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Dream Bakery - Completed April 7, 2018

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.
Post edited by TresaofPern on


  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 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: 1,249 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: 1,249 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: 1,249 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: 1,249 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: 1,249 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: 43 Member
    Wow, I love the storyline! This was a lot of fun to read.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Thanks, @Petalsim, I'm glad you like it.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 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: 1,249 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.

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter 8: Normalcy

    Ruby and Kimi were the first up that morning.
    For some reason she wouldn't be able to explain later, Kimi decided to pick a fight with Ruby over who was better. Of course, Ruby won, being older, and most importantly, correct.
    "But, you..., I mean...ohhh!" Kimi slumped in defeat, feeling angry the rest of the day.
    "Nice try, Kimi," Ruby smirked over her victory.
    The arrival of Ricky wearing strawberry bear costume distracted them from each other, and the girls spoke only to their brother for the rest of the meal.
    Kengo came downstairs to find the mess from breakfast and last night's dinner still scattered around. Unable to ignore the dirty plates and cups, he decided to clean them up before he could have his own breakfast.
    By the time he was ready to eat, his parents had come down for breakfast, so Kengo joined them, chatting with them. "I heard an interesting story the other day. Forgot to tell you about it," he began, launching into his tale.
    Masami and Molly listened with interest, commenting and asking questions.
    After breakfast, Molly went upstairs to watch TV for a while, delaying the opening of the bakery. Their bills had jumped again, and she wasn't sure the bakery's profits would be able to keep up with the increased demands. She'd had to sell some of the items her parents and grandparents had left her, which had made her sad. She needed some time to calm down before she could be certain she could greet customers with confidence.
    Understanding his younger mother's feelings, Kengo decided to wait for her before going down to the bakery. He lingered upstairs watching comedy while Masami buried herself in her work. Her way of coping would be to try to earn another promotion sooner and bring in more money.
    The Cakery drew a crowd as usual. Unfortunately, though both Molly and Kengo were busy with customers and even Masami pitched in when she returned from work, they made only one sale that day. It was a very disappointing result, but there was always the hope tomorrow would be better.
    Like the twins, Ruby came home tired, and didn't feel like helping in the bakery that day. Instead, she joined Ricky in the living room for a quick snack before going to bed. Neither felt like talking either, Ruby focused on the TV while Ricky listened to music.
    Kimi was too tired to even stop to eat first, instead going right to bed.
    Once The Cakery closed for the evening, Kengo decided to go for a jog. His thoughts weren't on the lovely weather and scenery, though he appreciated those too, but on Janet. He was ready to propose, and hoped she would accept. Not tomorrow, he didn't want to draw attention away from the twins' birthday. Maybe the day after, if he didn't decide to wait so they could have the whole weekend together. One thing was certain, he wasn't going to use the Romance Festival as an excuse again, despite how well that had turned out. He still wanted the moment to be special, though. He might have to give this some more thought.
    Returning home, Kengo showered and got into bed, his mind still busy with ideas and plans.
    Masami worked on her nightly column, humming to herself. She enjoyed her work, maybe a bit too much. She hadn't meant to let herself go, but somehow she had found herself putting on more weight than she intended. With the kids older, it was time she carved out at least an hour a day to take care of that. But not toight, she thought, yawning. After being up extra early with a sick cat the day before, she was just too tired.
    As if she could read Masami's thoughts, Molly chose to use the workout machine rather than play blickblock as she usually did after a day in the bakery. She was sore afterward, but the effort felt good. She could see why Kengo and Ruby spent so much time down here, and was proud of them for caring so much about their health. Not that she didn't, it's jut that somehow the desire to exercise frequently had skipped right over her. She preferred the occasional round of basketball to using the various gym machines.
    Finished working out for the evening, Molly returned to her true passion, cooking! She decided to prepare a meal for the following night's dinner, or for any of her children who woke up hungry int he middle of the night, as they were bound to do after having gone to bed so early.
    Having gone to bed first, Kimi predictably woke just after midnight. She came downstairs with her homework, not wanting to disturb Ruby, whom she was still avoiding, or her brothers. Finding Molly in the kitchen, she joined her. "Mom, can you help me with this, please?" she asked, kneeling on the floor.
    Molly set aside her own growing exhaustion. "What are you working on?" she asked, deciding she could eat while helping her youngest daughter.
    "It's geographyy. I keep getting mixed up."
    "I think I can definitely help youw ith that."
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    edited February 2
    Chapter Nine: Two Cakes, One Birthday

    Kimi had finished her heomwork and gone back to bed at Molly's urging by the time Ruby rose and went downstairs in search of something to eat. Finding the meal Molly had prepared, Ruby helped herself to a plate, eating alone at the table this time. She wasn't in the mood for music or the TV. After her late night snack, Ruby decided to shower before she started on her homework, knowing the cool water would help her wake up and focus.
    Freshly showered and dressed for the day, Ruby returned to her place at the table and began working on her homework.
    Masami came down, and seeing what Ruby was doing, joined her, taking a look at her work. "Wait, take another look at that. Are you sure it's right?" she asked, pointing at something on the page.
