“I think we should all go out to eat. Something to cheer Francesca up. That’s what we did with Omni. We all got together a few nights at my place and just had a girls night. Even Junie stayed out the way and stayed with his family while we did our thing. We didn’t want any male energy whatsoever. It was nice. Omni enjoyed it. We all cried, and laughed, and drank.”
“I bet,” I laughed, plopping a grape in my mouth as I took my phone and walked towards the living room.
It was rare that I had the house to myself so I planned on taking full advantage by just kicking back and relaxing after a long day of work.
“I think that might work with Frannie. I’m sure Trinity and Tuesday have already done something with her but we can do something…”
“Her and Nubia have gotten close so we’ll have to invite her.”
“Let’s go to a restaurant. I’ll make reservations and set something up. I’ll even invite…” sighing to myself, “Jasmine. I know she’s closer to Jasmine than the rest of us.”
“What’s your beef with her?”
“Have you met Jasmine and Percy together? In the same room? Those two are unbearable. I’ve been so busy with work and getting Violet into dance and swim, I haven’t had the time to babysit their relationship. She’s impossible and so is he. Just draining to be around.”
“Hmmm...maybe we shouldn’t invite her then...if she’s just going to bring the mood down. Homer hasn’t made it to Atlanta yet with Violet?”
“No, I think he said he’s caught in traffic or still––”
There was a sudden heavy knock on my door as I jumped from the couch.
“Pia?! It’s Piru!”
“What was that?” Nevaeh asked.
“My brother is...here for some reason. Let me call you back,” I said quickly as we got on the phone.
I adjusted my shirt and shorts, wishing I had something else I could throw on as I opened the door. Piru stood there, almost unrecognizable with his crinkled hair out in a wild afro, a full on beard shading his jaw and chin and dark circles sitting underneath his eyes as he held his daughter’s hand along with a duffle bag. He didn’t smell like alcohol but you could never be too sure with Piru because he definitely looked like he was using again. His daughter just looked happy to be with him as I stepped aside to let the two in.
“Is everything okay?” I hesitantly asked. “Do you need me to watch her or… something?”
“Can I stay here until the weekend?” he asked. No other explanation or reason. Just flat out asked the invasive question.
“Um…” looking around, “yeah you can stay. The couch isn’t a pull out but I have covers and pillows to make it work. I made dinner but started to put it away since Homer and Violet aren’t––”
“I could use a plate.”
I didn’t say anything else. Just let Ru get settled in the living room with her hand already on the remote. I know my brother was her favorite person in the world and it showed when she was just happy and all smiles to be around him, and him only. He was trying his best to put on a front for her but I could tell his wife was and will always be his priority. No matter how many kids he has and it was a shame since his daughter was in his face giving him unconditional love.
“You know,” I started, unable to help myself as the food was warming up in the oven, “Francesca just needs time---”
“How much time?” he asked, looking at me, “how much fucking time does she need? She won’t even talk to me. She won’t respond to my calls or texts. I have to talk to the mother of my daughter through my own mother or her friends. I haven’t seen her since–––”
“I know but she needs time, Piru. Cheating in a marriage...that is not something you just get over. She thought highly of you.”
I watched Piru drop his head as his shoulders began to jump. Oh God, please do not tell me my brother is crying on my couch. I cannot believe I’m witnessing my brother breaking down. The strongest person I know was emotionally collapsing right before my eyes.
His daughter ran straight for him, trying to climb on the couch and in his lap but he wasn’t seeing her.
“Jesus Christ,” I muttered, refusing to let my eyes tear up as I walked over to grab Ru from my brother. “You want to watch Paw Patrol?”
“Can you call her?” Piru asked.
“I won’t say anything. I just want to hear her voice. At least let me hear her voice and make sure she’s okay,” he asked. I grabbed my phone, dreading to make this call because this is how it always starts. I didn’t want to be the middleman between the two and didn’t plan on starting now.
“Hello?” Francesca answered as Piru’s head perked up to listen. I could hear music and laughter in the background with different voices ranging from men to women.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m at a friend’s house,” was all she said before randomly letting out a laugh, “a friend of a friend. I’m rolling with Tuesday tonight and she has me in some crazy places right now.”
