I had to laugh at myself because when I first read this topic, I read it as “Something Old” and thought “Oh hey, I can use something from Tangled Past.” Then I when I went over to copy the links I realized “oops, not old, odd!” And Grandma Barnett from Texas Tangle immediately popped into my mind. This is also the scene that inspired the idea for Tangled Past. Enjoy!
Copyright 2010 Leah Braemel*
She shook her head as they entered the dining room. While she already knew Dillon’s family, her nerves jumped to see Dillon’s brothers, Griffin and Matt, grinning a smile identical to Dillon’s as if they knew full well what had happened the night before. Middle brother Ethan and Dillon’s sister Lilly sat on the opposite side of the table. While they were nodding and smiling, they didn’t make her stomach flip-flop. She took a deep breath and took her seat, telling herself she could get through this meal.
At least until she glanced to the head of the table where Dillon’s father sat, a frown on his face, his dark eyes, normally sparkling like Dillon’s, solemn and penetrating. She wiped her hands on her skirt. Did he suspect what had happened?
From the chair to his left, another pair of sharp chocolate eyes scanned her.
“Yes, ma’am. How are you, Mrs. Barnett?”
Gramma Barnett flicked her gaze from Nikki to Dillon for a moment then turned to Brett and pursed her lips. From the few times she’d met Dillon’s grandmother before, she got the feeling that little escaped the woman’s attention. With a curt nod of her head, Gramma tapped on the table. “Glad to see you made it this week. Now where’s dinner? I’m hungry.”
Feeling as if she’d just been judged, and passed inspection, Nikki exhaled a slow breath.
As plates were passed around the table, and the family settled into a half-dozen different topics in which everyone voiced an opinion, Nikki gradually relaxed. She’d half expected that Dillon might try something inappropriate considering he was sitting right beside her, but he kept his hands to himself the entire time.
The main course finished, they’d moved on to Mrs. Barnett’s famous apple crumble pie when the discussion drifted to the headlines. Dillon reached over and grabbed the last slice, bobbling his plate when his grandmother changed the direction of the conversation.
“Did you see that story on the news the other night about a woman over in Cleburne who was arrested for marrying two men without them knowin’ about the other?”
Trying not to draw too much attention to herself, Nikki leaned close to Dillon and whispered, “Please tell me you didn’t say anything to her about me dating both of you.”
“I swear I never said a word,” he whispered back.
Gramma Barnett frowned at them and pointedly raised her voice. “Apparently, she travelled a lot for her job, and neither suspected the other existed. From what I saw of the report, she’d been married twenty years to one, then married another half her age over in Austin a couple years back. Both men said they were both as happy as a pig in shit.” An earthy chuckle erupted, starting deep in her belly. “At least until they found out the other existed.”
Nikki chanced a glance sideways at Brett and met his puzzled gaze. He lifted one shoulder a half inch and shook his head. Was it merely a coincidence that Gramma Barnett had mentioned the subject? Or had she picked up on something they’d done—some way they’d looked at each other?
Faith joined her mother-in-law’s laughter. “As long as she didn’t have to do their laundry, good for her.”
Mr. Barnett wasn’t as forgiving. “Mother, Faith! What type of example does that set for Lilly?”
The conversation hitting a little too close to home, Nikki sipped her iced tea in hopes it might cool the blush creeping into her cheeks.
Gramma Barnett stabbed the last bit of pastry on her plate and waved it toward Nikki. “Nothin’ wrong with a woman living with two men, Junior, s’long as everyone’s amenable to the arrangement. Look at this little filly and how she’s keeping your boys so happy.”
A chorus of “Gramma!”s echoed around the table while Nikki choked on her drink.
“What? It’s an honest opinion.” Gramma Barnett thumped on the table. “What woman wouldn’t be tempted by two fellas as good lookin’ as my boys? If she’s not, there’s somethin’ wrong with her.”
Dillon’s father fixed his mother with a glare. “I hardly think this is the appropriate venue for this discussion, Momma.”
“Bah.” She leaned toward Nikki as if she was going to whisper a secret, but didn’t lower her voice. “My grandparents had a permanent threesome all their adult lives. Betcha Dillon never told you that before.”
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Megan Hart — Read in bed!