Dances, Birthdays and Engagements, Oh My!


Chapter 4




Bree took a deep breath and turned the knob on her bedroom door.  She was as ready as she was ever going to be for this dance.  She wanted to put the “f” word in front of dance, just like her Dada would do, but she restrained herself.  She wondered how something that had started out as a good idea had gone so wrong.

She let go of the door knob and turned back to her mirror for one last look.  The girl staring back at her surprised her a little bit.  She seemed so grown up and … worldly.  If only that was how she really felt.  Bree adjusted her “B” barrette slightly, and tightened the knot on her sparkly T-shirt which she had cinched around her waist so that just a tiny bit of her midriff was showing.  She ran her hands down the sides of her slim black jeans and nodded in approval.  It was now or never.

Bree pulled the bedroom door open and stepped out into the hall.  She knew they would all be waiting for her.  She marched down the hall and through the kitchen.  Holding her head high she stepped into the sun porch as a chorus of wolf whistles greeted her.

“Wow!” Ryan said.

“You look great,” Patrick added.

“Great outfit,” her Dada said.

“Just beautiful,” Justin stated.

John and Bobby nodded in approval.

Bree felt a blush redden her cheeks.  She had made the right decision with her outfit after so many rejected attempts.  She gave a little curtsey in reply and said, “Thank you all.  I see I made a good choice of what to wear.  You may kiss my hand.”  She held out her hand in a regal gesture as if she actually expected someone to kiss it, then she giggled easing the moment.

“That’s my girl,” Brian said with as close to a guffaw as he ever produced as he took her hand to bow over it.  “My lady, your chariot awaits,” Brian continued.

Bree batted her eyelids at her father as she giggled some more.

“Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” John asked.  “We’re supposed to be chaperoning so we need to be there near the beginning of the dance.”

They all piled into Justin’s Jeep and John’s Navigator, stopping down the lane to pick up Peter.

The dance was just getting underway when they arrived.  The boys all headed for the snack table grabbing sodas and crunchy things to eat.

Ashley rushed up to Bree as soon as she entered the gym.

“Which one is Ryan?” she asked.

“The one by the table, left side.”

“He’s cute.”


“You don’t sound very enthusiastic,” Ashley observed.

“He…um…he isn’t quite who I thought he was.”  Bree frowned as she studied her “date” across the room.

“Oh?  What happened?” Ashley asked.

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but we make better friends than dates.  And I’m not all that sure about the friends part.”

“Boy, you’ve changed your tune.”

“I guess I have,” Bree said with a sigh.

“Are you going to dance with him?”

“If he asks me.”

“He will, won’t he?”

“He said he would, but I don’t really care,” Bree stated.

“Maybe he’ll dance with me,” Ashley said hopefully.

“You’re welcome to him.”

“Is he really that bad?” Ashley asked with disbelief.

“I shouldn’t say that,” Bree admitted.  “Ryan’s okay.”

The dance was getting started with a few people out on the dance floor.  Bree waited wondering if Ryan would ask her to dance.  After a few minutes Ryan approached her and made the request she had been waiting for.  It was a slow song so he placed his hands on her hips and they swayed together.  Apparently Ryan wasn’t much of a dancer either, but at least he was making an effort.

They danced a couple of slow dances, but when the music turned to something faster, Ryan suggested they get a soda.  Bree followed him to the refreshment table.  Peter and Joe were standing nearby talking.

Bree got a soda and walked over to the two boys.  “You guys going to dance?” she asked.

“Maybe,” Joe said, but Peter said nothing.

Bree frowned and wondered if Peter would let himself have some fun after all this time.  When the boys seemed to have nothing more to say, Bree walked away and found her fathers sitting on chairs in the back of the room.

“Wallflowers,” she said as she approached.

“I resemble that remark,” Brian said with a raised eyebrow.  “At the moment anyway.”

“It’s okay, but maybe you two could dance once or twice,” Bree suggested.

“We could, but why?” Justin asked.

“Peter and Joe would like to dance but they seem really hesitant.  I thought maybe you could show them how it’s done.”  Bree batted her violet eyes at her fathers.

“Okay, Squirt, since you asked so nicely,” Brian said as he stood and took Justin’s hand.

The two men moved to the music with Brian following Justin’s lead as best he could.  As they danced, Brian glanced at Peter and Joe and nodded toward them.  He hoped that might be enough encouragement to get them onto the dance floor.

Before the second dance ended Peter and Joe took the plunge.  They danced to the slow song in much the same way Bree and Ryan had danced.  Smiles radiated on their faces.

Bree smiled to herself as she gave herself a pat on the back for a mission accomplished.

“They look good together,” Ashley said as she joined her friend.

“Yeah, I’m glad they’re finally dancing.”

“Bree, would you like to dance again?” Ryan asked as he walked up to the girls.

“Maybe you could dance with my friend Ashley,” Bree suggested.  “Ashley, this is Ryan,” she said.

“Sure,” Ryan agreed as he walked onto the dance floor with Ashley.

Bree watched her best friend and her “date” dance.  She could tell by the smile on Ashley’s face that her friend was enjoying the dance.  Bree was glad she had told them to dance.  Now it was just her who wasn’t dancing, and then her prince appeared.

“Want to dance?” Patrick asked.

Bree nodded and took Patrick’s hand and all seemed right with the world as they moved together.

As the Spring dance was coming to an end, the next several selections were rather ear splitting.  Budding metal-heads were trying to form a mosh pit until savvy parents broke it up.  Our lane family wisely stayed out of the fray.

The last dance of the afternoon took Brian by surprise.  He didn’t think anyone would remember that old song.  None of the kids recognized it but many parents did and decided it was an excellent choice to end off the afternoon.

“May I have this dance?” Justin asked with glittering blue eyes searching the soulful hazel ones.  “I promise you’ll remember this one,” he added.  Brian nodded as he allowed Justin to guide him to the floor once more.

Brian took a deep breath.  It wasn’t like they never danced to this song again but it had been a very long time.  And the song had a way of stirring up all sorts of emotions and thoughts within Brian that he would have loved to have kept buried forever.  But not being the type of guy who’d rather run than face down an enemy, Brian rallied then set a familiar smug expression on his face.  Justin smiled; the old Brian was making a rare appearance if only for as long as the song lasted.  Brian swooped Justin into his arms, twirling him around, making Justin laugh like a seventeen year old. They danced around the gym using whatever moves they remembered, and whatever they could still do without falling.  They didn’t care if they looked foolish.

The boys laughed and giggled as they glided around the room.  And then in a fit of fancy, and with just enough time, Brian found Ashley while Justin took his daughter into his arms.  Brian and Justin danced with their new partners until the song ended.

“Thank you, Princess Ashley, for the lovely dance,” Brian said as he deposited the young lady back where he had found her. 

“Thank you, Mr. Brian,” Ashley replied with a coy giggle and smile.

“Are you ready to leave?” Justin asked Bree as they ended their dance.  “We have just enough time to get ready then leave for the city.”

“I’m ready to blow this popsicle stand,” Bree replied as she heard her Dada say many times.  Justin and Bree giggled.

“Go say goodbye to your friends and we’ll get this show on the road,” Justin suggested.  Bree nodded as she went to say goodbye to her classmates.

“Are we ready, Sunshine?” Brian asked when Justin walked over.  Without thinking, Brian gently bussed Justin at the site of the tiny scar hidden under the blond locks.

“Yes, Bree’s saying goodbye to her friends now,” Justin replied.

“Do you think the kids had fun,” Brian asked as the festivities were ending in earnest.

“Yes, I do,” John replied, as he and Bobby joined them.  He had heard the last bit of their conversation.  “Even my son did, who finally took his head out of his ass to dance with Bree,” John snarked with a roll of his eyes.

“Give him a break.  He’s seventeen and thinks he’s a man,” Brian stated like an expert.

“Since when are you an expert on seventeen year old boys?” Bobby asked, already knowing the answer.  Brian threw him a poignant look while Justin glared.

“It’s okay, Sunshine, you caught me fair and square,” Brian said as he held his hands up in surrender.

“Yes, I did and don’t you forget it,” Justin stated with authority.  John and Bobby wisely took one step back, removing themselves from the test of wills.

When the “grownups” finally took a head count to make sure they weren’t forgetting anyone, the lane family convoyed back home.




“That was a pleasant afternoon,” John stated as they entered the cottage.  The kids took off to their rooms until it was time to head to the city.

