My Dad's Boss(10)

By: Mia Madison

We were really scrunched in tight, too. I shifted my weight away from him, trying not to touch him, but there wasn’t enough room. Finally, he eased his arm out from between us and put it over the back of the couch behind me. That freed up a little space though we were still thigh to thigh.

Soon, though, my focus was on the video. Mom had said I’d been working on it a lot this month, but the truth was I’d started it way back in February. Twice I’d returned home from college on weekends I knew my parents wouldn’t be here to scan hundreds of photos from their photo albums. I also raided their things in the attic, finding a treasure trove of old love letters, mementos from their first dates, baby clothes from when I was born, and more. They were definitely savers.

The video was arranged chronologically, a mixture of pictures, snippets of videos, warm wishes from various family and friends, and more. It was all set to my parents’ favorite songs. By the time we got to my favorite part, a recorded message from my mother’s ninety-three-year-old Grandpa Jack in New York, I heard quite a bit of sniffling. I knew Mom was crying, of course, but she wasn’t the only one.

When the video was halfway through, I began to relax. It was going well. People liked it. No one was checking their phones—everyone was watching. Just as if it were a real movie. Relieved, I slumped back in my seat, forgetting that Nick’s arm was behind me until I bumped it with the back of my head.

I stiffened as I felt him there, but he casually draped his arm around my shoulder. Closing my eyes briefly, I let myself enjoy the feeling of being so close to him. Ours sides were pressed together, our legs touched. His arm was around me. And I know it was just a friendly gesture on his part, but it still felt good.

We’d gotten to the part of the video in which my parents and I had taken a trip to Europe, and now people were laughing at the video clips of my dad trying to say phrases in Italian, German, and French. I laughed, too, at a scene of him buying food from a street vendor in Rome and saying gracias instead of grazie.

“You have to send me a copy of this, Cassie,” Aunt Lauren whispered, and several other people concurred. Pleased, I set my hand down without thinking where it would land—which ended up being on Nick’s hard thigh. Oops. But wow, it felt good. The heat from his skin rose up even through his pants. He must work out—he seemed to have muscles in all the right places.

After a moment, Nick shifted, his free hand closing in on mine. He moved my hand off his leg, and it felt like he was going to let me go—but then he clasped my hand tighter.

We sat that way for the last few minutes of the video, pressed against each other, his arm around me, my hand in his. I wished the video were three times longer because I didn’t want to move. Being this close to him felt so intimate. Almost like being his girlfriend for real.

But I knew we couldn’t let anyone see, so thirty seconds before the end of the presentation, I let go of him and wiggled my hips forward until I had enough space to rise, slip my shoes back on, and pick my way toward the lights.

The second I flipped the lights on, there was applause. Actual applause. People were hugging Mom and Dad, but they were congratulating me. And unless I was very much mistaken, it wasn’t the standard pat on the head adult kids sometimes got from their parents’ friends. Everyone seemed genuinely impressed.

Compliments flew from all sides by the time I made it to my parents. Dad gave me a long hug and then turned to his friends, telling them that there was cake in the dining room. Mom gave me a hug and didn’t stop, tears streaming down her face onto my shoulder. “Cassie, that was amazing. Thank you so much.”

By the time I’d worked my way into the dining room, I’d received so many kind words that I’m pretty sure my face was bright red. Of course, that could have had something to do with the second glass of wine I’d snagged.

Mom handed me a big slice of vanilla cake with fluffy butter-cream icing. It looked delicious. Then she gave a piece to the person behind me. It was Nick.

“That was incredible,” he said to me, and then took the cake from my mom. “You have a very talented daughter.”

“I agree,” Mom said, her smile huge. “I have no idea where she found all those old videos. And how did you get a recording of Grandpa Jack?”

“I have my ways,” I said with a grin.

“But we have to talk about that picture of me in my bathing suit on the Las Vegas trip. You can edit that out, can’t you?”

“I can…” I said, trailing my voice so that the unspoken words were “for a price.”

“Better stay on this one’s good side,” Nick said with a smile. “Otherwise her next video might be an exposé.”

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