Aubrey stood there, in his dress blue pants — that his mom had said were too tight — and his pale pink button down shirt, and wished he were with his dad.
He’d mentioned bringing his dad along, reminding his mom that he had no other family.
“He has friends,” she said.
“None that he’d spent Thanksgiving with!” Aubrey tried to keep his cool.
She sighed and looked heavenward. “It has been this way every year. I have the right to choose to go out of town for a holiday! Just because you want to spend some time with your father doesn’t mean I have to stay.”
Aubrey still couldn’t believe the way she was acting. His dad was alone today, on Thanksgiving, because his mom had decided to take a trip. He could have rebelled, he could have just told her he wasn’t going, but he’d kept quiet. She was acting strange, and he and his dad had both thought it better to just go along with it.
Which had pissed Aubrey off. Since when did his dad “go along” with anything his mom did?
“Honey, can you carry the cranberry sauce?”
Aubrey had never sulked, but he wanted to sulk now. He wanted to spend the entire three days at Aunt Sarah’s sulking.
He took the dish from her outstretched hands, her smile bright as she gazed at him. Her dress was nearly the exact shade of the cranberry sauce in his hand. She’d always insisted on dressing up for the holidays.
While Aubrey and his dad would lay around the house, eating and watching TV. They’d eat more dessert than dinner, until they felt so sick they thought they’d puke.
He carried the food to the small table in the tiny kitchen. There wasn’t much room in Aunt Sarah’s place; just a kitchen, a living room with one couch and a very old TV, and a closet-sized bedroom, with an even smaller bathroom.
His phone rang as he set the glass dish down. He practically ripped his pants off trying to get the damn thing out.
“Aubrey?” His mom called as he rushed from the room.
It was his dad.
“Aubrey!” She called as he opened the apartment door and stepped out into the hallway.
“Hey,” he said, a smile taking over his face.
He sighed. “I’m glad you called. I’ve been missing you.” He’d not seen his dad since Monday afternoon. And that had been only for a couple of hours.
“I miss you too.”
“What are you doing?”
“Just hanging around the house, getting some shit done.” He didn’t sound all that thrilled about it.
“I wish I could have been there with you. Mom spent all day yesterday cooking and baking, I helped, because she asked and I felt bad for her. But, shit,” he sighed. “It was the most the boring thing I’ve ever done.”
His dad chuckled.
“It’s just the three of us but she made enough food to feed a small country.”
“Bring some of it back, we can eat it this weekend and I won’t have to cook.”
Aubrey chuckled lightly. “Yeah.”
He walked further down the hallway, to the staircase that no one used. He pushed open the heavy door. It was all concrete — stairs, walls, and floor. And no windows. Creepy.
“She’s never acted like this, Dad,” he said quietly as he sat on the top step.
“She’s been alone a long time. I think it’s probably catching up with her.”
“Maybe.” He hoped that’s all it was. “She doesn’t get it, by her treating me this way, she’s pushing me away.”
“Yeah. It’d push anyone away. You should just tell her to chill the fuck out.” Aubrey heard the smile in his voice.
“I’d be able to tell you that, but her? I think she’d spend the next month fasting and praying for my rebellious soul.”
His dad laughed.
“I hate that you’re alone on Thanksgiving,” he said quietly.
“I know, but this is the last year this will happen. Every other year we can spend it together. And all the other goddamn time we want.”
Aubrey swallowed. “Yeah. We will. Every minute.”
He heard his dad breathing over the line. “Every minute.”
“This pumpkin pie is so moist. Don’t you think, Aunt Sarah?”
Aubrey tried not to groan in boredom. His mom had been talking non-stop since they’d sat down to eat. Sarah had hardly said a word. She looked as if most of the time she was lost in her head. Which was probably why she was in this assisted living place.
“It is,” Sarah said in her scratchy voice. Her blue eyes were murky and her skin was pale white. She resembled a vampire, which he thought his dad would probably find funny.
He cracked a smile at that thought.
“There’s that smile!” His mom exclaimed.
It dropped from his face.
“Oh, how I’ve missed it,” she gushed.
“Isn’t he so handsome?” She beamed at Sarah and then at him.
Who was this person?
