Her smile is large and wide and she doesn’t bother to dry her hands as she engulfs her son in a hug. Stanton lifts her off her feet and spins her around. “Hey, Momma.”
When she squeals, he sets her down and she leans back. “Let me look at you.” She brushes his forehead, his jaw, and his shoulder lovingly. Then she steps back. “You look good. Tired but good.”
“It was a long drive.”
Stanton gestures to me. “Momma, this is my . . . this is Sofia.”
Before I can extend my hand, Mrs. Shaw wraps surprisingly strong arms around me. “It’s so nice to meet you, Sofia. Stanton’s talked about you—what a talented lawyer you are, how well you two work together.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Shaw, it’s great to meet you too. I’m so happy to be here.”
And what hits me straight between the eyes is, I truly am happy. Seeing where he grew up, meeting the people who made him into the man he is now, fills me with a joy. A sweet excitement that has my feet tapping and a permanent smile on my lips.
“Call me Momma, everyone does. You call me Mrs. Shaw, I won’t even look.”
She shoos us to the table. “Sit down, sit down, y’all must be starvin’.”
“And so it begins,” Stanton whispers, his breath on the back of my neck giving me goose bumps.
As his mother cracks and scrambles eggs, Stanton asks about his father.
“Up in the north field,” she explains. “For the rest of the day and then some. Mendin’ the fence that was taken out in the last storm.”
Within fifteen minutes there are plates of eggs, bacon, and warm biscuits with butter. “This is delicious, Mrs.— Momma,” I correct myself with an awkward chuckle.
“Thank you, Sofia.”
“Now you’ve done it.” Stanton grins, his mouth full of biscuit. “She’s gonna be stuffin’ your face the whole time we’re here. You’ve heard the freshmen fifteen? Be prepared for the Shaw twenty.”
“Oh my word!” From down the back stairs, into the kitchen skips Stanton’s sister, Mary, Marshall’s twin. With shoulder length blond hair, and her mother’s sherry colored eyes, there’s no doubt she’s part of the Shaw clan.
Being the youngest with three brothers myself, I feel an immediate kinship with her.
She leans down and kisses Stanton’s cheek, teasing, “I’m gonna start callin’ you the Grey Ghost, ’cause you played football, and you’re never here jus’ like a ghost, and ’cause you’re gettin’ gray in your whiskers.”
Stanton pinches her chin sweetly, then rubs his jaw. “There’s no gray in my whiskers.”
“Not yet,” Mary agrees. “You just wait until Presley’s my age—she’ll have you grayer than Daddy.”
Mary introduces herself, then immediately professes her love for my nail polish. And my lipstick. And my silver sleeveless top and black slacks.
“Momma,” she whines. “Can we go shoppin’? Please?”
Stanton’s mother starts to clear the table. “Do you still have last week’s allowance?”
“No, I spent it at the movies.”
She gives Mary a shrug. “There’s your answer, then.”
“I’m goin’ to Haddie’s,” she announces with a pout.
“Not until you feed those calves in the weanin’ paddock, you’re not.”
Mary opens her mouth to complain . . . then bites her lip hopefully. “Unless . . . the best big brother in the whole world would do it for me?”
“Your brother just got home,” Mrs. Shaw admonishes. “He’s barely eaten; give the man a minute to rest.”
She folds her hands and gives him the Sherman eyes.
His mouth twitches. And he cocks his head toward the door. “Go on, then, I’ll feed the calves for you.”
Mary throws herself at Stanton with a squeal. “Thank you!” Then in a blur she’s out the door. “Bye, Sofia!”
After the table is cleared and the dishes are drying, Stanton, his mother, and I finish our coffees.
“After I set Sofia up in my room,” Stanton says, “I’m going to drive over Jenn’s.”
His mother stiffens slightly. Then she nods and sips from her cup. Stanton worries his bottom lip with his teeth. “It would’ve been nice to have a heads-up about this weddin’ situation. A phone call . . .”
Mrs. Shaw looks her son in the eyes. “That’s between you and Jenny, wasn’t my place to tell you. Unless it has to do with Presley, her business is her business.”