Ben and I were woken up at dawn once again by the twins. They were poking at us and whispering to each other.
“Boo!” I yelled and grabbed Peter’s shoulder when they weren’t looking.
They screamed and fell backwards. I laughed and hauled myself upright. I looked down at Ben and saw that he was still asleep. That man could sleep through a brass band parade. The twins and I ended up making breakfast for ourselves, then we all got cleaned up and met back downstairs. Ben surfaced about eight and with a quick kiss for me, disappeared to get himself clean. He was back down in less than an hour to report that he’d called the weather hotline and the blizzard was going to blow over by nightfall.
It was more like three in the afternoon and by that time Ben and I were out shoveling our way to the garage while the twins played with the dogs in the snow. We hadn’t seen Miles or Mark all day, but when they mushed up on a dog sled, it was a little surprising.
“Well? Explain this one then.” I said as I stuck my shovel in to the snow.
“Um, I really can’t. It showed up this morning. So Mark and I, uh, ‘borrowed’ it and went in to town.” Miles said, looking a little sheepish.
“So a strange mode of transportation just shows up out of no where and you decide to use it?” Ben asked. We shared a look over the heads of the twins who were petting the dogs.
“Um, yes?” Mark said.
I turned to Ben and rolled my eyes. “It’s so tragic that they should lose their minds as such a young age, don’t you think?”
“I agree. Maybe it’s best we get them a sitter instead of the twins.” Ben said as he put his arm around my waist.
I sighed and looked at the two still on the sled. “Think for a sec about what’s happened the last couple of weeks.”
I watched their faces go white and they jumped off the sled.
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t know who could have sent that sled! You could have been killed!” I shouted.
When I saw the twins faces go white I knew I’d gone too far. I sighed and picked up Peter. Ben picked up Bonnie and we walked in to the house together. Miles and Mark followed after unloading the sled of everything they’d bought in town. It included the mail and packages for both Ben and I, as well as dinners from Murphy and Miss Maggie.
I was loading the fridge when I saw Ben’s face as he opened a letter. His jaw was slack and his mouth a little open. Concerned, I put my hand on his arm. He looked up at me, eyes a little wider than normal.
“My parents are coming to visit,” he said quietly.
I cursed. I knew what it meant, of course. We’d talked about what Ben was like when he first came to Blueville. He was withdrawn, moody. According to Murphy, who I bribed on the sly with my grandmother’s stew recipe; if it wasn’t an animal, he wouldn’t talk to anyone longer than necessary. From what I gathered from Miles is that he spent the majority of his time in this house.
Ben is the one who told me what really happened to him before he left New York.
Six years ago, Ben was happily completing his final year of veterinary school and doing his internship at a local vet hospital. One night after losing a dalmatian who was about to pup, he lost all of the pups and the mom from complications, he arrived at his apartment to find it cleaned out and a note saying that he was officially moved home and to forget this “dog doctor” nonsense. He was going to go to Medical school the following semester like he was supposed to and start a completely different career that the one he wanted. When Ben arrived at his parents home, They were just sitting down to dinner. It was Ramadan, so they were breaking their fast after sun down.
Yes, Ben came from a Muslim family. No, I don’t give to flying frogs from Pinks Pumpkin Patch about this fact. I love Ben for who he is, not where he came from.
Anyway. He unloaded on his father, who at that point told him about his impending marriage to a family friend’s daughter. That was a shock because as far as Ben knew, he was a single man who had no time for a family or dating anyone. Words were said, Ben snatched the key to the storage unit full of his things and stormed out of his father’s house. He crashed with a friend for a few days and when his mother arrived at the friend’s house, words were said, a check was exchanged and Ben finished his internship at the hospital. He left for Blueville a month after graduating and hasn’t been home since.
The only person he still speaks to on occasion is his mother, so when I curse because his parents are coming for Thanksgiving – it’s really his father I’m worried about. Not his mother.
I sent the twins off with Miles and Mark to play that new video game system with the plumber brothers in the Great Hall. I closed all the doors to the kitchen and walked over to Ben, wrapped my arms around his waist and leaned my head on his arm.
“We’ll get through this together. I’m not leaving just because your father couldn’t see the value he already had in you.”
Ben moved so that he was hugging me and murmured in to my hair, “I love you. Without question, I’d propose tomorrow if I knew it wasn’t going to freak you out.”
“Wait until Thanksgiving. Toss it back in their faces that you found your own happiness with the freaky ass family we’ve built.” Ben went still and I continued on, “besides, if you wait until then I’ll win the betting pool.”
That broke the ice and Ben started to laugh. “When did you bet on Thanksgiving and who hold the pool?”
“Sheriff Stiles and the night you changed.” I said with a grin.
“You already knew?” He murmured as he looked down at me and brushed my hair away from my face.
“I clean up after you. Those ring catalogs were not well hidden.”
“So that’s how those rings ended up circled.” He said with another laugh.
“Well if you’re going to get me something, I might as well give you hints about what I like.”
“It’s a good thing too, I almost went with the one you crossed out.”
I wrinkled my nose. “That thing was hideous.”
Ben laughed and kissed my nose. “Well, I could probably be mad that you found out before I could say anything. I was hoping to surprise you by Christmas.”
“At least you know I’ve been thinking about it just as much as you have.”
“Well, it did bring in to a certain perspective when I mangled the laundry cart.”
“He sent me a photo of the cart, by the way. I can’t believe you twisted it like that because you were so upset about not being able to get to me.”
I tightened my arms around his waist and looked up. “I was scared. Terrified. I don’t ever want to feel that way again. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me in years.”
“Not of all time?”
I laughed and raised up on my tiptoes to kiss him. “You’re getting there.”
Ben picked up the letter. “What do we do about this?”
“Invite them for the full moon.” I said with a wicked grin.
“Oh, you devilish woman. I knew I loved you for a reason.” Ben kissed me, hard. “That’ll put the fear in to the old man for sure.”
“Can you imagine? His son the dragon, cuddling his read-headed metalmancer girlfriend on the full moon? Heads will roll and it’ll be so much fun to watch.”
“You thrive on trouble.”
“Only when it comes to making your uptight father regret losing you? Damn right. He lost you, I got you and I have no intention of letting you go just yet.”
“Well, if something cuter comes along..”
I didn’t get to finish my sentence, Ben scooped me up and hauled me upstairs laughing.