The Wicked Witch of Broadmoor Bluffs
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - June 1-14, 2014
Written: July 21,26,29, August 2, 2008 Tweaked: December 26, 2009
Summary: Jack and Daniel can only watch as Jennifer's life is threatened in a way she never thought possible.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Unexpected Miracle”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Irina, Tonya, Jo, Mama Bear!
The Wicked Witch of Broadmoor Bluffs
“How was it?” Daniel asked, smiling when Jennifer walked in, looking
extremely beautiful in her blush pink lace and satin dress.
“Amber looked so beautiful, Daddy,” Jennifer spoke, hugging her father.
“Did I hear the bridesmaid?” Jack questioned, walking in from the study.
“Oh, Dad. You should have seen her!” the young woman said with a sense of longing as she turned to face her older father.
“I give it a year,” Jack teased.
“Jack!” Daniel rebuked at the same time.
“Just kidding, Sweetheart,” Jack spoke honestly. He leaned forward and gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek. “You look beautiful. I'm guessing the eyes were on you instead of the bride.”
“Maybe someday,” Jennifer responded shyly. “Amber was stunning. She had a designer bridal gown. It ...”
For the next several minutes, the parents listened as Jennifer told them all about her friend Amber's wedding. The girl had been part of Jennifer's close circle of friends since she'd become a Jackson-O'Neill and started attending public high school. Though Amber was a little bit more of the socialite, into unique and one-of-a-kind fashion, she had a good heart. She'd met her new husband just six months ago while attending college. It was a whirlwind courtship, resulting in a large wedding. Both Jennifer and her best friend, Sheila, were bridesmaids, with Amber's sister serving as her maid of honor.
**Danny, do you think Amber *had* to get married?**
**Jack, don't go there,** Daniel replied via the couple's special non-verbal communication. **Jen looks radiant today.**
**Hamilton. She's thinking about Hamilton,** Jack replied, referring to Peter Hamilton, who was currently attending college at Oxford, although he was expected back in the Springs any day now to spend the summer.
**She'll deny it, if you ask her.**
**You know, she wouldn't be thinking about him if you hadn't been his advocate,** the younger man opined.
**Don't remind me. Danny, she's beautiful.**
With smiles and attentive ears, the two men continued to listen to Jennifer's review of her friend's wedding.
“Mother, I can't,” Peter spoke into the cell phone. “I told you about this last week, and I reminded you again last night. I'm having dinner with the Jackson-O'Neills tonight ... Mother, they are not the devil's spawn ... Mother, I'm hanging up now.”
“She doesn't like us very much,” Jennifer sighed sadly.
“She doesn't like anyone who isn't part of the social register,” the young man responded as he put his cell phone back into his pocket.
“Maybe you should have dinner with them,” Jennifer suggested, not liking the distance that she knew was widening between the young man and his parents.
“Jen, I'm not going to spend the summer kowtowing to Royce and Miriam Hamilton.”
“They're your parents.”
“I want to be with you.”
“I know, friends,” the college student sighed, regret written all over his face. “Friend, let's go play with the brood for a while.”
Jennifer smiled at Peter's suggestion. He really had grown to love her siblings, and he'd established some great relationships with them from his visits and correspondence. It meant a lot to her. Still smiling, she walked with her friend to find the children for some late afternoon play before dinner.
“Jack, what are you ... oh,” Daniel said, realizing the answer to his incomplete question.
The general was standing at the patio door, looking out towards the gazebo where Peter and Jennifer were sitting, side-by-side, laughing.
“If they get any closer ...” Jack began.
“She says they're just friends.”
“And I'm the Tin Man,” Jack responded snarkily.
“Jack, you've always been for their relationship. Why are you so ... snarky lately whenever we discuss the possibility of them getting together, maybe even married?”
Turning away, Jack sauntered over to the mantle. He picked up a shot of the three Morgan children and motioned at it as he twisted around to face his lover for a second.
“The Mouseketeers,” Jack said, using the nickname for the three children.
Daniel sighed and then walked over, smiling at the photograph as he pointed out, “They've grown.”
“She's in love with him, Danny, and one day, she's going to stop lying to herself.”
“Oh what?” Jack snapped.
“You're afraid we're about to lose a daughter.”
