Jonathan couldn’t understand why he went all out. Sure, cooking was his passion, and it was no trouble, but did he really need to make lobster thermidor? He didn’t need to impress the boy; the boy needed to impress him. After all, this was his daughter on the line. She was one of the best people in the world. If Julio needed to be impressed beyond that, he could keep moving. But, the dinner had been Jonathan’s idea, and he made lobster, so perhaps the deeper issue lurked inside of him and not Julio. Maybe he just liked making fancy food. After all, he didn’t get to cook much anymore. Maybe he was trying to impress Aubrey. Neither of the girls had ever brought a boy over for dinner before. Anthony didn’t count; he and Maya grew up together and was a semi-permanent fixture in the house. Maybe he wanted to show her that he was going to be supportive like he promised he would be. Maybe he just felt like having lobster. Maybe he was being paranoid again.
Skyla sauntered into the living room and had a seat. “Smells great. I can’t remember the last time you made that.”
“Do you think he’ll be on time?”
“He’s already here. They’re outside.”
Jonathan snorted and feigned indignance. “She’s coaching him? Doesn’t she trust that we will be on our very best behavior? Hmph!”
She giggled. “Jonathan…”
“I made lobster thermidor for crying out loud!”
Skyla went outside to invite the young ones in while Jonathan called Maya out of the office. Everyone served themselves and got seated.
Maya seemed startled by Julio’s presence. “Oh! Hi, Julio. I didn’t realize dinner was tonight.”
Jonathan had told her about it last night. She must not have been paying attention.
She got her plate and got one bite in before she stole the show. “Daddy! I got promoted!! I’m a press agent just like Penny!”
He was so excited he almost choked. “Maya! That’s incredible! Congrats, honey!”
“That’s great, pumpkin! I’m so happy for you.”
“Congrats, Maya,” Julio said.
Jonathan noticed Aubrey was unusually quiet, not that she was ever as talkative as Maya. “Aubrey? Don’t you want to congratulate your sister? It’s a huge deal.”
She sighed and slumped in her seat, giving her half-hearted congratulations.
Why the long face? What just happened?
Skyla was watching him, and when he went to open his mouth to ask Aubrey what was the matter, she interrupted him and shook her head as if to warn him. “So, Julio, are you working?”
“No, ma’am. Well, not in the traditional sense. I’m managing my father’s businesses.”
“The legal ones!”
It was so quiet, Jonathan could hear Oliver cooing upstairs. The kid was doing so well. Why’d he have to go and make it awkward?
Maya took the opportunity to put the spotlight back on herself. “I can’t wait to pick up my badge! Just think! When people say ‘the press,’ they’ll be talking about me!”
She was so giddy. It was cute.
“That’s great, honey. You deserve it. I guess now all that partying can go to good use?” He winked at her.
She laughed. “Daddy, stop.”
Aubrey got up. “Mom, can I take your plate?”
“Oh! Sure. Thank you, sweetness.”
She really was a sweet child. She possessed every single one of Skyla’s good qualities. One day, she’d make an excellent wife and mother. He hoped whoever her husband would be would appreciate her properly.
“Actually,” Skyla continued, “I’m gonna put the food away and check on the baby. Does anyone want more?”
Everyone declined. Julio recovered from his earlier faux pas and told a story. Jonathan had no idea what he was saying. He was too busy looking at Aubrey. She was so quiet still and looked unamused with everything. Did they argue about something outside? Was she mad at Maya for stealing the show? Jonathan could get behind that, but a promotion is a big deal and should be celebrated. Maybe she was mad at him for indulging Maya. Maybe he didn’t pay enough attention to Julio? Was this the paranoia again?
After a while, he did tune into Julio’s story. He couldn’t make it obvious he wasn’t listening. Then Aubrey would really have a reason to be upset. Jonathan really did want to know the kid. He wanted to know all the men in his daughters’ lives so he wouldn’t be taken by surprise when things happen. Imagine it: Jonathan becoming friends with the spawn of Tony. No one would ever guess that was even possible.
It was getting late, and Aubrey needed to get her homework done, so Julio announced his departure. Everyone said goodnight, and Aubrey walked him out.
If only Jonathan could be a ladybug in her hair. What did they talk about? Did Julio know the secrets? Was Jonathan officially out and Julio in his place? He had a feeling that, being the father of daughters, this would become the norm for him. If only babies came with manuals! Why did no one tell him about this part?
Watcher, help me!