Declan and Emily
Declan and Emily had met in ninth grade when they shared a homeroom. Declan asked her to the first school dance and they’d been going out ever since. Rhiannon, Declan’s mother, worried they should both see other people. Michael, Declan’s father wasn't concerned. He believed that if they were meant for each other time would tell. In the meantime, if they enjoyed each other’s company and were happy together why should their parents interfere?
Emily's mother was a pretty easy going lady. Ann was very fond of Declan and got along great with Rhiannon. Emily's father was another story.
Chief Pate, Emily’s father and Ann’s ex-husband, tried to insist the two not spend so much time together. Fortunately, he was a couple hundred miles and several hours away, when he was in port, which wasn't very often.
When the Chief tried to get forceful about ending things between Emily and Declan, Michael decided it was time to find out who his commanding officer was. The Chief’s demeanor, if not his feelings, changed after Michael casually mentioned he was an old friend of Vice Admiral Richard Hoffman, Chief Pate’s commanding officer's commanding officer.
Once he took the time to get to know Declan, Chief Pate realized he was pretty lucky Emily was spending time with Declan rather than some of the guys she might have gone out with. He decided that his daughter spending time with a guy who was an honor student and an Eagle Scout, not to mention a black belt and a pretty decent linebacker, wasn’t such a bad thing.
As it was, Declan and Emily had limited social time. They were both student athletes, honor students, and had jobs. Between sports, studies, and work, there was only so much time for dating.
It was the lack of time together outside school that Declan wanted to talk to his parents about. Since his father had already left on his morning walk, he decided to broach the subject with his mother first.
“Mom,” he began hesitantly. “Ms. Lawhorn, Emily’s mom, told me yesterday that she needs someone to work Saturdays. Now that Sean is helping out more at the pier I was thinking maybe I could work at the Cafe Del Mar instead.”
Rhiannon turned to look at him with a patient smile. Declan knew she wasn't fooled as to his motive for wanting to work at Cafe Del Mar. It would mean more time with Emily.
“Let me talk to your father about it,” Rhiannon said. “I think we could probably work something out.”
Declan smiled and kissed her on the cheek. He knew if his mom thought it was a good idea his father would probably go along.
Michael was walking briskly toward Lumina Pier when Declan caught up with him.
“Hey slow poke,” Declan called out as he jogged by.
This was their usual morning routine. Michael did his daily dozen exercises - a holdover from his days in the Navy - on the beach near the lifeguard stand, and then he started walking toward the pier. Declan would usually catch up before Michael got very far.
Breaking into a jog himself, Michael matched his oldest son’s pace, and retorted, “Who you calling a slow poke you young buck?”
Michael chortled to himself at the reference. He’d started calling Declan ‘young buck’ one Christmas when the boy was not quite four, after watching “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on video.
“You'd better not let Mom see you running,” Declan warned his father.
Declan was right. Rhiannon would have a fit. Even thought it had been almost ten years since the hip the Navy gave Michael had been replaced with a newer high tech version, Rhiannon got upset if she thought Michael was doing something, like running on the sand, that put too much stress on it. Fortunately, the doctors didn't agree with her and had given Michael the okay to start running again after he’d completed rehab.
“You say that every morning,” Michael reminded his oldest son. “Besides, she knows I run.”
Declan laughed. “She may know it but that doesn't mean she likes it.”
They settled into a comfortable pace, keeping where they could to the firmer sand. Reaching the stretch in front of the Wright Isle Resort, they turned back for home.
Had it been a Saturday morning Michael and Declan would have continued on to Cafe Del Mar for a cup of coffee and conversation before heading back to the house. With Declan’s schedule it was often the only time they had to talk anymore. Michael missed those days before Declan’s life got so busy that he hadn't time for sailing and fishing with his old man.
As they reached Lumina Pier and slowed to a walk, Michael told Declan, “Buck, I'm really proud of you, you know.”
Declan’s eyes widened in surprise that his father would just up and say that.