    Ruby looked. "Oops! Thanks, Mama. That should be 24, not 26. I don' t know what I was thinking."
    "Maybe about a boy?" Masami teased.
    Blushing, Ruby exclaimed, "Mama! No! And don't ask me that, it's embarrassing!"
    Masami chuckled. "Calm down, I"m only teasing."
    Kengo daydreamed over his French Toast. He had remembered that the twins wanted to have their party at the bowling alley. He could invite Janet along, give her time to know his famly a bit better and see what she would be getting into if she married him. Too bad she didn't have a younger sibling who could be Ruby's guest. He didn't even know if his sister was interested in anyone yet that she might like to invite along.
    Ricky woke a little later and put on aother of his bear costumes, though he knew he couldn't wear it to school, which made him very sad. He also knew he'd never get another chance once he became a teenager, and already the costume felt a little cramped given his growth spurt. He decided he might as well enjoy the costume as long as he could. Maybe he'd persuade Kimi to wear one too once she woke, so they could match.
    Kengo had been on the treadmill for eseveral mintues when Ruby joined him, wanting to chat while she worked out on another machine. He turned to look at her in the mirror, able to hear her better once the stereo was off.
    "Well of course this is more fun than a video game. Except maybe for The R.E.F.U.G.E." he said.
    "I think Mom would say Blickblock was more fun," Ruby said, grining.
    Kengo laughed, "You might be right. What about you?"
    Ruby shrugged. "I'd rather be doing this. Or jogging outside."
    "Of course, how could I forget?"
    Ricky found Kimi downstairs. "Kimi! I just had the greatest idea ever!" he shouted exuberantly, spreading his arms wide. "We could both dress up like bears today for fun! I bet no one can guess who's who."
    "What if we get in trouble?" Kimi asked, stoppoing short of the kitchen to answer her twin.
    "Come on, Kimi, please? It'll be fun. We won't do anything really bad. One last twin prank before we're teenagers?"
    "Well..." Kimi wavered. She had woken up feeling mean today, and a prank would be fun... "All right, let's do it! I'll put my costume on after I eat."
    Ricky beamed even thoush eh couldn't see his expresison. "Okay." He skipped off to wait downstairs.
    Kimi rushed through her breakfast, wanting to be sure she had time to change, knowing it was already close to time for school.
    "Hey, slow down or you'll choke," Molly warned, joining her youngest.
    "Sorry," Kimi mumbled, ducking her head. She slowed, slightly, though she didn't really think she would choke. Finished eating, she raced up to her room to change into her grape bear costume.
    After all three children had gone to school, Molly began baking the first of two cakes. Yes, it waould ave been easier and cheaper to just have the twins share one, but they both wanted their own this year, with different flavors and frosting.
    While she was cooking, her older sister Gemma called, wanting to go the park.
    "I"ve a better idea. Why don't you come over here? Then you can come with us to the bowling alley tonight for the twins' brithday," Molly suggested.
    "I'd love to. I'll be over soon," Gemma answered after a moment.
    "Great. How's retirement treating you?"
    "Just fine. I'll tell you all about it when I see you."
    "All right. Bye."
    Masami would have offered to help, but she was busy repairing the upstairs bathroom.
    Riding on her success, she came downstairs and thought she could tackle a dance video in an effort to me more active.
    She barely lasted an hour before she had to stop, feeling tired. "Oh! Ow," she groaned, rubbing her back. "Maybe I should have tried something slower..."
    Kengo was just reutrning from taking out the garbage when he spotted Gemma. He ran to catch up iwth her. "Hi, AUnt Gemma! How are you today?" he asked, smiling, glad to see her.
    "Hi, Kengo. I'm great, considering," Gemma replied, faling into step with him as Kengo led the way inside.
    Ruby and the twins had returned via the family entrance instead of the bakery entrance and arrived first. They took places on the couch, Kimi bringing a plate of fish tacos with her. Ricky had refused to remove his bear costume even though it was getting hot and sweaty. In a show of solidarity, Kimi decided to keep hers on as well. They'd both had fun at school that day, and as Ricky had predicted, managed not to get in trouble.
    Ruby loved her family, and she liked spending time with them, she really did. But sometimes she just needed to get away and have some space to be herslf without anyone else's expectations or company. Like right now. She jumped up from the couch, grabbed a plate of food from the fridge, and retreated to her parents' room where she could watch whatever she wanted in privacy, without anyone trying to talk to her. "That's better," she muttered, sitting on the bed with her dinner and the remote.
    The movie over and her plate empty, Ruby decided to go down to the workout room and beat up the punching bag for a while taking out her feelings on it until she had to shower and get ready to go.
    Ricky and Kimi were excited to see their aunt, who rarely visited. They vied for her attention, speaking over each other in their eagerness.
    "Aunt Gemma, guess who we are!" Ricky called out, finally managing to drown out Kimi.
    "Hmm, let me see now," Gemma answered, studying them. "You're Ricky, am I right? So this sweet purple bear must be Kimi."K
    Kimi squeezed onto the couch beside her. "How did you guess?"
    "I could claim I know what colors you like, but the truth is, I was there when your mothers bought you those costumes," Gemma answered.
