Dexter's Renaissance Ch. 13-14bycoaster2©
Chapter 13 Meet the Family
When I arrived home Thursday evening after my lunch with Michael, Michelle was anxious to hear how it went.
"I think you've been deceiving me, love," I began. "Your brother is nothing like you described him. We had a delightful lunch and got along very well. He congratulated me on our engagement and assured me he would be at the wedding with his wife and your son. On top of that, he will call your mother and insist she attend as well. So ... now what do you have to say?" I said with a questioning look.
Michelle was dumbstruck by my synopsis. She looked at me as if she didn't believe what I was telling her.
"Are you serious? Michael was nice ... and polite ... and friendly?"
"Absolutely! You obviously don't know your brother as well as you think you do. Maybe you should give him a call before he calls you. I suggested you and your family didn't communicate very frequently and he agreed."
"Where is he staying?"
"At the Hyatt. Call him," I suggested a little more firmly.
She did. Dinner was late that evening. They were on the phone for over an hour. When she finally hung up, she came over to me, her eyes red and tear tracks on her cheeks. She plopped herself in my lap and planted a most loving kiss on me.
"You are amazing," she whispered when the lip-lock finished. "Michael barely tolerated David. But you ... he thinks you're just the right guy for me. Good thing we agree, huh?"
"I never had a moment's doubt," I lied.
Friday came and went and we might have had the weekend to ourselves but at the last minute I decided to see if I could contact Michelle's mother. A pre-emptive strike as it were. Bad idea.
"What do you want, Mr. McLeod? Are you looking for my approval of this ridiculous marriage? Well ... that's not going to happen. You two barely know each other and I doubt you are the kind of person that is capable of giving my daughter the lifestyle she is accustomed to. My son seems to think you are a good choice but I can hardly see why. You don't come from a prominent family and you aren't from this part of the country. As far as I'm concerned, she's about to make another predictable mistake."
"Well, I'm sorry you feel that way about me, Mrs. Catchpole. Just the same, I hope for Michelle's sake that you will attend the wedding. I know she and Michael and Martin would want you there."
"I very much doubt I will attend. I'm very annoyed with my daughter. She has never even presented you to me for my approval."
"That's probably my fault, Mrs. Catchpole. I should have insisted that I meet you before ... and I didn't."
"It was my daughter's responsibility, not yours," she snapped. "There are social rules about these sorts of things and Michelle has yet to learn to respect them."
I could hear the "Oxbridge" accent clearly as her forcefulness increased. She was back living in the "old country" and playing by a set of norms that didn't exist here in Canada.
"Well ... I'll leave it to your best judgement about attending. I hope for Michelle's sake that you choose to come. Thank you for listening to me," I finished. The next sound was the click of her hanging up the telephone.
I walked back to the living room and flopped in the chair I had become accustomed to as "mine."
There was a slight smile on Michelle's face as she saw my frown and wrinkled brow.
"You can't win them all, Dex."
"No ... I guess not. I had hoped that Michael would have convinced her but it doesn't sound like it. You don't seem too broken-hearted about it."
"I'm not. She can be a real ... witch ... when she wants to be. You must meet my father. You'll understand quickly enough why they couldn't co-exist. In fact, if you'd like to, why don't we drive down to Amherstburg this weekend. I'm sure they'll put us up in Dad's home on Lake Erie."
"Okay, I'd like that. But don't you think we should call first to let him know we're coming?"
"Yes ... I'll look after that. You will love him, I know it. I should have done this sooner."
Her phone call was brief and she returned to the living room with a big smile.
"He's delighted we're coming and can't wait to meet you. We can have a nice afternoon and Sunday morning with them."
"Great," I smiled.
"It's about a three-and-a-half-hour drive, so we'll need to get an early start," she warned.
"It looks like we'll have nice weather, so we can enjoy ourselves. I haven't been out of the city since I arrived months ago. I'm looking forward to the drive."
"Good. I know you'll like Dad. He's such a down-to-earth kind of guy."
With some guidance from Michelle, we arrived at her father's home just before noon. We hadn't been in any rush and the weekend traffic was light on the 401. The house was more of a cottage that had been updated and expanded, but it was right on the beach and had an unrestricted view to the south.
