I nodded, trying to smile and agree with her. Yeah, he’s a jack-ass. Yet as she led me out of the room, her hand holding mine tightly in reassurance, I knew that though I had believed Jensen to be a jack-ass all these years, I simply could not revert to my former ways of categorizing him that way in the given moment. I felt nauseous every time I begun to question why he wouldn’t want to be seen by my side in front of my family. No wonder he’d wanted to keep us being together a secret; maybe he had his own motives!
All the doubts swirling through my mind came to an abrupt end when Lea and I took our first step outside the house. Mom and dad stood in front of the limo, both dazzling, and their grins grew even more when they saw Lea and I make our way towards them.
“You girls look beautiful!” Dad said and threw an arm around my shoulder, crushing me against his side.
“Thanks dad,” I said, still not used to addressing him that way. I couldn’t help but admit to myself as we all climbed into the limo, that this was the first time I felt like we were a proper family. I’d always held a bit of resentment towards mom’s choice to remarry. I was happy she was happy, but I couldn’t deal with being part of a new family. I didn’t understand what she saw in Mr. Storm at the start, but over time I’d catch the way he’d look at her, and the look on her face when they’d come back home from another one of their dates. But after having that talk with dad, I’d begun to loosen up.
Throughout the course of the summer, meals in the dining room were no longer as awkward as they used to be. We’d play board games together in the family room; and sometimes dad would even ask me to join him for a drink after a stressful day at work. It was new, and different but a change that after all these years, I was starting to embrace.
“So, Roxanne, are you excited to see everyone?” Dad asked once we were all comfortable in our seats.
I didn’t take a moment to think, immediately answering, “Yes, definitely.”
He smiled at me, eyes twinkling before turning to my mom and saying something. Lea, who still hadn’t let go of my hand, gave it a squeeze and I knew she knew exactly what I was feeling. I returned her smile and joined in on the family conversation. The reunion mattered to them a whole lot, and if it was important for my family, then it was important for me too.