    The twins looked at each other and groaned at having their prank so thoroughly foiled.
    When Ricky sat down ont he loveseat, Kengo joined Kimi and Gemma on the couch with his dinner, chatting with all three of them while watching TV.
    Finished eating and growing bored with the TV, Kimi went upstairs to play video games on the computer in the boys' room since Molly was using the one downstairs.
    With Masami returned home, which meant the family could finally get ready to leave for the bowling alley. But first, Masami wanted to eat something, and Molly decided to join her.
    "I finaly got that promotion," Masami said, smiling.
    "That's wonderful! We should be celebrating you," Molly said.
    Masami shook her head. "Maybe another time. This is the kids' day."
    "You're right. THis weekened, then," Molly suggested.
    "That works," Masami agreed. "You decide what we do."
    "All right, let me think about it."
    The family, plus Gemma and Janet, arrived at the Bayside Bowling Alley in Brindleton Bay to find that they had the place to themselves. The twins had also invited thier friends Renee Hutton and Lyle Yomin to attend their party, and the two children arrived not logn after.
    Ricky blew out his candles first, having finally changed out of his costume in the bathroom. He was tired but happy to officially be a teenager.
    Kimi blew out her candles happily, glad to be leaving childhood behind. She already knew she wanted to get her hair cut and dyed , wanting to try a new look. Maybe something close to Masami's old color, but short like Molly's, representing both of her parents.
    Once the cake was gone and gifts opened, the family plus their guests enjoyed themselves on the lanes until midnight. By the time they had to leave, almost everyone was exhausted and just wanted to go to bed.
    The only one who wasn't tired enough to drop on the spot, Masami decided to get her column out of the way so she would have more time free the next morning to spend with her family.
    Recovered from her earlier discomfort, Masami decided to give working out another try. She didn't last nearly as long this time, and soon quit. Maybe she should just give up and accept htings the way they were, she told herself.
    Though she was beginning to get tired at last and it was almost dawn, Masami decided to improve hwr gourmet cooking skills, which would impress her bosses and help with her next promotion. Her first choice was garlic noodles, something simple and quick. The dish turned out excellent, to her pleasure.
    She cleaned up the kitchen and finally went to bed.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    edited February 3
    Interlude: The Proposal

    The following evening, Kengo invited Janet out on a date, suggesting the experimental restaurant in Oasis Springs. Some suggested the place was run by aliens, or at the very least, alien lovers, and between the menu and the décor, Kengo found it very hard to argue that point. Also, though she didn't own the place, his cousin Cassiopeia Landgraab did work there, and she was half-alien.
    In any case, Janet agreed to meet him there. "I've never had the chance to go, and I've always wanted to."
    "Great. Then it'll be a first for both of us. See you soon." Kengo was glad he'd chosen the restaurant rather than the diner, hoping the food was as good as it was supposed to be.
    They arrived at about the same time and embraced outside, both glad to see each other again after too long.
    They must have arrived at a slow time, because they were quickly seated after requesting a table, and barely had time to chat with Janet's uncle, who was also there on a date night, before their food was delivered.
    "This is excellent," Kengo said, savoring the flavor of his meal, wanting to be able to recreate it later. "How's yours?"
    "It's good," Janet answered. They chatted and flirted easily, and Kengo was glad the restuarant wasn't crowded enough to make her nervous about so many people being arond. Maybe next time he'd offer to cook her a meal at home, if he could convince his family to leave for the evening.
    The meal over, Kengo decided the moment was right to move their relationship to the next level. He rose and tugged Janet up from her seat, moving so he'd have room to kneel before her.
    "Kengo?" she asked, surprised.
    He smiled, bringing out the ring wiht a flourish. "Janet, I love you and want you in my life forever. I want to raise a family with you. Will you please marry me and help run my family's bakery?"
    "Oh, Kengo! Yes, of course I will!" Janet held her hand out, letting him slide the ring onto her finger.
    Janet jumped into Kengo's arms and he caught her close while she kised him.
    Wanting his new fiancee back in his arms, Kengo completely forgot their audience and in his elation at her response, kissed Janet passionately right there in the middle of the restaurant. Fortunately, she didn't seem to mind, and returned the kiss with equal fervor. Also fortunately, Kengo just managed to avoid smacking his head on the edge of the table, which would have been both painful and embarrassing.
    "Come home with me and stay the night," Kengo invited, once they came up for air.
    "I'd love to," Janet smiled, taking his hand and waiting patiently while he paid the bill.
    Back at home, the young adults found Ricky sleeping in the boys' shared room, but his parents' room was empty so Kengo decided they could use it instead, just for this one night. His parents wouldn't mind sleeping in Kengo's new double bed, he was sure.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter Eleven:

    Janet left early the next morning, to Kengo's disappointment. He wandered downstairs alone and sat beside Molly on the couch, not yet hungry. Instead of eating, he watched her play video games, keeping his announcement to himself until he could get his family all together and tell them at once.
    By the time his sisters came down for breakfast, Kengo decided he was hungry after all and joined them, choosing a plate of French Toast over their cereal.
    "So did you see any aliens last night?" Kimi asked, eyes bright with anticipation of juicy gossip.
