Closer to the front door I could hear the voices of my family.
“Stop pulling her hair!”
“Someone give me a hand!”
“Can you call Lori and see what the hold-up is?”
I grinned. Sunday lunch was getting into the swing of things. Using my key I opened the front door and stepped in.
“Aunty Lori!” Anna launched herself at me and crashed into my belly.
“Oof,” I stumbled back, making the door rattle and slipped down. Then, as she let me go I slumped forward and closed my eyes.
“Aunty Lori?” Anna crouched and poked me. “Aunty Lori, wake up!”
It took everything I had not to grin. God she sounded sooooo cute.
Anna sniffled and I could hear a hiccup in her breathing. Suddenly I rose up and gripped her in a big bear hug. “Roar, come here.” I delivered a smacking kiss to her cheek.
“That was mean Aunty.” She pouted.
Damn, so adorable. I snuggled her tight and sighed into her hair. “I’m sorry, love.”
She squirmed around and grinned. Good, I released her to begin my attack of tickles. Anna squealed and rolled over the floor of the hallway bumping into the walls and finally through the doorway into the lounge room.
Andrew laughed and swooped into save his youngest from me. She continued to laugh but reached back out to me. “Aunty!”
“Nope,” her father said. “Aunty has to go talk with the people in the kitchen.”
Uh oh. I stood and straightened my clothes. Wordlessly, my brother gave me a nod and led the way to the kitchen.
What could it be? Had one of my sister-in-laws fallen pregnant (again, if it’s Alice)? No, that would be announced over lunch.
No more time to ponder, we stepped into the kitchen and I froze for a second, taking in the mouth-watering calls from the chicken now sitting on the counter, begging to be consumed. “Wow mum, that smells amazing!” I said not taking my eyes from the bird.
Suddenly I was wrapped in arms and my face shoved into boobs. “Lori, we have a surprise for you.” Alice whispered to me.
Oh shit. I know my brother’s wife too well. If she was putting out the feelers before that meant she had an idea of someone she wanted to set me up with and with that tone, that meant she snuck them into family lunch. No one snuck in without family lunch without first making it past mother.
I cringe. I don’t want a pity date. I don’t want to date some mindless guy. I don’t want a boyfriend.
“Let her go,” mum ordered and I was exchanged from one woman to the other. “It’s nice to have my baby back home.”
Once she let go I finally got to see who else was in the kitchen. Mandy sat at the counter, a wine glass in hand, she was grinning and getting up.
Shane was absent, as were the other two brothers, though I could hear male voices out the back door. Mum patted my arm and went back to the chicken and Mandy gave me a hug. “Hey Lori. You will never guess who is joining us for lunch.”
“Mandy, don’t. That isn’t important. What is important is I had Trevor asking about you.” She smirked at me.
I stared dumbly. “Who?”
“Remember him from my work Christmas party? He works for us and yes he may be a little older than you but he acts really young and is a great guy. Honest, you will love him.”
Slowly the image of this guy came up in my mind. Right, he was drunk and checking me out towards the end of the night. Not a bad guy, just, well, not for me. Shit. “Isn’t he like ten years older than me?”
Mum blinked. “Alice, what type of person is this man?”
“No mum. Forget it. I’m not interested in Trevor, Alice, so don’t even try.”
Alice pouted. “But he is a great guy and you two…”
“No. I don’t have time for a boyfriend. Now please tell me you didn’t invite him to lunch.”
Alice rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t do that. Anyway there is a different guest today,” she sighed dramatically. “I try to be a good sister-in-law and it isn’t appreciated.”
Andrew left, taking Anna with him, through the back door, his shoulders were shaking as he tried not to laugh. Ass. I glimpsed Jenny out there and gave her a wave but stayed inside. Straight to the fridge and I snatched out a cider. Taking a deep breath, I turned to the women. “What is going on?”
Alice plunked herself down beside Mandy and took up the other wine glass. “Kent is here.”
My face broke. I looked to mum. She nodded her head and smiled. “He’s out back with the rest of the boys.”
Without waiting and before I had taken the cap off of the cider I was out the door and past my nieces playing in the garden and straight into dad’s shed. The boys were standing alongside the workbench.
There he was.
He locked eyes on me in an instant. “Hey Lori, long time.”
I rushed over and drove my fist into his arm.
“Ow! What was that for?” he gripped his arm tight and frowned at me. “I was expecting something more friendly than that.”
“A hug would’ve been nice.”
“I’m getting to it,” I placed my cider down and gave him a hug, something similar to that I gave to Anna, with lots of warmth and happiness. “You jackass.”
“I know. Sorry. Won’t do that again.” He whispered into my hair.
The guys around us groaned and made all kinds of comments. But they would never understand, how could they? They didn’t spend six months travelling with us around the world. That shit was traumatising.