Ages of characters: Liam–10, Zack (his brother)–3, August & Beau, Briar: 55, Lexie, James: 38, August and Beau’s four children: Brayden: 20, Triplets: Asher, Abby, Aria: 15, Seth: 81, Siobhan: 79 (yes, the great grandparents are still alive!)
I couldn’t wait. Tomorrow was Henry Puffer’s birthday and I’d been planning a real live birthday party for him. Sure he’s a fictional character from the best fantasy book this century, but I got the idea from a Henry Puffer message board. Thousands of kids all over the world were celebrating his birthday tomorrow. And I bet mine would be the most special of them all. Mom hated Henry Puffer. She said the author sold out when she marketed everything to make a fast buck. Her words. Not mine. She thought authors should be above capitalism. It’s all about the art, not money. Money dirties everything. But the way I see it, authors have to eat too, you know?
I mean, take Dad for instance. HE’S a washed up musician/singer. Okay, he’s sort of famous (well, both my parents are), but no one buys his stuff anymore. They play a lot of his songs from like a hundred years ago before I was born, but he doesn’t even do that for a living now. So where’d his art get him? Huh?
Now, he dresses up as his “sister”, Jenny, and does WooTube videos all the time. People actually take advice from him on how to dress, what makeup to buy and junk like that. I think it’s totally crazy that people still debate whether Jenny is really James Sanderson. Seriously. Do they NOT have eyes? He looks like a guy trying to dress up as a girl. He wears WAY too much makeup which makes him look OLD! Without all that glop on his face, he’d just be a dude in a goofy wig and high heels.
Luckily, today, school was closed because of rain. RAIN! I loved Brindleton Bay. It floods when the clouds even look like they’re going to sprinkle. Heh. And so, I’m rereading all five Henry Puffer books so I can win at Crossing Wands. You gotta know all the best spells if you’re gonna take home the hardware.
Ah…I could see it now. I was going to finally slam all my friends and impress Destiny. I hoped she’d show tomorrow. I gave her an invitation and she said she’d ask her parents.
Yep. Tomorrow was going to be a glorious day in the life of Liam A. Sanderson-Day.
“Oh God. That’s NOT what I think it is.” James held out a huge mug of hazelnut cappuccino. A peace offering. Whenever this happened, what he was about to tell me was never good. Add that to the fact he was in Jenny garb and I definitely knew I wasn’t going to like it.
Palming the back of his neck, he winced. “Seems I got my weekends mixed up. The WooTube convention is THIS weekend. I’ve got a flight in one hour. I’m already late.”
Taking the hot mug from him, I arched an eyebrow. “And WHO is going to tell Liam that his Henry Puffer birthday party is cancelled cuz yeah? It’s not gonna be me.”
Wrapping an arm around me, he said, “Babydoll, you’ve got to stay home. Liam’s been looking forward to this for months. I’ve ordered the cake, the party favors…I’ve even arranged for the actors to show up as a surprise! We can’t back out now. You’ll just have to reschedule. Your dad will understand.”
I could feel heat rising in my gut–and it was more than the baby. Fury. That’s what it’s called. Taking a deep breath so my pregnant self wouldn’t explode, I asked, “Okay…who got their schedule mixed up?”
“That’s right. So who’s the one who needs to cancel their schedule? I’m having a hard time following your logic.”
“It’d be WooTube suicide if I backed out now, Lex. Do you know what the fandom would call me if I didn’t show? Social media is a nightmare these days. Worse than when we were the it couple. Seriously, baby, I can’t not go. But August and Beau will understand. Hey, maybe they could come out and visit you instead.”
Shaking my head vigorously, I countered, “No! They can’t. Both of them have jobs. My siblings have school. Come on! You know I’d planned on staying a few weeks. This isn’t fair, James. I’ve already backed out on them three times. And there’s only so much time before I have this baby, too. I want to see my family in San Myshuno. It’s been too long. You’re cancelling. End of story.”
