Will and Gretchen had gotten there about 10 minutes before. The amazing cake Gretchen had made sat on the counter. Most everyone sat in the living room. The little apartment was very crowded but no one minded. They were all here for a good time.
At Leanna’s call Gretchen, who was leaning against the wall talking to Ivy, stood up and looked at her brother. Will had not told her Fritz was going to be there. In fact he had led her to believe he would not be there. He never came out right and said it but he had said Fritz was gone. All he had said when he had come to pick her up for their arranged lunch date was,
“Lets take the cake right now. They may need it before our lunch is over.” So Gretchen had carried the cake out to the truck. They drove straight to the apartment. Gretchen would not trust Will to carry the cake, he just got the doors for her.
In the apartment Will had taken his coat off and sat down. Gretchen still wore her coat, she had not thought much about anything, she had just started talking with Ivy until Leanna called out.
When Fritz walked in, Leanna was there to meet him at the door.
“Hey everyone. Wow! Thanks,” His family gathered around him for hugs. As he was giving the last hug he caught sight of Gretchen against the wall watching them. What? She was here too? This would be fun.
Fritz was ready to eat. He said he was starving, so as soon as he had his coat off and had quickly washed his hands they all gathered in the living room for the blessing. Holding hands Jackson asked the blessing.
Gretchen stood between her brother and Ivy. She was a little surprised that Jackson’s prayer was just like that of Neil’s a few weeks ago when she had been to their house for dinner. She was also surprised at her brother’s humble attitude.
After prayer she got in line behind Brett and Leanna. Neil stood behind her but he was talking with Jackson. Fritz and Will stood to the side waiting for everyone else to be done. Gretchen sat on a chair in the living room to eat. She didn’t join in the teasing and joking around her. She felt bad being here where her father had told her not to go even though her father let her go places with Will all the time.
“I didn’t know you were going to be here,” Fritz squatted next to her.
“I didn’t know I was going to be here either,” she gave him a small smile.
“What!” Fritz grinned thinking she was teasing him.
“Will tricked me into coming,” she turned back to her plate.
“Are you okay?” Fritz puckered his brow.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just have a bone to pick with my brother,” Gretchen replied looking at him.
“Ah I see. Well, I hear you made the cake. Great job!” Fritz gave her a thumbs up and a wink.
“Thanks,” she said simply. Fritz took a seat on the sofa next to his sisters and joined in the fun. He kept trying to draw Gretchen in but it was not working.
Gretchen ate her last bite of beans and rose to take her plate back to the kitchen. Coming back into the living room she caught Fritz looking at her and smiled. Walking up behind Will she leaned close and whispered.
“Can I talk to you?” Will got up and followed her to the door.
“You have to take me home.” She kept her voice low.
“Why?” Will asked.
“You tricked me into coming here. You know Dad doesn’t want me hanging around your room mate.”
“Dad doesn’t have to know where you are,” Will protested. “Besides you said you told Dad you would talk to him if you saw him.”
“Will, you brought me here knowing full well what was taking place. Had Dad known he would have put his foot down. You know that as well as I do.”
“Gretch, it’s okay your just getting out and having a little fun.”
“William, you have to take me home. I can’t stay here. Dad will want to know how my lunch with you went and what will I tell him? He’s going to be very mad when he finds out what you did,” Gretchen looked her brother square in the eyes.
“But you did come out to lunch with me,”
“It’s not the same as going to a restaurant. If you don’t take me home, I’ll walk or,” Gretchen grabbed Will’s keys from the little shelf by the door, “I’ll drive myself.”
“Okay, I’ll take you home. But you know what I think. You should not be under Dad’s thumb like that,” Will pulled his jacket off the hook.
“What’s going on?” Leanna walked up to then just then. Gretchen saved what she was going to say.
“My bad brother won’t take me home. I have a friend coming over and I have to get back. You see all this (Gretchen waved her hand still holding the keys at all the party stuff) was a surprise to me. Will told me a lie and got me to go with him.” Gretchen gave her brother a look. She was not lying about the friend but she would be home in plenty of time to greet her friend.
“But you will miss cake,” Leanna replied.
“Oh, I had all the trimmings and licks of the batter and frosting,” Gretchen stepped forward and hugged Leanna. The younger girl was so easy to like.
“You eat a piece for me, okay?” she smiled at the Leanna.
Will had gone to tell Fritz he would be back. Gretchen saw Fritz coming towards her with Will.
“Sorry to hear you have to leave. But, thanks for coming,” Fritz held out his hand.
“Happy birthday,” Gretchen said shaking his hand. She looked up at him. Fritz told Will and Jackson later that that look was his favorite birthday gift.
Flara drew the car up at the camp grounds and walked up to the campsite with her mother and younger sisters, Ginny and Sam. Matthew, Barbara, and Nathan were already at work. Silvia sat in a chair off to one side reading aloud the instructions for setting up the tent.
“Alright! You made it!” Matthew said. “ We about have this tent up as you can see,” he was helping to snap the fly on.
