Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

The Homestanders
Book Four of the Bradford Exiles
Wes Boyd
2005, 2011

Chapter 29

Saturday, December 25, 1999

“Jason,” Mignon called, “Would you like to do the honors?”

In the years since Christine died, there had been some Christmas dinners that Jason hadn’t spent with the Varneys – but not many. Somewhere along in there, he couldn’t remember just when, Mignon had unilaterally decided that since he was so good with knives, carving the turkey was right down his alley. While he could make a good knife, in his own mind he was no great shakes at cutting something up with one, so he was grateful that electric carving knives made the job simpler and no one particularly cared how much of a mess he made.

This time, it didn’t matter; he was glad to leave a discussion between Joe, Troy, and Casey about the dismal record of the Detroit Lions and join the women in the kitchen, anyway.

Joe and Mignon had a large kitchen, but it was pretty full with Mignon, Vicky, Alissa, and daughter-in-law Brittany out there, discussing the sorts of things women discuss when they’re together and there’s no mere man to get in the way. One of the topics, Jason had been dimly aware, was Alissa’s pregnancy, now about halfway along; in a few months, she’d be the second of the Varney kids to become a parent.

This was the first time in a couple years that all of the Varney kids and their spouses were together for a holiday. It is the way of things for families to grow up, mature, and scatter; thus it was with the Varneys. The thought was even more poignant to Jason, since for the first time ever Duane wasn’t present at Christmas.

Though Jason knew that Duane was a little sour about Christmas, mostly since he’d lost much of the family closeness of it years before when Christine died, he’d at least been home for them all, mainly because there hadn’t been much else to do, anyway. But this year, being new on the job, he’d gotten tabbed with working on Christmas Day, and he didn’t have the time or the reason to get away and drive the long round trip considering that he’d been home for a week the month before.

Jason wasn’t clear if he and Charlotte were going to be having dinner with her family, or by themselves, or whether just she was going and his Christmas dinner would consist of a Big Mac with fries at the McDonald’s where he’d gotten a job. When he’d called to admit it – “announce” implied a degree of pride he didn’t have in it – he’d agreed it was a piss poor job for his first one as a college graduate. Whatever happened it would serve to keep some bucks flowing until spring, when he hoped to be starting at some national park somewhere – or at NOC if that fell through.

Beyond that, he wasn’t hearing a great deal from his son. From what he could figure out, Charlotte’s parents were in grudging admittance that their daughter was living with a guy in a tiny furnished apartment without benefit of marriage, but didn’t exactly welcome it. Jason understood that; if he’d had a daughter Charlotte’s age, he would most likely have felt the same way. For that matter, he wasn’t exactly sure he fully approved of his son doing it, either. But it was his life to lead, and he was pretty sure that Charlotte’s parents must have felt the same way, or they wouldn’t have accepted her thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail either.

But Jason also knew he wasn’t in any position to criticize; after all, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. But then, the situation between Vicky and him was considerably different. To begin with, they weren’t living together, although at times it seemed to be skirting the line, for Vicky spent far more conscious time on his side of the back yards than she did on hers. A lot of that time was spent making knives, of course; Kevin was usually there a couple nights a week as well, and sometimes Emily might be. After a year of working at it, Kevin was getting pretty good with the forge, although he didn’t have anything like Vicky’s skills at finishing techniques. Other nights, though, he and Vicky were there by themselves, sometimes working on knives, sometimes not – and some of the latter, though surprisingly little under the circumstances, was spent very close and personal.

Not a word had been exchanged between them on the subject, but somehow the agreement had been made that quality in their sex lives was more important than quantity. It didn’t happen every night, or even every week, but every now and then the mood hit them right at about the same time. When it did, things got very memorable and satisfying.

The only problem was sometimes Vicky was willing to get up and go home for the night, especially if they’d spent an afternoon enjoying themselves. However, if it happened later in the evening, it was more enjoyable for both of them for her to spend the night with him, cuddled closely and warmly in each other’s arms. That probably would have been a little easier if she had been living by herself in some distant city, but living across the back yards from her parents, who had been friends for many years – well, it got awkward, to say the least.

Not that Joe or Mignon had said one word about it to him – since they hadn’t, not even Mignon, who had briefly but memorably been his lover in the dim and distant past. The two of them shared a special bond as a result, and could talk about a few things in a way they couldn’t with anyone else. Although Mignon must have had a pretty good idea what was happening between her daughter and him, there hadn’t even been a hint that she considered it a given. Since Jason knew from plenty of previous experience that Mignon was not blind as a bat, he figured that her silence meant that she knew what was going on but didn’t quite want to give formal approval. That left Jason wondering if they didn’t feel things were heading in the right direction for their daughter, and they trusted him enough to do the right thing if and when the time came.

“Jason, I have to admit,” Alissa said, interrupting his ruminations, “I never figured my big sister for a Harley rider.”

He glanced up from the turkey and looked over at the short, dark-haired woman who showed a lot of resemblance to Vicky without looking much like her; she was maybe five months pregnant, starting to show some but far from being huge yet. “Surprised me a little, too,” he replied. “But she’s really gotten into it.”

Jason grinned at what Alissa was talking about. He’d slept in to allow the Varneys a little family time on Christmas morning, but had wandered over later toward the end of the Christmas gift giving and gave Vicky a small box, in which he’d a few minutes before wrapped the door opener to the Varney garage. Everyone had trooped outside, and when Vicky opened the garage door there was a 1991 Harley-Davidson XLH 883 sitting behind it.

It made for a nice touch of ceremony but wasn’t really a surprise, since they’d talked it over a fair amount. The Street Hawk had suited Vicky pretty well, but it was a little small for tripping and couldn’t run with the Harleys as well. Somehow, it made Vicky feel as if she weren’t quite as hardcore as her friends. She’d ridden both Jason’s and Emily’s Sportsters over the summer and had done all right with them, but Jason had the idea that she’d been a little tentative with the bigger bikes, since they were quite a bit heavier. The only alternative seemed to be to get the lightest Harley he could find. That took a while and involved searching the Internet; it also involved cash, rather than a trade for some ornate knives. But then, Jason had no doubt that the gift was worth it.

But no waiting until spring, not this time – Vicky had headed right back inside, put on long underwear, her leathers and a heavy jacket, then went out and fired up the XLH to take it around the block for a spin, thermometer sitting at zero or not. The XLH was quite a bit louder than the Street Hawk, and she shook up the neighborhood a bit when she left. She was gone for a while, and returned chilled but grinning. “I got out on Taney and opened it up,” she smiled. “What a ride!”

“Vicky,” Alissa spoke up to make sure she was heard over the hubbub of the kitchen, “The neighbors are going to think you’re out of your mind.”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Vicky smiled, hearing the jab her little sister had fired at her. “I could think of worse things to do.”

“Name one!”

“Oh, how about skydiving?” Vicky smiled, then stuck the needle in a little. “I’m thinking of giving that a try some time, too.”

“Now I know you’re out of your mind,” Alissa shook her head, apparently not hearing the tease. “Mom, what do you think about Vicky riding a Harley?”

Mignon smiled at her younger daughter. “I think your elder sister is old enough to do what she wants to do. If that’s to be a little different, so be it. Everyone likes to be a little different, Alissa, or else you wouldn’t have six piercings in each ear and a stud in your nose.”

“It’s not the same thing,” Alissa snorted. “At least my piercings are pretty.”

“To you, anyway,” Mignon smiled. “You don’t want to hear my opinion. But it’s your decision, so I haven’t said anything.”

“But Mom, it’s not the same thing.”

“No, it isn’t,” Mignon smiled. “In fact, I rather envy your sister, who doesn’t worry so much about what people think that she won’t do what she likes to do. You only get to be young once, and there’s no point in wasting it.”

Nothing more was said on the subject, probably because Alissa figured she wouldn’t gain any points by pressing the issue, especially with Jason standing silently in the background. Dinner proved to be as excellent as expected; they sat around talking for a long time afterwards, mostly about what people had been doing. Over the course of a couple hours, Alissa made two or three obviously prying comments aimed at finding out what Vicky and Jason were really up to, which at least told him Alissa knew more than met the eye. For example, when she bluntly asked if the two of them had any plans, and was told that they were going to be doing a couple long trips on their Harleys.

After dinner, the men turned to football, which Jason could take or leave but preferably the latter, while the women gathered in the kitchen to gossip. Considering the weight of the dinner and the heaviness of his eyelids, Jason decided to head across the back yards and take a nap. It was perfectly feasible to lie down in the living room chair for his nap, but his bed was more comfortable, so he lay down on it and was soon out like a light.

As he stirred a couple hours later, he was not terribly surprised to find he had company – Vicky was lying on the bed beside him. Not asleep, but awake, just watching him. “Did I wake you up?” she asked softly.

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “If you did, it was time I got up anyway, or I’d be up all night.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” she smiled. “I’d be perfectly happy if you kept me up all night making love to me. Especially if Alissa thought that was what we were doing but couldn’t prove it. That’s why I came over here.”

He rolled a little closer and pulled her to him. “She was being a pest, wasn’t she?” he commented.

“Yes, she was. What we do is our own damn business, not hers, but she always was a little tattle-tale.”

“You know, I was thinking about it this morning,” he said. “Your folks have got to have at least some idea of what we’re doing, but if they do, they haven’t said anything about it to me.”

“They’ve got a pretty good idea,” she reported. “They haven’t said a lot to me about it, either. Dad got me off to the side back last fall and said we were both adults and ought to know what we’re doing. Beyond that, have fun, he said. Mom pretty much said the same thing in a different way.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” he smiled. “Well, it does and it doesn’t.”

“I think they both assume that we’ll do the right thing for us when we get good and ready. That is, whatever we decide the right thing is. I’m in no rush.”

“Vicky,” he said softly. “What do you want to do?”

“I want to do whatever you want to do,” she said. “If it’s just lie here and cuddle and kiss, that’s fine with me. Or, we could be romantic, go down and build a big fire in the fireplace, and cuddle and kiss on the sofa. As far as that goes, you could get a couple hundred yards of rope, strip me naked, tie me up like Dayna had Barbara and Amanda do to her that time, and spend the rest of the evening having your way with me however you want. It really doesn’t matter, it’s all the same to me and I’d enjoy it just as much.” She let out a sigh. “Except I need to spend some more family time while they’re here. Pest that she is, I don’t see Alissa very often. I just needed a break, that’s why I came over.”

“That wasn’t what I was talking about,” he sighed. “I was talking about things in general.”

“Same answer,” she smiled. “I want to do whatever you want to do. If that involves waiting until you figure out what it is you want to do, I don’t mind.”

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To be continued . . .

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