Howie handed Sarah a glass of orange juice then poured himself a glass and joined her at the table. Reaching over, he took her hand in his as they watched AJ and Jesse together.
“Okay, ‘Little One’. What do we need to fix your breakfast?”
“Milk, eggs, and blueberries.”
“That’s ALL? Wow! Do you use magic to hold them all together?”
“No, silly. You gotta have some white stuff too.”
“White stuff? You mean we gotta have snow? I don’t know, Jess. I don’t think we can make blueberry pancakes. Won’t the snow melt when we try to cook it?”
Jesse rolled her eyes. “Mommy! Would you please come fix my breakfast? Uncle AJ doesn’t know ANYTHING!”
Sarah smirked, “You know how to make them, Jess. You tell him what the white stuff is.”
“You need flour and…..”
Jesse looked to Sarah for help but Howie answered, “Sugar and baking powder.”
“Yeah…sugar and bakin’ powder. Now, where is all that stuff?” demanded the little girl with her hands on her hips.
AJ laughed and looked at Sarah, “She is DEFINTELY your daughter.”
“Did you expect less?” smirked Sarah.
“No, not really. Maybe I should wait for her to grow up and marry her.”
“How are the wedding plans coming?” asked Howie innocently.
Under the table, Sarah nudged Howie to get his attention without too much fanfare and shook her head. Leaning to him, she whispered, “Ali called it off. I’ll explain later.”
AJ ignored the question as he gathered the rest of the ingredients to make the pancakes. “Okay, ‘Little One’, we’ve got all the stuff to make the pancakes with. What next?”
Jesse looked at what AJ had out. “We need a bowl to put it in and a measurin’ cup and a spoon.”
“The spoons are over there,” said AJ pointing to a drawer. “I’ll get the other stuff.” With everything on the counter, AJ hoisted Jesse onto the counter to sit beside him. “Now what?”
“We start with the egg.”
AJ grabbed the egg and placed it in the bowl.
“Don’t you know ANYTHING?” Taking the egg, Jesse tapped it on the side of the bowl like Sarah had taught her and then dumped it into the bowl. “Now you gotta beat it.”
“Sounds like a Michael Jackson song,” and AJ broke out singing ‘Beat It’ only to earn an exasperated look from Jesse. “Okay…geez!! You’re WORSE than you mother.”
Howie looked at his watch. “Age, we need to get a move on it. Jess needs to get to school. I’ll finish breakfast for you.”
“Cool cuz I’m lost from here.”
“Alex, come sit with me,” begged Sarah as Howie went to help Jesse. She knew Alex and she knew Howie’s mention of the wedding was weighing heavily on his mind. As he took Howie’s seat, Sarah took his hand and laced her fingers with his. “Sorry…Howie and I really didn’t talk much last night.”
AJ wiggled his eyebrows as he gave her a knowing smirk, “That’s okay. Can’t say I blame him much. How you two went as long as you did without that is beyond me.”
“It wasn’t easy, I PROMISE,” replied Sarah. “Alex, you really need to let the guys know what’s going on. Kevin and Lynne are making plans to be here for the wedding.”
With his eyes cast down, AJ played with Sarah’s fingers. “I’m not ready to face them….especially Kevin.”
“They aren’t going to think any less of you. You made ONE mistake and you’re fixing it.”
“Sarah, it’s not the FIRST mistake I’ve made with all this and I’m just not ready to face Kevin and the disappointment.”
“You’re gonna have to face him sooner or later. Want me to call for you?”
“Yeah, but you STILL need to talk to Kevin about what happened. Are you gonna be okay today?”
“Yeah. I’ve got plans to keep me distracted. I promised ‘Little One’ I’d have lunch with her today and I thought I’d pick her up for you two.”
“Thanks!” and Sarah gave him a kiss. “You know I love you, right?”
“Yeah, but why is beyond me.”
“Because you’ve got a big heart. Stop being so hard on yourself.”
Jesse threw herself into the chair across from Sarah and crossed her arms to pout.
“What’s wrong, ‘Little One’?” asked AJ as he tweaked her nose.
Slapping at his hand, she grumbled, “Daddy!”
Sarah looked up as Howie set Jesse’s plate in front of her. “She’s mad because I told her she had to go ahead and eat instead of helping me.”
“Jess, you need to do what your Daddy said so we can take you to school.”
That didn’t help the situation any so AJ said, “Ya know, I don’t buy Happy Meals for little girls who pout like that.”
A smile erupted and Jesse started eating like a ravenous wolf.
“What’s on tap for you two today?” asked AJ as he got up to fix himself another cup of coffee.
“I’m gonna run Sarah home after I drop Jess off at school….”
“No need for that. I’m gonna take her,” said AJ as he grabbed a pancake from the plate Howie was fixing. “I planned my day around her…lunch and pick her up for you two.”
Jesse piped up, “It’s our DATE, Daddy!”
“Oh…I see. And who gave you permission to date, young lady?” queried Howie.
“No one! I decided on my own. Besides, Uncle AJ said he was gonna wait for me to get growed up so he could marry me.”
All three adults laughed and Sarah said, “She’s at least got good taste in men.”
“I thought Brian was your boyfriend?” asked Howie.
The frown returned in no time flat and Jesse grumbled once more, “He’s too busy with his OLDER girlfriend to mess with me. Uncle AJ ALWAYS has time for me.”
“That’s right,” agreed AJ as he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Okay…well, looks like I’m gonna take my wife home and then come back and do some work at the studio,” said Howie.
“Why don’t you just spend the day with Sarah?” suggested AJ. “It looks like the lovin’ you gave her did a world of good for her disposition.”
Howie and Sarah’s eyes met and he gave her a wink. “Not to mention mine. Angel?”
“Sounds wonderful to me.”
With plans for the day set, the four finished breakfast together before heading their separate ways.
Chapter 33 Index