"What are you wearing?"
"An apron," she said, glancing at herself. "Why?"
"I don't know. I've just never seen you look like a housewife before."
"I only have a couple real nice outfits for the holidays, there wasn't any sense buying more than a couple. I figured I'd better make sure I don't spill anything on them or Mom will have a fit."
"Those cranberries can be brutal from my understanding."
"I think she assumes I'll wear them again."
John coughed softly. "I'm sorry? When?"
Claire laughed a little. "I don't know."
"She doesn't think two is enough?"
"I think she'd like a traditional grandchild."
"Ah," he said. "Where is she anyway?"
"In the dining room last I saw."
He walked up to her then and kissed her.
"You weren't going to kiss me if she was nearby?"
"Nope," he said.
"Because she gives me the evil eye whenever I get within twenty feet of you anymore."
"It's just because she knows I'm miserable."
"It's not my fault!"
She gave a soft laugh, running a finger along his chin. "I didn't say it was. I'm fine, but I think she worries they're going to come early."
"I haven't done anything to encourage them to come early. I tell you to rest as much as you can."
"I know you do, you're fine. They're fine. I'm fine. Twins just have a tendency to come a little earlier than singles."
"I've talked to all of them and they're willing to let me make up finals as long as I'm current on my homework assignments."
"Well, he wants them to stay put another week at least he says."
"Well then, just stay on it. Don't do anything to encourage them to decide to come sooner."
"I am! Remember two nights ago at your apartment? You accused me of using the headache excuse already?"
"You didn't say why you didn't want to."
"Well, I've heard that that can encourage labor if you're ready I guess. I don't know, I just figured better to be safe."
"Really?" he asked. "So, that's out until after?"
"I'm afraid so. Much after."
"Yeah, I remember, you told me like two months or something. I listen when you say this stuff even if you think I'm not."
"When do you see him again?"
"You just saw him this week, didn't you?"
"Yup, every week now until they're born."
"Huh. And you're fine? There's nothing wrong that's making you see him every week?"
"It's normal. I promise. They're fine. I'm fine with the exception of difficulty breathing from time to time."
"So, why is she mad at me?"
"Um, really? You want an answer to that? I can give you two guesses and the first one wouldn't count."
"I guess I can understand that. Little does she know," he said softly. He slid his hand to her belly. They were real active now, it seemed whenever he touched her like this he felt something. "I wonder what Mom would think if she knew just how you got this way. Most untraditional and most unladylike."
"Oh my God, she's never going to know. No one is ever going to know."
"Well, except Brian," Claire said with a roll of her eyes.
"What is this?" he said, pressing a little.
Claire slid her hand over his, feeling what he was feeling. "I think it's a butt."
"Still kicking your ribs?"
"Yes, sometimes it's so bad I can't breathe, but I've figured out how to sort of shift their feet a little."
He chuckled, picturing her doing that in the middle of class.
"But they're head down or whatever, right?"
"Yes, they're the way they're supposed to be."
"It just means they get to use my ribs for football and dance practice all of the time now."
He chuckled softly. "Can I help?"
"In here I meant, I realize I can't help with these guys," he said, patting the spot they'd been touching before lifting his hand away. He kind of hated doing it. God, one day, a few years from now when they were married and in a good spot with these two in school he would love to see her pregnant again just so he could go through the whole process with her. He missed so much not living with her. She wasn't a complainer but he knew there were things she wished he could do for her that her parents did or she did without because she wouldn't ask them. He'd rubbed her back and feet more the past week or two than he could count.
"Well, sure," she said, stepping away from him.
She was surprised he could tell. He wasn't sure why. He hadn't wanted to come here for Thanksgiving, but she'd convinced him. He made her understand last night as they were talking that he'd never had a normal holiday. Ever. Not that he could remember anyway.
"What can I do?"
"Mm, get yourself something to drink to start and me some water."
"For now. I don't know what Mom has going on. I was just basting the turkey for her while she looked in the dining room for something."
"When does your brother get here?"
"He's here. He and Dad are in the den watching football. You could go in there, too, if you want. No one would blame you. What did you bring in with you anyway?"
"Oh," he shrugged. "Someone at school mentioned I shouldn't come here empty handed."
Claire laughed softly. "You're taking advice from people you take classes with now?"
"Uh, yeah, on this he seemed pretty spot on. I've never done this sort of thing before. Be a guest at someone's Thanksgiving."
"Well, you're not really a guest."
"I am, at least until we're legal," he shrugged. "Anyway, it was just a plant. Your mom said something about seeing where she could put it in the dining room."
"That's what's taking her so long then."
"Maybe. I didn't realize there were rules like that. You failed to mention it to me."
"Because I didn't think it was necessary, but I can see where you might have thought so. I'm sorry, it wasn't intentional."
"Anything else I should know about?"
"No, I swear. No. You're my boyfriend, John, not a guest."
"Yeah, well, still, figured better to err on the side of caution or whatever the saying is."
She took a sip of the water he'd brought her. "Go watch football. We're fine."
"Positive. It's fine. They're not going to eat you alive," she kissed him. "I know you want to watch the Packers and Lions game, hoping the Lions win the same as they do."
"Yeah, hopefully Flynn doesn't get any interceptions run back for touchdowns today."
"So go," she said. He knew she had no idea who he was talking about. He wasn't a huge fan, but he followed it enough and the Bears were having a good season. The Packers were in the hunt, though, and Flynn could be a difference maker in a division game like today's was.
"All right," he said, taking his pop in that direction.
He passed the dining room on the way and saw her mom still fussing over the plant he'd brought. Yeah, he'd done the right thing even if Claire said it wasn't necessary. There were so many rules and things for her type of lifestyle. He was glad he'd become friends enough with Jim to talk about shit like that because he never in his wildest dreams would have thought it necessary to bring something to someone's house. He supposed, though, they went through the effort of cooking you a huge meal; you should bring something for that. He got it, he just wouldn't have thought of it on his own.
And her parents would have had another reason to dislike him.
At least the clothes they'd bought for their first lunch together were getting used. He'd added another tie to his wardrobe at her insistence so it didn't seem as though he was just wearing the same thing over and over again. He had to admit, a different tie did make a difference. Same shirt and pants, but they still somehow looked different with a paisley versus a striped tie.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com