Trevor, seated on the living room sofa reading, looked up from his book when the doorbell sounded. His wide camel-brown eyes sidled the clock on the mantelpiece. Twelve minutes past eleven on Saturday morning and he wasn’t expecting anyone. He kept reading until he heard the thunder of feet barreling down the staircase and shifted his focus to the front hall.
“Oh, how marvellous,” the nasal voice said. “You’re home.”
Trevor closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. Oh, dear Lord … not today, was his silent supplication. He opened his eyes, folded down the top corner of the page to mark his spot and closed the book. He shook his head when the tall brunette entered the living room, offering that goofy smile that even after four years still made him feel buttery inside. “Oliver —”
“Look who’s here,” Oliver said nervously when the silver-haired woman appeared at his side.
Trevor placed his book down on the coffee table, stood and crossed to the woman. “Always a delight, Phyllis.” He kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“You’re a terrible liar,” Phyllis said dryly, then turned to Oliver. “Could I trouble you for a cup of tea?”
“Sure,” Oliver said and bolted for the kitchen.
“You know how I like it,” she called out after him.
Trevor thrust himself back onto the sofa. “With a dash of cyanide.”
“Ha-ha.” Phyllis lowered herself onto the other matching sofa. “We should try to get along, especially if this thing between you and my son is going to go on for a while.”
“You mean we should pretend to get along.” Trevor reached for his book and flipped it open. “I’m okay with not liking each other. That’d mean we wouldn’t have to speak to each other, right?”
“I don’t understand why you don’t like me,” Phyllis snapped.
The book slipped through Trevor’s fingers and onto his lap. “You don’t understand why I don’t like you?”
“I’ve been nothing but kind —”
“Kind?” Trevor howled. “That from the woman who said to Oliver, when he first brought me home to meet you, ‘Why are you dating a black man?’”
“Well, I … it was a shock.”
“Was it still the shock when you organized a surprise party for Oliver’s thirtieth birthday and didn’t invite me?” He rolled his eyes as Phyllis just sat there, her shifty ice blue eyes roving the room. “We’d been living together for two years.”
“That’s not how I remember it,” Phyllis shot back.
Trevor sucked his teeth. “Of course not.”
“My other sons and daughters-in-law adore me.”
Trevor, trying to tamp down his urge to laugh, dropped his head.
“Just the other day Laura told me that I was her favourite mother-in-law.”
Trevor looked up, an eyebrow raised. “How many mothers-in-law has Laura had?”
“How droll.” Phyllis adjusted the silk scarf around her neck. “How come I’ve never met your parents?”
Trevor bristled. “Would you want to? I mean, they’re black like me.”
“Trevor!” Oliver cried as he came into the room.
“If you’re serious about meeting them,” Trevor said, trying to suppress his smirk, “they’re in the urn on the mantelpiece.”
“Trevor…” Oliver sounded exasperated. He handed the teacup and saucer to his mother. “Just the way you like it.” He moved around to the other sofa, sat down next to Trevor and stared questioningly at his mother. “So?”
“It’s delightful,” Phyllis said after sipping her tea.
Oliver scratched his forehead. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Oh…” Phyllis blinked magnificently. “Well, sometimes, that man is impossible.”
“Ha!” Trevor slapped his hand on his thigh and couldn’t stifle his cackling laugh.
Oliver drove his elbow into Trevor’s side. “What did Dad do this time?”
“Do?” Phyllis shook her head violently. “He doesn’t do anything but sit in front of the TV. So I left. Now I need a place to stay.”
Oliver swallowed repeatedly. “You want to stay here?”
“Your other siblings…” Phyllis’s voice cracked. “They said it would be … inconvenient.”
“Ha!” Trevor leaned forward, his sides cramping and tears in his eyes.
“Stop that,” Oliver said through gritted teeth.
Phyllis set the cup and saucer on the coffee table. “It’ll probably be inconvenient for you, too.”
“Mom…” Oliver touched his hand to Trevor’s thigh. “Of course you can stay with us.”
Trevor sat up straight, his eyes wild and locked on Oliver. “Really?”
“She’s my mother,” Oliver said in a whisper. “I just can’t —”
Trevor waved him off. “I need a drink.” He stormed out of the room.
“I’ve never really liked him,” Phyllis said when she was alone with Oliver.
Oliver flicked his eyebrows. “I think the feeling’s mutual.”