“Madison, I’m here. Where are you?” Peyton tried to keep her voice upbeat as she called her younger sister who was officially a half hour late for their ‘sister bonding night out’ at the Setting Sun Nightclub.“So, well, don’t be mad,” Madison stuttered on the other end of the phone, “but Davion seems to have gotten sick and so has Mark. I have to stay home and take care of everyone.”
“You could have told me this before I left my house,” Peyton scoffed.
“I lost track of time. Don’t be mad,” Madison paused. “Please!”
Peyton sighed. She’d heard there was a cold going around the elementary school, and was grateful that none of her children had come home sick yet. Even if she wanted to be mad at Madison, she couldn’t. Madison–besides her children–was her only family left. “I’m not. Send my love to them, small fry.”
She hung up the phone and made her way inside. She ordered a drink from the bartender who was not dressed properly for the job. “Are…are you the bartender?” Peyton questioned. The woman answered that she was. Peyton ordered a Ridgeport; but, it appeared that the bartender would be unable to fulfill her request.
“It seems that I can’t get this cup off of my hand!” explained the bartender.
Maybe she’s really the comedian, thought Peyton, though she didn’t find the joke terribly funny. She said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just make something for myself.”
Before Peyton could make her way to one of the other bars, her phone rang. She looked and saw it was coming from her home. Worried something happened with one of the children, she picked up immediately. “Hello,” she said, concerned.
“Hi, Mom,” said Braylon.
“Hi, Bray. Is everything okay?”
Peyton waited for Braylon to continue. While she waited, a blonde haired woman with sunglasses on sat down next to her. When Braylon didn’t say anything else, Peyton followed up. “Sweetie, Mommy is out. Is there something you need?”
“No,” Braylon paused. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”
“Braylon Skinner, I love you, too,” Peyton said with a smile. Braylon hung up the phone. Peyton shook her head. The blonde haired woman’s ears perked up and she turned her attention towards Peyton.
“Did you say…Skinner?” the blonde haired woman asked.
“I did. I’m not sure it’s any of your business, though,” Peyton replied.
“You’re quite right. It’s not,” the blonde haired woman responded hastily. The two of them had a quick and awkward exchange before Peyton felt terribly uncomfortable and headed home to her children. She decided that she wasn’t quite ready to be out at a club, especially on her own. She caught a cab and returned to her home and her four beautiful children.
Back at home, Braylon found herself missing her mother. Grandma Ainsley showed up to comfort her granddaughter and found herself immersed in a frustrating game of chess.After she lost the match to Braylon, Ainsley was angry. She didn’t try to lose on purpose–quite the contrary! She tried hard to win and couldn’t believe she lost to a child! Being dead seemed to suck many of her quality skills from her. Ainsley enjoyed being with her husband; but, couldn’t help but feel cheated out of the many important things she learned while living. Instead of returning to the Great Unknown to deal with her frustration, Ainsley turned to the downstairs bathroom.Peyton arrived home after the children had gone to bed. The baby sitter apologized for the mess, explaining that one minute it was fine, the next it was floating, and finally, it was broken. Peyton knew exactly what happened to it.
“Don’t worry about it,” Peyton said to the baby sitter. “This happens to our plumbing frequently.” She paid her and watched her catch a cab before sighing and verbally yelling at her mother. “As if I don’t have enough plumming things to do around here, Mom! I don’t get why you have to make things more difficult! I want to keep you around; but, if you’re going to keep this plum up, I’m sending you off! I swear!”
Peyton threw on her pajamas and made her way to the broken downstairs bathroom. This was the last thing she wanted to do after being out for the night; but, with the twins’ birthday party tomorrow afternoon, she knew she had no choice but to fix it now.The next morning, Peyton woke up early to prep the food and the house for the afternoon’s activity. She started by cooking a delicious meal for her guests to enjoy.After the meal was cooked, she moved onto the cakes. She wanted each of them to have their own cake, despite the fact that they could share.
Brandon requested a chocolate cake; Braylon preferred strawberry. Before icing them, she let them cool and went to take a shower. When she finished showering, she strung up the balloons and streamers.There was a knock at the door. Peyton turned to find her sister there, waiting for her.
“Sorry I am late!” Madison said.
“It’s okay. How’s everyone feeling?”
“Much better! Well, Mark is still sick, but Davion seems to have her energy back. How can I help here?”
“Just distract the kids until the party starts. I’m almost done with the cakes. I need put the icing on, then I should be ready for everyone to arrive!” Peyton explained.
