Randie stood next to Gram and surveyed the dining room. “Everything looks great.”
Gram’s eyes gleamed with pride. “It’s perfect. I still love my mother’s china. I’ve only chipped one teacup over all these years. That tablecloth is as close as I could find to the one she used. I always thought she set such a beautiful table.”
Randie heard a car pull in the driveway and looked out the bay window. “Mom and Dad are here.” A second car pulled in behind them. “Ronnie, too.” She went to put the spiced nuts and marinated olives on the sideboard, along with the wine.
Mom looked especially pretty when she and Dad came to join them. Her parents were both teachers, Dad taught high school math and Mom, English. Mom’s red hair had faded over the years, but her rust-colored tunic top complemented it. The brown slacks she wore hugged her still slim legs. Her hair was cut chin-length and waved. Dad’s hair was thinning, but he was still attractive. Ronnie took after him—dark haired and stocky.
Mom came straight to Gram and wrapped her in a hug. “Hey, old lady, this looks like a fancy spread.”
Gram laughed. She loved it when Mom teased her. “Randie and I outdid ourselves this year. Just wait till you see what we come up with for Thanksgiving.”
Randie quickly glanced Gram’s way. What did she have in mind this year?
Gram looked smug, but refused to spill her plans. Instead, she crooked her finger at Ronnie. “Come here and give the old girl a kiss.”
Ronnie grinned and planted a smooch on Gram’s cheek. “You promised to feed me if I showed up. I’m hitting the spiced nuts and grabbing a glass of wine.”
Gram shook her head indulgently. “Whatever makes you happy, dear.” Gram always made sure to have all the things Ronnie loved on the table.
They all went to the sideboard to pour themselves wine, and while her family noshed, Randie started carrying out the food to put on the table. When she finished, her mom gave a satisfied sigh.
Ronnie applauded. “I’m digging in.”
With her family, meals revolved around catching up with each other. Mom and Dad were both having a good year, teaching. Ronnie, as usual, was buried under mountains of work, but marketing was like that. He liked the fast pace. They all asked about Kelli and were sad to hear how much grief Curtis was causing.
“His head is actually too big for his body,” Ronnie said. “I thought it was genetics. Didn’t realize it had swollen to that size.”
Gram laughed. “Your mom told me that you’ve been seeing someone.”
Ronnie glanced at his mother. “She did, did she?”
Mom took a second helping of the antipasto salad and turned to tease Randie. “I’ve given up on your sister. There’s never anything to report.”
Randie shrugged. She’d heard it all before, and it didn’t bother her. “If you want grandchildren, Ronnie’s the one to pressure. Not me.” But her treacherous mind immediately conjured an image of Jordy’s uncle, Lucas. Tall and masculine, he was so patient with his niece and nephew, he intrigued her.
Gram had never been able to resist gossip or fresh news. For years, she’d had to settle for job reports and Randie and Ronnie moving to new apartments, but now she had something better. “What’s this girl like?” she asked Ronnie.
“If she marries me, she can quit being a pole artist and give up stripping.”
Gram threw back her head and cackled. “From what I’ve read, she’s giving up a lucrative occupation.”
Ronnie stood to pour himself another glass of wine. “True, but you’d be surprised how slippery those poles can get after a few hours under the spotlights.”
Gram loved it. “What does this smart girl do on the side?”
“She’s a techie for a big hardware company.”
Gram wrinkled her nose. “Computers. They rule young peoples’ lives.”
“That’s how we met,” Ronnie said. “My computer and her computer set us up on a match site.”
“Really?” Now Gram was intrigued. She hadn’t heard much about web dating. She looked at Randie. “See? You don’t have to kiss a lot of frogs. You can find your match online.”
“Not interested.” Randie rose to collect empty soup bowls and remove the tureen. But, if she ever wanted a match, she wouldn’t turn on her computer. She’d give Lucas a try. If he was available. Which she doubted. He was probably seeing someone. They moved on to the main course. Mom had cheated and already started her salad, but Mom was innovative enough to not follow the rules.
Dad sliced the beef tenderloin, and conversation stopped for a while. When plates were empty, Randie removed those, too, and carried out the peach cobbler to place on the table.
“Gram, you’re the best.” Everyone knew that cobbler was one of Ronnie’s favorite desserts. No pumpkin pie for him. He wanted fruit and dough.
“Someone has to spoil you,” Gram told him.
Mom topped the cobbler with ice cream, and they all dug in. “Is this girl interested in meeting us? Or is it too soon for that?”
Ronnie hesitated a minute. “I was thinking about bringing her for Thanksgiving.”
Oh my god, this was serious! Randie studied him. He looked pretty darned happy. Good for him. He’d been ready to get serious with someone, she could tell. “We have plenty of room at the table,” she said.
Ronnie smiled. “Thanks, sis.” He took his last scoop of cobbler, then pointed his fork in her direction. “I’ve been thinking, though, and I think you’re getting gypped taking Gram’s house for most of your inheritance instead of splitting up the assets with the rest of us.”
Randie shook her head. She knew her brother meant well, but this was the wrong time to bring up Gram’s will. “I love this house, everything in it. I hope it’s a long time before I inherit, though, because I love Gram more.”
Gram blinked quickly and met her gaze. “My Stan always believed that when it was your time, that was it. You wouldn’t die before, and you wouldn’t last longer. So, I don’t worry about it. When my time’s up, I’ll join Stan and we’ll start having fun all over again.”
What a neat way to look at it!
“Well, I hope we get to enjoy you a little bit longer.” Randie rose to carry the dessert dishes away. “It would be nice if Ronnie’s kids got to know you.”
Her brother grinned. “Is that a push to get busy?”
“I’m not getting any younger,” Gram said.
Ronnie nodded. “I’ll bring Greta to Thanksgiving. She’s going to wow you.”
It didn’t matter to Randie. She just wanted to like the girl, and have the girl like them back. Their family was tight-knit, and she hoped Greta became a part of that. She’d watched families fall apart when someone married a person who didn’t like any of her mate’s siblings or parents. It was sad, and as far as she could tell, there wasn’t much you could do to combat it.