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Joe grunted non-committedly at my introduction. The angry look on his face dissipated somewhat and he gave me a little smirk, which on him passed for a smile. “It’s Sunday and Mum’s cookin’ a big dinner. You’d better come. She’ll be pissed to know you were here and didn’t stop in.”
I hesitated. I hadn’t been to Sunday night supper at my parents’ in a long time, much too long of a time actually, and the prospect did appeal to me, except that I had Adam with me, and subjecting him to such an ordeal seemed a little precipitous to say the least.
“Bring him too,” Joe grumbled, nodding in Adam’s direction. “She always cooks enough for twenty. I’ll tell her you’re comin’.” Joe climbed back in his truck before I could argue or decline and he’d pulled away before I could really figure out what had just happened.
“Brooks,” Adam whispered in my ear.
I shook my whirling head confusedly. “Pardon?”
Adam chucked, holding out his hand. I gave him a questioning look but took it. He shook my hand firmly, politely. “Adam Brooks. Pleased to meet you.”
I broke off into a peal of laughter, feeling a little of myself come back from the numbness and shock of seeing Joe. “Lilly Tanner. We really don’t have to go to my parents,” I explained quickly. Adam still held my hand and his flesh was warm against my palm, his fingers so long they snaked up my wrist.
“I don’t mind, although if you have any more brothers like that, I’d like to know now.” Adam grinned sheepishly and I apologized.
“Joe and I have never really gotten along,” I said slowly, unsure how to explain the situation. “He likes playing the tough big brother and I’ve always resented that. He’s never approved of a single thing I’ve done.”
Adam smiled softly. “I’m sure he’s more proud of you than you know. Brothers are like that, protective of their sisters.”
I shook my head woefully. “Yeah, and I have three.”
“Are they all that big?” Adam asked.
I laughed. “Pretty much. Joe’s the oldest and the biggest. He helps Dad run the farm. I’m next in age. Then comes Matt, he’s 25 and is a mechanic. Chuck’s 23, he’s just graduated university and is home for the summer. And then there’s Vi, she’s the youngest and is almost done high school.”
“That’s a lot of kids, your parents must have been busy,” Adam laughed. There was a twinkle of laughter in his green eyes which made me smile.
“I’m still not sure how Mum managed to keep us all in line. Don’t you have any siblings?” I zipped my leather jacket up and watched hungrily as Adam did the same, hiding his sexy, t-shirt clad chest from view.
“Just one sister; Kat’s a tattoo artist in Montreal.”
“Well that explains a lot,” I said brightly, leaning in to kiss Adam quickly before I pulled my helmet on. “You can just drop me off at the end of the lane if you want and I’ll get Matt to drive me back to the city. My family can be a little much and that’s not fair to you.”
“And it’s not fair to you if I just abandon you,” Adam said with a grim expression. “I’d like to meet your family, unless you don’t want me to meet them.”
He looked so hurt it damn near broke my heart. “It’s not you Adam, trust me. It’s just; well… they can be a little over-whelming. I stopped bringing guys home years ago. You’re liable to get the third-degree and God knows what else.”
Adam slid his own helmet on, obscuring most of his handsome face; I could still see his eyes though and they were laughing at me. “I think I can handle it, Lil. Can’t be any worse than meeting Joe.” He climbed on the bike and waited expectantly as I did the same before starting it up with a roar.
“You’re just saying that because you haven’t met my Dad yet,” I said, but I don’t think he heard me over the sound of the bike.
Mum was waiting on the porch of the little, yellow farmhouse when we pulled in. She eyed the bike with thinly veiled trepidation, but smiled welcomingly as we dismounted, shedding our helmets.
I couldn’t have stopped her from rushing forward and hugging me tightly even if I wanted to. She enveloped me in a hug which smelled wonderfully of freshly baked pie and good, clean Island air. I smiled widely and hugged her back, just as hard.
“Lilly,” she crooned, stepping back and holding me at arms’ length. She studied me intently for a moment. “You’re getting too skinny.”
I laughed loudly, hugging her motherly form again. “You always say that.” Mum thought anyone who didn’t weigh 200 pounds was skinny, and although I didn’t weigh that much, I was certainly far from what I would consider to be skinny.
“And it’s always true. Good thing I’ve a mind to fatten you up today. Now who’s your young man?” Mum looked over my shoulder and gave Adam her biggest smile. His face lit up in return. I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought of my short, stout, red-haired mother. I’m sure his mother was perfectly manicured and coiffed and in my mind she was a glamorous ‘desperate housewife’ type with which my own farm-wife mum could bakırköy escort never compete.
