The two parents led the young man into the modern living room and directed him to a chair facing the leather couch they gracefully sat on. The wife was dressed in a sharp business suit which was fit in perfectly at her law firm as well as her posh home. Sitting beside her was the husband who also sported a business suit as he'd just gotten off work at his marketing job. Together, the couple was very impressive and possibly intimidating to some, but their guest seemed somewhat comfortable in their presence.
"It's been such a long time since we've seen you, darling," the wife, Dr. Kalen said, exposing her unnaturally white smile.
The guest nodded. "Dad told me that I haven't been over to this house since I was eight. It certainly looks different," he noted, scanning the living room with his eyes.
"We hired somebody to redecorate our house about ten years ago," Mr. Kalen explained.
"Well, they did a great job," the guest complimented. Personally, he liked how their house looked years ago when stuffed scattered the green carpet and a paint splattered coffee table held old copies of National Geographic for Kids. Obviously, he chose to keep his opinions to himself.
"How has Yale been treating you," she asked, her smile never departing her face.
The guest returned the smile. "It's perfect there. I'm not sure if Dean told you, but I will be studying abroad next year to Japan. If things work out well, I might return next summer for an internship. Yale has a really good system set up to get their business majors jobs abroad," he answered.
"You know, Jess has been talking about going to Japan recently," Dr. Kalen told him.
He had almost forgotten about their daughter Jessica. He didn't remember her very well, but he could recall one visit when she'd kidnapped his G.I. Joe and forced him to marry Barbie. He had refused to return their house for a week until she'd signed the divorce papers (aka. Crayon scribbles on a blank piece of paper) that he'd personally drafted. "How is she," he questioned politely.
Mr. Kalen gave his wife a hesitant look who coughed loudly. "Well…actually, that's what we'd like to talk to you about," he started. "Jess is going to North Western next year, and we were hoping you could help her out."
The guest had a flashback to his mom weeping about her "little baby" leaving home. From experience, he knew that parents took their first born's departure pretty badly. He could understand why the Kalens would be a bit nervous about Jess moving out. A two minute speech with Jessica and they'd probably be satisfied. "I'd be glad to give Jess some advice and tips for freshman year," he offered, ready to give some examples when he noticed Mr. Kalen shaking his head.
"Although we'd greatly appreciate that, I was actually referring to something else. I'd actually like you to ease her out of her obsession," the older man explained.
He kept up a blank face as his mind raced through all the obsessions Jess could have. Was she addicted to drugs? Did she have an unhealthy attraction to alcohol? Was she shoplifting at the mall every weekend? Or was it something simpler like an attachment to Facebook or texting. Either way, they had to realize that he was no Dr. Phil and wasn't suited to handle that kind of stuff.
"We are worried that our daughter does not know how to socialize with men properly," Dr. Kalen said, confusing her guest further.
"She has never had a boyfriend or a date, and she has no male friends. We believe it has something to do with her obsession with Robert Downey Jr.," Mr. Kalen added.
"Before, we were slightly concerned when she kept referring to him as her husband, but last week…" The couple shared a look again. "I went into her room and her computer screen was up, and as I went to close it, I noticed this Excel document she had up. She has records of how much a plane ticket from Massachusetts to California would cost, how much a rental car costs, and the address to a Hollywood studio. She's been talking about this new movie he's filming, too. I clicked around some more, and I found another document that listed a bunch of cell phone numbers that she thinks belongs to Robert Downey Junior. It was obvious that she plans on running away and finding him."
Their guest had always prided himself on taking news with a straight face, but this was getting ridiculous. He remembered how girls at his high school were always fawning over Orlando Bloom when those pirate movies came out, yet this seemed to be something entirely different. His mouth hung open as he listened to Mr. Kalen talk.
"We've tried everything to distract her from her plan. We've discussed trips to Europe, concert tickets to Paramore, and plenty of other ideas, but she insists on having her whole summer schedule cleared. We're pretty positive that she has a date set for when she wants to leave. As a legal adult armed with a credit card, Jess can pretty much do whatever she wants to. It seems as if we can't bribe her into staying anymore."
"Our last hope is you," Dr. Kalen said bluntly, reaching over to wrap her hands around the young man's. Her eyes were full of desperation.
