Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Professor - Ch. 33.3

“I don’t tink you should tell Baron ‘bout Trent ‘til after yur married. Why put yet another roadblock in yur way?” Emile said, pushing aside her latest weaving project to make room for her daughter on the full-sized bed. “Are you tryna sabotage yur own happiness, Ree-Ree? Yet another chance at instant financial stability?”

“No, Mama, I’m not trying to sabotage my happiness at all,” Aurelia replied, settling down beside her mother on the peach-colored comforter. “I just feel like I’m defrauding Baron by continuing to withhold the truth about Trent. Especially after he came all this way to ask me to marry him. I keep thinking about how if I was in his shoes, I’d want to know if my future spouse had a secret child somewhere before we got married. That’s why I have to tell Baron the truth.” She said nothing about telling Trent the truth since they still both agreed that he should be told when he was old enough to handle it.

“I understand,” Emile said, even though she still wished her daughter would wait until after the I-do’s. “Answer me dis though. How come you never felt de need to share de truth about Trent with Cain? And you were wid em ah whole year.”

“I never truly loved Cain,” Aurelia admitted with all sincerity. “I thought I did, but I realized later on that I was mainly there for the financial benefits of the relationship. To be honest, I was more hurt about Roxy betraying me than I was about Cain doing so. I guess that’s because a sense of sisterhood still meant more to me than a man back then. It doesn’t now though. Now I’d rather have a good man over a lousy sister-friend any day.”

“Well, I can say one ting for you. You sure know how to pick ‘em. Every man you ever been in love wid or thought you were in love wid was rich. Mind telling me yur secret now dat I’m finally ready to lay aside my widowhood?” Emile chuckled, having married just for love before.

Emile’s sister Gladys had also married just for love. In fact, they married two brothers. Both Bunting men were poor when they met them. One died in poverty. The other was still in it and having health problems to boot.

Fortunately, Samuel was keeping his diabetes better maintained than his older brother had done. It certainly had not affected his ability to produce more children like it had Trenton, who had suffered from severe erectile dysfunction for years.

“It’s all about associations, Mama,” Aurelia shared, ready to move on to another subject now that her mind was made up about Baron. “At least that’s what Marshall taught me long ago. He said that the reason his parents grew so rich so fast was due to the people they associated with. That as they were building up their scuba diving and boating empire, they simply hung around people with money. As a result of what Marshall taught me, I learned to place myself in the presence of wealthy people so that I could glean even more from them. I wanted to learn how they got to the place of prosperity they were in. How to stay there once I got to my own place of prosperity. Hanging around such places naturally caused me to meet wealthy men. Men who found me attractive and wanted to date me.”

Emile frowned with disapproval. “Okay, I know we talked ‘bout how important it was to find ah wealthy man, but I neva told you to slide into gold-digger shoes, Ree-Ree.”

“I haven’t, Mama,” Aurelia reassured her. “All a gold-digger thinks about is money when she meets a man. Looks, age, and background seldom matter. A gold-digger definitely doesn’t care about a man’s character or even if he got his money the wrong way. I care about all those things and so much more. Especially after my relationship with Cain.”

“I guess I can take comfort in dat.” Emile sighed in relief. “By de way, how did you and Baron meet?” she asked, unaware of her daughter’s career as an exotic dancer. All this time Emile thought Aurelia was being paid to choreograph dance videos, thereby putting those years of dance instruction to good use. At least that’s what she’d been told.

Aurelia’s face took on the look of shame as she suddenly realized how many secrets she had been keeping from everybody. When did all of this secrecy begin?

With Marshall.

After that kiss they shared, Aurelia and Marshall kept their relationship a secret for a whole month. She didn’t tell her mother that she had become sexually active. If Marshall hadn’t been a man and stepped up to the plate of responsibility after the pregnancy discovery, she wouldn’t have even shared whom she’d been sexually active with.

After Marshall died, those secrets had led to so many more. Each one had seemed so necessary to keep at the time. Now Aurelia was tired of them all.

Ready to purge to her mother, Aurelia told Emile all about her secret profession as an exotic dancer, including how she met Cain at an upscale strip club and Baron at a wealthy bachelor’s party.

Emile was stunned to say the least. She had no idea that her daughter had used her dancing abilities to make money that way. Or that that money had been used to not only help pay for Aurelia’s education, but to also help Emile and Trent out back home.

“Say something, Mama,” Aurelia urged when her mother remained silent for two whole open-mouthed minutes after hearing her out.

“What I ‘posed to say? Dat I’m proud of what you did? ‘Cause I’m not!” Emile fumed. “And in no way would yur father have approved of dat occupation no matter how hard tings got for dis family. In fact, he’d be furious to know dat all dat lawn care he traded for yur dance lessons was in vain. Dis is de kinda ting we would expect from ah gal like Jewell, not you!”

“I know.” A glossy-eyed Aurelia hung her head. “I’m sorry for disappointing de both of you.”

“You should be!” Emile snapped. At the sight of her daughter’s tears, a level of guilt pricked her heart. How could she stay angry with someone who had sacrificed her own dignity for the greater good of others? Aurelia’s sacrifice had been misguided, but still done from a good heart.

“I still love you, baby,” Emile said soothingly, wrapping her arms around her silently weeping daughter. “And I’m way more proud of you den disappointed.”

“Thanks, Mama,” Aurelia said, sniffing back her tears.

“Dis Baron must really love you, huh? Knowing what he does already,” Emile said in a lighter tone.

“Yes, he does. Which is why I know I have to tell him the truth about Trent...tonight,” Aurelia replied, blinking away her tears as she sprung to her feet. “I just hope he loves me enough to overlook yet another offense.”

“Maybe he won’t see it as ah bad ting at all. Maybe he’ll see it as another chance to give you even more unconditional love,” Emile said, hoping for the best as well. “And, Ree-Ree?”

“Yes, Mama?” Aurelia said, pausing at the door.

“If dis man do forgive you dis other ting, you betta rock dat honeymoon on Friday.”

“Yes, Mama.” Aurelia chuckled and then headed for the bathroom to shower. It was time to get real spiffy. She knew exactly which dress to wear, too.

If showing some leg can help me get the man. Then maybe showing some leg can help me keep the man, Aurelia reasoned desperately, determined to give herself every possible advantage tonight.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

* * *

The dress Aurelia decides to wear to the hotel:

The Professor - Ch. 33.2

At the age of sixteen, Aurelia lost her father due to complications stemming from his improperly managed diabetes. Overwhelmed with grief, she found comfort in the arms of Marshall Pierre Jean-Baptiste, the nineteen-year-old nephew of her mother’s then wealthy St. John employer.

Marshall had been secretly in love with Aurelia for years. He never approached her because of their age differences, social class differences, and his general lack of self-esteem due to his weight issues. Had it not been for Aurelia making the first move by kissing him after he finished tutoring her in French one day, Marshall might have secretly pined for her for the rest of his life. He definitely wouldn’t have taken that kiss and ran with it all the way to his bedroom.

When Aurelia later told Marshall that she was pregnant, he was overjoyed. He immediately saw the pregnancy as a sign that they were meant to be together forever. A marriage proposal soon followed.

Since Marshall had lost both of his parents at an early age and since Aurelia had lost her father a month prior, he asked his uncle and her mother for their blessings of the union. Only one of them gave it.

Marshall’s uncle outright refused to bless the union. In fact, Oliver Jean-Baptiste flew into a rage about those pending nuptials. He called his nephew stupid and careless. He had more degrading names for Aurelia.

After having it out with Marshall, Oliver paid a visit to Aurelia at her St. Croix home. During that visit (which took place while her mother was at work), Oliver accused her of being a gold-digger, who had used sex to ingratiate herself into the pockets of his rich nephew. He even tried to pay her off.

When Aurelia declared her love for Marshall and refused the money offered her, Oliver balked at her claims. Then to add insult to injury, the man actually tried to sexually assault her at gunpoint. Had it not been for a neighbor’s teenage son persistently knocking on the door to inquire about buying one of her father’s five lawn mowers, things would have gotten even uglier in the Bunting house that day.

Unwilling to marry into a family that contained the likes of Oliver, Aurelia decided to call the wedding off. The threat that the older man gave her before he left that day, which hinted at his ties to organized crime, gave her even more incentive to break the engagement and to also maintain her silence about his visit.

Unfortunately, Marshall refused to accept Aurelia’s abrupt change of heart or her excuse about not wanting to get married without his uncle’s blessing. Determined to make her his wife, the young man insisted that he would do whatever it took to make Oliver accept their union. That he would make sure their child lacked nothing before and after it was born. That he would continue to woo her until his dying day.

That dying day came a week later.

Marshall drowned at sea on one of his uncle’s boats, causing many to wonder if the Jean-Baptiste family was cursed. Especially since his parents had also died at sea.

Needless to say, Aurelia was crushed to hear the news about Marshall. She’d lost two very dear men in such a short span of time and thus couldn’t be anything but devastated. Plus, she was pregnant and had yet to finish high school.

Aurelia was further devastated when Marshall’s uncle paid her yet another visit. This time her mother was at home. During that meeting, Oliver revealed even more of his wickedness and made Aurelia wonder if Marshall’s death truly was accidental. If even his parents’ death was accidental.

With his big girth taking up almost half the sofa he sat on, Oliver outright demanded that Aurelia terminate the pregnancy. He claimed that he didn’t want such an unfortunate situation to malign his nephew’s memory or the Jean-Baptiste’s esteemed reputation.

Aurelia countered by insinuating that Oliver likely didn’t want another heir to the Jean-Baptiste fortune. Marshall had told her all about how the totality of his parents’ assets would belong to him on his twenty-first birthday, officially ending his uncle’s custodial tenure. About how one day those assets would belong to their child.

Oliver looked like he was either going to have a stroke at Aurelia’s words or else pull out his gun and kill her and the baby on the spot. Instead he quickly composed himself, told her that she was going to get that abortion or else suffer dire consequences, and then gave her a large sum of money to take care of the situation. Those funds were also a one-time payoff for Aurelia’s continual silence.

As for Emile, Oliver fired her during that visit. That was all fine and good since she no longer wanted to work for the evil man anyway.

Terrified of the man for sure now, Aurelia took the money and promised to abort the child. But she couldn’t. She couldn’t kill the only part of Marshall she had left.

Aurelia found her mother equally supportive of her decision to keep the baby, despite Oliver’s threats. After putting their heads together, the two women decided to relocate to Florida and rent their V.I. house out.

Stateside, Aurelia laid low and awaited Trent’s birth, not even leaving the house to check the mailbox. That act was necessary in order for Emile to claim the child as her own. Emile also deliberately gained weight and wore maternity clothes to appear pregnant to the outside world.

In preparation for the baby’s delivery, they hired a midwife to deliver the baby at home. A midwife who agreed to certify that Emile was the birthmother and not Aurelia…for the right price, of course.

That plan might have worked perfectly if Aurelia hadn’t changed her mind at the last minute. All it took was one look into Trent’s amber eyes, which were exactly like Marshall’s, and she knew that she could never legally disown him. Not even at the risk of her own life. Besides, since they had no intentions of ever returning to the Virgin Islands anyway, she figured it wouldn’t matter as much.

However, as a special precaution, Aurelia left the father’s name blank on the birth certificate. She also named Trent after her own father, but left the junior part off since he was not actually her father’s son.

Six weeks after Trent was born, Aurelia went to get a long overdue check up. She’d skipped prenatal care altogether, relying on the prayers of her mother to avoid exposure. To throw the doctors off at the clinic, she lied about having a recent abortion to explain the obvious signs of childbirth that had been left in and outside of her body. Either the doctors didn’t care enough to investigate or they were just lazy, because they simply took Aurelia at her word about the faux abortion.

After getting a clean bill of health, Aurelia enrolled in a local night school. She finished her high school diploma in a matter of three short months. She nursed and took care of Trent during the day while her mother worked freelance housekeeping jobs. They saved every penny they could and lived very modestly, banishing pride as they subsisted off of Ramen noodles, hot dogs, and day old bread.

