Chris joins Emery’s family for a holiday weekend, camping and boating
Warnings: Fluff, Language, discussions of sex
In general- Chris being adorable and trying to impress her family; children are involved
Word Count 3135
In the passing car lights, Emery looks over at Chris and smiles. He was so exhausted when she picked him up at the airport, she wasn’t surprised he was asleep before they even made it to open road.
In the dark, she reaches over to rub his thigh, saying, “Baby, it’s time to wake up. We’re almost there.” A few more shakes of his leg and he slowly rouses from his sleep.
“Fuck, babe. I’m sorry. I’m not much company am I?” His raspy voice fills the car, echoing through her.
“It’s okay. We’re both tired. And you’ve had a really long week.”
“Hard. Man, that family… I can’t wrap my head around it, ya know?”
Emery pulls into the campground where her family has stayed for over 30 years. Her parents now have a little cottage in the back area set up for year round residents, and she follows the path to the house. “I can’t imagine…. My heart goes out to them,” Emery says quietly, looking for a place to park. “Man, everyone must be here already.” She squeezes her new truck, a gift from Chris when she was named Teacher of the Year, behind her brother-in-law’s mini-van. Chris climbs down and comes around to her side to help her out. “You need a step stool, babe.”
“Shut up,” she laughs, punching him in the arm.
West, Emery’s Dalmatian, runs over to greet him, tackling him to the wet ground, having arrived earlier in the day with Emery’s parents.
“West! Get back here!” Preston Thomas yells into the night air.
“It’s okay, Dad! She’s with us!” Emery calls back, laughing when two flashlights coming bobbing towards her.
“Auntie Em! Come on! Hurry! Momma says we couldn’t make s’mores till you got here! Hi, Mister Chris! Dude!” Chris laughs as her little nephew gives him his typical fist bump greeting.
“Hey, man! You’ve grown since I last saw you! What? You got chest hair and a girlfriend now?” Dawson just laughs and runs away, yelling for everyone to hurry and make s’mores.
He swoops down to pick up Emery’s niece, Dakota, and tosses her lightly in the air. “Hey, Sweet Pea. Your brother says we’re having s’mores… You want me to make you one?”
“Uh-hah,” the little girl giggles when he blows a raspberry on her cheek. “I wuv you, Mista Chis! Your face is skitchy again.”
“Yup, it sure is,” he laughs at her giggles when he rubs his “skitchy” beard against her little cheek. “I wuv you too, babe,” he laughs as she squirms to go to Emery’s open arms.
West licks at the little girl’s bare feet and she squeals. “Dakota, where are your shoes? You shouldn’t be walking around here without them.”
“I dunno. I yost ‘em,” the little girl explains, her speech so endearing to Emery. “Too many peopuh.”
“Too many people?” Emery asks and the little girl nods her head. Looking at Chris, she says, “Brace yourself, babe. This is it. Everybody is here for opening weekend.”
Chris hates to admit to himself, but he’s feeling a little nervous. Emery’s already explained the extended family switched their reunion weekend to coincide with her brother Parker’s graduation. This would be his first chance to meet everyone in her family, and his anxiety is a little high.
“Honey, they’re going to love you,” Emery says, grasping his arm, and reaching up on her tiptoes to kiss him. Dakota giggles at being stuck between them and Chris kisses her cheek as well, taking Emery’s hand as they walk towards the sound of laughter and music.
Chris didn’t know what to expect, but is shocked by a grouping of nearly thirty people in various positions around a campfire, a cute little house and porch behind them. “Everyone fits in there?” he whispers to Emery.
She chuckles. “No, my dad’s siblings each have a cottage too, so we are all spread out. We’re up the hill in a tent though.”
“Camping, really?” he smiles brightly, his teeth gleaming in the glowing light of the fire as they move closer to the group.
“I told Ma you wouldn’t mind! Is that okay with you?”
“Ok? It sounds great!” He pinches her ass, before moving to greet his future mother in law, separating from Emery as he is introduced to new people. He watches her around the circle as she greets aunts, uncles and cousins, showing off their engagement ring and he catches the sound of her laughter pealing through the night air. He tries to focus as Anita moves him from person to person. Finally he’s so overwhelmed, he laughs. “Enough, Mom! I can’t anymore! It’s too much; too many people and in the dark, I won’t see and remember everyone.”
He sees the glistening tears in her eyes and fears he has offended her. “Oh, no, sweetie! You did everything just right! Around here, you gotta stick up for yourself and say your piece! It’s the Thomas way… but no, these tears are because you called me ‘Mom.’”
He kisses her on the top of her head. “Takes a special woman to earn that title up against my own mother; you know that, right?”
“I do! That’s why the tears. Glad she found you, darlin’. You needed each other. Listen, I know this is a crazy group to marry into. Ease into it.” She points out a few family members around the fire that would be helpful for Chris settling in, and gives him a few pointers for surviving his first camping weekend with them. “You look exhausted, boy. Why don’t you two go get ready for bed?”
Emery makes her way around the circle to the pair. “What’s up? Nanna and Pops already went to bed?”
