Jordan hopped off her stool and hugged him impulsively, throwing her arms around his neck. She had to go on her tiptoes to do it. As he held her, Brian thought she seemed awfully small and vulnerable. He knew he would do anything he could to protect her. Keys rattled in the front door and Brian leaped away from Jordan as if he’d been shocked. A beautiful blonde woman in a business suit strutted in, smiling.
“Hi, honey. Who’s your friend?” She walked over to Jordan, kissing her cheek before setting down a briefcase.
“Mom, this is Brian. He’s from my bus stop. Brian, my mom, Jacqueline Barrett.”
“Mrs. Barrett, pleased to meet you,” Brian said, shaking her hand. “I’m also her chemistry lab partner.”
“And he’s good at math. Can he come over after dinner and help me get caught up?”
“Sure. I don’t see why not. Do you have a last name, Brian?”
“Casey. My mother is Maribelle Casey. We live a couple blocks from here.”
“Will you have her call me? Give him my numbers, sweetie.” She dusted her hands, done with the conversation, and headed upstairs.
Brian stared after her, stunned. That was a weird conversation to have with a parent.
Jordan gave him her mother’s business card. “Call her cell. My parents don’t answer the house phone for some reason. They expect voicemail to get it and screen their calls.”
“What do they do?”
“Mom’s a drug rep and dad’s a lawyer. Which is strange, because they are both New Age Hippy Freaks.”
Jordan scoffed. “Yeah. You didn’t think all this weird crystal stuff was mine, did you?”
Brian laughed, sobering slightly. “Clearly not.”
“Have your mom call as soon as she can. Jacqueline was serious about that.”
“Do you really call her that?” he asked as they moved toward the front door.
“Not to her face, no.”
“Okay. I’ll have Mom call as soon as I get home.”
“See you later, Brian.”
He waved as he headed out the door. Once he got home, he asked his mother to call Jordan’s and went to the kitchen to start dinner. His mother had jars and cans lined up for him to open for her. Hamburger was already cooking on the stove with some herbs and garlic added. An onion sat on the counter on top of a cutting board. He started with that, then moved around the kitchen taking care of the things his mother couldn’t do by herself.
Brian wondered, not for the first time, what she would do when he went to college in a few years. She was too independent to go into an assisted living home and far too young to want to consider it. With Brian’s dad gone, god knows where, she’d be lost.
His mother came into the kitchen with the phone to her ear, smiling brightly. “That sounds lovely, Jackie. I’ll let Brian know. I look forward to seeing you too. Bye!” She hung up. “She’s very pleasant. A bit odd, but pleasant.”
“Jordan would say that’s because she’s blonde.”
His mother laughed. “I don’t think blondes corner the market on flaky. She’s very nice and concerned about her daughter. She wanted to make sure that if Jordan ever came over, there would be an adult present.”
Brian rolled his eyes. “Not to mention that I’m not some oversexed, ax murderer who might slaughter their entire family when I go over to help their daughter study.”
“Not to mention. They’re from the big city, son. Give them a chance to adjust. Oh, she invited us to dinner tomorrow night at seven.”
Brian couldn’t help wondering how Jordan would feel about that, but didn’t go into it with his mother. Instead, he asked what they were making for dinner and set about helping her prepare their meal.
After eating, Maribelle rinsed dishes and Brian loaded them into the washer. He gathered his books and got ready to go to Jordan’s.
“You be careful out there. How I wish I could drive you.”
“I’m okay, Mom.”
“It’s just, after that bear…. A mother worries.”
“I’ll smack the bear on the nose and holler,” he replied. “It’s okay.”
“Be safe, baby.” She kissed both his cheeks.
Brian couldn’t help feeling odd when she did that. She always gave him a kiss on the cheek, but this was different. Concern, almost fear, layered her words.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes