I Love You to Death

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Parental Guidance

Adam drives up the long driveway, which loops around like a upside down horseshoe, and parks along the upper left edge. He gets out first and quickly makes his way to the passenger door, opening it before Naomi can fully gather her things. “After you, princess.” He speaks elegantly, as though he were a prince.

Naomi rolls her eyes but accepts his hand anyway. He always acts this way with her, but she feels it somehow contradicts his image. “Thanks, I don’t know if I’d been able to make it without you,” she says sarcastically. They smile together, knowing it’s all in good fun and then the two make their way up the steps and to the massive front door. “Well, here goes nothing. Are you ready?”

“Of course baby. You make it sound like we’re headed for the slaughter. You know I have met your parents before, right?”

“Yes, you have, but....” No, she can’t tell him the truth; that’s what she tells herself. He can’t know that one of her mother’s despises him and that the other loves him. Though as she thinks about it, surely he must have realized who is who by now, right?

“Baby?” He looks at her with concerned eyes, and promptly snaps her out of her inner thoughts. She shakes her head and smiles slightly to reassure him. She decides she’ll let things be.

“Come on, let’s head inside.” She takes his hand and pulls him along, as she takes the other and uses it to open the door. “Moms, I’m home!” She announces loudly as they enter an expansive foyer. She doesn’t realistically expect a response, she does that as simply a formality. Likely, her mom is in the basement studio mixing her next track and her mother is likely in her design room sketching away for her next project. The two busy as always.

“Are they home?” Adam asks as he slips off his sneakers. He may not visit the house often, but he knows better than to take even a single step past the entryway with his shoes on. “It’s quiet.”

“It’s always like this, have you forgotten? Maybe you really do need to come around more.” She laughs. “Anyway, you can relax on the couch for a bit, I’ll be down in fifteen. Just need to ditch this school stuff, change and pack my overnight bag.” She gives him a quick peck on the lips before trotting up the elaborate staircase. He watches her go, feeling dread building as she does.

He shakes his head to knock himself back into reality and makes his way through the archway to the right. The left leads to the kitchen, which is pristine as always; meaning either no one ever cooks, or they are complete neat freaks. In his experience, he’s willing to bet both are the case depending on who you question.

Immediately to his right, there is a full bathroom meant for guests. To the left there is a door that leads down to the basement. He’s only been down there once, but he recalls it being quite the setup. There’s a legit studio to one side, where Naomi’s mom does most of her work, or where the artists she produces record their tracks. To the other side, there’s a bar and lounge seating; obviously intended for entertainment purposes. In the remaining corner, there’s a small room for storage.

As he continues forward, he enters a large living space meant for casual relaxation and entertainment. There’s a fireplace, a surround sound stereo system, big flat screen TV and video game setup. As an extension to this space, there is a fitness room with high-tech workout equipment. He’s heard that Naomi’s mother utilizes it the most to blow off steam and relieve stress. Though, he can’t stop himself from wondering what could possibly be so stressful when they live such a privileged life?

Further on past the living area, there is a small step, which leads up to a small nook area to the right and a complete dining room to the left with all the sophistication one might expect. At the very end of the straightaway, is a double glass patio door, which leads to a deck with all the outdoor essentials and a massive pool can be found leading from it round the back. Everything overall is extravagant and fancy, yet not overbearing and is modern.

“What a house this is. Must be nice,” he whispers as plops down onto the white leather sofa and puts his feet up on the coffee table. He’s seen it all before, but he can’t help but say the same thing every time, as it’s a far-cry from how he grew up. He never got to have nice things, not until he met...Her. She made it all better and he won’t ever let that end.

“Mr. McKinnis, what a surprise to see you in our home; so comfortably at that.” Adams shakes slightly; startled by the sudden voice that broke through the silence. He turns to find a tall caramel skinned woman glaring towards him, but rather than looking at his face, she’s looking at his feet, which are still up on the table. Her chocolate eyes stare as they narrow slightly.

He quickly drops his feet and hops up to face her directly. “Mrs. Daniels! Hello! I’m sorry for acting so unsightly. How rude of me to act so freely in someone else’s house. Please forgive me.”

She gives him a stern look but doesn’t press it further. “It’s been a while Adam, how have you been? I hear you’re set to have another great season.” She runs her hand through her dark oak hair, which is short and spiky up top and fade-cut around the sides. This action also reveals the tattoo on her forearm. She wears a pair of loose black sweats and a crew-neck white t-shirt.

She takes a seat on a grey sofa adjacent to the one Adam was sitting on. She looks somewhat androgynous, but her slightly protruding chest and delicate features confirm that she’s all woman and incredibly attractive if anyone were to ask him. Of course, this is only natural, considering she looks very much like Naomi, only older and less lady-like. “I watched a few of your games actually; you’re decent for a newbie but have a ways to go.”

“I take that as high praise coming from you Mrs. Daniels. Nai tells me you get pretty serious about your baseball. It’s an honor. I’m satisfied with my results so far, but I’m looking forward to exceeding expectations this coming season. I hope you’ll watch me again at that time Mrs. Daniel’s. I’d be grateful.”

“Grace will be fine, I believe I told you before?” She lightly chastises him. “I’m not old enough for Mrs. Daniels, got it?”

“Yes, I’m sorry, Grace. I’ll call you accordingly from now on.” Adam feels as though the tension has risen and is beginning to feel awkward. However, like a saving grace, they’re interrupted.

“I already told you mom; I’m going to Adam’s for the weekend! It’s not like you guys don’t have me here most of the time!” Naomi comes stomping into the room in a huff.

