Chapter 25: “Dinner with the Family”

Tris POV

“Yes, Eric, I have everything.” I sigh. How many more times is he going to ask me if I have everything I need for thanksgiving break.

“You’re sure that you have all your books? You didn’t leave any in your room or mine?” He asks again.

I glare at him. “Yes I have everything. I double checked last night, I triple checked this morning, and I checked again before we left.”

He is annoying when he’s in RA mode. No wonder why no one wants to be near him when he’s like this. Everything has to be his way, there’s no room for argument.

I pick up my backpack and go sit in his car. I’ll just wait for him here, while he makes sure he has everything. I’d love to mess with him and say that I left something when we’re half way to my house, but I’m pretty sure he’d skin me alive. I throw my bag in the back seat and wait for him.

Ten minutes later, Eric opens the front door getting in his car with a scowl.

“What did you forget something?” I roll my eyes.

“No some transfer did. He’s so fucking annoying, a bumbling idiot.” He slams the car door.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. I’m not in the mood to get a lecture from him. When he’s in this type of mood it means avoid eye contact and no sudden movements; kinda like a rabid dog.

“Put your address in the GPS and then we can be on our way.” He hands me the GPS.

I do as he says. I still can’t believe that Eric and I only live a town over from one another. I understand that you can live in the same area as someone and never meet them, but it’s still surprising. I hand Eric his GPS back.

“Are you sure you have everything?” He asks me again.

I take a deep breath. “Yes I am sure, babe.”

Eric nods and finally puts the car in drive. Once he’s on the highway, he reaches over and holds my hand. I’ve noticed that we’re always touching; holding hands or his arm around my shoulder or his hand on my knee.

“So what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” I ask him. Between midterms and now studying for finals we haven’t really spoken about what our holiday plans are.

“Um… It’ll probably just be my brother, parents, and me. My parents aren’t really big on family holidays. We used to spend it with my grand parents, but since they passed it’s just my immediate family.” He smiles at me. “What is your family doing?”

“My mom’s cooking. Normally she invites our neighbors over, the one that my brothers dating, and my dad’s boss and his son are coming over.” I shrug. “It’s nothing major.”

“That still sounds better than being at my house.” He replies.

I reach over and turn the radio on to a familiar station. I try my hardest not to sing when one of my favorite songs comes on.

Eric squeezes my hand. “I already know that you have a horrible singing voice, there’s no need for you to hold it in.”

“You’re such a jerk.” I laugh.

The rest of the ride is filled with me singing songs, horribly, that are playing on the radio. Eventually, Eric pulls up in front of my house. It’s a normal two-story house with a front yard and a deck in the back. When I was younger we had a pool, but my dad took it down saying that it was too indulgent.

“You’re home honey.” Eric smirks at me.

I smile at him. I look at my house. It doesn’t feel like home. I have to ask to go out, I have to ask to see friends, I have to ask if I want to have friends over. It’s like being back in high school and I have to be back home around 10.

Eric gets out of the car. He pops his trunk and grabs my duffle bag out. He looks at me as I sit in his car. He opens the door and stares at me. “Should I have just taken you to my house instead?”

“No.” I smile. “I’m just not ready to be treated like a child yet.”

Eric laughs as if it’s the funniest thing in the world. “Baby, don’t worry. Eventually that will end. I can’t make promises when, but eventually your parents will treat you like an adult instead of a child.”

I nod. Rationally, I know what he means. Emotionally, I want to be treated like an adult now, like how I’ve been acting for the past four months. I get out of his car and slide on my backpack. “Thanks for driving me. If you want to leave now you can and avoid my dad.”

“And miss seeing your mom who’s in love with me? No way.” He smiles. “I can’t wait to meet your dad.”

I sigh. Okay, let’s do this quick, fast, and painless. I keep repeating those words to myself as I walk up the front steps with Eric behind me. I unlock the door. “Hello? Anybody here?” I yell. I hear a little yipping noise and the clicking of little paws on the wood floor. Our tiny longhaired Chihuahua comes running at me. Jumping up to attempt to reach me. I bend down and immediately start rubbing his belly. “Hi Zoro! Did you miss me? I bet you did.”

Eric laughs next to me. “I thought you guys would have had a bigger dog.”

“Hey Zoro is fierce and will bite your nuts off; if I lift him high enough.” I frown at him. “Where’s mommy?” The little dog goes running, hopefully, in the direction of my mother.

Eric puts my bag down and follows the dog, pulling me with him. When we hear barking, I hear my mother asking the dog what’s wrong.

“He’s telling you I’m home mom. You didn’t hear me yelling for anybody?” I say from the doorway.

My mom jumps. “Tris don’t scare me like that.” She looks over at Eric. “Hello Eric.”

“Hi Mrs. Prior.” He smiles. I feel him rest his hand on my lower back.

“I told you to call me Natalie.” She scolds. She comes over and hugs me, doing the same with Eric. “So I hear you live close by?”

