Author's Note/Disclaimer: Oh gosh, I'm so sorry about the delay you guys. It took me ages to get this one written. I should have the next chapter up soon, now that the school semester is nearly over. Anyway, thank you for reading, I love you, and enjoy! And I don't own the Blues Brothers, so please don't sue me. I have no money.
Chapter Nine: How Long?
As, Victoria was learning, were all meals with the Blues brothers, dinner was quite the spectacle. They ate in the living room—she and Elwood on one couch, and Jake and Boo on the other—while watching reruns of Jeopardy, shouting out their answers and laughing at how little they actually knew. She had made a lot of spaghetti, hoping to have some leftovers for tomorrow; but between Jake going back for fourths, and the dog sneaking bites off of everyone's plates, it was all gone sooner than she could believe. She made a mental note to adjust her food budget to account for Jake's hearty appetite. She would also have to account for Elwood's strange diet, she thought, with a glance at his plate of plain pasta.
After they ate, the television was turned off and the boys rifled through her record collection. They put on a B.B. King record, cracked open a bottle of Canadian Club, and worked their way through a pack of cigarettes. Every so often, Elwood would pull out his harmonica and play along. It was the first time she had heard him play, and was thoroughly impressed. He could make that harp sing!
Jake got up and opened the window, letting the smoke out into the cool night air. Victoria watched him carefully as he hesitated by her bookshelf against the wall. He was looking at the picture.
"Hey, Vic. Who's this?" He turned, holding up the framed photo. In it, a black man in a suit and a white woman in a wedding dress held each other tightly, grinning widely at the camera.
"My parents," she answered with a grin.
"Your parents? You're mixed?"
"Jake!" Elwood reprimanded sharply, but Victoria just laughed.
"I know, not easy to tell, is it? Apparently I take after my mom."
"What happened to them?"
She took a long drag of her cigarette before answering, pressing the butt into the growing pile of ashes in the ashtray. "They were shot. I told you my grandfather bought this house. They thought, living in Chicago, that they'd be okay. It's a big place, ya know? Mixed couple wouldn't stick out too much. But I guess they caught someone's attention." She lit another cigarette. "My grandfather was a pretty prominent lawyer back in Maine, and used a lot of favors to get them to investigate the shooting more closely. Even so, there was no way to prove it was a racial thing, and no one was ever prosecuted. I was sent to live with gramps, came back to Illinois for college, and took up living here. And then I met you boys," she ended with a grin, though it was a bit strained.
Elwood leaned toward her, though still keeping his distance. It was clear he wasn't sure what to say or do. "I'm sorry."
She shrugged. "Thanks. Honestly, I think I got pretty lucky. It all happened before I can remember. I have no memories of my parents, so I have nothing to miss." She chuckled at the expressions on their faces. "I know it makes me sound heartless. But you can't miss something you never had, and I know nothing about my parents except what I've been told. The way I see it, they would have had to die eventually. If I had known them before I lost them, their death would have hurt. Instead, I feel nothing."
They were quiet for a long time, the smooth voice of B.B. King filling the silence in the room. Eventually, Elwood blurted out, "Jake and I are orphans."
He nodded solemnly. "Yep. We didn't know our parents either. You know…we get it."
She smiled, amused by his attempt to cheer her up. "Thanks, El."
Jake cleared his throat. "Anyway, let's talk about something really important. Like our show tomorrow!"
"Can I ask you something?" Elwood murmured into her hair. Victoria reluctantly opened her eyes to look at him. She had nearly been asleep.
"Of course, El." It was difficult to tell where he was looking, since he even slept with those sunglasses on, but she was pretty sure he was looking at her.
"How long did you wait for me? At the diner. You never said."
"Oh." She could feel her face flush bright red. "Umm. I was there for about two hours."
"Two hours?" he repeated, shifting to a more comfortable position in the bed and pulling her closer in the process. "That's a long time."
She gave a half-hearted laugh. "Tell me about it."
He was quiet for a long time, thinking, and she had closed her eyes again, assuming he was done talking. "Why'd you wait so long?" he asked softly, not wanting to wake her if she had fallen asleep.
"Because I wanted to see you," she replied with a smile, not opening her eyes. He kissed her forehead softly, causing her to sigh contentedly.
After another long pause, he spoke again. "You shouldn't've had to wait so long. I told that waitress what you looked like."
She smiled, opening her eyes again as she remembered what the woman had told her. "She said you told her to give it to the most beautiful girl to walk through the door."
"Exactly," he said, without hesitation and without even the slightest hint of irony. The smile fell from her face and she gazed at him intently, trying to find his eyes behind those dark lenses.
"You really meant it, didn't you?"
"Of course I did," he answered, his brow creasing as if he couldn't imagine why she would think otherwise.
She didn't know what to think about that. So she decided not to think, opting rather to place her hand flat against his chest and kiss him. He responded immediately, working his lips against hers as his hand undid the braid she had put her hair in for the night. When she reluctantly pulled away from his mouth to breathe, his hand stayed buried in her hair, his fingers running through the soft brown curls.
They were silent for a long time, and she began dozing off again. Just before she fell asleep, she pressed her face against his chest and murmured, "I think I'm in love with you, Elwood."
After she had fallen asleep, he kissed the top of her head and whispered, "I know I'm in love with you."