“I still can’t believe that your mother has invited both of us to dinner.”
It was New Year’s Eve and Tadeas was taking her to his family’s mansion for dinner.
“I think she’s really trying to open-minded.”
“Well, it’s a start.”
“And, I think she’s curious to meet the woman whom I’ve fallen madly in love with.”
Velma stared at him. “You’re in love with me?”
“Of course, I am.”
She went up to him and wrapping her arms around his waist, she declared huskily, “And I’m madly in love with you too.”
He put his arms around her shoulders and lowered his head to kiss her. For several minutes, they exchanged kisses and then, he raised his head. “We’d better stop or we’ll never get out of here.”
She smiled. “You’re right. Let’s go.”
“Next year Spring, I will give you a tour of the grounds.”
“Did you give Briony a tour?”
“Yes, but I was distracted. I was thinking about you and wondering if you were alone or with Karl.”
“And I was home thinking about you and her. We drove each other crazy, didn’t we?”
He smiled. “Yes, we did. I’m relieved that’s all behind us now.”
“So, am I.”
On the drive to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, they talked about their plans for the New Year. When they arrived at the manor, Velma’s eyes widened. “Wow,” she exclaimed. “What a beautiful place.”
“After dinner, I’ll show you around.”
He took her inside the manor after parking the car in the courtyard. Shelby, the butler greeted them and took their coats. “Your parents are in the drawing-room,” he informed Tadeas.
“Thank you, Shelby.” He turned to Velma who was staring at the high ceilings with the exquisite chandelier and the winding staircase. He reached for her hand. “Let’s go and meet my parents,” he said.
They walked into the drawing-room. His parents were talking but they stopped when they entered the room. Both of them stood up. Velma’s heart began to beat faster as they approached them.
Mr. Gray was a tall and pleasant looking man. After he and Tadeas hugged, he held out his hand to Velma. “It’s nice to meet you,” he said to her.
“It’s nice to meet you too.”
Mrs. Gray hugged Tadeas. “I’m happy that you’re going to ring in the New Year with your father and me.”
“Thanks for inviting Velma, Mother.”
“I knew that you wouldn’t come without her.”
“You’re right about that.”
Mrs. Gray went over to Velma and held out her hand. “It’s good to meet you,” she said.
“It’s good to meet you too, Mrs. Gray and thank you for inviting me to spend New Year’s Eve with your family.”
Just then, Shelby went in to announce that dinner was ready. They filed out of the drawing-room and into the huge dining-room which was beautifully adorned with Christmas decorations. Dinner was a sumptuous affair and Mr. Gray was very charming. He spoke mostly to Velma.
“Your father seems quite taken with her,” Mrs. Gray said to Tadeas.
“Yes, he is.” He was actually pleased to see how well they were getting along. Velma was very relaxed and laughing. “He seems even more taken with her than Briony.”
“Have you met her family?”
“No. They’re in Kington, Jamaica.”
“Oh. Why isn’t she there spending the holidays with them?”
“She wanted to spend them with me.”
“Has she told her family about you?”
“Yes, she has.”
“And how do they feel about the two of you dating?”
“They don’t have any problem with it. Besides, Velma is a grown woman, free to date whomever she pleases and I happen to be the lucky guy she’s dating.”
“Are you really in love with her?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And is she in love with you?”
“Yes, she is.”
“Well, I hope for your sake that it works out.”
“Thank you, Mother.” He excused himself and went over to Velma and his father.
Velma smiled up at him. “Your father was just telling me about how he took you to the famous Pinewood Studios for your thirteenth birthday.”
Tadeas smiled. “Yes, that was a special treat for me because it’s where The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia were made. My friends were very impressed when I told them.”
“Your father also mentioned to me how you and he used to go for wild walks.”
Mrs. Gray joined them. “Why don’t you show Velma the rest of the manor?” she asked Tadeas.
“I promised her that I would do that after dinner.” He reached for Velma’s hand. “Excuse us.” They quickly left the drawing-room.
“So, what do you think?” Mrs. Gray asked her husband as soon as they were alone.
“You mean about Velma?”
“I think she’s a very fine woman.”
“So, you don’t mind that she’s…?”
“Her race and age don’t matter. What really matters is that she’s the right woman for our son and I believe that she is.”
“I hope you’re right.”