Two Weeks Later.
McNeal Residence | Brindleton Bay.
Great. They were late. Not even a little late, but late, late. Her parents were expecting them to arrive over an hour ago and they were just now getting there. Granted, it wasn’t their fault. They had no control over the hold up at the airport or the car picking them up late, but that didn’t matter because she knew her mom and the last thing she wanted was to make her angry before they even got there. It was bad enough, she was already having second thoughts. Salim wasn’t ready to meet her parents, well … maybe her dad, but not her mom. He wasn’t ready for her yet. Even with all the rehearsing they did, it still wasn’t enough for Bridgette and her interrogation skills. They were top notch, detective level even, so if he slipped up, even once, and answered any of her questions incorrectly … it would be R.I.P to Salim.
Camilla: [blocking his way] Wait! Let’s just go over the questions one more time.
Salim: Camilla, we practiced the whole way here. I don’t know what else we could possibly go over.
Camilla: There’s so much we could go over! Like- what are you going to say when she asks why you and Aahana got divorced.
Salim: I’ll say it’s cause we wanted different things.
Camilla: No! See, if you say that, she’ll say something like, “So you don’t like to compromise, huh? I guess if y’all want different things for dinner, she’s in the mood for Mexican and you’re in the mood for Chinese, you’re going to leave her too?”
Salim: Okaaay, then, I’ll just say it’s cause we argued a lot. We couldn’t get along anymore.
Camilla: And if you say that, she’ll twist it and say, “Oh, so you like to fight? You plan on fighting with my child? I better not catch her with no bruises on her”
Salim: [chuckles] Okay, tell me. What happened to the last guy you brought here?
Camilla: He failed, miserably and was never welcomed in this house again. It’s serious, Salim, I’m telling you.
Salim: I can handle your mom, Camilla. It’ll be alright, I promise. [puts his arm around her] Now, let’s go inside, we’re already late enough.
Camilla: [sighs nervously] You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep …
Once they got inside and introductions and lectures about tardiness were out the way, they put their bags upstairs and joined Bridgette and James at the dining table. When Camilla saw their seats were already picked out for them and that Salim’s was conveniently placed directly across from Bridgette’s, she knew it was starting … the interrogation … this was how it always started. See, first, she feeds her victim, but not something like a sandwich or salad or anything they could easily bounce back from, she would choose something filling like a pot roast or fried chicken, basically something to slow them down. Then, while they’re eating, she’d ask innocent questions, like what they do for a living or where they’re from, maybe even pay them a compliment or two, all to give them a false sense of security. Then, when they’re done with that, she’d offer them dessert which if they accept, they might as well tap out cause there’s no coming back from that, but if they do somehow survive and finish everything, they’d be full, let their guard down and that’s when the interrogation begins.
Camilla shook her head as she watched Salim finish his last bite of sweet potato pie. With all the warnings she gave him beforehand, he still fell for it. He walked right into her trap … all for some pie … SOME DAMN PIE.
Bridgette: So Salim, Cami tells me you have kids?
Salim: Yes, ma’am. Two girls, Maya and Yasmin.
Bridgette: [smiles] Those are beautiful names. Do you have any pictures?
Salim: I do. [pulls up a photo on his phone and hands it to her]
Bridgette: [gushes] Aww, look at them! They are too cute! [shows photo to James] Look how cute they are!
James: [nods and smiles] Beautiful girls. Congratulations.
Salim, proud: Thank you.
Bridgette: [hands the phone back to him] I remember when Cami was that small. She was the sweetest little thing, but boy could she cry. All that child did was cry. She cried when she was happy. She cried when she was sad. She was always crying.
Bridgette: So, Maya and Yasmin, are they big criers too or are they quiet babies?
Salim: They’re quiet most of the time, but they do have this little twin thing going on where when one starts, the other one will too.
Bridgette: Twins are a big responsibility. Are you helping out with that or is it just Mama?
There it was. Camilla knew it was coming. That damn pie …
Salim: It’s both of us. We have this agreement. She has them throughout the week and I get them Friday through Sunday.
Bridgette: Mhm. So how are things between you and Mama?
Salim: Good. We get along.
Bridgette: So would you say y’all are friends?
Salim: [nods] Yeah, I think that’s a good way to look at it. Friends who co-parent.
Bridgette: So tell me, Salim, do you get all of your friends pregnant or did being your ex-wife earn her a special privilege?
Camilla, mortified: Mama!
Bridgette: Uh-uh. Let him answer.
Salim, caught off guard: No … that- I wouldn’t say that. That was … We were both single at the time so …
Bridgette: Sooooo, you decided to make babies with your friend? Because making babies is what you like to do, right?
Okay, this … was not about Aahana anymore …
Camilla: Mama, please, stop.
Salim: [places hand on Camilla’s] No, it’s okay. [looks at Bridgette] Look, Mrs. McNeal … I understand you’re asking me this cause Camilla’s your daughter and you love her. I’d probably do the same thing if I were in your shoes. And yes, I did get my ex-wife pregnant when we weren’t together anymore and that was reckless, I did a few reckless things, but I can’t change that now. We got all that figured out though, so none of that is a problem. [holds Camilla’s hand] But for Camilla, I love her. More than I’ve ever loved anybody, and the only thing I can do now, is try to be the best boyfriend I could to her and do whatever it takes to make her happy … and that’s what I plan to do.
Bridgette looked at James who was looking over at Salim. Camilla didn’t know this but James actually had the final word on her boyfriends. He let Bridgette do all the questioning but in the end, he was the real judge of character. The one who could tell whether or not he was worthy of his daughter. The one who never allowed, her ex, Brandon back in the house when he failed the test.
James: Just make sure you treat her right.
Salim: I will, sir.
Bridgette: [nods] Just make sure you do.
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