Since Rachel took Ai and Mai to her studio, I was alone with James and his father. I really wanted to make a good impression this time around, since I felt the twins were a point ahead last round here. I was leaning against James as we sat together on the couch with his father sitting nearby in the recliner. We’d look far more like a couple if James would hold my hand, put his arm around me, or make some other display of affection. He really could be more helpful. Okay though. I got this.
“Emma, what do your parents do for a living?” asked Mr. Somerset.
I didn’t really want to lie to him. Something about lying to my future father-in-law seemed absolutely horrible, but I couldn’t tell the whole truth either. “My father died when I was young, and my mother is an Expatriate Administration Manager for a large corporation.” I told him, which was pretty truthful.
James’ father nodded and said, “I’m sorry for your loss. I understand that Ai and Mai aren’t from around here. Did you meet them through your mother’s work?”
Oh great. Why wasn’t he asking easier questions? “Yes and no. I met them through their cousin, Alpy, who is a friend of mine, but she also works for the same company as my mother, which is how I met Alpy through my mother.” I told him, trying to be honest-ish. I couldn’t really tell him that Lady Alma Lucy Pendreigh V had claimed me as a minion for her plot to steal his son, or how I still had a chance with James if I was really, really lucky. James surprised me by putting his arm around me, so I snuggled against him more.
“Is James as cruel to you as he is to Ai and Mai? I thought his mother and I taught him better, but she told me quite the stories as related to her by them,” said Mr. Somerset.
Finally, an easy question. Smiling, I replied “He is such a horrible man-slave at times, but I’ve made do as best as I can, since he is pleasant to look at. He did mention that he is my man-slave, right?” James felt so warm and wonderful, and Mr. Somerset seemed amused. This was going well!
Smiling back, James’ father told me “No, James failed to mention that tidbit.”
Gasping, I said, “Oh dear. There he goes, disappointing me again. Don’t worry, Mr. Somerset. I do plan on helping him learn some manners.”
Chuckling now, he said, “Good luck. That will be a difficult task. Did James tell you about the fuss he threw when his mother made him wear pink for a dance recital? She was rightfully worried about the color scheme for the dance, but James was all worried about wearing pink in front of people. Want to see pictures?”
I nodded excitedly, so Mr. Somerset grabbed a laptop from the other room, sat by me on the couch, and started showing all sorts of wonderful pictures of little James. He was sooo cute! I wondered what having my own little James running around would be like. Then the twins just had to show up and ruin the moment, asking Mr. Somerset to start over for them. Rachel, however, was helpful, reminding him of videos on the laptop. We spent hours looking over pictures and videos while hearing stories from his parents. They were so marvelous. I was certain mom would enjoy meeting them sometime.
In perfect unison, Ai and Mai asked “Who was the blonde girl who helped James off the mattress after the other girl kicked his butt?”
We had just seen a video of James at one of his first Tai Chi matches, and I was curious too. The girl looked around his age, and she would definitely grow up to be beautiful, which meant more competition.
Looking a bit perplexed at how the twins speak, Mr. Somerset told us “Her name is Regina. She’s a friend of James, though I haven’t seen her around lately.”
Regina… I really needed to look into her. Luckily, Alma surely would be interested as well, which meant an abundance of resources to find answers.
“Honey, don’t you think it’s about time we ate? I’d hate for the girls to starve, and a certain boy’s stomach often rumbles minutes after he eats.” claimed Rachel.
Giggling, I told her “I always am amazed when I get a slice of pizza when we order it.” Mr. Somerset was shaking his head while Mrs. Somerset was giving James quite the stare.
“She always eats at least her share.” claimed James.
I hit him and winked before turning to his parents with my best pout and saying, ““Can you believe the things your son says about a poor, injured girl? I think he’s trying to call me fat!”
Rachel immediately turned on James and told him “James Michael! You apologize to Emma immediately!”
I was halfway wondering if she meant it when James turned me to him and said, “I’m terribly sorry if the truth hurts, but you easily eat half a pizza without gaining a pound.”
James’ father was laughing, and I could only guess what Rachel was doing. I didn’t want to turn away from James, smiling as he looked me in the eyes.
“Time for lunch before I find that my darling boy has joined a gang,” stated Rachel from behind me.
I was disappointed that James wanted to drive the twins to the restaurant when he could be getting alone time with me, but his parents’ car was more spacious for my cast. He probably was meaning to be thoughtful. As I was getting into the car, James touched my shoulder and my heart skipped a beat. Maybe he changed his mind? Then he helped me inside, crushing my hope even as I enjoyed the feel of his strong hands.
“I’ll need your keys if I’m going to follow father. The twins said that you drove here.” he told me, appearing inquisitive.
Great. Those two could have easily come up with some sort of reason which didn’t have me driving a manual transmission with a cast on one leg. I grinned at him and asked “Are you questioning my flexibility, James?” He suddenly looked nervous, dropped the subject, and took the keys. How was such a perfect catch so innocent? Conversation with his parents was wonderful. Mr. Somerset was so charming. I could easily see where James learned it. Rachel was delightful as well now that I had her to myself. I almost was disappointed when we arrived. Ai and Mai just had to walk arm-in-arm with James, each taking a side. Why did I have to wear this stupid cast still? To make matters worse, I fumbled slightly, knocking open my cast for a second. Though I closed it as quickly as possible, I worried that James noticed. The twins ran interference for me, so I was certain they saw. Nonetheless, I told him “Man-slave, you should be carrying me rather than flirting with Ai and Mai. I can’t believe you’d force me to walk instead of making an attempt to redeem yourself in front of your parents.”
He laughed and said, “I think a wheelchair would be more appropriate considering the setting, since I’d hate to interrupt someone’s meal if I were to stumble and knock over a table.”
I stuck my tongue at him and said, “I might start crying if you keep making fat jokes at my expense. How can you be so cruel?”
“James Michael! Will you behave yourself for once? Poor Emma here is so distressed.” claimed Rachel.
She then walked arm-in-arm with her husband into the restaurant. With the two sets as they were, I was left walking arm-in-arm with my crutches. Luckily, lunch was a much brighter affair with plenty of jokes and comments about James’ youth. I was surprised that the twins didn’t argue with me sitting by James, instead debating which one of them got to sit at his side. The other sat next to Mr. Somerset. Perhaps they were worried that I was in the lead now, an idea which tickled me. James, surprisingly, knocked his fork off the table. He usually seemed so graceful that I wondered for a moment if he was up for something. I teased him, saying, “Looks like you were right, James. It’s a good thing you didn’t carry me in here. I might have been impaled upon someone’s fork.” He was so cute when he was embarrassed! Things really were looking up.