Family Secret 14

“Can I help you with that? I feel bad about not doing more to help.”

“Hey, Josh, don’t be silly, you are our guest. No one’s gotten you a plate yet?”

“Nah, I think Luis was the first in line but I wanted to wait for you. Where have you been anyway? I think I’ve shaken hands with thirty people today but I couldn’t see you anywhere.”

“Oh, I was helping in the kitchen. Let’s get you a plate; I’ll just put these down first.”

They looked for Luis once they had their plates but he had already served himself dessert and was standing while he ate, deep in conversation with a group of second cousins from his dad’s side.

“You sure have a big family, are all of these people related to you?”

“Yeah, I know it’s probably overwhelming. My sister Sandra has three kids and my sister Stella has six, and their husbands are here of course. Everyone else is from my Dad’s side. Three of his brothers came over and one of his sisters and their kids and spouses, and some of their kid’s kids and spouses.

“It’s just so different to what we do. I’m an only child so when I was younger we’d visit my grandparents and have dinner with them but since they passed away we don’t really celebrate anymore. My parents usually go on vacation during Thanksgiving.”

“I can’t imagine that, What do you usually do on your own?”

“Well last year Luis stayed in town and we invited some people over but I usually just stay in with a Hungry Man meal or go out to eat.”

“Oh, well I hope you’ll eat with us again next year. You shouldn’t be along on a holiday.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that. Hey, I thought I saw a table outside, do you want to eat there?”

“Well,I guess, sure okay.”

Lucy led the way to the table out on the backyard patio. Her brother in laws, Pete and Rico were hovering at the end of the yard talking football and watching two of Stella’s younger boys practice their passing skills. She didn’t mind someone being out there, it made her feel less awkward.

“This food is delicious, especially these rolls.”

“”Thanks, but my mom did most of the dinner. Make sure you save room for pie.”

“Oh definitely the pie is the thing! I practically crave pumpkin pie all year round.”

“That’s funny I’m the same way. I love a big piece of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream right in the middle, it’s nirvana.”

That got a laugh out of Josh and Lucy felt a little silly for going on and on about pie so there was a lull for a while. They looked on as Stella’s youngest Matthew tackled his big brother, Joey.

“Now that kid has skills. I never did get into football when I was younger, when I moved here though I learned that it’s like a religion in Texas.”

“I think Luis said that you came here from Minnesota?”

“Yeah, we moved to Dallas when I was sixteen after my dad got a job as an English professor at the university. At first it was a real culture shock, but I adapted pretty quickly. I definitely like the winters more here than I did in Minnesota.”

“But don’t you miss having snow in winter? I’d love to see a white Christmas at least, that’s really rare here.”

“I do miss the snow but I don’t miss all the shoveling. It’s a pretty good tradeoff, and if I ever did miss it enough I could go back to visit.”

“How long have you lived in San Antonio?”

“About three years come December. We used to go to San Antonio every other summer to visit and I was determined to live there some day. I love the culture and the feel of the town. I mean, I like your town too, but San Antonio is the one place that I felt drawn to right away, if you know what I mean.”

“I do, I’ve always felt that way about Corpus Christi.”

“Really? I like Corpus, I like Port Aransas better though.”

“Well, I mean, I like the ocean. We used to go to Corpus a lot when we were younger. We’d rent a room in Corpus and then spend all day on Padre Island. It was fantastic. I would paddle out as far as I would dare and just stand and let the waves crash over me, it made me feel so alive. I know that’s corny but it’s true!  I always said that I’d love to live near to the ocean someday, but it’s hard you know. My mom has a fit anytime I talk about moving.”

“But Luis moved to San Antonio, she didn’t get upset about that?”

“Oh she did, but Luis is a man.  I’m a woman, it’s just different.

Anyway she finally gave in to Luis because it has to do with his education. Mom won’t understand me wanting to move just because the ocean makes me happy.”

“Well, I think you have as much a right to be happy as Luis does. Lucy, don’t ever say no to what your heart really wants, there’s no quicker way to become a bitter, jaded person than that. I’ve seen it happen too many times.”

She smiled. She wouldn’t say all that she was thinking, she couldn’t let him know how flustered he made her feel or how she had never met anyone like him before. She couldn’t say that among the things that her heart now wanted, he seemed to be vying for a prominent place.

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel;for part 13 go here. All past parts of this can be found on the  A Family Secret page:) Thanks for reading!

