In response to Bilhah’s inherently racist exclamation concerning skin color and how it ought to influence the division of labor her husband hollered, “Just put it on the table, fat ass.” Amber added a penetrating look in the form of a downward angled, narrow eyed stare and frosted her disapproval with a thrice repeated tisk from.
“Really, Bilhah, is that necessary?” Joni’s tisking baby sister added. “You’re not being very sensitive.”
“To who? The cat? She’s the only one who ever lived here who was black. And she died three years ago. Lighten up, will ya?”
Joni leaned close to John and whispered in his ear. “And let the games begin. It’s funny, I was thinking Bilhah’s joke wasn’t very appropriate too until Amber said something; now, not so much.”
John covered his mouth and coughed to camouflage his single, explosive, barked laugh. He reciprocated his wife’s conspiratorial posture and said, “I was literally just thinking the same thing.”
“Beer in the fridge?” Payton asked.
“Back patio,” Joni responded. “Wine’s in the fridge. Who needs a glass?”
“Me!” Bilhah exclaimed. “Ash?”
“That’s a question?” Ashley shot back. “What kind you got, Joni?”
“There’s Pink Zin and Moscato. Put the food on the kitchen table, Bil,” Joni said, carrying the box of victuals she’d relieved Ashley of moments earlier into the kitchen and setting them on the table. Reaching into the cupboard to the left of the kitchen window she added, “Here’s some wine glasses. Amber? Wine?”
“What kind do you have?”
“Pink Zin and Moscato!” Bilhah and Ashley chorused.
Amber folded her arms in front of her and stuck her right foot out and tapped it thrice. “Thank you. Got that. What kind? Vintner’s Reserve?”
Bilhah opened the refrigerator door and pulled out the two boxes of wine. “Yeah, that’s what it is, Vintner’s Reserve. Spelled f, r, a, n, z, i, a. Moscato or the Zin?”
“No Cabernet Franc?”
“Ashley? What do you want?”
“Great. Me too. Here,” she said, pouring two glasses and handing one to Ashley and clinking glasses with hers, “Here’s to the simple things in life. And the simple minds,” she added looking pointedly at Amber.
Amber tilted her head to the left side, plastered a fake smile on her face, raised her right shoulder slightly and batted her eyelashes five times. “Always so sweet. I’ll get my own. Thanks. Joni? Would you like some wine?”
Joni smiled and nodded. “Please. Either one; whatever you’re having.”
“How polite. Must be your breeding,” she said, looking at Ashley and Bilhah.
“Well you’d sure know about that, wouldn’t cha?” Bilhah retorted. “Come on Ash, let’s get out of the way.” She threw an air kiss to Amber and winked at Joni.
“Damn. Meow!” Payton declared. “You want to grab us a couple of beers, sugar?” he asked his wife, raising and lowering his eyebrows three times in rapid succession.
“No! It’s cold out there,” she answered, busing him on the lips as she passed from the kitchen to the dining room. She shrugged and added, “Sorry. I’m getting out of the way. Eight people in this kitchen is like four too many.”
Payton pinched her butt as she walked by, saying, “‘You used to bring me flowers.’”
Ashley grinned and said, “Yeah, yeah. And you used to write me love songs. Not!”
Payton returned to the task at hand. “Jake? John? Beer?”
“What about Sean?” Amber demanded.
“What? Sure,” Payton said. “Sean, you want a beer?”
“Oh. No. No, thanks. I think I’ll try the Moscato.”
Payton looked at Amber, raised his eyebrows, turned his hands toward the sky at waist level and said, “No problem, bro. John?”
“Oh, yeah. Please.”
Jacob’s left cheek raised in a half grin as he brought his right hand down solidly but not too forcefully on John’s shoulder. “Damn right,” he said. “Hope you bought enough.”
“I got a case of Busch Light,” Joni chimed in.
“Good job, sis. But what’s everybody else gonna drink?”