As we pulled into the narrow crushed rock driveway, the front door opened and two people appeared. The man, I assumed William, was lean and angular looking, with a full head of grey hair and wearing a t-shirt and jeans. The woman was somewhat younger I thought, and definitely more rounded. Both of them wore big smiles as we climbed out of the car.
"Hello!" William called as he approached. "How are you Michelle?" He was wearing a mile-wide smile as he wrapped his arms around his daughter.
"You must be Dex," he said, releasing Michelle and extending his hand, still showing his big smile.
"I am. Nice to meet you, sir."
"Oh, please, it's Billy to my friends and several of my enemies," he laughed.
He turned toward the woman and took her hand.
"This is Carolyn, the love of my life. Carolyn, this is Dexter McLeod, Michelle's fiancé."
"Lovely to meet you, Dexter. I'm so happy Michelle has found someone. Congratulations," she beamed, hugging me in place of a handshake.
"Thank you ... and it's Dex to my friends."
As the introductions were going on, I saw Michelle standing to one side and grinning at the effusive greeting from her father and his friend. I had the feeling it was going to be quite a pleasant stay in their home.
We followed them inside and Billy immediately produced a beer, handing it to me in the bottle. Carolyn passed Michelle a glass of white wine and we all toasted each other. It was completely casual and natural that I immediately felt at home with them. There wasn't a hint of pretension or cautiousness by either of them.
"We're having a few friends over for a barbeque this evening so Carolyn made a lunch. We'll probably be eating a little later so don't hesitate to dig in," Billy said.
"You couldn't resist, could you Dad? Any reason for a celebration will do, eh?" Michelle laughed.
"You know me well, girl. I may be old but not so old that I don't enjoy a good time with good people."
"You aren't old, Dad," Michelle chided. "Why you're not even seventy yet. You're in good health and good spirits, so don't give me that 'old' stuff. Am I right, Carolyn?"
"You know it, kid. He's got lots of life in him yet ... trust me," she giggled.
I was watching the happy byplay of the three and got the distinct impression that there was a lot of love going on between them. Carolyn and Michelle acted a lot like co-conspirators, trading secrets between each other. Billy looked genuinely happy and satisfied with his life. What more would any man want?
Carolyn brought out a tray of sandwiches and a bowl of potato chips, while Billy returned with a bottle of white wine for the ladies and two more beers for us. We sat on the front porch overlooking the lake for a while until it got too hot and we moved to the back deck where the barbeque would be held. Even though it was September, the weather was surprisingly warm.
The guests began arriving just after four in the afternoon and by the time the first three groups had been introduced, I knew I had no hope of remembering all the names. By five-thirty there must have been over twenty people on the deck, all of them familiar with each other. The ages ranged from early forties to late seventies I guessed, but everyone seemed to enjoy each other's company. I had a number of conversations about a wide range of topics from living on the west coast to my time in the Caribbean.
There was no common thread among the guests save the fact that they were all neighbours and/or friends of Billy and Carolyn. Their backgrounds were just as diverse: a lawyer, two auto plant workers, a newspaperman, a women's wear shop owner, more than a couple of retired people and so on. An eclectic group that all seemed to be happy in each other's company. Billy and Carolyn were well endowed with friends.
"I don't think I've enjoyed anything quite as much as this since our picnic at Zarek's farm," I told Michelle.
"Dad is that kind of person, Dex. He attracts friends like some people collect stamps. Can you imagine how confined he must have felt married to my mother? This has all happened since they divorced. He's happier here than I can ever remember him at home."
"I like Carolyn a lot, too," I said. "She's seems exactly right for him."
"Yes. I feel the same way. She's ten years younger, but I think she keeps Dad young. Anyway, she's happy, he's happy, so I'm happy."
"Will they ever marry?"
"No ... not according to them. They don't think it's necessary. It's just a legal complication and not at all important to either of them."
"What's the legal complication?"
"Carolyn's husband took off on her twenty years ago. At the time, she couldn't afford a divorce so she was just abandoned. As far as they know her husband is still alive. Arnold, I think she said his name was. Anyway, there hasn't been any need to spend the money on a lawyer and there's no sign he's coming back so they just live together as if they were married. According to their lawyer friend over there," she said, pointing at one of the guests, "she can bide her time without any negative consequences."
