M- this is about half the words. The other half will be Tess/etc.
“This family is determined to continue to look backwards.” Letty was one step from standing on the coffee table and shouting. “Everything you do, everything we plan, it’s all backwards-looking. Old tech, tech so old it’s not even tech, it’s just simple machines with a new coat of paint.”
The family was not really listening. Letty did this. She’d been doing this since she was twelve or thirteen. She’d been doing this when she majored in high school in math and engineering. She’d been doing it when she went to college and majored in programming. And now, now she’d brought home an outsider, and she was ranting in front of him at the family over Thanksgiving post-dinner naps.
Her uncle Tarver finally stepped in to intervene. He’d been her favorite uncle when she was a girl, and he could usually get her to see reason. “Letty. You know why the family does things the way they do. And you know why we keep things secret. This young man of yours…”
“Is sitting right here.” Eustace cleared his throat. He was a slender man, looking particularly boyish, clean-shaven, with his hair gelled and styled. Handsome, in a very city-fashionable style. “And much of the exploits of your family are a matter of public record, if you know which records to read.” He stood up and draped his arm around Letty’s waist. He was a good two inches shorter than her, and didn’t appear to have an ounce of fat or muscle on him.
He was as far from Letty’s uncles, cousins, and father, as far from the hard-muscled, hard-working farm boys she had grown up with, as was possible while still being technically male. And this appeared to bother neither him nor Letty one bit.
Tarver turned his attention on Eustace. “So you’ve been looking into us.” He made it an accusation and an interrogation all in one. “Studying us?”
“The surname does make it obvious when one of you goes, what did Letty’s Aunt Clara call it, out in to the world. And thus, when I met Letty, it was clear rather quickly that she was a member of your elite organization. As I was interested in her, it behooved me to become more educated about your family.” He was so very calm about it. And he was smirking.
Tarver smirked back. The boy had done his homework; that was one point in his favor.
His brother Matthew was less impressed. “So you learned about her family to draw her away from them?”
“No.” Eustace was quick enough on the uptake that Tarver didn’t have time to tell Matt not to be an idiot. “I am fascinated by your family. And I know that you are always looking for new members. It has never been my desire to draw Letty away from her kin.”
This time, it was Matthew’s wife Sonia who stepped in before Tarver could intervene. “So you want to green-card your way into the family through our Letty?”
“Well, it is the traditional manner. And it has the added benefit of allowing me to marry the woman I love.”
He was slick, Tarver had to admit that. “You love our Letty?”
Letty was making small noises of harassment and, Tarver thought, probably frustration as well. This was not the topic she’d been aiming to talk about.
She should have more faith in her lover. He tuned to look at the family, now having their undivided attention. “I love Letitia more than anything in the world. I am fascinated with your family and your goals. And I agree with Letty, wholeheartedly, that to ignore modern technology in seeking your goals is both wrong-headed and dangerous.” He sought Letty’s hand and took it. “And we will work together to change that, within ourselves if nowhere else.”
Tarver held his breath. This could go very badly, in any number of different ways. People had been kicked out of the family for less. Branches of the family had been torn apart over disagreements in the policies – and the young always had disagreements.
It would hinge on Matthew, on Sonia, on the other hard-liners. They loved Letty, of course. They loved the policies. But which did they love more?
Matthew coughed, cleared his throat, and looked to his wife. She, in turn, looked to Grandmother Ellen.
Ellen waved her hand. She was ninety-seven years old, and rarely stepped forward to serve as matriarch anymore. “Technology.” Her voice was strong, despite her failing health. “When I was a girl, the things we have now wouldn’t have been believable.”
This could still go either way. Tarver’s breath was still held. A glance told him that Letty and Eustace were also waiting nervously.
Sonia leaned forward and took Grandmother Ellen’s hand. “And we adapted, didn’t we, Grandma?”
The old woman looked at her family, then directly at Letty and Eustace. “Don’t rock the boat, young lady. Find your path, and then present them with the path.”
With that, she leaned back in her chair, exhausted. Tarver released his breath, looked at his cousin Ken, and started talking loudly about the weather and the farm.
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