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CHAPTER FIVE

Certainly I was confused after what had happened in the past 24 hours, and so I called the only person who was as unlucky-in-love as I was, or at least would be an impartial third party...my sister, Mel. Before she could even finish saying the usual greeting, "Good morning, Musician's Haven, this is Melody," I started in. "Mel, you are not going to believe what has happened to me this weekend. Do you have a lesson now?"

"Ree? No, I'm clear until eleven, I'm just stocking sheet music until we open. Hey, aren't you with the Hansons, is that this weekend? Wait, weekend? It's just Friday...is this that family trip or whatever?"

"Yeah, it is. Listen, do you have time? I need to do a ramble 'n vent."

"Of course, spill it, sis!" she said, as I heard her plop down the pile of aforementioned sheet music.

"Alright, I got here yesterday afternoon, I went shopping with Diana, everyone had dinner, everything was hunky dory. Later last night, probably around ten, Isaac comes over with a bottle of wine--"

"Uh-huh...was it good wine?"

"Yes, it was my favorite Riesling. Anyway, what happened was, we had wine--the whole bottle--we were talking, and then we were kissing--"

"Kissing?! You and Isaac? Hold on," she said, as I overheard her say, 'Michael, I need to take this in my studio,' put me on hold, and then pick back up again. "Alright, you have my undivided attention. You kissed Isaac--"

"Yes, but we stopped before anything else could happen. He left, and then we saw each other at breakfast this morning. He walked me back to my cabin, we held hands, we kissed along the way--"

"Mm-hmm," Mel continued.

"And then we were back at my cabin, and I was washing the wine glasses from the night before to give back to him, and he came over to me, and we just started kissing without saying anything and...oh Mel, it was such a whirlwind, I didn't even think it was real...we just, um...um--" I couldn't even say it, but with my sister, I knew I wouldn't have to spell it out for her.

"You didn't!" Mel said in astonishment.

"I did," I replied meekly. "We did."

"With Isaac."

"Yes."

"Little boy next door Isaac."

"Yes, Mel."

"Rock star Isaac," she continued with a chuckle.

"Yes, yes yes."

"And how was it?" she asked.

"Mel! I'm in a crisis situation here!"

"Yeah, and I'm a curious little sister who used to have a crush on the guy you just slept with--"

"You had a crush on Isaac? When? Since when do you like guys?"

"It was a long time ago...right when their first album came out...I loved his hair," she whiningly confessed, but came right back to the task at hand. "Ree, you're trying to get off the subject--how was it?"

"Um...it was nice..." I said, and I knew she could hear the afterglow-goofy-smile on my face as I picked at a fingernail.

"And...?"

"And just as awkward as any other first time together, what do you want to hear?"

"Sounds like it was a quickie," she teased.

"Well, I guess it was..." I heard Mel snort, and I replied defensively, "Well, it certainly wasn't planned ahead of time, with candles and rose petals...but it was certainly satisfying...oh Mel, and now I'm not really quite sure what's going on," I opined as I slapped one of the stray pillows on the bed.

"Didn't you talk about it?"

"Well, we tried to, and we did a bit, but his mom came in--"

"Woah! Diana walked in on you two?!" I heard something clatter out of her hand and onto the desk.

I explained the situation, my words jumbling together into one huge run-on sentence worthy of the guy I was talking about. "No, not exactly...we were done, but Diana came in looking for me, and we chatted for a bit, and then she asked to use the bathroom, and it's off the bedroom, and I tried to stop her, telling her the room was a mess, but she went in anyway and she saw Isaac in his underwear and put two and two together."

"Did she say anything to you?"

"Just that she asked if we were careful, and I said yes, and she left."

"Is that good?"

"Isaac said no, and I didn't like the look on her face when she left; she's probably having a talk with Walker about it right now, and they'll want to talk to us about it later."

