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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Extended Family - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Are you out of your ever loving mind?!” Jeremy demanded.
Joss' eyes flew open so he could see his dad and try to figure out why he was mad.
When you said share a room, I didn't think you meant a bed!”
Joss realized that Sadiya was using his shoulder as a pillow, and he had one arm around her waist. This made it hard for him to sit up. He laughed.
Um dad? In case you have forgotten, I'm gay! It's not like I want to do anything with her,” Joss reminded his dad. He flung his blanket aside. “And besides – as you can clearly see, we're both fully dressed!”
And we were sound asleep,” Sadiya mumbled, yawning and rolling slightly away as she stretched.
I only came up to check on you because you hadn't come down to breakfast yet,” Jeremy admitted, calling Joss' attention to the fact that he was running late.
Oh crap! I forgot to set the alarm!” Joss wailed.
Alarm?” Sadiya sneered. She never had to use one. Her classes were all either online or in the afternoon.
Jeremy sighed, and then apologized. “I'm sorry. I just wasn't expecting her in your bed snuggled up all cozily like that.”
I plan to redecorate so that she has her own bed,” Joss informed him. “That'll mean downsizing to a smaller one for me too, but I'm okay with that.”
Sadiya groaned. “That's such a waste! This bed is like sleeping on clouds!”
I know!” Joss agreed with a laugh.
Jeremy was caught in one of those strange situations that only parents of gay kids had to deal with. Common propriety demanded that he not let his boy sleep with a girl, but logic and experience told him that it would be far more trouble to let him sleep with a boy. This was why Joss and Hunter positively could not share a room...
Jeremy sighed in defeat. “Whatever you two decide. I'll just keep my nose out of it...”
Sadiya smiled at him sympathetically. “I know you may not believe me, but it wouldn't matter whose bed I shared. I am faithful to my boyfriend and will break the fingers of anyone else who tries to touch me.”
Jeremy had to force the subject of her boyfriend to the back of his mind for a later time, but couldn't help but wonder why she would be faithful to a man who was cheating on his wife. He blurted out his question before he could stop himself.
Okay... but why are you faithful to a man you know is a cheater?”
Sadiya laughed. “I told you! I want to make sure that he is the father of my future children. It does me no good if I sleep around...”
Jeremy wanted to scream in frustration, but made do with simply pulling on his hair instead. “I am completely glad I had a son and not a daughter!” He stated as he walked away, and then added,” Sorta...”
Joss stared at himself in the mirror as he wondered what part of his morning routine he should omit since he was running late. Sadiya's movement caught his eye in the mirror as she stretched and then did a couple of yoga poses.
Too bad you don't want to go to our school and join our show choir. You'd make a great addition to our team!” Joss complimented her.
Singing is not really my thing,” Sadiya shrugged. “I mean I love to do it, but I am not good at all!”
Joss laughed and then grinned at her. “I'm actually glad to hear that! I was starting to fear that you'd be good at everything!
Sadiya simply laughed and shook her head. “Hey, I know you have to hurry, so don't worry about me hogging the bathroom in the mornings,” she informed him and then abruptly stripped off her tank top and tossed it aside. “I really don't think you should have to get different beds for the like year that I plan to live here, but I'd appreciate a couple of drawers to toss my clothes in.”
Rummaging through her suitcase, she quickly located her favorite tight-fitting tee and pulled it over her head. Meanwhile, Joss took this as his cue to not be shy and focused on changing into his carefully coordinated outfit. He really had no reaction – of a sexual nature – to seeing her in only her bra, but he was surprised bordering on shocked when she stripped out of her yoga pants a moment later and he realized that she wasn't wearing underwear.
She quickly pulled on a roomy pair of sweatpants, and then looked up at him. “Are you seriously going to wear that?”
Why not?” Joss wondered, almost hurt by her subtle insensitivity.
Well, it looks really good on you, but I'm honestly surprised that you don't get bullied by all the other kids in school. Does Hunter protect you?”
