So Friday night was great. Everyone went to bed happy. The weekend was even better. There was laughter and happiness all around.
It wouldn’t last. Ben’s father showed up on Monday. I guess we were all expecting it because no one was really surprised when he showed up at dawn. The castle wasn’t too happy about the interloper though, so Ben’s father had his first experience with being hated by what he thought was an inanimate object.
The castle caged him, quite literally, in the front hall. We got up to the shouting of Miles telling us to get our butts downstairs that we had company. Ben and I dragged ourselves out of bed and didn’t bother getting dressed, just tossed on robes and slippers. Bleary-eyed, we stumbled in to the front hall only to be greeted by a rush of expletives in Arabic. I flinched and made the bars rattle. He went silent.
“Dad, what are you doing here?” Ben asked softly.
“What do you mean? I’m here because my ex-wife invited me for Thanksgiving.” He said as he pointed at Jude.
I sighed. Here we go. I turned on my heel and went to make coffee and find the aspirin. I wasn’t facing that mess until I’d had both. It was a little selfish to bail on Ben and Jude, but the longer I was around that man, the stronger the urge to slap him. I came back in to the hallway with mugs of coffee in both hands and the aspirin bottle in my pocket. I passed out the coffee as they were arguing in Arabic and leaned against the wall.
I waited for the right time. Just as Ben’s father was getting puffed up to continue yelling at his son, I put my coffee down on the side table and allowed my eyes to turn silver. I stepped up to the bars and placed my hand on them. They vibrated under my control and the shouting stopped.
“You are a guest in our home. Ben and I will not tolerate your disrespectful behavior. He was a good man and beside him, you’re very small.” I said, lowering my voice and staring directly in to his eyes. He backed away from the bars.
“You’re another freak like my son.”
“And happy to be one. I’ve made my peace with who I am. I’m sorry that you haven’t.” I replied. “You’re welcome to stay, but you will be respectful in this house or you can leave.”
I turned my eyes back to their natural shade as Ben’s father stared in to them. I smiled up at him, slowly and with all the coldness I could muster. Ben placed his hand on my shoulder and I stepped back from the bars. Wrapping his arm around my waist, Ben stood next to me.
“You’ll do as she says. She speaks for us both on this matter.” He said and he pulled his mother in on the other side. “I do still care about what happens to you, Dad. You don’t have to leave, but you will not bully anyone inside of this house. We’re a family, all of us.”
Mark and Miles stepped up on either side of the trio we had going and I watched Ben’s fathers eyes dart back and forth between us all.
“In spite of everything that happened Mo, I do still love you and I’d like you to be a part of Thanksgiving. But what happened is in the past. If you can’t let go of it, please go.”
I could see the man in the cage seething. He clearly wanted to be in control of the whole thing. I felt sorry for him because it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Okay. I’ll do my best.”
I looked up at Ben. “It’s up to you, if that’s good enough.”
Ben nodded. “I believe he’ll try. Let him out.”
I nodded and held up a hand, the bars rattled and shook, then vanished back in to the floor. His father’s eyes widened as he saw what happened.
“What are you?”
“No one to be messed with.” I said as I picked up my coffee and took a sip. “I’m going to go get dressed. I still think I have some of the sausage from the other day. Does anyone want eggs with it?”
I didn’t bother sticking around, I walked back upstairs and got ready for the day. I had no doubts that this week was going to be a week of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I could feel it in the air. Ben could too because when he came in to the bathroom while I was pulling on a sweater, he scooped me up and carried me to a chair. Flopping down with me in the chair, he kissed me and then cuddled me close.
“Can we just run away? I hear the Bahamas are great this time of year.” He said.
I smiled and kissed him. “Nope. We’re stuck. The best we can do is make sure your Mom and Dad don’t kill each other.”
“I think he’s already afraid of you. I’ve never seen your eyes turn that color unless we’re in bed together.”
“It’s my natural eye color and I can’t control it when I’m with you in bed.” I murmured and kissed him again.
“This pleases me.” He said and I laughed, punched his shoulder.
We cuddled in the chair until the light from the sunrise let us know that the day would start whether we’d like it to or not. With a sigh I reluctantly got up.
“Who’s turn is it for dinner?”
“Mine. I started it last night, in the slow cooker. We’re having pot roast.”
“Your pot roast is better than mine, which isn’t fair.” I said.
Ben laughed. “I had to keep myself from starving when I got here and Murphy taught me to cook.”
That was new. I didn’t know that. “Interesting. I wonder if she’d part with her recipe for her sugar cookies.”
