Something Wonderful Page 22

When he saw Mom’s smile fade, he sat back down and spoke again. “I was just kidding, Mrs. Mefferd. I love children. They bring pride and joy to families. I want a minivan full of them.”

Mom giggled and gave a sigh of relief. Looking at me with glassy eyes she said, “I wish I had more, but I had a hard time conceiving, so Jenna is my miracle.”

“Mine, too,” Max agreed, looking at me with loving eyes.

It wasn’t so much what Max said, but the fact that he said such sweet words in front of my parents that made me adore him even more.

“Max, your driver is wonderful,” Dad muttered, breaking our conversation. Thank goodness he did. I didn’t know how long Mom would gush about me. “We appreciate your gesture, but we can rent a car. We’re staying for several more days.”

“There are a lot of one-way streets in downtown LA and it can get confusing. Please enjoy your trip with one less thing to worry about.”

“It’s very generous of you,” Mom added. “We don’t know how to thank you.”

“You gave me Jenna,” Max smiled. “It’s more than I can ask for.”

Mom’s eyes twinkled against the candlelight. Her facial expression showed how much she liked his response.

Our conversation was minimal when our dinner came. Mom raved how moist her salmon was and Dad raved about how delicious and tender his steak was. We enjoyed our meal as we continued our small talk.

Max raised his glass of wine, gesturing to toast. “To our first meeting and many more.”

Mom and Dad looked surprised. I guess they hadn’t expected that either. It was a nice gesture. After the toast, Mom only took a sip of her wine. Max didn’t know she was allergic to alcohol like me. Enjoying the taste, I drank a little bit more than I should have. Before long, I had to excuse myself to go to the restroom. Not wanting to leave Max alone with my parents for too long, I hurried as fast as I could. I was afraid of them grilling him with a bunch of questions they wouldn’t ask in front of me.

When I came back, their conversation stopped, like they were keeping a secret from me, but I didn’t think twice about it. After all, there was nothing to hide since I had already told Max not to talk about my time in the hospital. My parents were on a cruise at the time and I didn’t want them to know the hospital visit was due to Max and I having a misunderstanding. It would not leave a good impression of Max, especially when they hadn’t yet had a chance to get to know him.

After dinner, Max ordered dessert—Crème Brûlée and chocolate mousse cake. Dad had tried to pay for dinner, but Max had already given the server his credit card before I had returned to the table. He was very thoughtful that way.

After dessert, we exited the restaurant. Max had already called his driver to come to the front to pick up my parents, instead of them having to walk through the parking lot.

Jeff, Max’s driver, stepped out of the limo and opened the rear door for my parents. Mom gave Max a hug first, then me. “He’s a keeper,” she whispered. “Don’t let this one get away.”

Pulling away from her hug, I smiled, hoping Max hadn’t heard. Dad gave me a hug next after shaking Max’s hand. “He has great teeth, kiddo. That says a lot about a person,” he chuckled. Since Dad was a dentist, that was his way of letting me know he approved of Max. After the goodbyes were complete, my parents entered the car.

“Drive safe, Jeff,” Max ordered.

“Yes, sir,” Jeff confirmed with a nod.

“Thanks, Jeff,” I said.

Jeff rolled down the passenger’s window, since the heavily tinted window was difficult to see through. After we set the date for our next meeting, I waved as the car took off. I was happy that our first meeting went well and my parents had a great time with Max. It couldn’t have been any better.

12

“SORRY I’M LATE.” KATE heaved an exhausted sigh as she slid into the booth next to Nicole, and shoved a shopping bag under the table. Her hair was in a high ponytail and she had no makeup on. Her attire wasn’t what she would normally wear to our gathering. She wore jeans and a plain sweater. “Kristen had a fever last night. I’m so exhausted, but knowing we were exchanging Christmas gifts today, I wanted to be here. And besides, I really need this.”

“Sorry to hear about Kristen,” Nicole said.

“How is she now?” Becky asked.

“Her fever went down after I gave her Tylenol and the doctor gave her antibiotics today, so she’s much better. Hopefully, she’ll feel better soon.”

None of us knew what it felt like to take care of a sick child, but seeing Kate look so tired and worn, it clearly took a toll on her.

“Sorry,” Kate continued. “I can’t stay long. She finally took a nap so Keith is okay to watch her for now, but if she wakes up cranky, he won’t be able to handle it.”

“That’s okay,” I sympathized. “We understand.”

Nicole raised her hand to catch the waitress’s attention. “Sorry, but could we order now? She needs to get home to a sick baby.”

“Sure,” the waitress said. “I’ll tell them to do your order first.”

“Thanks so much,” Nicole said sweetly.

The waitress left after taking our orders. We all ordered the Thai chicken salad.

“We should use this excuse whenever we’re in a hurry,” Becky laughed.

“To save time, let’s exchange gifts now,” Kate suggested, grabbing her bag. Then she paused. “But before we do, I want to hear how it went with Max meeting your parents.”

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