Staking out your pseudo-child on their last day of exams for their final year in high school was a parental right-of-passage. And if it wasn’t, it should have been.
“Has he texted you?” I asked Vincent, as we waited in the car for Taylor to emerge from the red brick building.
“Not yet,” Vincent said, leaning forward to keep an eye out. “He was planning to catch the bus home, so I want to make sure we don’t miss him.”
“There he is,” Matteo said with composure from the back seat.
Taylor had burst forth from the double doors of the alternative secondary school and bent down to tie his shoe, his puffy blue jacket unzipped.
“I can’t believe he wears runners in winter,” I said. “He’s going to fall and break his little neck.”
I reached past Vincent and slammed the middle of the steering wheel, causing the horn to blast and Taylor to spasm and glare at the source of the alarming sound.
Vincent had lowered the window and now leaned his head out. “That was Nic. Blame him.”
Taylor made a gesture of resignation as he stood and ambled to the car. “What are you doing here?”
“Why aren’t you wearing boots?” I asked. He ignored me.
Matteo leaned forward from the back seat. “It’s your last high school exam, Taylor. We’re taking you out for supper.”
I leaned over Vincent, ignoring his long-suffering expression. “We have reservations at Moxies. Not super fancy, I know, but the servers are hot and I know you—”
“Yes! I love Moxies!” Taylor pumped the air and opened the back door of the car, passing his backpack to Matteo then sliding in beside my other romantic partner. “Hi, Dad. I mean, Dads.”
“I’m not your dad,” Vincent said, starting the engine and pulling into the road. Vincent was Taylor’s cousin and my live-in boyfriend. Matteo had insinuated himself into the relationship just after Taylor had joined the household to escape his uber-religious parents.
“You act like my dad. And it’s just easier to call all three of you ‘Dad’.”
“Fine.” Vincent shrugged. “Whatever.”
“But who’s your Daddy, Taylor?” I said, waggling my brows. Taylor and I had a weird relationship.
I smirked at him. “You used to be intrigued by me and what I got up to with the other dads in private. What happened?”
He made a face. “I got a glimpse of the reality. God, I almost threw up in my mouth just now, thinking about it.”
“Careful,” I said.
“Why? You gonna punish me?”
“I’m sure I can think of something not sex-related to make you watch your tongue, brat.”
“Matteo, Nic is being mean to me,” Taylor said, opening a bottle of water he’d pulled from his bag and tipping it to his lips.
“Don’t bring me into this,” Matteo sighed.
“You’re in this car, aren’t you?”
“Yes, and I’m starting to wish I wasn’t.”
“Nice. That’s really nice. Don’t you want to wish me a happy graduation?” Taylor said, snuggling into Matteo, who put an arm around him and kissed the top of his head.
“Of course. Happy graduation, Taylor.”
“That’s assuming you passed the exam,” I pointed out.
Taylor narrowed his eyes at me in the rearview mirror. “I passed. You think I want to spend another minute in high school? I’m already finishing six months late.”
Vincent glanced at his younger cousin in the back seat. “You’ve worked hard, and you should be proud of yourself.”
Taylor blushed and smiled shyly. “Oh, pish. You know, I don’t want to live with you all forever.”
I put a hand to my heart. “Taylor, you wound me.”
“No offense, but I’d like to move out on my own at some point. Not yet, though.”
“Of course. But you’d better plan to come for dinner with your dads once a week, at least,” I muttered. I’d been the last person to think I’d want a teenager in the house, and now I couldn’t imagine our lives without Taylor.
Taylor cuddled up next to Matteo and kissed his cheek. “For Matteo’s cooking? You bet. Even if Vincent cooks. But if Nic cooks…”
“Watch yourself, little one.” I laughed, because he was right about my failed attempts at putting together appealing meals, on the rare occasions I’d tried. Most days Matteo cooked dinner, and if he couldn’t, Vincent or Taylor did. I was last on the list for a reason.
Matteo had come to us when Vincent had injured his hand, and Daphne had suggested someone to help with the cooking and domestic duties. We’d then invited Matteo into our bedroom and things had progressed from there. Now the three of us were in a committed poly relationship with Taylor to look after, and I’d never been happier.
“Oh please, you’ve been threatening to give me a spanking since I moved in. But I think you’re worried you’d like it too much.”
“Taylor,” Vincent warned.
“There are many different ways I can make your life miserable, Taylor. Don’t tempt me.”
Verbally sparring with Taylor had become a daily diversion, and I’d miss it when he finally did move out.
Moxie’s had a booth waiting for us. We took off our winter jackets and hung them on the nearby hook. Just before Vincent slid onto the bench, I nudged him in the ribs. “Hey, remember what we did in the bathroom the last time we were here?”
