Written by: TVM (email@example.com)
"Come on Mom please?" ZoŽ asked on the verge of whining and knowing that this method would produce the desired results from Lily if given enough time.
"You really wanna spend your birthday at a Karaoke bar?" Lily asked.
"It's really not what it sounds like" Sarah said standing behind ZoŽ. "It's more of an under 21 club and on Tuesday's they have Karaoke and an open mike night."
"I promise I'll let you give me a party tomorrow and I'll even let you treat me like a 5 year old" ZoŽ said as Lily laughed and denied she ever did that. "I only turn 13 once and I want this to be fun."
"Besides it's my present to her" Sarah said.
"Ok if it's what you really want" Lily said, "but be home by 11:00."
"11:00?" ZoŽ asked, "Mom I'll be with Sarah and I was gonna spend the night anyway. So why 11?"
"ZoŽ Manning you've got your way now stop crying" Sarah said, taking her hand and pulling her out of the room. After leaving the kitchen and reaching the porch, ZoŽ stopped her and asked pointedly why she so easily sided with Lily.
"Look My Little Monkey" Sarah said, sitting down on the bench by the door, You've got to learn a lot of things. First you got your way not once, but twice. You get to go with us and have your party in a really cool place and you get to spend the night at my place."
"Yeh but 11:00 clock; that's like before dark almost" ZoŽ said, standing up and pacing back and forth.
"You didn't let me finish" Sarah said in a whisper as she pulled ZoŽ down beside of her. "Just because we tell Lily one thing doesn't mean we gotta do it ya know."
"AHHHH, so we are gonna stay out past 11?" ZoŽ asked out loud and bounced around excitedly.
"Not if you don't shut your trap, big mouth" Sarah replied, putting her hand over ZoŽ's mouth, "so mum's the word."
"Sorry" ZoŽ said giggling, "I'm new at this."
"Well you need to learn one thing in life" Sarah said smiling, "only tell people what they need to know. That way you're not lying to them."
"I can't believe I'm 13" ZoŽ said, still bouncing around on the seat excitedly.
"Another couple of years and you'll almost be that mature" Sarah said as ZoŽ shot her a dirty look. "Happy Birthday Monkey."
"Thank you" ZoŽ said, "so you gonna spank me?"
"HMMMMMM now there's a tempting invite" Sarah said as ZoŽ blushed. "But too bad I can't answer, cause our ride's here."
"Did Mom say it was ok?" Grace asked as ZoŽ climbed in the back with Sarah, pushing poor Katie to the door on the other side.
"Yeh and she said I could stay with Sarah tonight too" ZoŽ said beaming.
"So it's gonna be a threesome huh?" Jessie asked with a smirk as she looked back at Sarah.
"Jan, sometimes I wonder how your mind got so dirty." Sarah said, pushing Jessie away as they started play fighting. Grace adjusted the mirror as she pulled out and caught a glimpse of Katie and could have sworn she looked like she was gonna cry. She first thought to ask her if she was alright but then she lost her train of thought as Sarah and Jessie squealed with laughter and by now had ZoŽ caught up in the commotion.
"Hey it's cool with you right?" Jessie asked Grace after the car settled down, "I mean about putting off her movie night for a while?"
"What do you mean?" Grace asked. "All I've got to do is give Katie a ride home and I'll be right back."
"Well you said originally you had to baby-sit for Tiffany and Jake" Jessie pointed out. "What happened?"
"They're fighting again as usual and she took Madison and moved in with Judy for a few days" Grace said, again catching a small glimpse of a seemingly depressed Katie.
"You sure you can't come over tonight?" Sarah asked Katie who mumbled something almost incoherent and looked out the window. "Do what?"
"I said I have to be home by midnight" Katie said and looked away again.
"You feeling ok?" Sarah asked, touching her hand to see if she was cold and feeling it quickly being pulled away.
"I'm fine ok, to everyone I am fine" Katie said as Grace looked at Jessie for an explanation, but by now she and Sarah were again involved in a wrestling match for the Cosmo in the cubbie under the seat. Grace pulled up just as a carload of kids were pulling out and nabbed a primo spot right by the front door of 'The Deep'. Jessie and Sarah were still fighting over the magazine as Katie got out and slammed her door. Grace jerked the magazine away and gave Jessie a stern look which of course only drew an outstretched tongue from her step-sister and a fit of giggles took over the car as Grace gave up and got out herself. She looked around and Katie had already walked around the car and was sitting on a bench waiting for the others.
"Come on you two" Grace said, opening her door and pulling Jessie out of the car forcibly and blushing as Jessie turned and said in a sultry voice, "Ohhhh yeh baby, I like it when you're rough with me."
"I'm gonna kick your ass if you don't quit" Grace said, smiling and trying to stop blushing. Jessie opened Sarah's door as she and ZoŽ scrambled to get out and a game of follow the leader ensued in the parking lot and on the side walk to the building. Sarah would do something stupid and the other two would follow like jumping off the potted plants in the middle of the parking lot and doing a ballet maneuver in mid air. After a couple of minutes, all three had a huge case of the giggles and finally disappeared inside. Grace was about to follow when she again noticed Katie who hadn't moved since they arrived. She was still looking off into the distance trying to hide the fact that something was wrong.
"If you don't wanna tell me it's ok" Grace said as she sat down beside her, cause it's obvious to me something is bothering you."
"Yeh" Katie said simply and looked down, "I think it might be best if you just take me home ok?"
"Why?" Grace asked.
"Because I'm not gonna be the reason that ZoŽ's birthday is ruined" Katie said.
"What is it?" Grace asked more urgently, "Maybe I can help or you want me to go and get Jessie?"
"No I don't" Katie said, grabbing her by the hand to make sure she wasn't getting up and then releasing it. "Grace it's just me being jealous again."
"Oh" Grace said. realizing what the problem was.
"Sometimes I honestly wonder if she even knows I'm here" Katie said, before she rambled on, "she and Sarah act like I'm not ever here."
"I don't think they do it on purpose" Grace said.
"I mean a couple of nights ago I was at Sarah's and I tried my best to get her to pay attention to me for five seconds, but she was too busy goofing with Sarah" Katie said, "and yes I'm jealous and no before you ask, I don't care if it's right or not."
"Katie...." Grace started before being cut off.
"My being here is no use, if you took me home no one would miss me" Katie said.
"I would" Grace said as she decided to not try and defend Jessie anymore about the way she had been acting. Katie looked at her to see if she was serious. "I'm serious. Cross my heart. I don't want you to go."
"Yeh whatever" Katie said, obviously thinking Grace was just patronizing her.
"It's true" Grace said softly, "the night we hung out at the hospital was the most fun I've had in a while. Ya know, without Sarah around."
"Yeh that was cool" Katie said, smiling a little, "although you about made my heart stop with that fake phone call to Jessie."
"Oh yeah" Grace said, giggling out loud, "the look on your face was priceless."
"Oh yeah I bet it was" Katie said finally smiling.
"Ha ha ha got you to smile" Grace said, nudging her.
"You did say you liked my smile" Katie said and wondered if Grace remembered having said that.
"I do" Grace said, "among other things."
"Like?" Katie asked, looking at her now with interest.
"Uhn uh not that easy" Grace said, standing up, "if you come inside and try to have a good time, I'll tell you."
"When?" Katie asked, standing.
"On the ride home?" Grace asked, thinking that'd be a deal breaker right there.
"OK but you promised and you will tell me" Katie said.
"Yeh, although it might take a long time. It's a pretty long list" Grace said with a teasing smile.
Inside, Grace and Katie found the other three at a table with the waitress attempting to take an order, but finding it difficult with Sarah and Jessie now wrestling over something else. After everyone was in place, she took the orders and left to get the food as an announcer stepped to the mike and announced that Karaoke was about to begin. Jessie almost jumped out of her chair with excitement as she and Sarah made plans to sing. Grace mentioned Katie might wanna sing and Jessie asked if she did and when Katie shook her head no, she tried to talk her into it, but Katie still refused as Sarah and Jessie got up and headed to the sign-up sheet.
