Susan threw her handbag on the bed in wild fury.
“Who the hell do they think they are?” She fumed.
“What is it, Susie?”
“Your children are beginning to entertain funny silly thoughts in their heads.”
“What sort of thoughts?”
“Thoughts of me killing you and I mean it in the literal sense.”
“Come on Susan; don’t blow this out of proportion. They are just looking out for me.”
“By making their mother feel like she’d murder her own husband at the least chance she gets?”
“I’ll talk to them.”
“It’s Stacie you need to talk to. She’s the one brewing this ridiculous stupidity up.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to her.”
“You better,” she said as she entered the bathroom and slammed the door.
After dinner, Gordon called his daughter into his study.
“What is it, dad?”
“Stacie dear, I understand that you’re looking out for me but it seems there’s this uncalled for friction between you and your mum.”
Stacie sighed. “Did she put you up to this?”
“She didn’t have to; she’s my wife and you’re my daughter. The ideal thing for every family man is to have his family live in harmony and not to heap unnecessary suspicions in your mind about each other. Remember, we are a family.”
“Listen to me Stacie, Susan Archer is your mother and no matter what happens, that fact will not change.”
“And you are my father; it’s my responsibility to look after you.”
“Thanks Stacie but I’d prefer that my wife takes up that charge.” Stacie was taken aback.
“I want these recent bickering to stop immediately. At first, I thought them as cute but now they are getting pretty annoying. I want you to show respect to your mother, Stacie and I’m very serious about this. If I see you or if your mother complains to me again about you disrespecting her, I won’t be very pleased with you, Stacie. Are we clear?”
“Dad, there are some things…”
“Are we clear, Stacie?” Gordon repeated, beginning to lose his nerve.
“Yes, dad,” she said, her voice choked with emotion. Gordon got up and left the room. Tears flowed onto her cheeks.
Jason was sitting outside the house, chatting with Jessica on the phone.
“So how’s the drama unfolding at home?” Jessica asked.
“It’s getting weirder by the hour. The tension at home is unbearable.”
“Stacie’s still fighting with your mum?”
“Sort of…Stacie has this odd sense that dad is in danger.” Jessica was quiet.
“Jess… are you there?”
“Yeah I am. So, what do you think?”
“Think about what?”
“Think about your dad probably being in danger.”
“Being around mum? No, that’s ridiculous. Mum cares about dad and dad’s as crazy about her as ever. There’s no way…”
“The heart of men…no one can fathom.”
“This is the second time you’ve done this, Jess. If there’s something you’ve to say, just say it.”
“I’m sorry…it’s not like that. I just think you should not totally ignore Stacie’s fears-she has no reasons to suspect your mum like that. Just do your part to settle it.”
“I will. Got to go; have a hard day at the office tomorrow.”
“Yeah me too; goodnight honey.”
“You too, sweetheart. I love you.”
“I love you, Jay.” They hung up.
When Jason was about to open the door to his room, he overheard Stacie sobbing. He knocked on her door. “Stacie, are you all right?” She didn’t answer.
“Stacie? Can I come in?” When she didn’t reply, he turned the handle but it was locked.
“Let me in, Stacie. What’s wrong with you?”
“Just leave me alone, please!”
“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it but promise me that you’d let me know what this is about tomorrow.” After some seconds, she answered, “Okay.”
“All right then, goodnight. Please don’t stay up all night crying.” He entered his room.
The following morning, the family was having breakfast together when Stacie came downstairs.
“I’m off to campus; see you later,” she said as she walked towards the door.
“You’re not eating breakfast?” Stacie turned to look at her mum.
“Isn’t that obvious?” She turned towards the door.
“What’s in the other bag? Looks like it’s pretty stuffed.”
“Oh please, mind your business, Jason,” she snapped and left the house, slamming the door behind her. Jason turned a shocked face towards his parents.
“What’s with her this morning? Wasn’t expecting her to be in a foul mood today,” Susan said.
“I think I may have a fair idea.”
“What is it, dad?”
“I confronted her about the way she treats your mum. Apparently, she didn’t take it lightly.”
“I see,” Susan simply said.
“Anyway, I’m off to work. I’ll check up on her to see if she’s fine.”
“Thanks Jason,” Susan said. When Jason closed the door behind him, Susan asked her husband, “What exactly did you tell Stacie?”
“I told her to stop brewing this unnecessary feud between you two. Whatever it is, you are still her mother and so you demand her respect. I don’t know, somehow, it didn’t sink well with her.”
“Obviously; thanks honey for standing up for me.”
“Don’t mention it; it’s my responsibility.”
“But still, I really appreciate. I didn’t really expect you to do this since it seems you and Stacie have recently become the new couple in love,” she said mockingly. Gordon burst into laughter.
“Stacie is a darling; I’m sure she got it from you.”
During break time at work, Jason picked up his phone and called Stacie. She picked up after it has rung for some time.
“Okay, are you going to tell me what is going on?”
“What are you talking about?”
