Elle sat next to me and took my hand in hers. “Why am I jittery?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
“I’m nervous for her. It reminds me of when I first met you. I was so scared when Daddy took me to your house in Oklahoma that first time, but then I took one look at you, and I just knew.”
I know the feeling. That’s how I felt when I first met your sister.
Apparently, Evangeline and Callum had been talking for a while, but this was the first time that they’d be face to face. He’d be coming with his parents. I wanted to meet him about as much as I wanted a hole in the head.
Lance went to the door, and the sounds of their voices got closer and closer to the dining room. To be respectful, I stood up when they entered.
“Sevin, this is my good friend, Callum Hughes Senior—I know you’ve heard me talk about him—his wife Barbara and Callum Junior.”
With his blonde hair and brown eyes, their son Callum was physically the opposite of me. He looked like an older version of one of my brothers. I hated to discover that he was pretty built and good-looking.
Shaking Callum’s hand especially hard and searching his eyes, I said nothing.
While no one would seem good enough for Evangeline, it was important to me that he was at least a good guy who would cherish and protect her.
Evangeline sat next to him while still refusing to look across the table at me for even a split second. Throughout dinner, their conversations seemed to flow easily. It was clear that they had been getting to know each other. The Suttons conversed with his parents the entire time. Trying to read her body language, I just watched Evangeline interact with Callum.
After dinner, we all retreated to the yard for dessert and coffee on the patio. Wind chimes blew in the brisk wind. The sun had completely set, so Olga had turned on the outside white Christmas lights. Evangeline and Elle were sitting on a bench swing together with their arms around each other. Their harmonious laughter was a beautiful sound, a reminder of why I was enduring this torture tonight. They were blood. I couldn’t do anything to tear them apart no matter how strong my feelings for Evangeline were. I cared about them both too much to ruin that bond. One thing I admired about the Suttons was how strong a family unit they were. They had their disagreements, but overall, they were tight knit. They were my family now.
Callum was standing alone a few feet away from me and also seemed to be staring at the sisters. No one drank in the Sutton house, otherwise, I’d have definitely brought over one of the six-packs sitting in the fridge at my place. Something to take the edge off of this night would have been really nice.
Walking over to Callum, I forced myself to make conversation. “Nice night, huh?”
“Yeah. They have a really nice place. The last time I was here, I was too young to appreciate it.”
“So, you used to know the girls when they were younger?”
“Yeah. We moved out of state, and I hadn’t had a chance to reconnect with Evangeline until recently. I had the biggest crush on her even back then.”
My body tensed as I gritted my teeth. “You don’t say?”
“Yeah. Who would have known that I’d be courting her ten years later.”
“I didn’t realize it was official yet.”
“I would say tonight is a good indication that it is, wouldn’t you?”
“Well, what does she say about that?”
“We haven’t made it formal if that’s what you’re asking.”
I was coming across more like a lawyer interrogating someone on the stand rather than a casual brother-in-law. “So, whose idea was this pairing?”
“It was hers, actually. She told her parents that she was ready for this step in her life.”
“So, she chose you?”
“The woman always has a choice. It’s not like anyone is putting a gun to her head.”
“But she didn’t choose you. They did, and she agreed to it?”
He laughed. “No different than you and Elle. That’s how it starts, right?”
“I suppose in this house.” Glancing back over at the girls, I asked, “What do you like most about her?”
He gestured his hand toward the swing. “I mean…look at her. She’s gorgeous. Those big eyes, those lips, that body. Those hips? She’ll be popping out babies real easy.”
Feeling a rush of adrenaline, my body seemed to be preparing to punch this guy out if necessary. “Is that right?”
“I hope so.”
“Maybe she wants more out of life than just popping out some guy’s babies. Has that ever crossed your mind?”
“We’ve spoken about it. She said she wants kids.”
“Yes. But I guarantee you she doesn’t mean right away.”
“Have you discussed that with her or something?”
Actually, I have. I know her better than probably anyone.
“So, you think she’s hot. What else?”
“She’s sweet, funny…”
I interrupted him. “What is she afraid of?”
“Name something she’s afraid of.”
“We never talked about it.”
“Maybe you should ask her.”
“There’s plenty of time.”
“I guess my point is, if you’re gonna marry someone, you should really get to know everything about them. That’s all.”
“Well, once you marry Elle over the summer, I plan to do just that. I’m moving into the guesthouse.”