It had been nearly two years since my wife had unexpectedly passed away. It had been a very rough two years, not only on myself, but on my stepdaughter Melinda. Ironically, Kathy and I had met several years ago at one of those support groups for recent widows and widowers. Kathy's husband, Melinda's father had been killed the very same night that Melinda was born, rushing her to the hospital. It was a miracle that Kathy had survived, let alone the baby, with the additional news she would never again ever be able to bare children.
My first wife had also died just a short time prior to that, a long drawn out illness with cancer that had left me emotionally drained, confused and somewhat vulnerable. We met, became friends and soon after become what was then called as "Coffee buddies" meeting twice a week after our meetings were over. In time, we became more than that. And for Melinda, I was the only one she ever knew or called daddy. To her, I was, even though she had been told long ago that I wasn't really her father. For all intense and purposes, as far as she was concerned anyway, I really was.
Melinda was a feisty little go-getter, just like her mother had been. Popular in school, almost to a fault, she'd been a cheerleader, active in gymnastics and had even considered briefly trying out for the Olympics at one point, she was really that good. Time and circumstance dictated otherwise however, though she had gotten a scholarship that allowed her to attend school out of state where she'd always dreamed of going.
Melinda was built for gymnastics. Not skinny, not by any means, just lithe, a bit of a more voluptuous build perhaps than a lot of gymnasts were expected to have, especially with much larger breasts than most I'd seen. Though lately as we'd both noticed, many of the girls we'd seen on TV seemed to be gravitating in that direction. Though her almost black hair was long, she always wore it in a ponytail most of the time. It was a rare thing to ever see her wearing it any other way. Melinda also had her mother's eyes, dark brown almost smoldering when you looked at them. Hell ... she virtually had her mother's face, so often reminding me of her every time I had seen her, which lately hadn't been all that often while she'd been away at school. Every time I did see her when she came home for one of her quick brief visits, it seemed she had changed. Slowly over time, coming to look more and more like her mother, though I think I partially projected that in her myself as I still missed my wife. But the fact I didn't see Melinda as much anymore either contributed to that.
Melinda had in fact been after me to start dating again, though the truth of the matter was, I simply wasn't ready for that. It hadn't even been two years yet, and I'd made a mental promise to myself that I wouldn't even consider such a thing until it had at least been that long. I'd already been through this twice now, I had no desire to have to go through it again.
Up until recently, I'd managed to hold on though it hadn't been easy, but then came the layoffs. Almost overnight the word came down they'd be closing the facility I worked in, soon to be unemployed.
Fortunately, I hadn't been frivolous with the insurance money we'd received after Kathy's death. Most of that had gone into savings, which I'd hoped I could grow towards retirement, and a portion of which I'd intended to save for Melinda to have as small stipend after she'd graduated from College. I'd also managed to invest a bit in a 401K, though the thought of having to draw from any of that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. With unemployment, and a slow draw from savings, as long as I tightened my belt up a little, I knew I could get by for as long as a year if I had to. The only problem with that was, I couldn't afford to support Melinda's going to school out of state the way I had been. Even with a scholarship, I'd been helping her with her expenses, which had included taking care of the rent on the apartment she shared with another girl, someone who'd in a very short period of time had become her dearest and best of friends.
I hadn't as yet told Melinda about the worrisome finances, though she of course knew about my recent unemployment. She'd called to let me know she was coming down for the weekend to visit, and in fact had asked if it was all right if Charlene came with her. I'd met Charlene only once before when I'd gone there for a visit to check out their new place, but I hadn't seen her since then, so it had been almost a year since I had.
I'd decided to wait and break the news to her in person. And it wasn't something I was looking forward to either. The plain and simple truth was, I could no longer afford to pay her rent and expenses, that and keep from depleting her savings and mine in the process.
