“Your mother doesn’t like me,” Diana leaned in close to Colt as they shared a brief moment alone before someone interrupted them with congratulations.
“It’s not that” Colt kissed her cheek “it’s everything you represent.”
“What does that mean?” she turned worried dark eyes toward him “I don’t represent anything.”
“Your every girl my mother warned me about. The loose girl who had sex before marriage, a child out of wedlock, a stripper” he took her hands in his “I’m sorry that she’s making your day less special…”
“Our day,” she corrected lifting a hand from his grasp to stroke his cheek “it’s only ruined if we let it. I love you. I married you not your mother.”She turned where his parents were standing talking to her Uncle “I would have preferred your family like me but my happiness isn’t dependent upon them liking me.”
Colt forced himself not to look away from her gaze. Her words felt like a whip stinging him as they lashed into him. Not for the first time he wondered if he should have told her what his mother was plotting. He hadn’t wanted to ruin her mood for the wedding. Hadn’t wanted to deal with telling his parents they weren’t welcome. He hoped that given enough time his mother would forget about her scheme. Hoped overall that his mother would look past Diana’s former life and see the wonderful person she is.
“Colt is something wrong?” she asked breaking into his troubled thoughts.
He bent her over at the waist “how could anything be wrong when I have someone so beautiful in my arms.” For a moment he gazed into her eyes before giving into the desire to kiss her “I love you” he whispered in her ear as he broke the kiss.
“I love you too,” she replied back looking intently at him sensing that something was wrong despite his reassurances to the contrary. She would have perused it if someone hadn’t chosen that opportunity to interrupt them.
“Mama” Isabel inquired beside her distracting Diana from the well wishes from one Colt’s band members “can I have more punch?”
“Sure sweetie” Diana excused herself to help Izzy. Turning the light fell upon Izzy’s troubled face, stopping Diana knelt beside the girl “have you been crying?”
“No mama,” she said barely loud enough to be heard above the people around them.
“Honey don’t lie to me,” Diana took her hand and led her to the women’s bathroom where they could hopefully talk and she could clean Izzy’s face. Sitting her on the counter Diana asked again “why were you crying?”
“It was nothing honest,” Isabel tried to hop down from the counter but Diana restrained by wiping away the fresh tears that flowed down her cheeks.
“Sweetie tell me,” she entreated her.
“I don’t want to upset you” Izzy mumbled “you’re supposed to be happy on your wedding day.”
Tilting her daughters chin up Diana asked “how can I be happy when my little girl is miserable?”
“Oh mama I’m sorry,” she burst into fresh sobs “I don’t want to go. I want to stay here with you and daddy. Please don’t make me go. I promise I’ll be good.”
Stroking her daughters hair Diana’s hands stopped and held Izzy’s face tilted up towards her “what are you talking about? Where would I send you? You’re my daughter. You belong here with me.” She pulled her daughter close feeling the deep shutters that shook her small frame. Diana wondered if this had anything to do with Colt’s somewhat preoccupied state of mind. Who was trying to tear her family apart?
Izzy wrapped her arms around her mother sobbing on her shoulder. “Please don’t let them take me I want to stay here with you.”
“No one is going to take you,” Diana soothed despite the fury building inside her. She looked up as the door opened and an older woman walked in.
“Oh there you are Izzy. It’s time we get going.”
Clinging to her mother the girl cried “please don’t let her take me mama.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Isabella,” the woman said in a sharp clipped tone. “I’m not going to hurt you. Your parents can come to visit. Now let’s go.”
“She’s not going anywhere with you,” Diana announced with barely suppressed rage. She picked Izzy up as if she could more easily protect her in her arms. Glaring at her mother-in-law “her name is Isabel not Isabella.”
Shrugging “when the adoption goes through it will be Isabella,” the woman announced “we really must be going you can see Isabella before we leave tomorrow.”
“You’re not taking my daughter” Diana told her holding her daughter tighter to her chest.
“Its all arranged my dear. That’s the only reason why we came to the wedding.” Colt’s mother stepped forward forcing Diana to back up against the wall. “I told my son Isabella needed a better environment to grow up in. A better role model than a stripper. I can give her that.” She reached to take the girl from Diana’s arms. “You know this is the best thing for her.”
The door opened as someone else came into the already crowded bathroom. Taking the opportunity Diana stepped towards the door and fled from the room with her daughter. Stopping long enough to scan the room she found her Uncle in the crowd. She moved as quickly as she could towards him.
“Uncle Gene” she panted coming up beside him. He turned smiling when he heard her call his name. At the sight of her frantic state and near hysterical daughter his smiled faded just as quick. “Is she hurt?” he asked taking his grand niece into his arms.
Gulping for air Diana searched for her in-laws before responding “please take her home with you and don’t let anyone take her other than me or Colt.”
“Are you in some sort of danger?” Gene asked.
“Don’t let them take me Uncle Gene” Izzy cried in his ear clinging to him like a limpet.
“Don’t worry baby no one is going to take you,” he turned back to Diana “what’s going on?”
“I’m not sure but Colt’s mother is trying to take Izzy away from us. Other than that I don’t know anything.”
“Why?” Gene asked worry and concern in his voice.
“She thinks I’m unfit to raise her because of my past.” Diana explained through clenched teeth. “I did what I thought I had to do at the time. I’d do it again if it meant food and roof for my daughter.”
“The woman is a fool,” Gene squeezed her hand “should I take Kevin home with me too?” he asked knowing Aimee already busy watching the younger kids so their parents could enjoy themselves for the night.
“If you don’t mind,” Diana replied looking relieved.
“We’ll keep them for as long as you need us to. Izzy can wear some of Kelli and Leala’s clothes and I’m sure we have something that Kevin can wear from the boys old clothes.”
“Thank you Uncle Gene. I don’t know what I’d do without you” Diana said giving him a quick hug and kiss.
“Call me later,” Gene instructed in a tone that told her it wasn’t a request.
“I will” she acknowledged turning to look for Colt now that her daughter was in trusted and safe hands.
Colt watched as Diana handed their daughter over to Gene. She looked over wrought and Gene left soon after a brief interchange. He saw his mother exit from the women’s bathroom a furious look on her face. He hoped the two had nothing to do with the other. He jumped with Diana’s voice came from behind him “we need to talk now.”
He turned and looked into her furious face. Swallowing he wondered if this had anything to do with what he should have told her before the wedding. “Diana I can explain.”
Hands on hips she spat out “you can explain?” She nearly choked on the words she was so upset “you knew your mother was planning on taking my daughter away from me. Did you know that was the only reason why your mother came to the wedding?”
“What? No I…what are you talking about?” he stammered as his mind tried to grasp what she was telling him. “Did I hear you right? My parents came to take Izzy?”
Some of her anger dissipated with facing his confusion. She watched as the color drained from his face “you don’t know do you?” she asked.
“No I don’t know. I would have told you if I had. I knew she mentioned some such nonsense to Izzy while she stayed with them. I didn’t think she was serious. I told her that Izzy was our daughter not hers.” He felt Diana clutch his hand and gasp. Looking in the direction she was facing he found his parents moving towards them.
“Where’s Isabella?” he heard his mother’s strident voice demanding.
“She’s spending the night with my Uncle” Diana told her.
“The celebrity” he voice dripped distaste “Colt you really should be more mindful of who your daughter associates with. No matter we’ll just go get her and be on our way.”
“No mother Izzy is not going with you,” Colt told her facing her down.
“What? I thought this was all arranged” she said “I have everything arranged. The best schools, the best friends a girl could ask for. You know this is the best thing for her.”
“No mother it’s not. I’m sorry you took our willingness to let Izzy get to know you as anything more than a visit. Izzy is our daughter. We will decide what’s best for her not you.” He put an arm around Diana as he spoke.
“Why I never thought I’d see the day when my own son would disobey me in such a disrespectful way.”
“Mother I’m an adult fully capable of making my own decisions even if they don’t coincide with your expectations of me. I’m sorry that I disappoint you in my life decisions but they are my decisions to make. It has nothing to do with disrespecting you. I love you. I’m sorry you can’t see that.” He clutched at Diana needing her strength as he stood up to his mother.
“Honey you heard what the boy had to say” his dad said speaking for the first time. “We’ve raised our a good son. It’s time we trust he knows right from wrong. Izzy is their daughter not yours.”
“I just want to make sure she doesn’t turn out like her….”
“Honey that girl made her own decisions based on circumstances we don’t understand. Given a choice of watching her child suffer or stripping she choose the one that helped her provide for her child.” He directed his wife away from them “it’s time you let the past go and get to know the woman our son married.”
“I know but it’s so hard,” she complained as he led her away.
“I don’t believe it,” Colt muttered.
“Don’t believe what?” she asked looking away from her in-laws towards him.
“This is the first time my dad ever stood up to my mom. He’s never done that before…ever.” He squeezed her tight against him. “Let’s go home. Now that the kids are away we can really make some noise.”
“I kind of like the sound of that” she squealed when he picked up up and carried her to their waiting car.