“Oh, come on! That one was too easy!” Mark chuckled heartily, his laughter echoing around the large room. “Give me another.”
“Okay, okay.” Jocelyne smiled, swiping her finger across her phone screen to bring up the next trivia question. “Ooh! I bet you don’t know this one.” She teased. “On the hit TV series Eight Cicadas, what is Annette’s favorite ice cream flavor?”
She giggled triumphantly as she watched the smile fade from Mark’s face. “Um… Shit. I don’t know! I’ve seen like one episode! Uh… pass?”
“Ha!” She laughed brightly. “I don’t believe it… The master has been stumped at last!”
“Yeah, yeah.” He rolled his eyes, but smiled. “Keep rubbing it in.”
“Oh, and the answer was ‘durian’, by the way.” Jocelyne added with a smirk. “Obviously.”
“Uh huh, and I’m sure you would have gotten it?” He asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
The woman nodded. “Actually, yes, I would. I love that show.” She smiled as she handed her phone to him. “Okay, my turn! Show no mercy.”
“I won’t.” He assured her with a laugh. “Let’s find a tricky one for you…” Mark peered down at the phone screen, his smile widening for a moment before suddenly vanishing. “Aw, shit.” He muttered.
Jocelyne’s brow furrowed in concern. “What?”
A heavy sigh escaped Mark’s lips. “I’ve gotta leave for work. I didn’t realize how late it was.”
“Oh.” She muttered in reply. Where had the time gone? “Guess I didn’t realize either. I mean, I was kinda hoping we’d have a chance to fit in a little…alone time?”
The girls were with Elliot for the weekend, Tobi and Colette were away for the day visiting Diego, Zayne was out with his friend Dom, and Mari and Jonas were busy puttering around downstairs. It was very rare to have so much privacy in the house, and Mark and Jocelyne liked to take advantage of it whenever they could.
Shit. This was the perfect chance. She thought sadly. Having to worry about being quiet kind of took a bit of the fun out of their sex life… And the occasional quickie in the car on date nights wasn’t nearly exciting as it used to be.
Mark just shook his head, chuckling. “Honey, if you wanted time for that, you shouldn’t have started up that trivia game. Surefire way to get us to lose track of time.”
“Hey, we’ll make up for it when I get home tonight, okay?” He assured her, pulling her close to him. Mark’s voice was low and sultry in her ear as he described in great detail how he planned on spending their evening. His hand crept slowly up her thigh with every word he spoke.
Jocelyne giggled, her heart fluttering and cheeks growing warm. “Mark…”
Both adults practically leapt to their feet at Zayne’s sudden entrance. “H-hey. I thought you were still out with Dom.” Jocelyne forced a smile, grateful he hadn’t walked in on them in an even more compromising position.
But clearly it was enough to still mortify her nephew. His cheeks reddened and he glanced down at the floor as he spoke. “I-I was. I just got back a few minutes ago.” Zayne bit his lip. “Erm… Is now not a good time? I just wanted to talk to you for a minute…”
“Nah, I was just heading out.” Mark was much more successful at keeping his demeanor casual. “Those books won’t check themselves out, you know!” He smiled warmly at his grandson, then turned to Jocelyne, planting a soft kiss against her cheek. “See you tonight.”
“Have fun at work.” She smiled.
Zayne finally seemed to relax as his grandfather began walking toward him. “See you later, grandpa.” He said softly, smiling.
Mark gave him a playful punch on the arm as he passed. “Later, kiddo.”
Jocelyne could tell right away that something was up – the silence that followed after Mark left the room was strangely tense and heavy… Nothing like the usual quiet moments she shared with her nephew. This can’t be good, can it?
“So… What’s up?” She asked, breaking the silence at last. “You said you wanted to talk?”
Zayne nodded seriously. “I did.” He crossed the room, taking a seat on the small leather couch.
Jocelyne followed suit and sat down at his side, waiting for him to speak again.
“I just… I guess I wanted to apologize.” He sighed softly. “I’ve been acting like a total dick – er… I mean jerk lately. And that was really stupid of me. So I’m sorry.”
The woman’s eyes widened slightly. That was definitely not what she’d been expecting. “Well, thanks.” She smiled. “That means a lot, honey.”
Zayne returned her small smile. “I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately, I guess… But I kinda decided to start acting like an idiot instead of just talking to you about it.” He let out a small laugh. “Dumb, I know.”