Joss examined his fashionable ensemble with a fond smile. “I have been bullied in the past, but the school recently formed a club to fight bullying. I don't let anyone intimidate me though. If I can't wear what I want, then I'm not me,” Joss fumbled to explain his feelings. “I'm expressing myself with these clothes, you know?”
Sadiya hugged him. “You're so frickin' brave! Now I kind of wish I was going to your school! I would join the anti bullying club and beat up anyone who tried to mess with you!”
What do you plan to do today?” Joss wondered as he watched her simply brush her hair out and then messily put it up into a floppy, folded ponytail.
Sadiya shrugged, watching him put a few clips in his hair that added a pretty subtle hint of sparkle. “This and that. My only client scheduled for today isn't until 5 o'clock, and I've finished most of my homework. So I was going to relax for a bit, maybe visit some friends.”
Why not come with me? It's not unheard of to have a visitor hang out at school for the day.”
Sadiya grinned. “I think that could be fun. It would let me see if I missed out on anything by not going to high school.”
Great!” Joss exclaimed excitedly. Then he sighed, absently following her into the bathroom. “But now we don't have much time for breakfast.”
Sadiya shrugged. “Ever try miso soup? It's what I planned on having.” She wasn't shy about peeing with him in the bathroom with her, but he blushed and studied his face in the mirror.
Uh... I guess I could try it...”
When she was finished, she left the bathroom, intuitively knowing that he wasn't ready for her to watch him pee. That was one of those aspects of being a girl that he had no experience with. She was even willing to bet that he hid away in a stall rather than pee at a urinal with all the other boys.
When he was done, they grabbed their stuff, linked arms, then chatted about the most scandalous gossip floating around his school as they walked down the stairs.
Hey! We're going to be late if we don't leave in about five minutes!” Hunter insisted. They could see that it had taken all his patience not to yell up the stairs at them to hurry.
Do you still have my keys?” Sadiya asked him.
Yeah, you need them?” He inquired, wondering if she had lost her main set.
Nah, you can borrow my car if you're worried about being late,” Sadiya offered.
Jeremy had lingered home even later than he planned to so that he could make sure these two weren't doing anything strange – realizing that it was going to take him a while to adjust to having a girl in his house. He watched Hunter light up at the prospect of driving himself, and then stroked his chin in thought.
Are you sure?” Hunter asked.
Yep,” Sadiya confirmed. “I might need it later anyway, and this way, it'll be at school if I decide to take off.”
Huh?” Hunter wondered, coming to stand in front of her because he had planned to hug her in thanks.
She's coming to school with me today!” Joss announced happily. “As a visitor.”
Oh!” Hunter exclaimed in understanding. “Then I'll try not to panic if your car goes missing.” He kissed her on the cheek as she ladled some of the stock from the crockpot into two mugs. “Thanks!”
No problem!” She grinned and waved at his rapidly retreating back. A moment later, the door nearly slammed shut in his haste while she grabbed the jar of miso and the container of cream out of the refrigerator.
Joss watched her scoop up a large dollop of the yellowish paste from the miso jar and stir it into one of the steaming mugs of chicken broth. She then took a slightly smaller dollop and added it to the second mug.
He tasted the little bit she held out to him hesitantly. It was actually pretty tasty!
Jeremy took an opportunity to fill their silence with his questions. “I was wondering if you'd let Hunter have your mom's car. It's really not fair that he's the only one in this house who doesn't have one... and you have three...”
Sadiya thought this over as she added a generous amount of cream to her mug and then let Joss taste it so he could decide if he wanted cream in his mug too. Joss nodded, and took the cream from her.
Yeah...” She agreed slowly. “He can use it until I decide what to do with it.”
About your dad's vette...”
Sadiya shook her head adamantly. “No one is touching that car!”
Jeremy held up his hands. “I was just going to say that maybe you should move it to my garage. That way it is less likely to be stolen, and I can make sure that the gasoline doesn't rot from just sitting there.”
