The colony was still small enough to support group celebrations like this one. The tables had been set with flowers and pretty cloths. A band hired to provide music. Food, laid out in a bounty that proved to any who doubted how prosperous they'd all become.
Marrin watched Sarai chattering with her friends. Her other daughters, Aliya and Hadassah, had also abandoned the dull company of their parents to seek their companions. Marrin had a plate of salad and a glass of iced water, but wasn't doing much beyond looking around in amazed pride.
"You're Sarai's mother, aren't you?"
Marrin turned at the question to see a woman of about her own age she faintly recognized. "Yes. I'm Marrin Levy."
"Arlene Simpson. I'm Jack's mom."
Marrin didn't know Jack, but she smiled and nodded anyway. Keane came up beside her and put his arm around her shoulders, squeezing gently before stepping away to take the plate from her hands and begin finishing the salad.
"Hi," he greeted Arlene.
The other woman's eyes widened slightly. "Hello. I'm Jack's mom." Her smile thinned as she looked at Marrin.
Keane smiled and shrugged, more honest in his reply than Marrin had been. "Sorry, I don't know Jack."
"Jack Simpson?" Arlene's tone clearly said Keane ought to know him. "He might be a year or two behind you."
Keane paused with the fork halfway to his mouth, an eyebrow raised. "Sorry?"
Marrin tensed, her gut twisting. It wasn't the first time their apparent age difference had been brought up in casual conversation, but it had been quite a while. Anyone who knew them knew Keane wasn't as young as his Seveeran genetics made him appear.
"My son," Arlene said patiently, as though Keane were an idiot. "He graduated today with your girlfriend."
"My girlfriend?" Keane's face showed an amusement Marrin envied, but didn't feel. He looked around the room, clearly biting back a laugh.
"Well, yes...you're Sarai's boyfriend, aren't you? I just guessed you--"
"You guessed because I was here with Marrin and behaving in such a familiar manner that I must somehow be related to her, and you assumed for some reason I was here because of her daughter, who graduated today with your son." His smile remained pleasant, his voice light, but he'd set down his plate and put an arm around Marrin's shoulders.
Arlene looked confused, from Keane to Marrin and back again. "Well, yes."
"Marrin is my wife," said Keane without changing his tone.
If the woman's face could have blushed any more crimson, Marrin didn't see how. Arlene Simpson stammered and stuttered and backed away like Keane had somehow insulted her when really, she was the one who'd put her foot in her mouth.
It made Marrin feel no better to watch the other woman's distress. Much of the time she could forget her husband was of a different race that didn't age the same way Earthers did. She aged every day. Keane did not.