Lucas’s mom invited everyone in the family, except Lucas’s dad, to her house on Friday night to celebrate her wedding. “No presents, just your presence,” she told them.
It felt weird walking into his childhood home. Lucas couldn’t remember the last time he’d stepped foot inside it. Mom came to his house and Dulcey’s, but she was always too busy to host a get-together. His brothers must have felt the same. They looked around, just like he did, to reacquaint themselves with the place. The rooms were painted different colors and the kitchen had new cupboards and countertops. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.
Dylan and Toby came to stand by him.
“Talk about a blast from the past,” Toby said. “I never thought I’d stand in this living room again.”
The old plaid sofa they used to crowd on to watch TV was gone, along with Dad’s recliner. The furniture was sleek and modern now.
Dylan glanced at their mom and her new husband chatting with Dulcey and the kids. Jordy glanced their way, obviously waiting to make his escape. Beth stood partially behind her mom, using her as a shield. She must be intimidated. It’s not like the kids were close to his mom, and the new husband had that I’m rich and successful demeanor. He and his brothers knew it well. They’d lived with it with their dad.
Toby glanced at the dining room, laden with catered goodies. “Mommy Dear went all out.”
Dylan, who usually didn’t say much about their mom, grimaced. “I’m betting the new husband paid for the spread.”
“Yeah,” Toby said. “He wants us all to be one happy family.”
“Or look that way.” Lucas was betting that five minutes after they left, the man would forget them. He hadn’t done anything to meet them before he married their mom. To Lucas, that said a lot.
Mom left Dulcey and headed to her boys. She opened her arms for a group hug. Another new event. Toby waited for them to take steps back, then asked, “So, are you keeping this old place or will you move in with Mr. Money?”
Their mom gave him a look. “Price owns a condo on the Sycamore Hills golf course. We’re going to put my place up for sale.”
Sycamore Hills. Beautiful homes that screamed money. Things didn’t add up for Lucas. “He can afford to live there on a pilot’s salary?”
“He owns a few planes and caters to private clients.”
Of course. They were saved from any more comments when Dulcey and the kids came to join them. Jordy threw his arms around Lucas’s leg and Beth held up her arms for Dylan to lift and hold her. Dulcey grinned at them.
“You guys are the best! I came home to happy kids, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
They settled in to talk about how Garrett was doing overseas, his dad’s last days, and how Dulcey was faring.
“Garrett got to come home for the funeral, but only got to stay a few days. He saw his dad before he died, and that meant a lot to him.”
Mom listened for a few minutes and then drifted back to Price. She finally brought him to meet them a short time later.
Price wasn’t bad looking. Trim. Tanned. A couple of inches taller than their mom. He was going gray, but every item he wore was expensive. A hunk of a watch. A silk shirt. Status mattered to their mom.
He turned on the charm for them and held out his hand. “Hi, I’m your new step-dad, but we all know that’s only a title. It’s nice to finally meet you. Your mom said you’re all in the trades. Not everyone can make it through college, right?”
“Not everyone wants to.” Lucas gripped Price’s hand and gave it a squeeze. What a stupid remark! The man winced. “Did you graduate from college?”
“I went to a junior college—two years for a business degree.”
Toby grinned. “Almost as long as my training and apprenticeship. When did you become a pilot?”
“My dad bought me a plane as my graduation present and signed me up for flying lessons.”
“Must be nice,” Dylan said. “Our dad gave us a check for a thousand bucks when we finished our training. Mom gave us a gift card for a supper at the Outback.”
Mom winced. “Your dad and I knew all three of you boys would do great. You were in high demand.”
Dylan gave a fake smile. “Mom always had faith that we’d be fine on our own, even when we were little.”
Another slam. Lucas stared at his brother. This was so not like him.
Dulcey squirmed, uncomfortable. She glanced at the dining room table. “It looks like you went all out for us.”
Mom visibly tried to shift gears. “Price only wanted the best for you.”
Lucas didn’t believe that for a minute. He wanted to impress them and shut them up since he married their mom without meeting them or inviting them to the wedding.
When no one said anything, Mom motioned them to the table. “Let’s go eat.”
Lucas, Dylan, Toby, and Dulcey stood, staring at the offerings. Caviar. Fancy crackers. A cheese board. Assorted olives. And sliced beef tenderloin. They headed straight to the tenderloin, added some crackers and settled down to eat.
Lucas thought of the beef and noodles Gram and Randie made for him. He loved tenderloin, often grilled it in the summer. But caviar? Not his thing. He’d have been happier if his mom had served French fries on the side. He watched Mom fill her plate, and she skipped the caviar, too.
When they finished the food, Price went to the kitchen and carried out a three-tiered wedding cake. The wedding was over. Lucas glared at it.
“The top layer is white cake, the second’s strawberry, and the bottom’s carrot cake,” Mom said.
Redeemable. They went to slice their favorites. Price tried to make conversations with them while they ate, but every time he opened his mouth, he made things worse.
“So, your mom tells me that not one of you has married yet.”
“Would you want to get married after you heard your mom and dad argue your whole life?” Toby asked.
Price turned to Dulcey. “Your husband is in the service, right?”
She beamed with pride. “He’s overseas now.”
“That’s a great option for people who can’t settle on anything else, isn’t it?”
Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Garrett was good at everything, but chose to serve his country.”
Price smiled. “Right.”
How stupid was this man? More out of touch with reality than Dad?
Lucas decided to create as little conflict as possible, to eat, smile, and get the hell out of here.
Near the end of the meal, Price gave another one of his dazzling smiles, meant to overwhelm them. “Did your mom tell you that we’re going to Cancun over Christmas and New Year’s?”
“Thank God,” Dylan cracked. “We’d hate to bore her at a family meal.”
“A great idea!” Toby gave Mom a thumbs-up.
Mom looked at Lucas. He just shook his head. “Whatever.”
“It’s not like that!” she argued.
Lucas wasn’t in the mood to smooth things over. “Yes, it is. Be happy, Mom.”
All of them rose and started for the door.
“There’s no hurry,” Price told them. “There’s plenty of food left.”
“I’m stuffed,” Dylan told him. “Gotta go.”
The kids ran ahead, and the four of them huddled in the driveway for a minute.
Toby shook his head, clearly irritated. “Mom’s gone to us. She sold out for money.”
“Like that’s a surprise.” Dylan rubbed his face with his hands.
“You okay?” Lucas asked him.
“Yeah, it’s not like we saw much of her anyway. I just never thought she’d be this callous. I mean, she and Price could go to Cancun any time they want. Why Christmas?”
Dulcey summed it up. “They’re probably meeting his family or friends there. I say good riddance! Let’s face it. Mom’s never been much of a grandma. The kids won’t miss her. And if I have to spend any more time with Price, I’m going to lose it.”
They all nodded, got in their vehicles, and left.