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Dream Bakery

The Beginning:
The dream began with Molly Stone, youngest of Richard and Alvetta Stone's three daughters. With smart and talented ancestors, Molly might have felt pressured to become a scientist or astronaut like her mother and maternal grandmother, or a musician like her convert virtuoso father. But Molly left such lofty ambitions to her older sisters, Daniela and Gemma. She did well in school, if she wasn't a top student and had little aptitude or interest in music. Her passion was cooking, and she often watched cooking shows after school as a teen.
Molly knew she wanted to open a bakery and make a success of it. Her family might not have understood her, but they supported her dream as best they could. She also wanted a partner and children of her own, however, and set about making that happen with the same dedication as she worked on her cooking skills.
Molly met Masami Sasaki at the romance festival, and the two hit it off, staying in contact after they went their separate ways to finish High School, one in Oasis Springs, one in San Myshuno.
Masami had ambitions of her own, wanting to reach the top of her chosen career, and for a while it looked like the two would split up. But they figured out how to make things work. Raised by a single father, Masami was used to making her own way. She did know how to compromise, however. She switched her career plan from tech guru, where she was at a very low level, to Food Critic, which would allow her to work from home sometimes and help Molly with any future children as well as the bakery.
The couple worked out a system in which Molly mostly ran the bakery alone, with Masami pitching in either before or after work and most of either Saturday and Sunday. Their plan went well while Molly's parents were still alive and could help out. Kengo, named for his grandfather, spent most days with his grandparents until he started school. At that pint, he spent afternoons at the bakery, doing his homework while his parents worked.
Then Ruby came along, and Molly chose to stay home with her during the toddler years, leaving the bakery in the hands of employees most days. Somehow they kept going, with the bakery making less money and Masami advancing in her career, until the twins, Kimi and Ricky, were born.
Masami started working from home to give Molly a hand, and the bakery's hours were reduced. It wasn't long before they realized they couldn't keep up with the bills. Someone decided that things would be easier if they just sold their big house and renovated the upper floors of The Cakery building into an apartment. That would at least save time and Molly could runt he bakery herself, able to hear and respond quickly if the twins needed her. This also saved on nanny and daycare costs. Masami continued to work from home as the family of six plus one cat made the transition.
Now, with the two parents approaching retirement age and Kengo taking over more of the day-to=day running of The Cakery and Kimi helping after school, the business is finally beginning to turn a modest profit.


  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    Chapter 1: The Next Phase

    Kengo Sasaki-Stone, oldest son and heir, got a new outfit for his birthday, wanting to try out a new style. It was a quiet family party, held in the evening after dinner and chores. He hadn't wanted a big affair, considering the family's finances, and his mothers respected his wishes.
    After the candles were blown out, Ruby decided to head up to her room and finish her homework before she got too tired, motivated by the knowledge that there would be a slice of cake waiting once she was done. She was secretly flattered that the twins chose to follow her example, Ricky joining her on her bed while Kimi claimed the bear chair nearby.
    With no need to worry about homework, Kengo had the pleasure of having his parents all to himself while he enjoyed his cake. He so rarely got such one on one time with either parent, let alone both at once, that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
    Kengo's sense of responsibility was so strong that he insisted on cleaning up after they were done eating, unable to bear leaving the dirty plates out. He ignored his own exhaustion to tend to the chore.
    "Are you sure? You don't have to, since it's your birthday." Masami said.
    "We can do it," Molly added, reaching for the plates.
    Kengo shook his head, keeping hold of them. "I've got them, I don't mind, honest."
    Masami and Molly shared a look that asked how they had managed to raise such a well-mannered and responsible son. "Okay, then. Goodnight." Molly said.
    "'Night, Mom, 'night Ma," Kengo said. No one had told him to us different titles for his parents, he had figured it out on his own and his younger siblings followed his example. Molly was always Mom and Masami was always Mama or Ma.
    The three youngest Sasaki-Stone children came down for their own slices of cake soon after, first Ricky followed by his sisters. Eating quickly, they cleaned up together and headed off to bed, aware they had school in the morning.

    Ruby woke early on Monday, and decided to take her breakfast of a spinach frittata outside to enjoy at one of the umbrella tables. It had her favorite view of the promenade, especially this early, when the weather was pleasant and the day was still quiet, before the hustle and bustle. Though meeting passersby and trying to convince them to come into the bakery was fun too.
    She was so busy enjoying her morning that she almost didn't realize it was time for school.
    Hearing Kimi and Ricky's footsteps thundering down the outside stairs from their apartment over The Cakery, Ruby stood and yelled, "Hurry up, you two! We don't want to be late!" She didn't wait for them before taking off. One bad thing about the move from their big house in Oasis Springs was that the commute to school was longer.
    "We're coming!" the twins chorused, darting around the corner of the building toward the sidewalk.

