Alexa Chapter 22: Cars

Alexa Chapter 22: Cars

The summer so far had been great, other than the whole Marilyn situation. Jenny had talked to her a few times via telephone and met up with her for lunch one day while I was at work at the Foundation. It had gone “OK” in Jenny’s words. She did tell me that any time she spoke of me to her mother, Marilyn only cringed at the sound of my name and did not make any comments so that was a start. Jenny said she asked her mother if she was still drinking and Marilyn got somewhat defensive over it, saying it was none of her business. I could see that Jenny was deeply concerned over her mother but I tried to talk to her about it and I think she talked with Debbie or one of the other counselors about her mother’s problems. They said basically what I had learned from watching friend’s parents go through the same thing, that the person has to want to change their ways. Obviously, Marilyn has decided not to change.

The other events of the summer were much more fun. Right after the Fourth of July, Jenny and I made our often-discussed summer trip to Walt Disney World and the water parks there. It was a wonderful time. We flew down on the 6th, where we made some new friends who we hoped would become lifelong friends. After spending that evening with them at Margaritaville over at Universal, the next three days were pretty much exactly what we had hoped for. The mornings and evenings were spent at one of the theme parks, but the afternoons were exclusively for the water parks. We spent Both Friday and Sunday at Typhoon Lagoon, which we absolutely loved. The sand and tropical feel were just what we hoped for. We seemed to go on every water slide they had. But the fun part was that I wore a bikini and felt I could pull it off. In the last month or so I had begun to grow actual breasts! I was so excited! When I went to put on the bikini at Disney and have ME in the top and not some forms was a tremendous feeling, but it was also another learning lesson in my transition.

After spending time going on the various slides, Jenny decided we need some sun. “Come on Lex. Let’s grab a drink over at the bar and kick back in a couple of lounge chairs and relax! That’s why we are here isn’t it?” It didn’t take much more than Jenny flashing her million watt smile to get me to agree with her so that is exactly what we did. For the next hour, we enjoyed a couple of Typhoon Tilly’s and soaked up the Florida sun.

As we laid there I noticed a few guys checking the two of us out. Needless to say, neither one of us was interested in any guys, but is was awfully flattering to be receiving some attention. However, I could see that it was getting to Jenny. Any time I could see a guy getting closer to talk, Jenny would reach out and rub my back or lean over and give me a kiss. “Are you jealous?” I asked her after one long kiss she gave me. I could see her mood change a bit.

“Yes, no. I don’t know. You become more gorgeous every day. I am afraid you’re going to want to explore some of your, um, options.” The sadness that came over her when she said that melted my heart and proved I would never have to worry about losing her. I leaned over and reciprocated her kiss, making it a little more sensuous. As I was breaking the kiss, I pulled her in for a tight, warm embrace. As I held her in my arms, the reason for this sudden show of jealousy hit me.

“Is what Deb said this winter about what could happen when I started HRT still bothering you?” I asked my soul mate. As she eased back for our embrace, she nodded her head bashfully. My heart soared at that. I looked her deep in the eye. “Would you knock it off. I spent two years of my life dreaming of being with you. There is no way I would throw that away. You’re stuck with me Jenny. I love you more than you can even imagine. You are my true love, my soul mate, Jennifer Ann Thompson. The person I was meant to be with.” I could see her start to feel much more like the Jenny I loved.

After another Typhoon Tilly, we decided we needed to cool off a bit in the wave pool. We wadded out a bit into the gigantic pool and let the waves crash in. We got a little bolder and then it happened. We were out about waist deep when a wave came crashing into us and knocked us over as we weren’t paying attention. As we got control of ourselves we couldn’t stop giggling and that’s when I noticed Jenny’s eyes go wide “Lex! Where’s your top?” I looked down and realized I was standing there naked form the waist up! I quickly tried to cover myself while Jenny began searching for my top. A red headed boy of about twelve came up to me and asked me if the top he was holding was mine. I tried to figure out a way to grab the top and not expose myself anymore. Thankfully Jenny came a long and much to the dismay of the twelve-year-old snatched the top from his hands and turned and tried to help me get the top back on. Jenny began giggling. When I asked her “What?” She continued to giggle before speaking.

‘Welcome to the joys of womanhood babe. And now do I not only have to worry about college guys, now I got teenage boys lusting over my girlfriend.” Jenny said teasingly. After Jenny led me over to a little corner, I put my top back on as she shielded me from the other guests. This is pretty much how the whole trip went. Jenny got better with her jealousy but there were a few times where I could see she would get a bit nervous over the looks we received.

As we returned to our daily routines a new issue came up. Thursday night following our little Florida adventure, about a block from the apartment, my car broke down. The 2002 Ford Taurus that had been my grandmother’s car finally gave out. I got it to the side of the street and walked to the apartment. Thankfully (did I just say that?), Danny was there when I came in. “Danny, thank god you are here. I need your help. My car broke down about a block away. Can you come look at it?” I asked. Instantly he started in on the car and questioning me.

