Author's note:

Here's the eighteenth part of the story. Hope you enjoy it.

Feedback to “Brad Gillespie” can be sent to the address RBZ followed by the digits 3141 at Please put the story title in the subject line. But don't be surprised if the name on the responses is different. That e-mail account is under a different pseudonym than the one I used to write this story.

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Choosing a Stepfather

by “Brad Gillespie” and “Tucson Daddy”

Chapter 18:

Connie's reassessment

Timmy and Dan finally roused themselves to shower and dress. Timmy put on shorts and a t-shirt, his normal attire, while Dan had only yesterday's. It was not his habit to wear the same items two days in a row without washing them, but he had no choice this morning. They went down the hall to the kitchen, where Connie was pouring herself a second cup of coffee. Glancing at the clock, Dan saw that it read 9:30.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “I rarely sleep in this long. Comes from sharing a bed, I guess.” He nudged Timmy, who grinned knowingly.

“OK, you don't need to rub it in,” grouched Connie.

“Mom,” said Timmy walking over to hug her. “We aren't saying anything about you. Honest.”

She hugged him back, kissed him on the forehead, and replied, “Oh, don't mind me. I've got a lot on my mind.”

Dan went by her to get a cup of coffee. She had already left out a mug, sweetener, and cream for him. Pouring white crystals from a yellow packet into the mug, then adding a dollop of cream, he poured the steaming brown liquid from the carafe into the mug, mixing everything together. Taking a swig, he sighed, “Ahhh… nothing quite like the first cup of coffee in the morning.” Turning to Connie, who was watching him, he asked, “How long have you been up? Sleep well?”

“Yeah, reasonably well. I took a warm bubble bath to relax me, then read for about 15 minutes, until the book began slipping from my hand. You know how that is. Then I put it aside and turned off the light. I didn't lie awake long.”

She woke up at 5:00 AM and couldn't go back to sleep. Certain issues kept nagging her, making her evaluate her life. Finally she just got up and puttered.

“Have you eaten, Connie?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Wasn't hungry when I got up. Thought I'd wait for you two.”

“I'm hungry for waffles. There's an IHOP just down the street. What say we go out for breakfast? No muss, no fuss for you, lovely lady.”

Connie smiled when she recalled how Bob would look at her when he called her “lovely lady.” Was she still in love? Sure, her son assured her that she's pretty, but he's biased. That seemed to do it for her. “OK, if you insist, mister. I'm as ready as I need to be.”

“You look perfect,” Dan assured her.

Connie had a feeling that Dan was flirting again. “So what?” she asked herself. “Let him flirt. I like having a hunky guy flirt with me.”

They were out the door in minutes. Dan clicked his remote, the Honda responded with two beeps; all doors unlocked. Dan opened the front and back passenger doors. Timmy came running over, prepared to get in the front again, but stopped and moved to the back. Dan smiled. Timmy winked. Connie came walking up to the Honda and noticed that Timmy had taken a seat in the back. She felt a surge of happiness at being next to a man again. Dan closed the door, and moved around to the driver's side, got in, and started the engine. Connie hesitated, then brazenly laid her hand on Dan's thigh. Without moving his head, he glanced down; then, out of the corner of his eye, saw Connie smiling. He closed his eyes and grinned. “Yeah!” he shouted in his mind.

Backing out of the driveway, Dan was careful to make sure nothing was coming. Turning left, he drove off at a good clip to the blue roof of the IHOP restaurant. There were a few people before them, so they just watched folks come and go while they waited. Timmy sat on his right and Connie on his left. Anybody who saw them would think they were just an ordinary family going out for breakfast.

No tables were available, so they took a booth with Timmy and Dan seated on one side and Connie on the opposite.

“I already know what I'm eating: the Belgian waffle with whipped topping and strawberries. What are the rest of you having?” declared Dan, who just opened his menu to be sure the dish he wanted was on it. Both of them were still poring over theirs when their waitress arrived.

“What can I get you this morning: Coffee, tea, milk, orange juice?”

“Water with lemon, for me,” said Dan.

“Coffee,” said Connie.

“A glass of milk, please,” said Timmy

The drinks were quickly delivered, so they had something to sip on while they chatted. “What are you doing today?” she asked Dan.

“I have a few places to go. Estimating or planning how a job should be done. How about you?” He was barely able to suppress a gasp, as he felt a foot touching his. Connie was grinning, but said nothing.

“Here's a truly dumb phenomenon,” whispered Dan. “I go out with people I like, to share a meal. So we talk and have conversations. Look at the family at that table.” Connie and Timmy looked in the direction Dan indicated.

“Which one?” asked Timmy.

“The family of four, at least I think it's a family, rather than four strangers who happened to wander in at the same time and were all seated together, a statistical improbability. See them? All have their cell phones or Blackberries out, doing something rather than interacting with the others.” He sighed and asked rhetorically, “What the hell are we becoming? A nation of individuals rather than families?”

“What's wrong with that?” asked Timmy, honestly perplexed. “They're just checking up on emails and doing some texting.”

“What are we doing, Timmy? If you were a child in a family like that, what would you be doing right now?”