    A few hours later, Kengo went down to The Cakery to open up for the day, pleased that his parents trusted him with the responsibility. He hoped the employees and customers would take him seriously. He had spent much of his teen years learning the ropes, so the employees and any regulars would recognize him. At least he didn't think they knew anything too embarrassing about his youth.
    Diya was the first to arrive, and she seemed to accept that Kengo was a young adult, if she was a bit cautious about his right and ability to be in charge. After some polite conversation, Kengo gave her the day's assignment, which she accepted willingly.

    Upstairs, Molly lingered over breakfast, giving Kengo time and space. She didn't want him to feel she was hovering over him. she hoped he was doing well in his new role. She and Masami had agreed to make the transition gradually, feeling that would be best for everyone.

    Downstairs, Molly found that things weren't too busy, likely due to the increased prices imposed after the move and renovation to raise some quick money. Maybe it was time to lower the prices again, something she would definitely discuss later with Masami. And Kengo too, she reminded herself, it was time he was included in such decisions.
    Looking around, Molly saw that Jamal had taken his place at the register and was actually working for a change, while Diya and Kengo were busy answering questions.
    Stepping into the fray, Molly greeted the newest arrivals, hoping to drum up enough business to justify lower prices. They had to find the right balance between income and employee wages. With Kengo, they might not even need as much help, in which case Jamal would be the first to go.
    Kengo got caught up in the process of making a sale and lost track of time. He was busy trying to convince a customer that he really wanted to buy something, trying not to look too eager, when he glanced up and spotted Ruby.. Hard to believe school was out already, and with this tough crowd, he was grateful to find his sister there, ready and wiling to help out when she could. '
    Molly's throat felt scratchy, so she stepped away from the crowd for a minute to swallow some medicine. Feeling better, she turned back to answer questions. "Yes, we're family owned and run.... all of our ingredients are fresh and of the finest quality..."

    Kengo had received an offer from a friend to attend a concert that night, and accepted. But first he wanted to do some cooking, and decided to use the bakery kitchen rather than the one in the apartment. He felt a headache coming on, and knew the noise of his family chatting, watching TV or listening to music would only make it worse.
    After he finished cooking, Kengo took some medicine, then decided to clean the upstairs stove since he still had time to spare and was apparently the first to notice its dirty state.

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    Chapter 2; Evening TV

    Finished in the bakery, Ruby went upstairs and joined Ricky on the couch in front of the TV to chat and do their homework. Kimi would have joined them but she was tired and went to bed instead.
    Hearing Ruby grumbling about her homework, Molly came over to give her some pointers. "Got it now? Good, just keep going. I'm going to go eat, then I'll come back and check on you."
    "Okay, Mom. Thanks." Ruby meant to get right on it, but she got distracted by something Ricky was telling her. "Get out! Really?"
    "Yeah, and then..." Ricky nearly dropped his own homework in his excitement, warming to his topic.
    Kengo joined them with his dinner, splitting his attention between the TV and their conversation.

    Molly ended up becoming absorbed in a cooking show on the TV in the master bedroom, startling a bit when Masami joined her with her dinner. Remembering what had been on her mind earlier, Molly brought up the subject of reducing the price of their baked goods.
    "Sounds good to me," Masami agreed. "What else? Is Jamal still on probation?"
    "Yes he is. He behaved today, but that could have been because both Kengo and I were there to keep an eye on things."
    Masami frowned. "Possible. At least Diya's reliable. I wish we could afford to give her a promotion."
    "Me too. Maybe soon," Molly agreed. She stood. "I'm going to go check up on the kids. Ruby should be done with her homework by now."
    "Okay. I'll be down as soon as I'm finished eating. I need to get some work done."

    Back downstairs, Molly found Ruby still puzzling over her homework though Ricky had finished was focused on his show. Molly frowned, suspecting Ruby had been putting off the work in favor of talking, and firmly got her back on track. This time, she stayed until her oldest had finished, praising her efforts.
    Ruby ducked her head and smiled, pleased with the praise.

    Spotting Kengo, now dressed for the concert, on hi sway out, Ricky jumped up and chased after him. "Kengo, I forgot to tell you-"
    "Sorry, little brother, I'm going to be late. But we'll talk later, okay? I promise. I want to hear all about it," Kengo said, giving Ricky a quick, loving hug.
    Disappointed, Ricky flopped back onto the couch beside Ruby, who had finished her homework and gone to grab some dinner. He sure wasn't going to tell her about it she'd just be grossed out, being a girl. Though come to think of it, Kimi would think it was funny, and she was a girl too...maybe he'd just tell her, if she woke up before he went to bed.

    Kimi woke up hungry and made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which she carried upstairs, looking for Molly. Finding her Mom, the little girl sat on her parents' bed with her dinner and chattered away.
    Molly listened attentively, smiling and making the appropriate responses. Kimi hadn't changed much, she still loved attention. At least she had learned to ask for it instead of having a tantrum and was learning how to be more patient.

    Unable to sleep, Ricky stayed up playing with his giant stuffed bear. Despite his resolve to tell Kimi his story instead of Kengo, he couldn't help glancing toward the window, wondering if his big brother was back yet. Yawning, the boy finally climbed into bed, tossing and turning restlessly.

