Orlando’s plan to take Dirk out to forget about Cassandra worked. In fact, when he eventually came back, he’d forgotten a lot of things; mainly how to talk in complete sentences! It was well into the afternoon when Dirk surfaced on Saturday, ignoring his loved-up father, he went straight to the computer to play on his new game. Darren and Cassandra went over to tell him their big news.
“Dirk, do you think you could pause it for a second while me and Cassandra talk to you?” Darren asked.
“No. Just go ahead, I’m listening.” Dirk said, as he concentrated on the game.
“I really think you should listen to this.”
“And I am listening, see! Go ahead, what is it you want to tell me?” Darren breathed deeply, as he prepared himself for the worst.
“Well, it’s about me and Cassandra.”
“I’m no idiot! She’s stood right there, of course it’s about you two. Ninety-nine percent of the conversations we’ve had in the past week have been about you two.”
“Okay! Well, we’ve decided… that to make our relationship official… we’ve gotten engaged.” Dirk flinched and sent whatever he was controlling off the road. ‘Game Over‘ flashed on the screen.
“You are? Like… married?” Dirk asked, not facing either of the two.
“Not married. But someday we will get married.” Cassandra said, as she played with the ring on her finger.
“But we wanted to stay engaged whilst you got used to the idea that Cassandra isn’t going anywhere. She’s sticking around.” Dirk looked at Cassandra and she prepared herself for Dirk’s abuse.
“Is this true..? Do you love my dad?” Cassandra nodded. “And you’re not going to leave him?”
“I’m not going to leave your dad. And I’m not going to leave you. I’m here forever.” Dirk stood up and stared at Cassandra eye-to-eye. And then, it was all over. Dirk opened his arms and hugged Cassandra. He let go and said to Cassandra,
“Welcome to the family.” Dirk smiled, but Cassandra felt that it wasn’t because he was happy. The doorbell rang and Cassandra didn’t have much time to think about Dirk, Darren went to answer it and greeted Mortimer Goth. Cassandra had popped over to visit him this morning to tell him her exciting news, and now he was excited too!
“Darren, my glad-lad… Ah, my glad son!” Mortimer corrected, as he gave a powerful hug despite his age.
“Good afternoon… Dad!” Darren giggled, as he tried it out.
“I was so happy to hear Cassandra had finally gotten over her silly childhood crush and fallen in love with someone perfect for her.”
“So you’re not mad at Cassandra for getting engaged so soon after..?”
“Of course not! I never wanted that sham of a relationship to go ahead anyway. I just always assumed it was what my daughter wanted. I see now that all she ever really wanted was you.” Darren blushed, feeling accepted by Mortimer.
“I only ever wanted her too, deep down!” Darren admitted.
“Now, don’t say that! You’ve had to go through a lot this past year: losing your wife and raising a son by yourself. You don’t have to make up excuses to humour me. I know that all you want now is to settle back down into a familiar routine…” Mortimer continued, “And it certainly helps when that routine is in the form of an able-Grable like my daughter!” Mortimer said, as Darren laughed at his joke. He certainly wasn’t like the typical elders around Pleasentview. Mortimer had an inner youth that Darren couldn’t quite understand. But I guess that’s what happens when you marry a twenty-something goddess like Dina, Darren thought.
“So, would you like to join us for lunch?”
“No thank you. I only stopped by because I wanted to congratulate you. I’m meeting a friend in the park. Make sure you give my daughter a kiss from me… but not too passionate now, we don’t her getting the wrong idea!” Mortimer said, as Darren swore he saw him skipping down the road.
Darren was over the moon. His dream of a new family had all come together without so much as a tremor; Dirk had obviously just needed some extra attention. Darren figured his son finally understood that the three of them were going to be together forever, and that no-one was leaving him again. Most of all, whatever happened, Darren finally felt safe knowing that if anything were to ever happen to him, Dirk wouldn’t be without his family, now that him and Cassandra were engaged.
“So, where are you going to be living?” Dirk asked Cassandra.
“Oh! Well, we hadn’t really discussed it, but I don’t think either of us will be moving in with each other yet.” Cassandra replied.
“Why not? You are in love, aren’t you?” Dirk asked, as he rolled his eyes when all Cassandra could do was look at Darren. “Then what’s stopping you?” Darren looked at Dirk.
“Well, we just wanted to wait.”
“Cuz of me? Please, you don’t need to think about me.” Cassandra reached for Dirk’s hand.
“Of course we’re thinking about you, we’re always thinking about you.” Dirk felt weird, as Cassandra winked at him then affectionately squeezed his hand.
“Well, we hadn’t discussed it. But Cassandra, how about when Dirk goes off to college..?”
“Ha, if Dirk gets into college.” Dirk joked.
“When Dirk gets into college, we can move in together.” Cassandra smiled, as Darren delivered his decision.
“That long..? No, that’s great. I think it’s just the pace we need to go at.” Cassandra put on a smile, but inside she felt like once again Dirk had come between her and Darren.
“Let me clean these for you dad… Cassandra.” Dirk said, smiling at Cassandra. Darren grinned from ear-to-ear, kissing Cassandra and whispering, ‘welcome to the family‘. As Dirk faced the kitchen window cleaning the plates, he could no longer hide his anger.
In a sudden burst of emotion, Dirk pushed the plates off the counter and let them smash on the floor. Darren and Cassandra stared at him. “Sorry, I guess they just slipped.” Darren half-heartedly laughed, as Dirk asked, “Are you mad?”
“No! It was just an accident, you’re okay right?” Darren asked Dirk.
“Okay..?” Of course Dirk wasn’t okay. His dad had just gotten engaged. But rather than continue to fight Cassandra, Orlando had given him a good idea. Treat her like she’s one of the family, lure her into a false sense of security, let her tuck you in on a night, then BAM! She’s in your arm’s kissing you goodnight, and possibly good morning. Well, that was Orlando’s twisted version, but Dirk was going to go out of his way to make Cassandra feel welcome, even if it did mean giving her the occasional kiss on the cheek. He knew that if he were to ever expose the true Cassandra to his dad, he could only do it when the true Cassandra had finally shown herself. Taking a deep breath, Dirk smiled and looked at Cassandra, “I’m okay!”