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xoxo, minx


I tossed another shirt on the floor, cursing myself yet again for forgetting to do laundry. All I was wearing was a pair of jeans and a tight white tank top. I couldn’t go out like this. I was a little too boobalicious to get away with a skimpy scoop neck tank top.

What had happened to all my cute clothes? Had I forgotten a box when shipping my final things back from New York? Everything clean was either a frumpy color, too tight, or just plain inappropriate for dinner with your boyfriend’s parents.

Scratch that. Fiance’s parents. Because Hendrix Evers had made it abundantly clear that he intended to “marry the hell out of me”. His exact words, by the way.

I was just about to pull the whole drawer out and dump it on the bed when Rix walked into the bedroom. His eyebrows knitted in confusion as his eyes took in the explosion of clothes on the floor at my feet.

“Charlie, is everything okay?” He moved closer slowly, carefully stepping over the clothes on the floor.

“I’m fine. Everything is fine.” Then, of course, I turned and stubbed my toe against the bedframe. “Ouch!”

Rix winced in sympathy before he scooped me up and set me carefully on the bed. “I don’t speak fluent girl but even I know ‘Fine’ means something is wrong. So why don’t you just tell me what’s up so we can get to the fixing it part.”

With a sigh, I flopped back on the bed. “Can you just tell everyone I’m sick?”

He climbed on the bed next to me. “That’s what this is about? You don’t want to go to my parents’ house? But you love family dinner.”

The concern in his voice was touching, but it also made me feel more vulnerable. I took a deep breath, gathering my thoughts. “Things are different now. Family dinner was no big deal when I was just Tana’s friend hanging out. But now I’m your girlfriend.”

He scowled. “I think you meant future wife.”

That made me smile. “Anyway, it’s different for me to show up there as their future daughter-in-law. It feels like there’s this spotlight on me, and I don’t know if I can handle that tonight.”

“We could always stay home, I guess. We have leftovers from that weird lettuce you made last night.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “It was endive salad.”

“Whatever.” He laughed too before kissing me gently on the forehead. “I don’t want you stressing out about this. We can just stay here.”

“No. We have to go. I don’t want your family to hate me for keeping you away.”

Rix grunted. “My family would never hate you. They probably like you better than me.”

“That’s not true. Your parents adore all of you.”

His expression softened, and he tilted my chin up so I was looking directly into his eyes. “They adore you, too. Charlie, you’re already family. You always have been.”

His words, so full of unwavering confidence and love, washed over me like a warm tide. I wasn’t sure why I was feeling so tender lately but he always knew exactly what to say when I was spinning out.

I sat up slowly and extended my hand towards Rix. He took it with a smile, and then watched as I grabbed one of the shirts from the pile of clothes and put it on.

I didn’t bother to look in the mirror since I would only find something to hate about my outfit.

When we reached the living room, I grabbed my shoes and slipped then on. Rix looked around in confusion. “Where are my mine?”

Just then Meatball dashed across the room with one of Rix’s boots clamped firmly between his teeth, the laces trailing behind him like a victory flag.

“Are you kidding me! What is it with him and these boots?” Rix groaned and immediately launched into a chase around the living room.

Meatball just wagged his tail excitedly and took off again. Watching this scene unfold, I wasn’t sure whether to help or just wait until Meatball ran out of steam. But apparently he was just getting started. He navigated a corner with surprising agility causing Rix to fall and land on his ass. I clamped a hand over my mouth to stifle the laughter.

Rix looked at me over his shoulder, the murderous expression on his face only making me laugh harder. It was moments like these that reminded me why falling in love with him was the easiest thing I’d ever done. Because even though he was annoyed, I knew that he loved our little troublemaking pup just as much as I did.

Finally Rix gave up on his boots and grabbed a pair of flip flops instead. “We need to get going. And just FYI, now that I’m allowed to kiss you in front of everyone, be prepared for me to be very embarrassing.”

I raised an eyebrow. “And how is that different from every other day?”

Rix closed the distance between us in two quick steps. Before I could dart away, he wrapped his arms around me, lifting me slightly off the ground. “Oh, is that how it is?”

I shrieked with laughter as his fingers found my sides. “No tickling!”

He stopped immediately. “No tickling? How about I tickle you with my lips?”

“I suppose that’s acceptable.”

* * *

As Rix pulled the truck into his parents’ driveway, my heart felt like it was doing a tap dance routine. The gravel crunched under the tires, a familiar sound that should have comforted me, but tonight it only added to my jitters.

Rix cut the engine and looked over at me with that lopsided smirk that always made my heart flutter. “You ready?”

I took a deep breath. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

I’d had dinner with the Evers countless times, but there was no denying things were different now. Coming over as Rix’s future wife was very different than being Tana’s childhood friend. These wonderful, slightly overwhelming people were going to be my family, and I suddenly had no idea how to act.

What if I said something stupid? What if they secretly wanted Rix to get back together with his ex-girlfriend?

I startled as my door swung open. Rix offered his hand to help me down.

“Don’t be nervous,” he whispered. “It’s going to be great.”

I nodded, hoping he was right. As we walked toward the front door, it swung open, and a loud voice bellowed, “Rix and Charlie are here!”

