“I can’t believe you two pulled that stunt today. You two made me look so stupid in front of all those people,” Susan fumed, pacing.
“If I remember correctly, you started this….what am I supposed to call you now, mother?” Jason asked.
“I am not your….!”
“Watch it, mum; before you say something you can’t take back,” Stacie cut in.
“And you, what were you doing there?”
“To save my brother from being stripped of his position, mum! Why would you conspire to do such a demeaning thing?”
“I didn’t conspire, ok? A proposal was made to me and I accepted it for the good of the company which your father has worked so tirelessly to establish.”
“Then the ideal thing was to confront Jason about it before surprising him there at the meeting. Besides, he is your son, mother. You should learn to trust him. He knows taking over dad’s place is a huge responsibility and he needs our support and trust. Why would you go behind him and try and demote him?” Stacie confronted.
“I was very disappointed, mum. Because of this, every employee would know all is not well between us and that there is a power struggle.”
“Obviously, there is!” Susan said.
“But to have the entire employee population to be suspicious of it doesn’t augur well for the image of the family and the company. If you are really for the good of the company, then stay out of it, mum. If I need help from you, I’ll ask for it.”
“And we are sorry if we disrespected you in front of all those people but…you had it coming, mum. Please let’s stop this. I’m getting tired of it,” Stacie pleaded.
“I’m sorry, mum,” Jason apologized.
“Keep your apologies to your miserable selves,” Susan said and went upstairs. They both sighed when the door slammed.
“For a moment, I feared I would come and find our bags thrown outside the house,” Stacie said. Jason chuckled.
“I hope we can get past this,” Jason said, staring at the ceiling. Stacie tapped his thigh. “We will, Jay.”
Later, Susan was sitting on her bed, flipping channels when someone knocked on the bedroom door.
“Mum, can I come in?” Stacie asked.
“Yes, come in.” Stacie came in and sat on the bed, facing her.
“Mum, I know a lot has happened so fast that you are overwhelmed by it. It’s okay to be affected, it’s okay to feel insecure….you don’t need to hide it, mum. No matter what has happened, I believe you truly loved dad and that you miss him. It’s okay to feel that way. It’s okay to cry over him; don’t act as if nothing has happened and that you’re fine because you are not, mum. You are sad, lonely and apprehensive. Jay and I don’t hate you, mum; we never have. I love you, mum and I want you to be happy again. You need to take a break, mum. Find a nice place and take a vacation, relax, cry a little, laugh a lot and you’ll be fine. Come back and start living again. Whatever you want to do with your life, I’ll help you with it, ok?” Stacie said sincerely. Susan started sobbing. Stacie hugged her. Tears began to run down her cheeks.
“I really miss Gordon,” she said.
“I know, mum; I know you do.” Susan cried for some time. They broke apart.
“I know you want to make sure dad’s company is well taken care of, I understand because that’s his legacy. But I want you to take it from me that the company is one thing after Jason’s heart and he’ll treasure it with all that he has. He won’t disappoint you, mum,” Stacie said softly, wiping a tear from her mother’s eye. Susan forced a smile.
“Thank you dear; I really appreciate this.”
“Any time, mother; remember that we love you, okay?” Susan nodded. Stacie leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
“Goodnight, Stacie.” Stacie got up and walked to the door. As she opened the door, she turned to look at her once more. Susan waved at her with a forced smile. Stacie smiled and left the room. She closed the door. Susan wiped the tears from her eyes.
“I think everything is going to be well now. I talked to her just now and I know she’s not as hardhearted as she portrays herself to be. It has been quite a long time since I sat down to talk heart to heart with my mum. I feel a new day is coming,” Stacie said.
“I’m glad to hear that, Stacie. You all need to find peace after your father’s passing.”
“Yeah; I feel so relieved…being able to talk to my mother without having to be angry or mean.”
“I’m happy for you dear. Have you thanked George?”
“Thanked him for what?”
“He took you home on the night of the drink-up. You were totally wasted, Stacie.”
“Yeah…ah, he was the one, huh? I’ll thank him tomorrow. Goodnight Betty.”
