Imelda’s big surprise

     The excitement level was high around the house today; Imelda was finally coming home after a six-week absence. After a rise in book sales, they extended the tour dates by two weeks. Although Imelda hated being away from the girls for so long, she was also having a good time. She met someone, and she was looking forward to introducing her to the girls. So on the phone the night before, she told the girls she was bringing home a big surprise.

     Bernice was at the end of her rope; Diane once again asked, “Bernice, what time is she coming home?” She knew the girls missed Imelda just as much as she did herself, but the look of hope troubled Bernice.

      Trying to be patient, Bernice said. “Little girl, you asked me that same question five minutes ago!“ then added, “your eight-year-old is behaving better than you.” Bernice realized the moment the girl’s feelings got hurt. She put the dish towel down and pulled the girl into a hug. “I’m sorry, Diane; I know you’re excited; I am too.”  “Why don’t you help me here in the kitchen? We can go crazy together.”

      Diane smiled at that, “Thank you, Bernice. Sorry for being a pain.” Bernice kissed Diane’s forehead. Together they whittled away the time fixing dinner and chatting until finally, the sound of Imelda’s key in the door grabbed their attention. They glanced at each other then aimed for the door.

      Imelda was startled when the door flew open, and Bernice practically dragged her inside; neither Diane nor Bernice noticed the stranger hanging back in the hallway. Imelda was smothered in a hug when she heard the squeal of delight running down the hallway. The girl came in hot, giving Imelda barely enough time to break free and brace herself for impact. “Wow, baby girl.” scooping up the child, Imelda squeezed the girl. “I’ve missed you.”

       “What took you so long? We’ve been waiting all day!” Daisy demanded. Then looking past the door, she added. “Who’s that?” all three women looked up; Imelda smiled as the other two were slack-jawed.

      Imelda wasn’t ready to put Daisy down, so she rearranged the girl to her hip and held her hand out. “This is my big surprise. I like you all to meet my girlfriend, Callie.” pulling Callie closer, she said, “This is my beautiful family, Bernice, Diane, and this is Daisy.”

      Daisy was the first to speak. “Do you got kids?”

      “No, dear, but I have a niece your age and a couple of nephews a little older.” Callie smiled

       Bernice was the next to welcome the girl, “well, come on in, Imelda, get those bags.” she said as she dragged Callie inside, wrapping the woman in a welcoming hug. Letting her go, Bernice asked. “Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Tea?” as Diane stepped back, feeling unsure.

      “No, thank you, Bernice, I’m fine.” Callie glanced around the room. She smiled, watching Daisy helping Imelda with the bags, then she noticed Diane. The girl’s dismay couldn’t be more obvious. In an attempt to make friends, Callie put her hand out. “Hi, Diane, I’ve heard so much about you. It’s nice to meet you finally.”

        Diane snapped lightly, “that’s funny because I heard nothing about you.” That bit of attitude did not go unnoticed. Imelda, on full alert, glanced over, wondering what was happening. Callie added, “I think Imelda wanted to surprise you all. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could get the time off.”

        Diane mumbled a bit sarcastically, “well, she surprised us, alright.” unfortunately, what she thought was quiet was loud enough for Imelda to hear.

       “Daisy, can you do me a favor?” Daisy looked up, eager to please. “Can you keep Callie company? I need to speak to your mommy.”

      Shaking her head, Daisy took Callie’s hand. “Come on, Callie, I’ll show you my room.”

      Once they left, Imelda said, “Come with me, Young lady, we need to talk.” now nervous, Diane followed Imelda down the hall. After entering her room, Imelda sat on her bed and tapped the spot next to her, indicating Diane to sit. “Honey, I see bringing Callie home wasn’t the surprise you expected. I realize now that I should have told you all about her, and I’m sorry I didn’t. Diane, I like her, and I think if you give her a chance, you will too. But know this, I will not tolerate rudeness.”  “understood?”

      “I’m sorry, Imelda,” Diane said, although she knew she was more jealous than sorry. Diane was too embarrassed to admit her true feelings; She knew Imelda had dated but this was the first time she had brought anyone home. Sharing was going to be hard, especially when it had been just the four of them for the past several years.

       Imelda seeing the girl’s conflict, circled her arms around the girl. Once she had the girl snug, she rocked and cooed. “Oh, Diane, you know I love you, right?” Imelda felt the girl shake her head. “You are my family, and you mean the world to me, you, Bernice, and Daisy.” once she felt the tension leave the girl, Imelda said. “I think we better rescue Callie. I don’t know how much she likes playing with dolls or princesses.” Diane chuckled.

     Although Diane was willing to put her jealousy aside and try to be friends, Callie might have other ideas. Returning to the kitchen, Imelda was just in time to see Daisy dragging Callie into the family room. “Callie, wait till you see Elsa; she’s a princess and…”

      Imelda smiled; she loved that little girl, but before rejoining her girlfriend, she asked. “Bernice, do you need any help in here?” The older woman rarely needed assistance.

