The Boyfriend Game

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Chapter 18- An Offer

“It’s good you’re home sis,” Eduardo said from the drivers seat. He’d picked me up from the airport and was driving us to our parents house. I fiddled with my phone on my lap staring at the last text I’d gotten from Jax.

Jax: Be safe, we’ll talk when you get home. Happy Thanksgiving.

I hadn’t answered. We’d barely spoken in the last few days since the fight over Spencer. He’d come over twice and not much talking was done. The sex was always spectacular but we didn’t do much talking before or after. But what was there to talk about? He clearly didn’t trust me and I didn’t know what to do with that.

“Where’s your head at sis?” Ed asked me gently. Of all my brothers he was my favorite. Ed was smack in the middle of my 5 brothers but he was the calmest. Always the peace keeper.

I smiled slightly, tucking my phone into my purse. “Guy issues.” I shrugged a shoulder and looked out the window. We were close to the house. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“Guy issues? Since when?” His voice sounded confused. Ed knew better than anyone that I didn’t do relationships.

I sighed and turned to face him. My brother had the same black hair and dark eyes as me but that’s where our similarities ended. Ed has a strong sloped nose and pointed chin. His eyes were narrower and his lips naturally turned down. “I’ve been seeing someone.”

“Like, actually seeing them. As in dating?” He couldn’t hide his incredulous tone. I rolled my eyes.

“I am capable of dating you know!” I snapped. I hugged my purse to my chest tightly, squeezing my anger into it. It wasn’t his fault he had to clarify. Everyone knew I didn’t do relationships. “Sorry Ed, it’s just been a rough week. Yeah I’ve been dating someone. This dating thing isn’t easy.”

Ed laughed softly. “I wouldn’t go back to it that’s for sure.”

“Well not all of us met our soulmates at 17.” Ed and his wife Tera had been together since high school. Tera was fun and spontaneous whereas Ed was very serious and organized. They paired together really well and had 3 awesome kids on top of it. All my brothers had married and had children. I was always the disappointment. Whenever I spoke to my mother she reminded me I wasn’t getting any younger.

“So why’s this guy different than the others?” Ed asked softly. He turned onto our parents street.

“It was just a feeling. We had this natural chemistry, this connection. He’s so funny and caring. He builds houses for the poor in Mexico you know. And he’s so good looking and the sex is...”

“Aye Sof knock it off, I do not want to know that part of your life.” I laughed loudly. One thing my family was that differed from me was their conservativeness.

“Everyone has sex Ed.”

“I don’t like to think about my sister doing that.” He gripped the wheel tightly and turned into the drive. I looked up at the brightly lit house. I could see the crowd through the window.

“Do we have to go?” I turned to Ed, my eyes pleading. “Let’s go to that taco stand a few minutes away and just chat.” Ed patted my shoulder gently.

“Everyone’s waiting for you. You rarely come home, everyone’s so excited. We can’t disappoint them.” I sighed looking down at my feet. “I’ll take you for tacos before you leave,” he said giving my shoulder a squeeze. His door opened and he stepped out. Reluctantly I followed a second after. We weren’t even up the front path when the door swung open.

“My Sofia!” My mom cried out, dramatically running out the door to pull me into a hug. “My baby is finally home!” I wasn’t a tall women but my mother barely reached my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her, hugging her back.

“Hey mama.” She hugged me tightly until she pulled away, still holding my hands. Her round face shown with excitement as she clutched my hands.

“Look At you baby. Have you lost weight? You are so skinny! Come inside and eat.” My mom turned and pulled me to the door. Once inside I was swarmed by my family. My other 4 brothers: Marco, Luis, Miguel, and Santiago were all there with their wives. The children ran around chasing and tagging each other, their laughter ringing through the small space.

“Sofia it’s so good to see you!” One wife called.

“Glad your home sis!” Marco said patting me on the back.

“You need to come around more,” Santiago said scoldingly.

“Tia Sofia, I won first place in my soccer tournament!” My oldest newphew Stefano called out.

All the voices mingled as everyone called out words of greeting, admonishments, or special achievements. My family could be overwhelming but I felt their love in the room. It had been months since I’d seen everyone and I felt my eyes well with tears at the small changes. We pushed through the crowd to the kitchen where my mom began dishing me a plate.

I sat down at the kitchen island, surrounded by my family and food. Mom pushed the plate over to me. “Eat baby!” She called happily. I dug into my food and groaned. Nothing like moms cooking. She watched me happily for a moment.

“We’ve really missed you here.” I nodded slowly, taking another big bite. “A lot has changed.” She continued. I eyed her warily, unsure where this conversation was going.

“Let her eat Maria,” I heard a deep voice call. My dad stepped up behind mom, wresting his hand on her shoulder. My father was always a stern man. He believed in tradition and he and I had butted heads on more than one occasion.