“Texting, I guess.”

“But you're not,” Dan replied. “Why not?”

“If he tried, I'd take it away from him,” declared Connie. Dan smiled at her and nodded. She really is a good mom, making sure Timmy knows what's socially right from wrong. Not like that mom and dad over there, so engrossed in their own personal lives that they pay no attention to their kids.

“That's it! We are here not for texting, nor email reading, blah, blah. We are here for fellowship,” answered Dan.

“Fellowship? What's that?” asked Timmy.

“It's when people get together to actually talk with each other. That's what,” said Connie.

She was liking Dan more and more. He saw the three of them as a special group, almost like family. She chalked up one more on the positive side of his character. Better and better.

“Know what? I like being with you both. You are a special lady for the love you have for Timmy.” Patting Timmy's knee, he said, “being willing to allow us to have a special relationship. Most women wouldn't. I'd have been thrown out or worse. Thank you.”

Timmy got into the act too. “Yeah, thanks, mom.”

Connie beamed with the accolades pouring from her son and this lovely man.

Their food arrived, and everyone was busy pushing food into their faces. Dan began to dig into his waffles. “I love these things,” he said. But their talk slowed down their consumption. Connie and Timmy were nearing the conclusion of their meals as well.

“Everybody finished?” asked the waitress.

“I think so,” replied Dan, looking around at Connie and Tommy.

She picked up the dishes and carried them off, leaving an almost bare table. A moment later, she was back with the check. “Thank you,” she said.

“Same to you, uhm… Sharon. You did a great job!” said Connie. “We really appreciated that you took good care of us.”

“Polite to waiters too,” thought Dan. “A truly nice woman.”

They drove home in silence, with only music from the radio to distract them. Arriving at Connie's home, he said, “I really do have to leave. I have a job. It's of my own making, but it's mine. I should get going on it this afternoon.”

“You run a heating and air conditioning company, don't you?” The woman pays attention when I speak. I like that!

“Yes, exactly! Well, I've got appointments to attend to. So if you'll excuse me…” he let the rest of the sentence hang.

“Yes, we can't keep you any more. Thanks for dinner last night, and breakfast this morning.”

Connie leaned over to shake his hand and gaze once more into the depth of his eyes. “Dan, you are always welcome in our home and to stay the night with Timmy.”

“Under the circumstances, you've been most gracious. Thank you many times over.”

Timmy and Connie walked up the sidewalk to their home. They both stopped to watch him drive away.

Inside the house, Connie felt restless, as though she needed to do something but didn't know what. She tried reading, but gave up because she could not concentrate. She had to keep re-reading what she just read. She puttered, but nothing needed to be puttered with. Finally, she walked out on the back patio and sat down to stare at the bushes and trees.

“Mom?” came Timmy's voice from inside the house.

“Out here, dear!” she called back.

Timmy came through the door and asked, “What are you doing out here?”

“Sitting and staring,” she began, then stopped. “No, I'm at a loss. I don't know what I'm doing.”

Timmy sat in a chaise longue sideways, wanting to be able to see his mom's face. “You like him, don't you?” Timmy said with a grin. “You really do like Dan!”

“No. I can't like him, honey,” she said emphatically. “You found him and he likes you, so he's yours to keep.”

Timmy scooted his chair closer to Connie. “Mom, Dan is not a stray dog!” Both of them laughed at the comparison.

“I love you for giving me permission to be with Dan, but that would have come sooner or later.”

She placed her hand on his. “Timmy, you deserve to have someone who will love you. I don't want to interfere in your happiness. It's my job as a mom.”

“Stop, mom!” Timmy said, frustrated by her refusal to accept what is dangling before her. “He likes you. You like him. You told me a few days ago that you could never love a man like you loved dad. I saw the way he looks at you and the way you smile when he says something nice about you.”

“Timmy, you stop this right now!” Connie said emphatically.

“Hello!” said a voice from the doorway. “Is this a private conversation? Should I come back later?”

“Mel!” cried Connie, rising from her chair.

“Uncle Mel!” Timmy jumped up and rushed to Mel.

“What's going on here?” Mel asked. “Sounds like a courtroom debate.”

Connie turned toward him and waved at him, “Come in, have a seat, and join us.” she said.

“What's the debate?” he asked.

“No deba…” began Connie.

“It's about Dan,” finished Timmy.

“What about Dan? Everything OK?” Mel asked, a worried expression crossing his face.

Timmy rushed in with the details. “He was here for three hours yesterday. Then he took us to dinner at that hot restaurant, I don't remember what it's called. When we came home, Uncle Mel, you ain't gonna believe what happened.”

“What happened?” asked Mel, leaning forward dramatically.

“Mom told Dan he could stay the night, so me and him slept together.”

Mel looked at Connie, who was blushing.

“Then I guess you've approved of Dan.”

She nodded. “Yes, but really, what choice do I have…” she began.

“You're the mom. You're allowed, even required, to stop Timmy from making unwise choices. You've been doing that all his life.”

“Let me finish!” said Connie brusquely, then stopped and forced herself to be calmer. “Sorry, but you interrupted me.”

