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Genre: Romance

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Chapter1 (v.1) - Welcome Home

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 21, 2016

Reads: 13123

Comments: 11

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 21, 2016

A A A

A A A

Chapter 1: Welcome Home

 

Crash!

Mass chaos is the story of my life.  Sunday dinners at the Smith house is chocked full of love, laughter and fighting.

“Back off,” growls my older brother Kent.  “She’s mine.  I saw her first.”

“Please.  She isn’t some kind of property.  She’s a human being.  Besides, she loves me more,” proclaims my other brother, Kam.

“Boys.  Let your sister go,” declares the wise woman in the kitchen.  “She just got here, you’re going to scare her off and then she won’t come home for another six years.”

The voice of reason lays on the guilt trip pretty thick.  Sandwiched between the two testosterone filled men, I squeeze my way off of the couch.  “Gotta go boys.”  I give a slight wave and make my way into the kitchen.

“Thanks, Ma.  They had me trapped in there.  What can I do to help,” I ask looking around the kitchen of my childhood home.  It looks exactly the same as it did the day my parent’s bought it in 1995.  Light oak cabinets and white tile countertops.  Modern at the time, but I don’t think a rocket would have enough velocity to propel it into the twenty-first century.

Pots boiling on the stove, she points to the sink overflowing with dishes.  “You can start on the dishes.”

Damn.  I roll up my sleeves and soap up the sponge and get to work scrubbing the caked on grease off some sauce pan.

My mother is the best mom in the world.  Really, she is.  When I was younger all the neighborhood kids flocked to our house after school and all of my friends stayed the night at my house.  A good mom, makes a good home.  She’s short and kind of round in the middle, making her squishibly soft when we give her a hug.  She’s the kind of mom that when she kissed your boo boos it really was better.  And I love her.

“The rest of the boys will be here in a little bit.  Except Tommy.  He’ll be a little late.”

All of the Smith men will be home.  Good god, have mercy on my soul.  I am the youngest of seven.  And the only girl.  Six older brothers can be a bit overwhelming, even for me who has known nothing other than a life of mayhem.

Slamming pot and pans, my mother works her magic in the kitchen. 

“Chelsea!”  Long arms wrap around my waist from behind and pick me up, swinging me around. 

Spatula in hand, “Ben,” I squeal as he places me back on my feet.  “Long time, no see.”

“No kidding,” he agrees as he brings me in for a hug.  “You should come home more often.”

“Not you too.  Come on.  I lived all the way across the country, I couldn’t just pop in on Sundays.”

“I know, but we missed you around here.  We need more estrogen to balance out the testosterone in this place.”

Fanning herself with a towel, “Isn’t that the truth,” Mom replies.  “Now that I’ve hit menopause, we are definitely estrogen deficient in this house.”

 

We settle in at the extra long dinner table, capable of seating ten people.  George and Paul arrive together.  Yep, my parents named two of their kids after the Beatles.  What’s not to love about the Beatles?  Their work continues to inspire each new generation since the British invasion.

Moments later George’s wife Melissa and my nephew, Bobby fall through the door.  Only nine months old and my first of what will certainly be numerous nieces and nephews, he is the cutest little bug on the planet.  Grabbing him from his momma’s arms I pull the squirmy escape artist into my arms, despite his protests.  The baby wails and I hug him tighter, babbling, “Don’t you miss your Aunt Chelsea?  Who’s your favorite Aunt,” I coo as he forcefully butts his head against my nose.

Rescuing her child, Melissa rips him from my arms.  “Welcome home, Chelsea.  We’ve missed you around here,” she says as she pulls me in for a hug then scampers off toward the kitchen.

The eldest, George is the only one of us seven to settle down.  My five other brothers are proud to maintain their bachelor status.  A few girlfriends here and there, but nothing serious.  Same on my end.  I date from time to time, but have zero interest in a relationship.  I have big plans for my life, a man would only get in the way.  Well, I had plans. 

After we exchange hugs and hellos, we settle in around the large table.  Sitting next to my brother, Paul, he pulls my face into his armpit.  “Eew,” I holler trying to break free of his strong hold around my neck.

“You like it,” he tells me as he roughly rubs his knuckles into my scalp.  “Admit it you missed us.  How many days since your last noogie,” he asks, folding his hands and lowering his head as if I should confess my sins.

“Three days ago, when you helped me move.”

The air in the room shifts and we all are finely attuned to the change in atmosphere.  Now that his baseball game is over my dad makes his way out of his den and takes his rightful place at the head of the table.

Ex-marine and now retired cop, his presence is fierce and commanding, instantly forcing his dinner companions to behave.  Just like when we were little we all stop bickering and hitting each other and give the man of the house the respect he deserves.  Eying the table suspiciously, “We’re missing some,” Dad announces.

“Tommy and Brent will be here shortly.  They said they had a last minute call at the end of their shift,” says Mom as she plucks some salad out of a glass bowl.

Brent.  Brent McMahon.  I had no idea he was coming to dinner.  I thought it was going to be just the family.  It shouldn’t surprise me.  Tommy and Brent have been best friends my entire life.  He was a regular at Smith Ristorante as a kid.  My stomach roils at the thought of eating next to my childhood crush.  I sat next to him for years and ate my dinner without a problem, but once I started to fill in the top half of my shirts dinnertime became a source of anxiety. 

Hitting puberty was a nightmare.  Being the only girl, my brothers didn’t seem to know what to make of it.  They treated me like the annoying little brother that they saw me as.  But when they would bring home friends, I would stare and salivate at the scrumptious teenage boys parading through our revolving front door.  For awhile I think my brothers thought I had a seizure disorder or something.  After a few awkward years, I discovered the virtues of femininity.  I had a brief period of low cut shirts and even shorter skirts.  Unfortunately, the Smith Clan did not appreciate this as much as my dates did, resulting in several black eyes and a dateless Junior year of high school.

“How is the move coming along,” Dad asks, shaking me from my thoughts.

“Its going well.  I’m still unpacking but for the most part its finally starting to feel like home.”

“Glad to here it.”

George chimes in, “How’s work going?”

“Fine.”  I leave my answer short in a deliberate attempt to drop the subject.  Its still a sore topic for my dad.  He always wanted better for his little girl, thinking I was destined for greatness.  Problem is, I don’t want greatness.  I want average.  And thanks to a series of unfortunate events, mediocrity was my new normal.

Luckily for me, or maybe unluckily, Tommy and Brent finally arrive.  Dressed in their blues they make their way to the table.  Brent stops suddenly as he finds me at the table.  His gaze moves across my face and then down to my chest and I shiver from his assessment.  A sly smile creeps across his face, causing me to blush like I’m thirteen all over again.

His dark blond hair is cut short and shimmers in the end of day light streaming through the vertical blinds.  The scruff of a long day lines his masculine jaw.  He looks so handsome in uniform.  Growing up around policemen, uniforms never really did anything for me.  But to see Brent dressed in navy blue and the way his muscles filled in his uniform just so… I wipe at my lip certain I must be drooling.

“Nuh uh,” Mom says, “No guns at the table.”  The men obey the lady of the manner and walk into the den to place their guns in my father’s gun safe.  Tommy takes a seat across from me and Brent sits in the chair beside me.  Great.

Bowls of spaghetti and plates of garlic bread are passed around as we all engage in idle chit chat. 

Leaning over to me, “You’re looking great Chelsea,” says Brent, so quietly only I could hear him.

“Thanks.  You don’t look too bad yourself,” I tell him, returning the compliment. 

The men all engage in conversation about the Cleveland game my father had just finished watching.  Commenting on scores or runs or something.  Sports aren’t really my thing.  I poke my head out in front of Brent and start talking over the men to speak with Melissa.  “Wanna go shopping on Tuesday?”

Bouncing her little bundle of joy on her lap, “Sounds great.  I could use a little girl time.”

The scent of soap and masculinity invade my nose and I look to my right and notice that my hair is brushing against Brent’s uniformed chest.  Slowly, I find the nerve to look up and see Brent peering down the deep V-neck of my snug t-shirt.  With a waggle of his eye brows, I clutch at my chest and sit back in my chair.  He was looking down my shirt! 

When I was a gangly teenager I would have loved to have had such attention from the unattainable boy next door.  But now?  Now I don’t know what to make of it.  He was a smart boy in his youth, no doubt he noticed the hearts in my eyes every time he came over.  He was always kind and respectful of my little crush.  He didn’t tease me like all of my brothers and their friends.  Always went out of his way to say “hi,” but never gave me false hope. Even though he was three years my senior, it didn’t mean that I didn’t plan to marry him.  Because I did.  But as we got older he joined the Army and I stayed behind to finish out my high school career. 

After I moved to New York City I lost touch with him but Tommy always kept me up to date.  Telling me how he was deployed to Afghanistan and then to Iraq.  I wrote him letters, my short-lived U.S.O. phase.  He never responded to my letters.  I don’t know if he ever even read them, thinking of me as the awkward teenager he left behind in Indiana.