“Have you attempted to talk to Piru?” I asked, feeling myself get upset at the male voices I heard in the background.
“For what? What is there left to say?” she asked.
“Aye, you want this one or that?” A deep baritone voice came to the phone like they were talking right up on Francesca’s ear. Piru looked like he was going to be sick to his stomach.
“I’ll take this one and eat off of yours,” she laughed. “Pia, I have to go. We’re about to eat. Is there a reason why you called? Is Ru okay?”
“She’s fine...but my brother...your husband….you should really talk to him instead of just leaving him in the dark about all of this.”
“Your brother cheated on me––”
“God, I know. We all know what he did,” I groaned impatiently, “but he loves you. You know how he is without you––”
“I’m sorry,” Tuesday said, coming into the phone, “who is this? Is this Piru?”
“No, this is Pia–––”
“The sister. Hmmmm. Close enough. Don’t call this number again.”
The call ended just as fast as I stared at my brother. His leg was starting to jump with nerves becoming out of control.
“Piru, she just needs––”
“Time. Yeah, I know but at this point? Just fucking divorce me and get it over with since you’re out there in other niggas faces–––”
“You don’t know what she’s doing.”
When he didn’t say anything, I was about to call Nevaeh back to see what exactly was going on when a ray of light flashed across the walls of my home in the blink of an eye. Somebody just pulled up to the driveway and I knew Homer’s engine by heart so it wasn’t him. I wasn’t expecting anybody else and for a moment, I had a sick thought that it could be Dre until I opened the door to see Percy parking in the last free space of my driveway before getting out with his bag.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered to myself. “What are you doing here?”
“I need a place to crash for the night, and Mother is already getting on my nerves,” Percy said as he walked right past me, marching into the place like he owned it. “You won’t believe the kind of day I had with Jasmine! The therapist is a psycho witch lunatic! This entire time, and apparently!? I married a witch!”
“What?!” I let out with my face squeezing together. Beyond confused by the declaration, I asked, “what are you talking about Percy?”
“Yep!” he nodded. Pushing his glasses up his nose as he dropped his bag, “it’s true. I married a witch. She’s one of them now. One of these little Skye people. Hung around them long enough, might as well be one.”
I guess screw the middle child. The only sister. My brothers sat in the living room as Percy fired off and ranted about Jasmine to Piru who could probably careless at this point. I closed and locked the door before going to the kitchen to fix a second plate for Percy. I had a brief moment where I felt like our mother only she never fixed our plates. It was rare that she would do it but when she did, we were all waiting together at the table to eat after explaining what we learned in school that day. Just to hear Percy and Piru talking now brought back the creepy flashback as I brought their plates to them and sat down at the end of the sofa.
“There are no seconds,” I warned.
“Trust me, nobody will ask,” Percy muttered as he pushed his glasses up while picking through the limp cabbage with a fork.
“You don’t have to eat it just like you don’t have to stay here––”
“I didn’t say the food was bad. I didn’t even taste it. I just personally hate cabbage,” he complained.
“I don’t know why you bitch about Jasmine all the time. You––”
“I’m not divorcing her,” Percy cut in as Piru immediately shut up, “that may be your only option with your wife because you decided to cheat...but Jasmine and I are doing just fine.”
“So why are you here?” I questioned. “You never come here.”
“I would have stayed with Piru if I didn’t know he would be here,” he stated with an uppity tone, “besides...I plan on going back home...I just need a break. I need an emotional break. Everything about that woman is nothing but emotions and feelings and...it's all overwhelming. Nobody ever asks how I’m doing and how I’m handling this marriage. We went to therapy, and after hearing the most…” Percy scooped up a thing of rice to shove into his mouth as he pushed his glasses up, “traumatic shit to ever happen to someone as a child. She’s crying. I’m freaking out. I’m pretty much sick of everything going wrong because I had plans for us. I had big plans for us and then all of this just hits us like a ton of bricks…”
“So you left?” I asked.
“I’m here aren’t I? I went to the office to take my mind off of things. Tallulah is calling me back to back, and leaving nasty text messages trying to make me feel guilty for leaving Jasmine while she’s crying, but when is she not crying?!”
