The Pruetts enjoyed breakfast together one weekend morning as they often did. Ever since Maya went out with Akira, her love life always seemed to be the topic of conversation. Jonathan wanted to see his daughter in a growing, healthy relationship, but not before she was ready. Though, that didn’t stop him from encouraging her to get out there and date. Sometimes he chuckled to himself when Skyla asked him not to push so hard. It made him think about his father and how he encouraged him in the same way. His words were, “I want you to be near engaged by the time your young adult birthday comes!” He hadn’t met Skyla yet, but he would shortly after Julian uttered those words. Sometimes he still missed his parents and wondered what they would think of his family and how they reassembled their life. He felt like they would be proud.
He tried not to pry, but it was such an exciting time in Maya’s life. He wanted to know everything. For the most part, it was because of his sheer excitement, but he always wanted to make sure she was being safe and not acting crazy.
“So, Maya…your new friend from the karaoke bar…have you heard from him?”
“What? I like to stay informed!”
“I’ll be glad when Aubrey starts dating,” she said.
Jonathan snorted. “Aubrey won’t be dating until she’s 30! She’s going to focus on school, then she’s gonna run me out of my restaurants, right, hon?”
Aubrey’s mouth flew open. “Daddy!”
Skyla rolled her eyes.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But…you will keep school first.”
“Whatever,” Aubrey said.
“So what about Akira? Are you seeing him again?”
She looked around the table, and all eyes were on her. “Uhhh…”
She looked nervous. Jonathan wondered if he said something wrong.
“I’m not gonna see him anymore,” she said quickly.
Jonathan’s smile vanished. “Oh no… What did he do?”
“Maya, I swear if you’re covering for this low life–”
“What? If he did something to her, I should know because I’m gonna find this guy and–”
“He didn’t do anything to me,” Maya yelled.
She looked surprised like she didn’t mean to blurt that out.
Jonathan’s eyebrow raised, and he cocked his head. “Well, who did he do something to then?”
She opened her mouth like she wanted to speak, but nothing came out. She looked at her mother like she was requesting help, but Skyla looked uncomfortable as well. Her sister was pretending to be busy on her phone.
“I don’t want to say,” she whispered.
Jonathan sighed. Why would she cover for this douche bag? “Maya,” he said in a quieter voice.
She began to tear up. “Don’t make me say, daddy!”
“Jonathan…maybe you should leave it.”
He ignored her. “Who is it?”
Tears began to stream down her face. “It’s not for me to say!”
She jumped at his escalated voice. He had never yelled at her before.
“He’s the father of Juliana’s baby!”
The house was silent for several moments. Jonathan’s chest rose and fell quicker than usual as he held eye contact with his daughter. Now it was clear why it seemed that Juliana was avoiding him the other day. She was his favorite niece. She was his only niece, but if he had others, she’d still be the favorite. She was the first little lady in his life. When he was mourning his father, she was the joy in his dark world. Playing with her and loving on her made him so excited for when he had his own kids. Now his sweet Juliana got knocked up and would be having her own kid. He didn’t know if it was a consenting situation or not, but in his mind, it was Akira’s fault. He probably sweet talked her until she fell. Aldo, her father, died a long time ago, and somebody needed to take up for her.
Finally, he spoke. “If you bring that punk around here, I’m going to kill him.”