Thanksgiving, Part 3

After Miles made his big exit, we invited Tucker and Vaughn to have dinner with us. They accepted and were quickly folded in to the party. The good thing about having that many friends? No leftovers. There wasn’t a single thing left in the house after the party was done, so dishes were the main priority after everyone had gone home for the evening.

The other priority was seeing to it that the ones who were too drunk to drive had places to sleep. This included the Sheriff, so while he drunkenly weaved his way up the stairs I carried Bonnie while Ben followed with Peter. I was rubbing an already asleep Bonnie’s back when the Sheriff started singing. I am not ashamed to admit that I kicked the man. Hard.

“Ow! Damn it!”

“Shhhh! Bonnie’s sleeping!” I hissed at him.

He nodded at me like he was some drunk, sage, super cop. I snickered and went to lay Bonnie down in the same room she used the last time. I came back out to the hall and the Sheriff was sitting down, slumped over against one wall. I sighed and waiting for Ben to come back.

“Problem?” Ben asked.

“Help me get him up and in to the Yellow Room.” I said as I picked up an arm.

Ben picked up the other arm and together we managed to haul the Sheriff down to the Yellow Room at the end of the hall. After getting him in to bed with his shoes off, Ben and I took off back downstairs to relax a little. We walked in to world war three with Ben’s father and mother arguing in the hallway.

“Enough!” I shouted. They both went quiet, but Ben’s father opened his mouth to speak, so I jabbed a finger at him. “Not a word. Not one word.”

He closed his mouth again and Ben spoke up.

“You’re not welcome here, anymore.” I put my hand in his and waited for him to continue. “I’m happy here. I’ve a life here. I’m not about to give that up because you want something I can’t give you: Obedience. I can’t do it. Marlowe and I are getting married. We’re going to start a life together. If you can’t accept that I’ve made up my own mind, then you’re not welcome.”

I tightened my hand in his and tried my best not to look up at him. I knew he was still wounded from the other day and that a proposal was unlikely to happen so soon. I looked at his mother instead and she smiled at me and nodded. I smiled back at her.

“I will not have my son marry beneath him.” I glared at his father when he spoke. I was about to say something when Jude slapped him.

“She’s more than enough for my son. I’d be happy to have her as family. Just because you can’t see past your arrogance and prejudice, doesn’t mean that you get to deny your son his happiness.” She yelled at him. Her face turned red with anger and I put a hand on her shoulder and pulled her back a little.

“This is my family. You can be a part of it, as long as you’re willing to accept all of us.” Ben said.

“When he means all of us, he means us too.” Mark said as he walked down the steps with Miles.

“I don’t like you,” Miles said. “but you’re Ben’s father, that means I have to accept that you’ll be a part of my family when they get married. I do not like you. I want it to be known.”

Ben’s father looked at of us and huffed. His hands were clinching and relaxing. I watched him struggled with himself as I waited with the rest of my family.

“You are not my son and that,” He said as he pointed at me. “is not human.”

“No, I’m a fucking unicorn.” I sneered at him.

I heard Mark start choking as he tried to hold back his laughter.

“She’s my unicorn, Dad. She’s my family. You’re not. Please leave.” Ben said.

Ben’s father glared at all of us, turned around and left. I sighed when the door slammed shut. I heard Mark and Miles start howling with laughter at my comeback.

“Really, ‘Lowe?” Ben said with a laugh as he kissed me.

“Yeah, really.” I said.

“That was lovely, dear.” Jude said with a snicker of her own.

“The sass is strong with me.” I said stoically.

That made the rest of the room start laughing. When we’d all stopped laughing, I tugged on Ben’s hand.

“Bed time. This mess can be cleaned in the morning. Is all the food put away?”

“Yeah and the dogs have been taken out. That’s how old sour face got in.” Miles said.

I looked around and then up at Ben. “Tomorrow.”

I kissed his chin. “I’ll meet you upstairs.”

I said my goodnight’s to Jude and everyone else and climbed the stairs to the bedroom. As soon as I had the door closed I started pulling off clothes while heading for the shower. I was naked and waiting for the spray to warm up when Ben found me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and nuzzled my neck.