      “No, no, no, Go visit with your girlfriend. Diane will help me if I need any.” Bernice said as she shooed Imelda out of the room. Then directing her attention to Diane, she asked, “How are you, little one?” Bernice knew there were times when sharing a loved one was difficult.

     Shrugging her shoulders, Diane said. “I’m okay, Bernice.” then, after a moment, she added, “I have to get used to Imelda dating. It’s embarrassing, but I guess I was jealous and maybe nervous.”

      Bernice surprised Diane by sharing her feelings. “There’s no need to feel embarrassed. We’re all used to having her full attention when she comes home, and sometimes, I also find it hard to share.” Bernice draped an arm over Diane’s shoulder, “Let’s make the best of it, okay?” Diane agreed.

      On the couch, Imelda sat next to Callie and lifted Daisy onto her lap. “Have you had a chance to show Callie around?” Daisy nodded as she smiled up at Imelda.

      Callie whispered to Imelda, “Is everything okay with your baby sister?” Although Imelda thought it odd for Callie to use the term baby when referring to Diane, she answered yes.

      Shortly after Daisy hit play on the movie, Diane came to collect the child and announce dinner was ready. “Dinner’s ready, Daisy, come, let’s get washed up.”

      Daisy, who was not ready to leave Imelda’s side, pouted, “No, mommy, I want Imelda!”

      Before Diane or Imelda could intervene, Callie said, “isn’t that cute, like mother like daughter.” That garnered a scowl from Imelda and a blush from Diane.

      “Diane, would you mind if I helped Daisy tonight?” quickly Diane agreed and returned to the safety of the kitchen and Bernice. Glancing back at Callie, she said, “That was uncalled for, and we will talk later; for now, dinners ready, so meet me in the kitchen.” Imelda knew there were times when Callie had a sharp tongue, and when she witnessed it in action, she made sure to call her out.

       Although Diane wanted to keep her word to Imelda by giving Callie a chance, Diane had nothing nice to say. So she ate quietly and listened to Daisy’s chattering. Every once in a while, Bernice would chime in with a question here and there. Diane only spoke when asked something directly, and even then, her answers were short. Imelda felt the tension but couldn’t do much of anything until she could talk to Callie.

       Daisy commandeered Imelda the minute dinner was over; Bernice set about cleaning the kitchen, shooting Diane and Callie out of the room. Left with no choice, Diane said, “Callie would you like to see your room?” nodding, Callie agreed.

       Once in the room, Diane pointed out the bathroom, linen closet, and lights, but Callie said instead of a thank you. “Imelda and I were hoping to have a bit of quality time this week.” hint taken, Diane said good night and retreated to her room. After softly closing the door, Diane continued to her ensuite bathroom, where she let her tears flow. She felt so let down after spending the day in such anticipation.

       By the time Imelda brought Daisy in for bed, Diane was lying on the bed reading a book. Seeing the sleepy girl, Diane put the book down as she got up. She was going to help when once again she heard, “No, mommy, I want Imelda.” Diane stepped away and went back to her book, but she couldn’t stop the tears from escaping in the process. Right now, even the rejection from an innocent child hurt. Luckily she was able to wipe her damp cheeks before Daisy, her crying. Unfortunately, Imelda noticed.

      After tucking the girl in, Imelda came around and sat on the bed next to Diane, “Hi, sweetheart. Are you okay?” Imelda asked as she moved the hair away from Diane’s face.

      Of course, Diane couldn’t tell Imelda the truth about how much she didn’t like her girlfriend, so she said, “I’m okay, just tired, I guess.”

      Sensing all was not okay with the girl, Imelda promised, “Sweetheart, I will have a chat with Callie.” Diane’s response surprised Imelda.

      “Nooo, you can’t; she will think I’m whining. Imelda, she already thinks I’m a baby.” Diane pleaded, thinking Callie was a permanent figure in the family.

     Daisy’s little head popped up, hearing her mom’s distress. “Mommy?” Luckily, Daisy only understood Diane was sad and not the reason behind the sadness.

     “Shhh, It’s okay, baby girl, sleep now.” tired eyes drifted shut as the girl fell back into slumber.

     Without saying anything further, Imelda put her arms around Diane. She held her close; she felt more love for this girl than actual words could express. And although she liked Callie, her family came first.

      Diane relaxed into the embrace; Imelda was her first real family; well, she and Bernice and losing them would be devastating. The shock of a newcomer coming in and causing conflict brought all of her insecurities to the surface. It didn’t matter how many times Imelda said she loved them, and they were family. Diane’s experience caused her doubt.

      Imelda held Diane securely until the girl’s even breathing indicated she was asleep. She then carefully extracted herself and lay the girl down, pulling the blanket over and tucking her in. Before leaving, Imelda stood watching her two girls as they slept, then determined Imelda left the room. Imelda gave Bernice a sad smile as she passed on her way down the hall.

      Approaching her room, Imelda took a deep breath. She knew what she had to do, but knowing didn’t make it any easier. Inside, Callie was on the bed in a skimpy nightgown as if the thought of sex would trump any conflict. Imelda stood dumbfounded, “Callie, we need to talk.” Imelda stood her ground, hands-on-hips. When Callie tried once again to seduce, Imelda stood firm. “Enough! We need to talk! Now!”

