The tension in the house was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Dad was released from the hospital but was extremely upset at how Mariah was acting toward me. After many conversations on the way back home, Robert and Mary decided it best that Michael and I take Mariah to live with us. Whether she's living with us in a mansion or not, Mariah's spoiled days are over and I'm making absolute sure of that. Mom and dad sat on the couch. Michael, Robert, Mary and I sat in the adjacent couch and Mariah sat by herself in the loveseat.
"Mom, dad," Michael spoke up. "Shayla and I have a proposal to make."
I swallowed, "we think it would be best if Mariah came out to live with us for a while."
"What?!" Mariah short up from her seat in anger. Dad's face lit up. I had to seriously contain my laughter at how excited he was to hear that.
"Oh, no, Shayla. That is a no-no. No ma'am," mom shook her head.
"And why not, Angie?" Dad looked at her.
"Mariah is spoiled enough! You think her living out in La La Land won't make it any worse? Absolutely not!"
"With all due respect, mom," Michael sighed. "We think this would be better on you all and Mariah. Dad has had his second heart attack within a year. And we know it's caused by stress. Mariah has no one her age that she can relate to."
"I do too have friends my age!" Mariah huffed. "Mom, don't you remember Bradley and Kimmie? They are my best friends. You can't let them take me away!"
I looked at her, "your high school friends, right? They're not your age. You're eleven. They're at least fifteen years old. You need to be around other eleven-year old's."
"Well, it's not my fault I'm more mature than all of my classmates. Maybe if mom and dad had us closer apart, we wouldn't be in this mess."
"We had you at the right time, baby," mom assured her.
"I am putting my foot down on this," dad proclaimed. "Mariah is going with Shayla and Michael and that's final."
"You've always wanted to get rid of me! Why did you have me in the first place?" Mariah cried running up to her room.
"Mariah..." mom ran after her.
Dad sighed, "I have had it with your mother babying her. That's why she's as spoiled as she is now. She's practically an only child. I'm too old and tired of her being up under us all the time," he shook his head.
"You don't mean that dad," Mary offered.
"Oh, but I do," he looked up at her. "I love each and every one of my children. But like I've told you before, I'm getting old. Your mother wanted this... not me... and you see how all of this is messing with my health? I just want to be healthy again. Angie is convinced it's my diet, although the doctors keep telling her it's stress. Not only is she ignoring the doctors, but she's also depriving me of my favorite foods!" I laughed at that one. "I'm serious, Shayla. With Mariah running around haywire, Angie spoiling the girl every five seconds and depriving me of my favorite foods and sex! Yeah, I said it," he looked at all of our embarrassed faces. I honestly did not need that image... "Y'all are grown now, so don't act shocked. I'm surprised I'm not dead!"
"Don't say that dad," Robert shook his head.
"You try being a retired man in his sixties with an eleven-year-old and a wife depriving him of everything he wants and needs. It's only a matter of time. Thankfully y'all are taking away one thing that's adding to the stress. Maybe Angie will start cooking for me and start putting me first again. Let this be a lesson to you all. Always put your spouse first. Putting your children over your spouse can not only put a strain on your marriage but now I see that it can also cause health problems." Dad shook his head in disbelief. "Notice, I said spouse. Boyfriends and girlfriends don't count, so I don't know why Matthew keeps thinking that little girlfriend of his is going to put him over her daughter."
"What do you mean 'putting you first,' daddy?" I asked.
He sighed, "I've been doing all of my husband duties, Shayla. Your mother has been slacking on her duties and is more occupied with spoiling the mess out of Mariah. That's why the girl is going haywire. And every time I intervene, they both attack me for it. You heard what Mariah said when she went upstairs. That was the nicest way she's put it in a while... with you all taking Mariah, we'll finally be able to work on our marriage and my health without Mariah getting in the way." He looked at Michael, "thank you, son." Michael nodded. "Anyway, enough of all this sad stuff. When are you all going back?"
"You're pretty excited, aren't you?" I laughed.
"You don't know the half of it, baby girl. Maybe if I'm lucky, your mom will give me some tonight. So when should I expect her gone? Tonight? Tomorrow morning?" He inquired.
Michael looked at me, "well, I'll have Bill book one more ticket and we should be out of here tomorrow morning."
"Sounds great. Thank you all so much, you have no idea how much this means to me. Angie may be upset now, but she'll understand soon," he sighed.
"Don't worry. We've got your back, dad," Michael went over to hug him. I went upstairs to hear Mariah crying and mom comforting her. I lightly tapped on the door and opened it.
"Get out, Shayla!" Mariah groaned.
"I just wanted to let you know we're leaving tomorrow morning. I can help you pack if you want."
Mariah cried harder, "why doesn't he want me around, mom? He doesn't love me!"
"Oh, baby," mom rubbed her back. "Your dad loves you very much. He just..." she couldn't find the words. "He just wants the best for you."
"By sending me clear across the country?! Yeah, that's love alright. I wish I were never born!"
"Don't say that, Mariah! You were born for a reason. Your father and I love you very much. Your dad is just getting older."
"How come you guys didn't just have all five of us together? Why did you have to wait fifteen years after having Shayla to have me? That doesn't even make sense!"
"I wanted another baby..." mom admitted. "And we were blessed with you."
"Then why does he want to send me away?!"
Mom sighed, "that's just something you're going to have to ask him."
