Coffee Break Read – Meeting the In-Laws

They set off, not following the road, but heading uphill onto the high common land where sheep and goats roamed, and the air was filled with the sweet scent of yellow gorse.
For Julia, the ride was enchantment. She had her arms around the man she loved and her cheek resting on his back, and all the while they passed through the greenest and, she thought, the loveliest landscape she had ever seen. The only bar to complete enjoyment was the increasing rigidity in Dai’s shoulders as they neared his family home. 
They came down from the hillside onto an obviously well-travelled road, and not many minutes later Dai stopped the vehicle beside a wide white-painted gate. He screwed around to look at her.
“This is it,” he said somewhat grimly.
“Smile, love,” she admonished. “You don’t want to upset your mother.”
His face softened as he looked at her, then he got off the vehicle and opened one leaf of the gate. 
It was a long approach to the house and Julia was surprised to be passing through vineyards where the harvest was in full swing.
“I never made the connection,” she said in a voice of awe. “I knew your family were wine merchants with a vintner’s in Viriconium. I should have thought that maybe you have your own wines.”
“We don’t sell wine. It’s brandy. Distilled on the property.”
“Oh my. Why didn’t I know that?”
He managed an eloquent shrug as the all-terrain drew to a silent halt in front of a long, low stone-built house. Somebody must have been watching out, because the door opened and a little group of people hurried out to greet them.
First came a middle-aged woman with a coronet of jet-black braids and a pair of piercing blue eyes. She could only be Dai’s mother, Olwen, and everybody else hung back to allow her to greet her only child. He leapt off the vehicle and grasped his mother in a boisterous hug, lifting her quite off the ground and burying his face in her neck. She hugged him back for a long moment before putting her hands on either side of his face and kissing his cheeks. 
“Put me down and introduce your wife,” she scolded but Julia could see the tears of joy that sparkled unshed in her eyes.
Dai obligingly set Olwen on her feet and turned to lift a laughing Julia from the all-terrain.
“I’m sure I should be able to get myself off this thing, I just couldn’t figure out how.”
“Your legs aren’t long enough.” 
He kissed her lovingly before taking her hand and leading her to where his family waited.
“This is my wife, Julia,” he said with simple pride. Then he ticked off names on his fingers. “My mother, Olwen. Brother, Hywel. My sister-in-law Enya. And these are my nephews Merfyn, Angwyn, Brychan and….” he looked at the babe in Enya’s arms questioningly.
His brother grinned. “Oh. Him. That’s Dai.”
Dai strode over and smote his brother on the shoulder.
“You never did?”
“We did,” it was Enya who spoke. She looked at Julia. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Julia walked over and looked at the baby’s fair face. She blinked away a tear.
“No. I think it’s lovely. And I may not be able… We may never be….” she stopped and Dai came to stand behind her with his hands on her shoulders. 
Enya smiled a sweet smile.
“Would you like to hold him?”
Julia nodded mutely and Enya put the baby in her arms.

From Dying for a Poppy by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

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