Although the money Oliver gave them was long gone within two years’ time, neither of them ever thought of asking him for another dime, not even this last time when Trent needed an operation. Quite frankly, they were still scared of the wicked man, downright terrified of what he might do to them if he ever found out the truth about Trent.

Had Oliver not left the V.I. completely and moved to France soon after Marshall’s death to pursue business interests overseas, and had Gladys not reported how bad their renters had trashed the house, Aurelia and Emile would have stayed in Florida. Yet it didn’t make sense to continue to pay rent stateside while rowdy tenants destroyed the only thing they owned. The fact that those same tenants were often delinquent with their rent payments was another deciding factor.

And so Aurelia and her mother returned home. With Trent, yes. But also with a well-crafted lie – Trent was to be the son of Emile and Trenton. Not even Gladys and Samuel questioned them about it…at least not for very long. It helped that Trent bore a lot of Bunting features, despite his unique eyes.

Aurelia and Emile also crafted a long-term plan of prosperity upon their return to St. Croix. That plan consisted of Emile taking care of Trent while Aurelia went off to college, which is what Mr. Bunting always wanted for their daughter. Then after she graduated, she would return home and use her degree to help prosper the family.

That plan successfully stayed on track until…until Aurelia fell in love with Baron.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

The Professor - Ch. 33.1

On Thursday night, Aurelia played with Trent for a while, read him a bedtime story, and then put him to bed. When she turned out the light and walked out of his blue painted room, it suddenly dawned on her that this was actually her last night living and sleeping at her family home. As a married woman, she would be expected to live and sleep where her husband was.

Although Aurelia wanted to be where Baron was, a part of her was going to miss staying with her family. She was particularly going to miss putting Trent to bed at night. She had hoped to do more of that after she graduated and returned home to work in the Virgin Islands.

Now Baron was going to want her to stay in California with him after graduation. That’s where his very expensive home and high-paying job were. That’s where a very lucrative future career was waiting for Aurelia. All she had to do was accept it.

See, right before Aurelia left for the V.I., Liam outright stated that if she kept doing well at the crime lab, she could turn her part-time gig there into a full-time career after graduation. A very profitable career given all the experience she had acquired in the short time she’d been there. Which meant she’d have even less reasons to return home on a permanent basis. Which also meant that she’d miss out on even more of Trent’s childhood.

Grieved deep in her heart about even the thought of Trent growing up without her present, Aurelia forfeited going to the living room where a sofa bed awaited her. Instead she made her way to her mother’s room. She needed another one of their heart-to-heart talks and some timely advice.

“Mama, do you think I should tell Baron the truth about Trent before we get married?” Aurelia asked after closing the door to Emile’s room.

That truth: Aurelia’s brother was actually her son!

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Professor - Ch. 32.2

“Hello, Jewell,” Aurelia said in a polite tone.

“Who be yur gorgeous friend dere?” Jewell inquired, posing provocatively by her own car as Baron’s eyes took in her voluptuous bronze frame from top to bottom in the yellow-feathered outfit. Disappointment soon rolled across her face when he simply nodded in greeting and remained unaffected by what he’d seen.

“This is Dr. Baron Weaver, my fiancĂ©,” Aurelia said, putting a possessive arm about his waist.

Jewell’s eyes expanded in their sockets. “Y…yur gettin’ married?”

“Yes,” Aurelia replied.

“Wh…when?” Jewell sputtered out. “Surely I’m invited ta de wedding?”

“Soon and it’s a family only affair. Now have fun at the festival tonight, girl,” Aurelia concluded super-sweetly before turning the whole of her attention back to a quiet Baron. “Now what were we talking about, baby?”

Baron chuckled. “Smooth. Real smooth,” he said as the jealous woman in yellow got in her car and sped away.

Aurelia laughed. “Call me Miss Parkay,” she said, sprouting the name of her favorite brand of butter.

“I’d rather call you Mrs. Weaver,” Baron replied, pulling her fully into his arms. “So what’s the deal with you and Jewell?”

