“So what do you say, kid?” Nathan wanted to know. “You are interested in a late lunch at Chop N’ Munch?”
They’d just finished the small lunch of yesterday’s leftover rice, when he had broached the topic of them going out for a much more filling meal.
Toinette looked at him from across the eight-seating dark Mahogany table. “I wish I can dad. But I’ve got to meet Lara for our usual hour.” She said quietly. Of course she was interested in going… it was outing and meant getting dressed and escaping house chores. But she also knew if she tarried, she could get something out of this. She planned to.
“You could just call her and offer some sort of excuse or something. Err… tell her you have a family emergency.”
“You want me to lie?”
The wide astonished eyes didn’t fool Nathan one bit. “Don’t play that card with me, young lady.” He growled but she merely widened her innocent look, Nathan hissed. “You do know that as your father I can simply order you to get dressed and let’s go?”
Toinette arched one brow, a habit she’d practiced hard to master. “You do know that as your daughter I can throw tantrums and make your lunch date a living hell?”
Nathan looked at her, gauging her. This was the negotiations table, and here you just play the best hand you’ve got with the hope you come out the winner. “You wouldn’t. You liked Valerie and Kike of course.” He got up and started packing up his plates.
She gave a nonchalant lift of her shoulder, rising to her feet too. “I do. But that won’t stop me from acting up.” She followed her father into the kitchen with her own plates.
Aunty Sochi raised her head from the vegetables she was washing as they entered, a knowing smile on her lips as father and daughter matched to the sink silently scheming.
Nathan dropped his plates into the sink and rinsed his hands. “Fine.” He shrugged, wiping them with a paper napkin. “You go do your study hour with Lara. Dunc and I will just have to go alone.”
“Ah… I don’t really know how that will look, dad.” Toinette quipped loading up the dishwasher. “Two men inviting two ladies to lunch…” She shrugged. “Just looks a little too premeditated to me.” It was a word she enjoyed using lately, having just heard of it in a crime series she watched with Aunty Sochi.
“Preme…” He stared at her. “You are too young to be talking about men and women having lunch together, young lady.” He told her firmly.
“I was only pointing out that without me, your intentions might be misunderstood.”
Nathan stared at her open-mouthed.
Aunty Sochi chuckled.
Strolling over to the refrigerator to grab a water of water, Toinette smiled. “I tell you what, dad. You were right, this is a family emergency. So I’ll just call Lara and make up an excuse and help you out on this one.” She looked at him with a sunny smile.
He narrowed his eyes. “And?”
She put back the half-empty bottle of water, shut the refrigerator and turned slowly. “Nothing.” At her father’s angled head, she lifted her shoulders delicately. “My only worry really is what to wear.”
He knew it. She’d just been angling for something. “You have a closetful of clothes.”
“I meant shoes, dad.” She hurried on before her father could protest. “I know I have a couple of sandals but I’ve worn them way too frequently they are beginning to wear off. Not that that bothers me really… I mean I don’t really mind wearing worn out shoes.” She sighed deeply. “Problem is girls… they see you wearing something looking like that and the next thing is – ‘I thought her father…”
“What shoes do you have in mind?” Nathan cut her off, defeated.
“The ankle cuff sandals.”
“Fine. We’ll pick them up on our way to the restaurant.”
“Really?” Toinette squealed, them recalling she shouldn’t look too exuberant, she added mildly. “Hope that won’t pose any delays?”
“Uh huh.” He shook his head.
She inclined her head. “If you are sure then. I’ll just go and put that call to Lara and explain things to her.”
Nathan watched her as she casually sauntered through the kitchen door, then winced when her triumphant whoopee nearly damaged his eardrum.
He sighed and turned to Aunty Sochi. “I’m a wuss of a father.” He moaned.
She gave a merry laugh.
The laugh kind off soothed Nathan. A fair complexioned comely looking woman in her late forties, Aunty Sochi was almost always serene and gentle in her ways. Except of course when she was out to discipline. She’d been with his mother since before he was born, so he kind of regarded her more like big sister than a housekeeper.
“Do you think I spoil her?” He asked now.
“Yes.” At his mournful groan, she laughed. “But that’s alright. She’s your daughter, your only child… for now… so it’s kind of expected.”
Nathan still looked worried.
“Besides, Toinette is a good girl and is well aware of her limits.” She started dicing the peeled onions. “Anyway if you overdo it, you got a houseful of people to knock her back in line.” She assured him.
“I haven’t seen you and mother or anyone else for that matter do much knocking back with her.” He grumbled. “And I do recall you guys were never hesitant to use the rod in my case years ago.”
“That’s because you were a real menace.”
“Heck no! I was literally a saint.”
Aunty Sochi snorted. “Get out of my kitchen, Saint, I got a meal to finish.”
Nathan grinned and walked over to give her a hug. “Why don’t you just toss all these in the freezer and put up your feet for the rest of the day. I’ll grab some takeaway packs on our way back.” He suggested.
Aunty Sochi looked up at him, loving this generous man she’d come to see as a younger brother. “You are really a wuss.” She told him with an affectionate pat on the cheek. “A wuss but also a great father.”