“A turkey,” Red stopped at the entrance to the kitchen.

“It’s Thanksgiving, an earth holiday. Do you not celebrate?” Teak asked her.

“I do kind of, sort of. Norquay what are you doing?”

“Jade said there must be greens, collard greens. Then she said, cook them, and I will come.” He turned those blue eyes on her looking lost.

She giggled at the Field of Dreams reference.  Then she adopted her best professor’s voice. “A long time ago, in a world that hasn’t changed that much. The white man came to America.”

She walked over to show Norquay how to clean greens. “History,” she made air quotes with her fingers. “Says that the white man and the red man (the Indians) got along peacefully and broke bread together in a feast we now call Thanksgiving. It’s a believable tale if you’re sitting in a nice house with food on the table. Wasn’t it so sweet of the Indians not to be upset with us for taking their land and pushing them onto reservations? What did I know? Nothing, I believed what I was taught in school. Then somehow, I came across the trail of tears. It was part of an Indian removal project. After that, I had to rethink Thanksgiving. Tell me how happy they were that we came to their land and stole it. That was like saying Africa rolled out the red carpet for slavers.

“So why do I sort of celebrate it? On this day I remember what I have to be thankful for. It wasn’t always a lot, but if I could find one thing it helped me get through the day. There were times I was thankful to be alive and times I wasn’t. I use the day to give thanks, but I remember that others have a right to curse this day.”

“Do you guys have days like this?” She turned to point to the greens. “We are going to put those in a good old-fashioned earth crock pot since we have time. Jade taught Em how to cook them this way, she taught me last year for Easter. Em said they come out almost as good as Jade’s grandmothers used to.” They started cutting them up. “According to Em they taste better when they are cut up the right way. I don’t argue with her about greens. I follow the directions and eat happily.”

When the greens were finally in the crockpot, he looked at her. “That’s a lot of work for a green vegetable.”

“Tell me that after you put a little hot sauce on them. They’re like heaven in your mouth.”

“Heaven in my mouth?” That doubting smile showed he didn’t believe her. She would defend herself, but then she thought of tasting his cock. People (Jade and Em) talked about things like giving head. She hated the thought, but now she was wondering if his cock would taste like heaven. She cringed, if her family were here, well her dad. He would tell her the devil was in her soul and demand she repent. Why was it bad for her to think about sex but okay for that asshole Matthew to rape her? Double standards? Matthew obviously wasn’t a virgin.

“Em?”

“Sorry, got lost in my head again. Let’s talk about side dishes. Did you cook the meat and vegetables for the stuffing?”

She took in both Norquay’s and Teak’s look.  “Tsk, tsk what did you do before I came?”

“I beginning to wonder,” Norquay said as he grabbed onions to cut.

They spent hours in the kitchen cooking and laughing. Red played music that had nothing to do with Christmas. ‘Do not mix your holidays, she told them.’ Now the table was set, and the food was done.

Jade and Lyrek, the queen and king, came to celebrate with them. Em and Jaydel were there too.

“Alright I see lustful eyes on my greens,” she shot Jade and Em a look. “First, we have to go around the table and say what we are thankful for. Everyone must say one thing, but you can say up to three. We will start with the king.”

Lyrek looked at each of them before he turned to look at Jade. “I am thankful for my abraza. She suffered the trial to become my mate and then quickly showed everyone that she deserved the title. I am thankful that she loves me and wasn’t looking for a way to get ahead on this planet. I am thankful this planet was willing to provide sanctuary for us on top of having females that are willing to become abraza’s. Last, but never least I am thankful for everyone at this table and all my people.”

“Did you really have to ask him to go first?” Jade asked discretely wiping a tear away. “My turn. I am thankful for Lyrek. He thought enough to not only love me but to invite me along on this grand adventure with him. No matter what the outcome I will be forever grateful. I am thankful for all of you who hold my hands up when I think I don’t have the energy to go on. I am thankful for the porcoyan’s, I watch them go on every day when some days there seems to be no hope. I know you said only three, but I am thankful for my people. When I watch them do the right thing when so many clamors for war.”

“Jaydel,” Red said.

“I am thankful for Em.” He reached out to hold her hand.

Red nodded, Em almost died. There were times when Jaydel was not hiding his emotions that she could see both the fear and the love shining bright in what Em called his coffee-colored eyes.

“Em?”

