When Melanie Flynn returned home to her parents’ mansion in Pleasantview, she was used to being on her own in the house she’d rented with Lori Lassiter at University. Now she felt almost as though she had reverted to childhood. Her parents were thrilled to have her back at home and showed their affection, trying not to be the authoritative parental figures, but Melanie felt disjointed somehow. It was home; but it wasn’t home. The main reason was that she missed her long-time boyfriend, Gareth Caswell, who was in similar circumstances at his mother’s house. Neither one of them had much money of their own and they were looking for jobs. Happily Gareth did get a job in the sports field within a day or two of returning home. He was currently a coach and history teacher in the local high school, but he didn’t make much money.
Melanie was still trying to decide what she wanted to do for employment. Her degree was in economics. That had sounded good in theory and she excelled in the subject, but now that she was back in the real world, she had no idea if she wanted to go into the business realm or not. She needed money though, if Gareth asked the question she hoped he would ask, they would need a house.
Olivia told her daughter to just enjoy her freedom for a bit; she’d had her nose to the grindstone for four years, she needed a little vacation.
So Melanie decided to relax and enjoy the time off, shopping at Goth’s Apparel appealed to her so she left early one day to do just that. The first person she ran into was her oldest sister, Yvette. They talked for a while and had coffee. She promised to visit Yvette and Mark soon; she was anxious to see their daughter, Simone, who was growing by leaps and bounds.
That evening over dinner, Melanie asked her mother to give her a massage on their new massage table. She had been telling her parents that, even though her degree was in economics, she thought she might prefer a more creative job. She used to love to paint. Her parents were former film stars, now they both were authors. Her mother wrote fiction and her father wrote of his many exciting exploits when he was single. Mostly adventures in travel and danger, but admittedly, some romantic peccadilloes, too. Olivia, as a rule, preferred not to read some of these. The less detail she knew of the perils Errol had sometimes been in or the hearts he had broken, the better. So they definitely understood her desire to explore possibilities in the creative arts area.
Melanie talked over her worries further during her massage. Her mother did not give advice but only acted as a sounding board, a very sympathetic and understanding one.
The next day Garrett was coming over for dinner at the house, just casual but she had not seen him in a couple days and was anxious. He had cut off all his beautiful curls and she had yet to see how he looked.
“Babe, I couldn't start a job as head coach with my hair looking the way it always has. It’s time to be professional; time to grow up. Athletics just don’t mix with long hair and leather vests, especially high school athletics,” Gareth had told her over the phone.
“I know,” she’d pouted a little.
She could picture his mischievous and irresistible grin in her mind’s eye as he said,
“Afraid you won’t love me any more without my bad-boy good looks?”
He laughed, “Thinking of calling us off?”
Melanie regained her composure and her usual cynical humor,
“No way. I gave myself up for lost when I first fell for you, handsome, I knew it was no use. Just face it though; you’re hooked, too; don’t try to squirm out of it.”
He laughed his easy laugh once more. Yes, she was very anxious to see her boy again.
A few minutes later she was headed to the mailbox (which the family had forgotten to check in three days) when she recognized Chelsea’s mother, Jenny, walking down the street. Melanie hadn’t seen her in years, not since before she and Mr. Lomax divorced. She looked very well, amazingly she was as young and pretty as ever. Jenny had always been nice to Melanie when she was a child, but she knew that Chelsea had been devastated over her mother’s defection and never talked to Jenny. She never talked about her much, either, except sometimes to Trey Lassiter, her high school sweetheart and now her husband.
Melanie greeted her and they talked for a few minutes about what was new in Melanie’s life and in Jenny’s. Evidently she had remarried—and had a child. This totally threw Melanie; Chelsea had never said a word about it---did she even know?
That night when Gareth came over for supper, Melanie took a long look at him.
“Well?” he winked.
“I like it short; I was afraid I wouldn’t, but I do. Still, where are your curls? Are they gone because it’s so short?”
“Nah,” he looked sheepish, “I put a lot of that gunk in it to make it straight when I blow it out.”
“It looks nice, but I’d love to see you use just a touch of the ‘gunk’ and let your curly hair be itself,” she suggested with a smile.
“As you wish,” he made a slight bow from the waist and, becoming serious, switched to another subject,
“You know I’m in love with you, but I haven’t actually put the question to you. So now I’m asking you now if you’ll marry me,” Before she could answer he added,
“If you agree, I want us to announce our engagement and go look at rings—I mean everyone knows we want to get married, but let’s make it official. What do you say, baby?”
“I say absolutely, positively yes!” she eagerly leaned toward him and he pulled her close.
“Then it’s settled, you’ll be Mrs. Caswell as soon as we can swing it time-wise, okay? Baby, give me some sugar.”
And she did.
They had just enough time before the meal to get in a game of pool, and Gareth teased her,
“I love your mom’s cooking; but when do I get to sample some of yours? I mean, just to be sure I’ve made the right choice.”
“Okay, I’ll cook dinner tomorrow—but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“That’s okay; I’m marrying you for your looks and money, not your culinary skills.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” she laughed.
