Dinner With The Folks
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Delilah whispered.
"No," Jakob replied, watching as Riley shook hands with his father, then give his mother an exuberant hug. The look on Diane's face would give Jakob pleasant dreams for months to come.
"What if he, you know," Delilah wiggled her eyebrows. "He's not exactly Mr. Secrets."
Riley was hugging Leah now, ignoring her attempts to impale him on one of her stilettos.
"I'm not too concerned," said Jakob.
Dinner was formal, served in the main dining room. Since their house was still being re-built, Diane had moved the family into the townhouse in New York. Jakob's father was not overly pleased by this. He preferred to keep his wife a minimum of three hours away.
The first course went smoothly, mostly thanks to Susannah and Nate's approaching wedding. It was two months away, but from the way Diane was talking it was tomorrow. She dominated the conversation, completely overturning every one of Susannah's decisions. Nate was no help. He was having a whispered conference with his father over the latest environmental tax. The fact that Riley was eating with his hands went largely unnoticed.
"So, Mr. Blue," Diane said as the second course was being laid out. "What is it that you do?"
"Do?" Riley repeated. He cocked his head to the side. "Well, I go to bed, I sleep, I wake up, I eat breakfast, I go for a walk, I---"
"I meant, what is your profession?" Diane interrupted.
"Oh. I see. King, but I'm retired."
"Excuse me," said James Phillip-Jones, patriarch. "Did you say king?"
"Retired," said Riley.
"King of what?" demanded Leah. "The loony farm?"
Riley looked at her. "I have never heard of loonies. What are they? Are they tasty?"
Delilah carefully avoided Jakob's eyes.
"Are you high?" Leah craned her neck trying to look at Riley's pupils. "I refuse to eat with a drug addict."
"Hypocrite," Delilah coughed. Leah glared at her.
"Those are valid prescriptions. I need them for my anxiety."
"Yeah, right. Anxiety." Delilah rolled her eyes.
"I happen to be very delicate."
Nate snorted. Susannah gave him a disapproving glance, which he didn't notice.
"Riley," she said, deciding a change of subject would be helpful. "How did you meet Jakob?"
"He helped me escape," Riley answered. He had opted for a black pinstriped suit with a red vest, gold shirt and a purple tie. His eye patch was red, gold and purple striped. It, in his own words, "held the outfit together."
"Escape from where, exactly?" Diane asked.
"Field. There was a man after me who wanted to take me back, but I didn't want to go back, so I snuck onto Jakob's ship, only it wasn't his ship, it was Sebastian's, but he still let me stay, so it was okay."
Everyone went silent for a minute as they processed this. Jakob reached for his glass, then stopped. He glanced over at Susannah. Her eyes flicked to away immediately. She had been watching him. Why?
"You didn't want to go back to…Canada?" James asked. Jakob had told his parents that was where Riley was from.
Riley nodded and held out his wineglass for a refill. "It was boring," he said. "Wandering around the palace grounds, tutors always bothering me. I like being with Jakob much better." He grinned and drained half his glass in one gulp. "I do miss the executions, though."
"I didn't think Canada had the death penalty," said Nate.
"Of course," replied Riley. "How else are we to punish evil-doers and traitors to the crown? This is very good juice. May I have some more?" A footman obediently filled Riley's glass. "We don't have anything like this on Li-- Canada. What's it made of?"
"Fermented grapes," said Jakob. A look of panic crossed Riley's face, then he very discreetly spit the thousand dollar wine back into his glass.
"Delicious," he managed weakly.
Diane pursed her lips. Riley had not been as discreet as he thought.
"Tell me, Mr. Blue, what do your parents do?"
"Translation: Do you have money and/or breeding?" Delilah whispered to Jakob.
"I don't have parents," Riley said shoveling fillet mignon into his mouth.
"Don't have parents?" Diane raised her delicately plucked eyebrows. "My dear, everyone has parents."
"I don't," replied Riley. "I was-- ow!" He glared at Delilah, who smiled sweetly at him. "My parents died," Riley said. "Tragically. When I was just a fetus."
"I'm so sorry," Diane said with fake sincerity. "What happened, if I might ask?"
"Shark attack," Riley answered.
"Yup. It was awful. Blood everywhere. People screaming. Overly dramatic music playing." Riley covered his face with his hand. "Please, it's too horrible. I can't talk about it anymore."
"Animal planet?" Delilah whispered to Jakob.
"Jaws," he replied.
The last course was brought out; tiny pastries served with coffee. Riley helped himself to an entire plateful.
"What's this?" he asked, holding up an éclair. Jakob told him. "Oh. What's this?" They went through each of the pastries this way."
"Are you retarded?" Leah demanded. "What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Riley gave her a puzzled look. "My DNA was calibrated for perfect health."
"Oh my god, is English even your first language?"
"No, of course not. I'm from Li-- Canada. I spoke…" Riley rolled his eye upwards, thinking. Always a bad sign. "Canadaese."
Nate choked on his coffee. "Canadaese?"
"There's no such thing," Leah snapped.
"Oh, yeah? How would you know?" Riley replied. "I bet you haven't even been south--"
"North," muttered Jakob.
"--North of Bagston,"
"--Boston," Riley continued. "Can you even name one state--"
"--Province? You probably don't even know who's president--"
"Stop correcting me!" Riley yelled at Jakob. "You don't know everything!"
"He knows Canada's in the north," Delilah said under her breath.
"I don't want to do this anymore!" Riley stood up. "I'm going home!"
"Riley, sit down," said Jakob.
"No!" Riley stomped out of the room, then stomped back and grabbed a plate of pastries. "I might get hungry on the way home!" he shouted. "Goodbye!"
In the silence after the door banged shut, James Phillip-Jones cleared his throat.
"Jakob," he said. "Who exactly was that young man?"
"Oh." Jakob set down his coffee and folded his hands over his plate. "He's my lover."
Jakob leaned back and smiled his non-smile as the noise rained down around him.