“So, little sister…I am going to show you how to play cards. If you pay attention, and learn quickly, you should be able to beat even the most experienced player. Well, that is every player except me, of course.
“Are you ready to be amazed?”
“We played cards at camp! I showed them all my poker face I learned from Aunt Alayna.”
“If you play like she does, you will lose every time. Now, first, allow me to inspect my hand so I can determine the best course of action…hmmm…oh boy…what in the world am I supposed to do with this? Ummm, maybe today isn’t the best day for lesson. This deck of cards seem to be faulty. Who shuffled these?”
“Why, you did, Callie!”
“I would never shuffle a deck of cards to be as useless as this!”
“But Callie! I want to play and be queen like Aunt Alayna,” Sasha whined.
Just then, Julian entered the room. Ever since that day they all went to the park together, it had become a bit of a Pruett sibling tradition to spend Saturday mornings with each other while Brady and Viviana were both at work.
“Oh no,” Julian said. “You’re not teaching her how to play cards, are you?”
“Of course! I must ensure that I am never defeated.”
“Don’t worry, Sasha. I’ll save you. Do yourself a favor and never play with her.”
Although Callie had her ways with everyone, and she still ruled the roost, she admired and respected her brother. She loved that he never was embarrassed to be seen with them in public; He always took up for them; and he certainly never made them feel like he was annoyed by them. She loved him, but his birthday party that was happening in a few hours was bittersweet for her. In a way, nothing would change, but things were changing. She knew that soon he would be in love and would spend less time with them. She hoped that she would soon be in love so she wouldn’t have to notice. Sasha on the other hand was just too young to understand and was just happy to have two older siblings who loved her.
Brady got off work at 2, and Viviana at 6. The children were up pretty early that day and took naps after dinner. By the time they all arrived at The Chapel, it was 9:30. The party was already jumping inside. The music was loud and the Pruetts were thick. Julian even invited some of his classmates. The place was packed. While everyone went inside, Julian stayed behind on the sidewalk to wait for someone in particular. He saw an unfamiliar frame sashaying down the street. She had long, brown legs, and her hair was big and blowing in the wind. Julian tried to act like he didn’t notice her, but he couldn’t help but steal glances to see who she was. She was stunning. To his surprise, she was walking down the walkway toward him! That can’t be her, he thought. He couldn’t pretend not to notice her now and decided to walk up to her. Once she got closer to the light, he saw that it was her!
“Jeannette? Is that you?”
“It is I, heh,” she said nervously.
“Wow! You look amazing! I didn’t even recognize you at first!”
“Yeah…those pigtails keep a lot of hair in place, heh. And look at you! Sharp! Do you have a pair of glasses for every outfit?”
“Yep! I might be a nerd, but I’m stylish too.”
“I see. I like your style.”
“Come here, you! We’ve got to take a picture together. We look too good! Say, ‘freezer bunnies!'”
“Let me see that,” Jeannette said. “Whoa…we are cute together. Can you send that to me?”
“Now, let’s go inside and show them how it’s done.”
They went inside and lit up the dance floor. It’s not like they had the best moves in the place, but there was just something between them that was so innocent and candid and attractive. Everyone kept taking notice of it all night.
Brady ordered himself a drink and sat down at Roland’s table.
“So,” he began to say, “Our boys are grown men now, eh?”
“Yep,” Roland said. “Ain’t it something?”
“It really is,” Brady said as he recalled events from Julian’s birth until now.
“We did good.”
Brady looked at Roland and smiled.
“We sure did,” he agreed.
After a brief pause, Roland asked, “Is that his girl?”
Brady looked over his shoulder at the pair and smiled.
“Well…he doesn’t realize it yet, but…he will.”
“That’s special. That’s real special.”
Speaking of special relationships, Devan was at the party with Leliana. She hung out at the bar and introduced herself to everyone who sat down–she didn’t know who was a guest and who wasn’t. She would say, “Hi! I’m Leliana, Devan’s girlfriend.”
They had not actually had the define the relationship talk yet, and they probably never will. Those two have an innate understanding of who they are and where they are going, so…no harm done. Although, Alayna was quite surprised to hear it when she finally arrived–word travels fast…especially in tight quarters!
“Julian,” Vivana called across the room.
She was beckoning him to come to her.
“I want to give you something,” she said and handed him a Sweet and Spicy. “Happy birthday, my son! But…don’t have too many of these, ok?”
“Awww, snap,” Roland yelled. “Is baby boy finally getting his first juice?? You’re a MAN now, nephew!”
Julian sipped on his juice and savored the sweetness while the spicy burned the back of his throat. He stood quietly by the door and watched everyone dance and have a good time. He saw Sasha hanging out by the stereo. She loved music and was dancing her little heart out, but he could tell that she desperately trying to stay awake. It was half past midnight.
He walked over to her, held out his hand, and said. “Come on.”
She took his hand and walked with him to the banquet side of the venue where the cake was.
“We’re going to have our own private party, ok?”
“For reals,” she asked.
“For reals,” he laughed.
She got out her bag of confetti and threw it in the air as she sang happy birthday as energetically as she could before falling out.
Julian blew out the candles and spun into young adulthood. He appropriately gained the family oriented trait.
Julian and Sasha walked back to the other side where he invited everyone to go have cake. Everyone congratulated him and told him how handsome he was. Eventually the party was over…but not first without saying goodnight to Jeannette.