Dakota twisted a strand of her long blonde hair around her index finger. She hummed softly to herself looking up every once in a while to see if her twin had closed her book yet. Twenty minutes later at the end of her patience she demanded “are you almost done?” She rolled from her bed to bounce on the edge of her sisters bed causing as much motion as she could.
“What is your problem” Montana asked sticking a finger inside her book to mark her place.
“I want to go out” she whined.
“Then go” Montana opened her book reading a few more paragraphs before her sister’s humming drove her to distraction. “Do you mind?”
Dakota gave her sister her best blank innocent look “am I disturbing you?”
“Go away” Montana mumbled determined not to let her sister spoil her first day off from school. She was going to enjoy her downtime with a good book even if it killed her.
“I’m bored” Dakota whined bouncing up and down.
Then go do something and leave me alone” Montana said her nose buried in her book again.
“Come with me” she pleaded.
“I want to finish my book” she flipped a page determined to ignore her sister.
“That’ll take forever” Dakota wailed seeing the thick volume that must have had thousands of pages with hundreds of words on each one. The idea of reading all that made her head ache. “Please. Just for a little while.”
Looking up Montana found her twin giving her large sad puppy dog eyes. “Fine” she sighed slipping a book between the pages before closing the book. Swinging her legs over the bed she said “remember your promise. This summer we get real jobs not like last summer.”
“We got paid didn’t we” Dakota demanded.
“It was babysitting” Montana rolled her eyes “we’re too old to babysit. We’re going to college in the fall.”
“What’s left” Dakota asked flopping backwards on the bed.
“Hollis Resort” Montana snapped her fingers to her sisters attention. “It’s perfect. We go there every summer anyway.”
Dakota sat up “I’m listening.”
“Not to mention all the hot guys coming and going from the beach surfing” Montana enthused fanning herself.
“Don’t forget the girls” Dakota added eyes shining.
“Speak for yourself” Montana teased “you know I only look at the boys.”
“You don’t know what you’re missing” Dakota replied. “If we get jobs we’ll have to stay there for the whole summer and not just the few weeks we normally go for.”
“Yeah I know” she acknowledged. It was the only flaw in her plan.
“Do you think Daddy’ll let us go” Dakota asked no doubt thinking the same thing she was.
“We’re both eighteen now. Daddy knows we aren’t little girls anymore.” It was kind of depressing to know she would be making her parents sad by being gone all the summer before college began.
“Don’t be sad” Dakota reached for her hand “they have to let us go sooner or later.”
“I know I just wish I didn’t know it was going to hurt him when we tell him” Montana wiped a stray tear away.
“Let’s talk to dad first” Dakota suggested “he’ll know what to do.”
“You’re right” Montana nodded despite her own misgivings.
“You’re not changing your mind are you? You’re the one who thought this was a good idea” Dakota pointed out needlessly.
“That was before I realized I’d be breaking Daddy’s heart” she confessed.
“Let’s send in our applications first. See if we get hired” Dakota suggested “then we’ll tell them.”
Considering her sister’s suggestion Montana nodded. “Yeah let’s do that” she gave her a relieved smile “after all we might not get hired. Why make Daddy worry for nothing.”
Dakota laughed “you’re always worrying about him.”
“Well someone has to” Montana said.
Shrugging Dakota said “that’s Dad’s job not ours. Now let’s go out and have some fun.” She hopped off the bed grabbing Montana’s hand in the process pulling her towards the door.
Montana was finishing drafting her thank you email to Charity when Dakota bounced into the room. “We have jobs” she announced.
“Awesome” Dakota clapped her hands “did we get the positions we applied for?”
“Well…not exactly” Montana said.
“What does that mean” her sister frowned at her moving towards the computer to read over her shoulder.
“It means we get something in the area of what we wanted but not what we wanted” Montana explained in a roundabout way.
“Meaning” Dakota tapped her toes willing her sister to come to the point.
“Well you wanted to work with animals” Montana gazed up at her “your the new dog walker.”
“But I wanted grooming” she cried.
“Evidently you need experience and training before you can become a groomer.” Montana sighed sharing her sisters disappointment “don’t kill the messenger. I didn’t do much better.”
“Athletic supplies” Dakota read “what exactly is that?”
“It means I’m charge of keeping the gym stocked with fresh towels and stuff” she sat back in her chair with a wounded expression.
Laughing at her sister Dakota said “so much for being the yoga instructor.”
“Evidently that requires experience too” Montana admitted “Charity said at the very least I’d need to be certified before I could instruct a yoga class.”
“Well it’s a start at least” Dakota sighed.
“And we have jobs that pay” Montana enthused.
“Plus we’ll gain some much needed experience” Dakota added.
“I guess that means we need to tell them” Montana said looking to her sister for support for informing their dads they’d be away all summer.
“It’s not going to be as bad as you think” Dakota assured her. Standing up she said “we better get it over with now. The sooner the better.”
Reluctantly Montana followed her sister out into the living room were their parents were cuddling on the couch watching a romantic comedy. “Hey guys” Dakota said plopping herself in front of the TV blocking their view. “We have something to tell you” she waved towards Montana indicating she should take over.
“Can’t it wait” Waylon asked frowning at his daughters for interrupting their movie night.
“Honey” Zach patted his hand “they need to tell us something. It’s important.” He knew the girls had perfected this maneuver over the years. The only way to wrestle Waylon’s attention from the TV was to block it.
