“She wasn’t his first kiss, but the first kiss that mattered: the first kiss with someone who mattered.”
Brindleton Bay Eric, Lana, Meaghan's home, Rhys' childhood home
Rhys tried hard to avoid looking at his grandmother Jenna, even though he knew she had been staring at him for a while. It didn’t work. She had something to ask, and she did.
“So, Rhys, you have a new girlfriend then? Can we assume it’s official now, or are we still playing hard to get?”
Rhys started coughing till his eyes teared, Sam next to him dropped her fork, while Rhys’ dad Eric exclaimed
“MOM! For heaven’s sake!”
“What?! My oldest grandson is a catch, even if that Italian hussie didn’t acknowledge that. Good riddance, I wish. But you see it, don’t you Samantha? You have both feet on the ground, not your head in the clouds, like that girl with the ridiculous Italian name I keep forgetting.”
“Oh god!” coughed Rhys.
“Ahem … oh yeah .. he’s … ahem …. amazing. But it’s Sam, Mrs. Cameron. I don’t like being called Samantha much. Too stuck up for me.” mumbled Sam.
“Sam, Samantha, all the same to me and you SHOULD like it. It’s a good name, means ‘flower’ and it suits you. Also, Samantha goes a lot further in the business world than a masculine short version confusing people. Samantha can do it, while Sam empties the garbage cans. Names matter. My son tells me you work in an office. Office manager?”
“No, just a mailroom clerk, Mrs. Cameron. I am only 18. But I did put in my resume for an assistant position.”
“So, no interest in college?”
“Yes and no. Cliff Notes version: No money. I could tell you the rest, but that’s just another sappy crappy family story, don’t want to put anyone off their appetites here. Dinner looks great, by the way, Mrs. Cameron.”
“Ah, another young person who does not believe in college education and student loans. At least you are in good company. Both Rhys and Meaghan … wait .. .where is my oldest granddaughter anyway?! I thought this was a family dinner! I get Ethan and Evey’s families not being here since there is no room, but Meaghan lives here.” Jenna glared at Lana, then Eric. Meaghan, Lana’s daughter from a previous marriage wasn’t Jenna and Jordan’s biological granddaughter, but you would never know it.
“She’s sad to miss it, but is staying over at some friend’s house in San Myshuno, who got engaged and is having a bachelorette party. Safer for her to stay in town, than have her drive back home.” Lana told her mother-in-law.
“Bachelorette party, my ass! Are you sure that girl isn’t messing with that married attorney again, Lana!?”
“Yes, Jenna, I checked. There is a bachelorette party, and Meaghan is definitely there, plus, they keep posting Selfies on Insta. My 18 year old daughter double-fisting margaritas with some barely clad male strippers in the background is not the type of thing a mother wants to necessarily see, but at least I know my daughter is where she said she’d be.
“Fine then. I can only say that had Everleigh pulled that crap with a married man who could be her father, she’d be grounded until further notice, I wouldn’t have cared if she were 18 or 80! As long as I live, I take care of my children, no matter how old they are. Just ask Eric, right honey?”
“Yes mom, but come on, please. Meaghan is fine now, just a lapse of judgement, and so is Rhys. Just drop it, okay mom”
“Ha, that’ll be the day that I let myself be censored by my own son! So, Sam, I also hear you went on a camping trip with my grandson just before the weather decided we had enough Autumn and went right into artic conditions. How did that trip go?” Jenna continued her interrogation.
“Ah – yeah, right. My first camping, fishing and hiking experience ever. Total noob here. But it was great and SO much fun, Rhys was VERY patient with me. I am sure I got on his last nerve sometimes.” giggled Sam, blushing slightly.
“Naw – you did great! She was great!” added Rhys.
“Oh, I remember Jordan and my camping trips as a young couple, back in high school and college, we also had a LOT of firsts on those trips, didn’t we Jojo? Oh, the good old days, where has the time gone?” Jenna said, Jordan nodded, his eyes glazed over with nostalgia, while Sam and Rhys turned bright red.
With a sigh Jordan replied.
“Wherever it went, it took my energy and stamina with it. The mere thought of sleeping on the floor makes me cringe nowadays. But for what it’s worth, I can still run circles around my brother. Have you met Jamie yet, Sam? He and I are identical twins, you see, so if you’ve met one of us, you’ve basically also met the other in a way.” Jordan smiled at Sam.
“Ha ha – funny. Uh – I don’t think I’ve actually met him, have I?” Sam looked at Rhys, who took over.
