XOXO, I Hate You
By Elena Lane
Date: April 17, 2019
Ch. 22

Johnson Wells cleared his throat, demanding the attention of all in attendance. He was the type of person that people simply didn’t ignore. He was a good man, but authority radiated off of him. People often assumed that he was a harsh man, but in reality, he just knew how to separate business and pleasure. For some reason, the brunch had become business, but Beverly couldn’t fathom why. “I’m glad that you could all be here,” he said with a smile, but the grin hadn’t stemmed from genuine happiness; more so, it had appeared on the man’s face because that was the polite thing to do. He continued, “We’ve been coming here for a while now, gathering to brunch and sharing friendship with the Reeves.” Bev’s father was full of wistful delight, which was sort of uncharacteristic of Johnson Wells, but not unheard of. From time to time, Beverly’s father fell into a sentimental mood, which always made Johnson thankful for all the people around him. It was during such times that Johnson Wells could be seen as more than a wealthy mogul who had had everything handed to him.
Johnson Wells had been born into money, but despite this, he had a big heart. Beverly’s mom had not been wrong; Bev had always loved her father more, but it wasn’t because he gave her things, contrary to what Bev’s mom seemed to believe. Where Beverly’s mother was a cartoon character, sculpted to perfection, her father was a real person flawed, but ultimately good. Beverly couldn’t fathom it, but there was a deep love between her parents. The way Johnson looked at Linda and vice versa was incredible. Though Linda was stoic and unforgiving, she had a soft spot for her husband; Beverly could see that and it amazed her to see her mother love anyone other than herself.
Linda rested a hand on her husband’s arm. “Of course,” she added, falling into a nostalgic mood of her own, “Our children aren’t always with us to enjoy these times because they’re all grown up and have lives of their own now. So, that makes this an extra special occasion to have everyone here.”
Donna Reeve agreed, “We haven’t all been together like this since before Gordon went away to school.”
“Yes, all of our children have done great things since that time,” Linda said, refusing to look at Beverly. Bev had always been the problem child and her mother resented Beverly for it. Beverly rolled her eyes; Linda could never be pleased.
“And J.W.,” George Reeve said to Beverly’s brother, “we heard that you won the Wesson Prize for up and coming young executives. That’s very impressive. Very impressive, indeed.” Johnson Wells III, known as J.W., was the oldest of Beverly’s siblings and the heir to the family business, but Beverly didn’t envy him in the least. From the time he was small, he had been groomed to be a businessman, but all J.W. ever wanted to be was a chef, but he’d have to keep that ambition as a hobby, second to his position as future CEO of the Wells Group.
J.W. gave a small nod, “Thank you, sir.” Beverly could tell that J.W. was less than enthusiastic about the honor; in fact, he wanted nothing to do with the world of business. Still, the Wells children had been taught as children to have a poker face and seem courteous regardless of the situation.
Beverly saw her sister give their mother a small nudge with her elbow. Linda spoke up, “And, we can’t forget to mention the success of my oldest daughter, Jennifer.”
Donna gave a forced smile, “Of course not.” Donna was clearly just as unamused by the Wells family brag fest as Beverly was.
Beverly rolled her eyes; Jenny loved being the center of attention. While J.W. always put his family first, Bev’s older sister always put herself first. Jenny Wells was the oldest daughter of the Wells family and had grown accustomed to certain luxuries. She was a ditzy girl who had somehow flirted her way through Harvard Law school and had gotten a job at a law firm in New York City. Money could take a person far in life, Beverly knew that. If even the dull witted Jenny could succeed, anyone could so long as they had a little help from daddy’s bank account.
“She just got a position at Hoover, Jackson, and Ferguson--” Johnson Wells began.
“They’re the top law firm in New York,” Jenny interrupted with a pretentious smirk.
“As I was saying,” Johnson said, lowering his voice, “She’s become a very successful and diligent attorney and her future is very bright. We are very proud of Jenny.”
“As you should be,” George said, but Beverly noticed that he hadn’t even been paying attention to the conversation. Instead, he had been starring absent mindedly at his plate of food, contently patting his big belly. He was a big man who constantly had a look of disinterest and was probably quite bored by the current conversation.
“I’d love to hear about how Gordon’s been doing,” Linda said to Donna. Beverly stifled a groan; this was one of her mother’s favorite games. She loved to prod people to talk about their children, knowing very well that their achievements would pale against those of the Wells children (save for Beverly). Beverly’s mother had no real interest in how Gordon Reeve was doing; no, Linda Wells was just gloating in a subtle and polite way.
Donna gave Linda a stiff smile and sat up tall. “Gordon is a junior at Yale, majoring in architecture,” Linda said with obvious and genuine pride. Beverly found it to be very interesting; architecture was a major that wasn’t all that common in Bev’s world. Most kids were pressured by their parents to be doctors, lawyers or business people.
“Oh, yes, I recall you mentioned that at Julia’s garden party last April. You must be very proud.” Linda grinned wickedly, “Our youngest, Bradley will be a sophomore at Harvard. He’s been studying both government and economics. He’s so very versatile in his skills that he can’t decide whether he wants an MBA or a JD.” Linda chuckled a little and the rest of the table joined in half-heartedly. Beverly glanced at Bradley. She knew that Bradley didn’t like his mother’s constant one upping her friends and Beverly certainly didn’t like it either. So, whenever their mother got like that, Bev and Brad always shared a knowing smile. Brad had always been Beverly’s favorite sibling, but sometimes it bothered her that he was very clearly everyone’s favorite. Bradley was Beverly’s twin so they had always had a special bond despite being two very different people.

Font size
Font color
Line spacing
Background color