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Funny Valentine(10)

By:Sienna Mynx



barely five feet, so her head goes way back to look up at him.

“Most definitely, and something to drink.” Bet co-signs, hooking on to his

other arm. Bet is tall and lean with a long neck. Growing up, we used to call her

Ollie for Olive Oyl. Melvin looks to me for help as they lead him away. I give him a

little wave bye-bye. Thank goodness. Now I can think straight. Man was giving off

vibes that had me acting like a schoolgirl.

“Hey, sweetheart.” A soft but deep familiar voice comes from behind. With

a quick turn of my head, I’m greeted by the warmth and love in Jackson’s smile.

My dad’s smile does something to me every time.

“Hi, Daddy.” I kiss his cheek.

“How’s my girl?” he says, pulling me in, hooking his arm around my waist

so we stand side by side. We’re looking over our guests, both seated and mingling.

“I’m good, Daddy. Sorry I was late.”

Together we walk toward the table with Sherry and the family. Of course we

stop to speak to several of them. My eyes continually are drawn to Melvin, who is

smiling, listening to Toya and Bet tell him God knows what. Then we’re moving,

me and my father. Jackson is the heart of our family, extended family, blended

family, all family. He has held the line on a sometimes-failing business and a

mortgage. Never remarried, my father is the quintessential man. It was he that

instilled in us such strength and confidence, that even now I feel like I can take on

the world.

But within his love is a stark contradiction. For all his insight, there’s a

chauvinistic bend to his heart. It’s very disappointing. He expects his girls to marry.

Married or not, he expects us to bring him sons to hold up the Jackson family. To

be prosperous, not just financially, but with expanding families of our own. He’s

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

elected Margie as the shepherd to herd us, Jackson’s girls, to the altar. After picking

Chuckie as her husband, he unleashed our sister to rule over us each.

There are times when I want to ask him why. What is it really about? Do

you not have faith in my ability to be my own person? Can I not make you proud

without a man at my side? Does a husband validate my existence?

“So where is this guy Margie told me about? She said you broke up with the

pilot and you dating a flower guy now. I think I’ve met him here once or twice.

Where is he?” Jackson’s eyes sweep the room.

To his question, I sigh. If only I had picked some man and just been done

with it, maybe my other accomplishments would be given merit. I then point his

eyes to Melvin. My father squeezes me. “Yes, yes, I met him before. Nice fella.

That’s Elaine Reed’s son.”

“Elaine Reed? Deacon Reed’s wife from First Baptist?”

“Yep. They adopted him, as I recall. I remember him when Deacon was

alive. Sad thing that happened to Nicky—”

“Nicky? Who is Nicky?”

“There you are, Jackson! I’ve been looking all over for you!” Auntie

Deborah exclaimed. Woman has the widest hips on the planet. They stretch a yard.

She’s knocking one chair then the other as she beats a path through the tables.

Many heads are bumped, and others look back in wonder at the punch of that hip

swing. In a purple Evangelical dress complete with church hat sitting two feet off

her head, she smiles.

But my eyes return to Melvin the florist. He’s very comfortable in the sea of

black faces surrounding him. Suddenly I’m a little curious about the man.

Aunt Deborah, mama’s sister, goes on and on about daddy’s toast. She

takes his hand and pulls him along. He plants a parting kiss to my cheek. “Make

sure you bring him to the family table. I want to meet him,” Jackson says, then is

dragged into the mix with Aunt Deborah’s knock-’em-sock-’em hips clearing the

way.

“Mmmhmm,” I answer, my eyes never leaving Melvin. He’s now by the

open bar, staring back at me. There’s this predator-come-hither thing he has going

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

in that stare. I shiver under the sexy. Smile at the flattery, and rub my thighs

together to cool it. What is it about this one? Is it our little secret, or the way he just

managed to get all up in mine with a simple slip on my part? Either way he’s calling

to me, and damn it, I have to answer.





***



Several Minutes Prior

“Let me ask you a question, so how you meet Tia?” Toya asked.

“Wait, your name is Melvin Reed? Are you any relation to Nicky Reed? He

had an older brother name Melvin that was white—”

“Bet!” Toya hisses.

“Yeah, he was my little brother. I was adopted.”

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