"If you can convince her that Mr. Downey is just a celebrity and that there are real men out there like you, there is a chance that she'll leave behind her whole plan and stay here with us."
Their "last hope" was trying to comprehend everything, but even two years at Yale were not helping him process what they were saying. "So what exactly do you want me to do," he questioned.
"We want you to…woo our daughter. Take her mind off celebrities and help her see that her dream guy could be standing right in front of her," the wife answered.
There were so many things wrong with what she'd just said that he barely knew what to say. "I can't make Jess fall in love with me if that's what you're asking," he replied.
Dr. Kalen chuckled but the laugh sounded painfully off in his ears. "You're a handsome, intelligent, and charming young man. I'm sure Jess will see that once you get her to tear her eyes away from those awful posters."
"Seth, please" Mr. Kalen pleaded in a pitiful and defeated voice. "She needs to see that being with Mr. Downey is just unrealistic. We really can't let her live in her fantasy world any longer. The situation is out of our hands now. We called you here because we need you."
"We need you, Seth," Dr. Kalen repeated, squeezing her hands that were still wrapped around Seth's once before letting go.
Seth looked back between the two. He could tell from their faces that they were desperate, and from what they described, Jess really did have some kind of obsession. Admittedly, he felt some sort of obligation to the Kalens. They'd practically treated him as their son when he was a child, and they only fell out of contact because Seth's dad, Dean, had to transfer to Worchester.
On the other hand, Seth did not like the idea of purposely tricking a girl into falling for him. Also, agreeing to help the Kalens had a high chance of ruining his opportunity with Ryden. They had met in a Finance class, and Seth had been captivated by her looks and cunning almost immediately. He'd spent months trying to catch her attention, and they'd just begun calling each other on a regular basis. He'd been chasing Ryden for so long, and he didn't want all his efforts to go to waste now. As Seth created a pro/con list in his head, he started at the bark of a Yorkshire terrier.
"You got a new dog, I see," Seth noted with a hint of irritation in his voice. He didn't exactly appreciate the interruption from his train of thought.
"That would be Russell," Mr. Kalen explained. "I would introduce you formally, but Rus always has to be waiting at the front door whenever Jess gets home. We have a few minutes before she comes in though."
"Was she just out with her friends," Seth queried. If so, he could probably convince Dr. and Mr. Kalen that Jess's outings with her female friends showed good promise that she could develop a similar bond with a group of males. Unfortunately, he was heavily disappointed.
"Nope, Jess went to the movies alone," Mr. Kalen corrected.
Though that wasn't the answer Seth was looking for, he figured that he could still convince the Kalens that independence was a good quality in a girlfriend. "What movie did she see," Seth asked.
"Iron Man 2," Dr. Kalen answered, staring intently at Seth. She paused a moment before continuing. "She was really excited this morning because this will be the fifteenth time she's seen it. Her goal is to cover one of her bedroom walls with movie ticket stubs. When she went to see the first Iron Man movie, she got over a fourth of the wall done."
Seth's eyes widened in shock, and Mr. Kalen snorted. "The movie theater called last night when she was out to say that she's qualified to receive two free movie tickets. I declined the offer of course. Understandably, the manager didn't understand my reasons behind the refusal and instead offered to name a movie seat in her honor. He even promised a gold plate with her full name engraved in it."
Unable to process Mr. Kalen's story, Seth just ignored it and concentrated on something his mind really could grasp. As a business major, Seth's mind was already calculating the cost of Jess's visits to Marcus Theaters. ($9.00 admission * 15 visits + $11.50 popcorn combo *15 visits) = $135 + $172.50 = $307.50. Seth shuddered as he tried adding on taxes and the cost of gas and one of his eyes started to twitch unconciously. He didn't care that Jess grew up in an affluent family; this had to stop. Seth looked up again at the couple and wondered if Dean had told them about his low tolerance for irresponsible spenders. He absolutely couldn't stand watching people waste money recklessly which was exactly what Ms. Jessica Kalen was going. You could ask any member of his family or his friends. They would say that he was polite, generous, and thoughtful BUT frugal, cheap, and "economical." In the end, the three hundred dollars was what made Seth make his final decision.
"I'll do it," he told them.
A/N: Please review to tell me if I should bother continuing or not. Thanks!