The day before their monthly barbecue, Dale had an idea. At the last moment he invited Armela and Kristian to attend. After Armela arrived, Dale introduced her to Alissa.
“Armela, this is my wife Alissa, and Alissa this is Armela. She’s a doctor at the hospital. She works in the ER.”
“You probably hear this all the time, but you look thinner on television. Your makeup artist must be a genius because all those wrinkles don’t show up on the television screen.”
Dale started to say something, but Alissa spoke first. “Armela, at your age and with your career as a physician, I would think that you would have learned how to show respect and decorum as an invited guest at a colleague’s home. Especially when meeting a colleague’s wife for the first time. Your rude and immature, catty comments aren’t subtle nor even particularly clever. You’re welcome to remain as long as you can behave yourself. My husband and I have children, and I don’t wish them to be influenced by your poor example.”
Armela paled and glared at Alissa. Alissa just raised her eyebrows and went to talk with other guests. Dale introduced Armela to Sharlee and then went to the grill.
“Kristian, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, there’s Kristian! Have you two met?”
This was not going the way that Dale had intended. How in the world could Armela believe he’d invited her to his home with his wife and children for something like that! Maybe he wasn’t the only one lacking in common sense.
He saw Alissa looking at him and knew that she had picked up on Armela’s interest in him. She’d probably even seen Armela’s wink. From the expression on her face, he knew that Alissa was upset. It wasn’t just Armela that made her upset either.
Kristian was sticking by Sharlee like glue. Dale hadn’t had his talk about Sharlee with Kristian yet. He knew that he’d messed up again big time! He hadn’t thought this through completely.
Things got even worse when Noah came out of the house. He immediately saw Kristian with Sharlee and an angry expression came across his face. Noah just couldn’t stand that guy! He’d only had three sessions with his therapist, and he still had a long way to go in learning to control his anger. He crossed his arms to try to calm himself.
Sharlee looked at Noah. She knew he didn’t like seeing Kristian with her. She didn’t feel up to coping with the situation.
“I don’t feel well. I’m going inside now. Goodbye Kristian.”
“Noah I’m going upstairs. Can you please go with me?”
“Dale, Sharlee said that she’s not feeling well. Noah just took her inside.”
“I’m sure she’s okay. Some days are better for her than others. I’ll go check on her. Why don’t you two get to know one another better.”
Armela and Kristian looked at one another. They already knew each other as well as they wanted.
Dale tried to keep his annoyance out of his voice, but didn’t quite succeed.
“No. Stay out here with the rest of the guests.”
“Dale what’s going on! Why is Kristian here and just who is that damn woman!”
He saw a flash of anger in Alissa’s eyes and then a look of pain. He suddenly realized what she was thinking.
“No, not that kind of mistake! I mean yes, Armela is interested in me, but no way did I encourage her at all! I was trying to fix Armela and Kristian up together. It’s just turned into a complete disaster! I don’t know…”
“I’m sorry. I feel like such a whimp now.”
Noah smiled. “You’re never a whimp, honey. You don’t have to apologize. Besides, you know I like holding you this way.”
Sharlee finally smiled too. They both heard her stomach growl loudly. She hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
Dale and Alissa knocked at the door.
“Yes. I guess I just didn’t feel like company tonight.”
“Sharlee, I’m sorry. I just thought that… I didn’t mean…”
“What? You thought you’d try to get Sharlee and Kristian together?”
“Daddy is that true?”
“I guess I understand Dad.”
They all heard Sharlee’s stomach growl.
Alissa said, “Honey, I’ll bring you up a plate of food. What would you like?”
“Can you bring a plate for Noah too?”
“Noah, it’s no problem at all. You stay with Sharlee. I’ll bring you both up some dinner. Do you want chicken, hotdogs or burgers?”
Sharlee made them laugh when she said, “All of it!”
Alissa and Dale went back out to the barbecue.
“I think I’ll head on home now, Dale. Please tell Sharlee to take care of herself. Thanks for inviting me.”
“Cara, please add some drinks and take this tray upstairs to Noah and Sharlee.”
