Thursday, September 20, 2018
Character Scene from Hooked on Love by Dellani Oakes
Faydra and Kael are cousins, each home with the new love of their lives. Faydra is dating Quaid, a psychologist from Up North – enough to scandalize any dyed in the wool Southern Mama. Kael is dating Penny, from Florida. They are at a huge family gathering at Faydra's childhood home in Alabama. Quaid has had the unfortunate experience of meeting Aunt Shiff, Faydra and Kael's mean spirited great-aunt. Now, it's Penny's turn.
Kael handed me my crutches and helped me up. I made my way down the hall to the kitchen. Aunt Shiff sat in a ladder back chair in the far corner of the vast kitchen. There was a wide no man's land around her. If anyone got too close, she hooked them with her cane and laid into them. Acid tongued bitch! She truly was evil. She said horrible things. I saw her in action for five seconds and hated her. She was gonna just love the hell outta me.
"Who's that?" the pointed her cane at me, having spotted me in the doorway with Kael.
I swung over and stood in front of her. Kael brought up a chair and helped me sit. Everyone else left the kitchen as quickly as they could. I never saw a room empty out so fast.
"Auntie, this is my new girlfriend, Penny."
"Hmph. You look a hell of a lot like Annabeth. You sure you ain't kin?"
"Decidedly not," I replied. "We checked our lineage before we had sex."
"I figured you were romping. You Thorn men can't keep your dicks in your pants. Who knows how many young uns you've got running around."
That was really cruel, considering what had happened with Aura Lee. Kael's ears turned red and his jaw firmed. He wanted to say something, but he was being the polite Southern Gentleman.
"He's a good man," I spoke up, squaring my shoulders as I confronted the mean, old harpy. "He's too polite to tell you what he thinks, but I'm not. You use your position as the old hag of the family, to run roughshod over everyone. They're positively terrified of you, and you love it."
"I'm being honest."
"You're being mean."
"I won't lie to your face," the old woman continued. She had more to say, but I wouldn't let her say it.
"No, but I bet you lie like hell behind my back. I have a great-grandmother just like you. She says she's not gossiping, because she'll speak the truth to your face. Yeah, she does that, in spades. Rips into you, makes you cry, and then feels good about herself, because she Spoke the Truth!" I made air quotes. I never make air quotes, but that seemed appropriate to the situation.
"So, I'm gonna be truthful and honest with you, Auntie. What Kael and I do in private, isn't your business. In fact, anything that anyone in the family does—not your affair. You're old, bored and spiteful. I don't know what made you such a sharp tongued harpy, and I don't care. You can't pull your shit on me, because I know your kind. You don't scare me. Not even a little."
I stood up, excusing myself to Kael, if not the old lady. I was halfway to the door when her voice stopped me.
"That's the first smart thing anyone's done in thirty years. Sit down, Penny. You and I need to chat."
Her tone was less imperious, and warmer, than it had been when she greeted us. "You think you know it all, huh?" She crossed her arms across her wizened, wrinkled dugs.
"Nope, not even close. But I know bad manners when I see them."
"And I know sass."
"I'm that, and then some."
She actually laughed, more like cackled. "You're a smart one. Where'd you find her, Kael? She's not a local girl, she's too good for you."
"You're doing it again," I said, shaking my finger at her. "He's a good man, hard working, smart, clever, loving—and damn can the man dance! If you catch my drift." I winked, tilting my head at Kael.
Aunt Shiff cackled again, slapping her knee. "You're a snappy little minx, but I just might like you. Penny, is it? Why aren't you scared to death of me? Everyone else walks on eggshells around me."
"They grew up with you. My Granny Kimball is the same way, but I don't take her shit, either. My cousins are terrified of her, but I'm not. I think she scared me shitless when I was about five. But she was so kind, so loving when my dad was killed.... I like to hope that somewhere, under all those sharp spikes and rude words, you're a kind person."
"And if I'm not?"
"We wouldn't be having this conversation. You'd have thrown a skillet at me, and either killed me on the spot, or put a hex on me."
She laughed loudly. It wasn't the crackling cackle, but a real belly laugh. She shook her head and slapped her knee. "Boy, you found the one good woman in the whole damn world. You work your bedroom magic, and make her happy for the rest of her days, you hear me?"
"Yes, Auntie," he mumbled.
She put her hand up to her ear and leaned forward.
"Yes, Auntie," he said more loudly.
"Some Marine you are, can't speak any louder than a little kid."
Kael took a deep breath, leaning forward. "Oo-rah!" he bellowed.
Auntie laughed and clapped. "There's the Marine! Yes! I like this one," she pointed at me. "You feel free to marry her anytime."
His eyes cut over to meet mine. "Don't know if she'll have me."
"She'll have you. You just have to get the balls to ask. And for god's sake, try not to get her pregnant before the wedding. We've got enough premature babies around." She also made air quotes and cut her eyes at me.
I got up and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"You tell my secret, I'll put a hex on you, Missy," she teased, giving me a kiss and hug in return.
"Not on your life! Would I spoil your finely honed image as the Wicked Witch of the West?"
She chuckled. "Not if you're smart."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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