"Why didn't you say yes?" Grace asked.
"Because I didn't wanna horn in" Katie said, turning and looking the other way.
The music began and the announcer introduced Sarah and then Jessie as everyone politely clapped.
"You got to at least try if you wanna have fun" Grace said, getting a little frustrated by now. "We had a deal you remember?"
"Yeh" Katie said, turning back around.
"So if they're having fun who says we can't?" Grace said looking up at Sarah and Jessie seemingly having the time of their lives and playing to the crowd.
"Well considering you're the only one who cares that I'm even alive, ok" Katie said, smiling.
"Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to introduce someone very special" Sarah said as the first song ended, "she's someone I haven't known very long, but in a short time she has come to mean so much to me."
"Go on" Katie smiled as Grace got ready to stand up.
"She's like my little sister really and tonight's her birthday" Sarah said as ZoŽ squealed with laughter and jumped up and ran over to join Sarah and Jessie at the microphone.
"I thought she was talking about you" Katie said as Grace sat back down after having stood about halfway up.
"Me too" Grace said, beginning to think she now knew exactly how Katie felt. The music started and the threesome at the mic started singing again, only this time they were noticeably off key thanks to ZoŽ. "I guess I sorta know what you feel like now and it's so stupid."
"Yeh I guess so" Katie said as the waitress brought the food over and sat it down before dropping the bill and leaving without speaking another word.
"Yuck" Katie said pushing her plate away as Grace laughed.
"Something not to your liking?" Grace asked as she looked at hers and had the same sorta feeling.
"Yeh the food" Katie said as Grace smiled and laughed again.
"Doesn't exactly make you wanna order seconds huh?" Grace asked.
"Seconds? I'm not even gonna make it through my first" Katie said, crossing her fingers in the 'X' sign over the plate. "That's like, not even eatable."
"Think we should make them take it back?" Grace asked.
"No why don't we just sneak out and let the goof troop pay the bill" Katie said but for some reason, Grace knew this time she was kidding.
"Like they'd ever notice we're gone" Grace said as Katie laughed and agreed.
"They'd come back to the table and be here a half hour before they realized there was food in front of them" Katie said as Grace laughed and had to agree.
"You know they're planning on spending the night watching movies?" Katie said looking at Grace as a hopeful smile came back to her face, "so you wanna hang out for a while tonight?"
"Katie Singer" Grace said, acting as if she were shocked, "are you asking me out on a date?"
"No" She replied in a shy voice, "but what if I did, would you go?"
"If things were different and me and Sarah were over" Grace began watching Katie closely, "I'd be flattered, really. And to answer your question, yes I would."
"Cool" Katie said, smiling and asking a second later with a curious smile, "What if you had never met Sarah and say me and Jessie we're over. Do you think you'd even consider it?"
"Now there's an interesting question" Grace said, turning to face her as she thought. "You know I can honestly say I doubt it."
"Sarah really changed a lot of things for you didn't she?" Katie asked, not seeming to be phased at all by Grace's last comment.
"For sure" Grace said smiling, "I look at life so differently now. I see now what Jessie sees in you from both sides."
"Both sides?" Katie asked, being drawn into the conversation as she turned to face her and waited on her response.
"Emotionally and physically" Grace said simply before explaining. "Emotionally I've never connected with someone like I have with Sarah, and sexually, I dunno it's not something I can put into words."
"She's sexy as hell huh?" Katie asked honestly as Grace laughed and blushed and nodded her agreement. "Just don't tell Jessie I said that."
"Why, you afraid she'll be jealous?" Grace said, fearing suddenly she'd make Katie mad.
"You are so not funny" Katie said smiling. "Anyways she has hardly paid any attention to me since she got back. Hell when she found out Cori was out of her coma; she didn't even bother telling me. She just jumped in the car and took off. I had to get a ride from your dad."