“Goodnight, Stacie; I’ll see you tomorrow.” She hung up.
“So there’s finally peace in the house now?” Jessica asked.
“So it seems; hope it lasts. For now, all that matters is to know whether my baby is a boy or girl,” Jason said as he rubbed his palm on Jessica’s tummy. Jessie smiled. They pulled up in front of a hospital. Jason got out of the car and opened the door for Jessica. She got out and he locked the doors. They entered.
After they checked in, they entered a room and Jessica was made to lie down. The doctor smeared some lube on her tummy. Jason held her hand as the doctor touched her with the machine. They all looked at the monitor.
“Awwww….is that the heart pumping?” Jessica asked.
“Yes it is; do you see that?”
“It’s a boy, isn’t it?” Jason asked.
“Yes it is.”
“Yes! I knew it would be a boy.” Jessica laughed. He kissed her forehead.
“Thank you baby.” She smiled.
As they drove back from the hospital, “I’m so happy about this. I think we should get married as soon as possible, Jessie.”
“Yeah, let’s go and see my mother and tell her about it. Don’t you have any relatives we can…?”
“I told you, Jay; I don’t want anything to do with my aunt and uncle. They didn’t want anything to do with me when I needed them the most and I would definitely not need them now.”
“Okay; if that’s how you want it.”
“Yeah, that’s how I want it.”
“It’s okay, Jessie; please don’t get excited about it. It could harm the baby.”
“I’m sorry….it just gets me irritated when I think about them.”
“I understand; I promise to never leave you, okay?” She smiled and nodded.
“Hi Stacie; are you all right?”
“Yes I’m fine; I want to thank you for the other day. I didn’t mean to be a burden to you.”
“Don’t worry about it; and you are definitely not a burden. I’m honored to have been of help to you, Stacie.”
“Thank you all the same and I want to apologize for any silly things I might have said in the car. I made many slips that night and I want to say I’m sorry for that.”
“No apologies needed; actually, throughout the ride home, you kept mentioning your daddy’s name.” Stacie looked at him in shock.
“I know his death has been hard on you and I want you to know that I’ll always be here for you…as a friend.”
“Thanks George; I really appreciate it.”
“Call me whenever you need anything, okay?”
“Okay; have a nice day, George,” Stacie said and walked to her car. Betty was leaning on it. Stacie unlocked the doors and they got in.
“Is it me or George is getting all emotional?” Stacie asked.
“Why, what did he say?”
“Talking of being there for me all the time and that I should call him when I need anything? Who does that?” Stacie asked as she drove off.
“The guy could be into you, you know.”
“Oh please what? George is a nice guy, Stacie. You can’t deny that.”
“I’m not; it’s just that he’s….”
“Not your kind of guy? Is that it?”
“I don’t know…maybe….”
“I understand you come from an influential family…”
“It’s not that, Betty; influence is not a point here.”
“Then what is it?”
“My family isn’t exactly….in a position to entertain declaration of relationship status. My brother’s relationship is still hanging because of approval issues.”
“So it isn’t because he’s not your class?”
“Class? Oh please, who says I’m in any ‘class’?”
“Whatever…with your mum acting all weird, I’m sure you just don’t want another episode with her about George.”
“Exactly; this past week has been peaceful and I don’t want to cut it short. Besides, if it happens that we get to that episode again, I want a guy who would defend me no matter what.”
“Against Mrs. Susan Archer? Hmmm…I don’t think George is cut out for that.”
“Exactly; I’m glad you see things my way.” Betty chuckled.
After dinner, Susan and Stacie were watching TV together, with Stacie’s head on her mother’s lap.
“I really miss this, mum,” Stacie said happily.
“Oh yeah? Remember when I used to turn you over and spank you till you turn red?”
“Yeah, those moments weren’t fun at all.” Susan laughed.
“And I’ve been thinking of what you said…of me taking a time off.”
“Oh yeah, you’re considering it?”
“Yes, I definitely need a change of environment for a while. I need fresh air.”
“You definitely do, mother. So which places are you considering?”
