“Go help your Mom, okay?”
“But I want to help you.”
Taylor looked across at where his eldest daughter sat at the table, her chin in her hands and a smile on her face as her eyes beamed. She knew he couldn’t resist the look and he knew he was about to fall for it again.
“Fine,” he sighed dramatically, “but if dinner tastes bad I’m going to blame you, okay?”
Taylor smirked to himself as Ezra set the table around him. He noticed the forlorn look on his son’s face and his own fell.
“Hey,” he reached out to take his shoulder, “you alright?”
Ezra ducked away and left the room without a word. Taylor grimaced after him but returned his attention to Penny when he heard her move.
“What’s that for?” she asked, pointing to Taylor’s iPod which was evidently playing into his left ear.
“Just something to help me concentrate,” he offered her a smile before hearing heavier footsteps coming from where Ezra had disappeared.
“You guys want to clear out? We’re almost ready,” Natalie spoke loud, unsure if he could hear.
“Sure,” Taylor agreed, watching after her as she disappeared before turning back to Penny.
He stood and began to clear up his paperwork, offering his daughter some to carry, before taking it all back into the office. He paused when she left before him to look over the folders from local funeral homes, before forcing himself to switch off the light and head back to the dining table.
Ezra was back and had finished the table, in time for Natalie to bring Willa in and set her in her higher chair.
“Where are your brothers?” Natalie asked him as Taylor took his seat at the head.
“I don’t know,” Ezra shrugged.
“Could you go find them, please?”
Ezra again left the room without a word. Taylor watched him go before casting his eyes to his wife.
“Is he okay?” he asked gingerly, “did something else happen today?”
“A war happened Taylor,” she managed to keep the scorn from her voice, “we’ll get through it.”
He jumped as he was suddenly hugged from the right, Penny having taken a quick detour before taking up her place at the table. The next time he looked up the two younger boys were racing in.
“Hey slow down,” he insisted, “you don’t want to knock anything over.”
“Sorry Dad,” River gave Viggo an amused look, making the younger one giggle.
Taylor couldn’t help but smile at the exchange until his eyes fell on Ezra again. He sat on the other side of River and kept his eyes down until Natalie started bringing in the plates.
“It’s not much, but it’s all we have for now,” Natalie announced as she set plates in front of everyone.
“It’s enough,” Taylor tried to reassure her.
“Again?” Viggo pulled a face as soon as he saw what he had.
Natalie ignored him and left to fetch the rest.
“Vig’…” Taylor leant forward slightly, “your Mom works really hard to get this for us, okay? A little appreciation wouldn’t go too far right now.”
The look didn’t leave Viggo’s face, but he apologised. Taylor was about to say something else when a loud crash from the front of the house suddenly pulled him to his feet.