“Daniel, so help me you give me that crap about not losing a daughter, but gaining a son, and I'll ...” The older man groaned and then put the photo back in its place. “That's the first time.”
“I've never said the words before.” Seeing Daniel's stare, Jack attempted to clarify his comment. “You know ... about them ... Jen ... her feelings.” Looking at his soulmate's blank expression, he groused, “Never mind.”
Chuckling as his frustrated lover walked back towards the patio door, Daniel responded, “I'm not sure I've said it out loud, either, but ...”
“... but it's the truth,” Jack finished for his Love, getting a nod in acknowledgement. “She can't keep lying to herself.”
“I know,” Daniel agreed, taking his lover into his arms. “When she's ready, we'll have to let her go. It's the only way to keep her.”
“Danny, we need her.”
“We'll always need her because she's our daughter.”
Burying his chin into his husband's neck, Jack half grinned and half cried, “I still remember how rebellious she was the first day I saw her. She put those kids to shame with that bunt, and she doesn't even like baseball.”
“Remember the first time you danced with her?”
“Molly's party. We gave up our date night,” Jack admitted quietly, allowing himself to be comforted in the safe and protective embrace of the other man.
His hands gently stroking Jack's back and neck, Daniel replied, “It wasn't a sacrifice. She was so protective of David and Noa, but we did it, Babe. We gained her trust, and then we gained a daughter, and we made sure she was a teenager and not a mother.”
Jack pulled back, giving Daniel an inquisitive look.
“You know what I mean,” Daniel stated.
“Yeah, I do,” Jack said, leaning in for a kiss and then plopping down on the sofa. “It's Amber's fault.”
Sitting down, Daniel took his soulmate's hand in his and refuted, “No, it's not. Besides, we don't know for sure what's going to happen.”
“Sure, we do,” Jack insisted. “Hamilton is gonna ...”
“Peter's going to what, Dad?” Jennifer asked as she and the man in question entered the living room.
“Hamilton's gonna ... beat me at our next game of chess, right now,” Jack said, getting up and approaching his daughter's suitor. “You up for the challenge?”
“Yes, Sir,” Peter responded. “Do you mind, Jen?”
“Of course not. I need to call Sheila. I'll see you later.” Smiling sweetly, the long-haired brunette added, “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Peter responded with a loving smile.
**Daniel, I ...**
**Jack, play chess.**
“He doesn't approve of my volunteering for Habitat,” Peter stated as he faced off against Jack in their chess game.
“It's a worthwhile cause,” Jack remarked as he evaluated his options in the game.
“He hates it even more that I'm going to work for J-O again in a couple of weeks. He thinks I'm headed for the lowest spot on Earth.”
“Not the lowest, but it's definitely without amenities,” Jack replied. “There we go,” he said, making his move.
Peter smiled and nodded, and then he moved one of his own chess pieces as he exclaimed, “Checkmate.”
“You've been practicing,” Jack accused.
“When I can,” Peter acknowledged.
“You sure you want to go on that dig?”
“Very. It makes me feel like I'm doing something,” Peter responded. “You know, Sir, when Jen convinced me to stay at Oxford, I wasn't happy about it, but I took her advice. My father thinks he's getting what he wants, but the truth is, I'm learning a lot about myself, and I'm using my time there to study more than just business.”
The two continued to talk for a while. It was clear Peter's parents hadn't softened a bit towards his choices or their view of the Jackson-O'Neills, who they blamed for the corruption of their 'child'.
“Karissa Lewis ... Yes, she is. Please hold.” Karissa lowered the phone, muting it. She looked over at the young woman who was making some notes in a project file. “Jen, this is for you.”
Jennifer looked up. She was putting in more hours at J-O Enterprises now that it was summertime.
Seeing Karissa's affirmative nod, Jennifer rose and headed for the door to take the call elsewhere.
“You can take it here,” Karissa said with a smile.
“You sure?” Jennifer questioned as she approached the desk. Taking the phone from her smiling supervisor, she greeted, “Hello. This is Jennifer.”
“Miriam Hamilton, Dear.”
“Mrs. Hamilton,” Jennifer acknowledged, suddenly looking uncomfortable.
“I'd like you to meet me for lunch. Say one-ish.”
Jennifer listened to the 'command' invitation to lunch. She considered refusing, but decided to go along, hoping the woman was softening up.
“I'll be there,” Jennifer agreed when the call ended.
“Why don't you look happier?”
“That was Peter's mother. I'm not her favorite person.”
“Maybe she's changing her mind,” Karissa supposed. “She's crazy not to like you.”
“Thank you, and I hope so,” Jennifer responded softly. “I'd better get those notes done.”
“So you agree that Peter's welfare should come first,” Miriam Hamilton stated and then gently dabbed her napkin against her lips.
“I agree that Peter's happiness should come first.”
“Happiness?” Miriam spoke as if she'd never heard the word before. “My dear, happiness is irrelevant. Peter is part of a proud heritage. He has much to accomplish in his life.”
“Mrs. Hamilton, why did you invite me to lunch?”
“May I speak frankly?” the woman asked without missing a beat.
“Of course,” Jennifer responded, feeling apprehensive as she had during the entire luncheon date.
“You're an albatross around my son's neck. He's so distracted by those brown beauties of yours that he is shirking his duties as the heir to our fortune. He needs his freedom.”
“Freedom? Mrs. Hamilton, I have no claim on your son. He's a friend. He's just doing what he wants to do. Maybe he doesn't want to be the ... the heir to your fortune.”
“You are so young, Jennifer,” Miriam spoke with disdain. “Peter doesn't know what he wants, but his father and I know what's best for him.” Picking up her purse and wrapping her stole closer to her chest, she said, “You don't belong in our world. You say you care about Peter? If that's so, let him live up to his good name. Leave him alone.”
Standing, the woman walked away from the table, leaving a stunned Jennifer sitting by herself.
“It was strange,” Jennifer commented, pausing in the middle of brushing her hair. She lowered her brush and sighed. “Daddy, I don't understand why she even asked me to lunch. I don't even see Peter very often. I mean, he's going to Oxford like they want. What's her beef?”
His arms folded across his chest, Daniel walked forward, stopping a few feet away from his daughter, who was seated on the bench of the small vanity set she'd been gifted with on her last birthday.
“Jen, people like the Hamiltons are used to getting whatever they want. Peter's not responding to their wants fast enough, so they're looking for explanations.”
“But we're just friends,” Jennifer insisted, shrugging as she twisted back around to look in the mirror. Brushing her hair once again, she added casually, “If they'd just talk to Peter, they'd learn who he is; instead, they order him around as if he were a child. He's not a child, Daddy.”
“I know that,” Daniel replied. He walked forward, placing the palms of his hands on each of the young woman's shoulders, patting them softly. Leaning in close, he spoke, “Growing up is hard for a child, but, believe it or not, it's even harder for parents to let go.” Tenderly, the archaeologist gave his daughter a kiss on her cheek. “I love you, Jen. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Daddy. I love you, too,” Jennifer responded, blinking as she pondered her younger father's words.
“Peter, calm down,” Jennifer soothed.
“He won't listen, Jen!” the upset young man exclaimed a few days later. “He's so stubborn. He doesn't care about me. I'm just his trophy child, someone he can point to and claim as his progeny with the great Hamilton fortune. I've tried, Jen. I've done what you've asked, but he won't even listen to me!”
“Peter, please calm down.”
“Sometimes, I really wish ... I ...”
“Stop it!” Jennifer ordered forcefully, walking over to her friend and wrapping her arm around his as they stood by a tree in the park near the Jackson-O'Neill home. “I know you're upset.”
“I've had enough of the Hamilton name.”
“Don't say something in the heat of anger that you'll regret later.”
“I can't wait to leave on the dig. It's nothing but one big argument after another. Father keeps insisting I take a spot on the Board of Directors now, and Mother keeps harping about appearances.”
“That would be me. Peter, you haven't ... I ... well, you haven't misled them about us, have you?”
Peter turned around to face the young woman and responded, “I've been completely honest with them about us.”
“Which means what?” Jennifer asked, feeling somewhat alarmed.
The young man stared at Jennifer, his mind drifting back to the first time he'd seen her during his brief tenure in public high school. They had a lot of history. Jennifer insisted they were only friends, and he'd honored her wishes, but she'd just asked him a direct question. He wondered if it was time to give her a direct answer.