“You want to go to Paris?”
“Yeah, why, don’t you think it’s a good idea?”
“Of course it is…it’s just that, you don’t know any French.”
“Oh but I do!”
“Uh huh, ‘merci’, ‘bonjour’, ‘c’est bon’, ‘bon appétit’, that should get me going, right?”
Stacie laughed. “Of course, it’s enough.”
“And who knows, I might meet an older version of Romeo there.”
“Are you kidding, mum? Aren’t you a bit old for that?”
“And who said older people can’t have romance?”
“Well, Romeos can only be found in Italy, not France, mum.”
“Oh really? That’s bad.” Stacie laughed heartily.
“I wish you could come with me, dear,” Susan said, running her fingers through Stacie’s hair.
“I wish that too mum; if it wasn’t for school.”
“Well, it wouldn’t hurt if you forego about two weeks, right?”
“Two weeks? Do you want me to fail my exams, mum?”
“Two weeks won’t make you fail anything; besides, you skip lectures like nobody’s business.” Stacie laughed.
“I’m not that bad, mum. I do attend lectures.”
“Yeah right; tell me about it. Your brother stays out quite late these days.”
“Well, he has to check up on his baby as often as possible. Oh gosh, you are going to be a granny! You’re growing old, mum!”
“You don’t make it sound as fun at all, Stacie.”
“So what’s going to happen now that they are a family?”
“I don’t know; whatever they want to do. Besides, they conceived without anyone’s consent, didn’t they?”
Jason’s car pulled up in the driveway. He entered with a bag.
“Speaking of the devil….”
“You were talking about me? Hope it was something good. Good evening, mum,” Jason said and pecked her.
“Good evening, son. How was your day?”
“It was a bit hectic; but what can I say? I can’t complain. Guess what, I have a surprise for you, mum.”
“Oh you do?”
“Just mum? That’s not fair, Jay.”
“Shhh….this is for adults.”
“There you go again; I’m 21 not 16.” Jason pulled out a wine bottle from the bag.
“Awww….it’s my favorite wine!” Susan said as she took the bottle from him.
“Yeah I know. Rose, please get us two wine glasses and one juice glass for the minor here,” Jason said jokingly. Stacie glared at him. Jason laughed.
“I’m kidding; make it three wine glasses!”
“But I think I agree with Jason on this sweetheart, you’re not a sight to behold when you’re tipsy,” Susan remarked.
“But mum….i wasn’t myself that night.”
“I’ve got my eyes on you,” Jason said, gesturing with his fingers. Rose brought the glasses. Jason served them.
“Let’s toast to Mr. Gordon Archer and peace in the family in honor to his memory,” Stacie proposed.
“Who knows, this could just be a break.” Both Stacie’s and Jason’s faces dropped.
Susan laughed. “I was just kidding. Cheers to that.”
“You scared me, mum. Cheers.” They clinked glasses and sipped.
“This is the wine we drank the night your dad proposed. That is why it’s my favorite,” Susan said.
“I see…do you and Jessie have a favorite wine, Jason?” Stacie asked.
“Not yet; we will soon. I have good news. We went to check the sex of our baby.”
“And? It’s a girl, right?” Stacie asked hopefully.
“Nope; it’s a boy.”
“Awwww….we are going to have another Archer boy in the family. Isn’t that wonderful, mum?” Stacie said proudly. Susan only smiled and sipped. Jason and Stacie exchanged a quick glance and sipped too. They watched TV together.
“Why are all your songs so loud these days? Do you actually hear what they are singing?” Susan complained.
“I guess we’re growing deaf by the ages, mum,” Stacie said and sipped. She hiccupped.
“Are you okay?” Jason asked.
“Yes I am; why are you watching over me as if this is my first time?”
“We just don’t want any drama scenes right now.” Susan laughed heartily.
“Great; I’m going to bed,” Stacie said as she got up.
“Oh no, I haven’t taken my supper yet. Could you sit with me whiles I eat it?”
“Didn’t you eat at Jessica’s place?”
“And who says I’m coming from her place?”