Adam stepped forward and I watched in shock as Mum hugged him too, just as hard as she’d hugged me. She didn’t even come up to his shoulder. Adam looked surprised for a moment and then laughed heartily. “I’m Adam Brooks, Mrs. Tanner.”
Mum held Adam out at arms length just the same as she had me and studied him too, just as intently. I was blushing furiously and Adam shot me a sheepish look. “You’re too skinny too,” Mum concluded. “Cute as hell, but too skinny. Looks like I’ll have to fatten this one up too.”
“Mum!” I cried in disbelief, my ears were burning. Adam patted my shoulder, still laughing.
“And now you know why she never brings any of her fellows home,” Mum said with a conspiratorial wink in Adam’s direction. “You must be special.”
“I hope so,” Adam said gruffly, smiling down at my Mother. She positively beamed back up at him and I knew that despite her embarrassing me, she liked him.
“Well I’m sure you are,” Mum said, taking Adam’s arm. “Come in and I’ll get you fixed up with a cold drink.” She opened the door and Adam held it for her, motioning her through with a broad gesture. Mum laughed and giggled like a teenager. I stood speechless on the bottom step of the porch as Adam laughed right back.Was he flirting with her?
“Violet!” Mum screeched when the screen-door slammed shut behind me. “Violet! Lilly’s here!”
From upstairs the booming music ceased and then there was a clatter of footsteps as my kid sister gambolled gracefully down the stairs. I smiled up at her, knowing my grin was identical to hers, only ten years older. Adam watched the two of us, smiling broadly. Lilly’s jaw dropped when she saw him.
Adam cocked his pierced eyebrow and grinned. “Lilly and Violet? That’s sweet.”
Adam introduced himself to her and Vi stared at him with all the brazenness only a teenager can possess before she shot him her most winning smile. “Yeah, Mum has a thing for flowers, she’s a gardening nut,” she explained with a coy giggle. I rolled my eyes.
“And your gardens are beautiful, Mrs. Tanner,” Adam turned to smile again at my Mum. I hadn’t even noticed the state of my mother’s flowerbeds when we’d pulled in, but obviously Adam had; every line on his handsome face was sincere.
She waved a hand dismissively. “They’re nothing right now, Adam dear. You’ll have to come back in June and July and see them when they’re properly in bloom. And call me Pat, please.” She took Adam’s arm again and led him towards the kitchen in the back of the house. I made a move to follow them, but Vi grasped my arm tightly and held me back.
“Omigod,” she squealed under her breath as Mum’s chattering voice faded away. I could her Adam’s deep rumble of a reply but couldn’t make out what he was saying. “Where the hell did you find him Lil? He’sgorgeous!”
A little guiltily, I told my little sister the clean, slightly abbreviated version of how I met Adam, and if I failed to mention that I’d only met him the night before, it was only because she was still a little young to know those things.
“He’s so hot!” Vi squealed quietly. “Dad’s gonna flip when he sees him. Joe too.”
“He’s already met Joe,” I said with a wry laugh, explaining briefly what had happened earlier at the beach. I left out the details of what Adam and I had been doing at the beach.
“So you wouldn’t have brought him if Joe hadn’t told you too?” Vi asked, sounding hurt. She pouted like a petulant child and I had to remind myself that she was only eighteen.
“No, that’s not true,” I replied quickly. “It’s just a little soon, that’s all.”
Vi brushed me off with a dramatic gesture. “If ya love him it’s never too soon for him to meet your crazy family.”
Love him?I opened my mouth to argue but wasn’t sure what to say. I settled for shrugging off my jacket instead, but only succeeded in getting half-way there when Vi grabbed my arm hard and squealed.
“What?” I asked, eying her excited bobbing up and down with anxiety.
“You have ahickey,” she hissed with glee. “Dad’s gonna die when he sees that.”
“What?” I gasped, rushing to hall mirror and throwing off my jacket. I tilted my chin and studied the evidence of Adam’s earlier enthusiasm emblazoned on the pale skin of my neck. “Oh my god,” I mumbled, leaning my heated forehead against the cool surface of the mirror. I was blushing from head to toe.
Vi giggled with delight. “Come on,” she said, suddenly sounding much wiser than her eighteen years. “It’s not that bad. I must have something you can wear to hide it.”
She pulled me up the stairs and into her bedroom under the sloping eaves; it was a cluttered, busy, teenager-like mess. At one time we’d shared the room and my old twin bed still rested in the corner, covered in a jumble of clothing. I sank into with numbly. “I have a hickey? I’ve never had a hickey before in my life.”