"She was excited Katie" Grace replied.
"Yeh I know, my jealousy showing" Katie said looking down at her hands.
"Hey about earlier..." Grace started before being cutoff by Jessie, Sarah, and ZoŽ coming back to the table with excitement in their voices.
"They want us to come back tomorrow and lead the show" Jessie said as she sat down opposite Katie, now almost breathless, "they're gonna pay us."
"That was so much fun" Sarah said.
"So you're gonna be here again tomorrow?" Katie asked with the smile completely gone from her face. "But I thought me and you were going to the movies?"
"Katie, they want us to perform and they're gonna pay us" Jessie said, bouncing around excitedly, "we can go to the movies any time."
"You're right" Katie said smiling, surprising Grace with her casualness of the moment and appearing to brush off the broken date as if nothing had happened.
"And they said if we do good they might have us back every night this week" Sarah said, jumping around in the chair.
"Can I come?" ZoŽ asked, crashing into Sarah's lap.
"Sure, Grace is gonna be here so I don't see why not" Sarah said without looking at Grace.
"I am?" Grace asked pointedly, trying to get Sarah's attention.
"Of course you are" Sarah said touching her hand, "Why wouldn't you be?"
"Well maybe I have other plans" Grace said, "I don't like being taken for granted."
"What plans?" Sarah asked, standing up and moving her chair beside Grace's.
"Me and Katie have a date" Grace said, looking at Katie. "Sorta."
"Huh?" Sarah said in shock. "You do?"
"We do?" Katie asked, looking to be in shock herself.
"You asked earlier, if I wanted to hang out" Grace said as she looked at her and winked so no one could see but her. She thought about what Katie had said earlier about asking her out on a date and that maybe, if Jessie saw Katie having fun with someone else, it would make her realize how she's been neglecting her girlfriend lately. "So since you and Jessie can't go out, we will OK?"
"Oh yeah I did, didn't I?" Katie asked with another casual laugh. "I completely blanked."
"You're really not gonna be here?" Jessie asked Katie with sort of a hurt look.
"Sorry I got plans" Katie said, smiling at Grace.
"Ok fine then" Jessie said, picking up her fork and beginning to eat.
"Might be boring for you to sit here all night anyway" Sarah said kicking at Jessie playfully as she kissed Grace's cheek, "so you guys go and have fun. And if Mom says it's ok, ZoŽ can hang out if she still wants to?"
"Yeh have fun" Jessie muttered.
"Of course I do" ZoŽ said.
"I knew you'd understand" Grace said smiling at Sarah, "'at's why I totally love everything about you."
"Ditto" Sarah said, "and I've never taken you for granted, I just assume you'll be there when I need you, that's all."
"And I will" Grace said, "as long as you give me two weeks advance notice."
"You think you're a comedian huh?" Sarah asked, smiling and kissing her softly as Katie and Jessie both watched and glanced at each other.
"Hey ummmmm, can we still go to that movie sometime?" Jessie asked, putting her fork down after realizing the food was terrible.
"Of course we can" Katie said smiling as Jessie matched hers with one of her own and touching her hand across the table.
Everyone looked around at Grace as her phone started ringing and Sarah picked it up without so much as a glance and said "Grace Manning's phone can I help you?"
"Hey Cuz" Sarah said smiling, "yeh meet me here. The Deep. You remember right?"
"Who is that?" Katie asked.
"Sarah's cousin, Shell I think" Grace said as she went on and began to roll her eyes, "She's gonna be staying with her for a few days. Before college starts up again. Lord help me."
"Ok see ya in few" Sarah said handing the phone back to Grace, "said she'll meet us here."
"EWWWWWWW this is really disgusting" Jessie said, pushing her food away finally.
"Look someone's gonna take this crap back or I'm gonna make them eat it" Sarah told the waitress as she came back by and complained when they requested she try and bring them some eatable food. The name tag on her uniform finally being visible, reading "Hi I'm Jersey."
"You don't have to get nasty about it" Jersey said with a snotty attitude.
