Tom just chuckled as Beth narrowed her eyes on her oldest son. “That’s nonsense. I would take better care of you.”

Denny shot his father a look of pure panic. “I’m serious.”

“Well,” Beth said with a sniff, “I don’t think that’s the problem anyway. Tristan appreciated me taking care of him.”

Tom raised an eyebrow at that. “Sweetheart, he barricaded himself in his bathroom and refused to come out until Hank and I dragged you and your sponges out of his house.”

At that, Denny started laughing. Beth folded her arms over her chest, glaring at him. “It’s not that funny.”

He held up a hand while he tried to catch his breath. “That’s not why I’m laughing. I think that was the night he called me up to suggest that we have you committed.”

Beth’s lips twitched despite herself. “Yes, well, it’s not my fault that my babies don’t appreciate me.”

“Oh, come on, Mom. You know that’s not true. You just have a tendency of overdoing it a bit.”

“No, I don’t!”

Tom chuckled softly. “Yeah, you kind of do.”

“Oh, give me one example.” When Tom opened his mouth to answer, she clarified, “That doesn’t involve me taking care of them while they’re sick.”

“That’s easy,” Denny said. “What about our love lives?”

“What about them?” Beth demanded.

Tom shifted uncomfortably in his seat, “Ah, sweetie, you are kind of desperate to get them married and give you grandkids.”

She scoffed, “I am not.”

“Sweetheart, you signed Tristan up without his knowledge on ten different internet dating sites. Then you invited the ones who met your qualifications to a party where Tristan was the only guy.”

She nibbled on her bottom lip. “So?”

“So? So, why the hell didn’t you do that for me?” Denny demanded.

Beth ignored him. “I had to do something,” she said defensively.

“Something, huh?” Tom sighed, “Sweetie, you’ve been known to drag poor unsuspecting women across town and shove them in his direction.”

“Well,” she looked down at the floor for a moment, “I had to do something. He never asks anyone out. Never. And he’s never brought a girl home to meet us.”

Denny chuckled. “Mom, he doesn’t have to ask women out. They throw themselves at him. Have you not seen him? With his golden blonde hair, green eyes, perfect tan and chiseled good looks,” he looked at Marty and winked, “much like myself except for the eyes and hair of course, women are constantly after him. He doesn’t have to ask them out.”

“But, he never asks anyone out! And he only dates them a couple of times. He’s never even had a girlfriend,” Beth pointed out.            

“Beth,” Tom said tightly in warning. His eyes flashed to Marty who was now focused on loading the dishwasher, afraid that Beth would direct her attention to her lack of a love life. Since that was the last thing that she needed at the moment, she decided that staying quiet and out of Beth’s radar was for the best, at least it was the best thing for her, Tristan was on his own.

Beth’s eyebrows shot up while Denny gave her a “duh” look. She mouthed Marty’s name and both men threw their hands up in frustration.

“Really, woman, where have you been?” Tom asked in disbelief.

“You know for a professor and a nosy mother, you’re really not that observant,” Denny said as he stood up and walked over to the counter to cut two large pieces of cake while Tom walked over to the fridge and poured two glasses of milk. The men sat down and ate their cake, leaving Beth to process the new information.

She looked at Marty, who was almost finished with the dishes and then back at the men with a calculating gleam in her eyes. “Are you sure?”

Denny shook his head as he looked at his father. “Perhaps we should reconsider having her committed.”

Tom sighed, “I’d have to agree. I’m surprised that she didn’t notice years ago and take matters into her own hands.”

Beth looked back at Marty who was done now with the dishes and smiled. “Hmm, interesting. I guess I overlooked a few things.”

“I’ll say,” Denny scoffed.

Marty frowned when she noticed three sets of eyes locked on her. “What? Did I spill something?” she asked, looking down at her clothes.

“Nothing’s wrong, kiddo. Why don’t you grab yourself a large piece of cake and have a seat,” Tom said with a smile.

Denny licked his fork clean. “While you’re up, could you get me a slice?”

“You’ve already had a slice,” Beth said.

“But..but…,” Denny sputtered, looking horrified.

“Besides, if you have another slice, I won’t be able to send half the cake over to Tristan with his dinner,” Beth explained as she raced around the kitchen to put a basket together.

“Fine. Get the food together and I’ll take it over. At least I know my brother won’t deny me more cake,” he said on a heavy sigh.

Beth smiled brightly at Marty, “Actually, I think Marty should bring the food over. By the time she finishes dropping off the food, her father might be home and then she can drag Hank over here for a bite.”

Marty eyed her suspiciously. For years Beth had stayed out of the rift between her and Tristan. She seemed to understand and accept that they’d grown apart. Marty was curious at the sudden change and really wished that she’d paid a little more attention to their conversation instead of focusing on the dishes and hoping that Beth wouldn’t turn her attention on her.

“Okay, I could do that,” she said hesitantly.

“Great!” Beth said brightly. “When you get back, you can have some cake.”

“If I don’t eat it first,” Denny muttered under his breath as his gaze zeroed in on the cake platter.

Beth dragged the picnic basket over to the fridge and started to load it with leftover fried chicken, potato salad, pot roast, corn on the cob, and fruit salad. Then she placed half the cake into a cake carrier and somehow fit that inside the basket as well.

“Here you go,” she said as she practically shoved the basket in Marty’s hands. Marty almost toppled over beneath the heavy weight.

“Ah, Mom, maybe I should carry it over for her?” Denny asked, looking concerned as he got to his feet. “That basket might be a little too heavy for her.”

Tags: R.L. Mathewson Cursed Hearts Fantasy
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