The Regatta

Manhattan - New York Yacht Club


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Preston Van de Mark Cooper Montgomery Ariel Johnson-Lowell Jenna Donovan Chance Harper

It's a beautiful day to be out on the waterfront. The 72nd Annual New York Regency Regatta couldn't be held on a better day. The temperatures are warm and high, but there's a steady breeze blowing and the water isn't too choppy. Reports say that may change toward the evening, when a brief rain is expected to roll in, but it's not a storm, so nothing that will interrupt the later plans for the night.
Preston's in a good mood, even the thought of running into his mother and sister can't deter from that. He's just landed the role of his career (hopefully the first of many), and he has his boyfriend and girlfriend by his side. Last night, they all did an impromptu celebration at Purgatory, and then he capped off at home with a more intimate sort of celebration. Although Ariel did beg off before things could get too heated, claiming tiredness and having to get up early this morning. He may have been slightly buzzed but Preston thinks he reads her well enough to know she wasn't upset; he does suspect that she's up to something. Not that he and Cooper had any trouble entertaining themselves, but they never do.
Preston isn't shy about hooking his arm through Cooper's or reaching out to take Ariel's hand as he gives them a tour of the Yacht Club before heading outside to view the boats docked at the marina. The Van de Mark heir is openly out, and people are well used to seeing him with a 'hag' on his arm, too.
"It's not just attention for the racers," Preston is telling them. "It's something of a cock strut. Everyone wants to show off their boats, even if they're not racing."

It was a good night for celebration, and even after spending all day in the studio, Cooper was extremely happy for his boyfriend. It is the role of a lifetime, even if the rumors in the 'art' world say that the show is cursed. Every show is plagued with mishaps, and Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark is no different. It just has a few more than some.
Having never been to a yacht club, or a regatta, Cooper feels a little out of place. He's dressed appropriately in his khakis, and white button down shirt. He even went so far as to digging up an old pair of deck shoes he'd forgotten he had. So he fits in, and he can deal with the high society — he has to for the Fall Gala every year anyhow.
"Of course it is. Most society things are," he points out.

Ariel raced home from the Julliard campus to congratulate Preston after she got his phone call. They spent the afternoon cuddling and making out in bed, though Ariel wouldn't let it go much further than that. She's certain she confused the hell out of Preston, but then Jenna suggested going out and they spent the night dancing at the group's favorite club.
Preston wouldn't be wrong in thinking that she's got an ace up her sleeve. Tonight it'll have been a week since she's been with either of her boys, and Siobhan convinced her that it wouldn't hurt to give them a little bit of a wait and anticipation. Ariel wasn't entirely sure about her cousin's advice, but the way both their gazes tracked her today told her that maybe Siobhan didn't have it all wrong.
However, none of that is on her mind at the moment. At the moment, Ariel feels extremely out of placed. She's dressed for the part, but she's not an actress and she hasn't been raised to this sort of thing. Thinking back toward last weekend's dinner, the witch wonders if maybe she should go to finishing school if she's going to keep seeing Preston.
She smooths her free hand over the skirt of her dress again, and tries not to squeeze Preston's hand too tightly. The little witch keeps reminding herself to not bite her lip, and tries to smile and nod politely at each person that Preston has introduced them to. "But you're not showing yours off today."
"Your boat, I mean."

Smart enough to not overdo it with the drinking during the celebration last night, Jenna is thankfully not hung over today. She was able to get up early and prepare for the day at the yacht club, finding the perfect dress and shrug, along with the right pair of shoes. The outfit for later tonight, and clothing for tomorrow was neatly packed and already on the Van de Mark luxury yacht for later this evening.
Arm looped through her boyfriend's, she smiles ahead at the trio in front of her. Leaning toward him, she whispers, "Preston's so calm compared to the other two. They're both feeling awkward."
Waiting a few seconds, she tells Ariel, "I love your hat. It's absolutely perfect you know. I'm completely envious that I didn't think to wear one."

Knowing that they had to get up early, Chance also kept the drinking to the minimum. It was fun just to be out with his friends, and to celebrate Preston's incredible luck. He's dressed to 'code' so to speak, and thinks his girlfriend is beautiful. Which he's told her more than once between leaving her place and arriving here.
"Why wouldn't he? This is his life," Chance reminds Jenna in a soft whisper. He places his hand over hers where it rests in the crook of his arm. It's their life too, and sometimes Chance easily forgets that Cooper wasn't born and raised a part of this world. Nor was Ariel. "They're not used to this sort of thing. Just remember how you felt meeting my family?" It's not exactly the same, but Chance thinks it's the closest equivalent.
If worse comes to worse, he'll slip up and drop a calming spell on the pair of them, but he'd like to hold that in reserve. He doesn't know how well Cooper is sensing magic, and doesn't want to trigger an automatic response to an unexpected spell either.
Speaking up, after Jenna does, he teases, "What? You don't plan on overcompensating by showing off your yacht today, Pres?"

Glancing back at the couple, Preston flashes them a grin. "I'm quite comfortable in all of my qualities and abilities that I don't need to overcompensate."
"Though I do know someone who's selling a small dingy if you're suffering from such," the actor teases his friend.
Preston can tell that Cooper and Ariel are feeling out of place, and he's doing his best to alleviate that. He's happy and proud to be here with his boyfriend; frankly, he'd come out about Ariel too if he thought she was ready to deal with the sort of attention that would come from that sort of revelation. He's no longer concerned with defining himself or explaining it, though that could be the endorphins and high from his casting talking still.
Cooper hides it a bit (a lot) better than Ariel, though her clammy, damp hand tells a good tale. Preston won't let go of her hand however, because he's sure she's using that as an anchor.
"The hat is adorable and it completes the ensemble, doesn't it?" Preston says to Jenna, after giving his girlfriend a fond smile. "I think Siobhan is trying to usurp my place as power dresser."
"Why don't we stop over in the dining room? They're still serving a light brunch and it's never too early for a mimosa."

"You definitely don't," Cooper agrees. His hand reaches back to squeeze Preston's backside. He would have given him a full frontal squeeze, but he's sure he'll be chided enough for the show of affection as it is.
"The Mermaid does look gorgeous."
"Good idea. We can grab something light to eat before we watch the regatta."

Ariel manages a slight smile as Chance and Preston tease one another. Jenna is given a genuine, grateful smile at the complement though. "Thank you. It was Siobhan's idea to add the hat." It does help, a little, to know that she is dressed properly and looks as though she belongs here.
Another radiant smile is given to Cooper at his words, this one tinted with a hint of a blush as she gazes over at him. "I'm glad you think so."
There is a brief spark of envy, combined with surprise, at Cooper's action. She shouldn't be surprised that he'd do such a thing, no matter the locale. She also wishes that she was in such a position to respond like that, and that she would have the guts to do so if she could.
"I could go for a drink." Ariel isn't going to lie about it. She's awkward and nervous.

"Ohmigawd, you're right," Jenna replies to Chance. She knows how nervous she was meeting Chance's family, and dealing with upper society in a new place. Ariel's likely feeling the same, considering they may run into Preston's parents.
"It absolutely does, and I think you're right. It may have been Siobhan's idea, Ariel, but she would never have suggested it if it didn't complement your features so well."
Giggling a little, she reaches out and gives Preston a shove.
"My boyfriend has nothing he needs to compensate for."

