Drake let out a sigh of weariness and satisfaction and stabbed the overhead door operator for the coach house. Even though he had an apartment at seminary, this was still home, and he still had a place that was just his. The fourth door slowly raised and he stepped on the gas to pull into his parking spot -- to slam on the brakes two seconds later. He stared a moment, then laughed. It looked like his mother decided to use his space in the carriage house to store all the overflow of supplies for the reception, if not the presents that had been spilling in since they sent out the party announcements and invitations more than a week ago.
He lowered the door again, put the Jeep into park in front of the door, and finally, gratefully, turned off the ignition. His legs and back actually throbbed a little as he unfolded to get out of the driver's seat, and he considered leaving his luggage in the Jeep until he had gotten inside and had something to eat. Maybe even wait until after his shower.
Habit and deeply ingrained training took over and he snatched up the smaller of his suitcases and his briefcase with all the assignments he wanted to get ahead on while he was home. While his professors were understanding and flexible, they weren't so flexible or understanding that he didn't have to keep up with the start-of-the-term assignments. He would need clean clothes after his shower, at the very least. Drake's mind wandered to all the wedding festivity goodies his mother would have out for the girls and his stomach growled in anticipation as he climbed the steps of the back porch. His right foot hit the box wrapped in silver and white paper, sitting on the top step, before he realized it was there.
What was a wedding present doing on the back porch? For a second, he thought the driver had come back here -- but no, all those boxes had been covered in plain brown paper, protecting the wrapped presents from the elements. Drake bent down, and for a moment his sleepy brain couldn't figure out how to pick up the box while his hands were full. He realized the wedding present was carefully wrapped in a dry cleaning bag, keeping it dry. As if whoever left it there expected it to stay ignored for a while, and prepared against snowfall.He put down his suitcase and dug in his pocket for his keys, then pushed the door open, took his suitcase and briefcase inside, then came back out for the present. He put it down on the counter next to the phone in the big gleaming pale green and stainless steel kitchen that Mrs. Belmont had ruled for so long. The scents of sausage rolls and stewed fruit and hot coffee reached out and snagged him with their siren song. He barely remembered to kick the door closed before nearly stumbling across the kitchen to the bowls and platters and the coffeemaker sitting on the counter on the far side of the kitchen, with the pass-through window discretely closed.