They told Errol and Olivia at supper. Her parents were not surprised in the least and gave their approval. At first, they’d been a little leery of Gareth and the way he looked and talked, but soon, like everyone else, they found out he was a warm and genuine man who was good to have around.
Now they made a proposal to the young couple that they were a little tentative about. They were unsure how either of them would react. They hoped Melanie and Heath might consider living in the Flynn home rather than buy a house at this time.
“We are leaving this house to you eventually anyway,” Olivia added.
“But what about Yvette and Lalique?” Melanie asked.
“Well, Yvette and Mark have no intention of moving from where they are now—they love it there and it suits their lifestyle. Lalique is totally uninterested. She said, and I quote, ‘If a miracle happens and I ever marry, I’ll want to choose a home with my husband. If not, the house I’m in is plenty for me to take care of at this point.’ You’re father and I are fortunate to still have good health and have no plans to go either to a rest home or to die any time soon, but you never know. If you decide you like the idea we’d be leaving the home to you in our will and then you would own it free and clear. To make up the difference to Yvette and Lalique they would be receiving a larger amount of money, while you would inherit our home and a little less money so that’s something to consider. You may prefer to opt for the larger portion of money and that’s perfectly all right with us. Or you can live here, but sell the place when we go and have that money. If you feel at any time you want to move to another place we can still leave this house to you to sell or keep as an investment.”
Gareth was totally in shock and a little apprehensive. Melanie, on the other hand, was elated. She’d always hoped to raise her children here, she loved it so.
“You don’t have to make a decision now, of course,” Errol pointed out, “Take your time, think about it and talk it over with each other in privacy. The most important thing to us is that you be happy whatever you decide.”
“Sir, I am truly overcome and honored,” Gareth finally was able to speak, “I promise you we will give it due consideration.”
At any time Gareth was apt to switch from his usual ‘dude, you’re a crack-up’ speech pattern to a more formal one that included a well-rounded vocabulary, depending on the subject matter. Melanie was used to this; it was just another facet of his personality that intrigued her. Of course, her parents were startled to hear him talk this way suddenly, yet Olivia was pleased. She loved precise diction and grammar. Being a formally trained actress, this was understandable.
Gareth surreptitiously reached for Melanie’s hand under the table and squeezed it in reassurance.
Oh, how I love this man, she thought giddily.
The next day at breakfast, Gareth broke the news to his mother about the engagement and the possibility of moving into the Flynn mansion. Glenn was somewhat worried, especially regarding the part of the young couple living with her parents. Gareth was used to a relatively simple life with his mother, at least simple when compared to the Flynns. In addition, she wondered if he was responsible enough to take on a wife. Gareth was a good son and she knew he was highly intelligent and capable of great things. But he was still very young at 22. Melanie, she knew, was ready for this commitment, but women usually matured earlier than men. Glenn didn’t want to say anything to criticize Gareth or Melanie and her family, so she chose her words carefully. As she spoke Gareth listened attentively and when he answered her, she realized that in the four years he’d been away—and in spite of his casual manner—he had grown up much more than she realized. This put her mind to rest about their marriage plans, but she still was cautious about the possible plans to live with Melanie’s parents.
He convinced her that even if they decided to do so, nothing was written in stone that they had to remain there if they were unhappy.
“I know Melanie really wants to try this, Mom, oh, she hasn’t tried to coerce me—I just know her and how she thinks and how much her home and family mean to her. I’d really like to try it if nothing more than to make her happy.”
“Gareth once you’re married you will be her family. Her allegiance should be to God first, then you, then to any children you have, and only after that to her parents and sisters--and it should be the same for you. You both need to think on that. I’m glad you want to make her happy and your first consideration is her feelings, but she has to reciprocate. And if you’re not happy there, she will not be happy there either. What do you really want to do? Will you promise me to debate it in your mind and talk with Olivia again? And, Gareth, be sure to pray for assistance in your choice.”
He nodded. The next day he then told Glenn,
“I want to try living there with Melanie. I think it’s only fair to give the idea a chance, Mom.”
Glenn hugged him,
“That’s your decision then and since you’ve really thought about it and prayed, I’m content. Therefore; I think it’s time to invite her parents over to celebrate your engagement.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” he lapsed into his usual vernacular and Glenn smiled,
“I’m so going to miss you son,”
“I’ll just be across town, Mom.”
“I know and I thought I should be used to living alone here again, but all the time you were in school you came home for holidays and I knew you would be home when you got your degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love living alone in a lot of ways, I did it for years before you were born. I just miss having you around—you’re good company you know.”
“I promise I’ll come by every week and bring Melanie and sometimes I’ll come alone so we can play SSX3 or pool,” he assured her.
Glenn rarely cried, and never in front of anyone, but she was fighting back tears now as she looked at Gareth and remembered the little boy he’d been and the things they’d done together through the years. Well, she now had the daughter she’d once wanted and perhaps grandchildren would come along before she died.
“Buddy boy, I’ve love that,” she high-fived him.