       Callie knew then she was in trouble by being snarky to Diane, but she couldn’t stop herself. Unfortunately, she concluded that since introducing spanking when they first began dating to solve minor problems, Callie assumed it would fix all issues. No matter how snarky she became, well, Imelda wasn’t on the same page

     “Callie, I don’t understand, and maybe I’m missing something, but why? After all, I’ve told you about my family, why treat Diane with anything but respect?” Imelda shook her head as she tried to imagine why someone would disrespect her family.

      Right away, Callie tried defending herself, but it fell on deaf ears. “I think she’s just jealous. I mean, really, I was just joking earlier.” when Imelda’s face stayed firm, Callie tried another tack, “I’m sorry, Mel, maybe I need a trip over your knee?”

       Imelda was almost sickened by this display, yes, of course; she loved to play, but Callie’s lack of empathy for her family astounded her. “Callie,” shaking her head, Imelda tried again, “Callie, I’m sorry, but I can’t.” taking a deep breath, Imelda continued, “Callie, I can’t date you anymore.” Imelda just shook her head as if she couldn’t even believe what she was saying. How could she be so wrong in her judgment?

       “W-hat?” Callie squeaked out.

       Standing her ground, Imelda continued. “Yes, I think you need to go back home.”  seeing the look of confusion cross Callie’s face, Imelda continued. “Callie, I know we’ve solved many problems by me spanking some sense into you, but this,” waving her hand for emphasis, “this is my family! And they mean everything.”   “The fact that you can’t see it. Well, that’s a problem.”  “I shouldn’t have to spank you for you to treat every member with respect.”

      For the next hour, Callie tried but failed to change Imelda’s mind. When she finally acknowledged it was over, Callie opened her laptop and searched for the next flight home. Luckily there was a seat available for the following morning. She snatched up a ticket, then repacked her bag; she wasn’t going to stay a minute more than she had to.

        Imelda closed the door after making sure Callie was safely on her way to the airport. In the kitchen, Bernice looked up as she was filling her mug; seeing Imelda, she offered the same. Cups in hand, Bernice waited while sipping the smooth, creamy liquid, knowing Imelda would talk when ready. And she was right, Imelda said. “It’s over.” Imelda was surprised she wasn’t more upset. “You know what, I’m glad she’s gone,” Bernice said nothing but gave the nod in agreement.

      A few minutes later, Daisy wandered into the kitchen and shuffled right up to Imelda. Setting her coffee on the counter, Imelda scooped the girl up and sat the yawning child on her lap. Imelda wrapped her arms around the girl, hugging her tight, then said to Bernice. “I’ve missed this.” Daisy snuggled into Imelda’s embrace. After a few minutes, Imelda asked, “Daisy, How about I take you, mommy and Bernice, to brunch and then the zoo?”

       Daisy looked up excitedly, then a curious look formed before she asked, “What about Callie? Don’t she like the zoo?”

       Imelda glanced over at Bernice, receiving a smile for encouragement. She explained, “Well, Callie had to go back home, so she left on an early flight this morning. She said to tell you goodbye.” Daisy thought about it for a minute, then changing subjects said. “Can I go tell mommy? She loves the zoo.” Daisy was practically off Imelda’s lap before she finished her sentence.

      In the bedroom, Daisy climbed up onto the bed moving hair away from Diane’s ear. She whispered. “Mommy.. Wake up… Mommy, we’re going to the zoo. Get up, mommy!”

      Diane slowly opened her eyes, and upon hearing the plans, groaned before saying. “Daisy, hun, I don’t feel so great; you all go without me.”

      Daisy made her way slowly back to Imelda. “Mommy, don’t feel good. she said to go without her.”

      Imelda understood Diane’s reluctance. ruffling the girl’s hair, she said. “Bernice, can you make some breakfast for Daisy while I go check on her mommy?” barely waiting for a response, Imelda made her way down the hall. After a soft knock, Imelda let herself into the room; seeing the girl with covers over her head Imelda walked over to sit on the bed next to the girl. Pulling the blankets away, she asked. “Little girl, I heard you weren’t feeling well.”

       Diane knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she didn’t want to go. “I’m sorry, Imelda, please don’t make me go.” Diane looked up, her eyes pleading with Imelda.

       Imelda smiled sadly, “There is no reason for you to be sorry. If you don’t want to go, that’s okay, but before you decide, I have something to tell you. Callie went home this morning.” Shock registered in Diane’s face. “I know she was teasing you, and that’s not okay. I am not seeing her anymore.”

       Diane couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Imelda chose them over her girlfriend. “Imelda, I don’t understand.” of course, she thought maybe she was hearing what she wanted too.

       “You heard me right; I am no longer dating Callie. And I would love to take my family to brunch and then to the zoo.” Imelda realized by Diane’s watery eyes just how much this meant to her; then, when Diane sat up and put her arms around her, she sighed happily.