Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 3

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Christmas Eve- Part 3

Brian

 

My father jumped out of his recliner as his favorite football team scored. “Go, go, go….yes! See, Brian, I told you! Pay up!”

Beside me, my future father-in-law shook his head. “That was just luck.” He dug into his wallet and pulled out the money to pay his debt.

“No, that was an athlete who knows how to play the game,” Dad said, laughing as he collected his winnings.

I dug into my pocket and gave my dad a dollar before glancing at Clarence. He appeared calm, even though his team was losing. The good-natured bets going back and forth between us was an easy way to study the temperament of my future father-in-law. After last night’s handshake, I was still on edge.

He sipped his beer and studied my father’s movie posters on the wall during the commercial break. “Nice man cave you’ve got here, Winfred. I’ve tried to get Anita to let me have one inside the house.” He shook his head. “You’d think after thirty years of paying the mortgage I would have earned a room. Instead, I got pushed out to the garage.”

Both men laughed.

“What we won’t do for the women we love, eh?” My dad supplied.

Clarence raised his bottle. “Here, here.”

Both men looked at me. I held my bottle up in agreement then gulped.

A soft knock on the door drew everyone’s attention. Ebony peeked into the room. “Excuse me, Brian, your mom would like you to run to the store before they close.” She held up a sheet of paper.

I tried to hide my relief. “Sure.”

If I was lucky, Ebony would be able to sneak away with me. After my mother’s invitation to spend the week at the house with everyone else, Ebony and I had gone to our respective homes and grabbed enough clothes for the week. Our original plan had been to spend the rest of the holiday at our new home.

Three weeks had passed since we signed the lease. Ebony came by periodically to help unpack and set things up. A few of her personal items had made their way over. Her official move-in date was a few days after Christmas. Regardless, my attempt to convince her to spend at least one night at our new home and come back in the morning hadn’t worked. She insisted on not disappointing our parents. In the end, not only had I slept alone, I slept in my childhood bed.

My mother insisted we sleep in separate rooms because we weren’t married. She knew we had sex, but my parents were old fashioned. ‘Unwed? No sex in my beds!’ was her motto.

Imagining my fiancée sleeping down the hall in addition to the intimidation of being in the same room with her father made a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

I joined Ebony in the hallway. “How are things in the kitchen?”

She walked over, slipped her arms around my waist, and laid her head against my chest. “Up until twenty minutes ago, fine.”

I caught the change in her voice; she was no longer as excited as she’d been at breakfast.

In need of physical connection as much as she apparently did, I held her tight. “What happened? Is everything okay?”

Before she could reply, I heard the door to the man-cave open behind me.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind if I ride with you? I could use a bit of fresh air.”

Clarence’s booming voice forced me to jump away from Ebony as if we were teenagers caught red handed. My back was turned to him so he couldn’t see my initial cringe as I squeezed my eyes shut.  “Sure. I’ll be ready to leave in five minutes.”

“Let me grab my shoes.” Clarence walked by me, stopped at Ebony, who’d stepped away from me, and kissed her cheek before heading for the stairs.

Ebony watched as he disappeared, then turned to me. “I saw that look. Things aren’t going well in there either?”

I shrugged. “They’re getting along fine. Men are easy. Beer, sports, everything is all good.”

She cocked her head to the side, studying me. “What about you?”

“I’m hanging in there.” It was my turn to study her. “How about you? You guys seem to be getting along great. We can hear the laughter over the T.V.”

Ebony ran a hand over her head. “Woman can be touchy, especially when the subject of weddings and babies comes up.” She shuttered.

I was about to ask for details when I heard her father’s heavy footfalls on the stairs. I kissed her quick. “We’ll talk tonight after everyone goes to bed, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan. Be safe.” She kissed me again and headed for the kitchen.

“Ready to go?” Clarence said.

“Yes, sir.”

***

We were in my truck, merging into the main street traffic when Clarence spoke.

“Brian, I have to be honest. When my daughter told us she’d been dating a white man and that you were engaged, I had my reservations. Even after she told us about what you’ve done for her, I still was wary. Things were different when my wife and I got married, but times have changed. We raised our children to be open-minded, loving, and honest individuals. As a father, it’s hard to imagine your little girls growing up and being involved with a man. You worry about how well they’ll be treated and if the guy really loves them…” His voice drifted off as if in remembering something.  “Then one day they say, ‘Pop, I’m getting married.’” You learn to handle it and move on, but it’s never easy.

