Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.
He’s suspicious the moment his foot crosses the threshold. The sights, the smells, the players – everything’s in place for what he’s sure is a set-up. His skepticism only arises because the last time this happened, the team of women with whom he shares his home and life had manipulated a full-court press, their game faces on as they listed their demands – a car for Jennifer, a new pair of designer eyeglasses for his middle child, Crystal, and a family vacation to Hawaii, Jamaica, or the Bahamas. They won, of course; their 4-on-1 offensive being too much for his weak excuses, hemming and hawing.
“Daddy!” gushes his youngest, Rachel, skipping over to meet him at the door to take his briefcase. He gives her a kiss on the cheek while picking up a whiff of what they’ve got going on in the kitchen. Smells like his favorite dish – glazed chipotle chicken wings with bacon and cheese mashed potatoes and buttered garlic bread. Making his way to the kitchen for his kiss from his wife Annette, he spots a red velvet cake and a pile of thick caramel pecan brownies, which means there’s a good chance of finding a new carton of vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer. On the counter is a freshly poured glass of Shiraz and John Legend is crooning from their Bose sound system. Annette is entirely too made up for a feast in their dining room. In fact, it looks like she’s wearing all the cosmetics that Jen, Rachel, and Crystal would wear collectively on any other day, the three of them surprisingly deconstructed and casual. His wife is indeed beautiful, though. Reminds him of how she used to dress up back when they were first dating, her hair full of tumbling curls. Her scent is sweet and fruity rather than flowery, a choice that likely had in mind Danny’s unpredictable allergic responses. The table is set with the couple’s wedding china, complemented by the soft pastels of five place settings and a glowing unscented candle.
Someone must have screwed up really badly. As he lets the ladies in his life seat him at the head of the table and bring him a plate of the foods he’s usually forbidden to eat, Danny girds himself for something beyond a simple request for a vacation or money or a new car. As his family joins him, he lifts up a prayer that their supper talk won’t include the topics of pregnancy, car accidents, or crystal methamphetamine.
“So…what is it you all want?” asks Danny as they’re well into the meal, finishing off his potatoes.
The women exchange curious looks with each other. “What do you mean? We don’t want anything,” declares Jen.
“I know, Dad,” says Rachel with her mouth full of bread.
Annette chimes in as well. “Babe, give the girls a break. They’ve been working on dinner all afternoon.”
Danny’s not buying it, scowling at their faces as he shakes his head. “Look, you guys. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know something’s going on.”
Rachel reaches for the wine and tops off her father’s glass. “We just want to help you de-stress. We can’t afford for you to get canned because of those damn panic attacks.”
She lifts her eyebrows and widens her eyes innocently, to the amusement of her sisters. “Mom, what? It’s true, right?”
Jen takes over, explaining that Rachel was a little too blunt about it, but that yes, they were concerned about him and his health. Earlier in the day, they’d convinced Annette that Danny could afford to take a break a couple times a month from her strict low-sugar meals that usually caused them to skip the dinner table altogether in exchange for junk food they’d smuggle in from after school trips to the mini-market. “Let the guy enjoy something besides old-people sex, which I know can’t be all that fun anymore,” Rachel pleaded, resulting in Annette grounding her from television for the week. But they had a point. So she gave the girls $35 to use at the grocery store, and allowed them to take over her kitchen, even promising to do the dishes.
“So there isn’t anything you all need to ask? No terrible emergency? No need for me to take out a second mortgage in order to bail one of you out of trouble, or for me to go meet with the principal?”
“No, Dad. We’d ask mom to do that,” says Rachel to Annette’s chagrin.
Danny smiles before diving into his heated brownie a la mode, equally pleased and impressed with his family’s efforts. “Well, alright then. Thank you, ladies. This was very nice and delicious and beautiful. And I need to add that you guys,” he says, pointing with his eyes to his children, “look lovely without all that goop on your faces.”
Jen rolls her eyes, wanting to tell her father not to get used to it but restrains herself. Danny, however, then catches her giving a slight eye across the table to Crystal, who has barely said three words all evening. Taking Jen’s cue, Crystal looks down at her dessert plate and lays her fork over what’s left of her cake. “Daddy?”