    "No, though Cousin Cassiopeia was working," Kengo answered.
    Ruby shook her head. "She doesn't count. What was it like?"
    Kengo was only too happy to describe the restaurant and the food until the two teeneagers had to go to school. He hadn't gotten much sleep last night, so after doing some chores, he decided to go back to bed for a few hours.
    Molly took a break from her video game to dress, then went into the kitchen, intending to make lunch, only to find the stove was broken. So she set her plans aside to fix it rather than using the one in The Cakery. It would have tobe fixed at some point and it was already creating a mess.
    Meanwhile, Masami took a book on Gourmet Cooking outside to read, hoping to learn some new techniques and restaurants. She felt sore and tired, in no mood to go into work today, choosing instead to work from home.
    Her first assignement was to watch the cooking show for several hours, so she got comfortable on the couch after finishing with the book and turned to the cooking channel.
    Molly joined her soon after with a plate of garlic noodles, and the two of them enjoyed themselves discussing the cooking show, the host, and whatever else came to mind.
    Inspired by a few hours of watching the show, Masami decided to try another gourmet dish. "Chicken parmigiana...yes, we've got all the ingredients, that's good. Though I think I'm going to get some fresh produce and spices at the next spice festival for next time," she said aloud.
    Ruby came home still wanting some space from her family. Instead of speaking to anyone or starting her homework, she spent several minutes playing with Nova and the laser pointer, though she was hungry.
    With both Molly and Kengo napping, only Masami joined the teenagers at the dinner table. She and Ruby ate while the twins got an early start on their homework, all four talking over each other.
    From long practice, Masami was able to follow the flow of the conversation, advising Kimi on her homwork, applauding Ricky's efforts on a test, and listening to Ruby's story.
    Molly came down in time to help Kimi with her homework, letting Masami focus on Ricky.
    Ruby tuned both groups out, growing tense again, just wanting to eat and get away on her own for a while.
    "Can you explain this to me again, Mama? I think I'm missing something," Ricky said.
    "Sure. Let's start at the beginning, one step at a time," Masami suggested, taking him through the lesson again, pausin gto make sure Ricky understood.
    "Good job, Kimi. You're better at history than I was," Molly praised.
    "Thanks, Mom. Guess I just really like dates," Kimi said, pleased by the praise.
    Masami stepped way to watch another cooking show, giving Ricky a chance to finish his homework on his own, though she was still nearby if he needed more help.
    Ricky assured her he could dot, and Masami decided to trust him.
    Ruby finished her dinner, and despite herself, decided to do her homework near her siblings, figuring if they helped each other, she would finish sooner and could get out of there for a while.
    Molly moved around the table, checking on everyone's work. "Way to go, Ricky! Ruby, remember to write neatly, don't rush. Do you need some help?"
    "Yes, please, Mama. What does this mean?" Ruby asked, pointing to a passage in her book.
    Molly moved back to her side, reading the lines to herself before explaining them to Ruby.
    "I'm out of here! I'm going for a jog, I'll be back before dark, promise," Ruby announced, slapping her book shut and jumping up from her chair.
    "You'd better," Molly called after her.
    Ruby didn't bother to answer, rushing up to her room to change into her workout clothes then rushing back down and out the door. She instantly felt better, her mind clearing and her body relaxing, which was a relief after being so tense for so long.
    Kengo came downstairs in search of a snack while Ruby was out. He grabbed a slice of blue confetti cake and joined Kimi on the couch, listening to both the TV and stereo at the same time. "I see Mama got you hooked ont hat show," he said.
    "How do you know?"
    "Cause it's her favorite. Mom likes a different one better," Kengo explained.
    "Oh." Kimi nodded. "Well, it's good."
    "Sure is," Kengo agreed.
    He told her about his engagement next, and was nearly strangled and deafened by her resultant hug and squeal.
    Of course that brought everyone else currently in the apartment rushing to find out what was happening, and Kengo shared his news as well, enjoying temporarily being the center of attention.
    Once the excitement had died down, Molly went into the basement to workout for a while, deciding to start with the punching bag. There was nothing like having your teenage daughter pat your belly and asked if you were pregnant to motivate a person to get into better shape, she thought wryly. At least, she hoped Ruby had only been joking.
    Masami took a brief nap and woke feeling energized, which gave her the foolish idea that she was up to using the treadmill. Only twenty minutes of running convinced her otherwise, and she got down, feeling sore and tired. Realizing how late it was getting, she grimaced. "Better go to the spice festival before it closes, or I'll lose my chance to speak to the vendors," she told herself. She left directly from the basement, not bothering to go inside and change. She hadn't been exercising long enough to really work up a sweat after all.
    Ricky had gone to bed several hours earlier, not long after finishing his homework and haivng a quuck dinner of garlic noodles.
    He woke while Masami was gone, and while the rest of the household slept, he went down to the basement for his turn on the treadmill. Being young, he lasted several hours despite his lack of experience before fatigue forced him to stop very early in the morning. Yawning, he barely remembered to turn off the stereo before heading back to bed until long after the sun came up.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter Twelve: Profitable Endeavors

    Unable to sleep, Masami woke early even though she didn't have to work that day, and decided to make breakfast at the stove in The Cakery rather than in the apartment. There was just something about being surrounded by all the delicious smells of a bakery while cooking that made a difference, at least to her.