“Ebony has always been strong minded, hard-headed, and determined to have what she wants. Ever since she was a little girl.” He chuckled. “I can’t tell you how many times she almost gave her mother a heart attack by bringing injured animals home and hiding them in the garage.”

I smiled, trying to picture Ebony doing those things. Then I felt Clarence staring at me. My smile dropped.

“You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve come off as rude. With everything my daughter has told us over the last few weeks, it was quite a shocker. What happened to her…what you did…the engagement…that was a lot of information to process at one time.”

“And the fact that I’m white.” I glanced over in time to see him crack a small smile and nod.

“And there’s that. Can’t lie and say we weren’t shocked.”

I braced myself for what he was about to say next.

“But since meeting you and your family, I can understand why she loves you. You’re a good man and come from a good family.”

My mouth fell open. I risked a glance as I drove to make sure I hadn’t heard incorrectly.

Clarence watched me, an enormous smile on his face.

“Thank you, sir,” I stammered.

His thunderous laugh reverberated in the car. “You were scared, huh? I must say, you did better than my other son-in-law. Poor boy nearly pissed his pants the first time he met me, and he’s black.”

I found myself laughing. “Well, I didn’t have problems with my bodily functions, but my hand still aches.”

“Sorry about that. I hope it’s not one you play with.”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. I’ve done a lot worse. When I first met Ebony, I did yard maintenance for a living. There were numerous times when I had cuts and bruises on my hands and had to go to the club to play that night. Professionals learn to do what you must for the show to go on.”

He nodded. “True. Which is what I want to talk to you about.”

Something about his words set me on edge. “What’s on your mind, sir?”

“You can call me Clarence, or Dad, whichever one you’re comfortable with.” He watched me nod. “My daughter comes from a family of hard workers. You’ve seen it for yourself. She’s worked hard to get where she is in her career.”

“Yes, sir. I support her with anything she wants to do. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with her.” I watched him nod with my peripheral vision.

“So I’ve heard. I understand you have a pretty good work ethic, too. You’re a musician and own your own business. How do you balance the two?”

“I’ve got family; my cousins are running the business for now. I join in when I have time. But working for the record company pays well, too.”

“How long do you plan on staying there?”

“Excuse me?” I gave him my full attention when we reached a red light.

“Musicians tend to move from job to job. It’s not like working for a corporation that pays for your health insurance and gives you a 401K. There’s no retirement fund. What happens when Ebony gets pregnant and you guys need a bigger place? What about when you have a second or third kid? Life won’t get easier. I know my daughter is going to get the job at the zoo she wants, but how long will she be able to work once she’s pregnant? What if she takes off from work and decides she’d rather stay home with the kids. Will you be able to handle the expense with the job you have now?”

Clarence looked at me full on. Nothing about his facial expression or body language said he disliked my choice of careers. He was asking real-world questions based on the reality of the commitment Ebony and I were going to make.

“To be honest…” I gripped the steering wheel. “I don’t know. I’ve thought about some of it, but right now, children are not high on our list.”

“Do you guys have a five-year plan? Ten year? Anything?”

I shook my head. The plans Ebony and I made were about our jobs and getting married. Now that I thought about it, even that was unfinished. We had yet to set a definite date.

“We’re moving in together this weekend.” My eyebrows furrowed. “I guess with everything that’s happened, we’ve skipped ahead a few steps.”

“I’m glad you’re willing to admit it,” Clarence said. “There’s one thing I want you to remember.” He paused, waiting for me to look in his direction. “Nothing is set in stone. Plans can be broken, updated, and reevaluated at any time. Trust me. I’ve been married to Ebony’s mother for over thirty years. Sometimes I knew where we were going in life. Other times, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t always share the ups and downs with Anita because the stress would have made her worry too much. There were times when I carried the burden alone. As men, that’s what we do to take care of our families. Remember that. But don’t just take my word for it, ask your father. I’m sure he’s got some stories he’ll be able to tell,” he chuckled, “especially when raising five kids. And four daughters?” He whistled. “Two was enough for me.”

I smiled then got lost in thought.

Clarence had given me a lot to think about. While Ebony said she was supportive of my career, how long would it last? We avoided the baby roulette game once, but what if it happened again? We’d welcome our baby, no doubt about it. But what about everything it would take to care for my family?

Insurance. Housing. Daycare. Stay-at-home mom? Could my current career handle all of that on one income?

Yes, Ebony and I were definitely going to talk tonight.

####

Come back tomorrow for Part 4!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part One

The Meeting- December 23rd

Brian

 

“Brian, my mom just sent me a text. Their flight just landed.” Ebony typed a response on her phone, then cursed. “I hate autocorrect. I typed ‘whoo hoo’ and it posted ‘whoop’. That’s what I get for typing too fast.”

I rested my hands on her shoulders and massaged. “Ebony, calm down, you’re tense. Everything is going to be okay.”

“You don’t understand, Brian. I haven’t seen my parents in nearly a year. And after all that’s happened…”

I reached over, pulled my fiancée into my arms, and kissed her forehead. “What’s making you nervous, having them here or them meeting me face-to-face?”

She looked up at me with her gorgeous brown eyes, her eyebrows furrowing. “Both?”

I chuckled. “I’m supposed to be the one who’s nervous.”

“And you’re not?” Ebony stared at me in disbelief.

“No, I’m not.”

‘Delta Flight 4224 has arrived and is now unloading.’

Ebony squealed with excitement at the announcement then covered her mouth.

I smiled. Seeing my fiancée this happy after the events of the past month was more than I could ever ask for. After the turmoil our relationship had gone through, it was a blessing to still be together.

And now I was about to meet her parents for the first time.

I pushed aside the thought of how long it took Ebony to tell them about us. It turned out her fear of their disappointment because I was white had been unfounded. It took them by surprise, but after what I’d done in retaliation of what happened to their daughter, her parents made it clear that race didn’t matter.

Ebony squeezed my arm. “There they are!” She ran to her mother, embracing while rocking back and forth. Beside them, her father stood, his smile wide as he took in the sight, waiting patiently for his turn.

I took my time walking toward the group, giving them a private moment to reconnect.

Ebony’s mother took a step back and held her daughter at arm’s length, appraising her as if making sure she was actually all right. I couldn’t blame her. The events of the past few months and Ebony’s decision to keep it secret were one of the reasons why they made the trip to California for Christmas. They needed to see for themselves that she was indeed okay.

“So, where is this young man?” her father bellowed, looking around the crowded area.

Ebony turned, looking for me. “There he is! Brian, come meet my parents!”

I paused only to avoid a young man dragging a large suitcase, then made my way across the tile floor. “Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.” I held out my hand to Ebony’s father. He took a second to look me up and down then accepted the handshake.

“I know it’s crazy to do this because you’ve talked on the phone, but I can’t help it. Baby, these are my parents, Clarence and Anita. Mom, Dad, this is my fiancé, Brian Young.”

Ebony’s parents were nothing like I imagined. Mrs. Campbell was the same height as her daughter, but a little thicker.  Her eyes were sharp as she appraised me in a cautious fashion.

Her father, on the other hand, was a large man and could not be missed. His salt and pepper hair and beard gave him the look of a genteel grandfather, but the booming voice and intimidating height said otherwise.

“So, you’re the young man who’s stolen my daughter’s heart.” His eyes bore into mine, and his grip was tight. Though he smiled, the meaning was clear. ‘I may be grateful for what you’ve done for my daughter, but you hurt her and I will kill you.’ It was obvious Ebony was daddy’s little girl.

My insides turned to jelly.  Message received, loud and clear.

“Yes, sir.” I smiled, keeping my fear hidden. I ignored the pain in my hand from his two-hand grip and turned to her mother. Looking at the women side-by-side was like looking into a mirror of the past and future. “Mrs. Campbell, I have no doubt Ebony will be as beautiful as you are as we grow old together.”

An unreadable expression passed over her face. “Oh, why thank you.”

Inside, I kicked myself. So much for assuming my charm and wit in person would have the same results as it did over the phone.  I had to remember, regardless of our racial differences, I was still a man who could hurt their daughter.  Though she wore my ring, they knew nothing about me.

