Like... Last JulybyA_Satori©
copyright ©2008 All rights reserved.
Author's note: This is the last 20 pages from story I wrote a while back, about an 18 year old guy who fell in love with his stepmother. His father, Steve, wasn't totally selfish, yet his attentiveness to his new, younger wife, Pam, waned a couple years after the wedding. The most important thing in life to Steve was his business career.
Jeff got along better and better with his father's new wife, never thought of her as a stepmother, nor did Pam ever think of Jeff as a stepson. She told him right after the honeymoon, that she never thought she could nor would she ever want to replace his mother, who had died when he was eleven. She told him she hoped they'd be able to become friends, very good friends.
Jeff grew to like Pam very much. Pam also felt more and more for Jeff. When he was a senior in high school, they became attracted to each other sexually and romantically. Through Jeff's initiative and manipulation, they eventually had a week long love affair while his father was out of town on a business trip. Pam ignored her feelings of guilt during that week but when Steve returned home, she could no longer rationalize what she had done, even though she knew she had fallen in love with Jeff. She broke off the brief affair. That was in June, 2002.
Pam tried to return to the normal "friendship only" relationship with Jeff but it was filled with emotional stress and tension, and grew more strained through July. Pam was torn between her love for Jeff and doing what was right. She knew someone if not all three of them, would get hurt deeply, and might very well ruin all their lives if she ever left Steve in order to be with Jeff. All Jeff could think about was his love for Pam and how much he wanted to be with her.
Even though I have left off the vast majority of the original story, I believe the Epilogue is worth posting and believe it could stand on its own as a short story. I've included the last chapter of the original story below as a "prequel" to help make sense of a couple things in the Epilogue, and to give a reason for Jeff's decision. Hopefully it will also allow the reader to "get to know" the characters somewhat before the Epilogue.
I believe this story belongs in the category of "Romance" even though the erotic segments came before this last chapter of the story:
* * *
Pam was preparing a small salad for herself when she saw Jeff's car pull into the driveway. She tensed imagining he might have gotten injured on the job. She watched him get out of his car but only got a glimpse of him before he went into the garage. His tee shirt was dirty but he seemed fine. She continued to worry though, thinking she might have missed seeing some bandage. The kitchen door opened and he walked in. She faced him wide eyed. "Did you get hurt?"
"Huh?" His brow pinched.
Pam stepped towards him looking at his arms. "Did you have an accident on the job? Get... cut or something?" She pulled out a chair for him.
"No... I'm fine." He wondered why she thought that.
"Oh." She took a deep breath and felt relief flow through her. She then wondered what he was doing home in the middle of the day. "Would you like some lunch? A... a sandwich or something?"
"No. I ate my sandwiches driving here." His nervousness rose. He saw her salad nearly made. "Go ahead and fix your lunch."
Pam stared at him for a moment, then returned to the counter. She started cutting the tomato. She heard him pull out a different chair and sit down. Her heart beat faster. It was the first time they were alone in the same room for weeks. She didn't look at him. "Do you have the afternoon off?"
"Yeah, I guess in a way, sort of. I told Russ I had to do one or two things." He realized that's probably why she thought he might have gotten hurt on the job.
"Oh." She could feel his eyes on her back. She drew a slow breath. "Are you sure I can't make you something?"
"No, I'm cool." He knew what her answer would be, but he had to ask.
She opened the refrigerator and pulled out the bottle of basalmic vinaigrette. "You know, Steve is right, you should stop working soon. It's already August and you should have at least a week or two off to spend with friends or whatever before leaving for school." She returned the bottle to the fridge.
She picked up her plate and sat at her usual chair. She looked at Jeff's tanned face. Her abdomen tensed as she felt tears rising. He was looking at her the way he had that special week and so many times previous to that week. She cleared her throat. "You're going to do that aren't you?" His eyes were melting and swelling her heart simultaneously. They were also making her scared of what she might say, of what she might do. Every single day she thought about making love with him again. Every day she thought about confessing her love again.
She bit her lower lip for a moment. He hadn't called her that since their week together. She felt short of breath. "Yes?"