“In a nutshell, because I always wanted a sister, I decided to befriend the closest female neighbor in my age group and make her my pretend-sister. Big Bird over there decided to be my pretend-friend instead because she was unwilling to deal with her not-so-secret jealousies of me.”

“Big bird?” Baron laughed at her wit.

“At least that’s what she looks like to me tonight.” Aurelia chuckled, before becoming extremely serious. “Anyway, I finally realized what Jewell really was the day she came up to me after my father’s funeral, smirked, and said, ‘Looks like we both fatherless now’.”

“That was just cruel.” Baron frowned, starting to dislike Jewell himself.

“It was beyond cruel, which is why I smacked her around a bit that day. Dragged her across a few floors. And it felt so good, too.” Aurelia grinned.

“I bet it did.” He chuckled.

“Anyway, our mothers made us apologize to each other. We did, but I never tried to be Jewell’s friend again after that, only a polite neighbor. However, since I’m not the kind of person to extend adult animosity to innocent children, I am especially nice to her kids and even let them play with Trent.”

“Good for you,” Baron said, looking downright proud of her for being the better woman. “Speaking of Trent, while he was brushing his waves tonight, I had a light bulb moment. It made me think about something Rhoda told the police about her attacker. Particularly about the man’s hair.”

“About the fact that it was wavy like Trent’s?” Aurelia asked, familiar with the case details as well. Not only had her job at the crime lab given her familiarity with Rhoda’s assault case, but her participation in AU’s forensics club had done so as well.

Aurelia and her fellow students had taken it upon themselves as a pet project to help solve the crime of the innocent/guilty twins. They also wanted to do their part to bring justice to one of their professors, despite Rhoda’s continual moodiness and drooping approval ratings around campus.

“No, about the fact that the man’s hair was not naturally wavy like Trent’s or his brother’s,” Baron replied, starting to look almost gleeful now. “If you recall, the assailant mentioned to Rhoda that he’d been to a salon earlier that day to get a permanent wave in his hair because he was too lazy and impatient to build his waves naturally like his twin.”

“Which means the collected hair samples we have on file for each brother will reveal which of them is the guilty party due to the ammonium thioglycolate within the strands,” Aurelia deduced, starting to look gleeful herself.

“Exactly.” Baron grinned. “I predict that the perm salt in those hair strands will lead the police right to Rhoda’s attacker,” he said, referring to the layman’s term for ammonium thioglycolate. “I’m calling my hunch in to Liam when I get back to the hotel.”

“Nuff respect, Baron. You’re brilliant, mon! Just brilliant!” Aurelia exclaimed, excitedly jumping up and down in his arms.

At the first bounce, Baron moaned and squeezed her close to prevent another. “I can’t handle you bouncing against me like that,” he whispered in her right ear. “Either you send me away right now or I’m going to kidnap you, take you back to my hotel room, and—”

“Consider yourself sent,” Aurelia interrupted, smoothly withdrawing from his tight embrace. Then after giving him a brief smack on the lips, she waved goodnight, and quickly headed back to the house.

“Come on Friday,” Baron said, licking his lips as he got into the red jeep.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

* * *

The first picture at this link is representative of Jewell’s festival costume, except hers was all yellow (I think it’s cute, even though Jewell’s jealous attitude sure wasn’t):

The Professor - Ch. 32.1

Once the Bunting house was back in order, Aurelia put Trent to bed. She read to him while he performed his nightly hair routine under Baron’s watchful eye.

Emile retired to her room and proceeded to do some basket weaving from the large box of supplies Baron had blessed her with earlier today. Another box of supplies had been taken to her sister Gladys, who was also a master weaver. That trip gave Baron yet another chance to ingratiate himself with Aurelia’s other relatives.

Gladys and her husband Samuel (who was also the brother of Aurelia’s father) welcomed Baron back into their home with open arms. All six of their children did, too. But then again, who wouldn’t welcome someone bearing gifts? And there had been something for everyone in that large box.

As Aurelia walked Baron out to his car in farewell later that night, she noticed how reluctant he looked to leave. She wasn’t particularly ready for him to go either.

“Do you want to check out some nighttime festival events?” Aurelia asked, referring to the Crucian Christmas Festival, which began the first Saturday in December and ended the first Saturday in January. Some festival events didn’t start until nightfall. Those were the ones she had in mind now. “If you’re up for it, it wouldn’t take me very long to go back inside and get dressed,” Aurelia added as they came to a stop outside the driver’s side door of his rented jeep.

“I’d rather spend some time alone with you instead…in my hotel room,” Baron replied, giving her a hungry look as he pulled her close.

Aurelia took in a shaky breath. “Be a little bit more patient, baby. Please,” she whispered, mindful of her neighbors who were going to and fro in lively festival attire behind her.

One of those neighbors was her childhood rival Jewell Miller. Jewell had been jealous of Aurelia ever since she could remember. She especially hated the fact that Trenton Bunting Sr. wanted great things for Aurelia and tried to give them to her while he was alive. Whereas Jewell and her four older brothers were raised by a single mother across the street from the Buntings. She still lived with her mother in that same house along with her three kids (by three different men) and no husband.

“Hey, Ree-Ree!” Jewell shouted, clearly trying to get Aurelia’s attention and the attention of the handsome man with her.

“Love your enemies. Love your enemies,” Aurelia muttered, reminding herself of yet another life principle that she’d been taught by her father. Then after taking a deep breath, she turned around and faced the brash woman in the skimpy yellow outfit.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

* * *

Pictures of a Crucian Christmas Festival:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Professor - Ch. 31.2

Back in the kitchen, Aurelia abruptly broke the heated kiss. “We got to stop before things go too far,” she panted out in a whisper as she moved back towards the double sink.

“Things need to go too far, if you ask me. We haven’t been together-together in almost two weeks,” Baron whispered back, equally breathless. “Come back to the hotel with me tonight,” he suggested as he followed her to the sink, stood behind her, and pressed his body closer in all the right places.

Aurelia moaned at that provocative contact. “As much as I want to, I can’t,” she said, wisely moving to the side before turning around to face him. “Not only did I promise to let my mother teach me how to cook Trent’s newest favorite breakfast in the morning, I kinda want to wait until we’re married before engaging in anymore sexual activity. You know, allow our passion to build up just a little bit more so that our honeymoon will be explosive.”

Baron groaned out his disappointment. He sighed. “All right, even though our honeymoon is going to be explosive either way,” he said, putting more distance between them for both their sakes. “It’s a good thing I completed all the necessary paperwork before I left California. Now all we have to do is appear before the proper authorities to have the completed paperwork notarized, posted for public inspection, and filed. I’ve already greased enough palms and paid enough fees to reduce the waiting period, which means we can get married before the week is out if we want to.”

Aurelia smirked. “You were that confident I’d marry you, huh?” She returned to her dishwashing.

“That hopeful.” Baron grinned, also returning to his previous task at her side. “I even went to Mass and applied prayer to the situation.”

Her eyes widened. “I can’t believe you brought God in on the deal,” Aurelia said, truly amazed by this new development. No other man had ever mentioned God or anything remotely religious to her before.

Correction, they’d called out God’s name in the throes of passion, but Aurelia really didn’t think they wanted Him to show up…especially not at those times.

“Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.” Baron chuckled. “Plus, I got tired of my mother interrogating me about when was the last time I’d been to church.”

“So you figured why not kill two birds with one stone, huh?” She handed him another plate.

“Yes, although I prefer the phrase, ‘solve two problems with one deed’ since it sounds considerably less harmful to our little animal friends,” Baron said, revealing how much of a nature lover he truly was as he rinsed the plate he’d been given.

Suddenly overwhelmed with even more love for this brilliant, strong, and yet sensitive man, Aurelia flung her arms about his neck and attacked his mouth this time. Once again, no thought was taken to drying her hands first.

Baron welcomed that kiss, sizzled with desire therein as he responded with equal fervor. The plate in his right hand was clumsily put in the dish rack as the kiss deepened even more. His wet hands wrapped around her body again, causing her shirt to get just as saturated as his.

”Marry me tomorrow,” Baron moaned against her lips when they finally came up for air two minutes later.

“Friday,” Aurelia decided, although the gumdrops straining against her wet t-shirt screamed for his attention now. “That’ll give me a couple more days to spend with my family before I’m whisked away into marital bliss.”

“Friday it is then,” Baron agreed reluctantly. Then he dipped down for one more kiss before they had to get back to the business of kitchen cleanup.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

The Professor - Ch. 31.1

Aurelia waited until the following Wednesday to tell Baron that he’d passed the brotherhood test. She procrastinated because she wanted to be extra sure that Trent really did like her future husband. After five days of watching them grow even closer, she realized that she had nothing to worry about. The two males were well on their way to being the best of friends.

As expected, Baron was overjoyed to hear that he’d passed the brotherhood test. That joyous smile literally wouldn’t leave his face. He smiled all during the dinner that Emile prepared for them from the groceries he brought to the house today. He was still smiling now as he helped Aurelia with the dinner dishes tonight.

They were hand washing the dishes since Aurelia’s family didn’t own a dishwasher. Matter of fact, the Bunting kitchen only contained the most necessary appliances like a refrigerator, an electric stove, and a washing machine. All were outdated models. Clean, but ancient nevertheless.

Baron made a mental note to buy up-to-date appliances for Aurelia’s family. He also made a note to go back to the grocer and purchase more fresh produce, whole grain breads, and other nutritious items for the Buntings. Anything to keep them from consuming so many processed foods. The latter is what he decided to discuss right now.

“How often does Trent eat hot dogs?” Baron asked as he rinsed the sudsy plates she handed him from the left, then stacked them in the brown dish rack to his right.

“Almost everyday, why?” Aurelia asked.

Baron frowned. “I thought so,” he said, unable to recall a day when he hadn’t seen Trent with a hot dog in his hand. “You do know that hot dogs should be eaten in moderation, right? Especially if you are a growing kid. It’s also not the best way to properly manage his diabetes.”

“Of course I know dat, Professor,” Aurelia snapped, sending angry eyes his way. “But when you poor, can’t seem ta grow enough healthy food ta sustain yourself, and all yur local stores have ta charge higher prices ‘cause dey import most of dere goods, you buy what you can. Since hot dogs and Ramen noodles are two of de cheapest tings on de market, dey go in de shopping cart first.” She snatched her hands from the dishwater, not even bothering to dry them on her apron before she reached into the cupboard on the left and pulled out a large pickle jar that was filled with various condiments from restaurants.

“I…” Baron began only to be interrupted.

“When you poor, you also save ketchup, mustard, and even packets of salt and pepa from restaurants dat you happened ta visit,” an angry Aurelia continued with glossy eyes. “Not ta buy dere food. No, you too poor for dat. But ta buy ah cup of water so dat you won’t feel like you stealing when you load up on all de condiments yur purse can hold.” She pushed the jar back inside and slammed the cupboard door closed.

“And don’t forget ‘bout de napkins,” she continued, snatching a drawer open to reveal stacks of restaurant napkins. “As ah poor person, you neva know when you might have ta choose between bathroom tissue and food 'cause de food stamps done run out, yur neighbors are too jealous-hearted ta help, and yur relatives can barely help demsleves.” She slammed the drawer shut again. “Sometimes ah good newspaper will simply have ta do. I even taught Trent how ta crumble it up just right so not ta scratch himself. But I’m sure you know no-ting ‘bout dat, huh, Professor? I’m sure yur mother neva fed you hot dogs five times ah week or made you wipe yur bum wid newspaper,” Aurelia concluded, sobbing by this time.

Baron snatched her to him. “I’m so sorry,” he lamented, squeezing her closer with wet hands.

“I don’t want yur pity, you trust fund baby!” Aurelia jerked away from him.

“You don’t have it. What you do have is my apology for coming across as a condescending rich kid a few minutes ago,” Baron replied. “And you’re right. I don’t know what poverty is like. I was raised in Bel Air, went to private schools, and the best colleges. Even when I go camping, I have everything I need. So I’m never really roughing it in the great wild even though I was taught how to as a boy scout.”

