I sat down next to Mom at the table and leaned over to kiss her cheek. “Happy Birthday, Mom.”
She smiled over at me. “Thank you, baby. I’m so glad you and Loralee could come.”
“I wish we could get out here more often.” Money had been too tight to come for Mom’s birthday last year, so we’d only been able to visit over Christmas. With Loralee’s promotion, things were less lean this year. We probably would’ve made the trip work even if the financial situation hadn’t improved; I’ve been waiting to tell my parents until I could see them in person.
“I’m glad you’re here too. We don’t get to see you enough,” Dad said gruffly. He looked over at Loralee. “I see you’re keeping my boy fed. Your job is going well then?” He was a little awkward about it, but it was nice to see my father trying harder with Loralee. I got the feeling he still wasn’t too thrilled with my choice of partner, but we had finally come to an understanding about it.
Loralee laughed softly. “It is going well. I’m sure I’m keeping Tommy fed, but I’m not sure he’s always happy about it. He has to try all my food experiments.”
“There’s not a thing you’ve made that I haven’t liked.” That was only a bit of a white lie. There had been a couple of her experiments that had taken a little effort to get down.
Mom smiled at the two of us. “I’ve been thinking and talking with Cody. What do you two think about us coming to visit you over Christmas this time?”
My eyes widened with surprise. “Mom, that’d be great, but you know we’ve only got the one bedroom.”
“It won’t hurt us to stay a few nights at a hotel,” Dad assured us. “We’d really like to see your place.”
“You may actually want to hold off on the trip, Dad.” I shared a smile with Loralee. “You’re going to have to fly out sometime next spring for the wedding.”
Mom gasped, her eyes lighting up. “Wedding? What wedding? Are you – ?”
Loralee beamed. “We’re engaged.”
Mom burst up from her seat and pulled Loralee into a tight hug. “This is wonderful. Oh, Cody, did you hear? They’re getting married.”
Dad’s face was still for a long heartbeat before he finally smiled. “That really is great news, son. I’m happy for you.”
My throat got thick, and I had to swallow a couple of times and clear my throat. “Thanks, Dad.” I’d really thought this was going to be where he lost it. Part of me had just known he was waiting for me to come to my senses and dump Loralee.
Mom and Loralee finally sat down, and we went back to the cake Loralee had made the afternoon before after getting back from the café. “So, you said it’ll be in the spring?” Mom asked.
Loralee nodded. “We haven’t settled on a firm date yet, of course – we’ve only been engaged a few weeks – but we both agreed spring sounds like the best time.”
“Do you know where you’d like to have it? Are you going to go big or intimate?” Mom smiled, her eyes twinkling. “I remember when I married Cody. For us, it was quite a big wedding.”
“We’ve barely even begun to think about it.” Loralee reached over and took my hand. “I’ve thought about the place my parents got married, but I’m not actually sure if I want an outdoor wedding. Tommy and I are going to go look at venues soon.”
“Don’t drive yourselves into the poor house.” Dad smiled. “The wedding is just for a day.”
“Actually,” I said, somewhat hesitantly – I knew for certain he wasn’t going to like this – “Loralee’s parents are paying for the wedding.”
His face darkened, a scowl taking the place of his smile. “Oh, they are. Will the silverware be made of gold? How about diamond china?”
I started to open my mouth, but Loralee got there first. “That is just enough!” She glared daggers at him. “I have been nothing but polite to you, Mr. Smithson. You haven’t even met my parents! The only time you’ve seen them was at a parent-teacher conference a decade ago. My parents want us to save our money for our honeymoon and our future together. They are being kind – something you don’t seem very familiar with.” She stood up from the table, the legs of her chair scraping on the tile. “I’m sorry to ruin the evening, Mrs. Smithson. I hope you enjoyed the cake. I’m going upstairs, Tommy.”
As her feet hit the stairs, I turned a glare onto my father. “She shouldn’t have apologized. She didn’t ruin anything. Why do you always have to do this? Camille and Shirley just want us to have a nice wedding.”
“It’s going to be a wealth display,” he muttered, actually looking a little embarrassed. Perhaps, for the first time, he’d realized how much he’d just shown his ass.
“I think,” Mom said quietly, “that you owe our future daughter-in-law an apology. I would even say that outburst of hers was a long time coming, considering the way you treated her in Newcrest.”
Dad rubbed his face. “Fine, I might have stepped over the line. I’ll apologize to her later.”
“Good.” I stood up and leaned down to kiss Mom’s cheek. “I’m going to go upstairs, too.”
Mom just sighed softly.
So much for this visit going smoothly, I thought as I went up the stairs.