smirk on her face. “You know that’s not true,” she said in a low, sultry voice.
She winked at him and disappeared into Aubrey’s room. He had no witty repartee for that one and was left with his jaw hanging on the table. Skyla usually wasn’t one for coquetry, and he was pleasantly surprised.
“I think someone needs a cold shower,” Derek said.
# # #
Aubrey presented herself to her mother and sister. “So? What do you think?”
Maya squealed. “You look amazing! Kinda sexy! What exactly are your plans for tonight?”
Aubrey gave her one of those lethal looks. Skyla silently observed her, probably having one of those I’m so proud of my child moments.
“Aren’t you glad I’m chaperoning this party, mom? I’ll make sure no one gets any ideas about her in that dress.”
Skyla looked at Maya with a raised eyebrow before she addressed Aubrey. “There will be other chaperones, right?”
Maya’s jaw dropped. “MOM!”
Skyla and Aubrey laughed.
“You do look great, sweetness.”
Aubrey grinned. “Thanks, mommy.”
“Well…I need to get dressed,” Maya said. “Maybe you should give her the woo hoo talk…or something.”
They looked at her like she was speaking Chinese. She stuck her tongue out at them and disappeared.
# # #
“So it’s not short for Alexander?” Jonathan asked.
“So…she just randomly named him Zander…for no reason.”
“You know my wife. She’s very creative!”
“I still can’t believe OJenn let you marry her.”
“You should thank us! You probably wouldn’t know her right now if we didn’t.”
Derek swatted at him again. “You act like I can’t meet good people on my own.”
Jonathan snorted. “You can’t! You’ve always mooched off my connections.”
“Hardy har har har.”
Jonathan loved messing with his cousin and missed goofing around. Skyla was too sweet and sensitive for it, and his daughters were similar to her in that regard.
The bedroom doors behind him opened, and all the ladies of the house spilled into the living room and took a seat. He couldn’t take his eyes off his daughters, and neither could Derek.
“Woooooow,” Derek said. “What happened to my little cousins? Are they tied up in the closet back there?”
He elbowed Jonathan in the ribs. “Cuz…we have the most beautiful women in town in our family.”
Jonathan was so proud to be their dad.
“What’s the occasion?” Derek asked.
“Prom,” Aubrey and Maya said.
“Ohhhhh, how nice.”
“I’m chaperoning,” Maya said.
Derek flashed a cheeky grin and nodded toward Aubrey. “Heh, didn’t want the old fogeys there, huh Aubs?”
The girls laughed. Jonathan and Skyla shot him icy glances.
“Oh…are we not allowed to use that word around here?”
The girls continued laughing. There was a knock at the door. Aubrey’s face went pale. Jonathan thought it was so cute how nervous she was about her date.
“I’ll get it,” she said.
# # #
Aubrey raced to the door and stepped outside to calm herself and prep Julio before the showdown began. When she faced him, however, his look was more forlorn than hers. She knew she had to be the stronger one and sucked up her fear and chose the courageous, optimistic road.
“It’s going to be fine, you know. We’re probably freaked out for no reason.”
“I hope you’re right,” he said.
“Just…smile and say as little as possible. I’ll try to get us out quickly, ok?”
# # #
Aubrey and her date came back inside. The young man dressed well. Not too formal but very sharp. Jonathan liked his style and thought their matching outfits were cute. He wondered if he put up a fight when Aubrey suggested it; he couldn’t imagine the boy suggesting it. As they got closer, he pretended like he hadn’t noticed their entrance. He knew his anticipation would add to the already stressful situation.
She stood in front of him with the boy behind her smiling nervously. He appreciated the boy’s nerves. Perhaps he wouldn’t need to strike fear in his heart after all.
“Daddy, this is my friend, Julio.”
The boy waved. “Hello.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Julio,” Skyla said.
Derek got up and sat in front of the computer to make room for the extra guest. Maya moved next to Jonathan so the nervous couple could sit together.
“Hello, Julio,” Jonathan said, finally.
The children were so nervous. Questioning him probably wouldn’t help, so he decided to skip the Inquisition and asked the one question he wanted an answer to.
“Are you secretly dating my daughter?”
“Jonathaaaan,” Skyla whispered through her teeth.
“N-no, Mr. Pruett! Of course not, Mr. Pruett.”
Aubrey’s eyes begged him not to do this.
He couldn’t understand why they were so nervous, and their panicked faces almost made him burst into laughter. He remembered when he first met Skyla. She excited him so much he couldn’t stop talking about her to anyone who would listen. Maybe it was different for him because he was expected to date. He had to get married. His daughters weren’t in that situation, but he thought he made it clear he didn’t mind and encouraged them to date. Did his unfortunate reaction to the Akira-Juliana situation scare them that badly?
He chuckled. “Relax, kids. I’m just asking a question.”
Although it was natural for a father to protect his daughters from oncoming threats, he took a step back and listened to the silent pleading of his wife and daughter. Aubrey was a great kid. She worked hard, did well in school, was respectful, driven, and always truthful. She was responsible and never gave them a reason not to trust her. He needed to continue trusting what he knew about her.
“My daughter is amazing, Julio. If she picked you, well…you must be ok.”
“Awwwwwww, daddyyyyy,” Aubrey gushed.
“Uhhh…thanks, Mr. Pruett.”
Maya cleared her throat. “Uhh, Aubrey…don’t you think the chaperone should arrive a little early?”
“Yes! Yes, you totally should!”
She seemed overly excited, but maybe her nerves were still frayed. It was so cute. Maya, Aubrey and Julio stood, so Jonathan and Skyla stood too. He thought Julio was a good looking kid. Even if they weren’t dating, they looked good together. There was something about him though. Something familiar, but he knew he didn’t know him.
He threw his arms around Aubrey. “Have a good time, honey.”
“Thank you, daddy,” she whispered.
Skyla did the same. “Have fun, sweetness.”
“I will, mommy.”
There was something about this Julio…