It was quiet while we got dressed. He helped me with my tie, as per usual. We both decided to dress nicely with suits and ties. I was nervous again, and Mark seemed a little off too. He brought a large container of cookies and the drive over was silent in comparison to other times we went for a drive. We kept exchanging glances, this time I was trying to be encouraging.
"So...." He said awkwardly. I laughed a little and figured I should warn him.
"So, yeah, my aunts are kind of crazy. Don't eat anything they give you unless you see them eat it first. My uncles are really nice, but they know I was asking you to come tonight and might be weird about it. My dad might twenty question you also, but he really is cool about it all, so don't panic." I watched as he went from looking mildly uncomfortable to slightly terrified. I was grinning and exchanged an amused glance for his reproachful one.
"I think you are trying to make me more nervous than I already am." He grumbled.
"Not really. Just trying to prepare you." I teased back. He glared at me and I waggled my eyebrows at him. That broke the tension with his amazing laugh. We pulled into the driveway moments later. There were lights strung up along the front porch and I grabbed the bag of food and hostess gift. I heard Mark take a deep breath before knocking at the door.
"Hey! Greg and... Mark was it? Come on in." My dad answered and winked at me as we entered the house. He thanked us for the contributions to the evening and had us go in to see the rest of the family. My stepmother was showing now, and glowing with joy at the attention she was getting from the grandparents. My aunt had a rather devious look on her face.
"Hey Greg, is this your new boyfriend? Introduce me." Aunt Emma came up to us and gave me a hug. She eyed Mark like a prize pig up for judging and he smiled graciously.
"Hey Aunt Emma, this is Mark, my date for tonight. Be nice." I admonished her. She offered a hand to shake and he hesitantly took it. He shot me a glance when she brought forward a tin of candies.
"Nice to meet you Mark. Would you like a candy?" She offered the box. I raised a brow at her, on to her antics with my good memory about what the girls had been talking about over Thanksgiving.
"No, thank you for the offer. I don't want to spoil my dinner." He replied reasonably. She seemed disappointed, but my uncles came in behind me so she altered her attack pattern to intercept them. I saw my uncle grab one and I shook my head. It wasn't until his husband was looking at him funny that he realised his mistake. His teeth were black with dye and he just about killed his sister when he looked in the mirror.
"Emma! What the heck?" He hollered as she ducked out of the room. My grandmother was hooting with laughter and my grandfather was looking around confused. My cousins were giggling like mad and pointing at him from behind the big comfy chair that my grandfather was seated in. I grinned and pulled Mark into the kitchen to meet the few people hiding in there.
We grabbed some drinks too, and were able to chat with my uncle and another aunt. They were much tamer about my bringing a date for dinner. I was able to introduce him with no secretive looks, winks, or pranks. Mark was perfection itself. Charming, polite and witty. Everything a date should be when meeting the family. It took a lot of effort not to stare at him all evening.
My dad did what parents do sometimes... harassed my date just enough to see if he was a good guy or faking it. I think Mark passed the test. My uncles teased me a little bit about my hot date, but were really nice to him. My aunts did what they do best... giggle, play pranks and generally act like mischievous girls. The inevitable question came up before dinner was served.
"So, how did you two meet?" My grandmother asked Mark. There was awkward silence for a second when he hesitated, but after glancing in my direction he told them the truth.
"I was married to his mother actually... for about two years." He scratched his chin nervously. My dad gave me a rather alarmed look but I just shot him a rather mischievous grin.
"Seriously? You can't be more than thirty...." He mumbled. Mark blushed.
"Ah, I'm not. I am actually just turned twenty-five. Kelly lied about her age, amongst other things...." He glanced at me when I reached out a hand to comfort him. It was nice to know there wasn't a huge age gap between us. Still enough to raise brows at our age-gap, but not insurmountable.
"Good lord, well no wonder you dumped her for Greg. Don't get me wrong, Garry is eight years older than me, but it seems a bit strange to me that she would have to lie about her age just to get hitched to you. If you really love someone, you have to trust them enough to tell the truth and hope they love you anyways." Grandma said sagely. I nodded, agreeing with the whole 'no lying' thing.
"Besides, I am a far better catch. I think it shows good taste." I popped in with cheekily. My dad just shook his head at me and wandered away. At least that whole thing was out in the open and dealt with. I would say the family handled it well. And Mark let me keep holding his hand afterwards too. Then there was a rather tense moment when one of my aunts popped out with a mistletoe on a stick and dangled it over us.
Mark was a good sport and gave me a small smooch. The second time she did it too. Then he told her to shove off or he'd stick it where the sun doesn't shine. My grandmother took it away at that point. Something about having fun at the old age apartments they were currently living in... which had my grandfather looking alarmed.
All in all, it was a good night. There was good food, family, fun times and... well, Mark was there with me. That seemed to really make it that much better in my mind. I got to sit next to him at dinner and watch him being the great guy that he always was, only it was with us. He seemed happy to be there, probably more so than the entire time I had seen him at the mansion.
It was when we were leaving though that made me happiest. My dad gave me a hug and I hugged my stepmother goodbye. Then Mark grabbed my hand and pulled me down the sidewalk to the car. He held on to it the whole time.
YOU ARE READING
My mother never could keep to one man. It wasn't like I went out of my way to fall in love. She was just blind, and he was just... perfect. It was impossible not to fall in love with my stepfather. The real question was... Did he love me?