Three weeks had come quickly. Nadia planned a lunch fit for a queen, and waited for her guests to arrive. This was a small get together, but all geared toward Desiree’s wants and likes. Everything Owen told his mother, she was able to manage. One of the first to arrive was Isaias’ mother, Charlotte.
“Hello Nadia. Long time no see,” Charlotte said hugging her long time friend.
“Charlotte darling, it’s always a pleasure to see you. How have you been?”
“I’ve been well. Charles took care of me you know that.”
“How’s the business?”
“So why are we here today?”
“Our boys are coming home and they are bringing girls.”
Charlotte’s eyes grew wide. “Girls? I had no idea Isaias had a girl.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. You had to know.”
“Not a clue,” Charlotte said shaking her head. “I talk to him at least once a week, and I never knew about his girl.”
“Owen is bringing a Puerto Rican.”
“He must not care about his inheritance anymore, because if Richard ever found out, well you know what would happen.”
“Speaking of Richard, how are you holding up? Is he still sleeping with that woman? What’s her name?”
“Grace. And yes, he is. I’m fine. I can’t wait until Owen graduates. I will give up everything just to get away from the bastard.”
“You’re a good mom. Looking out for your children the way you have over the years. I just hate that you had to suffer.”
“Isn’t that what being a good parent is all about? Don’t we have to take the good with the bad?”
“Bad is one thing, horrible is another. Do the boys know what their father is up to?”
“James doesn’t care. He worships the ground Richard walks on. Owen however is different. You know how close we are. There was a time where I thought Owen would explode when he saw me crying one day. He wanted to cause physical harm to his father for making me cry. I talked him out of that, thank goodness.”
“So what do you think will happen when Owen graduates? That day will be upon us before we know it.”
“My son will make his own way; he will make peace with what his father has done to me, and go on with life.”
“Have you listened to the album yet?”
“We have some talented children, Nadia. You should really listen to it. Isaias tells me that Owen is a star.”
“Maybe we should drop in on them one night.”
“Go to a night club?”
“Yes. They would both be surprised.”
“First let’s get through today.”
Thirty minutes later Isaias and Whitney were almost at the party. Whitney was very nervous, and it definitely showed. Isaias had to be careful not to let his secret out. Whitney had no idea his family was wealthy.
“Salad fork, soup spoon, dinner fork…” Whitney said aloud with her eyes closed trying to visualize the table setting.
“Honey, relax. Don’t worry about eating.”
“I can’t help it. I don’t wanna mess up anything in front of your mother. Have you talked to your mother about me?” Isaias didn’t say a thing. “Isaias, you didn’t tell her about me?”
Isaias sighed, “No honey, I didn’t.”
“I’m gonna make a fool of myself.”
“It will be fine Whitney you’ll see.”
“Not only do I have to worry about which utensil to use; now I’m freaked because I’m black.”
“You’re right honey. I should have told her, but I didn’t expect to do this in front of fifty people.”
“Well when you found out what Owen’s mother was planning, you should have introduced me to your mother.”
“I’m just as freaked out as you believe me.”
“I thought you loved me.”
“I do love you.”
“If you did, you wouldn’t let me humiliate myself in front of strangers.”
“You can’t humiliate yourself in front of friends.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I don’t have any friends here! I don’t have anything in common with these people! How am I going to survive that Isaias?” Whitney asked loudly.
“Will you stop freaking out? You’re making me nervous. You’re beautiful, and extremely smart. We will get through this, I promise. If you don’t fit in, we can leave.”
“Okay,” Whitney said. She paused for a moment and changed the subject. “Why didn’t Owen and Desiree ride with us?”
“Since this party was for Desiree, they have to be the last to arrive.”
“You would think that they would be there first to greet their guests.”
“Not the way it works in this world dear.”
“This world? What world is that?”
“Bullshit town. Today, I’ll be superficial. Full of a bunch of bullshit that really isn’t me. Today the man you will see is the social me.”
Whitney shook her head. “You should have warned me Isaias. You should have warned me.”
Five minutes later, the limo pulled up to the house. Nadia and Charlotte were there to greet it. Isaias stepped out, hugged and kissed his mother, and kissed Nadia on the cheek.
“Isaias darling so good to see you!” Nadia exclaimed.
“Wonderful to see you as well, Mrs. Thomas. Mother, you’re looking well.”
“Thank you, darling. How have you been?”
“So I heard you were bringing your girlfriend. Where is she?”
“Mother, Mrs. Thomas may I present, Whitney Matthews.”
Nadia and Charlotte looked at each other in anticipation. Isaias reached into the limo for Whitney’s hand. When she stepped from the car, there was an obvious awkwardness.
“Mother, this is Whitney. Whitney, this is my mother, Charlotte Reynolds.”
Charlotte smiled uncomfortably, and shook Whitney’s hand. “Pleased to meet you, Whitney.”
“I’m happy to finally meet you, Mrs. Reynolds. Isaias talks about you all of the time.”
“All good I hope.”
Charlotte turned and looked at Nadia. Nadia was just as surprised as Charlotte.
“Whitney, let me introduce our host,” Isaias said grinning. “This is Owen’s mother, Nadia Thomas.”
“Thank you for having me, Mrs. Thomas,” Whitney said smiling nervously.
“I’m glad you could make it.”
Determined to talk to Charlotte, Nadia excused herself. “Charlotte darling, I want to show you what I have done to Richard’s study. I think you’ll like it.”
“Please excuse us, Isaias,” his mother said. “It’s nice to have you here, Whitney.”
“Glad to be here.”
Charlotte and Nadia walked away whispering to themselves.
Whitney turned to Isaias. “I’m ready to go right now, Isaias.”
“We can’t leave yet. We have wait on Owen and Desiree, and at least have a drink.”
“She hates me.”
“My mother hates no one but her tax accountant.”
“I don’t belong here, Isaias.”
“Neither do I, but I’m here. I don’t want you to start freaking out on me. You go to a school that is majority white. Please don’t tell me that you are intimidated by my mother.”
“I’m not intimidated. I just don’t want to look like an ass.”
“Okay baby, tell you what. Here’s how you get by. Smile a lot and don’t let go of my arm. Pretend you are someone you are not, and you’ll get by fine.”
“And if I am separated from you?”
“Be polite. Don’t divulge any of our business if you can help it. If you get in a spot, excuse yourself, and find me. You and I will get a chance to talk to my mother alone, and all will be fine. I promise.”
“Who’s all here?” Whitney asked.
“Hard to say. Owen’s family is in the wine business, so there is likely to be a lot of vignerons here.”
“A lot of what?”
“Vignerons,” Isaias said plainly. “People who own vineyards. Whatever you do, don’t talk wine. If one catches you, simply tell them you don’t drink wine and move on. Find me and try not to get separated from me again. You’ll be fine. Be as fake as everyone else, be polite and honest, stick to me when you can and we will make it through this.”
