“Wake up, babies! It’s your birthday today!”
“Ellie, we just got them to go to sleep. Please don’t wake them.”
Ellie backed away sheepishly, and grinned up at her dad. “I’m sorry.”
Malik sighed fondly, and tried to lull Leo back to sleep. He wasn’t having any of it, however, and waved his tiny arms around like a windmill. This wasn’t going to be easy. “Why don’t you go and help Lor in the kitchen? I’m sure he’d be grateful.”
“I would be. I’m about to make the birthday cake, and I could use an assistant.”
“Papa! Do you mean it?”
Lor secretly wondered about the wisdom of letting her near a hot oven, but it was better than having her disturbing the babies. He’d just make sure she got the safe tasks – like stirring, or reading the recipe to him.
“Of course I do. Now, what type of cake do you think would be best?”
“A blue one! With glitter on it!”
“I don’t know. Do we have any edible glitter, Mal?”
Malik raised an eyebrow, as if to say ‘What kind of question is that to ask in front of a child?’, and Lor stuttered, blushing. “The cooking kind!” he clarified.
“There’s some in the small drawer next to the dishwasher” he said, laughing. He knew exactly what Lor had meant.
“…and how much flour?”
“Ok, you can measure this bit.” Lor watched as Ellie carefully poured out the correct amount of flour into the bowl on the scales, her tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth in concentration. It was adorable.
He went back to mixing the wet ingredients, waiting for her to finish.
“Done! Can I do the sugar, too?”
“Ok. Then we need to sieve them all to get rid of any lumps. Tell me when you’re done, and I’ll get the big mixing bowl.”
Malik smiled at the conversation drifting over from the kitchen. Since the renovations, the house felt so much more open and friendly. Lyra stopped drinking and tried to tap the bottle out of his hand.
“Good plan, little one. You need to save room for the cake that your big sister and your papa are working so hard on.”
Lyra giggled, snuggling into him. He would miss this, but it would be wonderful to finally get a full night’s sleep.
“Now we wait. I’ll call you over when it’s time to decorate, and we’ll see just how blue you can make this cake.”
Ellie was already planning a design out. It was going to be the best cake ever, she’d make sure of it. So blue, so sparkly…
“Ellie? Why aren’t you in your party dress?”
“I don’t want to get icing on it. Is the cake cool enough now?”
“It is indeed.”
“Hooray! Can I do it all? I want it to be a surprise!”
“You’re a brave man, Lorcán Centauri” Malik whispered as Ellie skipped over to the kitchen.
“What’s the worst she can do? It’s just icing.”
30 TENSION INDUCING MINUTES LATER
“So, love, are you ready?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Dad! Papa! Leo broke the dollhouse!”
“He’s only been a child a couple of minutes and he’s already causing trouble” Lor muttered under his breath, hand over his eyes. “Leo, that wasn’t very nice. Apologise to your brother and sister.”
“I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
“I’ll fix it” Malik said, popping his head out of the bathroom.
“Papa! Dad did my hair for me, isn’t it nice!” Lyra’s face peeked out from behind him, her hair in two neat bunches decorated with flowers.
“You look lovely, Lyra.” Lor said, smiling at them. She really did, especially with that grin on her face. Mal glowed with pleasure at the praise, too – he was feeling rather proud of how it had turned out, considering the fact that he’d never had long hair himself.
Surrounded by his family, Lor could honestly say he’d never been happier. He had four beautiful children, a wonderful fiance and some really delicious cake. Life was good.
The children seemed to be getting along well, thank goodness. Lor watched as Ellie explained the rules of ‘Don’t Wake The Llama’ to her rapt audience. He breathed a sigh of relief as the tower stayed upright during her demonstration – now that would have been embarrassing. She would be a wonderful big sister, he just knew it.