“Uh...” Aubrey felt weird. His mom wasn’t acting herself.
“Don’t you think I’ve made such a handsome boy?”
Okay. This needed to stop.
“Mom, what’s going on?” Aubrey looked directly at her.
Her cheeks were shimmery with some pink stuff she powdered them with, and her brown eyes were outlined in a thin layer of black. That was normal. But the slightly manic look in her eyes wasn’t.
“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong! Why would you think that?”
Aunt Sarah kept right on eating. Aubrey didn’t even know if she was paying attention to what they were saying.
“You’re not acting like yourself. You’re acting really weird.”
She waved him away. “I’m fine, honey. There’s nothing wrong.” She took a bite of her pie. “Mmmm, this is so good.”
Okay. This was definitely getting weird as shit. She was working too hard to be happy.
“I think I’m done,” Aubrey said as he got up.
He took his plate to the sink.
“But there’s still so much food left!” She exclaimed.
“I’ll take it to dad’s this weekend.” He turned to leave.
Her whispered words stopped him. They weren’t just whispered, they were hissed with an underlying emotion.
Aubrey slowly turned, his brows pinched and a frown pulling at his mouth.
She was staring at him, anger and hurt shining from her eyes.
“You aren’t going to his house this weekend, are you?”
He faced her. “Yes, I am.” He was not going to completely bend over backwards for her.
“But...” she now looked like a lost child. “Why?”
“Because I miss him,” he said honestly.
She burst out in tears.
Aubrey hadn’t been expecting that.
Sarah stared at her. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I can’t,” she sobbed. “I just can’t. I can’t pretend.” She covered her face with her hands.
“Pretend?” Aubrey went to her and put his arm around her shoulder.
“That I’m not losing you! That you’re leaving me, that I’m alone!” She cried harder.
Sarah reached over and patted her arm. “It’s not so bad being alone.”
His mom wailed.
Aubrey had never seen her like this. Her makeup was running in black and pink lines down her cheeks, and her shoulders were shaking.
“I’ve done everything right. I’ve raised you in the church, I’ve put you in a Christian school—all by myself—never asking him to pay any of the tuition. I even gave you time with him.” She grabbed her napkin and smothered her face in it.
“Now you love him better,” she sobbed in the cloth napkin.
Aubrey rubbed her shoulder. He wished he could tell her that wasn’t true, that he loved her the same, but he didn’t.
There was no one in the world he loved even close to how he loved his dad. She didn’t know what was going on between them, but she’d noticed the shift. She’d seen how he wanted to be with his dad all the time.
What would she do when she found out he wouldn’t leave for college without his dad coming along?
They were on their way back from Orlando. Sterling had just talked with his son this morning. Aubrey had told him about Allyson’s break down yesterday.
He wasn’t completely heartless, so he did feel bad for her. He didn’t agree with the way she lived, or the things she believed, but he didn’t want her miserable.
But when it came to Aubrey, well, everyone else could fuck off.
Aubrey was his. And Allyson would need to get the fuck over it.
He heard his gate squeak open. A smile broke out on his face. Aubrey was here.
He swung open the door. His smile dropped. Allyson was walking Aubrey in like he was a goddamn child.
He ground his teeth together. He got that she was dropping him off since they were coming back from a trip; but walking him in?
“Hey Dad,” he gave him a small smile, his eyes darting between him and his mom.
“Sterling,” she said stiffly.
She was standing in the middle of the patio, while Sterling stood in his doorway, holding the door open. Aubrey was between them, his hands in his pockets, his gaze lowered.
What the hell?
“C’mon, Aubrey.” He motioned him inside.
Aubrey looked grateful as he started toward him.
“I’d like to speak with you first, Sterling.”
His jaw tightened. It was already after six pm and he just wanted to get inside with his son.
Aubrey glanced back at her. An irritated look crossed his face.
“I haven’t seen my son in two weeks, Allyson. I think whatever the fuck you’re going to say can wait.”
She glared at him. “You just saw him on Monday! And don’t you swear at me—”
“News flash, Allyson, this is my goddamn house and I’ll say whatever the fuck I want.”
She crossed her arms. “You’re horrible. Absolutely horrible.”
Aubrey turned around. “Don’t say that.”
