Full Circle Ch. 05Bbytens©
So, yeah, this story is completely unedited. I apologize for the errors in advance. Sometimes, you have to turn in what you have.
"Dressing, boy, not stuffing," Zenovia Lillis said after chomping away at part of a turkey leg. When she chewed, her dentures clacked together loudly. Though she hunched over her Thanksgiving meal, it was clear that she was once a very tall woman. At eighty, she was still formidable, and Persephone wouldn't have known the woman had suffered a stroke months ago if she hadn't seen Zenovia during her recovery period.
"Yes, ma'am, dressing. It's really good," Vanya replied cautiously before placing another bite in his mouth.
"Mama, don't be mean. Some people say 'dressing' some people say 'stuffing.' It all tastes good. The only thing that matters is that you like it, Vanya. Eat up," Margie Benson butted in on Vanya's behalf.
"Well, Mom, technically, only stuffing is stuffed, dressing is on the side. So, γιαγιά is right," John Mark chimed in for the first time that evening. Persephone guessed he was trying to eat as quickly as possible and make it to the den for the football game. His smart, cute girlfriend, Ariana, had been quietly containing her laughter for the entirety of the meal. She ate only a small portion of her food, surely an attempt to maintain her dancer's figure for ballet. However, it seemed she was off the hook since Vanya was under the Peterson's scrutiny.
Persephone, for her part, was enjoying the meal immensely. The idea of Vanya having to prove his honor to Zenovia -- and to a lesser extent, Peter -- was downright amusing. The woman questioned the validity of everything he did. Peter had been giving Vanya scathing looks all night and had gone so far as to ask about his "intentions for the future." That one had made Vanya visibly uncomfortable; Emma had saved him with an, "Ohmigod, Dad!" Peter finally let Vanya off the hook when he recognized him from some Division I basketball championships from years past. After that, it was all talk of the game, the teams, and the titles.
It wasn't long before they ate up and the men all headed to the den for the game. Persephone sat with Emma, Margie, Ariana and Zenovia in the living room, chatting about the town's goings on. Apparently, a new foreign film had made its way to the movie theatre and Zenovia thought it would be good for all the ladies to get out and "get some culture." Much to her daughter's wariness, she insisted on driving.
"I'm not dead yet, and I've still got some eyes to see with. Allow an old woman this one indulgence, Margie," she stated, climbing slowly into the luxury SUV, rebuffing Margie's provision of assistance.
"But Mama, I want you to be careful," Margie protested, "it's all fun and games until someone breaks a hip. I told you what happened to Ms. Kroger last week. She's still in the hospital and Patricia has been there at her side the whole time and she's missed a week of work because of it and we've had to bring dinner over there to the kids for now."
Persephone looked at Emma and raised her eyebrows. She'd forgotten the amount of words that Margie could fit within one breath. The speedy language coupled with her high-pitched, twangy voice was more than anyone in the car wanted to take. Everyone in the party was relieved when Margie decided to stay behind to clean up.
The four women began what should have been a calm drive to the movie theater ten minutes away. Unfortunately, Zenovia had an entirely different idea of speed limits and right of way than that of the local government. Her swears filled the car when she nearly hit someone on a rolling stop. Ariana sat in shock in the backseat, clutching her seat belt and pressing her thin, dancer's body into the seat cushions behind her. Emma and Persephone, however, were seasoned passengers of Zenovia's wrath and had accepted the gamble of driving with her years ago.
Zenovia had once told Persephone that she had "seen some shit" while serving in the Fleet Support community of the U.S. Navy, but Persephone got the impression that Zenovia was tough before that. She often regaled them with some story about the naval base. "They never sent women out to sea back then" was always offered as a reason for the inexplicable incidents in her tales. Persephone had always been more attentive to these anecdotes than Emma who was certain her γιαγιά had made up nearly everything.
"So, is that Russian boy talking about marrying you, Persephone?" the old woman asked loudly toward the back seat.
"Wow, Zenovia, woo, right out of the gate there, eh?" Persephone grinned nervously behind Emma. She just knew Emma was smiling a teasing smile in the front seat.
"Well, I'm just being observant, girl. It's clear to me that he likes you a lot. He came out here to the middle of 'Lord Knows Where, Texas' just to meet us. I'd say he's lookin' to keep you."
