"Come on Em, you have to go and say hi to her!" said Olivia excitedly as she pushed a reluctant Emma towards the bookstore.
Everyone had gotten ready and the boys, who had narrowly dodged Olivia's make-up invasion by promising that they'd tidy themselves up the best they can, were already coming down from Emma's bedroom.
Emma and Olivia entered the bookstore, the aroma of the food drawing them to the snack table.
"Oh wow, this looks superb!" Olivia said as she leaned in a sniffed the garlic bread.
Olivia spun around, her face brightening. "Aunt Darley!" she squealed.
They embraced each other and let go, grinning.
"Aunt Darley, this is Emma Tolly. I think you saw her earlier today at the grocery store, right?" Olivia said as the boys entered the bookstore.
Darley sized Emma up, who was feeling embarrassed.
Then her face broke out in a grin. "I remember her now!" She gave Emma a one arm hug and then wandered off to greet the other guests.
Emma stood there, confused. Earlier Darley was toneless and rude. Now she was acting like everyone was her best friend.
"Livvy," Emma said slowly.
"Does your aunt sometime have mood swings?"
Olivia gaped at her. "How'd you know?" she asked.
"She was a little, erm, moody earlier." Emma said.
"Oh, she does that. Dunno what's wrong with her but when she's in a good mood she's fun to have around." said Olivia. "Oop, gotta go and see mom. She's over there. Be right back," she added as she walked to the other side of the bookstore.
Emma turned around and blushed. "Yes?" she said to Tancred, who was standing right beside her.
"You're kinda blocking the nachos."
"Oh," said Emma, trying to hide her disappointment. She moved to the side and allowed Tancred to fill his plate with nachos.
He wandered off to find Lysander, leaving Emma sighing in the corner.
The party went on, music playing with the adults jokingly dance around while laughing and talking.
The children however just ate and talked, trying very carefully not to get any food on the books.
It was nearly time for the party to end when Emma' aunt Julia changed the music to the type of music that kids her age would listen to.
Emma had forgotten about the earlier encounter with Olivia's aunt. She found that Olivia was right. Darley was fun when she wasn't in one of those moods.
At the end of the party, when almost everyone was home and when Tancred gave her a small peck on the forehead, she sat in one of the armchairs, sighing happily.
Darley came up to her with Olivia behind her.
"Em, Aunt Darley has a gift for you!" Olivia said eagerly.
"Really?" Emma said. "It's alright, you don't have to give me anything."
"Oh but I must," said Darley. She had something behind her hands. She made Emma close her eyes and hold out her hands.
She felt a plastic bag in her hands and she opened them. It was the same brand of chips that she had tried to buy earlier, and it wasn't checked for poison!
"Oh, that's very thoughtful but the party's over." said Emma.
"That's for you, you know, as a snack." said Olivia. She walked away to her mother, receiving her coat from the coat hanger.
"Thank you," said Emma, smiling at Darley.
Darley smiled back. "There's just one thing though," she said.
"What is it?"
Darley's cheerful face turned into a serious one. "That would be £2500 and I have to check it for poison."