Mending and Merry Christmas
Leah's POV :
I am woken up in the morning by sound of Mom and Dad’s conversation in the kitchen. I sit up and rub my eyes, suppressing a yawn. I look around me to see Tracy and Maggie sleeping on my right and Emilia cuddling my waist from the left.
As realization dawns upon me that it’s Christmas morning and I haven’t seen my parents since before I left for the cafe yesterday, I slowly untangle myself from Emilia’s grasp and make my way into the kitchen.
Mom is dressed in simple jeans and sweater, yet making it look stylish like the fashion designer she is and Dad is in sweats, as usual. “Morning.” I greet as I slump beside Mom.
She smiles at me. “Morning baby. Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas, Princess.” Dad greets me too, as he hands me a cup of coffee.
“Merry Christmas.” I give them a small smile.
“I see you guys had a mini party last night.” Mom teases.
I roll my eyes. “Mom, it was just Grant, his friends, my friends and me. It’s not a party.”
“Yeah,” Dad agreed, “It’s more of a sleepover, honey.” His voice was still teasing as he and mom laughed but I could hear the happiness in both their voices thinking things are getting better. In all honesty, they are.
“So, who cooked last night.” Dad asked, taking a seat across from me. “I did, of course. And Dexter joined me as soon as he came.”
“Hey, we helped too!” A voice argues and I turn back to see half asleep Tracy and Maggie entering the kitchen. “Good morning older Carmens. And Merry Christmas.” They holler together.
“Merry Christmas but who are you calling old, young lady.” Dad fakes a stern voice.
Tracy giggles. “You of course, Freddie.” She teases.
Dad shakes his head at her and motions her towards the kettle to pour herself coffee. Before Tracy could understand, Maggie is already handing her a cup while pouring one for herself. Then they both come and sit beside me.
“What did you guys do last night” Mom asks, sipping her coffee.
Maggie shrugs. “Cooked, watched a couple movies and went to sleep sometime after you guys came back.”
My parents nod. “And I’m guessing you’ll be leaving soon, seeing as it’s 9 a.m. You guys asked your parents before staying over, right?”
Tracy nods. “My parents are visiting my aunt for Christmas but I stayed behind at Maggie’s. But I asked!”
“Me too.” Maggie answers. “And yes, I’ll be leaving soon. I promised Mom I’ll be back before lunch.”
“Good thing that you said lunch because I’m not letting anyone leave without having my special Christmas Breakfast.” Dad says making us all chuckle.
Moments later, Dexter and Grant enter the kitchen followed by Axel and lastly a still sleepy. What makes my jaw drop is that all four of them are shirtless only in sweat bottoms. “Morning everyone and Merry Christmas.” They say simultaneously.
“Damn, these boys are hot.” Tracy comments.
I faintly hear Maggie gulp. “I second that.”
I myself am left speechless seeing the scene in front of me - Dexter and Axel pouring coffee in four mugs for all of them. Them sipping on their coffee is also too sexy to be simple.
“I never knew Kevin had a body like that.” Tracy mutters and Maggie and I can only nod in agreement.
Dad, of course, notices our reactions and narrows his eyes. He turns towards the boys who are talking among themselves and clears his throat. “Correct me if I’m wrong, boys, but do you guys not have enough clothes to cover your bodies? For Heaven’s sake, it’s winter, not summer for you to be roaming around shirtless.”
Grant looks at Dad with eyebrows furrowed in confusion and then looks over his shoulders at me and a look of understanding passes in his eyes as a grin slowly forms on his face. He and the Dexter share a look and even Kevin seems to understand what’s going on.
Grant walks past the breakfast bar that separates the dining table from the main kitchen and comes to stand where Tracy, Maggie and I have a clear look at him. Kevin and Dexter follow. “Why?” He asks mockingly, “Is it bothering someone?” Saying that, the three of them start flexing their muscles like models on a runway.
“I think someone’s being bothered by it, don’t you, Dex?” Kevin says as he throws a smirk towards Tracy.
Dexter shrugs as if it’s nothing but the smirk playing on his lips says otherwise. “I don’t know, man. All I know is that I have a hot body and it shouldn’t be hidden from public eyes.”
Grants nods, still continuing his flexing. “I know right?”
Not that affected by public display of hot male bodies anymore, I turn my attention back to my coffee while my two friends still keep on drooling. My eyes meet Axel’s who now seems to have understood the whole act just leans back against the counter. When our eyes meet, he smirks and stretches, flexing his muscles but being subtle than the other three.
“Okay enough!” Dad interrupts the guys. “If you all don’t go and put on some shirts immediately, no breakfast for you.”
