Chapter 2

Thursday, June 23, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

You can read Chapter 1 by clicking here and here.

Aubrey was chopping peppers to add to her fajitas and singing along to the golden oldies playing in the background.  She had changed after church and was dancing around the kitchen in denim jeans and a soft, green fleece top.  Thomas leaned against the doorjamb as he made his way in from the garage.  He’d intended to go straight into the study and shoot off an email to his old college friend, Neil, but the sight of his wife’s wriggling hips was a view he didn’t want to pass up.  He raised an eyebrow when Aubrey tried hitting a high note with Gloria Estefan.  Not the best he’s heard but Aubrey loved singing, whether she was good at it or not.

Unable to resist the hips any longer, he stepped behind his wife and pulled her into his arms.  Aubrey showed just a hint of surprise and then laughingly joined him in some salsa dance moves.  They’d taken dance lessons for their 18th wedding anniversary and both agreed it had been a wise investment and had probably even saved their marriage.  They wowed family and friends at wedding receptions and occasionally snuck out to a local dance club on Salsa night to spend the night dancing and flirting.  It brought a flame back to a marriage that had grown mundane and tired.  Thomas was forever thankful that God had used such a simple thing to bring new energy to the most important relationship in his life, especially before he’d made a tragic misstep.

Gloria’s song ended and a commercial break began.  Laughing and a little breathless from the dancing, Aubrey threw her arms around his neck, careful not to knick him with the paring knife that was still in her right hand.  Thomas brought his head down and rested his forehead against hers; a familiar stirring started in his gut and he felt her heartbeat accelerate to match his.  She lifted her face just an inch higher and the two were soon caught up in a passionate kiss.  “This,” she thought, “is everything to me.  How did I get so lucky?”  As Thomas deepened the kiss, Aubrey was taken away by the depth of his passion for her.  32 years later and she knew that Thomas still desired her as he’d had when they first married.  Soon the kitchen faded into the background as Thomas and Aubrey focused on the moment.

Suddenly the back screen slammed against the house and Thomas groaned against Aubrey’s lips.  “I thought they’d all moved out,” he growled.  She gave a shaky laugh as the kitchen righted itself again. 

“Yes, Handsome, but its Sunday and you invited everyone over for dinner, remember?  Besides, our door has always been an open door.”  She pecked his lips and returned to her place at the counter.  He leaned over her shoulder and answered, “Yes, but now I’m going to have to hide in the study until my temperature has cooled.”  He grinned into her blue eyes, “Why do you have to be so sexy?”  And with that he bounded up the stairs and disappeared into the study.

Aubrey smiled to herself and selected another red pepper from the pile.  Brooke made her way into the kitchen and draped her long legs around a kitchen stool.  Aubrey looked at her youngest daughter and as always, was jolted at how her daughter had grown into such a beautiful woman; long and lanky, curly, long blond hair, and a dimple in the corner of her right cheek.  But the amazing part was that Brooke was just as beautiful on the inside too, and very unaware of her outside beauty.  Brooke leaned across the counter, gave her mom a quick squeeze around the neck, and then noticed the red tinge to her mom’s face.

“Mom, you’ve been making out with Dad again, haven’t you?” she teased.

“Pshaw, Brookie, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Aubrey responded.  It was a well-rehearsed bit, one that had been perfected over years of use.  It’d started when Brooke was in junior high and had walked in on Aubrey and Thomas locked in a passionate moment in the middle of their kitchen.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except that Brooke brought home a school friend with her and like all thirteen year old girls, was sure she was going to die of embarrassment on the spot.

“Yes, you do; check out the red on your cheeks!  It must have been some kiss!”  While Brooke had been embarrassed in that moment; it was later, in the privacy of her bedroom that her friend had told her she thought it was cool her parents still kissed like that.  “It must mean they actually like each other still,” the friend had said.  And then, in whispered tones, her friend confided that she wished her parents still acted like that, instead of the constant fighting she heard day-in and day-out.  At the moment, Brooke realized how lucky she was to have parents who still loved each other.  And maybe, just maybe, the kissing wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Aubrey cleared her throat, as if to rid herself of the embarrassment, and then decided to give Brooke a sly wink.  “The man can kiss, what can I say?” 

“Oh, Mom!  I don’t want to hear about it.”  Brooke pretended to be disgusted at the idea of her father being a good kisser, but secretly knew she wanted what her parents had… someday, maybe. 