“I can’t believe that piece of shit lasted this long. What happened?” he asked, and I went into describing how it started knocking and losing power and when I got it to the curb it just stopped and I could smell burning oil. I might have begun transitioning to being a girl, but I could never forget all the training I had learned from the late Dick-head. But cars were still a mystery to me and I relied on the help of Danny and a friend of his who was a mechanic. Danny and I hopped in his truck and drove the block to my car. Danny pulled out a few tools and popped the hood. He told me to get in and turn it over. When the huge cloud of black smoke came out, Danny walked around. “So?” I asked.

“She’s done Alexa. That this car was still running is a miracle. If Coop wasn’t such a good mechanic this thing would have been in a junk yard years ago. I say donate it or something. Time to find you a new car.” I knew that someday this car was going to die, but it wasn’t an expense I was really looking forward to. Sure, I had some money from the settlement, but my shopping sprees had put a little dent in my finances as had the paying off some of my student loans. I guess I would have to pull a little out and buy a car, but that wasn’t my biggest concern. My biggest concern was that I was supposed to meet Jenny and her dad for dinner. Now I had no way of getting there. Plus, I had to get to work tomorrow. This was going to a nightmare. I had to deal with these issues one at a time. I needed help, I just had to see if my brother would be willing to help me, again.

“Dan” I said, which I could see instantly put him on guard. “Could you drive me downtown? I am supposed to meet Jenny and her dad for dinner” I figured once I got him in the car I would then work on him about the rest of my issues. However, I may have overplayed my hand. I said Dan, I never call him that unless I need something and I could see him go on the defensive right away. “I will give you a ride, but no to anything else.” Danny said with a smile on his face that seemed to indicate this was going to take some work.

I hopped in the truck and began in. “Danny, I am going to need help finding a car. I don’t know anything about buying a car. Will you help me?” I pleaded with him as we worked our way down Fourth Street on our way over to Hennepin. He shook his head at first, but I really began pleading with him “Please Danny. I know nothing and I need a big storing man there to make sure I don’t get taken advantage of.” I tried to bat my lashes and give him the puppy dog look. He shook his head. “No way. It isn’t donna work. You’re a big bo, I mean big girl. You can go looking for a car yourself.” I continued my pleading all the way to the restaurant. Finally, just as we are pulling up to Rosato’s, he relented. “Fine! Saturday morning. We will go looking for a car.” I gave him a big hug and was promptly told to get off him. I decided not to push my luck and let go of him and thanked him. I got out and headed in to the restaurant.

Since March, we had made it a point to get Marty to meet us a couple of times a month at Rosato’s. Partially it was so we could see him, but the other reason was so we could get him out. On the weekend, Marty could relax, and enjoy his life, however during the week he seemed a bit sad. We weren’t sure if it was the Marilyn situation or something else. Both Jenny and I felt that being in that big old house alone was a bit much, so along with Mary, we put together a plan to keep an eye on him and get him out and about. Mary had taken the approach of getting him to take her to the club once a week, usually Tuesdays and Jenny and I made sure to either drop around once a week or maybe come out on Thursdays or staying over until Monday. It was working, but the three of us still worried about him. Plus getting here got him to at least see one friend.

I was the last one there but Paul gave me his usual greeting, “Alexa how great to see you! Come, Jenny and Marty are in back.” And he began leading me to the table, but before we got too far he stopped and turned around. “You know you and Jenny are doing a good thing getting him out. He seems to be the happy guy I had known all my life, not the guy who had been coming in here the last few years. Thanks for brining my friend back.” And he turned back around and led me back to the table. Thank god, the hormones had stopped messing with my emotions so badly and I didn’t break down right there but it did bring a tear to my eye. As we approached the table, Paul grabbed the bottle and poured me a glass as he began another bout of teasing his friend. “Geez your looking skinny. I am going to send mama around to bring you some food during the week. You are going to waste away.!”

“Don’t you have some Cannoli’s to stuff?” Marty responded, earning a laugh from Paul as he moved off. I made my apologies as I took my seat.

“I’m sorry I’m late. But I had to get a ride from Danny. Car problems.” I explained as I shared a kiss with Jenny. Both the Thompson’s gave me a little sympathy as they asked what the issue was. “Danny thinks the car is done. It is 16 years old. I talked Danny into helping me find a new one.” What was just meant as idle conversations suddenly took on new meaning as I watched the beautiful blonde next to begin getting all excited.

“We get to go shopping?!” Jenny exclaimed, earning a groan from her father. I giggle at Marty’s reaction. Marty than breaks into giving fatherly advice.

“Go see Stan Campbell at Excelsior Ford. He is a friend and can set you up with a good car.” Marty advised.

“I can’t afford a new car Marty. I was probably going to go down to a couple of used car lots back home and see what I can find.” I told Jenny’s father.