“That is true,” I nodded, folding my arms across my chest.
“Not once did she call to see about me and check on me to make sure I was okay. Not once!”
“Percy!” I laughed as I gripped the small couch pillow to my chest, “why would she call you and you’re the one that left?!”
“Because I’m still her husband and you should want to know if I’m okay or––”
“Nooooo! Oh my God,” I laughed. “I can’t believe you left and didn’t say a word to her. Didn’t call her, didn’t apologize...how long do you think you can keep this up?”
“You said you had big plans for her,” Piru noted. “What big plans are you talking about?”
“Mother and I were planning a surprise engagement party. I planned on proposing to her when she comes back from the Moon thing in South Carolina. I made a vow not to ever step foot in that state again but when she comes back...I was going to have the house decorated with flowers, personal chef for the evening…and then I was going to read what I wrote off and officially propose to her. I never got the chance to do it the way I’m sure she would want.”
“Is there going to be an actual wedding?”
“That is the idea, yes. She has bridal magazines all over the house so I’m sure she’s looking at dresses and ideas…”
I stared at my brother in disbelief as he picked over his food.
“Wait a minute, am I missing something?” I laughed. “Where did all of this come from? Is this a part of therapy?”
“You fell in love with her,” Piru said as Percy’s face turned red to the point of looking away.
“Oh my God!” I shrieked with a loud laugh. “Percy!? Are you serious!?”
“I love her, yes,” he admitted with a twisted mouth, “I’m in love with her. I didn’t think it would be possible but I feel...funny when she’s around or when she smiles at me. Doesn’t look at me or treat me like I’m a pest or annoyance. She enjoys my company and I’ve grown to enjoy hers to the point where I don’t want to do without it anymore…”
I clamped my hand over my mouth as my heart throbbed against my chest. I couldn’t believe it.
“Why didn’t you say anything?! This entire time!?” I laughed. “You two have been getting close and being all lovey dovey this entire time! Think of all the double dates we’ve missed! I’m always hanging with Francesca and I always feel bad because I know she’s close with Jasmine but I personally just don’t like being around you two but I had no idea!”
“Yeah...I’m aware of how much you despise my wife,” he retorted. “Tucker accidentally called my phone the night you all had dinner at his place and we heard everything on our way over there. We heard the shit you were talking about me, about her… especially me!” he added again.
“Ohhh,” I sighed, feeling the guilt slip in, “I didn’t… we were practically drunk that night Percy but even still...that’s no excuse. I’m sorry you heard that and tell her I didn’t mean anything by it. I guess that would make sense why Jasmine has been keeping away from all of us.”
“She didn’t care either way. Of all the things to get upset over, that was the one moment where my wife flat out said she doesn’t care what you and everyone else thinks of her. I was the one that was upset. She barely gave it a second thought.”
Percy closed his eyes for a moment and let out a deep sigh.
“I made a mistake,” he muttered to himself, “I should have never left the house.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” I added. “If that was me, and Homer walked out? Especially if we live together? He wouldn’t be allowed back in. If you can so easily walk out like that, you have no respect for the relationship.”
“I have so much respect, I walked out so I wouldn’t ruin it any further by saying or doing something I would regret.”
“Did you tell her that?” I asked. “When you didn’t, call her?”
“No,” he muttered.
“Did Jasmine tell you we almost got into a physical fight?” I asked. Percy gave me a doubtful expression. “It’s true. We have a weird love hate thing but I truly blame you for that. You set the tone for how people on the outside treat her.”
“I didn’t set any tone. You had it in your mind already not to like her. Everyone that has met her, enjoys her company. All my friends and their wives like her, and my wife would whoop your ass in a fight.”
“Oh please,” I laughed. “I could break her like a twig.”
“I would like to see you try–––”
The front door opened as we all looked to see Homer walking in from the apparent rain as he sat Violet down on her feet. You could tell she was fresh back from South Carolina because she always had a deep tan, her hair was done, and she had a bag full of things her Grandparents got her. Ru was the first to greet her as the two toddlers ran up to each other before running back towards the living room. Homer looked beyond tired and probably irritated at the parking situation as he stepped back out in the light rain to grab the rest of his bags.