Sadiya tilted her head side to side in contemplation. Her father had specifically taken the Stingray out for a short drive every Sunday to prevent the gas from rotting and the parts from rusting.
Yeah, okay...” She agreed as she mentally admitted that she wasn't good at maintaining cars. “I'll have Joss drive me to my house after school so that I can bring one of them here tonight.”
Thanks Sadie!” Jeremy gushed affectionately.
Sah-dee-yah!” She growled. “Not Say-dee!”
Sorry!” Jeremy apologized. “I simply assumed that it was an acceptable nickname.”
She sighed. “Yeah... sorry, but I don't like nicknames.”
Joss tugged on her hand impatiently. “We're going to be late!”
The two teenagers hugged Jeremy as quickly as possible without spilling their breakfast, then grabbed their bags as they rushed out the door. Sadiya's backpack contained her laptop and her purse – which she had packed while Joss was changing, before he suggested that she accompany him to school. She had thought she might go to the library for a while, and liked to bring her laptop with her.
I gotta admit that this is a quick and easy breakfast, so long as you have stock ready to go,” Joss murmured, happy to find that the mug actually did fit in his cup holder.
Yep, it's the traditional breakfast for all Japanese smarty-pants even though they could easily chose cereal or something,” Sadiya informed him with a laugh.
When they arrived at his school, they still had about 5 minutes to get to class.
So, do you share any classes with Hunter?” Sadiya wondered.
Yep, but not until after lunch.”
Sadiya readjusted her backpack so that she could link her arm through his. They walked together like a somewhat flirty couple; chatting and giggling.
The class practically gasped and fell into a shocked silence when they entered the room. Even the teacher stared at them as if wondering if Joss had finally found himself a girlfriend.
Joss smiled at the teacher, mildly embarrassed to be the center of attention. “This is my cousin, Sadiya. She lives with us now because her parents recently, uh... died...”
He paused to cast her an apologetic look for being so blunt. She looked sad, but gestured for him to continue.
She's actually in college already, but decided to come hang out with me for the day.”
The teacher welcomed her cheerfully while the class murmured in sympathy and welcome. Sadiya was glad to see that rather than individual desks, the students all shared two person tables. She and Joss took their seats, and then listened attentively to the teacher as he started the day's lecture.
No one should have to study history first thing in the morning,” Sadiya whispered to Joss, who grinned but managed not to laugh.
The teacher asked them to turn in their homework, and then decided to give them an oral quiz to see how many of them actually remembered what they'd learned. Joss called enough attention to himself by simply arriving each day, so even though he had all the answers right, he didn't speak up.
It was considered uncool to raise one's hand during class, so the teacher was used to calling on students at random. He asked his first question, and was surprised when Sadiya raised her hand.
When she answered not only correctly, but much more thoroughly then he required, he gaped at her in astonishment. “Did you help Joss with his homework last night?”
Nope!” She replied with a grin. “The assassination of President Lincoln was one of my favorite unit studies when I was 12. A bunch of homeschool kids got together with me and we wrote and put on a play about it. I was John Wilkes Booth!”
I see...” The teacher was torn between hating all things homeschool and wondering if putting on a play would help his students get interested in and actually learn something.
By the time lunch came around, Joss was thoroughly embarrassed by her know-it-all-ness. “You can pretend not to know anything...” He muttered at her as he brought her into the cafeteria.
She looked around in horror. “Tell me you don't actually eat any of this!”
Joss shrugged. “When I have time, I bring my own lunch.”
How long do you have to eat?”
20 minutes,” Joss stated.
Grr! I guess I'll just have to have a salad... No! I think I may be better off with a burger... Nope, that looks just pathetic! A salad it is...” She sighed in disgust at the thought of eating pesticide laden veggies.
Joss laughed. “I agree!”
Sadiya grabbed a salad – which was big enough that it should tide her over until school was over – and then turned to find a place to sit. She was amazed to find that the cliché was true; almost all of the students seemed to be sitting according to the clique they belonged to.