“Don’t worry about that. See Stan, and if it is a little more I can help.” A smiling Marty offered.

“Marty!” I whined a bit.

“Alexa!” he replied with a laugh. “You are part of this family, more or less. Just go see Stan and see what he has. For me, OK.” I agreed and we went about our meal. Jenny kept talking about the kind of car I needed but I wanted to make this choice on my own. This was to be my first car. My Taurus was given to me after my grandmother died, I didn’t get to pick it out. Now I was going to find a car that was mine. It was just another new step in my life. I cleaned out the car and made arrangements to have it donated to a charity that takes old cars.

After our typical Friday night of dinner at the Thompson house with Mary and a nice little cruise around the lake, we met up with both Danny and Katie for breakfast before heading to the dealership. Jenny was once again excited at the prospect of shopping, this time for a big-ticket item. Katie teased her a bit over her excitement, “Geez Jen, you would think you were the one getting a new car, not Alexa.”

“Well I kind of am getting a new car.” Jenny said with a smile. I did warn her that I was picking out the car, not her. She gave a minor pout before agreeing to my stipulation. “Just as long as it’s not a pickup truck” She teased me.

“What’s wrong with a pick up?” An ‘insulted’ Danny asked my girlfriend. I replied for her.

‘Nothing is wrong with pickups, if you are a meathead Danny, but for girls like us a cute little car is better.” I said, earning a giggle and a hug form Jenny and a comment and groan from Danny about me being too much of chick. “Damn right I am” I stated. We finished up our breakfast and the four of us made our way to the dealership. Jenny and I went inside and asked for Stan while Katie and Danny began looking around on the lot. Stan was quick out of his office following the phone call from the receptionist.

“Hello ladies. I understand from your father Jenny we are looking for a new car today for Alexa here.” He said after going through the introductions. He asked me what I was looking for and I described my wants. I wanted s smaller car than my old Taurus. Something that got good mileage and was reliable. “We can find something like that.” he said. “Why don’t we head out to the lot and look around a bit. I thought your brother was coming with you today?” I told Stan that he was already out on the lot looking around a bit. As we moved out the door, I felt that there was no way I was leaving here without a car. It wasn’t that the salesman was pushy or anything, it just felt like things had been pre-ordained.

Danny and Katie were walking back towards us as we came out the door. We met up part way. “I found a couple of cars you should look at.” My brother informed me. “They look like decent cars. Low mileage, I know people who have ones like it they have been reliable.” My brother said to me. I could see that Stan was receptive to what my brother was saying, but was hoping for a little more of a sale. The two men began walking ahead of us three girls as we moved over to the used cars area. As we were walking along, a car caught my eye and I stopped. Here is the car I was looking for. It was a 2016 Ford Focus Hatchback. It was a little red four door car with a hatchback. I stopped and began looking at and just fell in love. It got good mileage, it was small but not as small as a Fiesta, plus it was reasonably priced for a new car, I fell in love with it. “Are you sure you want a hatchback?” Jenny asked. I just stood a smiled as I nodded my head. We called the two guys to stop and comeback.

“I’d like to test drive this car Stan.” I said as the two men came back. I could see a smile come across Stan’s face as I pointed at the Red hatchback. He went into the spiel about all the features of the car, like backup camera, MP3 connection, power windows and seats. It had every bell and whistle you could think of. I barely listened to him as I got into the driver seat and got ready for the test drive. Stan and I, with Jenny in the back seat, slowly eased out of the lot and took the little red car out for a spin. It had decent pick up, but it wasn’t like I was looking for a speedster. I wanted a good car that would get me around. And this was the car I had been looking for. As we exited the car back at the dealership, I was more convinced that this is what I wanted and I expressed that thought. Danny asked me why I wanted this car so bad.

“It gets good mileage, its small enough to get around but has the room I need and besides” I paused as my excitement took over “it’s cute!”

“Oh god.” Danny moaned causing Jenny and I to giggle as we cuddled up in my excitement.

I turned to Stan and said we needed to go sit inside and talk about price. We went inside and sat down in Stan’s office. Danny took center stage next to me as Jenny and Katie hung out behind us we began to talk about price. “Since this is a 2016 I can give you a deal on it. The sticker price is $19,000 but with all the incentives and the fact we would like to get if off our lot I can give it to you for $13,500. Does that work?” he asked I got a bit nervous and looked back at Jenny who smiled at me and nodded. She had offered to help, but I of course declined it. I wanted to do this on my own. I watched Danny try and begin to haggle a bit and we were able to knock it down another $500, Stan asked me about how much I wanted to put down. I informed him I could do $7,000 and would have to finance the rest. I asked him about my options there. He stopped me before I could get too far.