Anita shakes her head in affirmation. “Honey, Chris is too tired for all this tonight. It’s too damp to leave your things in the tent. Take stuff you need for tonight into the house and leave it on my bed. Do what you need to do to get ready and then take the lanterns to go up the hill. The blankets and pillows are in the bag on the couch.” Emery hugs her mother good night, and she offers one more piece of advice to Chris. “The coffee pot on the front porch is set. It’s a rule that the first one up has to start it. The men are all going to breakfast at seven, and I think they expect you to go. Boat leaves at ten.”
“Yes, ma’am. Seven? I’ll be up. Sweats and a ballcap okay?”
“You’ll fit right in,” she laughs, kissing him on his cheek and sending them on their way.
Emery wraps her blanket tighter as she heads down the hill. A fog has settled in the valley and it’s a chilly morning. Her phone died during the night, and she has no idea what time it is. Chris was gone when she woke up, so she’s guessing he made it up for the breakfast outing with the men. As she walks passed the firepit, she sees remnants of last night’s feast- empty beer bottles and Hershey bar wrappers.
“Hey, babe,” a familiar voice calls out to her from the porch. Chris waits for her with a steaming cup of coffee, wrapped in a blanket himself to fend off the cold morning air. He kisses her gently on the forehead, laughing at her wild morning hair. “Sorry I fell asleep on you last night. I feel like I’ve gone non-stop since April.”
“I know babe. You don’t have to apologize to me. Why are you up so early? You could’ve slept in,” she says, running her hand across his cheek. She smiles warmly, seeing her aunt watching them from her porch across the road as they move to settle on the porch swing.
“Eh,’ shrugging his shoulders. “Your mom said the men go to breakfast. I figured it’s a test. I wanted to be the first one up to start the coffee pot for your mom, and West was whining to go out. I hope it’s okay I just let her run up the hill? I wiped her down and cleaned her feet when she came back.”
“Perfect.” Emery laughs when Parker scowls out the door at them.
“Hey man, congrats! Two more days and you’re a high school graduate!” Chris grins at the young man as he walks across the porch and they shake hands.
Parker just groans as he shuffles to the coffee pot. After a big gulp of straight black coffee, he perks up a bit. “Be warned. Dad is on ‘go’ this morning. You know how he gets into ‘Clark Griswold’ mode and he wants things perfect? Yea, it’s not even seven am yet….”
Pointing at the front screen door, Emery giggles, “Speak of the devil… Morning, Dad! Coffee?”
Walking to the edge of the porch the older gentleman surveys his ‘kingdom’ stretching and announcing, “What a great day to be at the Lake! Chris, son! Good morning! Sleep well? Emery, you skiing today?”
“No way! Water is too cold for skiing. Later this summer, but being lazy on a raft in the cove sure sounds good,” Emery replies.
“Coving it is today, then! Anything for my baby girl!”
Chris smiles at the exchange, the ease of his new family to settle into conversations that seem to be ones they’ve had time and again. He inhales the morning air and enjoys the last of his coffee.
“Come on men! Time for breakfast!” Preston announces as a truck pulls in front of the house to carry them off.
Smiling, Emery watches as Chris settles in at the campfire. He’s got her father’s old guitar in his hands, strumming a tune she doesn’t recognize. The younger cousins and her niece and nephew dance in circles around the fire pit, singing made up words to the song he plays. He looks up and grins at her watching, and moves on to play a more familiar beat. She realizes he’s taken the time to learn one of her favorites and he quietly sings along. Her heart swells with love for this man, and a strange feeling settles over her.
This must be like what it feels to really and truly be in love.
She sways in time to the music and startles when her mother comes up behind her. “He’s a good man, honey. You’re a lucky lady,” Anita Thomas bestows. “But he’s even luckier to have you.”
“Thanks, Mom. I don’t know what I’d do without him,” Emery responds. “I was just thinking how complete I feel. I used to feel like something was missing, but I don’t any more. It’s really nice.”
“It’s this place. It’s part of you, and now he’s here too. It’s only right…” Her mother settles into one of the camp chairs, farther back from the fire, from other listening ears. “He’s been going non-stop for weeks; today was a crazy day of a different kind. He looked like he was having fun… Have you two had any time alone together?”
“Mother!” Emery squeals, hoping no one nearby heard them.
“What? A young couple needs time alone. You’ve been very sweet and kind to one another all day, but you just need to go take care of him!”
“Mother! Stop it!”
“Your father and I did… You know your sister snuck off too…”
“Ok. I’m not having this conversation. This is too much.” She grabs the beer out of her aunt’s hand as she walks by, taking a long swig. Her aunt just nods and moves to get another one. “Mother, you are insane. There is a line. You know that right?”
Anita chuckles at her daughter’s embarrassment. “You’re too uptight, darling daughter. You can only keep a stallion like him tamed for so long.”
Emery isn’t really shocked by her mother’s banter. Anita was always the “cool mom.” Growing up, even her girlfriends would confide things in her mother that they couldn’t share with their own. But the part bothering her now is the stab in her gut at her mother’s words, voicing her deepest fear. The older woman is no fool, and knew exactly what she was doing when she said it.