“Well don’t be embarrassed,” beşiktaş escort Vi said dismissively, rooting through her closet. “I’ve had tons.” I tried not to look shocked as she threw a high-collared blouse at me. “Well, I have,” Vi sighed, sitting beside me as I eyed her sceptically. “Mind you, none from a guy as cute as that. Put that on,” she said with a smile, motioning towards the silky blouse. I followed orders, still trying to comprehend having this sort of conversation with my kid sister.
I shook my head as laughter bubbled from my lips. The whole thing was suddenly very ridiculous: the night before with Adam, being so worried I’d never see him again, and then the happiness when he’d shown up at my door with flowers, the amazing motorcycle ride and making love at the beach, and now bringing him home to my family and getting love advice from my teenaged sister. I lay back on the mountain of clothes and laughed until my sides ached while Vi watched me warily.
“You’re losin’ it, Hon,” she said with a giggle. “He’s got ya completely freaked out, huh?”
I nodded through my tears, hiccupping as the laughter subsided.
“Well I don’t blame ya,” Vi confessed. “He’s freakin’ hot. You gotta marry this one.”
Marry? I laughed again, this time a little nervously. Everything is so black and white when you’re eighteen.
“I think I’ve probably left him alone with Mum long enough,” I admitted, hoping fervently that she hadn’t broken out the baby pictures yet. Vi agreed and I followed her down the stairs and into the kitchen, a little uneasy of what I’d find when I got there.
Adam and Mum were standing side-by-side behind the kitchen island, both clad in identical flowered aprons and Adam was patiently showing her the best way to effectively chop an onion.
My jaw dropped; Vi giggled and plopped herself down on a stool at the island and watched the proceedings with delight.
“He’s quite handy in the kitchen, Lilly dear,” Mum said, beaming as she noticed my presence. “Isn’t that nice?”
I sat beside Vi and smiled weakly at my mother. “That’s because he’s a chef, Mum.”
My mother turned to Adam and swatted his arm playfully, joining in with his laughter. “Are you really, you rogue?” she asked flirtatiously. “You should have said something earlier.”
Adam shrugged, taking over the chopping of the remaining vegetables from my Mum. His hands worked deftly and I was mesmerized by his movements. The dark lines of his tattoos snaked sexily over his arms and looked so out of place next to the flowered apron that I couldn’t help but laugh. I looked up and caught Adam’s sheepish grin only to be struck again by how devastatingly handsome he was. He winked at me and then turned his attention to my Mum as she asked him a question about garlic.
Vi and I sat quietly as Mum and Adam discussed cooking until there was a slam of the screen-door and the rapid thump of many sneakers in the hall.
“Who the hell owns that amazing freakin’ bike out there?” My middle brother’s voice carried loudly from the front of the house. Matt burst into the kitchen, followed immediately by Chuck, both of whom were wearing big grins to match their curiosity.
“That would be mine,” Adam admitted with pride.
Mum, Vi, and I all laughed in unison as Matt and Chuck took in Adam’s appearance with identical looks of awe. There might be two years separating my brothers, but they looked like twins and seeing the disbelief echoed on both their faces as they stared at Adam was pretty funny.
“Vi,” Chuck said with a grin as he slapped her shoulder roughly. “I didn’t know you had a new boyfriend. What happened to that Pete guy?”
My younger sister scowled at him and hit him back, just as hard. “He’s not mine, you ass. He’s Lilly’s.”
“Lilly’s?” Matt and Chuck asked together. Both red heads shot up and they grinned together as they noticed me for the first time. I was hugged by both at once. I introduced Adam quickly to my brothers and all three men grinned easily at each other.
I’d bumped into Matt in town only a week earlier, but Chuck I hadn’t seen since his Christmas break. “How were exams?” I asked as he slid onto the stool next to me and stretched out his long legs.
Chuck shrugged, putting on the pretended nonchalance I knew and loved. “Alright. I guess I passed, they gave me my degree.”
I patted his arm, smiling. None of my younger siblings would admit to being as smart as they are. Chuck had just graduated with an engineering degree from one of Canada’s most prestigious universities and yet he made it sound like it was no big deal; Violet had been accepted to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and would be leaving in the fall. Only Matt and Joe had been content to forgo post-secondary education. Joe had always wanted to continue with the family farm and Matt had apprenticed to a mechanic after high school and earned his working papers three years ago.
“Man,” said Matt, digging around beylikdüzü escort in the fridge and coming out with a handful of beer bottles; he passed one to me, one to Chuck, and one to Adam before sitting down beside Chuck. “That bike must have cost you a fortune.”