A couple of jocks looked interested in having her sit with them – figuring that she belonged to their group based on her sporty tee and sweatpants look – but then they saw her whisper in Joss' ear, and realized that she identified with the freaks.
Joss pointed to a table with a couple of girls he knew. Sadiya nodded, and promised to follow him, but decided to take a detour first. She stopped behind Hunter, and ruffled his hair.
I hear we're going to be in class together after lunch.”
Hunter looked up at her with a smile, but the girl sitting next to him glared at her.
And who are you?” The girl demanded.
My cousin,” Hunter assured her hastily. “And don't act so frickin' jealous. We're not going out anymore, remember?”
The girl huffed. “I'm just concerned that you're cheating on Amy.”
Sadiya ignored her. “Just a warning, Joss finds me totally embarrassing!”
Hunter snorted in amusement. “Joss finds you embarrassing?!”
Yep!” Sadiya admitted with a grin. “Later!” She waved goodbye, and then joined Joss and his friends.
She'd barely had time to be introduced when a burly guy in a letter jacket stepped up next to Joss.
Hey!” He snapped, clamping a hand on Joss' shoulder.
Sadiya reacted without giving it any thought, and twisted his hand until he yelped from the pain. “You leave my cousin alone!”
Sadiya stop!” Joss protested. “He's part of the anti bullying club!”
Oops! Sorry!” Sadiya apologized with a grin that stated that she wasn't really all that sorry.
The boy took a calming breath, and then nodded his head side to side to acknowledge that she could have been right about him.
I was just wondering if anyone has picked on you lately,” he told Joss.
Joss smiled and shook his head. “Nope, thanks! I know it's because they don't want to risk pissing you off.”
Okay,” the boy stated in satisfaction, and then turned to Sadiya. “Would you consider joining my club?”
Nope, I'm not a student, sorry!” Sadiya informed him.
He looked confused, but decided to walk away.
In class, after lunch, Hunter thanked his lucky stars that Sadiya was sitting on the other side of the room because she eagerly volunteered to read the part of Romeo and Juliet that the teacher wanted to discuss, then stood and recited it from memory. She even managed to speak in that strange language Shakespeare loved without stumbling or missing a syllable.
Joss was torn between trying to hide his face – pretending like he didn't know her after all – and gaping at her in awe that she was so good at Iambic Pentameter. The strangest part of all was that the moment she finished reading the part, she immediately translated it into modern, slangy English.
The teacher clapped in amazement. “Did you star in the play at some point?” He wondered.
Not really,” Sadiya shrugged. “I just love Romeo and Juliet!”
You said that you're already in college,” the teacher mused. “Are you majoring in English?”
Nope, I tested out of all of them,” Sadiya stated. “I'm currently focusing on quantum physics and astronomy.”
One of the snottiest girls in school snorted derisively. “I didn't think it was possible to be a bigger freak than Joss, but apparently I was wrong. And you look so normal too...”
Sadiya smiled at her. “I have no idea why you think it's uncool to be smart, but you want to know a secret? I'm going to be able to get any job I want someday and I'll be able to make all the money I want. You are probably going to be stuck working at a fast food restaurant unless you get lucky and marry a wealthy man who only wants you because you make decent arm candy!”
Snotty girl gaped at her but literally couldn't think of an argument. Finally, she spluttered. “I am not! I'm going to be a physical therapist and help rehabilitate people with chronic pain!”
Are you?” Sadiya asked with interest. “Then have you taken any anatomy classes?”
No,” Snotty admitted reluctantly. “They're boring and hard to understand!”
Sadiya snorted in disbelief. “Well, if you can't even handle a relatively easy high school anatomy class, good luck passing the required college AP courses to get that degree you need.”
Snotty looked ready to cry as she realized that Sadiya was right. “Damn...” she muttered.
