Snapshots of a Marriage

Meeting The Parents

The early December air in Minneapolis was cold to say the least. The local news predicted 23 degrees with a wind chill factor of 15. That was too kind to the dark, gloomy atmosphere that awaited the woman once she locked the shop she’d worked at for closing.

Adrienne shivered as chills ran up her spine, rubbing her gloved hands together for some semblance of warmth. She had stayed at work later than expected thanks to a clerical error Rebecca had made during her shift that she had been left to clear up, again. How that woman even got the job, Adrienne would never know.

She had decided to cut her classes at Mankato State back to just part-time, leaving her with more time to work at the shop and save up money. She only had a few more hours until she got her degree in Sociology anyway. It also meant that she had to move back in with her parents.

It wasn’t much of a problem living back at home. Her parents were fine with her staying in her old room so long as she kept up with school and work. Her two older siblings were already out of the house and her younger brother, Steve had his annoying moments but for the most part they were close.

The real reason she had cut back classes, put in more hours at work and didn’t just pay for her own apartment with the extra cash instead of having to live back at home was that green eyed punk that she’d fallen deeply in love with. She pulled more hours at work to save money for the gas and hotels she‘d need to visit Billie Joe in California. They had talked it over and as soon as she had a few days off from school she’d stay with him for a weekend.

She rubbed her arms again and pulled her scarf around her neck tighter. She would certainly rather California sun over Minnesota snow.

Her plans for the night were very simple. Billie Joe was in town for a few days after the latest tour had ended and she’d told her parents about it at the start of the week. Tonight would be the first time they’d meet him and tonight had to be beyond perfect.

Her parents knew about Billie and they’d also expressed their discontent about him on multiple occasions but the dark haired woman had hoped that tonight could change that. Billie Joe had this way about him that could melt anyone’s heart. He was sweet and funny and so very attentive. He was just a naturally good conversationalist. She had only hoped that the younger man could keep his snarky, inappropriate side in check long enough for her parents to recognize how good he was for her.

She’d finally turned the corner to her block, walked up to the front door and was surprised to see the walkway had been recently shoveled. A warm, noisy home had greeted her as she entered the house along with the tantalizing aroma of her sister Natalie’s famous pasta. She shook her head slightly to rid the damp, cold flecks of snow that had mingled with her dark brown and blonde dreadlocks during the walk home. She rubbed her cheeks with still gloved hands in another attempt to warm up.

Billie was expected here in just over an hour and she still had so much to do, defrosting on the top of that list.

"Hey..." her younger brother, Steve spoke up as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder. The little bastard always did love to rub their noticeable height difference in her face. "Finally gonna meet the reason you dumped Billy at the alter?" he smirked sarcastically. He had never liked her former fiancé, but their parents sure did.

"I did not leave him at the alter, dick," she nudged him as she pulled her hooded sweatshirt over her head once her body had finally adjusted to the cozy temperature inside.

"You might as well have... This guy must be pretty special. Or hot or whatever," he said with a shrug. "You taking a shower? Mom's already cooking..."

"Yeah, I'll be down in like a half hour, tops."

She gave a quick wave to her parents and sister from the living room, the three all working on prepping various ingredients for the dinner, before she made her way upstairs and into her bedroom.

When the Nesser family moved into the home a mere 5 years ago, Adrienne had made sure she claimed the bedroom with the en suite bath. Sure it was smaller than the rest of the rooms but a private bath more than made up for it when she had to share one with up to 8 people at a time thanks to her family members frequent visits.

She glanced around her bedroom, clothes sprawled across the bed and floor, multicolored fabrics tossed around just as much, cluttering around her prized sewing machine on her work station. It was a gift from her mother for her 16th birthday. The woman always loved designing her own clothes, watching an ugly and unwanted old dress become something beautiful. It was a small hobby of hers from the age of 12 that had never really gone away.

She dug in her closet and chose one of the more recent fruits of her labor, a light beige off the collar top with purple trim. After another few minutes of searching she'd grabbed one of her many handmade skirts and a change of underwear before she headed into the bath.

Twenty minutes and she was washed, damp and began quickly applying a fresh layer of makeup. The night could be a dream or a disaster and so far she thought it leant towards disaster. Her parents had finally accepted her former beau, Billy, after months of trying and she had left him for a Californian punk. That little revelation hadn’t go down so well in the Nesser household.

How could she leave that nice Billy boy for some guy on the other side of the country? Could she really feel that strongly about him when she'd only spent an accumulative few weeks with him in the 3 years she'd known him? She should never leave a sure thing for a maybe. She had heard all that and more from her parents.

She knew they had valid cause for concern but she couldn't get them to understand her side of things. Billie Joe was different. He was sweet and thoughtful. He understood her better than almost anyone. He actually cared about her opinions on things and always seemed interested in what she had to say. He was a beautiful person and she would have given up a hundred sure things for one maybe with him.

The two had lost contact for months. She had moved in with a friend and he was on the road all the time and those little weekly calls just disappeared in the chaos. When the California boy had called her a few months ago it had taken her by complete surprise. She'd already met Billy and gotten engaged. She liked him, had strong feelings for him but that one call from Billie Joe was enough to shake her. Did she really believe she'd spend the rest of her life with Billy? The simple answer was no. But did she believe she could spend the rest of her life with someone like Billie Joe? She'd known the answer to that the night they'd met.

Just as she was finished the last minute touches to her outfit she heard the house phone ring and jumped up to answer it, knowing who would be on the other line. "Hello?"

"Hey, Adie," a bright, familiar voice answered on the other line. She could almost hear the shit eating grin the younger man must be sporting.

"Hey... when are you coming over? I was almost done getting dressed."

"I'm heading over now. Just got back from that record store you told me about," he answered, the sounds of rushing traffic and pedestrians clearly audible in the background.

"How‘d you like it? Found anything decent?"

"Fucking awesome! Got some Husker Du. I don‘t know why you complain about Minnesota so much, it‘s awesome here." Billie Joe paused, "So... what're you wearing?"

Adrienne couldn't repress a giggle at the man's tone, "You'll see when you get here, idiot."

"Damnit, tease," he laughed. "I see a cab so I should be there soon. Love you."

"Love you too," she grinned and hung up the phone.

Joe Nesser greeted Billie at the door when the man's cab had finally arrived. The younger man answered the highly judgmental glances to his brightly dyed orange hair and nose ring with a big, toothy grin and a firm handshake.

"Hi, Mr. Nesser. I've heard so much about you."

Her father shook his hand with a look of surprise, "And we've heard much about you. Come in."

The smaller man was nearly dwarfed by the elder Nesser's height. Adrienne would have laughed if she weren't so nervous.

"Hey," she grinned at him and gave him a hug, knowing full well that a kiss would not be the brightest idea that night.

"Hey," he smiled at her, keeping his arm around her waist as he glanced around the living room. "You've got a nice home, Mrs. Nesser."

Adrienne's mother smiled warmly at him, "Why thank you, Billie Joe. You're quite polite."

Adie could hear the hallelujah chorus in her head. Nothing wrong so far and her boyfriend was the definition of polite. If she were not watched like a hawk by her patriarchs she would have kissed him. "So, maybe you wanna show Billie the kitchen?"

"Oh, of course. You must be starving," Joann answered as she lead everyone into the kitchen.

"Yes, I am. Thank you."

"So, Adrienne told us you were in a band?"

"Yes, sir. That's how we met, we played this little house party a few years ago and Adie was there," he answered with a smile. "She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen," he gave Adie's hand a squeeze. "But I think you know that."

"Of course," her father answered with a smile. "So is this band just a hobby or...?"

"No, it's what I want to do for a living. We uh.. actually just got signed a few months ago," he answered sheepishly, he still wasn‘t entirely used to being signed to a major label and the way he squeezed Adrienne‘s hand with his was a testament to that.

She gave the younger man a small smile and looked back at her father, “Yeah, to Reprise. It’s a great label. Frank Sinatra started it…”

“Well, if Sinatra started it…” her father started to say before a certain thirteen year old annoyance butted in.

"You’re signed? Fucking awesome, man," Steve all but shouted after nipping one of the pieces of bread from the table and promptly received a smack to the back of his head.

"Language, Steven,” Joann frowned at the teenager.

"Sorry, mom..."

"Yeah, it‘s pretty great." Billie grinned at Adrienne.

"I‘m proud of you," Adie grinned back.

"So you could really make a living with your band?" Adrienne's mother asked the young man curiously,.

"I already have been. I mean, not much up until now but it's been good so far. I was able to get my mom a car."

Joann smiled, “That’s sweet of you.”

"What kind of music do you play?" Joe asked, having warmed up quite a bit to the orange haired man.

"Punk. I could show you if you want. Adie said Steve had a guitar?"

"Yeah, lemme get it, dude," the boy spoke up before he darted upstairs to his bedroom to retrieve the barely used acoustic he had stashed away in his closet.

"Well, it sounds like you're doing quite well for yourself."

"Yeah, I have been," he looked at both elder Nessers. "I'll take care of your daughter, you don't have to worry about that. I love her," he chanced a small smile as he noticed the looks of approval in their eyes.

They had passed the time with a few minutes of mindless chatter once the ice had broken and the occasionally samplings of dinner whilst Joann and Natalie finished up the cooking before Steve burst into the kitchen with his guitar in hand.

"It probably needs to be tuned but there you go."

"Thanks," Billie smiled.

"The music can wait till after dinner," Natalie spoke up. "It's done."

The Nessers ate their meals in one of two places; either the small table in the kitchen with enough space for four at a time or the formal dining room. They were never allowed food in the living room as Joann would likely smack them hard enough to forget their own names. This night definitely qualified as a formal dining night.

The room was of a reasonable size with tan walls and mahogany furniture. A few larger portraits of the family and scenic views decorated the walls. There was a large cabinet to the left wall that held Joann’s good china.

Natalie set the table as Joann served the food. Joe took his spot at the head of the table as Billie took the seat next to Adrienne. As soon as Joann gave out the younger man's portion of pasta the aroma proved to strong for him to wait till everyone had sat down. He quickly took a big bite and his green eyes nearly rolled to the back of his head.

"Wow, this is amazing, Mrs. Nesser."

"Call me Joann, Billie. Thank you," she gave him a smile.

Billie nodded and looked at Adrienne, "If you can cook half as good as your mom I think I'm gonna have to propose," he laughed, only half joking.

Adrienne laughed with him, "I like silver more than gold."

"You're a dream," he grinned and placed a quick kiss to her cheek before he continued to eat his dinner.

Adrienne had always thought that food brought out the best in people. Throughout dinner there was nothing but smiling faces and laughter, enough warmth to combat the cold wind and snow visible outside the large bay window.

Even after the clinking of glasses and the scraping of forks to plates had stopped altogether, they were reluctant to leave the cozy atmosphere of the dining room. She was content in just watching her family laugh as Billie told a considerably more clean tale of life on the road but judging by the younger man's twitching he had other ideas in mind.

"So, didn't you say you wanted to hear what kind of music I played?" he spoke up after a brief lull in conversation. Adrienne nearly laughed, of course the man wouldn't pass up a chance to play a guitar.

"Oh yes! Sorry I forgot," Joann smiled at him, getting up. "I'll just put away the plates."

"No, Mom. I've got it, you go on to the living room," Natalie said as she already started to stack the plates.

"Alright," the older woman nodded. She usually would have contended but she really did want to hear Billie Joe play. She wondered if it would be something she could stand, unlike that noise Billy Bisson had called 'hardcore'.

Billie grinned and hopped up once Natalie had collected his plate, helping Adrienne up before he grabbed the guitar Steve had left leant against the kitchen counter and walked back into the living room.

The living room was easily the most loved part of the house. It was a place that everyone could come together and talk. Two large, dark red sofas in the center of the room were visibly worn from years of use. Light brown and blue throw pillows adorned either side of them. A black recliner to the right of the center couch shown even more wear than the two couches. Joe had bought the old recliner years before in a rare moment of extravagance and the man spent more time in that than in his own bed.

True to form, Joe made straight for his beloved recliner whilst the rest of the Nessers took seats on either couch. Adrienne sat in the middle of the center couch, grinning as her boyfriend walked into the center of the living room and pulled on the guitar. She held back laughter at how small the guitar that was clearly made for a child looked in the hands of the younger man. Billie didn't look phased by it, he simply lengthened the guitar strap and got to tuning it before looking back up at the Nessers with a smile and started playing the first song that came to mind.

After a quick run through Words I Might Have Ate and No One Knows, Adrienne's deep brown eyes lit up at the recognition of the new song Billie Joe had played for her over the phone. She smiled warmly at the man as he began to sing the song he wrote for her, Minnesota Girl.

She wanted to look at her parents to see their reactions but she couldn't tear her eyes away from the man before her. He always let so much more confidence and emotion shine through with a guitar in his hand. Billie finished the song without a single note out of time and as he let the last chord draw out he looked up and smiled when Joe, Joann and Natalie all clapped. Steve tried to show mild disinterest due to the blatant sappiness of the final song but even the youngest Nesser was impressed.

"That was brilliant," Joann smiled.

"He's got a much better voice than your ex, doesn't he?" Natalie muttered to Adrienne with a laugh.

Billie Joe stayed two hours longer than he had expected. Hearing stories of life in Lebanon from Joe and talking about the joys of skateboarding with Steve whilst Adrienne took some time to talk to her sister. All the worry and apprehension he had held about the night had seemed silly in retrospect. The Nessers were some of the nicest people he'd met and while people usually judged him on looks alone and never gave him a chance to speak himself they had seemed interested in everything he had to say. He shook Joe's hand goodbye and gave Joann a hug at her request and was surprised to find just how much he wanted to stay.

Adrienne walked her boyfriend to the door, sharing a hug and a soft kiss with him before she shut the door from the cold looming outside.

"So, how did you like him?" she turned and asked her parents with a small grin painting her features. She thought she already knew their answers.

"He's so lovely, Adrienne," Joann grinned.

"I like him," Joe said firmly.

"Marry that man," Natalie smirked.

Adrienne just giggled, "I plan to."
♠ ♠ ♠
I re-wrote this chapter like 4 times. I'm still not entirely sure I like it but feedback would be very VERY appreciated.
Really, if you subscribed to the story, why not comment? ;D