Perfume Ch. 09


Hector looked at him, surprised. Eric had never spoken to him in this manner before.

"Look, dad, I've watched you make a mess of things with my brothers for a long time. You're not getting any younger. Don't you think it's time to really, really fight to win them back? Even if you don't get them back completely, at least open communication with them. At least try."

"This is how you feel? That I've made a mess of things?" Hector asked, taken aback.

Eric couldn't believe his father was asking him that. Of course he thought his dad had made a mess of things. And even worse, Eric's silence all these years had enabled him...but not any more. It was time he spoke up.

"Dad, you fucked the worse way. But it's not over yet. Go get them in some way that you care. Even if they all tell you to kick rocks, you have to at least try. You owe it to them," he emphasized.

Hector sat quietly, mulling over Eric's words. He was hurt by them, but that didn't make them any less true.

Eric stood and reached into the back pocket of his jeans and handed his father the plane ticket. He cupped Hector's face and kissed him on the forehead.

"You can do this, pops. I'll see you at the wedding."

As Eric walked to the door, he turned back once more to look at his father. His shoulders were stooped and he looked defeated. He really hoped his dad would get it together and begin to atone for his sins.

He thought about his own ceasefire with Rob and Ethan and admitted that he was stoked. Eric wanted Hector to know that feeling as well. But the old man would never experience it if he didn't pick himself up out of the doldrums and take ownership for his part of the past.


Wynston purposely left the door open and watched Terry warily. "I don't recall inviting you in," she said.

Terry leisurely walked around the apartment, satisfying his curiosity. He'd never been in Wynston's apartment before and often wondered how she lived. He took in the ritzy foyer, the nine foot ceilings with crown molding, the fireplace in the living room and the large balcony outside.

He stopped at one of the bedrooms and looked inside. It was empty now, but he could tell that it was huge. She had always been an uppity bitch. Always liked living in places like this one with all her brand new shit. Wynston always looked down her nose at him when he tried to get them a deal on used items.

Spoiled ass.

Terry wondered how the hell she could afford a place like this. It irked him that Wynston had been able to get all this without him. It was why he always made her pay. He knew she had to appear in court whenever a hearing was scheduled. He also knew how much she despised the custody battle, which was why he kept the heat on her.

Even better, he was in control...and Terry liked being in control more than anything else.

"Where are you taking my son?" he asked suddenly.

Wynston took a deep, calming breath. She placed her hands on her hips, but what she really wanted to do was place them protectively over her stomach. She refused to do it, though, not wanting to make Terrence aware of her pregnancy.

Thank goodness she was wearing a shirt that gathered in the front and hid her rounding belly. Wynston also refused to get upset...Terry was not worth endangering her unborn child.

"You have five seconds to get out of here, Terry. I don't even know why you bothered to slither out from under your rock." She spoke with as much venom as she could muster. She could not believe she had ever let this piece of shit touch her intimately.

Wynston could barely control her gag reflexes right then. Terry used to be a football player, but now his body had given way to fat...compliments of his sedentary life. He stood at 6'0 and looked unkempt.

Unless Wynston missed her guess, he was wearing one of the many pairs of jeans she'd bought him more than six years ago. He was wearing the same, tired polo shirt he wore when they'd first met. His dreads were much longer and were riddled with new growth. It looked like he hadn't had them twisted in eons.

His mustache was a fuzzy joke...she'd always had more hair than he did.

Yup, she had let this ass wipe touch her in places she didn't dare think of...not unless she wanted to spill her breakfast on the freshly vacuumed carpet.

Terry looked at her sideways.

"Now is that any way to talk to your son's father? You see, I came to find out where you're taking my kid. That little stunt you pulled isn't going to fly. I have rights, and I want to see my boy. I forbid you to take him to South Carolina." Terry was referring to the way she had told him at the last minute that she and Terrence were moving.

Wynston didn't move a muscle. She focused on keeping her breathing even. Please hurry, Eric, she thought. Ironic how she hadn't wanted Eric to have any dealings with Terry, but now she wanted him to beat the shit out of her ex.

"Look, I'm done playing games with you. We both know you signed over your rights for money. But for my son's sake, I'm willing to work out an arrangement where you can have visitation on holidays and part of the school year. What's it gonna be?" she asked impatiently.