“Yeah, only twenty minutes away.” He smiles.

“Are you coming over tomorrow?” She pushes.

“I’ll be with my family tomorrow. I wasn’t aware that I was invited to thanksgiving here.” He smirks at me.

“You didn’t invite him?” She hits my arm. “And here I thought I was going to get some cute shots of all the couples for the Christmas cards.”

Immediately, my hand goes to my forehead. “Mom!”

“What? I thought it would be nice.” She shrugs, looking at Eric. “So are you staying for dinner?”

“I wasn’t aware I was invited for dinner until now.” He laughs.

“You’re always welcome here Eric.” My mom beams at him. “Tris’s father should be home in a couple hours. Stay for dinner and you can meet him.”

I bite the inside of my cheek.

“Well I’d love to stay for dinner. I can’t wait to meet your dad Tris.” He smirks at me.

“Great. I’ll make you guys some lunch.” My mom smiles. “Put your stuff in your room Tris. Eric can help you carry it up.”

I direct Eric to follow me. “You don’t have to stay for dinner if you don’t want to.” I tell Eric when we’re on the steps to the second floor, not within distance of my mother.

“Nah, I’d like to meet your dad. I can’t wait to meet your brother too.” Eric puts my duffle bag on my bed. He looks around my room. “It isn’t what I thought it would be.”

“What do you mean?” I look around my room. It has light grey walls, and my bed has a brick red comforter. I have some old pictures on the wall from high school. My room is surprisingly clean, especially since there was stuff left all over the place when I left for school in August.

“I thought it’d be a little more girly. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, it’s just not what I expected.” He stands in front of me. “So have you ever had a guy in your room?”

I roll my eyes. “Yes. Previous boyfriends have snuck in my room when my parents were home.”

Eric laughs. “Please, they aren’t half as great as me.”

“That’s true.” I smile. Stroking Eric’s ego gets me much farther in life.

Eric pulls me to him, and lays the mother of all kisses on me. If that’s what I get for stroking his ego then I should do it more often. His hand tangles in my hair, while the other grips my waist. His tongue explores my mouth, before he kisses down my jaw to my exposed neck. His hands slide down my body and I feel him lift me, my legs automatically wrap around him. I pull his hair and start to kiss his neck. Eric moves us so we’re on my bed, with him leaning over me. He guides my lips back to his.

My hands explore his body, slipping under his shirt I run my nails down his chest. I feel his abs tighten. My hands slide up his shirt, trying to pull it off.

Eric pulls away. “Babe, what are you doing?” He pulls his shirt back down.

“Nothing.” I smile innocently, sitting up.

“No way, you’re trying to start something.” He raises an eyebrow at me.

“You started first when you kissed me like that. What did you get jealous at me mentioning the fact that I have previous boyfriends? So you decided to stake your claim?” I smirk at him.

Eric laughs. “You have an overactive imagination baby.”

I roll my eyes at him. “You still like me.” I state confidently.

“I do.” Eric kisses my forehead.

Eric POV

I take a deep breath. Mrs. Prior told me that her husband is on the way home. Apparently he “just can’t wait to meet me”; I think she’s lying.

Tris squeezes my hand before she gets up to set the table. I’ve offered to help multiple times, but Mrs. Prior told me to relax. I guess I looked a bit stressed.

A bit is putting it nicely. It was different when I was first meeting Mrs. Prior. I was nervous if she would like me, with Tris’s dad I want him to trust me. I want him to trust me enough to let me spend time with his daughter when he isn’t near. My pride is going to be bruised if he hates me.

My breath catches when I hear the front door open and close.

“Hey all. I’m home.” He calls out.

I watch as he goes in to the kitchen and says hello to his family. He comes out and looks at me. He’s just about my height, but he looks intimidating with his suit on; especially since I’m wearing jeans and a sweater.

“So you’re the guy that my daughters dating?” He smiles.

I stand up, going to shake his hand. “Yes.” I smile. “I’m Eric, it’s nice to meet you sir.”

“It’s nice to meet you too. I’ve heard a lot about you from my wife.”

“Hopefully all good.” I smile.

Tris comes in and stands next to me. “I see you already met Eric, dad.”

“I did. We didn’t get to speak much yet. I guess we’ll talk more over dinner.” He winks at her before going in the kitchen with Mrs. Prior.

I take a deep breath.

“I thought you were excited to meet my dad?” Tris asks.

“I am. I just hate the initial meeting. And the part where he interrogates me.”

Tris smiles and pulls me closer to kiss my cheek. “My dad’s going to love you. The last time I spoke to him on the phone he told me that he couldn’t wait to meet you. Apparently my mother’s only had nice things to say about you.”

I smile at her. “He said that to me too.”

“Then you have nothing to be worried about.” She reassures me. She pulls me in to the dining room where Mrs. Prior is putting dinner on the table.

“Andrew, have you heard from Caleb? Is he going to be home soon?” She calls out.