Rubbing my back, he said, “Hey…don’t get so worked up, babydoll. Just get someone to watch over Liam. He’ll be the master of ceremonies at the party anyway so anyone could do it. One of your friends would love to see Liam. Call them.”
I sighed. James always got his way no matter what was going on around him. It was so infuriating sometimes.
He added, “Look…if you don’t want to call one of your friends, I’ll have my assistant hire someone. Okay?”
I shook my head, already caving into him. He had me wrapped around his manicured finger. I hated it when I gave in. “No…I’ll get someone. I don’t want a stranger watching Liam.”
“Okay, baby.” Then he whispered in my ear, “I love you.”
“Lexie!” Dad said when he answered the phone, “we were just talking about you!”
My stomach twisted as my heart pounded. How was I going to get out of this without hurting his feelings? “Hey, Dad! How’s tricks?”
Oh shit. That wasn’t smooth.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing you. When’s your flight coming in tonight?”
I heard one of my sisters yell, “She better not back out or tell her I will personally kill her!”
It was Aria. She would, too. Ugh.
I heard Beau say, “Guest room’s all ready for her. And tell her I’ll keep little Zack with us so she can sleep in. We got out all the old toddler toys. Potty. High chair. Everything!”
Guilt hammered me. How was I going to tell them I couldn’t come? “Um…well, there’s been a change in plans.”
“Oh?” Dad asked, worry peppering his voice. “What happened, ladybug? Did one of the kids get sick?”
“I KNEW it,” my other sister, Abby, hissed. “I told you she wasn’t coming. We’re not famous enough for her.”
“It’s always been like that, sis,” I heard one of my brothers, Brayden, say. “Why are you shocked. I’m not.”
Listening to their disappointment hurt me. I’d been an asshole in not visiting enough. They were right. Damn it. I couldn’t back out. “Dad, tell my ungrateful siblings they’re wrong. I’m coming. Just on a later flight. Okay?”
“Oh good,” Dad said. “Text me the details. Can’t wait to see you!”
“Me, too,” I said, cringing inside. “Bye, Dad. Love you, too.”
Now what was I going to do? My friend, Gabby, was out of the country. Carly just had a baby. Dom HATED Henry Puffer even more than I did. I could just imagine the sarcastic retort I’d get if I’d asked her. Who else did I know who wouldn’t mind…
Just then my stomach sank. Oh God no. No, Lexie, you are not going to ask her. No way. Liam hated their children even more than I did. They’d ruin his party. But what choice did I have? It was either I asked or he didn’t have the party at all. I’d have to fly him out with me for the weekend until James got back.
I dialed the number and listened to it ring. Maybe she wouldn’t answer and it’d be decided for me.
Just then I heard her voice say, “Hello?”
“Hi, Brooke. Long time no talk!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Alexis, dear, but Brooke isn’t here right now. This is Elara Dragonborn. How may I be of service?”
Shit, shit and double shit!
Of course Brooke wasn’t there. It was always my luck. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d even spoken to “Brooke”. It was like Elara had swallowed up my sweet friend whole. And now she’d even changed her name. She said her “group” did a ritual that turned her into part dragon or some such stupidity. “Um…hey, Elara. You’re probably too busy to watch Liam this weekend for me, right? So I won’t bother you with…”
“Oh, of course, we’d love to visit with Liam, my darling sweet friend! Tell us when and we’ll be right over!”
I heard Lord Bloodmoon squeal with delight in the background. “Roadtrip!”
Damn. I just hoped my son would be speaking to me sometime this century after I did this to him. I wasn’t going to win Mother of the year anytime soon. “Um…okay, Elara. That’s so…nice of you. Can you be here in the morning? That’s when my flight leaves.”
“Of course, darling. We’ll be there bright and early. Have our specific food ready. You know we’re vegan now.”
“Right. I’ll order food for you right now. Thank you.”
I had no idea why I was going through with it but it was either face Liam’s wrath or my siblings. I figured my kid wouldn’t hate me forever. Would he?
Yay! This story is officially BACK! I’ve missed all these crazy characters. And Liam will add to the craziness. 😉 I will try to update twice a week sporadically (not on set days).