Terry gritted his teeth. He refused to take orders from this bitch.

"I took care of you for two years! I worked my butt off while you sat on your fat ass all day! Show me some fucking respect!" Terry exploded.

Wynston discreetly began to inch toward the door. He had never hit her before, but she wasn't taking any chances.

"I stayed home and took care of our sick son, Terry. But that's beside the point. Are you going to accept the visitation or not?" she asked calmly.

"Fuck no! I want my son in Baltimore where I have access to him. You have no right to take him out of the state. You'd best believe I'm going to drag your ass back to court and make your sorry ass bring my son back," he barked.

"Ok. Well you do that. It's time for you to leave now," Wynston said.

"Yeah? Well I'll leave when I damn well please, you fucking bi—"

Terry suddenly trailed off.

Wynston had no idea what was happening. One minute she was fighting to remain calm. The next, Terry had stopped in the middle of his insults as a blur sped past her.

Surprised, Wynston watched as Eric's huge fist connected with Terry's jaw.

"Lord have mercy," she muttered as her heart leapt. She hurriedly closed the door and locked it, not wanting anybody to hear the commotion and come in to find Eric beating the shit out of Terry.

She pulled herself up onto the kitchen counter facing the living room and sat watching her man defend her honor. Wynston wasn't about to upset her baby by yelling, and she sure as hell wasn't going to try and break it up.

"Yo man, who the fuck are you?!" Terry managed to get out.

Of course Eric didn't bother to answer. He grabbed Terry by the collar and slammed him against the wall, making Wynston flinch.

Eric's fist was battering Terry's beer gut to the point that Wynston fully expected her ex to start coughing up blood.

Then he began placing short, powerful jabs to Terry's ribs.

"Don't kill him, sweetie," Wynston called.

Thankfully, Eric heard and quit his assault. He jerked the offensive man up against the wall by the collar.

If Wynston hadn't known Eric, she would be terrified by what she was seeing. His face was completely red, veins were popping out all over his forehead, neck and arms, and he was breathing like an agitated bull.

There was not one glimpse of the laid-back, loving man she knew.

Wynston had only seen him like this once before; and that was at the bank when Eric had fought Rob. She knew that Eric would never turn that ferocious temper on her, but it didn't make him any less frightening.

"I'm going to say this to you only once you fucking piece of shit," Eric growled as he towered over her ex. His face was mere inches away from Terry's.

"Don't you EVER talk to my woman that way, do you understand me, bitch?!"

Wynston almost laughed. She'd lost count of how many times she'd called Terry the same thing during the course of their relationship. And his facial expression in that moment was priceless.

"I got you, man...y-yeah," Terry stuttered.

"Now you took my money so I expect you to keep to your end of the bargain," Eric said lowly.

Terry's eyes stretched in confusion. He'd never taken money from this man.

"He's talking about that $10,000, Terry," Wynston informed him. She swung her legs back in forth, enjoying the whole scene tremendously. She wondered briefly if that made her a bad person.

"Who cares," she mumbled. Terry had whooped her ass in every manner except physically for years. It was time he got his.

"You mean that money came from you?" Terry asked, wheezing.

"Damn right, you fucker. Sweetheart, what are your terms?" Eric asked.

"Well, I was TRYING to say that despite the fact that Terry turned over his rights, I still want Terrence to know his father. I think if we share holidays and summers, things will be great," Wynston said cheerfully.

Eric was glaring at Terry the entire time. "You got any problems with that?" he asked menacingly.

"N-nah man. That's perfect!" Terry squeaked.

"Good," Eric and Wynston said in unison.

"Now get the fuck out. And if you so much as think about going back to the courts, I will produce those papers you signed turning over your rights for the money. Then I'll kill you with my fucking bare hands," Eric threatened.

That last warning even made Wynston shiver.

She and Eric watched as Terry practically ran to the door. Wynston was tickled when he couldn't work the locks. After a moment, it became too painful to watch. She giggled as Terry kept locking and unlocking the door, never turning the knob when all the bolts were unlocked.

The icing on the cake was the way Terry's hands trembled each time he reached up and fiddled with the top lock.

When Eric simply stood there with his hands on his hips, Wynston lost the battle. He was looking like Terry was the biggest idiot in the world. She began laughing so hard, her side ached.

"Baby, please!" she gasped.