“Well, we survived.”

I sighed and leaned back against him. “We did, though your father came close.”

Ben chuckled. “While I’m not happy that you almost skewered him with all the knives in the house, I’m glad he’s gone. I feel relieved.”

I patted and kissed Ben’s hands, then tested the water. “I’m glad. Now get naked, Solt. I wanna get cleaned up and then go to bed with you.”

Ben laughed. “Surely that’s not all you want to do.”

“If you don’t get naked you’re not going to find out, now are you?” I laughed and climbed in to the shower.

I watched him struggle with the decision for all of five minutes before shucking his clothes and climbing in with me. We tumbled out again nearly an hour later and in to bed.

“I am damn glad that Thanksgiving is over with.” I mumbled sleepily.

Ben’s laughter was the last thing I heard before I dropped off to sleep.

-Marlowe

Advertisements

Thanksgiving, Part 2

So after a lengthy conversation with Grandmama Murphy, She eventually agreed to come over early and help. She didn’t trust that I wasn’t going to go all comic book villain on her and I don’t honestly blame her. The past few weeks I’ve lost my temper and my control more times than I’m comfortable with.

Grandma Oberly would have told me that losing one’s temper is the result of having a family and feelings about them. I would have told her that when most people lose their control, they don’t run the risk of impaling the nearest person with something metal. She would have smacked the back of my head, but reluctantly admitted that I had a point.

I miss her. So much.

When Jude came back in, she saw the knives cleared away and we were all doing our best with the knives that I could fix.

“Need a hand?” She asked.

I handed over my knife. “Go, go veggie chop! I need to shower and clean up.”

I left and they were still laughing. I made my way upstairs and in to the shower without encountering anyone. I needed the time alone.  I was leaning against the shower wall, letting the spray beat over my shoulders when I heard the door open and close.

“You’re late. I figured that you wouldn’t be joining me.”

“Lies. You’re naked. I just had to avoid my mother.” Ben said as he climbed in to the shower with me.

I leaned back against him. “I love you.”

I felt him kiss my hair and smile. “I love you too.”

“Do you think we can handle it?”

“My mother? Yes. Thanksgiving? There might be more blood. I heard Miles complaining about blisters. He was hand whipping cream.”

I laughed. “He does know my mixer is in the cabinet right above his head, right?”

“No and I wasn’t about to tell him.” Ben laughed.

“Evil. I love it.” I said, laughing with him.

“While we still have time to ourselves.. ” Ben hinted. I grinned and turned around to kiss him.

It was an hour and a half before we made it back down stairs, but we were laughing like idiots and feeling good. Walking in to the kitchen we were immediately drafted in to making pies. The turkeys were already in the ovens and everyone was making some sort of dessert for the oven we had left. We worked together, cracking jokes and making each other laugh until the pies were out of the oven and the only thing left was stuffing, gravy and turkeys, but those had to wait until the turkeys were done. So we spent most of the time left setting up tables, buffet style.

“Do you think we have enough seating?” I asked Ben as we shoved another couch in to the great hall.

Ben grunted and shoved the couch along a wall. “If we don’t, I don’t care. my back hurts and I’m tired of moving furniture into the hall.”

I watched him flop down on the couch we just moved with a sigh and then climbed in to his lap.

“Snuggle me.” I demanded as I curled around him.

“With pleasure.” He said.

The sound of the fire soon lulled us to sleep and we woke up to Grandmama Murphy standing over us, clucking her tongue.

“You two. Get up! The turkeys are done and there’s stuffing to be made.” She said. She then turned on her heel and went off to the kitchen.

I yawns and rubbed my eyes. Ben shifted underneath me and yawned.

“Hi Sleepy.” I said and kissed him.

“Hello Beautiful.” He looked around and found that it was almost dark. “What time is it?”

“Time enough to go make stuffing and gravy. Grandmama was just in here.” I said as I got up out of out nest and stretched.

Ben watched me stretch and when I noticed, wiggled his eyebrows at me. I laughed.

“No. We’re not sneaking off and leaving the mess for everyone else.” Ben pouted, but I held firm. “No. Turkey must be carved.”

Ben sighed. “Okay. Give me a hand up, will you?”

I grabbed his hand and tugged, but he caught me off guard and yanked me down on to the couch again and tickled me until I was out of breath.

“That was mean.” I said.

Ben nuzzled my neck. “But worth it.” He gave me another kiss and helped me up. We walked hand in hand in to the kitchen and found a mess. There was whipped creme everywhere. Ben and I stood in the doorway, mouths hanging open.

“What the bloody hell happened here?” I demanded.

Miles and Mark looked down and Jude started laughing. “Food fight!”

I could feel my lips twitching. “Well I’m not cleaning this up. I’ll take the dogs out.”

“I’m with you.” Ben said and we went out in to the main hallway to pile in to outdoor gear for the trip outside.

The dogs figured out what was going on and started dancing at the door to go outside. I opened the door and let the dogs out, laughing along with Ben as they rolled each other in the snow.

We’d been out for at least a half hour when the first of the guests started to arrive. It was the Sheriff and his twins. They were out of the car and rocketing across the lawn to roll with the dogs before Sheriff Stier’s could stop them.

“Oh let them be, Eric. It’s holiday.” I said as I hugged him hello.

He handed over a bottle of wine and shook Ben’s hand.

“I can’t help it. I worry.”

“They’ll be fine, but it’s time to go in. We’ve been outside long enough.”

Ben called the dogs and the Twins in and there was much groaning and complaining as we all piled inside and took off the outdoor gear.

“There’s a new board game in the great hall and Frosty is on the TV, go keep out of trouble.” I said and watched them take off running with the dogs.

“No magic!” Ben shouted at them.

A chorus of over the shoulder “okay!” was faintly heard as they were already in the Great Hall. I shook my head at them.

“They’ll claim they didn’t hear you the second they make something explode, you know.”

“I just hope it’s nothing that leaves squishy bits all over the hall.” Ben grumbled.

“Well, there isn’t any jello in there so this time it won’t be us cleaning it out of the rafters again.” I said as we led the Sheriff in to the kitchen. He was laughing.

“You two don’t tell me anything about my own kids. I’d have grounded them for that.” He said.

“We made them sit in time out for an hour, in different rooms. That was torture enough.” I said.

I handed off the bottle to Mark as we made the introductions. More and more people arrived after the Sheriff did, pretty soon we were looking at a full house. The party was in full swing when Grandmama Murphy brought out the turkey and we set up the buffet. The conversation hum was light and joking and I was just becoming hopeful that we were going to make it without an incident when Grandmama Murphy came up behind me and told me there was a problem. I snagged Ben and we met her in the hall way.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Well I don’t want you to be alarmed, but there’s a couple of FBI agents here and one of them is Miles’s ex-boyfriend.”

I swore. “Oh that’s all we need. I don’t care about them being FBI. I care that Miles and Denver, who are currently canoodling on my settee, are going to get in to another fight.”

“Another fight?” Ben asked.

“Just after they arrived. Something about pastries. I put a stop to it while you were chasing down Gibbs who’d stolen a shoe.”

“So, the FBI?” Murphy said.

I sighed. “Lead on, Grandmama.”

She led us all in to the kitchen where the agents were sitting at the table, eating pie. I smiled at that. Grandmama always looked out for us and whomever need a spot of food on a cold night. I coughed to bring attention to myself and they looked up.

“Hello. I’m Marlowe Oberly and this is Ben Solt.”

They scrambled to stand, but I waved them off and sat down at the table with them.

“I’m Vaughn Beazley and this is my partner Tucker Groue. We’re here to do the pre-investigation for the attempted bombing trial.”

“No offense meant by this, because I’m glad you’re here, but couldn’t it have waited until after the holiday?”

The man named Tucker squirmed in his chair. “We’re kind of pressed for time since the defendant exercised his right to a speedy trial. It means that the trial is moving up to the spring instead of waiting for all the pre-trial hearings.”

