Evangeline sat in the kitchen nervously checking her watch as Marita tried to hear Lisa, Clay and cousin Henry's conversation on the other side of the door.
"What are they saying?" Davis asked.
"Dammit, they're talking too low for me to hear anything," Marita said disappointed.
"I never meant for any of this to happen," Evangeline said. "Mom's never been this angry with me."
Davis, Marita and Layla looked at each other and laughed. "Welcome to the club," they said in unison.
"What club? What's so funny?" Evangeline asked annoyed by their lack of sympathy.
Marita decided to enlighten their big sister. "Cookie, as our sister we love you very much. You've always been a wonderful role model."
"Something tells me there's a but coming," Evangeline said eyeing each one of them with suspicion.
"But, it's been a bitch living in your shadow," Marita said recalling her mother's words. "Cookie's going to Penn State to study law, a real profession. Acting is something you do as a hobby."
"Cookie would never have me bailing her out of jail," Davis replied mimicking their mother.
"Cookie would never total my car," Layla joined in.
"You've finally joined the Momma's Pissed at You Club," Davis laughed.
"I didn't know you guys felt this way?" Evangeline said feeling guilty. "Someone should have said something to me."
"We've gotten over it Cookie," Marita said trying to reassure Evangeline. "This sudden marriage of yours more than makes up for everything."
"So this John is really the one?" Davis asked, going into his protective brother mode. "He treats you good?"
"You really love him, huh?" Layla asked
"Yes, I really do," she smiled rubbing Layla's hand.
"Well, if he has the guts to show up and face mom's wrath, then he's got my vote," Marita said.
They gathered into a group hug in the center of the kitchen, just like when they were kids. "All for one and one for all," they said together.
"Thanks you guys, " Evangeline cried, just as the front doorbell rang. "That must be John!" Evangeline ran out the kitchen to answer the door, but Henry conveniently blocked her path, while Lisa and Clay hurried John into the study and closed the door.
"Henry, let me pass!" Evangeline demanded.
"I've been instructed not to let you pass," Henry said stubbornly. "Let's see what your man is made of."
"Is Evangeline okay?" John nervously asked, taking a seat across from Lisa and Clay.
"She's fine," Lisa replied cordially.
"I know you're surprised by our sudden marriage," John replied. "But let me reassure you both, that I really love Spar..Evangeline with all my heart."
"Of course you do," Clay replied unfazed, by John's declaration of love. "Why don't we just cut to the chase. Where are your parents from?
"What do they do for a living?" Lisa demanded. "Where did you go to school? What do you do for a living?"
"How did you meet my niece? Do you have any siblings? Why the secrecy?" Clay asked. "Have your parents met Evangeline?"
John felt the sweat forming under his arms, as the barrage of questions kept coming. He thought basic training at Quantico was rough, but Lisa and Clay Williamson could teach the guys at Quantico a thing or two about interrogation techniques. He felt their intense stares burning a hole through him, as they waited for his reply.
"Both my parents are from Ireland and immigrated to New Jersey, after getting married," he started. My father, Thomas was cop. He was killed in the line of duty. My mom sings and owns a nice little nightclub/restaurant in Atlantic City. I have a younger brother, Michael, who is a doctor at Lainview General. I went to New York University and joined the FBI after my graduation. I left the FBI after solving my fiance's murder and drifted for several years, until I met Evangeline, at a barbecue. She inspired me to pursue my present career, writing."
"A career as a writer is pretty much a crap shoot," Lisa replied. "So there's a small chance of making a good living, don't you think?"
"That's true," John said. "But I've been very fortunate that my books have been successful."
"You didn't completely answer my question," Clay interrupted.
"No, Evangeline hasn't met my mother," John stuttered. "As for the secrecy, we just wanted to bask in our love, before announcing it to the world."
"Do you really expect us to believe that?" Lisa asked unconvinced. "Are you ashamed to have her meet your mother?"
"Of course not!" John insisted. "I'm proud to be married to Evangeline."
"You sound sincere," Lisa said. "However, all I know is that my daughter has never lied to me before. Then she marries you and suddenly she's keeping secrets!"
"We never meant to hurt you," Evangeline replied, standing in the doorway. "We simply fell in love and wanted to be together."
Clay and Lisa looked at each other and decided to let the matter drop, for now. "Why don't we go into the dinning room, so you can meet the rest of the family," Lisa instructed. "We can discuss this tomorrow, after everyone has rested."
"I think everything is going to be okay now," Evangeline whispered, squeezing John's hand.
"As long as my brother keeps his mouth shut, everything should be fine," John whispered.
"What does your brother have to do with anything?"
"I accidentally told him we were married," he said reluctantly. "But I swore him to secrecy."
"You're sure he won't say anything?"she asked.
"If he knows what good for him."
Evangeline introduced John to the rest of the family. Of course Henry had to be the first to get his two cents in.
"So you survived the interrogation, uh?" he said, looking John up and down. "Don't think that automatically makes you one of the family."
"Shut up, Henry!" Evangeline shouted.
"Hey, nice to meet you," Davis jumped in shaking John's hand. "Don't pay any attention to Henry. He's all talk. I for one am happy to have another male in the family. It changes the entire dynamic."
"What does that mean, Davis?" Evangeline asked, placing her hands on her hips.
"It means every time a decision is made in this family, the men get outvoted," Davis stated, patting John on the shoulder. "Now that John's a part of the family, the scale has tipped in our favor."
"Hi, I'm Layla," she smiled. "Cookie was right, you're fine."
"Layla!" Evangeline exclaimed, with embarrassment. "Let's sit down and eat."
"Hi, I'm Marita. The star of the family," she teased, giving John a hug. "Welcome to the family."
John and Evangeline held hands and smiled, as the rest of the evening was drama free.
"It'll be smooth sailing from now on," Evangeline whispered.
"I agree," John smiled.
It was almost noon, when Evangeline and John woke to the delectable aroma of Lisa' s incredible breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, muffins, grits and fruit. They both took a quick shower and rushed down the stairs. The rest of the house was quiet, but the sound of laugher coming from the kitchen, piqued their curiosity.
They entered the kitchen hand in hand, when John suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. "Mom!"