Men in Her Life Ch. 06


First Paragraph:

Conclusion: Last of six chapters. A family dinner brings things to a head. This is a long story, broken down into six chapters. This is the conclusion of the story. If you would like to read the other chapters, or my other work, click on my ID above. Enjoy, 2Xwidderwoman


It is well past noon before Marva can even look up from her work. Remembering she was going to talk to her boss about an additional day off, she sees him returning from lunch and stops him before he can pick up his telephone messages. “I need a few minutes of your time.” It is the code words they use when either of them want to say things, perhaps behind closed doors, or at least privately.

“Come on, then” he motions her into his office.

Closing the door, Marva walks to one of the client chairs and as she sits, asks, “Do you think I can take tomorrow off, too?”

“The wedding is a monster, isn’t it?” He commiserates with her, knowing the amount of work she has done and the extra hours, after work, she has spent on her brother’s upcoming week-end wedding. After all, he has been the father-of-the-bride three different times.

“Oh, is it ever. I’m just glad he is the only one I’ll ever have to do this for.”

Thomas Rowe is familiar with Karen’s lifestyle. But he reminds her, “Hey, it’s worse when you do it for yourself,” he grins.

“Oh well, I don’t think we’re going to ….” She stops talking and blushes.

“I figured as much. Do you have a date yet?”

“Oh please, let me get one done, I’ll worry about the other later.” She has refrained from saying anything, only because she just wants to get Bryan’s wedding done and then she can resume her own life.

“That’s not all that’s bothering you, is it?” Mister Rowe knows Marva. He knows when she is under stress from outside of her job, too. “Let’s have it. I think you know you can trust me, by now.”

Holding up both hands and crossing the first two fingers of each hand, she puts her hands on her tummy. She sees Thomas Rowe grin and nod his head. “I thought as much. There is just something about the healthy glow of a woman in that condition. Hey, stop me, I’ll get maudlin.” Clearing her throat, he adds, “I’m gonna loose you, aren’t I?”

Rather than say anything Marva nods and takes a deep breath. Thinking she needs to be really honest with this man, she finally says, “I’ve tried to make sure Christy knows everything, absolutely everything. She’s sat at my desk for the whole month. She does pretty well. Her only problem is confidence and that will be cured as she does things without thinking someone is looking over her shoulder. She did great when I took a whole week off.”

Thomas Rowe can afford to be generous. “Yes, she did. She is well trained and I cannot thank you enough. So, is today your last day?”

“That’s up to you. I think I would like it to be, but I’ll come back in, if you need me for something special, or if Christy needs something that I can’t answer by telephone, if you don’t mind?”

“Oh wow, you’d do that for me?” Thomas Rowe is surprised.

“Yes sir. I enjoyed my job,” Marva admits her eyes filling with tears. “I learned a lot and you were very patient with me. It is the best way I can show how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me.”

“Okay, let’s go get the tears over with. You can tell Christy and if you’re done for the day, go on home. Come in one day next week and clean out your desk. Don’t do that today. It will give me a chance to see you when you don’t have to be here and you can tell me about the wedding.”

– – –

“Hi Baby.”

“I’m on my way home.” Although she tries to keep her voice steady, a little tremor makes its way through to him.

“Are you okay?” Charles tries not to show fear.

Her voice full of tears, she says, “I quit my job. Mister Rowe guessed. He sort of knew something is going on.”

“Go home and have a good cry. Take a nap. I’ll be there when I can.”

“No, I’m okay. You finish your day. I just needed to hear your voice.”

Teasing her, he asks, “Just my voice? You don’t want me?”

“I can wait a few minutes. I might even manage a few hours.” Her voice gets stronger as she demands, “But you better not be too late.”

“Ah …” hesitating, for a moment, he considers waiting until he gets home. “Are you up for a night out?”

“Your mother, or Elizabeth?”

Laughing, he says, “Mother, Elizabeth and Bryan, Uncle Horace and Aunt Polly, and I know I’m missing another few, but it’s just family, or just the two families.”

“Do you want to do it at home? I mean, it’s just family, right? I could stop by the store, and fix something easy.”

“Baby, that’s a lot of work. Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Yeah, I think I do. Meeting your mother at home seems a little easier than being in a strange restaurant or somewhere else. It wouldn’t take me but two or three phone calls to arrange that. I have all the numbers on my phone, as long as I call at least one of each couple. Ah … will you call your mother?”