“All right. I’ll try.”
“I would certainly like to try to make it through the meal because I’m starved. Do you think you can do that for me?”
“I’ll give it a shot.”
“Thank you, honey. Once Owen and Desiree get here, some of the pressure will be off us.”
As they made their way into the garden, Isaias introduced Whitney to people he had known most of his life. Far away from eavesdropping ears, Charlotte and Nadia were discussing Whitney.
“The party is ruined.”
“It is not ruined.” Charlotte said plainly.
“The only black woman that has ever been in this house has worked for me. Charlotte, this is a social disaster.”
“I’m just as shocked as you Nadia dear, but it’s too late she’s here, and we have to pretend that we don’t care.”
“You must be horrified. Did you know?”
“Now you know I didn’t. If I did, I would have had my own get together. I wouldn’t have embarrassed you like this.”
“Well, there is no way she is going to fit into this crowd.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Charlotte darling, she’s black. She has nothing in common with anyone here. Not even your son. What was Isaias thinking?”
“Nadia, can we just make it through a meal before you start comparing Isaias to Owen? After all, your son’s girl isn’t white either. Remember?”
“Oh my goodness, I forgot. Well I guess we are in the same boat then.”
“All we have to do is smile and act like there is nothing wrong. We will not be hurt socially for long. For all we know she might be a wealthy woman. After all, she does go to one of the most expensive schools in the nation.”
“True enough. I agree. We’ll get through today, and hopefully everything will be fine.”
An hour went by, and Whitney was indeed the talk of the entire event. Everyone wanted to talk to her and find out all they could. She did as Isaias instructed, and she did fine. Ten minutes later, Owen walked in the door. Nadia was glad to see her son.
“Hello everyone!” Owen bellowed.
“Owen!” Nadia exclaimed. She turned to her guests. “Everyone, Owen is here!”
The garden got quiet as Nadia greeted her son.
“Everyone who does not know, this is my youngest son Owen. He attends Eastern-Clark University,” The crowd murmured. “Say hello, Owen.”
“Now if everyone will excuse us,” Nadia said pulling her son aside. “Where’s Desiree?”
“She’s in the car. I wanted her to meet you before we sprung her on our guests.”
“It couldn’t be any worse than it already is. Why didn’t you tell me Whitney was black?”
“Mother, we are not here to discuss Whitney. This party is for me and Desiree is it not?”
“It is. I’m sorry.”
“I wanted to give you the respect you deserve,” Owen said, grinning. “You get to meet her first.”
“All right,” Nadia said turning her attention to her guests. “Everyone, I’m going to see if I can get the guest of honor to make an appearance. I’ll return shortly.”
Nadia and Owen went to the driveway. Owen opened the car door, and reached for Desiree’s hand. Desiree stepped out of the car, and smiled widely at Owen, and he smiled back as he introduced her to his mother.
“Mother, this is my girlfriend, Desiree Martinez.”
Nadia couldn’t believe it. She really was Puerto Rican. She was however quite beautiful.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Thomas,” Desiree said grinning at Nadia.
Nadia nodded. “Likewise,” Nadia said. “Might I say you are more beautiful than Owen had mentioned.”
“Thank you very much. I will say the same for you. You don’t look like you have two grown sons.”
Desiree knew what she needed to do to get in good with his mother, and she thought that compliments about her beauty and her age would defiantly get her foot in the door.
Nadia turned to her son and said, “I like this girl, Owen. Desiree dear, come. Let me introduce you to some of my friends.”
Nadia took Desiree by the arm and led her into the garden as Owen followed closely behind. As she walked with Desiree on her arm, some guests were shocked, and others smiled. None could believe Owen’s girlfriend was not white.
Nadia stood in front of her guests and introduced Desiree.
“Everyone, I would like to present our guest of honor. Miss Desiree Martinez.”
Everyone applauded. As Desiree was obviously enjoying the attention, Owen watched her thinking about how easily she was fitting in. Isaias and Whitney approached him from behind. Isaias was obviously upset that Owen was so late.
“What the hell took you so long?”
Owen didn’t take his eyes off Desiree and replied, “We had something to take care of before we got here.”
Isaias smirked. “A piece of ass before the party I take it.”
Owen looked at his friend and smiled widely. “You got it.”
“Well I’m happy you’re here. Now we can eat, and get the hell outta here. You know I hate this shit man.”
“You and Whitney are fine to leave now if you like.”
“And embarrass my mother? I don’t think so. After we eat we are outta here.”
“Fine with me.”
The afternoon went as well as expected. When all of the guests were gone, the six of them sat down at the dinner table and talked. Nadia was not pleased with her son.
“Owen Thomas, what took you so long to get here? You know I can’t stand waiting. Not to mention I hate half of the people that were here in my house. And look at your clothes? Why aren’t you dressed properly?”
“I’m sorry mother. We had something to take care of before we got here, when we realized that we were late. I did the best I could do on short notice.”
“Not to mention Isaias and Whitney had to take most of the heat.”
Owen sighed. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Forgive me.”
“We’re okay man, seriously. Whitney freaked on me for a minute, but when she saw that everyone here were just people, she relaxed a bit.”
“Right,” Owen said with a huge smile on his face. “You didn’t leave her alone long enough to get to know anyone.”
“Whatever man. I can’t wait to pick up the paper tomorrow. The society page headline will read something like, “Wife of Vigneron Richard Thomas Hosts Party for Non-Socialite.”
Charlotte wasn’t amused. “It’s not funny, Isaias. It won’t be good for Nadia and Richard for the next few months.”
“Until the next party,” Owen said smirking.
“If something like that comes out, your father will have a fit,” Nadia said.
Before Owen could comment on his mother’s statement, his father, Richard, walked in the door.
“Too late,” he said angrily.
Richard wasted no time in showing his son that he was still his father. Richard slapped Owen as soon as he walked through the door. Owen was ready to fight his own father at that point, but he decided against it.
“What the fuck is wrong with you!” Richard yelled at Owen. “Are you trying to ruin me?”
Nadia stood up and yelled, “Richard, stop this!”
He immediately turned his attention to his wife and pointed at her. “And you! You did this on purpose!”
Charlotte didn’t want to get into someone else’s business, but she knew exactly how her best friend’s husband was. He would lash out first and ask questions later. “How did you find out?” she asked.
“Oh hello, Charlotte, I didn’t see you there. But to answer your question, do you think I leave the country without knowing what is going on in my house? I have my ways of knowing. I have to keep an eye on Nadia. After all she might decide to cheat on me while I’m gone.”
“I would do no such thing,” Nadia said calmly.
“You wouldn’t would you. I’ve known for years that you are only with me for one reason.”
