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It was already late in the afternoon as Ariel and Kris were making their way in front of the front steps of a strange new house. Kris had rehearsals for the talent show with Robbie today and she would be staying over his house to make sure everything was done properly. The show was just a few days away and the whole entire town was giddy with excitement. Everyone except Kris.
“Hey,” Ariel called out to her daughter as she shook Kris’ hand. “Is something wrong?”
“No,” Kris dully answered.
“Then why do you look so sad?” Ariel said as she knelt down to Kris. “Are you still upset that Joe not coming to your show?”
“No,” Kris repeated her answer with the same monotonous tone.
“Are you sure?” Ariel kept pressing on.
Taking a deep sigh, Kris gave a weak grin and said, “I’m okay, mommy.”
Giving a light shrug, Ariel resumed her pose and rang the front door bell only to hear rustling noises that sounded almost like dishes crashing onto the ground. Whispers were covering up most of the sounds as something seemed to be quite not alright in the house. Suddenly, a head pops out of the door.
“Ariel! You’re here!” Rainie screamed back with arms wide open. “I’m so glad you could make it.” She practically grabbed Ariel right out of the air as she plunged into the bear hug.
Ariel was about to tip over as she let out her response. “Thank you for helping Kris with her project.”
Still holding onto Ariel, Rainie continued. “Any time, dear. Come on in Kris, Robbie is waiting in the living room.”
Kris nudged her way into the house and spotted Robbie immediately. Ariel however was stuck at the door with Rainie’s arms generously wrapped around her
“Well, I guess I should be going,” Ariel struggled to say. “I’ll be back later-
“No!” Rainie abruptly stopped her. “Stay, lets have a chat. It’d be absolutely rude if we didn’t invite Kris’ mother in for a cup of tea.”
Ariel walked into the incredible house that seemed to be screaming “fancy” back at her with the dangling chandelier in front of her, the leather sofas and couches and marble flooring in the dining room.
“Come in, sit,” Rainie offered.
“Thank you,” Ariel politely agreed. “Your house is amazing.”
Suddenly Rainie’s aggressive disposition turned into an inspective glare. She was staring so intently at Ariel that it seemed as if Ariel would have imploded right there and then. “You look thin,” was all that came afterwards. “I’m gonna bake you a pot roast.”
“Y-you really don’t have to,” Ariel courteously rejected.
“Nonsense, I’ll do that…and some of my homemade baked goods for the trip home,” Rainie continued to say as she made her way into the kitchen. “What else?”
“Uh, you know what? I have to go home now,” Ariel quickly tried to escape. “It was very nice to meet you.”
Hastily, Rainie grabbed Ariel by the arm and linked hers together. “Don’t be so modest with me, were practically in laws the way Robbie and Kris are always together.”
In laws? Wasn’t that a bit over the top? At that point, Rainie wasn’t about to lose her best friend just because she wasn’t “assertive” enough. However, it could be plainly seen that Rainie had crossed assertive to a bit more aggressive. Then again…that was how Rainie was. Making their way back into the kitchen, Rainie rummages through the cabinets as Ariel stares intently at the magnificent displays of dinner ware and marble.
“Honey?” Rainie called out to Ariel. “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine. I’m just looking around your kitchen. It’s gorgeous,” Ariel smiled lightly.
“Eh…” Rainie shrugged. “Mike wanted to splurge on the kitchen because he’s always complaining about food. He says that when it comes to food, no one can skimp on the necessities. Well anyways, you’re welcome here anytime any day to check it out for some remodeling ideas if you want.”
Once Rainie continued to rummage for some pots and pans, Ariel couldn’t help but take it all in. Rainie was the perfect example of what a loving mother and wife should be. It was almost like watching a robot at work. It wasn’t uncomfortable at first but after a while, Ariel’s envy became a still sadness looming around her.
“Mrs. He?” Ariel asked suddenly.
“Please call me Rainie,” she lightly patted Ariel’s arm as she spoke.
“Rainie, I think I should get going already,” she said before giving a slight bow.
“Oh, so you’re not staying longer?” Rainie asked, showing Ariel the frozen piece of meat in her powerful grip. Ariel only responded with a soft shake of her head. “Well ok,” Rainie smiled back, walking towards Ariel with arms wide open. “If ever you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me ok? If it’s babysitting Kris or just a friend to talk to, you call me.”
Ariel once again nodded. “I will.”
“Maybe sometime we’ll go out for drinks?” Rainie suggested. “Or a play date with the kids?”
“That would be great,” Ariel agreed.
Rainie was about to walk Ariel out, till the door swung open carelessly about a couple feet away. Two men stepped in groggily and dropped their luggage on the floor beneath themselves with a dull thud. They had just come back from a 4 hour flight back from the main land, and they weren’t ready to see what was in front of them.
“Honey I’m home, and I invited Jiro to have dinner with us…Holy crackers!” Mike called out as he catches a glimpse of Ariel in front of him. “What are you doing here?”
“Mike!” Rainie scolded at him with a firm scowl. Moving over to her husband’s arm, Rainie pulled on him gently to stop him from staring. “This is Ariel, Kris’ mother. She came to drop Kris off so Robbie and she can finish the project.”
“I think we’ve met briefly that one time,” Ariel shyly answered in reference to Yi Zhen’s failed attempt to confess to Calvin. “It’s nice to finally meet you…”
“I’m Mike, Rainie’s husband…uh Robbie’s dad,” he nervously said as he wiped the sweat off his palm and shook her hand.
“And you are?” Ariel asked as she stared at Jiro.
“I’m…I’m…” he stuttered as he looked into his sister’s naïve and innocent eyes. “I’m Jiro.”
“He’s Ms. Chen’s boyfriend,” Rainie quickly answered to stop his awkwardness. “Soon to be fiancé?”
“Don’t ruin it for everyone, Rainie,” Jiro winced.
“You’re proposing? But you have only known her for a couple of month’s right?” Ariel asked eagerly, delving in more than usual.”
“I’m not proposing. Rainie just likes to jump to conclusions,” Jiro explained, making a smug face over to Rainie.
“Oh,” Ariel laughed lightly. “Well she’s told me about you. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“Oh,” he lightly nodded back. “Right, finally.”
“Ariel, are you sure you don’t want to stay for dinner?” Rainie interrupted the awkward moment. “That pot roast is just begging for a taste!”
“Daddy!” called out Robbie from behind, interrupting Ariel. “You’re back, you’re back!”
Lifting Robbie off the ground and into his arms, Mike gave Robbie a tight hug before setting him back down.
“How’s my boy doing?” Mike asked Robbie directly.
“Kris and I are finishing up our project for the talent show. You wanna see?” he asked with great wide eyes.
“Not yet Robbie!” Kris ran straight into the hall full of adults. “Whoa, so many people. Hey Robbie’s dad and Ms. Chen’s boyfriend.”
“Hi Kris,” they both smiled at her acknowledgement.
“Kris, would you like to stay for dinner?” Rainie sneakily asked.
“YAY!” Kris gleefully yelled as her grin returned.
“Then it’s done!” Rainie clapped once as if the sound were a gavel. “You’ll stay for dinner.”
Ariel wasn’t going to go against 5 other people on this one. Besides, if she could make Kris smile like that again, she would do anything to keep it there. Not to mention, she’d probably go home to a microwavable dinner if it had not been for Rainie’s persistence. Home cooked pot-roast or processed chicken that has been battered and deep fried? Tough choices really…
The evening was full of life as Mike and Jiro told stories of their latest adventures in another country. Rainie was in the kitchen preparing the roast and once in a while Ariel would step in to offer her help while the children continuously tried to get a small snack to ruin their dinner. They said it was Jiro and Mike who lured to do it but everyone had their own story. By the time the roast was almost done, Rainie decided to spark up a real conversation with Ariel
“So how long have you and Joe known each other?” she abruptly said as she dug her hands into a pound of flour covered dough. “You’re going out with him aren’t you?”
