Chapter 45 (Part 2)

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Before Dan can get a word out, my mom comes flying into the living room like a mad woman waving her hands all over the place.

"Elias Alexander King and Daniel Herman Eugene Perry--"

I choke back a laugh.

"Dan--your middle name is Herman Eugene!?"

Wait. Why does she know that?

"Yes. It's hyphenated. My parents had a hard time conceiving, but were blessed enough to have me as their only son. My grandfather's name was Herman and my grandmother's was Eugeny, and they loved them enough to name me after both of them."

And now I look like a total dick.

"Oh. Sorry. It's a ---unique name. Very old sounding. Like your grandparents. Sorry. I'm gonna stop talking."

Dan's face flushes dark red and if I didn't feel bad enough about making fun of him, now I do. My mom claps her hands from across the room and I perk up like nipples on a cold day.

"Excuse me, why are the two of you standing there when the table is empty? Am I gonna have to do everything by myself?"

"Sorry, Mama, we were just about to start," I say.

She points and snaps at me and then in the general direction of the dining room table.

"Then start! It's almost 7:00 and I want everything ready for Alex when she comes downstairs. You should see her, Elias! She brought this beautiful dress to wear and she looks much better than you do right now. I want you to set the table and then go change into something nice! You look--"

First she ignores me. Now she insults how I look. Nice.

"Messy? Fine, I'll go change, but you're breaking my heart, Mama. You haven't even called me handsome once today. Not once."

"At, set up now, compliments later. Get to work, niños. ¡Apúrate!"

Dan and I straighten up like soldiers and scuttle over to the kitchen before my mom has to ask us a third time. Dan grabs a stack of my mom's off-limits china from the "do-not-touch" shelf and starts placing them one-by-one while my mom rushes back and forth from the oven to the fridge. I stop him before he gets himself killed.

"D-man, these were my abuela's. They've been in my family longer than I've been alive. Better stash them back where you found em' while my mom's not looking or else she'll flip."

Instead of darting over to the cabinet to cover his tracks like I said, Dan just keeps on putting the plates out like it's no big deal.

"Don't worry, Eli. I'll be careful. Besides, your mom said she wanted to use them tonight because it's a special occasion. I actually recommended that she use that beautiful blue and white set she likes--"

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