PART TWO: TUESDAY IN WHICH MY GUARDIAN AND I COOK SOMETHING WITH AILEEN
During the morning, after breakfast, I brainstormed for things to do with my friends. A notebook handy, I walked out to the study and found all of them awake, drinking the coffee I had brought out to them earlier and the older four browsing the books in Dad’s study. Aileen was still peacefully asleep, and Damhán looked like he had already done something to get himself on the wrong side of his oldest brother. He was sulking in Dad’s study chair.
I stood in the doorway until Breandan noticed me and came over with a smile. “May we come inside now? Is your family ready?”
I grinned. “If you can possibly pull yourselves away from my dad’s books…yes, we’re ready for you. But I came out here for a different reason.”
“And that reason is?”
“I want some ideas for random things we could do while you’re here in the third dimension. I know some of the things you all enjoy, but I want to make sure you’re having a nice time here.”
Bran put the book he was reading back on the shelf and smiled at me. “That’s very thoughtful of you.”
“Thanks,” I answered. “I couldn’t come up with anything by myself other than giving the rest of you, except Aileen, haircuts.” My eyes twinkled.
“Don’t you dare!” Damhán exploded before realizing I was teasing them. He glowered at me.
Surprisingly, Ciarán was the one who came to my defense. “Relax, Damhán, any idiot could tell she was kidding.”
Damhán turned his glower to his brother, but unclenched the fists by his sides.
“He’s in a bad mood this morning,” Ciarán continued smoothly. “He’ll get over it, don’t worry, but it might take a while.”
Breandan turned the dangerous conversation towards a different path. “Well, I enjoy cooking, we could cook something.”
“All of us?” Ciarán asked in disbelief. “Would we even fit in the kitchen?”
“No, not all of us,” Breandan retorted. “Just a few of us. Like Aileen and I with Rebekah…for example.”
“Then what would we do!” Damhán demanded.
“You could play a board game with my brothers,” I offered.
“Or explore the woods,” Breandan added.
“I’m tired of board games, and I don’t want to explore.” Damhán folded his arms stubbornly.
Inspiration struck me suddenly. “Damhán,” I said slyly, “my brothers would love to learn how to use a sword. You could give them some lessons today!”
That seemed to do the trick. “They like weapons?” he asked, interested at last.
“Oh yes!” I exclaimed knowingly. “We even have a sword that you could use to teach them!”
“Alright!” Damhán was cheered up considerably. “I’ll be doing that then.”
“What about the rest of us?” Ciarán turned to his other older brothers for help. “Aichear, Bran, make Breandan let me help him cook! He’s letting Aileen help!”
Bran backed out of the situation quickly. “Whoa, don’t ask me! As long as we get to eat whatever Breandan cooks up, I don’t care who he has help him.”
The oldest Mornelly finally looked up from the book he was still reading. “Breandan and Aileen will help Rebekah cook something, the rest of you can find other occupations.”
Ciarán’s shoulders slumped and he darted a dangerous look towards Breandan. If my guardian saw it, he paid no mind. Aileen, who had been blissfully sleeping through the whole thing, decided to wake up then and curiously asked her oldest brother why Ciarán looked so grumpy.
“Just leave him alone Aileen,” Aichear wisely advised. “Breandan wants you to help him and Rebekah cook something good for us to eat.”
The girl clapped her hands gleefully. “Oh, yay! What are we going to cook?”
I glanced at my guardian. “We don’t know yet,” I admitted.
Aileen bounced from bed, already in her day clothes, and grabbed my hand. “This is going to be so fun! Let’s go cook something!”
Hours later, after pouring over each of our cookbooks carefully, the three of us decided on a recipe that looked especially tasty.
“Well, if no one else likes it, Bran will,” Breandan remarked with a grin. “He likes pretty much everything I cook.”
“I don’t think anyone couldn’t like No-bake Reeses Bars!” Aileen declared, licking her lips.
And personally, I had to agree.
“One cup peanut butter, one cup graham cracker crumbs, half a pound butter, one pound powdered sugar, one half teaspoon vanilla extract, and one half teaspoon salt.” I read the ingredients out loud as I pulled them from various parts of our kitchen. “There, that ought to be all.”
“What do we do now?” Aileen asked, her elbows resting on our counter.
I consulted the recipe. “‘Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.’”
“Should I do that?” Breandan offered.
“That would be nice. I’ll butter the glass nine-by-thirteen pan. Aileen, you melt the two cups of chocolate chips in the pan,” I ordered.
We went to work and soon the mixture began to look more like the picture in the cookbook. Breandan was very capable of his part of the recipe, so I spent most of my time making sure Aileen didn’t burn the melting chocolate chips to the bottom of the pan.
“Alright, this stuff is ready,” Breandan announced. “What do I do with it?”
I checked the recipe again. “Spread it evenly on the bottom of the buttered pan, and then Aileen and I will spread the melted chocolate over the top.”
While he did that I gave the chocolate one last stir. I grinned at Aileen. “Nice job!” I congratulated. “The chocolate is absolutely perfect. Silky, smooth, and a good consistency for spreading!”
