Dances, Birthdays and Engagements, Oh My!
Chapter 5 - The Dinner
Bree stared out the window of the car as she and her fathers drove towards Pittsburgh. She was glad it was just them and that she didn’t have to deal with Ryan anymore. It had been awkward when they had parted. It would have been really awkward if she had to spend this whole trip with Ryan and Joe in the car. She’d have to thank Uncle John and Uncle Bobby for offering to deliver the Cabot boys to their home before coming to the dinner at Pappaganos.
She sighed quietly. This was her birthday celebration. She was supposed to be happy and excited, but she didn’t feel that way … at all. She felt like crap. Growing up was proving to be harder than she ever imagined. Relationships were really complicated, and sometimes her judgement … might be wrong. That was a hard realization to admit to.
She had liked Ryan and had thought it would be great to go to the dance with him. But everything had gone really wrong. Ryan had seemed different on this visit than when he came to the lane the first time. Bree frowned. How could that be? He was the same person. But his parents had been there the first time and they weren’t this time. Bree thought about that. She reluctantly admitted that how she behaved around her own parents wasn’t necessarily how she behaved when she was with Ashley or with other kids at school. People must have many faces that they present to the world … depending on the situation that they found themselves in. She’d have to remember that for the future. It would be good to see people in different circumstances before she made a decision about what they were like. About whether she liked them … or really liked them. She sighed again.
“That’s a lot of sighing for someone going to a party,” her Dada said. “What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, nothing important then.”
Bree giggled in spite of herself. “Dada, you’re so silly.”
“Hm, I’ve been called many things, but silly is rarely one of them,” Brian observed.
“You are silly sometimes,” Bree declared. “You show your silly side to me, but…”
Brian waited, but Bree did not continue. “But what?” he finally asked.
“I was thinking about how Ryan seemed different the first time he came to visit us. I really liked him. But this time…”
“He wasn’t quite the same,” Brian supplied.
“Yeah, something like that.” Bree decided that maybe she should tell her dads what she had decided. Maybe they would understand. No, she knew they would understand. “I was thinking about how we act differently in front of different people,” she explained. “Ryan and Joe were so polite and helpful when their parents were around, but they seemed different without their parents watching them. Is that how all people behave?”
“Want to take this one, Sunshine?” Brian asked as he looked at Justin who had been listening intently while driving.
Justin gave Brian a look. But he knew what he wanted to say about this. “I think you know about how my father felt about me being gay,” Justin began. “I tried for years to be what he wanted me to be. I wore a persona that wasn’t me at all. I did that at school for quite a while too. It took me a long time to reveal the real me.”
“And I’m very happy you did that,” Brian said leaning over to buss Justin’s cheek.
“Hey, don’t distract me,” Justin said with a chuckle.
“But you don’t do that anymore, do you, Daddy?” Bree asked.
“I try not to, but it’s hard to always be your authentic self. Sometimes it’s not worth the trouble you might cause.”
“Oh … I never thought about it like that. I guess we do what suits the situation.”
“Got it in one,” Brian said.
“So, we shouldn’t make hasty judgements about people when we first meet them.”
“Exactly,” Brian said.Justin snorted. “What? That’s true.”
“Is not,” Justin disagreed.
“What do you mean?”
“I seem to remember you took an immediate dislike to a certain fiddler who you didn’t know at all. I could cite many more examples.”
“And was I wrong about any of them?” Brian asked with an arched brow.
“So, first impressions and gut instincts can be very valuable too,” Brian declared.
Bree frowned. “This is not helping.”
“Sorry, sweetheart,” Justin said, “but the world can be a complicated place.”
“I had already figured that out,” Bree said. “I think I liked it better when I was a little kid.”
“So did we,” Brian replied.
“Dada, you know I can’t stay a little kid my whole life.”
“Now who’s the adult in this relationship?”
Bree giggled again. “See, you are silly.”
“Point taken,” Brian agreed.
“Are we almost there?” Bree asked as she realized they were in downtown Pittsburgh. Brian had decided to take the “scenic route” to allow the rest of the family to get to the restaurant before them. This way Bree could walk in and feel the love the whole family had for her.
“Just up ahead,” Justin said as he pulled up in front of Pappaganos.
They got out of the car and the valet got in to go park it.
“You ready, Squirt?” Brian asked.
“I feel better now,” Bree stated. “I’m ready for my party.”
“Great!” Justin said kissing Bree’s cheek.
Brian held out his hand and Bree placed her smaller hand in his. She liked having the support of her older father, and both he and her Daddy had helped her clarify her thoughts about Ryan, about how people behaved and why, and about … life.
As they entered the restaurant, Bree gave a little gasp. There was a large banner across the main room. It read: “Happy Birthday, Briana Victoria Kinney-Taylor!” All around the room there were sprays of pink and purple balloons with pink and purple flowers in vases on each of the tables.