“How was the drive down?” Aubrey asked.  The state university was over two hours away and while it killed her to have her baby that far away, she realized how lucky she was to have all three daughters within a two-hour driving radius.  A lot of her friends had children and grandchildren scattered all over the country.  The thought of her babies, both grown and young, being that far away made her sick.  But she wasn’t na├»ve enough to think it would always be that way; she realized that she might have to face that reality someday.

“It was good; the roads were pretty wet from the melting snow but it was a good day for a drive,” Brooke answered.  She’d inherited her mother’s desire for empty roads and a full tank of gas for her thinking times.  She leaned in and snitched a pepper from the cutting board, laughing as Aubrey shot her a disproving look.  “Mom, you should have been at the university yesterday.  Sean Pickler was amazing; I never thought I’d see a state campus so on fire for God.  I mean, when I look back at my freshman year…  It’s like it’s a completely different campus.”  She paused.  “Do you remember when you dropped me off on the first day?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so shocked.” 

Aubrey grimaced at the memory.  “I wanted to bundle you up, put you back in the car, and vow never to let you step foot on a campus again.  I was literally afraid to step foot in your room, who knew what stuff had seeped into that carpet!”  It was true, the state university was nationally known for its liberal and partying ways.  It was definitely not the ideal place for their precious, innocent baby, but any time she or Thomas tried to deter their youngest from attending, Brooke dug in her heels even more.  And in the end they realized that their time was done, it was now up to Brooke to stay the path they hoped she would.  Aubrey continued, “I can’t tell you how many times your father and I have been on our knees to pray for your time there.”

Brooke nodded; never did she doubt her parents’ faith to God and their promise to pray for their children.  She was certain their prayers had saved her more than once in her 22 years.  She leaned her elbows on the counter and tipped the stool onto two legs.  Before long, mother and daughter were engrossed in a conversation about the best-selling author and his view on the Christian life.  It was a conversation between two adult woman, each of who respected the other’s opinion, and colorful in explanations or rebuttals.  Each challenged the other and more often than not, the younger deferred to the older who was wiser from both age and experience.

Car doors slammed outside and moments later a little voice could be heard from the entryway. “Hey, where is everyone?” four-year-old Emily demanded of the house.  Thomas was already making his way downstairs, anxious to greet his young granddaughter.  He swept her off the floor and placed her on his shoulders.  “Hey, little one.  Remember me?” he asked.  She giggled and placed a kiss on the top of his head.

He turned toward the door as his oldest struggled to enter the house with the diaper bag, baby carrier, and coats, all on her arm.  He moved forward to help and grabbed the baby carrier from her hands.  Jessica flashed a thank-you in her smile and moved the rest of the way into the house. 

“Where’s Rob?” Thomas asked as he unbuckled Wyatt from his seat. 

Jessica sighed and placed everything in a heap on the chair in the living room.  There were a lot of emotions in that sigh and she exchanged a look with her father.  “Not now,” her eyes seemed to say and gestured at Emily sitting atop his shoulders.  “Daddy had to go to work, didn’t he, punkin?” she informed Thomas as she gathered Wyatt into her arms.  “He might stop by later.” 

Jessica kept her tone light to maintain a sense of normalcy for the sensitive Emily, but Thomas had been Jessica’s father for 30 years and knew there was more to the story than she was letting on.  Thomas gathered both daughter and baby into his arms for a hug.  Jessica snuggled into her father’s arms and placed her head on his shoulder.  No matter how old she got, nor how many responsibilities she had as a parent herself, there was something so strong and reassuring about her father’s arms.  Wyatt squirmed, not liking the close quarters of a three-way hug… four if you counted Emily.  

Jessica looked her father in the eye, still amazed how identical the shade of their eyes matched, “Thanks Daddy, I needed that.”  She jostled Wyatt on her hip and joined her mom and sister in the kitchen.  Thomas forced himself to relax, knowing Emily would pick up on the smallest stress, the slightest change in demeanor.  He heard Brooke coo over her baby nephew and Aubrey’s laugh as she coaxed Wyatt into her arms.  He swung Emily around until they were face-to-face, “Ok, little one, what’s the plan until dinner?” 

She gathered his face between her palms, leaned in until they were nose-to-nose, and in her pixie voice said, “Checkers.  I’m going to beat you at checkers.”  His heart melted into a puddle right there on the floor and before he could gather it back up, she was leading him up the stairs to the study. 

