Dale and Cara got home at around 10:00. Alissa was sitting in the living room in front of the fireplace. Dale could tell that something had upset her since he’d spoken with her on the phone. Cara hugged them both and then went up to her room. She felt happier than she had for a long time and relieved to know that she was normal.
Dale sat down beside Alissa. “What is it, Honey?”
Alissa handed him her cellphone. It was a text that she’d received from Shawn just before Dale had arrived home.
It said: “Monet and I got married tonight. I’ll see you in the morning to explain.”
“This has to be a joke!”
Alissa shook her head.
“I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing she is or was his girlfriend.”
“Well it’s going to be annulled!”
Dale tried to comfort her. He felt just as devastated. Neither of them slept at all that night. They were still in the livingroom when Joy and Aiden came downstairs. Alissa got up and fixed breakfast and then Cara, Aiden and Joy left for school.
“Mom and Dad this is Monet. Monet these are my parents Dale and Alissa Stallworth.”
Alissa’s mouth tightened when Monet called them that. Her first impression of Monet was not a good one. She looked like a sly, loose girl and Alissa wondered what Monet had done to trick her little boy into marriage. They had taught him to be a gentleman, but they hadn’t taught him to watch out for girls like Monet.
Dale didn’t mince his words. “This is ridiculous. You are both far too young for marriage and legally you have to have parental consent to marry. You won’t receive that from either your mother or me, Shawn. Your marriage is going to be annulled.”
“Is the baby really Shawn’s?”
Both Dale and Alissa knew she was lying.
“Why didn’t you talk to me before you did this?”
Shawn just looked at him without answering. Dale remembered that Shawn had tried, but Dale had sent him away. The guilt was adding up, but this time he couldn’t let it cripple him like he’d let his guilt over Sharlee. His children had suffered greatly because of his selfishness.
“I’m so sorry, Son. I share part of the blame for this situation. Do you love her?”
Shawn’s silence was Dale’s answer. “Just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to stay married to her Shawn. Even if the baby is yours, you can still be a good father without being married to Monet.”
Shawn hadn’t thought that his father would feel that way. He’d believed that his father would feel that he owed Monet marriage if he got her pregnant. However, it was too late now. He’d made vows to her and he intended to keep them.
“I have to keep my word, Dad. I married her for better or worse.”
“Shawn I’m proud of you for trying to take responsibility for your actions, but what if this baby isn’t yours? What if she’s not even pregnant? We’ll definitely get a paternity test.”
“Dad, she wouldn’t lie about something like that. Even if it isn’t mine, I’m married to her now. I do care about her and she needs me.”
Dale saw a look of panic come into Shawn’s eyes. Shawn was still very young. He and Cara were twins, but both Cara and Sharlee were more mature than Shawn at this age. He found out later that Monet was two years older than Shawn although just one grade ahead of him. She had been held back the previous year of high school.
Dale knew how unrealistic Shawn’s plan was. Any job that a boy his age could get would not provide enough money to pay all of his bills. Shawn needed to stay in school. Dale and Alissa had worked hard over the years, not just for themselves, but because they had wanted their children to have the best possible futures. He decided to have a talk with Alissa.
“Shawn, we’ll talk more later. You and…” Dale paused, hating to even say that girl’s name, “Monet can stay with us until you get things set up.”
“Why Shawn, Monet?”
“I’m not pulling a stunt you bitch! Shawn and I are in love.”
“For Shawn’s sake, we will have to try to get along. Even though I don’t believe that you are carrying Shawn’s child, until we get verification from your doctor, I will take your word for it that you are indeed pregnant. I just want you to know that you have not deceived me!”
Alissa was very upset. She had to get herself under control. She wanted to be supportive and help Shawn make the best of this mess. She went into her bedroom.
“Shawn your mother and I have discussed what we plan to do to help you and Monet. We are going to purchase a small home for you. Your Mom is going to meet with a real estate agent and find the best place.”
“Wow, thanks so much Mom and Dad. You don’t know how much I appreciate that. I’ve already started trying to find a job.”
Dale knew that even if Shawn quit and worked full-time, there was still no way a young kid like him could earn enough to take care of a family. Shawn just wasn’t ready for this responsibility. Dale felt a rush of anger, again mostly at himself.
Shawn should be worried about his next game, his term papers, exams, who he was taking out Saturday night, not making ends meet for himself, a wife and a baby! Over and over again Dale kept screwing things up! He stopped that line of thought and concentrated on Shawn again.
“When you and your brothers and sisters were born, your mother and I set up trust funds for each of you. They are intended to pay for college and give you each a good start afterwards. Over the years your mother and I, as well as all of your grandparents have contributed to the trusts.”
Dale looked at Alissa. He felt himself becoming too emotional, and so she told Shawn the rest.
“We’ve decided that until you graduate from college, you will receive a monthly allowance of $1500.00 from your trust fund as well as full control of it at the age of 25. It is conditional upon you remaining in school. Between the allowance and a part-time job, you will be able to meet your financial obligations. You will have to learn to budget your money.”
“Also Shawn, there is one other condition. Monet is not to know about the trust fund.”
“We wanted each of you to have the best starts possible. Sharlee refused to accept her trust fund. She has agreed that the money can be held in trust for her’s and Noah’s first child whenever they decide to have one. You know how difficult things have been for them. Noah doesn’t know about it, and we think it best if Monet doesn’t know about it either.”
Shawn didn’t really understand why they didn’t want him to tell Monet, but he was just grateful that his parents were helping them. It wasn’t much to ask him in return.
“I won’t tell her about the money. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing. One day Mom and Dad, I’ll pay you back for everything.”
Dale felt like he was being cheated out of his last few years with Shawn before he went to college. He had already wasted more than a year of time with all of his children. He just hoped that it wasn’t too late to repair the damage to his relationships with them and with Alissa.