"I'll put a calming spell on them both if I have to," Chance whispers to Jenna, giving her hand another pat and a squeeze. "I'd rather not but …" His girlfriend will be able to fill in the blanks of what he doesn't say.
"You don't have to defend me. We all know where the root of those challenges come from," Chance laughs.
"I think that both of you ladies are gorgeous today." Jenna knows it, but Chance figures the compliment can only boost Ariel's comfort and confidence. "In fact, if you get tired of being around those two, Ariel, I'm more than happy to have two beautiful ladies on my arm for the day." After all, Preston can't exactly introduce her as his girlfriend, and she may feel a little less awkward if she's not feeling like she's being labeled as the couple's hag with each introduction.
Chance gives his girlfriend a glance, hoping that she understands his intentions behind the statement.

Preston flashes his boyfriend an amused smile, "Always good to know, sweetie." He doesn't even chide Cooper for the physical attention, because frankly, he wants his boyfriend to feel comfortable. Preston does have an advantage in that he does tend to walk the line sometimes, and has never been known to confine himself to strict expectations. He likely won't shove his tongue down Cooper's throat, but small kisses and touches of affection aren't going to be discouraged.
The actor actually chuckles at Ariel's bluntness and gives her hand a squeeze. "That's what I thought, sweetie."
Preston raises a brow at Chance. "You have one. This one is ours." He winks at Ariel. Though if she'll be more comfortable with Jenna and Chance, or even Sharper wherever they are, Preston won't force her to stay at his side.

Cooper reaches around Preston's back, and tickles his fingers over the back of Ariel's neck.
"She's more than welcome to hang out with you and Jenna if she wants to." He doesn't mind if she's going to feel more comfortable doing it.
"But if she gets tired of Preston's arm, she's more than welcome to mine too. After all, I'm the anomaly here. I'd say no one would be surprised, but this isn't my usual crowd."

Oddly, Cooper's light touch is far more calming than anything Preston has said or done thus far. That's not to say that Preston isn't trying, but Cooper can probably better understand what she's feeling right now. She flashes both her boyfriends a beaming smile of gratitude.
"Thank you, Chance, but I'm alright with Pres and Coop. I appreciate the offer, though." That's not to say that she might not decide to take them up on it later, if Jenna is alright with it.
"I'm sure it doesn't matter whose arm I'm on. I think we know what I'm being thought of as anyway."

Chance's offer does surprise Jenna at first, until she realizes that he's doing it to make all of their friends comfortable. Giving a squeeze to his hand, she grins.
"If you get bored of the boys, Ariel, you can always take my arm, and I can introduce you around." No one would think twice of two young women wandering the yacht club together. She and Siobhan used to do it all the time.
"As for you, mister," she says to her boyfriend, "I do have to defend you. It's my duty as your girlfriend." Leaning up, she places a gentle kiss to his cheek. "By the way, you look handsome today. The colors suit you."

"Now wouldn't that be typical? The women wandering off, and probably going to sit somewhere to have wine and truffles, while we stand out on the docks and talk about boats?" Chance gives a shake of his head and a mock sigh of deep exasperation. It's a good idea though, if the alcohol doesn't help soothe nerves.
"Compliments will get you everywhere," Chance winks.
He goes wide-eyed, then laughs at Ariel's words. "Yes, but who cares, what anyone else thinks? We all know better."

There is something refreshing about being here with Cooper and Ariel. Preston likes that they're not UES born and raised, or even high society like Chance. He likes that they're not trying to put on airs and be something that they're not. He knows who they are and he doesn't want them to be anything different.
The smile Ariel gives them is the closest thing to her genuine, beautiful smile and it makes Preston grin broadly, eyes light with affection for the witch. Leaning in, he places a sweet kiss to her cheek, that could easily be described as platonic, though his lips linger a few seconds. "I was teasing. You are welcome to wander off with Jenna and Chance if you want, or with Jenna. Though I think I speak for us both when I say I'm glad you want to stay with Coop and I."
Twisting to his other side, he then gives his boyfriend a quick, sweet kiss. Just because.

"That you're my girlfriend, and that I'm a very fuc— er… screwed up individual," Cooper tells Ariel with a wink. That's no less than the truth, really.
Releasing himself from Preston's arm, he goes to hold open the door for everyone. "Now, let's go get those drinks. Even if they are mimosas."

"But we like you that way," Ariel smiles at Cooper. She stops before entering the dining room, and releasing Preston's hand, actually sets a hand to Cooper's shoulder. Leaning up she places a little, sweet kiss to his cheek. She can feel herself blushing as she does so, because though Preston and Jenna have both done such, she has no idea what etiquette is. But Ariel wants Cooper to know that even though she's been glued to Preston's hand, she hasn't forgotten about him, nor is she avoiding contact with him.
"Mimosas have alcohol," Ariel points out. "It's still too early for anything else."

"Oh, I'm hoping they do," Jenna says to her boyfriend with a grin. "Only, not until later." As much as she'd love to get up to some trouble here at the club, she doesn't want to risk her parent's membership because of it.
"Ariel, all they'll be thinking is that you're our friend, or that you're Preston's new beard to stave off comments from his mother. Or both. That's not a bad thing. It'll keep nosy media from harassing you."
"It would be typical, which is why no one would even think anything of it. We can talk hats, clothing, and plans for the future while sipping our mimosas."

"They most definitely will, Miss Donovan." Chance allows Jenna to cross in front of him, and uses the moment to tickle his fingers over her hip and backside. It's hidden in the pass of their bodies, and it's a brief touch. He won't get up to any trouble here at the club, anyway. Besides, the anticipation building up for tonight will make it all worth waiting for.
"Look at it this way, Ariel, you're the new girl. You can make a game out of how many different guys are going to try to get your attention and impress you because you're 'single.'"

"I wouldn't have you any other way. You wouldn't be Cooper otherwise," Preston pauses to set a hand to his boyfriend's hip and gives it a squeeze.
He requests a table large enough to accomodate Harper and Siobhan, if they should reappear. Preston does a double take, glancing over his shoulder when the hostess calls him 'Mr. Van de Mark,' expecting to his father. Laughing it off, with a blush, he rubs the back of his neck. "I think I'm still too young to be called that."
Placing a hand gently to the small of Ariel's back, he playfully chides her, "Don't you dare try to get drunk before the racing even starts."
"They can certainly try but they'll fail miserably."
"Their boats aren't as impressive."

"I'd still be Cooper, just a very different Cooper." There are plenty of things that he knows no one is aware of, and he's quite happy for that. Sordid history and all that.
"Come along Mr. Van de Mark," he teases Preston, holding a chair out for him.
"I think the newlyweds stopped back in the lobby and went to speak with administration about something. At least that's what the door looked like."
"I can't get drunk on mimosas anyhow."