    Kengo returned from the concert not long after Ricky went to sleep, excited to share the experience with someone. He told Masami all about it since she was the first person he saw, and on the pretext of showing her something, tricked her with the hand buzzer.
    "Oh! I should have seen that coming," Masami said, laughing as she instinctively jerked her hand away.
    Kengo grinned, pleased with the success of his trick. "Next time I'll be even better at it."
    "You'll have to try it on someone else, I'm onto you," Masami swatted at him. "Get out of here. Go check on Ricky, I think he's been trying to stay up waiting for you."
    "I'll go make sure he's in bed. Goodnight." Kengo yawned his way up the stairs to the room the brothers shared.

    Kengo did in fact find Ricky awake, and spent a few minutes with his brother, leaving once Ricky drifted off to sleep. He went back downstairs to spend some time with Kimi while Masami helped her with her homework.
    Masami finally had to send him to bed before he fell asleep in his chair.
    Seeing that Molly had yet to return from repairing the bakery's toilet, Masami handled the nighttime rounds herself, tucking in first Kimi then Ricky, who had worn himself out so thoroughly he wasn't even aware of her presence.
    Then Masami went to make sure Nova the cat wasn't getting into any trouble, not having seen the cat in a while, before she took herself off to bed.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    Chapter 3: Decisions

    Living above a bakery and surrounded by three cooks of differing skill, Ruby decided she had better get her act together and start working on her own cooking skill. What better time to do it when the kitchens weren't in use and she didn't have anything else she needed to take care of first?
    With no one around to observe, Ruby decided to surprise her family with breakfast. She would keep it simple for this first effort, just eggs and bacon, but she didn't want anyone interfering, teasing or criticizing. Oh, she would forgive Masami for the last, as it was a habit honed by her job, but she'd rather have her mother taste the finished product before forming an opinion, not after.
    Ricky was the next awake, reaching the kitchen just as Ruby put the food in a serving dish. Belly rumbling loudly, Ricky grabbed a serving and dug right in with obvious enjoyment.
    "This is good!" he said.
    "I'm glad you think so," Ruby said, pleased. Then again, Ricky was likely to eat anything put in front of him and declare it good, so his opinion wasn't the most reliable.
    Kimi joined them minutes later and was equally appreciative of the breakfast Ruby had prepared, reassuring her - Kimi was much picker than her twin and not afraid to let you know what she liked and didn't like. often loudly.
    The siblings chattered and ate together, then hurried off to school.
    Kengo woke and wandered into the kitchen, deciding what he wanted for breakfast. He saw the platter of bacon and eggs when he opened the fridge, and took them out. "Wonder who made these..." he said aloud, carrying a serving into the now empty living room. "Ruby," he deduced, tasting them. It was still early for his parents to be up after all. "Mmm, must remember to tell her they're good."
    Masami and Molly came down not much later and joined Kengo with their own breakfasts. They spent a few minutes discussing the food and other topics before they began bantering with each other, their comments becoming flirtatious.
    Kengo pretended not to notice them, eating his meal quickly.
    Continuing to tune them out, Kengo put his plate in the dishwasher and began fixing the broken stereo. Maybe the noise would help drown them out, though he was secretly pleased that his parents were still so close. He hoped he had a relationship like that someday, though with the long hours at the bakery and needing to help with his siblings, he wasn't sure when he would have time to look.
    Finished with the stereo, Kengo decided to go play some chess for a while before facing another long day in The Cakery. He didn't want any customers to notice him getting stressed.
    As he played, he decided he'd wear his formal outfit to work, hoping that would help command respect. Not that he hadn't received any the day before, but things could have cone better. He thought the blazer, shirt, tie and slacks made him look older, too.
    Kengo decided he'd made the right choice when he noticed how people reacted to him in his outfit. He would have to make a habit of wearing it, and save the other one for when he was off. Another thing he noticed was that when he started talking to Janet O'Rourke the two of them seemed to hit it off, and he had a hard time keeping his mind and conversation on work. Fortunately, Janet didn't seem to mind.
    Kengo's gaze strayed past Janet when he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye, and he saw Nova on the counter. That sneaky cat! She must have followed him down, or come in through the front behind a customer. He hoped her presence so close to the food didn't put anyone off from buying it. Just as soon as he had a chance, Kengo would have to shoo the cat off and clean the counter, unless someone beat him to it.
    "What's wrong?" Janet asked, noticing his frown and starting to turn.
    "Nothing, nothing, I was just trying to remember something," Kengo replied, thinking quickly about how best to distract her. He moved to block her view of the cat on the counter.