As I’d expected, a blush rose in his cheeks, and he glanced at the others to see if they’d heard. Matteo avoided his gaze while fighting a smile, and, to my amusement, Taylor looked shocked.
He leaned over the table, his eyebrows raised. “A public bathroom?”
I shrugged. “We were alone for most of it.”
“Most of it?” Taylor sputtered and sat down, shaking his head. “God, you guys are turning me into a prude. I’m the one who’s supposed to be fucking people in bathrooms. I’m eighteen and horny and—”
“I didn’t fuck Vincent in the bathroom,” I said calmly.
“Oh. Okay,” Taylor said. “Good.”
He pretended to focus on the menu, but he kept glancing up at us, and I knew it was killing him to pretend he wasn’t curious as hell.
“Can we order, please?” Vincent said, with some embarrassment.
I scanned the menu. “Of course. I’m going to order extra aioli with whatever I’m getting—because there’s two of you, now.” I winked at Matteo.
Taylor stood up. “I’m going to the bathroom.” He pointed a finger at me. “You stay where you are.”
Matteo and Vincent glared at me while Taylor headed for the men’s room.
“This is supposed to be a celebration of Taylor finishing his high school credits,” Matteo said gently. “Not a confessional for all the kinky things you’ve done to Vincent.”
I shrugged. “I mean, all the kinky—”
Matteo pushed his knife forward slightly. “But please do share the details with me later.”
“Oh, God,” Vincent moaned, covering his face.
I finger-gunned Matteo. “You got it.”
When Taylor came back, I apologized and offered to have his guitar restrung as penance.
“Don’t be dumb. It’s fine.” Taylor nodded at Vincent. “It’s kind of worth my own cringe to see Vincent so embarrassed, when I know the kinky bastard was fully on board with whatever happened.”
“Oh, and, Taylor?”
I pointed out of the window. “See that silver Honda?”
Taylor focused on the car that sparkled in the late evening sunshine. “Yeah?”
“That’s your real graduation present.”
“Oh, that’s hilarious,” Taylor said, turning back as Matteo placed a Honda fob on a rainbow key ring onto the table in front of him.
He looked at it and scooped it up in his fingers. “What the fuck is this? Is this some kind of a joke? I’m going to kill you guys.”
“It’s not a joke,” Vincent said.
“The car’s yours,” I confirmed, sitting up straighter. “It’s a couple of years old, but there’s barely any mileage on it. Vincent had it detailed so it’s shiny and clean, inside and out, although it won’t stay that way with all the winter slush on the roads.”
Taylor stared at the fob in his hand. Then he looked at the car through the window. Then he looked at me with shining eyes and a tremulous lip.
“Really?” he whispered, as if he couldn’t quite believe it.
Matteo put an arm around him and kissed him on the cheek. “You deserve it. You’ve worked hard and you’ve helped out at the house, too. You’re almost as good a cook as me, now.”
Taylor stared at the Honda device for another few seconds. “Oh my God. What! A car? A car!” He slid out of the booth and started leafing through the coats for his jacket. “I want to see it!”
“I’ll take you,” Vincent said. “Nic, can you please order for me? You know what I like.” He took his jacket from the hook and passed Taylor his.
“I certainly do. What do you want to eat, Taylor?”
“I don’t care. Order me anything,” he said, shoving his arms in the sleeves of his blue puffer jacket and racing out of the restaurant with Vincent on his trail.
“That was a success,” Matteo said, smiling and pretending to look over the menu, although we ate here so often that I was sure he already knew what he was going to order. “It was a good idea, Nic.”
“Honestly, having only my car between the four of us was becoming a problem, even though you don’t drive. Now that Taylor has his own, we don’t have to worry about not having a means of transportation while he’s out galivanting.”
We watched Taylor circle the car while Vincent pointed out certain things, then he opened the driver’s door and slid inside. Vincent leaned on the door, laughing and grinning. He glanced into the restaurant and gave us a thumbs-up.
“He’s worked so hard, and now he’s graduated high school. He’s got a job lined up and a plan to attend college in the fall. He’s a good kid, Matteo.” I put my chin in my hand. “I never thought I wanted to be a dad, but it seems to come naturally with Taylor.”
Matteo grinned. “It’s nice that we can split the responsibility three ways.”
“It is. Absolutely. I’m starting to think poly relationships should be the standard, especially in this economy.”
When Vincent brought Taylor back inside, the kid slid onto my lap and gave me the tightest hug, regardless of the audience. “Thank you so much, Nic. I love it. It’s perfect.”
He was rosy and cold from being outside. I hugged him back, then nudged him off.
“I’m glad you like it. You deserve it. But we have to sit down and go over some rules when we get home.”
“And you need to give your other daddy a hug, because the car is from all of us.”
Taylor hung up his jacket again, slid into the booth beside Matteo and wrapped him in his arms. “Thank you, Favorite Dad. You are the best.”
Matteo chuckled, and I pretended not to hear the endearment. Matteo was probably Taylor’s favorite. He was just so ‘Dad-like’—forthright and steady—whereas Vincent and I were more scattered and impulsive.
Taylor worked hard to contain himself through the meal, because he was dying to drive his ‘new’ car. So we didn’t order dessert, and Vincent went with Taylor in the new car while I drove Matteo back to our place.
We beat them home and waited outside the front door for Taylor to pull in. When he got out of the driver’s side, he was beaming.
“So? How does it drive?” I asked.
“Like a fucking dream,” Taylor replied. “Thank you, guys, so much. It’s amazing.”
I wagged my finger at him. “No driving drunk or high. And you still have to be home by midnight if you’re not sleeping at Riley’s.”
“And no texting while driving.”
We went inside, and Matteo put on a pot of tea while Taylor phoned his boyfriend.
“Hello, babe,” Riley answered, on speaker.
“I got a fucking car for graduation!” Taylor yelled into the phone.
“What? No way!” Riley replied. “You lucky ass.”
“New car?” Riley said.
“Nah, second-hand. But almost new. A Honda Civic. Silver. Wait, I’ll show you.” Taylor got up and headed out of the door.
“Put on a jacket!” I said, as the door slammed behind him. I rolled my eyes. “Well, the car was a hit,” I said, leaning back on the sofa.
“Were you worried?” Vincent said with a smile.
“Not really. Cars are generally an impressive gift.”
My phone vibrated, and I fished it out of my pocket, knowing who it was by the tones of Sympathy for the Devil that invaded the silence.
“Hey, Daf. What’s up?” I said, bringing it to my ear.
“Did you give Sparky his car? What did he say? Was he surprised?”
“He was surprised. Didn’t expect it at all. He repeated himself a lot. It was cute.”
“Nice! I’m so glad he’s happy. He’s worked hard.”
“Yes, he has.”
“Look… I need you to meet me for coffee. Soon!”
I recognized a certain something in the tone of Daphne’s voice—the same something that had been there when she’d called to persuade me to meet this ‘cute as shit’ client of hers who’d turned out to be Vincent. “Why?”
“I can’t explain it over the phone.”
“Well, Jesus. That’s a first.” I snorted.
“Very funny. Can you meet me tomorrow?”
“Well, I have to work…”
“You get a lunch, don’t you?”
“But I have marking to do.”
“Oh, come on. I’ll buy you lunch.”
“Well, in that case.”
“I’ll come to your office. See you around noon.”
“Sure. See you. Bye.” There was no point arguing. I’d end up agreeing anyway.
Matteo brought in the tea and placed it on the coffee table.
“What did Daphne want?”
I stared at the phone, wondering that myself.
“Well, I’m not sure. Wanted to know how Taylor reacted to his gift. But she’s making me meet her for lunch tomorrow for some reason.”
Daphne was my longtime friend who worked as a professional Domme, had introduced me to Vincent and reamed out my ex-boyfriend after he’d started dicking me around. I loved her so much and would do anything for her, such as letting her set up a sex dungeon in my basement for almost a month the previous year.
Daphne had a flair for the dramatic and intense, even outside of her lucrative business.
Matteo, who had been a member of our rather unconventional relationship for a good eight months now, had gotten a promotion at his job. He was now a senior-level market researcher for a well-known software company. That kept him busy during the regular work week, but his evenings and weekends remained free so that he could come home, cook dinner for us and help with domestic chores.
Vincent, who had been a full-time domestic service person for me since we’d moved in together, received a regular wage on top of his room and board, as well as enjoyable bonuses from Matteo and me, so that we made quite the spectacular and functional family unit.
Taylor, who added to the overall atmosphere with his dry wit and explicit humor, had thrived under our admittedly neglectful care. He was a young adult now and disappeared most evenings into his room or went out with his boyfriend and other peers. But when he did grace us with his presence, he was respectful and cheerful, and I wondered how we had lived without him. We knew it was only a matter of time before he moved out on his own, or in with Riley, but now that he had his own car to take back and forth, he seemed content to keep things as they were, which made me happy in an unexpected way.
I’d never wanted children, but falling into a vague parenting schema with Taylor had been so natural and organic that it didn’t seem strange at all and fulfilled me in some obscure way. I tried not to second-guess it.