Knowing what was coming; Charlotte again attempted to calm him down. “Richard, don’t. You still have guests.”
“They are not my guests! They are no better than the people I employ. So I will say what I want, when I want in my own house!”
Owen sat for as long as he could. He realized that love and friendship suddenly meant more than money. He risked his education and inheritance and stood up to his father.
“You will do no such thing as long as I’m here,” Owen said firmly.
“Excuse me boy?”
“I’m no longer a boy. You will not disrespect my girl, my friends, and especially not my mother. For too long I have watched my mother cry because of you. I will not stand for it any longer.”
“You are only doing what you are because of me. Do you actually think you would be where you are if I weren’t around?”
“I gave that a lot of thought. I don’t care anymore. You can do what you want, but you will not use my mother anymore.”
“I will do what I want in my own house.”
“No, you will not.”
Owen was serious. Something in him said fight for his family, and that very same something caused him to do something he wouldn’t have normally done. Richard didn’t quite know what to do. His younger son was challenging him and he wanted to break his neck.
Charlotte felt the tension in the room rise dramatically, and she didn’t want to be around when these two men lost their temper completely.
“Come on everyone. Let’s leave these two to talk,” she said rising from the table.
Nadia shook her head. “I will not. I’m staying here. I don’t care what the rest of you do.”
Having no problem convincing Desiree, Isaias, and Whitney, she again tried to convince Nadia. “Come on children. Let’s go upstairs. Come on, Nadia. We shouldn’t be here.”
Nadia gazed hard at Richard and replied. “Charlotte, I’ll be damned if this man lays a hand on my child again. I am not leaving this room.”
“No!” Nadia yelled.
Charlotte took the hint. “Desiree, Isaias, Whitney, come on.”
Nadia watched as they went upstairs away from the possible danger that was looming in the room. Nadia then turned her eyes to Owen. He had grown so much since the last time she saw him, she had to know if he had the courage to stand up to his father.
Richard wasn’t amused at all. “So you think you are going to protect him?”
No longer having to hold back her anger, she answered, “You’re damn right.”
“You can’t do shit and neither can he. The both of you are weak. I don’t even know why I stayed married to you as long as I have. I can’t stand you.”
Owen’s temperature went up a few degrees, and he didn’t want to hurt his father in front of his mother.
“Mother, please go upstairs with the others.”
“Owen, I’m not going anywhere.”
“I don’t need you to protect me,” Owen said never taking his eyes off his father.
“I’m not going to leave you alone with him.”
“Mother, please. Join our guests. Be the wonderful hostess you were all day. I will take care of my father.”
Richard smirked. “If it’s a fight you want, that is what you are going to get. I will kick your ass for being so stupid, and then kick your mother’s ass for giving birth to you.”
“You will not touch him,” Nadia said sternly.
Owen couldn’t take it anymore. “Mother, get out of here! I don’t need you fighting my battles for me anymore!”
“Owen, please don’t do this.”
“Mother please, leave us alone.”
Nadia reluctantly turned and walked up the stairs as Owen asked. She said a quiet prayer on the way, hoping they would not kill each other.
“Now that she’s gone, bring it on old man.”
Richard stared at his youngest son and didn’t understand where his courage suddenly came from. Owen had always been afraid of his father up until that point.
“I sent you to school so you could educate yourself and be an asset to our business. Look at you. All you are is a musician. You are nothing, Owen. Nothing.”
“I don’t have time to listen to your nonsense, old man. You said you were going to kick my ass, well go on. Do it if you can. I promise you it won’t change who I am. I fell in love with a Puerto Rican woman. I love, write, and perform Jazz. I have no interest in the wine business. Grace is a bitch, and I hate your fucking guts. Why? Because of what you did to my mother. The one person who loved you when you were nothing.”
“How soon you forget your own family history. Your great-grandfather started this business. Red Rouge is mine by rights.”
“Only because your brothers are dead and your sister wanted nothing to do with it. When I was a child, I looked up to you, and desired to be just like you. Things were different then. Then mother told me about Grace. I wanted to kill you for making her cry. She talked me out of it, but no longer. I will kill you where you stand if you even think about hurting her. Take your whore and leave us alone. I’m done with you, and so is mother. James can have the tainted business. I have my own. I will take care of my mother from now on.”
“How are you going to do that? She’s high maintenance you know. You’re still in school, and you have absolutely no income without me.”
“I’m going to be famous. No thanks to you. So this I what I want you to do. Leave here now, and we will be out of your life tomorrow. I want my mother and my guests to have a good night sleep. We will leave here tomorrow and never look back. You will no longer use and torment my mother. Go on. Leave. Tomorrow you won’t have to worry about us anymore.”
“You will not lay your head down in my multi million dollar house.”
Before Owen could object, Isaias came downstairs with a gun in his hand. Moving slowly he pointed it at Richard. He stood behind Owen, putting Owen between his father and a dangerous weapon. Isaias was sure to stay far enough away from both of them so neither of them would attempt to get the weapon.
“And you will not hurt my friend,” Isaias said. “Do as he says, and you will live to smash another grape. Lay a hand on him, and well the headline will read something like, Vigneron Richard Thomas Murdered in Northern California Home. I will rip you apart. Do as he says and the headline may be different.”
Never threatened with bodily harm before, Richard backed off. “Just make sure you are off my property by midnight tomorrow,” he said turning and walking out of the door.
Owen watched his father leave, and turned to his friend in shock. He never knew Isaias knew how to fire a gun, let alone own one.
“Where in the hell did you get that gun?”
Isaias said nothing. As much as he tried to hold a straight face, he couldn’t do it. Instead, he began laughing uncontrollably. Owen was still concerned about the gun.
“Isaias, man come on tell me. Where did you get that?”
Isaias held back his laughter long enough to answer. “It ain’t even real!” He said beginning to chuckle. “Did you see his face? That shit was great!”
“It’s not real?”
“Nope, rubber. I was planning to use this gag on you. But your father turned out to be a better target. I loved it!” Isaias exclaimed falling on the floor laughing loudly.
Owen rolled his eyes and said, “You’re a sick bastard did you know that?”
Isaias laughed even harder.
Minutes later, Nadia and the others came back downstairs. Nadia was concerned for everyone’s safety.
“I want you all to go home,” Nadia said calmly. “I can handle Richard.”
Owen was still angry. “Mother I want you to leave him.”
“I will leave him in my own time son. I want you to graduate school first.”
“If that is all that is keeping you with him, I’ll quit school.”
“No. Get your education. I have been with your father for almost thirty years. I can handle him.”
“Nadia,” Charlotte began, “if you need some place to stay, you can always come to my house.”
“Thank you Charlotte, but no. As I said, all of you go home. I know exactly how to handle Richard.”
“I’ll stay here with you,” Owen said.
“Me too,” Desiree added.
