“Congratulations” Amelia said, before shutting her mouth on any of the other comments that wanted to escape.
Four years of culinary school, six years interning under one of New York's finest chefs. Now she had been named as one of the rising stars in the food world. The entire family had flown out to celebrate the opening of her new restaurant. They were four days from opening to the public, and not even the critics had gotten a look at the menu. She had pulled out all the stops. The full black tie experience and of course none of her family was paying a dime.
The dark wood had been polished the crystal was glittering, they were at the best table with the best view in the house looking over the water. Eight people at a table designed for twelve in the otherwise empty restaurant. It was her shining moment. Everything she had worked for, all her dreams realized.
And now the only thing anyone would remember was that Lily was going to have a baby.
Lily, her baby sister who had dropped out of community college because her stoner boyfriend didn’t believe in institutionalized learning. Lily who had moved back home when she couldn’t handle a secretary job and had forgotten to pay her rent. Lily who was now showing off grandma’s ring because while he had proposed when he’d found out she was pregnant, he didn’t have the cash for anything better than glass. The same fiance who had made a point to ask if the menu was gluten free and then asked for a bud light when ordering.
Amelia waved off the champagne she had picked out for her toast, and told the head server to start pouring sparkling water instead. Given her record, Lily was likely to pick up someone elses glass so it looked like no one would get to drink that night.
“How far along?” That was Gaby, middle sister and hopeless romantic.
“Seven weeks, we think.”
Aunt May leaned over the table. “Do you have a date for the wedding? It’ll be a nightmare to find a dress once you start to show.”
“Martin and I were thinking the end of the summer, August mabe. I know it’s only two months away but I know everyone will help.”
“Of course, anything you need.” Gaby clutched Lily’s hand. “We’ll find you the perfect dress and there’ll be flowers everywhere. Amy can do the cake and absolutely everyone will be invited.”
Amelia broke in before they could turn into a pair of twittering airheads. “No I can’t.”
The whole table turned in her direction.
“I’m not a patisserie. I don’t do cakes.”
“Well, the catering then.” Lily waved it away.
Lily and Gaby gave her matching big-eyed pouty faces. “But sissy.”
Amelia hated being called sissy, she hated being called Amy too, come to that but neither of her sisters could apparently get that through their heads. She drew herself up and took a drink of her water to control another burst of anger.
“I will be busy in August. I will in fact be busy all the way through the holidays. I am booked solid through the end of February. In case you hadn’t noticed I now have a restaurant to run.”
“But it’s my wedding!”
Mom stepped in before Amelia could answer. “Don’t be silly, of course you’ll cater the wedding. Your baby sister only gets married once.”
Amelia rolled her eyes. She wasn’t sure if it would be worse for her sister to get divorced in a year and a half and disappoint the whole family or be stuck with that freeloader for the rest of her life. At least the former might force her to grow up. Then again, if an unexpected pregnancy didn’t do it, nothing would.
Her mother didn’t even notice. “Now stop acting jealous; just because you lost your chance with that Tom--”
“Tom was an asshole, and he has nothing to do with this.” Amelia broke over her mother’s words.
“Amelia.” Three syllables of pure disapproving mom voice.
Amelia stood, pushed in her chair and looked at the table. Lily and Gaby were stuck between their earlier excitement and pouting at the disruption of their plans. Martin couldn’t meet her eye but was frowning at his water like he was offended. Mom was pinch-faced. Amelia’s father was the only one who was looking at her straight on without judgement.
“For the record. I’m not jealous. I need to check on the kitchens. Enjoy your food.”
Amelia turned and swept through the door to the back with her head held high.
Mom tossed her napkin on the table. “Well.”
There was another beat of silence before Gabrielle took up Lily’s hand again. “Don’t worry I’m sure she’ll come around.”
“It’s her choice.” The girl’s father spoke up for the first time that evening.
“Don’t be silly dear, of course she’ll do it. She’s just in one of her moods.”
A waiter came to refill their glasses.
Dad stood up. “Think I’ll grab a smoke before the food gets here.”
He found a door to the roof by the bathrooms; it was already open. Amelia looked up, half way through tossing her own cigarette away, but stopped when she saw him.
“Got a light?” He asked. She offered her lighter.
Amelia was the only one who had picked up the habit from him. They took in the view in silence, keeping out of the wind in the lee of the door.
Eventually he stubbed out his cigarette and turned to go back inside. He paused to grab her shoulder.
“You did good.” He met her eyes, nodded. She managed a small smile in return and nodded back. Then he was gone.
She lingered over her own cigarette, then straightened her spine and her apron and went to turn up the heat in the kitchen. Tonight everything was going to be perfect, whether they appreciated it or not.