Hey! I'm sooo sorry that it has taken this long for me to write this next chapter, but I went to a three week camp and then came back to move halfway across the country.
Special thanks to solosinger1 for this chapter's inspiration.
"I would like to welcome you all to the santé-coquille manor. I hope that the girls' planning has proven to be a sufficient party thus far, as well as continues to throughout the duration of your stay,"
Julia announced from behind me. I was sitting at the head of the table as the 'guest of honor' with Orland on my left and Roy on my right. Leanne looked irritated by this fact, eyeing Roy spitefully every so once in a while. I was almost willing to bet money that he had stolen her seat.
"I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all to behave tonight, and to respect one another's opinions and boundaries." I saw several people roll their eyes at her so ettiquitely phrased way of saying "keep it PG 13." "Now; to Aria!" Leanne's mother (finally) finished speaking and raised her glass of champagne in a toast. We did the same, save for the change of drink in our glasses, which was instead sparkling cider. "To Aria" was chorused all around me.
Did I mention that this dinner was multi-course? The first one that was brought out, on silver platters with lids that were removed in front of us with the ching of vibrations, uncovered a chilled cucumber soup. Leanne and I picked up our spoons and dipped the liquid out, napkin in lap and stuff. Orland watched me and was careful to follow every move that I made. Leonel slurped loudly from his spoon. The other three girls varied somewhere in that range. Roy, however, picked up his bowl and began slurping it, some of the green liquid dribbling down his chin.
You so cannot blame me for laughing. I doubled over, clutching my sides. I could hear giggles, laughs, and bemused chuckles ringing out around the table. Roy had set down his bowl, half of which had been drained of soup, wiped his face with the back of his hand, and looked around.
"What?" He asked, a slightly defensive tone in his voice, but you could still hear a quaver in it, suppressing the urge to laugh with us simply because we were laughing and he was not. Save for Leanne, of course, who simply looked at him with a shocked, appalled expression on her face.
Then, Roy looked so ashamed, so puppy dog sad, that I scooted my chair back and walked over so that I was standing behind him.
"Here, Roy, this is what you do," first, I took my hands and placed them over his, guiding them to bend to my will. I grabbed the utensils by his bowl, which were still wrapped in a napkin, and unraveled them. I moved his fingers with mine so that he folded it into his lap, and grabbed the spoon. I showed his how to hold it, and how to eat with it, and how to wipe his mouth with the napkin. Once, though, he missed the napkin and instead trailed his lips across the back of my hand.
"Okay, I think you have it now," I said, a little too quickly for tact, and retreated back to my seat. In payment for my actions, I didn't get to finish my soup before it was taken away. Dang it!
The next course, though, was a hearty portion of steak served with mashed potatoes and a variety of raw vegetables. Just how I liked them. This time, I instructed Roy on mannerism from my seat, pausing every so once in a while to shovel food into my mouth. Orland continued to watch me, but with a sour expression on his face. I wonder if he didn't like the food…
Desert, however, was by far the most interesting course. Not just for the array of éclairs, pie, cakes, cookies, ice creams, cheesecakes, and other such sugar packed delicacies, but also for the conversation. It was Serena that started it.
"So, Aria, are you alright? I saw that fall of yours." She asked, her voice seeping concern.
"Yup, fine, just a sprain, which is all bandaged up." I said, muttering, "And not covered in ice," before continuing on in my regular volume, "besides, I've had worse."
"Like what?" Orland said with genuine curiosity, with a slight hint on concern. I resisted the urge to look away and pretend he had misheard me.
"I don't know. What I mean is that it's only a sprain. Hardly worth your concern. Thanks for caring, though." I said, trying to block out the memories of painful injuries I had acquired in my lifetime. I was actually really good at keeping them between my Mom and me, though sometimes we let Dad in on it, too.
Somewhere, a clock chimed, echoing across the halls.
"Oh!" exclaimed Leanne, "That means that dinner is finished! Come on everyone, let's go get our pj's on!
I go upstairs, into Leanne's room, along with the stampede of the others, and dug into my bag to pull out my comfortable shorts and airy t-shirt that I used as my pajamas.
Why was I even surprised?
They were gone, in their place a silky sleeper tank with a matching pair of silk shorts. I sighed. The color was a burgundy red accented with crimson designs.
On top, the note stuck on it read:
This is the last part of your birthday presents. Hope you like them!
"Thanks. A lot." I muttered, half sarcastically, while holding the pajamas out in front of me, studying the low cut design. I sighed again, but this time in defeat.
More to come as soon as I have the chance. It's very hectic around here. solosinger1, I didn't actually use your idea as much as I planned to, so you can count on it in the next chapter! =]
Thanks so much to my reviewers! 3 you!