"I suppose we could do the same thing," I said, looking slyly at Michelle as I offered the opinion.
She looked back at me with a serious expression. "I suppose we could. Is that what you want?"
I pulled her to me and kissed her fully in front of everyone who might have been watching.
"What do you think?"
She smiled and I could feel her relax again. We remained with our arms around each other.
Every one of the guests had brought something to the event and there was more food than could possibly have been eaten. I favoured the hickory smoked baby back ribs, coleslaw and sour cream potato salad for my meal. I also tried one of the venison sausages that a guest had provided. They were outstanding and it was a shame they weren't available commercially. He had made them himself after a successful hunt somewhere up north.
The party broke up as guests began wandering off shortly after ten and the last leaving before midnight. It had been a wonderful afternoon and evening and I had met a number of very interesting people.
"That was a very fine party, Carolyn ... Billy. I really like your friends. You are fortunate to have so many that enjoy being with you. Everyone brought something as well."
"We have these about once every two or three weeks," Carolyn said. "Some are here and some at other houses in the area. We're very lucky to have so many nice people as neighbors but I credit Billy for that. He's such a good neighbour and is always ready to help anyone who needs it. He's become the local handyman."
She smiled at him, holding him around the waist and kissing him in appreciation. He was beaming at her compliment. They looked like a very happy couple and I couldn't help thinking that I wanted that kind of relationship with Michelle. I also couldn't help thinking that if I was asked to name my personal friends outside of work, it would be a short list. I was a loner, it seemed. Perhaps that was my nature or perhaps circumstances had made it so.
Michelle must have picked up on my thoughts because she turned to me.
"Dex ... you never talk about your friends."
I looked at her and couldn't help telling her the truth.
"I don't really have any outside of work and a couple of people I've met since my divorce."
"It's something you have to work at," Billy offered. "Michelle's mother was ... is ... like that as well. She's happy to be on her own. I don't think she missed me for ten seconds," he said without malice. "I didn't know what friends were until I moved here to stay with a friend after my divorce. He got me out and had me meeting the locals and one thing led to another. I met Carolyn that way, thank God."
"I'll bet Michelle can get you doing the same thing, Dex," Carolyn offered. "Didn't you say you were calling on customers or something?"
"Yes ... we are ... and much to my surprise," I said, "I'm enjoying it. I was pretty nervous at first but once I got used to it, I found I liked meeting new people and talking about our business. In fact, I'm not sure I don't talk too much," I chuckled.
"You're doing just fine, dear," Michelle smiled. "I'm getting as much out of it as you are. It's good to have something important to do with your husband ... or husband-to-be."
"You know, if you'd planned an earlier wedding, I would have suggested you have it on the beach or in that nice park near your apartment," Billy said. "We don't need big, fancy weddings at our age. A civil ceremony and big party are just the ticket."
I looked at Michelle and I could almost hear the wheels turning.
"Is it too late?" I asked.
"Well, we would have to contact all the people who've responded but that's not that many," she said thoughtfully. "The park has a big covered area in case it rained and we could rent some of those propane heaters on stands the restaurants use. Should we see if it's possible?" she asked.
I think she was looking for a yes from me, so I wasn't going to disappoint her.
"Let's do it. What do you think, Carolyn ... Billy?"
"I think you're beginning to catch on, Dex," Billy grinned. "Life is about having the best time you can with the time you've got left. I think it would be a hoot. You might want to suggest casual dress too. The more comfortable people are, the more they will enjoy the experience. It will be something different for them ... that's for sure."
"It's settled then," Michelle said. "Assuming we can rent the facility, we'll go ahead and set it all up."
We retired soon afterwards, lying in each other's arms, warmed in the afterglow of a wonderful afternoon and evening with Michelle's father, Carolyn, and their friends. I got the impression that Michelle would have been happy if Carolyn were her actual mother as they seemed to be very compatible together.
I slept well and when I awoke at my usual six o'clock it was still dark. Michelle rolled towards me and held me to her. I didn't want to wake her but a few moments later, I felt her hand move down toward my groin and carefully hold my cock. It was only seconds before I became erect and her hand began slowly stroking me.
