Chelsey took one final drag of her Marlboro menthol, embracing the smooth minty flavor with a hint of nicotine. She exhaled slowly watching the smoke clouds circle up into the summer air. It had been over a year since she'd touched a cigarette, after the voicemail she woke up to this morning she was glad she had decided to stash an emergency pack in the back of her closet. She slowly stood from the cement stairs that led up to her tiny bungalow, her yellow sun dress clung to her small frame thanks to the Iowa humidity. Time to do damage control she sighed entering the house and pulling her cell phone out from the pocket on the side of her dress.
"How dare you tarnish out family like this?" Chelsey's mother squawked into the phone skipping any sort of greeting. "Not only did you decide to leave the place our family has lived for over 200 years, but you lose all respect for the morals and values you were raised with! You are supposed to be proper southern woman Chelsey! This behavior is completely unacceptable!"
Chelsey sighed and slumped against the foyer wall. She had known Lorna was going to be fuming mad, but she hadn't thought about how it was going to affect her. She could feel her eyes begin to burn. She clenched her fists at her side. "It is 2013 mother," She felt her voice begin to crack. No, she was not going to allow her mother to bully her anymore. "I realize that this would not be your choice for my life, but it is MY life! This is not 1956 Mississippi, and I will choose to live my life how I want!" Chelsey spat, immediately holding her breath afterwards, waiting for the wrath to unfold. She hadn't spoken to her mother like this her entire life. When she had decided to move out of Mississippi four years ago Lorna just refused to speak to her for 6 months, but this was different and Chelsey knew that. The choices she'd made went against everything her mother believed in.
The silence rang in her ears. Just say something! She screamed inside. A quiet Lorna meant she was thinking, and that meant the response was not going to be something Chelsey wanted to hear.
"Fine." Her mother stated matter of factly.
"You can continue to live your life like some sort of loose floozy who wasn't given a proper upbringing. But just know that nobody will ever respect you and don't you ever think for one minute that you will be welcomed back into this home or family again!" The line disconnected.
Chelsey slowly slide down the wall until she was sitting on the floor, her cell phone fell from her limp fingertips. The tears were out of her control now, streaking her freckled cheeks with trails of black mascara. She pulled her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on them like she did when she was a kid. This was bound to happen and she'd known it all along. She just hadn't expected her mother's words to slice through her entire body like that. Her cell phone began to vibrate across the hardwood floor. She glanced down to see Taye's beaming smile, her heart skipped. As much as she wanted to hear that silky smooth voice of his she couldn't let him hear her like this. The buzzing subsided, Chelsey rocked back and forth, her mind racing.
An hour later she was still balled up in the same position. The tears had vanished all that remained were the black smears they left behind. She racked her brain to figure out if she could have handled the conversation differently, but she knew the only way that could have happened is if she put down her head and lived by her mother's laws.
The crunch of gravel under tires brought her out of her trance. Though the screen door she could see Taye's black Ford rumbling up the short gravel driveway. She jumped up, sprinting to the bathroom to wash her face up before he came in.
"Hello? Chels?" She heard his voice call from the door way.
Chelsey smoothed out her sundress and ran her fingers through her soft mahogany locks. A proper Southern woman always looks her best for her man, Lorna's drawl chimed; she shook her head and ignored it, skipping to the doorway. There he was. Her heart jumped as she absorbed his presence. His deep chocolate eyes lit up as soon as she entered the room. A mischievous smirk slid across his face exposing those perfect straight teeth. Chelsey ran towards him, wrapping herself around his solid frame. He held her tightly, and then gently loosening his grip used his free hand to stroke her cheek. His mocha skin was dark against her pale complexion. He tilted her head up towards him and pressed his soft luscious lips against her mouth. "I love you." He breathed against her lips..
"I love you too." She whispered, losing herself in the depth of his eyes.
"Did you talk to your mother about us coming to visit?" He led her towards the black leather couch where they both sat facing each other.
