“Oh, great, you too?” my dad mutters as I join them. “Where is that man of yours? I have a hard time believing he let you out of the house wearing that getup.” he says then his frown grows deeper. “And where is the bottom part of that dress?”
I roll my eyes and kiss his cheek. “Wes is working.”
“Figures that I’m left to deal with this on my own,” he grumbles then shakes his head, looking at all of his girls.
“When did you all grow up?” he asks softly, putting one arm around June and one around me, kissing the side of my head.
“You all look beautiful,” my mom says, coming into the kitchen, wearing a pair of khaki capris and a cute tank that has ruffles along the sleeve, with a big chunky necklace and simple black sandals. She wraps her arm around December’s waist, who is a few inches taller than her with the help of her heels. “My girls are so gorgeous.” My mom smiles then looks at my dad, and her face goes soft the same way it has my whole life, and I swear I know exactly what she’s thinking. My dad gave my mom everything she didn’t even know she needed or wanted.
“They take after their mama.” My dad smiles, and June mutters, “Gross,” making me laugh.
“So, what are you girls doing tonight?” my mom asks as Dad wraps his arms around her waist and sets his chin on her head a pose I have seen them in more times than I could count.
“We’re meeting the girls for dinner then drinks.”
“I’ll drive you guys.”
“We don’t need you to drive us, Dad,” May says, and he just glares at her.
“I wasn’t asking,” he says, kissing the side of my mom’s head before moving her aside and grabbing his keys. “Let’s go; just let me know when you want to be picked up.”
“Wes is picking me up,” I say, and May comes over and wraps her arm around my waist.
“Does your hot biker man know any hot biker friends?” she asks, and my dad swings his head to look at us. I shake my head no while saying, “Yes,” without moving my lips.
“I can’t wait to move home,” she says.
I look at her and smile, whispering, “Wait ’til you see Harlen and Everret,” while getting into my mom’s SUV.
When we pull up in front of the restaurant, we each kiss Dad’s cheek before heading inside. The moment I walk through the doors, squeals ensue as we all greet each other. My cousin Ashlyn is Uncle Cash and Aunt Lilly’s daughter. Hanna is Uncle Trevor and Aunt Liz’s daughter. And Willow, Harmony, and Nalia are Uncle Nico and Aunt Sophie’s daughters.
“How hard was it getting out of the house in that dress?” I ask Ashlyn, and she rolls her eyes.
“Between my dad and Jax, I might as well go live in a nunnery.”
“Jax isn’t even my brother and I want to kill him,” I tell her, and understanding flashes in her eyes.
“Where’s the hot boyfriend?” Hanna asks.
Okay, maybe my cousins were all watching my man, and not just my mom and aunts. “Working, he will be here later to pick me up.”
“Is he bringing any friends?” Nalia asks, and I laugh. I’m so glad she came home for the holidays.
“Oh, yes, please tell me he has friends,” my twin cousins Harmony and Willow say as we make our way to the table.
“When you guys all move home, I’ll set up a meet and greet, or maybe I can host speed dating.” I laugh again, taking a seat at the table and they all giggle too.
“I can’t wait until you guys are all home. I miss these dinners,” I say, taking a sip of wine.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be moving home,” Nalia confesses, and all eyes go to her. “I like being with my mom and brothers in Colorado. I miss you guys, but I’m happy there.” She lowers her face.
“You have to do what makes you happy,” April says, and all of us nod in agreement, even if we want her here with us.
“I just wish I wasn’t hurting Mom and Dad,” she replies, looking at Harmony and Willow.
“Mom gets it. She’s sad, but she understands,” Willow says softly.
“We all love you,” Harmony adds, “and it’s not like you’re never going to come home. We will always be sisters.”
“We will all always be family,” December chips in.
“I’ll drink to that.” I smile. The rest of dinner is quiet, with all of us sharing stories of the last few months after we finish eating. We pay the bill and then walk a few blocks down to the bar we have been going to since we were old enough to drink.
“Find a table and I’ll get us some drinks,” I say, and Nalia wraps her hand around my elbow.
“I’ll go with you.” She smiles and I giggle, ’cause we’re both already tipsy. I’m not sure if it will hurt or help having her with me. We make our way to the bar and get there in one piece without knocking anything or anyone over.
“Two pitchers of beer!” I yell at the bartender while holding onto Naila.
His eyes come to me briefly and he yells back, “Got it,” then goes to pour the pitchers. The other bartender says something to him, and his eyes come to me and sweep me from hair to chest. I try to place him, but the alcohol in my system is making it hard to figure out where I know him from.
“Do you know him?” Nalia asks.
“I’m not sure,” I shout over the music.
“He’s cute,” she says, and I look at him. No, he is not cute; he is hot. His arms are covered in tattoos, he has small gages in his ears, his skin is the color of chocolate, and his torso is covered in muscles that are shown off by his tight t-shirt.
“What did that guy say to you?” she asks him when he places the beer in front of us.
“Pardon, bebe?” he asks, leaning closer to Nalia over the bar. His voice is rough, and he has an accent I have never heard in person before, but it sounds Jamaican, and the look on his face as he looks at my cousin is one of awe. I don’t blame him; my cousin is model material.
“Uhh…” Nalia sputters then looks at me.
“What did that guy say to you?” I ask him, taking pity on my cousin.
“Not fee. No charge you.”
“Why?” I frown, and he shrugs then looks at Naila again and smiles.
“Seeya ’round, bebe,” he says, running a finger over her cheek, then turns and walks to another customer. We each grab a pitcher of beer off the bar along with cups and take it to the table the girls are sitting at.