"Exactly what I was referring to," Ariel tells Jenna. "I'm the new beard." She's not sure what anyone else thought she might mean by what other people are thinking.
"You wouldn't be our Cooper," Ariel stresses. "The one we've come to know and like so much."
"I heard them talking about a membership of their own." Which makes sense, considering they are married now.
She takes her seat, and unfolds her napkin, placing it in her lap. "I don't think anyone can get drunk on mimosas." She will drink enough of them to take the uncertain, awkward edge off however.

"No one can get drunk on mimosas," Jenna agrees. "There's not enough champagne in them to make you more than a little giddy, and only if you drink several of then rather quickly." How does she know that? She and Siobhan did try several times when younger to get drunk off of them.
When Chance holds her chair out, she sits in it delicately and crosses her ankles. The napkin goes onto her lap, and she turns to smile up at her boyfriend.
"Thank you."
"It does make sense for them to have their own membership. I know that they have one to the country club, but I wasn't aware they were getting one here. They must be planning on buying a boat."

"That sounds like the voice of experience," Chance laughs softly.
"My lady is welcome." Since Cooper is holding Preston's seat, Chance turns to get Ariel's and blinks when he sees she's already seated herself. He doesn't comment on it, instead taking an empty seat besides Jenna. The last thing he wants to do is make the witch feel anymore awkward.
"Well, all things considered, as a mister and missus, they shouldn't be sponging off of Mommy and Daddy anymore." Beat. "Or maybe they just want to keep up with Mr. Van de Mark over there?"

"You all are quite the comedians," Preston rolls his eyes dramatically at his boyfriend and his friends. He, too, does a double-take when Ariel seats herself, but is wise enough to make no comment as he takes the seat Cooper is holding for him. Which he doesn't even consider to be unusual.
He lifts his brows and asks Chance, "Maybe next they'll want to keep up with Mr. Harper and get a plane? I don't own a plane." His father owns a private jet, but that's semantics.
Reaching over, he places his hand atop Ariel's and squeezes. Just to soothe her a bit so she doesn't try to get drunk off the mimosas anyway.

"No, sweetie, I'm a dancer," Cooper replies with a wink. Taking up the seat beside Ariel on the other side, he grins. "You know, Mermaid, I'd have gotten your seat too. It's what a good boyfriend does." Leaning over, he places a kiss to her cheek and rests his arm across the back of her chair. "Next time, I'll get your chair first, I promise."
Everyone else may be afraid of mentioning it, but he can make light of it and let her know that he wants to do that for her so she doesn't stress over it.
"I don't own anything, so I'm not going to try to keep up with anyone."

"Oh I just assumed …" Ariel looks down at the table top, blushing slightly. She squirms a bit in her seat, though the kiss to her cheek at least draws a smile and helps her to lift her eyes from the tablecloth. "Okay."
"I have a bicycle." It sounded a lot better in her head than it does when she says it aloud.

"Never make an assumption around those two," Jenna replies with a giggle. "That's when you're going to get yourself into trouble. You wouldn't assume either of them would dance on a table either, but they did last night."
"You also have a cello. None of us has a cello except you," she points out gently.
"So, maybe I should look at getting my own membership too?"

"From what I've heard, you have an amazing amount of musical talent," Chance says to Ariel. "Though I kind of envy the bicycle now that you mention it. A treadmill and stationery bike just aren't the same when you get down to it."
Chance drapes his arm along the back of Jenna's chair. "No, we're not married yet. When that happens, we can get our own membership."

"I still don't understand why you didn't join us, Elle." Preston tickles his fingers along the back of her hand and up her arm. He then follows them along Cooper's arm to tickle the back of Cooper's neck. "All we were missing was our beautiful lady dancing between us."
He peers thoughtfully over at Jenna and Chance, "Something the two of you want to share with the class?"
Reaching his arm around Ariel, Preston squeezes Cooper's shoulder. "You have phenomenal dance ability and a great ass. Both of which I don't think are nearly highly enough appreciated."

"I meant tangible things," Cooper points out. "I have a good pair of running shoes though. I need to to be able to keep up with Ariel when she goes through the park."
"You have plenty of things, Ariel. You have family, and friends, and me. I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to claim me?" Winking at her, he glances over at Preston.
"Though you're right. I have an amazing ass."

"Because it was more fun to watch the two of you dance," Ariel volunteers. "And I'm not nearly as good of a dancer as the two of you."
"I do have you and Pres, I can't complain about that," Ariel smiles brightly and leans to rest her head briefly on Cooper's shoulder. "The two hottest boyfriends in the city."
She squeaks and blushes then, looking around to make sure that no one has overheard what she just said.

"We should get bicycles next summer," Jenna tells him. It's not like they're expensive, and they can afford them easily enough. Plus, it'll be something nice to do when the weather isn't too hot, and she can cut down one day in the home gym by going biking.
"I beg to differ. You have two really hot guys on either side of you, but in my opinion, I've got the hottest boyfriend in the city."
Chance's words cause her heart to flip-flop suddenly, and her blue eyes widen. Moistening her lips slowly with her tongue, she nods, "Alright."
"What, Pres?"

"We could do that." Chance reaches down to take Jenna's hand and stroke his thumb over the back of it. "Bicycling would be another way to get exercise and spend time together."
He raises her hand to his lips and brushes a kiss over her knuckles. "Shh. Allow her to have her delusions. I know that I'm the hottest guy in the city, but we don't need to shatter any other egos."

Preston snorts. "Before this turns into a cock strut of our own, why don't we just say that we're all a group of very good looking individuals and leave it at that?"
He gives Jenna a mischeivous smile, "Though I have the hottest boyfriend."
The server, Michael, arrives to take their orders then, and Preston orders mimosas for the whole table, and the table brunch special. It will give them portions of everything to share and everyone can pick and choose what they would like for nibbles. It doesn't fall beyond his observation that Michael's attention seems to linger on and come back to Ariel.
With the meal ordered and the group left alone again, Preston reaches beneath the table to place his hand on Ariel's knee. He picks up the thread of conversation, "Yes. That comment about 'when we're married.' Are the two of you planning something that you'd like to share?"

"Heh. Maybe we've got another elopement?" Cooper waggles his brows. "You know, the Cowboy'd likely do it to keep you away from me, Broadway." They all know that Jenna wouldn't do anything with him, and that Cooper respects the other couple too much to do anything either.
"That's right, you do," Cooper agrees with a laugh.
"But I agree. We're all good looking, and lets not argue over who's the best."

Ariel instinctively tenses a bit at Cooper's teasing of the other couple. She knows he's only teasing, but she's not yet to the point where she doesn't react and automatically takes it in stride. She does relax after a few moments after her initial reaction. She smiles over at Jenna and Chance, "There's not a secret engagement, is there?"

"It would. I mean, it's a good idea and we can go out in the mornings before your classes. In the summer? Before your internship." Jenna turns and just stares at Preston.
"Not that I'm aware of, but it's not as though we haven't discussed having a future together," she points out. "If it happens, it'll be once Chance is done school."

"If there were something to tell, you'd know about it, Pres." Chance rubs his hand over Jenna's shoulder. "We're not to that point yet, but we do know what we want. I fully intend on my future being with Jenna."

"Whoa," Preston holds up his hands in surrender. "I was only teasing. I think it's great that the two of you are where you are in your relationship. You're good for each other." After all, from what he knows last summer, Chance was a playboy. Jenna has come out of her shell a good bit since dating the sorcerer. They are a good match.
He gives Ariel's knee a little squeeze beneath the table, and tickles her knee again. It's a silent affirmation that Cooper is only kidding.

"Well, that's good. I don't think we could handle another elopement, sweeties." Cooper grins at them, then tickles his fingers over Ariel's shoulder.
"So was I. No matter where my imagination might go, I'm not about to go and do something completely stupid."

"Yes, I think one elopement is enough for a while," Ariel agrees. Though she does think that it's really sweet that Jenna and Chance have talked about a future together. It shows that they both really care about each other and are dedicated to the relationship. She looks forward to having that sort of confidence and foundation in a relationship someday; even if it's not her current relationship. Right now, she simply forces herself to take it one day at a time and tries not to daydream or focus on anything beyond a few weeks out.

"No elopement for me. I've got a wedding already planned out, sort've. I mean, I've had one planned out for a while, but most girls do that so it's just a matter of changing necessary things now that I'm older, really." Like location.
Jenna blushes a little, and looks down at the napkin on her lap. "Besides which, we've only been together a year, and I'd like to take things slowly. There's no need to rush into things when I know he's my endgame."

Chance watches his girlfriend with a fond smile turning up his mouth. He reaches out to tuck a strand of hair away from her face and behind her ear and trails his fingers over her cheek. The sorcerer thinks it's sweet that she has her wedding planned out, and that she's willing to talk about it now. Instead of trying to pretend those feelings aren't there in the fear of chasing him away or some nonsense.
"What she said," Chance echoes, leaning over to kiss her lightly on the cheek. There's no rush when they both know what they want, and where they want to be years down the road.

Preston smiles indulgently at the pair. He's genuinely happy for his best friend, that she's found her One. He'd like to say that he's in the same place, at least mentally, insofar as knowing what he wants, but he won't dare say the words aloud.
He's quiet while their server returns and passes out the drinks, and tries hard to ignore the way the man's attention focuses nearly exclusively on Ariel when it doesn't have to focus on anything else. The server is professional, and doesn't do anything untoward, but Preston is very much aware that the man is taken with his girlfriend. The actor very much wants to do something to highlight that the little witch is taken; it's not jealousy so much as feeling that need to strut and crow, however he isn't in any position to do any such thing.
"I thought that we could watch the first races from here on the shore and at the various yachts that aren't taking part in the race. It'll give us time to wander around and just enjoy the club. Then an early dinner, and we can board the Sapphire Star to prep for the party?"

Cooper has no such qualms of staking his claim. Everyone is likely aware that he's with Preston now, but he doesn't need to put on airs, or pretend that he's anything but what he is — extremely sexual. He'd call himself bisexual, but he's just sexual in every sense of the word.
Waggling his brows at the waiter, he twists Ariel's chair just a little, and plants a good, hard kiss on her.
Just because.
Without a word, he slowly twists her back toward the table, and winks at Preston.
"Sounds good. I claim the big bedroom," he teases. "To change in at least. I'd like to throw on a pair of shorts for the party."

The waiter's scrutiny causes Ariel to blush and keep her eyes focused anywhere but on the man as he caters to them. She's not at all accustomed to that sort of attention, unless it's from Preston and Cooper, and the little witch doesn't have a clue of how to handle it or respond to it.
Cooper's kiss takes her completely by surprise. Ariel almost forgets where they are and really wants to deepen it and prolong it, to hell with Siobhan's suggestions for making the boys work for it. She quickly downs half the mimosa when she's righted at the table again, her face flushed warm in a way that has little to do with embarrassment. There's a bit of a contented smile chasing itself across her lips.
"We've already got our clothes for tonight onboard," Ariel manages to get the words out. She glances over at Jenna for confirmation and takes another sip of the mimosa.

The little empath wants to laugh at all the jealousy, though in a way she's happy that the server wasn't bothering with her.
"Our bags are aboard the Sapphire already. I made sure of it before we came in. They're all in the master for now, we can move them around later. The steward wasn't sure where we were all meant to be staying and said 'Master Van de Mark can let me know when he boards'."
Jenna grins, then turns toward Chance.
"Though I will have to be back by mid-afternoon tomorrow. I go on stage tomorrow night."

Chance's brows lift a bit when Cooper kisses Ariel. It's Cooper, and he's used to the man's openness, but he's still adjusting to the dynamic between the trio (triad?). It is odd watching Cooper show that sort of affection to someone who isn't Preston. With a blink, Chance realizes that he really hasn't seen the three of them together enough to know what to expect. Ariel is a new addition to the Preston and Cooper equation, and it's going to take some time to acclimate. Not that Chance is having a bad reaction; just a curious and surprised one.
"As though I would forget that." Chance taps his girlfriend lightly on the nose and gives her a chiding grin. "I'm going to be there front and center when the curtain goes up."

If asked, Preston will insist that he isn't jealous. That he merely wishes for the waiter to know that Ariel is off-limits and that he can fixate his attention elsewhere. As it is, he's glad that Cooper performed where he couldn't. He is surprised at his reaction to the kiss. However, short and brief it is, watching his boyfriend and girlfriend sends a jolt straight to his groin.
This is a moment when his acting skills come to the fore, and he takes a drink from the mimosa. Attention focusing on Jenna, and not on the fact that he hasn't touched his girlfriend in a week, Preston gives his friend an equally chiding look like the one her boyfriend delivered. "As though any of us don't know that, Jennie? We're going to be sitting next to the Cowboy, watching you prance around in your panties and bra."

"That's the role she's got?" Cooper looks over at Jenna and smirks a little. It's good for fantasy fodder if he needs it.
"See what happens when you break out of your shell a little, Mermaid? You wind up prancing around Broadway in your lingerie." Winking at his girlfriend, he presses a kiss to the top of her head.
"Though, you're not allowed to do that. Ever."

"It's acting," Ariel nudges Preston, saying the words in Jenna's defense. "She's not doing it to titillate the audience, you should know that." The little witch is grinning as she says it, so that Preston knows she doesn't think that's the way his mind works.
She sighs happily at Cooper's affectionate little kiss. Then her face splits into a delighted, elated grin and she giggles with a shake of her head. "I think we all know that won't ever happen. I'm not an actress, and it's against the dress code to play in the orchestra half undressed."

Blushing just a little, Jenna murmurs a 'yes' to Cooper. "Most of the roles are like that in that show. Except for Sherri and Regina."
"It is acting, which will be the only thing getting me through the night knowing you're all in the audience."
"That being said, I'm extremely happy that you're all going to be there. I'll put on the best show of my life for you guys."

"Every show you put on is the best," Chance lifts Jenna's hand to his lips and kisses it. "Which means that every show just gets better and better. You get better and better."
"It is acting," Chance agrees. It's the only way he's wrapped his mind around it. He's still worried that there will be some pervert in the audience who fixates on his girlfriend, and that he'll have to knock some bad ideas out of the guy's head, but beyond that he's mostly accepting.
Plus, the things she wears for him are a lot sexier.