Now it was Mel's turn to be silent. He reached over to touch her hand. “I'm sorry too. It's the ol' big brother thing in me. Please, go on.”

Connie smiled and continued, “What choice do I have? Really? If Timmy told me wanted to start dating a girl, I'd be happy for him. If he wanted to start dating one of the boys, I'd be less happy but I wouldn't stop him. He thinks he's gay. I have no control over that. What's left for me to decide?”

Both Mel and Timmy had their mouths open to speak, but she held up her hand, silencing them even before they got one word out. “If I said no, Timmy would sneak around, still fucking his boy friend, Dan. So the easiest and most effective way to make sure he is safe, is to give him and Dan permission to do here what they'd likely do anyway.” Her eyes flew to Timmy, “You already said as much. And one other thing that gets in the way, if that's the right way to say it, is this.” She looked again at her son and finished. “Timmy, I love you. I've always wanted you to have what you wanted, and always made sure you were safe doing it or having it. Now I see that you and Dan have real affection, maybe even love, so I give my blessing to your and Dan's relationship. There! Finished.” She leaned back and waited for the bombardment of excuses and refutations.

Both Mel and Timmy tried to speak at once, drowning each other out. They looked at each other, and grinned. Mel indicated by a wave of his hand that Timmy should speak. “Mom, I love you too. Really, I do love Dan too. You can see by the way he treats me that he loves me.” Connie sighed and nodded in agreement. “I think he really does,” she admitted.

“And he treats you nice too,” he added.

“He could be doing that just to be on my good side and not make me reject him for you.” Connie burst in.

This is what they were talking about before Mel came in. Timmy knelt before Connie, on the cool patio concrete, and said softly and with real concern. “I can see. I've seen the way girls look at some boys at school. Some kids have been going steady for two years. You remember what it was like in middle and high school. You guys, you parents, laugh at us and make fun of our feelings. You call it puppy love. Dan knows what love is like. He was in love with his wife and was hurting when she died. What Dan has for you is real. Not puppy. He has the hots for you!”

Connie felt herself tearing up, she was so impressed by Timmy's speech that she was on the verge of crying. Nobody spoke, giving her time to pull herself together. “I know, honey. I know. Everything you've said is correct. I do recall having the hots for boys back then. I actually do believe that what you and Dan have or want to have is love. So I approve with all my heart.”

Mel broke in to ask, “Dan was married? To a woman? For how long?”

“Dan and I talked for weeks before we had sex. He told me about his life and how he turned gay.”

“How can a guy be married for years, be in love with a woman, then turn gay? Didn't he start recognizing the signs years before?”

“I wanted to understand that too. I asked him the same questions. Didn't he have the urge to look at cocks in school? He said no. He was only interested in girls back then. He married his wife, they had no kids, and when she died, he felt bad, but still hung on to his love for her.” Timmy looked knowingly at Connie, who saw his glance and smiled.

“Then how…” began Mel.

“I'm getting to that. He told me he went to a party. Met one of the guests and they really connected. After the party, he went to the guy's place, and he learned from the guy that cock sucking is OK. After that all he wanted was cock.”

“Then you came along?” asked Mel.

“Yep. First me, then mom.” Timmy was grinning hugely. “He saw mom and she saw him and boom, that was it.”

Connie was smiling. “Dang! You caught me!” she said in mock surprise. “OK, I admit it, I do think of Dan in a, well, positive way. He's a nice guy, treats me and you well, and…”

“You were flirting, mom. So was he!” exclaimed Timmy. “Weren't you?”

“I suppose, but that's the way men and women find out how far the other is willing to go in a relationship. He tells me I'm pretty; I tell him I think he's good looking, but in a hinting way, not directly. People who find a connection talk like that. Nobody gets hurt, and maybe they get what they are flirting about.

“Your dad and I were so much in love that it has been hard to let go of that past. Dan's not him, but I think, just maybe I might, like to be around him some more. But having this feeling doesn't mean I'm going to fall for him. I want you and him to keep testing your feelings for each other. I can just watch, and listen, and be around Dan without jumping on him.”

“OK, mom. Deal,” said Timmy sticking out his hand, and they shook.

“My, my!” Mel commented, “So my little sis is having thoughts about a man. For the second time in her life.”

Connie said, “OK, I think we've beaten this subject to within an inch of its life. Subject closed.”

“Roger that,” said Mel. “But, hey! I came by to see if Timmy wanted to go play miniature golf. You too, sis, if you want.”

She shook he head. “No, thanks. You two run along and do the guy thing on the golf course.”

Mel looked at Timmy, who was happily nodding his head. “Let's go, buddy,” said Mel, rising to leave. Timmy followed him along, beginning to chatter about something or other. Connie was left to sit and ruminate on what they had talked about.

She had to admit, that yes she did have something for Dan. But the hots? With a sinking feeling, she recognized that she was having carnal desires for him, but she had to restrain herself. Dan was Timmy's first. If she started pushing it with Dan, could she steal him from Timmy? There was no rush to, uhm… seduce the guy. She smiled at the possibilities, now that she'd let herself actually act sexually toward him.