Sky’s distant cousins the Crumplebottoms filled up Sky’s Sing-A-Gram schedule one week. A secret admirer sent a gift to Holly Crumplebottom-Yo (daughter of Shanni and her second wife Jeanna Yo).
She had grown into a truly beautiful woman with Sky’s great-grandfather Lance’s hair color.
Then Arya Crumplebottom sent her to serenade Garry.
Which met with a technical difficulty.
Xia, meanwhile, was a fighter pilot and training harder than ever.
And it seemed like there was a mountain of schoolwork. Dylan was largely independent, and it was difficult to tell what Sawyer needed, but Abby struggled a lot. Her heart was just not in books, numbers, and dates. Abby was a girl who needed to learn by doing.
Dylan was most fond of Riddle and took on most of his care. Training and grooming Riddle was what he did with most of the time he wasn’t studying.
One morning, Sawyer came down to breakfast to finish his homework in the garden before school.
Dylan did a double take. “What is that? A superhero costume?” he asked.
Sawyer gave him a penetrating stare. “I am simulating a much more intimidating, muscular body. It ought to scare off anyone who wants to stuff me into a locker.”
“Someone is stuffing you into lockers?” Dylan asked, concerned.
Sawyer scowled. “And my head into toilets. It stinks.”
“That has to be humiliating!” Dylan said, alarmed.
“No, I mean it stinks,” Sawyer said. “The toilets stink. I have to wash my hair in the sink or I smell all day.”
Dylan ran to get Sky and Xia. Xia was immediately on the phone to Chivalrous Preparatory School. “I can’t believe they’re letting this happen to a kid! And Sawyer has special needs!”
“I don’t have special needs,” Sawyer said, scowling. “I have a special brain.”
The flurry of parent-teacher meetings was probably how Abby’s birthday was forgotten until it was almost too late.
“I’m so sorry we can’t have a party,” Sky told Abby. “I’ll make it up to you. We’ll have a family trip to the park next week. Tonight I’ll bake you a cake.”
“Dylan got a party!” Abby protested. “Even Sawyer got a party, and he didn’t even like it. This is my big coming out as a high school girl! How can you do this to me!”
“I’m so sorry,” Sky. “I’d throw you a party if I could, but it’s too late, and we just can’t manage it. There has to be something I can do to make it up to you.”
Abby fled to her room to sulk.
It was not Sky’s day at all. When she headed down to the kitchen to bake, she discovered that the dish washer had broken a water line and was spraying soapy water all over. Worse, Sean Flynn was skulking around again. Riddle was at least keeping an eye on him. Sometimes it was really nice to have an overprotective dog.
“Xia!” Sky called out in despair.
Xia appeared, surveyed the situation, and rubbed Sky’s shoulders. “Relax. I know how to fix it.” She got to work and had the water line replaced in no time.
Meanwhile, Sky went to fetch Forest. “Your boy toy or whatever is in my kitchen. Could you do something about him?”
It wasn’t clear what was more disturbing — the state of the kitchen, or the people IN the kitchen.
Sky tried hard to focus on her task. This was her first cake from scratch, and Abby was already upset. The very last thing she could handle was disappointing her little girl any more.
“It’s all right,” Xia said gently. “I have the bakery on speed dial. We can order a professional cake and even pretend you backed it.”
“I’m going to do this myself,” Sky said through gritted teeth. She kept her back to Forest and Flynn while she worked.
The result was so good it amazed even Sky. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts.
Abby herself perked up when she saw it. “Wow,” Abby she said. “You made that? You worked really hard for me, Mom.”
Sky gave her a hug. “That means a lot to me,” she said.
The family gathered around to welcome Abby into teenagerhood.
“This better be a great cake,” Abby said, “because I’m making a big wish!”
Abby was the first to take a slice. The cake looked as good inside as it did outside. Sky had outdone herself.
Everyone sat down and made delighted slurping noises.
“Thanks, Mom and Mum,” Abby said. “You really came through. Now when do we get to go shopping for birthday presents?”
“Um,” Xia said.
Abby is, at this point: Star Quality, Snob, Perfectionist, Brave. I don’t know what her fifth trait is going to be yet.
Forest and Flynn making out in the kitchen was autonomous and pretty entertaining.
Sawyer has a rough life. Losers get beat up at school and stuffed into lockers :(.
Gotta crank through these! Must. Get. To. Heir. Poll!