The memories flood me and my cheeks begin to heat up as if they are on fire.  Good thing I didn’t wear any blush or the entire table would have taken notice.

“Are you blushing,” asks Kent from four seats down.  So much for not being noticeable. 

“No,” I holler, covering my cheeks mortified by the observation.  Brent lets a small snicker escape through his thin and oh so sexy lips.  “Are you blushing,” I accuse Kent.

Pointing to the end of the table, Kent attempts to defend himself, “How can I not when Melissa is down there with her boobs out!”

“Hey,” Melissa bellows at the insult.

“Breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world.  Without it children all over the world would starve during infancy.  I think its beautiful,” declares Brent.

The entire room goes silent and like the wave at a baseball game, everyone’s head tilts slightly to their ears as we look at the man shoveling spaghetti in his mouth.

After a pregnant pause, dinner returns to its usual festive banter.  Melissa and I hammer out the details for shopping later in the week and Mom serves us all apple pie.  God Bless America.  Mom’s apple pie is the epitome of decadence and I love every crumbly bite.

The men spread throughout the house and pat their full bellies, grumbling about jobs, women and life.  Melissa and I help Mom clean up the kitchen.  Melissa scrubs a plate in a hot soapy sink, “Brent seemed to be awfully interested in you,” she states as she scrubs.

After rinsing the plate, I dry it off, “Did he?  I hadn’t noticed,” I lie.

“Oh please.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of you,” she says handing me another plate.

“Not me.  Just my chest,” I acknowledge.

“What about your chest,” Mom asks as she returns to the kitchen after clearing the pie plates in the dining room.

“Nothing, Mom,” Melissa and I answer in unison.

“Are you talking about Brent?  He always did have a fascination with Chelsea’s boobs,” she drops the statement nonchalantly.

Whipping around to face her, “What?”

She tends to the counter, scrubbing at the grout of the tiles as if they will ever be clean again.  “Oh, that boy.  He has always had a thing for you.  Gosh,” she says as takes a trip back in time.  “I remember the day he moved in.  You were out front in the yard playing on your bike, pretending that it was an ice cream maker.  You remember how you used to do that?  You would spin those wheels so fast,” she recalls.

“Ma!  Get to the point,” I request, growing impatient.

“Where was I?  Oh, yes.  You were out front and he stood on his porch wearing cut off jeans and nothing else.  Not even shoes!  What kind of mother doesn’t make her child wear shoes?  Anyways, he stayed there for at least two hours watching the way you made your pretend ice cream.  Then as you got older and started to fill out,” she emphasizes by cupping her own mammaries. “He really started to take notice.  Whenever you walked into the room his eyes were glued to you.”  A small laugh bubbles out as she closes her eyes.  “As silly as it sounds, I always thought you to would end up together.  Funny isn’t it?”

Melissa bursts out laughing.  She was my best friend in high school and she knew how obsessed I was with the informally adopted brother sitting on my couch.

 “Ha,ha,” I laugh sarcastically and promptly leave the kitchen in search of a room without any Smiths.

 

The night begins to settle and we all go through the processional line to say goodbye to Mom and Dad.  Stepping out to our gravel driveway I let the fresh cool air engulf me.  Moisture is thick and no doubt a thunderstorm is on the horizon.  I love the springtime in Indiana.  After a long, dark winter the world starts anew.  I inhale deeply and let the overcharged air inflate my lungs and sense of purpose.

I pull out my keys and unlock my 2007 Ford Fusion and yank open the door.  Preparing to slide into the driver’s seat a voice startles me.

“You look great Little One.”  His deep, robust voice slides over my ears.

Turning around, “You do too, Brent.  It was nice to see you,” I tell him as I pat his hard chest with my palm.

He pulls the door wider and fits his large body against me, caging me between the car and himself.  “I really hope we get to see more of each other.”  Leaning in, I can feel the raw heat emanating between us.  He tilts his head and comes closer, slowly meeting his lips with mine.

He’s kissing me.  He’s kissing me? I stand there like a fool as his soft lips apply the gentlest of pressure.  In shock, I can’t move.  Not even to return his kiss.  He backs away and I see the uncertainty in eyes.  Dumbfounded by the change of events, I can tell he’s having second thoughts.  “Thank you,” I tell him in breathy whisper as I run a finger along my dampened lips.

A huge grin breaks free across his handsome face.  Shoving his hands on his utility belt, “The pleasure was all mine.”  His long lean legs carry him to his cruiser and I settle into my car and just sit there, taking it all in.

Brent just made my oldest childhood fantasy come true.


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