    A few hours later, Ruby returned from school and settled down at her favorite table with her homework open in front of her. she was staring thoughtfully off into the distance when a customer approached and introduced himself. Distracted from her thoughts, Ruby turned her attention to him to answer a question.
    After a few minutes of conversation, Ruby realized she was having her first crush, and hoped Austen Wood couldn't tell she was blushing. She had never been so grateful for Ricky's arrival with his own homework, which helped keep her from making an plum of herself. Austen wouldn't be interested in a silly teenager even if he didn't already have a family of his own.
    Then Diya came out asking if Ruby could help inside because Jamal was slacking off again and there was quite a crowd, and Ruby was only too glad of the excuse to escape.
    Diya, mission accomplished, took Jamal's place behind the counter to run the register.
    Kengo was pleased that Janet had lingered even after making her purchase. He wondered if it was too soon to ask her on a date, there was a movie he thought she'd enjoy watching with him. Best start slow, he decided.
    "I'd like to keep in touch, if you don't mind," he ventured. He felt as awkward as a teenager who had never spoken to a girl before, which wasn't far wrong, since he had never had the urge or time to date in High School.
    To his great relief, Janet smiled. "I'd like that too," she said, taking out her phone.

    Business was booming, and not much could have made Molly happier, with her dream finally starting to become a reality. Not just a bakery, but a successful bakery. What would have made it better was if she didn't know that they would have to let Jamal go today, the man had blown his las chance, and for what? He was bored? Well now he would have all the time he wanted to have fun.
    Glancing over at Kengo, who was buy checking out customers, Molly let go of her dark mood long enough to smile with pride in her son. He had done well, and if Molly wasn't mistaken, he had found a potential girlfriend. For his sake, she hoped things worked out and the woman was worthy of him. If not...well, Molly would console him as best she could, and tell him about her first failed attempt.
    Finished with his current customer, who happened to be Janet, Kengo caught her eye and made his way over. "I'll go give Jamal the news," he said in a low voice.
    "Are you sure? I could, as the business owner," Molly whispered back.
    Kengo nodded. "I want to do this. I can handle it. Besides, I need the experience."
    "Good point. Don't let him give you any trouble."
    "I won't." Seeing everything was well in hand, Kengo took off toward where he'd last seen Jamal headed.
    Jamal must have sensed something was about to happen, because he took off around the side of the bakery when Kengo emerged.
    The younger man caught up with him easily and confronted him. As expected, Jamal did not take the news well, but Kengo would not back down or be intimidated, and soon Jamal left in a foul mood.
    Putting the incident behind him as best he could, Kengo went back inside to help with closing, which included cleaning and restocking from their record number of sales.

    Meanwhile, Kimi was down in the basement playing blickblock, oblivious to the drama above and happy she was young enough not to be expected to help out.

    Having had some space away from Austen, Ruby found she could have a companionable conversation with him without blushing or becoming tongue-tied. It didn't hurt that Ricky was still there too, chatting with the man over dinner.

    More stressed than he wanted to admit, Kengo retreated to his room to browse the Internet for a while, not bothering to take the time to change into something more comfortable. He just wanted to put the whole ugly incident with Jamal behind him.

    Flush with her success at breakfast, Ruby decided to try her hand at making dinner in the apartment kitchen. Again she picked a simple recipe of grilled cheese sandwiches.

    Ricky joined Kengo in their bedroom, wanting to talk. Kengo was glad of the interruption and took the opportunity to pass on a lesson in responsibility, flexing his parenting skills a little.
    Ricky listened attentively, just glad to have Kengo's attention.

    Unaware of Ruby's plans, Molly decided to try out the recipe for Haddock sandwiches she'd learned from Masami in the bakery kitchen. So the family would have plenty of food to eat that night and a choice of meals.

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    edited January 3
    Chapter 4: They did what?

    Ruby hoped she'd have another morning to herself for a while before her siblings showed up, like the day before. But she could tell that wasn't to be the case by the time she'd grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich and settled on the couch to eat. Ricky and Kimi jostled each other to be the first downstairs and into the kitchen, with Ricky winning by a narrow margin.
    They both sought out their older sister's company, following her example again by eating on the couch.

    When Ruby went to the bathroom, the twins kept talking, Ricky moving to the pile of cushions by the coffee table.
    "Hey, Ricky, did you hear about the time...." Kimi began, gesturing widely, her face animated.
    Ricky gave her his full attention, curious, until it was time to go to school. "Race you!" he called, jumping to his feet.
    "No fair! I wasn't ready!" Kimi yelled after him, following, curls bouncing around her shoulders.

    Shortly after, Kengo came down to start breakfast. He was in a playful mood and that carried over into his cooking as he decided to prepare pancakes for the family.

    Kengo had managed to calm down and not spill any of the batter by the time his mothers came down for breakfast. Just the same, his shoulders itched and he could swear he felt a disapproving stare from his parents. He had no doubt they'd yell at him
    if they caught him goofing off in the kitchen, particularly Molly, with her hot temper.
    Instead, choosing not to wait, they settled at the dining room table with their breakfasts and had a light conversation about nothing in particular.
    Finished first, Masami went to the computer to do some final edits to the food review she'd written the night before.

