Dreamy Dylan

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#59 My own drum

The next couple of weeks, we don’t exactly avoid the subject, but we also don’t focus on it. There are so many things keeping both of us busy. The coffee shop and bakery were voted Best spot for a first date, which means they’re getting featured in an online magazine. Andre and Liv are beyond excited, of course. Modest as they are, they attribute it all to me doing their social media, but that is crap. It’s all them.

Deidra, Imani and I meet up with a lawyer specialized in custody arrangements between same-sex couples. We agree on 50/50 custody, and while we do make a first version of what days we will take the baby to the other house, we agree that we’ll need to change that arrangement once the kid gets older. It’s different once the kid starts going to preschool, I imagine, but we can’t possibly take all of that into account just yet. As long as we agree to sit down two times a year to make sure the arrangement still works, we should be good.

I ask about Andre as well. What his legal role could be. We could give him visitation rights if he and I should ever break up, but if one of us should chose to take him to court, it would be quite easy to strip him of those rights, so it’s more symbolic than anything else. Doesn’t fix his insecurities about the situation. I understand why the legal system works this way, of course. Say a kid has four legal parents, and both couples split up. They would all get 25 percent custody if none of them are unfit parents, so the child would live in four different homes. That can’t be good for a kid. Still, it feels mean to tell one of the four parents they don’t have any rights. Yeah, stepparent rights, but that’s not much.

There’s lots of construction going on at the house, and it’s moving along rather nicely. Soon enough, I should be able to move in. Furniture is slowly starting to arrive, so I’m over there quite a lot to put stuff together. Andre helps when he can, but he’s busy with work, so it’s mostly Thomas and Mila coming over to help me out. We paint a few rooms, and slowly but surely it’s starting to look like my place, instead of just a place.

On top of all that, Thom and I also have clients to meet, websites and apps to build, and designs to finish. I meet Deidra’s father as well as Imani’s, and they’re both very kind and accepting. They’re excited to become grandparents, as are my dad and Amber. She’s not acting like the baby will truly be her grandchild, which I love about her, but she is already offering babysitting services, and it turns out she saved a bunch of Blaze’s old clothes and toys in case I’d ever want them for my own kid. Dad took a second to completely get on board, but once he did, he was nothing but happy. He thinks Imani and Deidra are both great girls, and I think he never truly expected me to have a conventional family life anyway.

It’s a crazy month all in all.

I spend every single night at Andre’s place. No, we’re not quite sure how to navigate the situation yet, but one thing is becoming very clear. I love him, he loves me, and we want to find a way to stay together without it destroying him. I’ve never felt this accepted in a relationship, and the same goes for him.

Today is a big day for both of us. This morning, he’s coming over for breakfast at my dad’s house, and afterwards we’ll drive to his hometown for his father’s birthday. Meeting the parents, all of them in one day. Intense, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s about damn time, right? Okay, fine, we’ve barely been together for two months, but still. It feels like it’s long overdue.

“Nervous?” I tease Andre when we pull up at my dad’s place.

“Please,” he scoffs, rolling his eyes. “You’ve only assured me a gazillion times they already love me, and that as long as I know my giraffe facts, Blaze will adore me.”

No matter what he says, I can tell he’s a bit tense. Of course he is. I feel the same way about meeting his mom and dad, along with a bunch of other members of his family. At least he knows I won’t feel differently if my father disapproves of him. I love my dad, but we only reconnected after Mom died, and I know for a fact my mother would adore Andre. She’s exactly the type of person she’d become friends with in a heartbeat.

Amber is the one to open the door, and she immediately pulls Andre in for a hug. “It’s so nice to finally meet you! Dylan has told us so much about you.”

Blaze peeks into the hallway, his eyes wide. I motion him over, but he stays where he is. When Dad comes into the hallway, he grabs Blaze around his middle and hauls him up so he can wrap himself around my dad’s torso. Blaze is getting a little old for that, but Dad is a strong bloke, and Blaze is a shy kid, so it works for both of them.

“Nice to meet you.” Dad shakes Andre’s hand. “Come on in. Blaze has been working on a drawing for you.”

Blaze hides his face against Dad’s sweater.

“Ahw, Blaze, that’s so sweet.” I ruffle his hair.

The five of us go into the living room, where Amber has set the dining table with – I’m not even kidding – plates with rainbows on them.

“Wow, so festive,” I say, struggling to keep a straight face.

Dad gives me a look, daring me to say anything. I wouldn’t dare. Yeah, it’s over the top, but I’ll take Amber supporting me in the most obnoxious way over a reaction like Deidra’s mother, who won’t even talk to her own daughter anymore. I miss my mother like crazy, especially now that I’m getting closer to becoming a father, but I know that I’m lucky in so many ways. My father accepts me for who I am, and while his wife may be young and a little ditzy, she’s a sweetheart.

