Nathan and Rachel sat in the living room of the house. He rubbed her shoulders.
“Just relax, dearie. Father is going to love you because he is going to see in you what I love about you, alright. Take a deep breath.”
Just then, they heard footsteps. Rachel looked up and saw a man approaching them. He was like an older version of Nathan. Their walking pattern was actually similar.
“Hey dad.” The two men hugged. Tristan Shore ruffled his son’s hair.
“How are you doing, son?” he asked when they let go of each other. His eyes moved on to the young redhead beside his son and he smiled. “So, you are the girl that my son never shuts up about? Tristan Shore.”
“Rachel Morris,” Rachel stretched out her hand and shook the man’s hand. He had a very firm grip.
“Rachel, so you are the reason that my son does not want to join the army?” the man teased, his eyes twinkling.
Rachel’s green eyes widened, “What?”
“Dad is just pulling your legs, Rachel. He is fond of that,” Nathan smiled at her. “All he wants is just at least one child in the army and my little sister has done that. She’s an army nurse. I am extremely glad that you got remarried, dad, else, the mantle would have fallen on me.”
Tristan grunted as he took his seat. He motioned for them to do same. “You and your brother are quite cowardly if you ask me, letting your little sister join the army and then just looking on.”
“Oh, dad, you talk as if Gwen is going to be carrying arms and going to the battlefront. She is joining as a nurse, okay?”
“You should know dad already, bro. Though she is a nurse in the army and not a soldier, it does not bother him just as long as army is a prefix to the nurse. And don’t mind this old man, miss. My brother and I are already used to his so-called belittling speech, is that not right, brother?” a voice said as a dark haired guy joined them. He and Nathan laughed and they hugged each other.
“Kirk is so right on that, love. We are used to dad and his speeches,” Nathan grinned at his brother and girlfriend. He made the introductions, “Kirk, meet Rachel, my girlfriend. Rachel, meet Kirk, my little brother.”
“Little brother, really? I am…” Kirk started saying but the mischievous twinkle in his brother’s eyes stopped him. “I won’t give you the satisfaction of ranting. Nice to meet you, Rachel.”
“Likewise,” Rachel smiled at him.
“Where’s Moira?” Nathan looked around for his stepmother.
“Mother is in the kitchen setting a feast for Rachel. Remember when I came home with Cordelia?”
“Oh yes, how can I forget? The table was overflowing with food,” Nathan laughed.
“Yeah, well, that’s what she is doing now.”
“Okay, may I just say that I am feeling greatly ignored, right now?” Tristan grumbled. He looked at his sons who just grinned at him. “So, Rachel, do tell me about yourself.”
The two brothers laughed earning them glares from their father which shut them up. Just then, the main door of the house opened up and two young women walked in. Immediately they saw Rachel, they hurried to meet her.
“You must be Rachel,” the taller one said. Rachel smiled and nodded. “I’m Cordelia, Kirk’s girlfriend. This is Dr. Gwendolyn, their younger sister.”
“Pretty please,” the girl called Gwendolyn said as she clasped her hands together. “Please call me Gwen. I honestly don’t know what mum and dad were thinking when they gave me a name like Gwendolyn.”
Rachel chuckled, “Sure, I will.”
Tristan stood up and placed his hands on his daughter’s shoulders, “That is a very beautiful name, Gwendolyn.”
“That’s what you think father. That’s what you think,” Gwendolyn shook her head.
“Why don’t we all go join your mother in the kitchen?” Tristan asked grinning mockingly at the boys. “It’s the boy’s time to be ignored.”
“Sure,” the girls agreed and went with him.
“Oh come on,” the brothers grumbled and then broke into laughter.
Nathan smiled as he and his brother started talking. He felt completely blessed and happy to be with his family. His mother had never been that to him. All she had ever done was act in ways that were only to her interest. She had never cared for him, not once.
He had reached out to his father who already had another family and had been trying to get through to him for so long. He found his father again and not only that, he found a mother, and a brother and sister. Nathan grinned to himself. Forgiving his father has come with a bonus package.
He was happy as well also because of Rachel’s family. Her mother was doing better now and her father had started sobering up. He had had a near death experience, Cirrhosis of the liver to be precise. It was as a result of all his drinking. Now, he was doing all he could to be better and his family had forgiven him and accepted him back. With his help, Rachel had found a stable and well paying part-time job in a print company. She did not have to do menial jobs that paid very little anymore.
They would be graduating college in a couple of months and he intended to ask Rachel to marry him the next day. As he looked around the table, watching everyone he loved laughing and talking, he felt a sense of peace and contentment. They were all having fun and comfortable with each other, his dad, his stepmom, Rachel, Gwen, Cordelia and Kirk. He knew that things may not always be easy, life may not always go smoothly or as you plan out but he was sure that as long as he had his family, they would scale through every storm together. As long as they had each other, they would be fine.
The long table was noisy with spoons against plates, clinking of glasses and loud conversation. It was a large dinner and everyone was talking to everyone else. As Elijah lifted his glass to his lips, Amy tapped on his shoulder. He looked up.
“Mr. Elijah, there is a phone call for you,” she informed him.
“Thanks, Amy.” He quickly excused himself and as he walked into the den, he could hear the conversation going on. He chuckled lightly as he picked up the phone. “Hello.”
“Hi, Elijah. I am so sorry that we could not make it for your graduation. We just wanted to say congratulations,” Mrs. Grey’s voice came from the other end of the line.
Elijah smiled as he said, “That’s okay. I understand that you all are very busy.”
“Still, work should not be an excuse why we could not make it to such a big day in your life,” she apologized again.
“That’s okay, ma’am. I am happy that you called. It’s nice to know that you still reached out even if you could not make it. Sincerely, thanks,” Elijah said and he meant it.
“Alright. Once again, congratulations. From Mr. Grey and the kids and I,” she hung up.
Elijah smiled at the receiver in his hand. As he placed it down, he felt a hand snake around his waist. He smiled and turned around. He held Cassandra’s face in his hands.
“Are you okay? What was that all about?” she smiled up at him.
“It was Mrs. Grey,” he explained to her. “She called to apologize because she could not make it to the graduation ceremony.”
“Ahh… did they even make an effort?” Cassandra asked, her mouth turning down into a frown.
“That’s okay, dear,” Elijah said as he removed a strand of her hair that had strayed out of her bouffant from her face. “Let’s not think about all that. I have chosen to bury the hatchet and forget it all. I have chosen to forgive and move on. At least, she made an effort. Even if they could not come, they called.”
Cassandra sighed. “I guess you are right. I just feel sad when I see that sad look in your eyes.”
Elijah kissed her cheeks and said, “It will pass. Now, come on, let’s go. I don’t want to miss Paul’s announcement.”
Cassandra chuckled as they left the den. “Does Paul really have to announce it? Everyone already knows that he and Kate will definitely get married now that you all have graduated.”
“True but he has to say it,” Elijah chuckled. They took back their seats at the table.
“Well, I can’t wait for us to get married,” Cassandra grumbled as she studied the sparkling engagement ring on her finger that Elijah had slipped on it on her birthday, several months ago, in front of their family.
“I can’t wait either, but we both know that you have to graduate,” Elijah tweaked her nose as he said so.
“Yeah, yeah,” she chuckled. Just then, they heard a clinking sound and all heads looked up.
Paul was standing and he held Kate close to him. He held a glass of wine in his hands and he was grinning widely.
“I have an announcement to make,” he grinned.
“Sure brother. Why don’t you tell us what we don’t know already?” Todd teased.
There was laughter all around the table.
“Seriously, you guys, let me speak, okay?”
“Sure, go on, Paul,” Ellen, Raymond’s wife urged him. She pinched her husband who was chuckling into his glass of wine.
“Ouch,” he frowned.
“Well, I asked Kate to marry me and she said yes!” Paul announced.
“Was she supposed to say no? I am at a loss right now,” Peter grinned and he and Todd high fived and laughed.
“Seriously?” Paul threw a dirty look at his brothers as they chuckled.
“Don’t mind your brothers, dear. We are so happy for you, believe me, my little boy,” Mrs. Davis stood up and hugged her son. She hugged Kate also.
“Welcome to the family, my dear.”
“Technically, she was already in the family, just saying,” Todd said again. Everyone broke into laughter this time.
“I really think you should ignore our little brothers, bro. You know how silly they can be. We all are very happy for you both. They are happy a whole lot.”
“Oh yes, we are very happy about you both bro, finally we are going to be uncles,” the boys grinned. “Congratulations you both.”
Everyone hugged the soon to be wedded couple and they resumed their meal. The table comprised all the members of the Davis family, Professor Boxton, Steve, Maria and their parents, Elijah and his three brothers and their partners. They were all celebrating the graduation of the boys. As well as it was Paul and Elijah’s graduation from college, it was also Peter’s.
It was a happy occasion and there were smiles all around. As soon as the meal was over, all the females went to the den. It was time to start planning the wedding.
Elijah stood by the glass window and he took a sip of his drink. He looked out into the dark night, lit up by the bright light of the streets.
“A penny for your thoughts.” Elijah turned around and smiled as he saw his future father-in-law approach him. “Beautiful isn’t it?”
“Yes, very.” He smiled.
“Every day, I am grateful for the way my kids turned out,” Mr. Davis said. “Their mother and I were often absent and completely career driven but, they still turned out great. They never turned off the right road.”
Elijah nodded. “You can’t keep beating yourself up, sir. You need to understand that in some ways you still contributed to the way they are. Whether you believe it or not, you are a great part of their life. Don’t you ever forget that sir. Never.”
“Thanks, my boy,” Mr. Davis patted Elijah on the back. “I am grateful also for the people that my children have in their lives.”
“I am truly and sincerely grateful for all of you as well,” Elijah smiled back at the man.
Just then, the two men felt tugs on their sleeves. They looked and saw that it was Todd and Peter.
“Come on, it’s game time.” The boys pulled at the both of them.
Elijah chuckled and rubbed his hands together with glee, “Okay, let’s go have fun.”
Family and forgiveness are very important. When you have people you love around you, the burden you have would not be so heavy. Elijah had realized this.