The morning of the party dawned a little cloudy and hazy, the tent people came bright and early, and the caterers would be here in two hours to start setting up.
Jon got up early and met Jesse for a run. Taking Snow along might have been a bad idea, because little momma got to the end of the long driveway and parked her little white puff ball butt down and refused to go further. Jon called Romeo out to get Snowball and take her back in, as he and Jesse got their run on.
Lexie awoke to a small voice calling to her, dragging herself out of the bed she peeked out the door. Stephanie stood there holding Maddie.
“She woke up and I fed her, the other two were asleep. Hellen, said I should take her so that the other two wouldn’t wake up” Stephanie held the little blonde haired blue eyed baby.
“Bring her in. What are you doing up so early?” Lexie asked as she tied the robe and backed into the bedroom.
“Birds woke me up.” She laughed, as she carried Maddie and climbed on the bed. “I guess I’m excited about tonight.”
Lexie went into her closet to get dressed.
“Did your mom get here last night?” Lexie asked her, as she slipped into the sundress and came out carrying her shoes
“She and the family got in, they love the updated apartments, said you did a great job on the rehab.” Stephanie said as she tickled Maddie and she giggled.
Lexie noticed that Stephanie was still wearing the same clothes she had on last night and knew it was the same thing and knew the birds didn’t wake the girl, she hadn’t been to bed yet. She wondered if Stephanie and her step brother and sister had smoked a few joints before Stephanie came home, but didn’t notice any telltale scent or cover up smells.
“Glad she likes it. Let’s get breakfast started, Romeo and Jakey should be up soon.” She reached over for Maddie and headed out the bedroom door. As they were going down the stairs, Jon and Jesse were heading up, both were hot and sweaty.
“Ooh daddy you two are all stink.” Stephanie wrinkled her nose, even Maddie made a sour face at the smell.
Lexie stepped back away from her husband’s wet body.
“Jonny, not to be unromantic, but you two smell like you ran all the way around the block and took a dip in a septic tank.” Lexie told her husband who kept trying to kiss her.
Stephanie started to laugh at her dad and step mom. She had never noticed how they kidded around. Most of the time, when she had spent any time in their home life, they had been trying to ruin her fun. She didn’t remember toward the end of her parent’s marriage, had they ever played that way with each other? Now she could see that maybe, just maybe, Lexie was good for her dad.
Lexie put Maddie in the highchair and started taking out pots and pans.
“Lexie can I ask you something?” Stephanie asked as she sat down at the bar and watched Lexie move to the huge subzero fridge and freezer.
“Sure,” she pulled out a bowl of eggs, bacon and stuff for omelets. “You think the boys want eggs or pancakes?” She asked as she carried the stuff to the counter by the eight burner gas stove top.
“Well that’s sort of what I wanted to ask you, why don’t you hire someone to cook for us, like my mom did?” Stephanie watched her take down another bowl to crack eggs in. “They’ll eat whatever you put on the table.”
“Well, I’m so used to cooking for myself, I never thought about hiring someone to cook for us.” She got out a chopping block out and started to chop peppers and onions. “I mean, I don’t work except to write, and since I have Hellen to help with the Trio, what would I do with myself?”
“You could help daddy with any of his charities.” She told her step mother.
“I wouldn’t know where to start with helping your dad.” Lexie moved to the coffee maker and put on a fresh pot. Then she flipped on the music on her cellphone for Maddie, who patted her hands on the highchair tray. “Maddie is Uncle Tico teaching you to play the drums?” Lexie laughed at her daughter. “You want to go get your brothers up and dressed?” Lexie asked Stephanie, as she got Maddie out of the highchair. “I think someone has to see Auntie Hellen.” She held Maddie out for Stephanie to take her back up to the nursery.
“Sure.” She took her half-sister and started up the back stairs. “Momma is coming up to the house” Stephanie told Lexie.