"One of the things I need to do is this... you, seeing you when I knew we'd be alone. I have... have to say something... I... uh..." He shook head vigorously. "Listen, I have to ask you again, if... if you want to change your mind about... about me, about you and me... about us."
Nearly two months of tension added to her emotions for him made her eyes well up. "Jeff... I can't change my mind... I... I can't because... because of... everything I said before, but especially the part about... it being best for you. I know it's best for you. You'll be starting college in a few weeks, it's going to change your life. I know that when..."
Jeff interrupted, "I don't give a damn about college. I love you, that's all I care about."
"Jeff, I can't... we can't. It has to be the way it is now."
"What about in six months, maybe a year? Would you rethink it all then?"
Pam's face scrinched up. More tears welled and she felt her throat constricting. "I... I can't ch-change my... mind. It's.... best for you... for.. for ev-everyone." She tried to compose herself but her eyes continued welling.
Jeff wasn't surprised at her answer, but he still felt crushed. "It doesn't matter how much I love you." He didn't mean it as a question.
"It's not that at all!" Pam was shocked she had nearly shouted. She quickly wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry, Jeff... I am just so sorry, for... for everything." She knew part of that sorrow was for herself too.
"Funny, I guess I'm not sorry about any of it, except this part now." He pushed his chair back and stood up.
"That's not what I mean and you know it." Tears fell from her lashes.
"I really love you, Pam, and I really wish things were... were different." He looked at her face scrinching up. "I know you must just think I'm some dumb high school guy with a stupid crush, but I'm not. You probably thought last June that I hadn't thought things out much... I mean stuff like our age difference, all that sort of thing, but I did. I used to walk around sometimes and look at women, like at the mall, not just women your age, but older than you and guess their ages and then imagine you at that age and what age that would make me, and it never seemed bizarre to me. I told you before, that you and me are the same as you and Dad, you're twelve years older than me, and Dad's thirteen years older than you. So if it's dumb to think about you and me being together, then isn't it just as dumb as you and Dad together?"
He took a breath and watched tears run down Pam's face. He could see she wanted to say something but he could tell she was trying to stop crying and couldn't talk. "I'll give you the answer. If one is bizarre, then both are bizarre. If one is okay, then both are okay. When you told me that you...." He knew he was about to be an asshole and tried to step back from saying anything. "I guess maybe I was dumb... naive, or whatever, having some stupid idea that my definition of love was the same as yours. I guess..."
Pam interrupted with a sob then forced words out, "I do love you.... that's why... that's why..." Pam lost control and started sobbing.
"You love me too and that's why we can never be together. Is that it?"
Pam nodded and kept crying. She wanted to tell him the reasons again but couldn't speak.
"Never. We'll never be together again. You'll never change your mind about that."
Her head was bowed but she nodded again not looking at him. She tried desperately to get composed.
Jeff sighed and stared at her head. He had known what she would say but he had to ask again. It wasn't much of a consolation prize that she had said she loved him. He knew what he meant by "love," but still didn't understand her definition. When you really loved someone you wanted to be with that person, you needed to be with that person.
He was sure now that he had to get away from her. He knew that coming home on semester breaks and summers would just keep him crazy in love with her. He wouldn't be able to think straight at school, he'd probably just count the days to the next break, the next time he could visit home to see her, to just be around her.
He knew he'd always love her, but he thought it might not be so difficult to handle if he was away from her, really away from her. After that week with her, and then her saying it was over, it had somehow made him lose all interest in starting college anyway. He knew in his heart that the next errand he had to do was the right one for him now. It was a good way to deal with it. He didn't see any downside to it. Man. I love her so much, but it really doesn't matter to her how much I love her. Why did I think it would?
He gazed at her and realized him going away would be good for her too, good for what she had said she wanted, which was to make her marriage to Dad work, be better, or whatever she had said she wanted it to be. It was obvious to him as he watched her cry that his presence wasn't good for her either. She needed him away, needed him far enough away so she could make her and Dad's life into whatever she wanted it to be, or at least into whatever it would be. They both needed to be apart. Yeah, he'd do it for her too. He took a deep breath.