    After enjoying his breakfast of delicious pancakes, Kengo recalled his successful prank on Masami and decided to try his luck with Molly. Not the hand buzzer this time, suspecting his Ma had warned his Mom about that one. "Mom, did you hear about the Granite Falls bears?"
    "What about them?" Molly managed to look both interested and suspicious.
    Kengo found it hard to resist smiling. "They watch people with picnic baskets, waiting for them to leave, then they take the baskets and carry them away in their paws, leaving thank you notes. They even clean up after themselves.
    Molly laughed, shaking her head at him. "You almost had me. Go open up the bakery, I'll be down once I've finished up here."
    "Okay. See you in a few." Pleased with himself, Kengo headed for their private stairs, wondering if Janet would come in that day. He had meant to call her yesterday, but lost track of time until it was too late.

    In the bakery, Kengo decided to take care of some restocking and cleaning up of expired food himself while Diya handled the day's first customer. She needed the practice after all.

    When Molly came down, she saw that Diya seemed to have things well in hand and decided to make a fresh batch of cream puffs, expecting to need them.
    Kengo joined her in the back and started a fresh batch of breadsticks, hoping they would actually sell before they were forgotten and went bad, as had happened with the last batch, along with the bagels. Both casualties of the experiment with higher prices.

    Nova had followed them downstairs and started loudly demanding attention, so once she'd finished baking, Molly left Kengo to clean up their work area and gave Nova some loving, including pets and playing with the laser pointer. It seemed to help, though Nova lingered, apparently assigning herself the role of official greeter. Molly was content to let the cat have her way, so long as no one seemed to mind and she kept out of trouble.

    Done with playtime, Molly joined her customers at one of the display racks, inserting herself into the conversation and asking and answering questions.

    Kengo made the first sale of the day, a process that would have been quicker and easier if Austen Wood hadn't kept interrupting, try to tell him a funny story. Unfortunately, Kengo couldn't very well tell the other man that, so he gritted his teeth and smiled politely, while trying to focus on his customer. Sometimes he wished he wasn't so well-mannered that being rude actually made him uncomfortable.

    Kimi got started on her chores right after school. She was really only responsible for taking out the garbage in the apartment, but today she decided to be extra helpful and take out The Cakery's garbage too, without even being asked. She earned so much thanks and praise that she smiled, pleased with herself.

    With the bakery closed for the evening, Kengo took care of any necessary chores while Molly got started repairing the broken neon sign over the door which she had noticed earlier, when she was too busy to stop and deal with it.

    Later, Kimi found Kengo in the basement about to turn on the big stereo. "Kengo, guess what? There was a birthday party at school today, and they had the biggest, prettiest cupcakes ever! Do you think we could sell something like that at The Cakery?" she asked excitedly.
    Interested, Kengo turned to her. "I don't know, possibly. What did they look like exactly?" he asked.
    "They were as big as a little plate, with lots of sprinkles and icing. We had to eat them with forks and aI couldn't even finish mine-"
    Ricky came down in time to hear the tail end of Kimi's story. "And Jacob David got some on his shirt and on his face, it was so funny!" he interjected. "Kengo, will you help me with my homework, please? Everyone else is busy."
    "Sure. Do you want to do it down here or upstairs?" Kengo asked, turning to him even as his thoughts were busy with ideas for giant cupcake recipes. Maybe they could offer them for special occasions, not just birthdays. "I think we can do it, Kimi, thanks for the idea. If you go get your homework, I'll help you too."
    "Here's good, Ricky said, kneeling by the treadmill and taking out his workbook.
    "I'll be right back," Kimi promised, rushing up the stairs.

    Masami came home from work needing a break from the apartment and bakery, so she went to the park for a while to sit and think. And play with her tablet while she contemplated getting older. She missed having a baby in her arms and thought some time in the fresh air might help her think about how to present the idea to Molly.

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    Chapter Five: Baby or Not?

    Kengo sat down to breakfast thinking ahead to the weekend. He hoped to have more time with Janet, having enjoyed their brief interaction. He thought he'd make a move and see if she was receptive the next time they met, if he had a chance.

    By the time Masami and Molly came down to enjoy some of the delicious pancakes Kengo had made the day before, Kengo himself had finished and gone into the bathroom to deal with the clogged toilet.
    Assured of privacy, Masami broached the subject that had been on her mind. "I was thinking it would be nice to have another baby."
    Molly frowned thoughtfully. "I'm not so sure. We'd be pretty crowded, and the Cakery takes up a lot of itme , Plus do you really want to be raising a child when we're both old and gray?" she asked on a lighter note.
    "When you put it that way, maybe not. But will you at least think about it? Even if Kengo moves out, we'll have Ruby and the twins to help for a while longer."
    Molly sighed. "I will. Just you remember who would be carrying this baby and getting beaten up from the inside." she cracked a smile.
    "I know. You're still beautiful to me," Masami answered.
    "Thanks, so are you." Molly gave her a quick kiss and rose to clear the table.
    Masami watched for a moment, already suspecting Molly had already made up her mind that their family was big enough. Then she went to get some writing done.

    Molly was thoughtful as she went down into The Cakery to prepare the day's special. This proved to be a mistake, the oven catching fire and causing the closure of the bakery while the fire was put out and the damage repaired.

