Usually Callie enjoyed dinner with her grandmother. The judge never ceased to amaze her. She kept a busy schedule, yet still managed to keep house and entertain regularly. Where or how she found the time to clean, cook, and bake was beyond Callie. Lately, though, Gram had been getting on Callie’s case almost as bad as her mother and sister about getting married.
She pulled into Gram’s drive and groaned. Not only would she have to deal with her grandmother, mother, and sister, Aunt Beatrice Lulu was here. Not her favorite person. She eased out of the car. May as well face the music.
Callie’s grandmother greeted her at the door. “How’s the new Police Chief?” Gram’s smile beamed with pride. One thing she’d give Gram credit for, she was proud of her children and grandchildren.
“I’m doing well.” Callie hugged and kissed her. “How are you?”
“Ah, you know how it is. Busy. Jim Landry thinks I should retire.”
“Maybe you should. Take life easy. You've certainly earned it.” Callie suppressed a grin. Truth be known, Jim Landry was sweet on Gram.
“And just what would I do with my time?” Gram put her hands on her hips and frowned at Callie. “You young people think everything is solved by retiring.”
“Well, you could travel. Or you could spend more time with Jim.”
Gram waved her hand, but Callie caught the blush on her cheeks before she turned away. “Posh. What makes you think I need to spend more time with Jim?”
“Well you’re always telling me I should get married. Maybe you should consider it.”
“I was married, remember? And to a very good man. No way could I replace him. Get married, the very idea.”
“Gramps has been gone a long time, Gram. And Jim’s every bit as good. He’s sweet on you, you know.”
Commotion from the other room saved Gram from answering. Callie followed her into the living room.
Aunt Beatrice Lulu sat in the middle of the floor. Everyone stared open mouthed, looking scared to speak.
“What in the hell are you doing on the floor?” Gram covered her mouth to keep from laughing. “Are you okay? Do I need to call 911?”
“No. You don’t need to call 911. Help me up, for God’s sake.”
“What the hell are you doing on the floor to begin with?”
“I fell. What does it look like?” Aunt Beatrice Lulu took the hand Gram offered.
“I can see that. But what happened?”
At that moment, Aunt Beatrice Lulu spotted Callie. Oh boy, here it came. Her nasally voice grated on Callie’s nerves. Okay, it wasn't her fault, adenoids or something caused it, but it was still annoying. Sometimes Callie thought her aunt exaggerated it. Maybe she didn't, but right now it sounded worse than usual, and Callie wasn't in the mood to listen to her, even if she sounded normal.
Why couldn't everyone just let her live her life? What made them think they could tell her what to do? Aunt Beatrice Lulu wasn't the only one. Oh no, Callie’s mother, her sister, heck even Jim Landry weighed in on what she should do with her life or what man she should meet. Everyone was always setting her up with blind dates.
Beatrice Lulu. What kind of name was that anyway? And don’t anyone dare shorten it to Aunt Bea or Aunt Beatrice. Oh, no. It had to be the whole name, or everyone would catch what for.
Callie remembered when she was little-she called her Aunt Bea once. Wasn't that what Opie Taylor on Andy Griffith reruns called his aunt? Callie thought it was cute. Lord above, you’d of thought she’d put a curse on her aunt or something. She thought she’d never hear the end of it.
That woman ranted and raved for almost an hour about how her name was Beatrice Lulu, not Bea, not Beatrice. It was the name she was born with, the name she was christened, and the name she’d die with. It’s the name she expected people to use. Obviously she was proud of her name, but did she have to go on so? Callie never made that mistake again. No, ma’am. From then on she used her whole name and so did everyone else. All except Uncle Ed, that is.
Callie would never forget when her aunt met Uncle Ed. She about fell out of her chair laughing. Aunt Beatrice Lulu stood there staring at him like she wanted to bash him over the head or something.
Uncle Ed is a big man. Big--like six feet six or more. Most people are overwhelmed by his height. A giant of a man, he towered over everyone and his shoulders, lord above, they were almost as wide as the doorway. And he had this loud, bellowing voice that vibrated off the walls and back at you. His black curly hair fell in a curl on his forehead, and bushy dark eyebrows sat above the roundest, darkest blue eyes Callie’d ever seen. His straight nose, mustache, square jaw, and creases at the corner of his eyes, as well as his tan, gave him a rugged appearance. Sexy. Ruggedly handsome. Magnum PI or the Marlboro Man.
