John pulled into the parking space behind Frank’s blue sedan as his partner climbed out and headed toward him. All right, let’s get this over with. John opened his door.
“Thanks for coming. I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I showed up here without you,” Frank said, sounding relieved.
“No problem. Annie is a terrific cook, and I always enjoy seeing the little rug rats.”
As they walked up to the front door, Frank’s youngest child, Nick, came running out of the house, shouting, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” He launched himself into his father’s arms. “Oh, looky! It’s Uncle Johnny, too. Hi, Uncle Johnny!”
Nick left his father’s embrace and ran to John. At five years old, Nick already wanted to be a detective like his father and Uncle Johnny. He thought they were the best. His dark hair and big, brown doe eyes could convince you to do just about anything. As they got to the door, Frank’s middle child, Lynette, greeted them. She was a twelve-year-old beauty with long, reddish-brown hair and green eyes.
“Hi, Dad. Hi, Uncle Johnny. I’m helping with dinner,” she said with pride. Then she turned and yelled at the top of her lungs, “Mom! Dad and Uncle Johnny are here!”
“Where’s your sister?” Frank asked.
“You mean her highness? She’s upstairs in her room. She’s too cool to associate with us mere peasants. She’s in high school now, you know.”
“Now, Lynette, that’s not very nice, is it?”
Lynette just shrugged her shoulders.
“Nicole, I’m home,” Frank yelled up the stairs as Annie entered the room and welcomed them both with hugs. Annie was a very beautiful woman with shoulder-length red hair and green eyes. She looked much younger than her age. People often thought her eldest daughter, Nicole, was her sister.
“Oh, John, it’s so nice to see you. I’m so glad you came. We’ve missed you around here. Sit and make yourself comfortable. Lynette, go check on the sauce. Nick, Sweetheart, go wash your hands — they’re filthy. Honey, would you go see what’s keeping our elder daughter? I want her to set the table.”
Now looking back at John she said, “Do you want a drink? We have soda, wine, beer, water . . .” Annie said all of this without even coming up for air. She sure was a fast talker, but John didn’t mind at all because she usually could carry the conversation by herself. All you ever had to do was nod once or twice so she knew you were paying attention.
“Soda is fine, thanks,” he answered.
Finally, Nicole descended the stairs as if she were royalty making an entrance at a ball. A younger version of her mother, she had the greenest eyes and the reddest hair. Frank always told John stories about her latest boyfriends. “Hello, Uncle John. Hello, Father. Did you guys kill anyone today?” she asked sarcastically, with a smile.
“Very funny, kiddo. Give Daddy a kiss?”
She walked over and greeted him with a peck on the cheek.
“You get prettier every time I see you, Nicole,” John said. It brought a smile to her face and she graced him with a peck on the cheek.
“So who’s this week’s heart break?” John asked with a sly smile.
“Daddy! You talk way too much about us at work.” Nicole rolled her eyes at her father, but she smiled at John to let him know she had liked his question.
Annie re-entered the room with drinks for her men. “Nicole, please go set the table,” she requested firmly.
“Mom, dinner isn’t for another hour. Can’t I do it later and visit with Uncle John and Daddy?”
Annie, a very structured and organized woman, preferred things to be prepared in advance. “Just do it now and get it over with. You’ll have plenty of time to visit later when all the work is done.” Nicole left, looking unhappy. “Why don’t you fellas go into the living room and sit and relax? I’ll be back after I check on the girls, and we can have a nice visit.”
© Nadine Z. 2007