Owen looked at Desiree sharply, and said, “Isaias, get back to campus, and take Desiree with you. My father is dangerous, and I will not have him hurting any of you.”
“I want to stay here,” Desiree objected.
“I know baby, but he will be back, and things may get ugly. I don’t want to have to kill him for hurting you.”
At that moment, Nadia looked past Desiree’s race. “Owen, I can see that Desiree really loves you. The way that I used to love your father. She wants to be by your side. Why don’t you just let her stay?”
He looked at his mother, confused, but responded anyway. “Okay, mother she can stay.”
Charlotte had no intentions on staying in the Thomas’ house. “Isaias honey, you don’t have to go back tonight. Why don’t you and Whitney come and spend the night with me?” she asked.
“Are you sure mother?”
“I’ll have Nigel drive you,” Nadia said.
“Thank you, Nadia,” Charlotte said.
Nadia reached for the phone and dialed some numbers. She hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Nigel, the Reynolds’ are ready to leave. Can you please take them home? Thank you,” she said hanging up the phone. “Nigel will bring the car around.”
Whitney who had nothing much to say all night decided it was safe to speak. “Before I go I just wanted to say thank you, Mrs. Thomas. I had a good time.”
“You’re welcome, Whitney, I’m very surprised.”
Assuming a bizarre, inappropriate, comment was going to come out of her mouth, Owen spoke up. “Mother.”
“What?” Nadia said with a surprised look on her face.
“Haven’t we had enough drama for tonight?”
Nadia smiled. “I am surprised Whitney was able to handle all of those stuffed shirts, and fake bitches.”
“Thank you Mrs. Thomas, but I had help.”
When the final guests left, Owen decided to speak to his mother alone. This was the only way he could get the truth from her about any situation.
“Desiree honey, I want to talk to my mother a bit. Can you go on upstairs? I’ll be up in a minute.”
“Okay,” Desiree said. She kissed Owen on the cheek and made her way upstairs. Owen waited until Desiree left the room, and addressed his mother.
“Thank you for not showing your true colors tonight.”
“What choice did I have? My son isn’t exactly dating the woman I would have chosen for him.”
“I am not like James. I don’t really care for dating the richest most beautiful girl in our circle just to deepen my pockets.”
“Why not? You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and I don’t think you should necessarily spit it out for love.”
“Is that why you are still with father?”
“Of course. Don’t take me for a fool, Owen. I haven’t loved your father for ten years. Everyone knows he has a mistress, and most even know who she is. I stayed with him because of you boys, and because I love what this type of wealth can give us.”
Owen nodded, and then smiled. “So tell me what you really think of Desiree.”
“She’s a beautiful, intelligent, young woman. She’s just not the one for you.”
“Because she’s Puerto Rican.”
“You said it. I didn’t,” Nadia said averting her eyes.
“I do love her, mother.”
“Good for you.”
Now knowing his mother was only going through the motions, and didn’t mean a word she previously said, he was not surprised, but perhaps a little hurt. “I suppose you despise Whitney as well.”
“Actually I don’t. She’s my friend.”
“Just so long as you keep her away from me as much as possible.”
Owen sighed. “Well I guess there is no changing you. I’ve changed. I used to be a like you, but no more. Meeting Desiree and Whitney, has changed my whole outlook on people in general.”
“Good for you, Owen. However, here are my feelings on the subject, and I will not discuss it with you after tonight. Desiree, Whitney, and your band members I will tolerate, but no one else. Understand me?”
“Yes, mother,” Owen said before thinking of how to irritate his mother as much as she recently irritated him. “I’m going to make love to my woman. Do you mind?”
“Just so you don’t wake me up. I’m fine with that.”
“Good night, mother.”
“See you in the morning, son.”
Owen went upstairs, and did just what he said he was going to do. Instead of honoring his mother’s wishes, he did everything in his power to be as loud as he could.
Meanwhile on their way to the Reynolds house, Charlotte was extremely curious about Whitney. Charlotte wondered why Isaias chose Whitney over Victoria.
Whitney was in for a surprise herself. Isaias told her his family had average money. He told her they were normal upper middle class people, but she was about to discover he had lied to her. When Nigel pulled up to the estate, Whitney gasped aloud.
Isaias looked at Whitney and asked, “What’s the matter honey?”
She was speechless for a moment as she looked at the huge house ahead of her. “Is this where you grew up?”
Charlotte smiled, proud of her residence. “This is our home.”
“It couldn’t be.”
“Yes it is, dear. My late husband owned Atomic Steelworks. A business he started on his own, and worked until the day he died. Right now, I own sixty percent of the company, and Isaias has forty percent. Some day Isaias will be a very wealthy man.”
“I see,” Whitney said shooting a look at Isaias that would kill.
“We are not as well of as the Thomas’, but we get by,” Charlotte added.
Uncomfortable now about what his accepting his mother’s invitation had caused, he had to stop her from talking. “Mother, that’s enough talk about our money.”
“Certainly dear. I just wanted Whitney to know what she was getting herself into. It is now obvious you have not told her the truth.”
Obviously upset, Whitney asked, “You lied to me?”
“You just omitted certain facts about yourself,” Whitney smirked.
“Something like that.”
When the car stopped, Isaias helped Whitney and his mother out of the car and Nigel headed back to the Thomas Estate. Charlotte was happy that things were playing out the way they were. At this point, she thought she had a chance to get her son back together with Victoria.
“Isaias honey, could you please leave Whitney and me alone for a minute? I would like to talk to her.”
Isaias knew he was in the doghouse but asked anyway. “Is that okay with you, Whitney?”
Whitney said nothing. She just looked at Isaias as though she wanted to kill him.
“I guess that is a yes,” Isaias said kissing his mother on the cheek and retreated to his bedroom.
Whitney stood outside for a moment admiring the outside of the huge mansion before her. “I can’t believe he didn’t tell me he was rich.”
“You had to have some idea dear.”
“No, I didn’t. I thought he was like me,” Whitney said admiring the enormous fountain that sat in the middle of the front yard.
“A man of average money and extreme brains.”
“Now that you know does it make a difference?”
“Mrs. Reynolds,” Whitney began, “I love Isaias. I really do. But I had no idea he was lying to me this whole time.”
“Forget about that for a moment, dear. I’ll ask you again. Now that you know, does his money make a difference? There had to be a reason he didn’t tell you.”
“No, the money doesn’t matter, but what I’m upset about is he lied to me.”
“Come on inside. We can continue there.”
Whitney followed Charlotte inside the multi-million dollar home. They went to the library that sat not far away from the foyer of the house. Charlotte sat in her favorite chair and watched Whitney closely as she absorbed every detail of the room.
“Have a seat, Whitney.”
Whitney sat in an adjacent chair, and Charlotte continued.
