The #NazandRoz #AndPenny Series - Chapter 11
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Naz and Roz Blog Series
New York: Part 3
The chatter at the table continued on despite the fact Roz had looked to Naz with an arched brow as if to silently ask, Now? He shrugged, letting the choice be up to her. They had spent the first hour of this family dinner explaining to the important people from both their families that a teenage girl would be living with them, and very little else. The whys wasn’t important, not was it their business to share the things that Penny had gone through over the years. They answered as many questions as they were asked, but when it came right down to it, they actually said very little about it.
This was their choice.
Or rather, Roz’s.
Naz was just here to let her do what she needed and wanted.
“Should I go get it, then?” Roz asked.
Naz grinned. “I will go get it. You should grab another plate of that lasagna your ma made. It was good.”
“Because I need a second plate.”
He was already standing from the chair, ignoring the curious gazes of their family that drifted his way when he did so. Dropping a kiss to the top of Roz’s head, he said, “Who said anything about need, babe? It’s all about what you want.”
“Where are you going?” his father called from the head of the table.
Naz passed his father a look as he headed for the entryway of the dining room. In his captain chair, Cross never looked happier to Naz. There was something about being surrounded by his entire family that made his father most happy. Well, his family and his friends, when it came to Roz’s family. And they were all happy to finally have Roz back home, even if they were a tad bit worried about the new circumstances with Penny.
They might not have been voicing those concerns loudly—if only because they didn’t want to say the wrong thing or step on someone’s toes—but Naz could still tell. He wasn’t stupid, but he appreciated his parents’, and Roz’s parents’, effort to let them figure this shit out on their own. He didn’t doubt for a second that once everyone knew the second piece of their news, that concern would ratchet up a bit.
“I have something to grab in the car,” Naz told his father.
“Well, if we wanted you to know that when we first arrived, then you would have known, no?”
Cross smirked. “Oh, you’re in that kind of mood today, huh?”
“Let the man go, Cross,” Zeke said from across the table.
“Let me needle him. No one else does.”
“Except he acts just like you, and we know where that leads.”
“Did I ask—”
Okay, that was enough for Naz. Zeke and Cross were only joking around with each other, but they could continue to do that without him standing right there to listen to it. He had other, more important things, to be doing.
“I’ll be back,” Naz said as he slipped out of the dining room.
He heard his father shout after him, but he was already halfway down the hallway by then. Outside, their car was parked at the far end of the driveway because they arrived later than everyone else. A product of living in Manhattan when his parents still lived far outside the city limits. In the trunk of the car, Naz found the item they had kept hidden. Or rather, items. One was a cake Roz had decided to make, and despite the fact she wasn’t exactly a baker, she had full with it. It looked like it was going to make his teeth ache, too, what with the thick, white chocolate icing that looked like soft waves covering the cake, but apparently, she hadn’t intended for it to be eaten at all.
The other two items, small, matching boxes with white bows keeping the tops firmly on were his idea … just because. He ran around the city half of the evening the day before to find the things he needed to put inside those damn boxes when the cake probably would have been far more than enough, but hey.
His mother was a Marcello.
His father, a Donati.
They didn’t go halfway.
They went all the way.
By the time Naz got back inside the house, the table had been mostly cleared but for a couple of bottles of wine that were being passed around. Roz passed on hers, but nobody seemed to think that was out of the ordinary. Naz took a glass for himself after setting the cake in the very middle of the table, and passing his mother one of the two boxes, as well as a box for Roz’s mother, too.
“What’s this?” his mother asked, passing a sly smile to Katya, Roz’s mother. “Gifts, Naz?”
He chuckled. “Something like that.”
Sitting back in his chair, he sipped on the bitter wine as he tossed his arm around Roz’s shoulders. It was Italian tradition—rich, fatty, rich, fatty, sweet, rich, sweet, fatty … that’s how the meals went at an Italian’s table. And then they always finished it off with something bitter to remind them of the sadness in life because the sadness was usually the most important. It was where the growth came. And it made them all the more grateful to be alive for it. Or, that’s what his parents always explained.
Naz didn’t know if it was true.
But he drank the bitter wine.
“And a cake?” Cross asked.
Naz waved a finger between the cake, and his father, as well as Zeke. “We thought while ma and Katya opened their boxes, you and Zeke could … cut the cake for us.”
Zeke’s brow dipped as he passed Naz a scowl. “Are you high? Who needs two people to cut a cake?”
Roz laughed. “Just do it. It’s all in good fun, Daddy.”
“Stop wasting time,” Naz said, “cut the cake—and Ma, don’t open that box until they’re cutting.”
“Why not?” Catherine said, her tone suspiciously whiney.
Naz only shook his head.
They would find out soon enough.
Cross finished his wine with a huff, and set the glass to the table as he gave his son a wag of his finger before lifting from his chair. That was another thing his father didn’t like—standing from his chair before someone else at the table. He preferred to be the last person to leave a dinner, following right behind his wife.
That was just their way.
At the other side of the table, Zeke stood from his chair as hell, but he kept a hold on the crystal glass with his remaining bit of wine. Two knives were picked up from the middle of the table, left over from dinner. As the two men popped the plastic cover from the cake holder, Catherine and Katya had their boxes ready to go.
It was only as two knives were cut through the cake did their mothers pull the bows from the boxes. It was timed almost perfectly—Catherine gasped first at the sight of two little gold crowns, one with pink gems embedded in the band, and one with blue, and Katya soon followed with a shout of happiness. The hollers from their fathers came right after as Cross and Zeke pulled two pieces of cake out with the knives, one with the middle colored in blue on one side, and one colored in pink.
Cross stared across to his son, a smile drifted over his face. “Another grandbaby?”
Naz nodded. “Yeah, Dad.”
“Oh, Naz,” Catherine whispered.
Their pride was clear.
So was their love.
What else could he do?
Beside him, Zeke and Katya had already rounded the table with enough noise to break the windows to celebrate with them, too. A hand hit his back hard before Zeke bent down to hug his daughter. Kayta did the same. Under the table, Naz kept a hand on Roz’s thigh because he knew this was probably a bit overwhelming.
“A baby,” his father said again.
Naz laughed. “It’s going to be a busy year.”
“But a good one.”