Greeted by the scent of roast chicken and broccoli casserole, Esthie walks into the cool interior of her sister’s home and takes off her muddy sneakers. Even though she’s hungry, she walks toward the tufted leather couch in the formal living room to grab her smartphone before heading to the kitchen for dinner.
No new messages.
Esthie’s heart sinks. She felt so strong when she decided to break up with Dominick. She loved him, but she felt that she needed to spend some time away from him to figure out what she wants. Everything seemed to be going fine until she ran into him over Labor Day weekend. As soon as Esthie saw him again she realized how much she missed him and a few cocktails led to a drunken hookup and an awkward morning, after which she hadn’t heard a word from him.
Deflated, she walks toward the kitchen where Isobel Egret is feeding her young children.
“I’m full, Momma,” Emilia says to Isobel, who instructs her three year old daughter to have two more bites. With her light brown hair in a messy ponytail and the sleeves of her light denim shirt rolled up, she is standing in front of her one year old son, Rudy, with a spoonful of casserole.
Her kitchen has modern appliances like a stainless steel fridge and induction range mixed in with more traditional elements, like cream colored cabinets that displayed her porcelain cookware and antique copper pots through glass windows. A large white sink sits in front of a bay window that overlooks an empty backyard. She and her husband don’t have the energy to spend on a yard renovation project, so their current plan for the yard is to put off planning for the yard until the kids are a little bit older. Eventually, Isobel would like to plant a row of white bougainvilleas along the fence in the backyard so that she can admire them from the kitchen window while she cooks. She dreams of hosting dinner parties for friends and family under the night sky, with string lights twinkling over a long table decorated to perfection with flower arrangements and candles surrounding a home cooked meal.
While Isobel finishes feeding the baby, Emilia, or Emmie as she was dubbed by her little brother when he learned his first words, turns away from her plate of food and looks through the gaps in the wooden dining chair she’s sitting in toward the hallway, waiting for her father to save her from the last bites of broccoli on her plate.
“Daddy!” Emmie suddenly screams as Xavier, Isobel’s husband, walks in. Standing on her chair, Emmie leaps into her father’s arms as soon as he is within reach.
“Hey Princess,” he says, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
Iso knows that once the kids are out of their chairs greeting their father she has no chance of getting their attention again, so she rinses their plates off as Xavier grabs Rudy with his free arm.
“How’s my baby boy?” With a kid on each arm, Xavier leans back and gives his wife a kiss on the lips. “How’s your day been, Babe?”
Feeling like she’s intruding on an intimate moment between Isobel and her husband, Esthie sits on the counter next to the crockpot and quietly eats her dinner. Meanwhile, Isobel glances at Esthie’s toned legs hanging off her counter and immediately regrets the carbs she just ate. She and Esthie are technically identical, but Iso feels like Esthie’s older sister after becoming a mom, mainly due to the baby weight and bags under her eyes that never seem to go away.
“Good, Babe,” Isobel says, letting her husband know that there’s a breast for him in the oven. Xavier possesses a charm that, when combined with his classic looks and baritone voice, makes him irresistible to his wife. Even after long days of shuttling their kids around the city, cooking and doing laundry, she looks forward to lying in bed and reconnecting with him at night, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Xavier serves himself chicken and opens the red slow cooker next to Esthie, who cracks a smile when she remembers that he had lunch with Dominick earlier. He also cracks a smile, knowing exactly why she’s suddenly interested in talking to him. “So, I hear you had a nice weekend,” he says.
“Babe, don’t get involved!” Isobel says to him as she ushers the kids toward the hallway for bath time.
“And what is it that you heard, exactly?” Esthie asks, giving her sister the side eye and hoping her brother in law will ignore her advice.