On Sunday, Gavin showed up right on time for supper at the main Hudson house. He wore the dark brown suit Ruby picked out from his closet last night. His long hair was pulled back in a conservative ponytail just the way she suggested. If only she had prepared him for her appearance.
Ruby’s gorgeous red hair was pulled tightly away from her face in a modest bun. Her voluptuous body was sheathed in an oversized pink floral dress that came all the way down to her ankles. On her feet was a pair of flat pink slides. There wasn’t an inch of makeup on her face.
Only Ruby’s eyes showed a hint of her wild side, but just for a few seconds. After briefly winking and smiling at Gavin, she pasted a chaste smile on her face and turned to politely introduce him to her family.
“Everybody, this is Dr. Gavin Sweetwater, my fiancé whom I like to call Vinny,” Ruby began. Then she proceeded to personally introduce him to each family member one by one, starting with her red-bearded father and ending with her three blond-haired nieces.
Gavin shook hands with each one of them. He made sure to note which man belonged to which sister. Tall Tom with the deep tan was the husband of Opal – the middle sister. Jolly Jerry with the round belly was the husband of Pearl – the oldest sister.
Though Gavin could see that Opal and Pearl were real beauties like Ruby claimed, he still didn’t think they held a candle to her. He still would have chosen her in a crowd of blondes.
As dinner got underway, Gavin noticed how quiet all the women were compared to the men. The men led the conversation. The women only spoke when they were spoken to…unless they were addressing one of the children, that is.
Ruby was the exception. She initiated conversation with the men, but her comments were always kept short and sweet, as if she knew they didn’t really want to hear a thing she said anyway. As if she knew her comments were only tolerated with no expectations of them ever being celebrated.
Gavin’s heart went out to Ruby. No wonder she was such a wild child. Living in this kind of oppression was bound to drive a free spirit like her to the other side or else kill her spirit altogether.
She needs rescuing more than I thought, Gavin realized as the meal came to an end. He waited until the women finished serving up dessert before getting to the heart of his visitation.
“Sir, I’d like to get to the main purpose of my visit today, if you don’t mind,” Gavin told Papa Hudson once everyone was seated again.
“Go ahead. Speak your mind.” Papa Hudson smiled. “I like straightforwardness in a man. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that particular quality, especially in a young man.”
“Well, sir, I’d like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.” Gavin turned to look at his beloved. “Ruby is a true jewel. I fell in love with her almost from the moment we met. Her unique eyes and that beautiful smile of hers captivated my heart. When I learned that Ruby’s devotion to her family equaled that of my own, I knew I had to make her my wife,” he asserted, meaning every word he said.
Ruby blushed. Her eyes glistened as he fervently declared his love and staked his claim on her in front of her whole family.
Gavin’s sincerity could be felt around the table because Mama Hudson’s eyes also watered. So did Pearl and Opal’s. Tom and Jerry couldn’t help but nod with approval. Yet it was Papa Hudson’s approval that counted the most here.
Gavin turned back to Papa Hudson and reiterated his earlier statement. “If it’s all right with you, sir, I’d like to have your blessing on our union, so I can marry Ruby within the week and then whisk her away to some exotic place for a long honeymoon.”
Papa Hudson recoiled at the words ‘whisk’ and ‘away’. He frowned as a sudden realization hit him. His baby girl was finally leaving the fold. Possibly for good!
Papa Hudson knew Ruby well enough to know that if she was whisked away to some exotic place for a honeymoon or for any other purpose, her desire to return to Blue-eyed Hollow would diminish considerably, if not altogether. It had been hard enough to get her to come home for holidays and birthdays when she was in college.
Instead of answering Gavin right away, Papa Hudson leaned over and whispered for his wife to send the children out of the room. When they were gone, he returned his attention to Ruby’s beau.
“You may have my blessing under one condition,” Papa Hudson said, withholding his approval temporarily.
“Condition? What condition?” Ruby blurted out, unable to maintain her demure persona now. Like everyone else, she thought her father would be shaking Gavin’s hand by now considering her reputation. Plus, he never gave Tom and Jerry any conditions when they wanted to marry Opal and Pearl.
Papa Hudson turned and gave Ruby a disapproving look that immediately shut her up. Then he turned back to Gavin. “I’ll bless this union, if you buy or build a house in town. This way, Ruby can stay close by until we find somebody to replace her at the shop,” Papa Hudson said.
Mama Hudson’s eyes flashed vividly beside him. This conditional blessing was obviously a surprise to her, too. Based on the ire in her blue pools, she did not approve. Yet she said nothing.
Ruby frowned now. She saw this as yet another way for her father to keep her trapped in this town. Why wouldn’t he just let her go already? Why must her heart constantly be broken in order to keep his alive?
“I think that’s a great idea, sir.” Gavin quickly intervened before Ruby blew a gasket. “Mrs. Munsen told me about a lady in town that’s interested in selling her property. I believe her name is Mrs. Thompson.”
“Mrs. Françoise Thompson?” Ruby asked, hoping it was her French/Drama teacher from high school. Not only was Mrs. Thompson the mother of her deceased best guy friend, she was the one that got Ruby interested in film in the first place.
Mrs. Thompson had been going through hard times lately with the loss of Dior, coupled with the mounting debts of trying to maintain a large spread of land on her fixed retirement income. She lost her husband twelve years ago after a long illness, yet she stayed in Blue-eyed Hollow to continue raising their son in his father’s hometown.
“The Mrs. Thompson I’m talking about is a widow who recently lost her only son in combat. She owns a large piece of property on the outskirts of town that includes a lake, a nature trail, and a big house with six rooms. I was thinking about putting a bid on it this week,” Gavin shared.
Ruby smiled. “Then we’re talking about the same Mrs. Thompson. I’ll take you by there today after I help Mama with the supper dishes,” she said excitedly.
Mama Hudson looked relieved in her seat across the table. She even smiled again and nodded encouragingly at them.
“Hold all your horses,” Papa Hudson interrupted, throwing his hands up in the air. “I haven’t given my blessing yet.”
“But, Papa, you said…” Ruby began.
“I know what I said,” Papa Hudson snapped, causing everyone in the room to go completely silent.
“Sir, did I misunderstand you before?” Gavin asked, being the bravest of the crew. “I thought by purchasing Mrs. Thompson’s property, I would automatically have your blessing.”
“But that’s just the thing. You haven’t purchased her property yet,” Papa Hudson replied. “Until you do, I remain neutral on the issue,” he added, folding his hands defiantly across his chest.
(c) 2014 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier
(c) 2014 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier