On Sunday, Lucas opened his door to his brothers, Dulcey and her kids, and Randie’s family—Gram, Randie’s parents, her brother, and his serious girlfriend. Randie stopped to wrap her arms around him when she came in and tipped her head for a kiss. That surprised him. He thought she’d play it cool with her family here, but he was happy to oblige. If he’d been nervous about how everyone would blend, he didn’t need to be. People smiled and mingled.
Randie’s mom was slightly taller than she was with auburn hair and dark eyes. “It was so nice of you to invite us. And there are children. Stan and I love kids. Are they shy?”
“Jordy and Beth?” Lucas shook his head. “They love attention.”
“Oh, good! Maybe we can spend some time with them later. By the way, I’m Phyllis. We saw you at the restaurant once, but it’s nice to finally meet you.”
Her husband came to stand beside her. He was her height with a bit of a paunch. He grabbed Lucas’s hand and shook it. “It was damn nice of you to let us use your place for Thanksgiving.”
Lucas grinned. “It was a calculated strategy to get closer to your daughter. I thought it might earn me brownie points.”
“Smart boy!” Stan poked his elbow into Lucas’s ribs. “You have honorable intentions, right?”
“I’m hooked on her.”
“Good luck then. She’s a redhead like her mother. I had to work to reel her in.”
Phyllis rolled her eyes. “I knew I was going to marry him after our third date. I just didn’t want to make the chase too easy for him.”
Stan laughed. “Well, we’d better start making the rounds. Thanks again for having us.”
Lucas noticed his brothers lining up to study the food on the kitchen island. Jordy ran over and Toby lifted him so that he could grab some cheese and crackers. Might as well get things started. He raised his voice to cut through the different conversations and said, “Let’s eat. Everything’s ready.”
That’s all it took. People started to get in line to dish up.
When Gram started to fill her plate, she called to him, “You looked up how to do a charcuterie board. You’ve got Brie, blue cheese, sharp Cheddar and fig jam. You got fancy on us.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you impressed?”
“This is delicious, and you have slices of American cheese for the kids. You’re a good uncle.”
That compliment pleased him more than the food. Beth ran at him then and held her arms up to be held.
“I want chili and cheese and crackers.”
“You got it.” He slid in line and got Beth’s food while Dulcey got Jordy’s. After they settled them at the table, Toby and Dylan sat on each side of them like bookends.
“Better eat up,” Toby told them. “Lucas put out small bowls. When I finish mine, I might start on yours.”
“No fair!” Jordy dipped into his potato soup.
Lucas was the last to fill his plate, and when he went to find a spot to eat, Randie had saved him a seat beside her. The night was getting better and better.
Conversation flowed easily as people got to know one another.
“What kind of marketing do you do?” Toby asked Randie’s brother.
“I work for a food distributor. We’re always analyzing trends and sales, trying to stay ahead of our competition.” He motioned to his girlfriend—pretty in a subtle way with brown hair and hazel eyes. “Greta’s a tech there. That’s how we met.”
At the mention of her name, Greta lowered her head and concentrated on her food. She might be as averse to attention as Dylan.
Lucas hadn’t realized that both of Randie’s parents were teachers. Her dad taught high school math and her mom, high school English. While her dad complained about the state’s new law to change what it takes to get a high school diploma, Randie pressed her thigh against his.
He couldn’t concentrate on what her father was saying. His focus shifted to pure lust. Heat spread through his body and settled in his groin. Randie had on jeans and so did he. What would happen if they touched skin to skin? Would he go Caveman, throw her on the floor, and start ripping off clothing?
Gram looked at him and asked, “Are you cooking with us tomorrow?”
All eyes turned his way and he blinked. “What?”
Randie gave a sly smile and answered for him. “He’s volunteered to help slice and dice.”
Gram smiled, too, her eyes twinkling. “Good boy, we can use your help.”
The attention turned to Dulcey when Randie’s mom asked, “Your husband’s in the military, isn’t he?”
They talked about Garrett for a while with Jordy and Beth chiming in. People got up for seconds, no one in a hurry to finish the meal. Lucas waited for plates to be finally clean before he carried the specialty cake he’d bought to the table. It was a confection of sponge cake, sliced fruit layers, and whipped cream that earned oohs and aahs.
While he and his brothers cleared the table and rinsed dishes, people settled in groups to enjoy the evening. Lucas was happy to see Randie’s parents at a table, teaching Jordy and Beth how to play Yahtzee. Dulcey sat with Randie’s brother and his girlfriend. When his brothers dried their hands and left the kitchen, Gram nabbed them.
Randie came to help him load the dishwasher. She leaned closer to kiss him. “This was a really nice night. Thank you.”
“Any time. Anything. For you.”
She smiled. “I brought a box of my favorite tea for later this evening.”
He frowned, confused. “Tea?”
“I always drink it before I go to bed.”
“Bed?” What was she telling him?
“I brought my pajamas, too.”
The rest of the night was a daze for him. He talked. He laughed, but all he could think about was when everyone left, he’d have Randie all to himself. He couldn’t wait.