Bree noticed that some of the tables were occupied - all with friends and family. Ashley and her mom were there, sitting with Debbie, Carl and Peter. JR and Jacqueline rushed up to greet the family.
“Isn’t this wonderful!” JR gushed. “We have the whole restaurant to ourselves.”
“Wow!” Bree said as she hugged her sister.
Gus and Ray waved at Bree from their table. So did Rachel and George who were sitting with Alex and Glen. Emmett blew her a kiss from his table with Drew and Michael and Ben. The whole lane was there, except Molly and her family.
“Are we late?” Molly asked from behind her. Molly, Owen and Taylor had just arrived.
“We just got here,” Bree assured her as they hugged. “Taylor, I haven’t seen you in ages,” she said to the young lad who at just about nine years old,was now almost as tall as she was. “You’re growing up faster than I am,” she said with an ironic smile.
“Can’t stop it,” Taylor agreed.
“May I show you to your table?” one of the waiters said, leading Molly and her family to one of the unoccupied tables.
“Is everyone here?” Bree asked Justin.
“Everyone we invited, except John and Bobby … and Patrick, who will be here after they drop off Ryan and Joe.
“Good,” Bree said. “I should go speak to people, right, Daddy?”
Justin smiled. “That would be good behaviour for this situation,” he said with a little chuckle.
Bree winked at him before she went to give her brother a hug.
“Thank you,” Stephanie said as John and Bobby deposited her sons’ duffle bags just inside the door. “I’d ask you in but I know who have somewhere to be.”
“I think we should be thanking you,” John said. “For allowing the boys to come to the lane. I’m afraid we put them to work,” said John with a chuckle. Stephanie laughed. John had already told Stephanie prior to their day of labor to get her permission. She was all for it. And prepared for the boys’ call about the slave labor they had to endure. “They should feel lucky I didn’t bring them to farm. Steve would’ve had them mucking out stalls and feeding the chickens.”
Stephanie burst out laughing.
“Seriously, we did enjoy having them in spite of putting the fear of Brian Kinney into them. We hope you’ll all come out for a barbeque this summer.”
“We’d like that,” Stephanie assured him. “Now shoo, before Bree or Brian send out the troops,” Stephanie said as she made a shooing motion with her hands.
“Good night,” both John and Bobby replied as they left.
“That went well,” Bobby stated as they got back to their SUV. “I didn’t know that you had called her about putting the boys to work.”
“I thought it was best. But I can’t take full credit.”
“Brian got to her first?”
“Yep. Sometimes that brother of mine still surprises me,” John stated.
The boys had a good laugh as they drove up to the restaurant.
“I hope we’re not too late,” Bobby said.
“We’ll be in time for the speeches,” John remarked.
“Well, just one speech, by me, so they can’t start without us,” John crowed with a grin.
“You do know she’s only fifteen,” Bobby snarked.
“Yes, but this is Briana Victoria Kinney-Taylor,” John stated.
Bobby and Patrick nodded. There was nothing more to say about that.
“Right on time,” Brian said as John and company walked into the dining room. They were immediately attended to by the wait staff. Beverages of their choice were served and they helped themselves to the myriad of hors d’oeuvres which were on the table.
The atmosphere was relaxed, not too formal, and slow paced, giving the family plenty of time to visit with each other and catch up on all the latest news and gossip. Just after the salads arrived and were placed in front of each guest, John stood to get everyone’s attention.
“Good evening to all of our dear friends and family,” John began.
“It’s a good thing that John’s giving the speech,” Debbie said loudly. “If it was Brian giving the speech, we’d all be addressed as you bunch of f---,” she was immediately cut off by dozens of “Debbie!” shouted at her. Debbie had the good sense to laugh, as did the whole family.
“As you know, my brother has a thing about birthdays. He would tell you that he’d rather celebrate accomplishments,” John continued without further interruption. “But considering the amount of birthday parties we’ve celebrated over the years, we all know that’s a bunch of horse crap,” John said with a smirk, then paused for the laughter.
“We’ll allow Brian his little idiosyncrasies this one time because we do have an accomplishment to celebrate that involves the birthday girl, her very talented brother, and his very savvy partner. But since this is a party, no business talk allowed, I’ll leave it at that.” John took hold of his glass then gave a moment so that the family could do the same. “Please join me in wishing our Briana Victoria Kinney-Taylor a very happy birthday and many more!”
“Happy birthday, Briana!” the family shouted as they all toasted the star of the evening.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Brian whispered to his brother.
“Yes, I did. If I left it to you, we’d never get to dinner. This way it was short and sweet, without Emmett’s tears and Debbie’s wisecracks. Besides, I’ll let you give the speech at Patrick’s party,” John informed Brian.
“Ah, yes, that son of yours becomes legal this year,” Brian said with a smirk and a sympathetic pat to John’s back. “He’ll be wanting his own Fur-harry soon.” Brian snickered. John rolled his eyes then gazed upward for guidance.
