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Bron has been snapping at anyone within her distance since she had gotten out of bed. Andrew looked at Kevin, “What did you do to her?
“What makes you think I did it?” Kevin’s face puckered up as he turned the smiley face magnet on the refrigerator upside down. The family had developed its only little system so they knew Bron’s mood. Bron was of course, unaware. If the smiley face magnet was upside down on the fridge, it was a bad day. If smiley was smiling, it was a good day.
“You people had better kick it in gear, we have to be at Suzie’s for lunch!” Bron yelled at the two men still sitting at the table.
“I’m not going, I have homework. I’ll be there when I get it done.” Andrew didn’t want to go until later. Putting in all the hours on Suzie’s house and keeping up with his course work was becoming difficult.
“Okay baby, do you want me to make you something for lunch?” Bron ruffled his hair again as she walked by.
“No Mom, I’m a big boy,” Andrew rolled his eyes at Kevin as Kevin quietly smirked back at him.
“Are you sure?” Bron reached down and kissed his cheek.
“Ugh,” Kevin shook his head. He knew it was nothing more than motherly affection but since Andrew was so close to Nick’s age, it bugged him some days.
“Don’t mind him, he’s just jealous,” Bron made two piled high sandwiches for Andrew. Wrapping them tightly in the dreaded plastic wrap, she placed them in the refrigerator. “I’m going to take a shower and get dressed.”
Giving Kevin a bit of a haughty attitude as she walked by, she quipped. “Get your butt moving and get in the shower, we have to be at Suzie’s in half an hour for lunch. Use one of the guest bathrooms.”
Andrew’s head dropped as she left.
“It ain’t funny Andrew,” Kevin slid the chair out.
“You pissed her off, that’s for sure. Must be the Looney van parked in the yard. By the way, did Porky come with it?” Andrew was laughing as he spoke but Kevin heard what he had said.
“Shut up asshole,” Kevin barked as he left the oldest of his wife’s children in a fit of laugher. “His name is Bacon!”
Bron showered, changed, did her hair and make-up in record time. Then she came down into the kitchen holding a pair of sandals. “I thought I told you to get moving.” Bron was still grumpy.
Kevin sighed as he bit into one of Andrew’s sandwiches. He wasn’t going to answer, he’d just get yelled at again. He couldn’t wait for his son or daughter to get out of the womb, Bron’s mood swings were driving him crazy.
“What are you doing?”
“Eatin’,” Kevin took another bite.
“I told you we were going to Suzie’s for lunch,” Bron’s brow creased, he was doing this just to piss her off. She didn’t want to be late. She would be meeting her best friend’s parents and siblings for the first time.
Kevin spoke with his mouth full of food, “Have you ever eaten Suzie’s cooking?”
“No and you won’t today either, the lunch is being catered by the same people that are doing dinner.” Bron threw her shoes to the floor.
“Oh, in that case,” Kevin set the sandwich down on the plate and carefully re-wrapped it.
Bron wanted to yell, wanted to scream, anything. She was upset enough her shoes didn’t fit. The Asian inspired dress she picked out looked nice on her, bulging belly and all. Again, she tried to slip her sandals on. “Dammit!” she spat.
“What’s wrong darlin’?” Kevin stood at the door with Kaylin next to him.
“I don’t have any shoes, I can’t wear sneakers or boots. None of my shoes fit.” Bron sighed as she sat down at the table. “Maybe I’ll just stay home.”
“No, no you can’t do that. Just don’t wear any. It’s a Luau, nobody will notice.”
“Yeah right,” Bron looked blankly at him.
“I’ll go barefoot to Mom, we’ll be the same. Well almost, I’m not going to have a baby.”
“Okay,” Bron picked up her sandals.
As Kevin sang to the radio on the way to Suzie’s house, it hit Bron like a brick. She frowned at Kevin as he smiled back. “You pig,” she groaned as she threatened to hit him with her sandal.
Kevin held the truck door for her as well as Suzie’s door. When Bron came in, Suzie looked down at her feet, it was a natural reaction since Bron was carrying her sandals. Suzie glanced from Bron to Kevin and then once again to Bron.
“Say it, go ahead, I dare you.” Bron waited with her hands on her hips.
“Oh nooooo, I’m not saying a word.” Suzie winked at Kevin and then turned back to Bron. “Do you want to hang out in the kitchen with me?”
Kevin yelled a very loud, “YES!” Then dashed out the door before he could get into any more trouble.
Bron pulled up a chair as Suzie’s family drifted in and out of the house. She was introduced to Suzie’s sisters first, Becky and Maureen, then to their respective husbands, Michael and Dean.
Bron looked shocked when Bobby was introduced to her. She glanced to Suzie who said nothing but smiled. “Okay,” Bron smiled at Debbie, Bobby’s wife. Bron assumed they had patched up the family spat since Suzie hadn’t spoke to Bobby in years.
