Steven looked up sharply, his sage green eyes sliding right past my face to land with unwavering intensity on the man behind me. Ee-an’s hand twitched in mine, as if he were fighting the impulse to cling to me. The deep rumble of his voice rolled over me.
“Thank you for cooking, Steven. I am most delighted to be invited to share this time with Thomas’s closest kin, and hope someday to return the honor.”
“Sure man. Take a seat over here between Lily and me.”
Confining my desire to roll my eyes, I shot Steven a sharp glance. The turd was being all man-of-the-house. I waited until he sat, and on my way past I cuffed him lightly on the back of the head. He grunted, but didn’t even look around, which told me he knew very well what I was hitting him for. Taking my seat, I smiled as sweetly as I could at Ee-an. He looked from Steven to I with a small furrow between his brows. I placed a piece of garlic bread on my plate and then passed the plate to Lily. She took two, but they were small. The girl loved her garlic. As she handed the plate holding the last few slices of garlic covered goodness, a sudden thought popped into my head.
“OH MY GOD! Ee-an, don’t touch them, their covered in GARLIC!”
I leapt from my seat and raced around the table, trying to grab the plate before he touched it. Ee-an quirked a brow at me, and then calmly placed a single slice of uber garlicky toast onto his plate. My heart banged painfully against my ribs. Would my brand new lover be horribly burned where he’d touched the substance?
“Dude. What gives?”
Steven’s question was underscored by Lily’s tinkling laughter. Turing my head, I took in the puzzled expressions of my family. Oh. Crap-doodle. How was I going to play this one off?
“I—ah, I thought you said you were allergic to garlic.”
Ee-an smirked at me.
“No. Not a bit. Love the stuff.”
His big hand stretched out to take the plate from me. As I handed it over I had to concentrate on unclenching my fingers from their death grip on the plate. I smile weakly at my brother and my daughter, and took my seat again. I could feel the heat in my cheeks, and knew my face had to be nearly as red as a fire engine. I piled spaghetti and sauce onto my plate, keeping my head down and my mouth full for a few moments while I regained my composure.
“So, big dude. What are your intentions toward my bro?”
I choked on my spaghetti bolognaise.
Oh, hell to the no.
Steven did not just say that.
Peering up from beneath my lashes, I see a big dumb smirk on the twerp’s face. Dropping my head into my hands I start to count. Lily joins me.
“Three, four, five… Daddy, how come we’re counting?”
Lifting my head I see a solid smear of sauce covers three quarters of Lily’s face. By some magical feat know only to small girls of Asian descent, she has completely missed the circumference of her mouth. Her little pink lips and the area immediately surrounding them are scrupulously clean. The entire rest of her torso seems to be coated in a solid half-inch of savory red pasta sauce. Thank god. I’m saved by the mess only Lily can create.
“Steven, can you take Lily and get her into the bath.”
Steven shoots me a disgruntled look. A glance at his still mostly full plate is self-explanatory. I, however, have no mercy.
“Do it Steven, or I’ll reconsider letting you have the car this weekend.”
Groaning, my bigger and younger brother pushes back from the table.
“I still want an answer to that question, neighbor-man.”
Ee-an doesn’t miss a beat.
“I want to marry him.”
The small bite of well chewed food I’m attempting to swallow morphs into a mid-sized creature with razor sharp claws and a desperate need to escape the confines of my throat. I pound on the table, only a high pitched, thin little whine taking the place of the horrified shout I aimed for. In a flash Ee-an is out of his chair, pulling me up out of my chair and taking me in his arms. He spins me around, putting my back against his chest, and wraps his long arms around my middle.
Then, with a massive upward thrust, he performs a flawless Heimlich maneuver, and my humiliation is completed by the spray of sauce and noodles flying from my mouth to coat the table, my very surprised daughter’s face, and the entire side of my troublesome brother’s head.
Lily’s eyes go huge.
Her lower lip trembles.
Water wells in the black depths of her gaze.
Steven, knowing, I’m sure, that this debacle is completely his fault, attempts to stave off the coming storm. He makes a farting noise with his mouth and then crosses his eyes at her. She laughs instead of bursting into tears, and I begin to consider letting him live to make inroads into his eighteenth year.
Lily and Steven disappear down the hallway toward the bathroom, and I stand, still loosely wrapped in the circle of Ee-an’s arms, surveying the wreck of our family dinner. His chest moves against my back, a familiar shaking sensation. A moment later a booming laugh sounds above my head. He guffaws for a few moments, and then pulls one arm from around me to wipe at his face.
“Oh, Thomas. You make my heart happy.”
“Okay, but… did you say you wanted to marry me? What are you, nuts? We just met.”
Ee-an sits, pulling me down to straddle his lap. Tilting his head down, he kisses my temple, and I lean into the warm press of his lips. Is it wrong that this strange being makes everything difficult in my world seem bearable with a brush of his mouth against my skin? He moves back just enough to speak, his lips and breath dancing across my temple. The words rumble against the side of my face and I close my eyes to absorb the feeling.
“That is what I said. I will wait as long as you desire. I just wanted to assure your brother that my intentions are honorable.”
This time I let go of any impulse I may have had to stifle the rude gesture and rolled my eyes for all I’m worth.
Find more Snogging Goodness at the home of the original Sunday Snog.