“Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!”
Everyone gathered in the restaurant sang out in unison. Their champagne flutes in hand, as they hovered it in the air.
The quaint restaurant was reserved for this event and held about forty people. Including, friends and business partners. I watched the happy occasion as I leaned against the brick wall, with both arms crossed.
My mother blushed and held her cheeks. Overwhelmed by all the love she received from all the people in the room. My doting father stood by her side as they cut her two-tier hazelnut cake, wedding style. People applauded and snapped photos from all around.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
My mother looked radiant tonight. She looked stunning dressed in her favorite mint green two piece-suit. Her shoulder length black hair, that I inherited, neatly pinned up. She looked well. She looked happy... for a change.
I smiled softly, not fully happy for my mother. I looked at my father beside her, holding his arm around her waist. He posed with her as if they were the perfect happily married couple. I grounded my teeth not helping the tinge of anger vibrating in me.
The countless affairs I walked into my father with other women, witnessing his and my mother’s countless arguments that turned into fights, tears stained my naïve childish eyes that witnessed it all.
The bad memories flashing in my mind. My privileged life afforded me opportunities. I went to the best schools and graduated from Harvard business school. But having the best didn’t mean much when your home was a constant warzone.
The flashbacks still stung. Hardening the few emotions I had left.
I witnessed my mother’s heartache time and time again. How my father recklessly handled their marriage and her heart. Yet she still stayed with him. It made me cringe each time. I vowed I would never hurt my wife like that knowing the pain it could cause to her. To a family. I scowled at the bitter thought. Knowing that’s half of the reason my father and I have a tense relationship.
At least I learned a valuable lesson out of it. NEVER COMMIT TO SOMEONE!
A firm hand slapped me on my back, snapping me out of my negative thoughts.
“Mom looks happy tonight, huh.” Jesse said.
I looked at my younger brother and nodded.
“Don’t you want something like that?” Jesse mused.
“Nah I’m good. But thanks.” I mocked. He didn’t know about our dear fathers’ infidelities. My mother protected him from it, so did I.
He chuckled and shook his head. “I can’t break through to you, can I.” He sighed.
“I’m afraid nobody will.” I muttered evenly and roughly rubbed his full set of brown hair, like how I did when we were kids. He always hated the gesture and it amused me, I liked riling him up as he scowled at me. He’ll always be my brother, my punk naïve little brother that I would always love and protect.
I sighed and grabbed the lilac gift bag, my assistant dropped for me earlier. I hoped she did a good job in her selection, not knowing what the fuck she got. I winced at the thought that she caught my father and I arguing, and about personal matters. I hated people to see any glimpse of my life. She better just forgot what she heard and not to ask further questions, if she knows what’s good for her.
My phone vibrated in my shirt pocket. I checked and saw another missed call from Rebecca. She probably wanted to find out how’s the dinner going. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk.
I walked through the throng of people to get to my mother. She beamed when she saw me approaching and extended her arms. I embraced her and she returned it warmly.
“Happy birthday Mom. 53 never looked so good. ” I said and kissed her right cheek. I handed her the gift.
“Thanks Eric. You know how to charm a lady,” she said playfully and took the gift. “Oooh, what is it?”
“Do you have to open it right here mother.” I said frowning.
“Yes, I do. It’s not every day I get a gift from my eldest son.” She said excitedly, taking out the tissue paper from the bag. She took out a small black box. My mother looked at me, her small smile growing with each passing moment. She opened it up and stared at the gift inside. I couldn’t get a glimpse of it. Regretting I didn’t ask what’s the damn gift from my assistant.
My mother gasped and smiled warmly, as her eyes scanned the gift. Her eyes slightly glistened.
I rubbed the back of my neck awkwardly, not knowing if this was a good reaction and what the fuck my mother had just seen.
“This is beautiful Eric.” She whispered and took some kind of bracelet out. She read the words out loud.
“Sweetheart that’s beautiful, help me put it on.” She said and hugged me again.
She was happy about the gift, so I was happy too. My previous assistants usually got perfume or bags. But this was personal. I popped up an eyebrow. The assistant impressed me this time. I had to remember to thank her for this. I haven’t really taken the time to get to know the notebook woman, but promised myself I would make a decent effort this weekend, when I’ll let her know, she needs to assist me with business model plans at my house.
My mother gave me the bracelet to place it on her right wrist. The white gold complemented her outfit and looked beautiful on her slim arm.
“Why didn’t you bring Rebecca?” My mum asked out of the blue.
I raised a brow. “Why does she need to be here. This is a family affair. Rebecca and I aren’t an official couple mom.” I said huffing, explaining to her for the umpteenth time. Why on God’s good earth would my family want to marry me off.
My mother scoffed. “You shouldn’t let her go son, she’s a good one.”
I forced out a tight smile and continued the celebration. Unfortunately for my mother, there was no way I was hanging onto any woman.
Arabian music blared throughout the air. Thankfully, a group of four belly dancers started their hypnotic performance in the middle of the restaurant, breaking the awkward conversation with my mother.
In no desire to think about anything for a while. I ordered Jack Daniels on the rocks, took a seat at a table, and enjoyed the seductive show.