“ So, how’s the birthday girl?” Lia asked her little sister. She and Daniel had come to celebrate a double birthday, their father’s and their sister’s.
The whole family gathered around as Diistan approached the cake.
Although Diistan didn’t seem to remember that they were his family, he had almost come to love them as one. They were very good people, and he was glad to have woken up that day in these strangers’ house.
Even Lia had put aside her resentment for him long enough to celebrate properly.
With a swift whoosh the candles were blown out, and Diistan was on his way to becoming an elder.
His children cheered him on, giggling at the sight of his outfit. Diistan stretched, testing every bone in his now old body.
He rushed off to change before Lin took her turn, and Jenna took the opportunity to catch up with her oldest children. “ Yeesh, mom, chillax! You already have six grandchildren, why do I need to give you more?” Lia complained playfully, rolling her eyes at her mother but blushing a bit, enjoying the teasing laughter of her siblings. How she missed them!
Diistan returned, and they all gathered around again for Lin.
While the birthday girl blew out the candles, someone commented on how this was merely a formality. Lin had always acted like a teenager, even when she was a toddler.
“ At least now it won’t be so creepy when she babbles for hours about the high school guys,” Jun joked. “ Are you kidding?! She’s just getting started on the college guys!”
“ Stop talking and pay attention to me!” Lin shrieked as she spun into teenhood. She immediately received another round of jokes, this time about cowgirls and all that goes with them.
While Lin ran off to change, Lei approached Jun with a gleam in her eye. Surprising everyone, she didn’t beat him up. “ See, now that’s how you should use your hands!”
Across the road, I looked on proudly as my “triplets” got ready to grow up.
Before long they had found an outfit that came in all of their colors.
Seeing Sitara make her first platter of grilled cheese reminded me of something I had been working on lately: The Grilled Cheese Emporium, my own business.
The Emporium had a little of everything. It was part restaurant, part shop and part salon.
“ You need a new haircut! You can’t live without it! You have the worst hair style out there!” “ I’m going to ignore the fact that you have the same hair style and get it cut!”
Though my employees methods might be different, they were quite effective.
“ You didn’t do anything! I look exactly the same! Wow, thanks! Let me tip you!” Surprisingly, his voice was sarcasm free.
Of course, not all customers were that easily pleased. Florence Delarosa was the most difficult client, and she could rant for hours about nothing at all, suspiciously yelling the name of her flower store and how much better it was every few minutes.
For the most part, though, everyone seemed pleased with the variety of the menu (anything containing cheese!) and the service.
Even Diistan popped by once to check out the legendary mac and cheese.
The Emporium was frequented by all kinds of people, from townies...
Unfortunately, the more time the maids spent at the Emporium, the less time they spent at their jobs. “ Ugh, we should have fired that lazy maid a long time ago!”
Sometime around the double birthday party, Jun had acquired a mysterious secret friend, who he spent hours on the phone with. His sisters loved teasing him about it.
“ Whoa, Lei, where’d that come from?” “ I bought it. It’s a toy making bench!” “ But you were saving up for those really cute shoes!”
“ This looked more fun.” “ But they were so cute!” “ So get your own pair of the shoes!”
Even if Lin didn’t approve, Lei loved her new toy-making bench. In no time she had made her first toy, who she named “Don Brick-ote” and promptly gave it to Priscilla.
Even though the little girl tended to be ignored, everyone did love her. They just chose to show it through objects rather than personally.
Mr. Dustin had no job or any real responsibilities, so he took it upon himself to build Priscilla a lemonade stand. She quickly raided the kitchen for supplies.
Making up the recipe as she went along, the first batch was ready in no time.
Priscilla’s first customer was Ivy Copur, another starstruck girl who had followed Jun home from school.
Meanwhile, Lei was busy working on her homework. She enjoyed learning, but sometimes enough was enough.
Once the words began to blur and blend together, Lei knew it was time for a break.
She had recently moved on from her brick dolls and had learned how to make toy cars.
She was working on perfecting the jack-in-the-box at all hours, much to her roommate Lin’s annoyance.