“We’ve discussed it and since he’s gotten real good at handling my beast, Bobby and I decided to give it to him,” said John. “It may be old but she still has a lot more miles in her. It’s time I bought a new model,” John said with a sigh. He loved his “beast” of a car; it had served him well over the years.
“Just remember to transfer the plow brackets to your new beast,” Brian wisely reminded his brother.
“Good thinking,” John agreed. The brothers grinned then broke into very unmanly giggles as they hugged and slapped each other on the back.
“Those two are as different as day and night but as thick as thieves,” Debbie murmured to Claire. The ladies were temporarily sitting together to catch up. They couldn’t help but notice the exchange between the brothers.
“Yes, my John was always soft spoken; he has a gentle nature,” Claire commented. “Not that Brian can’t be gentle. We’ve all seen him with his children and with Justin.”
“Yeah, the big lug is really a marshmallow at heart,” Debbie retorted making the ladies laugh.
“Not sure if your mother and Debbie laughing is a good thing,” Brian said with an arch of his brow as he leaned over to his brother.
“Hmm,” was John’s response along with his own brow going up. The brothers glared at Deb and Claire; innocent smiles were the response. “Don’t believe that innocent look for a second.”
“Nope,” Brian said as they went back to their salads.
“Bree, I have a present for you,” Patrick said as he grabbed a chair so he could sit next to his best friend in the whole world.
“For me?” Bree asked as her deep violet blue eyes grew wide. Patrick found himself drowning in those eyes.
“Um, yeah,” he said as he took a small purple box with a delicate pink bow out of his pocket. He placed it on the table then slowly slid it over to Bree.
“Can I open it?”
“Yeah, but it’s kinda private,” Patrick whispered.
“Okay,” Bree whispered back as she carefully lifted the lid to look inside without taking out any of the items. She gasped as she stared at the contents then quickly put back the lid before throwing her arms around the embarrassed young man.
“Oh, thank you, my Patrick!” Bree said for only him to hear. “Can I put it on?”
“Yeah, but maybe a little later?” Patrick asked with a shy smile as he began to blush.
“Okay,” Bree said with a knowing smile. She quickly put the box into the small purse that she had with her. Patrick went back to his own chair as the main course was being served. At some point during the evening, Bree snuck away with Ashley to the ladies room where they could admire Patrick’s gift in private.
“Do I need to have words with your son, Anderson?” Brian growled into his brother’s ear. John allowed the posturing for the moment, a very brief moment.
“To what are you referring?”
“Your son slipped my daughter a little gift.”
“It’s an appropriate gift.”
“And how do you know this?”
“Because I was with him when he purchased the gift,” John replied. “How the hell do you think he got to the store, you big oaf?” John asked with a grin. Brian relaxed. “Seriously, it’s a cute little girly gift that all girls who are not only gifted in soccer but also gifted in playing the piano would love,” John explained.
Brian furrowed his brow for a moment then smiled brightly as he got it.
“Ah, the light bulb shines. I knew you weren’t just another pretty face,” John teased. “She’ll love it. And he loves her.”
“How could he not? There’s something about those blond Taylors we Kinneys can’t resist. And your Patrick is a Kinney after all,” Brian said. “I just hope your Kinney can resist my Taylor for a little while longer,” Brian added. John just nodded.
The dinner progressed nicely, with just the right menu, everyone was able to choose their favorite meal. As for dessert, there was a special cake provided by Emmett, of course. Several hours later the partygoers were ready to go home.
“Are we all going back to the lane tonight or do we want to stay in the city?” Brian asked the lane dwellers as they all met just outside the restaurant. “I confirmed that there’s room at the inn, just in case,” Brian quipped.
“It’s not that late,” Carl began. “And I’d prefer sleeping in my own bed,” he added. Since no one over indulged on adult beverages, the lane residents decided to caravan back home with the Bridgeton folks close behind.
“Did you have fun, Baby Girl?” Justin asked as they walked into the conjoined cottages. He and Bree went straight to her room with Brian following with an armful.
“Oh yes, Daddy! I had the bestest time,” Bree gushed.
“You certainly made out like a bandit,” Brian snarked as he laid gift bag after gift bag and dozens of cards that he suspected contained a few bucks on to Bree’s bed.
“Remember to write down who gave you what so we can send out thank you cards,” Justin reminded his daughter.
“Can we use my special thank you cards?”
“Yes, you may. I think that would be very appropriate,” Justin replied. Sometime ago, Brian had Bree’s rainbow printed on cards of different sizes with corresponding envelopes. Bree used them on very special occasions.
“I’m going to call Ashley,” Bree announced which the boys took as a hint to leave Bree’s room.
“Didn’t she just spend hours with Ashley,” Brian groused as he followed Justin to their room. It was a long day and Brian was looking forward to a long hot shower and a long hot night with his hot spouse.
Justin said nothing as he locked their door and began shedding his clothes.
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