I'm a bit stuck with my other piece and I had this in my head. Maybe now that I've expunged this from my brain I'll have better luck with my other story. We'll see.
This is a just a short one. And it's a whole lot of sappy.
I can't believe this day has finally arrived. Samantha's wedding day. If only her father were here to see it, he would be so proud, so happy to be walking her down the aisle. Now I have the esteemed honor of walking with my daughter and, although the occasion is tinged with a bit of sadness at her father's absence, she is positively radiant.
I look ahead and see Mackenzie and Brooke standing at the altar, each with tears in their eyes, dabbing away with the ball of tissues they snuck into their bouquets. Once Samantha and I reach the end of our walk I gently kiss her cheek and tell her I will always love her. She whispers back that she loves me too and my vision is suddenly blurry. I hear Samantha chuckle with an "Oh Mom" and she offers me a tissue that she snuck into her bouquet as well. She assures me that she has more and if not she'll just ask Brooke. I gladly take the tissue and then take my seat next to Mike.
"You know, I should get all the credit for today," Mike whispers to me during the preacher's opening words. "I'm the one who got Sam to finally admit her feelings."
"Yes you did." I gaze into the eyes of my loving husband and I cannot believe my good fortune. Not only was I able to find love again but he lit the flame that led my daughter toward her one true love. I may not necessarily agree with how he was able to accomplish it, but I certainly cannot complain with the results.
Besides, Samantha is incredibly stubborn. I suppose extreme measures were necessary.
"Thank you," I tell Mike just before I plant a soft kiss on his cheek.
I receive a warm smile in return, "You're welcome."
7 years ago …
"Congratulations, Sam. Top honors at Berkeley. I can't say I'm surprised." I pull my step-daughter into my arms and give her a huge hug.
"Thanks Mike .. but you're squishing me." I let out a soft laugh before releasing my grip.
"I still can't believe I'm done with school. Of course, I still want to get my Master's degree, but I think I'll get a few years of work experience before I head down that road."
Man, such a smart girl. Smart with books, anyway. Not so smart with love. "I just want to say that I am so proud of you. And I know that Joe would be over the moon right now."
"Aw, thanks Mike. I'm pretty sure my dad would be proud of me, too. I've wanted to follow in his footsteps for as long as I can remember. I'm just so happy to be on my way."
"You certainly are."
We share a pair of sappy grins before I realize it's time to get down to business. "I have a gift for you."
"Yeah." I reach into my desk and pull out a long, heavy box wrapped in dark blue paper. "Here you go."
"Why the gift, Mike?" Sam seems mildly amused by my antics but I press on.
"I know that you're biologically not my child, but you are every bit a part of my family as Brooke and Mac are."
"You're so sappy, today, Mike. It's a bit unnerving." Her easy smile tells me she's teasing. "But please do continue."
I return her smile before starting again. "As I was saying, I think of you as family, as my daughter." I push the gift into her hands and let go once I know it's within her grasp. "I bought this for you when you graduated from high school. I wanted to save it for a special occasion and I think today counts as one."
"You bought this for me four years ago?"
"Yeah. I've always wanted to give this as a gift to my child. Admittedly, I wanted to give it to my son, but fate had other plans and I find myself with three beautiful daughters."
"So I'm your, quote, son?"
"Of course not," I huff, "You are your own person. I think this gift suits you, that's all."
"I'm just teasing, Mike, relax."
"Yeah yeah. Open 'er up then."
Sam slowly peels off the wrapping and then lifts the cover off of the box.
"One of the finest single malt scotches you will ever find." I picked up the bottle during a business trip in San Francisco, in a dusty little liquor shop owned by a Scottish couple. After letting me taste test a few bottles I was suddenly pouring out my entire life story. Three hours later I was rife with imparted advice and several bottles of Scotch.
"You think I'm a Scotch drinker?"
"I believe you are a connoisseur of fine things."
"And you thought I would like Scotch?"
"Yeah. No. I mean, I thought after college you would appreciate something better than rail liquor and cheap beer."
"So that automatically means Scotch? Not getting it, Mike."
"No, I. I wanted to share. Jesus Sam." Why is this blowing up in my face?
Sam breaks out into a fit of giggles and my frustration quickly ebbs.
"You can be a little shit, you know that?" I say through a chuckle.
"Hey, what are sons for?"
"Ha ha, very funny."
"Seriously, though, why the Scotch?"
"I thought it could be our thing."
"Yeah, something that you and I can share."
"You can share the key to the new Audi," Sam states with a wide toothy grin.
"Would you like to share in the car payment?" I retort.
"Scotch it is. Let's pop this sucker open."
"Hang on, let me be serious for a second."
Sam stills her movements and gives me her full attention. I didn't think I was nervous but I'm suddenly afraid I'll start stammering through my rehearsed speech.
"I want you to know that I would never, ever, try to replace your father."
"I know that, Mike," she quietly adds.