    Later in the afternoon, the family entertained themselves outside in front of the bakery. Needing to have some fun before she got down to business, Ruby played with Nova on the sidewalk, laughing as the cat chased the laser pointer.
    Kimi and Ricky sat at one of the umbrella tables, chattering about their weekend plans instead of actually doing their homework.
    Turning his back to them, Kengo called Janet just to hear her voice.
    Molly had just stepped out to check on her children when her own phone rang. Recognizing her sister Gemma's ring-tone, she answered it, smiling.
    "The diner? Sure, I'll meet you there. Just the two of us. Too bad Daniela can't join us," she said, referring to their oldest sister.
    "Maybe next time," Gemma suggested cheerfully.
    "Maybe." Molly sighed, Daniela was so much older than her that they hadn't had much time to get close before Daniela moved out, and since becoming an adult herself, Molly hadn't had much chance to try to get closer. She vowed to make more of an effort before it was too late. Her children were older now and didn't need her as much, after all. Maybe this weekend she would make a special effort to visit.

    At the Bend Diner in Willow Creek, Gemma disappeared inside first, going right into the kitchen.
    Shaking her head, Molly stopped at the hostess station to request a table. She had just finished when Gemma returned, carrying a bowl.
    "Where did you go?" Molly demanded.
    Gemma had the grace to look sheepish. "I know the chef, and I couldn't wait, so he let me have a bowl of cereal."
    "You could warn a person when you're going to disappear," Molly complained.
    "Sorry," Gemma said contritely.

    Back at the apartment, Kengo decided he wanted pancakes for dinner and grabbed a plate, which e took back outside with him.

    He found his siblings already there, working on their homework. He joined Ruby with his dinner and dug in while chatting with her.
    Kimi and Ricky were engaged in a conversation of their own, seemingly ignoring their older siblings.

    Finished with her homework, Ruby headed for the gym in the basement, wanting to practice on the punching bag for a while before bed.

    Molly had been so busy catching up with Gemma that she lost track of time and returned later than she intended.
    Kimi saw her return and rushed to greet her with a big hug, which Molly returned, holding her tight.
    "I missed you too," she said, chuckling.
    Kimi grinned. "I couldn't go to sleep without telling you about something."
    "Well you can tell me now," Molly said.
    Kimi did, only to yawn partway through the telling.
    Molly smiled. "I think it's time for bed."
    Too tired to argue, Kimi nodded. "Will you come tuck me in?"
    It had been a while since she had asked, so of course Molly agreed.

    Masami followed Kengo's example and grabbed some pancakes for dinner, not in the mood to cook and not wanting a sandwich or microwave dinner. The living room seemed much darker without the Christmas tree's colorful lights winking in the corner, but it had been time to take it down. Deciding she didn't feel like doing anything about that yet either, Masami turned on a cooking show to enjoy with her meal.

    Nova dashed ahead of Molly and Kimi up the stairs and into the girls' room, meowing loudly enough to wake Ruby.
    "Nova! You're in my way," Kimi scolded the gray cat, finding her on her bed.
    "Get your pajamas on, I'll deal with Nova," Molly said, reaching for the cat.
    Ruby frowned over her shoulder at the cat. "Nova, you're like an alarm clock set to the wrong time," she told the cat, before climbing back into bed.
    Molly bit back a laugh, giving Nova her sternest look while scolding the cat.
    Having finished scolding Nova and shooing her from the girls' room, Molly tucked Kimi in as promised, though the little girl had already fallen asleep. Then she went next door into the boys' room and checked on Ricky, tucking him in too.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    edited January 6
    Chapter 6: Budding Romance

    Kimi was up early and feeling energized. She decided to play with her dolls for a while before breakfast. She was so engrossed into her game that she didn't notice she was hungry until Ruby and Ricky came down, their voices and actions disturbing her play.

    Ricky was pleased that he had the couch to himself while he watched cartoons and enjoyed his pancakes while making goofy faces.
    Kimi and Ruby chose to eat together at the dining room table, neither interested in that particular cartoon. "Guess what? I was in the school library yesterday, and my teacher showed me a book about a girl with my name, only she was called Kim too, and I'm always Kimi," she told Ruby excitedly.
    "That's cool. There aren't a lot of Rubys in books, not that I've seen anyway. Did you like it?"
    Kimi nodded. "I haven't gotten very far, but it's good."
    The topic moved on, and the girls finished their breakfast, cleaning up before leaving for school.

    For a change, Molly actually woke before Kengo and was on her way down for breakfast at about the same time her three youngest rushed out to catch the bus to school. She had started rethinking her stance on having another baby and woke herself up early, unable to sleep. She wasn't ready to share her thoughts with Masami, wanting to be sure first.

    It wasn't long before first Kengo then Masami joined Molly for breakfast, distracting her from her thoughts.
    Catching the flirtatious turn to the conversation, Kengo grinned and excused himself. "I'm going to get dressed and head down to the Cakery. I want to make sure it doesn't smell of smoke."
    Neither woman seemed to notice his departure, too busy flirting to pay much attention to their surroundings.
    Kengo wanted that for himself someday, he thought wistfully. And if Janet came in today, he'd make steps in that direction, or at least try.

