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Justine stilled and Gabrielle sucked in a breath. Steven looked at them both curiously. She realized Justine never went into specifics of what her future husband did for a living.
The General noticed Justine’s sudden hesitation and frowned. “What?”
Gabrielle watched as indecision battled on Justine’s face, her mouth twisting. A visible calm came over her and Gabrielle allowed her shoulders, unknowingly clenched, relax.
“Does it really matter what Liam does? We love each other, that’s all that matters.” Justine bypassed her father’s outstretched arms and sank into the couch next to Steven. Steven glanced at his father and then back to his sister, all the while shifting down the couch. Gabrielle stifled a giggle and gave him a shove.
“Coward,” she murmured in his ear.
“I’m your father Justine. I want to know my baby is going to be cared for.”
“And I can’t take care of myself? I don’t need a man to provide for me, Dad. I have the education and the ability to make my own mark in the world.” Justine straightened up in her seat. “If you must know, Liam is a publican. He runs his family establishment.”
The General’s mouth fell open then closed with an audible click. Steven turned to his sister in surprise.
“Are you serious? Of all the men in the world, of all the careers for them to have, you’re marrying a guy who runs a bar? Again?” He barked a laugh. “Do we need to form an intervention for you sis?”
Gabrielle punched Steven in the arm. “Shhh.”
The General stalked over to the bar and grabbed the drink Mrs. Taylor already had prepared. He tossed it down with a single gulp and thrust the glass back at her.
“I don’t have problems with men who run bars per se,” he growled. “I do have issues with my daughter marrying beneath her station. You should be marrying a lawyer, or a doctor, or the CEO of a Fortune 500, not some low-brow, blue collar nobody.”
Gabrielle felt as if she’d been punched in the gut. His comment unknowingly hurt her as much as it did Justine. Steven launched to his feet.
“Dad! We discussed all this. You promised you’d keep opinions like that to yourself!” He turned to Gabrielle and grasped her hand. “Come on, we’re leaving. Justine?” He looked at his sister who nodded tightly and got up to follow.
A crash startled them all. The General had smashed his glass against the hearth, pale gold liquid trickling down the stones. “Don’t you walk out on me,” he roared.
“The evening is finished, Dad. Go sleep off your whiskey.” Steven turned to his mother huddling near the door. “Dinner was great Mom. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”
Justine gave her mom a quick hug and darted out the door. Gabrielle snuck a final look at the General, jumping as his bloodshot glare met her gaze.
“It’s all your fault, you worthless tramp. Steven never would have talked to me that way if he wasn’t involved with you.”
Gabrielle felt her fist clench. She took a step closer, wanting nothing more than to hit that sanctimonious expression off his face. She felt a hand close around her elbow and haul her back.
“He’s not worth it, hon. Just let it go.” Steven wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders and escorted her away. As soon as they reached her car, Gabrielle felt her knees tremble as the adrenaline receded. She wasn’t violent, ever. After watching her own parents come to blows a few times she’d vowed to never resort to physical violence.
She crumpled to the ground, tears gushing. What had this family done to her?
As per usual, using Inspiration Monday’s prompts:
Live and Let Die