I let out a heavy sigh. “You have no idea how much I love you one minute and want to strangle you the next.”
“Ditto.” He nodded once and then laughed at my pointed glare.
“I’m serious, Marcus. I want you to be able to tell me what you’re feeling. Granted, not every single thing, because let’s face it, I don’t tell you every time I’m down, stressed, or in a shitty mood.” I raised my hand and pressed it against his jaw line, allowing my fingers to trace along the prickles of his facial hair. “But when something is bothering you deep down, and it’s taking a toll on you, on us, I expect you to confide me. Believe it or not, I’m not going anywhere, Marcus. I’m not running away from our problems. I want to fix them, even if we have to argue it out at first. That’s okay, as long as you know I’m going to be here to talk it out with you at the end of it.”
I searched his face and smiled as a soft grin formed along his lips as he said, “I truly don’t deserve you, but I’m grateful every single day that you’re mine. I know it’s frustrating at times, and I appreciate that even through all the bullshit you still stick around. I didn’t realize how much my bottled-up problems bothered you. I promise to work harder at it. Just know that I am trying.”
My fingers ran down his face. “I know you are, baby. I just need you to try a little harder.” He let out a chuckle. “Although, I do have to thank you.”
Puzzled, he glanced up, his brown eyes no longer filled with the anger he held earlier. “For what?”
“For coming in here and talking it out, for once not using sex as a way to cope with our issues, for allowing me to spill my feelings, and for just listening.”
Marcus still held a confused expression in his eyes as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me in closer to him. “Wait, so no make-up sex?”
Rolling my eyes, I grabbed his face and pulled him in for a quick kiss. “No, we need to finish getting ready and meet up with the others.”
“Not even a quickie?” His lips parted into a full-blown grin.
Shaking my head, I slapped his bicep and hopped off the counter. “Get ready, Marcus.” I turned around, facing the mirror again to finish applying my makeup, a bit more content than earlier.
He slapped my ass and headed toward the bedroom, yelling behind him. “Fine, but that ass is mine tonight.”
Oh my God, what was I going to do with that man?
“Mia, you look beautiful.” William shouted over the noise in the crowded restaurant as he pulled me into a hug.
“Thank you.” I pulled away from our embrace and checked out his attire: khaki pants, a red cashmere sweater, and brown loafers. His grey goatee was neatly trimmed and his musky cologne engulfed the waiting area of the restaurant. “You look very handsome.” I smiled up at him as I caught his cheeks flushing.
As my grandfather and Marcus greeted each other, I hugged my grandmother who was dressed in a navy blue skirt and matching blouse, with pearl earrings and necklace. “How are you, darling?” She asked as we untangled.
“Good, where are the others?” I searched over her shoulders to find them but couldn’t make out where they were.
With a wave of her hand, she wrinkled her nose. “They’re late.” Kathy shook her head in disapproval. “That daughter of mine is always late. They’ll be here soon.”
We waited ten minutes before our table was called. A waitress, who instantly took notice of Marcus, led us to a round table set for seven. After we took our seats, she handed us a wine and drink menu to view while we waited for the rest of our company.
“Marcus, what’s your poison? Are you a liquor or beer man?” William spoke as his eyes scanned over the drink menu.
Marcus cleared his throat, and leaned back as he wrapped an arm behind my chair. “I’m more of a liquor man, but I’m always down for a good beer.”
“Whisky?” William looked up from the menu with an arched brow toward Marcus.
William’s lips curled into a grin. “Atta boy. Ma’am?” He waved the waitress back over and handed over the menu, “Two Johnnie Walkers on the rocks, a glass of merlot for my wife here, and, Mia?” He looked at me.
“A cosmo, please.” The waitress nodded before turning on her heels and padding her way toward the bar.
William looked over at Marcus and me. With a huge grin, he leaned his elbows on the table. “So, with all that was going on yesterday, we didn’t have much time to discuss the two of you. How long have you been dating?”
I wasn’t expecting that, and as I started doing the math, Marcus chimed in, “Six months.”
My head snapped in his direction, and with furrowed brows, I questioned it, “Really?”
Smiling, he ran his hand up and down my arm. “Yes, babe. We met in April. Well, to be technical, we met at the end of April, so it’ll be six months in a couple of weeks.”
“Wow, I didn’t realize it was that long. It felt so much shorter.”
“That’s a good thing, honey,” Kathy said with a smile.
“It is?” I questioned.
“Oh, yeah,” William chuckled. “Kathy and I have been married for over forty years, and it feels like yesterday when she agreed to marry me.” He leaned in and kissed the side of her head.
Adoration filled his eyes as he took a moment to admire his wife. I couldn’t help but smile at the two of them. “It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy,” Kathy added. “Marriage takes a lot of work, but if you can find someone willing to accept your flaws, it eventually works itself out.”
Marcus gently squeezed my arm, and my mind traveled to our earlier conversation in the bathroom. He must have thought about it as well. The discussion about marriage caused my thoughts to wander to our engagement that was put on hold. When Marcus and I rekindled our relationship a month ago, it was something that we both agreed to put aside as we worked on us. Marriage was no longer the priority; building our relationship was.
When the waitress arrived with our drinks, William lifted his glass. “To a long life together.” Marcus and Kathy lifted their glasses with a simple nod, and we all took a sip of our drinks.
“You guys started the party without us?” Megan complained as she approached us with my mother and Jeremy trailing behind her.
“Come join us, my dear. Our drinks just arrived,” Kathy uttered with a wave of her hand.