(c) 2011, 2004 by Savannah J. Frierson
His hands were cool from the punch glass he’d held previously, and they trailed from her bare, tense shoulders to settle on her abdomen, his arms tight around her waist he dropped a kiss to the space below her earlobe.
“Jada, honey,…relax…everything will be fine…”
“But he was cryin’ when we left—”
“Mama will take good care of Joshua, love; besides, she has done this type of thing before…”
Jada nodded and took a long sip from her own punch, her hand clutching the glass as if it were a lifeline. The wreaths, garland, ornaments, and other holiday fare did little to lift her sprits, though Christmas was one of her favorite times of year. It wasn’t as if this was the first time she’d left Joshua in the hands of a caregiver, but it was the first time anyone from Aaron’s side of the family did the caring. For years, it had been her grandmother or her cousin or even her best friend Deshae, but now they were in New York, being the proper New York socialite couple, and doing the rounds on the town in order to keep up business and appearances. Admittedly, Jada would rather be home with her son and even with her new mother-in-law, but this was part and parcel to being Mrs. Aaron Alexander McKensie, and she would have to get used to it eventually.
Aaron kissed her temple this time, the hands caressing her flat abdomen lightly. “I know this is new for you, Jaybird, but I promise nothing ill-toward will happen to you or my son…or the little one inside you now…”
She laughed shortly, giving him a playfully skeptical look. “Sometimes I wonder if you married me because I’m the mother of your children—”
“That’s not true,” he said emphatically, pulling away to meet her eyes. “I married you so you wouldn’t be the mother of someone else’s children!”
“Selfish rich boy—”
“And your rich boy, too. Only yours…”
He kissed her, in front of all those high-class people, and very unapologetic of his actions, she could tell. Suddenly she didn’t care everyone was staring at her, at least not at the moment, because all her attention was on the man holding her, showing his love for her in spite of everyone else telling him he shouldn’t.
That was what those stares meant, stares that said “you don’t belong”, or “you’re a fleeting fancy”; they were trying to place her, tolerating her because the heir to a multi-billion dollar empire chose her over something more appropriate.
Men didn’t marry girls like her; they sowed wild oats with girls like her. If anything she was fertile, becoming pregnant the two times he “sowed”, but Jada knew there was more to it than that. She and Aaron fit somehow, on such a deeper level even Jada couldn’t figure out why. But who was she to analyze it? Her grandmother always taught her to be thankful for the blessings she received, and she was certainly thankful for Aaron.
Jada tensed, but Aaron gently took her chin, not letting go until he was finished kissing her. He broke apart with smaller kisses, rubbing her cheek with his thumb in a contented gesture. Jada glanced at their new guest and offered a small smile, even as she dabbed Aaron’s mouth to wipe away imaginary lipstick.
Aaron tightened the arm around Jada’s waist and brought her closer to him, nodding curtly at their visitor. “Father.”
Alexander McKensie II stared at his new daughter-in-law shrewdly, as if searching for the flaw on her, and yet…“Flawless.”
“Isn’t she?” Aaron said even as he kissed her temple, bursting with pride. Jada could barely manage a “thank you”, so surprised by Alexander’s approval. It was no secret Alexander was against the marriage, particularly when Aaron’s former fiancée was the daughter of a wealthy partner, and joining of their children would’ve made them much wealthier men. But Alexander knew how his son felt, particularly when he was caught in the same conundrum with Aaron’s mother, and though they didn’t have the racial aspect to deal with, a parent’s disapproval was, nevertheless, a difficult hurdle to overcome.
“You’re enchanting everyone, child.” That was certainly a view, but Jada was much better with her “thank you”, this time. “Anyway, I’m actually here to pass on a message from Izzy, or rather, my grandson: ‘I want Mommy,’ I believe, is the request…”
Jada sighed even as Aaron hid his laughter in the crown of her head. Even Alexander’s mouth twitched with mirth, but he cleared his throat and kept his composure, looking every bit the sophisticate. “I feel the party can survive without your presence, Son.”
“I never liked coming to these company parties anyway, Father,” Aaron muttered under his breath.
Alexander raised his eyebrow and scratched the side of his nose briefly. “Indeed…give your mother and my grandson a kiss for me, shall we?” The older man bussed Jada’s knuckles before disappearing back into the crowd and wielding the McKensie charm.
“I daresay father is warming up to you…” Aaron said into her hair as he led them to the coat check.
“He terrifies me.”
“He’s really a big ole softie…just ask Mama…”
“He loves your mother,” Jada said by way of explanation.
The checker retrieved their coats and Aaron helped Jada into her mink before putting on his own wool trench. Hand in hand, they left the party going down to the garage where the valet sent for their limousine. Jada was still unused to the world of valets and cars she didn’t have to drive, and she grasped Aaron’s hand harder in reflex.
He kissed the back of her newly gloved hand and winked at her, tipping the valet as their ride appeared. Aaron assisted her first, then entered, settling in the seat with Jada close to his side as they traveled to their penthouse on Madison Avenue. They said little on the trip home, Aaron alternating between caressing her hair and her shoulders, and she just anxious to get home to her little boy.
When they finally reached their home, Jada nodded a quick hello to the bellhop before rushing to the elevators, Aaron’s laughter following her the whole while. She had the urge to shut the elevator doors in her husband’s face, but changed her mind at the last second.
“He’s my son, too,” he teased, taking her hand again.
“He ain’t ask for you now did he?”
“Harsh, love, harsh…”
The elevator couldn’t get to the 25th floor fast enough, and Aaron had to squeeze her hand to calm her. When they finally reached the blessed floor, Jada pushed the “Door Open” button repeatedly until the doors crept open. She exited as soon as there was enough room to pass through, yet she was so anxious that once she reached the door to her apartment, she rang the doorbell instead of unlocking the door. Aaron knew better than to interfere with his wife’s mission so he hung back, keeping his humor to himself.
Isabella opened the door, but there was no sign of Joshua.
“Where is he?”
Isabella grinned, kissing Jada, then Aaron on the cheek. “The little darling is asleep! I just called Alexander so you two could come home…I know how absolutely horrid those parties are—it’s a trick I used when Aaron was younger!”
Jada’s brown eyes sparkled as she glanced from mother to son, clearly impressed. “I’ll have to use that trick more often!”
Aaron laughed, helping Jada out of her coat. “Why don’t you just not go to the parties at all?”
Jada gave Isabella a large hug. “Joshie wasn’t too much trouble, was he?”
“A darling, he was, an absolute darling. You’ve raised him beautifully, Jada…”
“Thanks,” she replied on a deep sigh. She looked to her husband and shrugged. “I’m going to check on him anyway…”
Aaron nodded and smiled, his eyes following her progress as she went down the hall to their son’s bedroom.
Isabella went to her son, holding grasping his upper arms. “Need me to do anything else?”
Aaron snorted. “Probably save Papa from his own party.”
“He insisted on throwing it,” Isabella said unapologetically, thanking her son as he helped her into her coat. “I tell him every year not to, but he never listens…”
“He will one day.”
“Eh. He’s stubborn…like his son…” Aaron blushed but Isabella cupped her son’s cheeks. “I’m proud of you, Aaron.”
“Love you, Mama.”
With one last kiss, Isabella left, and Aaron went down the hall, undoing his tuxedo as he went. Jada was sitting on Joshua’s bed, brushing the curls from his forehead, unaware of his presence in the doorway.
“All fingers and toes accounted for?” Aaron asked in jest.
Jada never looked from her son. “Everything’s perfect.” She kissed Joshua’s forehead before leaving the bed and going to her husband. She wrapped her arms around him and accepted his kiss before snuggling into him. “Everything is absolutely perfect.”
“Good. Let’s call it a night, shall we?”
And as she lay in the bed that night, Jada realized it didn’t matter if high class New York didn’t think she fit in; this was where she belonged, safe in Aaron’s arms as their son slept peacefully down the hall.