Aileen beamed at the compliment before taking the now empty pan to the sink. I took the finished dessert to our refrigerator where it would cool down and harden.
“In about half an hour we should cut it when the chocolate is still soft, but not too soft,” I said.
Breandan gave me a satisfied smile. “When this recipe has been tried by us and found worthy of the Mornelly taste, would you mind terribly if I brought a copy of it home to the fourth dimension?”
I grinned. “Not at all! You’ll have to tell me if eating it in the fourth dimension makes it taste any better!”
He laughed. “I will!”
I glanced at the refrigerator and then at Breandan and Aileen. “Well, all we can do now is wait!”
“Shall we go see what the others are up too?” Aileen asked.
I nodded. “I hope Damhán won’t mind giving me a lesson in swordsmanship! I’ve always wanted to learn.”
“I’ll keep an eye on the time,” Breandan promised. “Half an hour, right?”
I nodded again. “Let’s go!”
Out in the field, Damhán was still hard at work with my two brothers, Max and David. I was surprised that a fight hadn’t erupted yet. Apparently, my brothers were so eager to learn how to use our sword that they didn’t care how overbearing Damhán acted.
“Just watch me and then copy what I do when your turn comes,” Damhán was commanding. “First, you put your feet like this; about that far apart so you have good balance and the ability to jump out of the way of your opponents sword. Next you back away to get your enemy over-confident and then surprise him by suddenly rushing in without warning. Soon he’ll realize how good you are and try to use your own tricks back at you. Don’t let him. Keep him guessing with—” here Damhán noticed us watching him and broke off mid-sentence.
Walking over, he glanced towards the house. “Did you finish making the thingy?”
I nodded with a grin. “You’re going to love it!”
“Why are you out here?”
“Well…” I eyed the sword. “I was kind of hoping you could give me a lesson too.”
Damhán grinned. “I’d love too. Are you two wanting lessons as well?” He sent this question in the direction of his brother and sister.
Breandan shook his head. “You know I’m every bit as good as you are with that thing. You certainly couldn’t teach me anything new with it.”
Aileen sidled up to Breandan. “I think I’ll skip this time.”
Damhán shrugged, and turned back to me. “Come over here and I’ll start your lesson right now.”
The afternoon passed pleasantly for most of us. Ciarán was still sulking about not being able to help cook, but only because he hadn’t gotten his way. My lesson from Damhán was very fun, and I came away from it with a lot more knowledge about how to wield a sword and fool an opponent.
Aichear and Bran were kept busy browsing my dad’s selection of books, and I was surprised to see that Aichear had already finished reading at least five books since the morning.
“He’s the fastest reader of the family,” Breandan explained while we all crowded into the study to talk after dinner.
“Sarah is the fastest reader of our family,” I said, “but we all love to read.”
“And you’re the writer of the family, right?” Bran asked.
“Yep,” I answered, “and therefore the fastest writer.”
“You’ll have to show us some of your books. Damhán has tried writing a book about our life, but he failed.”
“Failed miserably,” Ciarán added, magically appearing from out of the shadows where he had been moping.
Damhán glowered at his brother. “You guys were the ones that ruined my book,” he protested. “I had a fine beginning and then you took over and said it was all wrong.”
“It was,” Ciarán said, folding his arms and returning his brother’s glower.
Damhán opened his mouth to give his brother a heated retort, but both Breandan and I felt it was time to intervene.
“Listen, guys,” I said at the same time as Breandan. He glanced at me, giving me the go-ahead to continue by myself.
“Stop arguing. It won’t do anything except make us all mad at each other. How about eating that dessert Breandan, Aileen, and I made next?”
At the word “dessert” everyone perked up and Aichear even put down the book he was reading. I raced inside and pulled the pan from the refrigerator. I gave it one look and groaned. Breandan had followed me in to help serve it, and he frowned at me in a puzzled fashion.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I motioned to the dessert. “We forgot to cut it after the half-hour,” I answered. “Now it’s gonna be really hard to make it look nice.”
Breandan took out a knife from our drawer and studied the pan thoughtfully. “Well, the good news is that my brothers won’t care how it looks as long as it tastes good.”
I raised my eyebrows. “I sure hope it tastes good then.”
My guardian grinned. “I bet Ciarán will have something to say about it.”
With a groan, I started cutting the dessert into bars. As I had predicted, the result looked awful. The hardened chocolate cracked in all the wrong places, making the bars become all sorts of crazy shapes instead of the neat rectangles pictured in our cookbook.
However, once we finally got the bars into semi-organized stacks on a plate and looking as nice as possible…
“Wow! This stuff is delicious!” Bran exclaimed, taking another “bar” from the plate and sinking his teeth into it. “You got the recipe, right Breandan?”
My guardian nodded, and exchanged a triumphant look with me. “I thought I might be able to try making it at our home in the fourth dimension,” he said.
“You’d better do more than try,” Damhán declared, helping himself to a fifth piece.
“Told you,” Aileen whispered to me with her eyes shining, “no one can’t like peanut butter and chocolate!”
Even Ciarán admitted grudgingly, “They are good.”
But the highest praise of all came from Aichear. “It’s not bad,” he said, and reached for a second piece.