“Did you have that problem with Dad?”
“Hell yeah. Believe me. Your father and I, we struggled. We struggled so much, I think it’s a miracle we’re still together. Your father never strayed though. He stayed true to his vow, and to me. He loves me.”
“I know he does, Mom.”
“The trouble I had was with the women who didn’t like the fact that I was the one to snag him. They said some pretty awful things, mean and disgusting. It made walking down the street sometimes unbearable.”
“Dad just let it happen?”
“No, of course not. He wouldn’t allow anyone to be mean to me. I never told him because I didn’t want him to think for a second that I was a crybaby who couldn’t handle it.”
“What happened when he found out?” she asked.
“Oh, he showed them all. He went to every single house with the women, and he called them out. It was like a moment out of a bad horror film, but it worked. People stopped pointing and staring, and even went out of their way to be nice to me. Of course it made me love your father even more, and that’s what made you, honey.”
Even though she should probably be grossed out, Raven couldn’t help but smile. “Dad will give Drew a hard time, won’t he?”
“It’s his right as your father. All daughters’ fathers have the right to make the men who want to date them, uncomfortable. It will determine if your man is worth getting hurt over. If Drew can’t handle your father, he’s not worth it. Your grandfather told me that when I begged him not to be too hard on him. Of course Clark wasn’t one to back down. I doubt Drew is either. I’ve heard a lot of things about that boy. Some good, some not so good.”
“He’s a nice man.”
“Yeah, well with what I’ve been hearing he’s claimed you. Kind of reminds me of the tale they told me about his own father and Doreen. He claimed her, told the men in town to back the fuck off or else they’d be fighting with him.” Her mother sighed. “Thinking about it makes me flutter. Poor man. He had Drew too late, and died for Drew too young, if you ask me.”
“He’s not spoken much about it.”
“Died in Drew’s arms. It’s why Doreen won’t let him take care of her. He already held his dying father while the damn ambulance got lost on its way there. She’s not going to allow her boy to go through that.”
“Yeah, life is awful. I still go and visit Doreen. We have a nice long chat. I’m going to have to tell her about you and Drew.”
“You sound really happy, Mom.”
“Of course I’m happy. My baby girl is home, she’s finding a man—why can’t I be happy?”
“It’s okay. Of course you can be happy. You’ve got lots to be happy about.”
“I know. So he’s coming around tonight for dinner?”
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Cathy told me.”
“Do you know everything?” Raven asked.
“Of course. You know me, I love my gossip. Did you also know that Francine Luderman is not going on a honeymoon? That’s no way to start a marriage. No honeymoon. Every couple should have one.”
“No, I hadn’t.” Francine was one of the women who thought she was too good to sleep with Drew, which of course meant that she already had.
“A couple of days of marriage, and as far as I’m concerned there is already trouble in paradise. I doubt there’s any love in that relationship. It’s all about the money.”
“Of course it is. Money, money, money.”
“Don’t ever marry for money, Raven.”
“I won’t.” Sometimes her mother liked to go off on a tangent. Tonight it seemed to be one of those nights.
Entering the kitchen, resting the phone between her ear and shoulder, she pulled the bubbling lasagna out of the oven and placed it on the stove to rest. She really did love this dish.