Moments ago I was cool and calm, but between Mr. Campbell’s handshake and Mrs. Campbell’s appraising stare, I was thrown off my game.

Ebony seemed oblivious.

“How about we get your suitcases from the baggage claim? Brian’s mom has put together a great dinner. I hope you’re hungry.”

“Free food? Now you’re talking,” Mr. Campbell said, his attention turning back to his daughter. He walked toward the luggage claim. I followed, leaving Ebony and her mother to reconnect.

****

“Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, these are my parents, Laura and Winfried,” I said, after my mother let us into the house.

“Please, call me Anita, and this is Clarence,” Ebony’s mother said. She accepted my mother’s hug, while Mr. Campbell shook hands with my father.

“Please have a seat and make yourselves comfortable,” my mother said, slipping into hostess mode. If there was one thing she loved, it was entertaining. While everyone, including Ebony, moved to the living room, I brought in the luggage. Fine by me. I was trying my best to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth again. The ride from the airport to my parents’ home couldn’t have gone fast enough. While her parents were cordial, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were the chauffeur. The conversation flowed around me, full of laughter and questions as the family caught up on what was going on back in North Carolina.

“Brian, baby, are you okay?” Ebony joined me in the foyer, concern etched into those lovely features.

I cleared my throat and walked toward the front door. “Yeah, I’m good. Just getting the rest of the luggage.”

“You’re lying.” She poked my shoulder and followed me outside to the trunk of her car. “My father made you nervous, didn’t he?”

“No.” I popped the trunk and grabbed what had to be her mother’s bag. It weighed a ton.

Beside me, Ebony burst into laughter. “It’s okay to admit it. He’s a bit intimidating in person.”

Intimidating wasn’t the half of it. Mr. Campbell was not a little man. Though we stood at the same height and he had about twenty pounds on me, his booming voice is what did the trick. Though I’d talked to him for a brief period of time on the phone, it was something quite different to be face-to-face with the father of the woman I loved. For once, I could understand exactly why Ebony had been hesitant about telling them about our relationship.

I shrugged. “Maybe just a little.”

Ebony forced me to put the bag I’d pulled out of the trunk on the ground.

Her arms went around my neck. “Do you love me?”

“You know I do.” I leaned down for a kiss, taking my time to savor the connection with my fiancée. The woman I’d willingly sacrifice my life for. The woman I was ready to kill for.

“Then don’t worry about a thing. They’re staying with your parents, and from what I’ve seen, I doubt they will kill each other. It’s like you told me, everything is going to be all right.”

I let out a half-laugh. She used my words against me.

“You’re right. They’ll be here and you’ll be with me.” I kissed her again. “I can’t wait to get you home tonight.”

The sexy smile I loved appeared. “Me, neither.”

I pulled away to grab the suitcase off the ground while Ebony leaned in to grab the smaller carry-on pieces.

We entered the foyer and dropped off the bags at the base of the steps. I had no idea which room my mother wanted them in.

“Oh, there you two are!” My mom walked over, hugged and kissed Ebony. “We thought you got lost outside.”

“No, just getting the bags. Which room do you want them in?” I asked.

“You can put them in your sisters’ old room.”

“Okay.” I grabbed a bag and started up the stairs.

“Oh, by the way, we’ve all been talking, and Ebony, it seems so unfair for your parents to fly across the country for Christmas to see you, only for you to live thirty minutes away. We’ve decided it would be best if both of you stayed here for the week. We’ve got plenty of room in this house. Ebony, you can sleep in one of the spare rooms. Brian, you can have your old room.”

My eyes went wide. “What?” I looked over at Ebony whose eyes were lit up.

“Mrs. Young, are you sure?”

My mother reached over for Ebony’s hand. “How many times do I have to tell you it’s okay to call me Mom?” They both laughed. “Yes, it would be perfect. Not to mention it would save gas and time for us to all get together. Besides, Brian, it will give you a chance to know your future in-laws.” My mother pinched my cheek. “Don’t take too long; dinner will be served in fifteen minutes.” She left to join everyone else in the living room.

“Brian, this is going to be so much fun!” She grabbed the carry-on bag and started up the steps.

I stood at the bottom in shock. Why did I have a feeling this wasn’t going to be as fun as Ebony thought?

####

Come back tomorrow for Part Two!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs! 

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email