I watched the little bitch welcome everyone as they arrived for our dinner. My hands are itching to throw the pot of mashed potatoes over her head, shaking with the need to scald her pretty head and mess up her perfect hair as she clings tightly on her father’s arm. Behind my eyes, I see a picture of Ken and I when we were younger, hopelessly in love and, well, can’t get enough of each other. It doesn’t help that my daughter is the spitting image of me most especially when I was her age. Ken and I didn’t meet until I was in uni but now, I have the perfect vision of him and myself if he’d met me when I was in the worst position in my life. Sans the bruises and the occasional bite marks, I’d say Ane could’ve been my twin sister.
“Here, honey, let me help you with that,” Valerie offers. I fought the urge to flinch. I loved this woman more than my own mother and she didn’t have to know how that word almost always trigger me. As much as I try to replace the bitter and painful memories associated with it through the warm and welcoming feeling Valerie always makes me feel, I’m afraid the word is already completely ruined may it be this life or the next.
I allowed Valerie to take the other end of the heavy pot while I hold it in both hands, and together, we walked to the counter to transfer it in a Pyrex container. Only Louise is missing and everyone has gathered in the kitchen to do something. Ken was supposed to set the wine and the wine glasses but got distracted by the arrival of his favorite niece. Well, it’s not like he has any other nieces. Ane dragged him away to the dining area, carefully taking one wineglass at hand. I have to admit that this small close-knit family has as much power to melt my insides as it has to make me want to pull my hair out of my scalp and gouge my eyes out. Ken loves too much.
Growing up, I had a larger family minus the loving relationship. Minus the… uncomfortable intimacy. I shook my head as I pull the mittens out of my hands. No. How sick was it of me to be thinking like that?
But then, there it is again.
It was the barest tough but I caught it in time. A curled finger sliding up a smooth naked arm. Blue eyes locking in with another pair of baby blues. A hint of a smile on her lips and a naughty smirk in his. Standing almost chest to chest with each other. They came in here together, bringing with them a box of pastries, like a freaking couple who visited the parents for the weekend.
Just then, the backdoor slammed and all heads turned to look at my dark, brooding son crashing the party. My cheek twitch from trying not to wince. I love my son, I do. But he makes it very hard to do so. And I just have no idea how to handle it, handle him.
The smile that crossed my lips are stretched thinly, forced. My heart aches for him, for not being able to look him in the eyes. It hurts just as much actually looking at him.
I have no business judging my niece and nephew of their relationship when I have my relationship with my son to fix. When I have this whole different problem to deal with. Harry and Callie are glued since her birth and she’s like the little sister he never had. How twisted it is of me to think they could be committing something atrocious and despicable?
Abe was glaring in space when his grandmother called out to him with her arms stretched wide like her warm smile. He took a deep breath before lowering his tensed shoulder and facing her, his eyes instantly loosing the cold, hard look in them. Only Valerie can get through to him now. After Georg’s death, we all thought no one will ever be able to manage Abe. Though their relationship isn’t as tight and close, Valerie is the only person now who can still talk normally to the boy.
“Nana.” Abe steps into his grandmother’s embrace, obviously trying to
Not even a whole sentence but I’m glad to hear it. God, even the deep, rough baritone of his voice…
My gaze snapped up in time to follow the flash of anger in Harry’s eyes as he glare at my son whose eyes are pinned with… Callie.
There’s that tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach again. This time, I couldn’t help my eye from twitching as my head slowly move back and forth between the three of them.
Valerie pulled back and encased Abe with her hands on his growing biceps. Is that a tattoo I see peeking from his short black sleeves? It’s useless to hope that he’s working out just to keep healthy. I’m afraid he could be in knee deep with the demons for me to even try and pull him up. There’s nothing more I’m scared shitless of than those who’ve lurked in the dark.
The tension in the air even got worse as we all sat down on the table. I tried to make everything as perfect as possible. A feast that could rival the one I prepared for thanksgiving. I was the host of last year’s and it was even more grand than the one Mich prepared the previous year. Christmases are always a whole family effort which is why I counted that out of the running.
Mich’s piercing blue eyes surveyed the table as she laid her napkin down on her lap. She sat opposite her husband who’s beside their daughter. And beside her is Harry. Louise is going to sit beside her son when she arrives. Beside Mich, at the head of the table is Valerie, the matriarch. She looks genuinely happy and contented as she looks over everyone at the table. On her other side is where my husband will sit and Ane will sit on my other side. The wine is perched on the bucket of ice and everyone who’s drinking have their glasses set so where the hell are they?
At the end of the table sits my lonesome son, head bowed down with his thick dark hair covering most of his eyes. His stare is directed across of him, fists laid hardly on the table that the white cloth I’ve lain there wrinkled under them.
The doorbell rang, it's most definitely Louise, and I stood up, not wanting anyone to volunteer first. I need a little bit of a breather before I serve my family the best dinner I’ve made yet.
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