Mrs. Morgan looked taller without Jim’s dad towering over her. And she looked pretty in her pink-flower dress and pearls. And Jim looked very solemn in his suit. Ronnie grinned and waved. Jim waved back.
Ronnie’s mom had redecorated the cafeteria for the ceremony. The tables had been stashed somewhere, and the chairs were lined up facing the front of the room. Dark blue drapes concealed the kitchen. Ronnie and Jim both had chairs up at the front, behind the podium. Ronnie adjusted the chairs so that they were perfectly parallel.
Jim led his mom over to Ronnie and her parents. The adults shook hands, then Jim’s mom turned to Ronnie. "I hear congratulations are in order, Veronica."
"No one calls her that, Mom," Jim whispered.
His mom’s smile looked pained, and Ronnie took her hand. "It’s okay, Mrs. Morgan. You can call me either Veronica or Ronnie, whichever you like."
Jim’s mom squeezed Ronnie’s fingers. "Both are very pretty, but if everyone else calls you Ronnie, I guess I should, too."
"Thanks, Mrs. Morgan. I like your dress. It’s very pretty."
Jim and his mom both blushed, but they looked pleased. "Jim helped me pick it."
Jim’s cheeks got even redder. "Mom!"
"It’s nice to see you out of uniform, Mrs. Morgan," Ronnie’s mom said. "I don’t think I’ve seen you in anything but scrubs since you got here!"
"Well, Charles does keep me busy." Mrs. Morgan glanced at Jim, then down at the floor.
"Dad’s work is very important to him," Jim said, also looking at the floor.
Ronnie fought to keep a scowl off her face. She’d known that Jim’s dad made him miserable, but she hadn’t realized that he made Jim’s mom miserable, too. She wondered if Jim realized.
"Well, work is great, but people need recreation to really stay sharp," Ronnie said. Her parents smiled at her. "And I think you should take some time off and come over for dinner sometime."
"That would be great," Ronnie’s dad said.
Ronnie knew that her parents would back her. They had moments of being completely awesome.
"Dad doesn’t like eating with other people," Jim said.
"Well, he doesn’t have to come, does he?" Ronnie asked.
"No. He doesn’t," Mrs. Morgan said. "I think dinner sounds lovely. Thank you for the invitation, Ronnie."
Jim gaped at her. "Really? You’re willing to go without dad?"
"I’m not your father, Jam–Jim," she said.
The cafeteria had filled up as they talked. "Maybe we’d better find seats," Ronnie’s mom said. "You two go ahead and sit down. We’ll get the ceremony started in a minute."
Ronnie’s parents each squeezed one of her shoulders, and Jim’s mom kissed his cheek. Everyone found their seats, and the ceremony began.