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 "FINGER". With that being said, lets resume where our story left off....
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ALAS THIS IS TO BE CONTINUED BUT SINCE IT'S BEEN PICKED UP BY MY PUBLISHER YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THE TALE ON MAY 18TH. THE BEGINNING OF THE TALE WILL REMAIN ON MY SITE THROUGH THE MONTH OF JUNE BEFORE IT'S REMOVED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE PUBLISHER.
Missed the previous parts? Click HERE
Sitting around the huge dining room table, Kaleb could feel the tension building in the room. He wondered for the hundredth time if this was wise. He was ecstatic that Paisley had decided to give his family a chance to know her, but he was on pins and needles. Particularly when he’d hoped that it would just be his ma and pops meeting her this first time. But evidently news still travels fast here because Sandy and Malachi invited themselves to dinner. I was lucky that Shanice and Jada hadn’t shown up with their spouses and kids in tow. Sitting next to him, he gave Paisley’s knee a gentle squeeze as she spoke in soft tones with Malachi, who was seated on her other side.
“So tell me Ms. Dawson, when do you plan to graduate?” William Bryant reached for the basket of rolls.
“Pa, she probably isn’t planning on graduating. Going to school and having a baby at the same time isn’t an easy task particularly for a…” Sandy started.
“That’s enough.” Kaleb interrupted, tossing his napkin on the table.
“What? I was just saying that starting an advanced degree at the same time as motherhood is difficult.
Paisley took a sip of water. “I couldn’t agree with you more, Sandy. Thankfully I only have a couple classes left and I’ll have my doctorate.” When she saw the disbelief in the faces around her, his Paisley sighed. He knew she was used to this. Always being judging upon her face alone – hell, even he had done it. “I’m what you call gifted. I graduated from high school at fifteen with honors. I had my first bachelor’s degree at eighteen and now at twenty-one, I’ve almost got my doctoral studies done – then all I have to do is write my thesis and do some teaching. But all of that can be scheduled around my responsibilities as a mother.” She pressed a hand against her belly.
The silence was deafening as if they couldn’t believe that such a brainy woman had chosen Kaleb.
“Whoa, bro – you didn’t tell me she was like a super geek.” Malachi whispered in mock horror.
“Malachi Andrew!” Gladys scolded.
“It’s alright, Mrs. Bryant.” Paisley laughed softly. “A super geek is probably one of the nicer monikers I’ve been called.” She lifted a dainty spoonful of potatoes to her lips.
The meal passed quickly after that – more quickly than he’d expected despite Sandy’s numerous attempts to draw Paisley into an argument. Pride swelled through him as he watched Paisley handle the other woman’s snide comments gracefully, but with just enough bite that his brother and father couldn’t help but chuckle when Sandy finally gave up, storming away from the table. The sound of the front door’s screen slamming had Malachi shaking his head.
“Well, I suppose I better take her home.” Malachi tossed the napkin down on the table, rising. “It was a great meal as always, Ma.” He turned to Paisley. “It was honestly a pleasure to meet you, Paisley. Somehow I think you’re going to keep my brother on his toes.”
“It was a pleasure to meet you, Malachi.” After he gave her a surprising kiss across her brow, he was gone - following his wife. They finished the rest of the meal with quiet conversation. Once the meal was done, his mother announced that the men had clean up duties.
“While you men clean up, I’m going to take this delightful young woman to sit on the sun porch. Do you enjoy gardening, Paisley?”
“I’m sorry to say I have a black thumb when it comes to growing things, Mrs. Bryant, but I do enjoy the gardens on campus.”
The woman harrumphed as she guided Paisley out of the room. Kaleb longed to follow them but was stopped by his daddy.
“You and I need to talk, Son.” William grabbed the empty potato bowl, walking it to the sink.
Kaleb groaned inwardly as he began to stack the dirty plates. So far he’d managed to avoid the “conversation” with his dad, but knew he wouldn’t be able to put William off this time.
Coming back to the table, William continued to gather dishes. Kaleb had learned at an early age that he couldn’t rush his dad. The man would speak when he was ready.
“Your girl seems like a nice enough gal.” Scrapping leftover pasta salad into a container for later, he paused to look up at Kaleb. “But she’s white.”
“I’m aware of that.” Kaleb joined his dad at the counter, carrying the dirty plates.
“Then you’re not oblivious to the issues you’re going to have with the family?” Sealing the container shut, William put it in the fridge.
“It’s ridiculous. Paisley isn’t Pam – other than both of their names starting with P and the fact they are both white, that’s the only similarity. Pam wanted what Uncle Ray could give her, nothing else.”
“And your girl hasn’t asked you for support yet? For the baby? She hasn’t made demands?”
Turning, Kaleb leaned against the counter. “No, and honestly it worries me. She’s been very honest about wanting to keep the baby – to allow me to be part of his or her life but she hasn’t asked me for a dime.”
His dad looked up at him sharply. “Have you offered her anything? Where I came from if a man got a woman in trouble he puts a ring on her finger, boy.”
This was it – the crux of the matter. His dad didn’t care about Paisley’s race. It was the fact that he hadn’t asked Paisley to marry him that was grating on the old man’s nerves. “I don’t want her to think that the only reason I’d marry her is because she’s expecting my child. When I left for Iraq I wasn’t expecting to come home to…”
“Cut the bull, Boy. Do you love her?” He pinned his son with the same stare Kaleb had felt when he was a youngster and had stepped in it.
“So much that I nearly decked Malachi at the airport when he tried to stop me from going to find her. You know how close Malachi and I are – but the fact that I’d threaten him with physical harm, should be proof enough. She’s my world, Pops. I plan on spending the rest of my life with her, if I can convince her to have me.”
William studied him for several long moments. “All right then. I’ll handle your mother and the rest of them, but I want to see your ring on her finger before my grandbaby is born. He or she deserves to be a Bryant.”
A wave of relief hit Kaleb so hard, he nearly shook. Once he had his father on his side it was only a matter of time before the rest of his family accepted Paisley.