Love Incorporated
By Elena Lane
Date: September 10, 2021
Ch. 1010

Unfortunately, they didn’t come around as quickly as she had hoped. Instead of accepting her relationship, her dads decided to have a dinner party, inviting only Jared and his parents. In an uncharacteristic act of rebellion, Tabitha came up with a ploy of her own: she was going to invite Braxton to dinner that night. When Tabitha told Braxton her plan, he initially said no because he didn’t want to first meet her parents in a situation that in its very nature was bound to be hostile. Tabitha respected his reasoning, but she didn’t accept. After an hour of persuading Braxton to come, he finally said yes, even if it was something of a gamble.

So, Tabitha’s parents were in for one big surprise that evening. That day, just shortly after the Blakely’s had arrived to Tabitha’s house, the doorbell rang. Of course, Tabitha’s parents were surprised at this, but Tabitha herself had to hold back a smirk, knowing that they would answer the door to see the one and only Braxton Decker.

Tabitha sat on the couch, watching as her father got up to answer the door. She couldn’t see Kevin’s face (though she really would have liked to), but she heard him say with a rigid voice, “What the hell are you doing here?”

When Tabitha heard this, she knew that it was her cue to go over and mediate the situation. It wouldn’t be fair or wise of her to let Braxton handle the situation all by himself. Kevin was her father and at least she knew how to best deal with him.
“Dad,” Tabitha said, placing a hand on his arm, “I invited him here. Since we were having this lovely dinner, I thought that it’d be a wonderful time to introduce you all to my boyfriend.”

Kevin glared at Braxton and called over to Mark, “Mark,” he called, trying not to make too much of a scene about the ordeal. “Could you come over here for a second?” Moments later, Mark joined his family in the foyer where Braxton just stood awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable. Tabitha grabbed his hand, not only trying to give her boyfriend support, but also she wanted to show her parents that she was serious about her relationship.

“Hello, Braxton,” Mark said politely, but his face showed that he was far from amused.

“Hello, Mr. Collins,” Braxton said, shaking his hand. “It’s good to finally meet you.”

“We aren’t glad to see you here, Braxton. As you know there is a long and painful history between us and your parents. Frankly, we’re uncomfortable that Tabitha has shown such interest in you.”

“Dad, be nice,” Tabitha warned.

“Tabitha, your father and I are being as nice as we can, but you invited him here, knowing that we didn’t want you to date him and he came here, knowing that our families are not on good terms. There isn’t a simple situation and we can’t simply pretend that him being here doesn’t come with complications. Furthermore, it’s not fair to treat Jared Blakely this way, Tabitha; he’s a nice boy and you shouldn’t be waving Braxton in his face like this.”

Tabitha groaned, “I know that you like Jared so much more than Braxton, but I like Braxton and I already explained to Jared that I wasn’t interested in a relationship with him. Also, I think that you need to keep your voice down, Father, because the Blakely’s are just in the other room and can probably hear us loud and clear.”

“This isn’t about the Blakely’s, Tabitha,” Mark said sternly, “This is about you and that Decker boy.”

“I’m not asking you to like him, but I do want you to give him a chance. Stop judging him and let him sit down for dinner with us and prove what a kind, sweet, intelligent guy he is,” Tabitha said with strength in her voice. Then she turned to Braxton, giving him a silent look that said, “don’t let the ‘kind, sweet, intelligent’ part go to your head.” He just smirked in response and Tabitha bit her lip to hold in a giggle.

Mark looked to Kevin, “I think that giving in is our only option here. Our stubborn daughter evidently has no intention of giving up.”

Kevin sighed, “I guess we have no choice but to invite the little thug into our house.”

Tabitha clenched her teeth, “I told you, he’s not a thug. Please behave.”

Kevin put on a fake smile, pretending to be cordial, “Come on in, Braxton. I hope you like steak.”

“Actually, I’m a vegetarian,” Braxton said with a smile. Tabitha slapped him. His smile grew wider, “Just kidding. Actually, I love meat.”

Mark laughed and then he made a comment that almost resembled teasing, “Watch your mouth, young man, if you know what’s best for you.”

The dinner party was awkward to say the least. It would have been bad enough had it been Tabitha, her parents and Braxton, but throw Jared’s family into the mix and things were just weird. When Tabitha escorted Braxton into the living room, the Blakely’s eyes got big in surprise. This was definitely not how they had intended to spend their evening. Tabitha reevaluated her plan as the Blakely’s attempted to make small talk with Braxton, asking him about his life and his plans for the future. Tabitha wondered if the whole thing was a bad idea, but she quickly shook away her doubts.

Jared turned to Tabitha, “You’re dating him?” he asked with an amused expression.
Tabitha laughed, “I can hardly believe it myself.” Then she added, “He’s actually a really good guy. He tries to hide what a good guy he is, but I see right through him.”

“Sometimes, people can surprise you.”

“Yeah, they certainly can. My parents have been surprising me lately. I thought that they’d be willing to at least give Braxton a chance. By now, they should know that you can’t judge people by what they seem to be, but no, instead, they close their minds to the very idea of me dating a Decker.”

Jared nodded in understanding, “They just want what’s best for you and to spare you any heartache. They’ll come around eventually. Soon, they’ll be able to see past their prejudgements and see Braxton for who he really is.”

“You think so?”

“I really do,”

With Jared’s words of encouragement, the rest of the dinner didn’t go easily; there were still hostilities and awkwardness, but Tabitha felt better. She had some hope that things could work out in the end. Somehow, her and Braxton would survive all the strain that was piling up on their relationship.

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