When romance is young, you feel you have all the time in the world to explore; it can mean taking it for granted. For Aria, time slipped by as she embraced new love. She felt disconnected from her children, the distance growing as they did, so having Braydon, filled in the little moments. Feeling close to someone again, young and alive. Their friendship had blossomed quickly, their restaurant dinners, museum visits, conversations filled with hope, promise and remembrance, hands reaching across the table, a gentle touch, caress, a stolen kiss. They kept their relationship discrete around her children, whilst Ziva seemed supportive, his increasing presence in the house and their life unnerved her. Rylan grunted when Braydon engaged him in conversation on the rare occasions he stayed at the table to eat, or he would leave the room when Braydon entered.
Major Chord gatherings were hectic social occasions, food was laid over every surface in the kitchen, the mouth-watering smells of Spinach and Mushroom Quiche, Cheesy bread and Banana Cream Pie. Rylan sneaked some delights as guests arrived, his favourites were the first devoured. Aria gave him a playful tap, her rolling eyes and wry smile meant he got a stash of food to see him through the evening. Ziva scrammed in her studies, the group arrival, their music and conversation loud and distracting, and she enjoyed watching her mother play the violin, plus food, like her brother it was a real weakness. Jose had instilled in his children a love for all food, his excellent quality dishes highlighted their days, making them smile when they had a bad school day. Savouring her fish pie, Ziva listened intently to the conversations, Jade Bird on the stereo, her voice making the room sway in unison.
Braydon unofficially moved in, settling into the ebb and flow of family life, careful to avoid the stern glares from Rylan. Ziva was amiable, her pleasant nature hiding her slight annoyance of the man invading their lives, Aria, however, appreciated the effort. He played chess with patience, honed from years of fishing, offering Ziva the challenge she needed. Aria gave him space in her bedroom, a couple of draws emptied of her music scores she no longer required. Rylan spent his time outside the house, pushing against the curfew, half an hour late each time, Aria’s patience wore thin, but warnings fell on deaf ears.
The bowling alley at night, lit in neon lights, the slippery shoes, smooth weighted balls crashing against pins, Rylan had a few passions, his games station, pranking his sister and friends, but Bowling, he knew every inch of this place. A few friends brought alcohol, a fun addition, they felt unstoppable, their loud, vibrant laughter echoing above the music. Blasting the ball down the alley Rylan ignored the buzzing, his phone tucked in his jacket. Aria had sent him three curfew reminders, she was calling him. Rylan grinned, midnight, the game finished, two points short of winning, swapping shoes, he grumbled to his friend, the strict rules and permanent houseguest, their supportive nod giving him a righteous pride. He walked home, taking a longer route through the park, convinced Aria would be asleep.
Aria waited, anxious over her son’s whereabouts, approaching the house, shuffling his feet, she stepped out, half wanting to hug him, the other ready to yell at him. Rylan shrugged, tired, he brushed Aria’s anger off as over-dramatic ramblings, but this time she stood strong. While she accepted his dislike for Braydon, tolerating his complete disregard for her and the house rules, this was his last warning. Aside from taking his phone, she grounded Rylan; no bowling or time with his friends, the poor grades, calls from the principal all had to stop. Protests dismissed she headed back to the house, he sank to the pavement, a final act of defiance, breathing heavy, tense, both said truths the other needed to hear, for change.