“Yes, I will call Mother. Is seven o’clock okay?”

“That’s just exactly right. I’ll see you when you get home. Bye.”

Instead of being down in the dumps, Marva now has a whole list of things to do, and five hours to do it. She must make a visit to the grocery store and then a large meal to prepare for a family. It may be fewer than a dozen people, but it is still her first time to do anything for Charles’s family, all but one of whom she has known most of her life.

And because it is family, despite Elizabeth’s opinions, Marva is going to call Karen and tell her to bring Cynthia. This is not Elizabeth’s party. It is a party for both the bride AND THE GROOM and Karen is part of the groom’s family. Cynthia is part of Karen’s family and is therefore, by extension, part of Bryan’s family.

Rather than trusting her memory about what she has in the refrigerator and knowing fresh is better than vegetables which are even a few days old, she fills her grocery basket with everything to feed somewhere close to twenty people. Bryan and Charles are big eaters. Horace Blevins in not a small man, either. There is not enough time for a meal which requires long preparation or slow cooking, but she will have enough time for baked chicken with half wild and half white rice under it, two fresh vegetables, hot rolls, and a good salad. She might even manage a easy dessert.

When Charles walks in the back door, he takes a whiff of the delicious smells and asks, “How many hours will I need to spend on the treadmill for this one?”

It has become a common question after he complained that he enjoys her cooking too much. He kept weight off when he ate in restaurants because the food wasn’t as good as something made at home and portions were controlled. He has been working off the extra ten pounds he has already gained, but moans when he eats as much as he wants of her cooking and she tells him he must add half an hour or two half hour evening walks.

Marva chuckles a little and says, “Eat all of your salad, a generous helping of both vegetables and you can have two helpings of chicken and rice. Anything you eat after that is half an hour.”

“How do I get off so easy this time?” he asks as he nuzzles her ear and kisses her, and then kisses her again, suggesting they could spend a little time together in the shower, unless she needs to watch the food.

“Well, sex is good exercise …” she drawls the words out, as if she is thinking about it. “But you need to get your mother, don’t you?”

“Nope, she has spent the afternoon with the bride and they will bring her,” he informs her and puts his hands under her shirt, running them up and down her back and inside her shorts, stopping occasionally to squeeze before starting back up to her shoulders as he nuzzles her neck and asks, “Now, how about that shower?”

As he moves him hands around to the front of her shorts, she separates her legs, “I think I’ll pass, or ask you to hold that thought, AND THOSE HANDS, and wait for a lot more time, later. Mercy, Charles, how can I keep my mind on fixing supper?”

“That’s just it,” he mumbles against her neck, “I want you to think about me, not the food. I need the exercise.”

Marva laughs and moves away from his hands, “Go take your shower, you can get the dishes from the top shelf for me.” He moves to the cabinet and she stops him, “Wash you hands first.”

He turns to her and grins, “I don’t think I will. Then I can watch your face when people eat off of dishes with your pussy juice on them,” he says, after putting two fingers into his mouth and making loud sucking noises.

“Shameless, you are absolutely shameless,” she says shaking her head and then has to back up to keep him from coming after her. “Shower Charles, go take your shower.”

“Spoil sport, you never used to be more concerned about eating than you were about fucking,” he complains as he walks across the kitchen heading toward the hall.

“Ah, I beg you pardon sire,” she simply cannot resist and waits for him to turn around. “I do seem to recall that we did spend an appropriate amount of time eating. Well, sometimes it was actually a meal, there was some stomach grumbling we satisfied pretty regularly, too.”

Charles laughs all the way down the hall and returns shortly to reach into the top shelves for all the dishes she says she needs.

– – –

The doorbell rings the first time, just as Marva is taking the last of the dishes out of the dishwasher. Not sure if the exterminator has been through the house since the dishes were last used, she sent them through a rinse and dry cycle in the dishwasher. It didn’t take too much encouragement for Charles to agree to answer the front door. He is proud of his house and the way he personally furnished it, buying furniture only when he could afford to buy the furniture he wanted, instead of just furnishing the house with what it needed. It was almost the first house in the subdivision and has only increased in value since then. It took him years to find the exact furnishings he wanted and there are still some things he wants to do, such as some improvements and structures in the extra large back yard.

