If you’re new to my Natural Gifts series of uplifting paranormal romances, then you haven’t met Meredith and George Robin. They are Dana’s parents, one of the main characters in the first book in the series, The Dreaming.
Meredith and George have set quite an example for Dana; one she’s not sure she could live up to.
For those of you who are reading the series, there are no spoilers in the story if you have read through chapter 27 of “The Dreaming”.
I hope you enjoy…
How Meredith and George Got Together
Joe held the door open for Meredith, Dana, and then George, to go into the house for lunch. His future in-laws hadn’t made him nervous, but George was relaxing more with him now, which helped Joe to relax more with him. He respected Dana’s father’s approach to trying to warn him away from Dana. Now that he was passing inspection, they were getting to know one another.
“Dana, where’s the restroom?” Meredith asked when she walked far enough inside to see that she couldn’t see it from where she was standing. The front door opened right into the informal dining room, where a huge wooden table took up the space.
“It’s this way, Mom.” Dana led her mother into the hallway, where she pointed down the long row of doors. “It’s the first door on the right.”
“Thank you, Dana.” Meredith looked at the family pictures as she walked down the hallway. Carter was getting younger as she walked toward the restroom. Meredith ventured to the end of the hall, curious to see if there were pictures of Carter with his mother. There was one. Joe and a pretty dark-haired woman held a sleeping baby Carter across their laps.
Sounds from the kitchen reminded Meredith that she was hungry. She hurried to the restroom and back out to join her family.
“What are you making for us, you two?” Meredith placed a hand on Dana’s shoulder, peering over to the food on the counter.
“Deli sandwiches.” Joe answered. He’d grown up on a working ranch, and helped in the kitchen. He still couldn’t keep up with Dana. Instead of trying, he tried to organize the ingredients he knew she was going to need.
“And coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad…” Dana turned to Joe. “You thought of everything.”
“Carter went with me. He’s getting into cooking now. He’s trying food he didn’t even care about before.”
“Dana has that effect on people,” George said from the kitchen table. Joe had set him up with a beer, which he took a drink from.
“Definitely,” Meredith agreed.
“Carter mentioned that your whole family lives in Walnut. Have you seen much of them since you moved here?” Meredith asked, pouring herself an Arnold Palmer and then sitting at the table with George.
“We haven’t seen them since the move, but we will be seeing them for the Fourth of July weekend at Big Bear Lake. Dana is going to meet the whole crew at once.”
Dana brought a platter of sliced meats and cheeses to the table. A big bowl held rolls. Smaller containers of salads sat at the ends of the larger platter. There was a finishing touch of a relish tray holding olives, peperoncini, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
“He tells me I shouldn’t feel nervous about meeting his entire family all at once.” Dana scoffed at his easygoing manner.
“Rip the Band-Aid off, right, Joe?” George chuckled.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to get it over with, but I didn’t plan it that way. My parents had the idea, and now that we’re engaged, it makes sense that Dana and the twins should join us.” Joe’s words were reassuring, even if he was enjoying seeing Dana feeling ruffled. She was always in control. Always confident. Seeing her like this was a novelty. He knew his family would love her, otherwise he wouldn’t have asked her and the twins to go with him and Carter this time.
George layered his sandwich with more pastrami than he knew his wife would approve of. She was deep in thought over Dana meeting Joe’s family en masse. George was being careful to block Meredith’s view of his sandwich. He knew she wouldn’t embarrass them by scolding him if he was already eating it.
Meredith bumped his leg under the table to let him know he wasn’t getting away with anything.
Dana finished building her sandwich. Joe noticed that she used a small amount of cheese and meat, then packed it with vegetables. She lived what she wrote about.
Meredith and Joe each made sandwiches that fell in between Dana and George’s. In fact, they made sandwiches that the other would have made for themselves.
They spent a few minutes eating before Meredith started up the conversation again. Hearing Dana and Joe talk about meeting his family all at once reminded her of the day she and George met. “Joe, has Dana told you the story of how George and I got together?”
Joe shook his head no. His mouth was too full to risk trying to talk.
George chuckled, leaning back in his chair to loosen his belt for the second half of the giant sandwich he intended to finish.
