Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sample Sunday

My last sample from I Want You Back was what happened in the bridal salon at Cherilyn and Derrick's wedding. Today's unedited sample follows Nick after he left...

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She was right, not since they had first met would he consider what they did as dating. The first few times, he’d taken her out to dinner and a movie or they visited one of the popular clubs in Buckhead. What they had was a relationship, one that was more like a marriage than he cared to admit.

His phone rang, and his father’s cell number appeared on the digital dash display.  It was pointless to ignore it, because Victor Stafford Sr. was like a dog with a bone. He groaned and hit the button to answer.

“Hey, Daddy. Can I call you back? I’m driving right now.”

“Don’t BS me, boy. Your car has Bluetooth. I bought it, remember?”

Nick sighed. “Right. What’s up?”

“Where are you right now?”

“On I-20 on my way home.”

“Your mother and I want you to swing by here first.”

“Is it important? I have to get up early tomorrow.”

“What do you mean, is it important?” His voice rose. “We’ll be waiting for you.” The line went dead, and Nick beat his fist on the steering wheel. He’d expected this, but not so soon. The best way to handle it was to just get it over with, so he took the next exit for I-285 and headed for Cascade Road.

And so it begins. I’m being called on the carpet.

His mother and father were sitting in the family room when he arrived at the house and let himself in. “Have a seat, son,” his father said, looking perturbed. “I guess it’s pointless to ask if it’s true, since your mother has already received two phone calls from friends who were at the wedding.

“This is my business, Daddy. It’s between Cher and me. I may be your youngest, but I’m not a damn kid. Why are you calling me on the carpet like I’m sixteen?”

“Nicholas, don’t ever speak to your father like that!” his mother interrupted before his father had a chance to explode. “You and Cherilyn haven’t been together for almost a year. Why would you break up her wedding?”

“Because he doesn’t have a bit of sense,” the elder man sputtered.

“Victor, let him answer.” She turned back to Nick and waited for a response with a shadow of disappointment in her eyes.

“I didn’t break up the wedding. I just went to speak to her before the ceremony.”

“Couldn’t you have come up with a better way? Showing up at the wedding was so crass. We raised you better than that.”  

“Nobody saw me except Cher, her mother and one of the bridesmaids. I’m sorry I’ve embarrassed you, but I never stopped loving Cher. She wouldn’t respond to any effort I made to get in touch with her. I had to get her to see what a big mistake she was making. What else could I do, Mama?”

“You could’ve told me. Cherilyn and I had such a good relationship; I could have talked to her and told her how you were feeling. Why are you so convinced it would’ve been a mistake?”

“She called off the wedding, didn’t she? If she loved him, she would’ve gone through with the wedding as soon as I left.”

They responded with raised eyebrows. “But this doesn’t make sense. You told us that you two broke up because she felt you were getting too serious.”

Nick hung his head and mumbled, “I lied.”

“What?” His father’s voice rose again. “Why?”

“Because I knew you and Mama would think I was a fool for breaking up with her. Cher wanted to get married, and with doing my residency, studying for step three of the boards and…”

“The idea scared you.”

“Yes, ma’am. It scared me to death. I tried to explain that to Cher, but she wasn’t hearing it.”

She leaned in, folded her hands and pinned him with her gaze. “I think there was more to it, Nicholas.”

He chewed on his bottom lip. “There was. She felt that I’d started to take advantage of her.”

“Did you?”

“Mama, it didn’t feel like that to me. I loved being at her apartment and having her cook for me. I’d do my laundry there, because it was just more convenient, since she has her own washer and dryer. The ones in my building work when they feel like it and…” Her questioning gaze stopped him. “Yeah, I did.”

His father was strangely silent as he listened to the discourse between mother and son.

“Now that she’s broken her engagement for you, it’s time for you to step up, as you boys always say.”

Nick snickered. “She told me our relationship has new rules now, and I have to date her like I was supposed to.”

“Good for her. I realize you’re from a different generation, and you have different ideas about things, Nicholas, but we taught you to respect women.”

His father finally spoke. “Cherilyn is a great girl, and it’s clear that she loves you. If you love her, marry her, son. Don’t make her regret what she did to Derrick today.”

“Daddy, you know I don’t have the money for a wedding now.”

“Maybe she doesn’t want a big wedding. Maybe she just wants to be married to you. You need to find out.”

“Since when has one of my brothers gotten married without you giving them a reception that rivaled Barack’s inaugural ball?”

“Greg and Rhani did,” his mother answered.

“And it took you months to get over it.”

“I don’t deny that, but we gave them a fabulous party a few weeks later, and we’d do the same for you and Cherilyn. Isn’t that right, Victor?” She sent him a piercing glance.

“That’s right,” his father answered without hesitation. He knew he’d be in the doghouse for months if he denied Lillian Stafford an opportunity to plan a celebration.

“You’d do that after I’ve caused a scandal?”

She covered his hand with hers. “Don’t be silly. You’re our son, and after Marc married and divorced a Las Vegas showgirl, Charles got himself kidnapped and Greg got arrested for indecent exposure, nothing you boys do can embarrass me anymore.”

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