“So when are we going to meet her?”
Jeth swept up his head at his brother’s question. “We just started dating.”
“Which is why I’m finally broaching the subject of us meeting her despite our impatience to do so all these while.” Ethan returned equably. “She’s now your girl and we’d like to draw her into the family circle and make her feel a part of us.”
“I’d rather give it sometime. Shiloh is big on taking things one step at a time and she still teases me that I hotfooted her into this relationship.” Jeth picked the jar of pepper and sprayed a dash over the chicken curry sauce. “I don’t want her feeling like this is some kind of pressure-mounting move bringing her to meet the family.”
“That is the one thing I already love about her: her name Shiloh.” Gloria said with an appreciative smile. “It’s such a lovely name and not so popularly used. Anyway, I do agree with Jeth on this. Let’s give them time to be with each other without the seeming interference of family and friends; and when they are most comfortable, she can be brought over to meet us all. We’re not going anywhere after all.”
“Sometimes, meeting a man’s family helps a woman become more comfortable in her relationship with the man.” Ethan argued because he was impatient to meet the woman his little brother was dating. He didn’t want to scrutinise her per se. He just wanted to know her. “I just want her to know that we are in support of their relationship. Marriage, after all here in Africa, is about families and not just the couple.”
“We are not talking marriage yet, so simmer down, bros.”
Ethan cast Jeth a frowning stare at his protest. “Are you saying you are not thinking of marrying her?”
“I am and I already told her this from the beginning. But even that was not a clear thought-out move on my part.” Jeth lifted his shoulders in a limp shrug. “Those first days I was just desperate to catch her attention and I used just about anything to do so…”
“So, you weren’t being truthful when you told her you wanted her for a wife in those desperate first days?”
Jeth rolled his eyes at his brother’s mimicry. “Of course I was being truthful. I want to marry Shiloh. I want her for my wife. But I just want to slow down and take it one thing at a time with her. It’s only been three weeks since we started dating and this is the incubating period for us. She’s likely to run, and not draw closer, if she senses even the smallest prick of unwarranted pressure.”
“And meeting your older brother and his family would be unwarranted pressure. Okay.” Ethan pulled a shrug and went back to his food.
“Will you stop guilt-tripping him?” Gloria chided, chuckling at the Jeth’s sigh of exasperation. “You’re so desperate for him to get settled, you’re acting worse than a hovering father.”
“And what is wrong with wanting him settled?” Ethan countered, half smiling and half glaring. “It’s not like he’s not old enough. I was married to you before his age.”
“And he has his own pace and won’t move at yours. Relax and let them do this at their own pace.” Gloria was laughing. Ethan was a hoverer if ever there was one. “He won’t lose her, of that I am certain seeing as he’s already in love with her. So, stop worrying.”
“I just love it when you two start discussing me like I’m not here and not listening.” He sprayed on another dash of black pepper. “And this is what you want me to expose Shiloh to in these early days? No, thanks. I want her hanging around, not taking to her heels.”
“We want her hanging around too. And stop spraying on pepper. I put enough in the sauce while cooking it.” Gloria snatched the pepper jar off his hand. “You take your time with your Shiloh and when you both are ready, bring her here to meet us. We’ll be waiting patiently and without no pressure at all.” She threw her husband a glance at his sniff. “No pressure at all. Now, how do you want your birthday celebrated?”
“I’m thinking of spending the day with Shiloh.” Jeth said.
“Now, that would have been a fine time to meet her… if we were having our usual family celebration.” Ethan muttered into his glass of water.
Gloria and Jeth rolled their eyes at each other.
“I’m sure you will have a lovely time with her alone.” Gloria said and ignored the glare from Ethan. “Spend the day indoors instead of going out. That will make it more intimate.”
“Shouldn’t ‘more intimate’ be something they are avoiding?” Ethan muttered.
“He’s not impatient you, so I’m sure he’ll behave himself.” His wife countered.
Jeth eyebrows arched with curiosity. “Is there something you two should be telling me about the pre-wedding days?”
“Nothing that is important… or any of your business.” Ethan retorted, shooting him his big-brother’s dark glare. “Enjoy your birthday alone with your Shiloh.”
“I plan to.” The dark glare didn’t perturb Jeth. It never did. “And I will be behaving myself since I am not impatient to do anything I shouldn’t be doing.”
“Let the intimate time alone happen first before you start bragging, good Jethro.”
“Oh, I’m good all right. The halo above my head proves it.” Jeth grinned at the faux glare.
“I pray you come to know the meaning of: ‘lead me not into temptation’.”
“What?” Gloria spun her laughing eyes at a now glowering Ethan. “Are you saying I led you into temptation?”
“It was Eve bearing the apple, wasn’t it?” Ethan smirked.
“I don’t believe this!” Gloria sputtered, her jaw dropping.
“I am suddenly getting revelations.” Jeth’s grin grew wider. “You two were up to no good pre-wedding days, weren’t you?”
“Oh, shut up and mind your business!” They both threw at him and then turned to glare at each other, both their mouths twitching with their held-in amusement.
“I’m shutting up, no problems. But I now know.” And Jeth’s laughter broke out at their snooty snorts.
IT was her first time being inside his flat and Shiloh felt both excited and aflutter. It was just the word to describe the tiny flickers in her stomach, she thought unconsciously pressing a hand against her stomach. She’d been expecting a dinner date celebration or even an invitation to join in a family celebration. Although, the latter would have made her feel even more flustered than she did now and she had secretly been praying against it.
She wanted them to get to know themselves more before they involved family. More family since her mother was already involved and crowing her loud cheers in favour—much to Shiloh’s exasperation sometimes. Or most times.
“You have a nice place.” Her voice was careful because Shiloh felt the nervy need to be careful—and extra calm. “Your living room is not as overly masculine and conventional as I’d expected it to be.”
“I’m glad I surprised you there then.” Jeth dipped his head in a gallant bow.
He was even gladder and much too excited to have her in his home. Gloria’s idea had been brilliant. And maybe he shouldn’t have smirked at Ethan’s words of being led into temptation. Gosh, she was so beautiful!
“I’m so glad to have you here, Shiloh.” He took her hand and once again, marvelled at their smallness and softness. “I’m even gladder to have you share this special day with me.”
“Happy birthday to you again, Jeth.” Can the crazy tingly bites stop, she was about to say a little prayer for heaven’s sake! “I pray that on this day, and in the days ahead, you feel a perfect sense of fulfilment as the wonders of God’s special love spreads over you and all round you. May your find fulfilment in your walk with Him, in your work, in your family and relationships, and in your life as a whole. May God bless your new age, Jethro. In Jesus’ Name.”
“Amen.” And because the simple prayer so touched him, Jeth leaned forward on impulse and kissed her. “Thank you, Shiloh, for being here with me, for praying for me and for being a part of my life.”
“Ah, it’s my pleasure doing all of the above.” Shiloh struggled with the skittish butterflies the feel of his lips overs hers set off. “I think we should set this celebration in motion. I got us a movie—Trainwreck. I heard it’s got some adult scenes. Luckily, we are adults.” She shot him a wink Shiloh hoped wasn’t overdone as she sprang off the sofa to put safe space between them. “Let’s start with you cutting your tiny cake here.” She winked again, took another safe step back. “Then we’ll get out the very many assorted pastries and drinks you made us buy and finally, we’ll just lounge out in front of the TV with our overfed stomachs bulging in front of us.”
“I made fried rice. And chicken. And coleslaw.” He’d made her nervous with his kiss and Jeth couldn’t quite regret doing so.
“You did?” Shiloh was surprised and impressed. “I didn’t know you can cook.”
“Of course I can.” Jeth rose and slid the bought-off-the-counter platter of cake from her hand. “My sweet mother taught me how before she passed on and my mean big sisters and brother made sure I perfected that skill by turning me into the family chef as unfortunate baby of the home concerned.”
“Well, I want to say that was horrid of mean big sisters and brother turning their unfortunate little brother into the family chef,” Shiloh grinned, suddenly relaxing and letting go of the skittish butterflies. “But as I’m about to benefit of their meanness, I can’t do that. They probably were more wise than mean.”
“You would say that, wouldn’t you, seeing as you’re a little mean yourself?”
“Me mean?” Shiloh laughed at his pretend glower. “But I am the soul of altruism.”
“Yeah right.” Jeth scoffed. “You’re dishing the rice since I cooked and I want the fattest portion of chicken.”
“Aw, did not mean big sisters and brother pinch your bony cheeks for your little gourmand spirit?” Shiloh grabbed his right cheek between her fingers and squeezed, clucking her tongue as her eyes danced with fun. “How remiss of them. Luckily, I am here to fill up unattended disciplinary loopholes.”
“I love you.” His heart swarmed with love for her. “I am so in love with you. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Oh Jeth.” Shiloh’s breath caught at the look in his eyes. “It’s too soon. Way too soon… yet, I love you too.”
“Shiloh.” He hadn’t expected that and it overwhelmed him. “My peace. The one to whom my heart belongs. My lily among thorns.”
“My best words from the Songs of Solomon.” Shiloh’s eyes filled up. “You must be meant for me or the angel of love in heaven must be playing mean tricks on me.”
“No tricks. I love you.” Overcome and unable to stop himself, Jeth inched closer and kissed her. Then murmured against her lips. “I want to share the rest of my life with you.”
“Can we enjoy the moment first before you speed off to the end?” Shiloh chuckled, enjoying the feel of his warm mouth against hers.
“Marriage won’t be an end for us. It would only be the beginning of more than we imagined possible.” Jeth promised, kissed her again and stepped back. “Now, I’m banning myself from getting one step closer to you. I don’t plan to ruin this with my greed. No way.”
“Good. Because next time, you aim for my lips, I’ll smack you over the head with a bat.” Shiloh warned. But her heart suffered a hop-skipping bump as she watched him stride into the kitchen.
He needed to know. But God, she was so afraid to tell him.
Dedication: For all March celebrants. Love… Life and Happiness
Happy weekend, everyone.