He moved closer to Aurelia, causing her to back up against the fridge. “As of today, you and your family will have everything you need, too. I will personally see to it. I may have been raised rich, but I was not raised stingy. Both of my parents are big givers and so am I, especially to those I love. Surely you know that about me by now.”

“Yes, you are a very generous man,” Aurelia admitted softly as her ire plummeted to the floor. “I’m sorry for overreacting just then, for taking my frustrations about poverty out on you, and for calling you a trust fund baby. You deserve better treatment than that,” she continued, issuing a necessary and heartfelt apology of her own.

“You’re forgiven,” Baron replied with an equally forgiving smile. “And I am a trust fund baby.” He chuckled. “All of our kids will be also,” he promised, cupping her tear-stained face in his hands. “I love you, beautiful.”

Aurelia smiled through her tears. “I love you, too.”

With a moan, Baron dipped down to her mouth for a kiss. A hot kiss at that, because as soon as their lips touched things started to sizzle between them. His arms went about her body even as her arms when about his neck.

Soon their hips got in on the deal. Had there been a piece of peppercorn between them now it would have been grinded to bits.

* * *

“Everyting right in dere?” Trent asked from his place on the living room floor where he’d been putting a 100-piece puzzle together. Worry shrouded his features. He didn’t know whether to be worried about the angry voices he’d heard in the next room or the sudden silence in there now.

Emile smiled reassuringly. “Oh yes. Ree-Ree and Baron just had to iron out ah little wrinkle in dere relationship. Everyting good now…for everybody,” she said, having heard Baron’s promises to Aurelia from her place in the wicker chair near the kitchen door.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

The Professor - Ch. 30.3

You like her, don’t you?” Trent asked Baron when they were alone.

“Yes, very much so. In fact, I love your sister,” Baron shared. “Are you okay with that?”

Trent nodded. “Yeah. I want her happy.”

“Me, too.” Baron smiled, liking the young lad a little bit more with each passing second.

“I wanna be happy, too. Maybe you can talk meh mutha and sista into letting me go regular school,” Trent shared.

“You don’t like being homeschooled?”

“No, ‘cause eh keeps me from kids my own age.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Baron promised. “Although I think homeschooling is one of the best ways a kid can learn in his early years, I do understand your need to be around your peers.”

“Is peers ah fancy word for gals?” Trent asked. “’Cause dat’s who I really wanna be ‘round. Gals like me waves.” He smiled, brushing his hair again. “I like dat dey like me waves.”

Baron grinned, now fully aware of the real reason Trent wanted out of homeschooling. “I tell you what. In case I’m unable to convince your womenfolk about this regular school thing, how about I ask them about letting you join a few teams. When a boy is on a team, there are usually girls cheering on the sidelines in cute uniforms, all shouting your name on account of how good you’re playing.”

Trent’s eye’s lit up. “Deal!” he exclaimed, extending his free hand to shake on it island style.

“Deal,” Baron confirmed, careful to hold his fist out and gently bump his knuckles with Trent’s the way he’d been taught to earlier by the lad.

“You two seemed to be gettin’ along good,” Emile noted with an approving smile as she and Aurelia reentered the room with beverages in hand.

“Yeah. Baron de best! I like em even betta den me favorite rap group Rock City,” Trent replied excitedly.

His response gave Aurelia all the incentive she needed to finally marry the man of her heart’s desire. And the conditional week had barely even started.

Unknowingly, Trent also gave Aurelia a reason to investigate how he’d come to listen to a V.I. hip-hop group whose catchy tunes she even liked, but whose lyrics were too mature for a boy his age. And did him listening to this group mean that he was now into girls? After all, that was one of the main things Rock City rapped about in some of their more popular songs.

Aurelia wasn’t ready for Trent to grow up just yet. She wanted him to remain a kid just a little bit longer. Especially since she’d already missed so much of his everyday childhood because of her educational endeavors.

© 2009 by Mi’Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier

* * *

Rock City’s Losing It (I kinda like this group myself):