Thank you for stopping by and checking out my story. It’s the second story in this series.
The game Overwatch figures into this tale, and although I usually try to avoid pinning my stories down to a specific time, this particular story is set around September to December 2017, and by the time it got published, some of the characters, abilities and powers have already changed, but the meta is correct for the period in which this takes place.
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“So what do you do when you’re not on the road?” Tempest asked casually before screaming into the headset, “Holy fucking shit, Hanzo! What the fuck are you doing? Someone call Bryan and tell him to get his ass into the game so we don’t have to pick up a rando for our sixth!”
Of course, the other member of their group wasn’t in the voice chat, even though they were playing at a level when most of the players used a headset. Thanks to the girls, Max was now a mid-to-high gold rank, although he readily admitted to being carried most of the time.
“He and Emily were going to the PostSecret show tonight,” Terra reminded her sister in her usual calm voice. “Their Roadhog and Soldier are taking the point.”
“Well, fuck!” Tempest swore. “They’ve been pretty serious lately.”
“Only for the last three years,” Serafina snorted. “I’ve got my ult.”
“Me, too,” Terra added.
Max’s headphones began to squawk.
“Fire at will!”
“Activating self-destruct sequence!”
Angry yelling in Japanese.
With the other team wiped out and relegated to the spawn room, Max and the sisters (plus the Hanzo freeloader) waited for the timer to count down before it declared them the winner on the Volskya map.
The cards came up showing Serafina (as Zarya), Terra (as D.Va), Brooke (as Mercy) and the other team’s Tracer. Four people voted for Tracer. Five people voted for Mercy and her four person rez, which also happened to be the Play of the Game. Hanzo dropped out of the game before it got to the XP screen.
“I’m done for tonight,” Terra announced before breaking out of the group. “Good night, Max.”
“Good night, girls.” That was the signal for the sisters to leave Tempest and her boyfriend to themselves.
They two stayed in a group, but didn’t drop out of the game so they could use the voice chat.
“So what are you going to do with yourself for the next three weeks?” Tempest asked.
Max was back home in Kentucky after his stint in Columbus. “Update the curriculum. Conference calls about the next patch; all the usual crap.”
“I’m not sure. I could go to Buffalo—”
“Better now than in February.”
“Yeah, no shit.” Hanging out with the girls did not improve his vocabulary, and he had even learned some extra creative profanity from them. “They also need a quick refresher course for a school in Tampa for part of November.”
“That would be a change.”
“Yeah, those are nice, since it’s only two weeks at a pop instead of the full four.”
“What are you doing the last weekend in October?”
“If I don’t take the Buffalo job, I’ll be here.”
“Don’t take the Buffalo job,” Tempest told him. They had been trying to find time in their schedules to get together. For all of her impulsiveness, Tempest made no apologies or excuses about putting school first. As near as Max could tell, she and her sisters were smarter than about 95 percent of the population, and if they wanted, they would probably end up running the world.
But that meant during the semester, she couldn’t do much traveling, especially considering that she had already taken two long weekends for her sister’s bachelorette party and their visit to the ren faire.
“Why not?” At NC State, she was about an 8 hour drive away, and that made for a long round trip, unless he wanted to fly.
“Do you have a few minutes to Facetime?
“Okay. I’ll call you in a second.” Tempest dropped out of the voice chat and logged out of the game. Max did the same.
A few seconds later his iPad buzzed. He pressed “accept” for the Facetime video call. Tempest’s image popped up on the screen.
Her hair was pulled back into a loose pony tail. She wore a faded t-shirt with what looked like the logo of the Star League on it.
“Hey, beautiful,” Max couldn’t help himself but smile
“Hey, handsome.” Tempest blushed at the compliment. “Are you busy the weekend before Halloween?”
“Not if I don’t go to Buffalo.”
“Come down to Asheville,” she said. “There is no one in North Carolina that takes Halloween as seriously as my family does. It’s just ahead of May the Fourth, but after Christmas and Thanksgiving.”
“Do you really want to be slumming with a guy like me?”
“Max, I let you inside me,” Tempest giggled. “Besides, my dad will think you’re a step up from the last guy I dated. You can carry on an intelligent conversation and you don’t day bahis firmaları drink.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure you don’t day drink. My mom told my sisters if you didn’t come down, they were to drive up there and kidnap you.”