"I missed out on this last night," she mumbled. "I heard Dad and Carolyn, but you were asleep already."
"I'm awake now," I said, slipping my hand up under her sleeveless t-shirt. I ran my thumb over a nipple and heard her moan in response. I pulled her on top of me and pushed her panties down as far as my hands would reach. She kicked them off, spread her legs, and reached back to grasp me once more and guide me into her. She was wet in anticipation and I slipped into her with little resistance.
"Hmmmm ...," she groaned in satisfaction as I began to slowly move my hips and thrust into her. "That's nice ... just like that."
It was like being on sexual cruise control. You got the feeling that you didn't have to do anything but maintain the rhythm and it could go on forever. I don't know how long it did last but some light was beginning to show through the blinds when I knew I wasn't going to be able to carry on any longer.
"I'm going to finish now," I whispered into her ear.
"Yes ... please. It was so good. What a wonderful way to start the day."
"I agree. Puts you in a good mood, that's for sure."
We showered together, then I left the bathroom to Michelle before I shaved and brushed my teeth. I could hear some activity in the kitchen, so I was pretty sure we weren't the only ones up.
We walked into the kitchen together and found Carolyn making a breakfast for us. She turned away from the stove and walked to Michelle, giving her a big hug and then repeated the gesture with me.
"Good morning," she smiled at us. "I'm very happy you're here. Billy is so pleased you took the trouble to drive all the way down here to introduce Dex. We both think you make a lovely couple."
I guessed Carolyn's age to be somewhere between Michelle's and Billy's. Perhaps sixty but a very well preserved sixty. She obviously spent a good deal of time outdoors by the look of her tan and she appeared to be very fit.
"Thank you Carolyn," I said. "You've made us feel very welcome and it was a delight to meet your friends yesterday. We had a great time."
"Billy will be back in a couple of minutes. He's just walked down to the store to get the Sunday paper. He couldn't live without it," she laughed.
"Can I help?" Michelle asked, looking over Carolyn's shoulder.
"I'm almost done, dear. Maybe you can set the table for me, please."
Michelle was almost finished when I heard the front door open and Billy appeared with the big Sunday edition in his hands.
"Good morning folks. I trust you slept well," he smiled.
"Very well," I said, returning his smile.
"Breakfast is ready," Carolyn announced. "Wash your hands, Billy. You know how that paper leaves ink on them."
Michelle's father disappeared into the bathroom and returned a moment later as we all sat.
"We don't usually have a big breakfast like this but since this is a special occasion," Carolyn said, leaving the statement unfinished.
Michelle and I had not been accustomed to big breakfasts either but we indulged our hostess and host and made no apology for our gluttony. In the back of my mind I decided this would easily last us until suppertime, a reasonable rationalization I felt. Michelle didn't make it as far as I did but gave it a game try.
We sat on the front porch and talked and whiled away most of the morning until it was time for us to return to the city. I was beginning to regret having that big breakfast now as I was feeling a bit lethargic. I fortified myself with a large cup of black coffee before we parted and hoped it would last me until we were home.
As it turned out, I had to make a pit stop for gas just before Woodstock and I took the opportunity to empty my bladder and then fuel myself with another coffee. Michelle had warned me about the traffic heading back toward the city on a Sunday afternoon, even this late in the year. She was right. Just after Kitchener, we slowed to a steady crawl and it was well after five before we were back in the apartment. Luckily for Michelle, she had slept a good portion of the trip and had some energy left when we arrived.
She made a light meal for us and we talked about how much we enjoyed the weekend with Billy.
"It seems so odd that your father could have married your mother when his personality is so completely different," I said.
"He wasn't always like that, Dex. He was a pretty normal dad, going to work and coming home, cutting the lawn and doing odd jobs around the house. But mother was never satisfied with him. His job wasn't good enough, the house wasn't big enough, the car wasn't new enough. She just picked at him relentlessly, especially as we got older. He told me once it was like being bitten to death by a duck," she grimaced.
"Yeah, I can see where that would grind on him all right. But he's nothing like that now. I don't think I've ever met anyone whom I liked quite as quickly as him. He has an infectious way about him that you can't resist."