“One of you need to move your car so he can get to the driveway. I’ll never hear the end of it,” I said as Piru got up.
“I’m leaving in the morning anyway,” he said.
I watched the two girls sit down by Percy’s feet as they went through Violet’s book bag. Showing off all the pretty coloring books and toys.
“Ohh Grandma got you a jewelry box,” I said with a fake smile as the girls began taking out small pieces of the colorful gems to place on Percy. Great.
The door closed again as Piru and Homer came back in the house, hardly speaking to one another when my brother came back to the living room, and my boyfriend went straight for the stairs.
He was in one of his moods.
“Is he not going to speak?” Percy questioned.
“He just drove for however many hours on top of being caught in traffic with a two year old in the back seat. I can already tell you now, he’s not in the mood to be bothered,” I laughed. “He’ll probably come back down after a shower to grab his plate and say goodnight. That’s about it.”
Sure enough, Homer came down after twenty minutes with no shirt or socks on as he walked into the kitchen, smelling fresh from the shower. I got up to finally greet him and pull his plate out of the oven. A quick kiss, a goodnight from him to my brothers, and he was off for the stairs with Violet attempting to follow him until I stopped her.
“Daddy is going night night, are you ready to go night night?” I asked as she shook her head. “Alright then come back here and sit with your Uncles.”
We eventually put the girls to bed and I offered to help clean out the spare bedroom full of storage but my brothers made themselves comfortable downstairs in front of the TV. Homer was already asleep when I crept down with my blanket and pillow, too excited to stay asleep for long, and made my way into the living room.
“What are yall watching?” I asked as the two looked up. Piru made room at the end of the couch as I quietly took my rightful spot with the blanket coming to my neck. The bright TV screen flickered from channel to channel until it landed on Adult Swim.
“You remember we would all sneak down to watch TV late at night? Like two in the morning…” Percy asked.
“We only ever got caught because you tried to pop popcorn,” I laughed. “She said it sounded like fireworks going off downstairs.” Piru kept quiet as he looked through his phone. “She’s not going to divorce you, Piru. You made a mistake, but I know she loves you.”
“She’d be crazy to divorce you. Nobody wants to be a single mother,” Percy added as I rolled my eyes.
“She won’t stay with him because of her daughter. Francesca is going to put you through it, but she won’t leave you. I’m sure of it. Hell, I will make sure.”
“I won’t make it...I won’t make it if she decides she’s done with me,” he said to himself as I sat up, a bit alarmed by the statement.
“What are you talking about, you won’t make it?” Percy asked. “You sound crazy.”
“You have a daughter who is literally obsessed with you Piru. No matter what, you do what you have to do for her,” I said. “Francesca would do the same. I want your marriage to work but you need to give her time to adjust and accept what you did to her.”
“Maybe I’ll have Jasmine talk to her,” Percy suggested. “Who better to understand someone cheating and still staying than my own wife?”
“We will do everything we can to make sure she doesn’t leave,” I told him. “No matter what.”
Piru looked between the two of us before shaking his head.
“Don’t start this siblings unite bullshit,” he muttered as I smiled.
“Well why not? You two came here for a reason and obviously, I could be upstairs getting some pretty good sex but I’m here hanging with you losers instead––”
“God that’s gross,” Percy gagged as Piru laughed.
“Percy is going home tomorrow morning to face his wife. I’m planning a girls night out thing to cheer Frannie up. That’s where I will try and talk to her about coming home or at least talking to you again.”
“I’ll get Jasmine to talk to her,” Percy added. “Our parents might be fucked but that doesn’t mean we have to be.”
We all mutually agreed without another word as I snuggled up on the corner of the sofa with my blanket, smiling at the screen. Didn’t realize Percy was looking at me until he coughed.
“Homer is going to propose to you by the way. Figured you should know,” he said bluntly.
“Why would you do that?” Piru snapped.
“Well, somebody had to tell her. Who knows why he’s really pissed because we’re not going to be there at this Moon Run thing. That’s where he plans on proposing to you. I told him he doesn’t even bother to get acclimated with our family. It’s always about him.”
“It’s not an engagement,” Piru corrected. “Since you’re telling her. It’s the actual wedding.”
