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Chapter 20

Chapter 20

After lunch, Carol and I decided that it would actually be best if I went to check in on Mariah. Although I'm upset with everything that is going on with Michael, I shouldn't let his absence make me so upset that I completely neglect my sister's wellbeing. I dropped Carol off at home and made my way to the Hayvenhurst compound. It's been about a week since I've last seen Mariah. After my conversation with her a while ago, it actually seemed as if she may have actually learned a thing or two from Joseph. I'm trying my best to not think about Michael and where he is but is it even humanly possible for me to even do that? I'm worried sick about him. Knowing he's okay through the media is one thing, but to know how he is mentally is another. I want to get to how he feels mentally, but he's clearly avoiding me so that he doesn't have to do that. That's fine. When I see him, I'm going to get it out of him one way or another. Punching in the code to the Hayvenhurst compound and I can only wonder what Joseph has Mariah doing or what he has done to make her so well-mannered since the last time I spoke to her. He might have to teach me a couple of things about parenting. I parked the car and made my way up the stairs. Just as I was getting ready to knock, Joseph was getting ready to head out with Mariah in tow. As soon as she saw me, she ran and hugged me tighter than she ever had. I could only laugh, "hi, Mariah," I hugged her back.

He chuckled, "I know she's glad to see you."

"I've missed you so much, Shayla," Mariah continued to say as she hugged me.

"I was actually getting ready to take her over to see my daughter. We've been hanging out there from time to time."

I gasped, "you met Joh'Vonnie?" I asked, looking down at Mariah as she continued to hold me tightly.

"Yes," she nodded.

"Yes, what?" Joseph asked her.

"Yes, ma'am," Mariah corrected herself quickly. I still haven't had the chance to meet his other daughter. Mostly because of Michael's indifference toward her, but I'm glad Mariah gets a chance to be around her at least, being that Joh'Vonnie is literally only a year older than her.

"What'd you come over here for?" Joseph asked me.

"I was actually coming over to check on Mariah. I've been pretty lonely at home and Carol recommended I at least come visit her."

"Any word from Michael?"

I sighed, "I haven't heard from him in a week. He hasn't come home nor as he called me, Joseph. I don't know what's gotten into him."

He scoffed, "he must be having one of his little temper tantrums. He'll get over it. Don't worry about it," he waved off the thought.

"But a week though, Joseph? I didn't even do anything to him. It was Mariah who did it."

"Give him some space. He'll come around." Joseph doesn't see where I'm coming from. I'm almost certain Michael just may have gotten this from Joseph himself, which is more than likely why Joh'Vonnie is here, to begin with...

"Well, I won't interrupt you guys. I'll just go talk to mom. I love you, Mariah. You continue to behave, okay?" I looked down at her.

She only began to cry, "can't I go with you? Shayla, he is so mean!" I swear I've never seen her cry this much, but then again, I've never been around her this much since she was three.

"He can't be that bad," I tried to pry her off of me.

"But he is! He makes me clean the yard! He has me stand in the corner. He makes me do wall sits with books in my hands and if I drop them, I have to run around the compound. Please take me with you!" Her tears were hot against my skirt. I almost felt bad for her, but it's what she needs.

I bent down and wiped her tears, "I love you, okay? You'll be fine. Now go on and have fun with Joh'Vonnie."

"I just want my mommy and daddy..." she groaned.

"Mom and dad are doing fine. They told me to tell you they loved you too," I kissed her cheek. "Behave," I told her as I walked in the house in search of mom. "Mama Kate!" I called.

"I'm in here," she called from her bedroom. I went in and have her a hug and a kiss. "How are you doing, baby?"

I sighed, "I've seen better days."

"Joseph told me about Michael," she gave me a look as though she was peeking over glasses she didn't even have.

I looked at her, "yeah... What is this, mom? Like a temper tantrum of some sort?"

She sighed, looking down at her nails, "he got that from Joseph years ago. He'll go away for weeks at a time to avoid the issue at hand. Clearly, he must have gotten sick of Mariah at some point. God bless her heart, I know she doesn't mean any harm... Your parents did what they thought was right though..." she shook her head.

"I mean, why not talk to me about it though? Like, why not even call? That's what I don't get. I don't mind him being away, but I know he's near a phone. He can call and at least let me know that he's okay. At least let me know something! I was upset at her too, but you see I'm over that. Now I feel my anger has switched from her to Michael."

"I know you're frustrated, baby, but don't let it get to you. It will blow over eventually."

"Forgive me if this seems rude, but does Joseph still do that and why did you allow it?"

She looked at me as if I shouldn't have asked that, then inhaled deeply, "first of all, I never allowed it, much like I'm sure you never allowed Michael to do what he did. Secondly, yes, Joseph does still do that from time to time. As much as I have expressed my concerns, he doesn't bother by anything I say, but he knows it's wrong, so he hasn't done it as much."

"How did you get it across to him to make him at least slow it down? This is Michael's first time doing this to me, so I want to put it to a halt as much as I can."

"Well, first I'm going to tell you, you can tell a man something all you want, it's up to him whether he wants to listen or not. And I told him how he made me feel alone and how I wouldn't accept a grown man acting like a toddler and running off when he didn't want to deal with anything." I laughed at that. "Seriously, Shayla, that's toddler behavior. You make sure to tell him he's acting like a two-year-old! Then I told Joseph it wasn't good for him to do that, as he has children watching. Now, I know you all don't have children yet, but be mindful of that behavior. If he does that around your children, they may exhibit the same behavior. All my kids are evidence of that," she shook her head. "Joseph does it less frequently now, but if he does it's to visit his mistress and their child..." she looked down.

"Mom?" I touched her hand.

"Yes, baby?" she looked up at me.

"If you don't mind me asking, how does Joseph having another child make you feel?"

She offered a weak smile, "I don't talk about that."

"Mom... Maybe you need to talk about it. I'm sure it eats you up at times."

She shook her head, "we don't talk about that. She is well taken care of and I'm glad her father is in her life," she stood up and made her way to the kitchen, "do you want anything to drink, Shayla?" I know it has to eat her up inside to know that Joseph had a child on her. I know it does. What woman would come to accept that? I know if Michael ever did anything like that to me, I'd leave in a heartbeat. Not Ms. Katie. I'm sure she made her fury well known to Joseph, but after that, she probably just deadened the matter, dealt with it according to her faith and continued to live life. I've learned two things today. Not only did Michael get running off to ignore a matter from his father, but he also has mastered the art of not discussing something when he doesn't want to discuss it from Katherine. He never wants to talk to me about Joh'Vonnie, nor does Katherine. Joseph runs off when faced with a problem or when he gets upset and so does Michael. While my husband and his family are lovely, we all have our faults. My parents raised a monster. Michael's parents raised a person who likes to avoid their issues instead of dealing with them.

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