22.3 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Bob got promoted to Pastry Chef and worked a more family friendly shift. He was everyone’s favorite person, and all the Pancakes ladies enjoyed having him at home for dinner. Night after night, the little ladies told stories about school. It seemed strange for Eliza not to throw in any juicy crime stories. Breanne’s childhood dinners were full of them. Maybe they got too gruesome seeing as how crime never slept and only got worse. Just wait until Chief Eliza Pancakes took office in a few days. All those low-life miscreants better beware!

Someone knocked in the middle of dinner, and Breanne announced she would answer seeing as how everyone else was enthralled in Lexi’s spelling bee story. A messy, fiery mop with a cheesy smile met her at the door, and her mood instantly tanked. It was, however, good to see him in an actual shirt. One with buttons. And sleeves! The weather was much too cool for them to rolled up like that, but at least he was clothed.

“What up, short stack!”

She inhaled deeply and metered her breath as it went out. “Can I help you?” she said almost through gritted teeth.

He was so dang smiley all the time! It wasn’t natural. At least he had a pleasant smile. His wide mouth stretched across his pale face, raising his cheeks and making his aquamarine eyes squint. Why was he still smiling though? Surely he didn’t disturb dinner just to gaze upon her.

“Josh?”

He snapped out of the daze. “Your hair is different. It’s nice!”

Breanne often changed her look, but no one ever bothered commenting on them. She didn’t realize it until he called attention to it. The unexpected compliment caught her completely off guard, and she had no idea what to do with it.

Confused, and a little dazed, she said, “Did you need something?”

“Nah. Not really.”

Then why was he on her porch wasting time while dinner got cold?

“You guys eating dinner? I know the big guy made something delicious.”

Unbelievable! This new habit of his had gotten to be quite obnoxious. “Don’t you have your own food?”

“Come on, please? I’m low on cash, and I’m pretty sure I’ll burn the house down if I cook. Hey! Maybe your dad can give me some pointers!”

She sighed in resignation. He wasn’t going away, and she very well couldn’t let him starve and freeze to death though neither of those predicaments had anything to do with her. Josh was quite an unfortunate fellow. No wonder his parents through him to the wolves.

“Fine.”

Hopefully he was serious about the cooking lessons. Those random interruptions through out the week needed to stop.

“Who was at the door, dear?”

“Josh. Again.

Bob’s smile was like a dagger in the back. “Oh nice.”

“That’s wonderful. Will he be staying for dinner?” Eliza asked.

“Why do we keep feeding him? He’s like a stray dog we can’t get rid of!”

Eliza chuckled. “Oh, Breanne. Do be nice. It’s good to be neighborly.”

Breanne snorted. “Neighborly or not, he can’t keep coming here!”

“And why not? We have plenty. And, he’s good company.”

Just as Breanne was about to object in epic proportions, Josh came in. He must have gone upstairs to wash up.

“Ayyyy! We got the mini stacks!”

The girls giggled.

“And the tall stack!”

“Hey, Josh,” Bob said.

“And Mrs. Chief Boss Lady P!”

Eliza beamed. “Just call me Eliza. It’s lovely to see you again, Josh.”

Just call her Eliza?? She never told anyone to just call her Eliza! How on earth did this uncouth ginger manage to make her family #TeamJosh in such a short amount of time? Unbelievable!

“We have names, you know,” Breanne barked.

“Breanne,” Bob said in his dad voice. Though a smile still lingered on his face, his eyes were quite serious. “That’s enough.”

How was she supposed to enjoy dinner now with all that chomping and moaning going on next to her? One would think he never had Italian meatballs before. Or, food.

Lily, of all people, giggled. “Your friend sure is hungry, Breanne.”

Unbelievable.

“Ohh, Mr. Pancakes. I swear you make the best food. If you ever open a restaurant, I’m gonna be there every night! And, I’m gonna get so fat, they’ll want to do a show about me.”

With what money? Ugh! How childish!

“Oh, Robert! It would be splendid if you opened your own restaurant. You could cook the dishes you like and be in charge. I think it would be wonderful!”

Bob smiled bashfully. “We’ve talked about this, Lizzie. I’m not interested. But, I appreciate the vote of confidence.”

Breanne felt like she was living in a different realm. Bob called Eliza Lizzie in front of someone without the last name Pancakes, and she didn’t even blink. Not once! Josh had to be an alien and had everyone under some kind of spell. A vampire! Yes, vampires had that kind of power. They were all so comfortable around him, and that made her uncomfortable. Her parents wanted her to be nice and probably date him. They could kiss that little dream goodbye!

“Oooooooh! Mr. P! I totally know what you should do next!”

No one asked for his opinion! She would have yelled that except she was supposed to be nice.

“You would totally rock a cooking show! Awww man! Yeah! The Pancake House with Bob Pancakes. Gold!”

The senior Pancakes chuckled and agreed. Bob said he had that thought many times but wasn’t ready to take action yet. The three of them talked and laughed like old friends. Breanne had enough.

She collected the empty plates without asking to be excused, but Bob and Eliza were so busy laughing at Josh’s foolery, they didn’t even care. When she grabbed the plate of meatballs, however, Eliza noticed.

“What are you doing, dear?”

What did it look like? That was what she wanted to say. “Putting the food away.”

“Don’t worry about that. Leave it out in case Josh wants to take some home.”

Unbelievable! Breanne had no more moves. This was a scenario she could not win. Reluctantly, she took the platter and brought it into the kitchen anyway.

“I said to leave it,” Eliza said sternly.

“I’m going to wrap it up for him, mom,” Breanne replied with a little attitude.

“Oh!” She sounded so surprised. “Thank you, dear. That’s very kind of you.”

“Yeah,” Josh piped up, “ain’t she a good friend?”

No one ever called her that before. He was such a clown, though. Maybe he was being sarcastic. He had to be. Otherwise, his standard of friendship must have been very low. Why would she pair up with someone like that?

22.2 The Talk
22.4 Next Move

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