by: Rebecca Taylor

“I’d like you to meet my parents,” said Ben the next week when he and Sienna were out at a restaurant for supper.

“I don’t know,” said Sienna, “I don’t know if its fair to them to you. It could be months before I’ve figured out where I belong. Todd’s a real person and I can’t just walk away from the possibility of him and me. I care deeply for you, Ben, but I’d be doing us both a disservice if I didn’t at least meet Todd so that my heart can feel whole when I make a decision.”

“I’ve known about Todd from the beginning,” said Ben, “and now we both know that he is a real man. I know that you have to meet him when he comes home, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t see where things could go in the meantime. Three months is a long time.”

“Three and a quarter months,” said Sienna.

“Are you marking off the days until his deployment ends?” asked Ben.

“I am,” said Sienna, “and a part of me feels such relief when another day goes by and another part of me feels guilt, and then there’s the fear – that something might happen or that I’m not going to be able to choose between the two of you.”

“I suppose we could consider a polygamist relationship,” said Ben grinning, “or you could have a husband and the equivalent of whatever a male mistress is.”

“Hey,” said Sienna, “this isn’t funny. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of something.”

“Listen,” said Ben, “there’s no need to worry about any of this now. You can’t make any decisions until Todd’s feet are back on home soil again, and even then he’ll probably want to settle back in at home and have time with his daughter and his parents before dating. Why don’t we just let things ride between us – no pressure. Meeting my parents doesn’t mean that you have to accept any marriage proposals. They’ve met other women that I’ve dated in the past. None of those relationships panned out, but I don’t regret allowing my parents to meet them.”

“I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to meet Todd, but I’m afraid that someone’s going to get hurt by all of this,” said Sienna.

“You can’t just hole up in your house until he comes home,” said Ben, “that won’t solve anything. I knew that there was the possibility of you finding Todd when I got into this and I have accepted that. Let’s just date until he comes home.”

“Alright,” said Sienna, “but you have to promise me that if you meet another woman who interests you that you will see her. We cannot be exclusive. It wouldn’t be fair to you to ask you to wait when you don’t know what I’ll decide eventually.”

“I promise,” said Ben, “now will you agree to meet my parents. They are celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary in a few weeks. I don’t want to go to the big party my sister is throwing them by myself and I thought it would be nice for you to meet a few members of my family before.”

“So, I see you have ulterior motives to getting me to agree to go,” said Sienna, “you don’t want to be the eligible bachelor of the ball?”

“Something like that,” said Ben, “all you have to do is say yes, and I’ll set up something casual.”

“Yes,” said Sienna laughing, “I will agree to meet them.”

“Thank you,” said Ben, “you’re a lifesaver.”

As long as I don’t end up breaking his heart, thought Sienna as she took a sip of her wine. It would be easy to fall in love with this real live man who is in the same town as me. And in over three months things could heat up considerably.