“Aubrey,” he said. He didn’t want his boy getting in the middle of this.
“No, I’m not going to let her say shit like that.” He sounded angry.
“Do you see?!” She waved a hand wildly at Aubrey. “Do you see the way he talks now?” She jabbed a finger in his direction. “You’re the cause of it. You’ve been nothing but a worldly example to him since the day he was born!” She said loudly.
“Goodnight, Allyson,” Sterling said. He didn’t have time for this shit. He wanted to be with his boy.
“No,” she ground out. “You can’t just dismiss me like that.”
“I think I can. You have no say on what I can and can’t do.” He wrapped his fingers around Aubrey’s wrist.
“You’re not taking him,” Allyson said.
Aubrey and Sterling both froze. “The fuck?” Sterling said quietly.
“He’s my son. And I’m done letting him spend time with you.”
Sterling felt fury fill his veins. He. Was. Going. To. Explode. How fucking dare she?
“Let me?” Aubrey said before he could say anything. “What the hell does that mean?”
She shifted her angry gaze to Aubrey. “I have legal right over you. I’ve played nice for years — too long — and I’m done now.”
Sterling stood there, with his hand holding Aubrey’s wrist, just a foot away from the inside of his house. “You’ll not keep me from seeing my son,” he said.
“My greatest mistake was allowing you to be in his life.”
If Sterling gave a fuck what she thought of him, he’d have been blown to smithereens by her callous words.
“Who the hell are you?” Aubrey said softly, but firmly. He pulled out of Sterling’s grip and went to her.
“You’re my mother, I’ll always love you, but I’m going to say this; don’t try to keep me from my dad.”
Sterling had never heard his boy use the tone of voice he was using now. Low, rough, and fucking serious.
“I’ll just run away. And when you bring me back, I’ll run away again. I won’t be kept from him.”
Allyson stared at him with wide eyes. “What has he done to you?” she whispered.
“He’s taken care of me. He’s been the best dad I could’ve ever hoped for. And it hurts to hear you say things like that about him.”
Her eyes brimmed with tears, and for one small fucking moment, Sterling felt pity for her.
“I’ve lost you. I can’t—” she sucked in a sharp breath. “Where did I go wrong?” She shrugged helplessly. “Why do you love him more?” She whispered the words brokenly.
Sterling stiffened. That wasn’t something his boy could answer. He knew it, Aubrey knew it. There was no explaining the kind of love they had for each other. It went beyond the love they’d ever have for anyone else.
“It’s not...” Aubrey sounded defeated now.
Sterling hated to see his son like this. He knew he loved his mom and didn’t want to hurt her.
She backed away, nodding her head like she’d just come to some realization. “I understand.”
Sterling didn’t know what she understood.
“Mom,” Aubrey reached out a hand.
“No,” she hiccuped. Then she spun on her heel and left the patio.
Aubrey felt like shit, but at the same time, he was mad.
How could she say those things about his dad? He wasn’t going to stand around and let that happen. His dad was his. He was more than a parent, he was his lover and partner. Aubrey may have only been seventeen, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of his dad. That he couldn’t defend him.
“She’s jealous,” his dad said.
They were laying in bed together, Aubrey’s head resting over his dad’s heart. The steady beating was soothing to his agitated nerves.
“I know,” he said quietly.
He watched the pad of his finger draw swirls and tiny shapes on the skin of his dad’s chest.
“She’s never acted like this before, though,” Aubrey said.
His dad’s arm was draped along his back, his fingers caressing Aubrey’s lower back. They would dip into the crease of his ass every once in a while and Aubrey would feel his cock tingle.
“She’s realizing you’re growing up,” his dad said lazily. He buried his other hand in Aubrey’s hair, tugging gently.
Aubrey closed his eyes at how good it felt.
“You’ll be going away to college soon and you’re spending a lot of time with me.” He felt his dad shrug. “She doesn’t know how to handle it.”
Aubrey raised his head and looked at him. “You’re being awfully nice about this.” He scrunched his nose. “Why?”
His dad chuckled softly. Aubrey jostled gently at the movement.
“I love when you do that.” He dragged one of his fingers from Aubrey’s hair, down the middle of his forehead, and down his nose.