“Um,” Ariel winced, as her face got redder and redder.
“It’s ok; Joe has been a dear friend of ours for the longest time so if you want to know his darkest secrets you can ask,” Rainie nudged at Ariel’s arm as she said it.
“He’s a good guy,” Ariel nodded lightly. “We’re dating, but I don’t know what’s going to happen really.”
“Oh c’mon give the man a chance,” Rainie rolled her eyes as she tossed the dough in her arms. “You wanna give me a hand with this?”
Taking a piece of the dough, Ariel pounded her fist directly into it and flattened it well. “I tried giving him a chance but it just gets a bit complicated when I see him only for a few days and then he’s off to only God knows where.”
“So you have a problem with him being a pilot?” Rainie asked seriously, wiping that bead of sweat away from her head.
“I just don’t really see us in a long term relationship,” Ariel revealed, much to Rainie’s snicker. “What? Why are you laughing at me?”
“I laugh…” Rainie tried to explain as she pounded another fist into the dough. “…because you should see him light up every time he mentions your name.”
Ariel let out a small chuckle. “It’s scary how you seem to know so much about me already when I know very little about you. Now who should I blame for that; Joe, Robbie or Kris?”
“You know more about me than you think,” Rainie insinuated as she continued to move around the dough.
Heads pop into the kitchen as the women remain pounding into the dough. Mike and Jiro had their noses in the air as they took in a whiff of the roast in the oven. Robbie and Kris were once again up to no good as they snuck up to the pantry.
“Touch those cookies and neither of you are eating dinner,” Rainie threatened without even a glimpse of the two mischievous children.
“AW!” they both pouted. “Please mommies…”
“Kris, you know better than to ruin your appetite,” Ariel looked at her daughter suspiciously.
“Do I?” Kris looked back with the same amount of suspicion.
“Take them away,” Rainie ordered Mike and Jiro with a flick of her wrist.
“Yes madam,” they both responded.
Mike grabbed Robbie by his waist and carried him upon his shoulder out of the kitchen as Jiro hoisted Kris off the ground bridal style and tossed her frail body onto his own shoulder. Whining their way out, Kris and Robbie were both moaning and groaning at their departure.
Once Ariel and Rainie were done, the troops lined up eagerly as Rainie and Ariel led them into the prepared dining room. Smells of every dish roamed deliciously into the noses of the crowd and everyone took their seats to dig into the succulent dinner. Ariel was indeed pleased that she had stayed a bit longer to take in the scene in front of her. Although not everyone was connected to each other through blood lines, they were all a complete family.
“Mommy?” Kris tugged at Ariel’s arm. “I’m done. Can I go back to finishing up the project?”
“Sure,” Ariel nodded and soon Robbie followed.
“Mommy?” Robbie called out to his mother. “Can I go now?”
“Did you finish what’s on your plate?” she asked stingily.
“Not the vegetables,” he pouted sourly. “Please…”
“Ok, just tonight though since Kris’ here,” she rolled her eyes.
Once the kids were in the other room finishing up the rest of the project for the talent show, Ariel was sitting quietly with the rest of the adults who were laughing and having a grand time as they were thriving in the fact that they had Ariel back. It had already been so long since they have had a dinner together that it was a bittersweet moment having her there.
“So, Ariel,” Mike teasingly asked. “How long have you and Joe been going out?”
“I already asked her, Mike,” Rainie poked her tongue out at him.
“You swear like she’s your best friend,” Jiro laughed heartily. “After 4 hours of slaving over a pot roast, you both are sisters right?”
“I’m not as crazy as they make me sound,” Rainie said lightly to Ariel. “I might be a bit possessive but that’s just my motherly intuition.”