Chelsey looked towards the floor and sighed. "I don't think that's going to happen. Mississippi and my family are a part of my past. To be completely honest I'm okay with not having my family at the wedding."
Taye Crinkled his forehead, "You don't want your family to be involved in our wedding? What's going on Chels?"
"It's nothing I just think that it's best that we have the wedding with the friends that we have here and your mother of course."
"I don't get it. "
"I just don't think the time is right for you to meet my family." She spoke softly, her voice barely audible.
Taye cocked his head to the side. "You don't think it's the time for me to meet your family? Chelsey we are getting married in 5 months! When do you propose I meet them?" The hurt in his voice was clear to Chelsey. She'd been putting this off for the last year. Every time Taye had inquired about her family she had always switched the subject. They lived hundreds of miles away so it wasn't like she ever had to worry about them running into each other and Taye knew that she didn't like to visit Mississippi much anymore so it had never been an issue.
"To be honest Taye I don't want to invite my family to the wedding and I don't want them to be a part of our lives. It's that simple." She stared at his dark rough hands that were holding hers. She couldn't look into his eyes and see the pain she knew was there. His skin was warm against hers.
"Talk to me Chels. I can't understand if you don't tell me what the hell is going on."
Chelsey let out a defeated breath. "My mom found out you were black." She paused staring into his endless brown eyes. They were filled with confusion and hurt. She wanted to look away but she couldn't break his gaze.
"We've been together for almost 2 years, how did your mom not know that I was black until now?"
She bit her lip. "I'd never told her. I knew how she would react and I just thought that maybe if I could show her how amazing you were and how much you loved me then when she found out she wouldn't care. But my sister found a picture of us on the internet and showed her." Hot burning tears began to stream down her face. "I'm so sorry. I should have told her. I should have told you about how she is. I just didn't want you to think I was like her. "
Taye put his thick arms around her small frame pulling her against his body. He lightly kissed the top of her head. "I know you're not like that babe. I'm hurt that you felt you needed to hide who I am but I get it. I love you and that's all that matters to me."
Chelsey glanced up at him. "You're not mad?"
He shook his head. "This is the first time and it won't be the last time that someone disapproves of our relationship. These situations will only make us stronger." That was typical Taye, no matter how gloom the situation or how mad he should be about something he always found the positive.
She clung on to him, her face against his chest. His arms were the only place she ever wanted to be.
The next morning Chelsey woke to her cell phone buzzing off the nightstand next to her Queen sized bed and landing on the hard-wood floor. CLUNK. She groggily reached her arm to the edge of her bed, but Taye's embrace was so tight there was no way she was going to be able to reach the floor. She rolled back into his body, nuzzling her face against his neck.
His grip around her body tightened. "Good morning sunshine." He whispered.
After an intense morning rendezvous Chelsey and Taye laid motionless each making their best attempts to regain normal breathing patterns. Taye Rolled over to her positioning his body on top of hers. He stared into her deep sapphire blue eyes as he passionately pressed his mouth against her supple soft lips. He then hopped up walking towards the on-suite bathroom in the buff. Chelsey sure wasn't complaining, those smooth chiseled abs, and those legs and yes of course that perfect little ass. She took it all in as she gawked with every step he took away from her. Chelsey had always believed that nobody was perfect, that was until she met Taye.
As she heard the spritzing of the shower turn on she lazily sat up on the side of the bed and reached for her cell phone. Her jaw nearly fell to the floor, 6 missed calls, 4 text messages and a voicemail. Nobody ever called her this much. Her heart began to sink as she checked the call log, five calls were from her sister Lexi and the other was a restricted number. She dialed the number to hear her voicemail. "Chels! We need to talk! I know you're probably super pissed at me but this is serious! Mom never came home last night!" Although Lexi's voice was full of panic and alarm Chelsey knew that her little sister had a knack for being quite a bit over dramatic. Chelsey checked her text messages; they were all from Lexi telling her to call as soon as possible. She was about to call when she heard the water turn off in the bathroom. She knew that Taye was going to be heading to the gym as soon as he put on some clothes so she decided to wait until after her left to deal with her crazy family. Most likely Lorna had just gotten drunk after the argument and was too ashamed to go home.