“You don’t have to ask. I already have it.” Ben said as he got up and started stripping for the shower. I stared at his behind and sighed. I really liked that man’s ass. Ben heard my sigh and shook his butt at me. I laughed and threw a used towel at him and he started laughing.
“You’re lucky I’m already dressed.” I said.
“Letch. Come scandalize me.” He replied.
“I wish, but there’s breakfast to be made and it’s my turn.”
“Miles and Mark took it. Gonna join me now?”
I didn’t have to think about it long. I shucked my sweater. “Yep.”
An hour later we were downstairs and laughing like a couple of teenagers as we walked in to the kitchen. There were four people in the room and the silence was deafening. Ben and I shrugged and made enough noise for those four people until they joined in. We talked about when to get the tree for our first Christmas together and what time we all wanted to eat on Thanksgiving. Only Jude and Ben’s father remained silent. When breakfast was done, Ben and I stood at the sink doing the dishes while Mark sat at the kitchen table making notes about Thanksgiving dinner. We were going to go get everything that day. Jude came in and took a look at the list.
“I’d like to add a couple of things, if I may?”
“Go for it, that’s not a complete list anyway. Most likely when we get to the store it’ll be bigger. There’s about,” I paused because I didn’t know how many people were coming. “Well I don’t know how many people are coming, so we’re planning on turkey and trimmings for at least twenty people.”
Ben snorted. “You seriously under-estimate our friends. We should plan on at least thirty.”
I thought about it and decided he was right. “Thirty then.”
Ben’s mother looked at us and shook her head. “You two have built something I’d call amazing. What time are we leaving for the store?”
“As soon as Mark says ‘Enough! That’s enough food!’ but it hasn’t happened yet.”
“It’s bigger than the cookout we threw back in the summer. Even I’m not sure there will be enough food.”
I paused for a second then turned to Mark. “Who exactly volunteered us for this year?”
Ben snorted. “Grandma Murphy. She opened her mouth and pretty soon my phone was bombed with acceptances.”
I groaned. That woman was going to be the death of me. Ben and I finished the dishes just as Miles came back in, followed by Ben’s father.
“So when are we leaving?” Miles said as he rubbed a towel over his hair.
“Leaving? You’re all leaving?”
“Yep and so are you. If you’re going to be here, you participate.” I said as I dried off my hands and handed the towel to Ben so he could do the same.
“We leave as soon as Mark has finished getting ready to go.” Ben said. “We won’t be back for at least three or four hours. There’s a lot of errands to run and since Marlowe has the only 4 wheel drive car, everyone goes.”
“Ben there’s six of us now. We’re going to have to split up.”
“I rented a Land Rover, yesterday. We can take the rental.” Jude said.
I nodded. “I like that idea. We’ll drive, everyone else rides. Ben go with your mother and Mark. Miles and Me with your father in my car. Everyone happy?” There was a round of nods. “Good. Mark, go shower, we’ll finish up the list while you’re gone.”
Mark got up and left and I sat down and took over. His neat and precise handwriting stared back at me. “This list is.. extensive. We’re going to have to start the night before if we’re going to make all of this.”
I looked up at Ben and passed him the list. We bickered back and forth, good-natured name-calling with Miles about whose best at making what. When Mark walked in, he joined in and took over the list again. Soon he said enough and we all got ready for the trip outside. This included letting the dogs out so they could go to the bathroom. When they came back in, we left.
Getting in to our separate cars, Ben’s father sat up front with me and Miles got in to the backseat. As I started the car I hear him clear his throat.
“Yes?” I said.
“Why’d you see to it that I was in the car with you?”
“I’ll not have Ben upset. Thursday is important to him and you will not upset him.” I said looking over at him.
“What makes your think I’m going to upset him?”
“Your very presence upsets him. The two of you didn’t part kindly. I mean it when I say I won’t have him upset. You upset him and I’ll make you bleed.”
Ben’s father went quiet as we drove in to town. “You love him.”
“More than I ever imagined I would love anyone. Do not upset him.” I said as I parked the car at the grocery store and hopped out. I waited for Ben to get out of the car and arm in arm, we walked in to get the things needed for Thursday.
We walked out again an hour later after bickering over nearly everything on the list. What to get, how much to get and how much we were paying were the biggest ones. When Ben scooped up a lamb shank and other items for his father that was halal, I said nothing. I figured if doing that meant there was no arguments on Thursday or getting to Thanksgiving, we’d be okay.
We were on our way home when I got the phone call that my shop had been broken in to. I dropped everyone off at the castle and sped back over with Ben. We got there just in time to see the whole shop go up in flames.