“What do you have there?” Brad asked.
Haley sighed as she pulled back the foil, revealing large chocolate chunk cookies. “I made these for the big baby so he would stop his little tantrum.”
“Wow, those look really good! Can I have one?”
She shrugged. “Sure, since the baby doesn’t want one.”
Brad picked up a cookie and brought it up to his mouth. It was inches away when a large tan hand grabbed it. Jason snatched the plate from her before sending Brad a killing glare.
“How dare you touch my cookies, you bastard!” Jason said in utter disgust before popping the cookie into his mouth and heading back to his house.
“Damn those looked good, too,” Brad grumbled.
Haley sighed. “Don’t worry I have a second plate on my counter.” The words were barely out of her mouth when Jason abruptly changed course and headed towards her house.
“Well, there was,” she said, watching Jason walk into her house like he owned it. A minute later he walked out of her house, carrying both plates and the gallon of milk she had in her fridge. He headed back to his house, but not before he glared at Brad. “You cookie thieving bastard,” they heard him mutter.
Brad rolled his eyes, chuckling. “And people wonder how I lost weight rooming with him in college.”
Haley just laughed as she locked up her house and headed for her car. For a moment there she forgot the hell that awaited her.
She ignored the glare of the parking attendant as she pulled around her parent’s mansion and parked her own car. She tried not to roll her eyes, but she just couldn’t stop herself. Leave it up to her parents to go overboard for a family barbeque.
Why they bothered she would never know. It wasn’t like the rest of their family didn’t know they were rich. It also wasn’t like the rest of the family wasn’t also rich. They were always trying to prove they were the best and richest. Kind of pathetic if you asked her, no one did of course. She was just expected to show up at family functions, act perfect and bite her tongue. Yup, this was going to be so much fun.
For the next four hours, and that was the time her mother told her she absolutely had to stay or she’d throw a fit to end all fits, Haley was going to have to endure looks of pity over her marital status, childless state, job, and looks. Yup, this was going to be great. Just great.
Why couldn’t her damn reliable car have stalled on the way over here or better yet run out of gas leaving her stranded at the mercy of the wildlife that would maul her and save her from this hell? Was it really too much to ask for?
She ran a hand over her shirt to smooth it down as she approached the front door. Before she could knock the door was opened. Jameson, their snotty butler of ten years, looked distastefully down his nose at her.
“Your mother expected you a half an hour ago, Miss. Blaine,” he said with a sniff. It hadn’t escaped her notice that he called her sisters by their first names and even smiled when he did it.
She wasn’t about to stand here and argue with the man. “Where is she?”
Another sniff. “Madam is in the back yard. She’s very exhausted. She’s been working day and night on this barbeque. She was up at the crack of dawn and hasn’t rested since!”
“Uh huh,” Haley said absently as she walked past a lot of people she didn’t know. Funny how family barbeques in her family really meant bringing everyone they wanted to impress or schmooze. It seemed she was the only one that hadn't brought an entourage. She had friends she really cared about and could have brought, but well, it was because she cared about them that she couldn’t inflict this upon them.
“Haley, so nice to see you!” her cousin Jacob said. “You should come to the Vineyard this summer and stay at my new cottage. It’s fabulous, you’ll love it!” he said loud enough to draw attention to himself. She had no doubt that it was the for the benefit of the crowd around him considering he absolutely hated her. It might have something to do with her putting Nair in his shampoo when they were kids. Ah, whatever.
She simply gave that fake smile her mother drilled into her head and made her way to the backyard where she found her mother working hard at sipping a Martini and gossiping with her sisters, a few aunts, and her Grandmother snoozing in a wheelchair a few feet away under her own umbrella.
Her father, brother-in-laws and several Uncles, cousins and men she didn’t recognize sat on the opposite end of the large brick patio that spanned the entire length of the mansion. On the lawn, professional caterers were barbequing on huge gas grills while others set up food on tables and chairs around tables that now covered a small portion of the ten acre backyard.
It didn’t surprise her that there were no kids at the family barbeque and to suggest bringing a child here would send her mother into a snit. A social queen her mother definitely was, a mother and grandmother? Not even a little bit. She was hardly there for their childhood. Why do it when she could pay someone else was her mother's motto. Nannies and maids raised her and her siblings until the age of ten when they each in turn went to a private year round boarding school. From then on it was obvious they were only guests in this house.
Some might think it was a pathetic upbringing and to a point she would agree. Since they only saw children as an accessory they really had no business having them. It would have been a horrible childhood if her grandparents hadn’t bought a house close to her school the first week and took Haley to live with them. Thanks to her grandparents she had a wonderful childhood. She loved the life her grandparents had given her, which is one of the reasons at eighteen she took over her life and decided to pursue her own dreams instead of following in her family's footsteps.
“Oh, Haley! There you are, dear!” her mother said cheerfully. Was she trying to smile? Yup, it appeared she had Botox done once again. Her whole face looked completely frozen.
“Hello, mother,” she said, giving her mother a barely there kiss on the cheek as her mother gave her one.
“Have a seat, dear!” Her mother gestured to the seat next to her. Her sisters Martha and Rose gave her smirks as they picked up glasses or fluffed back their hair in attempts to show off whatever new trinket their husbands, more likely husbands’ secretaries, bought them.
“It’s so nice to see you, Haley,” Rose said with a cool smile as she jiggled her diamond bracelet.
“It’s nice to see you too, Rose. How are your children?” Haley asked.