Ronnie came back into the living room--which was now used almost exclusively as his personal music room-- thoroughly put out. He had searched all the usual places for his cell phone, and plenty of unusual ones too, and came up with nothing but a few stray coins, a paper clip, a loose button, more girls' phone numbers scribbled on tiny slips of paper and a melty, sticky peppermint candy. Of course, what he saw there upon his entrance still sitting at his piano bench was even more annoying. He shook his head wondering why Sophie was crying yet again.
“What now?” he said, thoroughly exasperated. “Your ghost dad tell ya to kill my father or something?”
“What?” she said with a sniff. She still held the cell phone in her hands and stared at it as if it held all the troubles of the world...perhaps it did.
“Your boyfriend break up with you?” Ronnie asked, slightly waspish in his tone, because, despite the fact he didn't know Bug nor would he ever in all likelihood, he couldn't stand him. Why? He'll think of a reason later.
“How many times do I gotta say it? I don't have a boyfriend,” she said, taking a deep breath in, expelling it slowly. “Sometimes life just sucks and you can't do anything, anything at all to fix it.”
Unlike what the term “Tell me about it” implies, no one who utters the phrase truly wants you to tell them about it—whatever 'It' may be-- but this fact clearly never occurred to Sophie who proceeded in great detail to tell him all about it.
“Poor John. I can't imagine what he's feeling. He sounded...I dunno... like he's gotta do this and I'm sure I would too if I had to, but it still can't be easy for him,” she said. “I feel so bad for him, but there isn't anything I can do for him. How do you help somebody when their mother is dying of a terrible illness?”
Ronnie had no answers, only the usual useless, “I'm sorry.”
“Bad enough that he has to deal with her illness, but...”
“Why didn't he know about it before it got so bad?” Ronnie interrupted.
“She kept it from him. She didn't want to ruin his chance at a music career, so she never told him...until now when she had no choice, cuz she's so debilitated. Can't walk, can barely talk. I can't imagine!. He doesn't think she'll make it to Christmas day.” Sophie shook her head and wiped away another tear. “How horrible. Now John has to take care of his two younger brother and sister. He'll never come back...I know he won't.”
“Come back? Whaddaya mean?”
“To New York City to be with us. He's in Kentucky right now. His family lives in Kentucky and that's where they will stay... I assume,” Sophie said, sighing deeply. “So, now we're out two band members. Elian is gone, too. But I'm more worried about John. He's such a nice guy. This shouldn't happen to him or his family.”
“Being nice rarely has anything to do with your troubles,” Ronnie muttered. “You just gotta wish for the best for him and his family.”
She sighed again and nodded. “I should tell Bug about this, cuz...”
“Shouldn't you let John tell him?” Ronnie suggested.
“For whatever reason, the guys never tell each other anything personal. They only seem to talk to me, and they must know by now that I can't keep a secret!”
Ronnie laughed. “Well, then, that may be why they tell you...so you can tell the bad news. Might sound better coming from you,” he said.
Sophie started at him. “You really think so?” she said, looking baffled.
He shrugged. “Only thing makes sense. Maybe John thought he'd break down or something talking about his mother with Bug or any other guy...I know I would.”
“I think you might be right. I'll call Bug...no. Not until he comes back. Why ruin his Christmas with all this negative stuff, right?”
Ronnie nodded, but grinned. “But can you keep a secret that long?”
She smiled back. “First time for everything.” She stared at him for a long while then added, “Ronnie, could ...could I use your computer?”
“What...now?” he asked.
She bit her lip. “The sooner the better. I wanna buy John a nice present...maybe something for his brother and sister and even for his mom.”
“But you just said she might not make it to Christmas.”
“Exactly why I wanna do it soon as I can. Now. They should celebrate now, while they can,” she said standing up. “Can I..use your computer?”
He stared at her for a moment, then motioned for her to follow him upstairs to his room and there they stayed until they found suitable gifts for the stricken family.
"Okay, this is weird, " Victor muttered closing over the door leading into the house from the garage. The house was unusually quiet as he removed coat and hat, hanging them in the closet. Normally, the kids would be at the door eager to pounce on him before he got out of the car.
He had to laugh at himself. A few short weeks ago all he ever came home to was a stray dust bunny under the coffee table and they never made much fuss about his coming home—or anything else for that matter. How soon he got used to the noise and bustle of rambunctious kids!
He frowned slightly as he passed the empty dining room and abandoned family room. Where was everyone? Had they gone out somewhere?Then he heard giggling coming from the kitchen. He stopped in the archway and marveled at the curious sight. Simon was at one end of the center island with his cellphone out recording the event at the other end. What event? Georgiana showing not only her brothers but also Cassandra how to make meatballs...Marty's near famous meatballs.
