It has been three weeks since Mary Farsby visited us.
Raph didn't contact her again, and maybe that was for the best. She wasn't really his type, and he struggled to make conversation with her.
I discovered the identity of my mystery hacker. Some sixteen year old internet wizard who got into heaps of trouble when I sent the cops his way.
Leo has asked Raph to help him teach in the dojo. I think that's a wonderful idea. Raph needs focus, and Leo can give him exactly that.
He's a little unsure around the women students and his uncertainty around them is making them swoon over him. I guess women like shy guys. He's been asked out for a date twice but hasn't accepted any requests.
It's annoying that Raph is holding back from finding someone to love. I decided to have a chat with him, and see if I could help him overcome his crippling shyness with women.
I'm not really the best one to advise Raph on his dating strategies with ladies, as my interests run in a completely different direction, but he desperately needs someone to help him conquer his fear.
Leo is busy at the dojo, with his mentoring and tuition. Mike is busy out on the streets. I'm busy too, but I'm very efficient at organising my time effectively.
I caught Raph one evening as he was attempting to make dinner. Leo and Mike were both out for the night, checking out a bar for informants, and generally just having a good time and a few drinks. They don't really need an excuse to hit the bar these days, but both like to be useful and Leo would have never been tempted out if Mike hadn't pulled the big guns and told him there was a possibility he'd need his brother watching his back.
Leo was a sucker for responsibility and agreed to accompany Mike to the bar. He didn't intend to drink, but Mike would pass that hurdle when he came to it. Leo was a funny drunk. He would lose all co-ordination and become relatively helpless for the duration of his insobriety. Mike loved it, and would encourage Leo to drink past his limits.
I didn't encourage that. Mike could still be so immature sometimes. The idea of Leo crashing over a bar stool and landing flat on his shell wasn't something I had an interest in observing.
Raph was trying to make spaghetti bolognaise. He had left the sauce simmering too long without stirring it. The red mess had congealed and didn't look very appetising at all. He had also failed to cook the spaghetti right, and the whole thing had clumped together like a humongous pasta blob.
At least he was trying.
In the aftermath of the bullet wound, Leo had given Raph a severe lecture on family responsibility and personal care. Some of the points made seemed to have stuck with my hotheaded brother and now he was trying hard to redeem himself with the rest of us.
His making a dinner, albeit a messy one, was his way of showing me he was trying to change for the better.
We sat down together at the table and started to eat through the congealed mess. I didn't have the heart to tell him my true feelings on his cooking, so I merely ate in silence for a while.
"Don." I looked up to see Raph staring at me with an amused expression on his face. "You're scrunching your face up. Is it that bad?"
I coughed a little and my hand flew out to grab a napkin. I wiped my mouth and shook my head, wishing to spare his feelings. "Not at all. It's a work in progress, sure. I'm very impressed.
"Yeah, okay then." Raph sounded amused. "I'm not going to break down if you tell the truth, Don."
I nodded. "Let me just say it could be better."
We settled into a companionable silence. I was still wondering how to approach him regarding his lack of confidence with women.
"It's okay, Donny." Raph smiled at me, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "I'm not ready to find someone yet."
I sighed, exasperated. "Raph! You would be an ideal partner for someone. It's a shame you are missing out."
"Not missing out, Don. I do get nervous around women, but that's just me. I haven't met the girl of my dreams yet. I know that. She's out there, I have to believe it. I'm gonna hold off until I meet her. I'm not in a rush."
"Don't you ever wonder what it's like to hold a woman in your arms, naked and wanting you?" My eyes were wide. Was Raph a monk or something? Surely he wanted physical intimacy with another. I lifted a spaghetti heap to my mouth and chewed away. It was like chewing rubber.
"Not with just anyone, Don. I'm not a sex-mad beast like you and Mikey. I'll be happy when I find the one. Not just a bedmate." Raph smiled warmly. "So quit worrying, brainiac."
I shook my head and smiled ruefully. "I can't believe you are being so level-headed over this. When we were younger, I always thought you would be some Lothario notching up bedposts."
"Instead, I'm the virgin of the group. Go figure." Raph chuckled to himself.
"That's not a bad thing." I said gently. "She's a lucky girl, whoever she is."
Raph winked at me, the mischief back in his eyes. "We'll see. I'm not exactly a flawless package here. I have anger issues, problems with thinking things through and I am built like a brick. I might be intimidating to some girls."
I shook my head with an amused smile. "Not the right girl, Raph. She'll love the whole flawed package."
Raph laughed loudly, and finished devouring his meal. We didn't talk much for the rest of the evening. We simply watched TV and had some much needed family time.
Raphael was finally getting himself together. Best of all, he'd moved on. April was no longer his sun and moon.
I only hoped the next girl he fell in love with would return his affections. Give him the special connection in life that only love could bring.