**Hey y’all. Flash Fic Friday is back!**
I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets and bounced on my toes. The wind whipped around me, but my anger…my hurt kept me warm.
“Baby, it’s freezing out here.” Luke’s voice was soft, cajoling, but I just shot him a scathing look over my shoulder. I hadn’t heard the door, but it had taken him long enough to come after me. And that, too, added to my hurt and anger.
“I’m aware,” I bit out.
Luke stepped around me so he could hold my gaze. I met his stubbornly, raising my chin. Defiance just poured off me.
“We’re about to serve dinner,” he said in that same tone.
I scowled harder. “I’m aware.”
He blew out a breath and chanced a step closer. He lifted one hand, as though he was going to touch me, and normally I would be all about that but not right now. Luke must have seen that in my face because he let his arm drop.
“Your mother is mean to me,” I said, trying for firm but it came out more like whine. I shook my head and shored up my resolve. “She’s so rude.”
“I know,” he murmured.
“The things she said to me! And not just today.” I made an angry noise, and I caught the twitch of Luke’s lips, because he always found it amusing when I made that noise. But he knew better than to smile.
“I know,” he said again.
“And you just let her. You let her say…” I trailed off because that was the worst part. That his mother spoke to me with rudeness and disdain was hard enough to bear. But to have Luke just sit there, let her speak to me that way, that was so much worse. I loved him more than anything on the planet, and for the past two years he’d been my everything. My rock, my solace, my confidant. And I was the same for him. From the moment we met, we just clicked. It hadn’t taken us more than a few weeks to go from friends to lovers, and we’d been inseparable ever since. Which is why I put up with his mother in the first place.
We didn’t see much of her, but it’s was Thanksgiving, and she insisted Luke had to be here for the family dinner. Which meant I was here too. Because wherever he went, so I did I.
Luke took another step closer. “Do you trust me?”
I sighed, half exasperation, half affection. “You know I do.”
“Then please trust me.” He held out a hand. “Come back inside.”
I didn’t hesitate to take his hand. Because really, no matter how angry and hurt I was, no matter that his mother was a wretched woman, no matter what was going on between us, I loved and trusted him.
The scents of turkey and stuffing assailed me as we stepped into the house and removed our outer wear. Once we were done, Luke took my hand again and he led me into the dining room. His entire family was gathered around the table, and the feast itself looking like a Norman Rockwell painting. Every dish was picture perfect, and there were even candles around the centerpiece of autumnal flowers. Luke pulled out my chair and I sat, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Least of all his mother.
The room was quiet, but that wasn’t unusual. I’d been to enough dinners with his family over the years to know that every one remained quiet until after Luke’s mother said the blessing. I kept my gaze down, but smiled a little when Luke slid into the seat next to me and put a hand on my thigh under the table.
“Dear Lord,” his mother began, and I fought not to flinch at the sound of her voice. “We gather together as a family today to share in the joy of us all and partake of this amazing food You’ve provided for us. And I ask that you help open my heart to this beautiful soul my son has fallen in love with.”
My head shot up, I couldn’t help it, and Luke’s mother was looking right at me. She gave a tiny smile and drew a breath.
“I suffer from the mother’s affliction that no person in this world could be good enough for my son. And it has caused me to be rude and judgmental, when Cole has shown this family nothing but kindness. My own son had to call me to task, point out my behavior and show me how unacceptable it is. Lord, I ask you to forgive my sins in this regard. But Cole, I also ask you to do the same. I should be thankful that such a wonderful person loves my Luke, today especially, but every day. I’m sorry I hurt you, Cole. And I promise to do better.”
I was stunned. Because for the first time, I actually heard genuineness in her words. She meant it. All I could do was nod.
She smiled, a little shaky, but it was there. “I’m far from perfect. And I’m sure I’ll mess up again. Next time, just call me out on my rudeness, okay Cole?”
Everyone laughed, his mother closed the prayer, and I turned to Luke as everyone dug into the food, chatter starting up. He was wearing a huge grin.
“I’m thankful for you, baby. Every day. Every hour. I love you.”