“I’m thankful for Jaydel, he’s a wonder in my life. I’m thankful for Jade, without her I would have never been alive to meet Jaydel. Then I’m thankful for all of you.” She gave them a watery smile.

“Teak,” Red said.

“I am thankful for Norquay. He is the son I was never able to have. When they told me, I would die without an abraza, taking care of him grounded me. I am thankful for a general who defied conventional wisdom and made room for a historian and the screw up who would one day be my son on his ship. I am thankful for all of you.”

“I’ll go next.” Red volunteered. “I am thankful for being born. That’s important to say because there were times I wanted to die. I am thankful for my mother who sacrificed herself to give me a chance at life. I am thankful to all of you.” She reached out and took Norquay’s hand. “When I thought I wanted to die in the abyss by myself you kept me company on the other side of the door. I will never be able to tell you how thankful I am for that.”

“I am thankful for Teak. There were times when I thought my parents hated me and I acted accordingly. Now as I get older and look back, I realize something wasn’t right in our town. I don’t know what it was, but I know I’m right. Teak took me in when everyone else would have let me die. He taught me to be a good soldier even though it was apparent I was not a soldier. He gave me my first book. I will never forget him throwing the book at me. Learn something about your people he told me in a gruff voice. Then look me in the eyes and tell me this nonsense. Ever since then I have been learning about my people and any culture I come across.” He ran his hands through his thick dark hair. “I am thankful for Red as well as for all of you. Now can we eat?”

Red lowered her head in silent prayer. She decided long ago there couldn’t be this much hate in the world if it wasn’t coming after someone. All she could think was it was against a loving God.

This was family. She passed the stuffing around the table as she waited for the white meat of the turkey. She spent so many days, so many holidays pining for this very thing, a family where she was included and safe. She was thankful that jade decided to nickname her Red and call her friend.

She watched Norquay’s eyes when he took his first bite of the greens. “Heaven in your mouth? Yes, or no?”

“How can something so green be so tasty?” he asked.

“Philosophers have been asking that question since greens were first discovered,” Jade told him. “Try the stuffing. Em must have given her special recipe out.”

Em laughed. “I’d give it to you, but we both know you’ll just call me up and invite me over to make it.”

Jade pouted and Red laughed. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was not supposed to make it back from the hell she endured, but she had. Now she was stronger, maybe wiser, okay maybe not wiser, but definitely stronger. Watch out world Red was coming.

After they put the food up and washed the dishes Jade and Em brought out dessert. There was sweet potato pie, apple pie, and heaven forbid banana pudding along with ice cream and whipped cream.

“I’m going to have to crawl to bed,” Red told them allowing herself to fall off the couch to the floor.

“Have no fear, I will carry you.”

She blushed. Jade told her that Norquay carried her from the car to his house and then up the stairs to the room she was in. She took in his arms and his thighs and blushed brighter. He was a strong male.

“I may have to take you up on that,” she said it softly hoping only he would hear her.

Em leaned over in her ear and whispered. “Red has a crush.”

She did have a crush. Could it be more than that?

“We should go shopping,” Em told them.

“What?” Red and Jade stared at her.

“Come on, it’s Black Friday. When’s the last time we went out mingled with the masses and ran like crazy to get the last computer on sale from Best Buy?”

Em and Jade remembered that year.

“You don’t have to do that anymore,” Red pointed out. “Jade is queen and you’re the director of… She wasn’t sure what Em was director of, but she seemed to like her job.

“Red have you ever been Black Friday shopping?” Jade asked.

She shook her head but gave an answer. “No.”

“That settles it. We’re going Black Friday shopping,” Jade announced.

“They trample people to death at Wal-Mart,” Red protested.

“That’s why we don’t go there.”

“We’ll meet up in three hours. Power nap people!” Jade said before she swept out of the room.

“What will I wear?” Red panicked.

“It’s the middle of the night, I don’t think it matters,” Norquay told her.

“Heathen, it always matters.” She flounced out the room trying to hold her laugh back.

“That was the most fun; I can remember having in the last few centuries,” Teak said.

“I know, what did we do without her?”

 

Centuries, Red allowed herself to think about that word after she was sure the door to her room was shut. They lived for centuries. It did make sense, and the timeline was more understandable now. What would the general do with that type of knowledge? What kind of experiments would he run on them? What kind of war would we have if we turned on the refugees we were harboring?

She would have to think about this. Right now, she needed a power nap.

 

 

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