Preston watches his friends, and takes a huge swallow of the mimosa. He winks at the happy couple, "That's to wash the sweetness out of my mouth before I gag."
That being said, he gives Jenna a sincere smile and stretches a hand across the table to give hers a squeeze. "You will be fabulous Jen, because you always are. Mark my words, the next role you get is going to be the lead. All on your own, not as an understudy."

"I meant in the streets. You don't act, so the only way you'd be prancing around Broadway in your lingerie is down the street, and if I ever catch you doing that, I'll spank you." Cooper winks at Ariel to show he's teasing, and then glances over at the couple with them.
"God, you two give me a toothache. You're worse than then Duckling and her hubby."

"Leave them alone, I think it's sweet," Ariel smiles warmly at the couple. She thinks that Siobhan and Harper are ridiculously cute and sweet as well.
Ariel stares at Cooper for a moment. Then she takes another swallow from the mimosa, which finishes off the glass. Realizing that the glass is empty, she blushes a little. Licking her lips, she gives her boyfriend a teasing smile, "Maybe it will be a confidence building exercise?" Walking down the street in her lingerie. She wouldn't. Ever. But she is getting bold with her teasing.

"I'm glad you've got that much confidence in me," Jenna says to her boyfriend. "I wish I did." She's nervous, and she's not going to lie about it. It may not be a starring role, but it's one with a lot of time on stage and she's in nearly every number with the exception of the leads solos.
"Oh please, Pres. I've seen you act just like this with Coop."

Chance squeezes her hand, and then releases it. Only so he can wrap an arm around her shoulder, and pull her in to place a light kiss to the top of her head. "You will be fantastic. Even if I can't be there every night, I will be there in spirit, supporting you through every musical number."
He chuckles and looks over at Preston. "She's right. We have seen you behave this way, so don't try and act like we're too lovey-dovey for you."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Preston says with a shrug and an eye roll.
"We have faith in you because we've seen you on stage. You are your own worse critic. It's something we're all prey to."
Seeing Ariel's empty glass, Preston swaps hers with his. It's two fold. One, it will give her something to drink until their server returns; he can happily sip water. Two, it means the man won't have an extra excuse to fawn over Ariel. Just in case the waiter didn't get Cooper's message loud and clear.
"Bite your tongue, Miss Johnson-Lowell!" Preston scolds his girlfriend. "I can think of plenty of confidence building exercises that don't involve you strutting around anywhere half-clothed."
"If you do such a thing and Coop doesn't spank you, I will."

"Lovey-dovey? Me? Sweeties, you're positively incorrect." Cooper chuckles as he then watches Preston 'protect' Ariel by switching their glasses. Downing his own mimosa, he adds, "Now there's a sight. Maybe I won't do it just to watch the two of you together."
"What you need, Broadway, is attitude. Go out on stage, telling yourself you own that role, and even if you make a mistake it'll look like it was meant to be there. It's what we dancers do all the time."

Ariel shoots a curious look at Preston when he swaps their glasses, but gives him a quiet thanks. A smaller sip is taken from her 'new' glass. She nearly chokes on that sip, eyes going wide as she looks between both of her boyfriends. Her cheeks warm considerably with a blush, and she has to stop herself from downing the rest of this glass as well.
"Oh god, you two …" Ariel shakes her head, and wiggles in her seat. She's not sure if it's more bothersome that she's not certain how serious they are, of if it's because she's not sure if she wants him to be serious.
"You'll do great, Jenna. You wouldn't have been cast if they didn't think you were perfect for the part, right?" Ariel is attempting to direct her boyfriends' attention to a different topic.

"I know."
It's the plight of all actors; being their own worst critic. Stressing over whether or not they've got the part down pat.
"I'll give that a try. That's got to beat picturing the audience in their underwear," Jenna teases.
"One of them is serious, you do know that, right?" Giggling, she shakes her head. "Pres might not be, but Cooper generally is when he makes statements like that."

"I think that picturing some of the audience in their underwear might be a bit traumatizing," Chance jokes. He rubs his hand down Jenna's arm and then down her back.
"I hope that she knows by now that Cooper is nearly always serious when he says things like that." At least as they pertain to those Cooper is involved with. He might make comments about the rest of them, but he's serious when it comes to Preston, and now Ariel fits that criteria as well.

"What makes anyone here think that I'm not serious?" Preston looks around the table at his friends, his boyfriend and his girlfriend.
The food arrives before anyone can challenge him, and drinks are refilled. Again the waiter's eyes linger on Ariel, though he's not nearly as intensive in his fawning. He does give Cooper a look that says 'Lucky son of a bitch,' before departing.

Cooper can't help but give the man a smug smirk. His arm wraps around the back of Ariel's chair, and he draws her a little closer. Just a friendly reminder that she's not going anywhere, at least not with the server.
Once he's gone, he winks at Preston. "Because, sweetie, they know me well enough to know that I'd either spank her and enjoy it immensely, or have you spank her and enjoy it even more."
"Or," he says, lowering his voice in an attempt to hide the crassness, "I'd let you spank her while I fucked her."

"Cooper!" It's amazing that Ariel keeps her voice low. Large, dark eyes stare at him, and a heated blush works it way up from her toes clear to her hairline. It's incredibly flattering that he'll speak so frankly about her in public, as it is. This is Ariel, however, so it's also enough to set her to blushing and floundering in embarrassment.
"Can we stop talking about spanking me, please?" Partly because it is embarrassing. Partly because it gets her mind going there, and she's honestly just not sure how to interpret the signals her body sends her.

Jenna is about to admonish Cooper for speaking so frankly around the yacht club, but Ariel beats her to it. Biting the inside of her lip, she turns to her boyfriend and lowers her voice a little as she says, "Maybe we should wander and let these three have a discussion?"
In an attempt to clear the air and change the subject, the little empath says, "I have no doubt that you're serious, Pres. I don't think any young woman should wander around Broadway in lingerie, especially at night. It's dangerous and people might think she's a prostitute." Wrinkling her nose, she then quickly asks, "So who all have you invited to the yacht?"

That isn't what Preston was thinking or had in mind, but he is willing to let the conversation drop. It isn't something that three of them need to discuss right now, serious conversation or not. He takes a drink from his glass and sets it down to free his hand.
"Since you asked so sweetly." His girlfriend is given a kiss on the cheek, and Preston reaches around her to scratch his fingers lightly over the back of Cooper's neck.
"It wouldn't be a party with just the seven of us, but I didn't want to overdo it either." Preston's hand picked some friends of he and Jenna from Tisch, a few from Broadway, a couple of Siobhan's from Julliard, a few of those from the Company that Siobhan and Cooper picked, a couple from Dalton whom Harper doesn't mind seeing again, and a few friends of Chance from Columbia and/or his fraternity whom the groups has met before. All-on-all, it turns out to be no more than thirty people, if everyone comes.

"Not everyone is staying all night. I know that a lot of people from the Company will leave early. We rarely get days off at this time of year, and Sunday-Monday will be a good treat for everyone." Cooper glances over at his 'others' and smiles at them.
"You know I'm just trying to get you to blush, right Mermaid? Though I would do it."