“I know my son very well Whitney, and I know he didn’t tell you for one reason and one reason only. He loves you, and he wanted you to love him for him.”
“Well, I do love him.”
“That’s nice, but he in a sense lied to me as well. First he didn’t tell me that he had a girlfriend, and he certainly didn’t tell me you were a black woman.”
Unsure if she should be offended or not, Whitney asked, “Does it matter to you?”
“As long as my son is finally happy, no it doesn’t.”
Now she was offended and asked, “What’s that supposed to mean? Finally happy?”
Charlotte knowing she touched a nerve, sighed, and said, “Isaias has always been attractive. I’m not saying that because I’m his mother, it’s the truth. He has had girls fawning over him his entire life. He was a teenager when I thought he had found the one. He seemed happy for two years, and then when he was going to leave for school, she broke up with him.”
Remembering the story, Whitney said, “Victoria.”
“So he’s told you about her.”
“I’ve met her.”
“So then you know. The day she walked out of his life, he was heart broken. He loved her with all his heart, and she crushed him.”
“He told me she gave him up for his own good.”
Charlotte nodded. “That’s what he told me as well. However, by being so young, he didn’t understand why she did what she did, but he kept on. His father died not long after he was accepted to Eastern-Clark. After he left home, he changed. No longer the boy I raised, but he all of a sudden became a man.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Simple dear girl, Isaias wore his heart on his sleeve until then. When Victoria broke up with him, and his father died, he found a new strength within that I’d never seen before. He was just different.”
“We all grow up at some point. Some earlier than others.”
“Yes, this is true,” Charlotte said pausing for a moment to think. “Whitney, believe me when I say I have nothing against black people, but I would have never thought my son would be dating one.”
“Because of his upbringing.”
“You raised him to be a bigot?”
“I wouldn’t use that term. But I did raise him as I was raised.”
She didn’t have a high IQ for nothing. Whitney turned on her brain, and asked what had been sitting on her head since she met Charlotte.
“So after meeting me, tell me Mrs. Reynolds, what do you think of me?”
Being the mother of an extremely smart child, she didn’t easily fall into Whitney’s trap.
“First, I see why Isaias was attracted to you in the first place. You are absolutely beautiful. Secondly you have to be smart in order to be with him as long as you have.”
She smiled, knowing where Isaias’ intelligence came from, she didn’t let go of her original question. “But what do you think?”
Impressed, Charlotte replied, “I have no problem with you dating my son as long as you don’t hurt him. Isaias is a grown man, and he can make his own choices. If you are his choice, I’m fine with it.”
“And what about Victoria?”
“What about her?”
“I just want to know if you still feel any anger toward her for hurting Isaias.”
“A little. However, understand I have a special bond with her. I’ve watched her grow up. I’m friends with her family. I don’t hate her if that’s what you’re asking me.”
Whitney nodded. “I see.”
“Why do you ask?”
Whitney looked at Charlotte long and hard before she answered. “Because I believe she wants him back.”
This bit of information made Charlotte happy. She was now determined to get Victoria back into Isaias’ life and Whitney out.
“Whitney dear, would you like a tour of the house?”
Whitney declined. “I really would like to talk to Isaias.”
Charlotte sensed Whitney was upset, and this made her happy, but she didn’t deny the poor girl her wish. “His room is upstairs, down the hall. Make a left and it is the last door at the end of the hall.”
“Thank you,” Whitney said quietly.
Whitney was upset. She followed Charlotte’s directions on how to get to Isaias’ room. On her way there, she walked past a maid who was obviously on her way back to her room. She did not utter a word to Whitney, only acknowledged her by nodding her head. Whitney nodded back.
When she made it Isaias’ room, she didn’t knock right away. She stood and thought about how she was going to handle the situation. She would be a lady, and not let the ghetto girl come out. This way there would be no yelling. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door. Moments later Isaias came to the door in his pajama bottoms and wet hair. He looked so good she almost forgot she was mad at him.
“Can I come in?” she asked.
Isaias nodded. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Isaias stood back and opened the door. Whitney was amazed at the opulence of the room. It was all antique French furniture, and the bed was obviously specially made, because it was bigger than the average king sized bed.
Knowing Whitney had never been in his room before, he asked, “What do you think?”
“It’s beautiful,” Whitney said admiring the well decorated room.
Isaias only smiled. “Have a seat.”
Whitney sat on the foot of his bed and said, “Your bed is so big. Did you have this specially made?”
Isaias shook his head. “No. This is a common size for the west coast. It’s called a California King.”
“Whitney, I know you didn’t come up here to admire my furniture. Tell me what’s on your mind.”
Whitney stared into his beautiful eyes and thought about how much she cared about him. She looked at his sexy wet hair and thought about how wonderful a lover he was.
She didn’t want to be distracted by his looks. She was there to find out the truth. She looked into his eyes again and said, “Isaias, I want to know why you didn’t tell me.”
“Forgive me. It’s just something I’ve had to deal with most of my life.”
“I tell women who my father was, and they latch on to me like leeches immediately. I never get a chance to show them who I really am. They only see what my money can get them. There have only been two women in my life who were different. One of them is you, and the other is-”
“Victoria,” Whitney said before Isaias could finish his sentence.
“Victoria is like me. She also comes from money. We grew up together, and have always been friends. Because she had what I had, she saw me for who I was. She didn’t care about my money.
“I’m different because I’m black?”
Isaias shook his head. “Baby no. I promise you. It does not matter to me.”
“How do I know you are telling me the truth Isaias? You lied to me about having all this money. For all I know you approached me just to see if you could get me.”
“If you had been like all the other women I’ve met after Victoria, I would have just told you I was rich, Whitney.”
Whitney understood, but she didn’t want to believe it. “So I’m like all other gold digging women out there.”
“Baby, please listen to me. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I had money. For once, I wanted a woman I was attracted to, care about Isaias Reynolds. Me. Not my net worth, or my bottom line, or anything like that. The first day I saw you, I damn near lost my mind. Then you turn up in Desiree’s apartment as her roommate, and I suddenly felt something that I hadn’t felt in a while. I had to know you. I decided at that moment that I would keep my money a secret. I’m surprised after all this time Owen didn’t let it slip. He runs his mouth to much.”
Whitney believed him. She was ready to put this behind her. “Is there anything else I should know about you? Are you hiding anything else from me?”
Isaias shook his head. “No honey. I promise.”
Isaias thought about the surprise Whitney gave him when Russell showed up. He only wanted to love her, and he didn’t want anything to block him from doing that.
“As long as we are being honest, is there anything you want to tell me?”
“No. He’s out of my life for good. You are the only one in my life now,” Whitney said quietly.
“Thank you baby. I love you honey. You believe me don’t you?”
Isaias felt a stirring in his heart as well as in his groin. “Do you love me?”