“It’s taken care of Alexa. I have been told to take your portion and the rest was covered. I think you need to talk to someone else about the balance due. If you give us an hour or two we will get it cleaned up and you can take it home today.” I was in shock and I turned and shot Jenny an accusing look. She smiled at me but shook her head. “It wasn’t me babe.” I began to tear up as I realized it was all Marty! Damn him. After signing all the papers and giving Stan the check, the four of us went back to the Thompson house to wait and plan on our afternoon and evening at the lake. Just as we are getting out of the car, Marty pulled up from his golf game. I practically tackled him as he got out the car. I couldn’t hold back the tears as I gave Marty the biggest hug I had ever given a man that didn’t have the last name Quinn. “What’s that for?” he asked with a knowing grin on his face.

“For the help with the car. You didn’t have to do that” I explained through the tears. Marty returned the hug and began explaining his actions.

“I wanted to do it Alexa. You have brought so much to this family besides the joy you brought to Jenny. I am more than willing to help out.” After giving him a kiss on the cheek, I began negotiating with him over payment terms. He just laughed at me as I pleaded with him “You pay me what you can when you can. If it ever becomes an issue we will work something out.” An hour or so latter we got the call the car was ready and Jenny, Marty and I went over to the dealership. After talking with Stan, we made our way out to my new car, I was going through a million emotions at once. As man handed me the keys for my little hatchback, Marty tossed his keys to Jenny. “You take my car home Jennifer. I want a ride in Alexa’s new car.” I hugged Marty once again before we got in and began our trek back to the Thompson estate.

My new car dominated my thoughts almost as much as Jenny did. Almost. When we got back to the Thompson house. Both Jenny and Katie wanted a ride and Jenny even wanted to take it for a spin. Both Katie and Jenny could see how excited I was for my car and were very sweet. Following our little jaunts through the neighborhood, we went out back but couldn’t find either Danny or Marty. After calling out for the two of them we saw my brother and Jenny’s dad emerge from the cabin of the houseboat. Though the two had met a couple of times, I wouldn’t have called them friends. However, as they left the boat a friendship seemed to be struck. I could even hear plans being made for all of us to go out sometime. “Why don’t we go now” Katie called out causing Jenny and I to yell in agreement. The two men that had done so much for me simply looked at each other and decided why not.

“We will get some food figured out and grab something to drink. We will be down in about a half an hour.” I called out. I turned and began giving orders. “Katie, you are in charge of the drinks. I think that there is beer down in the boathouse refrigerator. Go grab some and stick it in the fridge in the galley. Jenny, you come with me and we will whip up some food quick that we can heat up on the boat. Let’s get moving time’s a wasting, ladies.” My two roommates quickly stood at attention and gave me a salute. “Knock it off you two. Someone has to organize this fun.” I said as Katie moved off to collect some beer. Jenny called out to Katie that we would bring down some wine from the house. We knew the boat was well stocked with hard liquor. As Jenny and I were moving off to the house, I froze in my steps.

“What’s wrong Lex?” Jenny asked as she could see a frightened look come over my face.

“I think I just channeled my mother” I said. Jenny almost fell over in laughter.

“You did!” Jenny screamed out before sympathy for my plight took control. “Oh, I’m sorry babe, but you did just sound like Char. It was bound to happen. There are times when I channel either my mom or my grandma. It’s part of being a woman.” Jenny said as she laid a long kiss on me. As we broke we looked deep into each other’s eyes. “We should get going babe. Everyone will be waiting.” I nodded before exchanging another kiss. Just as we were moving off we were interrupted by the voice of authority.

“And what is everyone going to be waiting for girls” Mary said. We turned to find Mary standing there in a very classy dress. She had been at a charity event all day, so had no idea of the fun that had been going on around here. Jenny went over and hugged Mary and began telling her we were going out on the boat and that she should go get changed. A smile over Mary as she quickly moved off to get changed for the boat. Jenny and I went in and began organizing some food. We grabbed some bread and cheese and I had Jenny whip together a quick salad. I went into the fridge and grabbed some fruit and went digging through the freezer looking for some form of protein we could take out.

“Hey Lex, there are some shrimp in the bottom drawer of the fridge, maybe you could grab that and boil it in the galley. It will be quick and there might be some crab legs in the freezer in the pantry.” I smiled. The feeling of a proud teacher washed over me. I just sat back and looked at Jenny. “What?” she asked defensively.

“Maybe I have succeeded at doing what your mom accused me of doing.” I said as I went over to the beautiful blonde with the perplexed look. “Maybe you are becoming a housewife, or at least a good party host.” Another shared giggle and another shared kiss before we got back to getting everything organized. As we finished putting together all the food on the counter we looked at it and realized we had an issue.

“How are we going to get this all down to the boat?” I asked as Jenny and I starred at it. The next thing I know she is grabbing me and dragging me out into the garage. She pulls me towards the back of one of the stalls and there is the answer.