"And I hope that over the years I've been a good father figure because I love you very much."
For once, Sam is silent.
"I also want you to know that when you feel you need someone else to talk to, someone that's not Jane or Brooke or your friends, I will always be here, ready to listen."
"With a bottle of Scotch?"
"Yeah, with a bottle of Scotch."
"Because that's our thing."
"Yeah." Truth be told, I poured my heart out that one afternoon in San Francisco and I never felt better. All because of a few glasses of high quality Scotch and excellent company. I thought to myself that I could do that for Sam. I could be there for her anytime she needed, just like her father would have been.
Sam returns to being silent and I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable under her stare.
"I see where Brooke gets it," she says finally dispelling the quiet.
"Her kindness and generosity, the things she tries to hide. Unsuccessfully I might add."
I'm suddenly wrapped up in a hug and I breathe out a long sigh of relief.
"I love you, too, Mike."
I squeeze a little bit harder, ignoring Sam's tiny shout of protest. A few seconds later I reluctantly let go.
"Let me find some glasses," I say, voice a bit gruff.
"Yeah, Brooke's a crier, too."
"Yeah, well. It's dusty in here."
6 years ago …
"Man, this is good stuff, Sam." I swirl the amber liquid around the glass and enjoy the familiar aroma.
"I was in a rush and was about to buy some Johnny Walker Black when the sales associate ripped it from my hands and replaced it with the Macallan."
"Thank them for me the next time you see them."
Sam almost knocks the bottle over when she attempts to grab it. "Is the bottle almost gone? Crap, Mom is going to be so pissed."
"Nah, she's out with Mac. And Brooke is out with …"
"… the skeeze?" I almost spit a mouthful of scotch across the room.
"I think she's a skeeze, too! Wait, what's a skeeze?"
"I don't know. A slutty sleazeball?"
"Then, yes, Miranda is definitely a skeeze. I thought I raised Brooke to be a better judge of character."
"Depends on which characteristics you're judging. And Miranda has two very large characteristics."
"Oh my god my daughter is a man! A man who dates skeezy women for their large characteristics!"
Sam is bent over her chair laughing and I'm having a hard time seeing clearly.
"Oh Sam, when are you going to admit you're gay."
Sam shoots up and stares at me in shock.
"But I'm not gay."
"Yeah, sorry, I don't know why I said that."
"Do you think I'm gay?"
"No!" Crap, crap, crap.
"Then why do you want me to admit I'm gay?"
"Oh my god you think I'm gay!"
"Sam, no, I …" The rest of my reply is lost when Sam runs out of the room.
5 years and 9 months ago …
"Hey Sam. Haven't heard from you in a while. I was worried."
"I'm sorry." She looks so nervous. I wish I could give her a hug but I know she needs to do this on her own terms since I so unceremoniously took that chance away from her. Stupid scotch.
"Have a seat. I was just going through some old photos. I'm thinking of scanning a few and getting larger prints for the living room."
"Yep. Mac mentioned we have no recent photos up."
"Um. I picked up some Glenlivet."
"You know what? That sounds perfect. I'm going cross-eyed sifting through these pictures."
"I think I'm gay."
"Let me find some glasses."
4 years 2 months ago …
"I just … I can't seem to find a connection with anyone. I mean, I've only dated 3 girls in the past year or so and they were all wonderful. They just weren't … enough … or something. I don't know."
Sam is wobbling in her chair and I know that I am no better. But my inebriated state makes me brave and I'm fueled by the desire to see my daughter happy. Both of them.
"Describe your perfect girlfriend."
"I don't know."
"Okay, well, she has to be nice. Intelligent. Can carry a conversation. Passionate. Doesn't take my shit. Loves to laugh. Loves to travel. Is good to her family and friends. Modest. Generous. Kind."
"Name starts with Brooke."
"I knew it!"
"What? Knew what?"
"You're in love with Brooke!"
"No I'm not, that's crazy. She's my sister."
"You just admitted it! And she's not your sister, she's your step-sister."
"There's no way I'm in love with Brooke!"
"Look me in the eye and tell me you're not in love with Brooke."
"Look me in the eye, Sam."
"I'm too drunk."
"Sam," I gently prod.
"No," she whispers, "I can't."
"Listen. I've watched my daughter date skeeze after skeeze. And do you know what I wish every time she breaks up with one? I wish that she'd start seeing someone just like you. Because you are amazing. You are everything I want Brooke to have and everything Brooke doesn't realize she needs. You are perfect for each other and if you just so happen to love Brooke, well that would be alright in my book."
Sam looks at me through tear-soaked lashes and I'm hoping half a bottle of Old Pulteney is enough to let her guard down.
"I do love her."
"Are you in love with her?"
Sam finally answers after a long pause. And a few more sips of scotch. "Yes."
"Should I crack open another bottle?"
4 years ago …
One bottle of Lagavulin each and Sam is draped across the couch while I am sprawled on the living room rug.
