DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
SERIES/SEQUEL: Second story in the 'Dealing with Dad' series, following Gone Fishing.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta.
A Little Light Lunch
Ash stared at the end of her fork, praying that it contained the very last brussel sprout in existence. She had thought, in a rush of optimism, that her parents' invitation to lunch had been an olive branch, but as she watched her father stare menacingly at Scribbs, she knew it had merely been an attempt by her mother to clear the air.
A foot nudged Ash's beneath the table, and she turned in time to see Scribbs motion towards the door and the nearest escape route. "Not yet," she mouthed, her lips partially obscured by the approaching sprout.
"Did you say something?" her father demanded, his visual assault on her girlfriend coming to a jarring halt as he turned his head to glare at his youngest child.
"No." Ash met his glare with one of her own and smiled triumphantly as his eyes dropped to his overflowing plate. "Have you heard from David?" she asked her mother, hoping that talk of his other child would divert her father's wrathful glare.
"He never calls," her father grumbled, "unless he wants something."
Mrs. Ashurst ignored her husband and proceeded to describe in excruciating detail her earlier conversation with David, including a somewhat lurid description of the young lady he'd met on a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. "It's time he settled down," she concluded, "and found himself a pretty little wife, like Emma."
Scribbs blushed at the compliment. "I don't think he's ready to settle down," she said, to redirect the conversation and save Mr. Ashurst from the coronary his wife's comment seemed on the verge of provoking. "He was telling me last week about his plans to sail around the world single-handed."
Mr. Ashurst snorted in disdain. "It'll never happen," he said, before realising he'd accidentally conversed with his daughter's lesbian lover, and clamped his mouth shut.
"You've never had any faith in him," Mrs. Ashurst chided. "It was the same when he was little," she told Scribbs, "every dream that boy had, his father would shoot down in flames."
Ash sighed and prepared for round one thousand and twenty-seven in her parents' ongoing 'discussion' of her brother's failings. She suspected that David was subjected to similar 'discussions' about her shortcomings, especially since she announced the true nature of her relationship with Scribbs, but the siblings had wisely decided to spare each other the details. "Emma and I are getting married," she blurted, unable to stand yet another retelling of David's failure to keep his job in the city. "The ceremony will be at the end of April and you're both invited."
Scribbs' mouth dropped open, and two peas escaped to fall back on to her plate.
"What!" Ash's father looked as if he'd been hit in the gonads by a cricket ball. "Are you mad!"
Mrs. Ashurst squealed, jumped up from her seat, and proceeded to hug her daughter, "Oh, Kate, I'm so happy for you." She turned her attentions to Scribbs and promptly began to squeeze the life out of the startled blonde. "Welcome to the family," she gushed.
First stunned, and then half strangled, Scribbs could do little more than nod and smile as Mrs. Ashurst continued to wax lyrically about the beauties of an April wedding while her husband fixed a death glare on Scribbs' skull.
"We should be going," Ash interrupted as her mother began regaling her future daughter-in-law with sordid tales from her own hen night thirty-eight years in the past. "We have an early meeting tomorrow," she lied.
Scribbs jumped at the chance to escape, and Mr. Ashurst, too, seemed relieved at the idea of their early departure. He had said little, his mind too full of fury and confusion, but he had every intention of talking to his daughter in the morning and dissuading her of this most preposterous of ideas. "Drive carefully," he mumbled, before turning and retreating back into the comfort of his favourite armchair. Mrs. Ashurst more than made up for her husband's lack of enthusiasm as she hugged Ash and Scribbs goodbye.
Once released from the horrors of Sunday lunch with the 'in-laws', Scribbs turned a questioning glance on her partner. "We're getting married?" she asked.
Ash could feel the colour rising in her cheeks as she desperately searched for a sane excuse for her insane announcement. "I'm sorry," she said, when sanity failed to reconcile itself with her impromptu declaration. "I just couldn't take another minute of -"
"Are we getting married?" Scribbs interrupted, the smile on her face a rare mix of hope and fear.
"Yes," confirmed Ash confidently, her bravado lasting precisely long enough to utter the single word, before her insecurities set in and she was forced to add in a trembling voice, "If you'll have me."
In lieu of an answer, Scribbs took Ash into her arms, and oblivious to their surroundings, kissed her senseless, only coming up for air when a dull thud sounded from inside the house to signal Mr. Ashurst's fall into a dead faint.
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