As I mentioned in my first post dealing with Romeo, he had two kids, a boy and a girl, who he loved very much. They were young kids, and they lived mostly with their mother in a town about an hour drive away from Romeo, so he didn't get to see them very often. When they came to visit, they would often stay the night on his couch, which folded out, and play video games with him and his roommates (he lived with two guys who went to my college, even though he was about ten years older than all of us). He wasn't one of those guys who tries to throw pictures of his kids at you, and he certainly didn't only talk about them. But when they came up in the conversation, you could tell how much he loved them.
When they came up in a conversation with me, however, it was a reminder of why I could never get too attached to this man, no matter how much love he showered on me regularly.
Don't get me wrong, I love kids and I would not mind having kids with the right man or woman some day in my future, but being romantically involved with someone who has kids when you're only twenty-one is not an easy thing to do. He would tell me that they knew he was gay and were totally cool with it, but there is a difference between knowing that your father likes men and being introduced to the young, college kid your father is in a relationship with. Especially at the age his kids were. How do you react knowing that these kids will always see you as the "other man?" I felt like every time Romeo brought them up, I was being tested to see if I would be a good future step-father for them. Which makes perfect sense, from his perspective. But that is a type of scrutiny I was not (and still am not) prepared to be put under.
The awkward came to a head one night when he was texting me after he came home from work, asking me if I would like to come over. We were still in the early, whirlwind stages of our romance, and there would be nights I would stay up later than I normally would have just to see if he would text me when he was home, asking me over. But then one of his messages stopped me in my tracks: "Just be quiet when you come in, my kids are asleep on the couch."
"Your kids are over?" I replied back, thinking this was a bad idea.
"Yeah, they are spending the night. They're asleep, just come upstairs."
I hesitated. I didn't feel comfortable sneaking by his kids. Sure, I had pulled the quiet, tip-toe down the hall routine on his roommates in the past. But this was different. I was sneaking by two kids for the purpose of having sex with their father. And they knew who his roommates were. If I were to wake them, there would be no way to explain my intrusion. It all felt very bad to me.
But like I said, we were still in the whirlwind part of our romance. I let him talk me into walking over to his apartment. He had left the door unlocked so that I could just come in and come up to where his bedroom was. On the way over I tried to think about everything but how I was going to sneak past the kids. This, of course, had the opposite effect and I spent the walk reviewing every trick I had learned over a lifetime of sneaking by my parents and sneaking in and out of my house and sneaking men in and out of my dorm late at night. I felt like a criminal as I reviewed in my head ways in which I could get caught, things I could do to limit my detection (take my shoes off right at the door, moves swiftly and fluidly) and things that could cause me to get caught (loose floorboards I didn't know about).
When I finally got to his apartment, my heart was racing. I let him know I was outside and that I would be up soon. I entered, took my shoes off, and started making my way to the stairs. I was going by the fold-out bed when I heard a grunt and a shift. I froze, nearing panic, but not letting myself do anything that might wake someone who was merely rolling in sleep. When I was reassured by small, childrens' snoring (which sounds equally adorable and strange), I made my way up the stairs and to his room.
I felt exhausted by the energy of sneaking around, and I felt relieved when I was finally in Romeo's bed, holding him and kissing him. But I honestly don't remember much detail on the sex we had that night other that swallowing each other's loads at the end of it. And that is because the entire time we were with each other I had a niggling voice in the back of my head reminding me not to be too loud, or do too much, just in case one of his kids heard it and woke up. And there was always the chance one of his kids simply had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and they heard us through the wall. All-in-all, I was very reserved in bed that night.
When we were finished Romeo asked, "Do you want to spend the night here?"
If I was worried about explaining my sudden, late-night arrival to his kids or being caught while having sex, then the idea of having his kids first meet me the morning after I had snuck in like a thief and had sex with their father was horrifying. I couldn't believe he was even suggesting it as a possibility. The only true options I saw me having was to either leave then or hide in his room until the kids were gone the next morning. And I knew he wouldn't understand my reasoning on the second option, I knew he would try to force my hand and come downstairs to see the kids, so I made my excuse and left, as the saying goes.
I played petty thief one more time to go out the door, and when it was shut and locked I stood on the porch for a moment and looked down at my feet in the snow. My hands were shaking, but not with the sudden cold. "What am I doing?" I asked myself. I knew that this was a turning point for me. I was stuck at a cross-roads. I knew that this was not going to be the last time Romeo asked me over while his kids were there, and eventually he would want me there while they were awake. I had told him I wasn't looking for a serious relationship, but here he was, forcing my hand, even if he didn't know he was doing it. I have to believe he didn't know, because otherwise he was intentionally using his kids as leverage to force me into a more serious relationship, and I would like to think better of him than that.
There I was, only hours after having been in the whirlwind stage of my romance with Romeo, seeing the path that was leading to our separation. I felt bile in my mouth and tears in my eyes. It wasn't fair. I was the younger man, I wasn't the one with children, and yet I was the one who had decided that the romance was over. Even then, on that porch, I knew that my love affair with Romeo was over, it just hadn't snuffed out and died yet.