Whitney smiled. “With all my heart.”
Isaias laid Whitney back on the bed, and began to kiss her. She was so caught up in the moment; she almost forgot where she was. She put her hand on his chest and held him back.
“What’s the matter?”
“What about your mother?”
“Don’t worry. I can do what I want in my wing of the house.”
“Yes honey. I have my own staff and everything. Shhh. I want to make love to you. You are so hot in that dress, I’ve wanted to do this all day.”
Isaias made love to Whitney, and they fell asleep.
The next morning, they were awakened by a knock on the door. It was Isaias’ butler, Isaac.
“Who is it?” Isaias asked rolling over.
Isaac replied from the other side of the door. “Good morning, sir. Your mother requests that you and Miss Whitney join her for breakfast.”
“We’ll be right down Isaac, thank you.”
Isaias sat up and nudged Whitney. “Whitney honey, wake up. It’s time to eat.”
“Mmm. What time is it?” Whitney asked rolling over to look at Isaias.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me.” She covered her head with the pillow.
“Come on baby, get up. After breakfast, we can shower, and we are outta here.”
“All right, all right.”
“I have an extra robe in the closet. Put that on, and let’s go. Ester makes a fantastic omelet.”
Whitney and Isaias made their way down to the dining room to find Charlotte sitting at the head of the table fully dressed and looking quite radiant.
Isaias smiled. “Good morning, mother,” he said pulling out Whitney’s chair.
“Good morning to the both of you. Whitney dear how did you sleep?”
“I had a wonderful night’s sleep. Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds,” Whitney said sitting down.
“Well that’s good. I took the liberty of having Ester cook you a Denver Omelet with hash browns, sausage, and toast. Is that okay?”
“That’s wonderful. Thank you. What are you having Isaias?”
Charlotte adjusted in her chair and answered for her son. “Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, and roasted potatoes.”
Isaias disapproved of his mother’s early morning behavior, but responded, “Thank you, mother.”
“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Reynolds.”
“Why thank you dear. Breakfast should be out momentarily.”
Isaias wanted to pull his mother’s attention from Whitney, so he changed the subject. “So, how is the business doing mother?”
“I’m looking into a merger at the moment. There is a company in Pittsburgh that has done an extraordinary amount of production each year for the last ten years.”
Whitney was suddenly alarmed. “Might I ask what the name of the company is?”
“Sorry my dear. I can’t tell you for legal reasons. Why do you ask?”
“I know people that work in one of the steel mills in Pittsburgh, that’s all.”
“Concerned that a friend might loose their job?”
“Something like that.”
Charlotte looked at her son, curious if he knew.
Isaias sighed. “Whitney’s brother Bishop is a senior foreman in one of the mills there.”
Charlotte smiled. “Ah. No need to worry my dear. Atomic Steelworks only wants to profit from the production of this company. The only thing that will change is ownership. Everything else will go on as normal.”
“We’re not in the business of putting people out of work honey,” Isaias reassured her.
Just then, the head butler, Frederick, carried the breakfast tray into the dinning room, and he served Whitney first.
He put her plate in front of her, and suddenly her stomach began to growl. She was hungry. The amount of food on the plate was a lot more than what she’d normally eat. She’s trying to make me fat. Not happening, she thought,
“I hope the food is to your liking miss. If there is anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask,” Frederick said.
Whitney smiled. “Thank you.”
Frederick then served Isaias.
“It’s nice to see you home sir,” Frederick said putting Isaias’ plate on the table. “I hope the staff is treating you well.’
Isaias nodded. “As always Frederick, thank you.”
Frederick then served Charlotte. “Your breakfast as usual ma’am.”
Charlotte didn’t look at him but asked, “Do I have any messages?”
“Only one ma’am. Miss Tyler called and said she cannot join you for coffee this morning.”
“Thank you, Frederick. That will be all.”
Isaias’ head snapped toward his mother as Frederick left the room. He was angry. “Coffee? You two have coffee?”
“Three times a week dear. Is there something wrong with that?”
“She isn’t welcome in this house anymore, mother,” Isaias said taking a bite of his food. “We talked about this already.”
“Well, that is probably why she isn’t coming today. She knows you’re home.”
Whitney put a bite of food in her mouth and watched the exchange between her boyfriend and his mother.
When she was finished chewing, she asked, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but who is Miss Tyler?”
Charlotte was smug. “You told me you met her. It’s Victoria dear.” She took a bite of her food and waited on the eruption she was almost certain to witness.
Whitney was suddenly sick to her stomach. Instinct told her there was something going on.
“Isaias, are you still seeing Victoria behind my back?” Whitney asked.
Isaias shook his head. “No baby. I promise it’s just you and me.”
“No need to worry, Whitney,” Charlotte intervened. “As I told you, I still see Victoria a lot.”
“What are you two up to?” Isaias asked.
“Nothing darling. We just visit that’s all. She tells me what’s going on in her life, and I tell her what’s going on in mine. You know she’s the closest thing to a daughter that I’ve ever had. I didn’t think you would mind.”
Whitney couldn’t stand it any longer. “The breakfast is wonderful Mrs. Reynolds, but I not hungry anymore. Is it okay if I excuse myself?”
Charlotte watched as Whitney rose from the table and went upstairs. She had a devious smile on her face the entire time. Isaias didn’t say anything. He just watched as his mother watched Whitney.
When Whitney made it upstairs, Isaias spoke.
“Mother you know Vic and I are no longer together. I love Whitney now. What are you up to?”
“I already told you dear. I am not up to anything.”
Isaias smirked. “You already know what happened between Vic and I don’t you.”
“She mentioned it, yes.”
“And you already knew about Whitney being black didn’t you.”
Charlotte nodded. “Victoria mentioned that as well, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.”
Isaias shook his head. “It’s no use trying to break us up. I love Whitney now. Vic messed up when she broke up with me for no reason. You know how I felt about her then. If you weren’t so caught up in the company business, you would have tried to stop her from breaking my heart then.”
“Really? I do remember I offered to help you. You turned me down.”
“Perhaps I did, but it’s too late. I have plans for my future, and it does not include Victoria Tyler. As much as she would like to be, she will never be a Reynolds. She gave up that right when she hurt me. Thanks for the breakfast mother. I am going to shower and get dressed.” Isaias stood up. “Frederick!”
Frederick entered the room. “Yes sir.”
“Have Isaac get my truck ready. Miss Whitney and I will be leaving soon.”
“As you wish sir. Will there be anything else?”
“That will be all, thank you.”
Frederick again left the room. Charlotte looked at her son with a very confused look on her face. His truck was the vehicle he drove when he came home to visit. Why was he taking it?
“Why not?” Isaias asked crossing his arms.
“The Benz? Why not just let Isaac drive you down in the limo?”