Eric shook his head and casually walked to the door. "Let me help you with that, princess," he said to Terry.

Behind him, Wynston doubled over with laughter, trying her best to breathe.

Eric stared at Terry while he deliberately flipped the locks and opened the door.

This time Terry did run.

Closing the door and coming to stand in front of Wynston, Eric looked her over to make sure she wasn't hurt. He wasn't sure what all had happened. When he'd heard Terry hurling those insults at Wynston, Eric had completely lost it.

"Are you okay, sweetheart? He didn't hurt you did he?" he asked worriedly.

Wynston took his bruised hands in hers and kissed the knuckles. "No, I'm fine. He was all talk, thank goodness."

She wrapped her good arm around Eric's neck. Her other one was paining her today.

Wynston gently kissed Eric on the chin, then his nose and then his lips. "You're a thug," she whispered.

"Are you mad?" he asked.

"Mad because you defended me?! Hell no!" Wynston exclaimed. "The whole time I was praying for you to hurry up and get here!"

"Yeah, I know. I got caught up talking to my dad. He and Rob spoke, but I'll tell you about that later. Right now let's just get outta here."

"Wait, hold on a sec. You forgot to mention that there were papers involved with Terry. I didn't know he signed something," Wynston said.

"Did I forget to mention that?" Eric answered innocently.

She narrowed her eyes at him. Wynston didn't know what this was about, but she definitely knew he was up to something.

"Spill it," she said.

"I wanted you to trust me. Trust that I know what I'm doing and that I'll never do anything to hurt you. I gave Terry the money, but what I wanted most was proof that he took it and turned over his rights as a father. No court in the world will ignore that document," Eric explained. "It puts a leash on him."

"Wow. I can't believe he was stupid enough to sign it!" Wynston said. "But far be it from me to look the gift horse in the mouth! Thank you, honey. I'm sorry I didn't trust you before. I do now...completely," she said shyly.

"That's better. Now let's go!"

Wynston picked up her dress and shoes while Eric grabbed her luggage. She did her best to hide her wedding dress from him. She didn't want him to see it just yet. Grabbing her keys from the counter, Wynston looked around one last time.

She bid the apartment and the lonely, difficult life she'd led goodbye. Without a backward glance, she walked out the door and into her future.


On the day of Eric and Wynston's wedding, there was a lot of bustling in their new home. Wynston, her mother, Yuliana, Lacey and T.J. were at the new house getting ready for the ceremony.

Even though there was still much unpacking and buying to do, they had done enough to make the house livable.

While the women had stayed at the new house, the men were all at the other house.

Wynston had wanted to keep some tradition and sleep in separate places the night before the wedding. So she hadn't seen Eric since the day before and couldn't wait to be joined with him again.

They each had had their bachelor and bachelorette parties. Wynston and the other women had spent a quiet evening together with lots of food and sparkling grape juice in champagne flutes.

The older women had told stories about their love lives and had instructed on how to please a man sexually. "My gag reflexes aren't the best right now, Ma. Are you sure you want to pursue this line of conversation?" Wynston had asked.

"I completely co-sign on that," Lacey had said, making the women laugh.

So instead, Yuliana and Sharon had given sage advice on how a wife had to pick her battles and how to stay with a man when the going got tough.

On the men's side, Bo had taken Eric, Hector, Wynston's father Matthew and some other friends out for dinner and drinks. Of course there wouldn't be a typical bachelor party with Matthew hanging least Wynston didn't think her dad would allow a stripper.

She was glad her father and Eric would have time to bond.

Wynston wanted her father to see what a great man she was marrying. But she and Eric needn't have worried about the impression he would make on her parents, though. Turns out they loved him.

In their eyes, Eric was light years away from Terry; and they had been won over by the way Eric had protected their baby girl from day one.

So now Wynston stood in front of the mirror and admired her reflection. She felt completely beautiful. Her face had been made up in subtle tones by a make-up artist. She absolutely loved her smoky eyes.

Thanks to the prenatal vitamins, her hair had grown much longer and thicker. It had been styled with big curls gently cascading about her face.

The dress fit wonderfully and her pink, satin heels matched perfectly. When her mother came into the room, she breathed a sigh and immediately began to tear up.