Melinda and Charlene had made pretty good time, making short order of the five-hour drive, arriving late the following Friday afternoon. Though delighted to see my stepdaughter again, I wasn't too keen on her neither appearance, nor Charlene's for that matter when they stepped out of the VW Bug they were driving. Although she had every right to be a woman, and a young good-looking woman at that, I had noticed a slow gradual change in my stepdaughter's demeanor over time and couldn't help but wonder if Charlene hadn't had some influence over that.
I had welcomed her "excited to see me kiss" along with the hug ... but I'd given her one of my patented "Don't care for what your wearing looks" even as I did that. Both she as well as Charlene stepped out of the car, each of them wearing what appeared to be a cut off football jersey from the University they were attending. Though I understood the purpose behind exposing their midriffs perhaps, to go along with their almost too short shorts, I wasn't too happy in realizing that one tiny little movement in the wrong direction would reveal the bottom half of her braless breasts. Which was another unexpected revelation, as I don't think I recalled ever seeing Melinda going braless like this before either. But like I said, so was Charlene.
And talk about a quandary of mixed emotions because of that. On the one hand, Melinda was my daughter, at least that's the way I thought of her even if she wasn't, so I quite naturally averted my eyes as I reached over to help them with their luggage as Melinda attempted to dig out their usual over packing, over loaded vehicle. The firm roundness of her breasts suddenly revealed as I stood there. Not so with Charlene however. In a weird way perhaps, my morals had somehow distinguished between the two, and though I would of course never act on any aroused thoughts, looking at Charlene was somehow permissible.
Charlene likewise wore her hair in a ponytail too, though she was blonde. She was a bit taller than my daughter as well, nearly as tall as I was at just under six feet. She also had a slightly larger chest, which made it even more difficult for me not to notice as she opened the hood of the car and began passing back to me a few additional somewhat smaller suitcases. Charlene's bare breasts hung down in front of my eyes like ice-sickles hanging off the porch during the winter.
"You brought a hell of a lot of stuff with you for only three days!" I told her when I eyeballed what appeared to be several boxes crammed into the back seat of the VW.
Melinda smiled at me, "That's because I'm moving back daddy," she said simply. "My plan is to re-enroll here locally in a couple of months, though living at home again while I do," she added. I know by the shocked look on my face that I had more than one or two questions to ask her about that, but she headed me off. "Help us finish unloading, then we'll sit down over a beer and discuss it," she informed me.
Another surprise. "Since when did you start drinking beer?" I asked myself. Though under the circumstances, it seemed like a rather silly thing to get all worked up over. She was after all old enough to drink, beer at least anyway along with a bit of wine on occasion.
Once we had in fact hauled up everything into her old room which remained exactly the way she had left it, we headed back downstairs to the kitchen, opening those beers they'd requested and began to chat.
"So you ready to tell me what it is that's going on here?" I asked.
"Reality," she answered simply. "I'm not so naive to think that you're going to be able to continue on in supporting me away at school, at least for the time being anyway," she answered. "And even working a part-time job isn't the answer either. I've been studying hard, maintaining my near perfect grade level, but I also know, the moment I start having to work a part-time job in order to try and make ends meet, my grades will no doubt slip a little, I'll be too damn tired to study. So ... the obvious solution is to move back home for a while, at least until things change again. At least living here, you don't have to worry about the rent, and obviously my expenses will diminish greatly as well."
I was shocked, but proud and relieved to hear her telling me this. She'd basically beaten me to the punch as it were. But ... as I damn well should have known, I still wasn't aware that there was another shoe that was going to fall here, so I didn't really see it coming when it did.
"Just one thing, one small little favor I'd like to ask daddy," she said smiling at me the way her mother once used to do whenever she wanted something in particular. I guess I should have seen it coming, but didn't until it was too late, especially after I answered her beforehand.
"Just name it baby, whatever you want."
Melinda turned grinning broadly towards her girlfriend. "See? I told you he would understand!" Melinda beamed.
.... There is more of this story ...