WARNING! Long chapter to get us going well in Generation 3!
“Don’t be nervous, babe. They’ll love you just as much as I do.”
I pressed Jennifer’s hands to my lips and kissed them. She let out a nervous giggle. “I hope so. I hope your mom likes me.” She looked worried. “I read that moms are usually very protective of their boys and tend not to like their girlfriends…”
“Don’t worry so much,” I tried to calm her down. “Mom is great. Everyone is great. You’ll be fine. Let’s go inside.”
It had been almost three months since Jen and I had made things official. And these past three months had been great. She was pretty, but not arrogant, and had a calmness about her that balanced my high energy well. So far, she hadn’t met any of my family. Not even Samuel, even though he and I went to a high school. Jennifer went to a private school one town over. It was by chance that I’d met her, both rocking out to the same music at a concert over the summer. The spark was there immediately, we kissed on the final love ballad, and not long after, we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
“Hey mom, dad; Jennifer’s here!” I yelled enthusiastically when I entered the kitchen.
“Oh, wonderful!” Mom turned around immediately and walked up to Jennifer, giving her a big smile and an even bigger hug. Jen smiled. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Horton.” “Oh, please, call me Allie, honey. Phil, come meet your son’s girlfriend! She’s just as pretty as he told us!”
Jen looked slightly embarrassed but flattered. Dad looked up from his famous cookie batter and nodded at her with a friendly face. “Great to have you here for our early Christmas celebration, Jennifer. I’d come shake your hand, but I’m afraid mine are covered in cookie dough.”
“How about you two go into the living room? I think everybody’s there,” mom said, looking past us into the living room. “Except Anna. I think she snuck upstairs to look through Juliette’s book case.” She shook her head with a smile. “That girl will never change.”
“Yeah, we’ll go say ‘hi’ everyone. What do you think, Jen? Are you up to the challenge?” I grinned at her and gave her a small pinch in her side. Jennifer stuck her tongue out at me. “I think I’ll manage.”
I guided Jen into the living room. “That’s obviously your brother,” Jen said, as soon as she saw Samuel sitting in a chair by the fire. I nodded. “Yep, that’s Sam.” “Are you guys close?”
“Oh, yeah. I was the first one he came out to,” I said softly, so Sam wouldn’t hear us. “Really?” “Yep. Although we’d all known for years, of course. It wasn’t really a surprise. Once, when he was five, he cried because a girl in kindergarten had a crush on him and he had a crush on her older brother. Mom and dad suspected it ever since then. But still, I think it’s always tough to be honest about something like that.”
Jennifer nodded. “Well, I’d love to meet him.”
We sat down on the couch next to Sam. A smile flashed across his face. “So this is her! The famous Jennifer. The Rachel to his Ross. Good to finally meet you.”
Jennifer laughed. “Good to meet you, too. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Probably not as much as I’ve heard about you,” Samuel joked. “So are you ready to meet the entire Fiore family in one go, huh?”
“I guess,” Jennifer shrugged. “Who are those two uh… lovebirds over there?”
I looked over at the Christmas tree, where my uncle and his wife were tied in a passionate embrace. I cringed outwardly. “Ugh. That’s my uncle Enzo and aunt Hester. They’re pretty cool when they’re not attached to each other.”
Sam leaned over. “It’s because they already got here at four and finished the punch bowl between the two of them.” Jennifer giggled. “Do they have any kids?”
“A girl, Anna,” I answered. “She’s our sister’s age. But she’s the one who snuck upstairs to read. She takes after her mom, she doesn’t love big crowds.”
“And that’s our sister, Juliette.” Samuel pointed to the eleven-year-old in a corner of the room. “Wow, she looks a lot like your dad!”
Sam and I laughed. “She’s a total daddy’s girl. You know, being the youngest and all that.” “But don’t let her cute face fool you,” Sam added. “She can be super sassy if she wants to.”
Jennifer smiled. “And the other girl? Is she family, too?”
“Nope. That’s Sarah. She’s Jules’ best friend. Her parents have a lot of kids, and they have to struggle to make ends meet, so she often comes by here for dinner time or sleepovers when things get too hectic at her house.” I shook my head. “They’re good kids, but really, they get up to some serious mischief when they’re together.” “Which is hilarious, too.”
Jennifer looked around the room. “This is everyone?”
“Yep. That’s the Fiore clan.”
Samuel and I both fell silent for a while. Jen looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to…” “It’s fine,” I said quickly. “Grandma and grandpa past away earlier this year. It was quite sudden,” Sam explained. “Grandma had a stroke. He found her just… asleep in the bed the next morning. Except she’d never wake up again.” He swallowed and I continued. “Grandpa died not even two weeks after. We think he didn’t want to live without her. His heart stopped working. Out of nowhere.”
“Wow,” Jen said softly. “That’s so sad. But so beautiful.”
Samuel nodded. “Yep. If I ever find a love like that, I’ll have nothing else to wish for.”
I looked over at Jennifer and smiled without even noticing it. Perhaps finding a love like that wouldn’t be too difficult.
“Well,” Sam said, with renewed energy. “Let’s eat, I’m starving!”
“I hope you liked everyone.” My arms were wrapped around Jen and her hair was tickling my face. She pulled away from my arms and kissed me on my cheek. “I did. Your family is so lovely, Oliver. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as they always warn you about. Meet the parents, and all that.”
I smiled. “Good.”
Jennifer looked around my room. “I just realized this is the first time I’m in here.” She glanced at my bookcase and then patted my bedspread. “So, this is where the magic happens, huh?” she joked. “Very funny,” I grinned. In the three months we were dating, Jen and I hadn’t gone further than making out and some cuddling. She was raised in a pretty religious household and taught that sex was something special, preferably to be shared between husband and wife. Mom and dad never raised me with the same ideas, they were a lot more liberal, but I understood where Jen was coming from.
Jen smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry for making you wait.”
“Hey, don’t apologize,” I said, faking a stern voice. “You know I don’t mind. Not at all.” I stroked her cheek. “I’ll wait as long as you want me to. No pressure. Got it?”
“Got it.” Jennifer looked at me sweetly. “But you know… Just because we’re not doing that yet, doesn’t mean we just have to stick to holding hands…”