“Help me get the wagon down babe.” Jenny says. We stand on our tip toes and eventually wiggle her old childhood wagon off its hook. A proud look came over Jenny. “So, what do you think Lex? Good idea?” She asked and I could only nod my head in amazement. This was not the same girl I met almost three years ago. I tell her that it is a great idea and we share another kiss. “You know I would never have thought of this three years ago. “ Jenny said as she pulled me in. “And it’s all because of you. Thank you for helping me become a normal person.” She told me. This time the hormones took control and I began to cry. Jenny pulled me closer and we shared a kiss. That I had made that much of an impact really got to me. We were interrupted by the all-time leader of interruptions.

“Okay, enough Jexy time. We have people getting antsy down at the dock.” Katie said. Jenny and I grabbed the wagon and began rolling it over to the door of the kitchen. Katie took one look at the wagon and announced her approval. “Hey great idea for getting all that food down to the boat. Good thinking Lex.” I let a huge grin spread across my face before beating Jenny to a response.

“Wasn’t my idea. All Jenny’s” I say with a confident smile as I pull Jenny in closer. I had known Katie forever, but I had never seen her left speechless like Jenny and I just had. We gently push her to the side and load up the wagon to take down to the boat. When we got down to the boat, the same comments were made about the wagon by Marty and Danny. When I told them that it was Jenny’s idea they adopted the same look of shock. All that is except for Mary who flashed a proud smile and gave us a wink of approval. We boarded the boat and stored our food in the galley. We settled in for a nice leisurely cruise, the four of us women took up spots in the back deck and watched Marty give instructions to Danny on how to operate the boat while we filled in Mary about the new car I had purchased. As the little cruise continued, I could see Danny and Marty getting along great and everyone enjoyed the food we brought along. After dinner, Jenny and Mary volunteered to clean up while the men went back up to the flying bridge. Jenny and I worked our way up to the forward lounge, where I cuddled into my girlfriend, who sat and held me. I realized that other than my mother I was with all the people who meant the most to me. I cuddled in closer and began crying a bit. Jenny kissed the top of my head. “You deserve all this happiness.” How does she do that? I looked up and a wide smile came across her face. It was time, I had to ask her.

“How do you know what I am thinking all the time?” I asked.

“We are soul mates Lex. And I catch you doing the same thing. You deserve to be happy. You bring so much happiness to all these people.” Jenny told me. I cuddled back in for the ride back to the dock. We spent the rest of the night just hanging out. Marty set Katie and Danny up in one of the open rooms for the night and Jenny and I went back up to her room where we cuddled in. As I laid there, curled up with Jenny, I thought about the comments Jenny had made about how her life had changed and I saw all the people I cared about getting along so well

Work became very interesting the following week. On Monday, I snuck out of work a bit early for my weekly appointment with Debbie so I could take Jenny out to lunch. When Jenny and I got back, we found Mary in Debbie’s office. The usual back and forth went on between Mary and I before she told us that she was thinking that the Foundation should make a grant to the Program. Not only that, I was going to help put together the proposal for the Board. This was huge! Not only was I going to get a chance to help present a plan for a worthy organization, it was for a place that I knew helped so many people and one that was lose to my heart. It was a chance for me to really do some good. I wanted to go thank Mary for what she was doing, but I was stopped by Bridget before I could.

“If you want to thank mother, do a good job with this presentation. That is all the thanks she needs. She has seen what it has done for you and Jenny and one of the nice things with the foundation is that you can help organizations that have made a difference. The Program on Human Sexuality has done that. Now you have to help the Board see that. Do you think you can do that?” Bridget asked. It was better than any halftime speech I had ever heard. I was fired up. I threw myself at it. I went with Ellen on Tuesday to meet with Debbie and go over their needs. I worked with various people at the Program as to really delve into to their mission. One day, I even took Christy down there with me to go over some of the finer details. I met with Debbie, which was odd to be sitting in her office talking about something other than me. The one nice thing Debbie did was appoint a liaison from the Program. And luckily, I was kind of familiar with the liaison. Not only that, but the liaison Debbie appointed and Christy hit it off well. The only thing about the work between the liaison and I was we were warned to keep it professional by Debbie. Jenny politely told her superior to be quiet before the two of us went down to the conference room at the program and put together the proposal.

The experience proved to be a real eye opener. It showed me that there was a chance to do some good in the world and I explained this to Jen one night when we were at home. “I am so loving this! I feel so jacked up to be doing this, and not just for the Program but all these other groups. I never knew that people with money did these things.” Jenny tried to explain that when you have the money that her family does, you are constantly being hit up for money. The Foundation allows her grandmother and the family to find those causes that truly need the help. “I really enjoy this work babe.” I explained. “Maybe it is something I should be doing with my life?” What I thought was a throw away comment lit Jenny’s face up like a Christmas tree.