Maybe his living here made Dad self-conscious about showing his love for Pam. Jeff didn't believe that. He had almost just told her what he really thought about their marriage, but it really didn't matter now. He knew nothing he would say about his father or their marriage would change her mind. It would sound stupid and probably make her cry harder and he really didn't want to upset her even more. Anyway, she probably knew it was never going to be what she really wanted, never be even close to the week they had together in June. He moved to the counter and grabbed the box of tissues. He placed it on the table.
Pam pulled out a few tissues and squeaked, "Thank you."
He moved next to her and put his hand on the back of her chair. He wanted to ask her again, tell her everything again, say it would all work out, tell her again how much he loved her. "Pamela... I... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it all up again. I... I didn't want to make you cry. I just had... had to ask one more time." He was about to plead his case again but couldn't think of anything new to say. "I won't bother you about it again. I'm... I'm always going to love you but don't worry about that. I'll... I'm going to learn to deal with it. I'm sorry for upsetting you. I wish... I just wish we could have been together." Without forethought, he leaned down and kissed her cheek then walked to the door and left.
Pam started sobbing again. She heard his car start up. She wanted to jump up and run to him, tell him how much she loved him, how much she dreamed it somehow could work between them and have no one get hurt, how she thought about him all the time, how she wanted him just as much if not more than he wanted her, than he loved her. Instead of doing what her heart wanted, she pushed her plate away, buried her face in her hands and sobbed inconsolably.
* * *
Pam sipped her wine as she watched Steve eat a small piece of the fruit salad she had made for dessert.
Steve chewed slowly and swallowed. He looked at his son. "Well, Jeff, it's nice having you eating Sunday dinner with us again, especially knowing you'll be off to school in a couple weeks."
"Yeah, well... I've been hangin' a lot with Josh and Brian the past month or so."
"I can remember doing that at your age too. You know, old friends parting, everyone a bit nervous about the future, that sort of thing. Don't worry about losing friends, Jeff. The ones who are real friends will still be there next summer, and you'll be making new friends at college. Most of my best friends were guys I met at college."
"That's... that's something I want to talk to you about."
Pam's stomach knotted and she didn't know why exactly. She felt a terrible wave of anxiety course through her.
"Well, no. College."
"What about college?" Steve picked out another piece of melon with his fork from his dessert plate.
Jeff didn't want to blurt it out. He wanted to ease into what he had to say. "I've been... thinking, that maybe right now isn't the time for me to go to school."
Steve's brow pinched. "What do you mean? Of course it is. You're all set. You have your dorm assignment, don't you? It's all set." He leaned back in his chair. "Is there some problem?"
"No, there's no problem." He didn't want to, didn't even direct his body to do it, but he glanced at Pamela. He forced his eyes away immediately. He saw her long enough though to notice she was wide eyed and biting her lower lip. He began fiddling with his fork. "I... I made a couple calls the other day and I've already written a few letters to get the deposits back on whatever I could. I won't be..."
"WHAT?! Why did you do that?!" Steve told himself to cool down.
"I decided it wasn't a good time for me to start college. My... my head... my heart isn't in it."
Steve's jaw tightened. "So, what do you plan to do, keep working for that contractor? You can do so much more than that with a college degree, Jeff. You're..." He was about to say better than that, but knew it wouldn't be a good thing to say to his son. "At college you can figure out what you really want to do, and then after a degree and maybe a masters, if you want to be a carpenter or whatever, then do that. But don't pigeon hole yourself now. Christ, you're only eighteen. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don't do something stupid now. Call up whatever offices you sent those letters to and tell them to ignore them. Tell them it was a mistake. That sort of thing probably happens all the time, just call and tell them to toss the letters."
"I'm not going to do that. I've already..."
Steve interrupted again, anger still in his voice, "Son, don't be an idiot, just call..."
Jeff's voice was firm when he broke in, "Dad, just listen to me, okay? I have something important to tell you... and Pam."