"I love Jane because she chews on her thumb when she's nervous."
"I love Brooke because she always blushes when I compliment her."
"I love Jane because she always ends her text messages to me with a kissy face."
"I love Brooke because she bakes me cookies every time we're all home together, even though she tries to say they're for Mac."
"I love Jane because she lights up a room when she smiles."
"I love Brooke because she needs to hold my hand when we watch a scary movie."
"I love …"
"You love me?"
"Mike, what happened to your voice? It got all girly, hahaha!"
"Mike, dear, what are you doing on the floor? Are you two drunk again?"
"Please don't be Brooke, please don't be Brooke, please don't be Brooke …"
"Sam, that sounds like Brooke."
1 year 1 month ago …
"Crap, which one is Brooke's window?"
"That one." I point to one side of the house and then hold out my hand. "Here, I picked up some small rocks."
"Is that a ukelele? When did you get a ukelele?"
"When I took your mom to Hawaii last year."
"And you bought a ukelele? Can you even play it?"
"I know three chords thank you very much. Here, take these. And try not to shatter any glass."
Sam is able to toss the rocks at the window without falling over. When a light flickers on I ready my ukelele.
"Mike, is that you? Sam? What in the hell are you doing? Are you seriously drunk again?"
"Lady McMom!" Sam begins, "Would be so kind as to wake the fair Lady McBrooke? I threw my McPebbles at the wrong window."
"What are McPebbles?" I whisper.
"Is that what I said?"
"I think you should run with it."
A few minutes later a light comes on on the other side of the house. We scurry beneath it just as Brooke opens the window.
"Geez Mike you had that totally wrong."
"It's my Scotch McGoggles."
"Sam? Dad?" Brooke says sleepily. "Are you guys drunk again?"
"Lady McBrooke!" Sam screeches, "I McLove you to the McMoon and back!"
I begin my three-chord progression to compliment Sam's professions of love. And I think it sounds pretty good, actually.
I start hopping around in a circle while Sam does what I think is a dance. Yeah, I think she called it her "Ode to Brooke" dance.
"Sam, you're an idiot. Come inside right now. And Dad? Seriously? A ukelele?"
"My dear McBrooke. I wish from this day forth to be your McFriend, your McLover, your McPartner, forever."
I reach a crescendo because I know this is Sam's big moment. She thrusts her hand into the air waving a princess-cut diamond ring and shouts, "Will you be my McWife?"
Present day, at the reception …
Jane and I make our way to the dance floor, stopping along the way to greet family and friends, to find the happy couple.
"May I steal the bride away for a moment?" I ask while extending my hand out to Sam. "I believe your mother will gladly take your place."
I watch Jane be swished and twirled away by Brooke while Sam wraps her hand around my arm.
"Your mom still takes my breath away."
"She better," Sam jokes.
"C'mon back to the table, I've got for something for you."
"Key to the new Benz?"
Sam and I settle into our chairs and I reach under the table to pull out two gift bags.
"Bigger bag first," I instruct.
"Oooh, Saint Magdalene. Nice. I read about this one recently and have been wanting to try it. May I open it now?"
"Sure, why not?"
A few minutes later, and with a warm belly, I ask Sam to open her second gift.
"Please tell me you are joking."
"I am joking."
"Seriously? The Greek Islands?"
"Greek? Is that what it says? They messed up then, it was supposed to be the Aleutian Islands."
Moments later I'm being squashed by my daughter and trying to not cringe at her high-pitched squeals.
"Thank you thank you thank you thank you!"
"You're welcome, sweetie."
After Sam is able to calm down she sits back and grabs her glass of scotch. She's quiet for a moment before she asks, "Why me?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not the only one who got married today, and I'm not the only one going on this honeymoon."
"Yeah, well, this is my gift to my new daughter-in-law. I have a different present for Brooke."
"Mike, you don't have to do this because my dad is not here."
"I know. But today is your wedding day, your once in a lifetime, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to give you something special."
"You've given me something that is a million times better than special."
"A mother who smiles and laughs all the time. A sister who is the apple of my eye. A woman who is the love of my life. And a father who stepped up to the plate when I didn't know I needed him. That beats the Greek Islands any day of the week."
"Oh, so, I can take Jane to Greece while you stay here with Mac."
"Negative. Try again."
"Ew, MOM! Dad and Sam are drinking Scotch again! You said they weren't supposed to drink it at the wedding because of what happened last time!" Ah Mackenzie. My little pride and joy. And tattletale.
"Jane, it was just a few sips, just to taste. I promise." I quickly leave my seat and wrap my arms her waist. A slow smile spreads across her face and I know I'm not actually in trouble.
Off to the side I see Brooke standing with her hands on her hips. She looks positively gorgeous, though maybe a bit ticked off.
"Samantha McQueen, get your cute but over here and dance with your McWife."
Sam slides easily into Brooke's waiting embrace and they share a languid kiss.
"I knew you liked my proposal."