He knew it. He knew it. He looks over at Annette who shrugs and shakes her head. Leaning back in his chair, he asks, “What is it, Crystal?”
She sighs before starting in. “Dad. I just have to tell you something. I know you’re gonna flip out or ground me or send me to boarding school, but…here it is. Okay.”
Danny can hardly stand it – she has herpes or joined a cult or secretly eloped and is now stepmother to a gaggle of bratty children who will call him ‘pop-pop’.
“I have a boyfriend.”
Danny swallows hard. “And…?” What…he has three wives…he’s in the penitentiary…he’s a republican?
“His name is Marcus, and he’s a freshman at St. Mary’s. His parents go to Annunciation in Long Beach. You may have met them before at the Community Hispanic Association annual meeting last year.”
“The Mendozas? Leslie and Roberto?”
Still looking down at her plate, Rachel answers “Yes.”
Danny turns to Annette, who looks much more worried about Danny’s response than Crystal.
“Well, that’s great, mija. I’m glad you feel you can tell me these things. You don’t have to go all out and coerce your sisters to help you make me a fancy dinner, though.”
“Are you kidding me?” asks Jen, visibly upset, nearly breaking the dish as she drops her fork. She ignores her father’s instructions to calm down.
“No, I’m not going to calm down because this is such crap. Just because Crystal has a freakin’ twenty-point-0 and is Ms. All-American everything and never does anything wrong, you don’t give her a hard time for having a boyfriend? Yet I’m two-and-a-half years older than she is, and you practically insist on a background check for any guy who even asks me out on a date.”
Danny clears his throat, not affected by Jen’s passionate speech. “Jennifer, you’re right. My approach with you is much different than with your sister. I’ve never had to leave work to hurry over to the mall to keep Crystal from being hauled off for shoplifting. I’ve never had your sister suspended from school for fighting. I’ve never had to lecture her for showing up at my office to flirt with my staff. So, yes, my reaction to Crystal having a boyfriend is much different than my reaction to you having a boyfriend.”
“But, Dad,” cries Jen, “I’m practically a woman. Crystal’s barely filling up her training bra,” she says, nearly sending Rachel off her chair with laughter. “I’ve had my period for five years – I could have easily been knocked up by now, but I’m not.”
“You’re damn right, you better not be pregnant. And you better not be doing anything even in the neighborhood of getting pregnant.”
Jen lets out a terribly large breath and throws back her head. “Dad, stop tripping. I’m in school, I have a job. I don’t get why you have to give me a hard time.”
“Because I do. As long as you’re living in my house, you’re gonna get a hard time from me, Jennifer Anne, because you’ve shown me that you attract trouble. And this boyfriend of yours…I don’t know him. I don’t trust him.”
“Micah is a straight-A student,” Jen practically yells. “He’s probably going to Harvard or Stanford next year. He’s on the honor roll. You’re judging him and you don’t even know the guy.”
“You’re right, Jennifer. I don’t know the guy. But you know what,” he says, ignoring his quickening pulse, “I think it’s time I do get to know him a little better.”
Annette places a hand on one of his. “Baby, relax some.”
“Yah, Dad. Take a chill pill…or at least one of those things your doctor gave you,” says Rachel.
Danny takes another sip of wine and folds his hands together, realizing that his temples are throbbing. “I’m fine, I’m fine. But I would like to meet this Micah fellow,” he says to Jen, who’s now sitting with her arms folded, glaring across the table at Crystal.
“Saturday. Bring him over on Saturday for dinner and scrabble,” he says, a grin taking over his face.
“Can Marcus come over, too?” asks Crystal, to which Danny nods, telling her that’s a great idea. Helping himself to a gargantuan piece of cake, he feels a little guilty for being so tough on Jen. But dinner shouldn’t be so bad if he’s as wonderful a guy as she claims. And if this incredibly intelligent Micah dude can beat him at a round of Scrabble, Danny decides, then he may even pledge his full support of their relationship.
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