A Family Secret 13-Thanksgiving

Josh and Luis were scheduled to get there any minute. They were on holiday for Thanksgiving and it had been decided that Josh would come eat dinner with their family as his parents usually went on a cruise during this time of year. He would stay in the guest room that night and Luis, Lucy and he would go camping the next day and the next day after that if all went well.

Lucy always helped with Thanksgiving and the night before she had helped Janie make five different pies and her signature fruit salad with rice in it. This morning she had woken up early with her mom to get a start on the turkey and whatever else they could get started. Janie was still in the kitchen finishing up the last of the dishes.. Lucy would have been in there too but as the hour for the expected arrival grew closer, her hands grew clumsy and she was finally sent out of the kitchen to watch the parade with her dad.

Lucy was excited to see her brother again but he wasn’t the reason why she kept checking out the windows and pacing in the front hallway. Even her father noticed. He said that he would change her nickname to Grasshopper if she didn’t quit jumping up every five minutes. Every knock on the door made her rush to answer it, but so far it had only been her sisters and their families. Her eagerness for them to get there started to turn to worry, what if something had happened? She felt over warm and decided to go outside to wait instead.  She had just put on her sweater and was headed out when she heard her cousin Martha calling out to her.

“Hey Lucy, I wanted to introduce Brian to you officially.”

Lucy gave both  a big smile and firm handshake as she had always been taught to do. Martha’s eyes never left Brian’s face and her hand never left his arm, she looked blissed up and in love. This was a good thing, Lucy’s cousin had always been a good friend but had turned really boy crazy as she got older which had distanced them somewhat.

She had just returned with drinks for them when she saw Josh and Abel come into the living room archway. Josh was just as good-looking and charming standing there in her living room as he had been in her dreams. She watched him make his way into the room in an elegant but easy stride, stopping to be introduced when necessary. Lucy loved how he kept bending down a bit to be more on a level with those who came to say hello to him.

“And who is that nice looking fellow with Luis, besides a man who you are crushing on?” Martha’s voice brought her back to herself.

“Oh don’t be silly. That’s just Josh, he’s Luis’s good friend from San Antonio.” Lucy tried to sound unmoved by it but felt her face burning hot and excused herself to use the upstairs bathroom. She had been in such a hurry for  Josh to get there but her cousin’s lucky guess made her want to just hide herself away for the rest of the day.

Instead she returned to helping her mom out in the kitchen. By now her sisters had started helping out too and she struggled to find something to do. The first tray of rolls had already come out of the oven but Lucy knew that they would go fast. She told them all that  she would be on roll duty. Lucy pulled a tray full of the white mounds of dough and popped them into the oven and took out another tray and left them to rise in its place on the counter.

She stayed in the kitchen while her sisters took the rest of the food out and placed it on a buffet table they had set up in the dining room. Everyone would grab a plate and serve themselves and then find a seat among those scattered throughout the house. There was even a table set outside, as it was usual for the family to bring extra guests at the last-minute.

Once the timer dinged Lucy opened the oven to check on her rolls. The blast of heat that hit her face always made her turn away at first, but then she adjusted her eyes and when she saw that the rolls were golden and perfect, she took the out quickly.

The smell of freshly baked bread always made her sigh with happiness and she took a deep breath to calm her nerves before shaking the rolls off of the tray and into the napkin lined basket she had waiting.

She waited a few more seconds at the doorway and then walked out into the dining room. Everyone was in the middle of waiting in line and talking or serving themselves from the buffet. She thought of leaving the basket and then heading back to the safety of the kitchen for a minute. This is silly, she told herself, I’ll wedge my way to the table, set down this basket and then get in line. A familiar voice interrupted her thoughts.

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel;for part 12 go here, part 14 can be found here. All past parts of this can be found on the  A Family Secret page. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

A Family Secret 12

Today was her Mom’s day to clean the church she regularly  attended and Lucy felt like she should be there to help. The church was a small mission without the extra money to hire a cleaning service so the members took turns doing the cleaning and yard work, usually signing up for days as a family. Lucy remembered helping with her brother when they were younger. She felt a slight pang of guilt, how long had it been since her mom had had any help cleaning the church? She had stopped attending church services for a while now. It hadn’t really been a conscientious decision, it had just happened.

She believed in God, and she believed in Jesus, she just didn’t quite do all of the things as a believer that she felt she should. It had been forever since she had last opened a Bible or even prayed. This seemed even worse to her because of what they had just been through,

Her grandma being sick, her mother grieving her loss, shouldn’t she have prayed for guidance or help?   It saddened her that the thought hadn’t even come to her.

Lucy had just finished up mopping the long hallway at the entrance to the church.  She was so deep in thought that she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her. All of a sudden a hand came to rest on her shoulder. She let out a gasp and jumped backwards.

“Sheesh, Lucy, I didn’t mean to scare you. What would you be scared of inside a church, anyway?”

“I’m sorry, it was nothing of course. You just startled me, I wasn’t thinking.  Or maybe I was thinking too much. What’s up?”

“I was just seeing if you were finished. Your dad wants to lock up already.”

“He finished all of the yard work already? Yes, I’m almost finished here, Mom. I guess I wasn’t much help here after all, huh?”

“Don’t be silly, I’m really glad that you came today.”

“I’m going to make sure and come with you from now on. And wake me up in time for church service tomorrow?”

Of course I can.” Janie felt guilty about the huge grin across her mother’s face. She didn’t know why she had stopped going to church in the first place and she didn’t know why she felt the need to go back now.

“Mom you used to be Catholic, right? How did you know that it was the right thing to become a Baptist? Or did you just do that for dad?”

“Lucy, you do not understand how strong my love was for the Catholic Church. My mother raised us all to be good Catholic girls, the priests used to drill into our heads what a big sin we would be guilty of if we ever left the church. I would have never have left my faith for a man. I didn’t leave the church for your father, when I got married I was still a Catholic. I converted years later after going to a few services at his church. And when I was called to that altar, I know that it was God calling me there.”

“What do you mean?”

“ I mean that I did not want to go up there. The whole time that the preacher was giving his invitation, I felt the need to go up there but I fought it. When I finally did walk up the aisle there were tears in my eyes, but not from guilt, from pure hardheadedness! But my going up there even though I didn’t want to go was enough, I was enveloped in this warmth, I felt God’s love for me for the first time and there was no going back after that. Back then we used to burn our trash and so when we got home I grabbed the trash that we had in the house and threw all of my saints and rosaries  in the bag and just burned it all. I felt like that was what I should do, and I still don’t regret that. However, that decision had a lot of consequences.”

“Grandma was angry.”

“Oh, your grandma was furious, they all were. I was so naïve and just on fire for the Lord, I think that I thought that I would convert my whole family.’

Janie could still see the faces of those that she loved yelling at her and then asking her to leave.

“I’m sorry I brought it up mom, especially now.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m sad that your grandma has passed but I am happy because I feel like I made peace with her. This would be unbearable if not for that. I wish we had had more time, but we were blessed to have what we did have.”

Lucy didn’t know what to say so she just hugged her mama until her father came in to see what was taking them so long.

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel;for part 11 go here. All past parts of this can be found on the  A Family Secret page. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Chapter 11, A Family Secret

It was time for Luis to return to San Antonio. Janie had invited Josh to come and eat with them before they had to leave. He arrived holding a huge  bouquet of yellow and orange chrysanthiums.

“Mrs Rivera, I’m sorry, I hope these are okay.  I thought since it was October I’d go with a seasonal choice. It was this or a bunch of decorative corn.”

“Don’t be silly, these are lovely. Mums are actually my favorite type of flower.”

“No, they’re not. Are they really?” Josh looked sceptical.

Lucy smiled,“She’s seriously not kidding. I’ve never heard anyone else say that, but mom loves mums, always has. Here let me put them in water for you mom. Josh, this was sweet. “

Janie took a big whiff of the bouquet’s spicy scent before Lucy took it from her and left the room to find a vase.

“Hey Lucy, thanks. And thank you for inviting me today Mrs. Rivera.”

“Of course, we owe you so much for bringing and taking Luis back. Come in, let me take your jacket and just make yourself at home, okay?” Janie gestured for Josh to come further into the room.

Josh shifted uncomfortably and rubbed the back of his neck,“Okay, um Mrs. Rivera, I’m very sorry for your loss.”

“We are getting by, thank you.  Go sit, Julian should be in the den, right through there.”


“And Josh, please call me Janie, okay?”

Dinner had been Janie’s specialty, chipotle enchiladas, spanish rice and beans. Everyone had eaten until they couldn’t eat one more bite. They all sat back in their chairs and looked at the empty casserole dishes fondly.

“Wow, Mrs… I mean Janie, you sure can cook. I couldn’t eat one more bite but if you had more I think I’d try.”

“Thank you Josh, Lucy worried it might be too spicy but it’s one of our favorite dishes, we wanted to share it with you.”