“You would be wonderful at the Foundation. You have a caring soul and you always want to help people out. Besides what better person to work at the foundation, than a member of the family.” I tried to tell her that I was not part of the family. “Not yet” she told me as she kissed me. This began me thinking, what was she saying? Were we talking about a future together as a married couple? We had talked about being together, but I think this was the closest we had ever come to really talk about it. It really got me thinking. Did I want to spend the rest of my life with Jenny? The answer was simple. But what do I do now?

As we were talking about all this, my mother called to give us a guilt trip about not coming down to show her my new car, or seeing her recently. As I tried to explain to her that I had been busy but before I could get a word out Jenny grabbed my phone and put it on speaker. “We’ll be down Friday night. We will pick you up and then head out for something to eat and we will even stay for most of the day on Saturday.” I knew that Marty was going to be out of town this weekend so I was hoping Jenny and I could have a little private time, but that was gone. So, after work on Friday I came back to the apartment and packed for a weekend at the Quinn house rather than the Thompson estate. Jenny showed up a bit later and quizzed me to make sure I had everything packed, including our work clothes. At one point as she was going through her questioning, I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you roll your eyes at me young lady!” Jenny warned me. I felt I had to make some reparations so I came over and began kissing her neck, before I was admonished again. “Mmm. You have to stop Lex. We are going to be late.” I tied to pout but was told we could work something out later.

Following an excruciating drive thanks to the Friday rush hour traffic, we arrived at my mother’s a half an hour late. My mother of course was all over us. “Where have you two been? I made reservations for us but thankfully Louise was willing to push it back.” My mother said as she gave us each a hug. She pushed us along back to the car before we could get a word out. Mom got in the front seat that Jenny had left open while she took the back, “This is comfortable! I am surprised with how little this thing is I thought it would be cramped.” My mother stated as she took it all in, while Jenny tried pointing out all the features. “Oh, this is too much for me! All the gizmos would drive me crazy. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a M3P hook up.” I almost lost control of the car I was laughing so hard. Jenny admonished me from the back seat trying to get me to be nice to my mother, who sat in the passenger seat and gave me the death glare.

As we pulled into the parking lot at Lefty’s I recognized that Danny’s truck was there. I knew Katie was working tonight, so I wasn’t all that surprised to see Danny there, but it was the truck that was parked a few spaces down that got my heart beating faster. “What is he doing here?” I asked my mother who tried to put on a dumb act at first until she admitted that she had asked him to meet us as well. “I’m not going in. I won’t be humiliated by that bastard again.” I was beyond upset and if it wasn’t for Jenny sitting behind me I probably would have gone off on my mother.

“I have warned Adam that he better watch his tongue. Plus, Danny will be there too. Adam has been a little skittish around Danny the last few weeks so you will be fine.” My mother explained, but I continued to fight it. Mom finally lost her patience with me. “Alexa Marie, you are going to dinner with the four of us and you will not cause any problems, do you understand me young lady.” I wanted to come back with guns firing, but the giggles from the back seat distracted me. As we got out of the car, I quizzed my girlfriend a bit over the giggling. “I love seeing your mom put you in place.” Having dinner with Adam, mom lecturing and now Jenny teasing me. My only salvation would be Danny? This was going to be a fun night.

I was very tentative as I walked into Lefty’s as to what I would find. Jenny and I found my two brothers sitting at the bar nursing some beers. Jenny launched right in at Danny because that is what the two seemed to do, pick on each other. Usually I would either join in with Jenny or would just sit back and watch the show. Tonight, however I was a bit weary of opening my mouth for anything. My last two encounters with my oldest brother were a disaster so I was just trying to go unnoticed, but I realized that I was falling into my old patterns. When Danny turned around and asked me what my problem was I knew I had to be me, and the typical banter between the two of us began. “Katie told me to keep an eye on you, but I don’t know why I would have to you are so whipped.” Danny gave me a grin and Jenny pulled me in for a cuddle. I could see Adam become irritated, but thankfully kept his mouth shut. Jenny ordered wine while I just ordered a Diet Coke as I was diving. Adam snorted a bit at the order but kept his mouth shut.

The longer we sat and waited for our table, the more I got a chance to study Adam. He seemed his normal grumpy self but seemed a bit more withdrawn. Friends would walk bye and try and say hello to him and he would grunt or give them a simple up nod. In the past, he would be somewhat more engaging, but now he sat there brooding. He pretty much remained quiet until our table was ready, only speaking to our mother and Danny a few times. The whole thing with Bethany must have really been getting to him. This was a different person than the one I had seen get thrown out of Willy’s. When our table was called, Adam seemed to hang back a bit from the rest of us as we moved into the dining area. Danny became aware of this and stopped while Mom, Jenny and I were seated. My two brothers came shuffling in and I could see Adam not really look at anyone. And like when we were here a few months back, there was whispering as the Quinn family entered the dining room, but this time the eyes were turned towards Adam. I kind of felt bad for him, that was until we locked eyes and the sneer came to his face.

As we sat down I noticed that Danny had arranged it so Adam was on the other side of mom from Jenny. It was a kind of sly move, but a good one. If Adam had anger directed at me, it was nothing compared to the anger Jenny had shown towards Adam over the last few days. Any time Kattie, Danny or I had brought up my brother, Jen would go off on what an asshole he was. Now I had seen Jenny be mad at people and even have some dislike of people, but not like this. There was anger there and it was recognizable enough that Katie even commented about it to her. The night before, as we were lying in bed I tried to get her to talk about it. “I just don’t like how he treats everyone around him, especially women.” She told me. “The way he treats your mother is disrespectful and the way he treated Bethany was reprehensible. And don’t even get me started on how he treats you. I actually get scared as to what he might do to you babe.” I pulled Jenny in and told her not to worry. Those feelings seemed to be dashed as I watched an almost sullen Adam take his seat and begin looking at a menu. I looked at him and then at my other brother. Danny just shrugged his shoulders.

We looked over the menus and placed our orders, my mother tried to engage in some light banter with each of us. Adam’s answers were always short and he pretty much just sat there. Danny, Jenny and I continued our normal ways of teasing each other. No one was ever immune from the other two. Mom especially got a kick out Danny and I picking on Jenny. She was under the impression that I would never do anything like that. A few times I had to make amends with my soul mate, which is always fun. And unlike the last time, Adam just groaned and didn’t begin complaining out loud. I am not saying he was accepting because I could see he was uncomfortable by our actions. He seemed almost resigned that the world was changing and changing in a way that he did not approve of. And it was after we ate, that a change in all our lives was about to happen again.

As we were enjoying desert and coffee, mom cleared her throat. I could see she was a bit nervous about something. “I asked all of you out to dinner, because I have made a decision. The house and the yard are too much for me. I am going to look for a townhouse or a small house in town and I need to decide what to do with the house. I would prefer that it go to one of you three children, but I have no idea what your thoughts are on any of this.” I could tell mom was a bit nervous by all of this, it surely would be the start of another little battle amongst me and my brothers. But I wasn’t going to be part of it. That was pretty much quickly confirmed by a look over at Jenny. I knew my future was not in Faribault so I quickly answered that I wanted nothing to do with it, this brought it down to my brothers. It was funny to watch Adam, because I could see he was torn. I think he would like the land and everything, but I think reality was taking hold. Who would he share it with? Bethany may have become a lost cause. Jenny and I had run into her a few weeks back at Southdale and she had changed so much since she ended things with Adam. I think they had been together so long, that was all she knew and just accepted that her life was destined to be with Adam. Now the once sure future has drifted away.

“I’d be interested in buying it.” Adam finally stated as he shrugged his shoulders. “I mean I don’t want it to go to someone else outside the family.” At that point, all four pair of eyes turned towards Danny. I could see the conflict in Danny already. I though back to the day my father’s will was finalized. Danny just kept looking down at the spoon he was playing with as he thought. I knew it was time for my personality to come shining through.

“Do you have to ask Katie first Danny?” I said with a cheesy smile on my face. This caused reactions out of everyone at the table. Jenny began to laugh, Adam groaned again and my mother admonished me to be nice to my brother but she too giggled at my comment. It was the reaction of the middle child that got me. He looked at me briefly with the ‘Danny’ grin for a second before trying to get all defensive.

“Shut up Alexa.” He said before he began stammering. “I, I don’t know what I want right now. I don’t know if I want to stay in town. I would love to own it but I just don’t know. I have been waiting to tell everyone this, but I just had an interview with Simmons Homes about being one of their supervisors on Wednesday and all their work is up in the Cities. It might be too much of a hassle to make the drive.” I looked over and I saw that mom’s mouth was opened almost as if she was in shock. Jenny just nudged me under the table and we exchanged knowing smiles. Jenny and I had talked about my brother and our roommate several times and we were both of the opinion that there was something a little deeper going on between the two of them. Mom regained her composure a bit, but kept looking at my brother. We finished up and mom, Jenny and I made our goodbyes to my brothers and began the drive back home. I could see that mom wanted to ask something but didn’t know how to say it. Nothing was said but as Jenny and I crawled into bed together back at the house Jenny brought it up to me.

“Do you think Char is all bothered by Danny’s indecision?” I told her I thought she was.

“I think she is seeing us all find something good in our lives and moving on from what was always assumed.” I replied.

“Like us?” Jenny asked. I could sense the grin on her face in the dark.

“No, she expected that I would become a woman and find the most beautiful woman in the world. Didn’t you expect that?” I asked my soulmate as we shared a kiss and held each other and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, we awoke to the sound of rain. To most people it was a downer at summertime, but for those of us who had been expected to be gardeners/slaves to Charlotte Quinn, it was one of the best sounds in the world. It meant we would get out of the yardwork that my mother had planned. We cuddled together and tried to get away with as much as we could and listen to the rain. However, my mother wasn’t as accommodating to our quiet morning laying in. “Alexa, Jenny time to get up there’s work to do.” I groaned causing mock sympathy from Jenny.

“Aww, it will be alright. We told her we weren’t staying all day. We can sneak out of here and we can lay about all night at the lake. Maybe it will keep raining.” Jenny said trying to cheer me up, but I began to pout and tell her no, I wanted to lay around now. “My poor baby.” She said as the mocking continued. “But we have to get up so move it young lady.” She said as she began tickling me. Soon she had me laughing like a little kid. Our fun was once again interrupted by mother. “Come on you two. Time is a wasting!” We reluctantly pulled ourselves out of bed and made our way down to the kitchen.

“Well it is about time the two of you got out of bed.” My mother kidded/reprimanded us. “Since we can’t do anything outside, I came up with something you can do.” Mom paused for effect as Jenny and I dug into the pancakes my mother had made for breakfast. I looked up at her and she started back. “You can clean out your bedroom!” I started to have a sense of déjà vu as she said this. I can remember the order coming down to clean up my room when I was growing up, but this time another word was used in the order “Out”,

“So, your serious about this getting rid of the house thing?” I asked. My mother went on about how it was just too big for her and how she had felt that way when it was just her and my dad.

“But you know he would never leave this place. Plus, it’s time for a change. A change in lots of things and that was my next question for you two. Do you think you can help me look for a new car? I think Danny was right, it’s time to get rid of the mini-van. Do you think you can take me up to that car dealer you got yours from?”

“Char, whatever you need. I’ll tell daddy to call his guy and next Saturday you can come up and we will go looking.” Jenny told my mom and I saw a bit of relief come over her face.

“Thanks, you two. I didn’t want to ask Adam because he would try and push me in the way he thought and Danny. Well, Danny is too much in love to do anything without Katie’s approval.” Jenny and I nearly chocked as mom began giggling at her own comment. “At least we aren’t the only one who sees it” Jenny adds in as we spend the next few minutes laughing away about my brother and my ‘sister’s” love life. Mom wants some more details about their relationship and before Jenny can go too far I lightly kick her under the table. I don’t want to betray that confidence even though it was something I was excited about. It really hit me at that point that something that at one time I was so opposed to was now something that brought me a lot of happiness.

We finished up our breakfast, and me and Jenny went up to my bedroom. Another step in my journey was about to begin and I was a little sad. The easiest thing was getting rid of some the clothes that I had left at home. We began going through my drawers and closet and made two piles. One was clothes that we could donate and another was a pile that would be thrown out. Jenny had a great time laughing at some of the things I had and even decided we needed to keep some, though I did protest some of her choices. It was when we got to some of the more personal items that I had a hard time. There were some family pictures that got to me, like the one of me when I was about five holding up a good-sized walleye with my dad crouching next to me with his arm wrapped around my shoulder. The smile on his face was huge. I think he was hoping at that time I would be just like him. Little did he know that while I enjoyed it, his ranting and raving is what killed the joy for me. But that wasn’t the only picture that made me sad. There was a posed family picture that sat on one dresser. It was from one when I was about twelve that was from the same sitting as the big one that sat on the wall in the formal living room. This one though shows some of the animosity that was going on in the family. My dad obviously looks irritated, Adam is sitting there with a proud, cocky look and his faced and I am away from the rest of the family a bit. I showed it to Jenny and asked her what I should do with it. I think she saw my dread as I held it in my hand.

“Just put it in the box. Along with some of those other things.” And while some might say Jenny was being dismissive of my feelings, I think she was looking out for me. We finished going through all my drawers and bookcases. The pennants and posters were taken down and either put in the box or completely thrown away. As the two of us stood back and looked at my room, I realized the last vestiges of Alex Quinn had been removed of it. It was very plain looking and it drove home the fact my life had changes so much. But the sadness I felt when I cleaned out my closet at the apartment was not there. Today I felt empowered. My life was going in a new direction. We hauled everything down and told mom we would stop by the church thrift store to get rid of some of the useful items and threw out the rest. We made arrangements to meet up Saturday and help her look for a new car and said her goodbyes. For some reason as I drove off, I felt that Alex was now truly gone forever.

The next week was pretty normal. I continued putting together the important things for the grant for the program. Jenny and I began to get excited as we knew that Danny and Katie were going back up to the cabin so we would have the apartment to ourselves again beginning Thursday. It was an excitement that really began bubbling as I drove home Thursday from work. I called Jenny to see how she work was going and she began to tease me a bit. “We have the whole place to ourselves tonight babe. I think we have to find something exciting to do” The innuendo in her voice was not lost on me and I played off of it, telling her I had a few ideas of what we could do. The ideas she threw at me, made me blush a little but also excited me. I told her I was going to stop at Byerly’s on the way home and I was going to make her a special dinner tonight. She seemed awfully excited by that.

As I pulled out from the stop light, the last thing I remember saying is ‘I love you Jenny”.

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