Okay ladies,” the teacher interjected. “I think this conversation has gone far enough.” Secretly, he was delighted to see that Sadiya's words hit home to a few of the students who had actually seemed to think about their futures.
Joss sighed in relief when school finally ended for the day. “I can totally see why you skipped straight to college. High school would have been terrible for you! If they didn't strangle you outright, your classmates probably would have ignored you and refuse to even acknowledge you.”
Sadiya shook her head. “Nah, they'd have all sucked up to me when they realized that I don't mind helping others with their homework.”
Joss led her into another classroom, which made Sadiya frown.
I thought this nightmare was over for the day!”
Joss laughed. “Now it's time for choir!”
Sadiya looked around at all the teens who were staring at her. Most of them had seen her already, but a couple of them wondered who she was. Hunter was the last one to arrive, surprising Sadiya by covering her eyes playfully from behind.
Do me a favor,” he stated after she yelped and forced herself not to throw him over her shoulder. “Never come to any of my classes again!”
Sadiya laughed as Joss took a moment to explain to their club adviser who Sadiya was and why she was visiting for the day. The teacher laughed, and then grinned at her.
You get to be our audience today! We decided to take a small break from rehearsals, so everyone split into groups and prepared songs that spoke to them.”
Joss and another girl started off by performing a duet from a famous musical. A couple of the girls banded together to sing Miss Independent. The boys performed Eminem's Guilty Conscious – only edited in order to gloss over the swear words.
Sadiya laughed, deciding that the not-quite-curse-words made the song even funnier than the song was to begin with. The best part was that they had a band that played music as they all sang, so they all seemed like rock stars. She had no problem getting up and dancing with the rest of the choir.
When they were all done performing, Sadiya glommed onto her cousin. “Okay, I admit it! This club totally makes up for having to suffer through all those classes! I wonder if I can talk a couple of my homeschool peeps into starting our own club!”
I thought you said that you couldn't sing!” Joss protested.
I can't!” Sadiya confirmed. “But why should that stop me from having fun?”
The girl who had sat next to Hunter at lunch now sat next to Hunter's current girlfriend Amy, and they both didn't like the way Hunter had flirted with her earlier.
Why not give it a try?!” They suggested a bit too innocently.
Sadiya grinned at them, knowing full well that they wanted her to embarrass herself. “If you want me to, why not? But don't blame me if your ears hurt after I'm done!”
The class encouraged her warmly. They had all started out with no confidence, and had learned how to encourage one another. Sadiya quietly consulted with the band to see if they knew how to play the song she wanted. To her delight, they did.
She faced the choir, took a deep breath, and then launched into one of her favorite songs.
It was great when it all began. I was a regular Frankie fan. But it was over when he had the plan, to start a-working on a muscle man. Now the only thing that gives me hope, is my love of a certain dope. Rose tint my world, keep me safe from my trouble and pain!”
The song was actually written for several different characters to play. Even so, she hadn't expected one of the boys to suddenly jump up and sing the next part. Hunter sang the third part, and then Hunter's girlfriend sang the last part.
Sadiya clapped, bouncing happily. “Wow! I didn't expect any of you to know this song!”
Joss put an arm around her. “We were going to do the show as a play a while back, but decided against it in the end. It was totally fun to rehearse though!”
That would have been awesome!” Sadiya exclaimed. “Now I really wish I could go watch you kick ass at your national competition!”
Her cellphone vibrated for one second, signaling that she got a text. She checked it and then groaned.
I'm going to have to steal my car back from you, Hunter. Apparently one of my refrigerator units broke down, and my assistant managers need me to come in and decide whether to authorize repairs on it or simply replace it.”
I guess inheriting a grocery store kinda sucks after all, huh?” Hunter sympathized.
I can drive you,” Joss offered. “I really want to see your store! Maybe I can even help out a bit while you deal with your emergency.”
Sadiya smiled at him, grateful for his support. “I guess you get to keep my car after all!” She informed Hunter, and then linked her arm through Joss' again.
