Just like its master, the Verhen house had never stopped growing ever since Lith had started working as a Healer for his village first and for the highest bidder later.
It was now a beautiful two story cottage, which didn\'t look like a farmer\'s home, more like the cozy countryside love nest of a noble.
The walls were entirely made of stone and the sloping-roof was covered with high quality tiles.
The inside looked even better.
The floor was made of hardwood and covered with soft carpets which helped to keep the house warm and gave it a welcoming feel.
Kamila had rehearsed what to say to each member of Lith\'s family many times in her head.
She wanted to make a good first impression, yet she had no idea the mission was already accomplished.
Tista had nothing but good things to say about her.
Also, she was the first girlfriend Lith had ever brought home, his family had mistaken his obsession with control in preparing the event for tender affection.
They loved Lith so much that she had a special place in their hearts even before they could meet her and their only worry was to not embarrass him.
Thanks to the White Griffon academy, Lith and Tista had developed sophisticated manners and speech, which made them able to easily mingle with both commoners and nobles.
The rest of the family had never left the area surrounding Lutia except during short vacations or for visiting the Ernas household.
Count Lark was still an as frequent as welcome guest in their home and had provided them with several lessons about etiquette over the years.
The Count found the thought that Lith\'s parents couldn\'t accompany him at galas unbearable, so he had tried to help them overcome their fears and inhibitions.
Elina and Raaz had greatly appreciated his gesture, but when surrounded by nobles, they kept feeling like a freak show.
Facing Kamila alone, in the comfort of their own home and without being forced to wear fancy clothes still proved to be a harder challenge than a gala for them.
Lith couldn\'t care less about what nobles thought, whereas he seemed to think the world of Kamila.
As soon as the couple stepped in, an awkward silence ensued.
Tista had yet to arrive, only Rena was already there.
Everyone was as stiff as a mannequin and the way introduced themselves reminded Lith of one of those tv shows featuring job interviews where the CEO was known to be disguised among the applicants.
The tension in the room was so thick it was hard to determine who was more frightened.
Luckily, kids had no sense of shame nor care for any form of etiquette.
Big bro! Aran had turned two years old just a few months before.
He emerged from the bathroom with his arms up demanding a hug, but his pants were still down.
When Lith saw his little brother running toward his brand new coat, his battle hardened reflexes kicked in.
You shall not pass! Lith yelled as small wisps of light surrounded Aran while spirit magic lifted him off the ground.
The light was just for show, so he wouldn\'t scare people with an invisible force.
What were you doing in there, young man Lith tapped his foot while his parents recovered Aran\'s pants which laid on the floor like a fallen soldier.
Poo! Aran was proud of his ability to use the bathroom and not need diapers anymore.
Did you clean yourself up before barging in here Did you at least wash your hands
Maybe Aran wasn\'t sure.
He clearly remembered of being almost done when he had heard his brother\'s voice.
The rest was kind of fuzzy.
Elina took her son between her arms and brought him back to the bathroom.
I\'m so sorry. Lith said with a remorseful tone as fake as a three dollar bill, beating the embarrassed Raaz to the punch.
That\'s why I hate kids. He added with a purposely audible whisper into Kamila\'s ear to break the ice.
They are noisy, smelly, and messy.
That\'s not true! Boys are smelly, girls are clean. Leria protested while tugging Lith\'s pants.
My hands still smell like soap. To emphasize her point, she put them under Lith\'s nose as soon as he lifted her in his arms.
Leria, this is my girlfriend, Kamila.
Kamila, this is my soap scented niece Leria.
She dreams of one day becoming a princess.
Nice to meet you Leria. Kamila shook Leria\'s small hand that quickly escaped her grasp and went for her hair.
Are you a princess Because your hair really looks like a princess\'. The little girl had never seen such a shiny black hair.
Thanks, but I\'m not a princess. Kamila replied with a laugh.
Too bad. Leria combed Kamila\'s hair with her fingers for a while before losing interest.
Uncle Lith, can you please cook Uncle\'s food always tastes better than mom\'s. Leria calmly explained to Kamila with a solemn tone.
That\'s because your uncle cheats with magic. Rena replied while saving Kamila\'s hairdo.
He cheats at everything with magic.
I know, but you can never argue with his results.
Every time he stays at my place, he leaves everything cleaner than when he arrives. Kamila replied without thinking.
\'Oh gods! Now they\'ll think my house is a dump.\'
I know, I trained him well. Rena stood on her tiptoes and ruffled Lith\'s hair.
Don\'t listen to him.
He\'s great with kids too.
When Leria was teething… While Rena talked, Tista arrived and the awkward mood faded away completely.
Lith left Kamila with his family and put on his kitchen apron which resembled a mage robe.
Fire Vision allowed him to check the temperature of all the dishes both on the stove and in the oven.
Then he used fire magic to make them cook evenly while he stirred everything with water magic and at the same time cut fruits and vegetables in animal shapes with air magic to make them more alluring for the kids.
Kamila had never seen so many ladles and lids float in the air while Lith moved from one dish to another.
Between the kids and Lith\'s skills with domestic chores, they had a lot to talk about.
Kamila also learned about their past hardships and Tista\'s illness.
Kamila was moved by how tight knit the Verhen family was, being able to talk about such a sad past with a smile on their face.
Instead of being emotionally scarred, like it had happened to her, leaving her afraid of any form of commitment, they had overcome it together and their lives were better for it.
Can I do something to help you Kamila joined Lith in the kitchen to resist the temptation to share her troubled past with her family.
\'My problems are my own.
They don\'t deserve me ruining this day by talking about sad things\' She thought
Of course. Lith replied as the words Kiss me.
I\'m a wizard in the kitchen and I\'m good at cooking too. appeared on his apron thanks to a light magic spell.
While Kamila was still laughing at his stupid joke, Lith took her in his arms and gave her a long but soft kiss.
Why did you do that She blushed while looking at the rest of the family who was quick to turn their heads around.
Kids excluded, of course.
Because you looked like you needed it. Lith shrugged.
Stop worrying now.
This is not a mission nor a job interview.
This is just a lunch for the Verhen family and today you are part of it.
Elina and Raaz shared a glance and clenched their fists in silent triumph while Kamila found herself hoping it wouldn\'t just be for today.