Lexie didn’t think about asking Dorothea and her family to breakfast. Stephanie had just told her, that Dorothea had used a cook when she was Jon’s wife. She motioned for her to come in, when she knocked on the door.
“Morning Lexie, oh you’re cooking?” Dorothea asked her.
“Yes, I cook all the meals for the family, when I’m home. There’s a fresh pot of coffee, if you want a cup.” Lexie told her. She started to tell her where to find the cups, but this was the only room in the whole house that she hadn’t changed. She had fallen in love with the kitchen and thrilled cooking in it.
Dorothea got a mug from the cabinet and poured a cup of coffee. “You haven’t changed the kitchen?” She went and sat at the bar where Stephanie had been sitting. The only thing she noticed had changed was the addition of three highchairs. For some reason that hurt her a little. After Romeo, they had decided four kids were enough. Now here Jon had three more children with another woman.
“I love the color and I love to cook, this kitchen is a cooks dream. When we were remodeling the new house in the city I had them install the same store and fridge.” Lexie took the bacon out of the oven and turned it and started cracking eggs into a bowl.
Jon came tripping down the stairs and stopped sharply at the bottom. There in the kitchen was his wife cooking breakfast and his ex-wife, this could be either really good or very very bad.
“Morning ladies.” Jon came in and walked over to his wife and smiled. “Can I have my morning kiss now, I am clean and,” He sniffed “I smell really good.” He leaned in for a kiss.
Lexie leaned into the kiss then shoved the bread bag into his chest.
“You’re on toast duty.” Lexie said as she stepped back from her husband. “You smell good because, you used my mango body wash to get rid of your stankieness.” She laughed.
Dorothea watched their interaction with a hint of a sad smile. “Well, I think I’ll go back and see if my family is up.” She took her mug to the sink and headed for the door. “See you all at the party.” As she was going out Jesse was coming down the steps and stopped short and slowly backed up the stairs. Dorothea saw him and her heart cracked a little, this just proved to her, that her son didn’t want to see her.
Dorothea was out the door and Lexie went over to the stairs and looked up into her step son’s face.
“She’s gone, you can come down now.” She told Jesse. She was really going to have to sit down with him before the party where he couldn’t avoid being in her company. She and Jon needed to sit the boys down and have a talk.
“I wish someone would warn me.” He went over and got glasses down for breakfast.
Lexie looked at Jon, waiting to see what he would say.
“Jess, what are you going to do today, stay in your room?” Jon asked his oldest son.
“Maybe.” Jesse went to the fridge and got out orange juice and the milk carton, carrying it to the table.
Jon looked at Lexie, he couldn’t understand why Jesse was like this.
“Can I ask you something?” Lexie asked him as the other two boys came in. “Sit down you two, this is something we need to discuss.” Lexie handed Jon the plates to put on the table. “Where is Stephanie, she needs to be here too.”
Lexie brought the bacon plate and eggs to the table and went back to grab the toast. Jon had gone in search of Steph.
He found her curled up sound asleep. He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. Looking down she looked just like the little girl he used to watch sleep, when he came home off the road. He would wake her up and they would sneak into the kitchen and eat peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk and she would tell him about school, her friends and what Jesse did to make her cry. He wished he could turn back time, to sneak with her down stairs, Monday, she would graduate and his little girl would be an adult.
“Steph,” he touched her shoulder and gave it a little shake.
“Daddy, what’s wrong?” Stephanie asked blinking up to her father. She had been talking on her cell with one of her friends, that was coming tonight and then, she was reading her email when she must have fallen asleep.
“Family meeting, and breakfast is ready.” He looked down at her. “When did you grow up? I can’t believe in a few weeks you’ll be in college and we can’t sneak down to the kitchen for peanut butter and chocolate milk anymore.”
“Dad, you were on the road so much of the time, but it was your job, we understood that.” She said sitting up and giving her dad a hug. “I enjoyed our time together too.” She whispered as her dad held her a little tighter. “Who knows, I might sneak in some night and wake you up to sneak down to the kitchen, for peanut butter and chocolate milk.”
