“So, Vincent, what’s your daughter’s name?” Janette asked, trying to keep her voice light to dispel any tension still in the air. She took another thin slice of the finest filet she’d ever tasted, grilled to perfection with just the right amount of spice rub and soft pink in the middle.
“Ayesha,” Vincent answered with pride in his voice.
“She’s adorable,” Blayke added. “Of course, mixed babies usually are.” Blayke smiled up at Vincent with starstruck eyes. Vincent winked at her.
“Did you get my daughter pregnant?” Chandler asked, anger closer to the surface than when driving in rush hour traffic.
“Daddy, no! Oh my gosh! Why would you even ask him that?”
“That’s a fair question,” Vincent said, nodding at Chandler with undeserved respect. From the moment this young man had walked into the house, Chandler had been nothing but rude. Janette was embarrassed of her husband’s behavior. Vincent patted Blayke’s knee. “He’s just looking out for you, babe”—Vincent turned again to Chandler—“I have no idea whether or not your daughter is pregnant, but I’m not going to apologize for having my daughter. Just because her momma and I didn’t stay together, I take care of them and spend as much time as I can with my baby.”
“I think that’s very honorable,” Janette said, nodding and glaring at her husband. “Not all fathers devote time to their children after a divorce.”
“Ayesha’s momma and I were not married,” Vincent said without apology in his voice. “We were very young and not ready for adult responsibilities yet. Qualifying for the NFL draft after my third year in college saved us financially. Before that she’d been staying with her mother while I attended So Cal.”
“I understand your charity golf outing brought in a good deal of money last week,” Angeline interjected. “I was just telling Janette how you’re kind of a local celebrity.”
“Oh, thank you, I’m humbled. Not sure how I got lucky enough to be good at two sports, but I was honored to raise money for the Community Mental Health Youth Program. I got second place so I’m feeling pretty good about myself.”
“How is preseason looking this year?” Glenn asked, bringing the conversation back to football.
“We’ll be up against the Seahawks on August fourteenth. They’re looking good for a starting lineup, so they’ll keep us on our toes.”
“Well, I’ll be cheering for you.” Glenn nodded.
“Thank you, sir, I appreciate that.”
“Blayke, I can see why you like this young man,” Janette said to her daughter.
“But he’s not young.” Chandler hadn’t let up on his relentless obsession with Vincent’s age.
“Chandler, will you please drop it.” Janette glared at her husband. “Enough.”
Chandler folded her arms and sat back in his chair, glaring at Vincent with daggers in his eyes. He barely said another word for rest of dinner. Glenn changed the subject back to football again, and everyone else around the table ignored Chandler.
Janette was determined to spend time with their daughter and get to know her knew boyfriend, however unconventional their relationship was. There was nothing else Janette could do. Her children were all grown up and making their own choices. That was part of life.
Janette intended to stay on her daughter’s good side and support her in her endeavors. The dinner flew past and too soon, Blayke was hugging them goodbye as Janette fought tears.