"'Keep her?' Γιαγιά, that's a little antiquated, don't you think?" Emma scoffed.
"Aw, hell, you know what I mean. Just make sure you know him before you rush into anything. It took a lot of convincing for me to finally marry Joseph. He was the best one of them that died on me."
"Yes, ma'am. I remember some of the 'convincing' you told us about," Persephone tried to remind Zenovia so that she wouldn't rehash any details. Apparently, she was wooed into matrimony by Colonel Joseph Lillis, her fourth and final husband, after years and years of friendship and cohabitation.
"But you should really know them, I mean, really know them. And I'm...well, I probably shouldn't be saying this but...I'm not just talking about foreplay either. I mean you should really know 'em. Good to what you want and what they want."
"Umm, yeah, Γιαγιά, that's uh...important..." Emma took the responsibility to speak for the stunned young women in the back seat.
"It sure is," Zenovia continued, "You know, Joseph loved me long before I loved him and I had to wait it out. I had rushed into things twice before. You aren't doin' yourself any favors doing that. That's why I joined the navy. It ended up setting me straight, letting me figure out what I wanted before I got married again. I guess it gave me Joseph, too. My mama was seventeen when she married. She just came over here from Greece a few years after that. Now, I loved my father, but he was a mean cuss. Any woman would've had second guesses with a man like that. I didn't want something like that for myself, but I still got married way too young.
"Anyway, you're all good girls. You'll get married. But make sure you really know the man. That goes for you, too, girl. Just because you're dating my grandson don't think that I'm not talking to you," Zenovia threw her last caveat to a speechless Ariana.
Persephone thanked God when they pulled into the movie theater parking lot about sixty seconds later. The awkwardness in the vehicle was palatable. When they drove past the box office she yelped for the car to stop.
"Hey, stop right here, I'll get the tickets while you guys park!" Persephone bounced out of the still jiggling SUV after Zenovia came to an abrupt stop.
"I'll go, too," Ariana popped out of the car like lightening. Persephone didn't miss the glare of daggers Emma threw their way as she and Zenovia drove off to find a parking space. She decided the slight betrayal was worth it.
"Whoooaaahhh, that was like, super intense," Persephone commented sotto voce as they took their place in line.
"Oh, my gosh, I know. I had no idea what to say!"
"Meh, I think all you can do when old people talk like that is listen. Even if they're crazy, which Zenovia is not, you can probably still pick out some good tidbits from what they're saying. Besides, she's like an expert on marriage."
"Pssh, she's been married a ton of times. The first one died in Korea a year after they got married. The second one was an asshole she divorced. The third one was Margie's dad. He was way older than her and had a heart attack and then Joseph was her last one and he died ten years ago from cancer."
"Damn, that's crazy."
"Yeah, I suppose it happens sometimes, but it's pretty crazy. Can you imagine being widowed at twenty-one years old? That's insane. I don't even think I had dated anyone more than three months when I was that age. I can't imagine being serious about anything then."
"I've been with John Mark for six months. I hope we stay together a long time," Ariana stated in a somewhat worried tone. Persephone felt bad; she'd forgotten Ariana and John Mark were both twenty-one. She didn't want to put doubts in the girl's head.
According to what Emma had told her earlier, John Mark was pretty serious about the ballerina, but her parents weren't so thrilled. The older Brazilian couple had retired from successful ballet careers and thought John Mark was a career killing distraction. Apparently, her trip to Texas for Thanksgiving had only put stress on Ariana's relationship with her parents.
"Well, yeah, you two are sweet, and I'm a freak. I've dated like, no one since the beginning of college...that is, before Vanya came along," Persephone tried to make up for her previous comments, "Besides, John Mark is so improved now that he's with you. He seems more mature, more ready to deal with things like an adult."
"Hmph, that's funny, Emma's said the same thing but I never think of him that way."
"Ha, that's because he's never tried to steal your diary or put staining food dye in your toothpaste at a sleepover."
"What?! How is that even possible without someone noticing?"
"I don't know, he's frickin' smart...and evil. But you've changed all that. Now he's dopey with love and kind and mature. It's definitely an improvement. Oh, here they come. Why don't you head inside and snatch us all some seats while I stay in the snack line. You want anything special other than super buttery pop corn?"
"Can I have a water?"
"Yep, I'll see you inside."