“Oh wow,” Andre says, looking at the drawing of Blaze hanging on the wall. “Your brother is an artist like you.”

“He really is,” Dad replies proudly, stepping up next to him with my little brother still wrapped around him. “It’s animals for Blaze, and it was faces for Dylan. From the day he could hold a pencil, he was drawing portraits of everyone around him. I still have a lot of them in a box upstairs. Dylan would give me a drawing every weekend he spent with me after the divorce.”

I didn’t even know that. The more I get to know about my dad trying to stay in touch with me while I was living with my mom, the more I wonder what life would have looked like if he’d kept trying. Or if Mom hadn’t tried to keep him away. I can’t hate her for it, though. She did a great job raising me, and she must have had her reasons. I’m lucky me and Dad patched things up after she passed away, so I can at least have one parental figure in my life.

“Sit, sit!” Amber runs to the kitchen to take the rolls out of the oven. She went all out, with freshly squeezed orange juice, a pot of coffee, a million fancy things to put on our rolls, and lactose-free yogurt with strawberries. “Dylan said you’re lactose intolerant,” Amber explains when she sees him looking at it in surprise. “And I asked what you usually eat for breakfast. Of course you can have anything you want, but I made sure you can have at least something.”

“Thank you, that really wasn’t necessary.” He sits down next to me, a little overwhelmed by all that is Amber.

“Nonsense. You’re Dylan’s guy. We want you to feel comfortable.” She orders my dad to put Blaze in his chair, and then she starts pouring everyone coffee. “I’m sure it’s nowhere near as good as what you make, but it will have to do. You’ll have to teach me all your fancy barista ways sometime.”

Andre smiles and takes a sip. “I’d love to, but this already tastes amazing.”

“So polite,” my father mutters to me as he butters a roll for Blaze. “How do you always manage to find polite boys to take home?”

“Boys?” I whisper back. “Please. He’s Amber’s age.”

Dad shrugs, not bothered in the least. He never cares when anyone comments on the age difference. I respect that. He owns his choices.

“Where’s Kian?” Blaze asks without warning. “I want to show him my new giraffe in my bedroom.”

Awkward silence ensues.

Luckily, Amber breaks it. “Kian was Dylan’s boyfriend, but they broke up. He’s with Andre now. Remember, honey? I explained this to you this morning.”

Blaze nods thoughtfully before turning his attention on me. “Why did you break up with Kian?”

“Because he wasn’t nice to me.” I can hardly tell my baby brother my ex-boyfriend was a cheating asshole who never truly loved me.

“Is he nice to you?” He looks over at Andre shyly before staring down at his plate.

“He’s very nice to me,” I assure Blaze. “I know you liked Kian, but I’m sure you’ll like Andre too.”

“Does he like giraffes?” he asks timidly.

“I love giraffes.” Andre steps right in, his voice kind and reassuring. “Did you know they have three hearts?”

“Yes!” Blaze lights up, and the next half hour, the two of them talk about animals.

“He’s approved,” Dad says quietly, smiling as he watches them.

“Yeah, he’s good with kids,” I agree.

“Not because of Blaze,” Dad says, “although that’s nice too. I approve because it’s quite obvious he makes you happy. Way happier than Kian ever did. I liked the guy, but he never looked at you the way Andre does.”

My heart sours at that comment. Dad is absolutely right. Kian never made me feel the way Andre does either. Of course, Dad and Amber don’t know about the difficulties Andre and I are having, but I still prefer these issues over the ones I had with Kian. One hundred percent.

“Not that you need my approval, of course,” Dad goes on. “You march to your own drum, just like your mom. Still, it’s good to know you’ve got someone to take care of you.”

“Plus, he’s cute,” Amber adds.

Andre looks over at us when there’s a lull in his conversation with Blaze. His skin seems darker, somehow. Is he… blushing? “You know I can hear you guys, right?”

“Weren’t trying to hide anything, son.” Dad pours him more coffee. “Now tell us about that coffee shop of yours. Dylan says you’re quite successful.”

I’ve never felt so grateful for my father. He goes out of his way to engage Andre in conversation, and he makes it absolutely clear that Andre is very welcome in our strange little family. Blaze isn’t hugging him yet or anything, but he’ll get there. He does give Andre the drawing he made of two lions and an elephant. There’s a stick figure on the back of the elephant, and Blaze proudly explains that’s me.

“You’re riding an elephant?” Andre asks me when we finally manage to break away from Amber’s attempts to pour us our millionth cup of coffee. “He really thinks you’re God, doesn’t he?”

I grin. “Can you blame him? I’m a pretty epic big brother.”

“No argument here.” Andre squeezes my knee, and leaves his hand there as I drive off.

On to the next family gathering. Now it’s my time to be nervous. Let’s just hope they’ll like at least half me as much as my dad and Amber like Andre.

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