"Why not, you did beginning with the food" Sarah replied as Grace snickered and tried not to laugh out loud.
"OK fine I'll take it back" Jersey said.
"No on second thought" Jessie said, standing up and taking her coat, "you can keep this crap and I'll be damned if I'm paying for it. We're leaving."
"Fine then go" Jersey said.
"Is there a problem here?" The manager asked as he walked up behind Jessie.
"Yeh these people ordered and now they refuse to pay" Jersey informed him.
"Well I'm Daniel Long, the general manager...." He started.
"Look this crap is uneatable and we're not paying for it" Sarah said, joining Jessie as she put her coat on.
"Wait you're the ones who were just singing right?" He asked.
"Yeh you'd think I'd be able to get better service" Sarah said.
"Well I'll make sure you get some fresh food and this time I hope it'll be to your liking" He said.
"Can you put that in a doggy bag?" Sarah asked as the manager agreed. After about a 20 minute wait, the manager brought out the doggy bag and apologized for the rude service and the awful food and said he was looking forward to seeing Sarah and Jessie again the next night. Jessie grabbed Sarah's arm and dragged her outside and across the parking lot as Grace and Katie followed.
Grace laughed at the two horsing around, but Katie again took her place on the bench and remained quite. Looking past Katie, she saw a Baskin Robbins and suggested Sarah and Jessie go and get something for everyone not thinking about if Katie might've wanted to go. Jessie grabbed the money and pulled a laughing Sarah off down the sidewalk as ZoŽ ran behind them and jumped on Sarah's back.
"Back to square one" Katie said.
"Fine, I'm not gonna tell you anything" Grace said, sitting down next to Katie.
"Oh come on, I tried. All she wants to do is goof off with Sarah" Katie said, "you seen that. She doesn't even care that I'm here."
"Did you see how she got quiet when you she found out we had plans?" Grace asked as Katie begrudgingly admitted she did. "So she does care if you're here. She wants you here."
"Correction, she wants me here only when it's convenient" Katie said, turning away. Grace thought for the first time all night that Katie had made a good point and it wasn't just her jealousy talking. Down the road you could hear the loud music and see the epicenter of the blaring Blues Rock coming down the street. A steel blue Corvette suddenly slammed on their brakes and with tires squealing and laying some serious rubber on the pavement, they spun into the parking lot right in front of Grace and Katie. It came to a dead stop before Grace and Katie could bail afraid of being crushed. The door opened just as Jessie and Sarah came running down the sidewalk.
"CUZ" Sarah screamed as Shell emerged from the Corvette and was mobbed by Sarah, who quickly grabbed her in a huge bear hug. "I didn't think you'd know where to find me."
"You said The Deep didn't you?" Shell asked as they walked up the sidewalk, Sarah with her arm around Shell's.
"Yeh I did" Sarah said laughing.
"And before you asked how long I'm staying, I'll stay as along as your ass will keep me up" Shell said, smiling.
"You remember Katie right?" Sarah asked, walking over and sitting down between them.
"Hey" Katie said, smiling weakly.
"And Grace you met her at the contest" Sarah said, taking Grace's hand.
"HA I knew you had the hots for her girl" Shell said to Grace as she laughed "Remember I told you that night before I was so rudely thrown out."
"Yeh sorry about that" Sarah said, smiling. "I had a talk with the writer and it won't happen again."
"Yeh I remember" Grace said, looking at Sarah, "and you were right. What can I say, nice to see you again anyway."
"So you guys are shagging each other raw huh?" Shell asked, pushing Sarah and laughing.
"Shut up, god you're annoying" Sarah said, laughing and wrestling with her cousin.
"Where did you score such a sweet ride?" Jessie asked, running her hands along the side of Shell's shiny blue Corvette.
"Bought and paid for by my sugar daddy" Shell said with a smirk.
"Slut" Sarah said as they both laughed.
"So you wanna go for a ride cuz?" Shell asked.
"Oh yeah" Sarah said, looking to Grace. "Please?"
