Thank you everyone who’s posted wonderful comments over the past week. I love the response and seriously, I can’t tell you how cool it is to know you love Matt and Aaron as much as I do! This is the final excerpt of the Valentine short story. Please enjoy!
My mom was due to arrive in DC in the late afternoon. I had every intention of being home in time to meet her, but I ended up being pulled into a last minute emergency meeting. Aaron told me not to worry. He said he wanted to leave early to get a start on dinner so he’d be there if I was delayed. When I opened the door to our condo later that evening I hoped for the best, but wasn’t sure what to expect. Things were stilted with my folks and I couldn’t help but be nervous about my mom finally meeting Aaron in person.
The open living area looked inviting with bright pillows strewn decoratively on our comfy sofa, the warm glow from candles placed strategically throughout the room and soft jazz music playing in the background. The delicious scent of Aaron’s cooking wafted through the room making everything seem homey and welcoming. I spotted Aaron chatting animatedly behind the island, his hands moving in rhythm with his speech, and I felt my shoulders relax. My mom, who was perched on a barstool across from him, laughed at something he said and I thought… maybe this would be alright after all. I took a deep breath and closed the door announcing my arrival.
“Oh honey! I’m so happy to see you! Aaron’s been keeping me company. I love your new place. Very grown up!” My mom hopped from her seat and gave me her customary “mom” hug. I returned her embrace while looking over her shoulder at my boyfriend to gage his mood. Was everything as good as it seemed? He smiled, but it looked a little guarded.
“How was your flight?”
“Oh fine. I have something for you! I put my bag in your room earlier. I noticed it seems a bit more sparse than normal. Be right back.” She danced around me heading toward the guest room.
I headed over to the chef and snuck a quick kiss before she returned.
Aaron smiled weakly.
“You okay?” I ran my hand down the small of his back while trying to read his expression.
“Fine. But don’t…”
“Here you go. Your grandfather said you forgot this book at Christmas.” My mom reclaimed her spot at the island and took a sip from the wine glass at her elbow. “Where do you want to go to dinner honey? Aaron was kind enough to offer but I don’t want to impose and…” She let her words drift while she took a look around, as if finally letting herself see her environment.
“Uh, mom. Aaron made dinner. So…”
“Oh… I didn’t realize you were cooking for all of us…”
“It’s okay. If you’d rather go out, I don’t mind.” Aaron turned away as he spoke.
I looked back and forth between them. What the fuck? When I first walked in they were laughing. I was thoroughly confused.
“You’re obviously cooking… it smells amazing, by the way…” Aaron lifted his head to give me a small smile. “…so we’ll stay here. What did you make?”
Aaron set a glass of pinot noir in front of me and this time his eyes lit up. “Chili Verde.” My favorite. My grin was instantaneous. When I turned toward my mother to explain why I liked that particular dish, I caught her casting a wary glance between us. Something was definitely up, and I was never good at reading this sort of undercurrent.
“That’s a little spicy, isn’t it?” My mother commented casually. Even I got the barbed quality to her observation. What was she doing?
“No not re….”
“It can be a little spicy. Matt, if your mom wants to go out for dinner, this will keep. I can freeze it. No problem.” Aaron’s voice was painfully bright and cheerful. And completely phony.
“There’s an Italian place I noticed when the taxi first dropped me by that looked nice. Want to try it?” My mom’s voice was overly animated. She looked across at Aaron as if he were an afterthought. “You’re welcome to join us too.”
You know that sick feeling you get when you think you’ve dodged a major hurdle only to find you’re actually under it? I was stuck between my mom, who seemed to have lost … her mind. And my boyfriend, who was hurt and trying to deal with a difficult situation without the benefit of knowing the nice lady with the dagger aimed at his heart.
“Are you ready to go, Matthew? I’ll go grab my purse. It’s so bare in your room, sweetheart… maybe we should go shopping and do a little decorating while I’m here.”
Oh God. She’d basically insulted his cooking and his decorating skills in the fewer than ten minutes since I’d opened the door. I couldn’t believe it. She would have killed me for acting the way she was behaving. It was spiteful and petty and I didn’t know what to do. I was at a complete loss.
“I’m gonna go for a run. I’ll see you two later.” Aaron gave that awful too cheery smile again and made a beeline to our bedroom.
They both looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I probably had. I took a deep breath and sent up a quick prayer I wouldn’t fuck this up.
“What the fuck is going on here?”
