“Well, Patty, I was thinking,” I said in my best doll-voice as I heard the doorbell. I put down the doll and got to my feet. “Mama will be right back, baby.”
I went into the living room and was surprised to see Huy’s sister, Chastity, standing at my front door. What on earth could she want?
I went to the door and opened it. “Chastity?”
She smiled slightly at me. “Hello, Camille. Could I come in? I’d like to talk.”
Poorly hiding my confusion, I stepped back and invited her in. “Would you care to sit?” She nodded and we took our seats on the sofa. “You probably shouldn’t be here. I know my lawyer told me not to speak to Huy.”
Chastity rolled her eyes. “Watcher, my brother…” She shook her head. “Camille, I know we were never friends when you and Huy were married – I don’t really even know what happened between the two of you. But I do know my brother. He’s too selfish to be a parent.”
“I’d have to agree with you about that.”
“I don’t know if you remember, but I have a son, Tito, who is about a year older than Loralee.” I vaguely remembered Chastity getting married and being pregnant. “As a mother, I don’t know what I would do if someone tried to take Tito away from me. I want you to know that I’m on your side with this. Children should be with their mothers. Especially when their fathers are like my brother. And I’m not just saying this; I’m willing to tell the judge this too.”
“Thank you, Chastity.” I felt touched that a woman I hardly knew would stand up for me against her own sibling. “That means a lot.”
She smiled softly. “Mothers have to look out for each other. You know, the only one of us who thinks Huy ought to have Loralee, besides Huy, is Octavia. She’s been after him about it for years.”
“Why am I not surprised?” I rolled my eyes and got up. “Would you like to meet Loralee? You haven’t seen her since she was a baby.”
Chastity smiled broadly. “Oh, yes, I’d love to.”
I went around to the hall and opened Loralee’s door. “Loralee, honey, come into the living room. I want you to meet your aunt.”
As I watched them introduce themselves and talk, I realized that I had just assumed that everyone in the Casillas family was like Huy and Octavia. Perhaps I had misjudged at least one member of that family. “Chastity, what do you say we get Tito and Loralee together sometime? Kids need to know their family.”
“Hey, sweetheart! Come here and give me a hug.”
I stopped playing pirate and looked over at the man who was standing by the jungle gym. “Stranger danger!” My mommies had taught me to yell as loud as I could if someone I didn’t know ever tried to touch me.
Mommy came running over and I jumped off the jungle gym and ran over to her. She wrapped her arms around me in a hug, her red hair getting in my face. “What’s the matter, baby?”
“I told her to give me a hug.” The man had come around the jungle gym and was glaring at Mommy. I hid behind her, wishing that Mama was here, too.
“Huy, you haven’t seen her in over a year. She probably doesn’t even remember you. It’s alright, Loralee. That’s your father.” I guess he could be my father. He had dark skin and hair like me. If Mommy said he was, I guess he must be. I still didn’t want to hug him. “You can just come around like this.”
“I want to see my daughter! I was here anyway and who should I happen to see on the playground? I’m allowed to come say hi!”
“Not right now, you’re not. You’re suing us for custody, remember?”
The man snorted. “I’m suing Camille. You’re just her slutty girlfriend. How many other women have you stolen from their husbands?”
“Don’t use that language in front of my daughter.” Mommy glared at the man and started pushing me away from him. “Come on, Loralee, it’s time to go home.”
“But I wanted to play on the monkey bars!” We’d barely gotten here! We couldn’t leave yet.
“We’ve got monkey bars at home that you can play on.”
She didn’t understand. These were different monkey bars. “But Mommy!”
“I’m going to make sure you never see her again!” The man shouted as Mommy and I left the park.
I looked up at her. “Why was he so angry?”
Mommy just sighed.