“Nai...it’s your birthday weekend. You should at least give us one day! You’re going to Adam’s for what? To lay around and fu-.” A short and petite woman, with long and curly red hair enters just after her. The peach skinned woman had cut her statement prematurely and looks at Adam with her widened green eyes. She clearly hadn’t been expecting him to be there, and she adjusts herself accordingly. “Oh, Adam, you’re here! Hello again!”

She hurries over to him with a smile and gives him a kiss on each cheek. She gently places her hand against his arm and sweetly says, “How have you been Adam? It’s been so long since you’ve been by. I was starting to think Nai might’ve moved on from you.” She laughs. “Though it appears you’ll be with us for a while yet.”

Adam returns her smile and looks her straight in the eyes as he replies, “Oh no Laura, I couldn’t possibly let your daughter walk away from me so easily. I love her far too much. I think she loves me too, so you might want to prepare yourself for the wedding and grandkids soon.” He doesn’t break his smile, but she can see the intent in his eyes, as well as something slightly darker.

“I see. Well, should that day come, I will support my daughter, naturally.” Laura backs away pleasantly and turns to Naomi. “Well, if you’re insisting on going, then at least allow us to give you your present first.” She speaks with a resignation in her voice and it makes Naomi feel guilty.

“Mom....” She realizes that she is being selfish. Although they didn’t always give her as much time as she’d wanted, they always did show their love when it counted. Her birthday has always been the biggest show, yet she ditched them last year too.

“Oh yes, I’d nearly forgotten about that.” Grace stands and after a quick stretch, she walks over to her wife and wraps her arm around her waist. Turning her head towards Adam, she says, “Hey, would you mind excusing us for a minute Adam?”

Adam jumps up with a nod. “Of course! I don’t want to intrude.” He walks beside Naomi and takes the duffel from her hands. “I’ll take that. I’ll be waiting for you in the car baby.” He gives her a sweet smile and then exits the house, leaving the three alone.

No sooner than he’s gone, does Laura’s complete demeanor change. With a disapproving frown she faces Nai and says, “Nai, sweetie, please tell me you’re no humoring the idea of settling with him. I’ve accepted that you’re an adult now and can make your own choices, but we’re not paying you through college just for you to become a homemaker. We want you to be successful.”

Nai frowns now, regretting ever feeling remorseful as she knew this was coming. “I will be successful mom! Not that there’s anything unsuccessful about being a homemaker, but I wouldn’t have chosen to get a degree in Aerospace Engineering if caring for my home and children was my only ambition. Do you think I’m just fucking around every day? I work my ass off at school!”

“Language.” Grace immediately reprimands Naomi with a glare.

“I’m sorry, I just...I don’t understand what your problem is mom. Adam isn’t a bad guy and we’re not doing what you think we are when I spend the weekend with him. You think I lay in bed with him having sex the whole time or something, but I promise I’m not. It’s not really your business, but if it makes you stop looking down on him I’ll say it. Adam and I haven’t had sex yet. He refuses to go there, insisting I’m not ready yet. We’ve done just about everything else though. It’s frustrating because I want to.”

The two woman seem genuinely shocked and look at each other as though to confirm they heard correctly. Grace cracks a smile and jokingly says, “Well, I guess shame on us for assuming.”

Laura smiles slightly but retains a serious gaze. “Well, that is unexpected, I’ll admit Nai, but that makes things all the better. I think you know I don’t really like him for you, and I think you could do much better. That aside however, objectively I don’t believe he’s the one you’ve been praying for. You’ve always dreamed that one day you’d find a prince that’d love you and only you forever, but I’m positive Adam isn’t him. He’s too convenient and perfect. So, I’m begging you sweetie, walk away before things become too serious. I need you to trust me, ok?”

“We’re not saying that he’s a bad guy Naomi, don’t get us wrong.” Grace chimes in. “Heck, I actually like him as a person and respect his skills. However, I also think that he may be the wrong man. He loves you, I’m certain of that and I’m appreciative, but that doesn’t mean you guys are a good match and can create a sustainable life together. Settling down requires much more than simply loving each other. It’s hard work and once kids are in the picture, it’s not so easy to walk away. Just think about it this weekend, ok? Can you at least do that for us baby girl?”

Naomi pouts, wanting so badly to tell them both off for trying to interfere with her happiness. However, she knows that their words ultimately are for her sake and they don’t actually mean to jeopardize her out of spite. That said, she has no intention of walking away from Adam. He’s the only one she wants to ever be with, her soulmate. Her feelings for him can’t be wrong. “Alright, I’ll think about it seriously, ok? May I go now? I don’t want to keep Adam waiting for too long.” She fidgets around.

Her mother’s give each other another look, but then end the conversation with a smile as they reach to hug their daughter. “We do have your present, but how about we reveal it Sunday, on your actual birthday? Think you can be back early for us?”

“Of course mother, I’ll tell Adam. He’ll see to it I am, as always.”

“Take care of yourself Nai.” Laura holds her close and kisses her forehead tenderly. “I didn’t nurture you for these twenty-one years just for you to become reckless now.” The two laugh together and all the tension seems to melt away between them.

Nai hugs them both once again with a smile. “I love you moms. Thank you for everything. I promise I won’t let you down.” They stay like that for another minute and then Nai pulls away. “I’ll text you once we arrive to Adam’s. See you!” She waves as she runs out the house and gets into the car.

As the two woman watch them go from the door, Laura can’t help but feel dread as Adam’s gaze locks onto hers as he passes. In that moment, she’s certain...he was smirking.

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