552 - Emma
Mum is a little hesitant to let Lucien take Daniel out, but he promises he'll be careful and they'll avoid any dangerous roads, and she finally allows it.
After they've left, she snickers that it's kind of nice, letting the boys do their thing. Mum goes to offer me a glass of wine, then takes the bottle back before she even pours a drop, and eyes me up and down.
"What?" I look at her questioningly, and from the look on her face I can tell exactly where this is going, resulting in a groan. "Not you too!"
"I just thought...," she smiles, shrugging. "You have a glow about you."
I take the bottle of wine from her hands, pouring myself a full glass. "I'm not pregnant, mother," I sigh. "I'm just eating good."
She chuckles, shaking her head. "A mother can dream."
"Why don't you bother Charles about this? Sorry, Selene," I shoot her an apologetic look as her cheeks turn red, "but he's been in a relationship longer than I have at this point, break-up considered, and I don't see you interrogating him."
"That's different, he's..."
"A man," I finish her sentence. "And that's sexist, mother. He's just as capable of conceiving a baby, if not more, so I'd suggest you start annoying him about it."
"Point taken," she laughs, ruffling through my hair. "I won't ask about it again.. at least not this year."
Mum has me light the fairylights in the tree in the front yard, probably to gossip about me, and I take Eschieve with me.
"What do you think, so far?" I ask her as I pull the door closed behind me after checking if I've grabbed my keys, which I have.
"Honestly?" she asks, a little apprehensive. For a second I'm scared she's going to confess she hates it and she can't wait to leave, but I see a smile on her face. "I wasn't sure what to expect, but... they're really lovely. Even your dad - Beth had warned me he can be a bit grumpy at times, but he was so nice when they picked me up. Asked me about my trip, let me pick which radio station I wanted to listen to.. And your brothers are nice, too. And your mum...," she chuckles. "She truly is a sweetheart. I think she's told me at least ten times that I can stay however long I want. It's really nice that they've invited me."
"I'm glad," I smile, pressing several buttons until the tree lights up. "I hope she hasn't bugged you too much, she can be a bit nosy. Well, you've just lived through that - the woman has no filter."
"Oh, that's our fault," Eschieve grins, putting her hands in her pockets, "Beth and I were messing around a bit, and your mother caught on."
I groan, though I can't help but laugh. Just as I'm about to playfully scold her, Lucien's car drives into the driveway. Daniel looks proud as he gets out.
"Not a scratch! God, that thing drives...," his smile is wide. "Smooth."
Lucien gets out to, albeit a little less happy than Dan - I know how the boy drives, so even though he didn't crash the car, it can't have been a totally smooth ride.
I get a quick peck on the lips, keeping our PDA to a minimum because there's four younger siblings around that love to mess with us and pretend cooties are real, before we go back inside.
"The dynamic duo," I whisper in his ear, gesturing at Eschieve and Beth, "have planted a seed in my mum's brain that I might be pregnant. I've already told her no, but knowing her, she'll want to bring it up again. Just.. ignore it."
Shaking his head, he grins. "I'll just start taking about our engagement whenever babies get brought up," he chuckles, causing me to give him a swift punch to the shoulder.
"Not funny," I hiss as he pretends to be in pain, rubbing the spot I've just hit.
"Quite funny," he corrects me, dodging the next punch I'm about to throw.
"Hey," Charles calls out from his comfortable chair, "Christmas is all about peace on earth, Emmeline! You said it yourself. Stop beating the poor boy up."
"So this is another tradition," I mumble, leaning closer to Lucien at the dining table. First course is about to be served, but before, we're all sitting down in our designated spots.
Dad is at the head of the table, mother on the other end. Charles is sat next to Selene, who on her turn is sat next to Beth and Eschieve. Opposite them is Lucien and I, Phoebe next to me and Daniel on her other side. It's a full table, but it's perfect. "It's kind of like what the Americans do with Thanksgiving, but without the whole history of murdering and raping of natives. The oldest starts, which is dad, and everyone says something they're grateful for that happened in this past year."
His hand is on my thigh, out of sight from our siblings, and he squeezes it softly as some kind of reassurance.
"After that, we'll have dinner. We usually do presents in between the main course and dessert, because Phoebs gets impatient, and dad serves his favourite bourbon to everyone of age that wants some."
He smiles, nodding. "Remind me again how presents work," he whispers back as mum is wandering out of the kitchen once more, carrying two massive carafes of water.
"It's weird," I smile, "but mum has these cheap ornaments that she's painted numbers on. They're in the tree, but turned around, so you can't see the numbers. Whatever number you pick, is the turn you get handing out your gifts."
"Okay, okay," mum interrupts us, laying her hands flat on the table. "Ready. Reginald, if you'd do the honours?"
My father, not a man of many words, clears his throat. "This year, I'm thankful for... my children," he looks around the table, a weak smile on his face. "For the great things they've achieved, each and every one of them. And I'm thankful for my wife, who's cooked another great meal once again, keeping us all together for another year. Nancy?"
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