I swore. I was just about to ask more questions when Miles and Mark came in to the kitchen with empty platters. I nudged Ben and he got up to take the dishes before Miles saw his ex-boyfriend sitting at our table. I watched Miles turn around and see me, then look at his ex.

“You! What the fuck are you doing here!?” Miles shouted.

I laid my head on the table and groaned. Ben stepped in between Miles and Vaughn.

“Now Miles. Things might have ended badly last year but that’s no reason to shout at the Agent who’s helping your cousin lock up Steve.”

Miles glared at Ben, then at Vaughn and he stormed out of the kitchen.

“Well, that certainly could have gone better.” Tucker said.

Vaughn glared at Tucker and I smiled at him like I’d found a new best friend.

-Marlowe

Thanksgiving

The events from Monday cast a shadow over the whole week and it ended up a pretty quiet week. Ben’s father didn’t give us too much trouble. He pretty much kept to himself or talked to Ben. It was like the rest of us were beneath his notice. I did notice that he and Ben mostly stuck to his practice and when Ben brought home a three headed bearded dragon that actually breathed fire, decided to move out of the house and in to Rose Cottage which was only a mile or two away. That was Wednesday. Not everyone can handle our house.

That was also when I decided the bearded dragon could stay.

“Give him to me, Miles. You jiggle him one more time you’re going to make him sick.” I said as I took the lizard away from Miles.

He was jiggling the poor creature to make it burp fire.

“Aww, but he was happy!”

“He was not, that poor thing is probably full of indigestion!”

Ben laughed. “Probably not, but you could kill him that way.”

I put the lizard in a cage that Ben had brought in from some storage closet. I set the cage on a side table and pointed at Miles.

“Leave the thing alone.”

“I will not leave the thing alone.” He pouted.

Jude started laughing at us. I smiled at her.

“You two. Are you family?”

“Cousins on my Mamma’s side.”

“Sister, you can at least tell her more than that.” Miles chided softly. “You see, her parents died in a car accident when she was five or so. She lived with us for a while, my family, but ended up with Grandmama.”

“Oh. You poor thing. So young.” Jude put her hands over mine.

I smiled. “Grandmama was good to me. The only time I ever felt lonely was when I was around the families that had parents. It was much better when I had Miles and Grandmama to myself. Still, I’m happy I found family by moving here.”

Jude didn’t say anything, just patted my hands. I looked over at Miles, but the little twerp had abandoned me. He was just leaving the room, cage in hand, when I looked for him.

“Get back here with that blasted cage! You’re not setting the house on fire!”

“Mine! My pet! My precious!” Miles said as he ran out of the room with the cage.

I groaned and looked over at Ben, who gave me a small smile.

“Well, at least you don’t have to take care of it?”

“I better not.” I grumbled as I scratched Winston’s ears.

He had padded over and plopped his head in to my lap.

“What do you say, Winston? Should we head to bed? Thanksgiving is tomorrow!” Winston sneezed. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Everyone in the room laughed, but they got up and said their good nights anyway.

The following morning it was Mark and Ben’s turn for breakfast so Miles and I were in the living room watching the parade with Jude. We were still in pjs when his father arrived. I saw the wrinkle of disgust at what we were wearing and what was on the TV before he moved in to the kitchen to talk to Ben. I shook my head and looked at Miles.

“Mark my words: We’re going to have some kind of fight today and its going to be big.”

“Marked and noted. Now pay attention to the parade.”

Jude laughed. “I need to visit more often.”

I looked over my shoulder from where I was on the floor with Miles, spread out on blankets and pillows. Jude was on the couch with her own blankets and pillows. It was good that we were resting now, because when the parade was over, dinner prep would start and we’d be cooking until 6pm this evening when everyone arrived.

“You know, I’m so glad the kitchen expanded this morning. Those extra ovens are going to come in handy.” I said to Miles.

Miles snorted. “The house is a god send some days.”

“You know, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.” Jude said.

I laughed. “I said the same thing. You eventually just tune it out.”