“And please don’t use the innocent trick on me. We both know what I’m talking about. So come on, spill it out.”
“Honestly brother, I’ve no idea of what you’re talking about.”
“Okay…let me play around. You were crying in your room last night. Do you mind telling me about it?”
“Actually…no but it’s nothing. You know, it’s just one of those things. We all sometimes feel like crying, right?”
“Now stop swerving the subject, Stacie. Why did you walk out on us during breakfast today?”
“Because I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast. Seriously, could you really figure that out?” Jason sighed.
“So, you’re really not going to tell me, are you?”
“Sorry brother, but there isn’t anything to tell.”
“Fine; we’ll talk about this in the evening, okay?”
“Take care, all right?”
“Yeah, you too, bye.” The line went dead.
“Difficult Stacie,” Jason muttered. His phone rang. It was Jessica. He answered it.
“Hello baby,” he safe affectionately.
“Hi there, how are you doing today?”
“I’m good; getting used to the stress here so yeah, I’m good. And you?”
“I’d say the same. I just wanted to hear your voice. You know one thing I love about you is your voice; it just drives me crazy…in a good sense.” Jason chuckled.
“I miss you, honey. I know we haven’t made time for each other for some time now…”
“And that is why I called. I was thinking, why not have dinner at my place…with lighted candles and blues playing at the background?”
“Hmmm…love the imagery. Sure, I’d love that. It’s been a while since I tasted your cooking. Can’t wait.”
“Okay then; you should report at my place by seven o’clock.”
“Yes ma’am.” Jessica giggled.
“Okay, I’ll see you then.”
“What is it?”
“I love you.”
“Oh, I love you more, Jason Archer. Take care.” The line cut. Jason smiled at the phone before putting it down.
Stacie followed her friend into her room. Stacie looked around the room.
“It’s not that bad,” Stacie commented.
“Uh huh, it’s pretty cool here. And talk of not having parental intrusions, it’s perfect. Have a seat.” Stacie sat on her bed.
“I’m so glad you’d be staying over because of my drink-up party,” Betty said.
“Don’t mention it; I even needed a break from the house. The drama there is overwhelming.” Stacie lay back on the bed.
“I can imagine. So, what did they say when you told them you were staying over on campus today?”
“Nothing, why?” Betty asked, puzzled.
“That’s because I didn’t tell them.”
“What? But why, they would get worried about you, Stacie. And even worse, they would be calling your phone endless time during the party. I don’t want that.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it.”
“Please just tell them. You’re making it seem like I’m the bad friend here influencing you to do something out of your league.”
“And it’s true, right? Don’t worry, I’ll tell them.”
After work, Jessica rushed home to prepare for her special dinner time with Jason. She was lighting the candles when the doorbell rang. She smiled as she walked towards the door and opened the door.
“Hey,” Jason said, giving her a hug.
“I miss you,” Jess said earnestly.
“Yeah me too.” He sniffed the air.
“Hmmm…something smells incredible here.” Jess smiled.
“Well, dinner is ready and the table is set. Would you please join me at the table?”
“It would be my honor.” Jason took her hand as she led him to the table.
“Wow…are we celebrating something?”
“Come on, do we need a special occasion to have dinner like this? Well, when we first met, we were both jobless and quite aimless but now, we are both seriously working and happy. Doesn’t that deserve some sort of celebration?”
“Sure of course; forgive me; I was just overwhelmed with everything on the table.”
“Since you’re the man, why don’t you say Grace?” Jess suggested.
“Sure; heavenly Father, we thank you for this wonderful meal. Bless the hands that prepared it as well those going to eat it. Sanctify it in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Do you want me to serve you or would you want to do it yourself.”
“Yeah, I’d love to serve myself. You could serve me the wine, of course.” She smiled as she did so.
“Jessie, have you ever thought of us getting serious?” Jason asked.
“Where serious means…”
“You know…considering getting to the next level…”
“You mean marriage?” She chuckled. “Are you saying this because I cooked you dinner?”
“Oh of course not. I’ve been thinking…we’ve been there for each other during our darkest hours and now that we’re living well; we’re still sticking up for each other. This proves that we can actually make it for a lifetime. What do you think?”
“Well, I’d love to spend my lifetime by your side, Jason but your father doesn’t really like me…”
“I can convince my daddy to accept you.”
“And about your mother, I don’t know if…”
“Come on; she has always liked you. She’ll totally accept you.”
“Indeed,” she muttered as she sipped her wine. Jason took her hand and rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb.
“I do love you, Jess and I’m ready to fight for our love but I need to know if you feel the same way and if you’re in on this with me.”
“Of course Jay; you should know I’m crazy about you. I’m really in love with you and I want this to work.” They smiled at each other. He kissed her hand. After some time, Jason looked at his watch.
“Gosh, I got to get home.”
“Oh please, can’t you stay a little longer?”
“I wish I could, baby but I need to be there for dad and besides I need to have some time with Stacie. She doesn’t seem to be herself lately.”