Grants stops and pouts, facing Dad. “Kill joy.” he comments and leaves the kitchen to get dressed and the others follow them.
Tracy pouts and whines, “I was enjoying the show, Freddie. Why did you send them back to cover themselves?”
Dad raises an eyebrow at her. “That’s why.” he says simply. “Now I’m gonna make breakfast.” His eyes meet mine. “Wanna help, Princess?”
I smile. It had been too long since Dad and I cooked together. This seems like a good start to get back on track, slowly. So I nod. “Sure, I’d love to.”
As Dad and I get busy in the kitchen, Tracy and Maggie retreat to my room to shower and change. The guys shower and get back down too, this time, fully dressed. While we work in the kitchen, the four of them keep Mom company by talking. An hour later, Kevin is helping Mom set the table.
“Where’s Emilia?” For the first time, Mr. Scowls opens his mouth with his trademark scowl present on his forehead.
“She’s still sleeping.” I say absentmindedly. “I’ll just wake her up.”
I got to stand but before I could take another step, a sleeping Emilia walks into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes. “Leah?” She yawns and calls out my name, finally opening her eyes to look at me and as she does, her eyes bulge out in shock. “OH MY GOD!” She gasps, “OHMYGOD! You’re Fred Carmen from Let’s Cook With Carmen, aren’t you? You are, I know you are.”
I sigh when I realize the superstar my father is. “I’m not dreaming am I?” She mutters to herself as she takes slow steps towards my Dad without blinking her eyes that are still wide.
Dad chuckles. “I’m afraid, not.”
Nobody saw it coming but we all cover our years when she squeals. “OMG! I’m your fan, Sir, I’ve seen all the episodes of your show along with my Mom. She even tries some of your recipes but I’m sure she can never cook as good as you do. I love your show!”
Dad smiles gratefully, his eyes shining upon meeting such a young fan. “Thank you, Emilia. And thank your mom too, for trying out my recipes.”
“You know my name.” She gasps in awe as she shakes Dad’s hand.
“You’re my daughter’s friend.” Dad shrugs.
Emilia’s eyes find mine and she squeals and tackles me in a hug. “I knew there was a reason why you were my favorite. You dad is Fred Carmen. No wonder you’re an amazing cook.”
Before I could reply, she returns back to Dad. “Mr. Carmen, I’m your big fan and I want to grow up to be a great chef like you one day.”
Dad smiles warmly at her. “I’m sure you’ll do great in this field.”
Emilia’s eyes then roam around the table to land at mom. “And Mrs. Roma Carmen! I love your designs, your brand is so amazing and I’ve seen every show of yours online. I wish I could go to one someday too.” She says.
Mom chuckles. “I’m sure you do, Emmy. Now why don’t you have a seat and have breakfast with us?”
Emilia grins and sits on the empty seat beside Axel as she gushes to him about her fan moment. I’m honestly surprised to see him listening to her with a soft smile on his face. For all I knew, I expected him to shut up because was embarrassing him.
After we all are done eating, Emmy and I go upstairs to shower and change. She came prepared with her sleepover bag so I directly guide her towards the guest bathroom and enter my room to shower myself. I’m done in thirty minutes and I rush downstairs dressed in dark blue jeans and a purple sweater Mom got me last Christmas.
Everyone was waiting for me in the family room to exchange gifts so they could head back to their respective homes as soon as possible. I keep my gifts under the tree, planning to open them later and hug Tracy and Maggie goodbye as they drive to Maggie’s place together.
Grant leaves with Dexter and Kevin heads back to his place too. After everyone’s gone, I turn towards Emilia, grinning. “Do you mind if I join you guys instead of going to the cafe on my bike?” I ask.
The little girl frowns. “You’re coming to the cafe today too?”
I frown and look up at Axel who is leaning against his truck. “Yeah, is there a problem?”
Emilia shakes her head. “No, but we don’t open for public on Christmas.”
“Oh.” I say disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go there.
Emilia nods, frowning but slowly the frown turns into a wide grin. “Yeah, but ....”
I look up at her hopefully, “But?”
“Do you want to make pizza?”
“What?” I ask in confusion. What has pizza got to do with this?
Emilia just grins and starts to drag me towards Axel’s truck without explaining. “Let’s go, Axel. Leah is riding with us.”
Axel groans showing his distaste but doesn’t say anything. He starts the engine as he gets into the driver’s seat. Emilia gets in from the passenger’s side and slides in, making space for me as the rest of the truck is the truck bed.