“Consider it done.” She cupped her mouth and yelled to her nieces and nephew: “Cartoon time in the playroom! Last one in is a rotten Kissing Gourami!”
The all yelled ‘ew’ and ran towards the playroom. Cayson made it in first, followed by Braylon. Lillion cornered her aunt to chat, so no one noticed that Brandon hadn’t made it to the playroom yet.
“Aunt Madison. Guess. What?”
“Today is Brandon’s and Bray’s birthdays!”
“Is it? Already?” Madison asked, pretending to be surprised.
“Already! And we just aged up a couple of days ago. And now it’s their birthdays. Mom says time flies,” Lillion shrugged. “I guess that’s true.”“It does seem true,” Madison agreed.
Suddenly, there came a loud shriek from the kitchen. “Get out!!! Now!!!” Peyton pointed towards the hall. “Just go! That was meant for tonight! Now I have to bake a whole new one!”
Brandon grinned. He knew his mother was mad, but she wouldn’t be too mad at him since it was his birthday and all. He meandered into the hall where he found his aunt and sister.
“You didn’t?” Madison asked, disappointed and tense.
“Maybe just a taste,” Brandon said.“Go in the playroom with your sisters,” Madison said to Brandon.
An hour later, the guests began to arrive. Many of them made their way outside to enjoy the bar and the bartender. Peyton was surprise, (and a bit upset) to find out that her uncles Dylon and Devon recently aged up to elders. She really loved having them in her life and was sad to know that their days were coming closer to an end.
While that news was upsettling, the party itself was full of life and fun! Brandon, especially, was enjoying the company of his friend, Thalia. As soon as she saw him, she gave him a hug.
“Happy birthday, Brandon! I’m so excited for you!”“Aw, thanks, Thalia! I’m excited for me, too!”
“You should be! Hey! Let’s take a picture to commemorate your last moments as a child!”While the two of them chatted, Peyton found herself in an awkward conversation with her uncle Devon.
“Uncle Devon, what’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing,” he replied while looking over his shoulder.
“I can tell that something is wrong. You don’t have to lie to me,” Peyton replied growing visibly irritated with her uncle’s antics.
“Fine,” Devon conceded, “if you must know, someone is following us. The whole of us. Me, Dylon, our wives, the kids. I swear, someone broke into our home the other day. Nothing was stolen, but I could sense it.” Devon threw his hands up in the air. “I’m scared, Pey. I’m just plumming scared,” he confessed.Even for a man of his–delicate nature–Peyton could tell there was a need for genuine concern. Peyton gently pressed for more information, “Who do you think is following you?”
“A woman who I think must be from Shang Simla, or at least a decedent from there. And a woman with striking blonde hair and a familiar face. I don’t know if she thought she’d blend in, but she stands out! I see her all of the time…stalking me. I know it!”
“Hmmm…” Peyton said.“What?” said Devon harshly. “Do you know something?” Then to himself, “I knew she knew something. Someone always knows something.” He looked up at his niece, embarrassed. “Sorry. You know…” his voice faded.
“I know,” said Peyton with nod. “No, I guess I met a strange blonde woman the other day. But who knows? Madison is blonde. The twins are blonde. It’s not so strange to meet a person with blonde hair…” she trailed off and bit her finger. “I did get a strange feeling around her, though.”“I knew it!” exclaimed Devon. “I bet it’s because of Allison. I had a hunch…the voices…I just knew it! I hope she’s okay. I hope she knows she can reach out to me or her father if she needs anything!” Devon’s mind raced as he rolled into a conversation with himself. Peyton took the opportunity to duck away from her uncle and towards the kitchen.
“Brandon! Braylon! It’s time to make a wish a blow out your candles!”
Despite being younger, Braylon decided to blow out her candles first.As Braylon spun around into her teen years, Brandon blew out the candles on his cake, welcoming his teen years, as well, though with a bit more apprehension.
I hope I grow up to be hot, he thought.The party came to a close shortly after the candles were blown out on each of their cakes. Braylon, though she probably didn’t know it, held the same aspiration as her great-great-great grandmother (and founder), Shea Skinner: Master Chef. From her mother, she acquired the loner trait.
Brandon, much like his grandfather and his great-great-great grandfather, Ryan Whitt, aspired to become a genius in the musical world. And, much like his great grandmother Elin, (of no actual blood relation), he, too, became a bit of a snob.
With the party at a close, the family, exhausted, made their way to their beds, aware that Monday morning was just around the corner!