"Hey Mikey," John said giving his brother a hug. "It's good to see you."
"What's wrong?" Michael asked.
"Why does anything have to be wrong?"
"Because you've only hugged me maybe twice in our entire lives and that's because mom made you," Michael replied with suspicion. "So what's going on?"
"Nothing is going on. Life is going good, that's all."
"No there's something more. Come on spill it," Michael persisted, as the waiter placed two glasses of beer on their table.
"Okay, it's just that since Caitlyn died, I know we haven't spent much time together. I feel like I've let you down and I'm sorry. I just want you to know that I'm happy you're living here. Maybe we can pickup where we left off."
Michael sat stunned by John's admission. "Who are you and what have you done with my brother?"
"I'm serious," John replied.
"I know you are. Look John, I won't deny I've missed having you around to needle me, after all you're my best friend. But don't ever think for a minute that you let me down, bro. When dad died you stepped up to the plate and became the man of the house. You took care of mom, the house, put me through college and helped pay for medical school. So get that thought out of your head right now," Michael demanded. "Now for my sake, can we cut the sentimentality, before we do something crazy like burst in tears."
"Okay," John laughed in agreement.
"But, I still think there's more going on with you," Michael replied.
John decided to change the subject, before his little brother started getting too nosey. Although John and his father had both been cops, Michael was like a dog with a bone, when he sensed something was wrong. "So what's going on with you?"
"I see you're changing the subject. Okay, I'll let it go for now," Michael grinned, easing up. "I called you here because there's someone I'm interested in and I was hoping you could give me some brotherly advice."
"You're asking me for advice, Mac Daddy?" John laughed, remembering his brother's nickname from high school. "You've never had a problem getting women, so she must be something if you're coming to me."
"Bro, she's hot! The woman has legs that go on forever, long black hair that you want to run your fingers through, beautiful brown eyes and lips that a man desires to kiss forever. Oh and there's one more thing, Michael added. She's African American."
John suddenly started to get an uneasy feeling in his gut. "So who is she?" John asked slowly.
"Her name is Evangeline Williamson."
Lisa Williamson's House-Philadelphia
Evangeline arrived home to the Williamson gang. Her mother, Lisa, Uncle Clay, her sisters Marita and Layla and her brother Davis and cousin Henry. They all greeted her with hugs and kisses and gathered in the large kitchen, to the aroma of smothered chicken, wild rice, collard greens, home made cheese biscuits for dinner and peach cobbler for dessert.
Although Evangeline enjoyed living on her own, she loved these semi-family reunions. They always reenergized her juices and gave her strength to face any challenge. Now all she had to do was get through the weekend, without revealing her marriage to John.
"So how's everything going, Cookie?" Lisa asked.
Evangeline rolled her eyes at the sound of her childhood nickname. "Mom, that's not my name anymore."
"To the outside world you are Evangeline Williamson, Esq.," Lisa waved her hand dismissing Evangeline's protest. But to me and everyone in this room, you will always be Cookie, just like Marita will be ReRe, Davis will be June Bug and Layla will be Stringbean."
"Mom!" Layla exclaimed. "Must you embarrass us even as adults."
"Child you need to chill, as you young people say."
"Watch out now, momma's trying be hip," Davis laughed. "Next thing you know, she'll be slipping back into that 70's slang."
"Everything's fine," Evangeline answered a little to cheerfully.
Lisa's motherly instincts started to kick in as she closely watched Evangeline's expression. "Okay everybody leave the kitchen, accept Cookie," Lisa ordered.
"Uh oh, you're in trouble now," Marita whispered to Evangeline. "Don't worry Cookie. Whatever it is we've got your back."
"She better not be pregnant," Henry snapped leaving the kitchen.
"Okay spit it out," Lisa said, turning to Evangeline. "I know something's going on and you know I'm won't stop until you tell me."
"There's nothing wrong," Evangeline laughed trying not to crack under Lisa's interrogation. "Things are good and I'm really happy."
"You are glowing...Oh my God! You're in love!" Lisa exclaimed.
"Damn, she's good!"
Lisa smiled and pulled Evangeline into a tight embrace. "Why didn't you tell me you and Dennis we're back together."
"Everybody come here," Lisa called out. Everyone came rushing back into the kitchen pretending not to know the big secret.
"What's going on?" Clay asked, trying to hide his pleasure.
"Cookie and Dennis are back together," Lisa replied with delight. "Isn't that wonderful? I have to call his mother."
"So when's the wedding?" Layla demanded. "You better not pick out some ugly bridesmaid dresses."
"Why didn't you call me?" Marita said, poking Evangeline in the ribs.
"You're going to make a beautiful bride," Lisa smiled proudly, as the family continued their nonstop chatter.
"I'm not marrying Dennis!" Evangeline yelled
"Why not?" Lisa demanded. "He's smart, handsome, successful and crazy about you. Give me one good reason, why you don't want to be Mrs. Dennis Harrington!"
"Because, I'm already Mrs. John McBain!"