“Coffee!” Brian announced.

“I’m going to jump into the shower,” Justin pronounced.

“I think I’ll have a chat with my son,” the fiery red-head declared.

“Bobby, they’re friends again.  Leave him be,” Brian wisely suggested.  “No matter what happens, they love each other.  They’ll eventually work out what that means to them,” he said gently.

Bobby nodded before walking toward his end of the cottage.

“You never cease to amaze me,” John said as he nodded to Brian’s unspoken offer of coffee.

“And just how do I manage to do that?” Brian asked as he felt his caffeine level rise back up to an acceptable level.

“For a man who prided himself on being a heartless bastard, you have one of the largest hearts I know.”  Brian smirked.  “Don’t say it,” John warned.

Brian wisely refrained from making any glib remarks regarding size.

Turning to a more neutral subject, John asked, “So how do we do this,” referring to the dinner plans.

“Reservations are for seven-thirty, that should give us all plenty of time to drive in without rushing,” Brian replied.  “If you don’t mind taking Bree with you, we’ll take the Cabot boys, drop them off then meet you at the restaurant.  It’ll give them a chance to say goodbye here and not prolong the agony,” Brian snarked.

“Of course we’ll take her with us.  It might alleviate some of the tension between Bree and Ryan,” said John.  “They are good kids.  Ryan, I think is more like his father.”  Brian nodded.

“Joe has his mother’s spirit,” Brian observed.

“Do you think Joe will continue his friendship with Peter?”

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Brian replied.  “They have a lot in common and I’m referring to their love of art.  And I will invite the Cabot family to at least one of our barbeques this summer.”

“Speaking about barbeques,” John let that hang in the ether for a moment.

“Yep.  Can’t wait to be a fly on the nearest tree to watch those fireworks.  More coffee?” Brian asked.  The brothers shared a knowing look as Brian refreshed their mugs.

“Have you heard anything more from the city planners?” Brian asked before he and John separated.  It was about time for them to get ready for dinner.

“No, I haven’t.  I did let it be known that we are seriously prepared to bid on the whole entire property.”

“And their reaction?”

“Not surprised and not displeased.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“Our friend in city hall let it slip that an out of town concern was looking to invest in some properties.  After a tour of our fair burgh, the party in question took a shine to Babylon and surrounding environs,” John cryptically explained.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”  Brian scowled.  The hairs on the back of his neck began to rise.

“Does the name Max Jacobs mean anything to you?”

“Fucking hell!”

“Exactly.  I also let it slip that the man in question did not have a very ethical business reputation and that we would be happy to provide evidence.  And I, of course, reminded our friend of our past successes and how city hall benefited when allowing certain home grown natives to give back to the city.”

“My, my, my, big bro, you have learned your lessons well,” Brian crowed.

“Learned from the master,” John said.  “I don’t think we’ll have much trouble but I think we should take advantage of our time in Pittsburgh.”

“Kinney Bros. Inc. should pay a visit to city hall as soon as possible,” Brian declared.

“Agreed.  And I think our partners should join us,” John added.

“Agreed,” said Brian.

About an hour later, everyone was dressed, packed and ready to go.  As expected, Bree and Ryan shared an awkward moment before separating to get into different vehicles.

“Thank you,” Bree said to Ryan then startled the teen with a chaste peck to his cheek.

“Thank you?” Ryan asked.

“Yes, you came to my rescue when you really didn’t have to.  I just want you to know that I appreciate it and I hope we can be friends,” Bree said as she extended her hand.  Ryan wasn’t sure what to do so Bree gave him a hint.

“It’s customary to shake a lady’s hand when it’s offered to you,” Bree said in her most formal voice.  She smiled brightly when Ryan caught the clue and shook her hand.  “I hope you and your family will come to one of our barbeques this summer.

“Sure!” Ryan said with a smile as he climbed into John’s Navigator. 

Joe was already in the big SUV.  He and Peter already had a private moment in the greenhouse shortly after they returned from the dance.  With emails exchanged and promises to keep in touch, Joe was rather pleased with his time on the lane.  Being sensitive to his twin, Joe said nothing.

With the lane families ready to convoy their way to the city, John gave some last commands to Beau and his pack.  The big dogs took their jobs seriously.  The family was confident that their lane was well protected as they slowly drove toward the gate.


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