I have to say a quick thank you for those of you following my tale. Make sure you stop back here to read the rest of contributors. This week's prompt was the word "DAFFODILS". With that being said, lets resume where our story left off....
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TO BE CONTINUED...
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Glancing at the address Kaleb had scrawled on a slip of paper before leaving yesterday morning, Paisley checked the house number one more time. While she wasn’t totally familiar with this area of New York, the directions he’d given her were easy enough to follow. Thankfully the car her folks had helped her buy before she’d left for college was new enough to make the two hour trip to Kaleb’s childhood home.
“229, 233, ahhh…there it is…237.” She tossed the paper back onto the dash. Pulling into the drive next to a well-tended lawn, she got her first glimpse of the home where Kaleb, his brother Malachi and his two sisters had grown up in. Sitting back from the street, the sprawling ranch house was sporting what looked like a fresh coat of paint. The bountiful flowers lining the walk reminded her to grab the fresh bouquet of daffodils that Kaleb had suggested she pick up. They were supposedly his mother’s favorite. She found it hard to believe that she was willingly walking into what was sure to be a hornet’s nest after the hell that Sandy had put her through.
Turning off the ignition, she was just putting her keys in her purse, when there was a tap on her window. Glancing up, she nearly did a double take. The man peering in the window at her was nearly the spitting image of Kaleb. If she hadn’t memorized every detail of her lover’s face, she might of have mistaken him for Kaleb. She rolled down her window.
“Malachi, I assume?” She fought to keep her voice steady.
The man grinned. “How did you know?”
She cocked her head. “You look quite a bit alike, but you’re missing the tiny scar at the corner of your left eye. The one Kaleb told me you gave him when you were screwing around with a sling shots one Sunday afternoon.” She smiled tentatively. “How you both got your bottoms warmed by your mother when she saw the blood and the mess you made of your Sunday clothes.”
“He started it…” Malachi protested.
She arched an eyebrow at him. “And he said you’d say that. He says you have an excuse for every scrape you got into as a child – that you thought you were the ultimate smooth talker.”
He chuckled. “Yep, that would be me – and I do have to say, Ms. Paisley, you are about as delightful as my brother claimed. Speaking of which, Kaleb got hung up at the store with Momma, but asked that I be on the lookout for you.” He leaned in closer. “I promise I don’t bite. In fact, I’ve always been considered the more charming twin.”
She studied him thoughtfully. “And I supposed the more modest of the two, also?”
Malachi burst out laughing. “I can so see why my brother fell for you. Not only are you pretty as picture but smart too.” He opened the car door, before making an exaggerated bow. “Would you allow me to escort you inside, Madame?” His phony French accent and outstretched arm had her giggling.
Placing her hand on his arm, she used it for leverage as she maneuvered her belly out from behind the steering wheel. She was just straightening when she caught a glimpse of a woman walking down the walk towards them. Sandy sneered at her. Her confidence nearly wavered but she forced herself to remember the issues behind her nemesis’s actions.
“You dare show your face here? Wasn’t I clear enough the last time? You aren’t wanted!” She moved closer her ivory sundress a beautiful contrast to her dark skin. Next to her, Paisley felt like a bloated whale in the deep red empire-waist gown she’d worn for Kaleb. While Sandy looked fresh as a daisy, she felt as rumpled and worn as an old shoe.
Malachi scowled at his wife, but before he could open his mouth the slam of a car door behind her, drew Sandy’s attention away. “Momma.”
“You made it, baby.” Kaleb walked up behind her and pulled her back against him, wrapping his arms around her waist, cupping their child. The familiar warmth of his embrace warmed her – blocking out the harsh words from Sandy. As Kaleb gently pivoted with her to face his mother, she caught a glimpse of Sandy’s hate filled expression. Wanting nothing more than to hide in his arms, but knowing she couldn’t she focused on his mother. If she’d expected something like the characters from Big Momma’s House, she would’ve been disappointed. Nearly as tall as her son, Mrs. Bryant was a fit attractive woman in her early sixties dressed in a smart pair of capris and a brilliant sapphire blue top. In fact if it hadn’t been for the silver in her hair, she’d have thought the woman was in her late forties at oldest, and not old enough to birth Kaleb and his brother let alone two other children.
“Hello, Mrs. Bryant.” She held out the bouquet to the woman. “Kaleb told me you enjoyed these.”
With her hands on her hips, Gladys Bryant started at the offering with cool eyes. It went on for such a long time Paisley’s arm began to tremble.
“Ma?” Kaleb’s plea seemed to break the tension between the women. Grudgingly, she finally took the flowers from Paisley.
“Thank you, Ms. Dawson.” She stepped around Kaleb to head into the house, followed by the smug Sandy and a much more subdued Malachi.
If this was the effect her being here was going to have, she wasn’t sure if she could stay. The doctor had warned her about undue stress – but this was Kaleb, her lover. If she wanted him in their lives she had to figure out a way to get along with his family and now understanding the underlying factors, she could be empathic – couldn’t she? Turning in Kaleb’s arms, Paisley buried her face in his shirt. “I don’t know if I can do this, Kaleb. I wasn’t expecting such hostility.”
“Shhh. It will be okay.” He whispered against her temple. “I love that you’re making this attempt for my family. It will be a shame if the baby doesn’t know his family, but if they can’t get past their short-sightedness – then it wasn’t because you didn’t try.” He rubbed her back, rocking her gently. “If it gets too bad we’ll leave. Can we at least try through dinner? If it doesn’t get better - then I’ll take you home.” His hand cupped her chin, tilting her face. He brushed his mouth over hers. “How are you and our baby doing today? I missed not sleeping in your arms last night.” He nuzzled her lips until they parted on a sigh. After pressing a lingering kiss on them, he lifted his head.
“You mean you missed being kicked by Junior?” The tease slipped out with an ease she hadn’t expected but now they were alone, she relaxed.
He chuckled. “Well, I wouldn’t say that, but I sure as hell missed holding his momma close. If putting up with the little rapscallion’s antics is the price I have to pay, then I’ll gladly pay it.”
“I loved having you hold me, Kaleb…to feel your body next to mine in the night.”
His eyes darkened, his need evident as he began to dip his head.
“Kaleb Nathanial Bryant!” His mother’s voice echoed through the yard.
“Opps.” A giggle escaped her.
“Damn I feel like I’m back in high school trying to steal a kiss of Nakia St.John.” He held his arm out. “Shall we?”
She nodded hesitantly, allowing him to guide her up the walk.