Chapter 31: Friday
This is a smaller chapter – an interlude – but it introduces the remaining Padaleckis.
Ellen dropped Jensen at the house. He and Gus went in through the side door. He spent the next two hours cleaning the house. Jared had no idea what time he would be home or the time his family would arrive. The thought of meeting them without their son made him queasy.
Jensen wanted to go out to the studio and work but he would not know when they arrived. Jared had left a large, trimmed brisket cooking in the oven on low and told him not to worry about it. Nothing else would be needed. The older man needed to be doing to keep his mind off things. He went to the refrigerator and got all of the makings for a large salad. His companion had taught him how to use the knives. He’d made a salad before so he could do it again.
The professor finally went to his room and began to grade papers. He scanned each paper into his computer and it read it to him. He took his time with them, making comments on each one.
At 7:30, Jensen heard a knock at the side door. He hurried past the kitchen to the still room and opened the door.
A woman’s voice responded, “Jensen?”
He was suddenly grabbed into an enormous hug and a kiss was planted on his cheek. He had a look of surprise on his face.
“You are as beautiful as Jared told me you were. I’m Sherri. Gerry, Jeff and Megan are unloading the van.”
“Won’t you come in?”
Jensen walked into the family room, followed by Jared’s mom. She looked around, liking how the place had been redone.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee or some iced tea?”
“Not right now, Baby. I want to look at you.”
“Jared talks to me. I want to get to know you and see if I agree with him.”
Sherri smiled, “Nothing important, but my son loves you and I want to be able to do that also.”
Jensen blushed and rose to his feet when he heard voices.
“We’re in here!”
The sounds became louder and the professor heard three people enter the room.
“Jensen, this is Jared’s father, Gerry.”
The younger man walked over and shook the older one’s hand, “It’s good to meet you, Sir.”
Gerry Padalecki looked at his wife and nodded. Manners were rare in today’s younger generation.
Someone else reached for Jensen’s hand, “Hi, I’m Jeff and this is my sister, Megan.”
“Hi,” Jensen spoke softly, out of his depth.
Sherri recognized the problem. The young man was shy and possibly scared.
“Why don’t you three take the luggage upstairs. Jensen, why don’t you and I make that coffee.”
She watched the young man relax a little. Giving him something to do helped.
The two walked into the kitchen and Sherri stopped when she noticed all the braille strips everywhere. Smiling, she looked at the young man in front of her.
“It’s your kitchen. I don’t want to intrude.
“This is your son’s home. It’s not an intrusion.”
“Yes, but you live here. It’s your home too.”
Jared’s mom watched the man he loves make the coffee. He got out five cups, the cream and sugar, and five saucers.
“There should be a tray in the pantry we can carry them on. Sherri found the tray and the two placed the cups and saucers, cream and sugar, and a carafe Jensen put the coffee in on the tray.
“Would you mind if I carried it?”
Jensen spent the next hour undergoing questioning as the Padaleckis took the time to learn about the man their son would most likely marry and bring into the family. It was not intense. One of them would tell a story about Jared and then ask Jensen something about himself. The side door opened and Jensen was on his feet immediately. Sherri grinned and watched him hurry to meet her son.
Jared pulled him into his arms and kissed him.
“Are you all right?”
“I am now.”
The coach grinned, “They playing 40 questions?”
“Jare, they’re really very nice. The just want to know who their son is living with.”
“It’s more than that, Jen. They are looking at you as a potential son-in-law.”
“Now wait a minute. I just fell in love with you. We haven’t gotten that far.”
“No, but I can assure you my mom is thinking it. Let’s go face them together and then serve dinner.”
The remainder of the evening went by with very few problems. Jared’s brisket was cooked in Italian dressing, with onions, potatoes, and carrots. Jensen brought out the salad.
The conversation turned to meal planning. Sherri offered to do the cooking as both men worked.
“Is there anything you boys would like?”
“Do you cook meatloaf?”
Jared looked in surprise at Jensen.
“Yes, I do. Are you wanting one?”
“My mom doesn’t do that kind of cooking. A friend at the college brought meatloaf sandwiches for lunch and shared one with me. I would really like to taste one that is hot and with side dishes. It was so good.”
Jensen could not see the slight sign of tears in Sherri Padalecki’s eyes, but her son did. She reached out and patted the professor’s cheek.
“I’ll make one tomorrow. We need to get up early to do the shopping.”
“I imagine all of you are tired. Why don’t we call it a night and we can eat breakfast at Denny’s. It’s our normal Saturday morning breakfast date.”
As everyone headed towards their rooms, Sherri stopped Jensen and softly kissed his cheek, “Sweet dreams, honey.”
Jared smiled as he watched his mom walk away, leaving a very confused Jensen.