Fool’s Paradise

Chapter 3

Emptiness greeted her at the door. The silence of the newly constructed suburban adobe shouldn’t be welcomed after the busy day filled with endless small talk and catching up with old patients she hadn’t seen in months but it wasn’t. Mallory wished for something more. Prayed for something more. She wanted to be greeted with the giggles of a small child or the arms of her husband but neither were there. The later was the only thing she actually had. So, instead of sinking a well of despair she focused on taking her list of to-dos before the welcome back dinner. Step one: take a shower.

The shower was longer than the ones she took in the morning but didn’t fret the water usage or the time she spent deeply inhaling the lavender and patchouli. It was the tranquility she needed before dealing with two individuals she hadn’t congregated within years. To this day she couldn’t remember what caused the rift between her Kazan and Erin. Yeah, the two had their non-redeemable qualities. Kazan was arrogant and Erin was sanctimonious. But as she slid on her lace underwear she knew they had honorable attributes, too. Kazan would defend you against the biggest bully, free of fear and Erin would hold your hand while you cried your eyes without judgment.

She zipped up her black dress knowing her brother was the glue that held them all together and now since he was back their little entourage might be reassembled.

“It depends on how this dinner goes, though.” She whispered to herself sliding her pearl studs into her ears as her thick, lustrous black curls pulled back in a ponytail with tendrils framing her naturally made-up face. “You got this, Mallory. They’ll eat and be merry.” She rubbed her hands down her sides exhaling all her worries and anxiety before stepping away from the dresser mirror.

Once the stove was preheated and the apron tied around her waist, it took her no time to get dinner started. She usually needed to pull up a recipe on her tablet or flip to a page from one of the many cookbooks she received for a wedding gift or housewarming present. However, tonight her mind was too tired to stand at the stove stirring the risotto. So, she took a shortcut.

“Babe, where are you?” The deep melodic voice announced his presence and a warmness flowed all over her body bring a smile to her glossed lips.

“In the kitchen!” She called out scooping the honey glazed salmon from the plastic container in the beautifully decorated ceramic dish, no doubt another wedding gift.

Her heels clicked against the oak floor as she made her way to the stove. Heat crawled up her arm and nipped her face as she slid the dish. As she quickly looked up to grab an oven mitt off the countertop to see her husband walk in.

“Hey.” She greeted pulling another ceramic dish out the oven and carried it to the island. “How was your day?”

“Fine.” Jesse mellowly told grabbing a ginger ale out of the fridge. Exhaustion cloaking his eyes behind the rectangular, black-framed glasses. He undid the tuck of his muted yellow polo shirt as he sidled next to the island dipping a teaspoon in the piping hot risotto. “I see you’re cooking someone else’s food.”

He opened the can, a loud crisp pop slicing through the herb scenting air drowning out the melody R&B for the briefest of seconds. Brief seconds that also gifted him with snarky tsk from his wife.

“I’ve been working all day and I’m not standing on my feet, sweating over the stove to feed people I haven’t seen in years.”

“People?” Jesse lowered the can from her lips. “Matthew’s people now.”

“No. If it was just my brother. I’d cook up a feast. Hell, maybe a turkey, dressing, dirty rice and a peach cobbler but it’s not just him. So, heated food is what they get.” She rose the spoon to her mouth and tasted the garlic herb risotto she grabbed from the store fridge. A hum vibrated in her throat. “Delicious.” She turned the spoon towards him and he eased over to her side opening his mouth so she could feed him.

“Good.” He nodded, slowly chewing the grain with a smirk on his handsome bister face. “But that’s not what I had in mind to taste.”

“Oh, is that so.” She matched his grin with mischievousness.

“So.” He took hold of her lank waist with one hand, drawing her into his space—against his body and met his lips with her until her eyes closed, her arms were circled around his neck and filling the air with sensual moans.

“Primetime love.” Jayla’s silvery voice. A voice the thousand tune into channel eleven just to hear. “Keep it in the bedroom.” She chuckled entering further in the kitchen as the couple untangled their bodies.

Jessie dropped his head with a roll of his eyes, “I locked the door.” He brushed his hand over his glossy ‘fro. “How’d you get in here.”

“She did the segment on home security and how crooks break in, remember.” She tapped her husband’s arm before heading back to the oven. “Hey, girl.”

“Hey.” Jayla greeted, setting the bottle of wine she was cradling like a newborn. “I used my key.”

“Your key.” His head jerked up. “Why do you still have that?”

Jayla shook the key at him, “Keeping you honest. You never know when I’ll drop by. Don’t need any heifers running up and through here. I’m Mal’s second pair of eyes.”

Mallory laughed at two of the three most important people in her life.

“I’m getting that key from you. You don’t need a key. You don’t pay one bill.” He grabbed his can of soda of the island before heading towards the entryway. “I’m going to get dressed.”

“I’m getting that key.” Jayla teased as she stored the key back in her wallet then took a deep breath in. “Smells good, girl. I’m hungry, too.” She raked her hand through her silky, black tresses, the light catching the diamond studs in her ear during the process. “How was work? You look tired.”

Mallory shook her head as she leaned against the counter. “Thinking is all.” Her eyes were distant as she peered behind her friend. She bit the plump flesh of her bottom lip with as a hollowness swelling in her chest. “Just the same ole. Same ole.”

Jayla slid off the barstool her black pumps smacking against the floor in her descent. “Is that what you wanted to talk about.” She rounded the island, joining her friend. “Is this about the baby thing again.” She stroked Mallory’s shoulder. “Did he say no again.”

“I…” She dimly smiled, locking her sight with her best friend. “I haven’t brought it up yet.”

“This is shit, Mal.” Jayla exhaled angrily, glancing out the entryway where he just exited. “Y’all have been married for five years. He’s your husband. You want a baby, he should give you one.”

Mallory fanned her face trying to call back the tears in the wells of her eyes. “My brother’s back. I can’t be crying.”

“If you need to cry. Cry. Matthew be damned.” Jayla stroked her arms.

“No. I’m fine.” She smiled, teeth showing as misty still sheathed her eyes. “But can you help me set up the table.”

“Heffa, of course.” She draped her arm around Mallory’s shoulder. “Let’s go pimp out this table.”

Mallory laughed as she was led to the dining room happy that her friend was there and maybe later she’d have the strength to ask the man she loved for the baby she wanted. 

Will Mallory bring up the ‘baby issue’ with Jesse?  If so, how do you think Jesse will react?

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