“Hey dad.” He eyed me sharply.

“It’s good to see you Sofia.” He kissed mom on the side of the head and walked away. With a slight shake of my head I returned to my plate. My mom fluttered off to see my other relatives and I slowly finished my food. Everyone once in a while a brother, sister in law, niece or nephew would stop by to say hi or tell me something.

The night dragged on as I made my rounds. Two of my sister in laws were pregnant and I gave them my congratulations. I heard all about Stefano’s soccer game and Kelsey’s spelling bee. One by one the individual families left and I breathed a sigh of relief once it was just me and my parents.

“Come sit with us Sofia,” my mom called to me. I walked into the living room to see her and my dad sitting on the couch. I took the chair across from them.

“It’s good to see everyone,” I said gently. “So much has changed.” I smiled.

My mom watched me calmly. She turned to my dad. He sat forward, his elbows resting on his knees. My eyebrows knitted in concern. “What’s up your guys?”

“Sofia,” my dad began, “we think it’s time you come home.”

I looked back and forth between the two of them. “I’m an adult and I don’t want to come home.” I finally managed to say. My moms shoulders sagged.

“You are so far away baby. And your family misses you. You’ve been away long enough. Why don’t you come home now and make something of yourself?” I felt myself beginning to shake with anger. This is how it always was with them. I was always the disappointment, always the lose cannon.

“I am making something of myself,” I said standing suddenly. “You guys never supported my dreams. I’m doing something I love every day. I have friends and a life. Why don’t you understand that?” My fists were balled up at my sides while tears threatened to overflow my eyes.

My dad stood slowly. He reached out and grabbed my hand, pulling me closer to them. “Sofia, we know you left for your independence. We realize now we may have been a little...overbearing.”

I snorted. “A little?”

My mother stood, grabbing my fathers arm in one hand and mine in the other. “What is it you want for your life Sofia?” She asked calmly. My mother was almost never calm.

I took a deep breath. I looked at my parents, waiting for an answer. All my life they’d been hard on me. They had been so dissapointed when I’d chosen a life as a baker and to move hours away. They failed to see how their strictness and need to control my life had pushed me away.

“I want to run my own bakery.”

Silence filled the room as both parents looked at me. It felt like forever we all stood there, no one daring to move. Finally my dad said, “Is that it?”

I sighed and rubbed my forehead, feeling a headache coming. “It’s a start.” My mom stepped up to me, closing me in her embrace.

“It’s a good start.” She hugged me tightly and I held her back. Tears beginning to overrun my eyes.

“If we could help you, would you come home?” My dad asked quietly.

I pulled away slightly, looking up at him wide eyed. “What do you mean?”

“What if we could help you get a place and set up your bakery? You have some teenage nieces and nephews who would love to help out part time after school and on weekends. You have your mother. We could all help you. Then would you come home?” I stood there stunned. My parents where actually offering to help me. They’d never expressed an interest in my baking. Was this just a ploy to get me to move home.

“You would do that? Help me open my own bakery?” My father nodded gently, his face softening.

“We’ve missed you baby. Your family wants you here. We want you here. If helping you achieve this dream is the way to do it then so be it.” He stood there calmly, hands by his sides. I released my mom and pulled him into a hug.

“I’ve missed you all too.” We stood that way for a while, no one saying anything. When I pulled away from my dad my mom smiled at me.

“Are you coming home love?”

I wiped my face. “It’s a big commitment. I have a home, friends, a dog, a job. Can I have the week to think it through.”

My parents exchanged a look. “Of course sweetie,” my mom said. “We wouldn’t want you to make a rush decision. It can wait awhile.”

“Thank you guys,” I squeezed each of their hands. “I’m heading to bed.” With their calls of goodnight I headed up the stairs to my old room. When I opened the door it was like traveling back in time. As the only girl I had gotten my own room. It was small but it had been my safe haven from my older brothers.

The walls were still a blushing pink, my bed still tall and covered in pillows. My bookshelves were full of books, photos, and trophies. I trailed my finger along the edge of my desk, past the old notebooks littering the top. I sat on the edge of my bed and kicked off my shoes.

My parents had taken me by surprise. Never would I have expected them to extend such an offer. I was the wayward child. The one who refused to do what was expected of me. Would that change if I excepted their help? And what about my budding relationship with Jax? Yes we had hit a rough patch but every couple did. It was so new to both of us.

I sighed and got up to put on my pajamas. Once ready for bed I grabbed my phone from my purse and slid into bed. I plugged it in and laid on my side. Opening up my text messages I stared at the text from Jax again. I debated texting him. He’d said we’d talk when I got back. Despite myself I sent him a quick text.

Me: Happy Thanksgiving Jax, talk soon.

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