Orb's Year 945
She rested her head on the door, and whispered, "Please..."
Farha smiled, noting the absence of Gene's mother. "And Fancy? How is she?"
Gene blinked back tears that threatened to fall. "She's fine. We're all fine!" she lied brightly. "I brought a few things that she made," she added, holding out the bag.
Farha glanced in the bag, and frowned. "Your mother hasn't been making her cakes and pies recently!" she noted. "Those are really are big sellers."
Gene looked stricken. "Oh, well, I'll let her know to include some in her next batch!"
Farha crossed her arms. "Perhaps she needs to come in to do her baking. Her customers miss her. Maybe Gemma or I should come pay her a visit."
"Oh no!" Gene exclaimed. "I mean, of course, if you want. She just prefers little company since my father has passed. I'm sure she'll be up for company again, soon. I'll let you know when I bring the next batch of goods!"
Gene all but ran from the store.
The rustling noise at night woke her and Gene crept downstairs, wondering if she would find a robber or her mother or...
Gena scoffed, "Oh yes, it sounds like I'm missing out on a perfectly lovely time!"
Gene's mouth dropped with astonishment. "Why did you even come back here if you don't care?"
"You're right. I don't know why I came back!" Gena snapped, turning on her heel and leaving.
Gena didn't answer.
"Come in," her mother called out with a croaky voice, rough from disuse.
Fancy patted the bed by her side. "Come, sit with me," she said tiredly.
"Are you better now?" Gene asked cautiously.
Fancy nodded. "I think so." But then her face crumpled. "I just miss him so much."
Gene squeezed her mother's hand. "I know, mama. I do, too. But, we're here for you - Bastian and I!"
Fancy nodded tiredly. "I'm going to take a little nap. Run along."
Gene left the room, buoyed by the fact that her mother had let her in. It was a start!
"Mama?!" she asked with wonder, blinking. "You're up!"
Gene was so happy, so kissed her brother.
"I forgive you, Mama," Gene said with tears in her eyes.
She sent him long, heartfelt letters every month...
..even when there was no response...
Gene startled, tucking the sheet of paper under all the others. "Nothing!" she lied, embarrassed to have been caught mooning over a boy.
Bastian scuffled his feet. "Aw, do I have to?" he asked hopefully. "Can't I do it tomorrow?"
"You know it would've been very important to Papa that you know how to read and write! He even taught his daughters!"
"When I was your age, I did! I had to stop after Papa died so that I could take care of you, didn't I?"
Bastian glanced up as he worked on his letters. "Why didn't Mama take care of me?" He was so young, he didn't quite remember.
Gene smiled down at him. "Your Q is crooked," she told him, "And mama was very, very sad after papa died."
"Weren't you sad, too?" Bastian asked, erasing his Q and trying again.
Gene wrapped her arms around her middle. "Let's focus on your schoolwork for now," she said, attempting to change the conversation.
Fancy hurried to her sister's side and gave her a big hug. "We were so worried about you! But, Gene assured me you just needed time alone."
Fanny held her sister's hand and patted it. "You haven't failed them. They were raised in a house full of love and laughter. That has seen them through the hard times. That doesn't mean they don't need you! It just means what they need has changed."
"I thought perhaps you might want to learn some of our family recipes."
Gene's eyes lit up. "Really?! Oh, I would love that!" she gushed.
"Oh no! Pull it from the fire!" Fancy said, waving her apron to spread the smoke.
Fancy smiled. "Never say never! Why, remember the story about how I met your father?! (Baker, Orb's Year 926) If your aunt hadn't started that fire, I might never have gotten another chance to meet Sebastian again!" She smiled at the fond memory.
Gene set the burned cake aside with a lighter heart and decided to try again. They could always cut the burned edges off from the cake and enjoy it themselves!
Orb's Year 947
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Gene grumbled. Bastian had made it quite clear that her food was inferior to their mother's. But she was learning!
"Mama! I'm a big boy!" Bastian complained from her side.
Fancy winked at him and turned back to Gene. "And if you find something interesting, you could always feel free to stay! I was just going to go bring a few cakes and pies to the Deli."
"If you're sure," Gene hedged.
"I'm sorry? Excuse me?" Fancy said, surprised to be addressed.
Fancy blushed. "Oh! Yes, I'm the baker!"
Samuel grabbed her hand and kissed it. "Thank you for baking them again!" he said, full of charm, causing Fancy to blush.
Orb's Year 948
Fancy nodded. "It's hard, I know. During the time your father was in the night guard, I made do with his infrequent visits." She sat down next to Gene and patted her knee. "Perhaps you might go see him and find out once and for all where his heart is."
"But what if I find out he doesn't love me anymore?" she whispered.
"Then at least you know not to waste your love on him anymore."
"I..." Gene stuttered, staring at the blade pointed at her breast. "It's me!"
Carey dropped the sword. "Cursed Orb, Gene! What are you doing here?" he asked.
Gene gazed into his eyes, very aware that she was in his arms and he was half-naked. She lightly stroked her hands across his bare shoulders, reveling in the feel of his skin beneath her hands.
Heat flared in Carey's eyes. "Gene? What are you doing here?" he asked, clenching his hands where they rested on her hips. When she looked at him like that, it made all rational thoughts disappear. All he could think about right now was laying her down on his bed and loving her.
Gene lifted her lips up to meet his as they came crashing down on her. He kissed wildly, desperate to erase the time and distance that had grown between them.
It seemed to the Baker's curse to raise their children out of wedlock...