“Mother drama again?”
“Not this time so I’m wondering what could be bothering her now.”
“I wish I could help but obviously, I’m not her favorite person,” Jessica offered.
“Well…thanks for your offer, anyway. She’s one whole package to deal with. Why do you ladies love complicated lives so much?”
Jessica shrugged. “It’s part of who we are.” Jason got up. Jessica got up too and walked to him.
“Are you sure you can’t wait for a little while?” she whined.
“Sweetie, I wish I could.”
“Then make your wish come true. Stay with me,” she said, encircling his middle with her arms. She placed her head on his chest.
“I promise we’ll do this another time, okay?” Jessica shrugged stubbornly. He held her face and looked into her eyes.
“Don’t think your needs don’t concern me, Jess because they do. They are part of my priorities but for now I need to check on my dad and sister, okay?” Jessica pouted. Jason kissed her forehead. Jessica kissed him.
“I’ve got to go.”
“Just one more kiss, I promise. It’s been a long time since we did this, Jay.”
“I know; next time I promise…” She kissed him again.
Jason hastily entered the house.
“Hello mum,” he greeted when he saw her watching him with her hands on her hips.
“We’ve been calling your phone for about an hour. Where have you been?”
“Sorry, I was…”
“Have you heard from Stacie?”
“Stacie? Why, what’s up with her?” Jason asked, getting worried.
“Her phone is switched off. Do you have any idea where she’d be?” Gordon asked.
“I don’t know; I called her during the day and she sounded okay. She assured me we’d talk in the evening. You mean she’s isn’t home yet?”
“From the look of things, she has no intention of returning home tonight. Gosh, this girl can be such a headache sometimes,” Susan fumed.
“Don’t worry too much; I’m sure she’s crashing at one of her friends’. She’ll be fine.”
“I hope so and when you get to talk to her, tell her I’m very cross with her. By the way, where are you coming from so late?” Gordon asked his son. When Jason hesitated, he continued, “Are you still seeing that girl?”
“Dad, it’s different now; she has a decent job now.” Susan snorted scornfully.
“My thought exactly,” Gordon said, casting a sideway glance at his wife. “Anyway, goodnight. We’ll talk about that later. I’m going to bed. I suppose you had dinner at wherever you’re coming from, right?”
“I hope you don’t end up having a running tummy tomorrow morning.”
“Goodnight son,” Susan said as she pecked him.
“Goodnight, mum.” They climbed upstairs to their room. Jason went to his room and called Stacie’s line. It was ringing. She picked up.
“Where the hell are you, Stacie?”
“Whoa, calm down brother. It’s not like I’ve eloped or something. Besides, how come you’re now calling? Did you just get home?”
“Don’t change the subject, Stacie. This isn’t about me and you know it. You’ve got mum and dad worried as hell.”
“You mean mum too is worried? Wow, I expected her to be the first to go to bed tonight.”
“Stop the games, Stacie. What are you trying to prove here? You know they do care about you.”
“Yeah, just found out. Hope they have retired to bed now.”
“Yeah, just entered their room. Where are you, Stacie?”
“In my friend’s hostel room. I’m staying over.”
“Huh, that’s why you had that stuffed bag with you this morning, right? Why didn’t you inform mum and dad? At least, show them some respect.”
“Oh but I left them a note.”
“Oh yeah, where did you leave it?”
“On dad’s desk.”
“Are you sure?”
“Why would I lie about that?”
“So how come they have been trying to call you all day?”
“I don’t know; probably missed me. So where were you that you’re now getting home? You were with Jessica, weren’t you?”
“Yes I was. Stacie, I was thinking of proposing to her.”
“Thinking of what? Are you getting out of your mind or something?”
“Hey, I’m still your big brother. Besides, I love her and I want her to be mine.”
“Come on brother; what is she denying you that you’re hasting to propose to her? After all, haven’t you already been with her?”
“What are you talking about? No, I’m not talking about sleeping with her, I really want to spend my life with her.”
“As in you’re in love with her.”
“You think dad would agree?”
“Dad is softening towards her a little…at least, that’s what I’m sensing but I’d have to really convince him that she’s the one for me. I just want you to support me on this, sis.”
Stacie sighed. “Whatever, brother; whatever makes you happy, I’m cool with it.”
“So you have my back?”
“If I don’t, who will?” He chuckled.
“All right; so, are you coming home tomorrow?”
“Hey, how long are you planning on sleeping outside?”
“As long as I want to, Jay. I’m tired of the drama at home.”
“Which you initially brewed up. Come on, when are you coming home?”
“If you want to see me, we can arrange to meet, brother.”
“I have to see you at home when I get back from work, is that clear?”
“Wow, my big brother seems to have assumed his duties so spontaneously. Whatever, brother. Goodnight, brother. We’ll talk tomorrow, all right?”
“Fine; take care and goodnight. I love you.”
“Awww…I love you more, Jay…mwuaah! Bye,” she said and cut the line. Jay sighed.