This had been the second time that Caine Wise was invited over for dinner at Jupiter Jones’ house. The first time had been a success despite the fact that he felt awkward 80% of the time. Despite the fact that he easily got to bond with Vladie and Matthie over video games, he still had a feeling that not everybody wanted him there. Particularly when Jupiter’s uncle, Vassily started to give him the “Do something stupid to my niece and I swear I will beat you up into pulp” look.
By now, Caine had already known his way to Jupiter’s house after she showed him the way on the first time he was invited over and whenever she’d ask him to take her home after their dates.
“Okay Caine, just breathe easy…” Caine reassured himself as he prepared to press the doorbell. And breathe easy he did, pressing the doorbell afterwards. “There!” he said to himself as he waited for someone to answer the door.
It was Jupiter’s mother who answered the door, giving Caine a sigh of relief. “Hello there, Caine! Come in, dear!” she spoke, motioning for him to enter the home. Without any hesitation, Caine entered the house to be met with the sight of Vladie and Matthie being engrossed with a game of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
“Hey Jupiter! Caine’s here!” Vladie shouted from the couch
In a few seconds, Jupiter came out of the kitchen dressed in a white long-sleeved blouse and a dotted jumper skirt.
“Hello Caine! So glad that you got here!” Jupiter said, giving him a tight hug. “You should really take a seat over the couch for a while, dinner’s not yet ready.” She added as she returned to the kitchen to help.
“Actually Jupiter, I’d like to help.” Caine spoke
“Help, you say?” Vassily chimed in as he emerged from the kitchen, “Good! I can use some extra hands over here. We’re having Shashlik tonight and I need someone to do the grilling for me while I fetch the car back from the repair shop.”
Jupiter had scored a part-time job as a beekeeper when she was not busy cleaning the homes of wealthy people with her mother and aunt. The reason why she took the part-time job was for two things: being a royalty, she has the ability to deter bees from stinging her and she is going to need extra money to pursue a distance learning degree in astronomy.
She also set aside some of her earnings from the bee-keeping job for her family which explains how they ended up having a car now. A second-hand car, but it didn’t matter. As long as they have a car.
“Sure, Mr. Tolmachev!” Caine said to Vassily who dragged him to the small yard where the grill was. Vassily had specifically told Caine to address him as Mr. Tolmachev and not by his first name the first time Caine visited Jupiter’s family.
Caine was now working on finishing where Vassily had left off, which was of course, grilling the remaining raw Shashliks. It was his first time to cook Earth food because back on his planet, cooking was done differently. All he had to do was just a few buttons and everything would be done in seconds. What he was grilling right now interested him because he hadn't seen such kind of food before where cubes of meat were held together by a stick that was inserted in the middle of them.
Unknown to him, Jupiter was watching through the window along with her mother in amusement as he struggled to cook the Russian delicacy.
“Я думаю, вы должны помочь ему…” Aleksa told her daughter
“Я думаю, что он собирается получить повесить его” Jupiter replied
“Он может в конечном итоге сжигания себя, вы знаете,” Aleksa said out of concern
“Ну, у вас есть точку там, ма.” Jupiter then went to the small yard where Caine was of course, still busy struggling with the Shashliks.
“Here, let me help you.” Jupiter said as she took over the grill, flipping the raw Shashlik. “I have to be honest here but I think you burnt half of these Shashliks.”
“So sorry, Your Royal Highness.” Caine said, bowing his head down
“No problem dear. And don’t call me Your Royal Highness.” Jupiter had reminded Caine countless times to refrain calling her Your Royal Highness, the same way that her uncle would always remind him that he should address him as Mr. Tolmachev. “You should really be careful in cooking these. дядя Василий would be very disappointed if he found out that you burnt the Shashliks.”
“Alright then.” Caine spoke with a nod of approval.
A few moments later, Caine was starting to get a hang of preparing the Shashliks and Jupiter had already left him to his own devices so that she could continue helping with the dinner preparations inside the house. Caine finished up cooking just in time for the entire family to be seated at the table.
“Where’s the Shashlik?” Vassily asked
“Here!” Caine exclaimed as he emerged from the kitchen, with the plate containing the Shashlik. Arranged in the way that Jupiter had taught him to.
“My Jupiter, you really taught him well!” Nino, Jupiter’s aunt remarked
“This better taste good, Caine.” Vassily spoke out of slight anticipation. Because really, he doesn’t seem to trust Caine yet even if he left him with the grilling duty earlier on.
“Yes Mr. Tolmachev, I assure you, this will taste good.” Caine said with a smile as he set the plate containing the Shashlik on the table.
Vassily then led the prayer, just as he would do every dinner time. Caine went along and was able to get the hang of it better than he did the first time he observed the custom.
The dinner table was filled with lively conversation. Whether it was Matthie’s exploits at school that landed him in detention for an hour or Vladie’s attempts at trying to court this girl named Vera.
“Everybody, I’d like to make an important announcement!” Svetlana, Jupiter’s other cousin announced. The table fell silent when Anastasiya spoke. “While all of you were so busy preparing for dinner, I came across this.” She said as she showed everybody a folded letter.
“Is it a love letter from Vera?” Matthie asked
“Shut up Matthie!” Vladie retorted, “We don’t even send letters to each other.”
“Must be the bills.” Aleksa spoke
“Not even close!” Svetlana said as she opened up the letter. “It says here that Jupiter’s been accepted to the University of Illinois’ Astronomy major program.”
“You have to be kidding me, Sveta!” Jupiter said out of excitement, “You have to let me see that.” This was it, this was the moment that Jupiter has been waiting for.
“Dear Ms. Jones, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Astronomy major program of our university.” Jupiter read out, “Attached with this letter is your application form should you choose to pursue with our Astronomy major program…” Yes, she was definitely going to pursue that degree. She had worked hard for it, even going as far as taking two jobs in order to prepare for payments like her tuition and books.
“Поздравляем всех!” Aleksa proudly said to her daughter “Мы знали, что вы сделали бы это!” she added. Caine could not understand what Jupiter’s mother was saying but he was very sure that she was expressing happiness over Jupiter’s acceptance into university.
“Well, what do you know!” Vassily spoke, “My dear niece is going to college!”
“Она на самом деле просто, как и ее отец!” Nino remarked as Aleksa cried tears of joy.
“Your father would be so proud if he were still here.” Aleksa told Jupiter as she hugged her.
“Mom…” Jupiter said, crying with tears of joy too, “I bet he’s really proud up there now.”
“I should let you guys know that Caine here made good tasting Shashlik.” Vassily chimed in, “The next time you come back here, you should do more of the cooking, okay?” he added, tapping Caine at the back.
“Well, I guess…” Caine replied
“Очень хорошо! Очень хорошо!” Nino said, clapping her hands, “We’re taking that as a yes.”
“We’ve got a keeper here!” Svetlana exclaimed
Caine was starting to feel a bit more of ease around Jupiter’s family especially when he got to witness Jupiter’s best moment since she became the Queen of Earth and this was when she found out that she finally got the chance to pursue her dream of studying Astronomy. Just like her own father did when he was still around.
Jupiter noticed that Caine felt more at ease than before and she considered it as a good improvement. She had also noticed that her family seems to be more comfortable about having him around, especially after her uncle remarked how good he was at making the Shashlik even though he almost burnt it.
It was then that she decided that Caine should drop by more during family dinners. She even considered teaching him a bit of Russian so he could get into the dinner conversations more even if most of it was done in English.