“I ... told them you said we're just friends.”
“That's what we are.”
Peter nodded and walked away several steps, surprising Jennifer when he suddenly reared back and let out a yell.
“Peter!” Jennifer warned, though she suddenly chuckled.
“I needed that,” Peter explained when he turned back to face Jennifer.
Chuckling, Jennifer asked, “Feel better?”
“Much.” The wealthy young executive-to-be smiled as he walked back to his previous position. “Jen, I just don't know what to do. I'm tired of fighting with them. It never stops.”
“Just don't give in, Peter. It's your life.”
“Tell them that.”
Not long thereafter, Jack and Daniel had taken Jennifer to lunch. There wasn't a reason for it, other than just wanting to spend some time with her alone, something they did with each of their children at various times. Lunch had been full of chatter and laughter, and now the three were in Jack's truck, heading for the mall to do some shopping.
“Amber's loving being a bride. She says she's spoiled rotten.” Suddenly, Jennifer chuckled, “But I guess she always has been.”
“You noticed!” Jack teased as he glanced back at his daughter, who was seated in the backseat of the truck.
“Jen, how did that ...”
Daniel's words were cut off by the ring tone of Jennifer's cell phone. Since she was expecting a call from Karissa about some work at J-O Enterprises, she'd kept the phone on.
Answering without checking the caller ID, Jennifer greeted, “Hello ... Mrs. Hamilton.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged a concerned look, both somewhat disturbed by the wealthy woman's continued interest in their daughter.
“I really don't think ... Yes, I know, but you don't ... I honestly ... I'm with my ... Fine, okay, I'll be there.”
“Jen?” Daniel asked as he brought the Ford truck to a stop at the light.
“Dad, Daddy, Mrs. Hamilton has *commanded* that I drop by her house -- *now*. She insists she has to talk to me *immediately*,” Jennifer sighed, shaking her head as she looked out the window.
“Do you want us to drive you?” Daniel asked.
“You don't have to.”
“We'll stay outside, if that's what you're worried about,” Jack interjected. “I don't have a weapon on me, so I won't kill her.”
“Let's see this tree stump the Hamiltons live in,” the general said, looking at his lover.
“Dad, you've seen it.”
“Well, if you don't mind, I'd really like to get this over with, but I'd rather go alone. I, um, don't want to go there with my parents to ... well ...”
“It's okay, Jen,” Daniel stated, smiling at her as he gazed into the rearview mirror. Their trip to the mall would be done at another time. Now, it was time to head home so Jennifer could head to her 'meeting'. “We understand.”
“No, we don't,” Jack countered.
“Yes, we do.”
“Daniel, no we ...”
Jennifer laughed. How she loved her parents' method for lightning up any stressful situation. The light banter and arguing was still going on. It was just the humorous relief she needed. Her smile fading slowly, she began to ponder why she'd been summoned.
~Didn't we say everything we needed to during that miserable lunch?~
Jack and Daniel were both pacing through their home, each trying to act like they didn't have a care in the world. Jack fidgeted with a variety of objects, but nothing he held in his hand felt right. Daniel tried to get lost in the memories of objects and photographs, but his mind wouldn't let him.
The parents smiled at their children, who were involved in a variety of activities. They answered questions, but, unfortunately, their answers weren't matching the questions.
“Dad, I need help with my English,” Jonny requested.
“Right. Library,” Jack responded cryptically.
“It's in the library,” the father clarified.
“Huh?” Jonny asked, more confused than he'd been about anything in a long time.
“The dictionary,” Jack explained as he disappeared from his namesake's view.
“And then Angela told Aunt Sara that it was a monkey,” Chenoa giggled.
“Aunt Sara is a monkey,” Daniel nodded, smiling at the curly-haired dancer and then walking away.
The two parents suddenly met, coming face to face in the kitchen. They just stared at each other, four eyes locked onto one another.
“Oh, please,” Brianna suddenly whined. “Will you two go do whatever it is you're wanting to do before you drive us all batty?”
“What?” the lovers said together.
As Brianna raised up her hands in frustration, the couple suddenly snapped out of their inner worlds.
“Take care of the brood,” both men ordered the teenager.
“I'll do better than you two have in the last half hour,” Brianna mumbled.