“Not dumb.” She shook her head. “Talking about how you’re feeling can be really hard. I get it.” Jocelyne assured him gently. “But you can tell me about it, okay? No judgements from me.”
Inside, Jocelyne was absolutely panicking, of course — worrying about what it could be possibly be that he wanted to tell her. But years of dealing with three teenage girls and all their drama had given her a great poker face.
He took a slow, deep breath. “I guess I kinda feel like you and grandpa are…” Zayne hesitated for a moment. “Babying me too much.”
It was all she could do to hide her relief. Oh thank God. Jocelyne had been expecting so much worse. “How so?” Her voice was calm as she spoke.
“I kinda wanna be more, like… independent, y’know? Make my own choices and do what I wanna do without you guys always worrying about everything all the time.”
She considered his words for a moment, nodding slowly in understanding. This wasn’t exactly news to her, of course. She’d known for the past couple of months that he’d been feeling this way – trying to grow up much too fast.
“We worry because we love you.” She explained. “But I’m sorry that you’re feeling so frustrated about it… And I understand. I used to feel the same way, when I was a little older than you.” Jocelyne told him, pausing for a moment. Okay… Maybe I can throw him a bone here.
“Tell you what.” She continued. “I think you have a point… You can handle yourself better on your own now. So what if we extend your curfew by an hour? How’d that be?” Jocelyne offered. “Same as the girls have now… And maybe I can ease up a bit on the rules about screen time.” She added with a little wink. “I think you’ve earned a little extra flexibility.”
To her surprise, Zayne shook his head. “That’s not what I want, Tante Joce.”
“What?” She failed at hiding her confusion. “What do you –?”
“I wanna move out.”
Did he seriously just say…? Jocelyne couldn’t even find her voice. So instead of voicing her shock and concern, she just stared at him, waiting for some sort of explanation.
“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.” He continued, his voice stronger this time. “But I feel like it’s time to go be on my own.”
At last, she managed to speak. “Honey, what are you talking about?” Jocelyne fought to keep her voice steady. “Even if I said it was okay… You’re only sixteen. You can’t.”
“I can.” He corrected her. “Dom’s cousin did it. She went to private school in another city, and she was allowed to live on her own… As long as her parents gave permission.” Zayne explained.
Jocelyne shook her head slowly. “Well if permission is what you’re looking for, you won’t be getting it from me. I’m sorry.”
“Oh, come on!” She could already see his calm mask beginning to fade. “Can’t I at least try it? Won’t you give me a chance?!”
“And how exactly do you plan on paying rent?” Jocelyne countered, still keeping her cool. “Or the heating bill, or electricity? Water, internet…?”
She saw a brief flicker of uncertainty cross his face. “I… I’ll get a job!”
His aunt nodded. “Okay. And what if it’s not enough? What if you still can’t afford it?”
He hesitated for even longer this time. “W-what about the money Mama and Papa left me? There’s tons of it. I’ll use that.” Zayne smiled confidently as he spoke.
This is just getting ridiculous. Jocelyne felt her patience beginning to wear thin. “You can’t access those funds until you’re eighteen.” Her voice was firm. “You know that.”
“I can if you give me permission!”
“Absolutely not! Your parents wouldn’t want you wasting your inheritance on something like this, okay? Not until you’re ready.”
“But I am ready!” Zayne cried, clenching his fists at his sides. “And I bet Mama and Papa would let me have a chance to prove it!”
“Well, I’m sorry I’m not them!”
“Yeah, me too.”
Jocelyne held her face in one of her hands for a moment, calming herself. Why couldn’t he understand? “Zayne, I’m sorry, but my answer is no.” She shook her head slowly. “Look, you’re growing up. You’re not a little kid anymore. I realize that. You’re a young man now, and I’m so proud of you.” Jocelyne meant every word. “And I promise to be more conscious of that in the future, okay? But living on your own… It’s a big step. You’re just not ready yet. Take some time, calm down, think it over… And you’ll understand.” She assured him.
“So you seriously won’t even hear me out?!” Zayne practically spat at her. “I can’t believe you!”
“I have heard you out.” His aunt sighed. “And you can keep trying to convince me until you’re blue in the face… But my answer won’t change. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Zayne turned away from her and rose to his feet, muttering under his breath. “Bitch.”
Jocelyne felt like he’d slapped her across the face. “What did you just call me?!”
He left the room without another word.
Shoutout to Trip/Infragreen for letting me reference her story in this one! Her story is very dark and adult, but really awesome. You should check it out!