Dinner Plans: Short Story by Candice Coates

Dinner Plans

She sat perched on the edge of the table, the tight fold of her interwoven fingers expressed the nervousness that had been concealed in the even tone of her voice and the placid look on her face. Turning fully towards her, he paid closer attention to what she was saying. 

For a brief second he hoped he’d heard her incorrectly, but gazing into her eyes he knew he hadn’t been mistaken. “Hannah, you didn’t.” He, unlike Hannah, didn’t try to hide his nerves, they flashed in the pale grey of his eyes and radiated clear to the tip of the butcher knife in his hand.

“Dad, the knife. The knife!” Hannah hoped off the table and pried it from his hands placing the parsley coated blade on the chopping block. Tanner wondered by her sudden stillness if she felt as if she were on the chopping block. He was certain she did. He had asked her to be at her best tonight, nagged really, and had been doing so for weeks.

It had been eight years since Claire, Hannah’s adoptive mother, died. He and  Claire had only been married for a little over three years. They’d dated for two. When he’d first met Claire he hadn’t thought he was ready to be a father, but Hannah warmed to him so quickly and got into his pores like the best of anointing oils. He loved the girl on sight as if she were his own flesh and blood.

Now she was barely twenty and he felt as if she were his whole life, his precious little girl…his precious little girl who’d gone against his wishes and had been secretly meeting with her birth mother.

He rubbed his suddenly damp forehead with the back of his hand. His gut felt as if it were filled with gravel. He was already extremely nervous about introducing Hannah to the new woman in his life. He needed Hannah to like her. He’d already purchased an engagement ring even in the face of awkwardness.

Hannah had made it clear she had no desire for a new mother and had not been a fan of his dating someone. He suddenly wondered if her going against his wishes and finding her birth mother was a simple act of rebellion. He also wondered if his hopefully soon-to-be financee was having similar problems of her own.

She had mentioned that she had been estranged from her daughter for years but they were making headway into a healthy relationship. She too had wondered how her daughter would react to him.

“I can’t believe you did this, Hannah.” Tanner whispered.

“Dad, why is it such a horrible thing that I want to know my own mother?”

“Your birth mother.” He corrected, suddenly feeling as if he needed to defend Claire’s right-hood to the title ‘Mom’. Hannah rolled her eyes. He touched her shoulder. “Honey, I am not trying to make this a difficult thing for you, I am just worried is all. She may not be good for you.”

“Us, you mean. You’re afraid that she will wreck your plans for a new family, aren’t you?”

He couldn’t resist frowning. “And I suppose that is why you not only contacted her, but then invited her to dinner tonight when you know how important today is for me, for us.” He wiped his brow again. He was already nervous, now he was just petrified.

What if the strange woman showed up at the door, right when his new love did? “Lord help me. Hannah, I love her. And I want you to at least give her a chance. I just want things to go smoothly tonight and if she shows up-”

Hannah took a bite of parsley. “It doesn’t matter anyway Dad. I invited her and she said she couldn’t make it, said she had a date or something.”

“Well, that is a relief that that person won’t be coming,” Why had he suddenly turned so territorial, defensive? He’d seen this behavior in characters in movies, but never thought it would happen to him; jealous of his daughter’s birth mother.

Hannah scowled. “Her name is–”

Ding dong! The front door rang, bringing the conversation to a halt. Again, Hannah rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long night.

“Going to get it, Dad? Wouldn’t want to keep your beloved waiting.” Hannah’s tone was laced with sarcasm and void of the former nervousness that had ruled her demeanor just moments ago.

He gave her a warning gaze before pulling the door open. Right then Hannah continued her previous statement, her tone shifting to shock that laced over Tanner’s joy right as his beloved passed the threshold and entered the apartment. “Her name is…Beatrix?”

Hannah’s face bloomed with a smile as she rushed forward and took hold of her birth-mother’s hands, jerking Beatrix’s delighted gaze away from Michael’s. “I thought you said you couldn’t make it tonight! I thought…you said you had,” Hannah’s gaze shifted between the ashen expression on Beatrix’s face to the even more stricken look on her Dad’s. “…a date…”

THE END…AT LEAST FOR US

I hope you enjoyed what came of this story and the twist at the end. I wish I could have sharpened it up a bit more, but alas we do have a time restraint. I do however wish Dad, Hannah and Beatrix the best of joy and a happy future 🙂 These are my results from MONDAY’S MUSE WRITING PROMPT APRIL 30, 2018.

*Revised post from October 22, 2015.

~Dream. Image. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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