    Masami wasn't the only one getting an early start to her day.
    Both Kengo and Kimi woke too hungry to go back to bed and grabbed an early breakfast, Kimi choosing to watch TV while she ate.
    Restless and too busy thinking to settle into sleep, Molly decided to try working off some of her energy by dancing before goinZ2wA42y.png?1g back to bed.
    Kengo spotted Ricky setting the table while holdng a plate of French Toast, and came over to speak with him. "Nice job of multitasking," he said, impressed.
    Ricky grinned. "Thanks. Just wanted to see if I could."
    "Lucky you didn't drop anything or get syrup on the settings," Kengo observed.
    "Yeah, I know." Ricky turned his attention to his breakfast while admiring his work.
    Kimi noticed the fridge was broken and decided to see if she could figure out what was wrong and fix it.
    "Oh, Kimi, you don't have to do that. I was going to just as soon as I finished eating," Masami said, noticing her out of th ecorner of her eye.
    "It's all right, Mama, I've got it. I wanted to try anyway," Kimi called back, continuing to work.
    "In that case, thank you. Let me, Mom or Kengo know if oyu run into trouble."
    "I will, don't worry." As it happened, Kimi successfully compleated the repairs on her own, which left her feeling confident and proud of herself.
    Ruby took her breakfast outside, wanting to be alone. She just needed her space, though she was actually starting to miss being with her family all the time. Growing up was so confusing, sometimes she just didn't understand why she felt the way she did, espeially when those feelings were conflicting or constantly changing. If she and Kimi hadn't already made plans to open the bakery by themselves that morning, Ruby would go for a jog to clear her mind. That always helped, and felt good too.
    Ruby and Kimi opened the Bakery together, while the rest of the family napped to recover form their very early morning. The two teens were the most rested and knew how important it was for The Cakery to be open early enough for more customers to arirve. Especially since it wold be closed again for the wedding in a few days.
    Wanting to test her baking skills, Ruby whipped up a batch of brownies, leaving Kimi to handle what little restocking was left to do.
    "Is this right?" Kimi called across to her older sister, showing her the screen.
    "Yeah, you're fine," Ruby answered, looking over.
    "Okay, thanks."
    By the time Molly came down, Kimi was trying her hand at the cupcake factory, making plain muffins.
    "Good morning, Diya," Molly said to their employee. "I meant to tell you your work has been excellent lately."
    "Thank you," Diya answered, pleased. "What do you need me to do today?"
    Molly looked around. The bakery was clean and fully stocked. They only had one customer so far, who wa sstill rbowsing. "You can answer customer qestions today," she decided.
    Eager to try out her retail skills, Kimi greeted the next customer. She head listened to her parents and older siblings often enough that she thought she knew what to do. Fortunately for her, her customer was a regular, and led the process a little bit by asking questions.
    Kimi was glad she was able to answer all of them, gaining confidence as she went through the process, hoping for a successful sale.
    Upstairs, Masami, thinking the bakery needed to increase its offerings with something new, made a fruitcake from a recipe in her gourmet cookbook. It gave her the perfect excuse to practice her gourmet cooking skills at the same time. She hoped it came out well and actually sold.
    With five family members working, the customers didn't have to wait long to get help even though there was quite a crowd, as usual. It wasn't long before sales were being made.
    Molly made the first sale of the day, which was not only their biggest that day, but a record sale. She was pleased, because it had seemed that Billie Jung might not buy anything at all at one point. The sudden turn around added up to half the day's profits, and Molly decided selling something other than baked goods might be a good idea after all. Putting the old sign up for sale had been a test, and a successful one, as it turned out. Now the family needed to get together and decide what else to put up for sale. Everything at once? Only certain things in each room? One room's worth at a time, like a rotating special sale? Oh the possibilities!
    After the last sale of the day, in which Ruby sold a plateful of doughnuts to Austen Wood, Ruby and Kimi took charge of restocking while their parents went upstairs to nap and Kengo made a dash to the bathroom, not having had a chance to go earlier.
    Restocking done, the girls went upstairs. Kimi was hungry and grabbed a plate of garlic noodles.
    "Don't forget, we're going to the Romance Festival later," Ruby said as she walked past.
    "I won't. Thanks again for letting Ricky and I tag along," Kimi answered.
    "It's no big deal." Ruby yawned, curling up on the couch for a nap.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter Thirteen: New Love

    Ruby led the way into the romance festival. She had also invited Peirce Delgato along, wanting to see if they could become more than friends. She knew her intentions were no secret to her siblings, but was glad they'd come along and were keeping quiet about her plans, pretending this was just a casual trip among a group of friends.
    Ricky rushed foreward alongside her, his romantic nature making him eager to experience to festival. Though at first glance, there were disappointingly few teens in attendance tonight. In fact, it looked like they were the only ones there.
    "Oh, look, there's the Sakura tea! Come on, let's get a cup," Ruby said, tugging Pierce behind her.
    He seemed a little reluctant, but he didn't resist, pausing to eye the cup before drinking it down.
    Ruby felt the effects come over her instantly, and smiled flirtatiously at him. "You look great in that outfit, and I've been attracted to you forever," she told him, emboldened.
    Pierce smiled back. "You're lovely too, and I feel the same. I just didn't want to risk our friendship," he admitted.
    "I'm glad we've got that out of the way. Of course we'll always be friends, unless you heart me."
    "Don't worry, I don't plan to hurt you. Just don't break my heart."
    Ruby laughed. "I'll try not to."
    They spent several minutes chatitng and flirting, moving out of the way so others could get some tea.
    Ruby briefly remembered her siblings and glanced around for them, finding them mingling with the crowd, then she focused her coplete attention on Pierce.
    Several minutes later, when Pierce ran for the nearest available bathroom, Ruby bought some spicy Ramen from a food stall. It was cheap and looked good. On her first try, she fumbled the chopsticks. "Ugh, why didn't I pay more attention when Mama tried to teach me?" she grumbled, trying again.
    Carrying her bow, Ruby met up with Pierce as he left the bathroom in the Karaoke Bar.
    She slid right back into their previous flirtatious banter as if there had never been an interruption.
    Judging that the time was right, she said, "I think we shoudl be girlfriend and boyfriend. You know, exclusive. We get along so well, even when we're not drinking Sakura Tea."
    Pierce smiled gently at her. "I think you're right, and you beat me to it. I feel like i should be the one to ask."
    "Well, we could start over..." she offered.
    "No! No, this way is fine. Of course I want to be your boyfriend."
    Ruby beamed, pleased and relieved. "Good."
    "Hey, let's get out of here. I want to kiss you, but not standing next to a bathroom," Pierce said reaching for her free hand.
    "Don't want my first kiss in here anyway," Ruby agreed, going iwth him. She dumped her garbage in a can on the way out.
    They ran into the twins and Janet O'Roarke once they got outside, and Ruby felt obligated to stop and chat for a few minutes with her brother's intended, not wanting the woman to think she was being snubbed or something.
    Finally, the two teens escaped and found a quiet spot away form the festival to kiss and make out. Ruby enjoyed their first kiss so much that she came back for more, leaning into his arms and kissing his neck afterward.
    By the end of the evening, driven by youthful exuberance, the two teens had exchanged promise rings.
    Ruby was so happy she couldn't help jumping for joy as she watched Pierce admire his ring. "Oh, I love you so muich," she declared.
    "Love you too, Ruby. I'm going to get you a ruby ring someday. With emeralds, because I know how much you like green, and it'll be a reminder of today."
    "That's so sweet, but you don't have to," Ruby protested, blushing.
    "But I want to. Let me do this for you, please?"
    "All right," Ruby agreed, not wanting to fight. And actually, she liked the idea of a specially made ring. "Come stay the night with me, please?"
    "You're sure your parents won't mind?"
    "I am, as long as we're quiet."
    "Then I'm definitely coming," Pierce agreed.
    Somehow, even though the entire household was still awake, no one noticed the two teens slipping upstairs and into Ruby's room.
    Grateful Kimi had discreetly stayed out, Ruby ducked under the covers with Pierce to mess around, even though both were dead tired.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter Fourteen: Preparing for Change

    Sitting at the dining room table directly beneath the stairs, Masami couldn't help but hear her children return from their outing and scatter. She noticed they'd brought a guest along, but focused on her gourmet cookbook for the moment, her attention held by a very interesting recipe. She had a surprise in mind for Kengo, and needed to make sure she had all the details down just right, wanting to pull it off without a hitch. She would only get one chance to get it right, not wanting to waste ingredients or time.
    Nova followed Ricky upstairs, looking for attention. Since he wasn't that tired yet, Ricky obliged her by bringing out the laser pointer to play, laughing at the cat's antics. "Here's one thing not even you can catch," he teased the cat.
    He didn't spend much time with Nova, probably the least out of all of his family, but that wasn't deliberate on his part. It was just that with so many others also wanting a turn, he rarely had a chance to do much with her. Especially with school keeping him so busy. Ricky was thrilled Nova had sought him out this time, though he suspected that was because everyone else was occupied and he had noticed her before Kengo, who was also nearby.
    Not wnating to listen to Ruby and Pierce enjoying themselves, Kimi went into the boys' room to play blickblock, daydreaming about what it would be like to have a lover. For some reason, her friend Renee's face kept coming to mind, rather than one of the boys she knew. Maybe she should ask her mothers how they had known who they wanted to be with. She did think boys were attractive, she just wasn't that interested in them. Well, it's not like she had to decide right this instant, unlike Ricky, who had a crush on Evie Delgato and was working up to asking her on a date.
    Kimi weighed hinting to Evie in the interest of moving things along or keeping her twin's confidence. In the end, loyalty won out - for now.
    Kengo was too excited about his forthcoming wedding to sleep, instead busying himself making some food for Nova. He didn't know how the cat wasn't fat, as pampered as she was. Must be all that running around outside she did keeping her lean and healthy.
