LENGTH: 2,161 words
This story is included in the anthology, Love on the Rocks
Jared Harrison has never been able to please his father. In an effort to impress him, Jared goes to the same college his father graduated from, and even majors in pre-law, just like his old man.
Unfortunately, neither announcement wins him any “son of the year” awards.
Away at school, Jared meets — and falls in love with — a fellow student named Larry. Their relationship deepens, but Jared isn’t out to his parents, so he tries very hard to keep both parts of his life separate.
Until Larry asks to meet Jared’s family.
Jared knows his sexuality will only distant him further from his father. Unless he can find some way to soften the blow …
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Larry keeps asking to meet the Harrisons, and Jared keeps coming up with excuses why that isn’t such a great idea. He isn’t going home for fall break; his parents don’t want anyone who isn’t “family” at Thanksgiving; they don’t really celebrate Christmas. Finally Larry asks the question Jared has been dreading. “Is it me?”
“No,” Jared assures him, but the word feels hollow so he follows it with a tender kiss. “It’s my father. He ...”
“Doesn’t know about me?” Larry asks.
Jared shrugs. “Doesn’t know about me. And probably doesn’t really care. You won’t like them.”
With a laugh, Larry says, “I don’t have to like them, but I want to at least meet them at some point. You don’t have to say we’re together.”
“Until they hear us having sex in my old bedroom,” Jared mutters. Yeah, that will go over big. No, better to keep Larry and his parents as far apart as he can.
But Larry is persistent, and by the time fall semester ends, he convinces Jared to introduce him to the Harrisons. Actually, Jared doesn’t have much of a choice -- Larry announces he’ll spend Christmas with his own folks, then drive down to spend New Year’s with Jared. “I’m going to kiss you at midnight,” he promises. “I don’t care who sees us.”
Jared does. In fact, he’s already thinking he might rent a hotel room for the week after Christmas and tell Larry his parents are out of town. But where would they go? They don’t travel anywhere, they don’t vacation. They stay home and don’t speak to each other, and Jared doesn’t want Larry to see that. He doesn’t want Larry anywhere near them.
Then Larry says the one thing Jared can’t argue with. “If you really love me, you’ll let me see every aspect of your life.”
“Not them,” Jared protests.
Especially them,” Larry insists.
Jared sighs. “Fine. You want me to come out to them? You want to witness them disowning me? Fine. See you for New Year’s. The first time you meet them will most likely be the last.”
Larry laughs as he gives Jared a warm hug. “I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”
Problem is, Jared knows he isn’t, and he doesn’t know whether to be upset about the upcoming confrontation or relieved the truth will finally come out when he does.