"What, you're asking me?" Grace asked, smiling and standing up. "You don't need my permission to hang out with your cousin."
"And you wonder why I love this girl" Sarah said, kissing Grace passionately on the lips and wrapping her arms around her neck for a instant and then saying quietly in her ear, "I do love you."
"Ditto Blue Eyes" Grace said, returning her kiss, "I was gonna give Katie a ride home anyway, so you guys have fun. I suppose you're gonna kidnap my little sister right?"
"Yep my other favorite person in the world" Sarah said, kissing Grace again as Shell and Jessie whistled and giggled.
"I can go really?" ZoŽ asked Grace.
"Yeh I trust Sarah, just don't stay out too late" Grace said as Sarah agreed and pulled a giggling ZoŽ into the car.
"Hey you coming Jess?" Sarah asked as Shell moved next to Grace and whispered in her ear "don't tell Sarah, but I'm glad she's with you. She's finally happy. Thanks."
"Of course" Grace said as Shell smiled and nudged her with her elbow before climbing into the car.
"Hold on for a sec" Jessie said, sitting down by Katie and asking "are you sure you don't wanna go?"
"No that's ok" Katie said softly and smiling for one of the few times all night. "But go have fun ok?"
"Thanks" Jessie said, smiling and kissing Katie's cheek before running off towards the car as Sarah closed the door behind her. Shell peeled out and they had barely left the parking lot when she slammed on the breaks and out of the back window popped Jessie's head and she screamed "HEY, I LOVE YOU KATIE SINGER."
"I LOVE YOU TOOO JESSIE" Katie screamed in return while a huge ear to ear grin spread across her face as Shell slammed the gas and they sped off into the night once again.
"See, she does still care" Grace said, putting her arm around Katie.
"Yeh I know" Katie said, still smiling with an ear to ear grin.
"Now what are we gonna do with all this food?" Grace asked, looking at the bag full of food from 'The Deep'.
"I know who would love it if you don't mind giving me a ride?" Katie asked, picking the bag up as Grace agreed and wondered where exactly they were going. Katie pointed out all the shortcuts and gave directions as they drove along the winding streets. Finally, after 20 minutes or so, they arrived in front of an old brick building with the sign covered in vines.
"Where are we exactly?" Grace asked, grabbing Katie's hand before she slid out of the car.
"Grey's Children's Home" Katie said with smile, "it's an orphanage that me and Rae volunteered for last summer. I stop by every chance I get. Just hoping it's not too late."
"15 till 10 it says" Grace said, looking at the clock on the dashboard.
"Sister Kay, it's me Katie Singer" She said after ringing the buzzer at the front door a few moments later.
"Katie Singer you're a sight for sore and tired eyes" Sister Kay said, emerging in the front hall and opening the doors for them, "it's been so long since I've seen you; I honestly thought I'd never hear from you again."
"I know I'm sorry" Katie said apologetically and quickly turned to look at Grace and said "This is a friend of mine, Grace Manning."
"Very nice to meet you Grace" Sister Kay said as she hugged both of them and taking their hands, pulled them into the main room which was occupied by five kids of apparently varying ages and ethnic backgrounds watching a movie.
"Children, children, attention please" Sister Kay said aloud as she clapped her hands to get their attention and all of them looked around, "We have a very special visitor."
"KATIE" A little girl said, running up and hugging Katie around the waist.
"Seems you need no introduction" Sister Kay said, smiling.
"Kendra you got tall on me" Katie said, kneeling down and looking at the girl who had the most gorgeous light brown skin Grace had ever seen.
"Yup, a whole inch since the last time I saw you" Kendra said, beaming with a smile and then sniffed at the bag still in Katie's hand and asked with a mischievous grin "Smells good, is it for me?"
"No it's all mine" Katie said, hugging it to her chest as Kendra laughed and jumped around excitedly. "But if you're good and go and get some plates, maybe I can talk Sister Kay into letting you have some."
"YES" She screamed and ran off towards the kitchen, Grace guessed.