Romeo stood in the doorway.
“Momma Lexie said to get down there or eat cold eggs, and I hate cold eggs.” He made a face at his dad.
“On the way Romey.” Jon said as he got up and creeped up on Romey. “I hate cold eggs too.” He grabbed at Romey and gave him a hug.
No one had cold eggs and they sat around the table talking and laughing. In the back of his mind he was dreading this talk. The last time their mother was brought up and Stephanie went ballistic over him calling Lexie her mom. Legally she was, they had gone to court and all four kids told the judge, they wanted Lexie to adopt them. He had bailed Graham’s business out of the ashes, bought them a new house and paid for Grahams two kids to go to a private college. Now she waltzes back into their life and turned Stephanie against Lexie, was she angling for more money? He was not an ATM machine to be hit when they needed money. Hell if this kept up, they would have to extend this next tour if the D and G train was latching onto the gravy train.
“We have to talk about this party this afternoon, boy’s your mom and stepfather are going to be here.” Jon started the conversation and looked at Lexie for help.
“You three can’t hide in the house all day, you’re gonna have to spend time with your mother and her family today.” The three boys looked at their stepmom and inwardly groaned. She knew that Romeo would take his cue for the older two, which meant that the older two would have to deal with it for three days.
Jesse looked at his younger brothers, he knew they would follow whatever he did.
“For you Mom, I’ll do it, but just till,” he turned to Stephanie, “You graduate and that is it.” He got up and took his plate to the sink, scraping the rest of his, cold congealed eggs into the trash.
“Thank you, that means so much to me guys.” Stephanie said. She knew her brothers were not too happy with her right now, but with vacation they’ll change their tune.
“Okay, that’s settled, Wednesday I have a meeting with Thomas, and I want to make sure you four will be packed and ready to go. We leave bright and early Thursday morning.” Lexie cleared the table, looking at Jon for his support.
“That’s right, it’s up to you four to pack for yourself, Lexie and Hellen have to pack the trio, and I have a meeting with the guys about tour this fall, while Lexie is meeting with Thomas. So, packed and sitting by the door before bed Wednesday night.” Jon went to the coffee pot and filled his cup, “I’m gonna check in the music for tonight.” Out the door he went.
“Okay, you guys need to be dressed for the party by 5pm, nothing ratty or holey. Stephanie, your friends do know, no invitations no entry, and if they aren’t on the guest list they will be turned away?” She looked from the boys to Steph. When they nodded she turned and started loading the dishwasher.
“You two want to go toss the ball some?” Jesse asked his brothers.
“Why don’t you three go down to the guesthouse and spend some time with your mom?” Lexie said with her back to the boys still sitting at the table.
She knew they were rolling their eyes, she might not have been their step mother for long, but she knew they weren’t happy with her right now. One, they just found out they had to spend this weekend with their mom and two, they couldn’t go play football.
“Okay Mom, but Sunday can’t come fast enough.” Jesse told her, as he guided his brothers out of the house.
“Everyone knows no invitation no entry and no guest that are not on the list.” Stephanie said as she finished her juice. Carrying it to the sink she gave Lexie a quick hug. “Thanks.” She headed to the stairs.
Lexie turned around and stopped her step daughter with one word.
“Why?” Lexie asked her standing there after the hug.
“You didn’t have to make the boys go down and spend some time with mom, and because they love you, they went. No questions asked.” Stephanie told her after thinking really hard what and how she was going to say it, without sounding bitchie. “Daddy would’ve asked them to go, you told them to go, and they went.”
“I’m not the wicked Step Mother here, I do care about you four, just as much as the three up in the nursery.” She told her as she went back to filling the dish washer.
“I know that, now.” Stephanie said as she turned and ran up the stairs.
Looking at the clock on the wall, if she could make it to midnight without breaking the rules, she was not the wicked step mother. It was going to be a long day.