The engagement dinner held at the Caswell home went well. Glenn already knew the Flynns casually. She’d conferred with them, John Lassiter, Shep Ferguson and Remington Goth when their children seemed to be imperiled during the mysterious murders at the dorm. That’s when they’d decided to bankroll their kids into campus rental homes where they could put real security in place. Now it was almost three years since that event and getting the chance to talk to them at length she discovered they were intelligent and well-read but also warm with a good sense of humor. That was a relief. It wasn’t imperative that she like them and she certainly would not be living with them, of course, but Gareth would and she wanted him to be happy.
During the evening she realized that Melanie was a lot like her mother in being gracious and feminine, but she had a more cynical and humorous outlook like Errol. Glenn liked that. After the delicious meal of stuffed rainbow trout, Gareth took Melanie up to the third floor to “see the view of Pleasantview from the windows” and play pool. They started kissing and never did get to the game of pool. Glenn, Errol and Olivia, soon to be related via marriage, stayed downstairs and talked about headline news events.
Gareth loved his job, although as a high school teacher and coach his pay was not that good. Working with kids and teaching history was gratifying to him, though, and he hadn’t minded the low pay.
Now, however; he felt he should be contributing more to the household when he moved in. He was considering getting a second job. Melanie didn’t want him to do that and after they talked it over they decided they could forego a big wedding, much to her mother’s disappointment. Instead they promised each other to be together forever and were wedded in the living room with only their parents in attendance.
They spent just two days at a hotel in the Bluewater, delaying their week long honeymoon until later as Harvey and Lori had done. Errol and Olivia could have gifted them the cost of a trip to Twikkii or wherever they wanted, but that was the point, Melanie and Gareth wanted to take care of themselves. They thought the gift of a place to live was more than enough. The decision to delay a honeymoon was so they could get the money saved to go on their own dime. Melanie wanted to finally get a job of some sort, but Gareth hoped they’d have children right away and she definitely wanted to be an at-home mommy, which she knew Gareth preferred—so she dropped the idea of working for the moment. Gareth was oddly old-fashioned about some things.
Before they were married, Gareth had supper with the family every day and enjoyed a game of pool with her dad afterwards. He’d won as often as he’d lost when he first began to play against Errol, but then things changed as Errol—who was also used to being the victor the same as Gareth—decided that he was going to carry the day more often, even if Gareth was his daughter’s husband. Play to win was his motto, and he trounced Gareth regularly now. The first time tht happened Gareth was devastated. Both men were highly competitive, but Errol definitely had an edge when it came to pool. He had grinned then and slapped Gareth on the back,
“Better luck next time, old boy, it was a good game.”
When he could see how crestfallen Gareth was,
“I say, don’t take it too hard, Gareth; I’ve been practicing my moves since before you were born.”
After they were married Melanie always joined Gareth for breakfast. Her weekdays were long and she had to think of things to keep her busy. Once Gareth got home and had time they were gladly worked overtime on getting pregnant. Perhaps she should have secured employment after all, Melanie thought, if just for the fact that probably as soon as she got a job she’d become pregnant. Gareth was easy going and usually did not tell her what to do, but she knew he really didn’t want her to take a job where she might make more than him—typical male ego—and she also knew that he wanted her to be available to him when he was home—typical male selfishness. So she read books, exercised to keep in shape, painted, joined Olivia for swimming and Errol for games. Her father was teaching her to fish. But she always looked forward to the moment when Gareth got home, they had supper with her parents and then spent time together alone.
One morning right after Gareth went to work, waving as usual to the mailperson as he left, Melanie decided to go clothes shopping at Amelia’s Closet in Bluewater. When she got there she ran into her sister, Lalique, who convinced her to play Red Hands even though she, Melanie, never won that game. Jenny Hammond came in and they shared a joke or two.
Intending to try on a few more outfits, Melanie headed back to the changing room. When she came out, she was surprised to see Chelsea Lassiter enter the store. Kind of unbelievable; running into all three women while out of town, she thought. She laid the items she wanted on the counter and told the cashier to add them to the others she had chosen and she would pay in a minute. Then she called Chelsea’s name and went over to hug her. They had not seen each other in months. It was fun to catch up on what was going on in each of their lives, until Chelsea said she must get home. Melanie watched Chelsea go and then paid for her purchases and left as well.
She had an appointment to go to next, but later in the afternoon she joined her parents in the living room to read the paper. Gareth would be home momentarily and Melanie had made onr of his favorites; chili, with corn bread and tossed salad and for dessert, a berry pie.
She was trying hard to become the good cook her mother was. Yvette was the best cook in the family and no one could touch her, she’d gone to culinary school. Olivia was definitely the next best. Lalique said if God had intended her to cook, he wouldn’t have made frozen food and microwaves. Actually, she was perfectly capable in the kitcen, she just wasn’t very motivated unless she had company. Melanie hoped to strike a balance between her mother and Yvette if at all possible. After all, Lori’s mother had been a TV chef and she’d taught her daughter well. Lori was really a whiz in the kitchen, especially with pastry. If Lori could do it with her mother's help, so could she, Melanie was sure. Kind of. Meanwhile, she was very excited as she waited for Gareth to walk in, and not just because she’d made a delicious meal for him.
Gareth checked the mail when he got home, the rest of the family never seemed to remember to do that. Probably because they had never needed to worry about being able to pay their bills or how much they were, he thought glumly. As he turned to go in the massive front doors, he looked up at the beautiful stylized art deco mansion. He never could have imagined he’d end up calling a place like this his home. Actually, it didn’t feel like his home yet, anyway. No matter how graciously Errol and Olivia treated him and in spite of the fact that he was married to Melanie, he continued to feel like a guest, a very welcomed one, but a guest nevertheless. He owned nothing except his clothes and his car. And her parents were after him to let them get him a newer car while Melanie kept bringing home new clothes for him, one item at a time. Would he be sorry he’d chosen this for Melanie and himself? Or would he adjust?
Melanie gave him a warm welcome home, and they had supper with Olivia and Errol. A bit of gloom still hung over Gareth, though. Once they were alone up in their bedroom again with his arms around Melanie, he was a little better. But then he had a bath and began to brood some more while Melanie read a book, the title of which he hadn’t noticed. When he came out of the bathroom and they relaxed on the bed, Melanie said she had something to tell him that possibly would cheer him up. He said without much enthusiasm,
“You did it, big boy; I’m pregnant,” she said happily.
At first it didn’t seem to register with him so she said with a straight face,
“So I was wondering; how do you feel about the name Marmaduke for a boy, and Egglantine for a girl?”
“Melanie! You…you’re pregnant? I mean, you’re pregnant. Are you sure?” suddenly Gareth was his old self and then some. He put his hand on her still flat belly.
“I went to see Dr. Simon today—I’m sure.”
“That’s awesome, baby—it’s fantastic—have you told anyone else?”
“Silly, of course not. See, it works this way; you’re the daddy—so you get told first,” she grinned at him and they cuddled. Gareth happened to glance at the cover of the book she’d been reading. It was titled “1000 Names for Babies”. If he’d been paying attention he’d have had some clue what was coming. No matter, he was over the moon about them having a child.
Suddenly he turned to her, looking a little worried,
“Marmaduke and Egglantine?”
Melanie laughed and he relaxed. She reflected that it was finally time for her to remove the items she’d had on her window shelf since childhood; like the blue and white cow and the pink pig. She hadn’t even thought about them still being there and her room looking the same as always—a girly room. It was time to redecorate; past time. Maybe a trophy or two of Gareth’s could go there on the window shelf perhaps along with their wedding picture, and one of her father’s vases. She realized she needed to make their end of the upstairs into a reflection of themselves. Besides, what a fun project it would be. Gareth reached for her and, for the timebeing, she forgot about the new project.