Everyone looked horrified by Papa Hudson’s latest obstacle. Everyone except for Gavin. He remained calm, cool, and collected – the way his father taught him to be in the face of adversity. In light of all that Ruby shared about her family, particularly about her father, he would have been highly surprised if the pathway down the aisle had been smooth.
“No worries, Red, okay?” Gavin said soothingly, running an equally soothing hand down the left side of her face.
Ruby closed her eyes at his touch and immediately calmed down. “Okay,” she whispered, revealing unspoken trust when she reopened her unique pools.
Gavin smiled and nodded. Then he pulled out his cell phone and scrolled down his contacts list to select the number Mrs. Munsen had given him. He wisely entered all new numbers into his phone so that he’d have them with him at all times.
“Hello, Mrs. Thompson? My name is Dr. Gavin Sweetwater,” he said when she answered on the second ring. He paid no mind to the frown on Papa Hudson’s face. Nothing would deter him from marrying the woman he loved.
“Dr. Sweetwater? Aren’t you that cute new dentist in town I heard so much about?” Mrs. Thompson asked in her usual animated voice.
“Yes, I’m the new dentist in town. I don’t know how cute I am though, but I’m glad you think so.” Gavin smiled. He could sense Mrs. Thompson’s sweet spirit already. “Do you think I’m cute, Ruby?” he turned to ask his beloved.
“Yes, very much so.” Ruby nodded with a smile, looking a lot calmer.
“My fiancée agrees with you.” Gavin chuckled, behaving as if he didn’t have a care in the world, as if his world with Ruby wasn’t at stake. Yes, he’d been trained to act this way, but he also did so because he knew that his woman needed to see a peaceful and confident display of strength in order to stay calm and strong herself.
“So the rumors are true? You are going to marry Ruby Dee Hudson?” Mrs. Thompson said excitedly.
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“I love it!” Mrs. Thompson giggled. “Ruby’s a sweet girl.”
“Yes, she is and I love her very much.” Gavin sent Ruby a warm smile of encouragement. “Only thing is, I need to find a place for us to live in town so that she can continue to work in her family’s business until a replacement is found. Your place was recommended to me. Now I don’t know how many offers you’ve had already, but I will double the highest one if you agree to sell me the place right here, right now.” Though this new purchase would likely mean one less jet in the small fleet he had on order, Gavin deemed it worth the expense. He deemed Ruby worth the expense.
“Oh my,” Mrs. Thompson replied, now very serious.
“So what do you say?” Gavin prompted, trying to help her work through her shock faster. So much was riding on her decision.
“I say, yes!” Mrs. Thompson gushed out in an excited breath.
Gavin smiled wide. “Would you mind repeating that to my future father-in-law? It seems he needs some reassurance of my intentions concerning his daughter.”
“Sure!” Mrs. Thompson agreed. “But don’t you want to know what the highest bid was first?”
“Yes, of course.” Gavin was surprised that he’d forgotten about that part. He was usually a much sharper businessman than that. Blame it on his desperate need to seal this deal for Ruby…for her freedom from oppression…for their future together.
When Mrs. Thompson told him the figure, Gavin nodded and casually shrugged. “No problem,” he replied, willing to pay any price to free his beloved. “I’ll have those funds available to you no later than Wednesday. Just make sure your paperwork is in order by then, okay?”
“I will.” Mrs. Thompson sounded relieved. “Excuse me while I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.”
“Don’t pinch yourself too hard.” Gavin chuckled. “Now before I turn this call over to Mr. Hudson, I’d like to know if it’s okay for Ruby and I to stop by and take a look at the property this afternoon,” he added, trying to cover all bases.
“Come any time. I’m always home,” Mrs. Thompson replied.
“Will do,” Gavin said. Then he passed the phone to Papa Hudson across the table.
While they talked, everyone waited to see what would happen next. Papa Hudson kept uttering the same phrase, “I see. I see.”
Each identical phrase was analyzed carefully by the listeners. Was that a good ‘I see’ or a bad one?
When Papa Hudson had heard enough, he handed the cell phone back to Gavin. “She said you can have all the farm equipment, too.”
“And?” Gavin prompted, amazed at the stubbornness of the older man. Why was Ruby’s father so reluctant for her to leave the nest?
Papa Hudson cleared his throat. “Oh yeah, you have my blessing to get married,” he said grudgingly.
(c) 2011 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier
(c) 2011 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier