Lucas finished work late on Friday, but when he left his client’s house, every wiring job was completed. He’d thought about the get-together he’d decided to throw on Sunday night. Jordy and Beth were so wound-up, he knew he’d better have something to keep them entertained after they met Randie’s family, so he drove to the mall and bought them the game Yahtzee and a big Leggo project to put together in his basement.
He bought all kinds of meats and cheeses, breads and crackers, grapes and dips to make a smorgasbord-like spread. He thought he’d make a big pot of chili and a pot of potato soup and let people serve themselves. He was feeling pretty good about the holidays when he walked in his house, went to the kitchen island, and tossed Hercules a few bites of sliced ham.
The chihuahua looked at all of the deli bags and looked pretty happy, too. Lucas had put everything away, made himself a hoagie, and settled on the sofa to watch TV when his cell phone buzzed. His dad. Lucas frowned. His dad rarely called and never just to chat.
His dad rushed the words, sounded defensive. “I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be at Dulcey’s for Christmas dinner.”
Lucas didn’t even try to hide his irritation. “You couldn’t have let us know sooner? Dulcey will be disappointed. So will the kids. Are you going to drive their presents over for them to open?”
“Presents? I won’t be there.”
“Good grandparents send presents anyway, even if they live out of state.”
“I’ll make it up to them later. I’ve been sort of rushed lately. Deloris’s son is stationed in Hawaii, so we’re flying there to get married over Christmas.”
“I should have known.”
His dad’s voice edged with temper. “What does that mean?”
“You’re so competitive with Mom, you have to keep up. She got married and is traveling for Christmas, so you have to, too.”
“Don’t be silly. It’s not like that. Deloris is everything I’ve ever wanted in a wife, so I’ve decided to marry her.”
Probably true, but Dad had to hurry things up to keep up with Mom. “Have you told Dulcey you’re not coming?”
“I thought I’d leave that to you.”
Lucas pressed his lips together to keep words from flying out. He managed to say, “Be happy, Dad.”
“Don’t judge me. You don’t know what it was like living with your mom.”
“I lived with her. So did Toby, Dylan, and Dulcey. We were little kids with no power. We know exactly what it was like. And you were no joy either.”
“Let’s not start pointing fingers at Christmas time. Maybe I can get together with the four of you when we fly home.”
Maybe. Lucas felt his temper rise. “Don’t knock yourself out.”
“Deloris wants to have you over to our place for a New Year’s party. She loves mothering. She wants to meet my kids.”
Lucas had to give her credit. She might do better by them than their parents. “Where is your place these days? The same apartment as before?”
“No, we bought a house. Deloris loves to entertain. We needed more space.”
“Send us the address sometime if you get around to it.”
“No need for that tone. Have a great holiday, son. We’ll get together soon.”
His dad hung up and Lucas scowled at the phone. Don’t blame the messenger, he reminded himself. Then he called his brothers and Dulcey to tell them the news. His brothers didn’t care. Dulcey was irritated . . . and bothered. He knew she would be.
“Hey, we’re meeting Randie’s family on Sunday,” he said. “Maybe they’ll adopt us.”
She gave a frustrated laugh. “At least we have each other. I can always count on you guys.”
“And you’re always there for us. Forget Mom and Dad. I say we have the best Christmas we’ve ever had.”
She liked that idea. “Maybe this will work in our favor. No arguing, just laughter.”
“We’ll make Hallmark look pitiful,” he said.
And when they hung up, both of them were ready to make this their best Christmas ever. Deloris had a son. They'd always come behind him. This was a low point for all of them, but Dulcie was right. They had each other.