Hunter's current and ex girlfriends joined in as everyone sincerely waved goodbye to her. They simply couldn't hate her when she was so easy to get along with. Sadiya smirked as she heard the boys gang up on Hunter.
You seriously get to live with her?! Where does she sleep? Have you accidentally walked in on her in the shower yet?”
Joss gaped at them incredulously before shaking his head and continuing on their way to his car. “Jeez! Have a little class!” He muttered.

*****

The next day, Sadiya served herself the last of the chicken and vegetable soup that she'd made with the stock, then set it aside to cool a bit while she cleaned out the crockpot. Once it was wiped dry, she tossed the beef tongue in it. She'd already scalded and peeled it, so now it looked like any other roast. Mostly...
She covered it with broth leftover from a previous roast, and then added a couple of pounds of tallow and adjusted the seasonings to taste. She set the crockpot on low and left it to simmer until about the same time tomorrow.
She didn't paid any attention to the time, simply working on assignments listed in the syllabus of her favorite class that weren't due yet. She liked to work ahead, and with the end of the school year coming up in a couple of weeks, she liked the idea of finishing all her homework early and then coasting until the end of her classes.
Hayleigh worked quietly in her office and the two of them completely forgot the other was even home. With a stretch and a yawn, Sadiya decided to hop online and see if Miko was available to Skype. It was 4 o'clock here, so it would be 6AM in Japan, but Miko often hopped online for a bit in the morning while she ate breakfast.
Sure enough, Miko was just waiting to gossip about the newest episode of her favorite show that had aired the night before. Sadiya was in the middle of promising to watch it online if she could when the door opened to admit the entire choir club.
Nee Miko, Jiten Matsu.” Hey Miko, Wait a minute. Sadiya took a good look at them, and realized that they were going to be way too noisy to hear her friend, so she wished her a good day at school. “Sayonara!”
Miko promised to send the newest manga she'd bought, and then wished Sadiya a good day before letting her go.
It smells amazing in here!” The teens all murmured in agreement.
Sorry, I'm working on tomorrow's lunch,” Sadiya apologized.
They shrugged. Joss stepped forward. “We're going to be rehearsing for a couple hours. You can listen or you can do something else.”
Hayleigh poked her head out of her office, heard this, and then hastily fled from the house.
Sadiya thought this over. “Maybe I'll invite Topher over for a bit.” She pulled out her cellphone, and then stared at it in indecision. “Will you be using the backyard?”
Probably,” Joss stated with a nod. In the background, they could hear Hayleigh's wheels squeal as she drove away.
Then I'll think of something else to do,” Sadiya assured them. It wasn't that she didn't want to listen in, but rehearsals usually meant performing the same thing over and over until it was perfect, and almost no one could handle watching that for long.
A car door slammed shut, and everyone wondered if Hunter's mom had forgotten her purse or something. They realized that it couldn't be her when the doorbell rang. Hunter was standing closest to it, so he opened it, frowning at the stranger.
Can I help you?”
Ian!” Sadiya gasped happily before he could answer, and flung herself into his arms. He hugged her tight for a moment before kissing her.
My wife decided to go to bring the kids to her parents tonight so that she can play nurse to her sick mom. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to go on a date,” Ian explained.
Absolutely!” Sadiya agreed.
I think dinner and dancing,” Ian informed her with a grin. “I even brought a dress for you to wear.” He picked up a fancy white cardboard box that he'd set next to the door, and handed it to her.
Sadiya inhaled in excitement. “I'll go put it on right now!”
But before she could run off, she pointed to Joss. “Joss, Ian, Ian, my cousin Joss. This is his step-brother Hunter and all their friends from choir club.”
Ian barely had time to say hi before she disappeared up the stairs. Joss and Hunter both felt obligated to make awkward conversation with him for a few minutes. They were extremely glad that Jeremy wasn't due home for a while.
