While they are hiking, Evander tells Janet that Sookie is his daughter, too.
“So, where does that leave us?” Janet’s face held a challenge.
He shrugged, shaking his head. “Even if I can sell, what do I do here? That’s a big city, this is a small town.”
“Open another restaurant.”
“This town hasn’t got the pallet for my food. This is a meat and potatoes clientele. I do cordon bleu and soul food. Can you see these folks eating truffles—or chitlings?”
Janet laughed, picturing that. She shook her head.
“I know cooking, baby. I know food. I can’t get a decent job here.”
“So, we have to pick up and move now? Is that it? I have to leave all I know? Everyone I love? Is that what you’re saying?” She screeched. “Ramona was right! You want to take me away! You’re making me leave Diego!”
She screamed at him. People stared, but Janet didn’t care.
“Why did you have to come back now? You’ve f**ked it all up! Everything!” She pounded his chest. “I hate you! Take me home, I want to go home.”
Evander drove her home in silence. As soon as the car stopped, he tried talking to her, but she ran. At first, blindly, then with a purpose, she ran to the park, and sat on the swings, sobbing for several minutes.
Someone walked over and sat next to her. Janet didn’t look up, focusing on the ground. Her misery encompassed her as she rocked back and forth in the swing. He said nothing, but his presence made her calmer. They sat in silence a long time, swinging in unison.
“Your dad called me,” Diego said softly. “He said you’d run off. I told him I knew where you’d be.”
He laughed softly. “No, baby. You go one of two places—here, or my house. You weren’t there….”
“He wants us to move.”
Diego nodded, taking her hand. He kissed her fingers.
“I want to be a family,” Janet wailed. “But I don’t want to leave.”
“Let him talk to you. Tell you more. You don’t know everything.”
“I know he’s Sookie’s father too. My parents lied about that. They lie about everything! Did he tell you why Mom left him?”
She said nothing.
“Sometimes people lie to protect themselves, or they lie to protect people they love.”
“You don’t lie to me.”
“I would if the truth would hurt you this much. And you’d lie to me then, too.”
“I already have,” she whispered. “All my life is a lie. Everything I am—a big, fat, black lie.”
“What are you talking about, Janet?”
“The reason Mom left, the thing she couldn’t forgive—Dad’s half black. That makes me black too.”
“So? Is it a sin? Did you break a law? Your genetics don’t make you who you are to me. I don’t care what’s in your DNA, Janet.”
“It doesn’t upset you?” She looked up, dark brown eyes meeting his lighter ones. Gaping at him, she stifled a sob.
“Why would it? You’re beautiful, fun to be with, and I love you. I don’t care about anything else. So it doesn’t count as a lie.”
Janet burst into tears. Diego hopped off his swing, taking her in his arms. He pushed the swing back as he’d done before, standing between her legs. His kiss was tentative at first, gaining power as she responded. Breathless, they parted.
“I love you, Janet. I want to be with you, marry you…. I want to be the father of your children, and live with you forever.”
“I want that too.”
“We’ll get through this, I promise. Let’s hear what your dad has to say. I know we can find a solution.”
“Meantime, you’re thinking about what I said?”
He chuckled softly, seductively. “Baby, I haven’t stopped thinking about it, since you said you’d go out with me. I’m a guy, cut me some slack.”
“I think about it too. You make me tingle.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes