Suzy nervously fluffed the pillows on the twin beds in the guest room and removed a few items in the dresser to make room for the girls’ things. She paced in and out of the room, putting away more items and making sure everything was just so. She stopped and looked back into the room. Nothing more remained for her to do in there. She exhaled, turned and headed out to the living room then started straightening up there.
Steve came out from his den. “What’s going on? You’re pacing like an expectant father….and I would know!” He smiled at her as he steadied her, gently touching her arms with his hands. He knew what was going on in her head. “It’s fine. Relax. This isn’t the first time you’re meeting them or anything.”
Suzy bit her lip a little, a tell on how anxious she felt inside. “I know, but I want things to be, well, comfortable for them. I want them to think of this as their home too.” Her brow was furrowed with small little grooves.
He kissed her forehead. “They will, but you need to relax okay? They’ll be here in about an hour. Go outside and get some fresh air. I’ll be out in a few.” With that he lowered his hands from her arms and headed to the kitchen.
She put down the magazines and papers she had in her hand on the coffee table, then walked outside and took a seat on one of the Adirondacks on the front porch. She took in a deep breath and looked around at their little homestead. She hoped the girls found it a welcoming getaway whenever they wanted to see their dad. They were both older now, one in college and one just now building a life of her own.
Steve came out and handed her a glass of iced tea, then sat next to her, looking out towards the drive to the house. “You know, they’re probably going to come in, say hi, and then get stuck looking at the screens on their phones after they walk around our place.”
Suzy smiled at him. She understood he was trying to relax her, but she remembered times at her dad’s, not being comfortable around his wife, not feeling like part of that family. Her half-sister would want to play and hang out, so Dad would take them both over to Grandma’s. She didn’t want his girls to feel like she had back then.
Soon, a car came rambling down the drive. His old Nissan, handed down to his oldest, Sofia, pulled to a stop. Sofia and Lexi jumped out of the car and bounded up the stairs to the front porch. Steve had already stood up and met them half-way in a group hug. Suzy stood to the side, happy to see the girls with their Dad. It seemed like it had been a long time since they’d seen each other.
“Hey girls!” Suzy greeted them. She straightened her shirt, unsure if they’d just say hello or finally break that wall with a hug. She knew not to force it though.
Lexi looked over at her. “Hi Suzy.” The reception was lukewarm, but better than the last time. “Nice place.” Lexi pulled open the screen door and headed inside.
Sofia watched her sister go inside, then looked at Suzy. “Hi Suzy, it’s great to see you.” She leaned in and reached for a hug.
Suzy was touched, and Steve smiled her way as she embraced Sofia. “I’m glad you two are here, Sofia. Your dad has missed you both. Let me show you to your room.”
Suzy pulled open the door and the rest of them went inside. Suzy showed the girls to their room.
“I set up the guest room so you each have a bed. The dresser is empty so you can store your clothes or whatever there.”
Sofia looked at her, nodded, and smiled. Lexi mumbled her thanks.
“I’ll let you guys get settled.”
Suzy stepped away and wandered back down the hall to the kitchen, then started pulling out food for dinner. Steve stepped up to the counter next to her as she cleaned some vegetables. “I think that went pretty well. Give Lexi some time.”
Suzy grinned. “I know. I remember being there myself.” Changing the subject, she asked, “Hey, you good with chicken and grilled veggies tonight?”
Steve picked up the knife and started slicing up the peppers Suzy had already washed. “Of course, but I’d rather have steak.”
Suzy met his puppy dog eyes when she looked over at him, and smirked. She turned, opened the fridge and pulled out steaks, then readied them for the grill. “Deal!”