The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch. The movie was about some French guy that was trying to weasel his way into high society at any price. It was surprisingly easy for him and while the film was full of witty moments and passionate affairs, Persephone found herself hating the protagonist. He was a phony and reveled in it, often lying to get whatever he wanted and blackmailing and extorting several people. On the drive home, Persephone couldn't help but think about Vanya doing that. She assumed blackmail and extortion had been part of his job description at one point or another. At first, she thought it was ironic that she could hate that movie character and feel so much for Vanya but then decided the two were completely different.
She had gathered from late night revelatory cuddle sessions and the constant callbacks to his father that Vanya's work was mostly motivated by familial loyalty. As misguided as that was, it was better than pure greed. He had been raised to think of it that way. Vanya was also monogamous. She doubted he had time to fuck anyone else but her with the way they went at it. His only free time was when he went to the city on the weekends and he always returned as soon as possible, eager to devour her as soon as he stepped through the door.
Persephone wasn't totally sure but she suspected that the forbidden nature of their relationship and lovemaking were extremely thrilling to Vanya. They were opposites in the truest sense. She was short to his tall, black to his white, boisterous to his reserved, calculating to his direct, and sexually submissive to his dominant. Poor Vanya had been dying to get into her pants since they'd come to Texas but Peter was determined to make sure they didn't so much as kiss under his roof. If Peter had his way, she and Vanya and John Mark and Ariana wouldn't get less than one feet between them.
Persephone slumped back in her theater seat, thinking of how scandalized Peter would have been by a movie with this amount of sexual content, even if it was in a classy, 70s French film sort of way. Being that they were such prudes, she wondered how he and his wife could possibly enjoy their sex lives. After being a little grossed out by her attempts to imagine what such a sexual relationship would be like, Persephone returned her concentration to the end of the film.
The next night Emma took the responsibility of the youths' entertainment into her own hands. After they finished a light round of leftovers from the holiday meal Margie was a little disappointed when Emma informed her that the kids wouldn't be joining her and Peter for a Frank Capra film viewing.
"Yeah, Mom, we're seen all of them seven million times. We're going dancing."
Worry immediately creased Margie's face. "Well, who's driving?"
"I am," Ariana chimed in, "I'm not drinking. Empty carbs."
"Well, Emma, what time are y'all gonna be back?"
"I don't know, but I know we'll be late if we don't leave soon!" she replied rising from the couch, "we're meeting up with some friends and we have to get gussied up."
This was the first Vanya had heard of any such outing but he knew Persephone was dying to get out of the house. She'd said yesterday's movie hadn't been enough.
They ended up going to the Fork, a trendy bar downtown with the right amount of hot pop music and lounging areas. No sooner than they arrived did Vanya realize why Ariana was hellbent on being a professional dancer. The girl grabbed John Mark and hit the floor almost immediately. It turned out ballerinas could get down with mere mortals as well. Her skills drew the eyes of more than a few in the crowd. John Mark was going to have his hands full keeping the wolves at bay.
"Do you want to dance?" Vanya spoke loudly over the music. He'd be lying if said he didn't want to see Persephone on the dance floor. If she could dance anything like that he'd risk embarrassment. Grinding had never seemed so appetizing. He grabbed her hand and made for the floor.
Persephone had to dig her kitten heels before he noticed her pulling backwards. "Not just yet," she yelled up to him, "I want to drink something first."
Careful not to drag her behind him - he knew she hated that - he made his way to the bar and ordered her favorite, a Brandy Alexander. He was surprised the bartender knew what the cocktail was. Like the rest of the people in the bar, she seemed a little honky tonk. The crowd was about fifty/fifty between Whites and Hispanics aged twenty-one to thirty-five with a sprinkling of Blacks. There were a few punks, a lot of students, and even some members of the LGBT community, but definitely all honky tonk.
He didn't dare tell Persephone, but he hadn't warmed up to Texas much. On the flight down, she had warned him that her own town was not fun like Austin, Houston, or San Antonio. It may be home to a large university, but most of the people were conservative and had a hard time acknowledging the world beyond the Bible Belt and who was playing the Dallas Cowboys. Albeit these shortcomings, she insisted the people were kind, living was cheap, and it was a great place to raise one's children.
At the time, he'd immediately thought she must be insane if she believed he'd allow them to raise their children here. Then, he'd caught himself. The implications of the thought, as alluring as such a future was, had caught him off guard. Vanya reminded himself that such a thing was probably impossible.
