Later on that night, Kaiden found his father watching TV in the living room. Though he didn’t want to eat alone, he certainly did not want another lecture. Especially not after his dad threatened his life last night. He would understand if he were still upset; he hadn’t exactly been son-of-the-year lately.
“That’s a pretty nasty rash, son. You take anything?”
“I’ll take something later.”
“You feel like talking?”
The answer was no, but he couldn’t say that. “Sure.”
“What’s going on with you?”
He shrugged and chewed the bit of food in his mouth. How was he really supposed to answer that?
“Ok. I’ll be more specific. What’s going on with you and Breanne? Why are you so on edge all the time?”
He stopped eating and stared at his plate. “I don’t know.”
“Do you even like her?”
“I don’t know!”
He didn’t mean to yell again and thought surely he’d be in trouble again, but his dad’s face softened instead.
“Oh, son. Did I ever tell you about your uncle, Jayden?”
He shook his head.
“You remind me of him sometimes. He’s a really nice guy…always means well. He had a bunch of girl-friends in school too. Two of them he had feelings for, so he hung out with them a bit more, deepening their friendships to see where they would go, if anywhere. He was the heir, so he was expected to get married and wanted to do it as quickly as possible. Anyway, he finally decided which girl he wanted to be with and gave her a promise ring. The girl, Aunt Maliyah, had a really smart mouth. She was so bossy. She told my brother how to dress, what to eat, and everything. And don’t get me started on how much of a snob she was.”
Gosh, this aunt he barely knew sounded a lot like Breanne! His dad couldn’t know that though.
“I never liked the way she talked to him, but he always had a thing for smart-mouth, sassy women. To each his own, right?”
Kaiden smiled uncomfortably. “Yeah, heh.”
“Anyway, after he gave her the promise ring, they kind of stopped dating. I mean, they didn’t break up or anything, but I think they assumed that because they were promised to each other, they didn’t have to put any more effort into the relationship. I remember overhearing my dad trying to warn him, but my brother was so cocky about it. My parents had died by the time they finally got married, and the problems started right away.”
“Jayden wanted to have kids right away, but she didn’t. She wanted them to focus on their careers for a while and get established before the kids came. By the time I got married, they had three kids. My nephew, Brandon, was a tiny little thing then. That’s when the problems started getting out of hand. They each had their own ideas of how family life should be because they never talked about it while they dated. He never told her how the legacy works, so she didn’t understand why she had to keep having children she didn’t want.”
“She didn’t like her kids?”
“I’m sure she loved them, but she never wanted to have so many so close together. My niece, Bianca, certainly felt like she didn’t like them. But anyway…Jayden and Maliyah were living like strangers in the same house by the end. He was willing to work it out, but she was done. She wasn’t willing to compromise, so she divorced him.”
“It was bad. It was all over the news and everything. Divorce is already bad enough by itself, but it’s even worse when you go through it in public.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Kaiden…I love you. You’re a good kid. But, you’re a Pruett, so that makes you a special kid. These girls, they see you as a handsome meal ticket because of who you are. Not all of them, of course, but many of them.”
“But, we’re not the Pruetts, dad.”
“I know, but most people don’t understand that. They hear the name Pruett and see dollar signs. What I’m trying to say is you have to be careful. Guard your heart. Don’t get trapped with someone you’re not sure about. Your birthday is coming soon, and you’ll be able to get married if you want, but don’t be so quick to jump the broom. When you find a lady you like, spend time with her. Date her until you know her like your own reflection. I don’t want you to wake up one day and discover you’ve built a life with a stranger. My brother…it hit him hard. He didn’t see it coming. He thought for sure they were just going through a rough patch and would work it out soon. It was painful. I don’t want that for you, son.”
In addition to the facts he was finally able to admit earlier and this sage advice, Kaiden felt like he had the courage to do what he knew he needed to do.