Her brother Paul and his wife, Patty, were next, as Nick bounced in the house.
Nick grabbed for the torch fluid; Suzie grasped his arm. “What’s that for?”
“The torches, your Dad wants it,” Nick shook her hand off his arm. “I like him, he’s pretty cool.”
“Don’t play with the torches Nick. Something will happen and then Cole will be on us about it. He always blames us.” Bron glanced over her shoulder.
Suzie wasn’t about to trust Nick with matches as she hid them under her palm.
Nick stopped, cocked his head, and then laughed, “No he usually blames just you and Kevin... Oh and Kaylin and Kevin last time. Don’t worry, we’ll let Kevin light them, trim those brows down for ya.”
“Funny Nick, real funny.” Bron feigned indifference but really did want to smack him one. He was being damn cocky around Suzie’s family. He had buddied up to her dad and Kevin seemed to be the one that was pushing it along as the conversations drifted into the house.
A collective, “Hello everyone!” came from the front door area. Bron closed here eyes; she knew the voices.
They quickly opened when Suzie elbowed her in the back. “What are they doing here?”
“I dunno,” Bron looked dumbfounded at her.
Suzie knew it was too late, she heard her own mothers’ voice answering the door with a polite, ‘come in’. “Mom wait!”
“Ohh,” Bron frowned.
Becky looked at Bron, “Who is that?”
“My mother-in-law,” Bron squeezed her eyes shut when she heard MeeMaw’s loud voice. “And grandmother-in-law.”
Suzie’s sister Maureen looked at Bron “Why are they here?”
“Well dear, we are all family,” Anne had a twinkle in her eye as she snagged Suzie’s mother and led her out the backdoor. Anne wanted Suzie's family history and it seemed like Suzie’s mother, Celia, was going to give it all to her.
Bron and Suzie’s sisters and her sister-in-law listened as Anne and Celia sat on a swing just under Suzie’s window.
“....Oh, she was an only child until the age of nine, then I married Bob. Now she is the youngest of the five. Growing up, she was so spoiled. After the wedding, Suzie went from being a brat to a rebel.” Suzie’s mom seemed very fond of Mrs. Richardson.
“I’m going to kill you,” Suzie turned and looked at Bron while Becky, Maureen and Patty sat trying not to laugh at her.
“Don’t worry Sis, your Mom won’t tell Anne how really bad you were" Maureen laughed. "Speaking of bad, that little boy you are dating, how old is he? He can’t be much older than my Danny.” Maureen was full of questions; even age old ones of poking fun at her baby sister.
“Really, is he even twenty one yet?” Becky added fuel to the fire.
“I think I’ll go find Kevin,” Bron squeaked as she saw where the conversation was headed.
Suzie squeezed Bron’s hand and then growled in her ear. “You find him and tell him to get his mother away from my mother.”
“I guess I should have brought the family leash,” Bron snickered as she waddled out the door.
“Yes! You should have.” Suzie grumped as she watched Bron head out in the yard.
“So, that’s your boss?” Maureen watched from the window.
“Yes,” Suzie nervously watched as Bron approached Kevin. She could see Bron was being introduced to her father, Bob. When Kevin didn’t step away like he should have to retrieve his mother and grandmother, Suzie began to pace.
Nick snuck in the front door and watched for a minute. He had never seen Suzie so uptight, well with one exception, when Kevin and Bron had gone away camping and they had babysat. That was the last time he had seen her like this. Then he heard some of the questions and the razzing she was getting from her sisters and sister in law about his age. Nick planned to put a stop to it right now. Walking into the kitchen, he could tell they were watching him. Tentatively, he touched her shoulder and then squeezed it to get her attention. “Chill, it’s fine. We care about each other, that’s all that counts.”
Her sisters sat quietly at the table and stopped the teasing. Nick went outside to the bar, spoke to the bartender and then went back into the house. Handing Suzie a shot, he smiled, “To us and really awesome sex, because you are older, experienced, and my recovery time is excellent because I’m in my prime.”
Suzie started to laugh, knowing Nick was never this bold but he was being bold to face up to her family. She nodded, took her shot, and then turned to wink at her sisters. “Amen to that!” the shot slid smoothly down the back of her throat.
Becky, Maureen and Patty laughed and smiled, “He can survive us.” They watched Nick head back outside to greet the rest of the guys with Suzie’s young nieces. Suzie wondered what her brothers thought of Nick.
“That would be the rest of Backstreet,” Suzie smiled as her guests made their way into her backyard.
Then she heard the squeal and Kevin yell as loud as thunder. “A.J. you brought the damn pig!”
“Very intriguing group,” Suzie’s brother Paul commented as he came in the side door.
