Episode 50

Thanksgiving [part 1]

Nate and Devaughn put Ebony and Mitch into the cold, dark space at lock up. JC had said to leave them there for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Malakai had gone to Corinna’s and given her a check for ten thousand dollars to keep her mouth shut and leave Mitch to his fate. She’d snatched the check greedily and promised not to say anything. She’d known nothing about the plan to wreck her brother and all of a sudden, since the check was placed into her hands, she’d been defending JC to the hilt and saying she always knew Mitch was a low life and what a great man her little brother was. JC hadn’t seen her and nor did he desire to. He’d promised Caitlin and his grandmother a day of relaxation and family time and he intended to deliver.

Caitlin and his grandmother had put together a list of things to collect from the store the previous day and as he strolled around the Super Walmart at 1:30 AM, on the day of Thanksgiving, he found himself smiling. Never before in his life had he felt like celebrating Thanksgiving so much. If anyone had told him a year ago he’d be with a wonderful woman, living in Glendale with a successful club and a new club about to open, he wouldn’t have believed them. Sure, he was still in the streets and trying to get by but it wasn’t the be all and end all of his existence now. He was a business man and one with the ability to prosper with his career. He could put his hand to anything now, the opportunities would surely arise now.

Placing a can of yams into the shopping cart and scanning the shelves for the pumpkin pie filling, he exhaled a sigh of pure contentment. He knew in his heart not to be to complacent but this day had to be perfect. He owed it to his grandmother and to the beautiful woman who accepted him for every bad and good part. His iPhone buzzed in his jeans pocket as he wheeled the cart toward the vegetables.

“Caitlin? You OK?” He felt the familiar pang of panic that always set in when she called unexpectedly. He was on edge for her safety and when she laughed throatily and assured him all was well, he leant on the cart and let his shoulders drop and relax down his back. “Can you pick me up some chocolate, baby?” She crooned. He knew she was laying in the bed he had spent most of his teen years in at his grandmothers’ house. Rose had refused to go to their house in Glendale for Thanksgiving, insisting she cook in her own kitchen and caitlin, forever being the negotiator and peace maker had pointed out to JC that his Grandmother wanted it in her own home, not in some unfamiliar house in a place she’d never been and at her age, she was content to never venture out of her comfort zone. He’d relented and agreed although he’d rather Caitlin and Callie never step foot in Compton again but even he knew that was impossible when she was his business manager and had to go to Viva on occasion. It didn’t mean he liked her being there though and would often offer that he bring the books to her but she preferred being hands on and wanted to chat to the staff and sometimes visit when patrons were in residence. That made him more on edge than anything, after her previous bad encounters there. He had far too many enemies to make it easy for him to let her be there alone and feel happy about her being there at all.

“Of course, baby girl, what you feeling?” He rested a hand on the cart and wheeled it toward the chocolate isle. “Something sweet,” She teased flirtatiously. “Well, shit girl, I’ll be home soon,” that sexy laugh again and he felt the stirrings of his loins. “I won’t be long mama.” “Good, can you get me some peppermint patties please?” She said seriously then. “For sure,” He replied, finding the object and wheeling toward the vegetables again. “Anything else? Did we forget anything on the list Caitlin?” “I don’t think so,” She yawned as he could hear her patting the dog. “Just hurry back.” “I will,” he promised. Hanging up he mentally slapped himself. He used to mock Malakai for doing whatever Akisha wanted him to do and yet here he was, truly pussy whipped as the guys would say and despite that fact, he didn’t care. She was his world and he would do anything to make her happy. He’d never felt that way about a girl before. Smiling again, he got back to his shopping and his list.

Hanging up, Caitlin lay her head down and Callie padded to her make shift bed which was a comforter folded up. She sighed happily and missed the man she’d just been talking to. Idly, she wondered how Emily and Cory were enjoying Hawaii. She’d missed her best friend’s presence but at the same time was relieved she’d been out of the house during the Ebony escapades. Ebony was currently under house arrest or to be more specific, lock up arrest. She knew enough and hadn’t asked JC what he was going to do about Mitch and Ebony. She honestly didn’t care anymore. The way she viewed people was slowly changing and she couldn’t believe it of herself. Being able to turn a blind eye was something she didn’t think she could do but after all the back stabbing and ill treatment she had received at the hands of others, she could live with it. People had tried to hurt her, her friends and her man and more to the point her beloved guide dog so she was past caring what happened to those perpetrators. If that made her a bad person, then so be it she thought. She was in love with JC and loved their life together. She didn’t like the violence but if it meant those people couldn’t hurt her, she could live with the knowledge it happened as long as she didn’t know the details. A pang of guilt always made her feel sick but she didn’t see any other choice. The justice system didn’t work. It punished people either for the wrong thing or not at all and was over all too lenient. She’d never say JC was a good citizen but he was a good man, to her and to his family and friends at least. It tore her apart when she thought those thoughts and avoided thinking about it too often. Ignorance was truly bliss, right or wrong, it was the only way she could live.

Emily lay on a crisp white bed beside Cory. They’d just finished making love for the second time that day. She’d not felt this relaxed since her care free college days. Lazily, she kissed her lover and smiled gently at him. “I love you!” She breathed, relaxation feeling so unfamiliar but welcome in her body and mind. “You to!” He kissed her gently. “I’ve been thinking,” He said hesitantly, not sure if she would be happy about these particular thoughts. “Hmm?” She said distractedly. “Well,” He cleared his throat nervously. “When we get back to LA, I thought it’d be an idea to look for a place of our own.” “What?” She opened her eyes wide now. “We just moved.” “I know,” He said, feeling tense as he looked at her shocked expression. He liked Caitlin and JC was cool but he wasn’t comfortable living with them knowing all the things JC got up to. He actually didn’t want to know more than he did as that was enough but he was afraid that one day, JC’s scheming and gangster ways would effect him and Emily more directly. “I just think having our own place might work out better for everyone,” He said evenly. She sat up and stared at him. “I thought you were OK with JC now? I thought you got over your hang ups about him and his dealings? That’s why we moved in with them. And are you forgetting how much rent they’re saving us? Cory, we live in LA, it’s expensive as hell! We’d never afford a nice place like that without them.” She was vehement in her defence of the situation and her friend’s boyfriend. In some ways, having JC in the house made her feel a little safer. Since the debacle with Lexi and the fire and such, having a strong man around the house made things seem a little safer. Cory was the most sweet and kind man she could ever hope to meet but he was not exactly a guy you’d feel safe walking down a dark alley with at night. She felt guilty as she thought that about him but Caitlin’s boyfriend would be the type of man you’d be afraid of walking down an alley way with if he wasn’t your friend. She appreciated the friendship and now he was going ligit with his business, she couldn’t understand Cory’s huge hang up. “I like JC, Em, but there are things he does and are involved with that I don’t feel altogether comfortable with,” Cory tried to explain, wishing he hadn’t mentioned it now. “Well,” She threw the covers back and got into bed. “I’m staying, so it’s up to you what you do.” And clicking off the bedside lamp, she lay still, daring him to continue the conversation. But Cory didn’t. He stayed propped on his elbow for a few minutes then clicked off his own lamp and laid down to sleep. Both of them laying awake in the moonlit room, lost in their own thoughts.

The bedroom door opened and Callie lifted her blond head to look at the new comer. Caitlin shifted in the bed and a strong hand rested on her arm. “JC?” She murmured sleepily. “Hey, baby girl,” he removed his jeans and shirt and climbed into bed. All the groceries were unpacked and put away. It was almost three AM and his grandmother had been busy while he was shopping. there were several trays of goodies, an apple and a pumpkin pie sitting on the kitchen counter. The turkey was slowly cooking. He’d raised his eyebrows as he’d seen all the food. “Baby?” He snuggled into her warm, soft body as he climbed beneath the comforter. “How many has big mama cooked for? Even I can’t eat all that food.” Caitlin laughed gently. “Give her a break, baby, she’s excited that she doesn’t have to scrimp and save this year. Let her have her fun. I bet one of the pies is for the church anyway.” He nodded to himself, kissing his girlfriend gently and cuddling into her as he waited for sleep to come.

Rose was cooking when Caitlin walked downstairs with a bounding Callie in wake at nine the next morning. Yawning broadly, she smiled at the smell of food. “Jay did well,” Rose smiled broadly. “got all we need for today. Would you like pancakes, honey?” She asked Caitlin as she let the golden labrador outside. “I’m OK, thanks, Rose,” Caitlin smiled sleepily. “Going to have some fruit. I’m afraid I’ll need all my stomach for dinner. You’ve done a real feast.” Rose smiled mysteriously which the blind girl did not see. She patted the dog and placed her food on the floor.

JC emerged a few minutes later, showered and dressed. “Hey Big Mama,” He hugged her. “You cooking for the block?” She smiled secretively but her grandson spotted it. “Big mama?” He asked sternly but she shook her head primly and headed to the living room to watch some of the Masey’s day parade. “She’s up to something,” JC told Caitlin as she made them coffee. “Why do you say that?” Caitlin smiled and kissed his cheek. “Because, she’s made more food than I’ve ever seen and she hates wasting food.” “So, she may just be cooking for the homeless or the church.” Caitlin handed him a coffee and taking a sip, he shrugged, not convinced.

The kitchen’s smells were delightful and as caitlin finished her fruit and yogurt, JC ate his second stack of pancakes, the door bell rang. JC looked at Caitlin and she shrugged nonchalantly. Rose Carter opened the door with a flourish and squealed in excitement. JC and Caitlin walked to the tiny hallway and JC took in a deep breath. “Oh my God! What are you doing here?” He asked the visitors.

[to be continued]

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