“I met George at his engagement party. It was in the spring of 1959. I was home from school for the break and my parents insisted that I join them. They knew the bride’s family, which is why we went. My parents hoped that I would meet a local boy from a good family and come back home to live instead of going to school in Texas.” Meredith chuckled at the memory.
George added in, “The minute I saw her, I knew it was over for me and Katie. Katie was a nice woman, but I could tell right away that Meredith had a fun streak in her. My parents were the ones that were pushing me to marry Katie sooner than I was ready for. Heck if I know why I let them.”
Joe laughed with the three who knew the story, enjoying the telling of it as much as they did.
Meredith nodded, laughing as she told them, “George looked like he had a noose around his neck. I think at first I was an excuse to get out of his engagement. I didn’t take him seriously for a year after he called it off.”
“It’s good that you didn’t take me seriously. I didn’t want another noose around my neck. I wanted to go out and have a good time with someone who knew how to do that. That was what attracted me to you. It’s what still keeps me attracted to you more than fifty years later.”
“My parents have been married for about that long,” Joe said after he swallowed a mouthful of coleslaw. “Makes me wonder about Dana and I. We came from solid marriages. What happened to us? Aren’t we supposed to have a better handle on married life because our parents are still together?”
“I think times are more complicated for your generation than they were for ours,” Meredith shared her opinion of why marriages struggled more in recent times.
“Wait, we’re getting off track,” Dana gestured to her mother. “You told the story of how you met, but the story I like to hear is the one about how the two of you decided to get married.”
George and Meredith looked at one another. Their hands moved together on their own. Those hands had spent a lot of time together. They were a perfect fit.
“Your mom was a wily one, Dana. I had to run to keep up with her. She was finishing her degree two states away. People that didn’t know us thought I was crazy, letting my steady girlfriend live in Texas.
“If I had tried to move in on her too soon, or tried to make her transfer to a school in Arizona, I would have lost her.”
“Is that what you think, George?” Meredith squeezed his hand. “I don’t think I would have let you get away that easily.”
George chuckled. “I wasn’t going to take the chance.”
“Now I know where you get your playfulness from,” Joe told Dana, tapping her on the arm as he said it.
“Yep,” George agreed with Joe. “Dana’s apple did not fall far from her mother’s tree. There was only one thing Meredith and I couldn’t do in our marriage, and that was to have more children. No matter what we did, Dana was the only one.”
“She was a surprise, too. I remember the day I went for my annual and the doctor asked me about my cycle. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was pregnant after we stopped trying years before. I was busy with life and hadn’t noticed that my cycles had stopped two months before.” Meredith’s voice softened as she shared with Joe what that miracle day had felt like for her, and later when she met George for dinner at their favorite “splurge” restaurant to tell him about their child.
“I love this story.” Dana put her arm around her mother’s shoulder for a soft hug. Meredith’s quiet floral perfume tickled Dana’s nose when she rubbed against Meredith’s shirt.
“My sister Sandy jokes that she wishes she had that problem. You’ll be meeting her and her brood at the lake. Perspective changes everything, doesn’t it?” Joe smiled at Dana. He appreciated that she had good parents. It was one more reason they fit so well together.
“More kids for Dana to spoil? Bring them on,” Meredith joked to her daughter.
Dana brought the conversation back to the story she wanted Joe to hear. Maybe her parents felt embarrassed to tell him before they knew him better. “Back to how Dad finally convinced Mom to marry him,” Dana prompted, looking to her mother, and then her father, to continue the story.
“Meredith eventually did come home, with an impressive degree in psychology. She wanted a career as a social worker. If there was one subject Meredith avoided, it was the subject of her getting married. My father-in-law expected that she would be a spinster by choice.”
Dana couldn’t take it anymore. “Dad is the wily one. He talked her into marrying him by presenting their marriage as a résumé enhancer for Mom. A married social worker would be graded above a single one, at least until the children came along. Besides, having a husband meant that she could move out of her parents’ house. Mom fell for it, or at least she let him think so.”
“George knew exactly how to turn my head. He always did. In that first year we started dating casually, there wasn’t another man who understood me the way your father did. That’s how he landed the most eligible woman in Arizona.”
George had no argument with that.
Those two stole my heart!
As always, thank you for reading,
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