"MA!" Wynston shrieked. "You're gonna make me cry and ruin my smoky eyes!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Sharon said. "I quit right now. I'm just so happy for you, baby girl. You couldn't have found a better man. That boy is crazy about you, you know."

"I know, ma. I'm crazy about him, too," Wynston whispered.

"Now, let me take a look at my baby," Sharon said, dabbing a Kleenex at her own wet eyes.

"Girl you got it all from your mama," she quipped.

Sharon wasn't far off the mark. She had aged very, very well which made Wynston look more like a sister than daughter. Wynston had always hoped that she would age the way her mother did.

Sharon Grey was a classy woman with shoulder-length salt and pepper hair that she always kept neatly coiffed. Her chocolate complexion matched Wynston's and she was a few inches shorter than her daughter.

Her physique was trim and she always wore the trendiest clothing that was appropriate for a woman of 55 years.

Today, she wore a silver gray chiffon pantsuit that was very tasteful and sophisticated.

"You look gorgeous, Mama," Wynston said, holding her close.

"Thank you, baby, but you are the gorgeous one. When that man sees you, he'll probably lose his mind," Sharon returned. "But enough of all that. I have something for you. Your father and I were going to give this to you on your 31st birthday, but...this is too special an occasion to pass up."

Sharon held up a long, velvet box. When Wynston opened it, her eyes glistened with tears.

"Grandma Wynston's pearls?!" she asked, fingering the beautiful earrings and bracelet. "But you love these!"

"I know. But I want you to have them...I want you to wear them today, too. It's your 'something old.'"

Wynston immediately took off her own earrings and replaced them with the pearls. She slid the bracelet on and once again looked at her reflection in the mirror.

"What do you think," she asked breathlessly.

"I think you look perfect," her mother said lovingly.

They both turned at the knock on the door. When Yuliana and Lacey stuck their heads in, they both gasped and rushed over to Wynston. As usual, Terrence was in Yuliana's arms, clinging to her.

After Eric's birthday party, his mother had adopted Wynston as the daughter she never had.

Before Yuliana and Hector had gotten on the plane back to Maryland, Yuliana had begged Wynston to keep in touch. She also wanted to have an active role in preparing for "her little one," as she was already calling the baby.

Yuliana had also taken a tremendous liking to Terrence.

For the few days she was in South Carolina, the older woman had shown remarkable patience and agility with the little boy as she chased him around the back yard.

As Wynston gazed at her little boy, she had to pat herself on the back.

He was wearing a white dress shirt, a little bow tie, khakis and a navy blue jacket. The loafers Wynston had bought for him went along with the outfit perfectly. A few months ago, she had had a fit over the shoes when she saw them in a children's store. They were too adorable to leave behind so Wynston had bought them.

She was glad that she had listened to her instincts.

"You look so beautiful," Yuliana exclaimed, pulling Wynston out of her thoughts. She swept her into a big hug. "Doesn't mommy look, beautiful, T.J.?!"

Terrence shyly nodded his head. "You look like a princess, mama," he whispered.

Wynston kissed his little cheeks and told him how handsome he looked.

"Tissues! I need Tissues!" Yuliana exclaimed, fanning her face. She was fighting to not allow her tears to spill onto her carefully made up face.

Sharon knowingly supplied a box.

"Wow, girl. Eric is going to go crazy when he sees you!" Lacey said.

Wynston and Sharon laughed.

"That seems to be the consensus. I hope so, anyway," Wynston said.

"Well he will. I have a little something for you, Hughes. It's your 'something blue,'" Lacey explained as she handed Wynston a small gift bag.

Cocking her head to the side, Wynston looked curiously at Lacey. What she pulled out was a cute, satin garter. It was Robin's Egg Blue with tiny, white ribbons. She quickly slipped it on slightly above her knee and laughed when all the women made catcalls.

"And now your 'something borrowed," Yuliana said producing her lucky sixpence. Wynston stepped out of her heels and allowed Yuliana to drop the coin inside.

"Okay. Now all I need is something new. Oh my gosh...I forgot to get something new!"

"About that," Lacey said. "Here. Eric just told me to give this to you. He wouldn't say anymore, though. Do you know what it's for?"

Wynston held out her hand as Lacey pressed a key ring onto her palm. There were two brand new keys on the ring.

"Keys?" she asked, wrinkling her nose. She looked around at everybody in the room, but none of the women had any answers.

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