Jenna’s family and its problems were too big for her too handle at times. Especially at work, sometime her mind would wander to her children, or grandchildren, or her husband, who might or might not have been living with them all this time.
She had been assigned a report on the origin of llamas and alpacas, but in her distraction she had mixed the two up over and over again. When her boss saw the paper, Jenna had been fired on the spot.
It was still morning, so only Diistan was there. Upon hearing the news, he wrapped her in a sympathetic hug.
It was too much for Jenna. “I’m sorry Mr. Dustin or Diistan or whoever you are, but I have to do this.” “ Wha--” He was cut short.
“ I’m so sorry, I don’t know what got into me!” Jenna apologized as the older man struggled to find his balance. “ It’s okay, Mrs. Mehntaa, but I... I... Oh...”
He stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, a hand at his heart, muttering to himself. Finally he looked back at Jenna with tear filled eyes. “Oh, Jen...”
He swept her into another kiss, but quickly pulled apart to explain.
“ I remember now, Jen. Oh, honey, how could I be here day after day with you and all the precious children and not remember?” “ What happened to you, Diistan? When you were gone for so long?”
“ I... I don’t know. I can’t remember that. But now, I want to remember you, love.”
Love is all around you now So take a hold Hidden in our words It sometimes ain't enough
Don't suffocate day after day It's building up Cause when you're feeling weak You know I'm strong enough
Love can take a little Love can give a little more A little more A Little More, Skillet
That night was Priscilla’s birthday. She closed her eyes and considered what to wish for.
Seconds later, her eyes snapped back open and she blew out the candles with one breath.
For the first time in my life I have a Daddy. What more can I wish for?
Her older siblings had invited all the teenagers they could to welcome her into high school.
Her parents cheered her on as she examined her new body. She decided that, like her big brother Jun, she wanted to have as many friends as she possibly could.
“ I look pretty good, if I do say so myself,” Priscilla grinned happily.
She decided to try flirting a bit, but not everyone was eager to become her guinea pig.
Mortified, Priscilla stammered an apology and ran to her room.
“ Nobody does that to my baby sister and gets away with it!” Jun chuckled from his spot by the computer, glad he wasn’t the one in Lei’s death grip.
Meanwhile, Lin had set her sights on one of the other teenage guests.
She sat down across him at the chess table, with a carnivorous gleam in her eye.
Seeing their sister gradually wrap the boy around her finger, Lei and Jun remembered their own plan for finding spouses.
Within minutes, they had arrived at the newest place in town, the Grilled Cheese Emporium, to continue their hunt.
“ Hey, Jun, that girl over by the door looks like your type,” Lei advised sagely as she sipped her water. “ I’ve already found somebody, remember? We’re here for you, sis,” Jun clarified before ordering their dinner.
“ I propose a toast to Operation Wedding Bells, and your mysterious sweetie,” Lei said when their food arrived.
“ Well, then hurry up so we can eat,” Jun exclaimed as the cheesy smell reached their noses.
As they munched, Lei prodded Jun to at least describe his mystery girl. “Well, she’s really-- hey, there’s our maid! I told you this is why she hardly does anything anymore!”
“ C’mon, Jun, focus. What color is her-- look, Nancy just came in!”
After greeting their sister-in-law, Lei turned back to her twin. “Okay, no more distractions. Tell me more!” “ Well, she’s really pretty...”
“ But mostly she’s really smart. And kinda tough, you know, like she’s really strong and nobod--”
“ Lots of Mehntaas tonight! I hope you guys enjoyed the meal!” I said distractedly as I gathered their plates and swept off. “ Well, Lei, time for you to start checking out guys!”
The first man Lei talked to immediately put her down for “consorting with those of us of age”.
One of the employees, Leo Trottier, didn’t run away when he saw her coming, and that was enough for Lei.
While Lei discussed a baseball game she hadn’t even seen, Jun counted the strawberries on the cheesecake for the umpteenth time. Still 24 and a half. “Time to go, Lei.”
Lei spent the next few days fighting over the phone with Jun, trying to work out some kind of relationship with Leo.
Jenna was finally becoming an elder, something she wasn’t really looking forward to.
She managed to wear a smile for her children’s sake, though.
“ What is it with the wild west outfits around here?”
“ Are you sure I still look okay?” Jenna asked for the seemingly millionth time as she and Diistan danced quietly in their room.
“ Are you kidding? You look gorgeous, hon.” Diistan offered a reassuring smile before grabbing her hand and tugging his wife to the old nursery.
In there Jenna found her birthday present, everything she needed to make beautiful flower arrangements.
She started by carefully filling a small glass with daisies, a simple yet pretty decoration.
Satisfied for the day, she set the daisy bouquet on her bedside table and went to sleep.
The next day, Lei was met by a funny feeling as she and Jun returned from work.
“ I do believe we’re growing up, Jun.” “ Ya think?” Ryker King, a newcomer to the area, couldn’t help but wonder if this was a normal occurrence in these parts.
The twins wasted no time calling over their respective romantic choices, now that they were old enough.
“ Hello, Demi,” Jun greeted his mysterious sweetheart, part of the local police force. She had been sent to the Mehntaa house when Diistan’s and Lin’s birthday party had gone on too far into the night, and Jun had been instantly smitten.
“ You look so grown up, Jun,” she gave a little laugh. “At least now I don’t feel like I’m robbing the cradle when I talk to you.” Jun reached a hand up and brushed it gently across her cheek. “Or when you do that...”
Abruptly, Jun grabbed her arm and pulled Demi toward him, enjoying his first kiss.
“ How was that?” he asked nervously. “ Amazing. Fantastic. I think I want to do it again.”
Meanwhile, Jun had finally gathered the courage to do what he had been wanting to do for weeks. He dropped to one knee and reached toward his pocket.
He pulled out a small black box and held it out to Demi, stammering incoherently about love and forever.
Giving up, he revealed the contents of the box. Demi had never seen such a beautiful ring, and gasped out loud.
She looked at Jun’s expectant face and knew in her heart what she had to do.
“ Yes,” she whispered, slipping the diamond onto her finger.
Jun let out a cry of joy and swept her off her feet, quite literally.
That night Demi became and official part of the Mehntaa household, if not yet the family. Once she changed out of her uniform and let her hair out of its braids her beauty became quite clear.
“ You’re so stupid. We should totally be married by now, Trottier.” “ Well, I thought your parents probably had their excitement for the day.” “ See, now you’re using your head for something.”
Saturday morning, Demi found herself in the small yet clean bathroom, touching up her hair and makeup. Her heart pounded, threatening to burst out. She was getting married!
“ We’re getting married!” Jun waved his fists in the air. “We’re getting married!” “ Is it really time to start the ceremony? I think a few of the guests are still inside, the maid invited herself, and did you see that your sister-in-law showed up in her own wedding dress?” “ Trust me, that’s nothing. You should have seen Lia’s or Dan’s wedding!”
Love can be a whisper, love can be a shout, sometimes it needs no words at all
It can be proven with a look, with a tender hug, yet it’s always hidden deep within the heart
Our love has been a whisper, our love has been a shout, I’ve shown you with a look, a hug, my heart
You’ll never need to doubt me, you know I will be there For better or for worse, I do not care
In sickness or in health, you know I’ll see you through My love will be for nobody but you
Our love has been a whisper, our love has been a shout, but now it is deep within our heart
They stepped back, smiling from ear to ear. They were married!
The wedding ceremony was beautiful, Your Majesty. The couple seemed so happy, and we were all thrilled for them. That’s all for now, Mae Simself
Once the festivities were over, the couple found themselves alone at last. “ Mrs. Demi Mehntaa,” Jun mumbled as he kissed her again.
“ Mr. Junett Mehntaa,” she replied, smiling and snuggling closer.
For a few seconds they merely enjoyed eachother’s smell, sound, feel.
Then Jun leaned in for another kiss, and Demi found herself pulling back.
“ What’s wrong, Dem?” “ I... I can’t.” “ What do you mean?” “ I can’t do this. Jun, I’ve got to tell you something...”