"Mum? I'm here!" he called out as they stood in the hallway. Becca looked around—even the hallway was beautiful, tastefully decorated with expensive-looking art prints on white walls, everything immaculate. She tried not to think about her comfortable clutter back in Clapham, and what Jon might have thought of her decidedly more casual home.
Marc was the first to reach the hallway, however, not Jon's mother, and Becca relaxed a little. She smiled timidly at him, and he nodded and smiled back, then turned to Jon.
"Another five minutes and she'd have sent out a search party," he muttered, and Becca's heart sank, even as Jon rolled his eyes.
The next second, a petite, dark-haired woman came through the doorway and quickly closed the distance between herself and her son, pulling him into a tight hug. Despite her own fears, Becca noticed that even though Jon's mother was not by any means frantic or outwardly emotional, there was a quiet intensity to her greeting—especially in the way she closed her eyes and held him tightly, her hand curved round the back of his neck—that not only showed how worried she had been, but also reminded Becca of Jon.
"Mum, I'm fine," Jon said softly. "It's okay." He hugged his mother tightly for a moment, then tried to disentangle himself. "It was all down to a stupid cock-up on my part, but everything's fine."
His mother pulled back and studied his face carefully. As Becca watched mother and son together, she saw that, despite her first impression that Jon looked very much like his dad, he also bore a strong resemblance to his mum, and not only in coloring. He was, she thought, a beautiful blend of both of them.
"I'm still your mother, and therefore entitled to worry about you, I think," Jon's mother said, eyebrow lifting, but she put her hand gently on his cheek. "And to be relieved that you're home safe and sound."
Jon wagged his head from side to side, conceding the point grudgingly. "Well, you see that I am, so you can stop worrying, yeah?"
She sighed and rolled her eyes; again, Becca was reminded forcefully of Jon. "I'll let you know the day that happens." His mother stroked his face once more and looked him over carefully. "You don't appear to be any the worse for wear."
"I told you he was fine, Ruth," Marc spoke up, smiling at his son and giving him the smallest of winks.
Then the moment Becca had been dreading arrived; Jon stepped back from his mother and turned to reach for her. Swallowing around the dryness in her throat, Becca let him take hold of her hand and tug her a bit closer. Her heart was thumping so loud she was certain the next-door neighbours could hear it.
"Mum, there's someone I'd like you to meet." He fitted Becca's fingers between his own and held onto her hand firmly, making no attempt to hide or disguise his comfort with touching her. "This is Rebecca."
"Hello, Rebecca." His mother nodded politely. "I'm Jon's mother, obviously. It's nice to meet you."
She pointedly ignored Jon's grip on Becca by offering her hand in greeting. Becca had no choice but to let go and accept the gesture. Jon frowned as Ruth went on coolly. "I understand it's down to you that my son didn't suffer too much over the weekend?"
Jon snorted abruptly, and then tried to appear innocent. Marc looked carefully up at the ceiling and cleared his throat. Becca's eyes went wide, and then, to her great distress, she felt her face begin to warm. "Umm . . . ah, hello, Mrs. Jacobs. Nice to meet you, too." She truly did not know what to say to the last part of that greeting.
Ruth stared at her son and husband. "What are you two on about?" She turned back to Becca. "Marc told me you were a veteran camper, and I'm glad that, if Jon was going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, he had someone with him who knew what to do."
"Yes, well, we all know I'm a complete prat who never would have survived on my own, don't we?" Jon said, and there was a slight edge to his voice that made Marc raise his eyebrows and look at his son meaningfully. Jon sighed. "I'm sorry, Mum. But could you try not to make me sound completely helpless, please?"
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