"Peter, they're supposed to be round like a ball. That looks like a duck!" Georgiana whined.
"I was trying to make a monkey," he said, pinching the tail to make it longer.
"It's not play dough!"
"Feels like it," Peter said, making Georgiana sigh in exasperation.
"Nuh-uh, looks like a car," Julian said. "How's mine, Cassie? It's round like a ball."
"Ooh, that's really nice ...if we were feeding trolls who everyone knows loves to eat meatballs the size of a softball," Cassandra replied, grinning at Simon. "You might wanna make three meatballs outta that one, okay, Julian?"
"Oh...okay," he said, thoroughly dejected, until he smashed the huge ball of meat and tore it into three uneven parts.
"Boys are so weird," Georgiana muttered so only Cassandra could hear.
"Wow, what is this? Not just one chef making dinner, but a whole gang!" Victor said.
"Daddy!" Peter said getting ready to jump off the chair on which he stood.
"Nuh-uh, Peter! You have to wash your hands before you go. Don't want to get your father all dirty, do you?" Cassandra said, smiling at Victor. "Hi, Mr. Romanoff, hope you don't mind the mess we're making too much."
He shook his head and kissed Georgiana's cheek. "Not at all."
"You're way later than you said you'd be, Daddy," she said. "Lotta work to do today?"
"Too many phone calls and none of them fun," he replied ruefully.
"Can we play now, Daddy?" Peter asked, squishing his meat-monkey into a shapeless glob.
"Actually, I would like to talk with you first ... Georgiana and Julian, too," Victor said.
"But we're not done yet making dinner," Georgiana said anxiously.
"It's very important, sweetie. Dinner can wait," Victor said, his expression now somber.
"Um... Georgiana," Cassandra said, noticing how very serious Victor now looked. "I could finish up here shaping the meatballs and when you're done with your dad you can show me how to make the spaghetti and sauce, and I can show you how to make garlic bread and a Caesar salad, okay?"
"Cassandra, you don't have to do all that," Victor said.
She giggled. "No, I don't, but I want to. That way you'll feel obligated to let me stay for dinner," she said.
Victor smiled. " Cassandra, I like the way you think. Of course you can stay for dinner. It'll be nice having company." He then grabbed each boy by the waist and took them to the sink so they could wash their hands.
After Georgiana cleaned her hands too, they went into Victor's den and shut the door behind them.
Cassandra made quick order out of the task at hand and had dozens of uniform sized meatballs neatly spaced on a cookie sheet ready for baking.
“I have a feeling you don't really need to learn anything about cooking from my sister,” Simon said.
“Which begs the question, why did you ask her to “teach” you how to make meatballs when you're clearly an expert at it?”
“It made her happy,” she replied, cleaning up the counter. It was only after drying her hands that she saw Simon still holding his cell phone up.
"Are you still recording this?"
"Why do you think?" he answered, smirking.
"Why do you always answer a question with a question?"
"Do I do that?"
"You know you do!" she said, tossing the damp towel at his head, making him laugh.
"Why do you suppose that is?" he asked, still holding the phone up as he came close enough to wrap his free arm around her, pulling her closer.
"To annoy me?" she replied, breathlessly.
"Would you perhaps prefer I do something that won't annoy you?"
"That would be good.... but what?" she whispered, as he leaned down ever so close.
"I'll think about it... shall I?"
He kissed her and might have done it for the next hour had they not been rudely interrupted.
“Geeze, you weren't kidding, Ronnie,” Sophie's voice said, startling them apart. “They are making out like...I dunno, do rabbits make out?”
Ronnie laughed. “They gotta to make all those baby bunnies in time for Easter,” he said.
“Now, what the hell do you want?” Simon growled.
“Dinner, I'm hungry,” Ronnie said.
“Me too, but I guess we ought to go home,” Sophie said, sadly.
“No, we're staying!” Cassandra said happily.
“Your mother is coming over, Sophie,” Simon said. “Presumably to pick you up and also...”
“Oh, that's right! We didn't tell you, Ronnie, Mrs. Bennett found your cell. You left it at the garden.”
“Seriously? Awesome!” he said, totally relieved.
“Mom's coming here?” Sophie said, staring at Ronnie. “We can start our plan tonight then.”
“What plan?” Simon asked suspiciously.
“The 'Getting my mom to marry your dad' plan,” Sophie said. “Your dad home yet? Is he gonna be here?”
Simon gaped. “He just got home. Since when are you all in on this union? New development, isn't it?” he said, eying her shrewdly.
“Let's just say...” Sophie said, casting a furtive glance at Ronnie. “I had a rather interesting dream which convinced me I should.”
“Tell me about it,” Ronnie muttered, grabbing a bag of chips.
©2015 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved