Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Two Wrongs drabble: Birthday Cake

bigbigbigday006 said: Any universe: Daddy’s Birthday Surprise

From the ‘Two Wrongs’ universe and from Mr. Mellark’s POV. Enjoy gorgeous!

I unlock the door to my son and daughter’s house. Today is Peeta’s birthday and the whole family is going to surprise him with brunch at Mama’s in North Beach. Katniss is getting close to her due date and it is harder for her to make plans without work interruptions, baby planning and helping India as she prepares for Kindergarten.

As I walk into the house, I close the door quietly. The house is silent and I walk to the left which leads to their kitchen so I can make coffee. My eyes zero in on a picture on the wall; it is one of our last photos with my late wife, Rhiannon. She is holding our first grandchild, Rhea, while the rest of us are gathered around the chair that she sits in.

Her smile was beautiful. She was beautiful.

A sound in the kitchen interrupts my musings and I rush into the kitchen. The sight before me is not what I expect.

 I see India, my youngest grandchild, standing on a kitchen chair with a book in front of her. She is looking into it intently, her long dark hair brushing the kitchen island that her elbows are propped on.

“India Mellark, what are you doing?”

She looks up at me and grins. “I’m making Daddy a birthday cake.”

Next to the book is a bowl, a bag of flour, eggs, a sugar container, and a large spoon. I’m amazed at her cleverness.

Katniss told me that she was teaching India how to read but she seems very advanced for her age. What did I expect? Both my son and daughter-in-law are smart people. Katniss works for Beetee Consulting as an environmental architect and consultant. Peeta has always been good with numbers and making contracts.

“Let me make the cake for you, sweetheart,” I say and go to her.

“NO!” India puts a hand up. “I want to make it myself. It will make Daddy happy. I can do it! I promise!”

She is so much like my wife. The determination in her eyes is all Rhiannon.

I nod. “Well…can I be your assistant?”

India cocks her head to one side and looks at me. She wants to make sure that I’m not messing with her.

That is all her mother.

“Okay,” she says after a moment.

“Can I turn on the oven for you, Chef India?” I ask with a smile.

She looks down at the book and moves her finger as she looks at the instructions. Peeking over her shoulder, I can see that the recipe is for a simple white cake with strawberries on top.

“P-preheat the oven to…350,” she reads out to me and then smiles proudly at me.

She is getting better due to the fact that Peeta lets her read to Katniss’ stomach. It’s been a real bonding moment for them.

“Yes, ma’am.” I salute her before turning on the oven.

“What’s going on?”

 I turn to find Prim, my other daughter and Katniss’ sister, at the doorway to the kitchen. Behind her is her fiancé, Cato.

“Isn’t it obvious?” I say as I walk to her and she gives me a kiss on the cheek. I give Cato a quick hug. “I’m assisting Chef India in making a birthday cake for her Dad.”

I wink discreetly and Prim nods. Her pink lips curve into a smile and she walks over to the cupboard.

“May we help too, Chef?” Prim asks.

I look over to where India has Cato helping her reach for the measuring cups in a higher cabinet. She adores him so I’m not surprised that she let him help her so willingly.

“I think Chef Indy just recruited me,” he tells us and Prim offers him an apron—a very floral one—so his burgundy sweater and jeans won’t be ruined. She helps me put on red checkered apron and then puts the ‘Kiss the Cook’ one over her own white eyelet dress.

“Did we miss the invite?”

Rye, my son and Marvel, his partner have just walked in.

Behind them is Sonny, their daughter who gives me a shy wave. Walking over to her, I pick her up and give a loud kiss on the cheek. She is the quiet one but there is something in her eyes, a contemplativeness that I think she got from her birth mother.

“Hey babe,” I greet her. She is seven going on eight but is smaller for her age.

“Hey Papa,” she says with me. “Can I help with the cake?”

“You’ll have to ask the chef,” I reply. I turn to find Rye and Marvel already put to work. Rye is stirring the batter in the bowl as Marvel oils the cake pans.

India smiles at her cousin from her chair at the kitchen sink. “Come on, Sonny! Let’s wash the strawberries with Auntie Prim!”

I put Sonny down and she rushes over to join them.

“I guess we’re late then.” I turn to find Carrie and Rhea next to me. I hug both of them quickly. Rhea is thirteen but the same height as her mother.

“Chef India will assign you your duties,” I joke with my daughter-in-law.

Carrie winks at me before going to India and inquiring on how she can assist.

