“Mama, what do you mean my uncle is really my father?!” Kendra Flannigan shrieked in the hospital waiting room. Her hazel eyes were wide with shock. Her loud voice could be heard echoing in the quiet corridors nearby. Her fair cheeks were bright red with emotion.
“Keep your voice down,” Reeka Flannigan hissed through clenched teeth, showing that feisty side of her that most people only saw in the courtroom. The esteemed New York lawyer looked anxiously at the door, hoping that all of their other relatives were long gone by now.
The hospital had been overwhelmed by Flannigan family and friends all week. They’d come to say tearful goodbyes to Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Flannigan, who was not expected to make it into next week after a bad skiing accident last Sunday. Not only did the adventuresome real estate mogul break too many bones to count, he had yet to wake up from a coma and was currently breathing with the help of a machine.
“Did you sleep with your own brother, Mama?” Kendra asked in a lower tone. She looked horrified by her own question. She was.
“Stepbrother,” Reeka amended, moving to close the waiting room door, which was something that she should have done before she began to pull skeletons out of her closet. “And we didn’t know we were about to be kin at the time you were conceived.”
Kendra touched her right hand to her forehead, as if checking for a fever. “I think I need to sit down for this.”
“You are sitting down, baby,” Reeka replied gently, turning the lock on the door for good measure. She didn’t want anyone else to hear this long overdue conversation.
Kendra looked down at herself and frowned. “I am sitting down, aren’t I? I must be losing my mind then.” She raked trembling hands through her long sandy-colored silky locks.
“You’re not losing your mind, baby. You’re just in shock, that’s all.” Reeka returned to her seat beside her twenty-one-year-old daughter, the only child she’d ever had by the only man she’d ever loved romantically.
“You better believe I’m in shock. Who wouldn’t be if they just found out that their favorite uncle was actually their father, not just the father figure they’ve known and loved all their lives,” Kendra replied, unable to remove the look of horror from her eyes. The whole thing just seemed so unreal.
“I completely understand.” Reeka patted her on the back in comfort. “Take deep breaths in, baby, to keep yourself calm while I explain everything.”
Kendra did as she was told as her mother shared how she and Kenny met during one fateful spring break in Florida. At the time, they were both seniors at different colleges, had both lost a parent within the previous five years, and both dreaded going home on holidays and school breaks. Especially since both of their surviving parents were stuck in perpetual grief that neither seemed willing to leave any time soon.
“Kenny and I didn’t know that while we were falling in love in Florida, our parents were falling in love in New York. As everyone in the family knows, Kenny’s father met my mother when she moved into one of his apartment buildings,” Reeka continued, clasping her hands together in her lap now.
Kendra nodded. She recalled the story well about how her white grandfather was instantly smitten with her black grandmother when the feisty woman stormed into his corporate real estate office one day with a petition in one hand and a bright red sleeping bag in the other. The fully signed petition was a demand for him to fix the heat in her building. The sleeping bag was for her to sleep in his warm office until he did. So impressed with her, he called the repairman that very day and invited her to dinner the next. The rest was history.
“Imagine me and Kenny’s shock when we got calls from our parents on the last day of spring break telling us that they had eloped and with whom,” Reeka said, grimacing even now at that memory.
Kendra winced just imagining how painful that unexpected news must have been to...
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