    Wanting to surprise his family while working on improving his cooking experience, Ricky made breakfast before going to bed. It was only eggs and bacon, which came out edible if not excellent, but that was a good start. Watching a cooking show just wasn't the same as actually doing it all on his own, without anyone to consult with and only his own eyes and nose to tell him when the food was ready. Pleased with his efforts, he put the platter away and cleaned up after himself.
    No longer sore formt he previous night's workout, Ricky spent more time in the gym, this time working with weights. He hoped once he loooked more muscular and less pudgy, Evie would notice him and want to go out with him. Not like he was in a hurry to find the one he would eventually settle down with, but he didn't want to go through High School single either.
    Eventually tiring, Ricky yawned and went to bed, feeling pleasantly sore and certain he'd made progress toward his goal.

    Next morning, Kengo sat on the couch next to Molly and chatted while he ate breakfast. It was excellent, and he wondered who had made it.
    "Not Masami or I, she would have told me and I know she was busy reading until she came to bed," Molly said when he asked.
    Kengo nodded. "One of the kids then.. Suppose we'll find out when they wake."
    "I'm sure we will. Anyway, I'm glad it's just us right now. I wanted to talk to you."
    "What about?" Kengo asked, alerted by the serious tone in her voice.
    "Masami and I want you to have the Cakery, and this apartment. It's our wedding gift to you and Janet," Molly told him.
    Kengo wasn't surprised. "Well I know you're leaving me the Cakery and I figured I'd inherit the apartment..."
    "No, I mean for you to take them over right away. We'll move out and take the younger three with us," Molly explained.
    At that, Kengo blinked. "Are you sure? You don't have to do that."
    Molly smiled gently at him. "But we want to. You'll want to get started on your family, and this place is already pretty crowded. We can't and won't ask you to wait another year or two until Ruby is ready to move out. Your ma and I are getting too old to be going up and down so many flights of stairs every day."
    "That's a lame excuse," Kengo objected, smiling. "I don't know what to say."
    "Say thank you," Molly prompted.
    Grinning, Kengo put down his plate and hugged her. "Thank you very much. I'll miss having you both around, and my siblings too."
    "Oh, don't worry, we'll be back to help from time to time," Molly promised, hugging him back.
    "Good. Who's keeping Nova?" he asked, remembering the cat.
    "Why don't you? She's getting older too and I hate to move her again."
    "Okay. At least Janet likes cats."
    Kengo needed time to process that, so lost in his thoughts that he missed that Molly said that this was "her" wedding gift, not "our" wedding gift, suggesting that Masami had a gift of her own. He was just glad she was entrusting her dream to him and hoped he would able to keep The Cakery going, something he could pass on to his own children someday.
    Ruby sand Ricky joined them soon after, and Kengo snapped out of his thoughts to participate in the conversation.
    "So how was your trip to the Romance Festival?" Molly asked.
    "Good. I want to go again soon," Ricky told her.
    Ruby smiled widely. "I asked Pierce to be my boyfriend and he said yes!"
    "That's great, sis," Kengo said, genuinely happy for her. "If he gets out of line, Ricky and I'll deal with him."
    "We sure will," Ricky agreed.
    Ruby ignored both of them. "It was so much fun, Mom. Much easier than you said it was with Mama."
    "Boys, no threatening violence, please," Molly said. "Ruby, I'm glad for you, sweetie. You'll have to invite Pierce to dinenr with us soon. In fact, invite the whole family."
    "Oh, I will. Next weekend maybe," Ruby said.
    Kengo wondered why Ricky suddenly blushed and ran from the room. Distantly he heard his little brother call to his twin, "Kimi, I'm going for a jog. Want to come with?"
    "Sure, just let me change," Kimi yelled back.
    Ruby went downstairs to workout, practicing ont he punching bag. She thought about Pierce as she did so, wondering if he'd want to come to the gym with her sometime. She was also looking forward to the following weekend's dinner, thinking she'd ask if she could do the cooking, though her repertoire was limited. Then again, if she really wanted the Delgatos to be impressed, it might be better to let her parents do it. They were more skilled and knew more recipes after all.
    With Kengo otherwise occupied, Masami snuck down to the closed Cakery and gathered the incredients to make her surprise, a white and black wedding cake. It might not be traditional, but it was fancier. And she wanted nothing but the best for her oldest.

    Kengo went to the house Janet had grown up in even though he knew she had recently moved out on her own. Her parents still lived there and he wanted to meet his future in-laws before the wedding.
    He found Ian and Rochelle O'Roarke to be very interesting, nice people and the conversation flowed easily. He enjoyed getting to know them and felt they'd have no trouble getting along with his parents, which was good. They welcomed him into the famly as if he was the son they'd never had, much to Kengo's surprise and pleasure.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapter Fifteen: Wedding Bells

    The morning of his wedding, Kengo was up early, nervous and excited. He wanted everything to go perfectly, though it would only be a small, simple ceremony held in the backyard, with only immediate family in attendance. He brought his breakfast of French Toast into the living room and turned on the stereo, hoping the music would help calm him.
    His parents joined him shortly after, and the three chatted over their meals, having a deep conversation.