“What?!” I gasped, clasping my hands to my mouth before leaning forward, “what do you mean, an actual wedding?”
“The ceremony or whatever he was saying, in the traditional sense or something,” Piru waved off. “I have my own marital problems. Last thing I want to be surrounded by is a happy couple.”
I smirked as I thought about what Homer told me about the night in the woods. He was really going to do it. That’s why he’s been sneaking around and being so weird and vague yet obsessive. I couldn’t quite describe his behavior accurately but now it all made sense.
“You are going to say yes, aren’t you?” Percy asked.
“What? So you can run and tell him my answer?” I laughed while adjusting the blanket against my chest. Percy and Piru shared a brotherly glance at one another before Percy nodded.
“She’s going to say yes.”
“Of course she is,” Piru retorted as I laughed.
The next morning went by quickly. I somehow found my way back to my room with Violet sharing the small space between her father and I. She was the first one up with me dragging behind her to get her ready for daycare. Homer slept in, and rightfully so after all the driving he did. I rushed down the stairs, hoping to find at least one brother on his way out but Percy was long gone and so was Piru with all of his things. Only thing left was a small note plastered to the fridge that said,
You should buy more orange juice, and thanks Pia.
Congrats on the engagement sis.
–– Your brothers.
“When did they leave?”
I turned around, surprised to hear Homer’s voice this early as he mosied into the kitchen with a crusty morning face. Just sleep crumbs all in his eyes just like his daughter. They slept hard when they didn’t want to be disturbed.
“I guess early enough for me not to notice,” taking the note down as I eyed the two emptied cartons of orange juice on the counter. I turned to look at Homer with a devious smile, unable to hold it in much longer but he knew.
“They told you,” he said.
“Told me what?” I grinned as Homer leaned against the fridge with heavy eyes and a dopey smile.
“That I love you.”
My mouth dropped to an embarrassed O before the two of us laughed amongst ourselves.
“You remember I told you about the night in the woods? The tradition and ritual to bond two mates for life?” he asked.
“Uh huh,” biting my lower lip as Homer’s eyes casually just ran over me like he was turning himself on. Even at my bare face and bare minimum in the morning, he still seemed to be enticed. Only made me more confident in my subtle movements as I moved my twists back from my shoulders.
“After the Moon Run, right after it? We are going to take it to the woods and spend the night. You me, Violet and the rest of the family you’ll have to meet on that side. You’ll be groomed and prepared for this ritual and be initiated by the alpha female in our pack. If she welcomes you, then we can proceed. When you wake up the next morning, you and Violet are officially mine by spirit, by soul, and by blood.”
I tried my hardest to hold in my laughter, I really did. Even turned around so he wouldn’t see me break but nearly choked with giggles at the visual in my head. When I turned back around, I could see he was still staring at me, dazed even. No expression whatsoever which made my smile sort of dry up.
“You’re serious?” I asked. “You were serious about that? Homer? Sleeping in the woods? Come on now,” I laughed nervously as he continued to stare like a wolf stalking its prey right in the eyes. “Homer? I can’t…”
Homer reached to take my hand like he was getting ready to get down on one knee as I immediately snatched it back, and shook my head.
“I said, don’t do it unless you’re taking me to the altar,” I demanded, eyes watering up at the thought of a proposal. “I don’t want to be engaged anymore. Every time it happens, it never happens–––”
“Girl, give me yo damn hand,” he retorted, taking my hand back in his, “I don’t have a ring on me and I wasn’t proposing to you. I know what you asked for.”
“So what are you doing?” I asked. He brought my hand to his mouth for a kiss before leaning in to look me square in the eyes.
“You got three nights before I bring you to my altar, my world, my traditions...I’m giving you three nights to figure out if this is what you really want. If you want a man that will protect you from front, and hold you down from the back. A father to our children, a lover, a friend, and a life partner. You got three days Ms. Pia Milton before you become Pia Skye.”
I tried to fight back a smile as I sniffed, and looked off to the side. Just to get myself together before looking back at the man I can’t believe I’m going to marry.
“Will tonight be, night one?”
“On the third night, what exactly is going to happen?” I questioned.
“I’ll see you at the Moon Run to make it official.”