When they arrived, Sandra invited Rhyley in. Her mother, who was in the kitchen, heard the two of them enter and called “Oh, Sandra, I was just about to call you - lunch is ready.”
“What are we eating?” Sandra called back.
“Quiche,” was the response.
“D’you want some quiche?” Sandra asked Rhyley.
“If there’s enough to go around.”
Sandra led him through the house to the kitchen and on finding her mum asked “Can Rhyley join us for lunch?”
Sandra’s mother beamed at the sight of Rhyley behind her daughter.
“Of course he can, dear.” She looked over Sandra’s shoulder to ask Rhyley “Did you two have a nice walk?”
“Brilliant, thanks,” Rhyley replied, smiling.
“He bought me hot chocolate,” Sandra told her.
“Oh, how lovely. Speaking of drinks, would you like one now?” This question was again directed at Rhyley and he replied, “Is there any squash?”
Sandra moved to one of the cupboards above the kitchen worktop and opened it to see which flavours there were.
“We have Ribena, orange squash or apple squash.”
“Can I have apple, then, please?”
Sandra got out the bottle, fetched two glasses and poured some apple squash out.
“You go sit down,” she told him, pointing at the table in the adjoining drawing room. “I can get this.”
“Oh, you sure there’s nothing I can do to help?”
“No, it’s fine,” Sandra assured him. She put the squash away as he moved on through to sit down. She added water from the tap to the drinks and took them to where Rhyley was sitting at the laid table, setting one down in front of him and the other in front of the space next to him. She took her seat just as her dad walked in.
“Why, hello, young man,” Sandra’s dad said, addressing Rhyley with a look of surprise on his face.
“Oh, hello, Mr Longmorrow.” Sandra was amused to see that Rhyley looked slightly nervous.
“No need for formalities - call me Will.”
“And call me Lara,” Sandra’s mother said as she came in carrying a baking tray on which stood a Quiche Lorraine in oven-glove covered hands.
“All right,” Rhyley said, smiling.
Sandra’s father sat opposite Rhyley and smiled at his wife, referring to the quiche as he said “That looks lovely, dear.”
Sandra’s mother flushed with pleasure.
She placed the tray on a waiting oven rack on the table.
“Wait a moment - there’s mash and veg to come.”
She returned to the kitchen and reappeared with the mashed potato, and made another trip for the vegetables. She sat beside Sandra’s dad and invited everyone to help themselves.
While the family and Rhyley were eating, Sandra asked “Can I go round Rhyley’s house on Wednesday?”
“We shouldn’t be doing anything,” Rhyley added.
“Of course she can - if that’s all right with your parents,” Sandra’s mum told Rhyley. “Tell us what they say and I’ll drop her off.”
Sandra’s mum smiled back.
“That’s okay, honey.”
“So are you going to play Scrabble like you do with Roger?” Sandra’s dad asked absent-mindedly.
Rhyley almost choked on his current mouthful of food. Looking at Sandra, he asked “You play Scrabble with Roger?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“That’s so nerdy,” he said, looking highly entertained.
“Rhyley,” Sandra said, shocked.
“Sorry,” he said quickly. “But it’s just... Scrabble. Since when?”
“Since year 7,” Sandra told him slowly, not wanting him to ridicule her again.
“Wow,” Rhyley murmured, amazed, though not exactly in a complimentary way.
“What games do you like?” she asked, slightly crossly.
“Monopoly and Cluedo are all right; videogames are better...” This wasn’t making Sandra feel any better.
“Look, if I like Scrabble, that’s what I like,” she interrupted. “You can’t judge me for it.”
Rhyley looked stunned by the word ‘judge’ and became apologetic - sincerely this time.
“No. You’re my soulmate. I’m sorry.”
“Um, soulmate?” Sandra’s father repeated uncertainly. Sandra suddenly remembered that her parents were still in the room. Rhyley made a face that read ‘Whoops’. “Is that the new word for sweetheart or something?”
“Oh, yeah,” Sandra said hurriedly and Rhyley quickly masked his shock.
“I think that’s awfully sweet,” Sandra’s mother said, smiling naïvely.
Sandra’s father looked relieved.
“Oh yes. It just... took me aback. A strong word when you’ve known each other, what, four days? Not even that.” He shrugged, maintaining peace of mind, and continued with his food. Sandra was briefly confused by the number until she remembered that her parents believed she had met Rhyley for the first time last Friday evening.
“Shush, honey,” said Sandra’s mother. “They’re young.” She smiled at both Sandra and Rhyley. “It must have been like love at first sight.”
“Oh, definitely,” Sandra said, smiling at her plate to try to seem a little embarrassed. Internally she didn’t know whether to be amused or slightly put out. Love at first sight was a concept she didn’t believe in, because she held the opinion that <I>true<I> love needed soul and that soul could only be found through spending lots of time in the company of the one you hoped to fall in love with.
“Yup, there’s no girl like Sandra,” Rhyley said easily, which made her feel better because though at the true beginning of their relationship he hadn’t had a high opinion of her, she felt like he really did have one now - the kind of high opinion that she liked to imagine surpassed the appeal he had found in his previous girlfriends.
Sandra’s mother’s smile grew.
“She’s so lucky to have found a young man like you.”
“Thanks,” Rhyley said, looking genuinely embarrassed.
“You just make sure you stay that way,” Sandra’s dad warned casually.
“Dad,” Sandra said, in a tone that was lightly reproachful.
“What?” he said, looking at her now. “We dads have to take precautions.”
She shook her head.
“Rhyley’s a good guy. He won’t hurt me.” She said the last sentence with particular conviction.
“Then he’s a wise fellow.”
“I must admit, your dad scared me slightly,” Rhyley mentioned quietly as they stood in the porch, about to say goodbye. “I couldn’t help thinking that had he known my history, he wouldn’t have let me anywhere near you.”
Sandra chuckled quietly.
“Rhyley, you’re different now. I haven’t forgotten Sunday, but I really do trust you now.” She reached up to cup the left-hand side of his face with her right hand, and stroked the skin there lightly with her thumb. “Remember today in the café. We’re in love, and we’re going to be together forever.”
“Yes,” Rhyley said seriously. “We are.”
He leant in to kiss her and they stayed like that for a few minutes, keeping the kiss gentle and tender.
When they pulled away, Rhyley murmured “I love you; I do.”
“I love you too,” Sandra told him. “I’ll miss you till Wednesday.”
“You too.” Rhyley stepped back slightly, perhaps to make the fact he was leaving slightly easier. “But I’ll see you then. Bye now.”
“Bye, Rhyley,” she replied, a little sadly.
Rhyley left and Sandra sighed slightly as she stood at the front door and watched him drive away. Closing the door, she walked back into the main part of the house and wondered vaguely what she was going to do tomorrow while Rhyley was visiting his grandmother.