Sadiya gracefully walked down the stairs barely ten minutes later. She was now wearing an elegant dark blue gown that sparkled slightly. Her hair was up in a twist secured by glittery clips, and she wore a matching necklace and earring set.
Her shiny, arm-length, white gloves highlighted the necklace a moment later when she pointed it out to him. “Am I borrowing this from your wife?
He shook his head and smiled at her. “Not at all. I bought them just for you in an attempt to cheer you up. I'm sorry I couldn't make it to your parents' funeral, but I miss them dearly.”
Sadiya smiled sadly. “I know you do. They loved having you over for dinner whenever you got a chance to hang out.” She placed her hand in his.
I was thinking Chateau d'Or,” Ian murmured. “And then the Jazz club.”
That sounds perfect!” Sadiya agreed, ignoring the excited chatter as the girls all wished they could go on a date to the 5 star restaurant. She turned to give Joss a kiss on the cheek. “I'll be out late tonight, and my phone will be off, but I will have it with me in case of emergencies.”
Joss was uneasy. He didn't think that his dad would like this date of theirs at all, but there was no way Joss could stop her if she really wanted to go.
Hunter waited until the moment she'd left and the door was shut before tapping his best friend on the chest with the back of his hand. “Dude, I'm spending the night at your house tonight because I don't want to be here when she gets home and Jeremy explodes!”
No kidding!” His best friend agreed.
The group decided to throw themselves into their practice before the drama started. Jeremy came home and watched them in silence for a good hour as he made and ate a sandwich. Finally, they decided to stop for the night and kept glancing at him nervously.
I'm going to Dan's house tonight to work on our part,” Hunter told Jeremy, who agreed only because he knew how important this National Competition was to them.
What about you Joss?” He asked his son.
Joss shrugged, knowing full well that he probably wouldn't be allowed to spend the night at a girl or a boy's house.
Where's Sadiya?” Jeremy wondered, noticing her absence.
Hunter decided to spare Joss this task – since he was going to escape soon anyway. “Her boyfriend took her out to dinner and dancing. He seems like a really good guy. He treated her with respect, and seems to be almost as bluntly honest as she is.”
Joss nodded, adding, “They make a pretty good couple.”
Jeremy knew that he would look like an incompetent idiot if he started shouting in front of all these teenagers, so he took a few deep breaths until he had his temper under control.
Why did you let her go?” He ground out as civilly as possible.
We're not her parents,” Joss stated. “What exactly were we supposed to do to stop her?”
Jeremy growled then left the room so that he could figure out exactly what he was supposed to do, and just how much control over his niece did he have considering that she was just one year and about a month shy of adulthood. He was frustrated most of all by the fact that his sister seemed to let Sadiya do whatever she wanted, and he really didn't have a right to tell her that she couldn't.
Jeremy and his wife were both sitting on the couch waiting for Sadiya when she returned at 11 PM. This would have been an acceptable return time had she asked – and had he been willing to consider letting her go – but since she hadn't asked him, he was close to furious.
He was surprised when Sadiya brought her boyfriend in the house with her. This temporarily replaced his anger with curiosity.
Uncle Jeremy? I knew that you'd want to meet Ian, so I convinced him to come in for a bit,” Sadiya informed him, and then introduced them.
Pleased to meet you,” Ian responded like a perfect gentleman.
Do you want something to drink?” Sadiya asked like a good hostess should.
That's okay, I'm not thirsty,” Ian declined.
Hayleigh decided to make pleasant conversation before her husband erupted. “So, Ian, what is it that you do?”
I run my own software development company,” he informed her.
Jeremy blurted out his most burning question. “And what makes it okay to date my teenaged niece? Especially since you're married!”
Ian shrugged, and then replied honestly. “She asked me to be the father of her future children, stated her case quite logically, and even John and Candi thought it was a good idea. I took her out on a few dates before agreeing to her proposition. Now I'm pretty darn fond of Sadiya.”
Sadiya purred happily as he ruffled her hair. She placed a hand on his cheek, which prompted him to take hold of it and press a kiss to her gloved knuckles.