Ariel has a bit of a pulse of nervousness when Preston goes through the guest list. For some reason it was a lot less unnerving to be out a dance club last night with her boyfriends and her friends, in a crowd of strangers. The thought of being in a more 'intimate' setting where she doesn't know anyone gets the anxiety revving up a bit. Even being here where she knows she's out of place isn't as unnerving.
"It worked," Ariel says quietly, looking down at her plate as she gives Cooper a gentle elbowing to his side.
"I know you would." That's part of what has her blushing and flustered. Knowing he would and thinking that maybe she'd want him to try it.

Jenna can't reach Ariel since she's between the other two, but she does send the musician a friendly smile. "You'll be fine, I promise. It's mostly just people we know really well, who won't dare do anything to upset any of us." For fear of being left out of the 'in crowd' as it were. Not like she or her friends subscribe to that sort of attitude, but their friends do.
"Just be yourself, and don't be shy, and if you're worried about it stick to Coop, or Mr. Van de Mark over here."

Chance over at his girlfriend and nearly laughs aloud at her telling the shyest person in their group to both be herself and not be shy. It's a contradiction in terms, and an amusing one at that. Instead of saying anything, he chooses from a few bits of meat and a french toast, and eats a few bites.
"It'll be a close, intimate group, Ariel. You're safer around these people than you were at the club last night. No random person is going to try and dance in your personal space or be sneakily hands on."

"Very funny, Miss Donovan." Preston rolls his eyes again. "You do realize that I am not above tickling you later? Given the length and breadth of our friendship, I don't believe your future husband would stand in my way, either. Certain things have a greater ranker in the friendship code." It's not an idle threat because Preston knows quite well where all of Jenna's ticklish spots are.
He assumes from Jenna's words, that Ariel is feeling nervous about the group at the yacht. He rubs his hand down her shoulder and takes her hand. "You met a few of them at the birthday party in Las Vegas, already, and a lot of them came up to the Hamptons for the graduation party. If you don't remember them by name, you'll know them by face."
Preston snorts, "They damn well better not."

"Don't worry, Mermaid. I'll keep you safe all night while Pres tends to hosting duties and ensuring the steward is getting everyone good and drunk." Winking at her, Cooper sets his hand to her knee.
"It'll be good for you to meet some more people from Juilliard."
THANKFULLY, none of those that Siobhan invited are ones that he's knocked boots with.

"Promise?" Ariel flutters her lashes at Cooper in her best attempt at flirtation, and peeks at him from beneath them. "That you'll keep me safe?" She tries very hard not to think about what she's doing, because she knows she'll overanalyze it, then feel ridiculous.
The witch takes a dainty bite of egg from her plate, and after washing it down with the mimosa, leans her head on Cooper's shoulder. "You better."

After picking out a few pieces of fruit, and a bit of yogurt, the little empath giggles. "Don't you dare laugh at me, Chance Harper. It's what Siobhan used to always say to me."
Jenna knows that Chance isn't laughing, but she can feel it there beneath the surface as he eats.
"We didn't invite anyone that you haven't already met, I promise. I'm pretty sure even the few from Dalton are ones you met when you used to come visit us."

"I'm not laughing," Chance says, still holding back his snickers. "I'm enjoying my girlfriend giving social advice." He kisses the side of her head, and then focuses on his food again.
He has to redouble his efforts when he watches Ariel flirting with her boyfriend. She doesn't do a poor job of it, but it is out of character and not something he's seen or would expect to see.
Fortunately, he's distracted by movement in the crowd, and he peers. "Pres, I think your parents are here." Chance had the pleasure of meeting them when he was out for dinner with his father last winter. It was his first and last encounter with them, but he does recall what they look like. Given that Preston is a spitting image and younger version of his father, it's not that difficult to place the man either.

The only reason Preston doesn't groan and drop his head is because he knew that they would be here. He'd been hoping to avoid them until later in the day, but clearly fate has other ideas. As everyone knows, it's not his father he minds so much as it is his mother.
Preston twists to follow Chance's gaze, and then turns back to the table. "Peachy," the actor chirps, the words dripping with sarcasm.

"I'll laugh. Miss Shy herself, giving the Mermaid advice on not being shy?" Cooper snorts a little, and then goes completely still. He's met the Van de Marks before. Often, they come to the Gala, so it's not like he doesn't know them from that.
His attachment to both Ariel and Preston will be difficult to explain though.
Draining his mimosa, he clears his throat. "Now can we have something a little stronger?"

Ariel pales a bit. It's silly, she knows it, considering that Preston's parents don't know who she is, and certainly don't know that she's involved with he and Cooper. Unless they're telepathic, but the witch thinks that Preston might have mentioned that if it were true. Though she supposes it's better to meet her boyfriend's parents when they don't know anything about her. There's a good chance that they won't even notice her.
"Maybe you should go greet them?" Ariel suggests softly. If he gets it out of the way, then maybe they can avoid any prolonged awkwardness.

Blue eyes dart through the crowd to find the Van de Marks. Jenna carefully pops a piece of fruit into her mouth, and washes it down with a sip of the mimosa. "I can go hold them off for a few minutes if you want to scoot, or figure out what you want to tell them."
The napkin is removed from her lap, and she folds it carefully beside her plate. Pushing her chair back, she smiles over at Preston before glancing down at Chance. "Feel like braving them with me?"

Chance gives Preston a sympathetic nod and half-smile. He may have only met Preston's parents on one occassion, and while they were perfectly pleasant, Chance instantly got that overbearing, interfering vibe from his friend's mother. Add that to having heard about his mother from Preston, he can well understand why the actor might not be looking forward to making pleasantries with his parents.
"Is that what you want, Pres?" Chance is already folding his napkin to place it on the table and preparing to join his girlfriend. "Yes, I will do that with you."

Preston drains the rest of his mimosa, and holds up his hand to signal their waiter. "No, it's no longer too early to have something stronger to drink."
He gives Jenna a warm, appreciative smile. "No, you don't have to do that. I knew that I'd see them here. I just hoped it would be later." After his mother had had a few drinks and was more interested in gossiping with her friends than in trying to dictate her son's life.
He reaches up and clasps Cooper's hand where it rests on Ariel's chair, and gives it a squeeze. He's not ashamed of his boyfriend, or of having Ariel by their side. He simply hates dealing with the drama. Turning, he lifts Cooper's hand and gives it a kiss, flashing his boyfriend an affectionate smile. "I'll just get this over with."

Cooper fully intends on getting them all something a little stronger. "If you're sure."
He's not going to bother getting up to greet the Van de Marks, if only because he knows they wouldn't bother getting up to greet him. It's a bit of a snub, he knows, but if they make the Van de Marks come to the table, they'll have to deal with everyone.

The witch frets with the napkin in her lap, and then grabs her glass of water. Only because she doesn't want to look like a lush downing another mimosa so quickly. After drinking a few swallows of the water, she reaches beneath the table and places a hand to each man's leg. It's all she can think of to do to calm their nerves and show her sympathy and support, that isn't overly obvious and won't raise questions.
"Did you tell them about your role yet, Preston?" It will be a good distraction. His mother may not care, but from what Siobhan and Jenna have told her, his father will be proud of him.

