“So… what’s she like?”
“Rachel’s mother? Well, take Rachel; add about twenty-five years, and an upper-class British lifestyle. She wasn’t exactly overjoyed when her daughter married a cop from New Jersey.”
“Oh boy. Should I be worried?”
“I have no idea. She hasn’t wanted anything to do with me since the divorce. I think she was happy.”
“Well, this should be interesting.”
Danny led Steve through the restaurant until he saw Rachel and her mother sitting at a table near one of the windows. They walked toward the table.
“Hello, Daniel, and this must be Steve.”
Danny turned to Steve and introduced everyone. “Steve, of course you know Rachel. This is her mother, Mrs. Evelyn James.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. James.”
He looked over at Danny and noticed how uncomfortable he was. They both sat down and ordered drinks. Neither of them knew what to say or do.
Mrs. James was the first to speak. “Daniel, I know you are wondering why I wanted to meet with you.”
Danny didn’t say anything. He wanted to, but the last thing he wanted to do was cause a scene.
“Well, first of all, I wanted to thank you.”
“I know I never really warmed up to you, but I know how much you loved my daughter, and how much you care for my granddaughter. You help to keep them safe. It has taken me a long time to realize that.”
“Um… I don’t know what to say. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
“Yes. I know that now.”
“Isn’t it a little too late for that. I mean, Rachel and I have been over for a few years now. It would have been nice to know that…” Danny froze. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He could feel Steve tense up next to him.
“No, Rachel, it’s alright. I deserve that.”
At some point during the exchange, Steve had placed his hand on Danny’s thigh and squeezed. It gave Danny some reassurance, to know that Steve was there. He stayed quiet; worried that he might say something he would regret.
“I also wanted to meet this Uncle Steve that Grace is always talking about.”
That surprised everyone else at the table, including Rachel. Mrs. James turned to Steve.
“From what I hear, I should be thanking you as well. Grace can’t stop talking about how her Uncle Steve is a hero, and how much she loves him. Not as much as her Danno, but really close. Those were her exact words.”
Both Steve and Danny blushed. It was Steve that spoke first.
“Um… ma’am, I love you granddaughter very much, as if she were my own. I would do anything for her and her father.”
“Yes, I can see how much you care for Daniel.”
“I… love him very much.”
Danny turned and looked him in the eyes. A look of shock, not because that had been a revelation, but that Steve had told his ex-mother-in-law. Steve just turned and smiled back at Danny. Danny placed his hand on top of Steve’s and squeezed.
“Well, I think it’s time we ordered. I’m absolutely famished,” Rachel said, breaking the awkwardness that had taken over the table.
The rest of the evening was light and fairly uneventful; all of them sharing some of their favorite stories and exploits. At the end of the evening, when they all got up to leave, Mrs. James pulled Steve aside.
“You take good care of Daniel, okay?”
“Of course, ma’am.”
“Very good.” She then walked back over to where Danny and Rachel were standing. “I need sleep. It’s been a long day.”
“Of course, mother. Daniel, Steven, I’ll bring Grace by Saturday morning.”
They all said their goodbyes and walked to their cars. Once Danny and Steve were inside the Camaro and on their way home, Danny turned to Steve.
“What did she say to you?”
“She wanted me to take good care of you.”
“Really? Is that all?”
“Yeah, Danno, that’s it.”
“Wow… tonight definitely didn’t go how I expected.”
“Yeah, she wasn’t as scary as I was expecting.”
They both laughed; any tension they had been feeling melted away.