“You’re thinking about grandma, aren’t you?” Rhea asks and I put an arm around her. “Sometimes I think about her too.”

“Do you still remember her?”

“Bits of her,” Rhea says with a soft smile. “Like the smell of her perfume or how I would play with her pearls.”

“You’re lucky, you know,” I tell her as I swallow the lump in my throat. “You’re the only one of the grandkids who remembers her.”

She nods and I give her a kiss on the forehead.

“Go on,” I say to her. “You’ll probably need to help India put the cake pans in the oven.”

“Whoa! What is happening here?” Wheaton, my oldest, has just appeared. Leo, my grandson, is snoozing in his arms. “Hey Dad.”

“Couldn’t get him up?” Leo is all about naps. The little boy looks up when he hears my voice and Wheaton props him up on feet.

“Why don’t you help your cousins?” I suggest and Leo nods before walking over to the girls.

“Katniss and Peeta aren’t up yet?” Wheaton asks as he automatically begins to clean up the mess. It has become quite crowded but there is enough room for everyone in my son’s spacious kitchen.

“No, Katniss is getting up in her pregnancy so she’s been tired,” I say to him.

Together we all work getting the cake finished. I help India make the whipped frosting.

Actually, she reads the instructions and I do all the work.

“What’s a ‘tsp’, Grandpa?” she asks me as she looks over at the book.

“It is a shortened version of teaspoon,” I tell her.

“Why doesn’t it just say teaspoon?”

“I don’t know, kiddo.” I respond. “Why don’t we get you dressed for brunch and then we can check on the cake?”

Together, we walk up the stairs and pass her parents’ bedroom to her own room. She tells me as I help her dress about her excitement over her new brother and going into a new school.

When we are done, I look over her outfit—stripped leggings and a bright purple top then I help her braid her hair.

I’m an expert now, thanks to Prim’s careful instruction.

Walking downstairs, we see that the cake is already cooling. Everyone is sitting at the table and drinking juice or coffee.

“We thought that we should let the kids frost the cake,” Prim says from where she sits on Cato’s lap.

I nod and then look over at India. “We’re ready when you are sweetie.”

She takes my hand. “Grandpa, will you help us?”

“Of course,” I say and go to the cake pans. Carefully, I make sure they are cool enough to come out of the pan.

Removing them, I get the spatulas out and then the bowl of frosting. My grandchildren gather around me and each take a spatula. Rhea tells the younger kids how to frost the cake as I watch her proudly. She has Rhiannon’s patience.

 I see her in everyone one of them.

India’s determination, Sonny’s insightfulness, Leo’s gentle nature—each of these attributes comes from my dearest wife.

The kids frost the cake quickly then sloppily put the cut strawberries on top. Wheaton puts a single candle on the cake and upon India’s demand, lights it. He will be in charge of walking the cake up to Peeta and Katniss’ room.

“Let’s go!” India says and takes my hand. Wheaton and Prim lead the way as we all trail behind them.

When we get to their door, Prim knocks then opens the door.

“HOLY CRAP!” She slams the door back shut and closes her eyes. “I feel like I’m thirteen again.”

“Prim, are you okay?” I ask and she looks up at me, her face bright red.

“Auntie Prim said a bad word!” India reports loudly. “Where are Mommy and Daddy?”

“Mommy is giving Daddy—his birthday present,” Prim says in a constrained voice. Her blush tells me that she has just witnessed something very private.

“Way to go, Katniss,” Rye says with a grin.

“Still going in her pregnant state,” Marvel adds. “Girlfriend has stamina.”

“I want to see Uncle Peeta’s present!” Leo says and runs to the door.

“NO!” Wheaton scoops him up just in time, all the while, still holding the cake. “Why don’t we give them some privacy?” He looks over at India. “In honor of baking your first cake, we are taking you out. Where would the chef like to go?”

She puts a finger to her chin. Then she looks up at me; her eyes are the same shade as Rhiannon’s.

“What did grandma like to eat?”

I think for a moment. “She always like fried chicken.”

“Hard Knox!” Prim screams out.

“No, Front Porch!” Rye protests.

“I’ve always like Max’s chicken the best,” Carrie adds in.

Together they all walk downstairs arguing over the best place to get fried chicken.

Something cool hits my cheek—like a slight brush of someone’s lips and the smell of a familiar perfume fills my nose.

“I miss you too,” I whisper into the air before India tugs my hand and we join the rest of the family.

*All restaurants mentioned are real. Let me know if you want to know their locations.





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  6. louezem said: This was really lovely - I can never get enough of this universe. :)
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