Chapter 39: The Fender

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After the weird clinic visit, Wynter was a lot happier watching Jesse take the karate class along with an assistant teacher. Most of the students were kids her own age and she began to imagine herself among them—learning karate would make Caleb happy—but once the students started fighting with each other using stylized moves that nevertheless got quite violent, she discarded that idea at once.

Back home, a large flat package, addressed to Jesse, lay on the porch.

"It's from Indio," she said, handing it to Jesse.

Inside was another package, wrapped in black and silver paper, addressed to Harry.

"Huh, looks like a wedding gift," Jesse said. "That blows. It means he's not coming to the wedding."

"I thought Harry wasn't really getting married."

"We assumed it would fall apart, but me and Caleb got fancy invitations, although he'll be at sea. It's at Charmaine's mom's house a few streets from here. Hey, you could be my plus-one! We'll get you a special dispensation from Tina."

"Why would I want to go to Harry's wedding? I've never met him."

"Now's your chance."

"You should take Joy with you."

"Joy doesn't want anything to do with Dad. Caleb said she refused to see him when she had the chance, back in February."

"She's not supposed to hold onto negative feelings about people. It'll detract from her spiritual journey. That's what the Light teaches. Although... maybe it doesn't apply to negative feelings about apostates."

"Dad's not an apostate. He never believed that shit."

"Is Joy coming to see us this weekend?"

He flicked her a sympathetic look. "No, I don't think so."

"I was looking through that photo album in my room this morning. There's a Christmas picture... She looks so happy. I wish..." She couldn't bring herself to say it. She wished for so much when it came to Joy, partly for her own selfish reasons, but wishing wasn't going to make it happen.

"I know. I'm sorry." Jesse turned the gift around in his hands, testing the weight, giving it a shake. "I wonder what this is. I bet it's something awesome."

"What are you giving him?"

"Caleb bought them a toaster, the exact model on the registry list. I'll put my name on that. Seriously, though, why do two people need a four-slice toaster? We never had a four-slice toaster with an adult and three hungry teenagers in the house. I'm seriously concerned about this gift, Wyn. Indio's gonna show me up. It's probably a stunning original artwork of his."

"So, buy your dad something even better."

"Like what? I don't have the first idea."

"I thought Indio doesn't even get along with him."

"Indio avoids seeing him as much as possible. So, yeah, it's ridiculous he's giving him this probably awesome gift and I'm giving him a toaster so big it won't even fit on his kitchen bench." Jesse tossed the package on the sofa. "Since you nixed the whole Gollum thing, I'm gonna take a shower and then we'll go to the grocery store and cook something gourmet."

Wynter found a recipe site on her phone and scrolled through pictures until she found something that looked good.

"Roast pork with macadamias and sage stuffing and roast pears," she called through the bathroom door as soon as the shower stopped running.

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