Aunt Beatrice Lulu didn't look impressed. Not that Uncle Ed noticed. He just walked right up to her. “Well, aren't you a pretty little thing?” he said. “Bet you got a pretty name to match.”
Callie’d never heard anyone refer to her aunt as pretty before. Or little. Nothing about her aunt was little. Okay, she wasn't huge, but suffice to say she had some added bulk. Nothing Callie’d call pretty about her. Aunt Beatrice Lulu’s nose was too big for her face, her lips too small, and her squinty dark brown, almost black, eyes looked beady at best. She pulled her mousy brown hair so tight into a bun on top of her head-Callie swore it pulled every wrinkle out of her face. She usually sat with her arms crossed over her ample bosom and resting on her paunchy stomach. Nope, nothing pretty about her. Portly, but not pretty. But obviously, Uncle Ed thought differently.
He stood there, admiring her, and she continued to glare at him. “Well, sweetheart, do you have a name or not?”
“I do, and it’s definitely not sweetheart.” She harrumphed and turned away, looking at everyone and everything but him.
Uncle Ed wasn't going to be put off. Oh no, not him. He put his big hands on her shoulders and turned her right back around to face him. “Now, why you wanna be rude like that? I just asked your name.”
The room grew deathly quiet. Everyone focused on Aunt Beatrice Lulu and held their breath, Callie included. No one talked to her aunt that way, and they sure as heck didn't touch her. She just stood there. Speechless. Callie’d never seen the woman speechless before.
“You going to tell me your name, or do I got to ask these other folks?”
“Beatrice Lulu.” Her mouth curved upwards in a slight smile. Aunt Beatrice Lulu hardly ever smiled. “Beatrice Lulu Roberts.”
“Well, now Bea, was that so hard?” He moved his left hand to her check and stroked it.
Aunt Beatrice Lulu flinched from the touch. “I said my name is Beatrice Lulu, not Bea.”
Uncle Ed let out a big hardy laugh. “Ain’t nobody called by their full name these days. What you think people got time to say Beatrice Lulu?” he dragged out the last syllable and slid his finger along her cheek toward her lips. “You think people got nothing better to do or talk about. They gotta waste time calling you by your full name? My name’s Edgar Leroy Eberhardt, but do people call me that? Hell no, they call me Eddie or Ed. And that’s what you can call me.”
Aunt Beatrice Lulu pushed his hand away, positioned her hands on her hips, and tapped her foot.
Uh, oh, Callie thought, here it comes.
“Well, Mr. Eberhardt, if you don’t like calling me by my full name, fine. Don’t! Don’t call me nothing. In fact, don’t talk to me at all. Think I care? My name is Beatrice Lulu.” She started her rant. “It’s the name I was born with…
Next think Callie knew, Uncle Ed pulled her aunt against him and kissed her right on the lips. The whole room let out a gasp. Callie thought she cursed. Someone said, oh hell. Might well have been her. The shock of the moment sent everyone agape.
Finally, he pulled away. Not that Aunt Beatrice Lulu resisted. Not once did she try to push him away. Nope, in fact, she leaned into him and put her arms around him. “Well, now,” he said. “How about you and I go get some dinner, Bea.”
Callie’d never seen her aunt so flustered, let alone speechless. She just stood there staring at him. Everyone held their breath waiting for her usual angry outburst.
“Oh, dear…” She patted her hair as if it were out of place. “Where would you like to go, Ed?”
That was it. No rant. No rave. Just complete surrender and off they went. That’s how their relationship began. Not six months later, they married. Never thought they’d see the day Aunt Beatrice Lulu met her match. Of course, Uncle Ed called her Bea, but he was the only one allowed to call her that. She remained Beatrice Lulu to everyone else.
“There’s someone I want you to meet, Callie.”
“I don’t have time to meet anyone, I’m too busy.”
“But, this one’s different, Callie.”
As usual, Aunt Beatrice Lulu found the perfect man. Right! Callie’d met those perfect men before. Not one of them lived up to her aunt’s description, and not just physically. Sincere, trustworthy, considerate. Ha, the first one turned out to be a crook, the second was married, and the last one so egotistical he didn't even like himself.