The Defendant

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Chapter 11. Family Matters

“Shit,” I muttered as I dropped my cell phone onto the counter. I dropped my forehead into my hands. Behind me I could hear Wes setting down the cookbook he’d been flipping through. When he’d found it in my kitchen cabinet, virtually covered in dust, he’d laughed.

“Recipes for one?” He’d held it up for me to see.

I’d snorted, “Yeah, my mom’s idea of subtlety.”

“She doesn’t want you to be single?”

“Nope. She wants me to settle down and give her some grand babies like El has. She thinks I need a man to tame some of my ambition.” I’d shrugged as I turned and pulled 2 beers out of the fridge. Wes had slid onto a barstool, flipping through the book, snorting occasionally as he muttered, “really?” in disbelief.

Now I could feel him behind me as he rested his hands gently on my shoulders. “What’s wring?”

I sighed and turned to face him, crossing my arms over my chest. “What’s wrong is my sister is a blabbermouth. She told my parents I have a boyfriend and now they want to meet you.”

Wes raised one eyebrow at me. “So I’m your boyfriend now?” He smirked as I rolled my eyes.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself Casanova. I’ll try to wiggle out of this,” I went to turn and grab my phone when he snagged my hand in his.

“Well hey, what if I do it?”

My mouth dropped open as I stared at him. “You want to come meet my parents?” He shrugged as he ran his hand through his short hair.

“I mean, we are seeing each other. We’ve been spending a lot of time together.” He wasn’t wrong. After that night at the restaurant we’d been near inseparable. We left for work together every morning and ended up back here every night. Wes would make dinner while I poured over case files on the kitchen island. We’d eat and watch tv together before falling into bed for at least one round of amazing sex. Sometimes two.

It all felt so peaceful and domestic and... real. I bit my lip as I thought about bringing him home to my parents. They’d met a few boyfriends over the years. Neither they, or I, had been impressed enough to think it was long term much to my mom’s dismay. But there was something different about Wes. I wanted them to like him and the thought of bringing him to dinner and them dismissing him like any other ex made my stomach knot up.

Since sleeping next to him every night my nightmares had disappeared. Rarely did I dream at all and I always woke up surrounded by his smell and his warmth. What would I do if my family didn’t like him? “No, it’s way too soon for meeting the family. Besides, you’re still married. And what about when they ask us how we met...” my voice trailed off as my face flushed. “Oh shit if she told them...”

Laughter tumbled through his chest as he pulled me tight against him. I wrapped my arms around his waist, feeling grounded and safe. “Look, we’ve been casually seeing each other for almost a month now. And you don’t have to tell them I’m getting a divorce. Or do tell them and just correct your sister by saying we are close friends.” He laughed lightly again as he continued, “As for how we met... well I’m going to let you figure that one out.”

I pulled away from him, our eyes locking. “You sounds like you want to meet my parents.”

He tucked a wayward strand of my blonde hair behind my ear before cupping my face in his hands. “Liv, I absolutely want to meet your parents.” He leaned forward and pressed his lips gently to mine. I sighed at the feel of him, opening up for him to deepen the kiss. My hands fisted his shirt, holding him tight against me as his tongue dipped past my lips. He pulled back slightly as I stifled a groan at the loss of his lips. “Say yes.”

I hesitated for a moment before rolling my eyes and with a sigh said, “Yes.” He grinned devilishly and I couldn’t help but smile back.

Without warning he bent over and flung me over his shoulder. I let out a yelp as I found myself facing his back, butt up in the air. “Wes! Put me down,” I shout/laughed. His answer was a playful smack on my prone ass. He flung me down on my bed before crawling up over me.

“You really want to meet my family? With everything that’s going on?”

He ran his hand down my cheek, his thumb tracing my bottom lip. “I just want to know you better Liv. And if I get to see some pictures of you as baby and get to hear about all the embarrassing things you did as a kid,” here he shrugged, “then that’s a perk.”

I couldn’t help but smile as he began to drop kisses along my neck. “You are so going to regret your eagerness,” I said with a laugh. His teeth grazed my skin gently as his hand slid in my pants. Then all the things I wanted to say flew out of my head.

************************

I wiped my sweaty palms along my dark skinny jeans. We stood outside my parents house as I worked up the nerve to open the door. “Ok so you remember the story? We were set up by a coworker. No mention of you wife or... current situation.”

Wes ran a gentle hand up and down my back. “I’ve got it Liv. We only went over it nine times in the car.”

I swallowed roughly, my throat dry. This was a big deal to me. Here was a man I could finally see myself with. How he and my family interacted would be huge. A part of me felt bad for lying to them but the thought of them knowing the details made me nervous. As much as we all loved El, she was the impulsive one, the one to make crazy decisions. All of my life I’d been the stable, calm, rational one. If my parents knew I’d had a one night stand who was now currently my client that I was helping to get divorced, they might have a heart attack.

