Brian chuckled at himself. “All I could tell was it’s green,” he told his mother. “I had no idea it was spinach pilaf.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s delicious.”
Heath led the blessing and they ate, exclaiming over the excellent meal. Brian wasn’t sure half the time what he was eating, but it was all so good, he didn’t care. At the end of the meal, he had to control a burp. The others chuckled at him as he blushed.
“That’s the nicest compliment my food has gotten in a long time,” Jacqueline said. “I’m glad you liked it. Did you leave room for dessert?”
“Depends on dessert,” Brian responded with a wink.
“I think we can find something good,” Jacqueline replied. “Honey, do the honors?”
“Sure thing. I suppose I should mention that my wife is half Greek. She makes the most delicious baklava in the history of mankind.” He went to the kitchen and brought out a platter of the flaky, honey drenched pastry.
Brian thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He’d never had baklava before, but decided that it was now his favorite sweet.
“I could die right now and be happy,” he declared. “That was heaven, Ms. B.”
“A delicious meal, Jackie,” Maribelle added. “Thank you for having us over.”
“No need to rush off,” Heath said. “You ladies stay here and visit. I’ll take the kids at the bonfire and hang out for a little while. You ladies can get better acquainted. Sound like a plan?”
“That sounds delightful,” Maribelle said.
“Good, because I can’t stand the idea of you spending the evening alone,” Jacqueline said. “Jordan isn’t the only one who left her friends behind. It’s such a delight to find a kindred spirit, don’t you think?”
Brian thought it was a weird thing to say, but apparently his mother agreed with her new friend. Jacqueline had a strange way of expressing herself, but Maribelle liked her. He was glad to see her out with other people. She spent too much time at home alone. Her blindness had isolated a woman who was normally outgoing. This was good for her.
Jacqueline made sure the kids had hats, scarves and gloves before she allowed them to go. Armed with three different kinds of marshmallows, they hopped in the SUV.
“This is one treat Mom doesn’t mind me having, for some reason. It’s sugar and air. Go figure.” She shrugged.
“Because your mother loves marshmallows,” Heath replied. “She’s a closet sugar addict,” he told Brian. “My favorites are the cocoanut ones.”
They arrived at Chase’s house and Heath parked about half a block down the road. Chase lived in the woods a mile or so from Brian’s house. Tall trees ringed the two story home, standing guard over it. The property was on the edge of the swamp, so the pine trees mingled with swamp bay, dogwood, spruce pine, black gum and hawthorn. Holly bushes circled the base of the house and ivy climbed up the walls.
“It’s like something out of the Old South,” Jordan mused as she approached. “I expect to see Scarlet O’Hara running down the steps.” It was oddly romantic of her to say. “Of course, she’d trip on the hem of her dress and fall splat on the ground, but I can totally see her.”
Brian and her father laughed loudly. So like Jordan to find the humor in something that wasn’t really humorous.
“We just go around back,” Brian said. He’d been to Chase’s bonfires many times in the past.
Loud music played and Jordan was surprised to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd crooning Sweet Home Alabama. Most kids their age played rap and hip hop at parties. It was a relief to hear something different for a change. As they walked up, a song by blues guitarist, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, blasted from speakers.
“Your buddy has good taste in music,” Heath commented loudly.
“Yeah, he does. It’s one of the reasons we get along. That, and he actually has read a book or two.”
The fire was set well away from the house in a clearing not far from the swamp. The ground was damp, but logs had been laid out and covered with plastic tarps. When they walked up, Chase yelled loudly.
“Dad, you can light her up. Brian’s here!” He turned to greet his friend. “Hey, man. Good you came. And Jordan, right? Nice to meet you. Can I get you a drink? Totally no alcohol,” he added quickly when he saw Heath’s frown. “Chase Finley,” he introduced himself, holding out his hand.
“Heath Barrett, Jordan’s father.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes