A Surprise Meeting For Andrea Houston And Jared De Luca. How Well Will It Go?
Autumn, Year 2
It was a bright, sunny Sunday morning. Neither Jared nor Andrea were working so they were enjoying a leisurely morning in each other’s company. It was one of those perfect autumn mornings when Andrea felt like the world was at peace with itself. Nothing could ruin her mood today.
Then her phone rang.
“Dad?” Andrea sounded shocked as she answered her phone. Jared took the opportunity to dive into the bathroom for a shower. “This is a surprise…What? You’re where? On the train? Why are you on the train? Oh, okay. Oh! Right. Okay then. Fine, yep, sure. See you soon.”
“Everything okay?” Jared asked, returning from the shower.
“I don’t know. That was my dad.” Andrea blinked a few times. “They’re on the train.”
“Okay?” Jared shook his head. “Is that a good or bad thing?”
“Jared, they’re coming here. To the city. They’ll be arriving at the station in about an hour.”
“Which station?” Jared asked. “We’ll go and pick them up.”
“It’s the one round the corner. Listen Jared, here’s the thing. I haven’t actually told them about you yet. They don’t know we’re seeing each other, they don’t know we’re living together-”
“It’s okay.” Jared put his arms around Andrea. “Honestly, it’s fine.”
“Jared, they want to stay for a bit.” Andrea said in a rush. “I know it’s a cheek and they haven’t asked or anything but that’s just how they are.” She took a deep breath and turned to face him. “My dad believes strongly in family. He feels that because I’m his daughter, I really should take them in and let them stay for a bit. The problem is, because I haven’t told them about you yet, they sort of need to stay here.” She bit her lip and looked up at him. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t mind. Honestly, I’ve got the spare room. Andrea, don’t worry. I’m sure your parents are lovely and I look forward to meeting them. Don’t panic, okay? Why don’t you have a shower and get dressed while I get some laundry going and some coffee brewing?”
“Do I look okay?” Andrea asked uncertainly. Her parents’ train would be arriving in less than ten minutes and she was starting to panic.
“You look great,” Jared answered, laughing. “Don’t worry! I’m sure everything will be fine!”
Once outside the flat, Jared took Andrea’s hand and gaze it a squeeze. “Andrea, I’m really looking forward to meeting your parents. Don’t worry. Whatever happens, I’ll still love you in the morning.”
Slightly reassured, Andrea let him guide her down the road. The station was only around the corner; they could often see trains coming in from the fashion district across the river, so they didn’t have far to go. Every step felt heavier as Andrea wondered what her father was going to say when he found out.
“Andrea? Is that you, darling?” A woman’s voice called through the crowd at the station.
“Mum!” Andrea found her mother and flung her arms around her. “You look great!”
“So do you, sweetheart. You look so much healthier than when I last saw you! I was worried about you!” Erica Houston hugged her daughter close.
“And who’s this?” Alexander Houston gave Jared a once-over.
Andrea pulled back from her mother’s embrace. “Mum, Dad. This is Jared De Luca. Jared, this is Alexander and Erica Houston.”
“It’s a pleasure.” Jared shook hands with Andrea’s parents.
Andrea flung her arms around her father. “It’s lovely to see you, Dad!”
“Who is he?” Alexander hissed in his daughter’s ear.
“Why don’t we got back to the flat for coffee?” Jared suggested. “It’s only around the corner.”
“So, what do you do then, Jared?” Alexander asked. “This is good coffee, by the way.”
“Thank you.” Jared shifted position in his seat. “I’m a computer engineer. I specialise in robotics; I’ve been working at the lab in Oasis Springs for the past year or so. It’s been pretty incredible.”
“Computers, eh?” Alexander nodded approvingly. “I’m a programmer, myself.”
Andrea breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like everything was going to be just fine.
“So, where do you live then, Jared? Close to the lab, I take it?” Alexander drained his mug and set it down on the table.
“This is my flat. Andrea moved in with me a couple of months ago. She used to live across the hall.” Jared smiled. “I commute to the desert most days for work.”
“Your dad likes questions, doesn’t he?” Jared commented. Andrea was getting some salad ready for lunch and Jared was fiddling with the coffee maker.
“Jared, I’m sorry. Dad was just a bit taken aback, that’s all. I mean, he didn’t even know I was seeing anybody, let alone living with a guy. I should have told them, Jared, I know I should have done.”
Jared laughed. “Don’t worry. I like him. I don’t mind the questions. He’s only being a good father and sussing out my suitability for his daughter.”
“So Dad’s still as intense as ever then?” Andrea asked later. She and her Mum had gone out to Windenburg for coffee and left the guys back at the flat.
Erica laughed. “You know your father. He’s stubborn as a mule but he’s got a big heart. I know his questions are a bit much but it did come as a shock to him. You know you’re still his baby girl and always will be.”
“I know.” Andrea gazed out the window. The rain was pouring outside but even in the most inclement of weather, Windenburg was still pretty. “So what brings you guys out this far?”
“Well, we’ve been thinking of moving out this way. That’s why we wanted to stay for a while, Andrea. We want to look at properties around here because we’d love to be closer to you.” Erica smiled warmly at her daughter. “Now, tell me everything. What work are you doing now?”
“I’m a conservationist. My work’s mostly in Sulani but it’s really fulfilling. I’m helping clean up the water and beaches, to try and encourage the wildlife to return to the islands.”
“That’s quite a way for you to travel, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, we’ve both got big commutes.” Andrea sighed. “We both go to the station; Jared gets the train to Oasis Springs, then walks to his lab from there and I get the train to the airport and take the eco-jet to Sulani, then catch the shuttlebus from the airport to the centre of the village. It’s quite a long commute for both of us but what can you do?”
“So why did you settle in the city?”
Andrea shrugged. “I couldn’t afford anywhere in Sulani. I looked at this lovely little beach bungalow but it’s so out of my price range. The flat across the hall from Jared was the best I could afford at the time. Even now, I don’t pull in as much as Jared, so funds are still a little thin to be thinking about moving.”
“And I don’t suppose the commute for Jared would be any better, if you moved to the islands?” Erica asked gently.
“That’s the other thing. It’d probably be worse. He’d have to fly from the islands to the city, then get the train. He’d have a much longer commute that would take hours. I don’t know, Mum. Everything is working so well for the two of us. This is the biggest problem we’ve got and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Erica nodded thoughtfully. “I think you need to talk to Jared about it.”
Andrea had a horrible feeling her Mum was right.