Mariah sighed, "what am I even supposed to do in LA? Lie around the house with Shayla and the monkey?" She rolled her eyes.
"Bubbles is actually the sweetest chimp you'll ever meet,"
Mariah stared at me for a moment as if I was crazy, "mom, do not let me go to LA with these crazy people. Hollywood is called Hollyweird for a reason. Do you see what this is doing to Shayla? Do you really want me coming back like her?"
"You really don't know too much about me, Mariah. But I'm sure we'll learn a lot about each other when you stay with us," I mentioned.
"Approximately, how long are we talking, Shayla?" Mom asked me.
"Well, it's September now. We're about to pull Mariah out of school to start a new one. Why not until July? We'll bring her back right before my birthday."
"A whole year?! Mom, please don't make me, please!" Mariah whined. I don't get it. If I had an older sister that wanted to take me out of the state, I would jump at the opportunity, not cry about not wanting to go.
"A year, Shayla? Why not a couple of months?" Mom asked me.
"Well, if we take her for a couple of months after pulling her out of school, that won't look too good. And she can't go on a three-month vacation... I'm thinking about the legal ramifications here, mom. Mariah has to be in school."
She sighed, "I'm going to go talk to your father," she left Mariah and I. The room was quiet. I looked at Mariah and all she could do was look back at me.
"Do you need help?" I offered.
"I'm not going," she crossed her arms.
"Mariah, if I had an older sister offering to take me out of Ohio, then I would jump at the opportunity. Why don't you want to go?"
"Because it's not for like fun or anything. You guys are only taking me because you've heard of all the bad things I've done. If it weren't for that, you wouldn't be taking me."
"That's not true, I actually wanted you to come next summer, but now you get to stay until next summer."
"Yeah, well," she shrugged. "I'm still not going."
"Don't you want to see dad healthy again?"
She looked down, shifting her arms, "I mean, yeah."
"Now, I'm not saying you're the reason dad hasn't been feeling well, because I know I wouldn't want to hear someone say that about me. Dad is getting old, Mariah. He and mom are retired. Don't you think they need time to themselves? And being your older sister, it's only right I offer to bring you with me. Would you rather stay with Uncle Bobby and Aunt Helen?"
"Dear God, no!"
"Okay, then! Besides, if you act right, we'll get to do all the things you've ever dreamed of doing in LA. We can only have fun if you act right."
Mariah finally looked at me, "does Michael really have monkeys, giraffes, and lions at your house?"
I laughed, "you can find out if you come with us." Mariah thought about it. "Let me know if you need help packing. Michael is booking your ticket now, so I'll let you know what time we're leaving in the morning." I exited her room and went downstairs to hear mom and dad having a heated discussion about Mariah. Mom was upset that dad agreed to our proposal and dad was upset she couldn't see the good in sending Mariah away for a while. She better not argue him into another heart attack... It looked as though Michael and Robert were on standby so as to make sure the discussion didn't get too heated. I sat beside Mary, "so what happened? Mom came in here ready to kill?"
"Yep," she sighed. "She's not seeing dad's point of view and of course, he's dismissing hers."
"There's nothing wrong with Mariah and there's no reason to send her away."
I sighed, "watch. By next week, she'll be calling me and thanking me. She doesn't realize how much this is on her since she's so preoccupied with Mariah."
"You've got that right," Mary nodded.
"That's final, Angie! After all, is said and done, you'll see!" Dad called after mom as she went back upstairs. "She doesn't understand how this is tearing us apart!" He threw his hands up in the air and went downstairs to his den. Robert and Michael looked at each other.
"You think they'll be okay?" I asked Robert.
"They should be fine. Mom may be upset about it for a little while, so dad definitelyisn't getting any tonight," he laughed.
I rolled my eyes, "I spoke to Mariah. She was upset about it at first, but I think I was able to talk her down."
"Well, that's good!" Robert sighed a breath of relief. "I'm glad y'all live out of state. I tried taking Mariah for a little bit, but that doesn't get her away from much. With her being with y'all, she'll at least get a taste of something other than Ohio."
"We'll be leaving at eight a.m., Shayla," Michael told me.
"Sounds good," I nodded.
"But once we land, I have to get to the studio. I've already talked to Q about it. If you want to come, you can."
"It would be nice for Mariah to see you in the studio," I shrugged.
"We have to find her a tutor as soon as possible."
"I know, I just want her to see you at work, that's all."
"Sounds good. Well, I'm going to get ready for bed. We've got to get up early tomorrow."
I got up to give Robert and Mary hugs and kisses and followed Michael upstairs. Once I got to Mariah's door, I opened it to find her and mom packing, "do you all need any help?"
"No, we'll be fine. Let me have these last couple of hours with my baby. She'll be all yours for a year, Shayla," mom huffed.
I rolled my eyes, "mom, you're being dramatic."
"You'd be saying the same thing if someone was taking yourbaby away for a year!"
"Aren't I your baby too, mom?"
"You're a grown woman with a husband, Shayla."
I shook my head, "we'll be out of here by five a.m., kiddo, so after you finish packing, you should get ready for bed," I told Mariah.
She sighed, "okay."
I shut the door and went back to our room to find Michael getting ready to take a shower. This has been quite the turnaround trip. I'm just glad to know that dad will be okay soon. I don't want him stressing when he should be resting in his retirement.