“Well, well, well! Look at who we have here!” Clarice beelined to Hildreth. “My favorite son-in-law to be.”
“Hello, Mrs. Vansing.”
“Oh, don’t ‘hello, Mrs. Vansing’ me. Just give me a hug, you delicious man.”
He laughed and hugged her. “Just so you know, it’s always a pleasure coming to visit you. You do wonderful things to my self-esteem.”
“Ha!” She pulled back and gave him a scrutinizing look. “Things are going good between you and Elsie.”
“Very good. We’ve had a couple of minor squalls, but nothing that’s dragged over into the next day.”
She nodded her head. “That’s good. Oh, Elsie! The box is on the kitchen counter.” She linked arms with Hildreth. “Let’s go inside.”
“He’s my fiancé.” said Elsie.
“Of course, he is. But it isn’t too often I get to link arms with SUCH arm candy.”
Hildreth grinned. “I think someone’s jealous.”
“Oh, you are, sweetie.” Clarice squeezed his arm. “Come on! Let’s go inside before she can steal you away from me.”
He laughed and the two of them ran into the house.
They dropped onto the couch in the living room.
Elsie came in and gave Hildreth and her mom a disapproving look, which threw Hildreth into a laughing fit and Clarice joined in.
“You said it was on the kitchen counter?”
“Yep! You can’t miss it. It’s a big, black box.”
Hildreth raised an eyebrow. “A big black box? Color me intrigued.” He smiled mischievously. “I could check it out for you.”
“I don’t think so.”
HIldreth watched her walk away.
I want to run after her and tackle her and kiss her and forget all about waiting eight days.
Clarice smiled. “You and Elsie are going to make each other so happy.”
He startled. “That came out of nowhere.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. It’s just a strong feeling I have every time I see you two together. But today it’s especially strong. What’s changed?”
“We’re no longer tiffing about that vampire. I know she loves me. And I love her. I love her so much I wish there was a bigger word I could use to describe how I feel. It’s frustrating.”
“Mom! Could you come here please?”
“Hildreth wants to know if he can come with.”
“NO! Just you. Please.”
Clarice shrugged. “I tried.”
Clarice breezed into the kitchen only to come to an abrupt halt when she saw her daughter. “Oh. My.”
Elsie tugged on the top. “I feel like the underside of my breasts aren’t properly covered.” She lowered her arms. “How does it look?”
“Elsie. Your boy Hildreth is going to have an instant heart attack when he sees you. He’ll have an instant something else going on, but—-”
“But that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?”
Elsie wrapped her arms around her bare midriff. “Do you really think he’ll like it?”
“If he doesn’t, he’s obviously dead and he has no pulse anywhere in his body. Might be a zombie. I don’t know.”
“But it looks okay? It doesn’t look too…weird?”
“Looks plenty hot to me.”
“Mom. I’m being serious.”
“So, am I.” She hugged her daughter. “You look beautiful. Hildreth doesn’t stand a chance.”
Hildreth perked up as Clarice returned. “So?”
“My lips are sealed, lover boy. Sealed with a big fat elephant seal. And maybe a walrus.”
“None. You’re just gonna have to hold your horses, young man, and wait for it. Because, believe me, it is so worth the wait.” She winked at him. “That’s all I’m saying.”
Elsie entered the room. She took one look at Hildreth and her face flamed.
Hildreth looked back at her mother.
Clarice grabbed a random National Geographic off the cocktail table. “I have nothing to say.” She opened the magazine and proceeded to read it like she had to memorize it.
Elsie walked over to him and sat across his lap.
“mmm! This is a pleasant—”
She kissed him. “I’m going to blow your mind, baby.”