“You bought it for my birthday, and I only drive it when I’m home. Whitney now knows I have a shit load of money so I don’t have to hide it anymore.”
“I just don’t want it stolen honey. That’s all. Do you have somewhere to park it?”
“Mother please, give me a break. I’m going to park my car on campus, in my apartment complex parking lot. No one will steal it, because just about everyone down there has one anyway. You know that.
“I’m only going to say this one more time. Vic is not welcome in this house anymore. Stay away from her. If I find that you and she are cooking something up to hurt me, you can have my forty percent of the business, and I won’t have to come up here anymore.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“I do. See you next time mother.”
Isaias went up to his room to find Whitney was already dressed and ready to go. He was worried his mother had ruined his relationship.
“Whitney honey, are you okay?”
Whitney’s tone was cold. “Let’s just go. I don’t want to talk about it now.”
“Can I shower?”
Whitney shook her head. “I can stand you smelling like ass until we get back to campus. I’m just ready to go right now.”
“I have a treat for you,” Isaias said trying to lighten the mood. “I’m going to drive my Benz back to campus. So if you like you can drive my Lexus.”
Whitney sighed deeply and looked him in his eyes. “I have no interest in your money Isaias. It’s you I love remember? Let’s just get as far away from here as we can, as fast as we can.”
Isaias and Whitney left his family home and started on their way back to Eastern-Clark University. After Isaias and Whitney left, Charlotte immediately called Victoria.
“Good morning Victoria dear. Why didn’t you show up? The plan won’t work unless you are ready to take back what is rightfully yours.”
“I honestly couldn’t make it this morning. I had to go and see my mother.”
“All right then. The next time he is here, you have to show up. Even if Whitney is here.”
“So what’s your plan?”
“If you want him back, you will have to follow my instructions to the letter. The last time I sent you to see him you screwed that up. Now we have to work extra hard just to get him to talk to you.”
“I’m sorry. I just had to see how far he’d gone. If I called her out of her name and he didn’t flinch, I knew I could easily get him back.”
“You didn’t count on him really being in love with her did you?”
“No, I didn’t. Charlotte, I don’t know about this. I think we should just wait until he’s ready. I don’t think we should push him. I’m afraid I we do, I’ll even lose his friendship.”
“You’re pretty close to that as it is. He now knows we talk at least three times a week. Now he thinks I’m spying on him. He told me he didn’t want you in the house. Therefore, we can’t have coffee here anymore. We will have to go out and do it.”
“Why? The servants won’t say anything, will they?”
“Please. You forget he has his own staff he personally hired. They are extremely loyal to him. They will tell him everything he wants to know if he asks. So no more coming to the house. We will have to continue our plans somewhere else.” Charlotte abruptly changed the subject. “Where’s the baby.”
“At my parent’s house.”
“I want my grandson to be raised by his father, and no one else. We have to move on this before Jason gets too old. It’s bad enough we hid this from Isaias all this time.”
“If I had my choice I would have told him he had a son a long time ago.”
“Then he would have dropped out of school, and you would be penniless. You know the conditions of the will. I am to hold my controlling percent of the company until Isaias graduates from college and married. Then after that, he has control.
“I don’t want that woman to marry my son and have lots of mullatos running my husbands company. You have to be the one to marry him, so Jason will have control of the business. The bloodline must remain pure.”
“So what’s your next move?”
“I’m not sure, but we have to move quickly, Victoria. The longer we wait, the harder it is going to be to break them up. I planted the seed of doubt, now it’s up to you to make it grow. I’m counting on you.”
Meanwhile breakfast at the Thomas estate went a little different.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to you last night, Desiree. Tell me more about yourself.”
“I was born and raised in New Jersey. Our family didn’t have a lot of money, so I went to public schools like everyone else. I however was in all of the advanced classes. I even skipped my senior year because I was so smart. The system didn’t have any clue as to what to do with me. So, in my junior year I had to opportunity to take the entrance exam for Eastern-Clark, and I passed, no problem. After the school year was over, I ended up working in a lab for a year, because my father wouldn’t let me leave home until I was eighteen. And here I am.”
“Amazing. I have to admit I had a pre-conceived notion about you when Owen first told me about you.”
Owen knew what his mother was about to say so he tried to stop her. “Mother.”
Nadia ignored him. “Meaning I had it in my head that people of Hispanic decent are loud, drink a lot of beer, and they have many children that follow them around everywhere.”
Desiree laughed. “That’s not pre-conceived, that’s the truth for some of my people. I will be the first to admit that. However Mrs. Thomas, there are a quite a few of us who are different. Me being one of them.”
Desiree turned to Owen. “Owen, stop worrying about if your mother is going to offend me or not. She has a right to her opinion, and I respect that. Whatever she has to say, will not change the fact that I love you, and when it comes down to me and you, nothing else matters.”
Nadia smiled. “Well said, Desiree. Owen I do believe you did choose well. I like what I see in Desiree so far. How long have you two been dating?”
“Almost two years,” Owen said quietly.
“And I never knew this why?”
“Because of your pre-conceived notions about everyone who is not white.”
“Owen you should have trusted me. I do have somewhat of an open mind you know. I know what is going on in the world today.”
Owen tipped his head to the side and asked, “Really? Could have fooled me.”
“Oh honey why do you say that? You don’t believe that I can accept people for who they are?”
Owen rolled his eyes. “Mother, I don’t want to fight this morning. So can you please leave me out of the conversation?”
Desiree pulled the plug on her manners and asked, “Mrs. Thomas can I ask you something?”
“Did you shit your drawers when Whitney showed up here yesterday?”
Owen’s mouth fell open. “Desiree!”
She calmly looked at Owen and said, “You said you didn’t want to be in the conversation so be quiet. I want to know what your mother thought.”
Nadia smiled again. “I do like this girl, Owen. And to answer your question, yes.”
“Why? If you know what is going on in the world today, why were you surprised?”
“Because I happen to know Charlotte Reynolds is like most in our circle.”
Desiree tested how far she could go. “Bigots?”
Nadia cringed at the word. “I wouldn’t use that term dear. Let’s just say everyone has a place.”
“So anyone who is not white doesn’t belong in your circle?”
Nadia nodded. “Exactly.”
“So why is it that I’m eating breakfast at your table as your guest, and not serving you?” Desiree asked, tipping her head to one side.
“Because I love my son. He has told me several times in the past he didn’t want anything to do with the women I tried to set him up with. I don’t doubt that before you, he has probably been with other women that weren’t like us. I knew once he was set free from our sheltered lifestyle he would change.”
Desiree shook he head. “Oh, but he hasn’t.”
Owen was surprised. “Excuse me?”
