I dropped down on the couch next to my father and ran a hand through my hair. “Listen, Dad, I need to talk to you about Loralee.” With December approaching in less than a week, I was running out of time to convince my father to let Loralee come and visit after Christmas. It had been over seven months since we’d seen each other; Dad seemed to be holding out hope that I’d move on, maybe start dating Sarah, but that just wasn’t going to happen.
He sighed. “Tommy, would you just stop asking? The answer is no.”
“You’re hardly being fair, dear,” Mom said as she walked in from the kitchen. Her time in the clinical trial was really paying off – pretty much the only reason I wasn’t completely miserable about the move to Windenburg. She wasn’t in pain like she’d always been in. She’d put on a little weight. She seemed more like the mom I remembered from when I was little.
“Don’t both of you gang up on me.”
Mom sat down on the loveseat. “Cody, I know you have your reservations, but you’re going to have to accept that these two are in love. Don’t you remember what it was like when we fell in love?” She smiled fondly at him. “We could hardly go a day without seeing each other, much less months and months.”
“She isn’t right for him,” Dad defended.
“That isn’t up to you!” I glared at him.
Mom made a shushing movement at me. “Let me talk to your father for a bit. He is right, though, Cody. It isn’t up to either of us to decide who he should be with. If your disapproval hasn’t worked thus far, I really don’t think it’s going to. If she can’t come next month, she’ll probably come on her own in the spring when neither of them need our permission anymore.”
“Yeah, because her mom’s will buy her a first class ticket,” he muttered.
“You know Loralee has a job. Why won’t you see how hard she works?”
He snorted. “Hard work? What we do is hard work.”
“Oh yes,” Mom said wryly. “A construction site is just the place for a teenage girl. I can’t imagine how that could possibly go wrong.”
He huffed softly. “I just mean, being a coffee girl is hardly challenging.”
“She wants to be a chef, Dad, with her own restaurant. One that she earned, not one given to her by her parents.” How many times had I told him this? Why did he just refuse to listen to me?
“It’s time to give the girl a chance, dear,” Mom said, giving him a sympathetic yet firm look. “You’ve made your point, but it’s time to see the other side of the argument.”
He was silent for a few minutes before he threw his hands up with a sigh. “Alright, alright! You two win. She can stay for a week after Christmas. I’ll try to get to know her.”
I grinned. I almost even wanted to give him a hug. “Finally! Thank you, Dad.” I jumped to my feet. “I’m going to go tell her.” It didn’t matter what the time was there. She’d be happy about the news even if I woke her from a dead sleep.
I stepped out of the cab and onto the cobblestone street in front of the old Tudor house. It was charming, even picturesque. The whole town was, from what I’d seen on my ride from the airport.
I beamed as the front door opened and Tommy stepped out. My feet were flying up the path towards him before I was even aware of moving; he met me halfway and swept me up into his arms, his kiss stealing the breath from me.
I held onto him as tightly as my arms would allow, peppering kisses over his face. “I missed you so much.” My breath condensed in the air as I spoke; winters in Windenburg were, apparently, considerably colder than those in Newcrest.
“Watcher, I missed you, too.” He kissed me again before reluctantly stepping back ever so slightly. “Come on. Let’s get inside before we both freeze to death.”
I laughed. “Good idea.” Pretty soon, I wouldn’t be able to feel my nose anymore.
Inside, I was met with the warm smell of sugar cookies. This house was certainly a world apart from the humble home they’d inhabited in Newcrest. This old Tudor was warm and inviting. It was comfortable. Barring any confrontations with a certain father, this was going to be a very nice week indeed.
“Hello, Loralee,” Ava said warmly. “I’m so glad you’re here. How was your flight?”
I laughed. “Long! But it wasn’t too bad.” If I’d been uncomfortable after a while in first class, I couldn’t imagine riding economy. “Thank you so much for having me.”
“You are so welcome. I’m sorry Cody had to be at work today, but he is happy you’re here too.” Oh yeah. I’ll just bet. “He’ll be home for dinner this evening.”
“I’ll show you to your room after I get your bags.” Tommy kissed my cheek. “I’ll be right back.”
Ava smiled fondly after her son. “He’s been so excited ever since Cody agreed to this. I haven’t seen him this happy since we moved.”
Didn’t that just warm a girl’s heart. “I’m really happy to be here. Your house is wonderful, by the way.”
“Oh, thank you. We got very lucky that it was on the market when we were shopping for a house. It was a bit of a fixer upper, which was why we got it so cheaply, but that wasn’t much of an issue with two such handy men around.”
“I suppose it wouldn’t be.” I had to wonder why Cody hadn’t just fixed up their old house when they’d lived there…unless the cost of living was so high in Newcrest they hadn’t been able to afford the materials?
“Okay,” Tommy said as he came inside. “Your room is upstairs.”
I smiled at him. “Great.”
We went upstairs together and dropped my bags on the floor. The notion of unpacking wasn’t even close to being on my mind. Tommy and I dropped down onto the bed and got reacquainted. Not too reacquainted, but it was a good thing his mom had the grace not to come upstairs for a while.