“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 middle man 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.