"Aah! I wouldn't want Mom and Dad talking about me having sex, especially in my current situation..." Mel had just come out to me about six months prior, and still hadn't taken her girlfriend of about a year to meet Mom and Dad.

"Exactly, but you know how the Hansons are; every little thing turns into a family pow-wow."

"So...how do you want this to turn out?" she asked slowly.

"I...uh...I was hoping you'd be able to tell me," I said meekly.

"Ree, you're twenty-six; I think you're old enough to be able to figure these things out for yourself. Do you like him? Do you love him?"

"Mel, you know I've always loved him; I've always loved his whole family. And I know in the past several years, we've managed to get closer; even with all the stuff that's happened with him and us not seeing each other as much as we'd like, he's still one of my best friends. But..."

She finished my sentence, "But you're not in love with him."

"I dunno, Mel...this just happened like an hour ago. You know I don't fall in love that quickly."

"And if I know Isaac, he's probably picking out a china pattern by now."

I laughed. We both did know Isaac too well. "Yeah, probably."

"So, what are you going to do?"

"We said we'd take it slow...everyone's meeting for lunch in a couple hours, I guess I'll see him then."

"Let me know how things turn out, Ree. I gotta go...love you."

***

After my phone call with Mel, I did shower again, and met the family at the Hanson parents' cabin at 12:25, hoping to speak with Diana and apologize, or explain, or something. I made my way through the rambunctious sea of the four younger Hanson siblings, knocked on the door, and I heard Walker Hanson say, "Come in!" I walked in and he gave me an odd glance--a combination of sternness, authority, concern, and warmth. Guess Diana did tell him everything.

Diana walked into the main room. Their cabin was certainly nicer. For starters, they had a real kitchen, and a bathroom separate from the bedroom...well, actually they had three bedrooms and two baths, since the younger ones were staying with them. She saw I was waiting there, whispered something to Walker, and he cleared his throat and said, "Well, I'll just wait outside for everyone else," left the cabin, and sat on the porch, watching the younger kids play outside.

Diana sat at the table in the kitchen, and motioned for me to sit down. Here was my lecture, my first Hanson family lecture. "Aria...is there anything you want to tell me?" she said gently.

"I assume you're referring to this morning," I said, taking a seat next to her. She nodded. "Well, we're both adults, how much do you want to know?"

"As much as you feel comfortable telling me. You know you're like another daughter to me."

Whew. I knew that straightforward honesty was always the best policy with the Hansons. No matter how bad it was, they could take it as long as it was the truth. My empty stomach rumbled and churned as I began, "Alright, he came over last night with wine--uh, that really doesn't sound good. He didn't stay the night or anything like that. We sat, drank wine and talked. Zac was over for a while, too, and after he left, Isaac and I ended up kissing. He left, we met up again at breakfast this morning, he walked me back to my cabin, one thing led to another, and then you were there." I paused, waiting for her to say something.

"You know that Walker and I raised our children to wait until marriage to have sex."

"Yes, Mrs. Hanson," I said timidly, addressing her in a way I hadn't in years. I suddenly felt like I was fifteen again, and was scared she'd call my parents and tell on me.

"This kind of behavior is what caused us to be here this weekend, you know," she said accusingly.

"Yes," I repeated, a lump developing in my throat.

"Do you like my son, Aria?"

I nodded. "Oh, yes, Diana, Mrs. Hanson, I do. I like him...I love him...I mean, he's always been a wonderful friend, but I guess now that he's older, we're on a different level, and we're there together. And he helped me see what he's known all along." I knew right after I said it, that it made absolutely no sense.

Diana reached out for my hand. "Aria, I'm not mad about this morning. Well, I am a little...Isaac is my first-born, and I don't want to see him get hurt. But you are both consenting adults, and things happen between two people who are attracted to each other...he's felt that way about you for sometime, Aria...if I had to pick a girlfriend for my oldest son, I'd pick you any day."