“Thanks, Dad. I'm glad.”
Rhiannon came out on the deck while they were doing their cool down stretches. She handed Michael a cup of coffee and Declan a bottle of Propel.
Sean hollered through the screen door, “I'm ready to go when you are Mom.”
Rhiannon had a dentist appointment in Wilmington that morning so had suggested that she would take Sean to school if Michael would take care of things at the pier until she got back. Sean usually rode the bus to school but since Mayfair was on her way, Rhiannon offered him a ride. As it meant he could linger longer around the house, Sean cheerfully accepted.
“I'll be right there, baby,” she called back.
Sean grimaced when his mother called him baby.
“When are you going to quit calling him baby?” Michael asked with an amused grin.
Rhiannon gave him a mock scowl.
Nodding towards Declan, she responded, “When are you going to quit calling him Buck? Besides, Sean is my baby. I don't care how old he gets.”
Michael knew Rhiannon had a point there. After Sean was born Michael and Rhiannon decided two was enough.
Having made her point, Rhiannon brought up Declan's request.
“Did your oldest son tell you that he's been offered a job?”
Michael wasn't surprised Declan discussed it with his mother first. Those two shared a special rapport.
“No, he didn't,” Michael told her. Turning to Declan, he asked, “Buck, what job have you been offered?”
Declan gnawed his lower lip and stared at his bottle of Propel.
“Emily's mom needs someone to help out at the coffee shop on weekends. That guy from the college up and quit. I guess he found something else with more hours or something. Anyway, Ms. Lawhorn asked me if I would be interested.”
He shrugged as if to say he hadn't gone looking for the job, it just came his way.
Michael was quiet for a moment.
Rhiannon interrupted his thoughts to say, “I need to get going or Sean's going to be late for school. Mike, you two talk it over and I'll go along with whatever you decide.”
Then she kissed Declan’s cheek and tousled his hair before stepping over to kiss Michael good-bye.
Once she was gone, Michael turned to Declan, and said, “You understand that working for someone else won't be like working for your grandfather at the pier. You'll have a boss who is not family.”
Michael couldn't stop a smile. “At least not yet,” he teased.
Declan chuckled and shook his head. “No, not yet,” he said, with just a little sarcasm. “I understand, Dad. I think it’ll be good for me. Eventually I will wind up working for someone I'm not related to. Shouldn't I start finding out what that's going to be like?”
If Michael had felt proud of him before, it was nothing compared to the pride he felt when Declan said that.
I wonder how we managed to raise such a fine young man.
Realistically, with the trust fund Michael had established for each of his boys, they would never have to work a day in their lives. However, Rhiannon and Michael, along with the boys’ grandparents, had worked hard to give them the same common sense guidance Michael had received growing up.
Apparently, they had been successful so far. Both boys had worked at the pier since they were old enough, not to mention the volunteer work they'd done through Scouts and school. Any spending money they ever had, they’d earned.
While Michael and Rhiannon covered major expenses, Declan and Sean had not been spoiled by extravagances. As Michael’s parents had done for him, Michael and Rhiannon tried to keep their boys well-grounded and teach them that privileges come with responsibilities.
Looking Declan square in the eye, Michael told him, “Buck, if this is something you want to do, and will give it your best, then I’ll support your decision.”
“I really want to do this,” Declan said. Then he smiled, and shook his head. “And not just so I can spend more time with Emily either. I want to see what it's like to hold down a real job.”
Noticing the look on his father’s face, Declan quickly continued.
“I don't mean that working at the pier isn't a real job, but you, or Mom, or Grandpa are always around. At Cafe Del Mar I'll be more on my own, at least to some degree. Do you know what I mean?”
“I think I do,” Michael assured him.
Picking up his coffee cup, Michael stepped toward the door.
“Now I think you'd better get ready for school. Emily's probably wondering where you are and I have to get up to the pier. Carlos will probably think I've forgotten to come to work.”