“We still have an hour till Ida gets here with Jason though. So what do you want us to do?” Flara looked around.
“We have to gather fire wood. Jason always uses a lot when he builds a fire so we have to gather a lot,” Matthew said. Flara laughed to herself. They all made Jason sound very interesting. Zoe had walked over and began talking with Silvia. The kids were in charge of everything really, Mom was just there to oversee.
“Oh, that’s a big pile,” Barbara sighed. They had been gathering wood for at least half an hour now.
“Yeah, I think that’s fine. Let’s just sit and….here they come.” Matthew had looked up and saw them coming through the trees. “Hurry everyone sit down and pretend you’ve been doing nothing for the last hour,” Matthew quickly dropped into a chair and pulled his hat down over his eyes, folded his arms across his chest and faked a yawn.
Flara took a chair facing the walk that Jason and Ida would come up. She felt the heat color her face and excitement shot through her.
“Wow, guys!” Jason’s eyes sparkled. He stopped and looked around at them.
“You did this,” Jason shook his head, looking at Flara. He walked over to her and pulled her out of the chair into his arms.
“Really, Jas. Do you have to do that in front of us?” Barbara was disgusted. Flara giggled.
“You were the one sitting here. You could have run off to the woods,” Jason teased as he hugged his sister.
“And you, lazy boy!” Jason took Matthew’s hat off and tipped his chair over backwards. Matthew was up on his feet chasing after Jason in seconds. Flara was surprised at how much bigger Matthew was then Jason. Until then, she had not known how short Jason really was. But he was taller then her.
“Guys, this is awesome!” Jason came back from inspecting the camp.
“Don’t look at me, I just gathered wood. Which I hear you need a lot of,” Flara looked at him, a playful smile flitting across her face.
“I know you were the biggest one in planning as you were the only one who knew I wanted to do this. And yes I do need a big fire; one big enough to keep this bug away,” Jason punched Matthew who sat next to him. Matthew punched him back.
“So, what do you want to do, birthday boy?” Silvia asked, hoping to avoid a fight breaking out between the brothers.
“Who’s up for a hike?” Jason stood up. Ginny’s look at Flara plainly said “Do I have to?” She had only come along because her mother had said she should. Lou was not feeling well which was the only reason she had not come.
“Brother dear here does not mean a real hike. More of just a noisy walk through the woods,” Ida assured Ginny, having caught the look.
“I’ll make it up to you somehow,” Flara whispered to Ginny as the got up to go with the others. The mothers opted to stay behind.
They had a good ramble, laughing, joking and teasing.
“I’m ready for a fire and marshmallows,” Jason said upon reaching the camp.
“I got sticks,” Nathan shouted, running up from behind, waving the sticks above his head.
“Great!” This event was bringing out the kid in Jason.
“I didn’t know this could be so much fun,” Flara laughed, trying to blow out a marshmallow she had started on fire.
“I’ll eat the most marshmallows,” Nathan challenged reaching for the bag.
“Oh no, not happening. You’d be so sick,” Ida grabbed the bag just in time.
“Ida’a always here to make sure we don’t have too much fun,” Jason pilfered one of the cooked marshmallows from the stick his sister held in the air next to him as she tried to keep the bag away from Nathan.
“Stop that, you bad boy!” Ida laughed.
“This is fun,” Flara looked sideways at Jason.
“I told you so,” he smiled at her.
“What time is it?” Ginny looked across the fire at her sister.
“Time to start for home,” Zoe came back over to them. “It’s 8:00.”
“Oh man, yeah, we have to get back,” Flara came out of her happy thoughts.
“So soon?” Barbara moaned. Then she leaned over and whispered in Sam’s ear.
“Flara, we’ll beat you,” Sam grabbed Ginny and Barbara’s hands and they ran off down the path.
“Somehow, I think they’re planning something,” Flara reflected aloud.
“I’ll come with you to protect you,” Jason winked and stood up. Zoe had said good bye to them all and headed after the girls but Flara and Jason were not far behind her.
“Thanks Flara! This is great,” Jason took her hand when they were a little ways from camp.
“Don’t mention it. It was fun,” she smiled up at him,
“They don’t have the keys do they?” Jason asked.
“Oh no,” Flara held up the keys.
“Because Barbara knows how to drive.”
“She wouldn’t dare drive here?” she looked at him.
“I hope not. But she’s a little daredevil,” Jason replied.
“This was fun,” Flara said for the who knows what time. Neither of them were counting.
“We’ll have to do it again sometime,” Jason commented.
“Not this year probably. Next week we start seriously getting Tracy Rifle ready for races this fall. He’s the one for the Derby next year.”
“Surely we could take an evening and roast marshmallows. We could do it in my back yard. We have a fire pit,” Jason said.
“Who knows. We’ll have to see,” Flara smiled.
There was nothing waiting for them at the car except the girls and Flara’s mother. Zoe had probably stopped anything the girls had planned. Flara thought Jason was going to kiss her but he didn’t. She got in the car and drove home.
I would love to know what you think.