“Mom how can you think that?” Chris shouted at the image of their mother on his TV. Both their parents were sitting in front of their laptop at the kitchen table. They did not look happy. “You both raised me right. I’m not taking advantage of Emma. I would never take advantage of any woman.”
Mrs. Carrington sighed deeply. “I’m sorry Chris,” she apologized. “I know you would never take advantage of a vulnerable woman. I – we don’t know how to handle this. Emma is our daughter and you are our son. You can imagine our – discomfort with the situation. Where is Emma? We’d like to see her with our own eyes.”
“She’s taking a nap.”
“Please wake her.”
“I’d rather not.”
“Son,” his father began gruffly. “Your mother asked you to do something. We need to see Emma.”
“Ok. Give us a minute.”
“Mom, dad,” Emma said sitting down on the sofa next to Chris. She may have been sleeping a minute ago but she was wide-awake now. Closely watching her parents for any signs of their disgust with her, her mouth went dry with terror.
“Emma how are you?” their dad inquired peering into the laptop screen trying to discern what mood his daughter was in.
“I – I’m good,” she answered hesitantly.
“Are you sure Emma?” Mrs. Carrington questioned.
“Yes mom. I’ve been visiting the schools and Chris has been showing me around town. I had a great time at Venice Beach. I’ve met some people who I like and they se – seem to like me.”
“Of course they like you,” Mr. Carrington said slightly exasperated. “What’s not to like?”
It felt good to see Emma smile. As long as she was smiling, things couldn’t be so bad.
“Emma Chris told us that you wanted to stay longer with him,” Mr. Carrington continued. “For the summer at least.”
“Yes dad. I do. Would it be ok?”
“Honey you’re a grown woman, it’s up to you where you would like to live. Our only concern is that … the nature of your relationship with Chris is … unorthodox. Is this what you want, to – date Chris?”
“Yes dad. I – I love Chris. As a – a man. Not my – brother,” she said self-consciously. As much as she wanted to look way in shame, she needed to know what her adopted parents thought of her confession.
They looked at each other for a moment before turning back to the web cam. Mrs. Carrington smiled tenderly at her daughter.
“Emma, this situation makes us … uncomfortable because we think of you both as our children. But we realize that you two didn’t grow up together and don’t know each other as brother and sister. You both are great people and it shouldn’t surprise us that you both found something in each other to love.
“I know that Chris will take care with you Emma. He’s a good man. But he won’t be able to protect you from his public. As hard as it is for us to accept your relationship, people who don’t know you will find it indecent or inappropriate. They will try and tear you two apart. They will attack you Emma. They are Chris’ fans and they won’t like that you have taken him from them.
“They’ll use the fact that you are his sister to shame you and tear you down. You have to be strong. Real strong.”
Emma looked at her mother uncertainly. “I – I know mom,” she finally said. “It scares me, but mostly for Chris. I’m – nobody. He’s got contracts he has to live by.”
“Baby girl I don’t care about my contracts,” Chris told her sincerely.
“You need to,” she said turning to him, her face very concerned. “Chris I know you must have a moralities clause in all your contracts, with the Pumas, with Nike, with Coke. You – sleeping with your sister is, is going to get you into trouble with those clauses.”
“Emma I have made more than enough money to support all of us for the rest of our lives. They can let me go. They can fire me as their spokesperson. I don’t care. All I want is you. I love you baby girl.”
“Chris you love being a quarterback. Where are you going to find that kind of satisfaction in life if you are labeled as a sexual deviant?”
“Just because they say it doesn’t mean it’s true.”
“Honey,” his mom interjected. “Perception is reality. You know that given your fame. Is this something you can live with for the rest of your lives?”
“I don’t care,” Chris said more emphatically. “All I care about is Emma. I’ve finally found my place in the world. That means more to me than being a quarterback.”
Emma burst into tears, hugging Chris and burying her face in his chest. She clutched at him.
“I – I don’t – deserve you,” she stuttered. “How can you – love me – so –so much? I’m not – worth you losing your job and money. You are entitled to a woman who will add to your life not subtract from it.”
He pulled her off him so he could look her in the eye.
“You add something more important to my life than a job and money,” he rebuked her gently. “You bring me satisfaction and happiness. I look forward to being with you when you are away from me. I’m excited about you being with me this summer, waking up next to you every morning. Emma you make my life complete. If we are to survive the public scrutiny, you have got to know how much I need and want you. No matter what anyone says.”
He gently wiped away her tears with his fingers. Her beautiful brown eyes looked up at him with such love. Kissing her on the forehead, he then hugged her to him tightly.
The two of them looked back at the TV.
“We can see how much you both care for one another,” their dad divulged reluctantly. “Our hesitation is the hell you both will go through because of how people will perceive you. You have our blessing for your relationship.”
“Thanks dad, mom,” Chris said grinning. “That means a lot to us.”
“Yes dad, mom,” Emma repeated. “It makes me feel … securer to have your approval.”
“We are here if you need anything,” Mr. Carrington offered. “Let us know.”
“I love you mom, dad,” the both of them said smiling.