When an old man and a young girl get together

Keenan frowned slightly at the girl that he was supposed to marry. He had to admit that she was lovely. She was petite, even shorter than he was. Her hair was white-blond and her eyes were wide and a shade of blue that he couldn’t even find the words to describe. She was beautiful! However, she was also so young!

“How old is she?” he asked, giving Bertram a sidelong glance. The unspoken question was, “What could she possibly see in me?”

“Twenty?” Bertram said, his voice soft. He frowned at Keenan and said, “I know, you tend to think of your age in their years and, going by that…” he trailed off.

“I’m old enough to be her father,” Keenan breathed. His oldest child was nearly eighteen years old! He sighed and stepped forward. He bowed politely. “Dominique Ramsey,” he said, “I’m Keenan Meadows.”

As he straightened, their eyes met. Dominique smiled and offered her hand. “It’s nice to see you well,” she said.

In that moment, Keenan recognized her. Seraphim! The agent from the Chloreirian government! A faint smile played at his lips and he took her hand. He pressed his lips to the back of her hand and said, “Likewise.” This might just work out after all.

Summer Young

This boy catches balls, divides fractions, won’t die if he drinks milk, grabs flags off the other team’s players. My dad loves this other boy. Love might not be the right word for it. It wasn’t the romantic sort of feeling that he must have once felt for my mum. However, it was the sort of affection that a parent usually reserved for their children.

I sat on the ground, my back against a tree and watched my dad cheer for this boy. All that went through my mind was: if he hates me so much, why did he fight for me? Why did he fight to take me away from my sisters and my mum?

Sighing, I leaned my head back against the tree and stared up at the fluffy white clouds that were drifting by overhead. I knew the answer to that question. I was his heir. Someday, I would run the company that had been in his family for generations. That was the one thing this boy could never claim. He was the son of my dad’s new wife – a step-son. He couldn’t hand the company over to another man’s son, even if he might have wanted to do just that.

“Ignatius,” my father called, his tone harsh. “Come and watch your brother’s game. You might learn something.”

I heaved a sigh and stood up. “Yes, Dad,” I said. I stepped over to the fence and watched as Frank made yet another perfect catch. It burned him up that Frank was better at cricket than he could ever hope to be. However, he never let that emotion show.

Finally, the match was over and they could leave. “Good innings,” Ignatius said politely, when Frank joined them.

Smiling, Frank said, “Thank you, Iggy. We should play together sometime. Maybe I can help you improve your game, no?”

“No,” Ignatius snapped. His hands clenched into fists and he ran towards the car. His dad called to him, so did Frank’s mum, but he ignored them both. He was nearly to the car when he stumbled. He would have fallen, except that someone caught him.

“Are you all right?”

It was, of course, Frank. Who else could have been so perfect as to catch him before he fell? Ignatius sighed. “I’m fine,” he said, his voice soft. He sighed and walked the last few steps to the car. Then, he climbed in and flopped back in the seat, ready to get an earful from his dad.

“Ignatius,” his dad said, as soon as he slid into the driver’s seat. “I think you owe someone an apology and a word of thanks.”

He closed his eyes. Straightening, he looked over at Frank. “Thank you for keeping me from falling,” he said, his voice soft. He adjusted his glasses and added, “I apologize for being short with you. Of – of course, it would be very kind of you to… help me with my game. I appreciate the kind offer.”

He shot his dad a look that clearly asked if he was satisfied. When he saw the man’s brows arch in the reflection of the rearview mirror, he stifled another sigh. “I apologize for my rude behavior, Dad,” he added. Looking down at his knees, he added, “It was… childish of me.”

“Quite right,” his dad said, then, he started the car. “Straight to your room when we get home, young man.”

“Yes, sir,” he breathed. Ignatius kept his head bowed throughout the ride home. Tears stun his eyes, but he refused to give vent to them. Instead, he bit his lip and sniffled softly. When they got home, he was out of the vehicle almost before his dad could take the keys out of the ignition.

He kept pace with the rest of his family, knowing that he would only be scolded again if he bolted up the stairs to his room. He tugged off his jacket and hung it by the door when they entered.