I glanced at Rix, eyes wide. “Who was that?”

Rix shook his head. “One of my brothers, but I’m not sure which one. They all sound the same when they’re shouting.”

The Evers family was a lively bunch, always full of noise and laughter. It was one of the things I loved most about them, even if it did make me a little anxious sometimes.

As we stepped inside, we were greeted by a chorus of voices. His mom, Maria, pulled me into a warm hug. “Charlie, sweetheart! How are you?”

“I’m good, Mrs. Evers. How are you?”

She waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, you know, same old, same old. And call me Maria, sweetie. Or Mom. You’re family now, remember?”

Her words sent a warm rush through me. “Maria,” I repeated, feeling the tension in my shoulders ease a bit.

Rix’s dad, Jacob, clapped him on the back. “Good to see you, son. How’s work?”

“Busy as ever,” Rix replied. “I got another job to build a she-shed for Mrs. Johnson. She said you gave her my card at church.”

Their voices trailed off as they walked toward the living room where the family always gathered. Van and Beth were cuddled on one couch while Uncle David sat in the recliner watching something on TV. They all got up to greet us.

“Hey, Charlie!” Van said, giving me a quick hug. “How’s it going?”

David grinned at me. “You ready for the chaos that comes with being an Evers?”

I laughed, shaking my head. “I think I’ve had enough practice by now.”

Van pulled Rix into a hug. “So, when’s the big day? Have you guys set a date yet?”

Rix glanced at me, and I could see the mischief in his eyes. I took a step back since I wouldn’t put it past him to lay a kiss on me right in front of everyone.

“We’re still figuring that out,” he finally replied. “It’ll probably be next summer.”

“Well, hurry up. Take Mom’s attention off us,” Van whispered.

Maria appeared in the doorway. “Dinner’s ready!”

As we moved into the dining room, my mouth watered at the smell of burgers fresh off the grill. Mr. Evers loved to grill and could even be found outside grilling when there was snow on the ground. Rix pulled out a chair for me, and I took my seat next to him. Tana came out of the kitchen then and winked when she noticed me. Then she made a face at her brother before putting the platter of toppings she was holding on the edge of the table. She sat directly across from me but I could tell the moment she kicked him because I felt Rix jump.

I bit my lip to hold in a laugh.

“You’re either on her side or my side,” Rix growled playfully.

“I think it’s a little too late to pick sides. Tana and I go back to the cradle. And technically I was her best friend first.”

He sighed. “She never did share well.”

Once everyone was seated, Mr. Evers said grace and then the table was a flurry of activity as we all passed platters piled high with burgers and all the fixings. Rix’s little brothers both had three burgers on their plates and ate like they hadn’t seen food in days. Maria and Jacob shared knowing looks before pointing at Rix and Van.

“I remember when they went through that phase,” Maria commented.

“At least Van didn’t eat like an animal. I can’t say the same for this one,” Tana gestured at Rix.

I took a bite of my own burger, and as I looked around the table all my earlier anxiety melted away. For so long I’d been living like there was a giant shoe hanging over my head, ready to drop at any moment. But now, sitting here with Rix’s family, everything felt right.

This was my family now. These were the people who would be there for me, through thick and thin, just as I would be there for them. The realization brought tears to my eyes, and I quickly blinked them away, not wanting to draw attention to myself.

Rix noticed, though, and gave my hand a gentle squeeze under the table. “You okay?”

I nodded, smiling up at him. “I’m perfect. I was so worried about tonight and everything is perfect.”

His face lit up. “Am I risking my life if I say I told you so?”

“You can say it just this once.”

“Maybe I’ll just say I love you, Charlotte Monroe, soon-to-be Evers.” He leaned over and kissed me, a sweet, tender kiss that made me feel like my heart was exploding.

“Ew, they’re kissing!” a voice suddenly shrieked. “Mom!”

We broke apart to find Rix’s youngest brother, Beck, glaring at us from across the table with a look of utter disgust on his face.

Everyone burst into laughter.

“Beck, they’re allowed to kiss,” Maria said, her eyes twinkling with amusement. “Rix and Charlie are engaged.”

Beck crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, it’s still gross.”

Rix looked over at me. “Maybe we spoke too soon about things being perfect.”

He wrapped his arm around me, pulling me closer. I buried my face in his shirt, inhaling his comforting scent. He always carried the scent of wood and the outdoors. I’d come to associate that with complete and total safety. Everyone else had already gone back to eating and talking, Beck’s outburst already forgotten. We were just a part of the chaos and I realized I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love you, Hendrix Evers.”

“I love you, too. But you know what that means?” At my raised eyebrow, he continued. “You’re stuck with us now, for better or for worse.”

* * *

Thank you so much for reading Dinner with The Evers!

There is a full bonus novella from Meatball’s point of view on Patreon entitled Take a HikeAnd no, that’s not a typo. Meatball has his own story, LOL. 

To celebrate the release of You Ruin Everything, all free tier members on Patreon now have access to read Meatball’s story. (Paid members can download to read on their ereader or phone). If you love my particular brand of crazy, join my free Patreon and dive in!