8.22 The Next Level

Brady and Viviana had been dating for a little while now, and he had a good feeling about her. He decided to step things up a bit by getting her around the family. Up until now, Viviana was a figment of their imaginations…a will-o’-the-wisp they saw out the corner of their eyes every now and then. They only knew what Brady told them about her, but it was now time to make the relationship public. After her workout session, he invited her to stay the night. She stayed over quite regularly, but he wanted to make sure she would definitely be around for dinner this night.

Alayna called everyone to dinner, but her boys–the small ones and the big one–were caught up in other things. She, Brady, and Viviana got started without them.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Viviana! I’ve heard so many good things about you.”

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“Same here! You can call me Viv, though. This is such a beautiful house!”

“Oh, thank you! It’s been in our family for more than a century. We just keep remodeling it.”

“Well, it’s totally gorgeous. How come you never told me about this house, Brady?”

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“That’s Alayna’s domain. She’s the authority on all things family history. I just live here.”

“That’s so sad, sugar bear! You have an incredible family history and don’t know anything about it? I’d drown a baby freezer bunny to have a family history. Alayna, would you mind telling me about it sometime?”

“I’d love to!”

The others–all except Owen, of course–finally made their way to the dinner table. Brady introduced everyone to Viviana and announced that she was indeed his girlfriend. After that, they commenced to have a normal, loud family dinner with multiple conversations going on at once. Viviana remained relatively quiet, but she jumped in when she felt compelled to. Otherwise, she was content to sit back and observe everyone. Brady kept an eye on her to make sure she was feeling comfortable and enjoying herself. He kept imagining her sitting beside him on a regular basis. That idea excited him.

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“Mommy,” Anthony said.

“Yes, son?”

“This gumbo is really good. You should make it all the time.”

“Thanks, Anthony! Maybe I will.”

Alayna kept her eyes on Brady and Viviana the entire night. She wanted to observe how they were together, how he treated her, and how she treated him. He was only her little brother by three minutes, but he was still her little brother, and she wasn’t going to let yet another woman break his fragile heart.

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After dinner, everyone went their separate ways and left Brady and Viviana to themselves.

“So…you made it through your first Pruett family dinner! How do you feel?”

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“I feel good! It’s nice to be around a family who love each other and actually likes spending time with each other.”

“Good ol Pruett family values I guess.”

“That’s such a good thing! I really like your family.”

“I’m glad. I’m really glad you do. They like you too…especially Alayna. Honestly, hers is the only opinion that matters to me.”

“It’s funny…I feel the same way. I found myself hoping that she would like me too. If you don’t mind…I’d like to have a word with her. Would that be weird for you?”

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“Not at all! I want you two to be friends! I can go find her right now if you want.”

“Thanks, sugar bear. That would be mean a lot.”

“Sure. Wait right here.”

Brady left Viviana in the kitchen. He found Alayna straightening up the nursery.

“Hey, sis. Viviana would like to talk to you. Do you mind?”

“Not at all! I would love to talk to her!”

“Ok…but don’t scare her away. I want this one to stick around for a while.”

“I will not intentionally say anything to scare her, but you know I’m going to ask questions. And if she can’t handle the pressure, then maybe she shouldn’t stick around!”

“I know. I love you for it.”

“You better.”

They left to nursery and went back to the kitchen.

“Hey Viv! Let’s sit down and talk.”

“I’m gonna leave you two,” Brady said. “You know I have to be in at 7:00, so I’m just gonna go ahead and go to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight, angel.”

He kissed her goodnight, and disappeared through the doorway. Alayna led Viviana to the lounging area to sit and talk.

“Dinner was so yummy tonight, Alayna. Do you cook like that all the time?”

“I do! I’ve been a stay at home mom for a while, so I’ve had plenty of time to learn and test my skills. So, Ms. Viv…tell me…what kind of magic do you possess to tame my brother’s wild heart?”

“What can I say? He just can’t get enough! I’m kidding, really. I’m the one who can’t get enough.”

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“I see! So, what are your intentions? Is this a fling for you? Can you see it going long term?”

“I’m glad you ask. There’s something I want to tell you that was on my mind at dinner. I don’t know how much you know about how we met and everything, but I just want you to know that I’m not some easy, trashy, floozy. I know some of Brady’s other clients from the gym. They all spoke about their escapades with him in the locker room, so I knew what he was up to before I started training with him. But, I had seen him at the gym before all of that, and I had a little crush on him already. So, when the opportunity came…I was already there. But I didn’t want the one time fling everyone else got. I wanted to get to know him better…and I did! I’m not after his money, and I’m definitely not trying to trap him with a baby like this one chick tried to do. I’m just after him:  the sweet, gentle Brady.”

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“Oh, Viv! You have no idea how comforting that is to me! My brother is special. And, I only want someone equally special for him. He’s been a bit fragile lately, but you seem to be quite capable of handling him gently.

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“Does his age ever bother you,” Alayna continued.

“No, honestly. I mean, yes, I know he’s a lot older than me, but…age is what you make it. He never seems old to me.”

“Have you two ever talked about getting married?”

“No. It hasn’t come up yet.”

“So you’re not opposed to the idea then, huh?”

“No! Not at all.”

“Do you want children?”

“Absolutely.”

“Excellent! Well…I wish you every happiness with my brother, and I hope you’ll be joining the family soon!”

“Thank you so much, Alayna! That means everything to me…and him! I hope to be a Pruett one day too.”

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