Bryan, Karen, and Cynthia are the first to arrive, parking on the street at the same time. Charles shows them around a little, and then tells them they are on their own, when he has to go back to answer the doorbell. Callie arrives, bringing her parents with her, sending Bryan out to her car for her father’s wheelchair. Marva walked around the house when she first got home, and called Callie back to let her know she was sure he wouldn’t have any problems with the floor plan and there are no steps or threshold bumps to interfere with is movements.

Horace Blevins immediately involves Charles in a conversation about the morning’s newspaper story, congratulating him on the final delivery of the monster structure. Only a person who knows him well suspects his was born, and reared, in England. Occasionally he will say a word, using a different pronunciation or breaks the word into different syllables. Otherwise, Horace is thoroughly American, almost as roughly spoken as Charles can be at times, and sounds like the other men Charles works with. Charles comes into the kitchen for the newspaper, still on the table, so Bryan can read the story.

Karen and Cynthia make their way into the kitchen, Karen standing around talking, as Cynthia offers to finish tossing the big salad and dish it out onto the plates lined up on the cabinet. Marva sends Karen to ask Callie if anyone other than the ten family members are expected, so Cynthia will know how many salad plates to fill.

It is a full twenty minutes before Elizabeth arrives with Grace Tester. It is a full twenty minutes for Marva to grow more nervous. Instead of letting herself be sidetracked, she pours the sliced strawberries on the yellow sheet cake and whips the cream, spreading it on top of the strawberries.

The next time Charles walks into the kitchen, Marva tells him, “Oh, I forgot about the cake. One piece of cake adds half an hour.”

He leaves, taking his uncle a cup of coffee grumbling, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you. You let me get all prepared to eat all I want and you add that zinger at the last minute.”

Moments later, they hear Callie laughing and then Horace’s roar of laughter. Polly Blevins even giggles her nervous giggle, which Marva has always thought sounds like a character from a child’s cartoon show. Karen leans over to say quietly, “I always thought he was such a serious man. I never knew he had such a good sense of humor.”

Marva asks, “Was he around the Blevins house a lot? I just don’t remember him.”

“When they lived across the street from us, I guess he came around there some,” Karen nods her head. “You know, with his mother, at least until Mr. Blevins got hurt and they moved to that townhouse. I don’t know about after that.”

Keeping her voice low, Marva asks, “Do you remember her?” hoping Karen will know whom she means.

Karen’s “Humph,” precedes her answer. “All I remember is she was always complaining about something. Like how hot it was, and why couldn’t Horace afford air conditioning. I don’t think I really knew what a cool house meant, until I got to college. She always had this handkerchief and would fan herself with it.” Karen whispers, “I don’t think Callie liked her, but Elizabeth did. Auntie Grace this and Auntie Grace that, that’s all Elizabeth knew how to say for the first five years of her life.”

No sooner than Karen has finished her remark, the doorbell rings and moments later those in the kitchen hear Elizabeth saying, “Hello dah’ling,” followed by her introduction of Bryan to her “most favorite relative in the whole world.” Elizabeth’s voice sounds a little strange, as if she has been listening to someone speaking the King’s English all day and is trying to mimic some of those inflections.

Opening the oven door, because the chicken just cannot stay in the oven any longer or it will begin to dry out, Marva hears, “Hello Charles dah’ling. When are you going to decorate this house in a decent fashion? It looks like a bare bachelor pad, where you bring your nightly conquests.”

In a strong voice, Charles says “Mother, there have only been two women in this house, you and if you will come with me, I’ll introduce you to the other.”

Appearing in the kitchen door as Marva is removing the huge pan of baked chicken, putting it on the side cabinet, is Charles and the woman Marva remembers from the driveway in front of a luxury hotel, almost six months ago. In fact, the woman might be wearing a twin of the same dress and blazer, only in a different color. But she is not carrying the same handbag. This one is larger than the other and a different color, but is still a designer handbag, a very expensive designer handbag.

“Marva,” Charles says to get her attention. “This is my mother, Grace Tester. Mother, I’d like you to meet Marva Preston, who incidentally is the younger sister of the groom.”

