Two days later, Brianna and Ethan pulled into her parents driveway.
"Ready?" she asked, taking a deep calming breath and pulling her heavy winter coat tight around her.
"Ready." he confirmed with a smile.
They stepped out of Ethan's SUV and into the freezing wind and swirling snow. Together they hurried to the door in an attempt to not get frostbite, and before Brianna could reach for the handle, it swung open and her mother embraced her tightly.
"Brianna, darling!" her mother, Vera, exclaimed in her heavy Russian accent.
"Hi momma." Brianna greeted breathlessly.
"Come in! Come in! But take off your shoes!" the older woman ordered, then walked away.
What a sight the two of them were, mother and daughter as different as night and day.
Brianna stood at five foot nine, her hair long, wavy and chestnut brown. Her eyes were almost the color of emeralds, and she wasn't fat nor thin. Brianna liked to think of herself as Marilyn Monroe-esque; curvy in all the right places.
In contrast Vera was short, standing only five feet tall, her hair was short, black and straight as a board, her frame stick thin. She used to be a dancer and even in her advanced years, hated to gain even an ounce.
Bri stole a glance at Ethan, who gave her a reassuring smile. They entered the house, making sure to remove their snowy shoes, and hang their coats in the entryway.
"Introductions darling." her mother ordered when the two entered the family room.
" Mom, this is my friend Ethan. Ethan, my mom Vera."
Vera glared at Ethan warily.
"You are not expecting to sleep in my daughters bed, I hope." Vera said sternly.
Ethan smiled, trying to charm her.
"No ma'am. I assure you, I am a perfect gentleman."
"Let's hope so, or I'll kill you."
"Mother!" Bri shouted, her face flame red in embarrassment. Just then her father entered the room.
"Sweetheart!" her father cried, hugging her in a bear grip.
"Hi daddy." she greeted, when he finally released her.
"I'm so glad you're here, and who might this be?"
"Daddy this is Ethan. Ethan, my father Daniel."
"Nice to meet you sir." Ethan greeted, shaking the older mans hand.
"Good grip son." Daniel laughed.
"Okay, why don't you men run along and get their luggage, while us girls talk." Vera suggested, then spun on her heel and left the room. Bri simply shrugged, then followed her mother.
In the kitchen Vera flitted around as quick as a hummingbird, while Bri sat on a stool at the counter.
"Here darling." her mother said, handing her a glass of something that resembled radioactive sludge. Bri stared at it, unsure what to do with it.
She put the glass to her lips, held her breath and swallowed. Immediately the vile liquid wanted to come back up.
"UGH!" Bri cried, tears in her eyes. "What the hell is this stuff? Rat poison?"
"Watch your mouth young lady!" Vera chastised. "It's a detoxifier. You've gotten fat. I think you could stand to lose a few pounds."
"Fat?!" Bri sputtered. "Excuse me, but I am NOT fat!"
"Festively plump?" her mother offered.
Bri growled in warning.
"Darling, I just want you to look your best for the holidays. By the way, your brother is bringing a special guest home with him this year. I'm positive you will be thrilled."
"Who?" Bri asked, still pissed about the fat remark.
"It's a surprise. They should be here soon." Vera said dismissively. "Now darling, I don't want to sound rude but don't get too attached to this John fellow."
"His name is Ethan, mother. And I'm already kind of attached." she sighed, rolling her eyes like a teenager.
"Whatever. The point is he has an ulterior motive for being here, and I am an excellent judge of character."
"Isn't it possible that just once, someone could be here because he really likes me?"
Her mother shrugged and continued on.
"Brianna, you can never be too careful when you are an heiress to billions."
Bri pushed the glass away from her and stared at Vera.
"He doesn't know that." she huffed, challengingly.
"How do you know darling? Have you even asked him if he knows?" Vera countered.
Bri stood up and crossed her arms over her chest defensively.
"Wow mom, this has got to be a new record for you. I've been here five whole minutes and so far I'm fat, unlikable and stupid. Geez, so much for my self esteem."
She grabbed a bag of chips and a soda, then stormed for the doorway.
"If you'll excuse me now, I think I'll go add a few more pounds to my ass and rot my brain with mindless television.
With that she stormed out of the room and stomped up the stairs to her old room.
"You'll see, this will be a week you'll never forget!" Vera called after her.
"I hope you're wrong mom, otherwise I might have to hit myself in the head with a shovel to forget!" she cried back, then slammed the bedroom door.