Adam shrugged. “Actually, I inherited it from my Dad; I just had to fix it up a bit.” We all watched as he quickly diced potatoes, completely at ease with an audience watching his every move. I smiled quietly to myself.
Matt started firing questions about the motorcycle at him, but only Chuck knew enough about bikes to follow along with Adam’s answers. Vi and I just watched the proceedings quietly both apparently content to watch Adam work as Mum bustled about in the background with a big smile on her pretty face. Every once and a while she’d take whatever Adam had finished chopping and silently give him another job. He moved with a grace in her kitchen that was quite something to see. Never once did he slip up, bump into her, or get in her way.
Everything was moving along splendidly until I heard the rumble of the truck outside. Every head shot up and we all paused.
“That’ll be your father and Joe,” Mum said brightly. “Vi, Lilly honey, can you set the table for me? Adam, please pass me the pepper mill. Matt, Chuck, go take off your shoes like you should have done when you came in the house in the first place and please wash your hands.”
My heart raced wildly in my chest as we all leapt to do my mother’s bidding. I brushed past Adam on my way to retrieve plates and cups and he touched my arm gently, stopping me. His smile was electric and for a moment I forgot there was anyone else in the room.
“You alright?” he asked quietly enough for only me to hear.
I nodded, swallowing past the lump in my throat. I’d known Mum and Vi would like Adam, suspected Matt and Chuck would, but hadn’t held out any hope for Dad and Joe. Dad was always the real test. “Are you?” I inquired, just as softly.
He nodded swiftly, but not before I saw the small flicker of hesitation in his remarkable green eyes. I tried to smile encouragingly. “Too late to back out now,” I teased, pleased to be rewarded with a small grin. Adam leaned down and kissed me quickly. It was no more than a brief brush against my lips, but that didn’t stop my father from clearing his throat loudly behind us and causing both Adam and I to jump like guilty teenagers.
“Who’s this?” Dad growled. He stood in the middle of the kitchen, seeming to take up the entire space with his presence. When I was a little girl I’d been sure my Dad was the biggest man in the world: 6’5″, 280 pounds of solid, hard-working farmer. He was darkly tanned from endless days on the back of a tractor, with rough-skinned hands and blue, blue eyes which never missed a thing. He was man of few words, but when he spoke we all listened.
“Adam Brooks, sir,” Adam said smiling brightly with a confidence I was sure he couldn’t be feeling. He held out his hand and my father eyed it warily, shaking it more out of habit than any genuine desire to, I was sure. “I’m a friend of Lilly’s.”
Dad didn’t even try to disguise his frank appraisal of Adam. He noticed every inch of exposed tattoo and didn’t miss the eyebrow ring or the practically shaved head either and I wondered which of those things made him raise a questioning eyebrow. “Nice apron,” Dad said in a gravely tone.
Adam looked down at the flowered print, now spotted with cooking mess and then grinned widely at my Dad who remained nonplussed and immoveable. “Thanks, Mr. Tanner.”
It wasn’t the answer my Dad was expecting, that much was evident. For a quick second I thought I saw him smile just a little before he turned to me just as expressionless as always. “Lilly,” he said lowly.
“Hi Dad,” I said softly, moving in for a hug. He smelled like earth and sweat, a combination which was quintessentially my father. Dad hugged me back, but didn’t say anything.
“Go get cleaned up,” Mum said with a smile, bustling past me to give my father a kiss on the cheek. She had to stand on tiptoe to do so and he bent down dutifully so she could reach. Adam and I watched the ritual with twin smiles. It was more than evident who ran the Tanner household.
Dad obeyed Mum stoically with Joe following right behind. Matt and Chuck reappeared and helped Vi and I set the table, jostling good-naturedly for our usual seating positions. Adam helped Mum bring the food to the table, and by the time Dad and Joe sat down, the large piece of furniture fairly groaned under the weight of all the dishes. If it was a more elaborate meal than he was used to seeing for Sunday night supper, Dad said nothing.
There was a moment of awkward silence as we all sat waiting. At the head of the table, Dad cleared his throat.
“I’ll say grace, Dear,” Mum offered, although it was a job usually assigned to one of us kids.
“I think our guest should do it,” Joe offered gruffly. It was the first thing he’d said since he walked in the door.
All around the table auburn eyebrows shot to the ceiling, even Dad looked slightly shocked. Only Adam remained unruffled as he sat beside me. I opened my mouth to argue, but Adam silenced me with a soft touch on my leg. He squeezed my thigh with reassurance and then bowed his head.
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