    Kengo noticed almost at once that the big round sign nearthe cupcake factory was out, and decided to put off opening The Cakery until he had fixed it. The work went quickly and he gave himself a few minutes to stand and admire his work.

    Upstairs, Masami and Molly shared a slow, passionate kiss before they went their separate ways, Molly downstairs to join Kengo in the family's bakery and Masami to her computer to finish working on the column she had been too exhausted to finish the night before. She had sat down and turned on some music before Molly left the apartment.

    The bakery got busy quickly, everyone wanting to come in and buy something sweet for the weekend.
    Feeling confident, Kengo focused on one customer at a time, sure he would make a sale.
    Molly watched for a little longer before deciding to focus on another customer who looked like he could be easily persuaded to buy something.

    After a few minutes, Kengo decided to leave Joel Yomin to think over the options and information Kengo provided before coming to a decision. Kengo also needed time to think -having just learned Joel was an alien. He found the information more exciting than alarming, he decided, over his bowl of potato chips. He hoped for another chance to talk to the man, thinking it would be nice to haven an alien for a friend. All right so his Aunt Gemma's husband was married to a half-alien, but Kengo barely knew his cousin Wade and with them living in different towns, they didn't have much opportunity to get together, so the Landgraabs didn't count.
    Seeing that Joel was ready to check out, Kengo hurried to ring him up personally. Partly because he didn't want Joel to think Kengo had been put off and was ignoring him, but also because Kengo happened to the closest and only one not currently busy with customers. It was all he could do to resist peppering the older man with questions. Maybe if they just happened to run into each other outside The Cakery.

    Once Joel had gone, Kengo saw that Janet had arrived, and greeted her with a smile and a hug, glad to see her. He asked here about her day next. Then, still confident after his successful sale, he tried out a bold pick-up line.
    To his relief and intense pleasure, Janet was not only receptive, but admitted to being single and just as interested in him as he was in her.
    Well aware this wasn't the time or place to pursue things, Kengo got down to business. "What are you looking for today?"
    "I've just been at the gym, and I think I've earned myself a reward for my hard work," Janet answered. "What's your favorite?"'
    "The powdered doughnuts. Let me show you," Kengo answered.
    "Sounds good. I'll take the whole plate."

    After saying goodbye to Janet, Kengo decided to take a quick bathroom break, having seen that no one needed his immediate attention.
    Ruby had arrived and dove right in to help. She had thought Branson Baez was genuinely interested in buying something, but when she approached, he claimed to just be window shopping. Hiding her disappointment, Ruby put on her best smile and started doing her best to change his mind.
    Molly was angry after an aggravating conversation with another potential customer and stepped back to observe Diya and her two eldest at work.

    Deciding she needed distance as well as time to relax and distress, Molly left the Cakery in Kengo and Diya's capable hands and went upstairs to watch TV for a half hour or so.

    Calmer and no longer tense, Molly came back down in time to help check out their last two customers of the day with a smile on her face. It had been a good day, sales-wise.

    Excused from helping with closing tasks, Ruby escaped up to the apartment and settled down on the loveseat to play video games. She never did get Mr. Baez to buy something from her, but she felt she'd been close. Maybe next time, she promised herself. She was getting better at it all the time.
    Molly came up soon after and saw what she was doing, sitting on the couch parallel to Ruby. "THat looks like fun. Mind if I join you?"
    Ruby considered, then grinned. "Sure, Mom. I'm going to beat you though!" she challenged.
    "You just keep thinking that," Molly answered.

    Ricky had come home quiet and troubled. Not wanting to upset his parents, he sought out his big brother's advice, trusting Kengo. "I did really bad on my lesson today, and some of the mean kids said I'm stupid. Is it true that I'm not smart enough?" he asked worriedly.
    Kengo wasn't ashamed to admit that his first impulse was to hunt those bullies down and smack them, or at least yell at them, feeling instinctively protective of his brother. He squelched the impulse and passed on advice he had been given at the same age. "You're smart, Ricky. Just focus on what you're good at and don't worry about those bullies. Are they good at all their lessons?"
    Ricky thought about that, biting his lip. "No," he said at last, smiling. "Thanks, Kengo. You're the best." His spirits much improved, Ricky raced back up the stairs. He would study really hard and show those mean old bullies just how smart he was!

    (Note; Kim/Kimi is a real YA book, written by Hadley Irwin in 1988. I found it in the library in the 90s and still remember it. )
    Post edited by TresaofPern on
  • PetalsimPetalsim Posts: 42 Member
    Wow, I love the storyline! This was a lot of fun to read.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    edited January 6

    Having given his advice, Kengo continued making pan-fried tilapia for the family's Friday dinner.

