Emilie watched as Eliza climbed onto the dining room chair, staring through the window waiting for her father. She was proud, Rylan had submitted a selection of short stories to Reading Nooks, a local publishing house, and they had offered him a deal. Eliza understood, she wanted to give him a chocolate cake, and a huge hug. Stirring the mix, letting Patrick lick the spoon, Eliza embraced her role as big sister, it was difficult to watch her excitement, the desire to celebrate her father when he acted distant and indifferent to them both. Patrick climbed onto the chair next to her, his interest focussed on the creamy frosting, fingers dipped denting the cake. Scowling, Eliza told him “No” too late, the hands reached his mouth, spreading chocolate over his nose and chin. It surprised Emilie how he could hold so much, and still miss his mouth
A publishing deal came with other commitments, an appearance at a charity event should improve sales, but it came at a price. The mention of Bailey, a woman who had made advances on Rylan, and with whom he failed to mention called him regularly, it elicited a jealous response. Emilie tightened her face, brow furrowed, pushing the argument towards the fact the gala coincided with Eliza’s birthday, horrified that Rylan seemed flippant about missing the celebrations.
Ziva studied her brother, restless, he checked his watch, stepping back from Patrick and his sticky fingers, checking his suit. Emilie decided on brunch, a quiet birthday celebration, she would have preferred a bigger party, maybe a trip to the coast, but it was clear Rylan’s career importance exceeded his feelings for his family. He inched towards the door, the delay in lighting candles due to Patrick needing to use his potty. As the birthday tune ended, Rylan thought he could slip out unnoticed, Patrick’s lip quivered, as the door clicked shut, he screamed, tears streamed down his cheeks. Eliza shuffled off the stool, wrapping him in her arms, they both missed him, she assured Patrick their father would be home soon and there would be ice cream and fun with him another day. The women admired her optimistic approach to life, she kept smiling as she opened her presents and Emilie had pinned a ribbon across the doorway to the spare bedroom. It was an event, Patrick, his puffy cheeks, sleepy, rested his head on Ziva’s shoulder. Eliza’s eyes widened, how her mother had found the time, decorated green walls, and purple fabric splashes, a dream room. A finishing touch, Emilie had cleaned up a guitar adding it to the room for aesthetics.
Bailey greeted Rylan, warm and familiar, her dramatic figure-hugging purple and silver gown seemed overkill for a party in the park. He made his presence at the occasion clear, he was there to promote a worthy cause, the irony being as an author, his work, printed on paper. Rylan answered positively, “Speak for the trees” had inspired him and he would donate a percentage of book sales to the replanting of trees, a comment that had reporters clamouring for a definitive figure, something to hold him to in the future. The remainder of his night spent drinking, networking, and avoiding Bailey, making a point of mentioning his gorgeous wife at every opportunity, certain this would deter her potential advances.