“I heard that!” Jack shouted just before the front door shut.
“Are they okay, Bri?” Jonny asked, now holding the dictionary in his hands.
“Maybe they need a date,” Chenoa suggested, bobbing her head up and down.
“I don't think that's it. Jonny, back to your homework,” Brianna instructed, smiling as the oldest Munchkin grumbled in mock rebellion.
“Would you say that again,” Jennifer requested, stunned by what she'd just heard from Royce Hamilton.
Standing tall by the large fireplace, the man stated, “Don't be coy. Would you prefer cash?”
“Name your amount, Dear,” Miriam Hamilton stated smugly.
Jennifer stared at the two people, still not believing what she was hearing.
“Young woman, we're offering you what every woman wants -- money enough to be secure for the rest of your life. You don't have to do anything for it,” Royce stated contemptuously.
“Except stay out of Peter's life,” Miriam hastened to add.
“You don't even know him,” Jennifer practically whispered while still trying to process what she'd been offered.
“Peter is under your charms. He'll come to his senses once you're out of his life for good,” Miriam put forth.
“The only reason he's trying to live like a pauper is because he's trying to impress you,” Royce stated.
“Impress me? Are you two out of your minds?”
“Don't be rude,” Miriam spat, acting offended.
“He's my heir, and nothing is going to keep him from taking his spot on the Board in September.”
“Why are you in such a hurry? He's still attending college,” Jennifer pointed out. She stared at the couple and said, “Oh. You are afraid, aren't you? You think if you don't get him to accept now that he never will.” She let out a tiny laugh and then said, “It's his choice.”
“We've gotten off the subject,” Royce stated sternly. “Here's a blank check. Fill in the amount. One, two, whatever it'll take.”
“One or ... two?” Jennifer asked, staring at the check that was just about a foot from her face now.
“Million,” Royce stated. “I want you out of Peter's life today. I've already advised the bank to be expecting a large check to be cashed.”
Jennifer rose slowly, blinking when the man shoved the check in her hands.
“That's it, Dear,” Miriam spoke in a patronizing tone when she saw the check in the girl's hand. “Peter will forget you soon enough. He's going to join his father abroad for the remainder of the summer. He'll be introduced to only the finest and most important people in Europe. In September, he'll come home and take his rightful spot on the Board of Directors; and as for you, I don't care where you go or what you do, but you are never to see my son again.”
Jennifer's eyes grew cold and dark. For the first time, she realized Peter hadn't been exaggerating at all. He'd talked about his parents' refusal to listen to him, how disconnected they were, and how they cared about nothing but money and social position. So many times, she'd encouraged him to stick it out, to meet his parents halfway. She'd never really believed that the Hamiltons were so out of touch that they weren't even capable of compromise, or understanding.
“What's wrong, Dear? Royce, give it to her.”
The tall, aloof man walked over to a box on an end table and opened it. He also opened the drawer. Jennifer couldn't believe her eyes when he approached and handed her an antique pendant plus a thick wad of money.
“What is this?”
“Just in case you think our attentions aren't sincere,” Miriam stated without any sympathy in her voice. “That pendant is worth ten-thousand dollars, and that's just the petty cash.”
“Petty cash,” Jennifer muttered. “They're hundred-dollar bills.” She couldn't even imagine how much money was in her hands. It definitely was enough to live out any dream she had. She saw the evil smirk on Miriam's face, the woman sitting in her chair as if it were a royal throne; and Royce, he was strutting around near the mantle like an arrogant peacock. “Unbelievable.”
“Excuse me?” Miriam asked, surprised by the girl's tone.
“You two are crazy. You don't know your son at all. I've spent hours and hours defending you to him, telling him to give you a chance, to just try and meet you halfway. He's at Oxford because *I* convinced him to stick it out. He's staying here, in this house with you because *I* told him he belonged at home, even though my parents had told him he could stay with us, if he wanted. He kept telling me you didn't care about him. I just ... I couldn't believe it. You really don't care about him.”
“Young lady, I'll beg you to ...” Miriam began.
“*Shut up!*” Jennifer ordered, having had enough of the Hamiltons.
“*That's enough!*” Royce shouted loudly, moving towards the young woman.