Taye stepped out of the bathroom as thick clouds of steam escaped into the bedroom. He was now in a pair of gray sweatpants and a black muscle shirt. Chelsey didn't know what it was about seeing him in his workout clothes but it made her weak at the knees. He pulled her still naked body against his. "I'll be back around noon so we can grab some lunch and do some wedding planning." He leaned down and kissed her forehead. "I love you."
"I love you too." She replied as he released her from his strong embrace. As soon as she heard the front door shut behind him she started rummaging in her drawers for something to wear. Since it was July and both she and Taye were teachers at the local school neither had to go to work even thought it was Tuesday. She decided on a simple pair of black yoga capris and a hot pink tank top, she threw her hair up in a quick pony tail and decided to call Lexi back. Sitting at the edge of the bed she waited for her sister to answer.
"Chelsey!" Lexi's high pitched voice answered. "Oh my God. This is horrible. Mom is gone! She left for her Ladies Lunch and never came home! Mrs. Bancroft said she never showed up! This is bad! Real Bad! What if she was kidnapped? Oh My god?!" She continued rambling, "What if she was attacked and dying on the side of the road?! Chelsey! "The faster Lexi talked the thicker her drawl became, Chelsey hadn't been able to get in a word. Not to mention this family had never been good at proper phone greetings.
"Alexis. Stop." Chelsey demanded. "You need to calm down. I am sure she is fine. Doesn't Daddy have that creepy GPS tracker on ya'll's cell phones?"
"Her phone is off, so he can only see the last place she was which was home. You need to come home now!" At this point Lexi was practically screaming into the phone.
Chelsey sighed letting herself fall back into the messy pile of sheets behind her. "Look Lexi I know you're upset by mom is probably out doing whatever she does when she vanishes. This is nothing unusual and you know that." All her life her mother had been known to disappear for a couple of days at a time. Usually she'd return reeking of liquor or with a car full of expensive shopping bags.
"This is different!" Lexi snapped. "She hasn't done that in years! This is all your fault! You just had to go get engaged to that gangster guy and piss her off, now only God knows what has happened to her!" She was becoming hysterical with each word that she spat out. Eventually Chelsey could no longer understand what she was saying to her. The last thing she was able to make out before she hung up was something about how their mother's disappearance was arranged by Taye after the argument.
This is ridiculous! She thought to herself as she let her phone fall onto the bed. She was not going to listen to her family bad-mouth Taye when she was almost positive Lorna was holed up in some high-end hotel in Jackson getting black-out drunk. Chelsey grabbed her I-pod from on top of the dresser. She decided she needed to go for a jog to clear her head, in 2 hours she had some very big wedding decisions to make and there was no way she was going to let her families endless drama take away from that.
When Chelsey returned home an hour later she immediately jumped into the shower. Even though it was over 85 degrees outside and humid the hot water lapping over her body felt amazing. There was no better stress reliever than a long jog and an equally long hot shower. After she dried off and re-dressed, this time in a pair of jeans and a floral red and white tank top she grabbed the cell phone she had left on the bed before her jog. She'd missed a call from Taye while she was gone.
"Hey baby. We have a problem." He answered on the 3rd ring.
"Hey. What's wrong?" As she spoke she was holding her phone with her shoulder and applying mouse to her long curly locks.
"Someone slashed my tires while I was at the gym."
She dropped the bottle of mouse. "WHAT?! In the daylight?!"
"Yeah and apparently nobody saw who did it. I just don't understand. It is a weekday though so there really isn't anyone around. Anyways do you think you can come pick me up for our lunch date?"
"Yeah I'll be there in about 20."