He was glad Shaye had come back. Shaye had stopped coming around for a few months cause he'd met some other blond floozy at a bar. At least that what he'd heard his mom say. But, now Shaye was back with him Mom and pretty much living with them.
Which was cool, cause that made his mom really happy again. She really liked Shaye.
Rio sure liked having him around, too.
"Aw, mom. It's not even half-time yet!" Rio whined.
Shaye winked at Rachel. "Come on, little dude. Let's go move around furniture for the little ladies." He flexed his muscles. "They don't have muscles like these."
Rio giggled as Rachel rolled her eyes.
Rio grimaced with embarrassment. He hated how girly his room was. There was too much pink because his mom re-used all the old furniture! Hadn't any boys lived here?! GEEZ!
"Think you can help me carry it downstairs?" Shaye asked, heading over to dig it out.
Rio puffed his chest up proudly and showed off his own fledgling muscles. "Yeah! Look at these biceps!"
Shaye chuckled, but gamely pinched at Rio's muscles. "Very nice, little dude! Those are some bulging biceps!"
Maritza sighed as she fussed with the Feast Day decorations. "I'm sorry I'm going to miss it!"
Rachel waved her hand. "I think it's sweet that Darryl invited you to join his Feast Day with his coworkers!"
A knock on the door had all the girls glancing over.
"Come in!" Haley said, hurrying over towards the door with Jason in her arms.
This was so... so... normal...
He glanced up when the doorbell rang. "That's probably, Mama," Rachel said, hopping up from the chair.
Rachel laughed, "I swear he has a hollow leg! He eats, but he just gets taller, not fatter!"
Behind her mother, Rachel's sister tossed her hair, shooting a glare towards Ian and Cece. Rachel hoped her sister behaved today.
Rachel glanced around the room. "Where's Johnny?" she asked.
Sonja shrugged. "He said he would come," she said sadly. His mother had passed a few months after her husband, leaving her stubborn stepson without other family on holidays. Even though she invited him, most of the time he claimed he needed to stay up in the city. What was that boy up to? She could tell something was troubling him.
Haley stopped with a plate in her hand. "Should we wait?"
Sonja waved her hand. "No, no. We might wind up waiting forever. Sometimes he says he's coming, but winds up staying in the city with his friends."
Haley smiled and reached for her mother's hand and then glanced at the empty spot next to her. Johnny. "Will you start, Cece?" she asked, watching as everyone clasped hands around the table.
Cece nodded, "I am thankful for Ian coming back into my life." She glanced towards Ian. "Can I tell them?" she asked. Ian nodded with a smile on his face. "We're engaged!" she said, momentarily pulling her hand away to show Eva and Haley her ring. Keely scoffed at the other end of the table and Cece blushed. Pulling her hand back, she looked towards Shaye.
Shaye cleared his throat. "Oh, um. I haven't ever done this before."
Rachel smiled. "Just say what you're thankful for."
Shaye felt put on the spot. "Umm... I'm thankful..." Thoughts flew through his mind about what he could say he was thankful for. But everything sounded lame in his head. He broke out in a sweat as everyone waiting for his reply. "Umm... for my family!" he said quickly.
Rachel felt tears welling in her eyes. She was pretty sure he meant her and Rio, not his folks. He thinks of us as his family, she thought happily.
Rio piped up from between his Mom and Shaye, "I'm thankful for TURKEY!"
Everyone laughed. Rachel glanced towards Shaye and added, "I'm thankful for my family, too," she said gazing in his eyes.
Rose rolled her eyes. "I'm thankful for school vacation!" she said, earning a chuckle from her mama.
Keely, who had had retained her bored expression as everyone else spoke, suddenly sat upright and flipped her hair over her shoulder. "I am happy to announce that I am 10 weeks pregnant!" she said, shooting a triumphant glance over towards Ian and Cece.
Ellis muttered something about being thankful Keely was his wife.
And then it was Haley's turn. Oh, how she hated it when everyone looked towards her. "I'm thankful for the art contract that I have. Only 4 more paintings and I'll be done!"
Eva squeezed Nathaniel's hand. "I am thankful to hear all the good things that have happened to our family and friends this year. We love you all!" Nathaniel agreed with a resounding "Ditto."
Rio glanced around the table, wondering if anyone else was going to pipe up. "So does that mean we can eat now?" he asked impatiently.
Sonja laughed teasingly. "Yes! You may eat now!"