I was aware of the soft music and glowing candle light. Everything looked so beautiful but this was so fucked up. Aaron had worked hard to make a good impression for my mom and she didn’t seem to care that she hurt him.
“Mom. Look…” I shoved my hands through my hair in frustration. I didn’t have the words and I needed to gather them quickly. “Aaron obviously made dinner for us and…”
“Yes, but…” My mom gave me a confused “we’ve already been through this” look.
“Matty… I…” Aaron skirted around the island and side stepped my outstretched arm to get to our room.
“Why are you doing this?” I hissed at her. Fuck trying to find the right words. I lost it. “Don’t you see everything he’s done?”
“Matt, you’re being silly. We…”
“No! I’m not! You have no idea how hard he’s worked to make this place a home in less than two weeks. I’ve looked at more paint swatches, towels, pillows and had my opinion asked about what…”
“You’re roommates. Of course he’s going to ask your opin…”
“No!” I shouted angrily, surprising us both. “He’s not my roommate, Mom!” I shoved both hands through my hair in frustration as I paced away from her. “Aaron is my lover, my boyfriend, my best friend… he is my… everything. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to accept, but I asked you to try… for my sake. Mom…” I walked toward the window and stared unseeing at the lights of the city below. I turned to face her, seeing her confusion and maybe her own frustration, but I would have my say first.
“I get this isn’t what you thought I’d have. Truth is I didn’t either, but I’m happy. Really happy. I am so…” Again I hesitated, hoping the right words would come. “so in love with him. Crazy head over heels in love and I never want to lose him. If you can’t accept it then…” I shrugged and turned back to face the night outside.
“Matt?” Her voice was shaky and filled with emotion.
I looked over my shoulder and felt sad for the tears in her eyes. I was sorry in a strange way that I wasn’t who she thought, but I couldn’t be something for her if it meant losing Aaron. I was through placating, through pretending.
“I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I don’t have any….” She held her arms out and then dropped them in a gesture of hopelessness.
We both turned when the master bedroom door opened. Aaron came out dressed to run. He’d reached his own personal limit and he was dealing with it the way he did best. He gave us a quick glance and made to move toward the door when I grabbed his arm as he passed.
“Don’t go. Please.” I pleaded, heartbroken to see him so upset.
The three of us stood in an awkward triangle while John Coltrane played soothingly in the background. My mom was the first to speak. She sniffed once and offered a tepid smile.
“I apologize. To both of you. Aaron, I… you’ve taken me for surprise. I hoped I wouldn’t like you, but of course I did. I do. I panicked when Matt got here. I don’t know how to do this. How to be… just okay with everything. Because you’re right, honey. I didn’t expect you to fall in love with a man. Not in a million years. I’ve never been anything but supportive of gay people, gay rights… you took me by surprise.” She closed her eyes briefly and then gave me a piercing look. “I love you Matthew. I love you and I’m sorry. And Aaron, I don’t know you, but I do like you. If Matt loves you, you must be something special. Please accept my apology.”
Aaron sprang forward and gathered my mother in his arms, hugging her breathless. I stood back for a moment and let them be. I knew there would be other challenges ahead and this wouldn’t be our final obstacle, but this was a significant moment and I wanted to relish the sweetness. When he released his hold on her, he threw himself at me. I held him close, sensing he needed my strength and would take what he could while the mood permitted. I leaned over when I heard him whisper something meant only for my ears.
“I love you.”
I crushed his body close, instantly overcome. I buried my face in his neck and whispered the same words back to him.
When I woke up on Valentine’s Day morning and groggily made my way out to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I was met with the delicious sight of Aaron wearing boxers and nothing else as he flipped heart shaped pancakes. I smiled in greeting and was ordered to take a seat at the small kitchen table. I pulled out a chair still gazing at the sexy chef when I noticed the entire table was littered with candy hearts. I laughed out loud and picked one up. My grin faded when I noticed the inscription. I picked up another one and it said the same thing. In fact every single one had the same saying …
“I Love You”.
I looked up at Aaron and gave him a slow smile that quickly took over my whole face. He sauntered to the table and set a heart shaped pancake in front of me and then perched his cute ass on my knee.
“Happy first Valentine’s Day.” I opened my mouth to speak but Aaron gently placed his finger over my lips. “Shhh. Let me talk. I’ve known it for a while, and I should have said it sooner. I love you, Matt. I believe you when you say you feel the same way. You show me every day and… well, I heard what you told your mom about me. You’re my everything too. Everything. And I love you.”
Sometimes words fail you. It happens to me all the time. It’s good to know Aaron understands.