LADY J’S JAZZ
this was a wonderful idea,” Dr. Calvin Jackson smiled as he leaned
across the table towards his sister.
“Ruby and I have been dying to come here for months.
I hear the band is something else.”
“I can promise you that you ain’t
heard nothin’ like these boys.”
Naomi Jackson’s eyes darted from her brother to his girlfriend,
Ruby Thomas, who sat in near silence next to him.
“Ruby, you ain’t said much since we got here.
Don’t you like Lady J’s?”
“It’s very nice, thank you,” Ruby replied with sincere honesty. “I
agree with Calvin. I’ve
heard wonderful things about this place, too.”
“That’s why I thought it would be the
perfect place for us to go out and have a good time.
Once Mrs. Manchester found out that I wanted to take you all out
for the night, it seemed like she couldn’t wait to offer to watch
Aubrey for me.”
“Your employer offered to babysit for
you?” Ruby’s eyes grew
wide. “That doesn’t
sound like any employer I’ve ever met.
I can’t even imagine Mrs. Rutherford or
Mrs. Linford offering
to babysit for me so I could have a night out.
Heavens, I can barely even picture them watching their own
“Are you accusin’ me of lying?”
Naomi snapped before she had a chance to catch herself.
it’s not that,” Ruby quickly replied as she attempted to soothe what
could quickly escalate into a volatile situation.
“It’s just that… well… I know how unusual it is to have
employers who think of you as more than just an employee.”
“And Mr. and Mrs. Manchester do,”
Naomi nodded, quickly accepting what Ruby had said.
“In fact, they once told me that thought of me and Aubrey
almost like family. Mrs.
Manchester has really taken a liking to the baby.”
“You’re very lucky like that,”
Calvin spoke up, hoping to ease a bit of the tension that had crept into
the conversation. “You
know, Naomi, I have to confess that I was a little surprised when you
suggested that we all come out together tonight.”
“Well, you know I told you how I wanted
Ruby here and I to get along better.”
Naomi looked across the table and smiled sweetly at Ruby.
“Tonight seemed as good a time as any.”
agree,” Ruby nodded warmly, “but you’ll have to forgive me for be
a little surprised by this sudden change.
After everything you said the other day, if someone would have
told me that you’d be so eager to make nice, you could’ve knocked me
over with a feather.”
“What’re you tryin’ to say, Ruby?
You accusin’ me of….”
“Now, now, Naomi, I’m sure that she
doesn’t mean a thing by it – nothing at all.
Isn’t that right, Ruby?”
Calvin turned and shot her a stern look.
“But even you have to admit that this seems to come out of
nowhere. I’m sure Ruby is
just as curious as I am about what’s changed your mind.”
Naomi leaned back in her seat as her eyes
moved from her brother to Ruby. No
matter how Ruby seemed to deliberately try to get under her skin and
trip her up, she knew that she couldn’t let her.
Naomi had to stick to Mrs. Preston’s plan.
It was actually that day you can over for a visit,” she began
to explain, a warm yet false smile stuck to her face.
She reached across the table and grabbed hold of Ruby’s hand.
“You kept going on about wanting to be closer and… well… I
admit I wasn’t very nice to you that day.
In fact, I ain’t been very nice to you at all.
Anyways, after you left I started thinkin’ about what you said
once about how much it’d mean to Calvin if we got along and that’s
when I decided that I needed to put forth more of an effort.
If I do have a confession to make, it’s that all of this
don’t have as much to do with you, Ruby, as it does with Calvin.
I want to make the effort to get along… for his sake.
And maybe, in the process, you and I might actually become real
friends – best friends.”
“Well, I think this is fantastic.”
Calvin nearly glowed with joy over his sister’s revelation.
“You know, Naomi, this has been something that I’ve wanted
for months – you and Ruby to finally get along.
I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Don’t you agree, Ruby?”
Of course. Of course,
Ruby struggled not to display her shock
and surprise on her face. Nothing
that Naomi had ever said or done would’ve led her to believe that any
of this sudden change of heart was genuine.
As she sat in stunned silence, her hand still held tightly in
Naomi’s, Ruby couldn’t help but be suspicious that her boyfriend’s
sister was up to something.