Just then, Isaac came in, and I could tell he had a worried look on his face, seeing his mother talking with me in private, and knowing exactly what was being discussed. I could tell he wanted to say something, too, and he did. It was obvious he had rehearsed it. He stood between us at the table, quickly said, "Mom, I need to say something," and then turned to me. "Ree, I love you, and I want you to be my girlfriend." Without waiting for me to answer, he turned to his mother. "Mom, I want to say something to you, too. I'm not sorry about what I did. I love Ree, and what happened seemed right, it was right, I can't imagine being with anyone other than her." He took my hand and continued. "I love her, Mom, you know I do. Don't be mad."

Diana and I looked at each other and smiled, hers warm and welcoming, mine meek and still more than a little uncomfortable. She stood up and hugged him and said, "Oh honey, I'm not that mad. It was certainly...well, a shock to my system, but I'm fine...I'm quite happy. That's what Aria and I were talking about." She reached out to me, hugged both of us and said, "Ike, I'm glad she's part of our family."

As Diana walked out on the porch to meet the rest of the family gathering there, Isaac took my hand. "You didn't answer me."

"You didn't give me a chance, silly. You went on talking, as usual," I said with a smile.

"Well?"

I had thought about this while I showered and during the walk to Diana and Walker's cabin that felt like a walk down the green mile. "Yes...but on one condition," I warned.

"Yes?" he said, a smile growing on his face.

"That we take things a bit slower than they were this morning."

"Deal!" he agreed, shaking my hand, and then pulling me in to kiss me. He leaned his head back and asked, "I can still kiss you, right?"

"Of course," as I obliged him with a long kiss.

We heard the door open while we were kissing, and Taylor joking, "Man, don't you two ever stop?"

We came up for air, but neither one of us said anything. Taylor smiled and said, "Ree, I'm glad that my older brother finally grew some balls...but remember, you'll have to be the one wearing the pants in this relationship!"

Isaac called him something that I couldn't make out, and pulled Taylor into a headlock. After he released his grip, Taylor said, "Ike, go on, we'll catch up, I need to talk to your little friend here," and shoved him out the door, slamming the door shut and locking it before he could come back in.

"Now what's this all about?" I asked, folding my arms in a defiant pose.

"I've just been so busy with the wedding plans, I apparently have missed quite a bit here," he replied as we sat down at the same chairs Diana and I were just at. "When did this start with you and Ike?" Taylor had always been all business, even when he was little, he wanted to cut through the bullshit and get right to the point...we were too much alike to ever really get along.

"Um...last night, so you haven't missed much," I replied, shrugging my shoulders.

"Woah...last night as in 'last night'?"

"No...nothing like that," I replied. And knowing that he would find out soon enough anyway, I added with a suggestive smile, "That was this morning."

"This morning..." he repeated.

"Yeah, shortly after we saw you going to breakfast," I said, covering my face and feeling my cheeks begin to flush.

"Wow...didn't know my big bro moved so quickly!"

"I didn't either," I laughed. "I didn't know I did, for that matter...but whatever's going on between us, we're taking it slow," I assured him.

"Good for you," he commented. "Good for both of you...you know, he's liked you--"

"For quite some time, I know," I interrupted. "My God, how could all of you have known this and not me?"

"In this family, it's very hard to keep secrets," Taylor laughed. "Listen, I just wanted to say--"

"Don't hurt him?" I finished.

He laughed again and ran his hand through his blond hair. "Um...yeah, I guess...but I wanted to say I'm happy for you, and let's eat, I'm starving!" We got up to leave and he hugged me tight; my arms went around him with plenty to spare, I wondered where he would put all that food. "Who told you to not hurt him?" he asked as we left.

"Your mom and Zac," I replied.

"Zac's gotten in on this? How much does he know?" he whispered as we met up with the rest of the family.

"I'll tell ya later," I whispered back to Taylor as Isaac came up on the other side of me.


On to Chapter Six
Back to Chapter Four

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