I had so much fun dancing with you,” Sadiya confessed.
Same here. I probably won't get to see you again before your competition at the end of June, so good luck,” Ian wished her.
Don't worry about that contract,” Sadiya told him. “I just know that you'll get it. Your company is better than all the rest!”
Ian laughed. “Flatterer! But I would feel better if I could send you the program to beta test before we submit it to the client.”
No problem!” Sadiya agreed.
Ian caught Jeremy's curious frown. “We've developed another program to make it a bit easier for people with disabilities to chat with people from around the world. If a genius such as Sadiya here can't use it easily, then we know that a disabled person would have nothing but trouble with it.”
Sadiya finished his explanation. “I regularly chat with people around the world, so I will be able to give useful suggestions if I encounter any problems. And besides, it never hurts to have an outsider look over one's work.”
I see,” Jeremy murmured. His anger had completely deflated. He had expected a lecherous pervert who liked to have sex with under-aged girls, but Ian was nothing like that. He really was a decent man, and Jeremy could almost see why his sister had given him her blessing.
Jeremy shook off his complacency. “Well, I know that I am still mostly a stranger here, but I'm not comfortable with you dating my niece.” He turned his attention to Sadiya. “And I would appreciate it if you asked me before going anywhere with anyone!”
Sadiya sighed and kissed Ian on the cheek so that he could leave before she argued with her uncle. Jeremy was gracious enough to let the man leave.
With a growl, Sadiya crossed her arms and glared at her uncle. “I have been completely honest with you! I've told you exactly where I would be at any given moment, and I have tried to conform to your expectations. All I ask in return is that you give me the same treatment my parents gave me!”
What do you mean by that?!” Jeremy demanded.
Just that my parents trusted me to make my own decisions! Right now I have two businesses that make significant demands on my time. If you seriously want me to ask you before I go anywhere with anyone, then you have to be prepared for me to call you about a hundred times a day to ask if I can go to business meetings, or college classes, or just to hang out with my friends! Do you really expect Joss to ask you before he can go to a friend's house on the way home from school?”
Hayleigh put a hand on her husband's shoulder. “She has a point... You can't hold her to a different standard than our sons.”
So I should just let her do whatever she wants? We don't even let the boys do whatever they want!” Jeremy pointed out.
Sadiya sighed. “I already told you... I have been and will continue to be completely honest with you about where I plan to be and what I'm doing. I don't see how that is any different than when Joss or Hunter tell you what they plan to do.”
It's different because they spend all their time singing with their friends and maybe squeeze in a five minute makeout session...” Jeremy tilted his head side to side to indicate that he was referring to both Hunter and his girlfriend and Joss and his boyfriend. “But you! With you, I have to worry about you flirting with college guys and trying to have kids with a man twice your age! You're still a teenaged girl, for Christ's sake! Why not try acting like it?!”
Sadiya snorted. “Oh... so instead of calmly and logically planning out my future, you'd rather I go makeout with high school boys until we get stupid and forget that actions have consequences!”
No!” Jeremy roared, “I'd prefer if you weren't interested in boys at all!”
Be a lesbian, got it!” Sadiya stated in agreement, then turned and stomped upstairs.
Jeremy rested his head on his wife's shoulder, sighing in frustration. “Why do girls have to be so much more difficult?”
Hayleigh laughed. “Maybe because you seem to be holding her to a completely different and much stricter standard. And maybe it's partly due to the fact that she's never had to rebel before. She's just about due for a big time act of defiance.”
Oh God! I shudder to think what she would consider an act of defiance!” Jeremy blurted out.
Then stop pushing her until you find out,” Hayleigh suggested. “Loosen up a bit and try to accept her for who she is. With a son as unique and wonderful as yours is, I really didn't think you'd have a hard time letting her be herself.”
Jeremy groaned, agreeing with her even though he didn't want to admit it.

 Go To Chapter 4

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