“*Don't you come near me!*” Jennifer warned, backing away. “*You're both insane! You can't buy me.*”
A moment earlier, Jack and Daniel had arrived at the huge estate. They'd just walked up to the door when they heard the shouting inside. Not caring about propriety, they opened the door and headed for the sound of their daughter's voice.
“*You cheap little tramp, stealing my son from me,*” Miriam yelled, standing up. “*Take the money and go before I ...*”
“*Before you what?*” Jennifer dared angrily, her cheeks reddening from the ire she felt inside. “*You don't know anything about love,*” she shouted, tears beginning to run down her cheeks. “*He only ever wanted to be loved, and your throwing that away. I won't let you do that. Take your money,*” she said, throwing the wad at Royce, who buckled slightly at the waist from the hard throw. “*And I don't want this, you witch!*” she screamed, throwing the pendant towards the sofa. “*And you can take your blank check and stuff it.*” She tore up the check, tearing it in multiple places, letting the pieces of paper fall to the floor near her feet. “*You're evil, wicked people,*” Jennifer cried, her chest heaving from the strong emotions flowing through her. “*I won't let you hurt him anymore. I...I... I love him. I'm ... I'm in love with him, and you won't ... hurt ... him ... ever again!*”
Swallowing, Jennifer turned and ran out, brushing by her parents without stopping.
“Hamilton,” Jack began. “If you ever come near my daughter again, you won't take another breath.” He looked at Daniel, expecting an objection but not getting one. Looking back at Peter's father, he snarked, “You're not invited to the wedding.”
Daniel closed his eyes for a second in consideration of the remark, but then he faced the parents and added, “You just did what we've been unable to do for years -- get Jen to admit she's in love with your son.” He smiled cockily, enjoying the looks of repulsion on the Hamiltons' faces and said, “Thank you. Like Jack said, stay away from our family. Uh, just in case you aren't sure, Peter's our family now.”
Jack and Daniel turned and walked outside, slamming the door behind them, the two bumping into Peter, who was on the way in.
“Sirs, was that Jen I just passed? She was driving so fast. What ... what are you doing here?”
Peter was full of concern. His heartbeat was increasing. He was certain something bad had happened.
“Your folks just tried to buy off our daughter,” Jack advised.
“It didn't work,” Daniel added. “She threw their money in their faces.”
“Money? They ... that's it. No more!” Peter stated strongly, pushing by the Jackson-O'Neills and storming into the house and going straight to the parlor where his parents were.
“No,” Daniel said, reaching out to stop his husband from following Peter. “Jack, he has to do this on his own, and we need to get home.”
Jack thought for a second, really wanting to see the Hamiltons get what was coming to them from their son, but he knew his lover was right. Jennifer had just gone through a nasty event. On top of that, she'd finally faced the truth that she'd been hiding from herself for three years. She was in love with Peter Hamilton.
“Right,” Jack agreed, turning and hurrying towards Daniel's sporty race car. ~I don't normally think of it that way, but right now, it's a race car. The more speed, the better.~
“She's no good for you, Baby,” Miriam spoke, her hands on her son's cheeks.
“I'm not a baby,” Peter spoke, grabbing his mother's hands and pushing them away. “I'm through, done, finished with this. I've tried to be your son, because Jen asked me to, but no more.”
“Think about what you're saying,” Royce advised in warning.
“I am; I have. You've never been here for me. The precious Board and your society friends: they've always been more important. You didn't raise me; Nana did.” Peter stopped, his mind recalling the nanny who had been more of a parent to him than either of his parents; that is, until she quit and just disappeared from his life. “I'm not your son anymore,” he stated emotionally.
“Then you don't care about that nice suit you're wearing or ...”
“No, I don't,” Peter interrupted his father.
“It's that whore's fault,” Royce spat in anger.
“Father, I hit you once. If you disrespect Jennifer one more time, I'll ...”
“You won't do anything, Boy,” Royce stated, glaring over at his son.
“I'll do anything to protect Jen. I love her, and I forbid you from ever going near her again.”
“Forbid?” Royce shouted. “Forbid?”
“You heard me! I'm leaving, and if you ever want to see me again, you won't bother Jennifer or her family again.”
Peter turned and headed for the door.
“Peter, stop!” Miriam exclaimed, running after her son. “It's that girl's fault. You're better than her!”