“Your family sounds dangerous.”
“Remember that,” she laughed. “Brooke started calling you ‘Loverboy’ and so now everyone wants to see what the fuss is about. And um . . . my sister Gabi is getting married that weekend and I, uh . . . I need a date.”
“I need a date for her wedding . . . and I, um, don’t want to scare you off . . . ’cause this is kind of sudden . . . but I’d like for you to come down and meet my family.”
It took Max a second to process what she was asking. “Talk about trial by fire.”
“Think of it this way: All the attention will be on Gabi, so you can fly under the radar.” Tempest looked genuinely nervous, a far cry from the confident, aggressive woman he first met. “And, ah . . . my family is already taking bets on whether I can get you to show up or not.”
“Who has money on me?”
“Brooke and Sera say you’re in. Gwen is betting against. Dad says you’re fifty-fifty. Mom thinks you’re coming. She’s already made up a table card for you. No one else has put money down yet.”
“I could be cumming.”
“We’d both better be cumming, Loverboy . . . Before and after the wedding.”
“I’d hate to disappoint your mom.”
“Remember that. She runs the house. Oh, and since this is a Halloween-themed wedding, you have to wear a costume. That you didn’t buy at a store.”
If it weren’t 10:30 at night, Max would have texted his boss right there to opt out of the Buffalo job.
“Okay, I’ll be down for Halloween weekend.”
Tempest shifted and made a false start. It seemed to Max that she may have rehearsed what she wanted to say, but suddenly went blank. “There’s something else you need to know . . . about my family. We’re not a typical family. You know how I’ve got six sisters and a brother? Well, I’ve also got three moms.”
Max couldn’t help it, but his jaw dropped open.
“Dad and my moms got married . . .um, to each other . . . about twenty years ago. It’s not normal, I know, but it’s all the family we’ve known. If you think it’s strange, I understand.”
At a loss for words, Max took a second to formulate a coherent response. “It’s not regular, but if it’s okay for your family, then it’s not my place to judge.”
She breathed a visible sigh of relief.
“If you want to come down for the wedding, our house will be a zoo, but you can stay with us . . . I mean, with me.”
“Will your parents be okay with that?”
Tempest chuckled nervously. “Yes, they will be. Our family is pretty open-minded about stuff like that. And they won’t let you pay for a hotel.”
“Okay,” was the only word Max could manage to say for a moment. “Will your dad threaten to kill me or anything?”
“Dad? No,” she snickered. “He’s too laid back to be intimidating like that. The one you have to watch out for is Gabi . . . but it’s her wedding day, so she’ll be too busy being bridezilla to worry about you. You might get some side-eye from my brother, but he’ll like you.”
“As long as you want me to be there, I’d be delighted to be your date, my lady.”
“I can’t wait.”
They stared at each other through the screen for a few more moments.
“I guess I need to let you go. Good night, Tempest.”
“Good night, Max.”
It seemed like she was about to say something more, but instead she winked and blew him a kiss before reaching for the screen, which went dark.
A couple of minutes later, his phone buzzed.
i’m going to be blind by the time Halloween gets here. xxoo -T.
Max followed the GPS as he got off I-40 at one of the Asheville exits.
“Hey, Siri. Call Tempest,” he called out loud. The satellite radio shut off as the Bluetooth took over.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said into the overhead microphone. “I just got off the interstate.”
“Okay, good. You’re about 10 minutes out.”
“Do you need me to pick anything up?”
“I don’t think so. When you get here, come down the driveway and park on the lawn. You’ll see a row of cars off to the right. Just park anywhere you can find space.”
“Okay, I will.”
“See you in a few.”
The connection dropped and he turned into an upscale wooded subdivision in the North Carolina mountains. There were a few twists and turns, but the roads were in good shape. All of the houses were on large lots and set back from the street. It was out of town, but not way out in the boonies.
Their mailbox was marked with white balloons. He turned in and drove the hundred yards of the driveway.
Max’s jaw dropped when he saw the size of Tempest’s family’s house. It was a brick façade McMansion, built in the mid 90s back before the housing bubble. A single round turret rose from one corner flying the flags of the United States, the kaçak iddaa Rebel Alliance and House Stark. He knew there was an addition, and there was also a guest house around the back.
There were people buzzing around outside, and sure enough, there were cars parked all over the place. Max pulled in next to a minivan with Florida plates on it.
