Chapter Nineteen

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"I received official confirmation that Aunt Molly will be attending the party, though why she felt the need to send a second letter is beyond me," James said, taking a sip of his water.

"It's been, what, eight years since we last saw her? I think I already know what she's going to say when she sees us, well, to me anyway," Christopher added.

"The lecture about my bad posture is calling my name."

"You two are far too hard on Aunt Molly."

"She's always liked you! It's the rest of us she couldn't stand. I doubt even being a lawyer or working in America could change her view on me. She never forgave me for knocking over a vase in her house." He paused. "I was four and she shouldn't have left it on the top shelf. That's a terrible place to keep things."

Beside me, Robert snorted into his glass of water and quickly tried to disguise it as a cough, but it hadn't been as successful as he would have liked. He seemed a lot more at ease with us then I had ever seen him in his own home, especially at supper time. Mrs Ealing ruled her house with an iron fist and doing anything slightly wrong could earn a person a glare and a stern talking to, or worse. Had he reacted in such a way in front of her, he would have been in trouble.

Most of the time I thought James to be an idiot, but he may have been right about Robert needing a break from his own family. If things had been as rough as he said they were then some distance should help to calm things down and Robert looked calmer than he had been in a long time. Family could be grating and sometimes a break could be a good thing, even I wanted a break from my brothers from time-to-time and I had had a seven-year break.

Still, it was nice to see him smile. In the few weeks he had been around the shop, I didn't think I had seen him smile once. Although he hadn't said all that much at the supper table, he had smiled, laughed, and just looked as though he was enjoying himself far more than before. Who knew that it would take Matilda knocking my head against a shelf for something to change between us and to him as a person.

It's strange how certain incidents can change the way a person behaves, although I think having supper with our crazy family may have contributed. No one could keep a straight face if they were watching Christopher eat, he somehow managed to drop it down himself.

"When I can I come back to the shop? I'm going out of my mind with boredom," I said as Mrs Baker gathered up the plates from the table.

"I don't think it's a good idea, Rosie. You're probably better off staying here or helping Christopher out with his paperwork. You seem to get yourself into more mischief by being at the shop."

"Both of those things are as boring as the other. How about I still come to the office with you, but I hide in the alley out the back with my chalk? I need to practice my chalk drawing anyway."

"And what will you do if it rains? You can't draw with chalk on wet stone."

"I can try." James pulled a face. "Please? I'll go mad if I stay here and I don't think I can handle going through Christopher's paperwork since I cannot understand any it."

"Alright, fine. At the first sign of trouble, you'll be going to work with Christopher. No arguments."

I said no word on the matter as Mrs Baker brought the desert; trifle. Although I loved and missed Miss Jenkins cooking, Mrs Baker lived up to her name when it came to her deserts. She had helped me develop my own baking skills using recipes that had belonged to Mother and had just gathered dust since James had moved out. I had a long way to go until my baking would be up to par with hers and Mother's, but James and Christopher enjoyed eating what I baked and that was definitely a compliment.

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