Suddenly, Peter stopped. He turned, looking at his mother with such disdain that it sent chills up her spine.
“No, Mother, I'm not, and neither are you.”
Peter walked out, leaving his parents alone.
“Royce, do something.”
“What do you have in mind, Miriam?”
“We have to get rid of that girl.”
“I agree. Are you suggesting we ...”
“I'm suggesting we do whatever it takes to free our son of that albatross, once and for all.”
“All the way?” Royce asked.
The two parents stared at each other, totally overtaken by what they were saying. It was unimaginable to be talking about such a thing. It would be unthinkable to act on it.
“We must,” Miriam repeated determinedly.
“Jen, where have you been?” Jack asked, rushing towards his daughter as she walked slowly into the living room.
“Oh, Dad,” the young woman cried softly. As she fell into her older father's embrace, she said, “I've just been driving for hours. It was horrible.”
Daniel walked over to his family, rubbing Jennifer on her arm, just to let her know he was there, too.
“Daddy,” Jennifer acknowledged, weeping even more as she moved into his embrace.
“Is there anything we can do?” the archaeologist asked as he held his daughter close.
“You're doing it,” Jennifer sniffled and then pulled back, smiling at Daniel and then at Jack. “Did you hear what they said?”
“Not all of it,” Jack answered. “When we got there, you were pretty much the one talking.”
“You ... you heard?” Jennifer asked vulnerably. “I mean, what I said about ... a...about how I ...”
“Jen,” Daniel interrupted, taking her hand in his. “Why are you afraid?”
“I don't know.”
“Sweetheart, Peter's a good man,” Jack stated.
“Yes, he is, but ...”
“Love is scary,” Daniel stated, surprising the young woman. “It means trusting someone forever. It also means compromise and being able to forgive.”
“Sweetie, are you sure you really forgave Peter for hurting you that night?” Daniel asked gently.
“Of cour...se. I mean I ... well, I just ...”
Just then, a knock at the door drew the trio's attention.
As Jack headed for the door, Daniel said quietly, “Jen, there are layers to forgiveness. Sometimes, it takes a while to get through all of them.”
While Jennifer's eyes bore into Daniel's, searching for the truth of what he was saying, Jack opened the front door, not at all surprised to see Peter standing there.
“Jen, it's Peter,” Jack called out, waiting for a response that didn't come. “Come on in,” he finally instructed the young man.
“Jen? Jen, are you okay?” Peter asked, rushing to Jennifer and taking her in his arms. “I'm sorry. I don't know what they said, but I have good idea. Jen, I walked out, and I'm not going back. I don't care what you say. Being my parents doesn't give them the right to control me or treat you the way they did.” He swallowed, comforting the once-again weeping woman in his arms. “I know you don't want me to say it, but I have to. If you tell me to leave, I will, but if you don't, I'm going to say it.”
“Jack,” Daniel said, nodding with his head towards the stairs.
“Jack!” the younger man said sternly.
The lovers retreated, glad their other children were already upstairs and out of the way of the two young people.
“Please don't ask me to leave,” Peter begged, frightened the young woman would do just that.
“I haven't said anything,” Jennifer responded softly.
“You're trembling,” Peter observed as he pulled back slightly to look at Jennifer. “I'm going to say it.” He saw her blink, but nothing came out of her mouth. “Jen, I love you. I'm in love with you, and I want us to be together forever, just like your dad and daddy are.”
Jennifer swallowed as her tears increased. Peter again feared he was about to be sent packing, but then he realized that he was looking at a smile, a warm, sweet, tender smile. The smile wasn't just with her mouth, but also in her beautiful brown eyes.
“I'm in love with you, too, Peter. I ... I love you.”
“You do?” Peter asked, hope in his heart for the very first time that his dream might come true. “You love me? You really love me?”
“Yes,” Jennifer affirmed, nodding. “I'm so sorry. I was scared. I ... Peter, I was afraid of being hurt again. I didn't even realize it until Daddy said it a few minutes ago. He's right. I never forgave you, not all the way. I thought I had, but I hadn't. I was just so ... afraid.”
Peter brushed Jennifer's long hair away from her face and smiled as he vowed, “I will never hurt you again, Jen. When I saw you walk away that night; when I saw you get into Doctor Jackson-O'Neill's car, your head held high, I knew I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. I fell head over heels in love with you right then, but it was too late.”