"Oh, that's a perfect idea, Ariel! You can tell them about that, and I'll distract them with tickets to the show on Sunday." Not that she wants Preston's parents watching her prance around in her lingerie, but it'll definitely distract them from anything else.
Jenna smiles over at her friend, then shifts to stand behind Chance's chair. Leaning over, she snags another piece of fruit from his plate and eats it quietly.

Chance glances up at his girlfriend. If they weren't at the club, he'd just pull her back down to his lap and make her sit. As it is, he gives her an inquiring look, but says nothing about her standing when everyone else is sitting. "That is a great idea, Ariel. Pres has something to boast about, and we all know how good Jenna is at gushing over people and things."
"I think we've got you covered, Pres."

Preston loves his friends. They have no idea how much it means to him that they immediately have his back and are willing to do whatever it takes to support him while dealing with his mother. Of course, there's just enough time to order drinks for the table before his parents are arriving at the table.
"Preston, darling, I thought that was you," his mother chirps out a bright, greeting. Her smile temporarily wavers for just a moment when she sees Cooper, but then it's back in place. "Why didn't you come say hello to us?"
"Mother. Father." Preston pushes back from the table, standing to greet them. "I was planning on doing just that. You're both just quicker than I am."
"Sit down, Preston, no need to stand on our account," Preston II says, waving a hand at the table. "We don't want to stay long and interrupt your time with your friends." The man looks around the table, the green eyes his son inherited stopping on Cooper. He gives the dancer a polite, respectful nod. "Cooper. It's good to see you again." His gaze sweeps the rest of the table as well. "Jenna, and Mr. Harper, isn't it?" Beat. "I believe the only one of your companions with whom I'm not familiar is the lovely young lady by your side."
In that moment, Preston wants to hug his father. With that simple, informal greeting to Cooper, the man has derailed and blocked anything his mother might do or say. She simply can't dismiss Cooper, or treat him with distant formalness when her husband has established a grounds for familiarity.
Preston smiles warmly at his father, taking back to his seat. He rests his hand lightly on Ariel's arm. It's friendly and familiar, but won't be interpreted as anything more. "This is Ariel Johnson-Lowell. Siobhan's cousin."

"Mr. and Mrs. Van de Mark," Cooper says. A warm grin of gratitude is given to Preston's father at the acknowledgement. He wasn't expecting it honestly. "It's good to see you both." He may not get points for speaking with Upper East Side flair, but he knows enough to be polite.
"I expect we'll see you both at the gala this year?"

Ariel flounders, unsure of what proper etiquette is. After a few seconds, she extends her hand politely to the couple. "Mr. and Mrs. Van de Mark. Pleased to meet you." A sign of her nervousness shows through in the peaking of her old North Carolina accent.
"I saw pictures of your youngest daughter in her flower girl dress for Siobhan's wedding. She's absolutely adorable." The witch really hopes that she's not stepping over any lines and that that's appropriate small talk.

Still standing, Jenna turns toward Mrs. Van de Mark. Giving the woman a brief hug, and a cheek kiss she smiles as warmly as possible. "We were just getting up to say hello, you just managed to make it over here faster than we could get there. It's a pleasure to see you both again."
Resting her hand on Chance's shoulder, she steps back, the warm smile still in place. "It is. May I introduce you to Chance Harper? His father is the COO of Nash Aerotek." A proper UES introduction.
"Do you have friends with boats that are racing today, or did you come to cheer on Preston's?"

Chance is surprised that Mr. Van de Mark remembers him. They only met briefly. Then again, the man probably does keep tabs on whom his son is associating with. "Mr. Van de Mark," Chance does stand and extends his hand and gives the man's a hand a firm shake.

Mr. Van de Mark nods to Cooper, placing a hand lightly to the small of his wife's back. "Of course. Viviane hasn't missed a performance in years. We're not going to break a wonderful tradition. It will be a pleasure to watch you dance." Preston's father truly has no problems with his son's sexual orientation, or with his boyfriend. There are so many other things that Preston could be and do that are dangerous, and people he could be involved with that could be harmful. His son is happy with Cooper, and that's what matters.
There's a flash of curiosity mixed with surprise from Mr. Van de Mark as he shakes Ariel's hand. It's not noticeable on his countenance, but it's bold enough that Jenna will be able to detect the emotion. "Miss Johnson-Lowell. The pleasure is always. We're always happy to meet Preston's friends."
The witch doesn't realize it, but commenting on their youngest daughter is a perfect way to win points with Mrs. Van de Mark. After all, it gives the woman a chance to look good and preen. "Thank you so much, darling! Yes, we were absolutely honored when Siobhan asked if Esme could be a part of her special day."
"We've previously made Mr. Harper's acquaintance," Mr. Van de Mark tells Jenna. What he doesn't add is that her grandmother has mentioned the young pre-law student on several occassions, with a note of approval and pride. She might not approve of Jenna's Broadway aspirations, but she approves of the young man she hopes that her granddaughter will marry.
"A very good, old friend of Preston is racing today." Mrs. Van de Mark blinks and laughs, setting a hand to her husband's arm. "The elder Preston."

This is going better than Preston expected. Of course, that has more to do with his father and his friends than with his mother. She might not be able to snub Cooper now, but she isn't going out of her way to be kind to him either. Preston doesn't really care, because he stopped looking for approval the moment she didn't accept him coming out. So long as his father supports him, he's in a good place.
He reaches around Ariel to place his hand on Cooper's shoulder and give his boyfriend's shoulder a squeeze. "Cooper will be dancing with Siobhan this year at the Gala. If you didn't see them dance together in Sleeping Beauty, you're going to be in for a treat. They dance beautifully together."

"Then I'll be looking forward to seeing you after the performance. It's always a pleasure to speak with Mrs. Van de Mark and her friends afterward. I do like to hear what they think."
Not entirely true. Cooper could care less what the women think, but it's good for the Company and raising money.
"Siobhan will be dancing the lead, and it's always an honor to dance with someone so spectacular on her feet."

Ariel is definitely going to be quiet now. She's said her part, but she's amazed at how easily Cooper knows what to say and do.
Finishing school is starting to sound like an excellent idea. If they take girls as old as she is.
Not knowing if it's rude to eat or drink, she folds her hands in her lap and just smiles sweetly, listening to the conversation.

There's a slightly quizzical raise of her brow at Mr. Van de Mark's reaction to Ariel, but she passes it off as being about Chance.
"Oh! You have?"
"I can't wait to see Esme in that dress at the wedding. She's going to steal the hearts of all the guests. You must be very proud of her."
Jenna winks at Ariel, then sweeps sideways to slip into her seat.
"I'll make sure to cheer him on as well."
"Before I completely forget my manners, you look lovely today, Mrs. Van de Mark. Are those Louboutin?"

"Yes, we crossed paths one night when I was having dinner with my father," Chance explains. He mentioned it to Preston, but it didn't seem like a big deal or anything to dwell on so he never mentioned it to Jenna.

