“Crap,” I whisper and then glare at Kenton when he starts to laugh.
“Autumn, you’re here! And look! You brought the ass,” Viv says, walking towards us.
I feel my eyes go wide at the word ‘ass’ and start shaking my head at her.
“Oh, honey, trust me. I know this one’s an ass.” She pats Kenton’s cheek, smiling up at him.
“Thanks, Aunt Viv.” He laughs, kissing her cheek.
When she comes to me, her hands go to my face, her eyes look me over, and she smiles, shaking her head. I have the urge to bite my lip. I know what she’s thinking, and she is oh-so wrong.
“Is Mom here?” Kenton asks her, and I look over at him, feeling suddenly like I might be sick.
“Yep. She’s outside with your uncle.”
“I’m gonna go get my mom, baby. I’ll be right back,” he tells me and starts to move away.
“No! I mean…don’t do that. I…um, I need to go back to the house,” I say quickly, trying to plan my escape. “You guys have a nice dinner and I’ll just reschedule.”
“Oh, nonsense,” Viv says, waving her hand around.
No way do I want to meet Kenton’s mom, and there is nothing anyone can say that will convince me differently, I think, feeling the panic rise.
“Honey, I’m so glad you’re here,” a woman says, walking into the room.
I take her in. Her dark hair is shorter than Kenton’s. She’s petite; I would guess close to five one. She’s wearing a long, flowing dress and a blue jean vest with a wide belt wrapped around her waist. My eyes close and my head falls forward. Now I have no way to get out of this without looking like an ass.
“I thought Aunt Viv filled you in on what was goin’ on,” Kenton says as he picks the woman up off the floor, giving her a hug.
“She did. Well, kinda. She said you were bringing someone to dinner, and I told her if it was Cassie, I was not going to be happy,” she says, and Kenton chuckles as he sets her on her feet.
“I didn’t come with him,” I blurt like an idiot, causing the woman’s eyes to come to me. “I mean…we drove together, but we didn’t come together.” I lower my head and shake it back and forth. “I mean, we’re not together. Viv asked me to dinner a few weeks ago, and I’ve been coming every Sunday since.” Shut up! Shut up, you idiot, I tell myself. Sadly, I don’t even listen to my own warnings. “Kenton and I just live together. That’s all.”
Viv gives my arm a squeeze and Kenton’s mom looks like her eyes are going to pop out of her head. When I look at Kenton, his eyes are soft as he smiles and shakes his head.
“Mom, this is Autumn. Autumn, this is my mom, Nancy.”
“Hi. It’s nice to meet you,” I tell her, sticking out my hand. Nope, this isn’t awkward at all.
“You too, honey.” She pulls me in for a hug then looks over at Viv and smiles. Viv smiles back, and I can see the wheels in her head are turning.
“I’m gonna grab a beer and go outside with Uncle Maz.”
“Sure, honey. Go on,” Kenton’s mom says.
I want to grab him and have him take me with him. His eyes come to me and light up, and something about the look has me taking a step back.
“I’ll be outside, baby,” he conveys sweetly, taking a step towards me, and before I can step back again or duck, his hand slides around my waist and his mouth lands on mine in a kiss that forces all the oxygen out of my lungs. When his mouth leaves mine, my fingers go to my lips. “Okay, ladies. Take care of my girl,” he says, pulling his eyes from me. His hands give my waist a slight squeeze, and then he turns around and walks towards the kitchen before I can ask him what the hell that was.
“So, it’s a small world, huh?” Viv snarks, looking over at Nancy then back at me. “I didn’t know your ass was my nephew.”
“He’s not my ass. I mean…sorry. Your son’s not an ass or anything like that,” I say, looking at Nancy, feeling my pulse race, and wishing I could teleport out of the room.
“Honey, I know my son, and I know he can be a little rough around the edges, so please don’t feel bad for calling him an ass.” She smiles with a twinkle in her eyes. “So, how long have you been seeing each other?”
“Oh, no, we’re not.” I shake my head frantically, looking between the two of them.
“Really?” She tilts her head to the side, studying me.
“No, we’re not together,” I insist and then glance at Viv, who is wearing a very large smile.
“That’s interesting. Don’t you think that’s interesting, Nancy?”
“Very,” Nancy says with a smile.
I look at the two women and can tell that they are both up to something. Between them and Kenton, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
“So, Viv said you used to be a dancer. Is that right?” Nancy asks while we’re sitting at the dinner table a short time later.
I start to choke on my sip of tea. Kenton pats my back, and I wipe my eyes with my napkin, trying to figure a way out of this.
“She was, and in Vegas no less,” Viv confirms. “Maybe we could have her teach us some moves.”
“Oh, God,” I breathe into my napkin, feeling my face heat up.
“There is nothing to be embarrassed about, child. Hell, if I looked like you, I would never wear clothes,” Nancy says, and I hear a few chuckles.
“This is not really happening,” I chant to myself, looking over at Kenton, whose whole body is shaking with the force of his silent laugher. “This is not funny,” I hiss.
“It’s pretty damn funny.” He pulls me to him by the back of my neck, putting his lips to my forehead.
“Stop,” I tell him quietly, pushing at his chest, not wanting to cause a scene in front of his family.
He smiles again and shakes his head. I pull away and look around the table at everyone watching us. My eyes land on Kenton’s dad’s. When his go soft and he smiles, my anxiety eases somewhat.
I found out earlier that not only is Viv sweet, but Kenton’s mom is really funny and his dad is like a giant teddy bear who often shakes his head when his wife says something a little crazy, pulls his daughter Toni into his side to kiss her hair when she’s close, and pats his son on the back when he approves of something he says. I smile back at him before lowering my eyes to my plate.
The rest of dinner is a blur, and before I know it, I’m saying goodbye to everyone and getting into Kenton’s car.