                                                -----------------------------------------------


Dinner was chaotic, as it always was when they all gathered together to share a meal.  Abby and Kyle had arrived moments after Jessica and the kids; Abby congregated in the kitchen and Kyle helped Emily strategize in beating Grandpa at checkers.  The two made a strong team and Thomas admitted defeat several times before dinner.  They waited as long as possible for Rob but when he didn’t arrive, they gathered around the table to enjoy the Mexican feast Aubrey and the girls had prepared.

Topics varied from political to religious to celebrity gossip and back again.  Emotions ran high and opinions were strong.  The Cooper family was a passionate bunch; Thomas and Aubrey had done their best to instill in their girls a strong sense of self and it had paid off, in spades.  All three women knew her heart, knew her passions and her opinions, and fought fervently to be heard.  When the girls were teenagers, there were countless times when Thomas and Aubrey stepped in as referee, and forced the girls to “take a break”.  They cried bitterly over hurt feelings and misunderstandings but always managed to come back for round two.  And all three were stronger for it in the end.  Every once in a while when a word was said strongly or there was a rise in voice, little Emily would glance up fearfully.  A comforting smile from Mom, Nana, or Grandpa was all she needed to relax again.  And surprisingly Wyatt always slept through the entire thing. 

As their girls discussed the need for a new governor or whether the current governor should be given a second term, Thomas and Aubrey exchanged a look over the heads of their family.  Both were amazed and awed at how far they’d come since their first date all those years ago.  This was theirs, their blessing from God, the legacy they were leaving to the rest of the world.  They vowed never to take this time, this family for granted; it had happened once before and both were determined to never let it happen again.

As the dinner ended, the girls started clearing the table and taking the dishes and conversation into the kitchen.  Kyle grabbed Emily and Wyatt and headed for the TV in the other room, whispering something about a movie and a nap.  Soon the sounds of Belle singing of her love of books filled the silence of the dining room and Aubrey knew that Kyle’s eyes were probably already closed while Emily sat transfixed in front of Beauty and The Beast.  Aubrey rose from her chair and crossed the room to Thomas.  She laid her hand on his head and bent to kiss his graying hair.  “God is good, isn’t He?” she whispered in his ear.

He nodded, and searched her eyes, knowing she’d see the concern there.  “Yes, He is, but I can’t help but wonder if Jessie and Rob feel the same way.  Did you notice the hurt in her eyes?” 

Aubrey nodded and tried swallowing the lump in her throat.  “She wants to stay later than the others to talk about it.  I told her it would be fine.”  She paused, afraid to ask.  “Do you know what’s going on?”

He shook his head, “No idea.  Rob has seemed distant and restless lately, but I just assumed he was overworked. ” Aubrey nodded in agreement and opened her mouth to respond when the sound of raised voices reached her ear.  She sighed, “I’d better get in there before they kill each other.  You’d think they would’ve outgrown this by now.”

Thomas laughed the deep laugh that meant he found something hysterically funny.  “If they weren’t snapping at each other, then we would have cause for concern.”  And as if on cue, all three girls started giggling, the previous argument obviously forgotten.  He pulled Aubrey into his lap and there she stayed for the duration of the kitchen cleaning.  The sound of magic characters coming from one room, the camaraderie of three sisters coming from the other, and in-between both, the quiet prayers of a couple turning to their God for answers.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

7 comments

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Mary
AUTHOR
12:02 PM delete

YAY! When's the next chapter going to press?!?!?!??!?

Great job Jenn. I love your writing.

xxx M.

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Rebecca
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12:38 PM delete

Love it.

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Ashley
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2:11 PM delete

I am really enjoying reading! You are very talented, and I can't wait for the next chapters!

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Jessica
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4:13 PM delete

Girl, you are one seriously talented writer!

More, please!!!

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MTW
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8:45 PM delete

I am enjoying this so much! :) Please keep writing, and please try to publish this. It's great!

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KM
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7:34 PM delete

I LOVED this chapter! I can't wait for the next chapter to hit the blog! You really are a great writer and I would buy all your books.

~KM

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Paula
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7:15 PM delete

Oh Jenn Oh JENN~I LOVE IT!!!!! MORE!!! MORE!!! MORE!!! You're very talented!! I am Enjoy for sure!!! PLEASE tell me you're planning to publish this and write some more!!

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