Jude thought about it and I turned my attention back to the parade. Before I could get back in to it, there was a loud shout from the kitchen and Mark came storming out.

“That man! I’ve never met a more rude, dismissive person in my entire life.” He stormed by and upstairs.

I sighed. “Okay. Time to lay the smack down.”

“Better you than me.”

“You don’t scare him, I do. He fears my powers.”

“Smart man, in some things. I’d better go with you.” Jude said.

I got up and stretched, then marched in to the kitchen. Ben was giving his father a glare, but was on the other side of the island in the middle of the kitchen. I looked at his father.

“What happened in here?”

“That man, wants me to give you up and marry that woman from New York. The same one I said no to five years ago.”

Jude sighed. “Oh Mo, give it a rest. He’s never going to marry her. You drove our son away with that bit of nonsense.”

“It is not nonsense! It is family duty!”

“From the old country. Not here. He has the right to choose as he pleases. I warned you not to make him unhappy.” I said.

“You do not tell me what to do in my son’s house.”

“It is my house too. We bought it together. I am tired of being dismissed as though I do not matter. I love your son. Your son loves me. That’s the way it is. If you do not accept this, you are not welcome at the table.” I said evenly.

I walked over to Ben and put my hand in his. Ben looked down at me and smiled.

“Mo, you’re going to lose this one. Again.” Jude said.

His father looked at all of us and I could hear him grinding his teeth.

“You will not slander her.” Ben said and his father jerked back like he’d been slapped.

“You will not read my mind!” His father growled out.

“I will if it means protecting Marlowe.” Ben replied.

I looked up at Ben and nodded. “I gave him permission long ago. You never trusted your son. I do. That’s why he will choose to stay. He’s found a home here. A life here. Things he didn’t have back when he was under your boot in New York.”

His father unleashed a string of expletives in Arabic and it felt like I had been slapped. When he advanced on Ben and myself, I lost my temper. After everything that happened, I couldn’t keep hold on my temper anymore. Before I realized what I had done, ever single knife in the kitchen was pointing at Ben’s father and I was standing in front of him. I knew my eyes had gone completely silver.

“You. Will. Not. Touch. Him.”

His father looked at me like he’d seen his own nightmares. Ben had to physically pull me back from his father. He tried to get my attention, but I was too focused on his father. Finally Ben physically picked me up and took me outside in the cold and dumped me in to a snow bank. I came up sputtering and cursing. I looked around and up at him. I saw the look on his face and swore.

“I lost control, didn’t I?” He nodded and I sighed. “I’ll stay out here.”

“No. He had it coming. You’ll come back inside and he will leave.” Ben said firmly.

“I’m sorry, Ben.”

Ben’s face softened a little and he kissed my hair. “No one can hold their emotions in check, and their power, all the time. I know how hard you work to control yours.”

“I’m still sorry.” I whispered. “I could have killed him if you hadn’t moved me outside.”

“I love you, but you owe us a new chefs knife. The old one is embedded in the wall behind his head.”

I groaned. So I hadn’t held all of them back.

I followed Ben back inside, but his father was gone from the kitchen. Miles was pulling knives that I hadn’t managed to control, out of the walls.

“When you lose control, you really do pick the way.” Miles said. He was waving around a steak knife. “Look at this, it’s bent in half! From the impact! There’s another one over on the other side that has a shattered handle.”

I looked around and sighed. “It looks like a cartoon in here.”

Miles laughed. “Mark said the same thing when he got a look at it. He’s off to tell everyone we need knives for today. Grandma Murphy is bringing hers.”

I closed my eyes and concentrated, pulling each knife from the wall and placing it on the table. I’d destroyed every knife in the kitchen, but at least that’s all I had done. I hadn’t killed anyone and that’s always a plus.

“Hey Magneto, would you mind not doing your steak knife in to the wall thing for a minute so you can tell Grandma Murphy just why we need all her knives?” Mark shouted from the other room.

I groaned. I was going to kill him.

-Marlowe

The Second Week Begins

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.

-Marlowe

Digging out

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.”

“Since Halloween?”

“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.”

“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.

-Marlowe