Authors: Tymber Dalton
with you people?” Sean grumbled as he poured himself a cup of coffee and went to join them. “Do you not need sleep?”
“Sleep is for the dead, son,” Sam said. “Time for you to learn that.”
“Leave him alone, Sam,” his mom said with a smile. “You know he’s not an early bird. There’s no sin in that.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek when he sat down. “He’s a hard worker and does very well for himself without you harassing him.”
Sean spotted Louise trying to hide her amused smile behind her coffee cup.
Eventually, the entire household stirred. Reese and Laura volunteered to cook breakfast. Emery was in the bathroom when this happened, so he missed what Sean witnessed as Denby eagerly jumped to help while everyone else took up positions in the living room to watch the large TV there.
By lunchtime, the weather had deteriorated outside. The outer rain bands were already hitting them in Sarasota. Violent gusts of wind battered palm trees in the Nadels’ backyard. When Jim Cantore began his live broadcast from the public beach at the south end of Manasota Key, Sean silently wondered if his parents would have a house to return to.
Or if he and Emery would, for that matter.
Emery and Sean were sitting in the kitchen at the breakfast table later that afternoon when Sean tried to take his mind off the storm by ribbing Emery. “I guess you were right.”
“Huh? About what?”
“Denby. I don’t have any reason to be jealous of him.”
A confused smile quirked Emery’s lips. “Of course you don’t, babe. But you’re bringing that up…why?”
“Well, I just think it’s funny, that’s all.”
“What’s funny? I’m not tracking.”
“That maybe Denby will end up being part of the family anyway.”
Emery blinked. “Say again?”
“Oh, the way he’s been cozying up to Laura. Looks like maybe she has the hots for—”
He couldn’t finish, because almost faster than he could follow the movement, Emery shot out of his chair and bolted into the living room. Before Sean could even get through the doorway, Emery had grabbed Denby by the front of his shirt and was bodily dragging him into the den.
Sean managed to scoot through the door and into the den before Emery slammed it shut, locked it behind him, and rounded on Denby.
“Dude, you stay the fuck away from my sister!”
Denby looked shocked. “What?”
Outside, Laura beat on the door. “Emery! You let me in right this minute!”
Emery ignored his sister outside the door. He advanced on Denby, who cowered away from him toward the other side of the den. He jabbed a finger in Denby’s face. “You stay. The fuck. Away. From Laura. Understand me?”
“What the hell is your problem, man?” Denby said, his hands in front of him warding Emery back.
Emery shoved him, hard. Sean tried to pull Emery back, but the larger man simply shrugged him off. He lowered his voice. “You know what the hell my problem is. You’re not going to turn my sister into a fucking beard for you and ruin her life.”
“Fuck off, asshole.”
Laura was now joined by Emery’s mom and dad on the other side of the door, beating on it and yelling for Emery to unlock and open it.
Emery got in Denby’s face. “No, I’m not going to fuck off. You want to sucker some poor woman into a sham, fine, but it’s not going to be
“Oh, now I see what your problem is,” Denby said with a sneer. “You’re jealous.”
Emery shoved him again and sent him tumbling backward over the sleeper sofa.
That finally spurred Sean to action. He raced over to the door and unlocked it, throwing it open. Laura, Joseph, and Brad spilled in, followed by Louise and Reese. Laura immediately tried to put herself between the two men, but Louise and Sean pulled her back while Brad and Joseph tried to get between the men and pull them apart.
“Emery,” Laura shouted. “Leave him alone!”
“Stay out of this, Laura. It doesn’t concern you.”
“You’re damn right it does! You have no right to dictate who I can and can’t date. I’m not a little kid.”
“Yes, I do,” he roared. “I not only have the right, but the obligation, when I know for a fact this guy is gay!”
Sean started to scan the room in the hopes that his parents hadn’t made it to the doorway, but no such luck. There they stood, their heads poked into the doorway, eyes wide as they watched the fracas.
“What?” Laura said as her struggles against Louise and Sean ceased. “How can you possibly know that? Some sort of gaydar? Quit trying to run my life!”
“No, I know because I’ve fucked him before, and he’s fucked me. So did Erik and two other guys. You’ve missed the last six full moon swims, but ask anyone who was at some of the others and they’ll tell you. Why do you think he’s going after you? He knows you don’t know about that and no one has the choads to tell you this dolphin’s queer but your queer brother.”
The room fell silent. Everyone froze at the sound of Helen Morita clearing her throat in the doorway. “Would anyone like me to make some soup?”
“For Christ’s sake, Helen, they’re not sick,” Sam scolded. “They don’t need soup. They need a referee. And what the hell is a ‘full moon swim’? And what do you mean by ‘this dolphin’?”
Sean wasn’t sure exactly how many, but at least four other people besides him and Emery and Louise Nadel audibly said, “Fuck.”
Sean threw his hands up in defeat and headed for the doorway. “That’s it. Y’all handle it. I’m outta here.” He pushed his way past his parents and the shifters gathered behind them and started to head for the front door. Then he remembered the hurricane bearing down on them and changed course for the door leading out to the garage. He walked out, closed the door behind him, and sat on the step leading down from the doorway.
“Holy crap.” He dropped his head in his hands.
How the hell am I supposed to explain this?
He’d halfway thought someone, hopefully Emery, would come after him, but no one did. After ten minutes he was about to go back into the house when he heard a scream that sounded a lot like when his mom saw a spider.
As that sank into his brain, he jumped up and ran inside. His mom and dad, flanked by nearly everyone else, stood just inside the sliding glass doors, clutching each other and staring out at the pool, shock painted on their faces.