“No,” Jennifer refuted, shaking her head. “I love you, Peter.”
“I love you, Jen. I promise. I'll never hurt you.”
Jennifer smiled and then her heart raced and pulse quickened. She felt herself being drawn closer, and closer, and closer. She and Peter were just a finger's width apart.
“I love you, Jen,” Peter whispered as he finally kissed the woman of his dreams.
“Jack, don't move.”
“But what?” Daniel questioned.
“Do you know what they're doing down there?”
With a chuckle, the younger man answered, “I think I have a pretty good idea, and it's about time, don't you think?”
“That's our daughter down there.”
“And, according to you, our son; you know, the one we've gained,” Daniel said with a quick smile that caused his dimples to flare for a moment.
“I did say that, didn't I,” Jack said with a groan.
“Words to that effect,” Daniel agreed.
“How'd you figure out what Jen was feeling?” Jack asked curiously.
“I did the same thing, remember? Okay, the circumstances were a little different, but I was scared to death, Jack. When I found out you were in love with me, I was petrified.”
“It didn't last long.”
“Yes, it did. I mean, I admitted I loved you, but I was still afraid it would all go away.”
“Seems like a long time ago,” Jack responded quietly.
“It was,” Daniel acknowledged. “Anyway, Babe, it made sense with Jen. She's worked so hard to keep the truth buried. There had to be a reason, and there was only one real reason that made sense.”
“She was crushed that night,” Daniel recalled with a faraway look in his eyes. “I don't blame her for burying her true feelings.” He sighed, shaking his head. “The Hamiltons brought about the one thing they didn't want the most.”
“Wanna send them a fruit basket?”
Daniel chuckled, throwing his arms around his husband's neck and gently pressing his fingers against the skin in a tender massage.
“You know, Babe. I think Jen and Peter are going to need their privacy for a while, so how about we do what they're doing.”
“Daniel, I *so* don't want to think about what they're doing.”
“Then don't. Just kiss me ... Dad.”
Jack groaned, but then he kissed his alluring soulmate, something that made the worries of the world go away. A major change had just occurred. His daughter had admitted she was in love. Now, it was only a matter of time before that love blossomed into something even greater.
“Jack,” Daniel spoke softly, his lips barely apart from his lover's. “Stop thinking about Jen and Peter.”
“How'd you know I was?” Jack asked in amazement.
“I just know. She's a woman now; we have to let her go.”
“Let her go,” Jack echoed quietly, his lips still ever so close to his Heart's. “Danny, do you know how hard that is?”
“Yes, I do, but we have to do it, right now, Jack. From now on, whenever we see our little girl, she'll be Peter's woman, and we have to accept that. We have ... we have to support that because that's her choice, and she is our little girl.”
“Letting go sucks,” Jack whined somewhat forcefully.
“More than anything,” Daniel agreed, his voice cracked from emotion.
“Okay, Love. We let her go.”
“We don't have a choice.”
“You don't think they'll want to get married now, do ya?” the older man asked with apprehension. ~I'm *so* not ready for that.~
“Daniel!” Jack exclaimed. ~Crap, I knew he'd say that.~
“Jack, kiss me. Gawd, I need to be kissed.”
“I love you, Angel,” Jack spoke, kissing his husband passionately.
Several kisses later, Daniel replied, “I love you, too, my Silver Fox. I love you so much.”
For quite a while the lovers kissed away their trepidation about losing their little girl to Peter. Soon, they would be facing their daughter, a woman in love. They knew that love was real. They had for a long time, and now that Jennifer had admitted it, the couple realized the relationship between the young lovers would probably move along quickly. It wasn't their decision, but Jack and Daniel would support and assist their daughter in whatever she wanted to do in her future.
As the two men kissed some more, it became quite clear that the old adage was true. They weren't losing a daughter; they were gaining a son. They could handle that. After all, that's what life was all about for the Jackson-O'Neills -- love and marriage -- and they just couldn't argue against that, even though it meant stepping aside and watching as Jennifer transformed completely into womanhood.
Though life wasn't perfect, for the Jackson-O'Neills, and for Peter Hamilton, it was darn good.
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author