Breakfast for Dinner
By Dialecticdreamer/Sarah Williams
Part 1 of 2, complete
Word count (story only): 1467
:: This story begins after “Breathing Room,” (link to part one
) when Bennett very abruptly decides that the talk of “getting away from it all” isn’t just idle chatter, but a very useful stratagem. Told from Jules’ perspective, this is the sea of uncertainty that he’s sailing in at the moment. ::
On to part two
Bocce teleported Jules and his father from the Finns’ living room to an enormous outdoor courtyard. They landed on a compass rose made of tiny pebbles, more than twelve feet from the tip of the red North arrow to the tip of the blue South arrow, and just as large from east to west, though both of those were made of small black stones flecked with white. “Welcome to my family home,” the teleporter declared, just as someone opened a sliding glass door and rushed out, chattering to Bocce in fierce, impossibly swift Italian.
“Oh, you’re making a great impression on our guests,” the teleporter announced dryly, waving toward Bennett first. “Taide, this is Bennett, and his son Jules. This, unfortunately, is my annoying younger sister, Taide.”
She stuck out her tongue at her brother, then whirled to sweep Bennett into a hug, despite the box of produce he carried. “It’s so good
to finally meet someone Bocce wanted to bring home to the family!”
“Wait, uh! It’s not--” Bennett stammered, then caught the absolutely devilish
grin on the young woman’s face. He snorted.
“Thanks for playing along,” she offered, in tones of apology, and hugged him again.
“And this is Jules. Jules, don’t let her behavior fool you, Taide is turning twenty-four next month and has been married nearly four years.” Bocce sighed, shaking his head. “I despair of her ever growing up
The teenager took a step back, holding up the box of produce in his arms in explanation. After a beat, Jules and the young Italian shared a merry grin. “Who wants to grow up?” they chorused. He offered a hand, but Taide pulled him into a fierce, swift hug as well.
“Glyn talks about you, quite well,” she whispered, then kissed Jules on both cheeks.
Blushing, the teen took a step back. “Woah, she like Edison, only taller!”
“Hmm?” Taide asked.
“A family friend, who is wonderfully tactile and high-touch,” Bennett explained. “Give Jules a second to adjust, please.”
Taide took a step back immediately, nodding. “We’ve got your rooms ready, and about half the household is asleep, but the other half is up and playing board games in the main room downstairs. It’s still evening where you were, right?”
Bennett nodded, draping an arm around Jules’s shoulders. “Come on, kid, let’s drop our bags and see if there’s something we can play without speaking any Italian. I wonder what their version of Candyland is?”
Bocce winced. “That game is miserable, and no one should have it inflicted upon
them,” he insisted. “We’ve got all kinds of other games, though, and don’t worry about Italian; the household knows English and a few other languages. Dad has been hosting English-speaking college students every other semester since we were small, and my uncle’s business relies on a lot of foreign clients, making English a good option there, too.”
“What does your uncle do?” Bennett kept an arm around Jules until the teen nodded and took a half step away.
“I’ve got my balance,” Jules murmured to his dad.
“He does refits on small boats, sometimes on yachts.” Bocce shrugged. “If you ask him about it, bring a lunch, because he’ll talk your ear off,” he warned. He led the way through the same sliding doors that Taide had used, revealing a small sunroom furnished with more plants than furniture, and led the way to the right, past an indoor pool whose walls were largely made up of pairs of white French doors on the inner side, but whose outer windows were covered with white rolling shutters at the moment. Past them, as the hall branched, was a kitchen area, and a table large enough to seat six.
In the spacious, well-designed home, it seemed absurdly cozy.
Taide pointed down the hallway to one side. “On the left is the sauna, and the massage room. There’s a theater room down here, and then guest rooms on the other hallway.” She turned them toward the right again and stopped at the first door. She lifted a piece of chalk from the wooden tray mounted below a panel on the five-pane door, and grinned at Jules. “This one’s your room while you’re here. Put your name on it and any special instructions. Our sister’s says “Wake with coffee!” and has since she was a teenager.”
Jules eyed the cool blue surface framed by the same white trim as on the windows and French doors, then touched the chalk to it. Halfway through the long stroke of the capital ‘J,’ the chalk broke. He sighed, shaking his head, and quickly scrawled his name, before bending to retrieve the other half of the broken stick. He wobbled, and only his dad’s hand planting on the door stopped Jules from bumping his head on the way down to fetch the chalk.
He opened the door on a half-bitten off sigh.
His room held a double bed, with a thick ottoman running the width of it at the foot, and an armchair in the corner. Both of the windows were behind the metal blinds, and seemed to run from floor to ceiling. Bocce waved toward the wall switch below the shoulder-height one with a light in the toggle. “The plain switch is the control for the blinds, and you can open them after four in the morning if you want to watch the sun rise.”
Taide pointed to the right. “You and your dad share a bathroom, with a shower and toilet in separate stalls. The garden tub is in the main part of the bath. Everything locks, but the house has a medical override rule in case of emergency.”
She cocked an eyebrow at Jules. “Your housemates on this floor are in the other two downstairs bedrooms. Shall I warn you that sometimes people don’t remember to grab towels or robes when coming out of one private space on the way to another?”
Jules blushed as he shook his head. “No. I get it.”
“There was some talk about your friend Glyn needing therapy
to, as you say ‘get it.’ That kid was truly too
upset about it.” Taide ran a hand through her smooth, caramel-brown hair as a silent commentary.
Instead of agreeing, Jules flinched, dragging his fingers through eggplant purple hair. “Cut her some slack. Her parents wanted her to be some kind of perfect little…” Jules shivered. “Therapy would be a good idea, but nobody should be hassling her just because she doesn’t want to see naked people. I don’t either.”
“Enh,” Taide offered, shrugging. “Your loss.” She waved off the whole topic, and took a deep breath. “The outdoor pools require suits, but the indoor one doesn’t.” She added a warmer smile. “Don’t worry, the people most likely to be using it are our grandparents. The rule is that if you don’t have swimming certs, water safety and the like, come get someone. Nonna and Nonnino, our grandmother and grandfather, are excellent swimmers, and will usually be happy to have company at the pool.”
“Got it,” Jules nodded. “I have my certs for water safety. Dad insisted.”
“Do you blame me?” Bennett asked dryly.
Bocce opened the door to the last room in the corridor, revealing a larger room with a cluster of fat, rusty-red leather armchairs near the shuttered windows, and a flat screen television mounted on the side wall above a long dresser. “The remotes for everything in here are in the nearer night stand,” he told Bennett. “The bed act like a hospital bed, with the different controls marked with icons. Any questions, find somebody and ask.”
Bennett opened the closet door, then blinked in shock. “I had a smaller apartment
than that when you were a baby, Jules.” The dark-haired man jerked a thumb toward the space. “Your travel crib fit where that short wall is.”
“Dad,” Jules offered, rolling his eyes, “that space is too small to put a twin bed in, and there’s no room for a kitchen!”
“Didn’t have either one,” Bennett admitted, shrugging. He set his bag gently on the floor, and pulled the closet door closed. “So, color me flabbergasted, which is several steps past speechless, Bocce.” He paused. “Names? Should I count the name you gave us first as the only one I should ‘hear’?”
“I like him,” Taide laughed, then shook her head. “Bocce’s the only one connected to… odd stuff. The rest of our family is pretty typical.”
Jules cast a long glance at the daylight programmable fixtures in the ceiling, then nodded. “Okay, Can deal.” He cleared his throat. “Would you mind stopping me before I make an enormous
mistake, though? This isn’t… what we’re used to.”