“Not yet. He and his side of the family live in Windenburg, normally we see each other a lot more, but everyone has been super-busy this year. I am sure you will meet them all before long. He’s basically my grandpa with more of a dad bod, he and his wife had three kids too, who then exploded into 10 grandkids, all around the same age as me and my cousins, but as you know there are only 4 of us, Hannah, Sarah, Aidan and me, 5 counting Meaghan. Grandma and grandpa were always athletic, my dad is too, me and my cousins not so much.” Rhys grinned across the table at his very amused grandfather.
“Hehehe, Rhys is not wrong, none of our grandkids can be bothered with putting their phones down long enough to learn skiing or rock climbing. Jamie, my twin brother, he has always been more of a couch potato, even though he does like to go camping and fishing a lot and takes his grandsons. But his wife, Averie, is a retired chef, which didn’t help his figure at all. So he’s a bit out of shape, but very sharp in the noggin. He is the mayor of Windenburg. He talked about retiring a million times, but honestly, he doesn’t want to and the citizens of Windenburg wouldn’t let him. He’s a real good guy, the best. Takes after our father, may he rest in peace.”
After the meal the family members went to catch up on each other’s lives over coffee, even though they were all close and met up frequently.
Rhys and Sam wandered off into the backyard, talking about this and that, she finally stopped, kept looking at him a certain type of way, then, like she had done once before, quickly planted the sweetest kiss on his cheek, making Rhys’ knees go weak.
Unlike last time, this time he didn’t just stand there, regretting it being over too soon, this time he grabbed her and just kissed her. A real kiss. Their first. Meaningful, emotional, heartfelt.
A light moan escaped her, when they finally separated, both stared at each other in shock for a brief moment, then smiled.
“Wow. That just happened, right? And neither of us is drunk, right? Just making sure.”
“To be honest, I can’t even remember my own name at the moment. Wow is right. I need to sit down.”
“Me too. Just tell me it wasn’t unwelcomed.”
“Definitely not unwelcomed. Rhys, ever since I first met you I have been imagining how this would feel. Well, maybe not the first time, you were acting really weird then. But once I got to know you, well, ya know … biggest regret ever about our drunk night together is not that it happened, but that I can’t remember ANYTHING about it, not even if it actually really happened at all.”
“Holy shit, girl! Are we really doing this? This is happening, right?”
“Yup, this is happening. Are you sure you are ready for this, considering you just had a pretty cringe-worthy breakup?”
Rhys just leaned forward and kissed her again, this time a lot different than the fiery kiss before. This one was deep, intense, heartfelt, putting all his feelings into it. Both of them slightly breathless, she smiled at him, while he nodded.
“That should answer that. I have been ready for a long time. I have had a crush on you since the beginning, which is why I was acting like a doofus. When I am with you, I don’t remember any breakups. You make me feel … real. Like a real man, not just a boy who doesn’t know which end is up half the time.”
“You were crushing on me, but agreed to marry Sandy? You are still weird.”
“I was torn. I felt guilty, I thought it was unrequited anyway, you never let on that you liked me in that way, I … look, Sandy isn’t a bad person. She just gets a LOT of pressure from her parents, so I really didn’t want to hurt her because of how I felt. I know I am a walking, talking failure.”
“Knock it off! The only place where you made a mistake was accepting her proposal, knowing everything you know.”
“Well, knowing all that about me – and my family – you sure you want to be my girlfriend?”
“Isn’t that where this is going? Why drag it out more, let’s quit chasing our tails and make it Facebook official.”
“Facebook official? Imma gonna pretend you didn’t just say that. So, how is this gonna work? We just stroll back into your dad’s house, holding hands and proclaim your grandma was right?”
“Why not? You wanna hide us?”
“I don’t know. My dysfunctional family was always just my parents, who almost always fought, and me. My father ran off every relative we may have had and all of my mom’s friends. I have no clue how a functional family is supposed to work. I never really had one.”
“I can’t even relate to that. I mean, I lost my mom when I was young, but never really felt like I was missing out, between my grandma, aunts and later Lana I had all the mothering a boy can handle. Anyway, you got a family now, Sam. Camerons are a crazy bunch, but we know how to family! Come on, I’ll show ya how family works.”
Rhys took her by the hand, giggling they went back inside Rhys’ childhood home, his family was in the kitchen, talking, gossiping, cleaning up, snacking … when Rhys called out.
“Hey guys – watch this!”
He grabbed Samantha for an intense, movie-worthy kiss, after a moment of surprise and shock, everyone started cheering, laughing and clapping.