“Kara, where are you? Why aren’t you home yet? I told you to be here. They will be here anytime. Hurry up. Get your ass down here,” says Mrs. Smith over the phone to her 24 year old daughter.
“Mom, this dinner has nothing to do with me. Besides, I have number of things to do, and those are thousand times important than this dinner. I know you can handle this. Don’t force me to come.”
“I understand Kara, but your father demands your presence here. Don’t upset him, please. You know, we all love you, and we want you to be happy. Attending this dinner will be good for you. You need to start socializing now. You have mourned enough. It is time to move on. William would have wanted this.”
Hearing William’s name brought millions of memories back. And Kara swallowed a lump. He was gone, forever. He would never come back. But this topic was like a fresh wound for her. Besides, he just died a month ago, on their first engagement anniversary, just 2 months before their grand wedding.
Novelist William Black was one of the best seller novelists around the world, and also the founder of Black Publications. Just like his work, he was adorned by all as he wrote number of books from children to adult genres, from self-motivation to dark themes. With his good looks, he was the centre of attraction among ladies. But he had set his eyes only on one girl, Kara Smith, a young illustrator intern in his office. It had been two years since she first met him.
“Sorry, mom. But it is hard for me. And please, don’t talk about him.” Kara pleaded.
“OK hon, come home, I am cooking your favourite dish,” Martha Smith tried to change her mind.
“I’ll be there in 30 minutes. I hope, I reach before them,” finally, she gave up and hung the phone.
Kara grabbed her laptop and some of her folders before heading back to home, thinking about the dinner with Blacks. She was not afraid of them, just had no strength to deal with another sad evening where everyone would pity her for her misfortune.
The time she reached home, she was already 2 hours late. She entered the living room preparing herself for the scolding from both the families. She couldn’t call to inform her family about her lateness. She had her reasons of being late, and she was ready to explain that why she was late.
However, people sitting in the living room had another thing on their mind.
“Hey! Kara, come. You’re on time. We just arrived. How are you, hon?,” Mrs. Black chirped on seeing her. Kara relaxed a bit when everything seemed fine and under control.
She went and hugged first Sophia Black and then Arthur Black, William’s parents.
“Karaaaaaa!!!” a loud voice echoed in the room.
It was Amelia, Kara’s 12 years old sister, and her best friend despite their age difference.
Amelia came running upon seeing her sister. Both engulfed each other in bear hug.
“I was waiting for you. Where were you? Anyways, I’m happy that you are home safe and sound,” Amelia said while hugging her.
“I missed you today. And I’m happy that you are safe and sound as well,” she laughed softly. Saying ‘safe and sound’ was their everyday theme. In this small phrase, they both said a lot to each other.
“Ahemm.. Ahemm,” they both came back to reality when someone coughed. They pulled apart to see the person who had the audacity to interfere in their bonding time.
It was none other than James Smith, girls’ father.
“Amelia, now let me hug my daughter. You got yours, now step aside.” Saying this James embraced her elder daughter, and spoke quietly, “you are not off the hook. We will surely discuss why you were late.” He winked at her to lighten her mood. Kara just scrunched her nose up before sulking like a baby as she clearly knew that her father would get the truth out of her.
“Where is mom?” she asked her father.
“In kitchen, as usual,” he said playfully, Kara just shook her head.
During this whole time, there was one person who didn’t speak anything, but was boiling with anger. He was forced to come, and he didn’t like it even a bit. His anger was reaching another level when he realized that this 24 years old adult, who was about to marry his brother, didn’t even look in his direction as if he was invisible.
“Jasper, why are you still sitting? Kara is here, and manners say that you greet each other upon seeing them.” Amelia voiced her thoughts making both Kara and Jasper still.
Kara turned around shockingly after hearing Jasper Black’s name. Her eyes met the blue orbs of the man she always tried to avoid during the family gatherings. Her heart started to race quickly because Jasper’s presence always intimidated her. She slightly nodded her head, unable to produce words in his presence. However, Jasper ignored her bluntly before averting his eyes.
The whole ordeal was observed by both kids’ parents, and they exchanged uncertain yet meaningful glances, steeling themselves for the next event.
Just then, Martha came back and announced that dinner was ready. Everyone got ready to move to dining room. Amelia grabbed Kara’s hand and while walking she said “he is mysterious, powerful, and above all, a real grumpy just like Mills and Boons male protagonists.”
Jasper heard this, and just shook his head on Amelia’s comment. He was little amused when he should have been angry upon hearing word grumpy, but Amelia was a child, barely 12. It seemed unfair to him that a 28 years old man showed his anger on just a pre-teen. Besides, he always liked Amelia, a small bombshell, fully of energy. He always saw a little sister in her, a sister he never had.
“You don’t need to...” she trailed off when she realized something. “You read Mills and Boons? How?” Kara asked in surprised tone.
“The Internet, big sis. Everything is available there.”
“I think your computer needs parental controls.”
“If you put any parental control on my computer, I swear I won’t sing the lullaby to you at night, for fully 10 days. Besides, reading a little romance on the Internet is relatively a safe heaven.”
“It is blackmail, you know I need you to sing to me.” Said Kara almost inaudibly.
Jasper’s hears heard everything.
The dinner went well, without any major talk.
Kara sat beside her mother. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were on the other side of the table. Her father at the head of it. Amelia was sandwiched between Kara and Jasper. But Amelia took full advantage of this dinner as she kept on talking to Jasper, and Jasper also welcomed her questions and gossips.
As Mr. Smith was about to say something, Kara interrupted and told that she had something to say.
“What is it?” Sophia asked her.
Kara intertwined her left hand with Amelia’s before uttering the words.
“Um... it is... the thing is.. Um... I’m a month pregnant.”