“He should be here in five minutes.” He replies. “I’m going to change real quick. I can’t wait to get out of this damn suit.”

“What does you dad do?” I ask Tris quietly.

“Oh, he works for the governor.” She replies. Tris takes her hand in mine under the dining room table. “Just be warned my brother has a big ego.”

“What do you mean?” I smirk. I’m rather curious to meet her brother, she doesn’t really talk about him that much. I’ve learned that he’s my age and is also an RA where he goes to school. I think she told me that he is a bio major, but he wants to be a neurobiologist like my father. How he got that when his mother was a cop and his dad works for the governor his beyond me. I guess everyone has their own passions; to each their own I guess.

“My brother believes that he is god’s gift to school. I’m pretty sure that he has the highest GPA in the school, but because of that he developed this superiority complex that he’s greater than everyone. Except for my parents.” She laughs. “Just be wary of him. He can attack your intelligence without you even realizing it.”

I smile at her. “I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about what he thinks about me; as long as you like me then I’m happy.”

Tris’s father comes down and sits with us at the table. He and Tris talk about what she’s studying in school, how she’s been doing in classes, and how her friends are. I guess Mrs. Prior told him about when all of her friends were waiting for her in Tris’s room. Finally, he starts in on me.

“So Eric, my wife told me that you’re also studying criminal justice like Beatrice.”

He states, rather than asks. I nod. “Are you going to take the police exam soon?”

“I’ll probably take it next year. I want to focus this year on school.” I reply.

“And then being a police officer will be your career?”

“Ideally. I’d like to be made detective in the future, but I still have a long way before that even happens.” I smile. “Tris told me that you work for the Govenor. What’s that like?”

Mr. Prior shrugs at my question. “I’ve been working with Marcus since we were in college, we’re old friends and we work well together.”

Talk about cryptic. From what I’ve heard in the media, the Governor’s been having a hard time in the public eye. Rumors have been spread that he beats his son, but no one has seen his son in the public eye since he was in middle school, so no one truly knows what’s been going on with him. My guess is he’s trying to separate himself from his father. No matter what Mr. Prior says Marcus Eaton looks like an ass. If I hated been eligible to vote when he was elected the first time, I would have voted for the other candidate.

The front door opens and closes. I hear footsteps coming closer to the dining room table. A thin, gangly, kid stands in front of us. There’s no way that he can be the same age as me. He barely looks old enough to drive, let alone be twenty.

“Hey dad, Beatrice.” He smiles, before his eyes land on me and he frowns. “Who’s this?”

“This,” Tris replies brusquely, “is my boyfriend Eric.”

He smiles at me briefly, before nodding in my direction. “Nice to meet you.”

Before I can reply, Mrs. Prior comes in from the kitchen. “Oh, Caleb, you’re home. We can eat dinner now. We’ve been waiting for you.” She chides. She guides him to his chair across from me and Tris, and goes to her own.

“Are you going to say grace, dear?” Mrs. Prior asks her husband.

We all clasp hands and bow our heads as Mr. Prior says grace, with us all saying amen afterwards. Mrs. Prior serves everyone, and it smells amazing.

Everyone’s quiet for a few minutes until Caleb starts talking.

“So Beatrice, when did you and Eric start dating?” He looks at me, rolling his eyes.

“First day I started at Dauntless.” Tris answers. I smirk at her.

“Oh, you both finally decided on a day.” Mrs. Prior pipes in.

“What?” Mr. Prior asks.

“Oh, they kissed the first night there, and then started dating a week later. When I met Eric, they hadn’t decided when they first got together. I guess they decided.” She smiles at the two of us.

Mr. Prior looks at us. “Oh you’ve been dating for a while then. I thought this was new.” He looks between us.

“No we’ve been dating for a couple months now. I was trying to tell you, but you never responded to any of my texts. Now that I think about it, I haven’t spoken to you since I moved in to school.” Tris says nicely, but I can hear the underlying edge to her voice.

“You should have told him that it was important, Beatrice. You know that our father is extremely busy each day.” Caleb chimes in with a condescending tone.

“That’s because he makes time to talk to you.” She smiles back.

If I could shrink down in my seat I would. I glance at Mrs. Prior and she does not look happy.

“So what are you studying Caleb?” I ask him, trying to divert attention away from this entire topic.

“I’m studying biology. I’d like to become a neurobiologist.” He replies. “So what are you studying Eric. I haven’t heard too much about you, aside from the fact that you’ve been dating my sister since she started that school.”

“I’m studying criminal justice like your sister. I too would like to be a police officer, and then maybe ten years in the future become detective. I’m shooting to become commissioner by the time I’m in my fifties.” I smile back at him.

Caleb doesn’t say anything, but Mr. Prior smiles at me. “Well it seems like you have a good head on your shoulders; even if you have an eyebrow piercing.”

I laugh. “Tris seems to like it.” From the corner of my eye I can see her cheeks go red.

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