“No, no I like spicy anyway, but I think those enchiladas had a very nice heat to them. It didn’t shock and it lingers for a while afterward, that’s my favorite kind of heat. The sauce went really well with the cheese, it’s queso blanco isn’t it? They were very good.”

Lucy laughed “Josh I think if we didn’t already know that you wrote restaurant reviews for a living, we’d be able to guess it from that.”

“Sorry, professional hazard, I guess. But really these were fantastic.”

“Okay Josh, quit sucking up. “Luis grinned as he said it though, he was happy that his friend fit in so well with his family. His first year in the big city would’ve been a nightmare without Josh. They had met through an ad Josh had put up looking for a roommate, but they had clicked right away.      Luis already counted Josh as one of his very best friends.

“So Josh, how did you find the state park after all?”

“It was great. I’m definitely going to try camping out there next time. The hiking trails are really something, Lucy you do not know what you are missing.”

Julian laughed and looked from Josh to his daughter who blushed slightly, “Camping, hiking? Not our Lucy, she’s not really the outdoor type.”

“Dad! I could camp or hike as well as any of you guys could!”

“Ha, that’s not saying much. No, but it really is fun, we’ve gone hiking and camping in the small towns near San Antonio a couple of times. I like it better than I ever would have thought I would.”said Luis

“When I bring Luis back you should join us Lucy.”

“When you bring Luis back?”asked Lucy

Luis threw Josh an annoyed look, “I’ve been thinking about it and I’m going to move back here for a while.”

Janie’s lips tightened, “Luis, no, you can’t do that you need to finish school.”

“Mom I will finish school, don’t worry about that. I just think I should take a little time off until things go back to normal, you know.”

“Luis, you will not be coming back home, I am sorry. We would love you here again, but your education is very important, I couldn’t let you do this.”


“No. You two come back and visit on your next break, I’ll even send you some gas money, but you will go back to school.” Janie’s word was final, there was no point discussing it further.

“Promise me that you will take care of mom.” Luis handed a dish to Lucy as he spoke, he had volunteered to do the dishes and Lucy said that she would dry them.

In her mother’s bright kitchen it was hard to remember that everything in their lives was cheerful and good. She could hear Josh in the front room cracking jokes and her mother’s clear laughter answering them.

“You know that I will take care of momma the best that I can.”

Lucy didn’t have to say that Luis questioning her about this made her feel hurt, he knew right away.

“Lucy, don’t get all defensive, I know that you will. I just think that  mom is feeling all of this more than she lets on. Maybe you can’t see it but I was shocked when I saw her, she looks like she’s aged ten years since the last time I was here.”

Lucy looked up at her brother; he himself looked to have done a lot of growing up this past year. He had always been taller than her but he was no longer lanky, his shoulders had become broad and  his face had filled in. She wouldn’t have called him buff exactly, but he looked healthy, he looked strong. His new physique suited his olive skin color and jet black hair. The changes in him made her feel further divided from him, he had turned into a man and she felt like a frightened little girl.

“It’s been a hard year on her Luis, but she’ll pull through it all and I will look after her, you don’t have to worry about that.”

“I know, now hurry up slow poke you have a pile of dishes to catch up on!” Luis ruffled her hair with his wet hand and left the kitchen chuckling about it before she could retaliate.

Lucy felt divided. She knew what her mother had said was right but she also knew that she missed her brother a great deal. She had felt like a part of herself had been missing ever since he moved away.  Their parting from each other was bittersweet. They all hugged a great deal and promised that it wouldn’t be too long at all before they were together again, Janie tried to not cave though she kept feeling like she could at any moment.

“Lucy, it was nice to meet you.” Josh came over to her while Luis was finishing up his goodbyes with their parents.

“It was good to meet you too, Josh. We are lucky; I mean Luis is lucky to have you in his life.”

“Hey, I meant what I said, okay? You better try camping out with us if the weather doesn’t get too bad, yea?”

“Yea, okay. Hopefully I won’t slow you down.” Lucy had to look up at Josh as she spoke to him and he had to look down at her. It was cozy inside the arch they formed and they were probably closer to one another then they necessarily had to be.

“I’d love to have you there, Lucy.”

As her brother and Josh drove away Lucy looked after their car. Josh drove up to the stop sign and then stopped and honked three times. Lucy waved and smiled.

“I’d love to have you there.” Josh had said.

She hoped this wouldn’t be trouble.

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel, for part 10 go here, for part 12 go here. All other posts for this can be found on the A Family Secret page. Thanks for reading! 🙂