**Aaron and Lucas are still in love, and their life is moving along happily. But how will Lucas react when he gets an unexpected present? Enjoy!**
“It’s going to be fine.”
It took work to keep the scowl off my face, but Aaron was focused on the road in front of him so he didn’t notice the effort. “I know.”
“It’s really not a big deal at all,” Aaron continued conversationally like I hadn’t spoken. He rolled to a stop at the sign, then made sure the way was clear before continuing on. “It’s just my parents.”
“I know,” I repeated, doing my best to keep the tension out of my voice. Yes, it was just his parents. But it was the first time I was meeting them. I’d talked to his dad a few times on the phone, but never his mother. I’d sat next to him and stared at him in disbelief as he’d had conversations with her. Truth was, I was sort of terrified of meeting them.
“They’re going to love you. Just like I do,” Aaron said softly, sparing me a glance and a smile before he pulled into the driveway of a modest home. I didn’t get much more than a glimpse before he leaned in and kissed me hard. When he pulled back, he gave me a grin. “Ready?”
Not even a little bit. “Yep.”
When Aaron circled the back of the SUV to retrieve our bags, I did the same and within moments we were climbing the steps to the porch. Our feet barely hit wood when the door swung open and a petite but lanky woman stepped out, flinging her arms wide.
There was no doubt that this was Aaron’s mother. It was clear where he got his good looks. Even though Beth Zeller had to be in her late fifties or early sixties, she looked a good decade younger. Her eyes were bright, the same color as Aaron’s, and her hair was so light blonde that it almost completely camouflaged the gray. She was stunning.
A familiar chuckle drew my attention to the doorway. Errol lounged against the frame, an affectionate smile on his face as he took in the sight of his wife and son. I couldn’t stop staring at the big man, almost amazed at how much of Aaron I could see in him. And I thought Aaron looked so much like his mother. As I swung my gaze back and forth between them, I realized that Aaron was a perfect mix of both his parents, taking on the best parts of them. Both Errol and Beth were aging well, still incredibly beautiful people, and the thought crossed my mind that Aaron had absolutely nothing to worry about when it came to his looks.
“Mom, Dad, this is Lucas.” Aaron’s smile was huge as he reached out to take my hand. “Sweetheart, meet my parents.”
“It’s my pleasure,” I said sincerely, pretending the nerves hadn’t made my voice shake. Instead I reached out to take Beth’s hand in mine. She let out a giggle, and lifted her free hand to her chest.
“Oh my, Lucas Logan. In my house! I can hardly believe I have a famous actor in my house. Oh my goodness, wait till I tell Mar—” She cut herself off with a panicked look, and shook her head fast. “No, of course not. There’s no telling. I know that.”
“You can say he’s here, Mom,” Aaron said quietly, shooting me a quick glance. We’d talked about this. “You just have to say it’s because he’s my friend. Not the real reason.”
Beth cocked her head to the side. “Well now, isn’t he your friend? Your father is my friend. That’s how these things work, you know.”
Aaron laughed, shaking his head. “Yes, Mom. He’s my friend.” He paused and took a deep breath and looked me in the eye. “But he’s so much more than that.”
I tried very hard not to blush at the emotion I heard in his words.
Errol chose that moment to interrupt, herd us all into the house, and make his own introductions. I liked Aaron’s dad a lot, and had even before I spoke with him on the phone. He was a kind, jovial sort of guy, with a quick wit and quicker smile. And he took command of the situation with an easy air that let me know he’d been managing his wife and son for a long time.
Aaron dropped his bag by the stairs, and I did the same, following the group into the living room. When Aaron sat on the couch, he pulled me down with him, and I let him tuck himself against my body. This was his family, and if he left the need to be in my personal space, I wasn’t going to question it. Truth was, I wasn’t sure if it was all for my benefit.
Aaron was good at keeping the conversational ball rolling, keeping his mother from fixating on anything having to do with me, my career or family, and our love life. Mostly I let the conversation wash over me, only half paying attention so I could answer when a questions was asked of me.
Eventually, Beth got up to start dinner and Aaron kissed my cheek and went to help her. My nerves returned full force, being alone with Aaron’s dad. Especially with the way he was looking at me and smiling.
“What?” I asked warily.
“Nothing,” Errol said with a chuckle and a dismissive wave. “I’m just looking at you. Thinking about how much you love my son.”
“I do love him” I said quietly but with all the passion I felt. “More than I ever thought possible.”
Errol nodded, and then stood. “I know that. It’s there in the way you touch him. The easy way you’re in each other’s space. That can’t be faked. No matter how good an actor you are,” Errol said with a grin, looking over his shoulder at me. When I smiled back, he turned toward the mantel and picked up a small box. Then he crossed the room and sat next to me on the couch.
“When I fell in love with Beth,” Errol began, his gaze on the box. “Her father sat me down. Now the thing you have to know was that Beth’s father was a very stern German man, though surprisingly sentimental underneath. He told me he came here with nothing but a few Deutsche marks in his pocket and a dream in his heart. And he fell in love and married a beautiful woman. And raised five beautiful children. And he never, not once, took for granted their love.”
Errol paused then, and flipped open the lid of the box. He tilted it toward me so the silver coin could catch the light. It was a mark from 1930, polished so it gleamed. Errol’s gaze was fixed on the coin.
“This was one of those coins he had in his pocket, and he gave it to me that day. He said he could tell how much I loved his daughter just by watching us and that he wanted me to have this mark as a reminder that some sacrifices are worth it, when you do it for the ones you love.”
Errol’s voice was deep and soothing, and I found myself transfixed by his words. I was so engrossed in his story that it took me a moment to realize that he was holding the box out for me to take. My eyes went wide, and I looked at him in surprised even as I took the box.
“It’s yours now, Lucas. As a reminder. Because I know you’re going to love my son forever.” Errol patted my shoulder with a big, warm hand, and then he stood and walked away. I watched him go. I couldn’t believe it. I was humbled and touched by the gift, but even more so by the man’s words.
I don’t know how much time had passed before Aaron sat beside me and wrapped an arm around me.
“You all right?” he asked softly.
I swallowed and nodded, then closed the box and leaned into Aaron so I could put it in my pocket. Then I turned to him. I kissed him, softly and sweetly, and when I pulled away we were both smiling.
“Yeah, baby. I’m just fine.” Then I stood and pulled him to his feet, tucking him into my arms and holding him close. I kissed his ear and then said softly, “I love you. And I’m glad we came.”
Aaron’s smile made everything worth it.