"Did you see how cute she is?" Katie asked.
"Yeh she could be a model or something I bet" Grace replied taking her coat off as Sister Kay returned and pointed to the hall closet to hang them up.
"Ok" Sister Kay said as they both joined her again in the main room, introductions go as follows; Kenny is the one in front of the TV with his shoes propped up on the table like I told him not to."
"Janie is the one in the chair, Monica is the one playing with her game boy and Lily is the one quietly reading by herself in the corner." Sister Kay rambled off in one long breath and then turned to smile at Katie and Grace and continued, "I see you decided to try and show up the cook again by bringing in some real food."
"Yeh I did, the kids deserve a break from the stuff you serve, every once in a while" Katie said teasingly as Kendra came running around the corner with an arm full of plates.
"Let's go, I'm hungry" Kendra said as she pulled a laughing Katie into the main room.
"Hey everyone" Katie said, sitting the plates down as Kendra sniffed at the bag like a puppy which gave Katie a fit of the giggles, "if you want something good to eat for a change, gather around and grab a plate."
Kendra grabbed her plate and sat down as close to Katie as she could and urged her to hurry. Kenny, Janie, and Monica all joined Katie and Kendra on the floor by the coffee table. Surprisingly the food looked eatable this time. Grace circled around as Katie caught her eye and flashed her a wide grin, as if to say "thank you."
"Lily you gonna eat or we gonna have do it ourselves?" Katie asked the mousey brunette in the corner, but got only a shy look and shaking of the head, signaling no. Grace thinking she might really be shy, ventured closer as Katie watched on and Kendra waited impatiently for her food.
"Katie" Kendra said in an urging voice, "hurry up, it smells good and I'm starved."
"You're always starved" Kenny said with a smirk as everyone laughed, "Like a human trash compactor."
"Yeh and you look like one" Kendra said, drawing more laughs from the others.
"Lily?" Grace asked softly as she knelt down by the chair and looked at what she was reading. "Hi my name's Grace."
"Hi" She said with a shy smile and turned away almost instantly after doing so.
"We got plenty of food over here" Grace said gently, "You sure you're not a little hungry?"
"No I'm fine" Lily said, returning to her book.
"Well that chicken looks pretty good" Grace said as she looked back at the other's chowing down by now, "what if I bring you some, and just leave it in case you get hungry? Is that ok?"
"I guess" She said shyly.
"Hey, can you fix me and my new friend a plate?" Grace asked, sitting down beside Katie who after finishing the last plate and handing it to Kendra, turned and smiled at Grace.
"Your new friend?" Katie asked as Grace pointed to the chair in the corner where Lily was sitting. Seeing Katie looking her way, she snapped her head back towards the book in her hand.
"Same name as my mom" Grace said, smiling. Katie filled two more plates and handed them to Grace as she got up and walked back to the corner and handed one to Lily who took it but only reluctantly and after a little apprehension started chowing down. Grace took a seat on the floor and watched her closely as she herself ate. Lily finished and took the plate over to Katie and quietly thanked her for the food before returning to the chair and her book. Grace started a conversation and asked her about what she liked and everything. After a few false starts, she opened up a little and said she was 8, and she just moved to the home a few weeks ago from another one in Springfield.
"Hey you ready yet?" Katie asked as she slipped her coat on and handed Grace hers.
"Katie wait, wait" Kendra said, running back down the stairs and handing her a cardboard heart reading "I Love Katie." She blushed when Katie kissed her cheek and hugged her, promising to come back as soon as she could.
"Bye" Lily said quietly as she joined the three by the door looking up at Grace shyly.
"Can I come back and see you?" Grace asked, kneeling down and looking her in the eye.
"I hope so" Lily said, smiling and hugging her before she turned and followed Kendra upstairs.
"Looks like you have a new fan" Katie said teasingly to Grace as they walked to the car.
"Who you?" Grace asked as Katie blushed and covered her face with her hands and listened to Grace begin to laugh out loud as they drove off.
To be Continued....