“More like eccentric, that would be A.J. with his new pet, Bacon.” All of her family laughed as Suzie held the door shut.
A.J. stood on the other side of the screen door, “But he’s a nice pig Suz!”
“You are not bringing that pig in here A.J. McLean!”
“You let Kevin in,” A.J. roared. “His wife is running around barefoot and pregnant.”
All heads turned towards the backyard when they heard MeeMaw’s grating voice snap very loudly. “It’s time for her to open her gifts.”
“I don’t want to do that now,” Suzie balked at the woman as everyone retired to the yard for lunch.
“I didn’t ask you if you wanted too. Are you giving me lip?” MeeMaw glared at Suzie.
Suzie turned and glared at Kevin. Kevin tossed his arms up in the air. “We are all family, we all love Suzie, we wouldn’t be able to live our lives without her.” Taking a long sip of his beer, he winked at Suzie, “Now shut up and open your gifts.”
Suzie wandered over to the table only to be pulled away to her own garage. Nick told everyone to follow them. In all the mayhem, she hadn’t seen this surprise. In her garage now sat a brand new, shiny black Cadillac Escalade.
“Oh,” came from her family.
“Thank you Nick,” she said softly as he looked at her.
“‘Thank you Nick’, that’s all I get? I got you the only palm tree in Kentucky!” Nick was in smartass mode.
Suzie turned her cheek, just as he kissed her, he missed.
When her father cleared his throat, Nick got the picture and very quickly this time.
Shaking her head, Suzie wondered if she consumed half a bottle of wine before the Luau, would it take the edge off her nerves?
Sitting down, she began to open gifts. Picture frames, candles, and knick knacks seemed to be a running theme through her family.
Howie gave her a gift card for Dillards. Brian and Leighanne gave her pots and pans.
Bron giggled until Suzie shot her a look.
A.J. had filled a huge box with different CD’s. “One for every mood in their kiddo.”
“Cool,” Nick grabbed the box and began searching. Grabbing a few CDs, he ran into the house to load up her disc changer. Def Leppard’s ‘Pour A Little Sugar On Me’, blared out into the yard.
Suzie groaned and Kevin spoke up. “I’ll take care of it.” Kevin went into the house. Def Leppard didn’t last long as some soulful jazz drifted into the yard.
“Better,” Suzie spoke as she looked at the three remaining gifts on the table. One tall oblong box, one flat box, and a box that was not much larger than a breadbox. One was from Anne, One from MeeMaw, and the last one was unmarked.
Suzie tugged at the tape of the oblong box. Pulling off the wrapping paper, she groaned. Her head shot up as she heard Kevin say ‘shit’ as loud as she had groaned.
Bron was biting her tongue trying very hard not to laugh.
“It’s a canister set dear,” Anne was grinning from ear to ear.
“I see... How nice, a cow canister set. What a novel idea.” Suzie wasn’t sure what to say. It was an obvious insult.
“Open the next one,” Bron encouraged.
Suzie glowered at her, Bron was too freaking excited. “I’m smelling a setup here.”
“What from us?” Kevin laughed as the paper fell off the next box.
“It’s a cookie jar Suz. It moos every time you, you know, open it.” Bron was outright laughing along with Anne and MeeMaw.
“Ha, Ha!” Suzie had to laugh; they would always be jokesters.
When Nick lifted the lid and it mooed, he laughed. Looking at Suzie he giggled, “Hey you, got any milk?”
Kevin laughed so loud he snorted. Suzie’s family was completely lost in all of it. Suzie’s eyes drilled into Bron waiting for her to say something.
“Really Suz, I wouldn’t udder a word,” Bron was laughing her ass off.
“Oh God,” Suzie groaned, Bron was in rare form today.
Anne picked up the very large box that was left unmarked. “This is from us dear. We hope you like it.”
Suzie ripped the paper off expecting another gag gift. Instead, she found a quilt that matched the colors of her bedroom in the intricate pattern of the wedding ring. “It’s beautiful. Anne and MeeMaw, thank you.” Suzie hugged them both.
“You take good care of my son and his wife. You’re there when they need you. Now relax and enjoy lunch.” Anne walked away with MeeMaw.
Suzie’s family received a quick Reader’s Digest version behind the cow joke. Well, everyone but her father and mother.
Suzie’s sisters and brothers were relieved to see how well their baby sister was adjusting to her new life, away from Boston. They were especially thankful that she had a great group of friends, a family away from home.
Her brother’s, Paul and Bobby, didn’t like the idea of their little sister dating a younger man, not to mention an international pop star. Suzie had a fight with them on the phone before hey arrived in Lexington. They promised her they wouldn’t pre-judge Nick on his age and career. They would give him a chance.
Crossing her fingers, Suzie hoped the evening would go as well as the afternoon had.
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