Matt found himself driving over Joel’s and Kira’s building. When he rang the bell, Kira answered the door. “Hello, Matt,” she said, very pleased to see him. They hugged.
“I’m sorry to be dropping by like this,” he apologized as he went inside the unit.
“Matt, you’re always welcome to drop by whenever you want. Let me take your jacket.”
He removed it. “Thanks, Kira.”
After she hung it in the closet, she turned to him. “How are Gina, Cam and the baby doing?”
“They are doing well. Cam was taking his nap when I left.”
“How are you doing?”
“Fine, thanks. Is Joel at home?”
“Yes. He’s in the living-room with Mel. Go straight on in.”
He smiled and inclined his head. Joel was sitting on the love-seat, reading while Melania was on the sofa watching television. They both looked up when he entered. “Hello,” he said, going over to his brother who set his book aside and stood up. They hugged.
“It’s always a pleasure to see you, Bro,” Joel said, clapping him on the back.
“Likewise,” he replied. “What’s that you’re reading?
“Into the Wild. It’s that true story about Christopher Johnson McCandless, a young man who gives up everything, including his trust fund and ties to his family to lead a solitary life in the wild. Four months later, his decomposed body is found by a moose hunter.”
“Oh, yes. I remember the story now. The movie came out in 2007. I watched it. It was very good but very disquieting.” He turned to Melania. “How are things with you, Mel?” As he returned her gaze, he thought about what Gina said. The idea of Mel having a “thing” for him seemed so ridiculous. He was almost twice her age, for Pete’s sake.
“Good, thanks. How about you?” She was glad that Gina wasn’t with him.
“I’m fine. It’s good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too.”
“What are you watching?”
“The Long Song. Joel downloaded it for me. It’s a story about a slave named July on a plantation in Jamaica. I’m watching episode 2. It’s very interesting.”
“Well, we’ll leave you to watch it,” Joel said. “Let’s go into the study, Matt.” He sensed that Matt needed to talk to him. They excused themselves and left the living-room.
Kira went into the living-room. “Where are the brothers?” she asked her niece.
“They went to the study. I hope they won’t be in there too long.”
“They might be if they have a lot to talk about.”
“Well, I hope you ask Matt to stay and have spicy chicken wings and fries with us.”
“I’ll do that but he might want to get home to his family.”
Melania rolled her eyes. “I can understand him wanting to go home to his child but her?”
“Like it or not, she is his wife.”
“Well, I honestly don’t know what he sees in her.”
“I know you have a crush on him but–“
“Girls have crushes, Aunt Kira. I’m a woman.”
“You’re twenty-four and he’s forty-two.”
“I’m not the first twenty-something year old to be attracted to an older man.”
“He’s married, Mel.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“I think I ought to so that you don’t get any ideas.”
“What ideas?” she countered before she returned to watching the movie.
Kira shook her head and returned to the kitchen.
Melania had just finished watching the last episode of the show when Joel and Matt returned to the living-room. Melania stopped the movie. “Are you going to stay and have wings and fries with us?” she asked Matt.
“Yes,” he said with a smile. It was better than going home. He preferred being here. It relaxed him and helped him to forget the state of his marriage–at least for a while. “It has been a while since I’ve had any fried food.”
“I’ll go and let Kira know that you’re staying,” Joel said. He excused himself and left.
Matt glanced at Melania and found her staring at him. “How come you’re here on a Saturday evening instead of out with your friends?”
She shrugged. “I don’t mind being here. And besides, you’re here too.”
“I thought you might have been out on a date or something.”
“Aren’t you glad that I’m here?”
“Of course, I am, Mel. I just thought–“
“Just so you know, I could have gone out on a date if I wanted to but I chose to be here instead, chilling out with my favorite aunt and uncle.”
For some reason, he was glad that she was there instead of out on a date. As he stood there trying to figure out why he should be feeling that way, Kira and Joel came into the living-room, carrying two plates each with chicken wings and wings. They set them down on the coffee table. Kira said a prayer and then, invited everyone to, “Take a plate and dig in.”
She and Joel sat on the love-seat while Matt and Melania sat on the sofa. While they chowed down on the wings and fries, they watched Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. When the movie was over, it was close to midnight. Matt offered to give Melania a ride home. They said their goodbyes and left.
Matt turned to face Melania. They were outside of her apartment. “Goodnight, Mel.”
“Goodnight, Matt.” She hugged him before she unlocked her door and went inside. She waved before she closed it.
He stood there for a few minutes and then he walked to the elevators. Time to go home. Gina was probably in bed. He hoped so. He wasn’t in the mood to speak to her right now. And it might be a good idea to sleep in the guestroom.
As he got into his car, he again thought about what she had said about Melania. He had tried to see if there was something there to suggest that her feelings for him were more than platonic but he couldn’t. She did seem a little put out, though, when he asked her about being out with her friends or on a date. And when she hugged him a little while ago she pressed against him–something she had never done before. Even as he thought about it now, he felt the same stirring in his loins.
His fingers gripped the steering wheel. Yet another complication to his already complicated life. He wondered if he should mention this new development to Joel.
“Well, I’m pooped,” Joel said, yawning.
“Me too,” Kira said.
They switched off the lights and went into the bedroom. As they got ready for bed, Kira said to him, “It was nice having Matt here.”
“Yes, it was.”
“Is he all right? When he first showed up, he seemed withdrawn.”
“He and I had a long talk. His marriage is in trouble.”
“I’m sorry to hear that but I’m not surprised. Hopefully they will be able to work things out.”
“I wonder if it was a good idea letting him give Mel a ride home.”
“Why the concern?”
“Mel is infatuated with him.”
Joel smiled. “Good for him.”
“I don’t think Gina would agree with you.”
Joel’s expression sobered. “I think Matt made a mistake marrying her.”
“That’s so heartbreaking. Matt is such a sweet man. I wish Gina would wise up and see how blessed she is to have him.”
“That isn’t going to happen.”
“I think we should pray for them.”
“Yes. Only God can help them now.”