Only With You(10)

By: Lauren Layne


“Wow, that’s great,” Sophie said half-enthusiastically.

“A boyfriend?” Will asked. “What kind of loser is she bringing around this time?”

Sophie’s dad snickered, which was a testament to how desperately he wanted Will’s approval, because normally anything remotely close to insulting Brynn was off-limits.

Marnie shot Will a censorious look. “Now, William, you know that guy she brought last time was a nice fellow, he was just a little…”

“He was a dentist,” Will said in disdain. “She’s an orthodontist. What the hell do they talk about, plaque?”

“I don’t actually think orthodontists deal much in plaque,” Sophie mused while topping off her Chardonnay. “I think it’s more about devising new ways to attach metal to teeth while destroying the confidence of middle schoolers everywhere.”

“Just be nice, kids,” Marnie said to Will and Sophie. “And you too,” she added with a sidelong glance at her husband.

“Jeez, you’d think we were going to tar and feather the poor fellow,” Chris muttered to Will.

The doorbell rang, and Will and Sophie exchanged puzzled looks.

“Please tell me my sister isn’t ringing the doorbell to the house she grew up in,” Sophie said. In the years since they started the Sunday dinner tradition, nobody had ever done anything more than wipe their feet on the mat as they hollered, I’m here.

Marnie was so excited she was practically levitating. “This must mean that he’s an important one! That’s her warning that we’re all to be on our best behavior.

“Come on, Chris,” Marnie hissed. “We should meet them at the door and make a good impression.”

“I’m sure the five minutes of waiting on the front porch has already done that,” Sophie called after them.

“Why does she have to ruin a family dinner by bringing another boyfriend?” Will said as he finished the last of his wine.

“What’s the big deal?” Sophie asked, helping herself to more cheese and crackers. “You haven’t even met the guy, and you already hate him?”

Will ignored the question. “I’ll bet he’ll be pasty-skinned, pale-eyed, and blond like the rest of you. It’s like she only dates men who will fit in perfectly with the Dalton family portraits. All the Nordic features and pale coloring is a bit overwhelming.”

Sophie didn’t disagree. Their annual family portraits were a little bit…bland. Nobody ever bothered to ask where she and Brynn had gotten their matching blonde, blue-eyed looks. It was immediately obvious that it came from both parents.

Granted, her father’s hair was more gray than blond, but it only added to his distinguished authority. Not that he needed help in that department. The man never wore jeans and didn’t even own a shirt that didn’t have a collar.

Marnie also was a fastidious dresser, believing that jeans were strictly for gardening and that unpolished nails were for “street people.”

Sophie’s mother’s voice trilled from the hallway, “William and Sophie Claire, won’t you please come join us in the drawing room?”

“You have a drawing room?” Will asked.

“She’s probably been rereading Jane Austen and decided to rename the living room.”

They grabbed their wineglasses and headed toward the sound of Brynn’s smooth alto voice and the sharper squawk that generally meant Marnie was in full-out “impress” mode.

Sophie hoped her sister’s new man-friend was adept at flattery and pleasant niceties, because he was going to need a hefty dose of social skills to maneuver his new girlfriend’s overprotective father and eager-for-grandbabies mother.

She shuffled after Will into the “drawing room,” mentally preparing herself for mind-numbing conversation with one of Brynn’s adoring drones.

Sophie halted to a stop so suddenly that some of her wine sloshed over the edge of her glass and onto Marnie’s pristine white carpet.

Her mother made an exasperated sound, but a little spilled Chardonnay was the least of Sophie’s worries.

Oh.

My.

God.

It was him.

The man from the Las Vegas elevator standing in front of her like some sort of icy-eyed ghost. And he had an arm around her sister’s waist.

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