He got out and was immediately greeted by a friendly chocolate lab that barked excitedly. He stuck his hand out, allowing the dog to sniff and lick his palm.
A teenage girl appeared quickly, following the dog. “Hershey, come here!”
The dog left Max and nuzzled up to the girl, who put a leash on his collar.
“Sorry about that,” she apologised. “He’s been cooped up in a car all day.”
“I know the feeling.”
“I’m Marshalena. I’m Gabi’s cousin.” Throughout the weekend everyone introduced themselves to Max in terms of their relationship to either the bride or the groom.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Max.” He reached out to gently shake her hand. Tempest had briefed him on her family, but they were a large extended clan, and he hadn’t even tried to learn all of the cousins’s names. “I’m here with Tempest.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too.”
After getting a reusable grocery bag out of his trunk, they headed towards the big house, Hershey leading the way and checking everything out.
Tempest and two other woman came out to greet them. The three were buxom sandy-blond spitting images of one another. The oldest was clearly their mother; she was fit with laugh lines around her eyes, round hips and a wide smile. The other was the eldest sibling in the family. Her hair was cut into a short military bob, while both Tempest and her mother wore theirs down past their shoulders.
“Did you have any trouble finding it?” Tempest asked, giving him a quick hug and kiss.
“Nope, the GPS found it right away.”
“Good. Max this is my mom, Melinda, and my sister Kaylee.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” He got friendly hugs from each. “We’ve heard so much about you.”
“All good things,” Kaylee assured him with a wink.
“I see you’ve met Marsha,” Melinda said. “She’s the first of about twenty cousins you’ll meet this week.”
“There will be a quiz on Sunday,” Marshalena giggled, before taking the dog inside.
“Do you want the grand tour first?”
“Mommy says she wants to meet Max as soon as he gets here.” Kaylee took Max by his free arm. He looked over at Tempest helplessly. She shrugged, but her eyes danced with laughter.
They went into the house. People were milling about; parents were towing suitcases, kids were chasing one another, a couple of dogs were getting to know one another. It was barely contained bedlam. But to Max, it also looked like the choreographed dance of a large family that was used to being together.
Brooke and Serafina waved as they passed through. Both were carrying Nerf guns and appeared to be looking for someone.
“Take it outside!” Melinda used her “mom” voice; it wasn’t harsh or scolding, but she meant business.
They wound their way through the foyer and back to the kitchen. Several people looked curiously at Max, but it seemed like Kaylee was on a mission, and no one stopped to introduce themselves. At least not then.
“Mommy!” Kaylee called from the doorway.
A short, dark-haired woman set her knife down on the cutting board and wiped her hands off on a dish towel. She came over to greet Max with a big smile and a hug. “You must be Max!”
“This is our mom, Leah.” Tempest looked on expectantly, probably judging his reactions to her family.
“Welcome to our home, Max!,” Leah stepped back to give him the once-over. “Go get your Momma, Tempest. And find your dad!”
“He and Uncle Geoff went to get more beer.” Tempest called back as she scampered off, leaving Max with two of her mothers and a sister. “And some hookers.”
Max couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but Leah snorted, waving off her daughter’s humor.
“Did you have a good drive up?”
“Yes, ma’am, it—”
“Oh, stop that!” Melinda scolded him playfully. “The only person who gets called ‘ma’am’ around here is Kaylee, and then only when she’s in uniform!”
“The quads said he was polite,” Kaylee reminded her parents.
“Polite is good,” Leah gave him a friendly pat on the arm. “But we’re informal around here.”
“Is this him?” a new voice asked. She looked to be a little younger than Melinda and Leah, with long red hair that was pulled back in a loose pony tail. “Hi, I’m Katie, the other mom.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
Like the others, she gave him a friendly hug. Max could tell the mothers were sizing him up. All three were prime MILF material. Melinda was buxom like her daughter. Katie was lithe, with a firm bubble butt, and Leah was somewhere in between, with a thick rear end, a skinny waist and toned, muscular thighs. All were pretty, and none looked close to fifty, which is how about how old Tempest told them they were.
Max kaçak bahis reached into his grocery bag and drew out an offering of goodwill. “I thought you all might like some Kentucky wine.”
There were four bottles, all from a winery near his parents’s house; a chardonnay, a zinfandel, a merlot and a cabernet. The women gave him approving smiles.
“So I understand you met the girls on the way to a ren faire?” Leah asked conversationally. “The one up in Dayton?”
“Yes, ma— . . . uh, yes.”
“We’ve been to that one before, right?”
“It’s been a while, but yes,” Melinda confirmed. “You got the trebuchet that shoots marshmallows there.”
They made more small talk. Max tried not to stare, or ask probing questions of three women in a plural marriage, but he was mostly playing defense. They weren’t intrusive, although he also got the sense that they may run a credit check on him later.
“Mom, Aunt Pam wants to know where to put her kids.” Tempest came back into the room, carrying an enormous LARP warhammer and a Nerf Nemesis with a hopper full of foam balls in it. She looked over at Max and shrugged. “Our cousins thought they could get the drop on us.”
“They can go in Gwen’s room for the next couple of days. I hope you cleaned their clocks,” Leah took the battery-operated Nerf blaster from her daughter, and gave Max a wink before heading out the door to the back deck. “Excuse me.”
“Welcome to the madhouse,” Katie grinned, and picked up the knife and resumed cutting the vegetables Leah had left.
“So did Tempest give you any jobs this weekend?” Melinda went to the fridge to help make dinner. “Kaylee, why don’t you get Max something to drink.”
“I don’t need anything right now, thanks.”
“Take it,” Tempest urged him. “This is the only visit you get where they’ll wait on you hand and foot. Then you’re on your own to fend for yourself.”
“Then it’s your job,” Kaylee snickered at her younger sister. “What do you want? Coke, beer, water, milk; whatever you want, we’ve probably got.”
“Um, pop, please. Anything but diet.”
“Pop?” Melinda laughed as Kaylee dug into the fridge for the first small bottle of cola she could fine, which happened to be Pepsi. “We don’t hear that much around here. We’ll break you of your Kentucky slang soon enough.”
Max chuckled, then went back to answering the original question. “Tempest just told me there is a rehearsal dinner on Friday and the wedding on Saturday. I don’t have to drive home until Monday.”
“Well, we’re happy you came to stay with us. If you need anything, just ask us or one of the girls.”
“Let’s go get your stuff,” Tempest said. She took one hand, while he reached for his drink with the other.
“Don’t get any funny ideas while you’re staying under our roof, young man,” Melinda sounded stern, but she gave him a playful smirk anyway.
“Mom!” Tempest flushed with embarrassment.
“Make sure you introduce Max to your dad when he gets back!” her mom called as they went back out to his car.
Max had a small travel suitcase, a hanging garment bag and a longsword in its sheath. They went back in the house and Tempest started introducing him to the extended family. No one seemed to think it odd that he was carrying a prop sword (Andúril, Flame of the West, to anyone who noticed) around.
Max didn’t remember many names, but he noticed there was a fair amount of diversity in the family; white, black, Asian, Latino, straight, gay and everything in between. Everyone milled about and mixed as family.
Their house was enormous. In the main house, there was a formal dining room, a living room, enormous kitchen, two master suites and four other bedrooms on two levels plus Melinda’s home office, with a full finished basement that held a large game room and a home theater. An addition was built right before Tempest and her three sisters were born which had four more bedrooms, another play room, plus an art studio for Leah and Katie’s home office.
There was also another guest house behind the main house which had a four car garage and woodworking shop on the lower level, plus a full kitchen, two more furnished bedrooms, and Tempest’s father’s man cave on the upper level.
All of the extended family who was staying for the wedding had assigned rooms, but still some folks were staying in hotels, probably to avoid all of the bustle and noise.
Tempest led Max to the room she had grown up in. It was in the addition at the end of the hallaway at the furthest point away from the main house. She shared a bathroom with Brooke and was across the hall from Serafina and Terra.
He stood in the door for a moment, just taking in the life his girlfriend led.
There was a queen-size Japanese style canopy bed in the middle of the room with a matching furniture suite. Where other teenagers might have posters of boybands or something like that on the walls, Tempest’s room was decked out in Star Wars, Harry Potter and Battlestar Galactica, with a smattering of A Song of Ice and Fire. Parts of costumes and props were strewn in the spare spaces, including a disassembled lightsaber, a metal replica of Ice, the sword of Lord Eddard Stark, and a gorgeous kimono on a full-body mannequin stand.