"I know you're not just fucking her..."
Mikhail's words had rung through his head as his heartbeat sped up. His heartbeat - Ivan Kirillovich Pravin's heartbeat - had sped up at the though of a woman? His cousin had been right. Vanya was beginning to see that his feelings for Persephone could not be contained or hidden for much longer. Hell, he had traveled to Texas for her!
He'd grabbed her hand then on the plane much in the same way he did now. He wanted his sweetpea near to him this evening. The crowd was a little rowdy and he didn't trust Emma not to go off the deep end. He thought it was irresponsible to bring someone with her background out to the bar but apparently the family figured it was step above drugs.
The group found a cozy lounge and Vanya and Persephone were quickly appointed keepers of the purses for their willingness to stay seated and sip their drinks while everyone went out to dance. Vanya took a gulp of his jack and coke and pulled Persephone onto his lap. She immediately yelped and tried to jump off. He wouldn't allow it, only pulling her closer and pushing his erection against her.
"Hey, no you don't! Come here and kiss me. I haven't kissed you in two and a half days. I'm dying!"
He pulled her face to his for a deep, penetrating kiss. Not satisfied, he went back in for a harder, more possessive one. Vanya didn't stop until she was responsive and weak, leaning into him for more.
"Okay," she breathed, her eyes still closed, "I'm getting off your lap now. I look like a hussy."
"Mmm, my hussy."
"Not as cute or funny as you thing you are. Let me down, we really do look sleazy. It's different here."
Vanya sat her closely to his side, sensing her embarrassment. Sometimes playing with Persephone was like playing with a baby. You could tickle and poke for a while and they enjoyed it, but if you went on too long they got agitated and started crying. He knew he was being a little pesky but damn if his cock wasn't turning to stone.
Though she didn't believe it, Vanya knew Peter Benson regarded Persephone as his own daughter. If Vanya so much as looked at her with longing, Peter was on him in an instant. Vanya wasn't intimidated but he wasn't sure who would win in a physical altercation. Peter was his senior by twenty-five years, but the man had been a Navy SEAL and looked like he was still working out three hours a day.
Apparently, his military experience was how he'd won over Zenovia's approval to marry Margie and how he knew Persephone's father. The two had formed a bond and were godparents to each other's children in addition to moving in down the street from one another when they left the SEALs. Peter was determined to protect the virtue of the adult, grown-ass women in his household and John Mark and Vanya's dicks were paying the forfeit. Vanya had half a mind to throw Persephone over his shoulder and find the nearest hotel.
"No, you could ever look sleazy, Percy. You're too sweet; I'm the sleazy one. I've had nothing but sleazy, sexy thoughts about you since we got here. Mostly about you... tied up, under me, on top of me..."
"The list goes on and on I'm sure, " she rolled her eyes.
"Something like that," he sighed and nuzzled her neck, "If I don't get you into bed soon my penis is going to fall off."
"Oh, my god!" Persephone exclaimed, slapping his bicep through his crisp navy dress shirt. "Shut up, whiner! We'll be back home in forty hours. You can go crazy then."
"Mmmm, yeah, going crazy. I like the sound of that. I'm definitely going to hold you to it and I'm getting up and going to the bathroom before you can change your mind." With that, he rose before she could respond and made long strides toward the bathroom. He looked back to give her a smug grin and was delighted to see her return it.
Delighted. When, in his adult life had he ever been delighted? He'd always wondered how people enjoyed clubs as much as they did. Even though his family owned a few he had always viewed them as strictly places of business where fucking occasionally took place. Depending on the business at hand, fucking was sometimes part of the package.
Tonight was completely different. He was with an assortment of good people who cared about one another. Nothing was going to stop them from having a good time. John Mark was a cool guy that was obsessed with Ariana. An intelligent man bound for the oil business, it was clear that he would give up that future to be with the young dancer. He loved his sister Emma, despite her erratic behavior and poor decision-making. Emma, faults and all, seemed loyal to her family and even Persephone. He'd thought the two would have problems since Emma requested that Persephone not come to see Zenovia months before. However, Emma had been nothing but welcoming since their arrival, had fallen into a friendly routine with Persephone, and had even carved out time for this outing, allowing all the couples some free time together.