“Fine. Fine. I get your point. But there’s too many damn people around here. Thomas relatives are crawling out of the wood work,” Emery complains.
“No one is down at the boat docks…” her mother offers. “Go. I can keep people busy up here with s’mores and booze. And the younger set is going to the bar.”
Leaning to kiss her mother’s cheek, Emery laughs. “You really are the best, you know. Crazy, but awesome. I love you, Ma.”
While the women were talking, others had joined the nightly circle around the fire. The guitar had been passed to one of the younger cousins who was leading the circle in a sing along of family favorites. Chris was chatting with one of the boys who was in awe that his favorite superhero was going to marry into the family.
“Hey, Bobby, I need to steal Chris away for a bit, ok?” The young cousin looks up at Emery, disappointed, while Emery continues, “Chris, Dad needs us to go down and check on the boat.”
“Oh, I can do that! I can go help!” the boy inserts, eager to spend more time with Chris.
“Hey bud, I think you’re needed here to collect more sticks for s’mores later. You’re one of the older kids. Why don’t you get the flashlights and get the little kids organized to do that? I’ll be back soon, and we can continue our chat then, ok? But I think it’s ok. I think the Hydra story is BS,” Chris watches as the young boy beams with pride, high fiving him before he runs off to get the other children in on the hunt.
“Nice work, hon. You do have a way with kids,” Emery says, pulling Chris up from his seated position.
He throws himself into her, wrapping his arms around her when he throws her off balance. From the corner of his eye, he can see her older relatives watching them, so he keeps his response chaste as he kisses the top of her head. He whispers against her hair, “Are we sneaking away from this group?”
“We are!” she whispers back excitedly.
He takes her tiny hand in his as they maneuver through the small groups of family, sitting and sharing stories and drinks, heading towards the road.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” calls out one of her older aunts.
“You’re engaged, honey! It’s okay to do it now!” shouts another.
“Oh, my God, I hate my family,” Emery laughs and Chris bellows his laughter at her embarrassment. “Jesus! What is it with people?!”
“Oh, kitten, it’s cute. They’ve all spent the day telling me tales about you; they love you. They’re happy for you,” Chris shares, raising her hand to his lips, brushing his beard over the back of her hand before bestowing a delicate kiss on her tender skin. “And they’ve all made me feel so welcomed. I don’t know what your mother said or did, but other than a few sharing how sweet it was I went to visit that sick boy this week, no one but the kids have acted like they even know who I am. That has been wonderful, and more relaxing than you know,” he confides.
Shaking her head, Emery says, “To my knowledge, she didn’t say anything. I think everyone just wants to respect your privacy. You’re family. Thomases protect each other.”
The couple continues their walk towards the waterfront, talking briefly to different people in the campground Emery has known her whole life. They have a good laugh passing one camp site with a projector screen set up showing Marvel movies in the great outdoors as the Winter Soldier struts across the screen. “Your strut is better, babe,” Emery says, leaning her head against his strong bicep.
“Thanks,” he chuckles, slowing his pace for her short legs to keep up. “Where’s the music coming from?” he asks as a familiar tune flows through the night air.
“Must be a band down at the bar,” she replies offhandedly.
“Did your Dad really need help, or was that an excuse? Wanna get a drink and dance; listen to the band?”
Squeezing his arm tighter, she turns her head to kiss the part of the Taurus tattoo exposed by his tight shirt sleeve. “Maybe after we check the boat.”
Chris takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent of her shampoo and the damp lakefront air. He tries to relax but still feels so wound from all he’s done the last few weeks and the rushed trips here and there for work and pleasure. He has to change his mind set and be present in the now, with her. “Em, you were killing me today. You looked so good, sitting in the sun, your little bikini… I need you. Soon.”
His voice has a desperate need and it speaks to Emery’s core. Butterflies float through her stomach as she feels a welling of heat deep inside. “I need you too, sweetheart. Come on, walk faster!”
“Are you implying we are sneaking off to the pontoon to make out, cuz I can pick your ass up and throw you over my shoulder?”
“Down, cave man,” she laughs at his apparent need. “We’ll get there soon enough.”
She groans quietly when she sees several younger cousins fishing down by the docks. “Hey, guys. It’s getting dark. You shouldn’t be on the banks, and you don’t have on life vests-“
“Can you take us to the boat to get some?” one of the kids asks.
“Boys, and girls,” Chris adds, seeing braids on one, “It’s late. Miss Anita wants you to go back to the house and get ready for s’mores.”
“Sure thing, Cap!” one laughs as the other starts cleaning up.
“Damn, that is a super power!” Emery laughs.
“Kids love me, what can I say?” Chris laughs, grabbing her ass as she takes off down the runway.
She jumps just out of his reach and turns back around, “Do you think that’s because you’re an overgrown boy-child?”
She squeals in delight as he finally picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, smacking her ass. “Can a boy do that?” he asks, laughing when she returns the smack on his back side. “Do that again!” he chuckles. “Harder, baby!”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have no idea WHO that is playing the guitar; it’s NOT Chris, but it sure looked like him to me! A camping story has always been in mind for Emery, and this photo just added to the need for music at the campfire.
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