Turning the TV off Waylon demanded “what’s so important it couldn’t wait?”
“We um got jobs for the summer” Montana announced her eyes darting from her parents to her sister.
“That’s great” Zach enthused “just remember to get the time off for the weeks we’ll be on the island.”
“Um well that’s the problem” Dakota said “the summer jobs we have are at the resort. We’ll be there all summer.”
“At least until we have to get ready to go to university in the fall” Montana added nibbling on her lower lip.
Zach’s bottom lip quivered as he listened to his daughter’s excited voices telling them about their jobs. All he kept hearing was they were leaving him and he wanted to be happy but an oppressive sadness clutched his heart. They weren’t his little girls anymore. His heart lurched painfully in his chest as he pushed up off the couch. He gave each of the girls a hug. His mouth forming the necessary congratulatory words that he didn’t feel. He could see the worry in Montana’s eyes as he stepped away from kissing her cheek.
His lips thinned to form a caricature of a smile. For all he knew his life was ending. Grinding to a halt. He thought he had the summer to get used to the idea of them being gone. Stepping back he let Waylon have his time with the girls. Feeling heavy and light headed at the same time he slowly walked to his room. He heard Montana ask “is Daddy alright?”
“Don’t worry sweetheart” Waylon assured her “he’s happy for you.”
“But he looks so sad” she protested.
“Give him time to absorb the news” Waylon reached a hand out to stop her from following Zach.
“Are you sure” Dakota asked her voice now just as worried as her sisters.
“I’m positive” he sighed “it’s just he had so many plans for the summer.”
“We don’t have to go” Montana offered.
“No sweetie” Waylon pulled her close “that’s the last thing he’d want. Take the jobs. You dad and I will adjust.”
“Are you sure” she asked watching him closely.
“I’m positive” he kissed her forehead “why don’t you to out and celebrate.” He pulled his wallet out and handed them money “go shopping. See a movie. Have dinner.”
“You want to get rid of us for the night” Dakota surmised.
“I do” he glanced over his shoulder.
“Tell him we love him” Montana urged.
“Yeah” Dakota agreed taking her sister’s arm, pulling her towards the door.
“Bye Dad” the called from the door before they left.
The silence of the house seemed somewhat oppressive if not mournful after they had gone. Turning Waylon went in search of Zach. He found him curled up on the bed softly crying. Gently Waylon sat on the bed beside him gently pulling him into his arms. He placed soft kisses on his neck and cheek. After a minute or so he felt Zach take his hand and squeeze it.
“I’m sorry” he mumbled “I should be happy for them. They’re such beautiful young women.”
“Yes they are” Waylon agreed “they know you’re proud of them and love them.”
“I’m a wet blanket on their parade” he sniffed trying to get control of himself. “I knew this day was coming. I thought was prepared but the nightmares…”
Waylon didn’t need to know what nightmares. They were always the same. “We’ve taught them well” he assured his husband “they’ll be ok.”
“I know it’s just I’m so scared” he leaned into Waylon for support “I just don’t want them to be like me. I want them to enjoy this time in their lives.”
“They don’t have the same experiences you or I had when we were their age” Waylon said.
“Thank goodness for that” he cried “I still worry. I’ll never not worry.”
“They’ll be ok. They’re smart. Self-reliant young women. They have the tools we taught them to succeed.” Waylon could only hope his words were enough to reassure his husband.
“Thank you” Zach smiled stretching up to kiss Waylon’s lips “you always know what to say and do to make me feel better.”
“It’s because I love you and the little family we created together” he nuzzled into Zach.
Closing his eyes Zach felt himself relax “we should let the girls have the house while they’re on the island.”
The twins stood in front of their families island home. “Are you sure Daddy” Montana asked turning towards the smiling blonde male.
“I’m positive” he nodded “you and your sister will need a place to stay while you’re here. Charity could use your help too at the resort.”
“Thank you” she squealed throwing her arms around him. Dakota followed soon afterwards. “We love you so much.”
“We love you too” Waylon asserted smiling down at his daughters.
“You’re still coming in August right” Dakota asked.
“Wouldn’t miss it” Zach assured her “unless you don’t want your old dads staying with you.”
“Don’t be silly Daddy” Montana laughed “we’ll always have room for you and Dad.”
“And you’re not old” Dakota asserted.
“Do you have everything you need” Waylon asked looking at the empty trunk.
“We have everything we need” Dakota nodded.
“If not the house is stocked and we can buy whatever else we need” Montana added.
Looking at his watch Waylon put an arm around Zach. “Our flight home takes off in a couple of hours. We should be on our way.”
“Do you have to go soon” Montana cried hoping they’d change their minds and stay a few days.
“I’m afraid so” Zach nodded “we couldn’t find anyone to watch the ranch while we were gone.”
“Oh” the girls mumbled together with dual disappointed expressions.
“Hey we’ll be back” Zach said hugging them both “you can’t escape us that easily.”
They giggled as they watched their dad’s walk hand in hand to their rented car. Briefly they waved as they drove away. “This is it” Montana said when the car was out of sight. “We’re on our own.”
“Party” Dakota suggested.
Shrugging Montana suggested “call the boys and see if they want to come over for pizza and a movie.”
“If we call them you know Unity and Justice will tag along” Dakota said as she pulled out her phone.
“Let them” Montana shrugged “they’re good kids and it’s not it’s a date.”
“Eew gross” Dakota wrinkled her nose at the thought.