Chapter 22

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“I want everything on the menu!” Ben exclaimed, waving the menu under Maude’s nose.

Maude and the entire Baldwin family, along with Matt, were at Silver Spoon, a restaurant in the Upper East Side, trying to decide what to eat.

“That’s absolutely out of the question, Ben,” Jazmine said firmly. “Remember what happened last time you had too much to eat.”

Cynthia and Matt laughed while Ben scolded

“What are you talking about?” Maude wondered.

“No sordid details at the table,” Victoria warned sternly, though her eyes were dancing with mild amusement.

“Victoria’s right,” James put in. “This is Maude’s special evening. We don’t want to ruin it for her with graphic details of Ben’s digestive process.”

“Maude’s first pre-event ritual,” Jazmine beamed proudly.

“Pre-event ritual?” Maude asked.  She had no idea what they meant.

“Every time one of us has an important event coming up, we go out to dinner the night before,” Cynthia explained. “And tomorrow is your big night, dear Cenerentola,”

“So, how are you feeling?” Jazmine asked.

“I’m amazingly calm,” Maude mused. “I never thought I would feel so calm before something this huge.”

“Our morning yoga session probably helped,” Cynthia stated, quite pleased with herself.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m the reason she’s so calm,” Matt pointed out. “I took her sight-seeing for an entire day last week, and we came up with two hits.”

“You did a great job you two,” James said. “You really make a great team just like I knew you would. We’ll keep working on the musical arrangement, and we’ll be ready to record this baby in a couple of weeks.”

Maude looked up from her menu and met Matt’s serious gray stare resting on her. Surprised, she quickly averted her eyes, quite aware that her cheeks were growing uncommonly warm.

Jazmine witnessed this and frowned slightly, but said nothing.

“Where’s our waiter, I’m starving!” Ben cried.

And like a genie being summoned out of its magical lamp, the waiter appeared in, or rather stumbled into, the room. He seemed hesitant, turning the pages of his writing pad quickly while muttering under his breath. He was a tall, pale, dark-haired skinny boy in a waiter’s outfit that made him look more adult than he actually was. His round-rimmed glasses fell on his nose as he furiously turned the pages of his writing pad.

When he arrived at the Baldwin's table, he almost tripped over his own feet, but caught himself just in time.

Jazmine looked up at him and gasped.

“Jonathan?” she squeaked in a small voice. “What are you doing here?”

Jonathan looked up from his pad and dropped his pen.

“Jazmine!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here?” he echoed.

“She’s here to see you, of course,” Matt teased.

Jazmine shot Matt a nasty look and said, “I didn’t know you worked here.”

“This is my first night. Hey, Maude,” he added turning towards an amused Maude.

“Hi Jonathan. Do you think you’ll handle our plates better than the way you handled that pen?” she teased.

“I honestly hope so,” Jonathan answered, clearly doubtful.

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