“Yeah, now try telling that to a judge,” Jiro quipped in. “Wouldn’t it be a trip if you murdered someone and you blamed it on your motherly intuition. ‘I was just trying to defend myself. He was going to attack I just know it. My motherly intuition told me so’. They’d send you to the nut house before they send you to jail.”
“Are you done?” Rainie stared at him with a dull expression. “Oh! I just remembered Ariel told me something was happening with her and Joe? Details, girls.”
After all that bickering, Ariel didn’t think that her little explanation would be up to par but Rainie did ask so Ariel will tell.
“Well I don’t know what happened but Kris is a bit upset that Joe won’t be able to make it to the talent show,” she revealed with a deep sigh.
“WHAT!?” the crowd of adults yelled in unison.
“Why? What happened? I thought his schedule permitted him to do so?” Mike chirped in response.
“Something came up I guess,” Ariel lightly added as she took a sip from her cup.
“But he was so excited when he heard about it,” Rainie added. “Oh it must have crushed him.”
“Hmm, I didn’t know there was a flight the day of the talent show?” Jiro asked. “What day is it?”
“It’s the 24th,” Ariel responded.
“That’s the flight to London,” Jiro cringed. “I was wondering who was going to pick it up. I told the commissioner weeks ahead of time I couldn’t make it because I was thinking about having my family come visit me that weekend to meet Ella.”
Just as Jiro finished his sentence, Rainie and Mike immediately gave each other looks. What was Jiro thinking bringing his parents here to Caoya at a time like this? For goodness sakes, Ariel didn’t even know he was her brother yet but he was ready to send her into a frantic frenzy? His parents would have a hysterical fit once they see her after all these years.
“Yeah,” Mike interrupted quickly, trying to dispel any awkward pauses. “I already told the commissioner that I couldn’t make that specific flight because it conflicted with Robbie’s show. He’d never make it back on time.”
“Oh that’s really too bad, after all this time…” Rainie muttered to herself, as she suddenly caught herself almost revealing something she didn’t want to reveal.
“Speaking of time,” Ariel interrupted. “I think I have to go now. It’s getting pretty late.”
“R-really?” Rainie frowned lightly at the abruptness. “Couldn’t you stay just a while longer?”
Ariel shook her head lightly. It was getting dark and she wasn’t about to walk a seven year old back with nothing to protect the two of them except the inner wires of her coat jacket.
“Ok, well we’ll walk you guys out,” Jiro smiled lightly.
Making their way into the living room, the adults soon walk in to Kris and Robbie laughing hysterically on the ground. They were rolling back and forth, back and forth and cackling their heads off for some illogical reason.
“Kris,” Ariel called out. “It’s time to go home now, say goodbye to Robbie.”
Gasps from both children soon overtook their laughter.
“Are you serious??” Kris jumped up from the ground and said. “Can’t we stay a little longer mom? PLEASE!? We’re not even done with the project!”
“Well you should have thought of that before you wasted your time,” Ariel smirked. “Now get your jacket.”
“PLEASE!!” Kris begged her mother with a deep pout and crocodile tears forming. “Can I sleep over tonight? I swear I’ll be good.”
“You didn’t bring your sleeping bag, how can you sleep over?” Ariel asked as she poked her daughter softly on the nose.
“I’ll sleep on the carpet like a dog, I swear I’ll be good,” Kris groaned. “PLEASE!”
Ariel looked over to Rainie and Mike for their approval and when she received it, she looked back at her pathetic daughter who was groveling at her feet.
“Fine, but you have to listen to Mr. and Mrs. He got it?” she warned.
“YES! I will!” Kris swore.
And just like that, Ariel left Kris in that warm comfy home of Rainie and Mike’s. She waved her goodbyes to everyone. It would be the first time that Ariel would be alone for the night. Somehow she felt just a cold breeze shivering her down to the bone as she let walked down the concrete pathway. What is she going to do now?
Meanwhile, Rainie and Mike were pinning Jiro in a corner wishing to figure out what the hell was going on. What did he mean that his parents are coming to Caoya?
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