by W.P. Gerace
A young lawyer realizes coming home to share her happiness was a bad idea.
W. P. Gerace
Paula hadn't been home to her hometown of Philadelphia in nearly 10 years since she left for college out west and later became an excellent criminal attorney. Much has changed here, like in many other places, mainly since the pandemic. However, she was excited to be home and share her happiness with her parents and sister, Annabelle. Waiting alongside the airport curb for a Lyft, her soon-to-be husband, and father of her child yet to be born, Erik stood towering above her in his basketball tee shirt, his dark muscles glistening in the warm June sun. Erik was everything she wanted in a man who was friendly, caring, and loyal, something you rarely found these days. Together for only 6 months, she felt as though she had known him for 6 years.
"I can't wait for you to meet my family, honey. They will love you. "Paula said, leaning up to kiss him on his neck, his gold necklace brushing her cheeks.
"I know me too, baby. I love you so much. I will surely love your family as much as I love you. "Erick responded, wrapping his strong hands around her back.
They met her parents at their favorite place, The Rivera, an Italian Restaurant in Center City, in 40 minutes. They had the best authentic Italian food anyone could have. The restaurant was run by her parent's friends, the Girdano's. Their meatballs were giant, and the sauce was superior to her mother's, which was pretty darn good. She left the part about Eric a secret. She could not wait for them to meet him. She could hear her father's broken Italian accent finally happy and not asking if she found a man yet. He wanted to be alive still when she had her first child.
Finally, their Lyft driver pulled up a young Hispanic chubby kid with dark eyes and hair. His little vehicle was blasting some deafening rap music. That was right up Erik's alley as he began to beep and boom. Grabbing their luggage and putting it in the car's back seat, Paula mentioned please get them to the River Restaurant at 15th and Market Street. She put it in the app but wanted to make sure. The kid nodded, twisting his baseball cap backward as if about to embark on a serious mission.
Within minutes they were in front of The Rivera. Most had stayed the same here. The building still had its rustic brick outside appearance. There was the angel water fountain where patrons could toss their coins in and wish for the best. Standing outside was the doorman Harold still here after all these years. Dressed in his dark black suit and tie, he smiled and came over to give Paula a hug. He still wore that heavy cologne that would clog her sinuses. Pulling herself back, she introduced Erik, her future husband, as the Lyft driver pulled their luggage out and said if they ever needed a ride again, just hit him up. Paula needed clarification on that. He drove like a speed demon along the highway. Smiling, she hands him a twenty-dollar bill.
As they were finishing up formalities and thanking the Lyft driver for his services, even though they were dangerous, to say the least, she could hear her mother's loud tone clear across the other side of the walkway. There stood her mom dressed in a silky pink dress, her father in his Sunday best suit. Off the side of the restaurant was a little patio with white concrete tables and wide-brim umbrellas. Motioning her over, Paula's mother told her to come down as always, taking control of the situation. She had forgotten how controlling her mother could be and demanding.
A young waitress dressed in a short white skirt and low-cut blouse came up to their table. Paula couldn't help but notice Erik's wandering eyes, something she had never seen before. Speaking in one of those squeaky mouse voices, she asked what everyone wanted. They had a special on pasta pesto tonight for just $9.99 with unlimited Italian salad. Her mother took over the conversation as was her thing to do and said to get them all lemon ice cream and cappucchino for them all.
Slowly Paula's excitement was beginning to wear off. Feeling her temperament flare up, something she saved for the courtroom, she was quick to say she was not the little girl that left Philadelphia nearly 10 years ago. She was a woman now, not daddy's and mommy's little girl whom mommy could dictate to. So much has she forgotten how things were. She sure hoped Erick didn't pick up on this. However, he seemed preoccupied with their young waitress's body.
"So, honey, introduce me to your friend here. What have you been up to? Tell us everything. Make sure to include all the details. Annabelle would have been here, but she's sick with one of her migraines. "Shaking her head, Paula couldn't believe they were still falling for that. Annabelle just did not like going anywhere point-blank.
"Mom and Dad, this is my boyfriend and future husband, Eric. We're getting married in two months. I will send you tickets and invitations when we return home so you can come to our wedding. We are also having a baby. I'm three months. "Holding her stomach and smiling.
"What! Honey, this man is going to be your husband! We always wanted you to marry an Italian boy! "Her mother got up and walked off.
"Honey, don't let your mother worry about you. I will talk to her. "Her father replied, rolling his eyes.
"Don't worry about it, Dad. She will never change. It's her way or the highway. Eric let's go. Ericccc!! "Nudging him as he was still preoccupied.
Wait, a wasted trip, Paula thought.