Sean walked closer. The others noticed his approach and parted for him. Out in the pool, Emery was watching them.
Emery the dolphin.
Sean did an about-face and returned to the garage before his parents saw him. He didn’t want to deal with this.
It was Louise Nadel who followed him. She sat next to him on the step without speaking for a couple of minutes.
He took a deep breath and let it out. “Did Mom faint?”
“No,” she slowly said. “It was a little iffy there for a few minutes about your father, though. I think he nearly hyperventilated.”
“Are they okay?”
She slowly nodded. “I think so. I think they’re still in shock, though. Emery and Joseph are talking to them.”
“I’m guessing Emery’s out of the pool, then?”
“What the hell am I supposed to say to them?”
She shrugged. “That’s not my call, Sean.”
“They’re going to hate Emery now, aren’t they?”
“I don’t think so.” He wished she wouldn’t speak so slowly. It was starting to annoy him. When he looked at her, he realized she wore a puzzled expression. “She keeps wanting to know if anyone wants soup.”
When he finally processed her comment, he burst out laughing. “That’s about the only kosher thing she does.” He took a deep breath and let it out. “She’s not close to her family. She left home when she graduated high school. She doesn’t like to talk about them. Dad told me her uncle, her mother’s brother, molested her when she was a kid. When she finally confronted him at a family dinner, her whole family turned on her and didn’t believe her. They sided with her uncle.” He sadly sighed. “I didn’t even know I was half Jewish until we were studying World War II in high school, and she let slip that both sets of her grandparents died in Auschwitz.” He glanced at her. “Sorry. I guess I’m rambling.”
Louise looked thoughtful. “Funny thing, family secrets.” At least she was back to speaking at a more normal tempo.
“There’s nothing funny about this that I can see.”
She shrugged. “We all have them. We don’t like to talk about them. And they can cause a huge explosion when we finally do let them see the light of day, if we wait too long.”
They both looked up when they heard Laura yell something unintelligible, but Sean suspected it was directed at Denby. Followed by the sound of someone running up the stairs inside the house, and a door slamming.
“Explosions of more than one kind,” Louise said with a sad sigh. She stood and offered her hand to him. “You going to sit out here all day, or come inside? I suspect we’re having soup for dinner.” She offered him a bemused smile. “I’ll handle talking to your parents if you want to take over comforting my disillusioned daughter.”
He took her hand and stood. “Is she violent?”
“No more so than any other woman in a similar situation.”
“Crap.” He looked up at the ceiling.
A smile curved her lips. “Well?”
“I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”
* * * *
Reese and Olivia apparently took point comforting their younger sister, much to Sean’s relief. They weren’t in the living room when Sean returned. Emery and Joseph were sitting with Sean’s parents in the living room. His mom and dad both looked shocked, but at least his dad didn’t appear to be hyperventilating.
“You guys okay?” Sean asked them.
His mom and dad slowly nodded.
“Did you know?” Helen eventually asked him after several moments of uncomfortable silence.
He coughed. “Um, yeah. It’s a long story, and I didn’t think you’d believe me if I told you my dream guy also happened to be able to turn into a dolphin.” He sat on the arm of the chair Emery was sitting in and put his hand on his lover’s shoulder. “I wasn’t even sure at first if you were going to accept me bringing a guy home. I didn’t want to stack the deck against us any more than I had to.”
Conversation for the rest of the evening was forced, at best. Instead, everyone focused on the storm’s progress on the radar. Denby stayed far away from both Emery and Laura, who’d been convinced by her sisters to come back downstairs.
Sean wouldn’t have wanted to be on the receiving end of the dark looks she sent Denby, though.
After dinner, Sean didn’t miss that his parents bade everyone a hasty good-night before heading up to their room, much to his relief.
“They’ll be okay,” Louise assured him. “They just need time to adjust.”
“Adjust my ass,” Sean muttered.
“Oh, you’d be surprised,” Louise said. “Usually, there’s one of two responses. Either people will pretend it didn’t happen and never bring it up again, or they’ll accept it. Either way, it’s unlikely they’ll want to talk to you about it. They’ve seen it with their own eyes.”
Sean looked at the stairs where his parents had retreated. “I hope you’re right.”
* * * *
Even the comforting weight of Emery’s arm slung across him couldn’t soothe Sean into sleep as he listened to the wind still howling outside the house. By morning, the worst of the weather should be past them and they could return to Englewood.
And his parents could return to Manasota Key—if they still had a house.
Besides the obvious reasons, he sincerely hoped his parents’ home hadn’t sustained any damage. Otherwise, they’d be living with him and Emery. Not that he didn’t love his parents, but he relished his privacy too much to want them under the same roof permanently.
Emery rolled onto his side. “You okay, babe?” he sleepily asked.
“Yeah. Just thinking.”
Now Emery sounded a little more awake. “About what?”
“I really wish my parents hadn’t found out about the dolphin stuff. Especially like that.”
He heard Emery let out a sigh. “I’m sorry I lost my temper at Denby. I was out of line.”
“No, I get why you did it. I don’t blame you. I probably would have done the same thing. You know, if I had a little sister. And if I was a gay dolphin.”
“Do you want me to talk to them?”
“No. You’ve already talked to them. They probably need time to adjust.”
Emery pulled him tight against his chest. “Then go to sleep and quit worrying about it.”
He tried to do just that, but sleep mostly eluded him until the early predawn hours. When soft voices in the kitchen awoke him a little after six the next morning, he stumbled out to the kitchen to find his mom and Louise making coffee and talking.
“Hey,” he said, grabbing a mug and standing by the machine, waiting for enough to brew to pour himself a cup.