Alissa was angry and trying to calm herself. After she had herself under some control, she went over to Armela and Dale. Dale was trying to explain once again to Armela that he just wasn’t interested in her. Alissa interrupted bluntly. She wasn’t as calm as she’d hoped. The nerve of that woman infuriated her. Because her children were present, she kept her voice quiet so that their conversation would not be overheard. She didn’t want to make a scene. However, she wasn’t playing games with Armela.
“Armela, Dale is trying to tell you in a nice, kind, gentlemanly way that he does not want you, but that doesn’t seem to be penetrating your overly inflated ego. I know that women like you think that all you have to do is bat your eyelashes, swing your hips and you can get any man that you want. Not this time! While you’re still on my good side, I’m going to give you a warning. This man is my man, and you’d better stay away from him! It’s time for you to take your skanky behind home or at least away from my home.”
Dale and Armela both looked at her in amazement. Dale wrapped his arm around Alissa and Armela left the backyard without another word. Armela got the message, and she was through with trying to hook up with Dale. From now on it would be nothing but business between them.
“Who said you’re not!”
“Well, let me see what I can do to get back on your good side.”
“Umm, you’re getting there!”
“I can’t ever stay mad at you!”
“Eww! You guys are too old for that!”
Faye stepped in front of Shawn. “Shawn, you’ve been ignoring me for months. I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but it hurts! I’m not Monet! I’m nothing like her. You’ve known me since we were kids, I shouldn’t have to prove myself to you.”
“Faye, you’re right, and I’m sorry. I just…. I’m sorry.”
Other people were around them. “Let’s talk after school. Why don’t you come home with me like you used to do, and we’ll hang out at the pool.”
Alissa was happily surprised when Faye came out to the pool with Shawn. His therapist had said not to pressure him in developing relationships with girls. When he was ready he would do it. Even though Shawn and Faye were just friends, it was still nice to see that they were together again. His sisters were the only girls he’d spent much time with since Monet.
Cara came home and was just as pleased to see Faye there. She joined them in the pool. After a while, Shawn began to relax with Faye. She was just the same as she used to be, and he was becoming more like his old self now.
“I’m not going to bite you Shawn, and I’m not going to hurt you either.”
He didn’t pull his hand away, but he wasn’t comfortable either.
“Yeah, I guess. She said that me ignoring her hurt and I know it wasn’t fair to her.”
“I’m sure she understood why you did that, Shawn. She seemed happy today. How do you feel about it? Were you comfortable with her?”
“She held my hand.”
Alissa was surprised. They had only been friends as far as she knew.
“How did you feel about that?”
“I’m not sure. Before I started going out with Monet, I asked Faye to go out on a date with me. She didn’t think it was a good idea. She said that if it didn’t work out between us, our friendship would be ruined too. We still sort of drifted apart after that though. It kind of felt weird when we were together.”
“Yeah, and now I thought that we were just gonna be friends again, but she wants more than that this time.”
“Scared of what, Baby?”
“I’m scared that if I trust someone again, it’ll turn out like with Monet. How can I be sure it won’t!”
“Loving someone is always taking a chance on getting your heart broken. You do bounce back. It takes time, but your heart heals. Now with Monet that was an extreme situation. She was mentally unbalanced. I can tell you though that if you shut yourself off from love, from loving someone and letting them love you, you will miss out on some of the greatest, most special experiences in life. True love brings with it more joys than sorrows. To me it’s been worth taking the chance. You’re young son, and the person you care for today, you might not care so much for them the next day, the next week or the next month.”
Alissa paused gathering her thoughts.
“I can’t tell you what to do, but I do suggest that you take things slowly. You don’t have to have a serious relationship now, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start back dating. Maybe not even dating Faye if you don’t want to do that. You might feel more comfortable with someone else. Just think about it, and you’ll know when you’re ready.”
“I love you too. Goodnight.”
Shawn went upstairs to his room.
A friend of mine always ends his chapters with a poll. I decided to start using more of them as I’d first intended when I started the story. I might not always follow the results, but I’d love to give you all more input into the story. Please, if you have time, take a few moments to vote for me.