He watches me warily. “Well, I would be thrilled. Hypothetically.”
That’s all I need to hear.
Standing, I turn to the door, stopping with my hand on the knob. “I want you to know that I did this because I love you, and when I saw the chance to be able to help, I took it. I know you’re going to be angry with me but it’s done.”
Robert’s voice is a low, menacing rumble. “Holland Lina Bakker. What did you do?”
Judging from the look on his face, he already knows.
I turn the knob and Calvin steps inside, hands tucked deep into the pockets of his jeans. “Mr. Okai.” He looks at Jeff. “Mr. . . .”
“Also Okai,” Jeff finishes, looking back and forth between Calvin and me in confusion. “Would someone like to fill me in?”
I hold up my left hand, displaying my wedding ring.
And then the burst of Jeff’s incredulous voice: “You got married?” It’s so loud I know even if Brian isn’t standing just outside, more than likely he’s still heard it.
I hold up my hands. “Only temporarily.”
“You married a man you met in the subway? Does your mother know?”
“Absolutely not.” I step closer, putting my hand on his arm. “I talked to Davis and he’s assured me he won’t say anything. I’m hoping you’ll do the same.”
Jeff whips to Robert. “Did you put her up to this?”
“Of course not!” I insist. “He was the first person to shoot down the idea when Brian suggested it.”
“You did something Brian suggested?” Jeff is usually the calm one in our family, so I’m not really sure how to feel about the way that vein in his forehead is bulging. I do, however, take small pleasure in knowing that Brian probably heard this, too. Jeff looks at each of us. “Have you all completely lost your minds?”
“Honey.” Robert stands, rounding his desk to take his husband’s elbow. “Let’s all take a moment to breathe.”
Jeff wheels on him. “You’re not seriously going to let her go through with this.”
Robert throws his hands up. “What do you want me to say?”
“That she needs to undo this immediately?”
I point to my chest. “Hi. Grown woman, standing right here.”
I feel Calvin shift behind me. “I am really sorry that we didn’t involve you in the decision—”
“But it wasn’t up to him,” I interrupt, glancing over my shoulder before looking back at my uncles. “I made it clear Calvin can handle his family, I can handle mine.”
Robert looks up at me, eyes searching. “You’re legally married?”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.” Jeff closes his eyes and takes a calming breath before reaching for his coat and folding it over his arm. “I’m going home to take a bottle of blood pressure medicine and try not to call your mother—my sister—who will want to kill me when she finds out.” Turning to Robert, he adds, “We’ll discuss this when you get home. Which—considering you have a new guitarist—will be early today.”
Robert nods obediently and walks Jeff into the hallway. While he tells him goodbye—speaking too softly for us to hear—Calvin and I share a grimace.
That could have gone better.
With Jeff gone, Robert closes the door and moves to his desk, motioning for us to take the seats opposite him. Hands folded neatly on the chaos of portfolios and résumés in front of him, he looks crankily at each of us in turn. “Okay. You did this, so we may as well deal with it.”
I . . . think we pulled it off?
I mean, Robert is furious with me—with both of us—but I’m not homeless or on a plane back to Des Moines, so I’m calling it a win. Best of all? Calvin has officially been offered the part for Possessed and even if Robert won’t admit outright that he’s ecstatic, he’s droopy with obvious relief. After we’d gone over the details, he called in the rest of the team. He was practically vibrating with creative energy. I did that.
But we aren’t done yet. Despite his anger at all of us, Jeff still forwarded the email he got from Sam Dougherty, his childhood friend who now works at USCIS—US Citizenship and Immigration Services. That’s heartening, at least. But my mood wilts when I count the number of attachments; it feels like there are a thousand forms for us to fill out.
Calvin and I spend the rest of the morning gathering birth certificates and medical records and copying them in triplicate. By that afternoon, the coffee table is stacked with tidy piles of official documents. We haven’t even started the process of filling anything out yet, and my brain is goo.
Calvin finds me blinking into the open kitchen cabinet, staring at the mugs there. I was listening to an audiobook as I put dishes away and boom—surreal slaps me across the face: I see Calvin’s Juilliard mug on the shelf next to the one Davis gave me for Christmas last year that reads WORLD’S MOST OKAYEST SISTER.
“Everything all right?” he asks, eyeing me.
“Just having a momentary freak-out. I’m great now.”
Calvin laughs. “I hear that.” He picks up an apple, absently polishing it with the hem of his T-shirt. I keep my eyes at chin level. Mostly. “Do you think everything with your uncles will be okay? Jeff seemed pissed off.”