Removing the thick hot pad gloves from her hands, Marva walks across the kitchen to hold out her hand, “How do you do, Mrs. Tester. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Marva does not squeeze Mrs. Tester’s hand she simply holds out her hand.

Grace Tester lays her hand on Marva’s for only a brief moment and responds, “Yes, you may call me Grace, or Lady Grace, if you prefer.” She does not wear glasses and squints slightly looking at Marva from her head of shiny dark hair to her feet. She adds in a dismissive voice, “I think I spoke to you once,” and then turns to say directly to Charles. “Are we going to eat immediately, or might I have a few moments of your time for a business matter?”

Despite Grace’s rudeness, Charles asks Marva, “Are we ready to eat?”

Marva answers, “Yes, please, while it’s still hot,” and then she turns back to the stove to remove lids from pots and offers plates to Karen and Cynthia, then holds out two plates to Charles. “Will you help your mother fill her plate?”

Charles takes both plates in one hand and his mother’s arm in the other, leading her to the stove. He picks up a serving spoon and asks his mother, “Which piece of chicken do you want, white or dark.” Grace flips her hand and says, “Just a small amount of the breast tenderloin please.”

Unsure what she is asking for, Charles turns to Marva “Can you cut that piece of chicken for me?”

“Yes, you do the rest and I’ll bring her chicken and salad.” Marva looks at Grace’s badly bent fingers and puffy knuckles and quietly asks her, “Would you like me to cut your meat for you?”

The woman replies, “Of course. Surely, you do not think these could possibly handle a knife, do you?” She holds her hands out, turning to show them to everyone in the room. “You young people just do not know how difficult it is to mature and have no family to offer support.” Throughout the meal she continues to call attention to herself by asking for information about the wedding, and then remarks that neither Elizabeth, nor her brother, has kept her very well informed of all the details. She often makes a remark that she “should have been told,” so she could have attended a wedding shower or at least sent a gift. Polly, when she answers a question, often precedes the answer with a comment that she was given that information earlier in the afternoon. Charles remains silent, his uncle occasionally looking at him and nodding, as if he understands. Bryan can be seen looking at Elizabeth and then at Grace, before returning his attention to Elizabeth.

Shortly before pushing her plate back and pulling her dessert closer, Grace looks at Cynthia and points to Karen, “What is your relationship to this family?”

Karen speaks up, saying very clearly, “Cynthia and I are partners. We live together.” Cynthia, in the past few months has grown more confident. She does not drop her chin, nor does the expression on her face change.

Grace turns to Karen and says, “I did not address you, young woman. It was your “partner,” to whom I spoke,” curling her upper lip when she says the word, “partner.”

Only because Charles puts his hand on Marva’s arm, does she remain in her seat and keep her mouth shut.

Cynthia, undaunted by the woman with poor manners and an obvious distaste for alternate lifestyles, says, “I live with Karen. We are life partners. We do not hide in closets, nor do we attack others who do not care for our choices. You madam, are an ill mannered bore.”

Grace waves her hand, and replies, “I care little for the opinion of simple people, such as you two. It does not alter the fact that you are in the minority and I am in the majority.”

Not bothering to look at Karen, Cynthia or Grace, Marva continues to stare directly across the table at Elizabeth. When Grace first addressed Cynthia, Elizabeth, sitting beside Cynthia, drew her arm as close to her side as she could and nodded her head. When Cynthia challenged Grace, stating that she and Karen are life partners, Elizabeth leaned farther away from Cynthia, as if she would like to crawl in Bryan’s lap. When Grace claimed to be in the majority, Elizabeth opened her mouth as if she intended to say something, and might have done so, if Bryan’s hand was not wrapped firmly and tightly around Elizabeth’s lower arm. Instead of speaking she jerked her head toward Bryan, looked him in the eye and closed her mouth. Marva thinks to herself that she has never been prouder of her brother. He managed to support Karen, without a single word and also managed to keep Elizabeth from saying something she might later regret.

Cynthia stands and turns to Charles, “Thank you for your hospitality, Charles and Marva. I believe Karen and I will go where we will not disturb your guest, our own home.” The two girls walk around the table, shaking hands, hugging, and speaking politely to every one there. As Karen walks by Grace’s chair she tells the woman, “You may be in the majority somewhere, but not in this house. Good night, ma’am.”

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