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Day 6: Introduction
It isn’t until Bea comes back to Ben’s bedroom after the shower, towel wrapped around her head and wearing another one of Ben’s plaid shirts and a pair of pyjama bottoms, that she catches a glimpse of the time. The clock on the nightstand tells her it’s 10.56 a.m., and her insides turns to ice as panic fills her body.
Ben, who’s rustling through his drawers for a T-shirt to wear after his shower, turns to look at her, a confused expression on his face.
“What’s wrong?” Bea slaps a hand across her face and groans.
“I’m meant to talk with my parents on Skype in four minutes, and clearly, I’m not going to make it home in time for that. Shit!”
Ben just shrugs. “Why not do it here? Use my computer while I shower, I don’t mind.”
“Because that would go over so well!” Bea shoots at him. “’Hi mum, hi dad! I’m just calling you from the house of my boyfriend, whom I haven’t told you about yet, and I’ve clearly spent the night here, judging by my apparel. How’s Australia?’ They’d flip, and call Leo, and I’ve just gotten him off my back about having a say in my relationships, and—“ Ben shuts her up with a kiss, and as she relaxes, he breaks it, and presses a piece of clothing into her hand.
“Wear my Doctor Who t-shirt and choose a generic background; they won’t question it. I’ll make myself scarce until you’ve finished. Sounds okay?”
Bea hugs him close, not really caring if she messes up a third shirt with the remains of their food fight.
“Sounds great, thank you. We usually only talk for about twenty minutes, so it shouldn’t take too long.” Ben gives her a last kiss, and leaves the room. Bea glances at the clock. Two minutes to go! She quickly opens the computer and logs onto Skype, changing her shirt while waiting for the program to load. She looks around the room quickly, before deciding that the Harry Potter poster would probably be the most innocuous one, especially considering she had the same one in her own bedroom. She drags a chair in front of it, and sits down just as a window opens, and the ring tone of an incoming call fills the room. Quickly giving herself a once-over, she clicks “accept”.
“Mum, dad, hi! It’s been ages; how are you?” Her parents wide, oblivious grins fill the screen, and she relaxes, focusing completely on the phone call.
Seventeen minutes later, Ben’s computer is almost out of battery, but since her parents are in the middle of an exciting recount of their trip to The Great Barrier Reef, she doesn’t want to end their conversation.
“I just have to run and get the power cable; I’m low on battery. I’ll be back real quick!” She says, before running into the kitchen, where it’s been since they watched Wreck-It Ralph. The computer is left on the chair in Ben’s bedroom, the call with her parents still active. It’s this moment when Ben chooses to go see if Bea has finished with her chat. He sees his bedroom door left open, and hopes this means she’s done. He’d forgotten to bring a clean shirt with him into the bathroom, and despite it being spring, it’s a bit too chilly to be walking around with a bare chest for too long. He peeks into his room. It’s empty. Brilliant!
He pushes the door open, and walks to the dresser, but before he gets there, he notices his computer’s still open on a chair in front of his Harry Potter poster, headphones plugged in. Deciding Bea must’ve kept it open to watch something while waiting for him, he walks over, and lifts it up. The headphones get snagged on the chair, and are pulled out as he turns the device around to see the screen.
“Oh, honey, you should have seen—Oh!” The stunned expressions of Mr and Mrs Duke match Ben’s as he quite unexpectedly gives them a close-up of his face. The shock almost Ben drop the computer, but he manages to catch it before it fall, inadvertently giving them a view of his naked torso in the process. For a few seconds, they just stare at each other awkwardly, before Ben clears his throat and tries to smile at them.
“Hi Mr and Mrs Duke…” That’s when he hears Bea enter the room behind him.
“Ben, what’re you…? No!” She shouts, taking in the scene in front of her. She rushes up to him, and snatches the computer from his hands, hoping to somehow undo the last few seconds with that act. But one look at her parents’ face tells her that’s never going to happen. Her father looks stupefied, and her mother has a somewhat superior, but thoroughly amused grin on her face.
“Beatrice, dear, why don’t you introduce this charming young man to us?” Bea groans, and sits down on the bed next to Ben, who seems to have adopted a permanent deer-caught-in-headlights kind of look.
“Mum, dad, this is Ben. Ben, mum and dad.” Bea mumbles, a blush working its way onto her cheeks. Ben croaks out another “Hi”, this time accompanied with a short wave. Her mum’s insistent eyes make Bea add: “Ben and I are dating”.
“Oh, we’re so happy to finally meet you! I’ve been expecting this announcement for ages now, though perhaps this isn’t the way I had imagined it.” Bea’s mum laughs. “Bea, honey, plug in that power cable; we need to have a much longer chat than I thought. And Ben,” she adds, looking from an increasingly uncomfortable Beatrice to a still stunned Benedick, “be a dear and join us. After all, you’ve been gracious enough to lend us your bedroom for the past twenty minutes. Though perhaps you’d like to put a shirt on, first.” She adds, making both Bea and Ben blush furious shades of red. It is Bea’s dad, however, that makes their jaws drop.
“So, I’ve heard from my sister that her kids have been waiting for you to get together for several months. She’ll be delighted to hear this. She made a bet with her wife, and my sister-in-law thought it would take you until at least November to figure things out. You just made your aunt lose twenty dollars!”