Twenty minutes later, we’re parked in the alley beside Cafe Holden and all three of us get out as Axel leads the way through what I presume is a backdoor. The backdoor leads into a narrow hallway with stairs leading up on one side and another door saying HOLDEN’s on the other. That must be the backdoor to the cafe.
To my utter confusion, instead of leading us back into the cafe, Axel starts climbing the stairs and Emilia follows. I, having no choice follow them too.
“Mom!” Emilia hollers and pushes open the door and rushes off inside. I stand outside the door, unsure if I was to follow them or wait outside. I didn’t realize before that they lived above the cafe.
Axel turns to look at me as he frees his socks clad feet from his boots and places then beside the door and hangs his overcoat. “Are you coming in or what?”
I jump a little as I hadn’t expected him to say anything to me and nod. I follow his actions, handing my coat and arranging my shoes beside his own. When I look up, he’s looking at me weirdly. “You know you could have kept them on, right?”
No, I didn’t know. I think as I shrug. He shakes his head and starts walking down the hallway where Emilia went. We enter the kitchen and I suppress a chuckle when I find Emilia describing today’s morning with animated hand gestures and Julie looking awestruck in the fan moment her daughter had witnessed just hours ago.
When we make our presence known, Julie look up at me and smiles. “Hey Leah, I hear something interesting right now.”
I grin back at her. “Merry Christmas Julie. And what might that interesting thing be?”
“I didn’t know you were related to Fred Carmen. I must admit I’m a fan.” She says, her eyes twinkling in awe.
“Related?! She’s his daughter, Mom. I’m friend’s with my favorite chef’s daughter! Isn’t that amazing?” Emilia jumps, still holding onto Julie’s hands.
Julie, who is a calmer fan than her daughter chuckles and nods. “I bet it is.” She then turns to me. “I’m glad to have you here, Leah. I’m guessing you’ll be helping the guys in the kitchen?” I frown and look at Emilia questioningly. “I take it that Emmy didn’t tell you about today’s plans?”
“Oops! I forgot to tell her in all this excitement.” Emilia grins sheepishly.
Julie rolls her eyes. “Why am I not surprised? Anyway, Axel and Emmy will explain to you.” She turns towards Axel. “I’ll head out first and I’m leaving you in charge. The others are in the kitchen downstairs already. I’m hoping four hours would be enough?”
Axel nods. “Yeah, I think so.”
Julie looks satisfied with his response. “Good. I’ll see you at five, okay?”
“Bye, Mom.” Emilia waves as Julie exits the house.
I turn towards the other two with my eyebrows raised, curious to know what they were talking about. “So?”
Emilia smiles excitedly. “Oh, that. Actually, every year at Christmas, we make and distribute free pizza to children with cancer at the hospital Mom works as a nurse. Most of them can’t go home during Christmas to be with family so we make it special for them at the hospital itself. Right now Mom, Aunt Rachel and Aunt Matilda are headed towards the hospital to decorate the wing for the party.”
I smile at the thoughtfulness of their idea of spending Christmas. “Wow, that’s so thoughtful of you guys.”
Emilia shrugs as she leads our way back out downstairs as Axel locks the door. “We enjoy making pizza. It’s a family bonding time. And seeing those kids smile automatically makes us all happy.”
I smile. “I’m excited. It’s such a great way to spend Christmas. Thanks for involving me.”
“It was Axel’s idea. It became a tradition after he moved in with us a few years ago.” She reminisces.
I look at Axel who rushes off past us hurriedly and disappears into the cafe through the backdoor, obviously scowling at Emilia’s words. I sigh, he can’t even take a compliment. But I’m surprised, I didn’t think he could be considerate.
It was then that I realized that I had been doing what I hated being done to me. I was judging him by what I saw of him, or better yet, what he let me see of him. I didn’t know him, not as well his family did. And they obviously seem to love and adore him, and even he seems to appreciate his family as I remember his listening attentively to Emilia gush about her fan moment this morning and taking up the responsibility when Julie assigned him in charge.
As Emilia pushes open the backdoor and motions me to enter inside, I vow to get to know at least a little bit of real Axel to really know what he is like other than being my Mr. Scowls.
I just wanted to address the fact that this book is my NaNo project which must make sense as it is that it's a first, rough draft. I'm not really editing anything but I'm correcting things if I see them. So if there are spelling or grammar mistakes, keep an opened mind that I have to write this book in a month to complete my goal.
Also, tell me, is this going in a fast pace? Slow pace? views on what you saw till now?
And if you could, do vote this story and write me a review.
Thanks. xoxo, Ren.
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