    "It turns out the place we wanted fell through, so we'll be staying a little longer than planned," Molly said.
    Masami smiled. "Means we can have a birthday party for you after all, Molly."
    "Don't remind me. I've already found my first gray hairs," Molly groaned dramatically.
    Kengo smiled. "You look fine to me, Mom,' He assured her.
    "Thanks. Must be the new sweatshirt, it sure makes me feel young."
    "Must be," Kengo agreed, playing along.
    Kimi woke and did chores before breakfast without any prompting, having noticed that they needed to be done. First she cleaned up all the stray plates scattered around the apartment, then she filled Nova's bowl when she noticed it was empty. Her last chore was taking out the garbage, after which she promised herself a well-earned game of Blickblock. After she gave her legs a break from going up and down all those stairs.
    By the time Kimi returned upstairs and sat down on the couch for a few minutes, Kengo and Molly had left, both needing to get ready for the wedding later that day.
    Ricky had joined Masami though, and both twins listened with interest as Masami regaled them with a tale from her youth.
    "You're exaggerating," Molly announced, coming back into the room in time to hear the end of the story.
    "Well, if you're going to ruin my fun, I guess I'll just go over here and pick up Nova's toys," Masami complained, pretending to be upset as she rose and crossed the room to the cat's toy box.
    Molly just laughed, not bothered by Masami's reaction, and went to sit by Ricky. "I"ve been meaning to talk to you about cooking. You're doing good, but I'll give you a tip," she began.
    "What is it?" Ricky asked, curious. He listened attentively as Molly spoke.
    They were still discussing food and cooking when Ruby came down to join them. Eating quickly because she knew it was almost time to change for the wedding, Ruby told Masami a joke.
    "That's a good one," Masami said, laughing. "Where did you hear it?"
    "Oh, someone at school told me. I think her mother's coworker told it to her," Ruby explained.
    Everyone dressed up in their finest clothes for the wedding. Janet had a minor issue with her gown, but she refused to delay things until it was ready, insisting she could get married in her regular clothes. "I don't want to wait. My aunt will drop off the dress soon, and I'll change then."
    "Are you sure? I want this to be perfect for you," Kengo said.
    Janet smiled. "I am, and it will be," she assured him.
    "All right, then, let's get on with it." He was eager for her to be his wife and to have her in his arms.
    After vows, rings and kisses were exchanged, the two families mixed and mingled while Janet ran inside to change into her dress. Kengo was glad to see that the two sets of in-laws seemed to be getting along, which would only make things easier for everyone involved.
    When Janet finally returned the two of them admired the cake Masami had baked, with many profuse and heartfelt thanks.
    Then they cut it together and shared the first bite with their families looking on.
    Hearing a meow behind her, Janet turned, plate in hand, and smiled down at Nova. "Well hello there, remember me? We've met before," she told the cat. "I hope you're just looking for attention, not food, because this cake isn't for you."
    "Meow," Nova repeated demandingly.
    Janet laughed. "I suppose this dress will survive a little cat fur." Obligngly, she knelt carefully and petted the elderly cat until Nova decided she'd had enough and wandered off to investigate the source of some birdsong.
    Molly realized the wedding reception needed to have more than just cake, and grilled up some chicken for anyone who wanted it. Rochelle O'Roarke joined her, the two women chatting as if they'd been friends forever.
    Nearby, Kengo stood watching Janet while supposedly listening to the conversations going on around him. He didn't think anyone was really fooled, but as it was his wedding day, he could be forgiven for being more besotted with his bride than attentive to his family and guests.
    Kengo and Janet had the first dance, then the rest of the family joined in.
    "I'm sorry your parents couldn't stay," Kengo said.
    "It's all right. I'll see them again soon." Janet put on a brave smile, but he could see she was saddened and disappointed that they'd left early.
    Wanting to raise her spirits, he told a joke, which seemed to help.
    Conversation continued over the music, everyone still having a good time getting to know each other.
    "Now it's my turn to take a new selfie of us," Janet announced when they finally stopped dancing to give their feet a break.
    "That's a great idea." Kengo leaned in beside her, hamming it up for the camera while his family watched.
    Once the flash faded, Ruby stepped forward. "Let me take another picture of you," she offered.
    "All right, thanks." Janet smiled, handing over her phone.
    Ruby snapped not only thier picture, but everyone's, finally passing it back so Janet could take her picture to complete the collection.
    Once the party wound down a little later, everyone went their separate ways. Some decided to work off the cake by exercising in the home gym, others went bafk for more food as the cake hadn't filled them up.
    Kengo and Janet took advantage of the opportunity to consummate their marriage, using the bed in the master bedroom because Ricky was int he boys' room. Besides, since was inheriting everything, Kengo decided he should get used to using his parents' bed. Maybe he'd better start thinking of it as their former bed for his own peace of mind.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    This story has been moved to Wordpress, where it will be continued. It and my other stories can be found here: Muse Urania's Library
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Chapters 17, 18, 19 and [url= are up. Story may either end or split as it goes in a new direction.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    Two new chapters, A Good Day and At Home are up.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 1,249 Member
    And sadly, all good things come to an end in chapter 23, Dream's End
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