(Previously: TIME TO CHANGE)
Jack Rory squirmed anxiously in the hard plastic seat of the airport terminal. He was still feeling conflicted about his decision to accompany Destiny on her trip to Florida.
It seemed to him as if everything was moving a little too fast. He didn’t know if he was ready to meet Destiny’s parents. And he was uncomfortable putting so much physical distance between himself and his therapist Lisa, and the group therapy sessions that had become such a source of support.
Then there was the matter of the baby. With Karen‘s whereabouts still unknown, he’d had to arrange for the nanny to take the baby for an open-ended period of time. He felt vaguely guilty, but at the same time, he had to admit she was probably better off where she was.
For her part, Destiny seemed cool as a cucumber as she waited for their flight to be called. He’d tried to pump her for details about her parents, but she’d demurred, simply smiling and saying, “You’ll meet them soon enough.”
Just then, their flight was called. Trailing a few steps behind Destiny, Jack Rory showed his boarding pass to the gate agent and entered the jet bridge. There was no turning back now.
The flight was uneventful. Destiny napped while Jack Rory munched on peanuts and drank Diet Coke compulsively.
They landed without incident and made their way to the baggage claim, where Destiny’s parents were planning to meet them.
“There they are!” Destiny pulled Jack Rory by the hand toward a waiting couple. He’d never seen her so gleefully excited.
“Honey!” Destiny’s mother reached out her arms to embrace her daughter, leaving Jack Rory face-to-face with Destiny’s father.
“You must be Jack Rory,” he intoned solemnly. “I am Lord Vader. You may call me Darth.”
“Nice to meet you, Darth,” Jack Rory said, blushing.
“And I’m Cookie,” Destiny’s mother said enthusiastically. “Oh it is so great to meet you, Jack Rory! Destiny’s told us so much about you.”
“Mooo-oom,” Destiny groaned, nudging Cookie’s shoulder affectionately. “Downplay. Anyway, can we go now?”
“Yes,” Darth said. “Let’s.”
Destiny and her parents chattered animately the entire car ride back to their home, while Jack Rory stared silently out the window, speaking only when they addressed him directly.
Finally, they turned into the gated community on a golf course where Destiny’s parents had moved after she left home. From what Jack Rory could tell, Darth and Cookie were well-liked within the community, judging by the number of friendly waves they exchanged with their neighbors.
The house itself was nondescript, but spotless and comfortable. “Why don’t you kids get settled, and then we’ll head out for some lunch,” Cookie said brightly.
“Do you like seafood, Jack Rory?” Darth asked.
“I love it,” Jack Rory responded. “I always have.”
“I, too, love seafood,” Darth said. “I, too, always have.”
TO BE CONTINUED.