It was bizarre to hear someone else actually call him Oren. But I cleared my throat and nodded. “Right.” My voice was stiff. My shoulders were stiff. My freaking panties felt stiff. I was afraid to breathe wrong in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and just...shattering all the stiff parts.
It didn’t even matter how gracious and polite his mother was being. I still wanted to sink through the floor in embarrassment. “Oh, what a lovely name. It’s so nice to meet you.” Her eyes sparkled as she beamed up at Oren. “Well done, son.”
He snorted. “As if I had anything to do with catching her. She caught me.”
I wanted to elbow him in the side and tell him to shut it, but I settled for a warning glance.
The bastard merely winked at me.
“And I’m Phil,” his dad spoke up, also reaching out a hand to shake with me. “I think you’re hot too.”
My fingers froze in his while Oren choked on air next to me. “Jesus, Dad.”
“What?” Phil dropped his palm from mine to lift his eyebrows Oren’s way. “It’s that slang for pretty that you youngsters use these days.”
“Oh my God.” Oren groaned and held up a hand. “Promise me you’ll never use that slang term again.”
“You got it,” his dad assured before he slipped me a sly little grin, telling me he was just messing with Oren. Then he turned to his wife, murmuring loud enough for us to hear, “I guess we shouldn’t let him hear what kinds of slang we use in the bedroom then.”
As Oren cried out and slapped his hands over his ears, claiming, “I’m deaf. You guys have just killed my poor, innocent ears,” I burst out laughing. He sent me a scowl. “It’s not funny, damn it.”
“Oren. Language,” his mother scolded. “We’re in public.”
I lifted my eyebrows, wondering what she’d say if she heard his potty mouth while he was in Ellamore. The boy didn’t know a clean word.
“Let’s sit already,” his dad suggested, his grin still a little smug.
As Oren dropped into a chair and slid his hands from his ears, he glanced over at me when I sat quietly beside him, my spine still stiff with nerves.
“So, Caroline...” his mother started. I gulped, tore my gaze away from Oren, and sent her an uneasy smile.
And so started the inquisition. Except it didn’t feel as if I was being drilled for information. It felt as if they were genuinely curious and wanted to know about me. That was strange at first, explaining my major to a parent. But Brenda, and even Phil, were actually interested in the field of study I’d chosen. I got a little carried away and just started blurting out all kinds of things I wanted to do.
“I think sound effects are what really make a movie.”
“Of course they are.” Brenda nodded enthusiastically as she leaned my way and pressed a hand to her heart. “I love it when the music gets so loud it just thunders through your chest right before the hero proclaims his love to the—”
“Oh, gag me.” Oren groaned and sank lower in his chair. “I swear, Mom, if you get started about The Last of the Mohicans again—”
“Oh my God, I love that movie.” I sat up straighter. “That rasp in Daniel Day-Lewis’s voice when he told Madeleine Stowe he would find her...I mean, melt my panties.”
While Brenda pointed at me with wide eyes and said, “Exactly,” both men started laughing. She scowled at her son. “What is so funny? You were probably conceived because of that movie.”
He instantly stopped laughing and starting coughing. “Shit, Ma. I did not need to know that.”
Still chuckling, Phil slapped him on the back to help him get his air back. “I just thought it was hilarious how she said melt my panties.”
“Oh, fuck,” I gasped, realizing, “I did.” Then I slapped a hand over my mouth, realizing I’d just said fuck. “I mean, crap.” Wait, was crap bad too? “I mean...”
I glanced wildly at Oren for help, but he still looked traumatized from learning so much about his conception.
Brenda patted my arm compassionately. “Don’t worry about it, dear. We all slip every once in a while.”
Oren made a sound as if to disagree with her, because I “slipped” almost as much as he did. Both his mother and I sent him a scowl.
Phil was still hooting out his amusement and wiping tears of mirth from his eyes. “Boy howdy, am I glad Oren brought you tonight, Caroline. This has been the most enjoyable family dinner since—”