“To your room, Ignatius,” his dad said, finally freeing him.

Nodding, Ignatius said, “Yes, sir.” Then, he headed up the steps without a backward glance. He ducked into his room and shut the door gently, focusing on not slamming it. Finally alone, he turned on his radio and tugged off his glasses. Only then, did he allow himself to break down.

When his sobs faded to hitched breaths, he wiped his face on his sleeve and put his glasses back on. Then, he flopped back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. After a few moments, he heard a soft knocking on the door. He wanted to tell whomever it was to go away. Instead, he said, “Come in.”

Frank peered around the door and scowled. “Iggy?” he said, his voice soft. “May I… come in?”

“Just said ya could,” Ignatius said, sitting up. However, he knew what Frank was actually asking. He heaved a sigh and then nodded. “Yeah, fine, come in, shut the door… whatever.”

Nodding, Frank stepped into the room fully. He eased the door shut and tugged the chair away from the desk to sit down. “Is it me with whom you are angry?” he asked.

“No,” Ignatius said, rolling his eyes. It was the truth. Frank couldn’t help being athletic and smart and he certainly couldn’t help that he wasn’t lactose intolerant. He sighed and then smiled wanly. “Really,” he said, “I’m not angry with you, Frank. I’m angry with Dad!”

Frank nodded. “May I… ask why?” he said, tilting his head to one side. “You do not have to tell me. It is that I am curious, no?”

Ignatius frowned and lifted a framed photograph off his nightstand. He handed it over to Frank. “Those are my sisters,” he said. “Madison is the one that’s crying. Emily is the one that’s smiling.”

“Where are they?” Frank said, blinking. He looked up and then shook his head. “I did not even know you had sisters. They do not live here, no?”

“No, they don’t live here,” Ignatius said. He took the picture back and returned it to its place beside his bed. “They live in the States, with our mum. Dad sued for custody of me, but he let Mum keep them.”

Frank’s eyes widened and he nodded. “I begin to see the reason for your anger,” he said. “It is that you miss your sisters.”

Ignatius nodded. “I – I know that it was a messy divorce. I understand that my parents aren’t getting along with each other, but… it’s not fair that I can even talk to Maddy and Emmy! I write to them, but… I never hear anything back and… I don’t know why that is. Either Mum isn’t giving them my letters or Dad isn’t sending them and – and I don’t know which it is!”

He looked up at Frank and sighed. “Then, there’s you!” he said. When Frank flinched, he shook his head. “It’s not your fault, but – but I know that you’re the son my dad wanted. Tall, athletic, great grades, outgoing! You – you’re perfect and – and my father loves you and I can’t compete with that!”

“You are jealous of me?” Frank said. He laughed and shook his head. “Forgive me my laughter, Iggy,” he said, holding up a hand. He sighed and looked up at the ceiling briefly. Then, he looked back at Ignatius and said, “If you knew… I am jealous of you, Iggy! My maman! Always, she tells me how I should be more like you! How polite you are! How quiet! How hard you work! How talented with your music!”

Ignatius stifled a laugh and shook his head. “Our parents deserve each other!” he said, rolling his eyes. “Your mum can have the son she always wanted and my dad can have the son he’s always wished I was!”

“Why can they not accept us for who we are, no?” Frank said, shaking his head. He sighed and held out his hand to Ignatius. “We can agree on this, no? Our parents are fools!”

“Quite right,” Ignatius said, taking Frank’s hand. A faint smile played at his lips. He decided then that he didn’t mind having Frank as an older brother.

It would become their personal joke. Whenever his dad would start saying how great Frank was, Ignatius could remember that Frank’s mum thought he was perfect. Whenever Frank’s mum would go on and on about how Frank should be more like Ignatius, Frank could think about how highly Ignatius’s dad thought of him.

“Now,” Frank said, standing and giving his a smile that promised nothing by mischief. “Now, will I sneak to the kitchen and steal away some of the leftovers from supper, no? You need to eat, if we are to play cricket together tomorrow.”

“Right,” Ignatius said, smiling. As Frank headed for the door, he said, “Thank you, Francois.”

“You are welcome, Ignatius,” Frank said, nodding. Then, he slipped out of the room.