Pulling back as I wiped my tears, I slightly turned to introduce her to Marcus. “This is my boyfriend, Marcus.” Marcus smiled and reached his hand out to her, but she caught his wrist and pulled him in for a hug. I laughed as Marcus’s larger frame overpowered hers.
“Well, come on in. William left to grab some cheesesteaks. Sara said that’s what you all are looking forward to eating.”
Megan shot an annoyed glance at me when Jeremy clapped his hands and began rubbing them together after yelling out, “Alright! That’s what I’m talking about.” Then he followed in behind Kathy, my grandmother.
“I might kill him before the weekend is over.” Megan leaned into me and whispered.
“If I don’t do it first,” Sara added.
We all entered the tiny brick home and settled in the living room area. I sat between Marcus and my mother on the plastic-covered sofa. Jeremy and Megan sat on the matching love seat across from us, as my grandmother glided on a rocking chair after she provided us with iced tea. There was an awkward silence before Jeremy chirped in.
“You have a lovely home.” He stated with a curt nod.
Lovely? I’d never heard him use that term before.
“Well thank you, dear. I’ve lived here for over sixty years.” She smiled and then turned her gaze to me. “So, Mia, tell me, how’ve you been? What have you done the past few years?” She asked as I sipped on my drink. I quickly glanced at her and then looked around the room. Everyone was quiet, waiting for me to reply. Setting the cup on the antique claw-leg coffee table, I leaned into Marcus as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder securely.
“Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in business, and I’m currently in law school—my second year actually.”
“Oh, that’s amazing news!” She clapped her hands with excitement. It made me smile. I wasn’t used to having someone overly excited about my achievements. It was nice for a change.
She continued to ask me questions about my life, school, where I’d worked, Michael—which was a short conversation because it created a sad vibe—and my relationship with Marcus. She also asked Jeremy a few questions, and his responses helped to lighten any negative energy in the room. We laughed as Megan mentioned past family memories, and I felt a little bit jealous because I had not been there to experience them.
We had been seated for a little over forty minutes when William, my grandfather, barged in with some two-foot-long cheesesteaks and curly fries. I was in awe of his six-foot-tall military frame, perfectly round bald shiny head, grey goatee, and sharp blue eyes. He was intimating, yet his eyes were soft and gentle. When I stood up to greet him, he continued to stare at me as tears formed in his eyes. It was as if no one else were in the room as he continued to ogle me. “Mia.” He forced through the lump in his throat.
I simply nodded. In three strides, he reached me, pulled me into a tight bear hug, and lifted me off the ground. With the tight embrace and the whiff of the musky scent of his cologne, there was a warm feeling about him that gave me a sense of comfort. I relaxed in his arms and hugged him back.
He held my chin with his large manly hand. “You look just like your mother.” He continued to study my features, amazed at the resemblance. “Are you hungry? Did you eat? Do you want something special? I don’t mind going back out and grabbing anything you’d like.”
I laughed and then sniffed back my tears. “I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind. I just want you to have anything you like.” He paused as if a thought rushed through him, and then remorse filled his eyes. He then he pulled me into another tight hold. As much as I thought I would be angry with these two individuals who forced my mother to choose between her family and them, I wasn’t because they showered me with so much love. I could say that I needed it when I was younger, but I didn’t. My father and brother gave me all the love I could ever need. So it was the right moment. I needed them more now than I did years ago, and I could no longer be angry.
“Okay, darling, let the poor girl breathe. You don’t want her to run off, do you?” Kathy, my grandmother, blurted as she approached us. “Let’s all go in to the kitchen to eat.”
“Thank God.” I heard Jeremy mutter beneath his breath. I laughed after William looked up at him with an arched brow and asked who he was.
Within the next couple of hours, we stayed in the kitchen, which was also the dining room area, and we surrounded an oval-shaped wooden table. We all sat in mix-matched chairs. It wasn’t the most elaborate home, but there was a warmth and homey presence to it. Even Marcus laughed and joined in on jokes that William made about Jeremy. The cheesesteaks were beyond amazing and mouthwatering. Jeremy had his fill.
After things died down, Megan sat on William’s lap and hugged him tightly as she hummed to a song that he sang to her as a child. Sara and Kathy stood by the sink and washed dishes. Marcus and Jeremy discussed Marcus’s recent victorious trial, and I sat back and reflected on how grateful I was. There was nothing that I had ever wanted more than to have a family. When I met the DeLucas, I instantly fell in love with them and the love they had for each other. Now I had my own family. Although it was not as large as Marcus’s family, I felt at peace, knowing that I had one.
My phone vibrated in my back pocket, and I excused myself to go outside. As I shut the door behind me, I made my way to a chair swing by the corner of the porch.
“Hello.” I answered.
“Hi, Mia, I’m sorry for being a pain, but I just need to know he’s okay. I’m going crazy over here. I haven’t slept or eaten for the past few days.”
With my head leaning back on the chair, I looked out into the evening sky. “He’s doing okay. He hasn’t mentioned anything about you, but he seems a little better today than he did yesterday.”
Theresa let out a slight sigh of relief. “Well that’s somewhat good news. I need to talk to him. He hasn’t let me explain. He just barged out of here.”
A creaking sound along the porch made me jump. As I glanced over, I was relieved to see it was William. I ended my call with Theresa, promising I would call back tomorrow.
I looked up at his gentle smile. He stood a few feet away from me with his hands dug in his front jean pockets. “Everything okay?”
“Yes, just a friend checking in with me.” I started to stand, but he raised his hand to stop me.