He approached her and put his hand on the small of her back, leading her to an empty seat at the table.
“Dane, don’t tell me you cooked all this food,” his wife said. “Everything on the table... it looks like something out of a magazine.”
“My son? Cook?” His father roared with laughter. “We bribed your caterers, and they made all this overnight after Dane called from the plane. We’ve got enough food to feed an army.”
The table was piled with a ton of food. There was chicken, turkey, mutton, ham, pasta, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gingerbread cookies, and pies of every kind. Hell, they’d even managed to get some caviar. And there was even more food still in the kitchen.
“Oh, where are my manners?” Allyson paused at her seat. “Merry Christmas, everyone. And thank you for setting all this up on such short notice. I’m truly touched by all this. I’ve missed you all terribly.”
There was a chorus of Christmas wishes from their guests, and Allyson took her seat between Dane and his mother.
After his father and her father each said a prayer, everyone started to talk and eat.
Allyson leaned in close and whispered in his ear. “Thank you so much for doing this. You didn’t have to.”
“I did,” Dane insisted. “You wanted Christmas with your family, so that’s what you’re going to get. I don’t have control over the weather, but I can control just about everything else. What my wife wants, my wife gets. Only, you’re going to have to lay off wine for now.”
She laughed. “You are going to spoil me through this pregnancy, aren’t you?”
“Pregnancy?” His mother gasped so loudly the entire table turned to look at her. “Did you say pregnancy?”
Already his mother was flailing her arms, and her eyes were so huge they were taking up most of her face. “Allyson, are you pregnant?”
All eyes focused on Allyson. She shifted nervously in her seat.
Reaching over, Dane took his wife’s hand and squeezed it gently. “Whatever you want to say or do now,” he murmured to her, “I’ll support you.”
Allyson smiled. She glanced around the room and then nodded. “Yes, I’m pregnant. Dane and I are expecting.”
His mother promptly burst into tears, while the rest of their guests started cheering and chattering excitedly all at once.
He looked over at his mother. “Mother, are you all right?”
“Yes.” His mother reached for her napkin and dabbed her tears away. “I’m going to be a grandmother. I can’t believe it. Oh, just imagine all the things we can do together. I can teach them to horseback ride, or take them on family vacations, or just imagine their first debutante ball...” Her voice faded into the background as she continued listing all the ways she wanted to spoil her grandchild.
Dane glanced over at his father, who lifted a glass and grinned. “Congratulations, son,” his father said. “You’re going to be one hell of a father. And congratulations to you, Allyson. I know there isn’t a better woman to be the mother of my grandchild.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Dane said, lifting his glass.
Allyson’s parents got up and appeared by her side to hug and congratulate them.
“I can’t wait to meet this grandchild,” Allyson’s mother said. “Oh, your baby and baby Owen are going to be the best of friends, just like I was with my cousins.” When they finished chatting with Allyson, they resumed their seats to continue eating.
After taking a sip of wine, he stared back down at the table and realized he and Allyson were still holding hands. If he could hold her hand for eternity, he would.
“Thank you for talking me into this,” she said. “It’s nice to be taken care of.”
“I’ll never stop taking care of you,” he promised her.
Her eyes drifted to his and she gave him a dazzling smile. “Just think... this time next year, there will be a new member of our family.”
“You’re right,” he said. “The baby will be here, and next year will be their first Christmas.”
She leaned closer to kiss him briefly, the sensation of her lips feather-light on his. “So, you’ve put a lot of work into all of this. Is this the best Christmas ever?”