“No; I was at the office. We had some meetings that ran late. Please sis…..”
“All right,” Stacie said, throwing herself back on the couch.
“You’re not showing symptoms of drunkenness, are you, Stacie?” Susan teased.
“No…mum…. I’m…just a….little….tipsy,” she said, gesturing with her fingers.
“Make sure she gets to bed safely, Jason.”
“Yeah, you got it.” Susan got up.
“I think I’ll retire to bed now. Goodnight, you two.”
“Goodnight mum.” She climbed the stairs to her room and closed the door. Jason and his sister walked to the dining table and sat. He was about to eat when Stacie hit his hand.
“Aren’t you going to pray?”
“Why, have you poisoned it?” Stacie made a face.
“I’m kidding.” He closed his eyes for a few moments and said, “Amen.”
“Do you think this is going to last?”
“What is?” Jason asked and ate.
“This whole peaceful thing…we sipping wine and watching TV together, do you think it’s for real?”
“I believe so; why, you don’t?”
“I don’t know; mum called it a break. Do you think she was serious?”
“I don’t know; even if she was, I think we should enjoy it as it lasts, Stacie. Let’s rest while we can so when the battle resumes, we’d have the strength to fight, okay?”
“I was thinking of bringing Jessie over for one dinner and formally inform mum of my decision to marry her. What do you think?”
“I don’t know; I think you should hold on for a while…”
“Why? You don’t think she’ll be happy about it?”
“I don’t know…. I kind of asked her about it and she kind of brushed it aside. Besides, she’ll be taking a trip soon.”
“She will? Where?”
“She said Paris and I think it’s good for her. So I suggest you wait for her to get back. She would have cooled off enough…”
“Or she would have gone to toughen herself more. It would be better if I told her now before she leaves so that if she gets angry, she can go and cool off there than for her to get back all ready for battle.”
“Whatever…I just made a suggestion. You just do what you think is right,” she said and sipped her wine. Jason nodded.
Days later, all was ready for Susan’s trip. Jason drove her to the airport and Stacie went along. As they drove, Jason asked, “Mum, how would you take it if I decided to marry Jessie now that she’s expecting my baby?” Susan sighed.
“Can we please talk about this when I get back?” Jason and Stacie exchanged a quick glance.
“Sure, mum.” Silence fell in the car. Jason pulled up. They got out of the car. Jason took out his mum’s suitcase from the car. They escorted her inside.
“I really wished I could come with you, mum.”
“You have school, remember?” Jason reminded her, hugging her sideways.
“You could go during your holidays.”
“I wanted to go with you so you could spoil me…” she said childishly.
“You’re already a spoiled brat,” Susan said, pinching Stacie’s cheek. Susan smiled.
They heard an announcement for her flight.
“I’ve got to go. Take care of yourselves, okay?”
“You too mum,” Stacie said, hugging her tightly. Jason hugged her too.
“I’m going to miss you two.”
“Watch out huh, you could meet your older version of Romeo,” Stacie said with a wink.
“Naughty girl,” she said, touching her daughter’s nose. Jason and Stacie walked back to the car. They both leaned on the car with folded arms and sighed.
“She doesn’t seem to approve of you and Jessie getting married, right?” Stacie asked.
“I’m surprised. When dad was alive, she seemed supportive of our relationship. Now that dad is no more, I didn’t expect this kind of resistance from her. What do you think could be the cause of the change in her attitude?”
“Well, for one thing, the news of her pregnancy facilitated our father’s death so she kind of feels responsible for it and so do both of you. So she may want to keep her husband’s memory by doing what dad would have done; not approving of the two of you.”
“But a baby is involved now; doesn’t that change everything?”
“It does; she can’t keep you apart, brother. That’s one thing I’m sure of.”
“I guess that’s why she’s going on this trip; to fortify herself. I smell battle.”
“I’ve got your back, brother; no matter what.”
“Yeah, I know that; thanks.” He hugged her.
“Let’s get out of here.” He opened the car door for her. She sat inside. He closed the door and sat inside. They drove off.