“I’m still in a daze,” Addalyn said. She was in her family’s kitchen with her mother and Joyce, her sister-in-law. It was New Year’s Eve and Reyan and she were in Bristol for the week. They were heading back to London on Sunday. Her family gave him a warm welcome and it was when they were all settled and relaxing in the living-room that she announced that they were engaged.
After exchanging stunned glances, everyone congratulated them. A bottle of champagne was opened to celebrate. Her father, brother and her sister-in-law, Joyce shook Reyan’s hand warmly and her mother hugged him.
“He’s gorgeous,” Joyce said now. “Tell us how you two met.”
“We met when he came to my school to give a presentation. He asked me to have dinner with him.” She didn’t tell them about the sauna. “We were both dating at the time.”
“And when you realized that Reyan was the one, you broke up with Don,” Joyce concluded.
“Yes and he broke up with his girlfriend.”
“Well, when two people are meant to be…” She smiled. “This is so romantic.”
“I’ve only known Reyan for a couple of days but I really like him,” her mother said. “Your father likes him too.”
“Listen to them in there,” Joyce remarked. “They sound like a bunch of raucous teenagers.” From the living-room there was the sound of voices and laughter.
Addalyn looked at her mother. “I don’t remember Dad and Brian being so chummy with Don.”
“They liked Don and so did I but none of us thought that you were right for each other.”
“You and he are perfect for each other. And I couldn’t have wished for a better son-in-law.”
Tearing up, Addalyn hugged her tightly. “I’m so thrilled that you think so, Mom.”
Joyce dabbed at her eyes. “Now don’t get me started,” she said. “Congratulations, Addie, you deserve all the happiness you can get.”
Addalyn hugged her. “Thanks, Joyce. You’ve always been more of a sister to me than a sister-in-law.”
“It’s so quiet without Staci and the grand-kids,” Mrs. Forbes remarked.
“It’s the first time that Staci won’t be here to ring in the New Year with us,” Addalyn said. “It will be nice tomorrow when we Skype. She wanted to celebrate it with her boyfriend.”
“And the kids wanted to spend it with their cousins,” Joyce added. “And I think it’s nice that it’s just us adults for a change. I don’t have to be running around after kids and having to play referee.”
“Well, let’s have dinner while it’s nice and hot,” Mrs. Forbes said. “Addie, you bring in the salad and the bread. Joyce, you bring the wine and the gravy. I’ll take in the rice and the chicken. This will be our last meal for 2020.”
“Hmm. Mom, This Lemony Herb Roast Chicken looks absolutely delicious,” Joyce exclaimed, her mouth watering.
Mrs. Forbes smiled. “Thanks, Joyce. Addie, do you think Reyan would mind carving the chicken?”
“I think he would be honored. I’ve watched him carve the turkey I baked on Christmas day and he’s a pro.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
Reyan was surprised but very pleased to carve the chicken and as Addie said, he did an excellent job. After Mr. Forbes said a prayer, they tucked in. Everything on the table tasted as good as it looked. The table was lit with candles which gave room a cozy and homey ambiance. The conversation and laughter flowed freely. Reyan never had so much fun in his life. He felt so relaxed among Addalyn’s family.
After dinner, the men retired to the living-room while the women went to the kitchen to clean up. Dessert was served and they sat around the fireplace, talking and laughing. At ten minutes before midnight, they turned on the television and quickly found BBC. “Everyone gather around,” Mrs. Forbes said.
They stood there, eyes glued to the television set and then the countdown began. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…Happy New Year?”
“Happy New Year!” Everyone said as they hugged each other. Reyan and Addalyn kissed and then, they were raising their glasses in a toast.
“Here’s to a year of new beginnings, more blessings and more time with loved ones,” Brian said.
“And here’s to the newest member of our family,” Mr. Forbes said putting his arm around Reyan’s shoulder and raising his glass.
Mrs. Forbes hurried off the kitchen with Joyce in tow. They returned with slices of Pineapple & Macadamia Nut Cake. “Dig in everybody,” Mrs. Forbes told them.
Mr. Forbes turned off the television and played his Duke Ellington & John Coltrane CD which Addalyn had bought for him as a Christmas gift. Addalyn and Reyan sat snuggled together, enjoying her mother’s cake. Brian and Joyce sat in the loveseat while Mrs. Forbes sat in the accent chair and Mr. Forbes in the chair by the fireplace. It was after one in the morning when they finally called it a night.
“My family is quite taken with you, you know,” Addalyn said when Reyan and she were in her old room. She was changing into her negligee and he was sitting on the bed, wearing just a pajama bottom. The room was very toasty.
He smiled. “And I’m quite taken with them. They are wonderful. They’ve made me feel like a part of the family.”
“You are a part of the family now.”
“I like the sound of that.”
“And I like the way Addalyn Madani sounds. As soon as we get back to London, I’m going to start planning the wedding.”
He reached up and pulled her down onto the bed. “I can’t wait to be your husband,” he said huskily. “I love you so much.”
She put her arms around his neck. “I love you very much too.” She never imagined that such happiness was even possible. This had to be a blessing from God.
Reyan lowered his head and kissed her. At that moment, he felt like he was the happiest man alive.