Desiree again ignored him and continued. “He himself has his own circle. At first, it only included Isaias. Whom I can only assume that he was very much like Owen growing up. When I met the two of them freshman year, I became their friend. It wasn’t until our sophomore year that Owen let me in. Then in comes Whitney. We hit it off from the moment we met. Owen knew that in order to continue to get along with Isaias and me, he had no other choice to accept Whitney. However, as far as other people go? He has not changed one bit.”
Owen interrupted again. “Desiree, I think you have said enough.”
“No honey, I’m not done. I think your mother and I are going to get along well. Now that we know where we stand on certain subjects, we can be honest about it. I appreciate that she didn’t hide the fact she has racist tendencies like we all do.”
“Are you quite finished?”
“Owen darling, let her talk,” Nadia said, interrupting him.
“Mrs. Thomas, I just wanted to let you know that if you need to talk about something on your mind, you are more than welcome to give me a call.”
“I appreciate that.”
Owen stood up. “Okay, ladies this is just gotten very weird. Have you forgotten the fact that my loony father is still out there waiting to bash our heads in?”
“Owen, go back to campus and don’t worry about me. I will be fine. I have things going on that your father does not know about, and I will not discuss with you. I will just stay here for a month or so. When I am ready to go home, I will, and things will be back to normal. Believe me. I’ll be fine, Owen.”
“Okay mother, if you say so. Desiree, are you finished with your breakfast?”
“I am now honey,” she said taking her last bite.
“Shall we shower and get ready to leave?”
“Okay baby.” Desiree stood up and looked at Nadia. “Thank you for a wonderful time.”
“You’re welcome dear. I hope to see you soon.”
Before she left the room, she had one more thing up her sleeve. “Owen you should invite your mother to watch you play. Nadia dear it is a wonder to see. I’m going to shower now.”
Desiree left the table, and went upstairs. Owen and Nadia looked at each other not knowing what to say.
It was Nadia’s turn to tip her head. “Did she just call me Nadia?”
Owen chuckled. “Yeah. I do believe she did. Did she offend you?”
“Not at all. I like her.”
“Are you serious?”
“Very. You have chosen well son. I know with this one, I will always know where she stands on every subject that happens to come up. I will not be surprised or shocked.”
“I guess that means she won’t be invited to anymore parties?”
“Not at all, Owen dear. Desiree is like a breath of fresh air.”
“I’m glad you like her. Thank you for doing this for me mother. I’m going to shower as well.”
“Oh and Owen?”
“The next time I tell you I don’t want to hear you having sex, I mean it. I don’t care how mad you are.”
“Yes mother,” Owen said he quietly chuckling up the stairs.
The night before, Richard was so upset and confused he didn’t know what he was going to do. It would be a hassle to go to the airport and get back on a plane, so he decided he would just stay in town.
There was no way he was going back home. There was no one in the house, except the help, and he hated being home alone. Although he and Nadia didn’t love each other anymore, there was comfort in knowing she was in the house with him. He decided he would go to the woman he loved. Grace.
For many years, Richard has kept her hidden from everyone he could. Nadia only found out about her in the last ten years. However, she has never seen her. Nadia could only presume Grace was beautiful and good to Richard, otherwise, he wouldn’t have strayed.
Grace loved Richard. It didn’t start that way at first. At first, it was only sex for the both of them. It was only after Richard had started showering Grace with gifts that she decided she would continue in the relationship. The gifts ranged from a simple dozen roses to diamonds. They then graduated to short vacations, and then vacations abroad. Finally, Richard bought Grace her own place. It was then she realized that they were in the relationship for the long haul. She looked forward to being his wife, and couldn’t wait to do so.
Richard rang the doorbell.
She was surprised to see him. “Richard, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to France?”
Richard stepped through the door. “I never made it on the plane. I left James to take care of the business we had over there.”
Grace smiled. “Miss me that much?”
“Nothing like that,” Richard said, removing his suit jacket.
Grace crossed her arms. “Fuck you too.”
“I’m sorry honey. I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, kissing her gently on the lips. “I had to get back here to ensure Nadia didn’t leave me.”
With her arms still crossed, she asked, “When in the hell are you going to let her go anyway?”
Richard turned his back to her and made his way to her sunroom. “Soon.”
Richard was upset with the encounter he had with his son, and just wanted to sit down.
Grace followed. “It’s always soon. First, it was when James graduated college. Then it was when James learned the business. Then it was when Owen graduated college.”
Richard threw his jacket over the arm of the chair next to him and sat down. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. It is the latter of the three though. As angry as I am with Owen right now, he’s still my son. He’s worked hard, and he deserves just as much as his brother does. Even if he doesn’t want anything to do with the business.”
Grace went to pour Richard his favorite wine. “You’re angry with him? What happened?”
“He protected his mother with his life today.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened?” she asked, handing him his wine.
Richard took a sip. “He’s not a boy anymore. When he was a boy, I could kick his ass at anytime, because I knew he was weak. But not tonight. Tonight he stood up to me. And you know what honey? I was scared.”
“Scared?” she asked sitting down in the chair next to him.
“Yeah scared,” Richard said, taking another sip of wine. “Once upon a time I could threaten him, and I was still the man of the house. Not anymore. He’s grown up, and that is what scares me the most. Not to mention he pretty much told me that he cared nothing for my money. He just didn’t want me to hurt his mother. He said he would take care of her from now on, but I couldn’t hurt her anymore.”
Not knowing what else to say, Grace asked, “What can I do honey?”
“Be patient. I’m not going anywhere. Owen is graduating soon, and after that we can be together.”
“Why not divorce her now?”
“I can’t. Not until Owen finishes school. That way I can get away clean. As long as she gets what she wants out of this marriage before it’s over, you and I will be fine. Right now, the only thing she wants is for Owen to graduate. I plan to let her have a percentage of the profits from the business in place of alimony payments.”
“It doesn’t matter. Just so long as I can finally be rid of her.”
“You really do love me don’t you?”
“You know I do. I’ve loved you from the moment I heard you laugh.”
“What do you think your friends would say if they knew about us?”
Taking another sip of his wine he replied, “I don’t care anymore.”
“Are you sure? After all, I am black.”
“And I’m rich. So what.”
Richard was happy to have found love again after so long. He no longer cared about what anyone thought about him. After all his wine was consumed the world over. If someone didn’t like his wine because he was married and had a black mistress, they didn’t have to drink it. Still, he was careful not to upset Nadia to the point of divorce before he was ready. So he kept up appearances as if he was prejudice, and didn’t care for his wife. Truth of the matter was he still cared for his wife. He didn’t love her like he used to, and he no longer felt the way he used to for different races of people. He did still care about his business.
“Come over here,” Richard said.
Grace got up and kneeled at his side. He kissed her, and they went to the bedroom. He made love to her and didn’t go back home until it was time for James to return. That way he wouldn’t be in the house alone. After all, he didn’t expect Nadia back for at least two weeks.