Pushing my nerves down I reached out and opened the door. As we entered the foyer I called out, “Hello!” Almost instantly a dark haired boy came shooting through the door and attached himself to my leg.

“Aunt Wiv, aunt Wiv!” Aiden cried out in excitement. I couldn’t help but laugh at my 3 year old nephew. I reached down and lifted him up with a grunt. He was getting heavy!

“Hey little man! Oh my gosh you’ve gotten so big! I swear you’ve grown a foot!”

His green eyes looked at me quizzically as he smashed my cheeks between his hands. “Aunt Wiv, come wook at my bwocks.” Aiden was still having troubles with the L sound causing them to come out as W’s. Completely normal, El assured me. I smiled as I carried him into the living room, setting him on the couch in front of the coffee table piled high with LEGO duplos.

He smiled proudly as he “walked” me through the city he was building. He had towering structures that represented home, daycare, and grandma and grandpa’s house. “This is very impressive Aiden,” I injected a large amount of wonder into my voice. I could see the pride on his face.

My sister came flying through the door from the dining room, baby on her hip. “Oh I’m so glad you’re here! Mom needs help in the kitchen and Maddie needs a diaper change.” She paused for a moment as she took in Wes. “Oh, you actually brought him!” She said excitedly.

I rolled my eyes. “You made it hard not to you blabbermouth.” El pretended to be offended, her hand flying to her chest.

“I just casually mentioned that you’d be seeing some one. Not my fault mom and dad took that and ran with it. Honestly, I didn’t give them much. Now, Zane is out back helping dad with the grill. Wes I’m sure they’d love to meet you if you want to head out.”

I reached out and laid a hand on his arm. “You’ll love Zane, he’s great. But just a word to the wise, my dad is a proud griller so no critiques tonight,” I said with a smile. He smiled back and dropped a quick kiss on my lips.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” and he casually strode through the doors toward the kitchen as if he knew the place already. El and I watched him go.

“Well he seems nice,” she said with a smug smile. Next to me Aiden ran a hot wheel car into a building, mimicking an explosion. I ruffled his hair before standing up and closing the distance between me and my sister.

“I don’t appreciate you spilling secrets about my life to our family,” I said quietly so my nephew wouldn’t hear. My sister sighed as she passed baby Maddie to me.

“I really didn’t spill your secrets. I honestly just mentioned you been out with a guy and you know mom. She ran with it. She wants you to find someone so badly. She’s worried about you.”

I held up my hand while balancing Maddie on my hip who’d already grabbed my chunky necklace and was gumming it to death. “Why does this family think the only important thing is getting married and having babies? Why isn’t my career and success enough?”

“Success and a career mean nothing if you don’t have anyone to share it with.”

We stood in silence for a moment. I dropped a kiss on my niece’s head before passing her back to her mom. “You get diaper duty, I’ll go help mom.” I breezed past her and through the dining room to the kitchen. There I found my mom, mixing up a bowl of potato salad. Her floral apron was slightly smeared with mayo as she used her wooden spoon to mix up the ingredients. Black framed glasses perched on the tip of her nose and her black hair, streaked with grey was pulled back into a curly messy bun. It was just like my childhood.

I remembered coming home from my first day of kindergarten. Mom has been baking cookies for a sweet treat to celebrate the first day. I’d dropped my bag on the ground, stomping to the table and resting it atop my hands.

Mom had smiled and stroked my hair. “How was your first day baby?” She’d asked. I could see her excitement for me in her eyes. I’d never gone to daycare or preschool. Mom has taken pride in educating me herself until I was ready for kindergarten. I’d grown up in this perfect little bubble of my family and the first day of school did not go as planned.

“Mommy, why am I white and you’re brown?” I asked bluntly. Her smile dropped as her hand stilled in my hair.

“Why do you ask that baby?” She sat down next to me, reaching for my hand. I let her hold it as I frowned back at her.

“The teacher asked us to draw a picture of our family. When it was my turn to talk about my family they asked why I drew my mommy and daddy and sissy brown. I told them because that’s how you looked. One girl said you must have stolen me because her mommy and daddy are white like she is.”

My moms eyes watered as she squeezed my hand gently. “Well baby, families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Just because you’re a different color doesn’t mean we aren’t your parents.”

“But why am I different?” I’d asked. Then mom began crying gently. She gave me a plate of cookies and milk and when my dad came home she sat us all down and told me about adoption. My real mommy and daddy couldn’t take care of me and gave me to a new family so they could love me and take care of me. My whole world felt torn away that day.

I swallowed back tears as I looked around the pale yellow kitchen. My mom looked up and smiled brightly. “Hi baby! I’m so glad you could make it. Your man just went outside to the grill with the men.” She wiggled her eyebrows at me. “Now sit and tell me all about him.”

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