    Ruby decided to get a head start on her homework, wanting to get as much done as possible before dinner so she would have more free time to enjoy the weekend. Hearing the call to dinner, she put away her work and raced up the stairs to grab her plate.

    Masami arrived home and followed the sound of gushing water to the bathroom, where she discovered the broken toilet and immediately set to work fixing it. she was hungry, but ignored that, knowing dinner would be ready soon. She could wait and eat with her family.

    The entire family gathered together for dinner and a movie on Friday if possible. Tonight, there was some jostling for seats as usual, which ended with the twins claiming the loveseat, Kengo on the big couch with their parents, and Ruby, as last to arrive, left with the pile of cushions by the coffee table.
    The gathering was as much about the chance to socialize as watch the movie, so it was no surprise when two or three overlapping conversations sprang up only minutes into the movie.

    Masami was the first to leave once the credits rolled, needing desperately to use the bathroom. But since Nova had been begging her for food, she decided to refill the cat's bowl first.

    Ricky was the last to crawl into bed near midnight, too tired to even shower, though he needed one.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 223 Member
    edited January 7
    Chapter 7: A Productive Weekend

    Kengo spent Saturday morning with his family, since The Cakery was closed that weekend. He began his day with a slightly later than usual breakfast with Molly, Ruby and the twins. Only Masami was missing, having decided to sleep in on her day off.
    Next, he repaired the dishwasher, his thoughts leaping ahead to the plans he had for later in the day. He went over and over everything, wanting it to be perfect. He could hear his parents working with the twins on their manners, and had seen Ruby quietly slip downstairs. She had told him last night that she wanted to try handling the restocking alone as a surprise to their parents, and he hoped she did a good job of it.
    When Ruby came back up, she joined Kengo in cleaning up the kitchen.
    "How did it go?" Kengo asked quietly, making sure the rest of their family was too far away and preoccupied to hear them.
    Ruby grinned. "Great. I remembered what you told me."
    "Good. When are you going to tell them?"
    "When they're done with Ricky and Kimi I guess. When are you meeting Janet?"
    Kengo checked the time. "In about an hour and a half. I'm going for a jog first."
    "Have fun, and she better not hurt you," Ruby said protectively.
    "Thanks for the support," Kengo said.
    "You're welcome."
    Kengo enjoyed his jog, finding the fresh air energizing, but he kept it short, wanting to be sure he had time to shower and dress before Janet arrived. Wouldn't do to look rushed.

    Janet arrived right on time, and Kengo greeted her with an embrace. Conversation flowed easily between the pair as they got to know each other better. Topics ranged from cooking to fitness and whatever else they could think of.
    Finally, Kengo said, "The Romance Festival is supposed to be starting soon. Have you ever been?"
    Blinking, Janet shook her head. "No... it's pretty crowded, and you know I'm a loner. I guess if I had someone special to go with it might be worth it..." she gave him a meaningful look.
    "I haven't been either. We could go together, and if gets to be too much for you, we can leave," he suggested.
    Janet considered his offer for a long minute, then slowly nodded. "Sure, we can do that."
    "Let's go," Kengo took her hand, not wanting to give her a chance to change her mind.
    The evening started out well, with the two of them drinking cups of Sakura Tea together. But Kengo could tell the crowd was making Janet tense, and vowed to do his best to put her at ease.
    Kengo found a spot a little away form others where they could talk and Janet hopefully wouldn't feel the press of strangers so much. He flirted outrageously, careful to make sure she knew he was serious and not just influenced by the tea or the romantic aura.

    After a few minutes, Janet broke away and retreated into the nearby karaoke bar.
    Kengo decided to let his friend go, giving her space while he bought a festival t-shirt and changed into it. When he finally went after Janet, he found her at the karaoke machine. "Janet? Are you all right?"
    "Yes. I'm sorry I ran off, I just couldn't take the crowd," she said.
    "That's all right. We can hang out in here for a while if you like. It looks pretty empty," he said.
    Janet rewarded him with a tentative smile. "You're sure you don't mind?"
    Kengo shook his head. "You know I'm attracted to you, and I like everything about you. If you'd have more fun in here than out there, then that's fine with me."
    "Thank you, Kengo. I like you too, very much."
    After some more flirting and joking, when Kengo was sure Janet was once more at ease, he leaned in and kissed her for the first time. Janet leaned in at the same moment to meet him in a very sweet, tender kiss that was pure perfection as far as Kengo was concerned. He thought Janet enjoyed it just as much as he did, which was good for his ego.
    "Janet...will you be my girlfriend?"
    Janet's eyes went wide. "Yes!" she answered, kissing him again with more confidence.
    Once they'd caught their breath, Kengo whipped out his phone to commemorate the moment with a selfie of the two of them together. Not that he'd need any help to remember the moment Janet agreed to be his girlfriend. It occurred to him that it was nearly a year since they'd met, another good reason to remember the date. He knew he wanted to marry Janet eventually, but he wanted to date her a while first.
    "Come home with me. It's a warm night, so we can take a dip int he hot pool," he suggested hopefully."
    "All right." Janet smiled, taking his hand.

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