Mrs. Van de Mark laughs. "Esme steals hearts all the time. We are so very proud of our little darling." The comment earns an annoyed peak of exasperation from Preston. He doesn't want to start anything now, so he bites the inside of his cheek to keep quiet. No point in mentioning what Jenna already knows: that his younger brother and and youngest sister were status adoptions whom his mother pawns off on a nanny unless she needs them to elevate her status and show how wonderful Viviane Van de Mark is.
"Where are Javier and Esme today, Mother?"
Mr. Van de Mark gives his son a look. "Javier is here. He chose to run off with his friends the moment he saw them, you do remember those days, don't you, Preston?" Beat. "Esme is with Thalia. She wanted to go see the boats."
Properly chastised, Preston doesn't pursue the conversation. He is surprised that his youngest siblings are here at all, which must have been a decision on his father's part. Having the nanny here as well was probably a compromise so that his mother could skip out on her mothering duties. Instead he smiles brightly at his mother, "Next season's Louboutin, I'll bet as well. Mother always stays on the cutting edge of fashion."
There are a few more pleasantries and small talk before his parents decide to depart.
"Cooper, please don't be a stranger," Mr. Van de Mark says to the dancer. "You are welcome to come by for dinner with Preston when he comes." His gaze skips over the group, lingering for a beat longer on Ariel, and that spike of curiosity comes again. "It's an open invitation to all of you. Because I suspect that's what it will take to get Preston to come to dinner."
"I'm not that bad, Father. I've just been a bit busy this summer. With the new theatre, thank you again for that, and now with my lead role in Spider Man that I'll have to prepare for …"

There's a part of Cooper that really wants to point out that seeing Siobhan back home safely was probably something that would keep Preston from his parents for a while, then he took him off on tour, but he presses his lips closed on that matter.
"We'll have to stop by and say hello to Javier and Esme later then. I'm sure she's loving the boats." He sends a glance to Preston and will make a point that they stop to see the younger siblings. Being adopted himself, he knows that they're still young enough to not realize that they're just status symbols but that doesn't mean he's not going to give them special attention.
"I promise that when Preston comes, I'll join him." There's a purposeful double entendre there, but he's not overly obvious with it like he would be if it was just the group.
"We're very proud of him for getting it. He just found out the other day."

"Preston! That's not how you tell your parents!" Ariel chides her boyfriend automatically. She gives him a light swat to the arm, and then immediately blushes as she realizes just how familiar her response and treatment of Preston is. In front of people who don't know who she is, where she came from, or why she's even here with Preston's group; logically, she should be with Siobhan, right?
Biting her lip, she looks back down at her lap.

That odd feeling again, and Jenna tilts her head at it. She's always know that there was something different about Mr. Van de Mark, but she can't tell what.
"We'll definitely make a stop to see them," she tells Cooper.
Giggling at Ariel, she grins. "Spoken exactly like Siobhan. But she's right, Pres. You're supposed to tell them up front."
"That reminds me, I have tickets at the box office for you, Mr. and Mrs. Van de Mark. They're open ended, so whenever you wish to attend you are more than welcome to."

"Preston? You've landed a lead role on Broadway?" Mr. Van de Mark stares at his son for a moment, then breaks into a large, proud grin. "Congratulations, my boy!" His father isn't so formal that he doesn't step up to give his eldest a hug at that revelation. Moments like these earn those shows of affection.
"You and your friends must come by for dinner, so we can have a proper celebratory meal, is that clear?"
Preston can't help it. He practically basks in his father's approval. It doesn't matter what his mother says or does at this point. "Yes, sir."
"Preston, that's wonderful." It's hard to tell if his mother is just saying it or if she means the words. "You know that we'll be there opening night." Beat. "Thank you, Jenna. We'll have to make certain we come and see your Broadway performance."

"He did. We're all going to be there his opening night." Cooper is proud of his boyfriend, and he does know that Jenna likely won't be able to make the opening unless she asks for a night off.
Turning to Preston with a chuckle he says, "What do you think Javier will say about his big brother being Spider-Man?"

"We are. We're very proud of Preston, but we all knew he'd do it someday." Ariel realizes she might be gushing a little too much over her boyfriend, and ducks her head before glancing over at Jenna. "Jenna's next." It's the best recovery she can make so that she doesn't look like she's fawning over Preston.
She giggles, "I think he gets bragging rights at school. Not every kid can say that their big brother is Spider-Man."

"Thank you, Mrs. Van de Mark. I do appreciate the support." Especially since she knows that her chosen career isn't exactly one that the woman admires.
Jenna looks over at Ariel, giving her a shrug. "We'll see. I want to be in this role for a while. At least six months before I switch out and look for something else."

"Of course, darling. It's the least we can do for one of Preston's very best friends." Mrs. Van de Mark gives Jenna a smile. Ariel's gushing earns a curious look from the woman, and her attention flickers between Preston and Siobhan's cousin, and then to Cooper. There's a spark of hope that her son is finally coming to his senses. He could do better than the young lady, given her slightly rough edges, but she can possibly be trained and groomed to be a proper lady in public. She is pretty enough.
"We've kept you lot for quite long enough, I think," Mr. Van de Mark says. He gives his son's shoulder another clap and excuses himself and his wife from the group. "Do enjoy the races, and the boat tonight."
With the departure of his parents, Preston's body lets go of the last of the tension that he hadn't realized he was hanging on to. He sinks down to his chair and drinks half the alcoholic beverage that he ordered. "That went a lot better than I thought it would."

Cooper reaches behind Ariel, and squeezes Preston's shoulder. "Yes, but you had to promise to go to dinner," he reminds his boyfriend. It went well enough, and thanks to Mr. Van de Mark, not at all awkwardly.
"We should finish up here and go tell your brother about your role."

"But if we all go with you, maybe you can survive that, too?" Ariel suggests. She'll just try and remember to keep her mouth closed and only speak when spoken to.
"I can't wait to meet them. You've talked about them enough. It'll be nice to finally meet them."

"That's about what one does at a Van de Mark dinner. Survives." Jenna gets up, wraps her arms around Pres, and hugs him tightly from behind. Mostly so she can whisper to him without Cooper overhearing it too much.
"Your parents are curious about Ariel. I think your mother was getting excited that you have a girl gushing over you, but your dad… it was a really weird curiosity."
Slipping over, she hugs Ariel too. "You did fine, you know. Talking about Esme was probably the best thing you could have done."
"And I will come to a dinner at your parent's place, Pres, provided it doesn't run too late. I don't want to miss too many shows in the first few weeks."

"Your father isn't what I expected," Chance tells Preston. He's met the man, but not in this sort of environment. "I should have known the man that you gave you a theatre wasn't anything like your mother."
"I think he's really proud of you."
Chance shifts his attention to Cooper. "And he has no problems with Coop either."

Preston doesn't reply, if only because there's really not enough time without drawing out the hug. He reaches up and gives Jenna a sort of backwards, upside down hug in return and hopefully sends her his feelings of understanding her message. He's not surprised that his mother would be excited about Ariel, but his father's curiosity is perplexing.
"Thanks for that, Jenna. I'd really appreciate it if you did come. You're the queen of deflection."
Preston meets Chance's gaze. "My father has never had a problem with my choice of profession or my orientation. I'm lucky in that respect." That might well change when he finds out what's really going on with he, Cooper and Ariel, but for now, he has his father's acceptance.

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