“Why are you being so unlike you about this?”
His dad leaned forward and pecked a kiss on the tip of his nose.
“I just get it.”
“Why she can’t let you go. I wouldn’t be able to.”
“You don’t have to. You’re coming with me.”
His dad caressed two fingers down Aubrey’s cheek. He just watched those fingers slid down, then back up. Slide down, back up.
Aubrey felt relaxed, and sleepy. The touch was gentle and comforting.
“Yeah,” his dad finally whispered. “I’ll be coming with you.”
His dad’s birthday was today. It was the last day of November, and a Monday, but they were still going out.
He hadn’t seen his mom since Friday night, but she’d texted him to check in. A simple, how are you? I love you.
Aubrey hated being at odds like this. But he’d not choose her over his dad. He couldn’t. That wasn’t even an option.
When he’d texted her to tell her he was staying another night, because it was his dad’s birthday, she’d not responded.
Which never happened.
Aubrey sighed as he put his phone in his pocket. He and Banner were heading out to their cars. School had just ended.
“How was your Thanksgiving?” Banner asked.
“Why’d you have to go all the way to Canada?”
“Grandparents,” Banner said simply.
Aubrey glanced at him. “I thought your parents didn’t do holidays?” He’d thought Banner’s parents didn’t even talk to him.
Aubrey raised his brows. Banner wasn’t very talkative today.
“Okay...” Aubrey rolled his hand.
Banner didn’t even look at him.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said suddenly.
Before Aubrey could say anything, Banner was walking to his car. Fast. Since when did Banner walk fast? Anywhere?
Aubrey stared at him until he got in his car and backed out.
Later that night they lounged on the couch, with Aubrey's head in his dad's lap and his fingers buried deep in Aubrey's hair.
They’d stayed in, because his dad had told him he didn’t want to go anywhere for his birthday. He’d wanted a night in. With Aubrey.
The half eaten chocolate cake was sitting on the coffee table.
Aubrey was so relaxed that he could have fallen asleep. But he forced his eyelids to stay open because sleeping meant less of this. And it brought him one day closer to leaving his dad's house and heading back to his mom's.
"Why doesn't it feel weird for us?" His dad suddenly said.
Aubrey blinked. "Huh?" He rolled to his back and looked up at him.
"Kissing?" His dad motioned with his chin to the TV screen. They were watching Back to the Future.
Aubrey turned his head and saw Marty and his young mom sitting in a car together. They'd just shared a kiss, and Marty was looking freaked out while his mom was saying it felt wrong.
"His mom didn't even know that was her future son and it felt...wrong." His dad glanced down at him. "Why doesn't it feel that way for us?"
Aubrey reached up and scratched his fingers lightly through the scruff on his dad's cheeks. "That's because it's not wrong."
His dad stared at him, those dark eyes with the smudge of blue looking intense.
They were quiet for several moments, just staring into each other's eyes. They didn't say anything; they didn't need to. Everything was reflected in their gazes.
Slowly, his dad leaned down, never breaking eye contact. With their eyes open, he softly kissed him. Aubrey's heart beat faster and his stomach warmed. His cock tingled as it thickened and his balls drew up tight. Just a kiss could make him like this, could bring him to the edge.
"No," his dad whispered, his breath hot against Aubrey's mouth. "It's not wrong.”
Aubrey wrapped his arms around his dad's neck. "I was meant to be yours."
His dad pulled back just enough so he could see Aubrey's eyes. His left hand caressed Aubrey's scalp and his right lightly smoothed up and down Aubrey's thigh. "I think you're right," he said quietly.
Aubrey watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. "I never felt this way for anyone." He paused, still staring into Aubrey's eyes.
Aubrey slid his fingers into his dad's hair.
"They weren't you,” he continued. "They all...felt...wrong. I know that doesn't make sense."
Aubrey slowly shook his head. "No, it makes perfect sense." He brought his dad's face closer to his. "I told you, we were made for each other."
"Yeah," his dad said just before their lips met.
In that kiss, Aubrey knew, he could feel it, they were going to be together forever.
Soulmates. Lovers. Father and son. Best friends. Partners. Happily ever after.
And he didn’t care how cheesy that sounded.