Steve glanced at Pam. She seemed nervous. He looked at his son and exhaled sharply. "Okay. We're listening. What is it?"
"First of all, that money for the college deposits was money I earned, so if I don't get it all back it won't be any of your money. Secondly, I can no longer go to college, right now at least, because I've made another commitment."
"What other commitment?" Steve felt his anger rising again.
"I signed a contract."
Steve's anger continued rising. "What contract?"
"Last Wednesday I went to see a Marine recruiter at the strip mall. I've been there a couple times before, getting pamphlets. Anyway, I talked to the recruiter a few times. Thursday I went back and signed up. I'll be reporting for boot camp the first week of September."
"WHAT?!" Steve shoved his chair back and stood up. "How in hell could you have been so goddamn STUPID?!"
Jeff kept looking at his plate and leaned back in his chair. He felt his own anger rising. The recruiter had told him to stay calm when he informed his parents after Jeff had told him what their, at least his father's response would be. The recruiter made sure Jeff had an extra one of his cards and told him to give it to his dad if he wanted to talk to him. Jeff had the card in his wallet but wasn't going to give it to his father. He forced himself to cool down as his father continued speaking loudly. Dad began to pace back and forth. Jeff leaned forward again a stabbed a grape with his dessert fork then ate it.
"You join the goddamn Marines now?! Now when we have one war going on and Bush is talking like some goddamned gunslinger every chance he has about goddamn Iraq?! So you decide to cancel out on college and join the Marines... now?!"
Jeff didn't look at his father. "Afghanistan is mostly the Army, Air Force and Special Forces. There's only a small Marine contingent there." It was what the recruiter had told him.
"What about Iraq? Huh?!"
"We're not in a war with Iraq."
"Don't you kids listen to the news! No, we're NOT in a war with Iraq right now, but we WILL be by Christmas! Mark my words!" He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. "Jesus, Jeff... why the hell didn't you talk to me about this first?"
Jeff's fork pushed the fruit around on his plate. "Because I didn't want or need any advice on it. It was my decision to make."
"Oh... so you're an adult now, huh? You're a man now, huh? You don't need advice? You know it all now?!"
He looked up and glared at his father. His jaw tightened. Yeah, man enough to take your wife in your own bed, you stupid fuckin' asshole! "What's an 'adult,' huh, Dad? What's a 'man,' huh?"
Pam wiped the tears from her eyes. She didn't like the way the conversation was going. Her anxiety intensified. She swallowed quickly and said, "Steve...and... and you too, Jeff, let's... let's just talk calmly about this."
Steve raise his hand like a traffic cop to his young wife. "No, Pam, Jeff has asked me a question and I'll answer it." He glared at his son. "An adult is someone who doesn't go off and make important decisions half cocked. And a man is someone who takes responsibility for his life and his family. That's what an adult man is, Jeff."
Pam couldn't stop tensing her whole body. She took a quick breath and said, "Steve, sit down, please. And let... let Jeff talk to you." She wondered if Jeff was going to tell Steve about their insane, wonderful week of love and passion. Half of her was terrified at the thought, the other half was praying Jeff would blurt it out. Her throat tightened. Her eyes began welling with tears once more.
Steve looked at her and then reluctantly sat down but didn't pull his chair up to the table.
Jeff fiddled with his fork in the fruit. He glanced again at Pam. Her eyes were glistening. He wondered if she had been crying and he had missed it. He looked at his father. "I didn't make the decision in any half cocked manner. I gave it serious thought. I told you my conclusion, that... that it's best I not start college right now. I still plan to go to college but not right now. I'll have three years of active duty and then one year of reserve duty.
"I'll be twenty-one when I'm a freshman. I don't think that's a big deal. I thought if I went to college now, and I couldn't really concentrate, I'd probably flunk out. I know of a guy or two who did that and I don't want that to be me. And after the Marines, I'll get some money from the government for college too. Depending on where I go to school, it may not be enough, but... well, I thought if you were still talking to me, maybe you'd lend me some money and if not, then I'd take out a student loan, which will be easier too because of being in the military."